Tom struggled to move the wood, his heart pounding at the sight of his friend trapped beneath the water. His muscles burned. Even with the lesser weight of things underwater, it wouldn’t budge. He began to panic again. Nathan could be crushed. He had to do something!
He reached for the control and strength he had felt. He pushed the wood again, and yelled in frustration when it didn’t move. He screamed, punching a beam, and a pulse of water moved it.
The whole pile shifted, and Tom didn’t let himself be surprised for more than an instant. He grabbed Nathan and pulled him out from underneath as the beams settled themselves.
He had to get Nathan out of the water. All he could do was swim up from the direction the beams had fallen. He pushed from the ground, and shot up quickly, Nathan’s weight nothing underwater.
Tom almost hit the ceiling of the hallway above, and cursed. There had to be a hole somewhere that led higher up. He feared facing flames, but with Nathan possibly drowning he had no choice. He swam along the ceiling, looking for any signs of air.
Nathan sputtered, bubbles leaving his mouth, and Tom’s heart jolted. He punched the ceiling with his fist, and the soaked wood gave way. He hit it harder, pain shooting through his hand, but it was enough. A force accompanied the banging of his fist, and the wood broke apart. He rammed through it with his body, and suddenly dry air met his skin.
He pulled Nathan through and laid him gingerly on the beams, stroking his friend’s soaked hair. He hoped Nathan wasn’t dying. He shook him, water dribbling from Nathan’s mouth when his friend began coughing. Yes! He was alive!
Tom breathed deeply, ready to shout Nathan’s name, and started coughing, ridding his lungs of the water that had been in them. It was a few moments before he could breath air comfortably again, gasping.
“Wha?” Nathan’s voice. “Tom?”
“Nathan!” Tom grabbed his hands, Nathan staring at him confused. “You’re okay!”
No, Nathan wasn’t staring at him. He stared at something behind him, fear in his eyes.
Someone behind him grabbed his arms. It burned.
He tried to run away, to push the hands off his, but it was no use. He screamed aloud, the pain unbearable. His skin was smoking, and he smelled burning flesh. This shouldn’t be happening! The pain was too great for him to be conscious. Nathan held him, punching something behind him, whoever was grabbing him trying to pull him away. He tried to hold on to Nathan, his friend yelling, and the last thing he realized before passing out was that whoever was hurting him must be a fire mage.
When Tom awoke, the first thing he noticed was the intense pain in his arms. Somebody had tied them behind him, and the pain spread up to his shoulders. The skin on his arms screamed with pain from the burn. He couldn’t move, and couldn’t see, the room dark.
It all flooded back. The feelings of foreboding before the ship had been attacked by fire, being able to breathe underwater. And a fire mage, attacking him. But why…why was he here, tied up? The ship was in one piece. Was the fight over? What had happened?
As if on cue, he heard footsteps. They were faint, and he guessed them to be coming from outside a door or wall. He strained his ears to hear voices.
“Their attack wasn’t too well thought out. Our ship will be here soon. Theirs is captured.”
“And what of their mages?”
Someone laughed. “We put to death three earth mages and an old wind mage by flame. Two were kids, but it serves Auros right. We lost children too in his asinine attempt.” Tom shuddered. Could the two kids have been…?
“That hardly matters. What about the fire mage? The one responsible?”
“He got away. Vanished, seemingly.”
“You know this means war again. We put their mages to death, it takes away Auros’s opportunity to call it an accident.”
“So be it. If that’s the best they have, we should have no trouble. Auros is barely a spark compared to Ruthen and his boy.”
Tom frowned. War, then?
“What about that kid? The one the fire lord burned?” Tom listened again. They must be talking about him.
“Dunno. They’re gonna have a look at him. Archibald says he’s not Earth or Wind, and I don’t see how he could be fire…but water? That’s impossible.”
Tom’s veins filled with ice. Water mage. Him?
“So what? We leave him?”
“I guess so.” The footsteps faded again, and Tom grew cold. What would they do with him? They wouldn’t kill him, would they? It wasn’t his fault! He could ignore water, and be the same as before. He tried struggling, momentarily forgetting the pain in his arms until the ropes scraped the raw burns. He cried out, his world growing dim with pain, and he sat still until it passed. He wished it wasn’t so dark.
He didn’t know how long he sat there, willing the pain in his hands to fade. He grew hungry, then thirsty.
It was amazing how quickly things had changed. It had all gotten weird after he fell ill. Tom tried to remember how that could have happened. He had been out in a storm, but that couldn’t have made him that sick. And it certainly couldn’t have lead to him being a water mage, could it? He thought hard about that day and night. A memory tried to form in his brain, but he couldn’t quite grasp it. It had to do with the rain, though, and maybe the storm.
The door creaked, and warm light flooded the room from the hallway sconces. Tom looked at the ground, blinking. His eyes adjusted slowly.
“Shit, Tom, this is my fault.”
“Shush. I’m getting you out of here.”