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The Hungry Ones

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One sphere drifted until it came upon a school of the Hungry Ones. First, the sphere touched a nearby Glyph, changing the Glyph's message the way the Asterite would someday learn to do, and then one of the Hungry Ones became aware of the sphere. The Hungry One tried to eat the sphere – its jaws got stuck, and it struggled, but after a few moments the sphere seemed to disappear, and the Hungry One's jaws snapped shut. It swam away, and somewhere in its mind a memory was made of the incident, a memory the Hungry One never used because nothing like encountering a Metasphere ever happened to it again.

But the Metasphere did not know this.

"Sometimes to escape your enemy, you must become your enemy."

That is what the Glyph said, Ecco recalled as he looked at the Metasphere in front of him. I still do not know what it meant... but I hope I do not have to become a stinging medusa again. The Metaspheres have all been very helpful, though, so I had better see what happens. With that, Ecco touched the Metasphere –

– and he changed. He was happy that he had kept his intelligence, as he had when he had become a seagull, but he was not sure what he had become, because his new form was fairly similar to that of a Singer. He floated there, puzzled, for a little before feeling the need to surface. As he swam towards the Dry Side, the instincts of his new body partially took over – Ecco felt that he was breathing, and the need to surface went away, but he had not consciously thought about breathing. He stopped again, even more confused.

What strange form is this? he tried to say, but he could not sing. So, I'm definitely not a Singer anymore... but what am I?

Again the need to surface started to plague him, and again it went away as he swam, his body breathing without him having to think about it. Ecco continued swimming, focusing on not breathing, but he found it much harder to do in his new body than he did as a Singer; whatever he was, its instinct to breathe water was quite strong, and he could not hold his breath for very long before his body breathed anyway. Ecco started trying to chase his tail, to look at himself; what he saw surprised and alarmed him. His tail was on sideways and colored strangely.

The Glyph's message appeared in his mind. Ecco looked around, and saw the school of Hungry Ones that his song had picked up earlier.

So that's it, he thought.

Now that the riddle of breathing was solved, Ecco became aware of a sense that he had never experienced before. It was like the Song of Sight, except different. He could 'see' for quite some distance with it, but it was neither sight nor hearing pretending to be sight. If anything, it was closest to taste, and so that is how Ecco labeled the strange new sensation – in his mind, it was 'far-taste'. With it, Ecco's Hungry One body could sense its fellows as easily as Ecco's song had, as well as one of Ecco's fellow Singers down below; it could not, however, sense the rocks before him half so easily.

Curious, Ecco swam to where he could 'far-taste' a fish that had buried itself in the sand, and became aware of another strange Hungry One sense. Somehow, he could feel the fish below the sand through his snout, though he was not touching it. It wasn't quite feeling, exactly, but again the sense was so alien that Ecco could not put another word to it, and so, like 'far-tasting', he labeled the new sense 'far-feeling'. He circled the fish for a little before deciding to let it go; he wasn't all that hungry, and eating as one of the Hungry Ones would have felt strange, besides.

As he swam past the oblivious school of Hungry Ones, Ecco began thinking about the fearsome Singer-eaters. We Singers look beyond our eyes with our songs; the Hungry Ones look beyond their eyes with far-taste and far-feeling. I wonder what strange things they could tell us, if they could sing?