Maanta could taste the salt of the ocean on his lips as he stood where the ocean meets sand’s edge. It was early morning, just past sunrise, and a fog swirled across the waters outstretching before him. “AaaaaaHooooo!” he sang out into the pastel orange sunlight rippling across the ocean’s crest.
In the distance, a dolphin hopped from the ocean to the air, and back again toward him. Light gleamed from its backside. As she neared him Archa bobbed her head and made welcoming noises to him in the breeze. “Arch Arch, Arch Arch.”
The waters cooled his feet as he walked toward her, yearning to return beneath the depths. But he knew he couldn’t. Not now. The only way to release the air pocket beneath Meridia, and free his enslaved people, would be to take the cavernous tunnels beneath Ar’arat’s base to the world of water he so loved.
He extended his hand out above the rippling tide. Archa’s smooth forehead met it quickly and he stroked her nose. “I love you girl,” he said with the love of a best friend. “I can’t wait to rejoin you.”
“Arch Arch.” She jumped and splashed in the waves, curling shoreward until she was at his side.
Maanta stroked her smooth fin, before feeding her a fish he had brought from Noah’s home. “Today is the day, girl. We’re heading into the tunnels beneath Ar’arat to the crystalline egg of air beneath Meridia.”
“Arch Arch.” She dipped her head in understanding.
“It should only be a matter of days before we reach that place. I need you wait for me, between the East and West Shale Walls of Meridia, when I release the air pocket. I don’t know what readjusting to breathing water again might do to me. I know though, that if you are there and I pass out, you will find me and take me to my fellow Meridians.”
He kissed Archa on the forehead and petted her head once more, warmed by the sunlight. “Be there waiting for me, girl, and I will return.”
“AhhhHooo!” Archa called into the air as she swam circles about Maanta. She nudged his leg abruptly before disappearing beneath the waves.
She will be there, Maanta thought. Even if I had never told her, she would know where I was going and would find me.
A voice called from the house above the beach. “The packs are prepared and we are ready for our journey in the tunnels beneath Ar’arat!” Japeth beckoned. “As soon as you have finished speaking with the dolphin, we should leave to get an early start!”
Maanta turned and ran up the beach, sand spraying behind him. “She is already gone, on her way to wait for me in Meridia, and I am ready to get on our way to the cavern’s opening. I just have to retrieve something from the house first.” He sped up past Japeth and through the main doorway towards the dining room.
On a large oak table rested a massive clay pot filled with ocean water. The two jelly creatures from Amaranth stuck to its bottom, constantly spewing out air because of the water they consumed. Bubbles collected on the top of the bowl in froth.
He reached his hand into the bowl and was surprised to find the water abnormally warm to the touch. The sticky creatures peeled off the bowl and into his palms; then he wrapped them in pieces of seaweed to keep them moist.
If the creatures turned water into air, he had thought, than surely they needed water, if not at least moisture, to survive? He stuffed the pulsing creatures into his pocket and began walking toward the front door to join Japeth outside.
“Be safe,” Noah spoke from behind him as he walked.
Maanta raced back to the elderly man who had helped him adapt to the realm of air and embraced him warmly. “I will be back, Noah.”
“May God bless you in your quest and give you the strength to live in the ways he asks us to live.” Noah grinned and gave him another hug. “I anxiously await you again, young man.”
“Thank you for all you have done for me and shown me. Oh wait…” Maanta fumbled in his back pocket for something. “This is for you.” He passed a folded piece of parchment into Noah’s fingers. “I thought up this poem on the peak of Ar’arat. It reminds me of the friendship that your family and I share.” Maanta gave Noah one final embrace before joining Japeth outside.
Noah slowly unwrapped the parchment, crackling in his hands. He read it with great interest as Maanta’s voice resonated in his mind.
finds its future
in the love
which one thus binds
finds its everlasting aura
in the bathe
of together finds
in my forever quest
both passion and friendship are sealed
and when friends’ togetherness is opened
an aurora borealis
“Noah, you have been both friend and family to me since pulling me from the waters. I have never told you this, but I have never known my father. In you I have found a man I wish my father would be. You are kind, loving, understanding and patient. Since I have met you, you and your sons have been by my side at every turn. It will be a blessing to see you again when I return from Meridia. Thank you for making me feel a part of your family.”
A single tear traced Noah’s wrinkled cheek. He folded the parchment, placed it on the table, and watched out the window as Maanta and Japeth walked side by side toward the cavern in the side of Ar’arat.