Near's words echoed in my head. "I don't know when I'll see you again.." I collapsed onto a fallen tree trunk, my head in my hands, and tried to fight back the tears that were brimming.
"Lyra?" Someone was calling me, but I couldn't summon up the energy to call back. "Lyyyy-raaaa?" It was Near. Young Near. Present Near. I shut my eyes and let the tears slide down my cheeks. "Lyra! Oh.. What's wrong Lyra? Are you okay? You aren't hurt are you?"
"No... Its just..." I broke into sobs. "You wouldn't understand."
"What do you mean by that?" Near said, slowly. "Do you know another Near that would?" He chuckled quietly, not realizing how close to the truth he was.
"No..." I replied feebly.
"Aw, don't be down, Calathea thinks we must be near the forest of Undine now! We'll meet our mentor, who can help us train our powers. Won't that be fun?" Near said, grinning stupidly at me. How young he seemed... How could he ever become the solemn, strong Near I knew and loved?
"LYRA! NEAR! WHERE ARE YOU!" Came a cry. A few seconds later I heard a shrill scream, followed by two more. I couldn't help myself. I screamed back, suddenly terrified, my pulse racing.
"Lyra. It's OK. I'll protect you!" The small, skinny Near had planted himself in front of me. I almost laughed at the absurdity of him protecting me.
"Thanks, kid, but I can protect myself." Composing myself, I formed a whip of water from the air around us, and froze the end so it could act as a handle. then, Near and I took off toward the sound of the screams.
"LYRAAAA! NEEEAR! HELP US!" It was Felixa, and she sounded bad. We had to hurry. But... I was totally lost. Where was camp again? Hang on! Where was Near? He was with me a second before.. and now he was gone...
"Near? Near? NEAR?!" I yelled, but there was no reply. Blindly, I crashed through the undergrowth, my heart pounding. I really was alone now...