Tuesday, February 24, 2015

#118 The Mark of Water 7

Water rushed over her, tore at her, threatened to fill her mouth and nose. Jill buried her face in the creature’s mane of tentacles to keep the water from burrowing inside her. She held her breath until her lungs ached and burned, and still the water rushed around her. Did the creature know she couldn’t breathe under water? Would she drown? Jill gripped tighter, and her heart pounded louder than the roar of the water in her ears.

The water released her and fell away, and now air whipped Jill’s wet hair. She sucked in a breath, filled her lungs so full they ached, and raised her head in time to see ripples coursing over a woodland pool behind her. That must have been where they had come out. Now they wound low over the course of a stream, dodging trees and boulders. There was no drought here, wherever this place was. The stream became a river that flowed through wide valleys and past great mountains, and at last came to the ocean.

Jill cried out as they left the land behind, but the creature kept on swimming through the air, low enough over the water that the highest waves soaked them with spray. Jill watched the mountains fade away in the distance behind her, then watched the horizon ahead while the sun sank low in the sky.

At last a range of black peaks rose up from the sea ahead, and the creature wound its way up a sluggish brown river between them. Here there were no forests, only a few strange trees along the river, and on either side nothing but sand as wide as the sea. The creature took a fork in the river and followed it until the water vanished into the sand. Then it landed, just as the sun was setting.

“This is as far as I can take you,” the creature said. “You will find the south wind if you follow the dry course of this river.”

Jill looked out over the hills of sand and asked, “What am I to do when I find him?”

“Bind him,” the creature said, with a nod at the thread in Jill’s hand. “See that you take care not to wake him.”

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