July 9, 2018 | Posted in The Mermaid & The WolF Adventures

Prince Dorado leaves the duo at the edge of the fountain, claiming that he and Esther don’t get along. MeaZea makes sure to thank him one last time before they venture back into the fountain where, much to their surprise, Esther is already formed and waiting.

She looks sadder than before. There’s a lilt to her voice that is difficult to place but makes MeaZea sit up a little straighter all the same. “So you wish to see the Lady of the Sun?”

WooFZee growls. “How do you know that?”

“It is, and so I do.” And then, less cryptically, she explains, “I cannot leave this fountain, but I can hear through the water on the meteorite, through the dew and the rain and the rivers that occasionally cut far, far too deep. And you, my dears, you should not be wasting time asking questions with such a perilous task ahead.”

MeaZea tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “Can you tell us how to get to her kingdom?”

“Yes,” says Esther. “And no.”

WooFZee growls louder. “Well, which is it?”

Esther answers, “it’s both. I can tell you how to get there, but it might not work. There is a creature two meteors over. He knows the path to the kingdom of the sun very well, and he’ll take you there – for a price.”

WooFZee demands, “what kind of price?”

At the same time, MeaZEa asks, “what kind of creature?”

“One that is just as lonely as the Lady,” says Esther. She waves one hand through the air. Droplets of her own flesh fall away, forming a ring. Water sucks itself up from around Esther’s feet, forming a thick portal that hangs in the air. “This will take you to him. But know, once you enter his lands, you will not be able to leave until you have paid his price.”

MeaZea steels herself. She curls one hand in the ruff at the back of WooFZee’s neck. The other hand strokes along the side of his jowl. “That’s a risk we have to take. It’s not like we have an option, WooFZee. We’re in this job for the long haul.”

WooFZee grumbles something that’s decidedly foul, but doesn’t contradict the statement. Instead, he walks over to the portal, shoots Esther one last dirty look, and, before MeaZea even has a chance too bid her fare-thee-well, he steps through the portal.

Instantly, it feels like MeaZea is home.

Cool water crashes down around her skin. Esther’s voice rings clear in her mind – when the time comes to pay the price, don’t hesitate. He is kinder than you might think. He is just lonely, and tired, and lost.

And then the voice is gone, and the portal is gone, and the water is gone, too. MeaZea gasps and, beneath her, WooFZee crumples to the ground.

He doesn’t get back up.

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author