Waterfall Page 2

“We are all remembering the same dark things,” Albion said. “If Atlas’s mind has been this destructive inside other bodies, waging wars and murdering innocents, imagine his mind and body united, awake, and in our world. Imagine if he succeeds in the Filling.”

“So then,” Critias said, “where is he? What’s he waiting for?”

“I don’t know.” Albion tightened his fist over the fire until the smell of burning flesh alerted him to move it. “We were all there. We saw her cry!”

Starling thought back to that morning. When Eureka’s tears fell, her sorrow had seemed bottomless, as if it would never end. It had seemed that each tear shed would multiply the damage to the world tenfold—

“Wait,” she said. “Once the conditions of her prophecy were met, three tears needed to fall.”

“The girl was a blubbering mess.” Albion dismissed her. No one took Starling seriously. “Obviously, the three required tears were shed.”

“And then some.” Chora looked up at the rain.

Critias scratched the silver stubble on his chin. “Are we sure?”

There was a pause, and a burst of thunder. Rain spat through the cordon’s hole.

“One tear to shatter the Waking World’s skin.” Critias softly sang the line from the Chronicles, passed down by their fore-father Leander. “That’s the tear that would have started the flood.”

“A second to seep through Earth’s roots within.” Starling could taste the spreading of the seafloor. She knew the second tear had been shed.

But what about the third, the most essential tear?

“A third to awaken the Sleeping World and let old kingdoms rebegin,” four Seedbearers said in unison. That was the tear that mattered. That was the tear that would bring Atlas back.

Starling glanced at the others. “Did the third tear fall to Earth or didn’t it?”

“Something must have caught it,” Albion muttered. “Her thunderstone, her hands—”

“Ander.” Critias cut him off.

Albion’s voice was high with nerves. “Even if he did think to catch it, he wouldn’t know what to do with it.”

“He is with her now, not us,” Chora said. “If the third tear was shed and captured, the boy controls its destiny. Ander doesn’t know the Tearline is tied to a lunar cycle. He won’t be prepared for Atlas, who will stop at nothing to get the third tear before the next full moon—”

“Starling,” Albion said sharply. “Where has the wind taken Ander and Eureka?”

Starling drew in her tongue, chewed and swallowed, belched softly. “She is shielded by the stone. I can barely taste her, but I believe Ander travels east.”

“It is obviouswhere he has gone,” Chora said, “and whom he has gone looking for. Outside of the four of us, only one knows the answers Ander and Eureka seek.”

Albion glowered into the fire. When he exhaled, the blaze doubled in size.

“Forgive me.” He took a measured inhale to tame the fire. “When I think of Solon …” He bared his teeth, stifled something nasty. “I am fine.”

Starling had not heard the name of the lost Seedbearer spoken in many years.

“But Solon is lost,” she said. “Albion searched and could not find him—”

“Perhaps Ander will look harder,” Critias said.

Albion grasped Critias by the neck, lifted him off his feet, and held him over the fire. “Do you think I have not been looking for Solon since the moment he fled? I would age another century in exchange for finding him.”

Critias kicked air. Albion freed him. They straightened their clothes.

“Calm, Albion,” Chora said. “Do not succumb to old rivalries. Ander and Eureka must come up for air sometime. Starling will discern their location.”

“The question is,” Critias said, “will Atlas discern their location first? In the body of Brooks, he will have ways to draw her out.”

Lightning flashed around the cordon. Water lapped the Seedbearers’ ankles.

“We must find some way to take advantage.” Albion glared into the fire. “Nothing is as powerful as her tears. Ander cannot be the one in possession of such power. He is not like us.”

“We must focus on what we know,” Chora said. “We know Ander has told Eureka that if one Seedbearer dies, all Seedbearers die.”

Starling nodded; this was the truth.

“We know he is protecting her from us using our artemisia, which would exterminate all of us if any of us were to inhale it.” Chora strummed her lips with her fingers. “Eureka won’t use the artemisia. She loves Ander too much to kill him.”

“Today she loves him,” Critias said. “Name one thing more mercurial than a teenage girl’s emotions.”

“She loves him.” Starling puckered her lips. “They are in love. I taste it on the wind around this rain.”

“Good,” Chora said.

“How can love be good?” Starling was surprised.

“One must love to have one’s heart broken. Heartbreak causes tears.”

“One more tear hits Earth and Atlantis rises,” Starling said.

“But what if we gained possession of Eureka’s tears before Atlas could reach her?” Chora let the question seep into the others.

A smile filtered onto Albion’s face. “Atlas would need us to complete the rise.”

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