Fin Fun presents a mermaid story from Mermaiden Jia
It was early as we exited the transport caves. The water was even darker in the giant chasm than the last time we came through, and we wouldn’t have been able to see were it not for the luminous stones lining the rock walls. The water felt thick around us due to the soldiers my father and I had brought.
Mother stayed home to attend to the other affairs of the kingdom, so it was just my father and I. I think Father would have preferred that I stayed home too, but our discussion the night before persuaded him to let me come. If Calisto had broken loose and was wreaking havoc, people were bound to get hurt, meaning that my power would be necessary.
Besides, it had been the Mermaidens that fought Calisto before. We knew a bit more about how she operates, although I’ll admit that there were still many mysteries about her. Regardless, I’m sure my adopted sisters also felt determined to stop whatever evil scheme she was planning.
As our small army progressed through the darkness, I saw the outlines of the other Merkingdoms emerging from the other caves. The MerCouncil building loomed ahead with a dull, golden glow. Tightening my fists, I continued to swim forward. Be courageous, I told myself.
I glanced over at my father, King Takumi, as the glow illuminated his face. I could see in his eyes that he was already analyzing everything.
“What do you think, Father?”
He briefly looked at me before setting his gaze again on the MerCouncil building. “Nothing has changed on the outside,” he said quietly, “but we won’t know about the inside until we get there.”
I followed his gaze forward and tried to swallow the lump in my throat. Before I could respond, I felt a warm hand slip into mine.
“Jia!” Destiny exclaimed, keeping her voice quiet. Her bright orange tail looked like it was glowing as it reflected the gold of the building ahead. I heard nervous chattering coming from her hair.
“Destiny, I thought finfriends were supposed to stay home! This could be dangerous!”
She sighed. “I tried to tell him that, but he wouldn’t listen! He got so mad after our last run-in with Calisto, but he still wouldn’t let me go alone.” She smiled at me, adding, “Under that shell of his, he’s just a softy.”
I giggled as Frank mumbled in response.
As we approached the building, each of the Mermaidens found us. Crystal took my other hand. She appeared to be a bundle of nerves, but we all were. We had no idea what we were swimming into. Even Obsidian had joined us. He stayed close to Crystal, and Waverlee gravitated toward him. I watched as her fingers hesitantly found his and wrapped around them. Brynn and Mariana looked the bravest, shoulders squared and jaws set.
When we were almost at the front of the building, King Lyron of the Carribean Sea approached us. “Destiny, will you use your power? Tell us if Calisto is still here.”
Destiny nodded, her dark curls bobbing in the water. She started humming as we continued our slow and cautious approach. Stopping at the doors, we all gathered around Destiny.
“She’s not here.”
Everyone shuffled uneasily. Soldiers from each kingdom warily watched our surroundings for a surprise attack.
Destiny sighed. “She’s not even close to here. She’s long gone.”
Brynn gritted her teeth. “She won’t be getting away from us that easily.”
My father pushed for more. “What about the MerCouncil?”
After a moment, Destiny replied, “They’re still here.”
A bit of relief ran through me, but I knew I couldn’t let my guard down. Brynn swam up and looped an arm through mine. “Well, let’s get in there, lasses!” Remembering the Merkings, Sid, and soldiers around us, she giggled, “And lads, of course.”
The grand halls were empty as we swam through, looking for signs of commotion. Everything was still and quiet. The Merkings sent some of their guards outside and around the perimeter to keep watch. Mariana and King Caspian didn’t have any soldiers to bring, so they stayed in the middle of everyone else’s. I tried not to smile as I saw Amani close to Mariana.
Zoey peeked through the black doors to the council room and shook her head. We continued moving, looking through each and every room together. Destiny started humming a soft song and led us up through the many floors around the council room.
Eventually, she stopped us at the start of a hallway that led to several rooms. “They’re split up in these rooms.”
Each Mermaiden and their fathers took a door along with several soldiers. I pushed the door open, ready to face whoever was inside, but it wouldn’t budge! “It’s locked!” I exclaimed.
“No worries,” Crystal said, already forming pillars of ice. Each group of soldiers took one and stood at the ready to break down each door.
King Murdoch, Brynn’s father, stood in the center of the hall. “Ready men? On three. One, two, THREE!”
In sync, each group of soldiers swam as hard as they could, using the pillars of ice as battering rams. Each door burst open, and everyone started shouting as they discovered each MerCouncil member and rushed to their aid. Similarly, I entered the room I had chosen to see who was there.
It was Darek, the wizened MerCouncil Chancellor. He lay alone, propped up against the coral wall. His robes were slashed and there was smudged blood on the side of his face. His eyes cracked open briefly and slowly closed.
He’s breathing at least, I thought, flying to his side. I immediately opened my pouch of healing medicines and balms and started assessing his needs.
My father asked, “Chancellor Darek, what happened to you?”
Darek tried opening his eyes again. “King Takumi. Princess Jia. You’re too late.” His breathing was labored, but he could at least speak.
“Too late for what?” I asked softly, dabbing a salve onto the wound on his head.
He winced. “Calisto. She’s gone.”
Father replied, “We know. Did she attack you?”
Darek slowly shook his head.
“Was it someone with her?”
Father continued on. “Who? When did this happen?”
Darek’s eyebrows furrowed. “Not… sure. I don’t… remember.”
“Father,” I interrupted. “He needs to save his strength. We can glean more information later or discuss the matter with council members who are more coherent.” I turned back to Darek. “I’m going to place this seaweed pouch under your tongue, Darek. Let the contents dissolve; that will dull the pain. Then, you can eat the seaweed for extra strength.”
He slowly nodded, closing his eyes again.
“Keep an eye on him,” I ordered one of the soldiers, “and let me know if his condition worsens. I need to see the others.”
The other Merkings and Mermaidens had brought the remaining council members out into the hall. Each was in various stages of disarray and consciousness. Robes were ripped, hair was askew, and faces were distraught. Some were hysterical as they spoke.
Wait, there were only 12 Mercouncil members in the hall. Darek was number 13, but where was the 14th? I swam past each door in the hallway to look for the last one. I stopped when I saw Serena’s multicolored tail next to someone else’s ghostly pale skin. It was MerCouncilor Raine.
Serena held her hand. “You’re going to be okay. See look, Jia’s here! She’s amazing. She’ll take good care of you.” Serena looked up at me with watering eyes, and I knew she was hoping that I could save her.
I knelt down next to MerCouncilor Raine. Gray strands of hair had escaped her normally neat bun and rested gently on her pallid countenance. Her eyes were closed, and her breaths were short and ragged. Upon closer inspection, I noticed deep bruises forming across her body.
“There’s internal trauma,” I whispered, mostly to myself but also to inform Serena. I pulled out my kit and made quick work of the bruises. My hands started to shake. I needed to heal her on the inside too.
“Serena.” I didn’t even look back at her as I placed my hands on MerCouncilor Raine and focused my energy. Serena turned to me. “Catch me if I fall.”
She must have remembered what happened when I healed Mariana after the shark attack. She moved closer and watched me intently, ready to help me if I passed out again.
I offered her a small smile before closing my eyes. Heal, I told myself, Save her. I saw MerCouncilor Raine’s energy scattered throughout her body, signifying the damage beneath the bruises. Pouring my own humming energy into her, I watched both of ours combine almost instantly. Her energy was practically begging for life.
I’ll give all that I can.
My strength started to wane and blackness entered the edges of my vision. Pull back, pull back. As my energy withdrew from her, tendrils clung onto it. Come on, I urged. Let me go. I can’t give any more. I focused everything on pulling away from her.
Gasping and eyes flying open, I started to fall backward. Serena grabbed one of my arms and placed her other hand on my back. I felt my energy quickly drain as the adrenaline slowed, so I slumped back into Serena.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
I nodded and closed my eyes. “She didn’t want to let me go.”
Before letting the exhaustion engulf me, I opened my eyes again and examined MerCouncilor Raine. Her bruises were gone and there was a bit more color in her face. Her breathing seemed more relaxed too.
“Keep an eye on her,” I whispered, closing my eyes and sinking into Serena’s arms. “I just need to rest for a moment.”