From the little Anna had interacted with Shireen, she wasn't quite sure having the girl along would help matters. It only felt like moments ago she had been walking along the path, humming to herself, blissfully unaware of the situation she had gotten herself into. Teakettlers, fairies, and shark-toothed sea-people were NOT normal and her mind was doing its best to handle all the strangeness.
Elma noted Anna's hesitance, "Shireen is a sweet girl, she really is. A little rough around the edges at times. That's why she needs someone, someone who doesn't have fins, to socialize with. Besides," Elma added, "Having another fey-person, one that can cast useful spells, can only help you."
"Great, " Teak muttered. "Another teenager. A magical one this time, just what I need."
Elma glared daggers at Teak who went silent. A small puff of steam came not from his mouth, but from his ears.
"I've been meaning to ask you Teak," said Anna, trying to break the discomfort. "When I first met you, you were walking backwards. Why is that?"
"Teakettlers walk backwards by choice, " Teak explained in a proud fashion. "If you can always see where you are going, you are less likely to run into strange and interesting things, and that makes life boring."
"You think I'm strange and interesting?"
"If I had been walking forwards, I probably would have avoided you altogether and you would be simmering in a fairy stew right now. You should be grateful."
Anna was just about to ask Teak if he was being sarcastic when Elma opened the door.
Beyond the door, a small staircase had been carved into the rock. At the bottom, a kitchen area complete with a stove, a table, chairs, and pots and pans.
Like the room in which Anna had awakened, each piece of wooden furniture had been skillfully cared with beautiful patterns and nautical scenes. Shireen stood at the counter with a large knife, removing the scales from a fish. Shireen was dripping wet, her seaweed hair slick with moisture.
When Shireen saw the trio descending the staircase, she grinned and held up the kitchen knife and gave it a wave. While this had been meant to been a friendly gesture, Anna could not help but feel uneasy at the sight of a shark-toothed girl waving a very sharp looking knife.
These people are trying to help me, Anna thought, trying to dispel some of the uneasiness.
"Shireen, " admonished Elma. "Couldn't you have at least dried off a little for our guests."
"I'm sorry mother. I thought Anna might be hungry and wanted to get cooking as soon as possible."
Shireen's defense was only met in silence and glares from her mother. She rolled her eyes and stalked off through an archway.
While Shireen worked to (presumably) dry herself, Elma motioned for Anna to sit at the table. Anna pulled out a chair, running her fingers over the wood and marveling at the intricate details that had been carved into the headrest. This particular chair featured a pod of whales, breaching the surface and clearing their blowholes.
"Shireen actually carved those," Elma said, picking up the fish to continue her daughter's work. "She's quite skilled with a knife."
As if on cue, Shireen reappeared through the archway looking much dryer. Seeing that her mother had taken over preparing the fish, she grabbed the chair closest to Anna and plunked herself down.
"I'm so sorry for earlier Anna, " Shireen said, here voice sincere. "I really didn't mean to scare you. I hope we can be friends."
She's actually quite skilled with a knife, continued to echo in Anna's brain. Travelling with Shireen was going to be an interesting experience.