The Elementi Series (Book One)

Chapter One

By: Katie Runyon

Note: This is the revised version of Foreseen. Though not a final draft, it should hopefully be a step up from the original. And this first part of chapter one is almost like a prologue, but crucial to the rest of the series. I will be happy to return any reviews when I get the chance. Thanks for checking out my story!

Even through her small mittens, Kari felt her fingers grow numb—though she was not going to admit it to her mother. Instead, she shoved her hands beneath her armpits and watched her breath trail out behind her in the chilly winter air.

"But, mommy, I don't want to go yet," Kari whined, pouting her lips for emphasis.

"Sweetie, it's getting dark. We'll come back another time, I promise," Sian replied as she plodded across the frozen water, heading toward solid ground.

Kari never wanted the day to end. To her, nothing was better than a day full of snowball fights, snowmen, and having her mother teach her how to skate on the pond's glassy surface. Nevertheless, the sun continued to dip below the horizon, tainting the clouds a beautiful pink. It would not be long before night fell on the Ashford Forest.

With her head down, Kari trailed after her mother. Somewhere deep in the woods, heavily burdened branches let their loads crash to the ground, disturbing the peaceful forest. Why do we have to leave? There's still enough light. It's not like I'm afraid of the dark or anything. But that was a lie. She feared the dark—it was when all the monsters came out. Still, she wanted nothing more than to stay a little bit longer. So Kari tried to cross her little fingers in the hope that her mother might change her mind. After all, it had worked before.

A loud crack reverberated through the still air, snapping her away from her thoughts. Just a few feet in front of Kari, her mother paused. Then the pond's frozen surface broke, and the icy cold water engulfed her mother. Gripped with terror, Kari could do nothing but watch.

After a few shaky breathes, the initial shock wore off. Darting forward, Kari screamed for her mother. Her heart pounded inside her chest.

Her mother's head popped back up to the surface, her arms grabbed at anything within reach. "S-stay where y-you are!" Sian stuttered. Her blonde hair stuck to the side of her face. "D-don't come any c-closer—you'll f-fall in."

The sound of her mother's voice, more than the words, caused Kari to skid to a stop. Her short arms jutted out to keep herself from falling as she slid on the ice. The hole seemed so close, yet to so far away. Uncertainty rose up within her as she watched her mother splash around frantically in the freezing water. Kari would not just stand there while her mother needed her help. She took a step forward.

"No, Kari! S-stay back! Get away!" Sian's voice rang with alarm.

Kari stood motionless as her mother tried to climb out, but the ice around Sian was not able to support her weight. Kari's knees trembled. At that moment, she hated herself. It was her fault they were there. It was all her fault.

"Mommy, what should I do?" she sobbed, terrified.

"Step back," Sian commanded with purple lips.

She thought about doing just the opposite—rushing over to her mother and saving the day—but in the end, she always listened to her mother. Still, doubt prompted Kari to bite down on her lip as she took a step back.

Her mother's words were barely audible. "L-look around—s-something I c-can use—to c-climb out. D-don't come—n-near me., Sian said, choking on the subfreezing water.

Kari turned and slid along the ice as she attempted to reach solid ground. Without warning, her legs came out from under her. Kari fell, skinning her knees. But she would not let that stop her. Ignoring the pain searing her skin, Kari staggered to her feet.

Reaching the edge, Kari searched the ground with wild abandon. She sent snow and sticks flying through the air. With growing panic, she realized there was nothing large enough to help her.

Kari glanced over her shoulder, panting. Even from such a distance, she could tell her mother struggled just to keep her head above the water. She spat out mouthful after mouthful of ice-cold water. A whimper passed through Kari's lips.

She wanted to yell for help, but knew it was useless. No one would hear her. There was nothing around for miles, except their little log house. The nearest village was over a day away by horse, and probably two days by foot. Even the animals were absent, so she could not use her gift to call to them for help.

Kari returned to the ice, choking back the sobs that fought to escape. "I can't find anything! I don't know what to do!"

"It's okay—b-baby." Sian paused, her teeth chattering. "R-run home—g-get your f-father."

Only then did Kari realize how dark it had grown. "But I'm scared."

"Be b-brave—Kari—f-for me? P-please?"

Water dripped down her mother's pale face and Kari could tell that her eyes were red. She hated the thought of leaving her mother all alone. What if the monsters came?

She sniffled, wiping her nose with the back of her sleeve. "Okay, mommy."

"I l-love you, K-kari," Sian whispered.

Kari's green eyes took in one last glimpse of her mother. "I love you too."

Then Kari ran through the darkening woods toward home. She imagined monsters everywhere she looked, but she had to be brave. So she continued on. Branches whipped against her wet face as she stumbled through the forest, the snow crunching under her feet. It seemed like forever, but finally, she made it home. Racing through the door, she yelled for her father.

"Kari, what is it? What's wrong?" Cael asked with a deep frown on his face.

"It's mommy! She fell through the ice!" she cried, grabbing his arm and pulling him toward the door. "You have to help her!"

Without stopping to grab his coat, her father rushed out the door, with Kari right on his heels. They ran through the cold, darkness together, back toward the pond—back toward her mother.

But when they reached it, no sign of Sian remained. Only a hole in the ice, already starting to frost over again, hinted at anything amiss.

Cael's brown eyes searched the ice. "Where is she, Kari? Where's your mother?"

"I—I don't know." Kari pointed towards the frosty hole. "She fell in there."

Getting on his hands and knees he inspected the area, inching himself closer to the hole. "Sian! Sian!" The ice began to pop, forcing him to back away. However, his eyes remained glued to the hole. "Where is she? She couldn't have—" his voice cracked.

Kari bunched her brows in distress. "Daddy, you're scaring me!"

Looking up, as if seeing her for the first time, he sat back onto the hard, cold ice. Tears began to well up in his eyes and he averted his gaze.

Taking a step toward her father, she asked, "where's Mommy?"

Glancing at the remains of the hole in the ice, he returned his gaze to her. "Come here, Kari." He held out his arms and she came willingly.

"I tried to help her. Maybe someone else came and saw she needed help too." She thought she caught a glimpse of a tear running down her father's face. "Don't worry, Daddy. That's just what happened, I'm sure of it."

She felt her father's arms hold her tight as she sat on his lap, his brown hair tickling her cheeks.

Pulling her away, he met her eyes. "Kari—no one helped your mother."

"Of course they did. How else could she have gotten out?"

"No, Kari, that's not what I meant." After a deep breath, he placed his hands on either side of her face. "She didn't get out, Kari. She—she drowned. Your mother's gone." He looked down at his lap as a tear fell from his eye and rolled off his face.

Kari felt as if a large rock had crashed into her stomach. "What?" She frowned with confusion. Her eyes darted to the hole as realization dawned upon her. She understood. "You mean mommy is never coming back, don't you?" Her vision blurred with tears.

"Yes, Kari. Mommy is gone. She's in a better place now." He wrapped his arms around her little body, which shook with sobs.

Her father held her for hours that night, silently cradling her in his arms. Kari clung to him as if he was the only one left in the world, but not even his loving arms could ease the hurt of losing her mother.