Ellery stretched in relief as his elemental spirit rejoined his physical body. "I hope I never have to do that again. I don't mind controlling an element but I'm very glad I'm really not one."
"I agree," Fletcher said devoutly. He turned, looking for Dunworth. His lover was standing several yards away still, watching him pensively. Just as Fletcher started towards him Mother became visible.
Da nodded to her before saying, "You have been gone too long and the earth suffers as you can see. Fix it."
"Excuse me? Are you giving me orders and what do you mean it has suffered. What could go wrong in three days?"
"Two months, mother," Winston told her. "You and Wil were gone two months."
Her eyes widened in shock as she looked at him and then around her at the barren land. "What day..." she paused opening her senses to what she felt, "Vernal Equinox. How propitious that you should have brought me back today of all days."
"Planning my dear," Da said, one eyebrow cocked in wry amusement. "I am capable of doing that upon occasion."
Mother snorted softly. "Rarely. And would you please return to you more human form, I'm getting a crick in my neck." She finally realized Malburn was still there. "What are you doing with that... piece of excrement?"
"He helped save you and William. Now that you are back he has one more, small chore to do. Oh, and he has decided that he has seen the error of his ways and will be remaining here in my service."
Mother's snort this time was louder and derisive. "You are a fool if you trust him but that is on your shoulders now. I have work to do and quickly before things here go from bad to worse." She turned to look at her sons. "I will be seeing you again, perhaps more often then I have in the past." That said she gave a wave of her hand and vanished.
"Oh great," Winston said with a sigh.
Ellery laughed, encircling May with his arms when she joined them.
Da chuckled as he gripped Malburn's shoulder again. "Until the next time my children," he said before he vanished as well, taking him charge with him.
William was smiling until he saw the frown growing on Fletcher's face. "What's wrong?" he asked quietly.
"That's what I have to find out," Fletcher replied as he started walking away, heading towards Dunworth who was still standing where he had been since the brothers had returned.
"What's wrong?" Fletcher asked as he approached Dunworth somewhat cautiously.
"All this," Dunworth waved his hand around to encompass the serpent mound and the brothers, including Fletcher. "It's one thing to know the four of you can control the elements, it's another to see..." he frowned. "What did I see actually? It looked as if you became the element that supposedly you can only control. But your bodies stayed where they were. Were you aware of that?"
"Meaning was I both things at once? Physically standing with Da and aware of what was going on around me at the same time my elemental form was on the other plane?"
Dunworth nodded. "Yes, that's what I need to know."
"Because I'm having a hard time accepting what I saw. Yes I know what you are," he continued before Fletcher could interrupt, "or I thought I did. And frankly I was able to handle that because you were still 'human' so to speak. Even though you're apparently more gods of some sort than really human---if being the children of two deities makes you that---I could deal." Dunworth scrubbed a hand over his face in frustration. "I don't think I'm explaining this too clearly."
"No, you're doing fine. I get what you're trying to say. You're wondering if what we've always thought about ourselves isn't really true." A grim smile crossed Fletcher's face momentarily. "Frankly, right now, so am I. It was hard enough to find out at the ripe old age of fourteen what our mother really was and that we would have this strange ability to control an element." He paused, looking around. Seeing a bench a short distance away he walked to it, waiting for Dunworth to join him.
Once they both were seated Fletcher continued. "We've moved around a lot because of that and because we physically age much slower than normal humans. OK, this is going to sound...weird. Our ageing seems to get progressively slower. To all appearances we're twenty-four, in actuality we've been around for sixty-one years. But when we looked fourteen we'd actually only been alive for sixteen years."
Dunworth frowned. Fletcher had mentioned early on in their relationship that he and his brothers grew physically older at a slower rate than normal humans so that didn't come as a total surprise now, but... "So in ten more years you might look only two years older than you do now?"
"Yes, more or less." He would have made a joke about looking like Dunworth's boy toy at that point but he had a feeling that wouldn't go over well right now.
"Alright. So, back to what you were saying. At the age of fourteen your mother broke the good news to you that you weren't quite human."
"Yeah. Luckily for us, and the world too I suppose, we weren't suddenly able to make it rain, or snow, or change the course of a river, or stop, or start, a blazing inferno. Can you imagine what trouble four teenaged boys could have caused if we'd been in full control of our powers immediately?"
"I don't think I even want to consider that," Dunworth said, smiling for the first time during this whole conversation. "So your mother trained you?"