♫ IF WE WANNA STAY HERE, CAN WE SEE THE WAVES? THEY’RE SPILLING OVER US, FILLING OUR INSIDES: which recounts Zeno’s adventures overboard with mermaids, a captain, and a toad

Well. Disposing of a misty not-hobgoblin’s worthless bodyboats as he flitted between them was one thing. But stabbing water? This is a whole new exercise in futility—and I will not participate. I glance back toward the others as the watery tendrils drag my feet sternward. Even Gumfellow, who I had thought a little cleverer, has found a roundabout way to get in on the water-stabbing with that new toy of his. At least Gems is trying her hand at fishing! No, ha ha, she’s simply chucked all the fisherman’s tackle overboard. Brilliant.

I sigh and quaff my potion of water breathing, which tastes all the better for not having cost a thing, and dive straight into the column of water before me. Hopefully it doesn’t mind being filled. “Hopefully you don’t mind getting wet. We’ve still got music to make, my dear. So much music!”

I spin myself around and face back toward the ship. The column seems satisfied to have taken me in, and begins to retreat downward toward the lake. Before we sink below, I give The Kid a thumbs-up signal. “I’m alright, see? Let’s ride these waves down to Mermaid Town!” is what I wish I could have said. But, having never breathed in water before, it came out as more of a “murgur murgurgle!” It probably didn’t sound nearly as enthusiastic as I had hoped. Oh well. I’ll just have to hope he doesn’t take it as encouragement to continue his inane sword splashing. He’s got a child now, and he must know the ridiculous example he’s setting for it. I think for a moment about how Harry must have looked when he was a wee lizard—this is how dragon-men work, right? I wonder if he grew up in a jar with no air, too. That might explain why he sits so quietly at times…

Oh. Well, he sure isn’t sitting quietly now. As I’m ferried deeper, I see Harry blasted toward the ship by a flash of light and accompanying roll of thunder. He sticks a sideways landing against the hull, in a moment of beautiful grace. I knew he was like the lizard! I can’t make out what else is happening up there, but I suspect it’s still a bizarrely aggressive pool party.

The deeper I sink, the darker the water gets. I hear nothing but muffled rumbles from above, and your usual quiet whispers within. I honestly expected some light by now. I had imagined Mermaid Town to be sparkling and bright, not… this. Perhaps I’ve made a mistake. Perhaps there’s nothing good down here at all. “Do you even know where you’re going?” I blurt out at my aquatic escort. It loses its grip on me, apparently as insulted as a liquid can be, and I begin to swim away. It’s at this time that my eyes fully adjust to the darkness, and the forms around me begin to reveal themselves: archways, columns, and other structures, clearly not sculpted by nature…and some beings circling in the darkness. It must be the mermaids! Fantastic! Oh, the tales I will tell of the night I’m about to have!

Shit. The captain. He’s down here too, and I had somehow failed to notice him until now. I blame the lizards. He looks terrified, which normally wouldn’t be much of a problem, but he has our gems. I spend some time wrestling against the current, trying to pull him upward. “Let’s get out of here!” I blurble, figuring that’s what he wants to hear. I’ll pop him back onto the boat, negotiate a significantly larger portion of the spoils for my heroism, and return down here with the party to fulfill our obligations and plunder some booty. He finally wrestles loose and we begin our ascent, when one of the hazy figures comes into clear view close above us, previously obscured by the wedge-shaped shadow of the hull. She has smooth skin; long, muscular legs; green, shimmering eyes; a massive, rounded vocal sac… um… I really thought they’d be sexier, and considerably less than fifteen feet wide.

As I rethink my plan of seduction, there comes from far above this enormous frog-hag a rumbling, a groaning, and a massive splash. The ship’s silhouette has become less wedge-shaped, and more boat-laying-on-its-side shaped. That can’t be good.

“It looks like we’ll be staying down here after all, dear.” I glance around at the massive frog, and the smaller shadows still circling. “If I can’t melt their hearts, I’ve got you to melt their minds.”

(Guest post written by Zeno, aka the Bard to End All Bards, His Unstoppable Piperishness himself.)

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