Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-One: “Hey-fah for the Sea!” (Continued)
Previously: Gina and Zack realized the sea monsters were actually there to rescue them.
⇔ ⇔ ⇔
They’d been traveling for perhaps an hour when they spotted land. It took another twenty minutes to reach it, but the sight of the encroaching ivory-cliffed coast, along with the gradual dissipation of the storm, renewed their spirits. Enough for them to remember how cold they were. Enough for them to realize how hungry they were. Enough for them to contemplate how lost they were.
The creatures brought them all the way up onto the fine-grained sand, so different from Kellansend’s pebbly shore. The moment the cheldings slid off, the beasts began to drag themselves back into the water using their large, powerful flippers. Their tails, astonishingly graceful in the depths, were awkward in the thin surf, and it took a full minute for them to turn themselves around.
For the first time, Zack and Gina got a good look at the monsters’ faces: their otter-like visages were animal in appearance, but startlingly expressive. There could be no doubt that these were Knowing Beasts, but there was something else…
The larger indigo-black animal kept moving, but the copper colored one stopped.
“Thank you!“ said Gina.
“For saving our lives!” Zack added.
The copper creature nodded its head and barked, no, said something, but in a timbre too difficult to discern; it sounded like a cross between a dog’s yip and a lion’s growl. And then the creature resumed moving out into the water.
“Wait! Are you…are you Maerith?”
It stopped when Gina asked this, as did the larger animal, but did not turn around.
Gina waded out into the icy water, and touched the copper creature’s tail. She was terrified: terrified she might be wrong, terrified she might be right. The creature slowly turned. The moment Gina looked into its eyes, she knew. But was she ready to accept that this beast was the beautiful copper-haired human who’d led her to Naimian, who’d guarded and prayed over her while she slept?
The selchie reached out with its long lithe flipper. Gina fought the impulse to pull away. And then, with its clawed vestigial fingers, it stroked her eyebrow. In that instant all fear vanished. Gina threw her arms around it and said, “Thank you! Thank you, big sister!” A moment later she pulled back, looked the Maerith-creature in the face, and said, “You have to show us your pup when it comes!”
The Maerith-creature shook her head.
Maerith smiled—she could smile every bit as expressively in her animal form—and pounded Gina’s chest five times with her flipper.
Maerith nodded gleefully, and growled, “Ess! Fy bubs!”
A few minutes later Gina and Zack hugged the strangely beautiful beasts goodbye, and then watched them disappear beneath the waves. When Maerith and Shelcor were out of sight, brother and sister turned and faced the pale cliffs of the Frengan coast and said in unison:
Thoughts: Have you ever found a cherished friend in someone you’d mistaken for an enemy?
To read The Wishing Map 108, click here!