Bliss entered my body through the crown of my skull and the base of my loins. Pure pleasure overwhelmed me as I lay back in the buoyant sea. Power flooded into me, my connection with the Tap repaired. I raised my hands and expelled a torrent of molten ice. It rose around me deliberately, forming into a small house, or maybe a boat; a floating fishing hut with a hole carved in the bottom. The sea buoyed me upward and I rolled onto the floor of the icecraft dwelling, examining my own handiwork. The floor stretched perhaps four yards by four, the hole occupying half of the space. The walls rose in intricate blue layers, the ceiling curving toward a single spire. I fashioned myself a simple chair of ice and sat comfortably.
Am’aleh rose in my wake, a whorl of liquid ice and solid water, a reverse cascade of brilliant colors. She took on the shape of a woman, her skin soft shades of blue, her hair so light it shone almost silver, her face masklike perfection. Her mane floated in a breeze that was not there, and she sat in a crystalline throne as it took shape beneath her.
Her radiance demanded no groveling… just a worship of a different kind. The hole in the floor between us closed and we stood, meeting in the middle of the floating hut.
“Is this the castle you offer your goddess?” Her voice, like water whispering around the docks at dawn, echoed in my ears.
“Why would you sap my powers?” I demanded.
“I did no such thing,” came the flowing reply.
“Then why did I lose my ability to manipulate water? Why did my connection with the Tap turn from a torrid flood to a stymied trickle?”
“Perhaps this limitation has always been in place,” the words danced past her azure lips, “you never used to leave me alone for so long.”
I frowned, the Y-shaped scars on my cheeks wrinkling. She was right. Before I met McKinley, I had never gone a week without swimming in the ocean. Certainly not since Am’aleh first gave me her blessings. The ritual had felt natural and healthy… I had no idea it might be necessary.
“When will I have a chance at true power of my own?” I asked, “when will my magic stop being borrowed from your grace?”
“When will the sea stop lapping at the shore? You already wield a great many powers of your own. Combined with the magic I lend you, you approach godhood. What more could you ask for?”
“I will always want more. Until I stand on even footing with the Thaynes, I remain ravenous.”
“Then feast,” she said, wrapping arms of still water around me, “and drink.” She tilted her effervescent face upward and leaned in. Her liquid lips kissed mine until I lost all track of time and space. She lifted away doubt and worry like burdens from my shoulders. I could be the breath of vapor ascending the heavens. I could be the typhoon that sweeps the lands clean for new growth to flourish. I could be the mighty waterfall, with my own pool of fish swimming far below.
My clothing dissolved beneath her will and we made love on the icy floor, a goddess and a demigod locked in liquid embrace. We rose like the tide and fell like rain, joining like the currents and bursting like geysers. It lasted for days and weeks, or perhaps it lasted for minutes, or seconds. It mattered little. For a time we existed as one great being of pure passion and power.
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