Chapter Six

The rhythmic sound of water lapping against rock woke her. CC opened her eyes slowly and was greeted by the sight of sparkling blue crystals. She shifted her body and stared around her, amazed at the beauty of the rocks. If laughter was a color, she thought, it would be this exact shade of blue. She reached out to touch the side of the cave with her perfectly shaped cream-colored hand… and stopped.

That wasn't her hand. Her gaze moved from her hand to her arm. It was long and graceful and looked like it had been carved from living marble. In shock, she sat up. A mass of luxurious blond hair was swept over one of her shoulders so that it cascaded down the front of her body, covering her torso like a silken shawl. She could just make out the mauve tips of her well-endowed breasts peeking through the blond curtain. With shaking hands, she pulled the gorgeous mane back out of her way and looked at the rest of "her" body.

The flawless skin tapered down to a voluptuously curved waist. Just where her hips started to swell, skin gave way to closely woven scales. Where legs and feet should be, instead there was a tail that ended in an enormous, feathered fin.

"Holy fucking shit; I'm a fish!"

Unaccustomed to using such harsh language, CC's first impulse was to cover her mouth and look around frantically to make sure her mother hadn't heard her, but the jerky movement of her upper body caused her tail to flip in response. It felt kind of like she had just twitched her legs to keep her balance and they had responded—together.

"My language would be the least of the things I would have to explain if my mother was here," CC blurted. The sound of her voice wasn't even her own—instead it was perfect, complete with a sensuous accent and a soft, breathy tone. "And to think I've always wanted to be gorgeous like Marilyn Monroe." CC shook her head at the irony. "Now that I am, I'm a…I'm a…" Semihysterical giggles broke from her mouth.

Swallowing back her hysteria, she closed her eyes and forced herself to calm down. Breathe deeply, breathe deeply she told herself—it wouldn't help for her to loose it now. Another deep breath, then she reopened her eyes and looked at her body again. And she couldn't wrench her eyes from her tail. CC told her legs to kick, and the feathery fin lifted gracefully in response. The blue light of the grotto was reflected in the scales, and her tail glinted with a myriad of brilliant sequins. CC had to acknowledge that it really was very beautiful. With a shaking, hesitant hand she reached out and touched the shining surface of fishlike flesh and was instantly surprised by the soft warmth under her fingers. Now that she was touching it, she could tell that the tail wasn't actually made of fish scales at all, it was more like the skin of a dolphin, just colored with amazing shad-ings of blues and purples. She stroked herself, enjoying the slick smoothness of her new skin. It was like being wrapped in liquid silver, she thought, only instead of one color, it was countless fantastic colors.

And she felt incredibly powerful. She could actually feel the energy that simmered within her body. She cocked her head, as if listening to that newly found strength, and she realized that the water seemed to call to her. CC could almost hear its voice asking her to come frolic within its depths.

Maybe she was dreaming, or even dead, but the thought didn't hold any horror for her. Whatever had happened to her, she still had her own mind, and she most certainly was getting a bigger dose of magic than she could ever have imagined possible in her old life.

CC dipped the finned end of her tail down so that it broke the surface of the enticing water, and then with a ripple of muscle she flipped it up again. Warm seawater rained in a glistening arch around her; wherever it touched her body she felt it as a lover's caress.

Leaning forward, she gazed into the calm water of the grotto at her remarkably changed reflection. The only familiar thing she saw was the amber teardrop that dangled between her bare breasts.

"I'm her." The beautiful creature's lips moved as CC spoke. "Somehow I'm the mermaid now." She remembered watching her own body lift toward the faraway surface. "And she's me."

A tremor ran though her, and she raised a hand to touch the curve of one perfect cheek. Totally engrossed in studying her refection, CC didn't look up at the sound of a disturbance in the water.

"Undine, need I remind you of the lesson the gods taught Narcissus?"

A deep, mocking voice made CC gasp and jerk back in surprise. Not far from her ledge a huge man floated in the water. His torso was bare and he was powerfully built. His hair was so blond it was almost white, and it fell in a thick wave past his shoulders. He would have been handsome, had it not been for his sneering expression.

"But of course I must admit that you are truly spectacular." He dropped his voice to a seductive purr. Then, noting her expression, he added. "Are you surprised to see me, sister dear?" He floated a little nearer CC's ledge. His storm gray eyes were intense. "How could you doubt that I would pursue you?"

"Wh-what?" CC's lips felt numb, and she shrank back.

"Please, let us not play your tiresome games. Our father demands you return, and you know how angry Lir can get when his demands are not obeyed." Slowly he floated even closer to her.

CC was confused and frightened. What did this man want and who was Lir?

"When Lir noticed that you were missing again, I graciously volunteered to find you and bring you home."

He wasn't looking in her eyes, instead his gaze kept shifting from her breasts to the jointure in her tail at the place where her thighs would meet, if she had thighs. His hot stare made her feel intensely uncomfortable and completely naked. She scrambled back until she could go no farther and was pressed firmly against the side of the cave.

He reached CC's ledge and placed his hands on the edge of it. With a quick flex of his powerful arms, he raised himself partially out of the water, and CC gasped again.

His muscular torso tapered down to meet the glistening skin of a mer-creature. CC's eyes grew round with shock. Merman, she amended as she watched the hard pulsing flesh surge from a slit in his tail where a human man's groin would be. This creature was quite obviously male.

"Now," his voice was low and ominous. "I am finished with chasing you. I have tried wooing you. I have tried reasoning with you. I have even tried begging you. Nothing works. You continue to spurn me. Your stubborn tricks have left me no choice. You force me to take what I desire."

His malevolent presence filled the cave. CC could feel her heart beating erratically. Her reaction was intense and immediate. He repulsed her.

"Stay away from me." CC was surprised by the power in her new voice.

"No, my darling. Not any more. I am finished with waiting." He reached forward and stroked a thick strand of hair that had fallen over her breast. "So lovely." His breathing deepened.

CC flinched from his touch, which enraged him.

"You will be mine!" he screamed in her face. Then, with an effort, he regained control of himself, shifting his tone to a more reasonable one. "Why do you pretend you do not understand? Our father is busy elsewhere, and he has grown weary of your little escapes. He is not listening for your cries." The merman grimaced. "And your landlocked goddess mother cannot hear you within my wonderful little cave; I made quite certain of that. Do you like the gift I created for you?" One powerful arm gestured to take in the grotto. "Be reasonable and this will be pleasant for us both. You must realize that Father will actually be pleased when we have mated. I believe he even plans on granting us a realm of our own."

CC's mind whirred. No wonder the beautiful mermaid had been so eager to exchange places with her! CC would much rather be a plain, ordinary human girl than a magical mermaid raped by her perverted brother.

The creature pulled himself all the way up on the ledge. His body was almost twice the size of CC's mermaid body. His chest and shoulders bulged, and his powerful tail was banded with thick stripes of crimson and dark green.

"Do you appreciate that I attempted to duplicate the color of your eyes in these crystals?" Again his voice was ingratiating and deceptively gentle. He leaned closer to her. "But nothing could match the beauty of your eyes."

He brushed the fall of hair off her chest, leaving her completely exposed. Then he reached forward and cupped her breasts in his huge hands, worrying her nipples painfully between his thumb and forefingers. Before CC could even attempt to push his hands away, his attention wavered.

"What is that thing?" he spat. "It reeks of human design." The merman freed her breasts to grasp the amber teardrop, which glowed softly where it dangled between them.

The instant his skin met amber, he shrieked in pain and dropped the pendant. Stunned, CC watched him curl over his hand, his entire body shaking violently. He was moaning and she could see spittle frothing around his lips.

The jewelry lady's words echoed through her mind. Know that it has the power to absorb negative energy and turn it to positive. You may have need of it…

She had to do something. The cave was a prison; she had to escape. CC heaved herself forward, squeezing around the merman's convulsed body and hurled herself headfirst into the water. As soon as she was immersed, she felt her panic subside. With an instinct of its own, her body took control and she dove swiftly down and away from the crystal prison.

Expecting to be caught in the swirling current of black water, she was surprised to see that tranquil blue surrounded her. There was no sign of the tunnel through which she had traveled. Still swimming with incredible swiftness, she glanced up and saw the lighter blue of daylight against the surface not far above her head. CC angled her body up, and with one powerful stroke of her tail propelled herself to the surface and broke through the liquid barrier.

She looked frantically around. On the horizon behind her she could see the dark outline of the grotto. She was amazed at how far she had traveled so quickly. In front of her, the ocean appeared to come to a halt. Confused, she rubbed her eyes clear and let herself drift forward. No, it wasn't that the ocean stopped. It was a huge coral shelf. On her side of it the water was the deep sapphire of the bottomless ocean. White-capped waves crashed against the barrier. CC flipped her tail and raised herself up farther out of the water. On the other side of the barrier she could see calm, turquoise water, which led to—her heart beat faster—a sandy shoreline.

That mer-creature had said that he was hiding from her "landlocked goddess mother." If he had felt the need to hide, then that must mean he was afraid. Could the mermaid's mother help her? If so, since she was "landlocked," perhaps she could be found near the shore.

A prickly feeling along her spine interrupted her thoughts. Her skin twitched somewhere on the back of her neck where it seemed eyes touched her.

She turned quickly, searching the ocean for signs of her pursuer. Nothing. As far as she could see the surface was disturbed by nothing except waves. Almost as if it was as natural a movement as stepping backwards, she waved her finned tail and submerged herself under the water. The blue depths were clear and visibility was good, but CC could see nothing more villainous than a drifting jellyfish. She resurfaced.

Maybe she had escaped and was safe for that moment, but one thing CC knew for sure, she couldn't just float there and wait for that creature to recapture her. Doing anything was better than that. With a powerful flick of her tail she leapt up and over the thick coral reef, splashing headfirst into the clear waters of the cove and straight into a school of huge, brightly-colored fish.

CC's first reaction was fear—they were really big fish—and she made shooing motions at them. But they refused to shoo. Instead they quivered and milled around her, a little like puppies. Curious, CC reached a hesitant hand out to touch one florescent-scaled side. The ecstatic fish went into very doglike spasms of glee. CC laughed, which caused the entire school to explode into joyous leaps of playful abandon.

She was just thinking that she didn't know how the day could get much weirder when she came face-to-face with a full-grown dolphin.

"Ah!" She jerked back, bubbles of surprise bursting from her mouth. The dolphin didn't look at all shocked by the appearance of a mermaid who was surrounded by a school of jubilant, silly-acting fish.

They have so little dignity.

The thought was placed gently within her mind. She stared at the dolphin. She had never seen a real one this close. Well, she had visited Sea World at San Antonio once, and there had been dolphins there that people could pay to swim with, but the price had been beyond her budget. And this creature was no tamed hothouse flower; it was stunning. Its sleek skin glowed with vitality and its expressive eyes telegraphed intelligence.

I ask you to forgive me, Princess Undine. I did not mean to startle you.

I, uh, just didn't expect you, CC thought automatically.

The dolphin dipped its head in graceful acknowledgment. May I offer you my assistance, Princess?

She could send her thoughts to this wonderful creature? What an incredible gift!

I need to find my mother. CC quickly decided it was worth a try to enlist all the help she could get. And the crea-tures seemed to know her—maybe they would know how to help her, too.

Of course, Princess Undine. CC was almost sure the dolphin grinned at her. Gaea comes to these shores often, as you well know. It would be my honor. The dolphin glanced at the school of waiting fish with what CC thought was an endearingly long-suffering look before adding, And the honor of these small ones, to escort you to shore.

Gaea! The goddess Gaea was the mermaid's mother! What a bizarre coincidence. CC thought about the elevator and the jewelry lady… perhaps coincidence was the wrong word.

She smiled her gratitude to the beautiful creature. Yes, please take me to my mother!

Together they swam through the clear, warm water. The ocean floor was not far below them, and CC could easily see hulks of coral clustered like mysterious rock castles against the white sand of the bottom. Brightly colored fish darted in and around delicate underwater fronds like autumn leaves in a windstorm. CC looked in wide-eyed wonder at the underwater world. She had never imaged such loveliness existed. Honestly, she had always been a little afraid of the water; she hadn't even ever snorkeled. Look at what I've been missing, she thought over and over to herself.

Just a few feet from the shoreline the dolphin surfaced beside a half-hollowed rock. Its flattened top jutted just above the waterline. As if she had done it so many times before, CC slid onto its smooth surface and studied the lush shore. Diamond waters lapped gently against the velvet sand of the beach so that land and ocean melted together harmoniously, like lovers embracing. Huge trees decorated with flowering vines surrounded the cove. A slight breeze brought to CC the sweet scent of flowers mixed with the tang of salt air. There was a definite aura of peacefulness about the cove. CC breathed deeply, enjoying the unexpected serenity. She felt like she could stay there forever, basking in the warm sun and the honey-scented air.

Princess? The dolphin was looking expectantly at her, returning her thoughts to her present situation.

And the terror of the merman's pursuit rushed back into her mind. Quickly she looked over her shoulder, but she could see nothing except the serenity of the ocean. But she didn't even know if he could be seen approaching. Except for the leap over the coral shelf, she'd traveled underwater to get there. She probably wouldn't know if he was streaking after her at that moment. She had been stupid to relax like she was on some kind of Caribbean vacation.

What was she supposed to do now?

She studied the land, this time not allowing herself to be distracted by its beauty. She certainly didn't see a goddess waiting anywhere. CC fiddled nervously with the amber pendent. This wasn't exactly like picking up the phone and calling her mom. But maybe moms everywhere had at least one common characteristic—they were accustomed to answering the cries of their children.

CC squared her shoulders and cleared her throat.

"Mother!" she shouted, enchanted by the way her melodic voice carried over the water. "Goddess Gaea! It's me. Your daughter, Undine." She looked nervously at the dolphin, who was floating quietly, still looking toward the shore. "I need your help." Please answer me, she prayed silently.

From the thickest nest of verdant ivy and hanging flowers a movement drew her gaze. CC's eyes widened in surprise. A beautiful woman was tucked gracefully amidst the vines. She was sitting on a makeshift swing made of living plant.

"Good morning, Daughter." The woman's voice rang over the water.

CC felt a shock of recognition. "You're the lady who saved me from the elevator!"

A familiar smile curved Gaea's lips. "Yes, I heard your unique call which you offered under the full moon. It pleased me, and I like to care for those who remember me." She paused and her smile widened. "Even if they are living in a far-off world." She pointed at the amber teardrop that dangled between CC's breasts. "I am pleased that you value my gift."

CC swallowed hard past the lump that had lodged in her throat, and her fingers wound themselves around the warm stone. She was speaking with a real goddess. Or she was dead. Either way, it was nerve-wracking.

"Yes, thank you. It's beautiful and magical." She cleared her throat. 'Then you know that I'm not really Undine."

The Goddess's eyes filled with unshed tears, but her expression remained kind. "Of course I know it, young one. Undine is a daughter of my flesh. You, Christine Canady, staff sergeant in the United States Air Force, who prefers to be called CC, are a daughter of my spirit."

"How?" CC felt overwhelmed.

Gaea made a slight motion with one hand, and the vine swing dipped low enough to let her step down to the ground. Gracefully, she walked toward the waterline. CC couldn't take her eyes from the goddess. She realized that the glimpse she'd had of Gaea outside of the elevator had been just a shadow of the goddess's true visage. Today she was magnificent. Her hair was the deep brown of fertile earth, and it curled thickly around her waist. Woven within it were flowers and glistening jewels. CC thought her face looked like it could have served as a model for countless classic sculptures—which, she thought, it probably had. CC couldn't remember getting a clear view of what the goddess had been wearing when she had seen her that day at Tinker, but today her generous curves were draped in transparent green linen, which was the exact color of the ivy growing in profusion all around her.

"You're so beautiful!" CC embarrassed herself by blurting.

Gaea's laughter glittered between them. "Come, child," she said as she reached the water and sank to the sand, letting her bare feet play in the crystal surf. "Come closer to me."

The dolphin chattered joyfully, leaping around the cove as CC slid off the rock and swam to the goddess. Gaea was gazing steadily at her, and CC realized that the reason Undine's startlingly blue eyes had seemed familiar to her was that they were the exact image of the goddess's eyes. Awkwardly, she pulled herself up on the sandy shore until she rested within touching distance of the beautiful immortal.

CC ducked her head apologetically. "I'm sure Undine was much better than I am at navigating with this." She pointed at her tail.

"Do you dislike this body?" The goddess didn't sound judgmental or angry, only genuinely curious.

"Oh, no! I think it's amazing. It's just a lot different from having legs and feet," she said. "And she's so gorgeous, much more so than I am. Or was. Or…" CC trailed off, confused by the tenses as well as the situation.

"I think you underestimate yourself, little one. But I am glad you are pleased with this form." The goddess's expression became distant. "And I am sure that my daughter, Undine, is pleased with her new form as well."

"So she is me now?" CC asked, amazed at how easy it was to talk with Gaea.

"Yes. She has taken your place in that world."

"Am I dead?"

Gaea's laughter caused the tree boughs to sway in delighted response. "Oh, no. You are very much alive."

"Then I don't understand," CC said, feeling more lost than ever.

The goddess reached out and touched CC's cheek in a motherly caress. "This must be very difficult for you, poor child. I will try to explain. Undine is the child of my body, but she is also very much her father's daughter."

"Lir," CC said.

Gaea looked surprised at her knowledge, but nodded. "Yes."

"Um, who exactly is Lir?" she asked.

The goddess smiled. "Lir is the great God of the Seas. You might recognize him by one of his other titles. He has been known as Tethys, Pontos, Neptune, Barinthus, Enki, Poseidon and many others."

CC's eyes widened in surprise. "Poseidon is Undine's father?"

Gaea's eyes held a faraway expression as she gazed out at the waters. "We knew that the land and the sea were not meant to mate, but one day I was bathing here, in this very cove, and the Lord of the Sea cast his eyes upon me." Her face softened with remembrance. "For one brief night I al-lowed him to envelop me, and from that union Undine was conceived."

CC listened intently to the tale the goddess spun.

"Undine was born a mermaid, so it was destined that she live in her father's realm, but she was not content there. She longed for the land and for her mother." Gaea's face was shadowed by sadness, and CC felt her own eyes fill with tears in response. "I tried to coax Lir to allow me to gift our daughter with a human form so that she could live with me on land, but he adored the child and refused to be parted from her."

Gaea took CC's hand and squeezed it. "Do not think him cruel. Lir loved his daughter. And she wasn't always unhappy. She adored her father and the creatures of his realm, and she came here many times, sitting where you are now, telling me fantastic stories of the underwater crystal castle in which she lived and the wonders of the seas."

"It was only recently that she changed." The goddess's expression was haunted. "Sometimes I would find her weeping, there on that rock. Ceaselessly she begged me to gift her with a human form."

CC shivered. She thought she knew why Undine had become so desperate. "Did she tell you what was wrong?"

Gaea shook her head sadly. "No. I asked her, but she said only that she longed to be with me always."

Tears spilled from the goddess's eyes, yet Gaea didn't seem to notice.

"I was afraid she would do harm to herself. I am a goddess, but her father is also an immortal, and I could not cause her form to shift without his consent, as he could not have taken her from me if she had been born in human form." Her eyes glinted with determination. "But I am also a mother, and I could not allow my child to suffer. I wove a spell for her, giving Undine the ability to attain a human body, but only if she could find a human being who would be willing to exchange lives with her." Gaea stared into CC's eyes. "And I knew you would have need of her aid, as she had need of yours, little daughter."

"I don't understand," CC said.

"Your Samhain ritual was heartfelt, and I still heed the call of my children in other worlds, even a world in which I have been forgotten. You pleased me that night, and I touched you."

CC blushed, remembering the passionate feel of the moonlight on her skin.

The goddess put one perfect finger under CC's chin and lifted her face. "Do not ever be ashamed of a gift from a goddess." Before CC could respond she continued. "I asked the Fates to show me your future, and I saw your life's thread end too soon in a watery grave." She sighed sadly. "There was little I could do to aid you, as there was little I could do to aid the daughter of my flesh, but together you could help one another. Thus you are here and she is there."

"Where is here?" was the first of many questions that leapt to CC's mind.

"Here is a world where gods and goddesses still live."

CC's expression was puzzled.

Gaea tried to explain. "This cove is of my making, so it is like nothing that would be familiar to you, but beyond here you would find a land your world would call medieval Cymru." Her arm swept in a gesture meant to include all of the land behind them.

CC felt her face pale. "You're not talking about somewhere in southern California, are you?"

Gaea smiled at her. "Actually, I believe your books would tell you it is the Land of the Britons, or more specifically, ancient Wales"

"You mean I'm smack in the middle of medieval Europe!"

Gaea patted her hand reassuringly. "There is much that historians left out of your world's texts." The goddess winked one large blue eye at CC. "Like magic, my daughter."

"And how do I—"

The angry chattering of the dolphin interrupted CC's question. She looked over her shoulder and her body went numb. The merman had surfaced in the middle of the cove.

"Silence you meddling beast!" he snarled at the dolphin.

Automatically, CC scooted closer to Gaea.

"Goddess Gaea, what an unexpected privilege it is to see you." His voice had shifted to silk.

"And why would it be unexpected, Sarpedon?" Gaea smiled graciously at him. "This is my cove; it is well known that I come here often."

"Your cove?" The merman's instant sarcasm shocked CC. "I thought the water realm belonged to Lir."

"That would be true, young Sarpedon, had your father not gifted me with all the waters within this cove." Gaea's eyes narrowed. "You would do well to remember that water must flow over land, and where you find land, there you will always find my realm."

"I beg your pardon, Goddess Gaea. I did not mean to offend," he said, suddenly contrite. "I come to your cove on an errand for Lir himself."

When Gaea didn't respond, Sarpedon hurried on, taking the opportunity to drift closer to the two of them. "My father asks that I escort my sister back to him. Undine has been absent so frequently of late that she has been greatly missed," he said, and his intense gaze shifted briefly to CC.

"No."

The word slipped from CC's lips as a whisper. She glanced up at the goddess, who was studying her carefully. Bolstered by Gaea's presence, CC cleared her throat and repeated the word in a loud, firm voice.

"No!"

"You must obey our father," Sarpedon said between clenched teeth.

"Must she?" The goddess broke into the exchange. Gaea's eyes were wise as she looked from the mermaid to the merman.

"Yes!" Sarpedon struggled to control the anger in his voice. "Goddess, you know that Lir misses his daughter."

"I know that Lir loves his daughter and would not see her harried," Gaea snapped.

"I want only to do our father's bidding." Sarpedon raised his hands, palms open in a gesture of helplessness. CC could clearly see the angry red welts that dotted one palm where his skin had touched her amulet.

CC's head was whirling. She knew that Undine must have been trying to escape from this creature, but she also knew that the mermaid had not confided in her mother about her problem. Well, maybe Undine had spent her life being bullied and hounded by her half brother, but CC had spent the past seven years in the male-dominated United States Air Force. Even before the goddess touched her she knew how to stand up for herself. If this was going to be her world, she might as well get the rules straight right away. And she sure wasn't going to play by Sarpedon's rules. She raised her chin and looked straight in his almond-shaped gray eyes.

"You are a liar," she said.

"You have been too long away from your home." He had moved to within only a few feet of CC. His face darkened dangerously. "You have forgotten yourself."

"Really?" CC said sardonically. "I think I could be gone a lifetime and still know rape when I see it."

With an abrupt movement, Gaea stood. She spoke with deadly softness. "You dared to touch my child against her will?"

"He tried, but your amulet protected me," she said before Sarpedon could respond. For the goddess's ears alone she whispered, "I think he's what Undine was so afraid of."

"Leave my presence, Sarpedon!" The goddess's voice was amplified until it filled the small cove. "And I warn you to keep far from my daughter."

But instead of being admonished, the merman rose out of the water, balancing on his powerful tail until he towered over CC. Automatically, she shrank back.

"I will have her!" Spittle flew from his lips and his eyes flashed wildly. "My father is Lord of the Seas—you hold no power over me, Land Goddess." He spat the title like it was an oath.

"Foolish creature. Even the Lord of the Seas knows not to evoke the wrath of a goddess!"

Gaea pointed one slim finger at the sandy earth under her feet and made a small, circular motion. The sand stirred. With a flick of her wrist she gestured to the merman. The sand whirlpooled from its damp bed and flung itself into Sarpedon's face, causing him to choke and rub frantically at his eyes. He fell back into deeper water, sputtering and cursing. Then she stretched out her arms, as if she would embrace the cove. When she spoke her voice was seductive and rich with authority.

"Winds that play over my body, which is the living Earth herself, come to me now and blow this usurper from my presence."

The goddess pursed her full lips and blew a light burst of air at Sarpedon. Then something amazing happened to that light, almost playful bit of air. It seemed that all the winds in the cove suddenly rushed to join it. The gust struck Sarpedon like a fist, lifting him from the water and hurling him to the coral reef barrier.

"Trespass upon my realm again, and I will destroy you." The power in Gaea's voice lifted the hairs on the back of CC's neck. "So have I spoken; so shall it be." The air around the goddess shimmered, making her promise a tangible thing.

Awestruck, CC could only stare at Gaea. Her mind could hardly grasp what she was witnessing. The goddess loomed huge and powerful, and CC was overwhelmed by her majesty.

But Sarpedon seemed oblivious to Gaea's power. "Do not forget that Undine is a creature of the seas! She must exist in my realm, Land Goddess!" He shrieked at her before leaping over the coral reef and disappearing into the blue depths.

CC stared after him, shivering with an ominous foreboding.

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