You heard that there was some commotion in the Pond recently. Maybe today’s a good day to check up on your friends and see how they are doing.
When you enter the Pond, you notice Xiaolong kneeling by the water and peering into it. You can’t quite hear what she’s saying in the distance, but you can hear that she sounds a little worried, perhaps a little scared. When you approach, you realise that Xiaolong is talking to… a large piece of driftwood? How odd!
“Xiaolong!” you call out, waving to her.
Xiaolong turns to the sound of your voice, and gives you her big goofy smile. “Hi friend!”
But before you can take another step, a sudden explosion from the Pond shatters the quiet.
The splash and spray of the water drenches you from head to toe, but your confusion is pierced by Xiaolong’s small screech. Your instincts kick in, and you run towards her, towards the Pond, to wherever she may be —
— except, you come face-to-face with a very tall and very angry-looking crocodile.
The crocodile’s growl reverberates, shaking your bones and paralysing you. You chance a look up at the crocodile, and notice their very many and very pointed sharp teeth. You’re not quite sure whether it’s the water or your fear that makes you suddenly feel very, very cold.
“Aunty, stop!” You see Xiaolong emerge from the top of the crocodile’s head – did she just… climb on top of the crocodile’s head?! “That’s my friend!”
The crocodile looks up at Xiaolong, who is perched very comfortably between the crocodile’s two eyes, her eyes suddenly soft and inquisitive. But when the crocodile shifts her gaze to you, her mouth twists with a frown.
“This tiny thing?” asks the crocodile, her voice gravely and coarse. “I don’t trust them. What if they’re just here to take your magic?”
“No Aunty! This is my friend, the one that I told you about!” Xiaolong hops down from the crocodile’s head, and picks up a pair of glasses by the crocodile’s feet. “You dropped your glasses, Aunty. Now please relax. Stress is very bad for your old age. Gen will be here very soon with your medicine.”
Aunty looks down at Xiaolong, and sighs a hoarse sigh. “You’re right, little one.” She takes the glasses from Xiaolong, puts the beaded glasses chain over her head. She peers at you through her spectacles, the furrow in her brow loosening now that she can see. “Xiaolong is a precious friend to me,” she growls, a hint of a warning in her voice. “I may be an old croc, but if you hurt her, I’ll crush you with my jaws.” And with that, Aunty slips on a pair of Crocs that were sitting by the Pond, places and adjusts the visor on her head, and slowly shuffles towards Gen’s garden.
You gulp, a little terrified of this Aunty. Xiaolong looks a little sheepish, but with a swish of her hands, your clothes are no longer wet and your skin is dry and warmer.
“I’m sorry, friend!” Xiaolong says, tugging at your shoes. “That’s Aunty Buaya! She’s one of my oldest friends and she’s visiting the Pond for awhile. She’s very very old so her eyesight isn’t very good anymore and she thinks any unfamiliar presence is dangerous. She can also be a bit grumpy sometimes. But I promise she’s actually a big marshmallow inside!”
A marshmallow? You remember Aunty Buaya’s teeth, her eyes, and her tough skin. You know you’d never hurt Xiaolong, but you feel sorry for any poor soul who would dare hurt Xiaolong and face the wrath of Aunty Buaya.
Greetings friends! Please welcome the newest character to the Pond: Aunty Buaya!
Aunty Buaya isn’t an inhabitant at the Pond but she is a rare visitor. Aunty Buaya is a very old crocodile and also a retired warrior; a noble and revered Paladile (a crocodile Paladin!) from an ancient order known as the Knights of Strongjaw. After many years of service and protecting magical folk, she now likes to live her days sitting in her favourite spot by a river with her wife, who Xiaolong knows as just ‘Aunty’. (Aunty Buaya is very private and doesn’t like people sticking their nose into her private business!)
But who knows – maybe you’ll see her in the upcoming Pondathon (readathon) next year? 👀
You won’t see Aunty Buaya often – she only visits the Pond when she needs medicine from Gen for her old battle wounds. When she does visit the Pond, she will be sharing a rant with you. And you’ll definitely hear from her sticking up for any of your Pond friends and other magical folx if they have been hurt. As you can tell, Aunty Buaya is not afraid to speak her mind.
On that note, perhaps consider visiting the Pond in a few days. She’s going to be addressing the ‘Cost of Book Blogging’ debate that occurred last month and — she has quite a lot to say.
I also want to take a moment to thank Michelle, for suggesting that our newest and saltiest Pond member ought to be a saltwater crocodile! Michelle is incredible and just understands the Pond and my vision for it, so I am so thankful to them for being the tinder to Aunty Buaya’s creation. (Michelle is the author of No More Heroes, a YA urban fantasy about vigilantes with magical powers, and also Come Drink With Me, an aromantic short story about a phoenix, a dragon, and an Opera House. You can also follow them on Twitter, especially if you love Critical Role fanart!)
I also want to thank Harker, for suggesting that our old croc would be wearing glasses with the chain! I thought this was such a sweet idea and that it is absolutely befitting of Aunty Buaya’s old but protective energy. Thank you Harker! You can follow their blog, The Hermit Librarian, and follow them on Twitter!