Kya watched with horror. Her wings were soaked, and even if she could fly, they would become little more than tatters of color streaming out from her back in a storm such as this.
She reached out as a streak of silver went tumbling past her, and managed to catch hold of it before Hearthorne fell away. She cradled the bowl to her chest and looked desperately for a place to wait out the storm. Now that she wasn’t holding on to anything, she fell and tumbled with the motions of the ship and the storm until Kya wasn’t sure which way was up or down.
Eventually, she made it to the small hatch on the deck. The door had come open, and was straining at its hinges as it flapped in the wind. Clutching Hearthorne, Kya half fell, half climbed her way down the ladder.
Water boiled up to her calves when she splashed to the bottom, and she wrinkled her nose against the stench of the saltwater.
“I thought you said we couldn’t sink,” she said, still shouting against the storm ringing in her ears.
Hearthorne shrugged, most of the wildness gone from her eyes. “I don’t think this is an ordinary storm. But even so, it would take a very strong magic to do any lasting harm, so unless you’ve offended anyone particularly powerful, we’re just going to have to wait this out.”
Kya groaned and leaned back against the wall. She sank down until she was sitting, mindful to keep Hearthorne’s bowl above the water. She hugged it against herself as the ship shuddered, the timbers creaking with exhaustion and warning.
Whimpering, Kya bowed her head, and something waterlogged and white plopped onto Hearthorne. Kya picked it up, remembering the Moon Queen as she did. For a moment, as she held the sodden flower cupped in her hands, she felt the Moon Queen remembering her too.
Then the vision was gone and she was back in her ship, soaked to the bone and sitting in a puddle of salt water.
Kya’s eyes widened.
She rubbed her fingers together, but already she could feel the effects of the salt stiffening her wings and clothing that were above the water line. The air was pungent with it, and she didn’t need to taste the water to know for sure.
“This isn’t rain water,” she said, frowning as she tried to understand what this meant and why it was so important.
“No,” Hearthorne said, her eyes narrowed. “I thought it tasted odd. Yet the sea water isn’t leeching away my nutrients from the soil.”
Before either Kya or Hearthorne could speculate any further, a sharp wrenching juddered through the ship, flinging them forward as The Curious Leaf came to an abrupt stop.
Kya rubbed her head where she’d smacked it against the wall, grateful for how small the space was. Even so, a swelling sort of tenderness bloomed along her ribs where the lip of Hearthorne’s bowl had dug into her chest.
Hearthorne straightened her stem as she peered up at the opening. “That couldn’t have been good.”
Kya sent a brief thought of fond regard to her memories of sitting in her little clay pot safely on the windowsill. Where the wind was always gentle and the rain welcome. Then she struggled to her feet. Wishing only got you so far before you had to power through on your own.
Mindful of both the silver bowl and how slippery the sea water had made the rungs, Kya carefully made her way back up the hatch and out into the open air.
“Oh, no,” Hearthorne groaned as Kya stepped out onto the deck.
Kya, meanwhile, had frozen, her mouth agape. For the world had most obviously turned itself inside out while they’d been down below. Walls of rushing water surrounded them above, below, and on every side.
The water on the sides rose up, bending so water coursed over the mast and scorched sails, cresting across an invisible sphere that kept the water from devouring the ship. The sound of it ought to have been deafening, but the noise of so much water spinning and gushing was muted until it had become a distant, pleasant roar.
A lion gentled into a golden kitten.
Kya managed to unfreeze just enough to stumble toward the ship’s compass. She hoped the storm hadn’t damaged it, because she desperately needed something to sort out all of the strangeness.
When she was halfway across the deck, drops fell from the wild sea coalescing about them, glittering with a magic light as they formed a woman made entirely of water.
“Greetings,” she said, her voice awash with sea foam and the quiet rustle of waves beating against the shore.
. . . TO BE CONTINUED . . .
© 2014 by Danyelle Leafty. All rights reserved.