I knew this was it, that the shark would eat me, but instead of tearing me apart, it lifted me up and carried me away. To be eaten later? I wondered. Was it just going to take me somewhere else to enjoy in peace? I could feel its teeth pressing against my skin. My torn dress was no protection, but still the shark’s teeth didn’t break the skin. It didn’t bite down and it didn’t try to tear me apart. The only jostling I felt was when it was maneuvering around the Grokloc’s gigantic legs. But when we were past that, it was smooth sailing in empty space.
When I opened my eyes, I could see the battle still being waged behind us, the Sharks doing battle with the Manta People and the Grokloc. But we were moving away from all of that. Why, I had no idea. My fear began to diminish as I began to wonder where it was taking me. We continued to get further and further away, but none of the other sharks were following. What was going on?
We eventually reached an island of land and the shark dropped me unceremoniously onto it. I quickly turned to face it, preparing for an attack. But instead of attacking, the shark began to change, transform. The mouth began to shrink, the fins started to become hands. That was when I noticed her necklace. It was the Sharkwoman! The one who had attacked the Mantapeople when they had first captured me. What was she doing here?
“Where is Lu Wu?” she growled. “What have you done with him?”
“What?” I replied elegantly. “Lu? What are you talking about? How…?”
The Sharkwoman swam closer to me and pulled me close with her hands, so I could see her sharp teeth. “Where is Lu Wu?”
“He was eaten,” I told her. “By a whale.”
I nodded. “We were on a bridge and it came and ate him. He pushed me off the path to save me.”
“Impossible!” She declared. “He is the greatest wizard…”
“I don’t know about that, but he was injured. He had been attacked by lizard men.”
“In my world,” I said, as if that explained anything.
“Your world,” she growled disdainfully. “And who are you? What are you doing with his seal?”
“His seal?” I opened up my hand. “Oh, you mean his pendant?”
“No,” the sharkwoman snarled, trying to snatch it away. I pulled back reflexively. “I mean, his seal! It is the source of much of his power and he wouldn’t have given it away to just anyone! Tell me who you are or I will chew your head off!”
I saw no reason not to just tell her the truth. “My name is Frank. We were both taken prisoner by a madman on our world. Lu brought us here…I guess to save us.”
The Sharkwoman growled. “And why would he save you?”
I shrugged. I really didn’t know what Lu’s plans had been. “Because he’s a good man.”
The Sharkwoman was not satisfied. “Give me his seal!” I handed it over this time. What else was I to do? I didn’t want to fight her and if I was going to find a way home it seemed in my best interest to get on her good side. She placed it on her necklace and she seemed to relax. “Grab onto my fin. For Wu, I will get you home.”
I didn’t ask her why she was helping me or why she was so concerned with Lu Wu. I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially when that mouth had such sharp teeth. I grabbed onto her fin and held on tight as she swam away. “Where are we going?” I asked.
“To see the Wizard?”
“Well, A wizard.” Noting my skepticism she added, “You want to get home, don’t you? How else do you plan on doing it?”
“I have no idea,” I admitted. We hadn’t been swimming for long when we reached a cave. “We’re going down into that?”
“Scared?” the sharkwoman mocked.
“The only cave I’ve seen in this dimension had the Grokloc in it, so…”
“There is no Grokloc here, but there are dangers.” The sharkwoman laughed and it echoed off the cave walls. It was not a pleasurable thing to hear as we entered the darkness.
But surprisingly it wasn’t completely dark. Lu’s pendant glowed creating a light. I was surprised to find out the Sharkwoman’s own pendant glowed as well. Was that a coincidence, I wondered. Or were the two pieces related?
I didn’t have much time to think about it before I noticed a strange thing poking out of the wall. It swayed like seaweed in water. It was a stubby tube shaped thing poking from the rock. We swam right past it. Then I saw another. And another! They seemed to be growing everywhere! I thought they were harmless until I saw one of them dart out toward us!
It missed us, but a second one came shooting out and the Sharkwoman had to quickly dodge it. Then came a third! And fourth! They were everywhere! “What the hell are these things?” I asked.
“Miboaq!” she replied, somewhat distracted dodging for her life.
“How many of these things are there?”
“How many? Just the one.”
“One!?” My eyes darted from one writhing, grasping tube to another. “Are you telling me all of these are all one thing?”
“Yes,” the Sharkwoman said. “The only way to the wizard is through the Miboaq Carapace.”
“Carapace!?” I exclaimed looking at the ‘cave’. “Are you telling me that we’re traveling within the Miboaq?”
to be continued…