Sartin’s amber eyes told his mother and the rest of the Sea People he was destined to become a great protector. Finding his mate at his twenty-third Winter Meeting, Sartin is overjoyed at finally being able to assume his destined role with Sommar by his side.
However, a freak storm soon takes Sartin far away from Winter Cove, and an injury to his tail prevents him from returning. Even worse, he can no longer hear the songs of his pod and his mate in his head.
Sartin finds love and acceptance from Maru, a member of the Land People, who nurses him back to health. When Maru’s people turn against him, Sartin faces a series of battles for his survival. Can the songs of Sommar and his fellow Sea People save him?
Two sleeps later, Sartin resumed his daytime watch duties.
“Shark in the upper right,” Haenisch said from beneath the water. Sartin would have been on night watch with Wickizer, but switched with Thornton because of his injury. “They are early this year.”
“It’s going to be a harsh winter. They’re storing their fat early,” Sartin said.
The wound itched, a sign it was healing. Sartin needed to get stronger to make the Journey to Winter Beach. He bobbed above the surface of the water, closely observing the predator. A dorsal fin emerged as a shark circled in mischief. Sartin took a deep breath and pushed himself under water.
The water warmed his face, neck, and shoulders. Beyond the shark, Sartin could see Haenisch and gave him the signal that it was his turn to surface. Sartin admired him as he ascended. Smaller than Sartin, he was every bit as muscular. Haenisch’s powerful body transitioned to a strong tail that propelled him to the air above the water. Across the way, it looked as if there was a clean break between Haenisch’s waist and tail, but up close there was a transition from the delicate skin of his torso to the tougher, green skin of his tail.
Once Sartin saw Haenisch surface, Sartin dove deeper in the water. In a ballet perfected by their fathers, and their fathers before them, and so on since the days of the Princess, Sartin and Haenisch switched places so that Sartin protected the pod and Haenisch guarded the open sea.
Sartin treaded in the water, slowly swishing his tail, not only to remain in place, but also to prevent alerting the shark. The shark wouldn’t notice his dark, bluish gray tail and fluke. Only sudden movement, loud thrashing, or the scent of blood would attract a shark in either direction.
Suddenly, Sartin heard the clicks and whistles of young children. It was loud enough that he knew they were playing nearby, well beyond the eye of protective adults. Sartin warned the children with his own clicks and whistles. The shark headed toward the direction of Sartin’s path.
Haenisch was nowhere to be seen.
Whether it was from the alarm of impending danger or that his breathing cycle was nearing its end, Sartin’s chest tightened. He knew he shouldn’t surface without seeing Haenisch reappear. But if he didn’t get some air, the sea would swallow him up, and the shark would get the children.
Sartin decided to surface for just enough time to take in fresh air and then return to watch the children. Hopefully, a nana or auntie would figure out they were missing and return them to the safety of the family pod before the shark got too close.
When Sartin surfaced, he heard the weak distress signal. Haenisch thrashed about, blood and water splashing everywhere. The children playing had distracted Sartin enough that he didn’t hear Haenisch’s cry for help. Sartin watched the horror as the shark shredded Haenisch’s limp body, and the distress signal died away. Sartin’s chest tightened with guilt that he had lost track of Haenisch and the shark.
Sartin took a gulp of air and descended back into the water. He sounded his own warning. A Decoy wound would have lured the shark away, but it was too soon after his previous one. Another injury would certainly kill him.