Fin Fun presents a mermaid story from Mermaiden Jia
By the time we left Chancellor Darek and MerCouncilor Raine, Father had our things ready to depart. The other MerKings were going back to their respective kingdoms, but they encouraged the Mermaidens to accompany us to the Sea of Japan.
I witnessed many tender moments as fathers embraced their daughters and firmly instructed them to return home safely. A tear carved a path down MerKing Delmar’s cheek as he held Serena in his arms, and he quickly wiped it away before she could see it.
MerKing Orion clasped Crystal’s and Sid’s shoulders with rough hands, eyes glistening. He drew them into a hug at the same time and squeezed.
“Come on, Dad,” Sid wheezed, struggling to free himself. “We’ll be fine, I promise!”
Orion only held him tighter.
MerKing Lyron sent a company of soldiers from his army with us, including Amani, just in case. Father was quick to thank him and vowed to send them back as soon as possible.
As soon as everyone finished their goodbyes, we were swimming swiftly to the transport caves. The light of the palace faded behind us, and I only briefly glanced behind me. Poseidon, please keep them safe until we return.
I had been trying to keep logic at the forefront of my mind, but panic was spreading fast. I could only imagine the worst. I had healed many people since my power manifested as a young girl, but I had never seen anything as bad as Mariana after the shark attack and Darek and Raine after Calisto escaped. What state will Mother be in when we arrive?
My eyes watered, but I quickly blinked them away and swam even faster. Don’t think about that, Jia, I told myself. Everything is going to be okay. It has to be.
“Jia, let the rest of us catch up!” Waverlee called from behind.
I hadn’t realized that I’d swam much farther ahead of everyone. I slowed a bit, but the movement felt far too slow. I wanted to go faster and faster at breakneck speed until I was certain Mother and the rest of the kingdom was alright.
As they caught up to me, Father swam close to my side. “We’ll do this together, daughter. We’re a more formidable force together than apart.”
I sniffed and fought the urge to cry. Nodding, I responded, “You’re absolutely right, Father. Yes, let’s do this together.”
As the darkness of the cave enveloped us, I felt arms hook through my own, and the water rippled around me as tails pushed through the water together. I pulled the two mermaids next to me closer and gripped their arms tighter.
Emerging on the other side, I had to squint my eyes to protect them from the light. Once I could see, I realized that Destiny and Brynn were the ones who swam beside me. The other Mermaidens had latched onto their arms so that we swam in a long line together.
Brynn smiled at me. “You don’t have to go through this alone.”
On the other side of me, Destiny added, “We won’t leave your side, Jia!”
I allowed myself to offer a small smile back to them.
The other Mermaidens offered words of encouragement, speaking over one another.
“Ladies, fall back a bit, okay?” Sid interrupted and swam ahead just as the Caribbean soldiers came to the front to lead us to the palace. Each soldier held their weapon at the ready, prepared to strike at a moment’s notice.
“Right, mates,” Zoey murmured. “Get ready.”
I tried to swallow the lump in my throat, but it seemed to be stuck.
As we came upon the outskirts of the city, the water was empty of merfolk and fish. It made the water eerily quiet, and our procession felt too loud.
Waverlee glanced around in all directions. “You know, this looks a lot like my kingdom when I headed home after the conch shell horn sounded a few days ago.”
Father responded, “We have conch shell horns as well, Mermaiden Waverlee. Everyone should be in their homes, waiting until it’s safe to come out.”
“But why are the fish hiding too?” Crystal asked. We passed a field of coral and spotted butterflyfish wading in the shadows.
“I wonder if they can sense the evil here,” Zoey suggested.
“I don’t doubt that,” Father replied. “The conch shell horn is also partly to blame. Anciently, our people used the horn as we hunted fish because it disoriented them. However, they had to stop this practice when humans started consuming more seafood. Several species were declining, and they saw it best that we refrain from eating fish.”
I had heard this information from Father previously, but it was apparent that the others were unaware.
“You know, I’ve always wondered why we didn’t eat fish,” Waverlee stated. “Seaweed is just sooo boring sometimes!”
A few of the Mermaidens giggled, but it sounded forced. I appreciated Waverlee trying to lighten the mood, but it didn’t feel right at the moment. We had no idea if anyone was hurt yet.
For the first time in a while, Mariana spoke up. “Destiny, Waverlee, will you use your powers? Tell us if there’s anything ahead that we should be concerned about.”
The two nodded, and Destiny started softly singing.
The ebb and flow
Beats against the shore
Without regard for friend or foe
Without feeling sore
Go, ebb and flow
Chase the gloom away
Bring the change and bring the tide low
And keep fear at bay
As Destiny’s voice trailed off, Waverlee turned to me and the rest of the Mermaidens. “My waves show that the outside of the palace is clear. No one is around.”
We all turned to Destiny. She sighed and dropped her gaze to the sandy ground. “Calisto isn’t here either.”
Everyone let out groans at another failed capture, but I looked to Father before reacting. His face was calm and smooth. It was without fear.
“Relax, Mermaidens. This attack was brief, meaning she likely didn’t find what she was looking for. However, damage can be dealt quickly. Let’s hasten to the palace.”
The soldiers in front of us burst through the front doors, and we followed, ready to attack if need be. However, we came face to face with my kingdom’s army. Spears pointed forward, they prepared to defend the palace once again. When they saw Father and I come to the front, they lowered their weapons.
“MerKing Takumi!” The general approached us and bowed.
Before Father could open his mouth, I asked, “Where are the wounded? Let me tend to them.”
The merman turned his bow to me. “Of course, Your Highness. They’re with MerQueen Yui. Tetsu, Takeshi, please escort them to the Queen.” He then turned to Father and added, “We will continue to patrol the palace in case Calisto returns.”
I let out a sigh of relief. Thank you, Poseidon. Mother’s tending to the wounded. That means she’s okay.
The two soldiers announced us as we entered the makeshift infirmary. Mother had placed cushions and blankets on the floor for each injured soldier, which didn’t appear to be more than two dozen. Groans filled the room as many of them vocalized their pain.
I started toward them, but Mother caught me in an embrace. The tension in my body melted away and I sank into her arms. “I’m so glad you’re safe,” I whispered.
“Me too, daughter.” She released me but kept one arm around my shoulders. “As you can see, I’ve tended to them to the best of my abilities. However, your garden is a bit bare now.”
I approached one soldier with small brown leaves wrapped around his arm. “This plant… Mother, were they burned?” I turned to face her and realized she also had pink splotches on her arms and ruby tail. I gasped. “You’re burned too!” Quickly rummaging through my satchel, I pulled out a clamshell filled with a salve made from the same plant.
“Don’t worry about me, Jia,” Mother responded. “We need to discuss what happened first.”
I paused, arms slowly falling to my sides. “Alright, Mother.”
“Yes, Yui, please inform us what happened.” Father reached out to gently hold her hand.
She squeezed his hand and let go. “Thanks to your warning, we were prepared. All the merfolk stayed indoors, except for the army. One platoon caught Calisto after forcing her way into our library. They surrounded her and attempted to catch her, but she held a weapon. It looked like a trident, but it emitted an electrical force that burned all the mers closest to her. I arrived with another platoon to retrieve the wounded, and she sent out another wave.”
Mother sighed. “Before we could recover, she was gone.”
“So she was looking for information,” Mariana concluded.
Mother nodded. “Unfortunately, we intervened before she could even pull a scroll from the shelf, so we don’t know what sort of information she’s seeking.”
“Unfortunate, indeed,” Father agreed.
I offered a smile. “But at least you’re all safe.”
“Yes. There were no casualties. We’re very fortunate.”
Brynn folded her arms. “So we’re back to square one then. We have no idea what her plan is, what she’s looking for, or where she’s going next.”
We all turned to Zoey, who had pursed her lips and furrowed her brow.
“MerKing Takumi, what legend were you talking about with the MerCouncil? Do you think it could help us now?”
He offered a small smile. “It might, Zoey. Let’s make sure everyone here is alright first, and then we’ll talk.”