New Mermaid Story from Mermaiden Destiny
“Anyone cold?” Obsidian asked quietly. His boiling orb of heat entranced us all as we sat close together, warming ourselves. I shook my head lazily, chin propped up on my arms that were resting on my curled tail. Jia, who had finally regained consciousness only hours before, rested her head on my shoulder. She was still weak from healing Scarlet (a feat that she had accomplished by channeling the energy in her own body into Scarlet’s to speed up the natural healing process, she had explained) and I could feel her trembling still. Scarlet sat near Jia on the other side, obviously trying to comfort her. But I could tell from the way she squeezed her eyes shut she was struggling to keep Jia’s pain from becoming her own.
Brynn was silently entertaining herself by lighting up Obsidian’s makeshift fire and then transforming the colors. Our faces reflected a deep green then bright red and next a lovely violet. Just as the makeshift fire glowed a warm yellow, Zoey spoke. “He wasn’t right,” she said, without raising her gaze from the light before her. “His mind wasn’t all there.”
It was silent for a moment before Serena leaned over and placed a hand on Zoey’s arm. “What are you talking about?” she asked gently.
“It’s rare that a Great White will attack without reason anyway, but our combined powers should definitely have spooked him,” Zoey continued. Her eyes were glazed over and she didn’t seem to be aware of the words coming out of her mouth. “I couldn’t even reach him,” she whispered, “it was like an iron wall. Nothing like Cal, nothing like I’ve ever felt. It was like the beast itself wasn’t even in control, like someone beyond him was trying to keep me out…”
A slow cold crept down my spine and raised the hair on my neck, “Who?” I asked cautiously. “Who could possibly shut you out?”
Blinking like she’d just woke up, Zoey raised her eyes to meet mine and shook her head slowly. “I don’t know. The presence was huge though, and ancient. Whoever it was, they were prepared for someone with my powers to try to control their pet and they obviously have a much greater hold on the creatures they take over than I do.”
“Don’t blame yourself,” Crystal consoled her, “you barely had enough time to see him, let alone reach his mind.”
“I should have been able to do something.” Zoey growled quietly, lowering her gaze again to the now magenta light. “Who could it have been?” she added in a whisper that was hardly audible.
Suddenly, she froze. Amidst the whispering and general noise of the others, her silence alarmed me. Her head twitched just slightly to the side, like she was listening for something. My eyes darted around our circle quickly until one other silent figure caught my attention, hovering at the edge of my vision.
Excalibur lay beside Scarlet, unnaturally still. He had barely missed the fight with the Great White, scouting ahead like he often did. When he had returned only moments after the gigantic beast had disappeared, it took Obsidian’s and Zoey’s combined efforts to keep Cal from going after the shark. He hadn’t left Scarlet’s side since. Yet now, as I watched, he pulled back little by little and swam a tight, low circle around the group, pausing for the briefest moment behind Zoey.
The moment he slid back into place beside Scarlet, Zoey straightened. With a look of quiet resolve, she looked at Jia empathetically. “Jia, do you think you’ll be able to travel soon?”
Jia picked her head up off my shoulder and nodded, although I was fairly sure she didn’t feel as well as she acted. “I’ll be good as new within another day,” she said, voice rasping from the effort to speak.
Zoey nodded in approval and then turned her gaze to me. “How far are we from where we need to go?”
I paused and slid my eyes shut, feeling the pull toward our destination. I followed the outlines of the path in my mind’s eye and studied landmarks to remember it by. When the gaping trench came into view, I felt a chill. It was so dark, so deep. Who knows what could be lurking in those shadows…
With a shudder I pulled myself out of the vision. “If we slow our pace just enough for Jia, we should be able to reach the trench by this time tomorrow.”
“What say you, mates? Are you all ready for our next adventure?” Zoey gave us all a wild grin. She had an extraordinary ability to instill courage in even the most fearful coward with that passionate half smile of hers. Obsidian laughed at her enthusiasm, saying, “Well I suppose we’re in too deep to turn back now. I’m in.”
Nods and smiles met his statement and we rose to leave. As everyone began to gather their things, I glanced again at Zoey. She stared at the spot where Sid’s pocket of boiling water had sizzled to a small shimmer of warmth. I joined her quietly, not sure if she had even noticed until she spoke softly.
“Cal says it may have been her. The witch from Scarlet’s story.”
My heart sank and I took a deep breath. “Why would he think that?”
“He said from what I described, the control over the beast, it sounded much like her hold over the prince, Malik.” She kept her eyes down but her hand reached over to take mine and I could feel a slight tremor there. “What if he’s right, Destiny?” she whispered. “What if it is Calisto?”
“Then you’re about to show her how powerful Princess Zoey of the Coral Sea is,” I said adamantly, turning to face her. Her eyes crept up to meet mine as I spoke. “Your power is amazing, Zoey. It’s stronger than even you know. And the most important thing is that you use it for good. Calisto uses hers for her own selfish purposes. You can always count on that. And besides,” I smiled at her and gestured around at the other girls. “You’re not doing this alone.”
The familiar flicker of mischievous light entered her eyes again and her broad smile returned. “You’re right, mate. I don’t know what I was so worried about. Let’s beat this witch!”