August 27, 2018 | Posted in The Mermaid & The WolF Adventures

MeaZea makes her choice.

She will always make this choice.

But, before she can say it out loud, footsteps sound from behind her, impossibly loud. A gazelle steps out of the bamboo. He is made from the same pitch black as the lake. His horns are wreathed in golden rapeseed and pink hollyhock flowers.

The rabbit makes a pleased sound. “That’s a good choice.”

The gazelle says, “I heard your plea. I am San.”

“Don’t be so formal,” scolds the rabbit. “We need to take her to the Caretaker.”

San huffs. “I’m supposed to be formal. I’m a Guide. That’s what we do.”

MeaZea raises a hand, feeling incredibly awkward and out of place. “Excuse me?”

San and the rabbit simply raise their voices, talking over her. The rabbit says, “she wants to meet the Lady of the Sun.”

San shakes his head. Golden and pink dust falls out of his flowers. “Everyone wants to see the Lady of the Sun.”

Someone laughs. Both creatures fall silent. MeaZea demands, “what was that?”

San tells her, “we need to go. Come along. I’ll show you where the Caretaker lives.”

The gazelle walks over, kneeling down on his front legs so MeaZea can hook an arm around his neck. Just as she pulls herself up, San stands up, making it easy for the mermaid to settle upon his back. San’s not half as broad as WooFZee is, but it will still be better than dragging herself along whatever path they must take.

The rabbit is already moving away from the lake. “Hurry,” she says. “We wouldn’t want to be too late. Let’s just – keep moving.”

“Ridiculous,” grumbles San. His long legs make short work of the path. They’re heading towards the distant mountains. Around them, the bamboo grows thicker, until there’s a wall on either side of the worn, well traveled path.

MeaZea leans forward, so she can whisper in San’s ear, “I think something’s following us.”

“I’m sure it is,” answers San, voice going formal again. “This path is seldom empty. Do your best not to look back, and I will do my best not to quit moving forward.”

“What’s behind us? What’s – what’s out here?”

“Children of the Coin,” says San, simply. He acts as though that explains everything.

MeaZea wants to question after it some more, but the laughter is back. It’s louder, now, closer. There’s a distinctly childish edge to the sound. San’s steps get quicker.

Up ahead, the rabbit goads, “let’s go, let’s go! If we want to get to the Caretaker, we have to get her to the second choice! Hurry up, San!”

San makes a distinctly unhappy sound. “I know that! This is my job, you furry fiend, not yours!”

“Do it well,” insists the rabbit. “I like this one!”

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author