Elize barely caught the tree in time to prevent herself from falling. Every nerve end in her body burned in lingering agony. Her flesh had long ago forgotten the fire that ravaged it. Her mind, however, still needed time to forget and the recent excruciating battle wasn’t helping. She had pushed her talents to the very edge to acquire victory. While her ability to wield the Elements could put most Gifted to shame, she still had limits. If she was wiser, she wouldn’t have picked the fight. Yet, Elize couldn’t deny the force of vengeance that burned within her. The elves, in their ignorance, had chosen to destroy what she stood to protect. She couldn’t turn a blind eye.
The deaths, however, brought her no satisfaction, no peace. Every time she killed living creature she felt pain echoing through her very core. She felt its final moment, as if she herself was dying. Avalon would never allow her to forget the price of life. The woman could clearly remember every creature she had killed and the list was long. The first time she had vomited continuously until her had body become completely dehydrated. With age she had grown more accustomed to murder, yet she doubted that the painful sensation would ever disappear.
Elize clung on to the tree for another moment before forcing herself into motion. She needed to put space between herself and the bloodbath. She couldn’t afford to fall unconscious so deep within elvish territory. Death in this world wouldn’t be the end of her, but it would still slow her down and he had waited for too long, so she kept putting one foot in front of the other. The woman stumbled and fell, stood back up and kept going. The world was blurred in her tired eyes, but as her senses faded she sensed a familiar scent – the citrus smell of water lilies.
Elize rubbed her right eye trying to focus it, her left already refused to open. A lake suddenly emerged before her gaze. She was so tired that she had almost fallen into it. This looks like a good place to rest.
She shuffled slowly into the water, allowing the coolness to sooth away the pain. Once the water reached her shoulders, she turned her back towards the middle and pushed with her feet, drifting. A number of lines appeared just above her breasts, as the flesh parted. The gills wouldn’t be enough to keep her mobile, but they would prevent her from drowning. She closed her eyes and her body sank deeper into the water, completely submerging her. The last remnants of her consciousness faded.
“Don’t fall asleep, Ely. I’m too lazy to fish you out of the lake again.” Her spouse nudged.
“I’m not going to.” Retorted Ely and forced her droopy eyes open.
They were floating on their backs, an arm around each other’s shoulder.
“Yes, yes you are.” pouted her partner as Ely closed her eyes again. “It’s alright, I can fix this.”
Ely’s brown eyes sprung open as she was suddenly yanked under the water. Her surprise quickly turned to annoyance as the grip on her shoulders slacked. She pushed away from her spouse and broke the lake’s surface.
“Why’d you do that!?”
“Because it was fun!”
“Thank you, yours is lovely too.”
Ely’s lips parted in a huge smile as she started to hear the panther’s grumbling. Elize ignored the warning. She didn’t want to be interrupted. Their faces leaned closer as her chest throbbed with excitement and as her mate kissed her the world exploded into bliss.
The panther snarled and Elize’s consciousness snapped into focus, a tear trickled down her face. She no longer felt the warmness. Her fingers began to prickle from the cold. The woman ignored the discomfort and searched for the source of the panther’s annoyance. There was a woodpecker circling the lake where the great cat was swimming. The bird looked like it was searching for something and it must have been there for a while. Is he searching for me?
Elize forced herself awake and sensations came rushing in. Her body convulsed as she felt the freezing water. The woman opened her eyes and they filled with water. She touched her cheek. There was no way she could’ve cried in the middle of all that water. Her lungs were starting to burn now that she was moving. The gills couldn’t keep up with the demand for oxygen, the water itself didn’t contain enough for them to filter. Elize swam up, carefully and slowly breaking the surface. She inhaled while trying to stay as quiet as possible. The gills dissolved, now that they weren’t needed.
There was a jine’ery kneeling on the beach. He rustled the ground with his claws, then brought his hand to his flat nose and carefully smelled it. He was searching, trying to pick up a trail he had lost. Elize quietly started swimming towards him. The jine’ery tossed a cloak’s end out of the way and arranged his huge bag. The sound of clinking jars filled the air.
The woman used the noise as cover to exit the lake. She quietly walked behind him and asked:
“Can I assist you with something?”