Just Breathe
her, together they’d have twice the strength she had before.
    A quiver in her lip fumbled her smile. “Thank you.”
    Mummy? Desperation stained the tiny voice.
    A deeper song farther out bled into the sea. It must be his mother. Thank God.
    “Tomorrow.” She nodded to Westbrook and the female Wæter, then dove into the dream ocean to lead the baby home to his mother.
    Let the revolution begin.

Chapter Six
    September 2
    Warm rays of sun dazzled the aqua blue ocean, highlighted the currents, and scattered beams of dancing light. Despite the beautiful day and calm water, Lily carried a heavy weight in her heart. The calf in Sydney died yesterday. She had sensed the terrible pain of his loneliness at the loss of his mother and the pangs of hunger swallowing him from the inside out.
    At least Zoe had been with him through the end. Though Lily couldn’t get into the Dreaming, cries of elation reached her last night from the other side of the Veil when mother and calf were reunited. Zoe had done well, especially under the difficult circumstances.
    Lily leaned to the side and stared up through the water column to the throbbing sun overhead. The Fyres had wreaked so much havoc, both here and in the Dreaming.
    Mum, I’m tired. Her calf, Araluen, had put on a brave face since orca whales attacked him a couple of days ago, but his wounds were not healing as they should. The journey to Hervey Bay had been a harsh one.
    Let’s have a rest, then. Surrounded by twenty other humpbacks, Lily caressed Araluen’s bumpy rostrum with her pectoral flipper.
    One of the other Elementals swam up and lowered his barnacled head. Lily, we know you don’t wish to ascend to the throne, but won’t you consider taking the position temporarily? If there’s no Archelemental in place by the spring equinox in a few weeks, Aqua will be displeased. Worse, the Elements will fall out of alignment. The Fyres will gain control, and it will be even harder to regain Balance once they have momentum.
    All true. But the tragedy in Sydney proved how much Araluen needed his mother. Fyres sought both her and her calf with the express intention of murder. There was no way Lily would give up Araluen. And playing dual roles of mother and Archelemental simultaneously was out of the question. She could barely care for the baby as it was, let alone tend to Archelemental responsibilities right before a tithe.
    Yes, the needs of the many were important, but she was a mother. Her child had to come first. Once Lana took office, the pressure from the Fyres would be off Lily.
    Thank you for helping Araluen and me, but I cannot risk my baby’s life, even for a temporary position. Lana is the only choice.

    Another whale joined the conversation. But Lana’s followers plot against you. They tried to get rid of Zoe with threats of harm. They cannot be trusted.

    Lana had nothing to do with it, Lily said. She is a good person who does not condone such behavior. Yes, it’s unfortunate that some of the human Elementals resorted to bullying, but do not judge Lana by their actions.
    Lily believed in Lana’s innocence. The woman didn’t play dirty politics. Though she couldn’t read minds or understand human language, Lily sensed sincerity in Lana’s Water. And a genuine desire to advocate for the Wæters as a whole—even the non-human ones.
    Another humpback swam up. We believe you are making a grave mistake by not taking up the mantle. Many Wæters—and human Wyldlings—could suffer if the wrong candidate becomes Archelemental.

    Lily closed her eyes. Your objection is noted. My decision stands.

    Mum, are you fighting about me? Did I do something wrong? Araluen asked.
    Lily’s exasperation eased, and she tucked him under her pec fin. No, little one. You did nothing wrong. In fact, you did everything right. Are you ready to continue onward?
    The wrinkles around his eye tightened. She sensed the pain flaring in his tail again, and her heart ached. Her being an

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