WooFZee flicks his ears backwards, unhappy with that answer. “What do you mean tricky?”
“Tricky,” repeats Elkah and she refuses to expand on that comment, instead looking down at her berries and continuing to eat.
MeaZea runs a hand through WooFZee’s fur and offers him a reassuring smile. “It’s okay. I’m sure whatever has to be done, we can manage it.”
It’s quiet after that, for a very long time. The sun sets and the moon rises, casting the world in a silver glow. One by one, small white orbs rise out of the brush. A soft glow surrounds them, like the stars themselves have taken flight through the sky. Soft humming fills the air, forming a sound that has no set tune, no lyrics, but manages to be beautiful all the same.
“What are those?” gasps MeaZea, leaning forward on her hands to get a better look. One of the strange orbs flits over to her fact and then away.
“Moonflies,” answers Elkah, a soft smile gracing her face. “They only live here in the emerald forest. Legends say that they’re here, around us, all the time. It’s only in the light of the moon that we can see them though.”
“They must be lonely,” says MeaZea, softly. She stretches out one arm, palm up, towards the nearest moonbug. “Most creatures are asleep at night.”
WooFZee presses his nose against the mermaids shoulder. “They can’t speak the way that we do. My friend told me how to communicate with them though, a long time ago. If you want, we can go try it?”
“That would be wonderful,” says MeaZea, abandoning the ruberries. The centaur had been right – she’s only eaten a few of them but, she’s already full. Turning to Elkah, she adds on, “There’s not problem with that, right? So long as we’re back here in time to leave in the morning?”
Elkah nods. “I plan on leaving at dawn’s first light, with you or without you.”
WooFZee rises to his paws and shakes, bits of crystalline moss and dust falling from his fur. He waits for MeaZea to get settled on his back before starting off, away from their guide. “We’ll be back long before dawn. Don’t worry about it.”
The two walk a bit away from their camp, until they can no longer see Elkah and she can no longer see them. The trees form a natural clearing here, with raised roots and moonflies fluttering lazily through the air.
“How do we talk to them?” questions MeaZea, excitedly.
WooFZee lets out a bark of a laugh. “Finds the moonbug that looks the brightest to you and focus on it.”
There’s one close to the ground, hidden among the citrine roots. MeaZea looks straight at it and gives a hum of acknowledgment.
“Now close yours eyes,” continues WooFZee. “Think loud and clear. Tell it that you’re here as a friend. That you just want to talk to it. Ask for it’s name – but don’t talk. Just think it.”
Katelynn E Koontz – Author