Sunday, September 09, 2001

Part Two: The Journey begins

Sleep came fitfully to Koifin that night. With no shelter and unfamiliar surroundings, every sound was amplified in the minds of the travelers. It became obvious very quickly the reason why Maxim was called the Drifter. The old koi seemed to know ever inch of the ocean floor, he could tell you with one look around himself everything there was to know about the flora and fauna in the area. Still Koifin was wary of Maxim. Whenever he would raise the topic of Maxim’s past he would dart past it,

"Oh me bucko, been too long for ma pore ol’ brain to remember anything of these sorts."

Although disappointed, Koifin new better than to press the old fish for information, besides, they had only been traveling together for a day. There were numerous explanations that could hold the secret to the old man. Perhaps he too had been in a disaster, and simply wished not to talk about it. That would surely explain his sympathy for Koifin. On the other hand Koifin would not put it past Maxim that maybe he really didn’t remember after all.

The duo stopped around midday to rest. Koifin had lived his whole life at home and was not accustomed to such travel. After enjoying a small lunch of Maxim’s "famous" seaweed pie, Koifin allowed him self to drift into a vast daydream. He thought of his family and friends and of what they would have been doing at that time… if not for the disaster. Why had he of all pets survived? Suddenly he was dragged roughly into reality.

"Now don’t look around laddie fin but we’re bein’ watched"

"What…" replied Koifin sleepily.

"I thought I told ya not to look around!" grumbled Maxim. "Now lissen t’me…look over me shoulder… what d’ya see?"

"Nothing," replied Koifin, quite puzzled by Maxim.

"Now, now sonny…don’t play dumb with me now… what d’ya see!?"

But before Koifin could whisper his response an earsplitting screech filled the water. Out of the darkness a huge flotsam lunged into the clearing like blue lightning. Koifin and Maxim were instantly knocked to the ground from the sheer force of her wake.

Stopping herself squarely in front of the travelers she bellowed,
"Who are you and what do you think your doing here?!"

Propping himself up with his staff Maxim looked her straight in the eye and replied, "Excuse me Ma’am but I’m Maxim the Drifter and this ‘ere is Koifin Renflorr, an’ last time I checked we were eating lunch. Now… what’s yore name?"

Taken slightly aback by Maxim’s blunt sarcasm the flotsam took a minute to collect her thoughts.

"My name is Cora, I’m the guardian of these waters."

"Guardian! HA… you sure aren’t very assuring for a ‘guardian’ ", huffed Maxim.

"I’m very sorry if I have startled you… I guess I am just a little on edge with the sorts of…err… pets I seen roaming these waters lately… let’s just say that you wouldn’t want to come across pets like these unless you were armed to the teeth." Cora glanced nervously about her as she spoke those last words. What had she seen out there? Koifin could only imagine, although he hoped he’d never find out.

After much deliberation Cora agreed to escort the pair at least as far as the borders of her domain, as long Maxim minded his manners. As they swam Koifin studied the warrior flotsam, and wondered to himself about her life. She was rough and muscular, obviously in top condition for her species; however, she wore many scars as the result of years as a guardian. Koifin tried unsuccessfully to concentrate on happier thoughts, but it was impossible to rid himself of the flotsam’s words… what did she mean… pirates? Surely a few pirates wouldn’t scare an accomplished guardian… would they?

They had been swimming for hours when Cora stopped, "We should camp here… the waters get more dangerous past that reef," she motioned towards a reef that loomed darkly ahead of them.

"Camp" consisted of a few giant kelp leaves propped up with rods of coral. After such a long day it was not long before Koifin closed his eyes and drifted into the realms of sleep, leaving his companions to discuss the upcoming journey. Some time later Koifin was awoken slightly by unfamiliar voices. He tried to lift his head but to no avail. What was going? He blinked some sleep from his eyes; again he could make out the shape and voice of Maxim although he still could not see the visitor. Suddenly Maxim turned to face the waking Koifin.

"Wh-what’s going on?" he groaned sleepily.

"Now, now sonny… it’s not time for you to get up now is it? ‘Ere ya go drink this down like a good little koi," he coaxed, handing a flask to Koifin with a wink. There was something about the old koi, he couldn’t refuse him, reluctantly, Koifin took the flask and drank its contents.

"That’s it bucko…there ya go…" but his words were lost as Koifin drifted back into sleep.

To Be Continued...