It should have shocked the breath from her, stolen her thoughts for just a moment. She was braced for it, eyes squished shut, full surfer’s wet suit tight against her, making her feel vaguely stifled as always. Instead she slipped into water which caressed her through the black suit, a soft welcome to an alien world.
A rough grayish shape brushed past her right side, and she instinctively grabbed for it, her movements strangely coordinated despite the weight of the water. As she latched onto what she knew was the dorsal fin of a bottle nosed dolphin named Kevin as soon as she touched him, another part of her brain started muttering, “Since when can I breathe underwater?”
She felt there were two of her, a woman who caught rides from dolphins named Kevin as a matter of course, and her landlubber side who rarely swam outside a chlorinated pool or hot tub and was still reaching for air where there was only water.
:Of course you catch rides from me, every Saturday at this time. Why else would I be hanging out by a human pier?: She heard the words in her head, felt a strange burble of concern which was not her own, as half of her self was struggling with the not being freezing and choking for air, while the other half hung on as the dolphin, Kevin, dived deeper, heading due West away from shore at an easy clip for him.
That corner of her self still trying to guess up from down as the light faded around them decided this was clearly too much, the last straw, chucked up her hands and went on vacation. She distinctly muttered to herself, “And don’t let the door of reason hit your ass on the way out!” which made less sense that she was mind talking a dolphin. Named Kevin, of course, what else would a talking dolphin be called?
:Are you alright, Ambassador? You seem unduly confused.: Kevin’s voice placed in her mind again; curiously, the words seemed to have an orange tinge to them; alarm, she guessed. She opened her mouth to answer, sucked in a metric ton of water, and began to thrash, dropping her hold on Kevin’s fin, convinced she was about to drown.
A moment later she gasped and snorted, tears and snot pouring down her face as the long rays of the evening sun caressed her face. She took a long time to just breath- actual air!-before realizing they were far from land. All her eyes could see once they cleared was the searing brightness of the sun washed ocean, stretching all the way to the incandescent horizon.
The soft shimmer beside her in the cobalt blue waters turned into a dolphin’s blunt grey nose, one eye peering at her closely. The one shred of her mind still hanging around swarmed with questions, so she reached out and grabbed one at random.
“How much magic are we talking about, here?” strangely relieved to hear her own voice, thin and reedy against the vast rolling ocean as it was.
:What is your last memory of the ocean, Ambassador?: Kevin side stepped her own question entirely, but that dark round eye drew an answer from her. The truth was almost startled out, she didn’t have to think about it.
“I grew up in the desert, hundreds of miles from any ocean. We visited a few times, last one was when my uncle died,” her voice trailing off at that bit, the thought a sore bruise she wanted to ignore, a strange tang of metal filling her mouth.
:Oh dear, the Council warned us of this possibility.: He nudged her gently, concern seeming to radiate from him, a gentle purple in her head. :Let me take you home, the Council must be appraised and your Aunt Ursula summoned!:
She was so startled by the incongruous appearance of a child’s villain’s name from the dolphin, she replied without thought. :Ursula? What does an evil sea with have to do with me? With all of….: she burst out before that small part of her thinking brain broke in, “Of course this involves an evil sea witch, why wouldn’t it?”
:I’m sorry you believe Ursula evil, there is much to fix if this is so. Shall we continue, Ambassador? There is less time to waste, now.: Kevin turned into her, bumping her hand so she again grabbed him out of reflex, a move that felt oddly familiar and comfortable all at once.
“What, go where? How do I…” she sucked her breath in and decided to go with the flow, having no option as Kevin barely waited for her grip to settle before he was diving again. She held on with purpose this time, she’d get her answers, even if she had to deal with a telepathic dolphin and a sea witch, possibly evil and possibly not, to get them.