January 18, 2016 | Posted in The Mermaid & The WolF Adventures

Ever onwards turns out to be just around the bend. The mountains grow far more dangerous to traverse at night, and this oddly placed forest is no different. If anything, the trees seem to take on a sinister persona once the stars begin to blink into existence. Gnarled branches reach out, as if they intend to grab hold of MEaZea and tug her right off of WooFZee’s back.

The duo find an old, hollowed out tree to spend the night in. It’s massive; large enough for MeaZea and WooFZee to both fit inside of comfortably. WooFZee curls up roughly halfway inside the tunnel, letting his mermaid companion lean up against his side.

He asks, “we’re still moving towards Comet Precipice?”

“I think so,” answers MeaZea, with a yawn. “We’ve found the bird and we’ve heard the bells. That would make the riddle the next thing that we need to find.”

“Spirits to chase, too,” reminds WooFZee, with a low snort. He rests his head on both of his paws, ignoring the way that the chill of winter has long since seeped beneath his fur.

“Good spirits, I hope.” MeaZea nestles down against the large wolf. “We’ll deal with them in the morning, though.”

Morning never comes.

At least, not before MeaZea and WooFZee are ripped out of their slumber. A young boy is laughing. He’s crouched in the front of the fallen log; dark blue scales circle his eyes and run underneath a bush of golden hair; golden scales circle his mouth, standing out against dark blue skin. He has no irises and his smile seems almost too bright, like the stars have left the sky and found a new home there, stored within his teeth.

“Can’t catch me,” he cackles, before darting off. “Can’t catch me but you have to catch me!”

MeaZea is still trying to figure out what’s going on when WooFZee scoops her up and darts out of the tree. “I think we’ve found your spirit,” he howls!

Because, in the long run, what else can that boy be? He moves through the trees as if he’s a part of them. Even WooFZee, long skilled in the ways of forest running, has a hard time keeping up with the stranger.

“I didn’t think we would find it so soon,” says MeaZea, pressing herself flat against WooFZee’s back. She takes hold of his ruff, fingers curling tightly in the dark fur. “Are you sure that’s the right spirit?”

“I think you’re being picky!” WooFZee lets out a bark of laughter. The spirit ducks underneath of two crossed trees. WooFZee jumps over them – where he lands in an empty clearing. The clearing is filled with bright red poppies. From this angle, they can see a hole hidden beneath the red blooms.

“It’s the poppy field,” says MeaZea, surprised.

WooFZee shakes his head. His upper lip curls up, revealing sharp fangs. “No,” he says. “It’s not. There’s something different here. The air smells sour.”

“Though eyes I have, they have no sight.”

It’s the boy’s voice. It seems to be coming from everywhere.

“I can’t be seen in black of night.”

MeaZea blinks – and he’s standing in the center of the poppy flowers.

“If I move left, then you move right.”

He waves at MeaZea and WooFZee.

“In looking glass, I come to life!”

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author