“This was worth dreaming about,” said Mavis quietly. It felt so peaceful.
Roger went climbing down some of the rocks, exploring and poking around with a stick he had found. “Maves! Come see this!”
It was a clear turquoise pool in a small hollow of the rocks, and Mavis got the hem of her bathrobe in it when she came scrambling down. There was a bucket floating on its surface. Mavis looked up at the circle of light above. “I wonder where the rope goes?”
“I have no idea,” said Roger. “But this is cool.”
“Look,” said Mavis. “What is that?”
There was a stirring in the water and a creature appeared.
“It looks like a fighter fish,” said Roger.
It did, with its waving fins and its red and purple scales. But it was much larger, more the size of a small dog than a normal fish. And it was looking at them, just as they were looking at it. “Ah,” said the fish. “I would say ‘Welcome to Otherworld,’ except that you are not welcome here.”
Roger and Mavis both stared at it with their mouths open.
“Yes, yes,” said the fish. “Are you both as stupid as you look?”
“Who...who are you?” asked Mavis.
“I am the Gullumgall'ad,” said the Gullumgall'ad, as if they ought to know that already.
“The Gullum Ga what?” asked Mavis.
“The Gullumgall'ad,” said Roger.
“What is that?”
“A talking fish,” said Roger. “Which is totally awesome!”
“I am not a talking fish,” said Gullumgall'ad. “I am the Gullumgall'ad and I am not pleased to be making idiotic small talk with children.”
“What does the Gullumgall'ad do?” asked Mavis.
“I grant wishes. But only when I am asked nicely. And when I feel like it.”
“Oh,” said Mavis.
“Will you grant one of my wishes?” asked Roger.
“That was not nearly nice enough.”
“It’s just a dream,” said Mavis. “It’s not like the wishes would actually work.”
“You don’t think I can grant wishes?” asked the Gullumgall'ad.
“Not really. I mean, if I woke up this instant, you would just fade into a memory.”
The Gullumgall'ad looked rather angry at that, swirling his fins and fuming. “If the girl child doesn’t seem to know anything, how did you even find this place?”
“I told you, it’s a dream," said Mavis. "And I got a ticket.”
“A ticket? With gold letters?”
“Yes,” said Roger.
“Then this is that dratted Harnswiggle’s fault. I should have known.”
The three of them stood staring at each other, not sure where to go from there. Mavis was wondering if her dream was over, but Roger was hatching a plan.
“I agree with Mavis,” said Roger suddenly. “About the wishes. I don’t think you can grant them. I mean, jenie’s are legendary, but who’s ever heard of a Gullumgall'ad?”
Mavis shot Roger a look. What was he up to now?
“I think that’s why you put so many conditions on it. If you actually agreed to grant wishes, you would get found out.”
“I suppose you are trying to bait me into granting a wish,” said the Gullumgall'ad.
“He’s not trying to be rude,” said Mavis. “He doesn’t usually talk like this.”
“I don’t think you can do it,” said Roger again.
“I suppose that you want me to prove that I can by granting a wish of yours?”
Roger pretended to think for a minute. “That is a good idea.”
“What is your wish then, might I ask? I suppose it is something impossible that will take much magic?”
Roger looked at Mavis, at how bright her eyes were and the way she was half smiling. When he looked back at the Gullumgall'ad his lip was quivering. “I wish that we both would get tickets tomorrow night.”
The Gullumgall'ad seemed to think a minute. “That was a shockingly simple wish, one that I could grant quite easily. Except I’m not going to. If you want tickets, you should buy them at the desk.”
“I said that you couldn’t really grant wishes.”
“I think it was high time that the two of you went home,” snapped the Gullumgall'ad. “And got some sleep? I hear that’s a very important thing for humans.”
“I am tired,” said Mavis. “But in a good way. I haven’t been this tired in a very long time.”