The trio take their time saying goodbye to the stingrays. MeaZea gives each and everyone of them a stroke on the back and WooFZee grumbles out a thank you.
On the shore, the sand is hot beneath their paws. WooFZee gives a hard shake, sending droplets of water flying off of his fur. “Which way, Panda Santa?”
“Actually, I think it might be time that we split ways. I can steer the reindeer on my own now,” answers Panda Santa, as he wipes the water off of his sled. “I’m sure that the two of you have places you want to visit. But thank you both so very much for your help. I wouldn’t have gotten to this island in time if it weren’t for you.”
MeaZea laughs. She’s running her fingers through her hair, trying to work out the tangles caused from the ocean waves. “It’s been fun travelling with you, Panda Santa. Good luck getting to all of your fans!”
“Good luck on all of your travels,” replies Panda Santa. He climbs onto the back of his sled and, as the reindeer race across the sand, waves at the mermaid and wolf. “Merry Christmas to you both!”
MeaZea and WooFZee take their time walking along the beach. It’s comforting to the mermaid, to be able to hear the sound of the ocean. “Which way should we go, WooFZee?”
“The forest, I think. I’ve never been to this island…but I know a dragon that lives here,” responds WooFZee, ears twitching. “I’ve heard the stories, too.”
MeaZea smiles, leaning forward to wrap her arms around WooFZee’s neck. “Do you mean the ones about the hot springs? Do you think we should go look for them?”
The beach seems to stretch on forever, front and back. To the left, the ocean is the darkest blue. To the right, a few palm trees grow. And behind them, the rest of the island glimmers into view. WooFZee can just barely make out the start of the emerald forest.
His tail wags. “I think that’s exactly what we should do. Magic hot springs that are hidden in a forest of gems? It sounds perfect to me.”
With that, WooFZee picks up his pace. They trot away from the ocean – and as they get to the very first palm trees, the sound of birds singing fills the air. The sound echoes through the air, like it’s coming through a tunnel.
“Can you see them?” asks MeaZea, craning her neck to try and catch a glimpse of the birds.
WooFZee shakes his head. Before he can answer, a different sound echoes across the beach. A voice.
“Hey ho,” calls the voice. “Two new faces from across the ocean…what’s brought you here, journey-men?”
MeaZea leans close to WooFZee’s ears, voice barely higher than a whisper. “Can you see anyone?”
WooFZee tilts his head from side to side, eyes narrowing. He sniffs once, twice, three times, before taking a slow step towards one of the palm trees. “No…but I smell them.
Katelynn E Koontz – Author