Who could say what lies at the depths of the sea?
The mythical mysteries that come to be
The crashing waves, the colours fair
But distant secrets could hide down there
The glint of a scale, one could see if they try
Appears as nothing to the untrained eye
But close your eyes. Make a wish
There could be something more than fish
A small voice, barely audible above the wind, sang the same eerie tune. The figure behind it was a tiny child, smaller than her years. But her eyes. Her eyes portrayed much more than one of her age could possible comprehend. She walked slowly, almost gingerly. Each time her foot met the sand, she paused slightly to enjoy that feeling the sand created. The frail white lace of her gown whipped about in the wind, obviously providing little warmth. And yet she smiled. Something about the sun. It was all she could look at. Her hair too, so dark against the white of her gown, was also dancing about in the wind.
Slowly, she made her way across the beach. But she was not alone. A figure watched her, hidden beside the doorway of his shack. There was something about her. Something that made him stay, frozen on the spot. And then that unknown factor began to scare him. Suddenly he wanted to be as far from her as possible. Step by step, he backed away, as slowly as he dared. And still he could not take his eyes off of her. And from this, he stumbled across a stray stone and went tumbling backward. The crashing that ensued came as countless knick knacks and other collected items came tumbling away from their shelves and pedestals. He didn't need to see her to know that her head had gracefully turned toward the source of the sound.
She did not notice how she watched. Instead, she waiting for her other friends to join her.
The beach was suddenly filled with the delighted squeals of children, running about with absolute freedom and joy. There were four of them, all young with gleaming smiles at the day. He hated them. Kalia just grinned as her friends finally caught up.
The fastest, a boy by the name of Lucas, ran ahead of the others, so eager to reach the gleaming sand. Fighting through the last trace of bush, he saw the sea. For a moment, he paused. And one could see the complete wonder and awe that came from one so young and innocent. But this moment was brief as his youth pushed him to race onward. His breeches were quickly covered in sand but he cared now. The second child, Jonathon, tripped upon arrival but quickly caught up. Eve took her time. Unlike the others, she hated beaches and everything that came with. The sand, always catching and refusing to be brushed away. The water, painfully cold and rough. The sun, burning down upon ones skin. Every minor aspect was glared upon. Each frustrated step caused her perfectly styled hair to fall slightly more out of place, strand by strand. But even she could not deny the beauty before them. There was something almost ethereal about the abandoned wonder. For there was no one there. No one aside from him. And now the children.
All merriment was broken as he emerged. Each child froze and gapped at the strange scuffled man who hobbled toward them, furiously yelling, "get off my beach!"
Any sane child would have sprinted for dare life. But Jonathon had never been a wise child. Ignoring his trembling knees, he spoke, saying, "You can't really own a beach."
The logic in the boys words did make him pause. Normally, his mere appearance would send intruders flying. It was clear that he was going to have to change tactics. "You don't want to be 'round these parts. Viscous blood-thirsty monsters are everywhere."
"Monsters?" Eve gasped, looking rather faint.
"Worse," he said, in a voice barley above a whisper. "Merfolk."
The words did not have the desired effect. Each and every child sank back in relief and a few of the braver ones laughed. A horrid snorting sound. Such innocence. They had no idea. Lucas managed to speak between chuckles. "Mermaids aren't scary! They don't hurt anyone!"
"Is that so?" he said, face darkening in anger. "Well with my own eyes, I have seen hundreds of merfolk rampaging about the kingdom, making blood run from any unfortunate human they could lay their filthy hands on. Warriors. Women. Even innocent children like yourselves. It didn't matter to them. Blood fascinates them you see. It's different out of water. A completely new experience. Everything, the smell of it. The way it drips out of a person. They would cut you, imp from limp. And mangle your little bodies until the bravest of warriors would turn away to keep from being sick on your already mutilated corpses."
Each child gulped. The man was clearly insane. And slowly they began to back away.
Feeling that his point had been made, he turned and limped back to his hut.
Taking their chance, the children ran, faster than their legs had ever moved before. He relished in the sounds of their fear. But if he had listened a little closer, he would have noticed the sound of only three sets of footprints. For one child remained. The smallest child, Kalia had remained. And seen the tears that had escaped onto his cheeks. They were brushed away in an instant as she cautiously crept up to him, much to the astonishment of both him and her friends. There was no sound uttered for everyone. Just anxious waiting I anticipation of what she would do. Finally, she rested a hand on his shoulder, looking to comfort him. He leapt away, acting as though her touch burned him and continued to glare at her, praying she that she too would flee. "What is your name?" she asked, in a clear and beautiful voice. But the thing that he really noticed was show brave she sounded. Not a trace of fear was present. He ignored her regardless. But much to his annoyance, this had little effect on her. "Why do you want us to leave?" she asked. "And why were you crying?"
"Why do you ask so many questions?" he growled.
"Why don't you answer any?" she asked back.
To her surprise, he laughed. Well, she suspected that it was a laugh. The sound that emerged was an odd scratchy noise. Almost as though he had forgotten how to achieve the very action of laughing. The laugh took him by surprise as well and he quickly composed himself. Shaking his head, he finally voiced what bothered him, "you remind me of someone." He refused to say more and thankfully she seemed to realise this. What she refused to realise was how much he obviously wanted her to leave. "What?" he barked, "don't tell me, you have even more questions."
Those words were foolish. She saw this as passageway of acceptance to ramble.
"Well all of the ones from before. And why are you so angry? And why do you look like you never bathe? Why do you want us to leave so badly? And why do you think merfolk a monsters? Why should they scare us? Aren't they magical mythical creatures? What happened?"
He sighed and supposed that the only way to silence was to give her what she wanted. Another memory. And what she wanted was answers. "I am angry because I'm tired alright? I'm not as young as I used to be! You have no idea how much pain I am in every single day! I don't bathe because I don't see the point. And I hate water. And merfolk are evil because… because they just are!"
Obviously this was not answer enough by her standards as she remained staunch. Worse still, the others had snuck back, instantly intrigued by their words. It was obvious that he would not achieve that blessed isolation for a while. By the thoughtful expression on her face, it was clear that she had another stream of questions at the ready and was thinking of the best way to spit them out. He stopped her instantly, slowly and menacingly saying, "Don't, you, dare."
Both simply regarded each other, eyeing the other up and down, daring. Enough time passed and he settled down on a stool, proud at his battle won.
"How do you know so much about mermaids?" she blurted and he raised his eyes skyward from internal agony.
The other three stepped back in a hurry, avoiding the obvious fit that was brewing. But nothing came, only an eerie calm as he continued to study her."
"So, you want to know about mermaids?"
She shook her eagerly. The others did so with less vigor but the curiosity was still apparent.
"Well, I suppose I could tell you everything I know. Do you know about the Kingdom of Eravonia?"
"Were you there?" Jonathon asked, finally plucking up the courage to speak. "At the infiltration I mean."
"The what?" Lucas asked, crinkling his nose in confusion.
"He means the infiltration of merfolk in Eravonia," the man said, clearly angered that the boy had no idea of its importance.
"They can't do that!" Lucas said, nose still crinkled. "They couldn't get past the wall. It's magical isn't it."
The man sighed, cursing the heaven that he had been sent such dim children.
"So were you there?" Kalia asked gently, already sensing the answer.
"Yes," he said gruffly, almost losing himself. Her mouth opened once more but before a sound could be uttered, he quickly cut her off. "Don't you dare even think of interrupting me! If you want to know the damned story, you will shut your face and listen. Well? Do you think you can do that?" They all eagerly nodded, mouths pressed shut.
Sighing, he began. "Yes, I was there. And I lost everything. So I found out everything. I had to know why I had lost what I did! So I asked anyone living who had even the smallest connection. And then I left. Came here. To be alone!"
Kalia sat down, getting herself comfortable and the other children followed. Obviously they weren't going anywhere. "remember, interrupt me and we're done," he growled.
And then he began.
This story is of a little mermaid. Well, young rather than little.
Young in age. Age reflected by naivety.
Merfolk live a lot longer than humans you see. Three hundreds years longer normally. So at the young age of sixteen, she had barley begun what should have been a carefree life.
She knew nothing of the great war. No one did, humans and merfolk alike. And that is not important to the tale. Legends are passed down and most people consider them to be just that, legends. Or Tales to pass the time. But they were real. Merfolk and humans used to live in perfect harmony in the great kingdom of Eravonia. Then the stories changed, depending on who was telling it. A mermaid or merman would claim that the humans turned on them, seeking their powers and fearing them. They had every reason to fear them after all. Merfolk had such strong powers, the kind that humans cannot even begin to fathom. These powers are passed through the simple act of touch. This power is lethal to humans. So to simply brush against a mermaid would pass along this power, causing them to grow so very weak. Weakness that would eventually result in death if enough power was exposed.
Yet if you ask a human scholar of the war, they would tell you it was a land war, in which the merfolk sought for control of the Kingdom. Eravonia was built upon one of the most powerful sites known to man. All magic is greatly magnified, making it all the more desirable. He who controls the power, could control all. And merfolk are ambitious creatures. So the reasoning is not so far fetched.
But whatever the reasoning, the battle happened. And so many lives were lost.
Eventually, the merfolk were defeated, having been driven back to the sea thanks to the desperate need for it. Human folk took advantage of their absence and built a magical wall, guarded by only one gate. This gate stopped all magical enemies from entered with fear of death.
So with clearly certainty, the merfolk were defeated. And it stayed that way, for hundreds of years. For humans, the battle became little more than a bedtime story for children and it's believability was questioned. But merfolk never forgot, choosing instead to brew on their angry until it grew and grew. Revenge was constantly on the horizon.
Events faded. But the hatred never did.
But Ariana knew nothing of any of that. She is the little mermaid in question, if you didn't pick up on that. A lively and sociable soul she was. Always so happy. So curious. To her, the ocean was an adventure, ready to be explored. There weren't normal qualities displayed by normal merfolk. Others always kept to themselves, enjoying the calm serenity that the ocean had to offer. She had always hated that sort of thing. And her poor friend Florence paid the price.
He was middle-aged for a merman. Only 179 years of his life had passed. And he was just about reaching that stage of his life where he yearned to simply laze about in blissful ocean peace. But such acts were out of the question when Ariana was around. And sadly for him, he had literally had to deal with this for her entire life. For he had practically raised her. This had created a soft spot that helped him deal with her constant annoying social interactions. But sleep was still so important to him. Constant adventures were always being had in her youth that he hated. But what he had failed to realise was how much it would worsen when she turned sixteen and reaching what he liked to call her 'rebellious' stage. But then again, this sort of thing does tend to happen when your Father is King of the ocean. This didn't say much really. Merfolk had so few rules to abide by. Aside from humans, nothing phased them. The trouble with so few rules, were that they were less for Arian to break. And she did so enjoy to break them. Hence, the only one left was interaction with the human world. Which naturally fascinated her to great end. So much to the complaint of Florence, Ariana loved to see how close to the surface she would dare to reach. What made him extremely nervous was the way that each time she tried, she would get closer. The fear loomed over him that one day she would reach it. When that day came, he knew that trouble would follow.
And trouble was exactly the kind of thing that he really didn't want.
Our tale begins on a not so special day. Nothing any remotely special was supposed to occur. It was around mid-day, Florence supposed. Time was never certain in the ocean. Florence had learnt to roughly tell the time of day from the distant image of the sun's positioning, though it blurred thoroughly and one had to be quite high up to try to make it out. Once high enough, one could suppose the time from the light that surrounded you as well as the distant sun. But the sun had always made Florence nervous. So he avoided it and guessed away. Besides, he had to take advantage of Ariana's absence. And he couldn't remember the last time he had managed to have an un-interrupted mid-day slumber. The silence of the ocean floor lulled him into said slumber as he sprawled across a large rock. It became a beautiful melody as the dream state enveloped him.
This didn't last long but he didn't expect it to. Her voice rang through his dreary state as he heard her calling his name. Mermaids have exceptional hearing in water. He didn't know where she was but he prayed that if he stayed silent enough, she might allow him a little more sleeping time. Staying stock still, he waited as the calling died away. Smugly he rolled over and never fell off his rock when he saw her sitting next to him. She was so beautiful, even for a mermaid. Her blue and silver scales shone across that pale skin. Her hair glided about with the current, looking almost silver in the dim ocean light. It wasn't from these that beauty was created. All merfolk had these features. It was in her eyes. They always sparkled with such life and laughter. She laughed at the shock in his eyes and took advantage of his moment of confusion to push him off the rock.
"How dare you try and hide from me?" she said, trying to act angry as she watched him trying to regain his composure and dignity. He was failing at this.
"Cant I just have one afternoon free of trouble, panic and dismay? In other words, an afternoon free from Ariana."
She mocked a look of hurt but he knew that his words didn't affect her. "But Florence you have" much to his confusion. "Look around you, its sunset. So now you've had your Ariana free afternoon you can have a night full of my superb company." He groaned as he realised that all hope of sleep had gone. "Stop groaning," she told him as he ignored her "and stop being boring. Maybe Ill go up onto human land and find a human, a sorceress and a few annoying pixies and bring them back to see if I can ever get you to be interesting."
Then he said the words he would forever regret. "You've never made it to the surface before so I doubt you'll do it now." His eyes snapped open as she swam away and he realised what he had said. "That was not a challenge," he yelled after her but there was determination on her face that he knew meant her mind was made up. "We're just joking around right?" he asked as he managed to catch up "you're not really going to the surface are you?" The look on her face clearly meant she was. They were swimming higher. This made Florence nervous. Images of barbaric humans raced through his mind as he contemplated what could easily happen if she went through with this. They were higher then they had ever been before. They were getting closer and closer and both came to an abrupt holt as the reached the top.
"Think about this" he pleaded one last time as she too contemplated the horrors that may await her. "Everything is just fine down here, why do you need more?" She knew his words made sense but was extremely stubborn and knew that she would never back out now. Still, she was afraid. She knew that she was mere inches from the thing that some called air. Curiosity began to overcome her fear. What is this thing that people could use as a water substitute? She longed to feel it and to experience it. Slowly, she raised her hand until it broke the surface.
An odd feeling came over the hand. She recognised the cold aspect of this feeling. The sharp wind soared past the hand leaving it freezing after its bitter exposure to this new substance. Here was also another feeling that she couldn't describe. Florence was pestering her with questions over what it felt like and demands that's she lower her hand immediately. She barley heard him. This odd sensation required her full attention. It wasn't a bad feeling. Slowly she swam up a little until her whole head was above the water. She didn't even think of the feel of the wind anymore. She was too amazed as she took in her surroundings. The water looked so different from the top. It was so flat except for the odd little waves that kept brushing against her. She wondered to herself 'what am I doing looking at the water? I can see water anytime.' Fearing the worst she raised her head for her first look at the sky.
The view took her breath away. He sun was in the middle of setting and the sky was streaked with bright colours that she rarely saw in the ocean. The brightness pained her eyes and she found it impossible to stare directly into the light. Shielding her eyes she looked further. A little speck way off in the distance caught her attention. Lowering herself back down to Florence's level she told him "you have to see this. There is nothing to be afraid of, it's so beautiful. And I think there is a boat over in the North. Wouldn't it be exciting to see a boat before it sinks?" Her excitement slowly trailed away when she saw the look on his face.
"I think I've had enough excitement for one day," he said as he began to swim lower "I would suggest that you come with me but I know you hate listening to anything practical and logical." She wanted to follow him so she could pull him back up with her and help him to experience the wonder that she had just witnessed. But she knew that the boat was sailing further away and her desire to follow it defeated the desire to bring her friend back. He would only nag anyway.
Full of excitement, she swam quickly after the boat. The anticipation rose as she realised that she was about to see her first human.