Crystal faced her beloved husband, her eyes radiating anger and her arms spread wide to the side, raw elemental power coursing around her through the space that was their bedroom. Matt, in turn, loomed in challenge, his own face unreadable. Matt’s body also pulsed immense and powerful flows of energy as husband and wife—god and goddess—warred one against another, both pressing the primal forces of natural magic back and forth between them. The floor shook with a rumble of masonry grinding against supports. Lightning flickered across the ceiling, both illuminating and marring the sky scene that had always seemed too real to Crystal. Bright bands of energy flashed once, then again, and then several times more from ceiling to floor, the god’s and goddess’s powers dancing nimbly around the room in a deadly magical storm. Encased in the cacophonic soup of energy, Crystal wasn’t certain whether the strikes were the product of her anger or her husband’s, or more likely both, but wordlessly the pair battled on, Crystal’s expression furious while Matt’s remained stoic. Tumultuous winds whipped about the bedroom, slamming the closet door shut and spinning the couple’s beautiful four-poster bed around on the floor before sending it crashing into the wall. Temperatures alternately spiked and fell around the space in spots and in waves. Specks of light appeared everywhere, energy visibly flashing and twinkling as it built up, higher and higher, reaching a display of power on a scale that Crystal had never even imagined possible. Through it all Crystal, shielded by her powers, concentrated on the battle rather than its effects.
Twin screams cut through Crystal’s concentration, the sound tossing a cold blanket of concern over the fire of her fury. Instantly losing her interest in the battle, Crystal dropped her attacks and shield, knowing instinctively that her husband would do the same.
All the energy in the tempest dissipated quickly as husband and wife released their flows and spun toward the door where their twin daughters, Heidi and Linda, stood side by side just inside the bedroom. The door was off its hinges and leaning against the wall, giving the girls full view of the domestic fury that had ensued. The teenagers, still dressed in their nighties, clung tightly to one another, faces wrenched into terrified expressions as their cries trilled on. With the elemental onslaught ended, their screams were the only sound as they pierced the uneasy quiet.
The sight and sound of her daughters’ terror wrenched Crystal’s heart out through her throat. Unable to face the reality of what had just happened, she gathered energy around herself once more and teleported out, fleeing magically to her sanctum. It was both husband’s and wife’s sanctum, really, the little cottage at the far end of the estate, but she was the one who needed it now.
Hastily Crystal raised one magical wall of force after another around the little stone structure. She knew her husband wielded enough power to easily swipe it all to the side if he dared, but she hoped he was smart enough not to intrude on her horrified self-recrimination. Everyone else, meanwhile, would be kept out, and the sound barriers would also prevent them from hearing the sobs that rushed past Crystal’s lips even as she wove the cocoon of force around the getaway.
How did it get to this? She had her husband had never, ever fought. They’d never needed to, since any and all disagreements were always talked through rationally. Why now? She thought back over the past twenty-four hours, remembering the start of the debate from the night before….