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The Wishing Map
Chapter Sixteen: Fisher Folk and Naims (Cont’d)
Previously: Returning to Ismara in search of the lost Objects, Gina and Zack suddenly realized they were falling into an ocean!
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They hit the water like crash test dummies.
Why hadn’t they slowed down like they did on their previous descents? Had the High Faeries taken into consideration the fact that people can hit water at extremely high speeds and survive, or did they simply have twisted senses of humor?
Gina was in an off-kilter sitting position when she hit. Zack was perfectly horizontal. The smack as they struck the water was so bone-jarring it nearly knocked them out. Zack was six feet below the surface before he even began to slow down; Gina was closer to seven or eight. By the time either had any idea what was going on, they’d swallowed two or three quarts of sea water and no longer had any sense of direction. Stupified by fear, they alternately flailed and floated, floated and flailed…
Until they looked down and saw it…washed in sapphirine blue. Even seen through fifty feet of water-filtered moonlight, the temple was magnificent. It was made entirely of living things, its floor a triangular mosaic of shells of every imaginable shape: king’s crowns and periwinkles, whelks and wentletraps, conches, cockles, and scotch bonnets; all lined with pink and purple urchins and glittering golden sea anemones. It was encircled by tall spiral pillars of live coral, garlanded in undulating yellow-green kelp dotted with pale blue sea stars. They stared in awe.
For too long.
By the time they realized they were running out of breath, they were in serious trouble. It’s impossible to say whether they would have survived on their own. The only thing that can be said for certain is that they didn’t have to; something grabbed them and pulled them to the surface, and then that same something began towing them toward the shore.
Gina felt a sharp-toothed mouth encircle her ankle. She thought with dreamlike third-personness, “That girl is going to be eaten by a shark.” Zack was unable to process his thoughts even that much, though he did manage to hold onto his backpack.
Five minutes later, Gina felt herself being dragged like a dingy across the slippery rocks of Kellansend Bay and nestled onto pebbles like a scallop on a bed of rice. She opened her eyes and, by the light of the double moon, saw an image that made no sense: a dark, slick figure with what looked like wings or fins. As she regained full consciousness she realized it was a woman in a heavy coat with sleeves that extended to her finger tips. The woman was bent over her and was vigorously rubbing her with her sleeves. Gina looked to her left, and saw a like-clad man expertly squeezing the wetness out of Zack.
Zack spit out half a gallon of seawater, and spluttered, “Wha…who…”
The man said, “Shhhh, draw forth the heat that’s in yer, lad, an’ waste it not on useless barking. Still the Season of Wisdom is it, and cold as a forsaken flounder.” He spoke Kellish, the language of both Gar and Sur (North and South) Kellan, with a thick SurKellish accent.
“Zack!” Gina gurgled, and then she too coughed up a bellyful of seawater.
“Do yer likewise, lass,” said the gentle-voiced woman. “Yer’ll speak soon enough…
…an’ then can say how yer came ter fall from the sky.”
Thoughts: Would you be alive today if no one but you had ever looked out for you?
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