“Look, there’s a school of jellyfish!” Aria pointed excitedly at the group, several yards away. “Aren’t they pretty?”
The pair had been swimming for a while, but they kept having to stop because Aria had to see everything under the sea. This was just the latest in the wonders she’d noticed.
“I suppose, but you shouldn’t go near them,” Alizarin warned.
“Well, I know that much,” she assured him with a smile, “I just can’t believe I’m seeing those with my own eyes. Do you know how much humans pay for a view like this? They have to get the scuba diving lessons and take all sorts of risks for it.”
“You’ll be taking a risk if you don’t get back to the surface, in time,” he pointed out, “We should speed up, so we can talk to the seers before that happens.”
“The seers?” She turned to face him. “That’s who we’re going to see.”
He nodded. “They don’t usually help like that, but I figured they might be willing if it’s for the sake of keeping the peace. After all, it’s their job to ensure the future of our kingdoms.”
“Right.” Aria swam beside him, realizing she probably seemed ridiculous, getting excited over things he likely saw on a regular basis. “Have you ever met the seers before?”
“Not that I remember,” he admitted, “Of course, we all meet them as babies, since that’s where we’re born, but that was many years ago.”
Aria frowned as she thought about that. “Do you ever hate them for what they did to you?”
“What they did?” He looked at her in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“You know,” she said, “Giving you to people who treated you badly. If they see the future, they must have known what would happen, right? Even so, they forced you into a terrible situation.”
“They did what was best for the kingdom, I’m sure. I cannot fathom their plan because I am not one of them. What is my life worth, compared to the lives of all the Glemoran and Valadoran people?”
Aria couldn’t argue with that very well. She wondered if she would be able to be as understanding as him if the situation were reversed. “You’re very kind, aren’t you?”
That cause him to stop short and he stared at her. “Kind?”
She nodded. “You could hate them for giving you to unkind people, but you don’t. You could hate Sapphira for ordering you to do things she knows will put you at risk, but you defend her. You could be angry at the people who hurt you, but I’ve never heard you say an unkind word about them. You accept responsibility for the cruelty of others, even if it causes you pain. Is that not kindness?”
He continued to stare at her for a minute as he processed her words. “You give me too much credit. I just don’t see any point in being upset about things I can’t change. Why hate the seers for doing what they thought was best? Why hate Sapphira for acting the way she was taught? Why hate those who don’t know to behave differently? I don’t know what it’s like in the human realm, but we are taught a certain way of life. I am a red tail who exist among royalty. No one can be expected to know how to deal with me, right?”
He swam off without waiting for an answer, clearly expecting her to follow.
Aria shook her head in wonder as she caught up to him. “I know I probably don’t understand everything, but I don’t think your tail color should give people an excuse to act like that. We have such issues in the human world and people are often trying to fight against the ones who cause it.”
“Perhaps, that works for humans, but it’s not so simple for us.”
“You say that, but has anyone tried? Surely, the other red tails would fight for a better life, right?”
“I wouldn’t know,” he admitted, “I’ve never met them. They have no interest in dealing with someone who lives among the royal family, after all.”
“That’s just not fair,” she commented, “You never asked for any of this, so why should you be treated badly for it?”
He fell silent and Aria feared she had pushed the subject too far until he replied, softly, “I think you are the kind one, Aria.”
She felt her cheeks flushed and couldn’t seem to find her voice for a minute. Just as she was about to speak again, he stopped.
Aria had been so focused on their conversation that she hadn’t noticed when they reached what appeared to be an underwater forest. “What is this?”