Chapter 27 - Rare Zinnals

How long had Sarby dozed off as the sprinkles of tepid mist sprayed his face? Darkness grew around him and Thatch as day turned to night. Warm water splashed onto his horn as Thatch stood up.


“We should get out of here. These waters aren’t safe come nightfall. These warm waters lure some dangerous nocturnal Zinnals that we’d best avoid.”


“Some kind of large fish?”


“Not quite. Let’s just get out of here. You feeling rested up yet?” Thatch shook his body, spraying water all around.


Sarby’s horn brightened as he became more awake, releasing himself from his liquid bed. Where would they go now? Where were they? The one thing Sarby knew was it’d be best to stick around Thatch. Alone, he’d get nowhere and possibly end up killed. Everything around was too new. Jalla hadn’t prepared him for anything.


“Where are we heading next?” Sarby said.


“Why don’t we just follow this path a bit further?” Thatch motioned with his head. “It doesn’t seem to be a human path, so we should be okay.”


Sarby wished it was a human path. “Okay.”


Under moon and hornlight, the two walked side by side down a dirt path. Once again, an eternity of green surrounded them.

Cylor and Halmont raced along the bottom of the pool, swimming laps, as had become their daily custom. Bea floated at the top of the water and dunked her head under to observe them whenever the currents from their ferocious swimming caused the surface to spin and ripple.


Cylor had never given much thought to the idea of training himself to be a faster swimmer, but what else could he do here? Plus, it was nice to have someone to let off steam with. Bea only wanted to relax and sleep most of the time, though he couldn’t blame her. Her body lacked any way to efficiently navigate through water. With her buoyant body she had no problem using the water’s surface as if it were sturdy furniture though.


After the two underwater tired out, they spent time in the depths of the pool breathing in the clean water. Perhaps the reason Cylor didn’t notice immediately his first time in the pool was because of how overwhelmed he was. Now that he had time to relax, he breathed deep, slow breaths of the purest water his gills had ever filtered.


“Cylor, I’ve been wondering, do you have any plans of making an escape?” Halmost floated above the intricate designs etched into the floor, swishing through the water with light flaps of his flippers.


“At first, that was the only thing I could think about, but now, I’m not too sure. I don’t know how my friends are doing, but even if I did escape, what could someone like me do to help them? Or even find them in the first place.” Cylor took a giant gulp of water.


“Well, what about your hometown? Your family?”


Cylor shrugged. “I’m sure my parents are worried sick, but to be honest, I don’t miss that place one bit. What about you? You’ve been thinking of trying to escape?”


“Not at all. My life has never been better here. Ratho treats me as if I were a king. Or well, I think. Never actually seen how the king of this city is treated, but all I can say is, life is good now. Even got myself a large tank of water in another room, with everything I’d ever need. You should somehow get yourself to convince Alicia to let you come.”


“That’s… kind of hard. We can’t exactly speak to them, you know.”


“Well, yeah, but I’ve been able to respond in ways to get my human to understand what I want. You haven’t tried yet?”


“I haven’t really had a need, but I suppose that wouldn’t be a bad idea.”


Bea’s face sank from the surface, staring down from above, with a sour expression.


“Perhaps we should go back to the surface, must be lonely up there,” Halmont laughed.


The two let their bodies float to the top with little effort, creating a light splash as their heads breached the surface.



“You need something?” Cylor asked.


“No.” Bea looked around. “Was just wondering what you two were talking about. You’d been floating down there for a while now.”


“Cylor was just saying how he is starting to feel the same as you, he feels grateful the humans caught him.”


The Dhasum dunked Halmont’s head underwater with his tail.


Bea smirked. “Ha! As much as you were being all mopey for a while, I knew you’d turn your opinion around.”


“No one here mistreats me. How can I possibly hate it? Everyone loves my tail. I never would have thought that humans would gather around me as they did the other day, with that camera thing to take pictures of me and feed me so many delicious foods.” Cylor licked his lips. “Even now, whenever we want, we get to eat. There is never a wait for anything. Alicia always has food laying out.”


Bea nodded as Halmont finally fought through Cylor’s tail and broke through the surface of the water. “It’s like a vacation that never ends,” Bea said. Using her paws, she paddled herself closer to the other two. “But, you know, if we were born any other way, things would have turned out much different. I only ended up here because of the rings on my ears. Cylor only ended up here because of his tail. Halmont, why do you think the humans chose you? I don’t know much about Shuraeks.”


“I don’t understand why they even chose me,” Halmont said. “I’m just a normal Shuraek.”


“Surely you’re not, otherwise you wouldn’t have been lumped in with us.” Bea squinted her eyes.


None of Cylor’s friends had any abnormalities and now that worried him. What were Tynun, Neyr, and Guile up to? Were they being tortured and forced to do things against their will? Or did they somehow get transferred to kinder humans to treat them like royalty? He already knew the answer, and as much as it pained him, he brushed it to the back of his mind. There was nothing he could do.


Halmont slapped the water with his tail fin. “Yeah, I have no idea, I guess. Maybe they just wanted another purple Zinnal.”


“You didn’t try asking The Voice? It can tell you everything about yourself, even what you don’t know about yourself.” Cylor spun across the surface of the pool.


“No, I did. Nothing came up though. I’m just a common Shuraek who got lucky.” Halmont’s lip quivered.


Bea clenched her teeth together. “Hmm, I suppose.”


Cylor gripped the side of the pool with his tail and looked up at the stringed lights hanging in arcs. “This new world is still so wild. I guess I’m not used to it yet.”


Bea lay on her back, casting her gaze to the ceiling. “You haven’t seen anything yet, I’m sure one of these days we will be let out of this castle. When that happens, you might faint from excitement, Cylor. Or disgust.”


Cylor’s eyebrow furrowed. “It looks wondrous outside. Why would I be disgusted?”


Halmont lightly laughed, then looked down into the water.


“You agree, don’t you, Halmont? Once Cylor sees how the world truly operates, his opinion of all the beautiful things within our view will change. Though, it still is beyond our control so we might as well enjoy it.”