Boco was miserable. One minute, he was nestling by a fire in the Sagolii Desert, and the next thing he knew, he was drowning in sea water. Chocobos don’t swim, much less fly! Ree’ku wasn’t faring much better, although his arms did give him better traction. The Ixal had to help Boco get his head above water. And as soon as Boco had taken a huge gulp of air, he’d been hit on the head and knocked unconscious.
Later he’d awakened to find that they were in some kind of Sahagin settlement, on land. It looked like a city inside a low-ceilinged cave. And they were tied up, and being held captive. Again. Their possessions had been taken, and no food had been offered to them in the time that they had been here. And they were wet – every feather was soaked. Water dripped from stalactites into pools on the floor. The city was filled with the rhythmic splatter of water.
Huge shells were used as huts, and shells of all sizes acted as storage containers, seats, and eating utensils. Large globes glowed with inner light, provided by phosphorescent cave moss and seaweed. It was, decided Boco, rather pretty in spite of the ever-present damp.
“Boco,” said Ree’ku grimly, “I’ve been thinking. This sort of thing, this here-one-minute-gone-the-next, is a pattern with you, isn’t it? Now, I know that you can’t control it, that it’s this woman spirit-goddess-being-whatever, but can you PLEASE tell her that she could make things a whole lot easier if she didn’t just throw us around from place to place? That’s so…so like a female, it’s infuriating!”
Somewhere, close by, a Sahagin voice erupted in deep, liquid gurglings that could best be described as giggles. The ‘slap, slap’ of webbed feet could be heard approaching them. They found themselves looking at a young Sahagin female, whose giggles soon became laughter. Boco had decided that Sahagin females had smaller head-fins and back-fins. Slung across her back was Ree’ku’s spear. The crystal on its haft was glowing. Around her neck was a small blue pearl, which was aglow as well.
“My spear! “ shouted Ree’ku. “Give it back!”
The Sahagin’s eye-slits narrowed, fixing the Ixal warrior with a piercing, appraising stare. She began to open the cell with a key, only to stop and motion for Ree’ku to step away from the door. Reeku stepped backward, one step at a time. When he was 10 steps away, she entered. She reached into a scaled sack that she carried at her waist, withdrew two shells filled with small shrimp, and placed them on the floor of their cell. No sooner had she stood and turned to go, when Ree’ku cracked one shell in half, and brought the jagged edge of one half to the Sahagin’s throat.
Only to find himself struggling to breathe, the Sahagin’s hands around his throat. Long spines had begun to emerge from underneath the webbed fingers. Boco had never witnessed anything that moved as quickly as the Sahagin. “Stop it!!” he cried, and the cell exploded in blue light.
“I knew it as soon as I saw your spear. My pearl told me to take it to you, and that something important would happen. So this blue light has let us undertand each other? Wow, that’s amazing! Clutchfather Novv said he would allow me to take you food,” said The Sahagin, who was called Gillyun Swimquick. “You really should eat them while they’re still sleepy from being cooked. When they’re awake , they wiggle on the way down. Most of our guests don’t like them cold.”
Boco, who had thought his food was at least fully cooked, carefully put his shrimp back in his bowl.
The Ixal was rubbing his neck, now wrapped in seaweed. The sudden appearance of the blue light had knocked everyone off their feet. Unfortunately, when Gillyun fell her claws grazed Ree’ku’s neck. It was discomforting that the Sahagin had told him that there might be some scarring when it healed. Had he been Sahagin, he would have had no scars, Gillyun said. The seaweed, called algaelas, could stop almost any bleeding, and could purge most poisons. Boco made a mental note to tell Kan’E’Senna about it.
“Gillyun,” said Boco, “we came here to…”
“Yes,” said Gillyun, eating their shrimp little by little, “Why did you come here? And Grandfather wants to know how you got here as well. The waterscouts who brought you in said they saw no boat of any kind and your tribes do not take to open water very well, I’m afraid. Did you fall from a sky-ship? Are they as wonderful as the underwater ones? Wait, you’ve never seen an underwater one – how could you? No one knows how to make them. No one even knows who made them to begin with!” And as she finished talking, she ate the last shrimp.
A small crowd of Sahagin had gathered around their cell, curious that Gillyun was obviously talking to the intruders, who just squawked unintelligently at her. A Sahagin boychild pointed at Gillyun, and said, “Look! Gillyun wants to be a pufferfish! She glared at him, and then followed his gaze, where he pointed at the empty food dish. Gillian’s cheek gills flushed a dark blue.
“Oh! Oh! I‘m so sorry! Where are my manners?”
“Eaten with the shrimp!” howled the boychild, and the crowd erupted in laughter. Boco, who hated to see anyone get picked on, walked right up to the small Sahagin. He lowered his head looked him straight in the eyes and said, “Leave her alone, or I’ll eat you for lunch.”
The crowd hushed immediately. “You..speak…Sahash?” asked an old female. Both Boco and Ree’ku shrugged. At this, the small boy let out an ear-piercing shriek and the small crowd vanished. A shell horn sounded, low and nearby. Gillyun bowed. “Thank you for that. Come with me, for Grandfather summons us, and you can answer all my impertinent and important questions.”
She led them to a shell that stood two Elezen high. Two guards stood outside, flanking the doorway. Gillyun said that while her Grandfather didn’t like having them, Lymlaen’s followers insisted he have them near at all times. Before Boco had a chance to about the ‘followers’ he found himself and Reeku being introduced to an old Sahagin. Boco had begun to put two and two together when the old one spoke.
“Hrmmmph. I am Clutchfather Novv. My granddaughter you have met. Now, guppy, go fetch them some shrimp to eat. I have been informed that the food you brought to them mysteriously vanished.”
“But, Grandfa…” began Gillyun.
“Go, and be quick, lest the shrimp swim away again.” Novv winked at her with his inner eyelid. When she left, he sat down on a seat made of coral, and motioned for them to do the same. Ree’ku looked at the seat, and saw that it was wet. He was about to ask for a cushion when he thought better of it.
“Unusual this is, very unusual. You both can understand me? And my voracious granddaughter assures me that I will understand you?” The two friends nodded. “I could say I am ‘happy’ to meet you, but I am not. Because this puts you in great danger, being here, and now, at this time. In one day, on the night of the full moon, Leviathan’s followers will summon him, and set him upon our settlement. And, unless you can breathe underwater, you both will surely perish.”
Two bowls were placed in front of them, and Gillyun joined them. “We cannot spare anyone to look out for you. Our eggs are close to hatching, and must be kept exposed to the air.”
“But you live in the sea!” said Ree’ku.
“Yes, but we are born on land. We must breathe air before we may breathe water. Therefore our warriors carry them to safety tomorrow. It will be difficult, since the eggs must be kept wet, and the journey inland is dangerous.” Novv looked at the Chocobo and the Ixal. ‘”Now tell me how you came to be here.”
As he finished their story, Boco could only wonder how anyone could ever believe all the things that had happened to them. Well, all of it was true. “Anyway, Clutchfather, we need Leviathan. To help save Shiva from Ifrit.” For a long time, Novv was silent.
“You’re sunstruck, “ he finally said. “ You want his ‘help.’ Say he agrees. How will he get from Sea to Desert?”
“Leave that to me, my wise old child.”
Boco and Ree’ku leapt to their feet, almost knocking over their coral seats. Gillyun’s eyes were closed, and the glowing pearl around her neck bathed her in blue light. Swirling around and enclosing her was a thin sheen of water. The voice had come from her, but was not her own.
The voice was Lymlaen’s, of that Boco had no doubt. If the deep ocean had a voice, it would sound like that: soothing and terrifying, all at once.
Novv chuckled. “It is bad enough that you found it necessary to make my poor granddaughter your Voice, O Mother of Us All. But it appears you have frightened my guests. “
Lymlaen/Gillyun laughed, filling the shell-hut with the sound of babbling brooks. “Frighten them? They have heard and seen the shadows of the in-between, and not been driven mad.” She stood and faced Boco and Ree’ku. “You amuse me. I will help you, when I can. This one shall travel with you. Nophica’s help should arrive…about now!”
With that, Gillyun’s pearl stopped glowing, and she staggered backwards. One of the guards came inside, saluted Clutchfather Novv, and said there were more ‘visitors’ outside, and they requested an audience with Novv. “Let them in,” he said.
Eight persons, representing all of the five races, entered the room, including one very familiar to Boco.
They had become friends when the lalafell had persuaded Moogaloo and Boco to ‘procure’ some rare hair dye samples from a passing trader at Min Khetto’s Amphitheatre. Boco wrapped his wings around him, almost smothering the poor man. “ I am SO glad to see you! What are you doing here?”
“Vik Vicious,” said Novv, “Back again so soon?”
>>> to be continued Summer 2015 <<<