Sparkling Sands Resort, Isla Paradiso.
“I can’t believe we’re actually here!” Victoria cried. “Three luxury rooms, please!”
“Actually,” Edmund pointed out. “Winston is still a minor. I don’t believe he can rent a room on his own.”
Winston scowled. “Thanks, big brother. Like would have even checked if you didn’t say anything.”
“He can share a room with me,” Victoria said quickly. “It won’t be so bad.”
So they rented two rooms instead.
“Wow, I guess I thought they’d be larger,” Victoria said when she got her first look at their room.
“The point isn’t to spend a lot of time in the room anyway,” Winston pointed out. “I think we’ll be all right.”
Edmund, on the other hand, found his lodgings to be just to his taste.
On the first day, Victoria eased herself into life on a tropical beach.
The turquoise water stretched as far as the eye could see. It was heady.
Winston preferred to look at the beauty through the picture windows of the resort gym.
During the entire vacation, he didn’t once leave the resort grounds. Instead, he milked it for every bit of pleasure and relaxation he could find.
It took Edmund the longest time to find his stride. He wasn’t really used to relaxing. Spending a lot of time doing nothing except enjoy himself seemed sort of like…. well, cheating.
But he did eventually come around.
On the second day, Victoria took an introductory scuba class.
A whole new world opened before her.
Deep beneath the waves was an alien place that she had never imagined existed.
She was struck by a sense of belonging stronger than she’d ever known. When her tank of air was empty, all she wanted was to go back.
The required delay between dives was hard to take, but she was enthusiastic, not self-destructive.
Winston, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so clear on whether he was self-destructive or not. High from a great workout, he decided to take on the fire walk.
Ha! He turned out to be a natural at it! He walked off without the slightest hint of a burn.
Edmund took in the local art.
And discovered that he was a bit of an attraction himself.
“I’m sorry if I’m forward,” the ghost said. “I just have never seen an Avalonian before. You’re such a beautiful people!”
“I’m not sure how to respond to that,” Edmund said. “I don’t think I have ever spoken to a sentient ghost before either.”
She grinned “Let’s discuss it over lunch.”
They did, and other than their supernatural nature, didn’t turn out to have much in common.
Winston was right about one thing. The size of the room wasn’t much of a problem. Each night, he and Victoria dropped into bed and slept soundly.
They fell into a routine for the rest of the week.
Victoria rose early and reserved a boat to take out diving.
Sometimes she made it to the beach by sunrise and could watch the wildlife in the morning stillness.
Then it was on the boat and out to a dive site.
There was so much to explore.
And, it turned out, diving was absurdly profitable as well. Collectors paid high fees for exotic fish. And there was the occasional valuable relic.
Edmund discovered that extended relaxation stimulated all sorts of new ideas for spells to attempt.
Winston balanced hard exercise
With hard relaxation.
One morning, Victoria made an amazing acquaintance.
She wiped her hand over her face mask to try to clear her vision. She couldn’t believe her eyes.
But the figure didn’t resolve into a pair of legs. She really did have a tail.
Victoria tried to communicated.
And to her surprise, the woman seemed to understand her.
And then her air ran out. She had to leave or suffocate. Victoria had never been so frustrated by the fact that she needed a bunch of equipment to explore under the sea.
She met up with her brothers at dinner that evening.
“You would believe it!” she told Edmund. “She was part fish and part human, and she was completely at home in the ocean. It was amazing.”
“I don’t have any trouble believing you,” Edmund said. “Did I mention that I had lunch with a ghost?”
Later: “Have you ever considered the propriety of the way you dress? You show so much skin, it’s inappropriate!”
“Edmund, you’re positive medieval. It’s hot here. I don’t see anyone wearing as many clothes as you do.”
“I cover myself for propriety, not comfort.”
“You go with that.”
She was still haunted by the experience at bedtime. “Have you ever heard of a living, breathing mermaid?” she asked Winston.
“No, but we’ve seen wilder things by now,” Winston agreed. “In fact, I think they’re attracted to us.”
On their last day on Isla Paradise, Victoria took a day off from diving to just enjoy the beach.
And there she was again, rising out of the water.
Victoria jumped to her feet. “You!” she cried. “You have legs now! Who are you?”
“I had to find you again where we could understand each other,” she said. “My name is Maya. I’m one of a colony of Merfolk living in the reef of Isla Paradiso.”
“Why did you come to me?” Victoria asked. “Does everyone know you’re here?” She looked around to see that they were already attracting a crowd of astonished observers.
“We’re not exactly trying to keep ourselves secret, but we don’t talk with humans often,” Maya said. “You’re different. We’re not exactly sure why yet.”
“It might have something to do with magic,” Victoria said. “You see, I’m not exactly human either…”
They talked for hours. Victoria could feel a fast friendship forming.
Then they cut loose and had a little fun.
Eventually the sun began to set. Victoria’s flight was in a few hours.
“I’m sorry I have to leave,” she said.
“Come back and see us again,” Maya said. She pressed a conch shell into Victoria’s hands. “This will help you find me when you return.”
She returned to Sparkling Sands after dark.
This was her last chance to give it a try. Now or never!
“Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!”
“I don’t know how Winston DOES that!”
And then, to everyone’s regret, it was time to return to frigid Avalon.
Not my most inspired piece of fiction, but enjoy the picspam! OMG, scuba diving is gorgeous. The scenery and the fish are so detailed and colorful!
As I mentioned earlier, I was hoping that Vickie would meet a Merman, since she’s quite straight, but no such luck. The only Mermaid she met was female. They became great friends. Maybe she’ll meet a male on a future trip.
I added a couple of dive sites to Avalon. It took a lot of reading and a few tries, but they work all right. I wish more people put dive sites up for download, but it got around that it was impossible to install them in other worlds. That’s not true. You just have to use constrainfloorelevation with a large negative number (maybe -15 to -20 to lower the sea floor deep enough. I can totally help folks if they want to try it. I’m considering installing a couple of custom worlds with dive lots just so that I can copy the lots onto Avalon.