“Not so fast,” Pinch protested. “I’ve come a long way to deliver this boy, at great risks to my person and Altern’s Army. I’ll not have you whisk him away without so much as a word. What was this congregation for? Who’s in charge here? I want to speak with a diplomat.”
“No diplomats. No discussion. Give us the child. Leave.” The water-folk pulled back the reins to the seahorse and the animal reared up.
“You people are utterly impossible – always! Altern will hear of this and there will come a reckoning. Take your foul seed!” Pinch rolled over and pushed Adam toward the edge of the manta.
“Hey!” Adam cried.
“You’re home,” Pinch sneered. “Back with your people, Neptune’s gift to Ocean.” Pinch’s voice took on an icy undertone and he spoke to all within earshot, “We will return to address your lack of gratitude, Tiskaloo.”
Four of the water-folk swam up to escort Adam off of the manta. “I can do it myself,” Adam told the two who tried to grab hold of his elbows.
The two water-folk looked at one another in surprise. One said, “Maybe Frear was wrong. He might be one of us after all.” The two grabbed hold of Adam anyway and carried him down to the plaza area, where not ten minutes ago thousands of water-folk gathered. Now, ten or fifteen lingered. All throughout, the spires stood watch over the city like ancient, silent ancestors.
From the valley bottom, Adam could barely make out the top of the closest spire, the blue one, and felt awe to know that the white spire stretched higher still. “The zigga are fascinating to gaze upon, no?” commented one of Adam’s escorts.
“Did you build them?” Adam asked. The water-folk laughed.
“OK, so Frear was right after all.”