Two moons floated on the blackness--the larger of them high and full. The smaller moon was less than whole and it dipped into the black sea waters on the horizon as if for strength. Everything drinks life from the sea.
Looking down she noticed that her feet and sleek legs were as dark as the line of the shore against the white sands. This sand covered most of the island and, to her, seemed too golden by the light of day. But now, in the deepest hour of night, the world was beautiful and enticing. The faint glow of the sand was sprinkled with crystalized drops of moonlight that glimmered as she approached the shore. There at the the edge of the island, Nightsea watched the path the moon made for her on the surface of the ocean. The sea looked so inviting and cool in the semi-darkness, but Nightsea knew the dangers that the calm surface concealed. Besides, she knew that even the sea would not soothe her; she could not return to her hut for a fourth sleepless night with the sea still dampening her hair. Distressed, Nightsea mentally reached below the wavering liquid and called to her dolphin-friend. Far out amid the waves a triangle broke the surface and a familiar tingle enveloped her.
**Hurt?**, her bond animal asked in the dolphin's version of the "word-thought' that elves used. **Swim!** he invited. The tug was like a child's invitation to play--a magic, innocent, yet secret event that they could share. In a dolphin's manner he offered the only remedy he knew--a leaping dance through the sea, a communion of graceful dives that would heal the soul. **I cannot swim tonight--my pain will not disolve into the water even if I fly on your back. I have tried. This is a body-hurt and I am too weak**, she sent as explanation.
Accepting her meaning, if not her words, the dolphin was concerned and swam closer to the shore. He would try to stay near her as
he would for another dolphin who was injured or sick.
**No. I am just tired...don't worry. Dance for me and give up our sorrows,** she sent at the approaching shadow below the waves. The last thing she needed was for the dolphin to strand himself on the beach in sympathy.
Shaking off his dissapointment like so many drops of water, the dolphin began his dance. His mind stayed linked to hers as he swam
in convoluted patterns through the sea, slowly building a feeling of contentment, and then an exhuberant joy of being. Leaping and speeding through the moonpaths on the ceiling of his watery world.
His wild, fluent expression of life did relieve her of anxiety for a while. Her eyes darted to catch his resilient skin as he flashed through the air and her mind could feel the speed and emotion.
Eventually his dance slowed and the lazy, exhausted swimmer sent, **tired.**
She allowed her affection to reach him. Knowing only that he had comforted her he jumped and disappeared into the blue-black water.
Now alone, she felt the cool night breeze and the individual grains of sand against her skin. She bent to touch the quiet sea. The familiar,
warm water was soothing to her, just as the communion with the dolphin had been.
Suddenly, she shivered. She was not alone on the beach. There was someone else standing behind her. Someone who was watching
her--she didn't need to turn to know who it was. How long had he watched?
"Nightsea," he whispered, putting a hand on her shoulder gently. "What's wrong?"
Whirling to face him she re-entered the world of confusion the dolphin had helped her momentarily escape. "Windcatcher, I...I'm sorry," she breathed, tears coursing down her cheeks.
Taking her in his arms Windcatcher tried to end the tears. "But for what, my friend? I can understand you, better than you can know yourself sometimes. Forget that day, we can go on as before. Nothing has changed." His calm, reassuring voice and smile seemed to be sincere. But Nightsea could feel a revolt against his calmness inside herself.
It had to be a lie--or she was insane. How else could she explain the sound which pounded in her head? Flir! He was 'Flir' and she knew it--as surely as she knew her own soul resounded 'Resh'. He stood facing her now, she could easily tell him his inner name, but how would it affect him? It could hurt him--she had no reason to know it. The friendship she shared with him was close so perhaps the name had come to her becasue of this bond and for no other, more serious, reason.
One day, she had met his eyes and assumed that he felt it too; the perfect harmony of two beings, each soul singing like a bird in
flight; and yet now it couldn't be. It was wrong. She didn't want to know.
The agony in her face stung him. "Nightsea, please don't cry. I still love you, my friend. It is just that you are confused. I have known your soul name since we were children, and yet its meaning for me has never changed." **You are Resh** His sending was calm and affectionate but it made her react violently. She pushed away and ran blindly, beyond consolation. Too weak from days of no sleep or food, she lost her stride in the deep sand and fell to the shore, sobbing. It was wrong! It could not be Recognition without him!
Wavecatcher had released her arms as she had run away. He let her go, knowing that his presence only confused her more. But when she fell his heart jumped and her name rang an alarm through him; Resh! He hesitated for only a second than ran to her where she was huddled. He held her tenderly making sure she was not hurt, and let her cry. It pained him to see her this way. So lost and helpless. Like a child in the tides, she was always caught up, endlessly curious and restless. She was a Saltseaker...a foolish name the islanders called the type who hunted for the unknown. Often they went out from land in quest of things that were best found within and closer to home, instead of on the unstable and dangerous Vastdeep. While he admired her dreaming as a form of creativity, he was not happy with frivolity. Frowning, he tried not to look at her graceful body in its loose, blue gown. He did not move as he held her, offering only to comfort.
Spent of tears, she leaned on his bare shoulder only to feel a new shock of need when her face came to rest. **NO!** She felt so vulnerable and ashamed because of this longing for someone who could not feel the same. Her fierce sending pushed him away physically and she rose and backed away, fearing to touch him again.
The dawn pushed the waves in a new direction against the shoreline of the small island.
Daylight exhausted Nightsea in a way that confused most others of her tribe. No other elves had become nocturnal durring the centuries of life on the edge of the sea.
It seemed like a bad adaptation to the Elders. Without clear vision the many predators and dangers would have the advantage.
Nightsea knew other secrets. The life of tides under two conflicting forces in the night sky was complex, but held a beauty and rythm that no one else understood. Sealife glowed with internal colors, different species hunted and mated only under cover of night. Lacking clear vision underwater was not uncommon for her race, and swimming without trusting her eyes made her aware in different ways. At a certain depth, the lack of light happened all the time and being comfortable without sight made her safer there.
Dolphins used a sense that elves did not possess to locate food, obstacles and each other. Nightsea could not send out a pulse and feel the shapes as they did, but she allowed herself to know the different pressures of currents, the tastes that fish left in their wakes as they swam and to react with speed when larger predators churned the water with violent motions.
Her hearing underwater seemed sharper and the gloops, pops, groans and keenings told her what was happening
near and far.
Now she blinked as the ever-present wind switched speeds in the warmth of a new day.
Turning to face his hut, she again reviewed what he had said after her first outburst of tears.
"I cannot bond with you. I do not trust your wildness! You take too many risks. No child would be safe in your womb."
His words burned. His brutalness in saying them hurt like puffer-spines to the heart. She had always felt disapproval from others in a mild way, but most elves were at least willing to let her live as she chose. Even if they would not understand her sleeping by day
and swimming alone at night they did not demand that she change. Of them all she had thought that Wavecatcher, born with his rare weather-shaping talent, would have understood. Different was not always wrong.
Just then the youngest elf on the Land, Foamchaser, appeared at his own hut door, looking out with dream-filled brown eyes. His wide smile at seeing her was like balm on a wound.
He called to her but she decided suddenly that talking to anyone, even one as caring as he, could not happen. She would wind up
in salty tears and explanations of things she could not even explain to herself.