She stopped running once she reached the corner of the dark road but kept moving.
This was a disaster. She was going to fail. The flame would go out, monsters would invade and destroy everything and everyone that she loved and it would be all her fault. It would be the end of this world and all the others.
She sighed. She could hear Starukha now.
“If you’re done with the pity party we’ve got worlds to save.”
Starukha. She needed to talk to her. Maybe she could help her figure out what was wrong with her powers. First she would have to get a new scrying bowl. It was stupid of her to leave hers behind. She had no clue how to find one in this strange world. For all she knew such things did not exist here. She had only been here a few hours but she could tell things were very different. The magic she always felt swirling around her at home was not as present here. She had felt it in the air around Himawari though.
She may not know it, but the girl had immense power inside of her. Before she could help her tap into in, she had to figure out how to unlock her own. She raised her eyes to the moon, noting that it looked exactly the same as the one at home. It was a waxing moon, a Maiden moon. She should have felt strong beneath its glow. Instead, she felt almost powerless.
This time it was Inati’s soft voice in her head.
“Calm down, clear your mind. Your power is a part of you so it can never be lost. Now, decide what you need most and what steps to take to get it.”
She was tired and hungry. The scrying bowl was important but that could wait until the morning. She needed to find a place to sleep. In Saldiavya she could depend on the kindness of strangers but she knew nothing of this world. Starukha had warned her that the people of this world were wary of strangers and could be dangerous, even without magic. She would have to find somewhere safe to rest and there was one place she always felt safe.
She closed her eyes, concentrating. There was a small pool of water in the woods to her left. This was a gift she had possessed long before becoming the Maiden. Using it took no effort and was as natural to her as breathing. Still, it felt like slogging through mud. She walked over to the little stream, placing one hand inside as she turned her face to the moon.
There. The ocean. She could smell it now that she knew where it was. It was familiar yet strange. She walked to the shore, feeling more tired than she had ever felt. It was homesickness mingled with discouragement. She stepped into the water, hoping for the release of tension she always felt in the ocean but it was slow to come. It felt so different from the waters of Saldiavya. It felt ill.
What kind of people would allow something like this to happen? Did they not know how important the ocean was? It made her angry as well as sad. So many creatures made their homes there and Sirena could sense them all. She sent what healing she could, though she knew it would not be enough. Near the water, it was much easier to reach her power.
She sought out the creatures that lived in the water, finding that some were familiar to her. There were whales, sharks, and naiads. There were also creatures that she had never encountered before in her sixteen years. Some were impossibly small, some were so large it was unfathomable. She reached out to one such creature, her curiosity making her forget her aching muscles and disappointment. Surprise filled her when she felt it reach back. It had a magic of its own. It was neither malevolent or benevolent, it was simply curious. She had the sense that this creature was hundreds of years old. It was also lonely, the last of its kind.
She wanted to comfort it but she did not know how. Suddenly something began to pull at her. There was an Elemental in the water.
Their connection pulled so strongly that Sirena half expected to be able to see a physical line in the air. Without thinking she took a step in that direction. She felt it when the girl noticed her too. It felt as if they could almost see each other, though they were miles apart.
Sirena sat on the beach, her mind filled with questions. She brought to mind the four faces she had seen in the vision. There had been herself and Himawari. Himawari was the only one whose name she knew. The other two faces were complete mysteries to her. This girl knew of her gifts. Maybe she could help Sirena access her own away from the water. She was of this world, maybe she would know how to reach Himawari.
If only she knew how to find her, she did not even have a name. Starukha would know what to do. Sirena did not want to ask her and admit that she had failed so spectacularly in her mission. She would do it though, this was too important a task. She just needed to find a scrying bowl.
As she thought about how to do that, a breeze began to blow. It circled her a moment before picking up sand, creating a small cyclone. When it dissipated, there was a word in the sand.