He hadn’t thought ahead enough to plan for transportation. Until then, everything seemed to fall into place without his having to do any more than being there. That too suddenly felt important as he focused on it. Then the warrior tapped his shoulder and Stanton felt as if she’d dragged him from thoughts that might pull him into a quagmire of confusion. Too much had occurred since Margaret’s death including the discovery that he was immortal.
He turned to look at his companion and she pointed into the lake water. Looking where she pointed he saw a pod of dolphins and wondered if they were from earth.
“Earth animals?” he asked.
“I couldn’t say with any honesty. I’ve seen them uncounted times when traveling on any of the lakes.” She glanced up as if she could see the other lakes dotting the surface of the ring world.
“Are they dangerous?” he asked.
“No. They’ve never harmed any human. Well not that I’ve heard.”
He nodded silently.
The dolphins remained with them for two days and nights. Early morning on the third day while Stanton sat in the captains chair watching a horizon that never seemed to grow nearer everything changed.
First he heard absolute silence. He stood to investigate and discovered their escorts missing. The lake surface glowed like polished glass reflecting the ring world’s darkness with a edge of sparkling stars. Stanton had to check to be sure the boat still moved. He found it moving at the exact speed as the last time he checked.
Beginning to feel apprehensive, he looked to the rear. As he turned he noticed a large bubble rising to the surface a few hundred feet behind the boat.
At first he didn’t react. Then as the bubble surfaced and he thought he saw the head of a water serpent within, he raced into the boat to be certain Minerva was safely in her bunk. The girl slept.
Taisie was on her feet as he dropped to the below deck.
“Something behind us,” he whispered harshly.
Taisie nodded and climbed to the foredeck followed by Stanton. As they reached it, the bubble burst. From within lifted a massive dragon’s head. The creature was long like a snake, but had small wing like appendages a third of the way down its body. At the end of its tail a single steering wing curled and acted like a rudder.
The beast rose skyward to tower fifty feet above their boat. It opened its huge mouth showing rows of dagger-sized teeth. Then it pulled back, roared loud enough to send the boat speeding ahead of it.
Stanton felt certain it would sink them and turned to get Minvera. As he did the child climbed to stand alongside him. She raised her small arms and as he watched transformed into a creature like the one that controlled Margaret. Her small wings spread. As they did, they grew in size and strength. Suddenly his child was in the air confronting the sea creature.
Minerva roared. It sounded as small as she, but the beast responded. It did not attempt to harm her, but actually seemed worried. Minerva spit flames into it face and the beast reeled back howling loud enough for the sound to echo off distant mountains.
Then it curled around its tail, and dove back into the lake. As it did it created a tsunami like wave that kept rising until it was three times the height of the boat.
Minerva returned to join Stanton and Taisie and resumed human form.
“Hold on!” Stanton shouted and grabbed to wheel with one arm, and Minerva with the other. He saw Taisie dive to wrap her arms around the base of the captain’s chair. Then the wave lifted them to it crest and raced across the lake. The moved faster as the wave traveled through the center of the lake.
Sure the wave would slam them into the mountains now fast approaching, Stanton felt his heart sink. Can’t even save Margaret’s child, he thought sorrowfully.