The Truth, Or Something Beautiful

by Blueshift

Chapter 1: Chapter 1: Fall To Grace

I never liked the ocean.

Pegasi have no business being anywhere near water. As a filly, we would always go to the seaside – here, actually – on holiday, once a year like clockwork. My sister would race into the surf, laughing and playing in the spray, while I would stay huddled on shore, just watching the waves.

No, I never liked the ocean. Perhaps it’s different for earth ponies and unicorns, but for pegasi, the water just drags you down. It clogs up the feathers in your wings and turns them damp and sodden. There’s no easy way to fly straight out of the water, you have to rely on getting to land and drying out before you can even think of taking to the air again. And the air is my home.

All this begs the question: just what am I doing here, in that same cottage by the sea that I spent so many childhoods at, sitting and writing as I watch the waves crash in the distance?

Perhaps you’re reading this and you know me already. Perhaps you don’t. Perhaps no-one will ever see this, and it will remain here, pushed amongst stacks of my uncle’s old papers, written solely for my benefit. Who knows?

My name is Cloudchaser. I’m the youngest of two, though my sister Flitter only wins the ‘being oldest’ competition by a matter of minutes. It’s a technicality really, but somehow one that’s haunted me my whole life. She’s better than me at everything, always has been, whether it be at school, home or work. Good old Flitter comes up smelling of roses while silly old Cloudchaser bumbles along getting everything wrong.

We worked together at Cloudsdale’s weather factory. I guess that’s where this all started. If you’ve never had to work at a weather factory, it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine like they tell you at school. Think of all the weather you can, and that’s what we had to produce. Thunderstorms, lightning, whirlwinds, tsunamis. All of them beautiful in their own way, but so dangerous if managed by unskilled hooves.

Flitter isn’t unskilled. Everyone there looks up to her as the brains of the outfit. She’s a fixer; there’s no job too daunting for my sister. She keeps the storm clouds in check and the ball lightning ticking over. She knows how to do everything by the book, and yet has the most creative solutions to problems that anyone’s ever come across. Meanwhile I sit in her shadow and get everything wrong all the time; our supervisor kept telling me to be more like my sister, if only I could be as clever and imaginative as her.

Again, that’s where the problems started. After months of treatment like that, you start to get resentful. If she could do it, I could do it, that’s what I reasoned. I was being held back because I was never given a fair chance; my sister got all the opportunities and I got nothing. That’s why at the start of the morning shift, I ignored the rota and crept into the storm cloud paddock. I’d decided to arrange that day’s scheduled rain shower all on my own, show them that I had the brains and the wit to handle such a large responsibility, and have my delighted boss promote me when she saw what a wonderful job I’d made of it.

Flitter wouldn’t have done that. Flitter would have done it all by the book. She would have checked the logs, and realised there was a kremzeek infestation, and worked out a way to get rid of them. If you’ve never worked in storm clouds, kremzeeks are what can only be descripted as living lightning imps. Tiny little balls of energy that hop about and laugh like mad things as they do their best to fry anything that dares to venture near enough.

Needless to say, the moment I opened that paddock door, all Tartarus broke loose. What had looked like a perfectly normal cluster of docile storm clouds suddenly erupted into dozens of chattering kremzeeks that did their level best to charge past me and out into Cloudsdale.

Some may say I was a hero for taking the brunt of their attack full-on, but really, I had no choice. I was just standing in the way, screaming like a filly when they flew at me. If I had the chance again, I’d have flown out of there as fast as I could.

Not Flitter, though. She was right at the scene the moment it happened. She knew what to do (of course she did, she’s my big sister) and grounded the kremzeeks with a lightning rod, dissipating them harmlessly into the atmosphere. Then she saw to me.

If you’ve never been fried by several bursts of living lightning, thank your lucky stars. One minute I was standing there, my face etched in a dumbfounded expression as I realised what an idiot I’d been, the next I was flat on my back, twitching, the horrible sensation of burnt feathers wafting in my nostrils. Yes, they did me over all right, another loss in the Cloudchaser lottery of life, and once more it was all my fault.

Walking was hard, but flying was impossible given the state of my wings. I spent a week in Cloudsdale General Hospital (with Flitter by my side every waking moment, of course). She was there each day, never a word of criticism or judgement, just being the perfect sister. No, that’s not quite right. Not the last day, when the doctors said I was getting better and ready to go home. She didn’t even shout at me then, didn’t call me an idiot or selfish, or any of a thousand words that were going through my head the first time. She just looked at me sadly, shook her head, and said “Cloudchaser, you think you know everything.”

Somehow, that was worse.

When I was well enough to leave I was turfed out, limping and flightless. That’s why I came here. Being made entirely out of clouds and hundreds of feet in the air, Cloudsdale is a wonderful place for pegasi, but not so wonderful to get around if you can’t fly. One small tumble (and let’s be fair, I’m good at those) and its end of story.

The doctors said that my wings would take up to two weeks to heal properly. I’d have gone crazy cooped up at home, with Flitter coming back every evening to tut at me for being so stupid and remind me how selfish and foolhardy I’d been. So I came back here, to our uncle’s cabin by the sea.

He had passed away six months ago, but none of the family had yet had the chance to go down and clear it out. I never understood why he wanted to live here; as I said, the sea is no place for pegasi. Instead of soaring over the clouds, he would spend his days trawling the beach for flotsam and jetsam, which he’d collect in piles outside his cottage and give away to anyone who found it interesting enough. I don’t think he ever gave much away.

He was a writer, in his youth. Out of the two of us, Flitter was always the avid reader but when we went down for the summer to visit him, I’d huddle up next to the fire and look over his story books. They were mostly simple picture books for foals, and while the words were all a squiggle, I enjoyed looking at the colourful illustrations that adorned each page. He loved reading those stories to us, big exciting adventures on the moon and the jungle and under the sea. He kept telling me that they were all true, but even then I knew better. Between my sister and I, she got all the imagination and I got all the cynicism.

Flitter dropped me off – of course, there was no way I could have flown down from Cloudsdale on my own. I must have cut a pathetic figure, my wings all bandaged up, limping across the ground as my proud, perfect sister fussed about like she was my mother.

Once she finally left, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and get to work. My uncle’s cottage was far smaller than I remembered it being. Of course, as a filly, everything tends to be a lot bigger, though I’m still convinced that chocolate bars have shrunk over the years. Outside was piled mound upon mound of driftwood, dried seaweed and what looked for all the world like rubbish. Anything and everything that had washed up on the beach was there, and let me tell you, it turns out ponies drop a lot of stuff into the ocean. I determined to burn or bury it as quickly as possible.

Inside was no better. Gone was the homely holiday vacation spot of my fillyhood summers; instead the interior was a second home for the junk outside, with the added bonus of stacks of cardboard boxes, Celestia only knows what was in them.

I was already on my way to finding a match to start what, in hindsight, would have been another ‘Cloudchaser special mess-up’ when the heavens opened and a storm the likes of which I’d never seen before opened up.

I stood outside, shaking my forehoof up at the sky and screaming every swearword known to ponykind as I got absolutely drenched. I was initially convinced this was the petty revenge of everyone at the weather factory for my latest mistake, but then quickly realised it was probably a result of having let those storm clouds out of their paddock early with no restraints. Perhaps they’d even followed me. Once more I was the cause of my own miserable misfortune, with no-one to blame but myself.

I blamed the pile of junk by the door instead and gave it a hard kick. It collapsed onto my head, though I was already covered in so many bruises and burns that the pain barely registered. Thank goodness for small mercies.

I spent the first day inside, alternating between trying to make the place look halfway habitable by pushing everything I could outside, and sitting by the window watching the storm. Not for the first time, I wish I’d stayed in Cloudsdale; back there, the storm would be below you, and was just an interesting thing that was going on. Trapped on the ground like some sort of poor earth pony, I was at the mercy of the elements. And it was cold.

The wind and rain continued all night. I had expected to be able to make a trip to the nearest shop, but for emergencies I’d brought some canned food. As I was me, I’d forgotten to bring a can opener as well. After an hour of fruitlessly throwing a can of peas against the wall, I gave up and resolved to just suck on the can; at least I’d get some iron that way. Or lead poisoning.

The second day was better. I awoke from under a makeshift bed made from piles of my uncle’s old paperwork to find the sun peeking through the window. Outside was a mess – trees had been torn from their roots and hurled halfway down the sand dunes. Part of the cliff at the far end of the beach had collapsed into the sea, and the shore was littered with debris washed up from the night before.

It was the sort of thing my uncle would have loved, I reflected, as I walked down to the beach that morning determined to get away from the claustrophobic mess that was the house. My first idea was to try and take a stroll along the beach to clear my head but my legs had other ideas and I managed to trip on every broken bottle, shard of timber and pile of seaweed that had washed up along the shore.

I cursed my lack of wings. I didn’t know how the ground-based ponies could possibly live like this, let alone my uncle having lived this life as a hobby. I kicked the nearest object I could see and got a cut from a shattered paddle in return. I swore and hopped down the beach, stumbling along what should have been pristine sands but were in fact a death trap of debris, wishing I could be just that little bit more like my sister for once.

That is when I first met Wavedancer.

I thought – no, I don’t know what I thought at first. She was just lying there amongst a particularly thick clump of seaweed, her little pink body completely limp and unmoving, her bright blue mane matted and scattered out all around her. I’ve never dealt well with death since, well, I never have. I thought maybe she was just some ragdoll at first, some life-sized toy that had fallen overboard in a boat and washed up on shore, but as I got closer I knew that wasn’t the case.

I wanted to run away. Of course I did, I’m Cloudchaser, that’s what I do. Flitter would have known what to do: she would have raced right up there and done mouth-to-mouth, or the recovery position, or whatever the heck it is you’re supposed to do. I never thought was never any point to learning all that, as Flitter would always have been there to do it better than me.

I just stood over the body trembling and feeling like I was about to start crying. There I was, crippled like an earth pony, exiled in my shame and alone on a desolate beach next to that detested ocean, and there was nothing I could do to save even one pony. Yeah, Flitter would have known what to do.

Instead I just looked at that fragile, lifeless form and whispered “are you okay?”

Her eyes flickered open, big and bright and staring into the cloudy sky. I’d like to say that I immediately leapt to her aid, but I think I just gave a scream and jumped halfway to the moon.

“Oh.” Her voice was soft, with the hint of a tremor that I took for shock. She immediately tried to sit up before collapsing back down on her bed of sand and seaweed. She patted her hind-quarters and turned her head to me, staring up with wild, bulging eyes. “Legs, I’ve got legs!”

“Are… are you okay?” It was a stupid question, but then I’ve never been one for imagination. I looked around uselessly, for anything I could use to make her more comfortable, but there was just stacks of debris, shattered driftwood and junk as far as the eye can see. “Was there a boat? Was there anyone else in it with you?” I had no idea if any of the wreckage was boat-related, but it was a safe bet; ponies didn’t just dump timber into the ocean for no good purpose.

“Wavedancer!” she exclaimed, ignoring my question and trying to struggle upright. “My name’s Waved – Oops!” She clambered unsteadily to her hooves and then started to sway, her pink face turning a deep shade of purple.

“Are you okay?” I asked again, reaching out a tentative hoof towards her. “Are you choking? Can you breathe?”

She collapsed forwards into my forehooves, opened her mouth and inhaled as if her life depended on it. Which it did, really. “Yes, breathing!” She puffed out her cheeks and made a swilling motion, as if tasting a fine wine. “It doesn’t taste of anything, I thought it would! Do you have to do that a lot?”

I held her weight more out of shock than anything. “Do what?”

“Breathe!” Wavedancer just shook her head and shrugged. “Don’t worry, I’ll get used to it. Hey, I like your mane! It’s really nice!” Her eyes sparkled as she completely changed the conversation as if it was nothing.

“Thanks…” I stood there, unsure of what to do. Finally I just gave an awkward “my name’s Cloudchaser,” having realised I’d been incredibly rude once more.

“An air pony!” Wavedancer’s face lit up with even more delight. “This is fate! Can you fly? Can you take me flying, that would be amazing! So amazing!” Then she leapt up and kissed me full on the mouth.

I promise you, I went as red as she had when she’d been struggling for breath. Wavedancer didn’t seem to notice, she twisted as if noticing something else even more exciting and started to hop in the sand, giggling and laughing.

“Look! Look!” she shouted at me, bubbling over with energy. “I’m making hoofprints! In the sand! And they’re staying there and not getting washed away!” She planted her hoofs firmly, making little furrows in the damp sand and jumped as far as she could to land with a thump. “Oh, I guess that’s gravity! Do you make pictures in the sand all the time or just sometimes?” She tilted her head, patiently waiting for an answer.

“I… I don’t…” I stared back at Wavedancer and flapped my bandaged wings uselessly. “I’m a pegasus, I belong on the air, not down here like some crumby earth pony.”

“Oh!” Wavedancer gave a little gasp and started to roll about in the sand, scooping up hooffulls and throwing it up, letting it fall down all over her. “But you’ve got so much neat stuff here! Grass, do you have grass? Is that a real thing? I mean I’ve heard about it and all, but…”

“Yeah, grass is real. Look.” I took a step closer, starting to feel rather concerned about this strange pony. “Is there anyone I can get to help? Did you bump your head when you fell overboard, should we get you a doctor?”

Wavedancer shook her head firmly. “Nope, I didn’t…” she tapped the back of her head and winced. “Okay, maybe I bumped my head a little, I didn’t expect it to be so stormy last night! But I don’t need a doctor!” She looked about conspiratorially, despite the empty beach, shuffling closer. “Can you keep a secret?” she whispered into my ear.

I pulled away slightly in case she tried to kiss me again. “Sure.”

A grin spread across Wavedancer’s face. “I’m really a sea pony! I’ve come here for an adventure, to meet all the land ponies and air ponies like in the storybooks!”

Sometimes you need to think carefully about a reaction to a statement. Other times, someone will just say something that’s so obviously wrong that it beggars belief. I facehoofed hard, forgetting that I was standing on the beach and ended up throwing sand into my eyes. “There’s no such thing as sea ponies,” I said eventually, after blinking out all the grit. “They’re make-believe, stories for little fillies.”

“Ta-da!” Wavedancer waved a hoof triumphantly at me. “And yet, here I am!”

“But you’re not a sea pony!” I felt I needed to point out this obvious fact if it wasn’t going to occur to Wavedancer. “You’ve got legs, for a start. Sea ponies have tails. And they can breathe underwater. And sing. And lure sailors to their deaths.”

Wavedancer just smiled smugly. “Obviously I’m not a sea pony now; I used magic to turn myself into a land pony so I could see the world above! It’s all I ever dreamed, so amazing!” She looked up at the grey, slurry-like sky with sparkling abandonment. “You could go anywhere!” She shook her head, getting back on track. “And I can sing, look, ‘shoo-be-doop’!”

It didn’t sound much like a song. “I can do that,” I muttered back. “Look, ‘shoo-be-doop’.”

Wavedancer’s mouth fell open. “Maybe you’re secretly a sea pony too!” she gasped in astonishment. “That was really good. But uh, also sea ponies doesn’t lure sailors onto the rocks, those are sirens.” She shook her hoof in the direction of the waves. “They have the head of a fish and the rear legs of a pony, but I can see how you might get confused.”

“Yes, I’m the one who’s confused,” I deadpanned back with a sigh. “Poor little Cloudchaser.”

“Poor little Cloudchaser!” Wavedancer patted my side with genuine affection in her voice. Unfortunately she chose my burnt wing to pat, and I reacted with a restrained yelp of pain.

It was at that moment I strongly considered leaving this strange pony here on the beach. I could have pointed out the direction of the nearest town and felt my duty done. This break was all about me, after all.

But that was what I’d do. And look where that had got me so far. Flitter wouldn’t abandon someone who had come through a traumatic near-drowning, with a concussion to boot. No, she’d take Wavedancer in, she’d nurse her back to health and then Wavedancer would turn out to be insanely rich and reward Flitter beyond her wildest dreams once she got her memory back. Because that was just how my sister rolled.

I held no such illusions about Wavedancer, but I knew deep down I couldn’t just leave her on the beach. She’d probably try and walk right back into the sea, leaving me with just a bit more guilt to rest on my shoulders. No, I determined to be better than that. I would be better than myself, better than my sister. I’d take Wavedancer home and fix her up, because it wasn’t just Flitter who could be good at stuff.

I gently pushed Wavedancer’s hooves away from doing me any more damage, and pointed up the beach. “I’m staying in a cottage up there, if need somewhere to stay while you get better,” I said, attempting my most reassuring tone. “Just ‘til you’re back on your hooves.”

“Ooh!” Wavedancer twirled around, peering into the distance. “Is it a castle? Do you have any hills in there?”

“I… no.” I shook my head, quickly regretting my good-natured offer. “It’s only a small cottage.”

“Oh.” Wavedancer’s face fell. “But there are hills about here, right? Can we catch one and ride on it? I want to run up and down!”

I wasn’t sure what Wavedancer thought a hill was, so I just decided to go with the flow and pattered her on the back. “Sure, Wavedancer, sure. We can catch a hill.”

We walked in silence up the beach to the cottage. Actually, that’s a lie. I walked in brooding silence as Wavedancer skipped along behind me, excitedly pointing out things that she saw. Things such as bugs and stones and wooden steps. Actually, she got really excited about the wooden steps that led up from the shore towards the cottage; I had wait until she’d run up and down them several times, all the while giggling to herself like a little filly.

My heart sank as we reached home. Somehow I’d forgotten what a state the ramshackle place was in. Half of the walls were obscured by old bits of wood and twisted, rusty metal that had been plucked from the sea. At some point it seemed that my uncle had tried to make a display of seashells, but they had soon been covered over with half of a barnacle-encrusted boat hull.

“Wow,” Wavedancer looked at the humble cottage with wonder. “I thought you said you didn’t live in a castle! It’s amazing! Look!” She pointed a giddy hoof up at the crumbling thatched roof. “It’s even got a turret!”

“It’s… it’s not a castle, Wavedancer.” I tried looking at the cottage through her eyes, but there was just no way it could ever be described as a castle in any shape or form. “It’s just a cottage. Not even a very nice one. I usually live on the clouds, and that’s where I’ll be when my wings are better.”

Wavedancer’s jaw dropped. “You must all live like royalty!” she squealed in amazement. “If all land ponies live in castles like this, wow! Us sea ponies live at the bottom of the ocean amongst the tentacles of giant sea anemones. They protect us and in return we keep them clean.”

I shrugged, giving a smile despite the ridiculous tale. “Well, yes, I can see how this might seem like a castle to you, if you don’t have any.”

Wavedancer paused, and then gave a start. “Oh, the queen sea pony, she lives in a castle, of course. It’s huge and has lots of turrets like this one, and is made from coral and diamond and sunbeams and oh wow, is that wood?” Wavedancer wandered away from her trail of thought to pick up one of the pieces of driftwood, weighing it in her hooves. “This is incredible! It’s wood and it’s dry! You’re so lucky, Cloudchaser, you’re the luckiest pony in all the underworld and overworld to have so much wood! Wow, wood!”

I rolled my eyes. “If anything, Wavedancer, I’m the unluckiest pony in all… all Equestria. It’s not even my wood.” I scrunched my face up as I realised what I’d said. “Well, okay, I guess it is now. My uncle used to live here. This was his place, he’d just sit by the sea collecting junk and writing his books. He passed away and I’m doing the family a favour by actually coming down here and clearing it all out.”

“I can see why he liked it here!” Wavedancer picked up a cockleshell, examining it closely. “You’ve got shells too! You have everything!” She peered into the shell. “Huh, where’s the cockle? Is he hiding, naughty cockle! Come out and play!”

I snatched the shell back and threw it onto the pile with a huff. “Shells don’t have stuff in them on land, that’s not how it works. Sea stuff doesn’t live on land, it dies. And air stuff doesn’t belong here either. I’m just here because I made some dumb mistakes and, well, I’m waiting for them to get better too.”

“Oh.” Wavedancer looked forlornly down at the cockleshell. “Sorry, Mr Cockle.”

I patted Wavedancer gently on the back. “There, there,” I said softly. “I’m sure he had a good and full li – ” I cut myself off as the ridiculousness of what I was doing flooded over me.

Wavedancer didn’t seem to notice. She turned to smile at me. “Thanks, you’re so nice. You’re the nicest land pony!”

“Air pony!” I corrected automatically, pointing at my bandaged wings. Then my brain caught up with what I’d actually said. “No, wait. Pegasus! Pegasus!”

It was at this moment that my stomach decided to make itself known with a rather loud rumble. Wavedancer leapt back, eyes wide with alarm. “Manatee!” she squeaked, head darting this way and that as she cowered under a piece of driftwood. “Manatee alert! Get the sea grass or they’ll feed on our plankton pals!”

“No, we don’t have manatees on land, whatever they are.” I wasn’t sure what a manatee was, and so this was potentially a lie, but I felt safe enough to hazard a guess that one wasn’t about to come thundering over the horizon. “It’s just my tummy. Do you, ah…” My thoughts went to the pile of useless canned food sitting inside. “Do you happen to have a can opener?”

“Food!” Wavedancer instantly relaxed at this change of topic. “Wow, I’ve not eaten since… since…” She tapped her chin with a hoof. “Since I left Aquestria, and that was the other day. I got caught in the storm then, and you can’t really eat in storms. Don’t worry; I’ll rustle us up a meal! I’m a great chef!”

I watched with a bemused look on my face as she scampered off back to the beach. Part of me thought I should go and help her, make sure she stayed out of trouble but honestly at that point in time I just wanted to have a little less crazy in my life. And food would be good.

Yes, would be good. Wavedancer returned a few moments later, proudly holding aloft a tangle of black seaweed that dripped with saltwater and sand. She triumphantly threw it down in front of me and made a little pose with her hooves as if she was presenting a ten-tier gateaux. “Dig in!” she beamed.

I looked down at the tangled mess that was giving off a pungent odour. My stomach started to apologise for its previous impatience and petitioned to be allowed to starve for just a bit longer. “It’s, uh, very….” I searched desperately for the right words.

“I know, right!” Wavedancer grabbed a big hoofful and stuffed it into her mouth, chewing greedily. “Mmm!”

As I watched Wavedancer eat the seaweed, the contents of my stomach started to enquire as to whether they be allowed to exit my body through the mouth. “It’s… uh… mmph!” I covered my mouth quickly, as keeping it open for too long gave my stomach the wrong idea. “It’s very nice but I like to eat indoors, so… you know!” I gabbled as quickly as I could.

Wavedancer sucked up the last strand of seaweed like a string of spaghetti and looked guilty. “Oh! Sorry! I didn’t realise! We can go inside if you want.”

“Its fine. “I waved a hoof. “Not really hungry anymore, don’t worry about it. I like my meals cooked, anyway.”

“Okay!” Wavedancer brightened up again with a smile. “What’s ‘cooked’?”

I winced. “Oh boy.”

My plan to rope Wavedancer into helping to clear out the cottage quickly fell by the wayside as she decided she really wanted to go and find a hill. Thankfully there was one not too far from the cottage. It was a gentle green bump on the landscape, though for Wavedancer it might as well have been a mountain.

I think we spent the rest of the day at that hill. At the beginning I just watched her run up and down it, laughing her face off, but then she convinced me to join in. After running to the top and rolling down it with her ten, twenty times; my poor burnt wings were screaming in agony, but it felt good.

Yeah, it felt good. We rolled down that hill, laughing without a care in the world, tumbling into a pile of limbs at the bottom, covered in mud and grass on a damp, miserable grey afternoon and it was probably one of the best days I’d ever had.

We returned to the cottage as night began to fall, battered but happy, and most importantly with a hoofful of blackberries I’d picked from one of the nearby bramble hedges. Wavedancer may not have been a mythical creature of the sea, but her stomach certainly had the constitution of one. Mine did not.

To Wavedancer’s dismay, I broke up some of the pieces of driftwood and placed them in the fireplace of the small cottage. Using some emergency matches I found hidden in an old jam jar in amongst a tangle of string and bottle tops, I started a fire, causing much fluster and panic from my new friend.

As I sat that night warming myself by the fire and imagining being up above the dark clouds that continued to broil, Wavedancer just stared into the flames, mesmerised. Once or twice, she tried to poke it with her hoof; it was just a matter of luck that I stopped her in time.

“I suppose you don’t have fire underwater, I guess it gets cold,” I mumbled sleepily, before cursing myself for enforcing her delusion.

“Oh, no.” Wavedancer replied, but her eyes were still fixed deep into the fire. “It’s not cold at all underwater, it’s warm and joyous; we don’t need this fire, the whole ocean is just right. If you want to take a sauna though, you can swim into one of the deep volcanic vents; they pump out really hot water, but you can’t go too deep!”

“Ha!” I let out a snort, glancing out of the window and towards the black waves in the distance as they crashed into the beach. There was going to be another heavy storm, I knew it. “The sea’s grey and miserable and cold, Wavedancer. You’re better off in here with me.”

“No. No, no, no!” Wavedancer seemed to take affront at this, tearing herself away from the fire to swivel round and face me. It struck me suddenly how much of a mess she still looked; her mane was matted with saltwater from her drowning experience, there was that nasty red bump on the back of her head, and her fur was covered in bruises, mud and grass from the hill. That said, I probably didn’t look much better.

“It’s not grey.” She too looked outside towards the ocean as it gently rumbled in the distance. “It’s turquoise and silver and verdigris. Shafts of sunlight burst through from above illuminating the plankton and other microorganisms as they drift by, and they sparkle, Cloudchaser, they sparkle like diamonds strung out across the heavens.” She sighed, giving a shiver and bundling up into one of the old blankets that I’d found her. “The seabeds are golden and they stretch for miles, with fields of iridescent coral and algae blooms, and you’re never cold and you’re never hungry.”

She turned back towards the fire, silent. I looked down, unsure of what to say.

“But, uh, you came here, eh?” I tried to crack a smile.

Wavedancer slowly leaned towards me, pressing her head into my shoulder. “The sea doesn’t have a good friend like you.”

There were lots of things I could have said in response. So many things that ran through my mind. Instead, I just gave a “yeah,” and gently patted her.

I could have gone upstairs to the nice warm bed I had prepared. Instead, I spent the night curled up with Wavedancer, until the fire finally flickered its last and the only heat was from the last few dying embers. But by then, it didn’t matter.

Author's Notes:

Keep watching folks, chapter 2 is about a third done and will hopefully be landing soon! I'd love to hear your thoughts so far!

Shoo be doop!

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