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He was still dreaming, Malaamig realized, so the apparition didn't particularly alarm him. She wasn't the kind of woman he usually dreamed about. She was lean and muscular, with not too much in the breasts. Her hair was long enough to tie back behind her, though Malaamig could not see where it ended, and it was dark, crowned in white frost. She was a winter queen; her skin was pale, with barely more color than snow, except in her face, which was red-cheeked. High cheekbones and a large, expressive mouth were the dominant feature of an oval face, and her eyes were bright blue. There was a looped leather necklace close at her neck, and several carved beads were strung upon it.
"Hello," he said languidly. She wouldn't last long - his dreams were always highly fluid, and she would be replaced by something else equally surreal soon enough.
She said something unintelligible and fast, as dream-creatures often did, and then turned her head and shouted into the distance as she bent back down to warm her upper half again. Most of her attention was on the dogs at the shore; Jem was still growling. Malaamig blinked and abruptly realized it was no dream. He went to move and unsettled his precarious position on the underwater rock, dunking his face under the warm water for a startled moment.
When he emerged again, sputtering and alarmed, she was still there, only her frosted head now, close enough that he could see the ice in her eyelashes and crusting her eyebrows. She had her hands just above the surface of the water, in a finger-spread gesture that seemed to universally mean 'look, no weapons,' and she was jabbering so quickly Malaamig wasn't sure he could even recognize the syllables in a sharp language filled with consonants, glancing frequently at the dogs.
"Hello?" Malaamig repeated, much more tentatively.
"Haaarooo?" she mimicked back at him before adding another, slower, string of nonsense. A second voice called back from away in the haze - the hot springs did not appear to be a simple round pond, but a series of pools connected by narrow channels, and through one of these channels, another head came swimming - presumably attached to a body. Jem barked again, and Obi growled with her.
"I don't understand you," Malaamig felt obligated to explain, keeping a cautious eye on the newcomer. "Easy," he commanded the dogs.