Worldtorn by Britta Dewey
17-year-old Eva Clark drowns in an icy river while vacationing in Wyoming. Before her consciousness can rekindle in another world, paramedics revive her mortal body and she returns, fully aware.
Now she must mask and master disastrously malfunctioning immortal abilities or risk the safety of her family and her best friend's dreamy older brother-who unfortunately is her soulmate.
As her condition worsens, Eva straddles the line between living the life she wants and accidentally destroying it.Kindle Vella
Castra, Two Years Prior
Anson ignored the gentle whisper of a mountain wind as he brushed his golden hair from his eyes. “What if we could trade skillsets, Eir?”
He’d contemplated the mechanics of it for over an hour as he knelt in the center of the verdant, sunlit plain, stacking uprooted blades of grass into a neat pile. After a prolonged silence, he turned to find his youthful companion curled lazily on her side, probably asleep.
But Eir smiled, her lips stretching wide across her soft cheeks. She traced her fingers over a ring of wildflowers she’d plaited into a crown, never once opening her eyes, as if she fully intended to nap the afternoon away. Her reddish hair fanned around her head like wildfire. A sigh escaped her. “What would it matter? The work would get done either way. I don’t see the point to finishing our tasks early if you’re going to spend the rest of our time working things out in your head.”
Clouds lazed by, the bright sky a patchwork of blue and white, speckled with the glow of the closest stars visible even by day. A shaft of warm summer sunlight opened around them.
Anson couldn’t help himself. “But Eir,” he persisted, “just between us there’s a whole range of abilities we could access. And if we added others—”
“Anson.” Exasperation layered her tone. She still didn’t open her eyes, not even when she manipulated the grass to press against his middle, a gentle push toward the loam. “In time, you could master all of those without ever having to trade.”
Anson didn’t want to lie beside her in the plush green vegetation, he wanted to try to transfer an ability now. “But we could do it before being evaluated, Eir,” he pushed. Two years would be plenty of time to hone the skill.
“It won’t impact how they assess you.”
“True—but we could do so much more.”
Eir sighed, drawing herself up to gaze over at him with her calm, pale eyes. “Just go ahead and try it, Anson. But tomorrow I get an uninterrupted break.”
Anson perked up, fisting his hands atop his knees. “Great. I’ll see if I can transfer your comprehension of topsoil.”
Eir had a knack for striking a balance in the soil, for making it fertile. Her construction of the field earlier that morning would likely draw praise from the assigned Administrator when he came around for inspections. No need to reveal that they'd been assisting one another in their training exercises. Technically there were no stipulations against completing tasks together.
Anson wasn’t as adept with sediment or flora, his true aptitude was synaptic transmission and neurologic pathways—various activities of the brain. Anson faced Eir, his gaze intent as he locked eyes with her. “I think I can connect our pathways but I have to make an opening.”
Eir nodded, a silent assent.
Anson let a hand rest at the base of her slender neck, let his nerves extend through the tip of his index finger and through her delicate skin, until they fused with the cranial nerves at the base of her brainstem. Her mind was a labyrinth teeming with activity. “Manipulate the soil next to us,” Anson urged softly.
Eir obliged, though she maintained eye contact, as if she felt his intrusion into her mind and wanted to monitor his progress. The minerals and organic matter in the surrounding earth shifted, their musty scent heavy in the air.
“I think I see the way,” Anson murmured, creasing his brows as his lips parted. He grasped for Eir’s comprehension of the soil, firing little synapses to bring it across the connection to his side, through his nerves and into his mind.
He pulled at it gently, eased it over.
But just as he perceived Eir’s topsoil competency, as the skill faded within her mind, a sudden resistance emerged. Fully absorbed in the task, Anson didn’t spare a thought for her widening eyes. He finished extracting her ability with a final tug, elated to feel a reservoir of added capacity open within himself.
Withdrawing his hand from her neck, Anson stood and tested the newly acquired skill on a patch of soil to his left. The ground was nutrient rich. Plenty of phosphorus and potassium, some nitrogen too—he could feel the balance now, understand how it suited the tall grasses in the surrounding field.
Eir thudded to the ground, as if she were already asleep.
Mere seconds passed before Anson’s smile withered and he reached for Eir in a panic, disturbed by the empty stare he sighted on her slack face.
Something was wrong.
“Eir.” Anson set his sturdy hands on her thin shoulders. “Eir!” Her tresses bounced as he shook her. Anson reached his hand around her neck, wove his nerves back into hers. Returning Eir’s ability was simple—he found his way back to the place it belonged quickly enough—but the pathway was damaged, as though other parts of her mind had been ripped open.
He hadn’t done that—she must have tried to drag her comprehension of topsoil back through the wrong pathway, or tried to keep it from him at the last second.
Anson tried to piece her mind together again, but the complexity of it dwarfed his understanding. Without knowing how all the pieces fit there was no way to completely realign her mind. Still, Anson restored the few parts he knew were meant to be connected.
Eir stirred lethargically, but her words came out jumbled. “No,” she slurred incoherently. “No, ’s mine. My mud. S’mine, Anson. My muds.” Her arms moved sporadically, her fingers clenching and locking up.
“Eir,” Anson called, but she wasn’t herself, she was gone. “Eir,” he called again anyway. “I’m going to get Haron—I’m going to put this right.” Anson scooped her into his arms. Though she was light, her spine arched oddly as her limbs flailed and her knees locked. Holding her steady took effort. As quick as he could manage, he ran for the edge of the plain, relieved to see an Administrator in the distance. “We need help,” he shouted, “get the rail ready.”
Anson angled himself toward the magnetic slab bordering the field, relieved to see the Administrator shifting the lodestone into position in the air above the metal railway. “There’s been an accident,” he said to the man as he hefted Eir’s body atop the slab. “She’s injured.”
“What did you do to cause her injury?”
Anson hadn’t fully lifted his feet over the side of the slab when the male Administrator propelled it forward, the man’s eyes locked on Eir’s babbling, writhing form.
“It was an accident,” Anson reiterated, “we were working on something and the pathways in her mind got disrupted. We need to find Haron.”
“Yes, we do,” the man agreed as he increased speed and sent the slab hurtling toward the closest transportation hub that connected to Administration Headquarters on Castra. The landscape blurred to the sides of them, but the Administrator’s gaze wasn’t on the path ahead, or even on Eir—it was on him.
Anson averted his eyes, focusing on their destination instead, his hands steadying Eir’s shaking form.
He’d thought surely Haron—the Head Administrator charged with overseeing the entirety of the Evaluations—could help him put things right, if anyone could.
He’d thought wrong.
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