Quetzalli found a quiet place to sleep that night and for the first time since setting out, she did not bathe in the moonlight nor sing and play her harp. At dawn, when the rosy red rays of the sun touched below the surface of the ocean turning it pink, she rose and began to swim east. She felt a strange pull within her and the golden ball spun faster than it ever had before.
She stopped to catch a few fish a few hours later and found a place where she could rest and eat. She consulted the ball and wished that it would talk to her again, for she had grown so lonely and fearful since the attack of the strange man. She sighed heavily and once again began her journey. At the end of the day, the ball once again opened to its flower shape and this time, instead of a pearl the image of an island showed itself in the center. Quetzalli realized that the Star of the Sea was on that island and that she would have to swim to the surface to find the precious gem. This terrified her and she wondered aloud how she would do so. She feared the strange men and whatever dangers this island held.
Quetzalli decided to rest and think. As she contemplated what she should do, she remembered the ball and her remaining wish.
“I wish that I could find a way to find the Star of the Sea,” she said firmly.
Suddenly she found herself gazing into a silver pool that appeared on the ocean floor. In the silver pool she saw a cave shaped vaguely like a star. Within that cave she saw strange purple crystals along its walls and roof. Farther still, and deep into the cave she saw until at last, at the end of the cave she saw a small black pool and within that pool she saw a golden chest. As the golden chest shimmered in the water, the pool disappeared and with it, her vision. She knew where lay the Star of the Sea.
The only problem that Quetzalli could think of was how to get to the cave. It was a pretty big problem. She was a sirena and sirenas didn’t have legs. She couldn’t swim on the land and she had used up her two wishes. As she pondered her dilemma, she noticed the bright pink shell in her bag. She picked it up and, laughing at herself for believing, she gently rubbed it. Quetzalli heard a loud bang and looking to the noise she saw that old Citlalmina had appeared before her.
“Hola Quetzalli,” said the old woman. “What can I do for you?”
Quetzalli was astounded. “How did you get here?” she asked the old sirena.
“I am a powerful bruja,” said the old woman. “I was about to conjure myself some food when you came along and I pretended to cry to see what you would do. You did far more than most and certainly more than I ever expected. You are a good girl Quetzalli and I will help you in whatever you wish.”
“Well,” said Quetzalli. “I am in a bit of trouble. I have this quest you see to find the Star of the Sea and bring it back to Ixchel. I have found the Star but it is on land and I cannot get there, as there is no stream to swim in. Can you help me with that?”
“A small thing Quetzalli, a small thing indeed. A very small thing that would be an honor for me to do for such a grand quest. I had no idea you were on such a quest and from our beloved goddess! Listen well my child, you must swim close to the island and wait for night to fall. In the darkness, for there is no moon tonight you must chant the words that I shall tell you. Chant them nine times and your form will change. You will have legs for a very short time. On these legs you must run to find the Star. Once you have it, you must run back to the ocean. If you do not make it back to the sea by dawn, you will fail in your quest and will die.” The old sirena whispered the secret words to Quetzalli and then clapped her hands and disappeared.
Quetzalli swam as close to the island as she dared and patiently waited for night to fall. As the old sirena said, there was no moon. Quetzalli chanted the secret words nine times and lo and behold she had legs! Not stopping to examine the wonder that were her legs, she ran lightly upon the sand following her vision to the cavern at the very end of the island. She found it after hours of running and found too, the pool with the golden chest. She lifted the heavy chest and began her run back to the ocean. Halfway to the sea, she saw a man running towards her. It was the strange man from the rock! Quetzalli ran but the man had seen her running naked with a golden chest. He ran after her and soon over took her and tumbled her to the ground. Quetzalli dropped the chest and she and the man both grabbed for it. She reached it first and swept it off the ground. She began to get up but the man pulled her back down. Quetzalli was desperate; the sun soon would be announcing the coming of the dawn. She couldn’t fail in her quest, she couldn’t. She struggled mightily and in her struggles the dagger her father gave her fell to the ground. The man saw the dagger and his eyes glowed with greed for the beautiful weapon.
As Quetzalli reached for the knife, she felt the love of her father and the power of Tlaloc. A voice she never knew she had rose from the depths of her soul and poured out of her mouth in a tremendous battle cry. Her long fingers grasped the dagger and with a tremendous effort she pulled back and hurled it to the sky. The dagger glowed green with anger and spiraled up, up, up swirling and slicing a huge hole in the sky. Quetzalli and the evil man stared in wonder as the torn sky parted to reveal polished jade steps and Tlaloc himself stomping down them accompanied by thousands of croaking frogs. He yelled and the world trembled with the loudest thunder heard ever before or since. Tlaloc hurled a lightening bolt at the evil man and struck his heart cleanly, splitting the man in two. Another lightening bolt hit the man’s ship and destroyed it completely burning all on it with his wrath.
“Go Quetzalli!” He roared, “You have but a few moments to dawn.”
Quetzalli jumped up, blew a bold and grateful kiss to Tlaloc and ran the remaining distance to the sea. Just as dawn began to break, her body hit the sea except for one little tail fin and changed back into a sirena – a strange sirena with one tiny human toe attached to her tail like a jewel. She sank to the bottom with her treasure and breathed a sigh of relief.
Just as she settled onto a seat of sea kelp, the water began to shimmer and soon Ixchel stood before her smiling.
“You’ve done it Quetzalli. You have brought me the Star of the Sea.”
Quetzalli handed the goddess the little golden chest. Ixchel took it from her and opened it. From the chest she took a small ordinary looking black stone. Quetzalli looked at the stone and thought she had failed. She had found the wrong stone. This wasn’t a precious gem. This was a rock. Her heart sank and her head bowed in shame.
“What is wrong Quetzalli,” the goddess asked.
Quetzalli was about to say that she was sorry for failing when she noticed that the plain black stone was changing in the goddess’ hand. It shaped itself into a star and the black began to fade until the stone was opalescent and bright. Ixchel stroked the stone lovingly and spoke to it in the secret and terrible language of the gods.
Quetzalli watched in wonder as Ixchel pulled from the water images of temples and trees, islands and streams, sirenas and human people, animals and fish. Ixchel pulled images of the moon, sun, stars and rainbows from the water and pushed them all into the stone. From where Quetzalli sat she could see the inside of the star shaped opal changing and becoming a world much like her own. Soon inside the stone was a tiny miniature replica of the world with the entire Mexica and Sirena safe inside. She gazed at Ixchel in awe as the goddess sealed the stone with her kiss and tucked it into her robe.
“Bless you Quetzalli. Because of you the Mexica will have a second chance. The world will have a second chance. When the time comes, many centuries from now, I will walk down the stairs of heaven and open the Star of the Sea. The world will be new again and just as it is now, unspoiled and perfect. I honor you Quetzalli. Your name and your descendants will always be blessed and honored. Ixchel touched Quetzalli’s strange human toe and it became one of solid gold.
The goddess kissed Quetzalli on her cheek and touched her hair. Quetzalli saw the water shimmer and the goddess disappeared. Quetzalli blinked and she was once again home in her village at the beginning of her road. Her parents swam swiftly to her and the people of the village were filled with joy. Celebrations were held and life began as before. Quetzalli lived to be an old woman with many children, each born with a golden human toe – the family badge of honor. Every year on the anniversary of her bringing the stone to Ixchel, the goddess came down to bestow her blessing on them all. On the last year of Quetzalli’s life, the goddess came down to bring all the sirenas to safety within the stone. It was now too dangerous for even a sirena to live in the world.
It is said that someday soon the goddess will step down from the heavens and renew the world. In that perfect world Quetzalli will live forever young and beautiful playing her coral harp to the moon and both Sirena and Mexica live in peace in harmony with nature.