A Boat Trip

This is chapter 3 of Jessica Rising’s webnovel, The Elementals: Song of Spirit. If you’re on the wrong chapter, or are just starting to read, click here for the linked table of contents. And happy reading! ~ JR

Chapter 3

A Boat Trip

“I bet we run into some spiders,” Mae said, grinning as they followed Romin to the edge of the stairs. “I wonder how big they’ll be to us now!”

“I’ll beat them up!”Quinn cried, balling his hands into fists.

Kat whimpered and Ellen glared back at Mae. But her sister’s words gave her a worrisome thought. “Romin, how are we supposed to go down those stairs? It would have been better to shrink us in the yard, wouldn’t it?”

“Do you want to deal with all the wildlife in your yard at this size Mistress?” the elf asked, not looking back.

“Well, no. But …”

“I know I don’t enjoy fighting off spiders, myself,” Romin went on as if she hadn’t answered. “The dryads always have had a much better knack with all kinds of insects and bugs and… ugh, than us elves ever have.” He shuddered.

“But how ..?” before Ellen could finish her question, she saw that the elf was not heading directly for the stairs after all, but for a plastic toy boat that was perched close to the edge of the stairs, leaning against the yellow siding of their house. It was Quinn’s, who had brought it out to play with in the pool. Now, of course, to them it was much closer to life size than toy size.

Reaching the boat, Romin turned around, facing the children. “Does this float, Humankin?”

“Yeah,” Quinn answered, obviously confused, but proud of his toy nonetheless. “It has sounds too! It can make a weeeeow weeeeow noise like a siren, and …”

“Thank you, Sir Quinn. This is exactly what we need.” Romin grinned, waving an arm towards the boat. “All aboard!”

“Um, Romin, maybe you haven’t noticed, but the pool’s about two miles away from us now,” Mae pointed out.

At least two miles,” Ellen agreed. “There’s no water anywhere near us.”

Romin shook his head with a sigh. “I’m certain that someday you will trust me in these matters, humankin.”

“More faerie magic?” Kat asked, grinning.

The elf nodded. “We prefer the word glamour, Princess.”

With a shrug, Mae jumped up and hoisted herself into the red and yellow plastic boat, then knelt on the deck, holding her hands out. “Give me Rose so you can get in,” she said to Ellen.

Ellen eyed the boat distrustfully. “It looks dangerous. Is it wobbly?”

Mae considered for a moment, then grabbed the edge and shook her whole body wildly. The boat shook a bit with her, but otherwise held steady to the wall. “I think it’s jammed. It’s fine.”

“You’re the one that’s crazy,” Kat said, shaking her head.

Mae shrugged and took Rose from Ellen, standing up to make way for the others. They had to help Quinn in as well, as he was just a bit too short to hoist himself up.

When they were all on board, Ellen turned to Romin. “Well? What now?”

“Watch.” He pointed at the house, grinning. “It’s really very exhilarating when one moves from one plane to another.”

Kat was about to ask what he meant when her words stuck in her throat. She rubbed her eyes to make sure she was seeing right, then stared open-mouthed in disbelief.

Slowly, their house began to melt. The interlocking slats of yellow vinyl dripped on top of each-other sluggishly, like warm wax. Their sliding door, as well, oozed its own molten glass, melting on top of the softening wood deck. Ellen looked around, fascinated, and saw that it was not only their house that was melting, but the entire world! Trees, neighbors’ homes, even the sky itself seemed to dissolve in on itself like a watercolor painting on a melting wax canvas.

Kat squeaked in surprise as the boat jostled her to its deck, set loose from the quickly liquefying outer wall. Her siblings, too, fell to the deck in a chorus of cries and yelps. Quickly she stood again, looking with amazement at the now entirely melted landscape.

They floated in a thick, multicolored liquid that stretched endlessly to every horizon. Above, the cloudless sky was a steel gray, a large red sun hanging heavily in the center. Even as Kat watched, the liquid in which they floated slowly thinned, taking on the bright aquamarine color of a tropical ocean.

Deep inside, she felt a stirring of something she couldn’t quite place. It was a good feeling, like Christmas morning. A smile she could neither understand nor control formed on her face.

“What just happened?” Ellen breathed, half fascinated and half terrified.

“Did Mommy… melt?” Quinn asked, his bottom lip quivering.

Romin shook his head with a smile. “No, Sir Quinn, your mother is safe and sound back on the Earthen Plane. This is the Aether Plane.” Cocking one ear, the elf looked around nervously.

“Romin? What is it?” Ellen asked, worried.

“Merfolk. I hope,” he replied. “They are the dominant residents of the Aether Plane, but not the only ones. And some others aren’t quite so nice.

Kat’s eyes grew wide and the happy feeling inside intensified. It was as if she had opened a wonderful present. “Really? Mermaids?” she asked, jumping up and down excitedly.

Romin waved his hand toward her, leaning over the side of the boat towards the now entirely blue-green water. “Shhh, please Princess.”

Kat closed her mouth with a click of her teeth, trying to control her excitement.

Suddenly, Romin made a noise that was a mix between a seagull’s cry and a whale song. All five children jumped in unison, startled. Quickly but faintly, they heard the sound echo back; it seemed to come from just past where the elf leaned. Romin repeated his call.

Kat echoed the call inside her own head, thinking with wonder that she could probably make the strange noises herself.

The children strained towards the spot in the unbroken water from where the first answer had come. All was silent.

“Silly elves,” a voice giggled from behind them. Jumping in shock, they all turned around. Romin leapt up from his place and ran to the other side of the boat, pushing his way through the dumbstruck children.

Two mermaids floated gently in the water on the boat’s port side. One, seemingly the speaker with an impish grin, had long green hair and big green eyes. The other, who could have been her twin, had hair the color of a clownfish’s scales and eyes to match.

Kat watched the mermaids with an ever-growing feeling of longing that she couldn’t explain. The impulse to jump into the water with them was almost too strong to fight. It scared her a bit, but also excited her. No pool or beach had ever given her this feeling before, though she always did like to swim.

“Oh! But it is only one silly elf! Whatever are those other things with it?” the mermaid with green hair asked her companion.

“I don’t know,” the orange-haired one replied with a giggle. “But they’re cute!”

Romin rolled his eyes. “Mermaids.”

They glared at him, harrumphing.

“Best be careful, elf,” Green-Hair retorted. “You are in the Aether Plane. It is a long way from your home.”

Her companion nodded. “And somehow you seem to have forgotten the terms of our truce.”

“That is true, Sister. Father will not be pleased.”

Romin held up a hand. “It seems you are the ones who have forgotten. The elves have the right to Travel within all the planes.”

The mermaids shook their heads at the same time. Green-Hair replied. “True, elf, but these with you are not elves, are they?”

“And they are certainly not Water-Born,” the other added.

“And so the truce is broken,” the first said with a smirk.

Romin smiled, crossing his arms over his chest. “Most of them are not Water-Born, true.”

The mermaids eyed the children closer. “Most of them?” Orange-Hair asked skeptically.

The elf continued, his smile deepening. “They are human… mostly.”

The mermaids gasped in unison.

“You don’t mean… but that’s impossible!” Orange-Hair cried.

Green-Hair’s expression darkened. “Elf, if you are joking …”

“Elves do not joke about this, mermaid,” he answered, returning her look.

“Yeah, yeah. We’re humans. What of it?” Mae asked, annoyed.

The mermaids only stared, speechless.

“Listen, I have to talk to Poseidon,” Romin told them. “There is no time. You know what the humans’ being here means, so shoo! Get him! Hurry!”

Without a reply, the mermaids dashed underwater and were gone. Kat longed to follow them, and even took an almost subconscious step towards the edge of the boat before stopping herself with sheer force of will.

“Romin, what’s this about Poseidon?” Ellen asked, raising an eyebrow.

“He’s the Greek god of the oceans,” Mae answered.

“I know that,” Ellen retorted. “I’m not a moron. Romin, why are you asking to talk to a mythological god?”

Romin turned to face the children. “Because, Humankin, much of what you consider myth is actually ancient human history.”

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3 Responses to “A Boat Trip”

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