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Story flailed around in the water, kicking and punching, but it was no use. The hand on her wrist had a steel grip, and no matter how hard she yanked she couldn’t get loose.

“Calm down!” It was clearly Adair’s voice, but Story had heard it directly in her head, not out loud—which would have been impossible underwater anyway. She turned her head wildly and waved her free hand, hoping Adair would see it and come over and help get her away from whatever was trying to drown her.

“Seriously, Story, stop struggling! I’ve got you.”

Despite the fact that she was rapidly running out of air, she stopped flailing and let the bubbles and currents settle long enough for her to make out the form of Adair grinning before her, her hair haloed out around her in the water, making it look like flames were flying off her head in every direction.

“I’ve got something to help you breathe underwater. Hold still.”

She raised her free hand, and Story noticed that it was filled with a nasty looking, greenish-black slime. Her eyes widened as it came closer to her face, and she started jerking away again. Adair clung on and moved her hand with lightening speed, not slowed by the water at all, and smeared the ooze over Story’s nose and mouth. It seeped into her pores and sealed itself to her skin like it had been fused there.

“Breathe, Story!”

How could she possibly breathe now? Story panicked. She was out of air, and Adair had just put something over her nose and mouth that would prevent her from inhaling even if she could make it to the surface again.

“Story, stop being foolish! Trust me. BREATHE!”

Story’s vision was tunneling, and her body began convulsing. Her lungs screamed from the lack of oxygen, and, unbidden, her mouth opened and tried to draw in a deep breath that she knew would never come.

Except that it did.

The sweetest tasting oxygen she’d ever inhaled filled her lungs, and she felt her body relax. Her vision started to return as she focused on simply breathing in and out. Somehow the slime over her mouth and nose was acting as a filter pulling oxygen from the water.

Adair’s face coalesced in front of hers, and she was smiling broadly. “I told to breathe, didn’t I?”

Story found it more then a bit disconcerting to hear Adair’s words in her mind as clearly as if she’d spoken them, yet not see her mouth move at all.

Of course! This must be how dryads communicate underwater. Telepathy! I wonder if Adair can read my mind? I wonder if it works on the surface too?

Adair shook her head. “No, it only works under water. And Dryads can’t read minds. We can only project our thoughts to each other, and it’s limited by line of sight. Kind of.”

She stared at Adair, her eyes wide. “Oh my gosh! You read my mind!”

Adair pulled away from her, surprise on her face as well. “No I didn’t. It’s impossible.” Then she drifted in closely to Story again, her eyes searching Story’s face curiously, as if trying to unravel the mystery hidden in there. “You must be projecting your thoughts to me somehow. That’s the only possible explanation.”

“So that’s something common then? The elves and gnomes can do it too, right?”

Adair shook her head, causing her braids to wiggle in the water like Medusa’s snakes. “No. Only dryads and other water creatures can. And now I guess humans.” She grinned broadly and caught Story in a hug, swirling both of them around. “Isn’t it wonderful? It’s perfect! I knew we were going to be the best of friends the moment I saw you, and now it’s even better! It’s like we’re sisters!” She let go of Story and beamed at her. Story smiled back; Adair’s enthusiasm was hard to resist.

War of the Seasons, book one: The HumanWhere stories live. Discover now