Usually I blog about being Mistletoe, but I spent the evening logged on as Petal and had so much fun I just had to share. If you’re bored, annoyed, indifferent, or otherwise uninterested regarding the world of child avatars, move along.
It was one of those hazy, hot, deliriously happy late-summer afternoons when Petal got out of school. She put her books in her lock-chest and made her way toward the docks for the ferry back to Northfarthing, taking her time to window-shop as she went. But when she got to the docks, she received a message saying that due to stormy weather off the coast, the usual afternoon ferry was cancelled. She would have to take the evening ferry home.
“Well now what am I gonna do?” she wondered to herself as she stalked away from the docks, kicking at a pebble that was unfortunate enough to be in her path at the time. She wasn’t just sure where she was walking, other than away from the docks. She supposed she could head in the direction of the school, at least until something else might catch her attention.
Ahead, beyond on the outskirts of the village, she saw some rolling green hills and beyond them, the shimmering ribbon of river reflecting the lazy late rays of the sun. Rivers are supposed to be followed, she thought, I’ll keep following it until I find a bridge, or something interesting..
And did she ever find something interesting! A quarter of an hour’s walk along the river brought her to an arched green bridge, and on the other side of it… a dragon! She froze as soon as she saw it, just after she’d crossed the bridge, not sure if she should back away slowly or stay nice and still. While she was running it over her mind, the dragon turned his eyes toward her, and with a rumbling voice, he said, “Greetings, young lady.”
Petal blinked. “You can talk!”
“Of course I can.”
She stepped closer, tentatively. There was an elf standing there near the dragon; surely if the dragon ate elves he’d have done so by now. He told her he was from a land of dragons, far away, and that he was here to visit.
“Are you lonely,” she asked,”Being apart from the other dragons?”
“I travel often,” he said, “I meet many people, so I’m never lonely.” He was a much better speaker than the only other dragon she’d spoken to, Petal noticed. Petal told him that she went to school here, and the conversation turned to the importance of a good education. She told him she wanted to be a wizard when she grew up, like her uncle Archimides… either that, or a pirate.
“Why not be a pirate wizard?” the dragon asked with what looked like a grin.
Petal’s eyes widened. “You can do that?” Before long her imagination was filled with images of the Great Pirate Petal, piloting a magic ship that she personally enchanted herself.
Unfortunately, the conversation drew to a close when the dragon said he had to go and make his long flight home. They parted ways with polite words and waves, and he reminded her once more to study hard in school. She continued further up the river, until she came to a second arched bridge. She could hear voices and splashing on the other side, so she decided to investigate.
“EACEN!” She rushed toward the familiar blond centaur as soon as she spied him and gave him a hug. She was so happy to see a face she recognized that she didn’t right away notice the company that Eacen was keeping. There in the water, near the bank, were two young mermen splashing happily about as they talked and laughed.
“So you’re mermen, huh?” she blurted before she could check herself.
“Well,” said one, “I’m actually a merboy. And he–” (here he pointed to the other lad in the water)–“is a shapechanger. My name’s Noah.”
“I’m Petal,” she said with a polite nod.
“And I’m Wlfric,” added the shapechanger. “Nice to meet you!”
She watched them swimming with a bit of envy. The afternoon sun was still quite hot, and she’d worked up some sweat while walking. She couldn’t wear her dress into the river or she’d get seriously grounded.
“You wanna swim with us?” asked Noah, noticing the expression on her face.
That’s when she got an idea. She’d take off her bodice and shirt and skirt, and keep her undershirt and bloomers on and swim in that! And so, she did. The water was even more cool and refreshing than she’d imagined.
Suddenly a pixie flew by with a message for Eacen. “I have to go,” the centaur said hastily, “emergency.” And before he could say anything more, he was gone. It crossed Petal’s mind that she had never been swimming without adult supervision before. She felt a mixture of fear and excitement in her chest. Doing something dangerous with no adult supervision was like an adventure!
She and the lads swam and splashed and talked a while until her hands got wrinkly, so she got onto the bank, found a convenient patch of sunlight on the grass, and lay down to dry off. Noah turned his fins into legs and did the same; then Wlfric said some magic word and there was a flash of bright white light. When Petal’s eyes adjusted she saw a human boy with black hair, dressed in feathers and bright fabric, standing on the bank.
“Get used to it,” Noah chimed in. “He does that sort of thing all the time.”
The lads were about 2 school grades above Petal, she estimated. Wlfric looked a bit like the Indian boys in a book she saw; Noah had wild blue hair and fair skin, with some blue tint where his new legs were.
“So what should we do now?” Wlfric asked.
“I dunno,” said Petal, “What do you wanna do?”
“I dunno,” Noah echoed, “What do YOU wanna do!”
“I know,” said Wlfric, “Let’s go to my house!” He had mentioned earlier that his mom wasn’t feeling well, so she would probably be waiting at the house.
And soon the three of them got dressed and trudged off, through woods and along the river and over hills, until they came to a grand cave by an ocean shore.
“Come on!” Wlfric called, running into the cave.
“Is your mom home?” Petal asked, somewhat apprehensive, but didn’t wait for an answer before following the boys in. It was a huge hollowed room in the rocks, twice as big as her classroom at school, with a ceiling so high that the dragon she’d met earlier would have been able to stand at his full height and flap his wings in comfort.
“There’s more!” Wlfric ran back outside. “Come and see!”
He led them out, over a ridge, where a wooden-frame box was waiting. “Get in!” their guide called, leading the way. They climbed into the box and closed a door behind them. Ropes tied to the box creaked and moved, and soon Petal realized they were in an elevator! The box–with the three of them in it–was lifted high up off the ground, until it came to a stop at the platform surrounding a round tree house.
“This is like a super secret club house!” Petal announced as they went inside and sat.
“Yeah, kinda,” Noah agreed.
“And we’re like a super secret awesome adventurers club!”
More another night; this is getting lengthy!