Home > Firestorm (Elemental #3)

Firestorm (Elemental #3)
Shannon Mayer

CHAPTER 1

Magma’s hands dug into my arms, pinning them back at an angle sharp enough that my shoulders threatened to pop out of joint. Around us, the redwoods of the Rim swayed, the trunks groaning as the wind pushed at them. In the distance a long howl of a wolf made me think for just a moment that maybe Griffin would come back and help Ash and me escape the hold the Salamanders—aka fire elementals—had on us. But there was no sound of running pads on the ground, no snarl of a wolf as he attacked our captors to help free us.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. A month past, Ash and I had gone into the fire elementals’ home, the Pit, in search of a cure for the lung burrowers that were wiping out our people. We’d been turned away, but I didn’t take no for an answer. Ultimately, we did find the cure, and our family was saved. But the cost was high and there were several deaths. All at the end of my spear. For a time, I’d thought we’d escaped punishment.

I scanned the forest looking for any sign of movement and saw none; there was no one coming to our rescue, no one coming to tell the Salamanders to let us go. Though we were in the Rim, we were once again on our own. Apparently even my father had given up on me, handing us over to Queen Fiametta and the Pit after specifically telling me he would never do that to any of his children. How quickly things changed in my life and my understanding of those around me.

Again.

Turning my head slowly, making myself not react to the pain, I glared at Maggie.

“Maggie, we’ve already said we’d go with you.”

She snorted, her orange eyes narrowing. “Magma, not Maggie, we are not friends.” Her fingernails cut into my bare skin, and trickles of warm blood slid down my upper arms into the crooks of my elbows. “A liar like you can’t be trusted, so I think we’ll be doing things my way.” The other three Enders with her laughed, but I didn’t even look at them. They were not my problem at the moment. She tightened her hold on me as if to emphasize the point that she was indeed in charge.

I made myself smile through the throbbing ache in my upper back and shoulders and took a shot in the dark. “Your fellow Enders don’t think much of you, do they? Letting me slip into the Pit, then escape while you just stood there and watched must have really set you down in the ranks. Especially since I’m just a lowly earth elemental.”

From the right of me, Ash let out a low groan. “Lark, don’t push her.”

But it was too late for taking the words back, and I wouldn’t have anyway, not after everything Ash and I had been through in the Deep. After surviving the world of the Undines—water elementals—I wasn’t sure I had it in me to be patient or forgiving of anyone who didn’t have Terraling—earth elemental—blood running through their veins.

Maggie, Magma to me now if I let her have her way, let out a low rumbling hiss, the sound reminiscent of a bellows in a forge. “When they execute you, the smile on my face will be the last thing you see.”

I looked away from her, but the scene around me didn’t give much hope. The Enders surrounding us were dressed in black from head to toe, their ensembles completed by their long black cloaks, and three-foot-long narrow black clubs that hung from their belts. Unlike our Ender clothes that consisted of dark and light browns, a vest and pants, the Enders from the pit were covered up entirely. Right down to the thick black boots they wore. If it weren’t for their varying shades of brilliant red hair, they would have been monotone from top to bottom.

The Ender holding Ash glared at me and I realized I knew him too. We’d met before. “Match?”

He’d been with Maggie when they’d met us at the door of the Pit when all we’d wanted was help from their healers. He’d fought us, as had Maggie, and that started what ultimately led me to kill not one or two, but four of the Pit’s Enders.

“Don’t talk to me,” he growled, baring his teeth at me. “You aren’t getting away from us this time. Your sentencing is going to be swift, and even your king can’t deny us this right.” I realized, as he glared at me, that Maggie wasn’t the only one who’d been made to look like a fool.

Maggie’s words, and his finally, sank into my mind. The sentence for one Ender killing another was very simple. Death at the hands of the offended party, which in my case was the Pit. Magma dragged me forward a few steps alongside Ash. He caught my eye. “Just follow my lead.”

Match cuffed him in the head, hard enough to split the skin over his left eye. “Shut your filthy mouth, Terraling.”

Ash’s mouth twitched and he glared at Match. “Brave boy now that you have all your friends with you.”

Match grunted as if he’d been punched. “I warned you.”

The Ender slid his long black club from his belt and swung it toward Ash. As the club fell, I leapt toward them, dragging Maggie with me a few steps before she let me go. My right shoulder popped out of joint with a tearing crunch but it didn’t stop me. Momentum took over and I crashed into Ash, sending us both to the ground as the club whipped over us. Match let out a roar and I scrambled to stand upright, whimpering as my shoulder socket twisted again.

The other Enders seemed surprised. As if they couldn’t believe we’d fight back. “Ready to run?” I asked, as I tried to think past the throbbing ache in my shoulder. I backed away from the Enders, pushing Ash with me. If we could get moving, we had a chance at outrunning them.

“Your father said we should go with them without a fight—”

“And you think that’s a good idea?”

Ash didn’t answer and I knew I was right, we both did. My father was not in his right mind; he hadn’t been for a long time. And until the mental wounds Cassava inflicted on him healed, we couldn’t trust him.

We truly were on our own.

A slow building anger started in my belly and spread outward to my hands where the iron manacles clamped my wrists. I fed the power of the earth inherent to me into the iron, pulling the ore apart, molecule by molecule, until they fell to the ground at my feet.

Maggie stared at me and the curl of red lines, indicators of her power climbing her hand, was the only warning I had that she was about to blast us with her element. Fire danced from her hands and onto the ground around us creating a perfect circle. I flicked my hand and the earth covered the fire, putting it out as easily as breathing.

At least easy enough when I was angry and I could reach my power. Without anger backing me, I couldn’t tap into the earth and the power within it. A flaw I didn’t know how to change.

“Maybe in the Pit you rule, Maggie. But not here.” She glared at me, and I backed away, bumping into Ash. Except it wasn’t Ash.

It was another Ender from the Pit, one I didn’t know. He dug his hand into my busted up shoulder, his fingers scooping into the open joint. I screamed, unable to stop the sound from escaping me anymore than I could stop myself from dropping to my knees. The world swayed as the Ender put more pressure on the joint. The sounds of people yelling, and the rush of bodies around us was about all I could make out.

There was a flash of green and gold and suddenly Fern, my father’s current wife, stood in front of me trying to stop Maggie and the other Enders from the Pit. Her belly swelled with what would be a younger sibling for me, but even so, she fought for us.

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