My instructor takes a deep breath and sighs, as if he is bored of this.
Listen closely and listen well to this clue that I do tell.
My head nods in rhythm to his statement and I listen for the clue.
The salmon swim upstream in spring,
Their splashes make the water ring.
Up the creek where these fish nest,
Is where the idol has come to rest.
A wind blows across my pond, cascading ripples upon its surface. I reach the other side before I realize I’ve just run across. This idol pulls stronger than any of the others. I am not surprised. It is water.
Soon I am running fast along a stream. The fish are splashing the water about. I pause for a moment. The clue mentioned spring, yet the fish are spawning now, in November. I am confused but the idol beckons me on.
My path becomes harder and harder to keep. The stream has eaten its way into the earth. I am now fighting through briars and brambles on the cliff above. Apparently I’m moving faster than the fish, since I no longer see their splashes. If it wasn’t for the idol’s pull I’d wonder if I went too far.
Cautiously I make my way down, using air to moderate my decent. Now I am running on the surface of the water. This way is much easier. I only have to duck or jump over the occsional fallen log. At last I come to rest on a rock, heralding the last jump for the salmon before they reach the still pond.
I can see the Idol. It winks at me from below the surface of the water; way below the surface of the water. I cannot swim. How am I to get an Idol from the depth of this pond. It calls to me, begs me to take it. I remember my dream of plunging into the water to follow Ash.
All I have to do is get to the Idol. If I can walk on water, I can walk to above it and sink. Surely I can hold my breath long enough for the idol to port me out. Smiling I race out to put my plan into action. The water welcomes me. The nearer I get the further I sink into its surface, and yet I do not slow down.
Suddenly my head is underwater. I gasp for air and only get water. I feel myself losing consciousness. No, I struggle as I sink. No, it cannot end this way. There is a chortle over my earpiece. As if my instructor was only waiting for this to happen.
I am filled by nature, my elements rushing to my aid. Fire warms me, Air gives me breath and Water holds me. My feet touch the sandy bottom where the remnants of last year’s nesting are but slight indents. The Idol rests in one of these and I pick it up.
Vibrations run through the water. I turn to see the first of the salmon entering the pond. Pushed by their brethren they cannot help but come forward. As they rush upon me the Idol glows.
“Three just like the Queen,” I whisper as I close my eyes.
I feel the brush of a fish just before I’m ported back to camp.
“You’re soaked!” Charles exclaims as he reaches for a towel.
I open my eyes and smile. I give myself a shake, sending water everywhere. I manage to control it enough to not soak our camp supervisor. He tosses me the towel anyway as I hand him the Idol. He hands me a drink, but instead of making the Idol disappear he looks at the bottom.
“Well,” he takes the empty cup from me. “Wouldn’t you know it. This is the same Lesser Water Idol Helena brought in when she was a candidate.” He grins at me. “Now off too your tent until the bell rings twice.”
There is nothing to do but lie in my tent. I am tired and I am hungry. Those drinks contained some nutrition, but not enough. Some sort of Faerie sport drink I suppose. I stare at the roof of my tent. One hand on my pendant. I will not check it. I will not check it. Soon exhaustion takes over and I am asleep.