Fields of yellow wave and sing

White as cream, an iridescent peak

Oceans so meek burst slimy moss

Hide us from the Albatross.

 

The lyrical words replayed themselves in her mind. It’d come from some obscure American poet years ago when Venus had been studying Earth. She liked the way the consonants and vowels bounced around in her head.

A riddle of some kind, she’d spent hours pondering what the poetry meant. Venus reached the conclusion the poet meant a jellyfish or squid. They were both cream colored and lived in the ocean. Also, the albatross ate those creatures. So, it seemed plausible that the slippery little things would hide. Lastly, the fields of yellow were anemone. Puzzle solved. But, a part of her guessed there was a deeper meaning—another layer. What the layer could be, she had yet to discover.    

“Princess. Are you hurt?” His voice sounded far away, but still annoying as a giant mosqarite, the constant buzzing almost worse than the bite. “Venus.”

“Zaren, I’m trying to sleep. Get out.” Her mouth felt stuffed with cotton. She licked her lips and cleared her throat. What the cret is Zaren doing in my room? “Liquid, please,” she commanded the Sensors while trying to sit. That’s when she realized she wasn’t where she should’ve been. No relaxing bed with Body Sensors keeping track of her sleeping needs. If she’d been in bed, Venus wouldn’t have had a pounding headache or a crick in her back. She’d have been much more comfortable.  

“I’ll find you some as soon as I know you’re alright.” His large hands wrapped around her wrists and tugged. “Anything feel broken? Are you hurt? Can you sit?”

With effort, she moved into the upright position. The air, the light from the Kelarian suns, even the smells around her all smattered together and formed a strange heaviness. Questions swam around in her head. How did I get out here? When did I begin my journey? Had Zaren come with me? Where was Sadraden? “Zaren, what’s going on?”

“Open your eyes. Try,” he pressed, gently.  

She forced her lashes apart, blinked a few times. Zaren, his handsomely concerned face swirled blurry in front of her.

“Huh,” he said, raising one of his thick eyebrows. “What about the rest of you?”

Venus straightened her back, listening to it pop as she moved her neck in slow circular motions. Her insides felt heavy, like trying to push out of the water, but someone held her in.

Maybe my body’s started the metamorphosis. Maybe it has something to do with my boots . . . 

Her Kelvieri’s Boots.

The shaman had bestowed a blessing upon her after presenting them. Perhaps that was where the weightiness came from. She didn’t know. She’d asked, but never received a straight answer.

The boots were surrounded in mystery. Her professors and parents had advised that their secrets would be unlocked with time. They’d said all she needed to know was they had to be worn in order to find the entrance to the Manshum Mountains, home to the Gods. The boots were like a pull or a guide, tuned into their Creator—Aetha—the first to have risen with the immortal’s boots. 

Without them, a young kel wouldn’t be able to finish the ceremony. Venus had also been told that taking the journey and making the change from a young kelphi into a kelvieri came at a price.

“Princess? Answer me. Everything working in there? ” Zaren tapped her on the head. 

“Stop,” she said, shifting away from his hand. “I guess I’m fine. But the way I’m breathing, even the way you and I sound . . . Hey, wait a second. Why are we speaking English?”

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