The Wind & the Tide (Part 2)
Cold, unyielding panic woke the dryad and she stared into the open night sky. Something was coming, something was changing.
“Not yet, and not soon,” she sighed in relief. Her preternatural senses were intricately tuned to her forest, and being winter, the trees and spirits felt especially vulnerable. The threat was coming, but not tonight.
The mermaid stirred in the icy bath-shaped depression dug into the forest’s floor. The dryad reached over and stroked her aquatic lover’s hair, soothing the sleeping creature. Let her sleep. The dryad checked the warming stones that magically kept the bath safe and comfortable, no matter the season’s chill.
The next morning, the mermaid used their language of signing and facial expressions to admonish her lover. “When you are scared, I am scared. We have to be a team. Don’t keep danger from me.”
“I don’t want to bring this to you. I don’t know what is out there!”
The mermaid stared up into bright hazel eyes with a hard, exaggerated expression of exasperation. “And neither do I! But this,” she gestured to the forest from her tiny pool, “is All. Unknown. To me. Everything here is out of my world” – the mermaid used the sign for ‘wool,’ not ‘world,’ and the dryad made a mental note to tease her later when they weren’t fighting – “so you have to be open with me.”
Then emphatically, “Always.” Taking the dryad’s hands and pulling them into the water, drawing them to her lips, the mermaid slowly signed, “please.” She kissed the tips of her lover’s fingers.
The dryad agreed glumly and apologized. The mood was only sour until breakfast was decided upon.
The owl pecked at the dryad in desperation, using all its strength to awaken her. Groggily, after several minutes, she got to her feet and removed the dart from her leg. The dryad’s fey metabolism went to work reducing the poison quickly, she would be fine in a few minutes.
Hooting wildly, the owl told the dryad all it had seen. The danger had come, the robed humans had cloaked themselves at twilight, they had—
“STRAWBERRY!” the dryad screamed, naming her mermaid lover. She was gone. The owl launched itself into the air and though the forest, the dryad known as Red Kelp followed. The journey did not take long, the plants themselves guiding the dryad along the most efficient path, their voices filling in the gaps of what had happened.
The hunters had come, holding a water elemental hostage. In exchange for its freedom, it would carry the mermaid to their base of operations. If it refused, they would banish it to the elemental fire dimensions.
Red Kelp switched course when she saw an oak on the horizon, running towards it at an impressive speed. She flew into it as cleanly as a diver plunged into a pool, teleporting miles away in an instant.
The sight welcoming her was unimaginable — unless, of course, you had an agent in the field to report back. Which, by good fortune, we did.
Atticus Q. Redghost looked up from his lunch in surprise, nearly falling over as a crazed dryad jumped out of the tree he had been leaning on. He smiled at her awe-struck silence, rummaged through his picnic basket for a second mug. “Tea?” He was understandably ignored.
The dryad stared in silence at the sight of the raging massive water elemental. Like a gigantic wave, it thrashed through the small collection of stone buildings, cleaving through wizards and their spells as if they were drowsy insects. Clearly guiding the creature’s movements, swimming this way and that, a brilliantly colored mermaid swam, adding her own rage-filled voice to the elemental’s deafening roars.
“I have no idea what it is saying, but they’ve been going on like this since before I got here,” Atticus offered helpfully. “The elemental and the mermaid started working together as soon as they saw each other.”
“It is casting spells,” the dryad mouthed quietly, watching her mermaid lover guide the elemental. “The wizards won’t drown, it wants to take them down one by one.”
Atticus smiled at the love-struck expression on the dryad’s face. “What is it the kids say these days, eh? Life goals or wife goals?”
The dryad glanced at him, rolled her eyes, and turned away so the villain wouldn’t see her smile.
Red Kelp and Strawberry were married the following summer solstice.