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The Blue Word

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Behind the falls, an apprentice mage practiced. It was easier here, with the rush of water for a mantra.

Yet water would not come. Lightning she had mastered. Ice and fire were becoming easier. This spell, however...

Lulu raised her hands, willing downpour, torrent, pounding surf. A few anemic drops pattered against her scalp.

"Dammit." Sparks popped from her nails. "Water should be easy. Besaid is water."

"The element we breathe is hardest to master." A husky voice drifted through the waterfall from open sky.

Lulu froze. An aeon? No. The voice was strange, but audible to ordinary ears.

A leafy pathway crashed through the falls, flowing towards her feet. A tall figure stepped from the spray. Long white ears rose like a crest. Snowy hair streamed down shoulders the color of clay. The woman's toned figure was barely clothed, her face inhuman. But never did Lulu think fiend.

Crimson eyes much like Lulu's regarded her curiously. "You are a mage?"

She nodded, stunned.

"Fire comes from the heart. Fingers weave lightning. Mind wields the ice-blade of reason. But water--" Clawed fingers lowered to rest over loins covered by an inadequate veil of silk. "It wells here."

The mage gaped. "Who are you?"

"A sister, perhaps. Though you are hume." She shrugged. "Fran."

"Lulu."

She extended a hand. "Would you have me show you?"

The girl raised her chin haughtily, hiding doubts. "Please."

Almost she protested when Fran stepped forward, clasping Lulu's left wrist and bringing it down as she slipped around behind. Gently, Fran guided Lulu's hand between her thighs, brushing her skirt's wet fabric. Claw-tips glided along her right arm, coaxing it upwards for casting. Leather and metal pressed against Lulu's back, warm flesh between the straps. A forbidden thrill sprang from the place their fingers cupped.

Fran moved with her, supple. "Power is in you, Lulu of Besaid. Let it flow."

How dare this stranger touch her so! Fran was not of Yevon, surely. Yet the risk of blasphemy was curiously intoxicating.

Lulu's body began to arch. Magic surged, a rising flood. Fran's warm breaths in her hair matched her gasps. The waterfall's thunder faded; the pulse in her ears grew loud.

Water came. Fran's arms were strong, or the powerful cascade would have swept Lulu from the ledge.

Lulu rested limply in Fran's embrace until pride reasserted itself. Then she pulled away, averting her gaze from the rivulets running down the stranger's body.

"Thank you." Lulu took refuge in Yevon's formal bow.

Fran frowned. "You follow a Word, but it has no color."

Raising a finger, she traced a sinuous sign in the air. The pathway of vines burgeoned out from the ledge again. Stepping onto it, she walked towards the curtain of water.

"Wait!" Dazed, Lulu could not tell when Fran vanished. She could still feel the press of cold metal, smell the woman's wet leathers.

The young woman released a quivering breath. "I... need an outfit like that."