Becoming: The Balance Bringer has undergone a change. As we prepare to bring you book 2 Awakening: The Balance Bringer, Becoming received a font upgrade and a chapter addition. If you have a copy of the story missing the new addition, you can read it here. Happy reading!
Remember, this may be an imperfect copy.
Water explodes around me like a shaken soda can, an effervescent fizz of excitement and chaos. Roar and fizz is all I hear. Everywhere I turn, an impenetrable white wall of wash. The liquid slides around my curves and hugs to my form. I should be gasping for breath, drowning on the brink of my success. Only, air is not what I crave―not at this moment.
My sister Crystia is my mission, and finding her rules my inner thoughts. She is the reason I’ve traveled this vast distance, leaving my mom, our family cat Oscar, and my entire life behind. I faced death, more than once, surviving to find the door to Hiddenkel―the place I’m told she will be waiting. The place I’m told I belong. With help from Ryland and Jaden, I’m now here. But where exactly is here? And where are Ry and Jaden? Where is anyone?
The water shoves me to the side, jostling my body awkwardly to the left. Then another current brushes across my back, pushing me forward. In an attempt to compensate, my arms wave at my side and my feet stroke back and forth. So much water. The doorway between worlds must have dumped us out at the bottom of a water system. Not cool, magical doorway! If the journey here and passageway doesn’t kill you, the destination will do it’s best to rectify that miss. If I get to the surface, I should be able to locate Jaden and Ry. Hopefully.
The swirl and spume begin to dissipate, revealing rocks and underwater plant life. The water vibrates in a kaleidoscopic of color, shifting from shades of green to brilliant and mesmerizingly vibrant blues. Tiny teal pinpricks flicker and bob and spin within the waves at a distance.
I look away, look to the glowing blue that holds promise of the surface and air. That is where I will find my brother Ry and…my heart flutters…and Jaden. My muscles work, pushing hard, and I strive to cover the distance in as little time as possible.
The voice resonates in my head―again. Like it did when I first crossed over to this side of the door. First dropped into Hiddenkel. But this time, there’s a noticeable difference. Gentle whispers float around me in something resembling a water ballet. The blue shimmers that were at a decent distance mere seconds ago now circle me. Minute lights gleaming in white and green join the stream―sometimes mingling the colors, sometimes keeping the colors complete and wholly separate. A few weaker lights blink in yellow, popping in and out of the whirling network.
In a fluctuating fluidity, everything around me moves from one design to another, reminding me of a frequency experiment I once did in my physics class. Eerily unique and hauntingly beautiful sounds accompany each distinct shape created.
A hand reaches through the color-wash, grasping for mine. Only then do I realize I had stopped swimming for the surface. Our fingers desperately fight against the restless water to maintain a solid hold, and a warm tingle signals familiarity. Jaden has found me. Had he not come for me, would I have stayed here, mesmerized by the lights, colors, and sounds, until there was no more air left in my lungs? I squeeze Jaden’s fingers tightly. See his face distorted by the water, his hair moving with the current.
A dot of blue light flashes between us, like the navigation light on an airplane passing through the clouds. Then something wraps around my ankle and tightens. It’s my high school pool incident all over again! Memories of the shadows―the tenebrousian―attacking me flood my thoughts. I glance down but see nothing in the fray. No dark shadows, no black murk. Yet still, more binding around my waist.
Octopus-like tentacles constrict me, make it impossible for me to move. My eyes widen, and I look to Jaden. Ice rushes through my body; my stomach quivers, and my heart pounds against my ribcage. I want to scream.
A sudden jerk and I am ripped from his clutch.
Dragged down and down and away. Away from him, away from the surface, and away from air.
Down into the most silent and obscure depths of the lake.
Then, all around me, a throng of dots appear. Lights bleeding together.
And yet, I hunger for breath.
I must be dying. Maybe this is how Crystia is brought back to me. I will join her in the afterlife. Not exactly how I thought things would work out. I would have gladly traded places with her, before. But now…I’m not so sure. Now, there is Jaden.
An unbearable tightening rattles throughout my body, shredding the tiny hold I have on hope. And then there is only water.
My consciousness drifts outward, away from my body and reality as I have known it.
Time folds in upon itself. A minute, an hour, it’s all the same. I am letting go.
Liquid enfolds all that I am. All that I ever was, and all that I shall become.
And then there is only black.
A twinkle. One…Two…It explodes like a Christmas spectacle.
I awaken, aware of time that shouldn’t exist. I should have drowned; it’s been too long.
And yet, I’m conscious, weightless beneath the water. Life flourishes around me, electric blue phosphorescence, swirling like a cyclone. What I took for death was far more astonishing―a rebirth, maybe? I’ve connected with everything around me: the water, the fish, the plant life, even the microorganisms in the sediment and water.
My nerves thrill; skin and blood hum, and an electric charge runs rapidly through my system. I no longer recognize myself. Strength and power course through my veins. My mind is energized with new knowledge. Knowledge of the lake and everything in it. And not just the lake. All waterways. Every water and ecosystem everywhere. The information crowds my head like trying to fit my entire household worth of belongings into one duffle bag.
Around me, voices buzz, and I instinctively know they are water elementals, the Ondine. Are they responsible for the wisdom I now possess? They speak of having waited a long time for the Balance Bringer’s return. My return.
Another piece of me falls away, something innocent and ignorant, making me conscientious in the ways of the water world. There is a kinship between the Ondines and myself. A connection.
“How did you know I would come?” I ask.
“The Balance Bringer always comes. Your time has been foretold.”
“Always? This has happened before?”
“Many times, since the creation of all things.”
My head reels with the thought of me living a continual time loop. Of course, they don’t mean me, but rather the Balance Bringers who came before me. I wade through the thought, and more time slips through my wet fingers. I can’t keep track in this underwater kingdom. In this place where time has little meaning. My head hurts with all the information they just uploaded into my brain. Using my fingers, I massage my temples.
“There is so much.”
“Use it wisely. We place much faith in you. You will restore the lands. But first, you must return to your clan.”
Their words turn my thoughts to Ry and Jaden, and I hear their voices even though I’m deep beneath the water. I look toward the sound.
“It’s taking too long,” Ry demands. “Where’s Ana?”
Noises of pushing and shoving and someone hitting the ground. My money’s on Jaden.
“She’s safe. She’ll be here soon.” Jaden’s voice is calm and soothing, a beacon to guide me.
I glance back at the Ondines with my unasked question.
“You hear with your new senses. They wait for you on the surface. Go to them.”
Turning away, I swim for shore, then hear the guys’ argument interrupted. I recognize the rumble of weapons and the sound of feet shuffling, and I sense preparation for a fight. Ry and Jaden stand against numbers greater than their two, and I’m too far away.
Lava temperatures race through my blood. Swimming is no longer an option. There’s no time to waste. I need out now. The urgency to be at their side churns inside me like a maelstrom. My nerves prickle, and my muscles clench. Using new insight, I send my need―my desire―out in waves through my fingertips. I call the water up and out of the way, yanking it back like a blanket.
The lake rushes past me, rising in the air behind me like a wall. Fish and pebbles toss and spin in the fluid stream, magically lifted with my mind. Filling my lungs with fresh, beautiful oxygen, I realize how long it’s been since I’ve tasted air. Free of the encumbering lake, and with the glow of the Ondines dancing across my skin in newly acquired markings, I stand and advance.
Shock, maybe horror, speckles the faces of the people on the shore. Frozen in place, their spears and blades point at Ry and Jaden, my brother and Tracer. A multitude of green designs decorate their rich, dark skin. Bronze streaks through their mahogany hair. Brown and green, shades of brown and green, are represented in every one of their minimalistic bits of wardrobe. No two individuals look the same. And yet, it’s clear they are all part of one solitary unit.
Jaden’s gaze remains trained on the slew of natives poised ready to fillet him. Ry flashes a quick look in my direction and takes in the large wall of water I’ve created. When I step onto the shore and stand beside them, I release the water with a thought and a pop. Water splashes over the edge of the shore, sending a minor breeze and spray in our direction before settling back into place. With the release of power, the glow of the markings on my skin fades. To hide my own awe at what I’ve done, I face our welcoming party and plaster on my face what I think is a look of stone. I must show fierce strength to these people…without waiver.
Ry and Jaden stand ready to defend me. The three of us, hardly armed, against a hundred or so warriors. No problem. My heart kicks up five notches, and acid boils in my gut.
Taking advantage of the natural surroundings, I snap two shafts from the long plants growing along the edge of the lake. Although different, they remind me of bamboo. I spin the new staves, hold them like hanbos. Thrill of the location and the unknown rolls over me. Adrenaline heats my skin, and my blood pulses with the beat of a hammer, rejoicing in the knowledge that I’m home, and something else―he’s near. Dohlan, the man from my dreams. His name whispers through my mind like an ice storm on a summer day.
A ripple moves through the crowd, and the natives all drop to their knees, bowing to me. To me! The absurdity.
Everyone around me, aside from Ry and Jaden, is bowing and chanting and calling me Puteri, a word I finally recognize as meaning princess. It’s who I am by birthright, by my father. The father I never knew. But I’ve never considered myself remotely close to royalty.
From the back of the dark, crowded mass, light weaves toward us, slipping and sliding through the people. It moves from open space to open space. It’s the wisp of blonde hair among the dark.
Crystia, my sister! Her face glows when she breaks into the clearing. She’s an angel burning alight with life―an aura as radiant as the sun and the color of stardust.
“Took you long enough,” she says, her eyes sparkling with glee.
I let out a long breath and hold back delirious tears of joy. I did it! I found Crystia. I pull my feet from the mud, wanting, needing to hug her tight and never let go. I don’t care that my muscles are tense and sore, or that my heart beats unevenly. I won’t let that stop me. Not now that I’ve come so far. I smile at Crystia.
Next, we’ll save Kaia and unite our Triune.
And I shall, for I am Anala Danika Raine, daughter of King Marduk, and the awaited Balance Bringer. And I am not alone.