In this episode, unlikely allies help a weak and wounded Malric escape to freedom.
They were strong, dark creatures with silky, green manes that spilled down their muscular backs like sea grass. They frolicked, thrashed, and dove in the pools like mad children, their sleek torsos green lightning, their golden, webbed tails thunder that cracked the water’s surface with a harsh series of slaps.
Malric had heard of these creatures as a boy. They were called Sea Mares by the elders and were always mentioned when talks turned to water folk and their kin. They were the steeds of surf and swell.
But to see these creatures of myth before him, like a living dream! It was an experience beyond words for a dreamer like Malric.
Malric dove off the cliff and into the pools below. Despite the pain of the saltwater meeting his open wound, he felt reborn in the cleansing liquid. Malric broke the surface and gripped the mane of the Sea Mare closest to him. He swung himself onto its back and guided the mare towards the mouth of the cave. It rose up, its black-green hooves flailing, the muscles of its back bunching. Finally it succumbed to Malric’s will and dove into the brine. It became tangled in the ropes that blocked the exit of the underwater passage, and became ensnared, crying shrilly and throwing Malric from its back.
Malric removed Sliver from its sheath and began to work on the ropes. The water was in chaos from the mare’s fury. Malric was struck by one of the webbed hooves and his head throbbed and spun while he clutched the sides of the pool to prevent himself from slipping under. He regained his senses and slashed furiously at the ropes until they gave. He threw himself once again onto the mare’s back just before it dove for freedom.
Once free, the mare raced through the narrow channel. Malric held his breath while he streaked past the splashes of orange, red, and pink that comprised the luminous flora of the sea floor.
Just before he fainted the passage widened, turned upwards, and disappeared behind them as they shot past the base of the cliffs. Malric wrapped both arms around the creature’s steely neck and buried his face in the kelpy mane as the Sea Mare rocketed towards the surface of the sea.
They broke the water’s surface and sprang forward into the sky. Malric breathed deeply as the mare reached the peak of its arc, some ten feet above the ocean’s surface. They crashed through the waves and descended once again before resurfacing. The mare swam along the surface towards the open sea where the smaller satellite of Erahorn met the horizon. Malric heard a commotion in the water behind him and watched in fascination as dozens of Sea Mares broke the water’s surface and headed out to sea, leaping and diving in a fury of joy.
Malric wrapped his hands around the mane and turned the mare in towards the point.
Upon reaching the shore Malric slipped off the mare’s back and stood waist deep in the surf. The mare, finally relieved of its burden, neighed into the night and turned back towards the open sea and the colony of mares in the distance. Malric followed its wake until the foamy ripple was lost in the waves, then waded in to shore.
He was exhausted and his wound cried out from the salty kiss of the ocean. He strode across the sand towards the distant outline of Sulsut, feeling both warmed by the familiar lights of the city and fearful of the upcoming conflict that could extinguish them forever.