3.5 Raw Power

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"I want to see Thomas," Alex said, his voice echoing off marble columns. "Where is he?"

Jinishta said something dismissive in reply to Kessa's translation.

They were in the grandest chamber Alex had ever seen, except for Torth forums. It was tucked away in a corner of the lamplit city, hidden behind an ornately sculpted marble wall. Long friezes depicted warriors shooting lightning at ghoulish apes. All the marble walls of this temple were embossed, their designs framed by strips of hammered gold.

After the hospital, Jinishta had led Alex and Kessa through a food district, where she'd paid for meals they could eat while walking. Alex wished he could have shared the experience with Margo, but Margo had declined to join them.

"I don't want to be dragged around in a hand-cart," Margo had said with shame. "Besides, Councilor Chaniyelem offered to get me fitted for a prosthetic leg. I want to meet the artisan as soon as possible."

If she was trying to avoid Alex—if she detested him—then she was doing a good job of hiding it. So Alex had wished her luck, and promised to check on her later, and he'd followed the impatient Jinishta.

Now he seemed to be inside some kind of temple for Yeresunsa. Slender albino people emerged from vaulted side chambers, every one of them adorned with a short purple cape. Kessa was the only person in sight who wasn't a Yeresunsa. She seemed aware of it, clicking her fingers in a timid way.

Even Alex felt small amidst the towering, fluted columns which spread up to a multi-chambered vaulted ceiling, so distant it was lost in shadows. Torches glowed behind translucent, frilly soapstone shields. The subdued glow illuminated thin waterfalls which poured continuously into shallow channels. Crystal-clear water slicked gold-flecked marble.

Jinishta began speaking to the congregation. She paused frequently, giving Kessa enough time to translate.

"Alex," Jinishta said, "has proved to have a generous power to heal severe injuries and illnesses. He has raw power and talent as great as his father, Jonathan Stead."

The gathered Yeresunsa gawked in awe.

Alex folded his arms. If this was an official introduction, he hoped they would hurry up and get over it, so he could get an update about Thomas. 

Jinishta turned to Alex and made an inquiry.

"What else can you do?" Kessa translated.

"I can cause earthquakes. And storms." Alex wondered if they expected him to list every single feat he had ever done. "Lightning. Tornadoes. I can make things levitate. And shield myself. And I guess I can kill a lot of Torth." He shrugged. "Um, I don't really know what else. I've only been using Yeresunsa powers for a couple of weeks."

Kessa gave a ragged sigh and translated.

The gathered Yeresunsa murmured with unease. Their surprise skyrocketed at the last part, but if Jinishta was impressed, she gave no sign of it. She calmly asked another question.

"Can you show us your production of electricity?" Kessa translated.

In response, Alex held up his hands, connected to the air, and sent energy zipping from one immense palm to the other. Lightning crackled and twitched between his hands.

Jinishta nodded and asked another question. Alex quit the lightning display.

"Can you channel water?" Kessa translated.

Alex felt a little bit ashamed to admit his ignorance. "Uh, what does that mean? I don't think I've ever tried."

In response, Jinishta lifted a slender arm towards one of the soothing waterfalls. When she lifted her fingers, the water parted from the stone and twined upwards, like a snake climbing around an invisible string.

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