16. Boy Meets Frog, Again
I spent the next hour staring out the orange shield, down onto the ocean. Nowhere felt safe. Ream had found us in the middle of the sky. He’d known where we would be, and he’d been waiting. Still, when I did finally decided to speak, it was about something else.
“Deli, what did Ream mean when he said that you’d failed, again?” I asked.
Deli looked exhausted. “I guess it’s best to just tell you,” she said.
She hopped in front of us, and began to explain.
“I was a heroine once, and Ream was my villain. He was the fiercest that we had ever seen, and the first and only King of the Dragons. Back then Ream had been taking elves and making them fight for him. Tryt said he’d never seen a creature so skilled at building an army. It was my job to stop him, and it was a great honor. Tryt kept assuring me they would be telling our tale until the end of time. Except, it didn’t go the way it was supposed to.”
“No kidding,” said Soy. I nudged him from behind. We had lost the backpacks in the dark cloud and Soy was getting hangry (hungry and angry at the same time).
Deli went on, “The plan was for me to find him in his lair using a secret entrance. The fairies had located it behind a waterfall. I would catch him by surprise and defeat him with my stonegold bow. But that’s not what happened. I found the entrance without a problem and swam in through a small rock pool. But, when I crawled out, Ream was waiting for me with his army of elves. Summoning almost all the magic I had, I was able to get one shot off, wounding him. I used the rest of my lore to create this disguise. Quickly, I jumped into a stream running through the walls and floated out into the base of the waterfall. The blow had broken Ream’s magical hold on the elves, but he had gotten away. Tryt tried to find Ream himself, but he never succeeded. I had failed. Ever since then, Ream has been gathering his strength and building his new army. His fairy army.”
“Why you? Why was it your job to save the elves?” I asked.
“Because I was their leader. I am their princess,” she said.
“You … are an elf princess?” Soy said in disbelief.
“Elven princess,” she corrected.
“Why not change back then?” I asked.
“I can’t. I am bound by the story, just as Ream was bound with the stonegold. Until Ream is defeated, I am stuck in this disguise.”
Soy began to fidget a lot more than usual.
“So, um, what kind of stuff do you like? If you even like stuff, I mean? What’s like,, you know, your favorite stuff?” he asked Deli.
“Soy? What are you doing?" I whispered.
“She’s an elf princess! I’ve never talked to an elf princess!”
“Elven princess,” she corrected.
“Exactly!” he said.
Deli jumped on Soy’s shoulder and whispered something into his ear. Soy’s face changed, and he stopped fidgeting. Deli and I made our way to the front of the bed.
“Don’t worry,” I told her, “this time, we’re going to win.”
Deli smiled back at me. “I believe we will.”
She pointed ahead, and I saw a dark brown mountain rising from the middle of the ocean. It had a bit of snow on top and was surrounded by a forest below.
“The dwarves set the mountain adrift on an island to make sure that no one could chart a map to it without lore,” Deli explained.
The current was winding us down towards the mountain. There was an opening between two orange trees at its base.
“What did you say to Soy?” I asked her quietly as we descended.
She whispered, “I told him that I’ve been watching you two for a while. I know that he refuses to go to school every morning without his rocketship underwear. So, he has nothing to be nervous about in front of me.”
“Every morning?” I whispered.
“Every morning. They don’t make them anymore, so his mom can’t buy another pair. She has to wash them every night. If they aren’t ready in time, he throws a fit.”
“Oh,” I said.
I made a mental note not to forget about the rocketship underwear.