After a while the stranger blinks twice, shakes her head minutely, pulls her hand away almost up to her own chin and says, 'Are you okay? Do you understand me?'
'Yes', says Aseka, stirring her body, intending to sit up, but as she moves she becomes aware of the cloak covering almost no part of her skin and pulls it around her with arms that feel five times heaver than usual. 'I'm just', she says, squeezing her eyes shut. 'you don't have to worry about me, I'm just not used to sleeping.'
'You dont?, oh, you're an elf.'
'Sea elf, even.'
'Oh okay, I assumed you were shipwrecked but you're just out swimming, that's good, I didn't look.' The last part of the girl's rambling speech seems to come from nowhere and Aseka can't put it together until she sees her face turning a shade darker.
'Yes, like I said, you don't have to worry.' Aseka sits up, holding the cloack closed over her breasts with one hand and touching the other to the girl's bare upper arm, and searches for words. 'Say, are you a human? I've never met a human.'
'Oh, yeah, well, on my mother's side.' She brushes the hair away from her ears – her deep red hair is cut short and stands out every which way, except for around the ears – and reveals one round and one pointed. 'I'm a half-elf, not that I think it matters. I'd rather you know me than my genalogy. My name is Mercy. Hi.'
'I'm Aseka', says Aseka. 'I've never met a Mercy either. Hi.' They shake hands, though she can't guess which of them put her hand out first. It seems stiff, awkward. It makes her feel a little less like falling, a little more like everything makes sense. Her smile begins to fade and she looks deeper in Mercy's eyes, seeking for whatever it was she felt when she first saw them. 'I um, you should meet Beatrix too, if you want.'
'Did you hit your head?' says Mercy, while Aseka takes a few steps into the water and signals to Beatrix her own desire to see her, and calm trust and well-meaning towards the new person, until the bulb of her head rises from the water. Then Mercy jumps and raises a hand covered in fire.
'Wait', says Aseka, taking hold of Mercy's shoulder, just an easy reassuring grip that shows nothing of the momentary panic bursting from the base of her skull or the blinding light she prepares to cast. 'Wait, that's just Beatrix, my friend.' She lets her staff fall in the brine and takes Beatrix's outstretched arm in her other hand and tries to look reassuringly at them both at the same time.
'So, your friend is an octopus', says Mercy, with a curious look at Beatrix's large dark eyes poking halfway up out of the water. 'Wasn't ready for that. She, is she smart?' She leans forward and touches Beatrix's arm as well, with just a moment's hesitation. 'Haha, so slimy, umm, slick.'
'Well she has more brains than you and me put together', says Aseka. 'Though most of it is in the arms. She's not dumb, no, just her mind works in very different ways, it's not as simple talking to each other like people do.'