The Blue Mermaid
Part XXVII | The Blue Enchanted Forest | White Castle Mystery
A place where lost souls go to heal
The colors of dusk at sunset were purple and blue and flecks of starlight mixed with the glow of fireflies shimmered and glittered like a curtain ahead in the forest. As soon as they stepped through, the travelers found themselves in a small, dark clearing next to a wide turquoise stream lit only by a bright, blue moon and as many glowing pink and blue Will O' Wisps  as the eye could see. Iridescent turquoise waterfalls spilled turquoise water downstream and a small owl watched silently from the trees above.
"There is no easy way from Earth to the stars."  Hercules' wife Megara once said of her husband's attempt at immortality through accomplishing the 12 Labors. Zoe heard the sound of music in the distance and thought she saw the pale, white shape of a lady seated at a piano, her fingers moving lightly up and down the keyboard, a candelabra's candles burning yellow and orange in the night. The song didn't seem familiar, and Zoe brought her attention back to the task at hand.
"What was that mama?" Ruby was unrolling her sleeping pad as Hazel and Finn had decided they were all going to sleep under the stars tonight.
"Nothing, Ruby-Bird." Zoe started to make a small fire while Levi scanned the day's photos on his camera. Finn unpacked his travel telescope for star gazing, but the light of the moon was almost too bright to see any constellations. Just then the piano notes tinkled again lightly off in the distance. Zoe turned to look toward the river, but the white lady was gone. Still, they heard a mermaid singing an unfamiliar song:
Russian Lullaby 
Where the dreamy Volga flows, There's a lonely Russian rose.
Gazing tenderly, Down upon her knee.
Where a baby's brown eyes glisten, Listen.
Ev'ry night you'll hear her croon, A Russian lullaby.
Just a little plaintive tune, When baby starts to cry.
Rock-a-bye my baby, Somewhere there may be.
A land that's free for you and me, And a Russian lullaby.
Finn carefully turned his telescope away from the night sky and pointed it toward the mermaid singing upstream.
"Guess what Hazel!" Finn shouted at his sister who was sitting just a few feet away, still trying to get a fire started in the damp forest night.
"There's a Blue Mermaid down there!" Hazel stuck one last piece of kindling on the fire and yanked the telescope out of Finn's hands.
"Lemme see that." Hazel squinted with one eye shut and peered through the telescope's glass lens.
"You're right!" Hazel yelled into the telescope and turned it so Zoe could see too. Zoe looked into the telescope with one eye and sure enough, there was a small, blue mermaid singing on a rock a few hundred yards upstream from their camp. Past the Blue Mermaid, turquoise water cascaded down in sheets filled with bright, glowing Will O' Wisps that bounced through the forest in the glistening night air. Sparkly dragonflies flitted to and fro and the glow of fireflies filled the forest.
Levi hung up their cloaks on a couple of tree branches and unrolled his own sleeping pad next to Ruby and Zoe's.
"I'll take last watch before dawn," Levi muttered before drifting off into a damp and uneasy sleep.
"I'll take first watch." Finn shifted his telescope and pointed it back toward the night sky. Hazel arranged her sleeping pad between Zoe and Finn's, and they all slept in a small circle around the fire. Zoe heated up water in a teapot and hummed the Blue Mermaid's song softly to herself while the others slept.
"Rock-a-bye my baby, Somewhere there may be.
A land that's free for you and me, And a Russian lullaby."
 Forest background illustration by The Art of Animation
 Magic Orbs by Rittik-Designs