Dawn comes early, rousing the small group from their slumber and urging them back on the path to the beach. It’s an even prettier sight in the daylight. Golden sand and dark blue water. Waves crash against the shore, occasionally carrying up bits of coral or a stray strand of seaweed.
MeaZea smiles and leans forward, wrapping her arms around WooFZee’s neck. “Isn’t it nice to be back near the ocean?”
WooFZee wags his tail in answer. His eyes gleam in happiness. “It has been a while. I’m sure you’re excited.”
“What about you, Panda Santa? Do you cross the ocean often?” asks MeaZea, her gaze never once leaving the white foam of the waves.
Panda Santa laughs. “Oh, no. In fact, I try to stay as far away from it as I can. You see, my reindeer can’t swim so this can get fairly tricky.”
WooFZee grumbles in understanding. Swimming isn’t his specialty, either. But the ocean, it’s still part of his home.
The great wolf lays down on the very edge of the shore, legs tucked beneath him. MeaZea wastes no time in slipping off of his back and into the water. She flicks her tail, splashing water all over WooFZee and propelling herself a little further away from the beach.
“How do you get to the fans that don’t live on the mainland?” asks MeaZea, flicking a strand of wet hair away from her face.
Panda Santa sits down beside WooFZee. Behind him, his reindeer prance from hoof to hoof impatiently. “Why, the same way that WooFZee does. I ask the motoro stingray to help carry me across. I usually call them myself but..would you mind, MeaZea? I would love to hear you sing.”
For that is how the motoro stingrays know that someone needs their help. And MeaZea, she would never turn down a chance to call the creatures that she grew up among. So WooFZee hums a slow tune and the mermaid relaxes among the waves and begins to sing.
Over waters deep
Through the ocean blue
S’long that I’m with you
And then her words drift into something else. Something that isn’t mermish and isn’t Common but haunting and beautiful all the same. MeaZea sings until the water parts and a large motoro stingray appears in the tide.
“Lovely! Lovely! A song as wonderful as that of the ocean. Who is it that sings to me?” asks the stingray.
“Arment. How are you?” asks Panda Santa. “Tell me, will you be able to carry us all across to the Gemstone Island? I have a few fans there that I need to visit.”
“Panda Santa! And who is this? A wolf and a mermaid, too?” cries Arment, cheerfully. “Oh, this is going to be a big job. A very big job! You will have to wait here while I go and get my brothers. But I’ll be fast, Panda Santa. I know that you have many fans waiting for you.”
MeaZea reaches out and runs her fingers over Arment’s spots. It feels like silk. “Thank you, Arment.”
Katelynn E Koontz – Author