When they came in sight if the water, the sky turned black. There was light just as before on the ground, faint shadows falling behind them, but looking up, there was nothing but darkness beyond their beacon. The bicolour trail the bird had left glowed even brighter.
The shore was steep enough that they needed to walk sideways, but it turned into a softer slope forming a sort of beach. There was a smaller copy of this shape at the water’s edge, not the continuing slope you’d find on a beach. There were no waves to form it; the surface of the water was perfectly still. The ground was covered in smooth, dark pebbles.
Sylvie crouched and bent her head until it nearly touched the ground to have a closer look.
“If it is this shallow all through, it should be no problem to cross,” Daaren said.
“I don’t trust it.”
Neither did he, but what good would it do? “Looks like a long way to circle around, if it’s possible at all. Any idea how to find out if the hunch has merit?”
Sylvie’s sigh did not stir the surface. She took another deep breath, and blew. There was the slightest hint of movement. Sitting down cross-legged, a bit back from the edge, she said, “I wonder if it’s water at all.”
“It’s not water. It’s not ground. It’s not air,” Daaren pointed out. What it was was bloody unnerving.
He dipped the tip of a shoe (which was no shoe, either) into the liquid. It rippled, at first faster than water would. The pebbles below disappeared, leaving blackness that could be formless ground, or an infinite void. As the turbulences died down slowly, the pebbles reappeared.
After a rather too long silence, Sylvie said, “Circling around it is.” Daaren did not argue.