Fable Page 37

“Who, Nix? Who were you trying to call?”

“The kelpies. But I should have known it wouldn’t work.” He ran his hands through his hair in frustration and let out a really long sigh. “I haven’t been able to hear them in a while.”

Mina knew he was thinking about the consequences of staying a nixie, and everything he had lost.

“It’s fine, really. I don’t mind the walking.”

“No, it’s not fine. I think we’re being followed, and I can’t stray too far from water without weakening further. We need the kelpies if we want to outrun her.”

“Who…you mean the sea witch is still after us?” Mina asked, balking.

“Yes, it’s because I helped you escape. She’s tracking us. I keep crossing the streams, following along different paths, but she knows and I know that I can’t stray far from a water source.”

“Why is she so set on getting us?”

“It’s because I interfered. This isn’t just any sea witch following us…it’s my mother, and she won’t stop until she’s found us.” Frustrated, he lunged up from his sitting position and hurled the reed flute into the middle of the river. It made a plunking sound, then disappeared. Nix had turned and begun to walk up the riverbank toward Mina when a loud rushing sound caught their attention. He turned back to the river; a wide smile formed across his face.

“They came,” he said in awe, as if he hadn’t really believed they would come.

Mina turned to watch the middle of the river become a vortex of swirling, rushing water. The waves collided against each other, and the noise was loud, like a crashing waterfall. An otherworldly sound erupted from the middle of the river, and a glorious translucent head came from the center of the vortex. It was a horse made of water. Then another one stepped from the middle of the river, and then another. Six beautiful translucent beasts stood before them, shimmering and reflecting back Mina’s and Nix’s own images.

The horses walked toward them but stopped at the water’s edge. The lead horse separated from his brethren, and as soon as he touched his hoof to the rocky shore, he transformed like a snake shedding his skin. The lead horse’s coat turned white, while the others stayed in their translucent Fae form, safe in the water’s embrace.

Nix ran to the horse and pressed his face to its muzzle. The white horse pressed against him in mutual delight. A second or two later, Nix pulled away with a frown on his face. “Oh, how I wish I could hear your sweet voice again.”

“Will they take us?” Mina asked. She was somewhat hopeful and scared of riding the beast at the same time.

“I can only ask.” Nix leaned forward and began to speak with the kelpie, but all Mina heard was a soft clicking and popping nose, similar to how a dolphin would speak.

She watched closely for the kelpie’s reaction. The lead horse walked back to the others, and they started to step back into the middle of the river.

“What’s going on? Are they leaving?” she asked fearfully.

“I don’t know,” Nix said slowly.

The white horse was still in a physical form, and there seemed to be a bit of a discussion going on between them. One of the horses neighed and rose up on his hind legs, his front hooves kicking the air in displeasure. Others danced about sideways, while some shook their manes.

“Oh, geez, Nix, you didn’t tell them I was a Grimm, did you? Probably not the surest way to gain their trust or help,” Mina said sarcastically.

His face turned a weird shade of brown. “Uh, I might have mentioned it.”

Mina rolled her eyes and continued to watch one of the most beautiful scenes she had ever seen. One horse, then two, turned and disappeared into the river’s waves. Then a third left, followed by a fourth. They were leaving. Only one kelpie remained with the white one. It was a smaller horse by a few hands and it still looked young, but it followed the white horse bravely to where they stood. When the little horse reached the embankment and stepped out, his watery coat turned a dark red.

Mina stood and stared at his coat. This wasn’t a shade of red that had ever appeared on a horse; it was blood red. She had to wonder if the other kelpies had actually stepped out of the water, what color their coats would have been. This was the Fae plane. Nothing came in average packaging.

Both horses came and stood in front of them. The white one leaned down, and Nix nimbly leapt upon his back. The red one followed suit, and Mina did her best to not embarrass herself as she fumbled onto the kelpie’s back.

The horses turned and began to run alongside the river. Mina couldn’t help but feel the excitement of riding a mythical creature in a foreign land and grin. She laughed out loud and wrapped her fingers around the red kelpie’s mane. Nix looked over his shoulder and laughed with her at their exhilarating ride. They ran unbelievably fast. The trees, boulders, and forest whisked by, and with every step the kelpies took, a clear wet hoof print was left behind.

She reached down and patted the horse’s neck, and whispered, “You’re magnificent.” She wasn’t positive, but it seemed like the horse shook his head at her and proceeded to show her how magnificent he was by racing ahead faster, catching up to Nix’s horse and then passing him at a river bend. Mina couldn’t help but turn around and blow a playful kiss at Nix as they sped past him. His face showed complete shock, but he leaned forward and whispered to his horse, and then the race was on.

The kelpies raced neck and neck through the woods. They were as playful on land as they were in the water, taking turns, letting one horse run ahead, then running up a separate pass to jump in front of them in surprise. When Mina was once again in the lead, they ran too close to the riverbed, and a huge wave erupted out of the river to dump right on her head.

“EEEEEEK!” Mina shrieked as Nix ran past again. “That’s not fair!” she called after him. Red, for she had no other name to call him by, took off like a cat after a mouse and did something completely uncalled for. He jumped into the river and disappeared beneath her, forming into water again. Mina flailed in the water, thinking the horse was completely gone, but then she could feel him, like a giant current that had her in the palm of his hand, and they were speeding along the river at breakneck speeds, even passing Nix and the white horse.

It was the oddest and scariest thing she had ever done, to whiz down a river at such speeds. She thought she was going to smash onto a large rock, but the current of water that was the kelpie moved her out of the way. When they were ahead of Nix, the current picked up Mina and literally threw her out of the river toward the rocky embankment. Mina screamed and flung her arms out in front of herself to try to break her fall, but at the last minute, the wave flowed after her and then under her. Reappearing as the red kelpie, the horse made a watery snicker and kicked up its heels at the horse behind them.

She clutched his mane and cried out loudly, “Please don’t do that again. Or at least give a little warning next time.” She wasn’t sure, but she thought he bobbed his head in agreement.

The horses calmed down their crazy Kentucky Derby after Red was the obvious winner, and then they slowed to a peaceful pace.

“So tell me about yourself,” Nix said.

“What? Now?”

“Yes, I want to know what it’s like to be human, and why you would sacrifice everything to save your brother.”

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