Child of the Moon - The Springs of Life


[The Lady]

She and the Major walked unhurriedly down the small, smooth path that led from the campsite to the springs. As they entered the clearing she stopped walking and took in the scene that opened up before her.

Surrounding the spring was a beach of soft pink sand. The sand was cool against their bare feet while the water itself would be very warm; almost hot. The beach was completely enclosed by close-standing trees, save for the pathway that led to their campsite. There were a few colourful shells and small stones littering the sand and glittering in the moonlight. These precious stones had been there for ages and would remain for many more ages: For some inexplicable reason, very few ever took any of them away from where they lay.

The water itself was crystal clear; the colour of pale blue ice. It was so clear that one could see the small fish and other life forms swimming at what one assumed was the bottom. The bottom of the spring was covered with a miriad of colourful stones and shells that had been there for countless ages, giving the bottom of the clear, ice blue water a rainbow colored bottom. What one didn't realize until going down to touch the colours was that they caused a unique and interesting mirage affect. The rainbow of colour gave the spring a false bottom. One could go below the rainbow and not be seen from above it.

The spring was not a small one; it was approximately four thousand feet in diameter and thirty feet deep. It's body was almost perfectly round. The roundness of it was broken only by the small waterfall cascading heavily at the far side from where they began.


[Major]

The Major gives a small smile, wearied by the trail but still bright and cheerful, as he hears everyone talking back and forth about skinny-dipping and the springs.

"Go on, my friends, don't let an old man like me interrupt the Revival." Giving the Lady's hand a quick and apprehensive squeeze, Ashbury lowers himself onto the ground next to the water.

"I'm too old to fool around with you youngsters, anyway. Perhaps, though, I could appropriate a little drop of the pure from my saddle bag later, if anyone feels the need for a nip." Grinning teasingly, the cavalry commander, who has indeed aged a bit beyond his years through his service, glances momentarily up at the Lady, before flitting his eyes back to the group to keep from being overly obvious.

"But... you know what they say... 'the older the violin, the sweeter the music.'"


[The Lady]

"Do be careful, Good Major, who you are calling old! I am only just reaching the prime of my youth! I have just this season come of age and have no intentions whatsoever of sitting on the edge of this lovely pool of water while watching the moonlings play! You may remain here on the edge of living if you so desire but you will find that I cannot!"

With that the sapphire clad woman waved both her hands in a small circular motion in front of her body. There was a spattering if sapphire glittering that seemed to explode from her hands, reflecting from the glowing of the moon. When the glitter cleared she was no longer wearing her heavy gown.

Instead she wore a simple shift of the same sapphire blue. This one, however, was of a very thin material one almost see through. It was clear enough to show that the dress was the only garment that she wore. Her feet were bare and so were her arms. The thin straps that held her form fitting bodice up looked too delicate to hold what it was expected to hold.

She smiled warmly at the Major and turned to the pool. Her bare feet moved as gracefully as ever as she took small, delicate steps into the pool. Her dress gathered around her and floated in the water as she moved in up to her waist. Then she raised her arms up into the air and dove gracefully into the water, submerging herself completely.

She seemed to remain submerged for an inordinately long period of time. Too long for most air-breathing creatures to survive.


[Major]

The Major flashes a rakish grin that seems to perfectly fit his face.

"As m'Lady wishes, I shall accommodate." Without any clearer explanation, Ashbury shucks the black waistcoat, belt, and white linen undershirt of his cavalry uniform to reveal a defined chest, powerfully built and wide. His stomach, although marked with a small scar where an arrow pierced his flesh at the Battle of Cetera Heights, is toned and muscled by the physical nature of his life. Tossing the clothes into the nearby brush, the Major eases into the hot springs, and a look of satisfaction melts over his features.

"Now that's grand...!"

Interrupting his soak is the sudden realization that the Lady has been underwater for an abnormal amount of time. With an urgent splash, the Major dives under the water to search for her.


[The Lady]

The Major is unprepared for what he sees. He nearly gave up his breath when he first spotted her. Had he been any less fit he would have been forced to surface immediately. He was, however, in excellent physical condition and able to hold his breath far longer than the average human. This enabled him to watch her for a time.

She is there; near the very bottom of the spring. She was moving around almost as a snake would, her lithe eight feet of length writhing and twisting along the floor of the water. She moved with the casual ease of any creature born to this habitat. The thin material of her sapphire garment, glowing in the iridescent rainbow light, moved softly with the slightest eddy of water and her Living hair moved incessantly around her, spreading out and wrapping itself around her at the same time. Every so often she would reach out a hand and touch something she had spotted and examine it closely. Sometimes she would return it precisely to it's original location, sometimes it simply disappeared from her hand.

She had sensed his presence almost immediately, her senses slightly hindered by the solidity of the water. Eventually though, she did turn and acknowledge him. She began to swim towards him but he, by this time, was no longer able to hold his breath and indicated so to her. He then headed towards the surface, hoping that she would join him above water. He didn't have long to wait.

She stayed where she was and watched him moving upwards. She even stayed to watch him tread water for a short time before moving upwards herself. She gave her body a twist and with surprisingly little effort, gained an incredible amount of speed. She sped upwards with the speed and directness of a well aimed arrow. Breaking the surface, she shot straight out of the water, achieving a height of twice her length. Her arms, which had been pressed flat against her body, reached out sideways and she began to slowly spin. This caused her eight feet of Living Hair to spread out like a silken flower glowing in the moonlight. The skirt of her dress, which one would have expected to blossom outward, instead twisted itself around her legs and ankles, effectively protecting her modesty. She folded her arms to place her hands upon her chest and the spinning stopped, although the hair continued it's constant movement. She than raised her hands high above her head, placing her palms together. She then literally dove back into the water from her height of sixteen feet above the surface. She entered the water without so much as a ripple to mark her passing. She resurfaced quickly, directly in front of the Major, giving him a considerable start.

"Is this not the most refreshing pool of water, Major? We've nothing like this on my world. The rock formations below are quite interesting."

She tipped her head slightly as she realized that he needed her to acknowledge that she had frightened him.

"I'm sorry. I meant not to frighten you. Why were you frightened for me?"


[The Major]

Coughing out some of the water, the Major tries to fight the look of concern form his face.

"Well, I... you were under the water... quite some time. I've seen sailors who couldn't stay under half that long. Just thought... you might have hurt yourself somehow." Turning a light shade of rose, the Major coughs into his fist.

"Water's nice, though, isn't it?"


[The Lady]

She flashed him a bright, bedazzling smile, "Indeed! Come to the bottom with me. I will share with you a treasure that I have found!"

With that, she dove under again... without taking a breath beforehand. The Major followed her under, taking that all important deep breath first.

As he met her on the bottom she reached out and took his hand in hers. He thought perhaps that she was being romantic but quickly realized that she was only speeding him up: A lot! All she did was move her feet a little and they shot forward at an exhilarating speed. He could see from the look on her face that she quite enjoyed the pace she had chosen.

In no time at all they were right at the base of the mighty waterfall. She continued to head straight for the pounding, bone-crushing deluge. It was clear to the Major that the silken haired woman had every intention of heading right into the thundering falls.

Resigning himself to surprises, the Major grasps the small cross around his neck with his free hand and allows himself to be led, bracing himself for whatever comes.

In no time at all they were right at the base of the mighty waterfall. She continued to head straight for the pounding, bone-crushing deluge. It was clear to the Major that the silken haired woman had every intention of heading right into the thundering falls.

She took him straight into it without so much as a breath of hesitation. The next thing he knew they were on the other side of the falls. Before them opened up a small yet spectacular vista of crystal and rock formations. Forming from both ceiling to floor and from floor to ceiling, the crystals emitted an eerie, iridescent glow that made it possible to see quite clearly. Tiny drops of water dripped from the ceiling, slid down the formations and dropped to the ones below, thus forming the floor formations. Some of them had joined in the middle, forming completed columns which appeared to support the ceiling of the small cave. There was a constant wind in the place that caused their hair and the shallow pool on the floor to be in constant motion, which in turn, caused light reflections to be flowing and rippling across the walls of the cave.

"I once knew a place like this. On my homeworld there is a place where I would go to play my instrument. No one else ever goes there because it is reserved for the Royals. It is our place of Heart."

She smiled warmly, stretched out her arms and spun gracefully around once.

"Would you like to here me play, Good Major? I would like to play for you."


[Major]

The Major smiles warmly and reclines against the cool wall of the cave.

"I'm hardly sure that I should even be here, as I have no legitimate claim to royalty." Half teasing, the Major leans forward to stretch out sore muscles.

"I would, of course, happily listen to the Lady play, if she will be so kind as to indulge me. And perhaps, if she doesn't mind the sound of a fife, perhaps I can return the favor."


[The Lady]

"I've never heard of such an instrument before. I would be pleased to hear it. But first..."

She took a sitting position in mid air and reached out her hands as though to wrap her arms around a large instrument, placing her long slender fingers into position. She closed her eyes and strummed her fingers across strings that didn't appear to exist. To the Major's surprise, with the first clear, pure notes that filled the cave, there was a strange harp-like instrument was nestled between her knees. He was astounded at the incredible likeness the thing bore to the angel they had left behind at the Inn. There was an incredibly detailed form of a woman in a flowing gown of white gossamer; the gown actually flowed and moved in the breeze that passed through the cave. The figure's hair was long, flowing as the dress did, nearly to touch the ground. She held her arms out in before her, spread slightly apart. From the tips of her fingers, spanning the entire length of each arm, were strings that stretched to the tips of her toes, spanning the full length of her body. the entire instrument glowed a strange iridescent, icy blue colour.

The Lady hugged the instrument tenderly to her body, caressing the strings as though she thought they might break were she to touch them too strongly. As she caressed the strings the music filled the inner sanctity of the cave and the walls began to glow more brightly than they had already. Colours began to fill the cavern that hadn't been here before and they bounced off the walls, the ceiling and the floor. They passed through the to beings who watched with fascination at their brilliance, leaving a strange warmth and tingling feeling coursing through their bodies. The music was pure and clear, like the sound of The Lady's own voice save there were no words, only sound and colour. When the Major looked at The Lady's face it was to see an expression of raptured joy written on it as her Soul Crystal emitted the music that lived inside of her.

The sound of her music was so strong it was able to pass beyond the barrier of the waterfall to be heard by the others playing happily in the pool. They all stopped their playing for a moment to wonder briefly where the gentle, uplifting sound came from. None could identify the source: Nor could the identify the instrument. It was a complete mystery to them all.

When the song was ended, she remained still for a moment, her eyes closed in memory. Then the instrument was gone and the Major was startled to see a tear sliding slowly from the corner of her eye and traversing it's way slowly down her cheek.


[The Major]

The music passed through the stoic Major, catching his senses and taking them back to days long since vanished and gone. The sound, the lady, the crisp air all flood his senses, and his mind beats a hasty retreat to yesteryear. The Major is young again, hardly eighteen and full of the raw optimism of his youth. He wears the red uniform of a military cadet, topped off with a gold braided kepi that is a bit too big for his head.

                                                 The River D'Abonne 
                                     Near the Southern Military Academy 
                                                 Fourteen Years Ago 

"Oh, Ashbury, what on Earth do they feed you at the Academy? You're all muscle." asked a red haired girl laying next to Cooper on the grass of the riverbank, her fingers trailing teasingly over his stomach.

"Not anything half as good as that, Vliass," replies Ashbury, skipping a stone into the still waters of the river. "Lovely meal, my dear."

The tawny cadet rolls his tired shoulders, trying to relax the muscles irritated by hours of drill. The promise of seeing his sweetheart, the miller's daughter Vliass, on Sunday leave is what gives him the will to fight through the sometimes grueling weeks at the Academy.

"And why was it you were so anxious to see me today, Ash?" she asks innocently, as though she already has a good idea.

Swallowing what feels like a lump of cotton in his throat, Ashbury withdraws a small box from his pocket. As he begins to fumble through a proposal, Vliass's eyes begin to water, until tears stream from her green eyes. As the sun sets over the water, casting a brilliant glow over the scene, Ashbury's arms envelop her and pull her towards him in a consuming kiss.

                                              The Present 

"My lady, that was the most beautiful music I have ever chanced to hear. I'm afraid I can't play the fife now, as your talent easily dwarfs my own, and I... my dear madam, why are you crying?" Without thinking of the familiarity the word 'dear' implies, the Major moves to her side, hardly noticing his hand upon her shoulder.


[The Lady]

She placed a delicate finger to touch her tear and looked at the tiny sapphire gem that appeared on her fingertip.

"This?" She spoke softly, more so than usual. "It is my pain. The pain within me rival my strength. I wonder if this hideous wound will ever heal. All the strength... All the power held within my small frame... And yet..." She looked up at him, sapphire tears deepening the deep sapphire blue of her eyes, "I am helpless against it. I cannot..." She looked away from him, casting her eyes downward, causing a cascade of tiny sapphire tears to slide down her cheeks. A small sobbing sound escaped her lips and the Major, without thinking at all, reached out to dry her tears with his fingers. Instead of dampness he found dozens of tiny, warm, tear shaped gems in his hand. He looked at them with wonder and then gently placed his arm around her shoulders. He only held her for a moment before she regained her composure.

She placed a soft, cool hand on his and looked into his eyes. He felt that strange sensation passing through him again. He felt certain that she could see his thoughts.

"Thank you, Major. I apologize for my childish behavior. The music reminds me of how much I miss home and Aellora. My time is short for soon the Old One dies and Aellora must be in place before then."

She took his hand in hers and placed it to her heart, just above her breast. He felt the steady strong pounding beneath the surface of her skin. And he felt something else: He felt something moving, slithering in an almost snake like fashion beneath the her dress.

"Please, honour me with the sound of your music, Major? Will you allow me to hear the sound of your soul, as you have heard mine?"


[the Major]

His head swimming as he remembers his dead wife, the Major nods slowly. Suddenly, being alone with the Lady seems horribly scandalous, almost as though he is committing adultery against his lost love.

Bringing his small fife to his lips, the Major sends martial notes throughout the cave. Within the shrill tune, one can almost hear marching feet and waving banners.

"That was 'The Fall of Longbourn', m'lady. If," the Major shifts uncomfortably, "I may be so bold, what is it that moves so strangely beneath your dress?"


[The Lady]

She looked up at him for a moment and then wordlessly placed her hand to her heart. When she removed it he saw what had slithered and moved beneath his hand. It was her wound. To his horror it appeared to be growing even as he looked upon it.

Just as wordlessly as she had revealed her wound to him, she concealed it: For what words could be spoken.

She knew that she had revealed to him more than just an unhealing wound. She had shown him that, despite all the power that was hers to wield, she was more fragile than the wings of a butterfly newly opened to the sun.

She knew that they would not speak of it, for truly, what words could be spoken?

"It is time for us to return to the others. They are beginning to wonder about our absence. Soon they will worry that we have drowned together. They have long since discovered how deep these waters truly are."

With that they joined hands once more and dove into the waterfall. The Major trusted that she would bring him safely back to the surface.


[The Major]

After emerging from the pool with the Lady, the Major quietly excuses himself and puts his uniform back on. Pausing to rub his white stallion's nose affectionately, Ashbury swings himself up onto the horse's back and trots off, slowly disappearing behind the hills.


[The Lady]

She stood and watched him leave, knowing that what she had revealed to him would disturb him. She would give him the time he needed to steady himself once more. She knew that he would share the events within the cave with no one. She reached up and pushed a lock of writhing damp hair from her eye and moved to where the camp would be set up.

Wanting a quiet, comfortable place to sit, she surrounded herself with a sapphire light and levitated herself up to a branch that was alone midway up the tree. She settled herself there, resting her back against the trunk, to watch the others as they continued to play in the heated spring waters.

She was garbed once more in her heavy sapphire gown, her silken white hair wrapped itself around the tree and around her legs. It unwound itself only to wind around again.


[The Major]

Almost as abruptly as he had left, the Major returns amid the sounds of clopping hooves. The dark outline of his erect form slowly overcomes the hills, and before too long the Major is reigning the fierce animal near the water's edge, glancing around subtly.

"M'lady, if I may have a quick moment of your time...?" The Major asks pointedly of the Lady, shifting his weight in the saddle.


[The Lady]

She looked down from he comfortable position, raised a slender eyebrow and waved her hand ever so slightly in his direction. To his startled amazement he was instantly surrounded by her sapphire glow and floated up to settle on the same branch: Only he was slightly farther from the base of the trunk than she was.

"What is it that you need, good Major?"

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

She looked at him and said nothing. Her great sapphire eyes looked speachlessly at him. She said and did nothing else: Only looked at him.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX


[ Seth]

"....and I soon found myself at the Dragons Inn. After that I have been with The Lady, and the others." Seth blushed and let go of Calipso hand and looked at the pond.

"Wow! It didn't look like this when we first came across it, but then again we only took a quick glance. I didn't know it was this big." Reaching down, Seth took a hand full of water and brought it up to his nose.

"Its smells OK. It does look a little strange though." Bringing the water to his lips, he tasted it and then drank deeply from his hand. "Its a little warmer than I thought, but it has some good, if not strange qualities."

Seth felt the soreness fade away from the long ride, and his muscles were not hurting as bas as before.

"Well? I guess there is no time like the present. Care to join me...? I mean if you would like... I mean if..." Seth started blushing and he became tongue tied once again. Taking a deep sigh, he pulled his shirt off and stretched. His well formed muscles and his golden tan glistened off the moonlight, giving him a god like glow. Pulling his long brown hair up in a ponytail, he reached down and pulled a thin root out from the ground, and tied his hair back from his face.

Pulling his boots off, he placed them on the sand and stood up. He had his pants down to his knees, but caught himself when he remembered that Calipso was standing right behind him. Pulling them up quickly, he blushed a deeper red and turned towards her.

"Ah... Sorry... I forgot that you were standing there... I mean I am use to skinny dipping alone... I mean not that I wouldn't mind skinny dipping with you... I mean... Oh gee!!"

Pushing a strand of hair from his face, he took a deep breath, tied the strings that kept his pants up, and dove in.

*Splash*

The water rose and fell, following him down, deeper and deeper until he could not hold his breath any longer. He turned and looked up, seeing Calipso standing near by. But Rose and Beldon were no where to be seen. Breaking through the water, he shook his head and took in a deep breath.

Calipso was standing by the waters edge, and smiling. He tried to hide his blushing by staying neck deep in the pool and kicking his legs to stay a float.

"Come on in!! Its great. But watch yourself. This pool is deeper than it looks. I tried to snag a shell that I spotted, but I never made it. It was too deep and I ran out of air."

He heard Rose as she broke through the brush. She had one boot off while trying to untie her pants, all the while pulling Beldon behind her. He smiled and started to wave when he looked into her eyes. She gave him a scowl, turned and gave Beldon a long, deep kiss.

Seth opened his mouth to say something, but he heard Rose whisper something in Beldons ear, dropped him, then walked away, with her nose up in the air.

"What did I do?"


[Rose Thorn]

"Come on Beldon. I promise I am not going to hurt you." She was hopping on one foot, while trying to unbutton her pants and kicking her other boot off at the same time.

"So that you know, I can read minds. I did hear what you said to Seth back there. And don't worry. I am sure your head will not explode if one of the girls shows you a little flesh. See," and she raised up her shirt to show him her belly. Rose laughed when she watched Beldon blushing and trying to cover his eyes.

"See silly. Your head didn't explode."

Mysty flew down and landed on Rose's shoulder and looked down.

::Is that all your going to show the poor boy? Why I have seen you show more than that in a game of cards. What makes him so special?::

"Oh hush! You know fully well why I flash the guys during a card game. It gets their mind off their cards."

::Ya, and on to other things. Remember the last time you flashed that sea captain. You all most lost your head over that one!::

"How was I to know he had been out to sea for that long and had not seen a woman in over six months." Rose brushed Mysty off her shoulder and stopped just behind the bushes where Seth and Calipso was standing. Her face turned red when she saw Seth undressing, and she was sure he saw her before he completely dropped his pants. Her grip grew tighter on Beldons shirt collar, and she looked down with fire in her dark green eyes.

"And all this time he was acting so shy. I'll show him!" She pulled Beldon to his feet and placed her arm around his neck.

"Come on Beldon. Let's show him how it's done."

Pulling Beldon out from behind the brush, she gave Seth a long hard look, turned and kissed Beldon square on the lips. She had to hold him up, for fear he would faint, but it was well worth it.

She broke from the kiss, blinked and smiled at him.

"Wow!! I didn't expect that...!"

She whispered loud enough for Calipso to hear, but not Seth, "Thank you Beldon. I had a great time back there. Let's do it again, real soon." She dropped him, turned and limped away.

Mysty flew back down with Rose's nightshirt and dropped it in her hands before landing.

::Poor fellow. I think you scared him to death back there. All he is doing is sitting there with a big smile on his face. And he keeps reaching up and touching his lips with his fingers. I just hope you haven't scarred him for life.::

"Who? Beldon? Naaa. He will be just fine. He is a bit shy is all. But he is a great kisser. I will give him some credit there." Rose brought her fingers to her lips and smiled.

"Yes, some kisser we have in this little group."

::Have you kissed Seth yet?:: Mysty shook her feathers and burped in Rose's face.

"Oh god Mysty! Did you have to do that now?"

::Would you rather it come out the other way?:: Mysty blinked and then yawned.

"You better not! You know better," and Rose shook a finger at her. "And no, I have not kissed Seth yet, and I don't think I will." Rose crossed her arms and started pouting. Mysty turned her head almost completely around and started preening herself.

::Are you still mad at him because he pulled the other girl to the pool and not you?:: Mysty took a feather between her beak and started cleaning. ::You do know that she is only a hand maiden for the goddess, don't you?::

"Yes! I know that. But look at her! She's... she's....

::Beautiful?::

Rose turned and started to say something, but stopped. Her face showed what Mysty thought.

::Poor thing has it bad.:: Then she went back to preening her feathers.

::Darn cob webs get stuck in my feathers.:: She looked over at Rose and shook. ::Are you mad at Seth?::

"No... I am not mad at him. I'm just mad. OK? And I can fix those feathers for you."

::You wouldn't dare!:: Before Mysty could take flight, Rose grabbed her and started walking towards the pool.

"Yes I would, and I am going to. Now take a deep breath. Here we go...!" Rose dropped down and dropped Mysty in the pool with both hands. She shook Mysty around and then brought her back up. Mysty was coughing and choking, all the while trying to bite Rose's fingers.

"One more time should do it...," and she dropped her again. Bringing her back out, she brought up the night shirt and dried Mysty's face and beak.

::I will get you for this! You better sleep with one eye open tonight! I mean it!::

Rose started to laugh and almost dropped Mysty back in the pond. "Oh hush. You have been needing a good bath anyway. Now hold still while I place you up on this branch. You know you can't fly with wet wings."

As soon as Rose released Mysty, she tried to bite her.

"Now behave. The Lady and the Major should be here soon. Just sit there and dry off. I am going to change and see if I can't drown someone." She turned and stuck her tongue out at Calipso before stepping behind a cluster of bushes.

Mysty shook her feathers out, then cocked her head towards Rose. With a small spell, she watched as the leaves faded from view, showing everyone Rose's naked form. A rose tattoo covered her heart, and its stem flowed down between her breasts and circled her belly button. Two thorns dripped a drop of blood, and in the center of each drop was inscribed a name.

One read simply Mother, while the other read Father. A long silver chain and half of a medallion bounced off her rock hard stomach. Her tall stance and her muscular form showed that she had been training for a number of years to be a great warrior. There was not a bit of fat anywhere on her.

::That will teach you to give me a bath.:: Then she went back to preening every feather.

As Rose pulled the night shirt over her form, and her head popped out, she noticed the now leafless brush.

"Mysty!!" Bending down, Rose picked up a small stick and threw it at Mysty, hitting her in the middle of her back. Rose started to laugh as Mysty squawked and fell, hitting the ground hard.

"That will teach you not to do that again!" Then she turned, winked at Beldon, stuck her tongue out at Seth and Calipso and dove into the pool.


[Calipso]

Rose's reaction to the sudden appearance of the statuesque handmaiden, and the attention Seth was giving the newcomer, momentarily distracted Calipso. But her reaction was a mere raising of an eyebrow so fine and perfect, it could have been painted on with a fine sable brush by a skilled artisan.

Having spent the majority of her life within the Mortal Realms upon a small secluded island, which few sailors would dare go near, she had had very little experience in dealing with mortals. Hence, when faced with Rose's response to her sudden appearance, she couldn't help but feel perplexed and maybe even a little bewildered. She would have to ask Amarantha why she was behaving like this. The Goddess had had dealings with those mortals who had passed and had entered the Immortal Realm, and was more used to their unusual personality quirks.

Seth was beside her, prattling away. She smiled and nodded as they walked down to the lake. Walking along, she felt the sudden familiar presence of thick yet soft and supple material, close against her skin. Suede. Her clothes from off the island. She had designed them for ease of movement within the water while hunting for her food, since there were no longer any land animals on the island.

She breathed a sigh of relief. At least she could dive into the crystalline depths without emerging to reveal that the robe she wore was incredibly translucent and clingy when wet. However, her island garb didn't exactly cover much either. At least it wasn't anywhere half as bad as anything that Amarantha might decide to wear.

As Seth shed his clothes, he nearly removed more than what could be deemed modest and decent, before hurriedly plunging into the pristine springs. The glimpse she caught didn't really embarrass or shock her. She had seen allot more on display from all the times Amarantha had mischievously snuck off with a bathing God or Immortal's clothes.

Glancing up, she couldn't help but notice Rose's very obvious performance, directing her affections towards another hapless man, who must be Beldon. Both eyebrows rose up at this, and a slightly bemused smiled crept on to her lips. My, my. Amarantha is certainly going to have some fun with this girl.


[Amarantha]

Amarantha coolly watched as the others headed off towards the lake. So, now. Rose feels threatened. Well well. How interesting. Suddenly the day cheered up for her. Using the djinn trick which that arrogant little cow of a high djinniyeh had taught her, she conjured up Calipso's waterwear, and then called up a little something for herself.

Amarantha fancied herself a woman of her word, and she had promised the boys that she would not enter the waters of the springs unclad. But the nature of her attire was left unspecified. Standard clothing such as the ones Rose mentioned, Amarantha had decided were highly unsuitable for the water; it was heavy, cumbersome, and could get in the way while swimming under the water. And even if it was light enough, you may as well be wearing nothing at all.

So, she approached the springs, her waterwear, still unseen could be heard jingling softly. Nearing the springs she could see Rose's reaction to Calipso continuing. This should be fun indeed, and not just because of the boys reaction when they see exactly what the "something" is.

She carefully unhooked both the scabbard of the Starsword and the dagger bearing Death's name, and placed them on the ground upright and out of the way. They were dangerous weapons in careless hands. The richly jeweled sword belt was then removed and tossed on the ground like a worthless piece of rope. Then she removed the jewels in her hair, allowing the gleaming white ripples of hair to flow freely down her back, shimmering gold where the sun struck it. Finally, the gossamer thin layers of clothing floated to the ground at her feet, revealing the 'something' that she had promised the boys -- she really would hate to disappoint them.

The something that she had promised them was a bikini that glittered with diamonds on a backing of gold, which her ample endowments seemed about to burst out of at any moment. Her nether regions were only just covered up using a thong made of cloth of gold and more diamonds. Several delicate gold chains hung from both bikini and thong, dripping with diamonds.

These chains did nothing to hide her lithe, full figured body, which moved with an easy, supple grace.

She strategically leaned over the ledge and called out to Seth. "What's the water like?" . From beneath the bikini, gilded nipples could be seen. A tradition of the Queens of a long gone ancient civilization that she had taken a liking to and adopted for her own purposes.


[Calipso]

The siren rolled her eyes, and smirked at her mistresses activities. Hanging around mortals much robbed one of their sensibilities. Perhaps that is why Mortal's are so strange.

She removed the jeweled belt that gathered the skirts of her robe and dropped it on the ground, as well as the priceless brooch. The robe fell in soft folds to the ground. The suede garment beneath was light and earthy in colour, embroidered with shells and pearls that she had found on the island. The skirt came just above the knee and had two full length splits to allow for ease of movement when she swam. She undid her hair, allowing it to fall thick and loose down her back and over her shoulders. That was one thing about living amongst the gods, one is not prone to the elements as are mortals.

She did not dive in though. Instead, she sat down on the bank for a while, watching the others and contemplating whether or not she would join them. She heard the soften thudding of hooves and the sound of branches breaking and knew that Elite was there and had found some tasty flowers, something that Pegasus, unicorns and alicorns all had a taste for, shunning grass and greenery that their equine relatives preferred.

*Well, this is where the party's at,* was all the explanation he gave her, as he chewed intently on a large red bloom.


[Seth]

Seth followed Beldon's eyes and blushed at what he saw. He could not believe Rose, teasing poor Beldon like that. The man was barely getting over the kiss, and now she was showing her nakedness too.

~ Poor Beldon. If he blushes any deeper he will boil himself alive. ~

He turned back to Calipso and his mouth dropped open, causing him to swallow some of the pool's water and choked. He could not believe what he was seeing. The robe she wore was pleasant enough to look at, but now she had changed to a smaller and much skimpier outfit than before. She was sitting beside the pond, looking out at the water, and Seth thought he saw a wisp of a smile.

"Hey Beldon! Check out Calipso...!" but Beldon's eyes were locked on Rose as she pulled a long shirt over her self and winked at Beldon. Then she stuck her tongue out at him. Or was it the other way around. He thought for a moment, then decided the tongue was meant for him, for she had kissed Beldon.

"What did I do?" But Rose didn't hear him. She was under the water before he ever spoke. Looking back he smiled and a evil thought crossed his mind.

"If she wants to be that way then it's fine with me!" Taking a deep breath he dove under the water and started to swim towards Calipso.

~ I will sneak up on her, grab her legs and pull her in.~

He had no idea that Amarantha had called out for him asking about the water. While swimming under water Seth got lost and was swimming towards Amarantha and not Calipso. As he broke the surface, he grabbed what he though were her legs, but he had a hold of Amarantha.

"Gotcha!"

Then his face grew real pale as he looked up and saw Amarantha standing there with her hands on her hips and bent half way down looking at him with a simple smile. His eyes grew wide and a reddish tint fell over his body. He was staring at her outfit, or the lack of it. Though his hands still held on to her ankles, he could not pull his eyes away from her gilded nipples, that were peeking over her gold and diamond top.

"Iba... Iba......" Was all he could get out. He slowly looked over at Calipso, as if asking for her help in the matter, then back up at Amarantha. This time stopping just below her chin. He blinked twice, wet his dried lips and looked up into her eyes. His grip on her ankles lessened and he slowly slipped back into the water. The water slowly flowed over his head and he tried his best to get away.

Without much luck.


[Rose]

The water felt good on her skin and she wanted to stay under it forever, but her lungs were protesting and she came up for air. She spotted Beldon, looking around with his eyes wide, looking over towards Calipso and Amarantha.

"Show off," she muttered and dove back down, feeling the water brushing her skin once more. She dove to the bottom and started searching for some of the shells. Some were plain while others were beautiful. She picked a few up, studied them then placed them back down.

~Not mine to take~ She thought. ~Anyway, what would I do with them?~ Then a thought shot out from the back of her mind.

~Yes, they will work just fine. I'll show those two that I can wear something provocative too.~

Coming up for air, she looked around and saw Seth, Calipso and Amarantha over by the beach. For some reason, Seth had a hold of Amarantha ankles and was looking up at her with a strange expression on his face.

Then she spotted what his eyes were locked on.

"That Witch!" she said between clenched teeth and dove back down. Finding three shells that would fit her needs, she searched until she found some long water grass and pulled enough to make her idea work. Swimming up she looked for an alcove and swam over there, away from prying eyes.

She forgot about Mysty.

::Just what are you doing?:: Mysty flew down and landed on her shoulder and looked down, tilting her head.

"Just leave me alone. And get off my shoulder. I need to get this damn shirt off me." Pulling the shirt up before Mysty could move, she threw it to one side, sat down and started working on her 'new' outfit.

::Help! I can't see!:: Mysty was tangled in the nightshirt and the more she moved, the tighter it got.

"Oh hold still silly." Pulling the shirt up, she watched Mysty roll out, landing a few inches from the waters edge.

::You did that on purpose! And what are you making? It looks like..." Then her beak snapped shut and she turned her head away.

"Looks like what? Come on! Tell me! You know so much. Tell me!"

::It looks like a mermaids outfit. Less the tail. You do know those shells are a bit too small don't you? I mean they barley cover... What ever those little bumps are, let alone the rest of you.::

"They are called nipples silly. Though I know you don't have any. You throw up your food to feed your chicks. Now bite two small holes here... and here." Rose placed her finger where she wanted the holes to be.

::Don't remind me! A waste of a good mouse if you ask me!:: Mysty bit a hole where Rose asked her too and watched as she started weaving the tall grass, making straps that would hold the shells in place.

::Not bad for a few shells and some weed. But your forgetting something,:: and Mysty looked down.

Rose followed her eyes, then blushed. "I had this shell for that, but I think I will need one a little bigger." Rose laughed when Mysty shook her feathers and pin feathers went everywhere once again.

::Well if you didn't tuck it between your legs, and just let it hang there, it would be ok. But what about your back side? You are showing too much cheek back there.:: Mysty walked around and around and shook her tiny head.

::Yes! Way too much skin.::

"That's the idea silly. I saw this girl once, over the big waters. She was wearing a small outfit like this, but made with silk. The front was about as small as this," and she pointed to the shells, "but her back side was only a string that ran through the middle of her cheeks, then flowed back to a tiny V shape in the front. She was receiving some strange looks, and loving every minute of it. And she had this strange way of walking too."

::Bet it was because of the string between her cheeks.:: Mysty pictured what it must have looked like.

Then she fell over backwards laughing. Her wings kicking up the sand.

::Oh the sight that must have been. Why didn't she just go naked. She wasn't far off. And neither are you.::

"Some law there I guess. And have you looked at the others yet? And I have not seen the Major or the Lady since we left camp? What do you think they are doing right now? Huh?"

::I am sure that they are enjoying each others company. Both are missing something in their lives, and I think they have found it. The company of each others voices."

"And bodies too I'll bet." Rose took the last shell and went about weaving it into a bottom. It covered everything in the front, with a string going around her waist to hold the back and front in place. The back was just a thin string, woven and laced up. Turning she saw her reflection in the water.

"Not too bad. Now let's see what Beldon and Seth think about my new outfit." Diving in, she felt the grass and the shells stick to her body, making everything stay in place. She dove deep and came up behind Beldon. Bringing a hand up, she took a wet finger and ran it down and around Beldons cheek and chin, stopping under his chin and pulling him around. She started to giggle when his eyes fell on her.

"Hello stranger. Care to take a little walk with me?" Pulling him along by his chin, she started stepping out of the water. As soon as she stepped up past her shoulders, she felt resistance. Turning she could see Beldon, standing there with his hands over his eyes.

"Silly thing. I am wearing something. My night shirt is drying over there," and she raised her hand and took a step back, revealing her shell top.

"Like my new outfit?" She giggled, reached down and took of Beldon's hand. She bent all the fingers in, less one, and ran it around her shell. She shivered when Beldons finger touched her skin, making him pull it back. A soft chill ran through her body and she sighed.

"You're not hurting me silly. It feels good," and she pulled his finger back up and kissed the tip. Letting go of his hand, she watched as he blushed and fell back in the water with a scream.

"Guess I made his day...!"

Turning back she looked for Seth. Not seeing him, she looked over and noticed that the girls were gone too. Turning when she heard a splash, she saw Seth, as he was trying to escape from the other girls' grasps.

"Serves him right." She watched as he came up for a gulp of air, before the girls pushed him back down again.

Grabbing Beldon , she pulled him up and out of the water.

"Care to join them? Two against one is so unfair." Then she reached up and dunked him, then tried to get away.

She wasn't fast enough.......


[Beldon]

Beldon, who was beginning to wonder if he had heart problems, stifled all common sense and dove after Rose. His face was frozen in a wild grin and he half expected to hear himself cackle. He pushed her head underwater only hard enough to inspire vengeance and then raced past her. Warm water flowed around him and he might have reflected upon this feeling, but his emotions were boiling tumultuously.

Here he was, on an adventure with newfound friends, and a woman that made him excited in a way he had not felt in a long time. He couldn't remember being as happy as he was at that moment. The young man slowed down, not being very subtle about his desire to be *caught* and moved toward Seth and the other women.


[Amarantha]

Amarantha looked over in the goggled eyed Seth's direction, knowing full well where his eyes had gone.

"See anything interesting, Fye Boy?" she said with a smirk on her face.

She glanced over in the direction of Calipso, who was sitting on the banks. "Coming in?"

The Siren looked over at the water and thought. Then shrugged. "Might as well", and started to get up."

Taking a run up, Amarantha plunged into the depths, making very little in the way of a splash. She swam under the water for a bit, swimming with powerful strokes with her arms, and occasionaly using her legs to propell her forward. When she eventually emerged from the waters, she looked around to see where the others were. She could see Rose. In an effort to compete and perhaps upstage the others, she had changing into a bikini consisting of a few shells. "Nice to see you found something in a cupsize small enough, girl." she said with a smirk.

She looked around for Seth. There he was, Calipso had dived in and was amusing herself by playfully dunking him into the water. The tempation for Amarantha was too great, with Seth distracted the way he was, it gave her the opportunity to get up to one of her all time favourite tricks. She saw Elite over by a some bushes, rearing slightly to reach at a large cluster of large red flowers, she could see the remains of other red flowers strewn around him.

*Hey Elite!* she Sent out to him.

*What?* he replied irritably, settled back on all fours on cast a glance in her direction.

Amarantha grinned and pointed in the direction of Seth.

Elite looked over at Seth and guessed what she had planned. She had done this trick so many times before, he had to admit it was funny. *Oh, all right. Just a minute.* Elite went up higher on his hind legs and snapped the flowers off the branch, then trotted over to the bank and waited, chewing contentedly on the blooms, their thin petals dropping to the ground ever now and then. And he lowered his head.

Seeing that everything was ready, Amarantha dived back under and swam in the direction of Seth. She emerged again, and joined in with dunking him for a moment, then seizing the opportunity dived back under and quickly pulled off his pants, and swam away from Seth before realised what had happened. She remerged closer to the shore and flung the pants to Elite, hooking them on his horn.

Elite then whirled around, and headed towards a cluster off trees in an easy canter. He stopped and looked at the trees for a moment, looking to see where he could hand them. He saw a spot, just on the end of a branch that would be strong enough to withstand the weight of the dripping pants. Realising that, as tall as he was, he would be unable to reach that spot, he stretched out his great wings and flew up to the spot and slid the pants off his horn and onto the branch. Having done that, he landed a distance away from the tree resumed feasting on the flowers, nickering. Petals from the flowers could be seen scattered all over the place now.


[Seth]

Seth was having to much fun , dunking and splashing Calipso to notice Amarantha diving in behind him. He felt a pair of hand being placed over his head and felt himself going under the water. Thinking it was Rose, he popped back up and caught his breath.

That's when he felt something strange. For some reason the water felt warmer on his legs. A lot warmer than before. As he looked down, all he could see was his reflection, and nothing more. Not noticing that he was now completely bare, he swam over to Calipso and started to dunk her once again. As he rose out of the water, he knew something was wrong. His pants wasn't pulling him down like before. As the water past just below his belly button, he happened to look down.

" By the gods," he screamed and dove back under the water. Reaching down he felt his bare skin and started blushing. He saw Amarantha throwing something up to Elite, but the thought of what it was did not hit him until he saw his pants hanging from a tall tree limb. They hung there, dripping wet and Seth blushed even deeper. He heard the girls laughing, and he turned and swam towards the bank.

" Elite! By the gods I am going to pull every feather from your wings and make a pillow if you don't bring my pants back down! I mean it, you....horned beast!"

Seth watched Elite as he stopped chewing on a mouth full of flowers. The look he gave, made Seth stop and point his finger.

" Don't give me that innocent look! I know Amarantha told you to do that. Now bring them back down. NOW!" Seth slapped the water and turned back when he heard the girls giggling more. Looking down, he noticed that he has stepped to far out of the water. His back side was showing, making him duck back down into the water with a splash.

" By the gods Amarantha. So help me....." Seth dove under the water and started searching for her. He spotted a pair of legs and reaching out, grabbed them and pulled.

It was not Amarantha. It was Rose, and the look she gave him made him blush even more.


[ Rose Thorn]

Rose watched as the girls dunked Seth, while she was having fun with Beldon. Out of the corner of her eye, as she rose back up to dunk Beldon once again, she saw Amarantha dive under Seth.

" What is she up too?"

She found out soon enough when she came up with Seth's pants and threw them over to Elite. The winged horse caught Seth's pants with his horn and flew up, placing them on a high limb.

" He is not going to like that. Not one bit." A shy smile crossed her lips as Beldon came up in front of her, splashing her and giggling like a school kid.

" Oh? So you want to play rough huh? Well then. Two can play that game."

Rose started to reach out and dunk Beldon once again when she felt a pair of hands grabbing her legs. A surprised look fell across her face when she noticed that It was not Beldon, but Seth, looking for Amarantha. She barely had time to take a breath, before she went under. Kicking as hard as she could, she kicked away and saw Seth in his bare form.

The shock was to much and she started to laugh under water. When she did that, she saw Seth blushing, then he kicked away fast. She was still laughing and had forgotten that she was under water. As she took in a breath, she started to swallow water, causing her to choke. She felt her self blacking out and she reached up and found Beldon, who was searching for her. Before she blacked out, she could feel herself breaking through the surface, wrapped in Beldons arms. She was trying to cough up the water, but found it difficult to breath.

She watched as Beldon carried her over to the bank and placed her on her back. Then she blacked out.


[Beldon]

Beldon was waiting not-so-patiently to be dunked again, when Rose suddenly disappeared underwater. He smiled and laughed for a moment, until he realized she wasn't coming up for air. Then he panicked.

He dove in, eyes wide in the water, and frantically grabbed her about the waist. Adrenaline surged through his powerful arms and he lifted her above the water as if she wasn't there. In a moment she was on the bank of the lake with Beldon hunched over her.

"Rose? ROSE?! Please wake up!"

Luckily he was not only a good swimmer, but knew vaguely what to do in situations like this. Not hesitating when she didn't answer him, he rolled her to her side to see if he could get any water to drain from her lungs. After some water exited, he again said her name."

"Rose?! Please!!"

Tears had begun to well up in his eyes. He hesitated for less than a second, pinched her nose shut and placed his lips over hers. He breathed into her lungs three times, looked up for signs of breathing, and repeated the procedure.

He thought he saw her chest rise and fall slightly, and he paused. A single tear fell down his cheek, almost hidden amid the water dripping from his hair.

Beldon's voice was barely a whisper. "Rose?"


[Seth]

Finding Rose and not Amarantha was a mistake in his part. He didn't know she would kick so hard, knocking the breath from his lungs. Kicking away after her eyes grew wide and she started laughing, Seth broke the surface and headed towards Amarantha and Calipso as fast as his arms could carry him. He left a small wake behind him, and his back side was sticking just above the surface.

:: Ah Gee Seth. No one wants to see that! Get some clothes on for the girls sake. As well as mine:: Mysty was sitting in a tree, preening her feathers.

" Shut up Mysty. Its not my fault. It's all Amarantha and her horned beast fault. They....She.... They took my pants!" Seth stopped and splashed water with his open hand.

Mysty looked over at Elite and started laughing. :: Your trying to tell me that Elite de-pants you? My! I must say he is not as stupid as he looks after all::

Seth swam over near Mysty and shouted, " It wasn't him! It was Amarantha! She pulled them off me."

:: Oh... I see now. She must like you then. Maybe she wishes for you to feather her nest, or what ever the gods do:: Mysty fluffed up and shook all her feathers, spilling pin feathers everywhere.

" Feather her nest? You mean she wants to......" Seth closed his mouth and looked over at Amarantha, then back at Mysty. A chill ran up his spine, causing him to shiver.

" Do you really think so?" Seth pulled the wet hair back and came a little closer. " I mean I never thought....I mean I would not think that she found me...Attractive. I thought she liked gods types."

:: Why else would she want to see you bare? She's just playing hard to get. That's all. I have seen Rose doing the same thing. It's a game they play. They like to tease :: Mysty turned her head almost completely around and flew up, pulling Seths pants from the limb.

The only trouble with that was they were soaked, making them very heavy. As son as Mysty pulled them from the limb, she went straight down, being pulled down be the shear weight. She let go before she hit and landed next to them.

:: Sorry Seth. Their to heavy to carry. Your just going to have to come get them:: Mysty flew back up, snickering to herself.

Seth was to busy trying to figure out how to get his pants, to notice Rose and Beldon. When he did see them, he grew jealous. It looked to him that Beldon and Rose were making out on the beach. Slapping the water with both hands, he walked out of the pool, walked over to his pants and threw them on. He could still hear the girls laughing at him, which made him even madder.

Turning back at Amarantha and Calipso he yelled, " I'll see you back at camp." Pulling his pants up with one hand, to keep them from falling around his ankles, he turned and headed towards camp, all the while talking to himself.


[Amarantha]

Amarantha smirked as she watched an angry (and butt naked!) Seth race off towards camp. At least he wasn't half as angry as the seraphim she once de-panted, but it was just as funny.

*I swear, one of these days you are going to get into big trouble because of your practical jokes .* Elite said, amused at the whole show nonetheless.

*She has. Countless times. Its the reason why she's down here, she caused too much trouble in the Heavens.* Calipso pointed out, wiping a tear from her eye, still giggling.

*I love how whenever the High Council has a problem, they just dump it on the Mortals to deal with, as if the Mortals don't have enough problems of their own." Elite sniggered, then looked over at Amarantha who was scowling at the pair of them. "What?! Look, I was just making a comment on the High Council's method of dealing with things. You have to admit, they have gone a bit down hill these past 350 odd years."

Amarantha's expression softened. *It's those two new ones. They seem to want the power and authority, but not be burdened with the responsibility.*

*Hey, Rose's passed out! Should we be trying to help or something?* Elite commented.

Amarantha turned around and saw that Rose was laying motionless on the river bank. She wasn't too concerned though. *Nah. It's not her time yet.*

*How the heck do you know that one? I know you're Destiny now and all that, but . . .* Elite started looking around for some more flowers, having noticed that he had denuded the one he had been feasting on.

*Well, for one thing, my Aunt's not here to collect the soul, and for another I just know that she's supposed to be around for a while yet. She's got things she has to do, yet.*

*Such as?*

*I can't tell you that one!*

They were quiet for a minute, both staring at the Goddess who had dived back into the water for a bit. Calipso looked at the scene on the bank for a moment, wondering perhaps if she should help, then saw a reason why perhaps Ami was leaving them alone.

Calipso went back on to the bank and watched as Elite looked around for another flowering shrub. She smiled to herself and went up to the one he had denuded and began to sing, softly. Her voice was rich and pure and beautiful, the tune intricate and melodious. The Siren song caused new buds to shoot from the plant, and open up into more blooms. The leaves deepened in colour, and a few plants surrounding it, that had been struggling now began to flourish.

With the song finished she began putting on her robes again. Amarantha had climbed up on the bank and had been listening. "Sometimes I think I would give up all my looks and powers to be able to do that." the goddess said in wonder "How could you have ever thought that you're voice was ugly?"

Calipso smiled shyly but said nothing.

Amarantha began putting on her own clothes. "Just take your swimming garb off. I'll Send it back with you. Summoning's easy enough, but I still can't get the hang of Returning. "


[Rose Thorn]

Rose felt strange while standing in the darkness that surrounded her. She brought her arms up to her shoulders and shivered in her naked form. The long chain with the charm dangled between her breasts as she shivered and tried to pear past the darkness. She could hear a voice echoing in the stillness, calling her name. The voice sounded strong, but carrying. It wavered like a hand in front of her face, beckoning her to follow.

She started to run as she felt something brush against her lips. Her breath came heavy, then light as she ran, as what ever kept brushing against her lips seemed to linger longer and stronger.

" A simple kiss," she thought as she saw a bit of light ahead of her. The light grew brighter as she ran closer, her nakedness not showing as it had before. There was something warm covering her chest and arms. Something warm, soft and yielding to her touch as her hands shot up and grabbed the form, pulling it to her as she took in a deep breath. Her eyes shot open and her arms went around Beldons back as she pulled him into her.

"Oh Beldon," she whispered as she shook all over. " I...I was so afraid that the darkness had taken me, but I..." and she stopped talking and held him tighter, tears falling down his shoulder and chest as she breathed. At last she slowly pulled away and stared into Beldons wild eyes and bit her lower lip.

"I think it is time that we get back to camp. There are still things we must do before we bed down for the night." For the first time in ages, Rose felt alive as Beldon leaned away from her, his eyes locked into hers. She giggled as she held out one hand, while brushing away a stray strand of hair from her face. She also took special care to make sure her shells were still in place as Beldon pulled her up from the sand.

" Thank you..." she whispered as she held onto his hand and smiled over at Amarantha and Calipso. She waved at the pair as she looked around the springs.

"Where's Seth? Did you drown him, or did you scare him away?" The last thing she remembered was seeing him dart off after he found that he grabbed her, instead of Calipso. She giggled and pulled Beldon towards camp, all the while picking up their clothes.

" Your very quiet Beldon. Has Mysty taken your tongue?"


[Beldon]

"No, I'm just glad you're alright," he said with a serious smile.

"Rose.." he whispered quietly to himself.

Looking like a thousand angels had descended and given him great riches, Beldon stood and allowed himself to be pulled along back to camp. His eyes had a strange mix of happiness and lingering fear in them, like he had run through a fire and emerged unscathed. He simply smiled at her, and counted his lucky stars silently.

Realizing that danger had left for now, he gaily held her hand and practically skipped along the path to the camp, not expecting the surprise that awaited him.


[Seth]

" I can't believe I did that. Walking out of the pool with nothing on. I'll bet those girls think I am still a little boy."

Mysty had followed Seth into camp and was preening her feathers. She looked up and blinked, before turning her head towards the fire.

* I would throw another log on that fire if I was you. And from what I saw, I doubt that Calipso thought you were a little boy.*

Seth was throwing a shirt on when Mysty spoke, and he stopped as his head stuck through the neck. " What are you talking about Mysty? What did you see?"

Mysty blinked and ruffled her feathers before yawning. *Well, if you do not know, I am not going to tell you.* She yawned again before tucking her head under her wing. *Ask Calipso. Maybe she'll tell you.*

Seth pulled his shirt down and tucked it into his pants before looking up. " I just might do that." Turning he threw another log on the fire and started searching through his pack.

" Hey! I forgot about this." Reaching in, he pulled out the 'pop corn popper' and placed it on the ground. Reaching back into his pouch, he pulled out the bag of corn and the powder and wicks.

"Hey Mysty? Want some pop corn?"

Mysty pulled her head back up and yawned before blinking. She flew down beside Seth and started walking around the pop corn popper, tilting her head this way and that.

* That is a strange looking contraption. Dwarven made, by the way it looks. What is it?*

Seth grinned as he pored the dark grain power into the popper, and then added a little more as he started counting heads.

"It's a pop corn popper silly. Or that's what it says on this little plaque. It says to pore in the power first, then add the popping corn. Place the wick in this little hole here," and Seth stuck out his tongue as he pushed the wick into the small hole that sat behind the plaque. "Voil'e! It's done. Now I think you leave the lip up until the popping corn starts to pop. Then you close it as the corn starts to fall out. I think."

*You mean you've never done this before?* Mysty's feathers fluffed up as she shook and she turned and flew back to her limb.

* I will sit here where its safe. Let me know when the popping corn is ready.* Tightening her grip on the limb, she closed her eyes and tucked her head back under her wing.

" You should be a chicken, you misfit," Seth said with a laugh. "I'll try to wake you when the corn is popped." Rubbing his hands together, Seth leaned over towards the fire and pulled an ember from the flame. Cupping the ember with one hand, he pulled it up and started blowing. The ember glowed a deep red, then almost white before flames licked up from the ember. Seth smiled as he brought the flame down to the wick and marveled as it sparked and threw out tiny little star as it burnt down.

Then nothing happened. Seth leaned back and pulled on his chin before standing up. He walked around the small 'popper', studying it and shaking his head.

"Maybe I should have added more powder and less popcorn," he said as he bent down to look in the barrel of the popper.

------

Everyone heard the explosion and came running back at the camp site. There they found Seth, covered in white popcorn from his neck to his knee's. There was two kernel stuck in his nose, and one over each eye. His face was black and scratched, his hair blown back behind him, and he had a strange smile on his face, as if he was really, really happy. That or the explosion pushed every cell up and back to his ears.

Mysty was hanging upside down on her limb by the blast. She was flapping her wing and laughing so hard that tiny tears fell from her eyes.

* The look...he look on Seth's face...as that thing... that popcorn popper blew...blew up. It was priceless. Popcorn...It went everywhere. Like... Snow flakes they were...falling all around him as he fell...as he flew backwards. And that..that thing...It shot straight back. I...I think...I think it's still rolling...the last time...time I saw it.* and she laughed so hard she fell.

*Oh..the look...*


[Beldon]

Hilarity ensued as the young man looked at Seth blanketed in popcorn, and he began to laugh almost harder than he had in his entire life. He grabbed a few kernels of the white stuff and ate them, trying not to choke due to laughter.

"Well, Seth, at least the popcorn tastes good!"

He reached out a hand and offered to help the man up.


Last modified: Tue Feb 19 12:53:21 Mountain Standard Time 2002