Don’t go up to the surface. Stay away from the two-tails and their floating reefs. Stay in the deeps. That’s what Guinevere had been told since she was a hatchling. That was the song she heard as she swam away from her sleep shelf and the colony reef. She’d always been too curious for her own good. And she’d been to the surface once before and come back safely. Her nest-brother Elyan had been upset but grateful that she’d come back at all. And now she was going back up. By herself. She took a deep breath and surfaced, then sank back so her gills were beneath the water again and she could breath. She didn’t know how long a fin-kin could go out of the water, and she wasn’t about to find out now.
Gwen’s side-fans caught a sound from far off. She couldn’t tell quite what it was. It sounded like a throat-voice, but it didn’t sound like a song. She looked toward the sound and saw something yellow bobbing on the waves. It was too far away to tell what. She dove down and swam closer, but the yellow thing had disappeared, and the throat-voice sound had gone as well. Confused, Gwen dove again, ready to return home to the colony reef, when she saw something yellow and white in the water. Was it another fin-kin who’d come up to satisfy their curiosity like her? No, it was a two-tails! A female two-tails!
The two-tails wasn’t moving and was starting to sink. Air bubbles rose slowly from the two-tails’s mouth. Despite all the warnings ringing in her head, Gwen pushed herself through the water and wrapped an arm around the two-tails’s waist, then flipped her tail beneath her and shot up to the surface, holding her breath. Trying to keep the two-tails above the water, she ducked down again to take a breath, then swam for the beach she could see in the distance. The two-tails would be safe on the sand, if she hadn’t been too late. Mother-sea, she hoped she wasn’t too late.
Gwen had to duck down a few more times before reaching the shore, and when she did, she pushed the two-tails onto the sand and swam back to where the water was deep enough that she could breathe, and she watched the two-tails for signs of life.