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From the beginning, Barameya’s melody was loud and clear. She needed all the support and strength she could muster. Her voice echoed through the forest and the mountain peaks, rippling across the surface of the lake.

She called for the birds. She called for Aralea. And she answered her call immediately. A silver ghost, as quiet as the night itself, circled above the lakemaid as she made her way to the lake.

Aralea joined in her song. It was another clear tune, calling forth all other owls and creatures of the forest. Rheahal walked next to Barameya, enchanted by her song, not taking his eyes off her. His mother and the other people of the Wolfmoon Kingdom followed behind.

But when the foliage of the forest moved, Rheahal did look around him. Barameya knew that the first part of her song was working. Stags, wolves, foxes, hedgehogs, wild cats, snakes, and rabbits joined them on their walk to the lake. Enemies walked next to each other. Stags and wolves bowed their heads to each other. Wild cats and squirrels began to hum Barameya’s melody together. They all understood the song. They all knew what to do.

Finally, they reached the lake, and Barameya had to smile. They were already waiting for her. By the shores of the lake sat Tiarena, the bright green frog, Reylon the red newt, and Karano the fire salamander, together with all other amphibians, the animals that lived between land and water. They too were humming Barameya’s melody, supporting her in the great song she was singing.

Silver waves appeared on the lake. Heads broke through the surface, and all her friends and family began to follow Barameya’s lead. Gareyth smiled at her, nodding his head, understanding what she intended to do.

Reassurance and strength rippled through Barameya’s inner lake. If the old merman thought this was a good idea, then maybe there would be hope after all. Barameya raised her hands, telling everyone to stop singing. They fell quiet.

The air was brimming with magic. Power circulated around Barameya like never before. She commenced a new song. Quiet and steady but flowing with potency, she reached out to the lake. It was a music she had never sung before. It was words woven into magic with her most urgent plea.

She did not sing to the moon. Her powers had to be ignored this time. Her light bound the curse after all. She did not sing to the lake. Water was the enemy of the Wolfmoon Kingdom. She pierced the lake’s waters with her melody, broke through its surface, and reached for someone else. She poured her love for Rheahal into the song. Her hope for a different future, one of freedom and beautiful transformations.

Barameya sang with all the colours she knew. From the darkest shade of blue to the brightest yellow, she sang to them and summoned them all. They responded with light and colour. Underneath the surface, a spectacle of magic erupted. Like stars sparkling, the stones began to shimmer, and their magic rose from the lake, reaching Barameya, circling her, and enwrapping her in a cloak of colours. A stream of dark red like the glow of the setting sun, a shade of deep green like the forest in summer, a golden yellow like flowers in the field, a clear turquoise like the shores of the lake, and many more shades danced around Barameya, listening to her song.

Her voice grew louder, but she felt her body weakening. This was taking up too much energy. She had to hurry. Barameya’s voice grew stronger, but she felt her strength fading. She sang to the light of the stones with everything she had left. They continued to circle her but also began to spread out, reaching for the silver light of the moon, flowing around the people of the Wolfmoon Kingdom.

Barameya smiled. She knew it was beginning to work. Her legs were shaking. She knew she couldn’t go on for much longer. While life began to leave her body, the glow of the stones’ magic increased, making everything appear rich in colour.

She reached the final line of her song, hoping that the spell had been enough.  Her head felt dizzy. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could stand on two feet. Her strength was fading. Her tongue had never felt so heavy. It took her all her focus to finish the melody as clearly as possible.

She reached the last word of the song. She sang the last tune, and before she closed her eyes, she saw the light of the stones fading and disappearing in the night sky like foam vanishing on the surface of the lake. The last thing she felt were two strong arms catching her gently.

Barameya blinked. Daylight was in her eyes. She must have slept through the rest of the night. Relief washed through her body. She wasn’t dead. Someone was holding her. She looked up. Grey eyes, sparkling with happiness, beamed at her.

‘You did it,’ Rheahal whispered. ‘You broke the spell.’

Barameya embraced Rheahal but felt how weak she was.

‘I need the lake. I need the lake’s waters,’ she said, her mouth as dry as a stone in the sun.

Rheahal carried her to the shore of the lake as if she weighed nothing and placed her in the cool water. Energy rushed back into her body. Barameya breathed in and out. Her scales returned. It was a welcoming feeling, invigorating her with warmth and life. She could not believe it. She felt her legs transform into a golden fin, sparkling in the sun’s light. She heard wolves singing in the forest.

‘That’s my mother and the others,’ Rheahal said. ‘She says thank you, but she will come back later to say it in person. She and the others are celebrating.’

‘I can’t blame them,’ Barameya said, laughing. ‘Where are all the others? Aralea and Reylon? My friends and family?’

‘Gareyth examined you after you passed out and told us that you would wake up in the morning. We were waiting, wondering if you had broken the spell. We weren’t forced to transform. So, we knew you succeeded. The entire forest is celebrating. But I didn’t want to leave your side.’

‘Show me,’ Barameya said. ‘I want to see you transform now. How you transform at free will. I am certain it looks beautiful.’

Rheahal grinned at her and closed his eyes. A grey and silver shimmer engulfed his body and a second later a large wolf with grey eyes and fur as black as the night stood in front of her. Rheahal raised his head, howled, and commenced a song, celebrating his love for Barameya.

The lakemaid began to laugh and looked at her wolf with admiration. He was so beautiful. Barameya watched him running from the shore to the edge of the forest and back again, showing her how fast he was. Her black wolf jumped and Rheahal transformed into his human form again, landing in the lake next to her. He laughed, his voice filled with happiness as he embraced his lakemaid and showered her with kisses.

‘We will have a life under the sun and the moon, you and me,’ Rheahal whispered, his voice brimming with the hope of a better future.

‘There will be much to do,’ she said. ‘We have to rebuild your kingdom.’

‘That means many more problems to solve. Many more riddles for you,’ Rheahal said.

‘Perhaps,’ Barameya said, smiling. ‘But for now, I have enough of riddles.’

20 years later

Three wolves rushed through the thickness of the forest at twilight. The summer sun was setting, dipping the forest in shades of gold and red. The moon was already rising, a faint orb already visible but not yet powerful enough to outshine the sun in her disappearing light.  Soon, though, she would climb the starry night sky and glow in all her beauty.

 The wolves sang to one another, their voices strong and fierce. The fastest one of them was silver like the moon herself, with grey eyes like her father. The other one was black as night and headed after her silver sister with gleaming green eyes. The third one, smaller than the other two, had golden fur and blue eyes. But he kept up with them, knowing exactly where they were heading. They were the children of Barameya the lakemaid and Rheahal the wolfmoon prince.

The wolves broke through the forest, leaving its shadows behind them, and rushed ahead towards the lake. The wolves jumped. Silver, black, and gold beasts hovered in the air for a moment until silver, green, and blue light enveloped their transforming bodies. With a splashing sound, three lakemaids that had been wolves a moment ago broke through the surface of the darkening lake and headed for the palace under water.

The siblings followed the guiding lights of the stones, glowing stronger since they felt the presence of the children. They shimmered like a rainbow underwater, sensing the unity of the lakemaids and the Wolfmoon Kingdom.

The End

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