Part One: Under the Sea
Agua swam down to the sea floor with a few powerful kicks of his finned legs and feet, searching for his friend, partner, and sister Maji. She had been exploring for pearls again, but that had been a full tide ago, and so her brother had begun to get worried. He was not too worried, for he new full well that Maji's singing could charm all but a hunterfish, and her quick dancing movements would take her well out of harm's reach, but he was not used to being away from her for so long, and besides, he wished to show her his new spear that he had made, just that day, from a piece of sharp coral and a long piece of straight drift wood.
Agua went down the the oyster beds where Maji would normally be, because that's where the pearls were. He saw a few shimmering globes resting on the sand and it was plain that the oysters had been disrupted just a little while ago, but Maji was nowhere to be found. But just as Agua was about to get nervous he heard his sister's laughter and a bright smile of relief found it's way onto his eerily human face. He started swimming again, in the direction of her voice, because it seemed she was talking to someone. He clenched his spear in his hand in his eagerness to show it to her; but when he got to the place where he thought she would be, Agua still could not find Maji. However, there was a tall, bright pink coral cliff nearby and if he could get to the top, Agua was sure he would be able to locate his missing friend. So he swam to the top, scratching his scales every once in awhile in his haste, and when he got to the top he scanned the ocean floor in every direction for Maji. Finally, the completely opposite way from which he had been going, Agua spotted a flash of irridescent hyde, much like his own, swim through the seaweed and into a shadowy cave. In a flash Agua was there, and he entered what he found to be an old shipwrecked submarine! Once again, Maji's laughter was close by, and he swam deeper into the depths of the old warship.
"Majiiii," he called, "jamaalaaya, ssissterr!" his voice echoed in a searching greeting. A few tropical fish saw him and darted away in fright.
"Aguuuaa?" Maji said, stepping out from the shadows and smiling. "Why are you heerrre, brrrotherrr?" She laughed at her distorted voice. Agua sighed and held up his spear proudly.
"Isss it not beeeautifullll?" he said, and Maji nodded.
"It isss verrry welll donnne." Maji gestured to a dark figure behind her. "This is Octopus. I met himmm heerrre." Octopus moved laboriously into the light, and Agua gasped.
Octopus was indeed what his name implied, but he was humongous, and brilliantly colored, all hues of the rainbow. Octopus reached out a tentacle to shake Agua's fin.
"You're sister told me about you," the eight-legged monarch said calmly to Agua, in a voice that was not affected by the echo, strangely enough. "I am glad to have met you."
"And I you," Agua said. He noticed that his voice had returned to normal as well. "How is it that you met my sister?"
Maji butted in excitedly. "I was searching for pearls, and I had found this really big one, you know, big enough to make a bowl out of. So I tried to grab it, but it was really stuck in the oyster, and the oyster didn't like losing its pearl. But as the oyster was closing on me, and I was refusing to let go of the pearl, I felt a firm, but gentle, pull around my waist and Octopus pulled me away before the oyster shut." Agua looked smilingly at his sister's friend.
"I am grateful," he said. "It was nothing," replied the Octopus, "your sister is stubborn, but not stupid. She would've pulled out before being shut in the oyster." Maji grinned.
"But I have something to tell you," the Octopus continued. "I saved your sister also because I realized that she was destined for greater things than being stuck in an oyster. And since I am a magic Octopus--" here he paused for effect and the two Muisiques gasped, "--since I am magic, I will hurry Fate just a little bit. You see this submarine?" They nodded; how could they not? "I know you think it will never again float, but I guarantee that this is now your very own, private submarine and it will work. What's more, if you come back tomorrow with all of your things, a clear mind and a willing heart, then it will be better than new and you will meet your destiny." Agua and Maji exchanged looks of disbelief, and then it dawned on them: this was the Truth.
"Go home, get your things, and come back in two turns of the tide," Octopus said. The Muisiques were quick to comply.
Agua and Maji returned the next morning, arms full and eyes wide as the Octopus guided them into the submarine.
"Now..close your eyes tightly. I have charmed this submarine, and it will lift you to the surface. Listen!" The Muisiques strained their ears, and indeed, the steady thrum of the engine vibrated below their feet, and all around were the sounds of lights and computers turning on.
"Octopus!" Maji cried out, "Can I open my eyes?" But there was no answer. Slowly, the Muisique girl opened her eyes. Octopus was nowhere to be seen, but through the windows of the submarine she saw the ocean floor quickly moving away as toward the surface they rose. She nudged her brother and Agua ran with delight to play with the bright buttons and lights and gape at the different rooms that had been magically cleaned and repaired after years of disuse.
"Octopus has given us such a wonderful gift," Agua said slowly, "and we can't repay him!"
Maji shook her head. "Yes we can! Just by enjoying this treasure and using it for good and exploration we can..and one day we may be able to return and educate our people." Agua grinned at her as wavery beams of sunlight pierced through the surface of the water and into the submarine. They emerged, bobbing gently.
Agua and Maji climbed the ladder to the little circular door in the ceiling, which they opened into the warm air. Sitting on the edge of the door, the two Muisique youths stared and stared at the land nearby. There were docks, and there were people, and it was so wonderous to behold...
Agua slipped down below again, and propelled the enchanted submarine toward the nearest dock. He climbed back up after anchoring, and he and his sister stepped unsteadily onto dry land.
Part Two: On Dry Land
A slight, pretty woman, well into middle age, caught Agua's arm as they stared at the lines of dock workers.
"Visitors this way," she said firmly. "You're all to report to me, didn't Cador tell you?"
At Maji's dazed headshake, the woman pursed her lips and sighed. "I suppose I'll have to have it out with Captain Morwyr later. For now, follow me."
The woman lead them through the twists and turns of the docking cavern, moving with a firm, slow step. As she escorted the Muisiques through the maze of activity, never seeming to notice their strange differences from the normal, human people all around, she spoke in time with her stride. "I am Cyfrin of indigo Caswir, Covelady of Agendor Cove," she introduced herself. "I run the Cove along with my partner, Nerthol, whose aqua Celwyddaur is Caswir's mate.
"Agendor is very small; our limited resources and dangerous waters cannot support a large seadragon population. Once the unbonded or dragon-bonded are grown, they generally strike out for deeper water or other shores. Sometimes they come back to breed. Many of our bonders go elsewhere as well."
She halted for a moment on the edge of the pier, and whistled shrilly. A moment later, the Muisiques were drenched with colder-than-ice seawater as something lunged out of the deeps. Their cry of delight at the famililar touch of water was cut off as they saw the enormous dragon, a creature that carpeted a schooner's berth with its broad, boneless wings.
Cyfrin laughed, and caressed her lifemate's dark blue muzzle. "You never change your tricks, do you, Caswir?"
Horns as thick as a wrist dipped as the indigo female shoved her nose into the Covelady's chest. "You'd think I was ill if I stopped," Caswir replied, her projected voice a mellow alto. "Now, what to do with our guests?"
Grinning like a teenager, Cyfrin pirouetted neatly and sauntered back toward the Scarlet Ascent, a ship nearby. "That's your department, O living navigational hazard," she called back over her shoulder.
The enormous indigo seadragon bared her teeth in what Maji fervently hoped was a mock-grimace. Snorting, she lowered her head so that her eyes were roughly level with Agua's.
"Well?" Caswir said sharply, as he tried not to breathe. "What shall we do with you?"
"We...don't know, ma'am," they replied politely, in unison, stammering only slightly. A sea-critter's language was, after all, their own, but this one was incredibly powerful-looking, and much bigger than the biggest whale. The Muisiques did not know what to think. What had they gotten into? The dragon rolled her eyes and started swimming toward a dark cylinder.
"Through that tunnel," Caswir directed, stroking her wings lazily as they moved toward the exit. "Celwyddaur should be lurking over there. He's a pushover for calves, and he couldn't bear it if they hatched and he wasn't there."
Celwyddaur was another seadragon, aqua as promised, and even bigger than Caswir. He took one look the two and dropped his jaw in a dragon laugh.
"Good day," he greeted them, when he could speak again, "and welcome to Agendor Cove."
"Oh, that's where we are?" asked Agua. Maji shoved him and thanked the dragon.
The aqua giant nodded amiably as she thanked him, and gestured to the leathery tops of several eggs poking out of Agendor's gray-green sands. "These are Dharishar and Kelar's eggs, but Kelar is Fledgling Trainer and one of our two BondSearchers, and Dharishar had to be off with the Gypsy Rover. It's his duty."
Celwyddaur gave them a sidelong look. "There are eight lovely eggs here, right now. We seek five bonders of good standing. We seek those who love, or at least, do not hate, Agendor's chill and the dangerous waters they must call home. It will be their choice to stay or go, but we have few humans about, as of yet." He sighed gustily. "Here on Gwynllaith, the seadragons are the key to human survival. If it were not for us, the human ships would be as fleeting as air bubbles, splintered against iceburgs, or caught in the fierce currents off the peninsular coast. Thus, we have taken it upon ourselves to see that more humans bond to our young." The aqua male closed his eyes. Agua and Maji held their breath, feeling a new connection to the grand creatures called Seadragons. Celwyddaur continued. "Seadragons have grown fond of humans. Even I, who chose Nerthol late in life, cannot imagine living without him, or going a day without the services we render them. Without these tasks, we would drift without purpose in Agendor's depths. We can do little for the land creatures. Certainly, we have few T-powers of our own, and the Ants and rampage plants do not bother us here."
Snorting and shaking his head, Celwyddaur jolted himself out of his musings. Watching the Muisiques with keen, old eyes, the aqua seadragon dipped his head into the water. "Perhaps you should visit Kelar, after all," he murmured, in quite a different tone. "Ask for her. Her bond, her human is Luthe, Luthe of yellow Kelar."
He dived beneath the shallow waters of the tiny, protected beachlet in clear dismissal.
Agua and Maji noticed several crystal-shard shaped pieces of cut stone sticking out of the sand. The same dreary gray as the rest of Gwynllaith, the standing stones support a long wooden rod with a scroll of waterproof paper wound about its middle. They approached it, and answered all the required questions written upon the parchment. Then they looked around for some help.
Part Three: Before Imprinting
"What are we suppposed to do?" Agua asked his sister. They had found the help, in the form of a youth who showed them to their new quarters and gave them some much-needed information about the land they had docked in. It seemed the seadragons and the woman from before had taken it for granted that they knew of land affairs, but to the contrary, they knew almost nothing about their new "home."
"Well," said Maji carefully, "I b'lieve there is a library; perhaps we should peruse the volumes there?" She spoke in such a way because, although she had lived beneath the sea and spoken the Muisique language, her kind quickly adapted and she had picked up a more refined way of speaking than her brother, who had decided upon the youth's interesting way of speaking.
"Sweet idea," Agua replied, and followed his sister down to the library.
In the library, Meirar and Thotar, the Keepers of Knowledge, greeted the two and showed them around. Eventually, Thotar had to leave and Meirar needed to tend to other matters, so the Muisiques explored on their own. Suddenly, his finger pressed firmly onto a page of history, Agua made an exclamation of discovery.
"So that's what we're here for!! Our purpose!" Maji smiled excitedly.
"What? Why are we here? I've been pondering that for many an hour," she said, drifting over to listen to her brother's explanation.
"It says here that dragons such as the ones we met earlier, only babies, bond to people like us that come to Agendor. That's why we're here, and that's how we can help our people...and we help the seadragons as well," Agua gasped, beaming at Maji. "The Octopus was right. We were destined to unite our people with the seadragons." Maji squealed a joyous burst of Muisique song and danced around with her brother. "I'm so glad you found that, Agua," she said, "because I thought we were lost..jamalaya, brother!"