Fin Fun presents a mermaid story from Mermaiden Destiny, Mermaiden Zoey, and Mermaiden Waverlee
I was just as shocked as everyone else. Serena didn’t tell us anything as she led us to Chancellor Darek and MerCouncilor Rain, but I knew it was going to be big.
Immediately after her declaration, MerKing Murdoch waved his arm and soldiers poured into the room.
Chancellor Darek straightened in his bed and stated, “Mermaiden Serena is correct.”
Two soldiers quickly grabbed Seth’s arms, but he didn’t fight them. The rest hurried off to gather the rest of the council members.
The rest of the MerKings rushed to Darek and Raine’s room as soon as they heard the news. Fathers held daughters with care while also raving over the council’s actions.
MerKing Orion, in his deep, rumbling voice, demanded, “Chancellor, MerCouncilor, why are we only now learning this?”
“You must understand,” Darek started, “we were threatened by Calisto herself. If she wasn’t so concerned with reaching the Sea of Japan when she escaped, she very well may have destroyed us. Raine and I are lucky to be alive to prove Mermaiden Serena’s words true.”
“If only my body was as sharp as my tongue,” MerCouncilor Raine scoffed. “Your Majesties, we would have told you sooner if we thought it wise.” She turned her icy eyes to Serena and added, “I gave Mermaiden Serena a clue, and she figured it out herself.”
I smiled at Serena next to me and wrapped an arm around her shoulder.
“I hate to say this—” MerKing Caspian interrupted. We all turned to him. “—but the sooner we deal with Calisto, the better. Mermaidens (and Sid, of course), could you leave to face Calisto now if need be?”
Waverlee’s mouth dropped open, and we took turns meeting each other’s eyes. After a moment of silent looks between us, Mariana answered, “With our gems returned, we’re ready, Father.” We all nodded in agreement.
We made our preparations in the entrance hall of the palace. Amani stocked us all with weapons, and he led a troop with us. I smiled in gratitude to him as he handed me a spear.
“Just like you practiced,” he reassured me.
“Right.” I couldn’t stop the trill in my voice, so I only gripped my spear tighter.
Damon soon joined the ranks, stating, “I’m coming with.”
We didn’t even question it. “We’re grateful for all the help we can get,” Brynn said. “We let her get away too many times, so we need to defeat her properly this time.”
Several of the MerKings swept by, followed by flanks of soldiers who held the treasonous, bound MerCouncilors. Most of them spewed threats at us as they passed.
“Lady Calisto will bring true greatness to the seas!”
“You’re no match for Lady Calisto. She’ll turn you into sea foam!”
When the ancient woman sneered at my father, “Say your final goodbye to your daughter,” he visibly shook with anger.
“Get them out of my sight,” he growled. He then grabbed my hand and kissed my brow. “Don’t listen to them, Destiny,” he whispered. “You are powerful and merfolks will sing for generations to come detailing your heroic deeds.”
I squeezed his hand and whispered, “Thank you, Father. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
And then, we set off, and I sang, leading everyone to Calisto.
“Let’s stop for the night,” Amani suggested to me after we’d been traveling in darkness for a while. “We’ll have more strength after we rest.”
I slowed to a stop. “You’re right.” I was slightly out of breath. “Yes, let’s stop.”
Jia pulled out some crab sandwiches and passed them around to each Mermaiden, as well as Sid and Damon. I mumbled thanks to her and tried to find strength in her warm smile.
We ate in silence for a while, until Mariana spoke up. “Damon.”
His dark hair covered his face until he slowly raised his head and met her eyes. “Yes?”
“Don’t think we forgot that you still need to finish your story.” Her eyes were hard, similar to when I first met her as Scarlet. She had grown tough to protect her feelings. But as a wave of emotion passed over Damon’s eyes, I saw her own mimic his.
She’s learned to feel too. She’s so strong. I smiled to myself for a split second before turning my eyes to Damon.
“Of course, Mermaiden Mariana. I didn’t forget. In fact, I’ve spent my time since then determining how to tell you what’s transpired.”
Damon took a deep breath. Packs and weapons fumbled around us as a number of soldiers laid down and others took the first watch. He lowered his voice so as not to disturb them.
“My mother used my position within the MerCouncil to sway them to her side. Several of them followed her willingly at first. They were like my father, hungry for power and jealous of those above them. She spoke to MerCouncilor Aldric many times, trying to sway him to her side, but he was a good, steadfast merman. He refused her advances.
Darek, Rain, and Aldric, the most senior members of the council, were the only ones who stood against her. She didn’t seem like much of a threat, taking their rejections gracefully, but she had the rest of the council working secretly behind their backs.
She was closer to making her move and wanted to rule the council outright. She confronted Aldric again and, this time threatened him, but he still refused. She commanded me to destroy him, but I couldn’t. He had been the closest merman I’d had to a father. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t harm him.”
He wrung his hands out, looked down, and sighed. He started speaking several times, then stopped, choosing his words carefully.
“She… she crushed my hand in her grip so I couldn’t swim away while she put a spell on me. When I came back to myself, Aldric was… cold… in my arms…”
He lifted his head to Mariana. The current swept his dark locks from his face, and for the first time, I saw tears flowing freely from them. Without hesitating, Mariana started to weep too, as did the rest of us.
“And she expected me to take his place at the MerCouncil afterward. I clung to him with all I could and only wanted to stay with him. As a result, she placed a different spell on me that squelched my emotions. I couldn’t feel a thing, which happened to be around the time you met me. I… I wasn’t myself then, and I’m sorry for the atrocious manner in which I acted.
I understand if you can’t forgive me for what I’ve done. I can’t forgive myself. But please know that now that I’m more myself, I want to do what’s right. I want to help you defeat my mother and put an end to her violent ways. Each of you will be exceptional leaders in your kingdoms, and I am honored to even sit among you tonight.”
Damon slowly met each of our eyes, his own eyes red from weeping. When he met my eyes, I offered him a small smile.
Mariana sat straight, stoic as ever, but then she swam over to Damon and knelt before him. “Cousin, thank you.” She embraced him, and it seemed as if Damon melted into her arms.
“Please forgive me,” he whispered.
Unable to stop ourselves, we all gathered around them and wrapped our arms around Damon, each whispering words of encouragement and acceptance.
Underneath all of us, I heard him sob, “Thank you.”
I woke up the next morning to little guppies playing in my hair. “It’s time to wake up,” they sang. I rubbed my eyes and saw Amani waking the others.
Waverlee had a piece of seaweed woven through her hair, and she struggled to pull it out with heavy eyelids. “Time to go already?”
“Yes, Mermaiden Waverlee,” Amani responded while taking Mariana’s hand to help her up. I held in a chuckle because I’m pretty sure I saw her blush!
Destiny’s humming cracked every now and then through her tired vocal cords, but she led us through the water, inching closer to Calisto with every kick of our fins. Jia handed out more food, delicious seaweed and rice rolls native to her home sea and land. Destiny took breaks every few minutes to eat before resuming her humming.
“Jia, these are amazing,” Serena mumbled, eyes still fighting to stay open. “One of these days, I’m going to make you some food from the Mediterranean Sea.”
Her laugh was small. “I look forward to it.”
Sid added, “There’s nothing special about food from the Arctic Ocean. Most of it’s frozen!”
I laughed pretty hard at that one. As time went on though, we got tenser, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one mentally preparing myself for the battle ahead.
It didn’t take long before Destiny brought us to a stop. “We’re close,” she whispered to us, voice lowering just in case. “We should make sure we have everything ready.”
While soldiers tightened their packs and readied their weapons, we counted our gems. “Problem, mates. I’m missing one of my gems. I might’ve lost it while traveling?”
“No, I’m missing one too,” said Serena.
“…Me three.” Brynn groaned.
It looked like each set of gems that the Mermaidens received from Darek and Raine was missing one.
Serena drooped. “Those treasonous MerCouncilors probably knew that we were onto them and sent off a smaller number so we wouldn’t notice.”
“It’s alright,” I said, wrapping an arm around her shoulder to comfort her. “The rest of our gems are greater than her eight!”
I think everyone tried to take heart in my words, but they were still nervous. I was too. I gripped my spear even tighter. “C’mon, mates. Let’s get this over with.”
The sun was shining brightly overhead as the sun came out in the late morning, and the water was starting to get shallow. “I think she’s on this island,” Destiny suggested.
“She’s got to be. My waves aren’t sensing her nearby,” Waverlee added.
“Where are we, anyway?” Brynn asked.
As a native of the area, Serena was quick to respond. “Greece. This human country has lots of islands in the sea, and it’s rich in history that both landfolk and merfolk share.”
“It’s true,” Jia added. “These were some of the only humans who knew about Poseidon.”
“Poseidon isn’t the only powerful being known in this part of the world,” a voice cackled from nearby.
We all turned in different directions to find the source, gripping our weapons tightly. “Up above,” Mariana called, pushing her head above the water’s surface.
It was Calisto alright, lounging on a smooth rock on the shore and sporting a shining crown inlaid with each of our missing gems. She wore a purple, flowing dress, twirling her trident, and she had… legs?
“What gives?” I blurted. “What happened to her fin?”
“That’s not important right now,” Mariana said in a low voice before calling out to Calisto. “Your days of tormenting the MerWorld are over! Come back to the MerCouncil for your trial on your own, or we’ll bring you by force.”
She laughed long and hard, obviously relaxed and not at all worried about us. She buried her toes in the sand and taunted, “What are you going to do? Come out of the sea and get me?”
I gritted my teeth. She’s right. What do we do if she’s out of reach? A fish out of water isn’t going to win any battles! Speaking of, I could feel the water draining around me, exposing more of my body to the surface.
“Back up, everyone!” Waverlee called, collecting a mountain of water behind her in one gargantuan wave.
She didn’t have to tell us twice. We all dove back into the water as Waverlee’s wave crashed onto Calisto’s rock and pulled her out to sea. Immediately, her legs transformed back into her deep purple tail. Brynn tossed out a ball of light to stun her while soldiers formed lines in front of us. Amani shouted a command, and they dove toward her, spears at the ready.
Of course, it would’ve been too easy if we’d captured her then. A massive burst of purple lightning shocked the first wave of soldiers, and they fell back into the mers behind them.
No problem. We know how to destroy it.
But there was so much more in store. A ship was sailing close to the island, a long net hanging from its side, ready to capture us where we swam.
“That’s right. The contest.” Serena gasped.
Amani shouted, “Men, destroy that net! But don’t get caught!”
“Let me help,” Crystal swam to Amani’s side, already forming ice daggers in her hands.
“Me too,” Sid added, joining them. “We’ll take care of it. You protect the others.”
Amani hesitated but nodded. “Good luck.”
Sid turned his devilish grin toward Crystal. “Ready, sis? Let’s give them some mermaid stories to talk about!”
And like that, they blasted ahead of the soldiers, Crystal throwing knives with amazing precision to cut the many pieces of the net and Sid burning through rope like it was nothing.
The rest of us turned to Calisto.
What can I do? I thought. Using my power puts the animals at risk. Maybe—
Another electric shockwave hit the next wave of soldiers, and I lept in front of them, spear tight in my hand as I swam toward her. “Hey, sea witch!” I shouted to get her attention and distract her from the others.
She looked my way and smiled. “Careful, dear. I’m not sure you can handle what’s coming.”
I let out a short laugh as Waverlee seized the moment and unleashed an arrow at Calisto. It struck her in the arm, and she cried out in pain, releasing another shock in a broad circle around her. I took the moment to aim and hurl my spear at her before the wave hit me.
All my muscles tensed up, teeth clenched shut in my head, and my vision flashed purple and red. But I heard her cry out again, so I must have hit her.
“Zoey!” I heard Jia cry.
I still couldn’t move, and I couldn’t see clearly. But I was soon enveloped in thick ropes that dragged me away from the action. Many of my friends screamed my name, but they were busy fighting.
I filled my voice with my power and hollered, “Help! Please!”
Just as my sight started to clear up, I saw a school of swordfish fast approaching. “Cut the rope, cut the rope,” I gasped as I tried to pull myself away from the net. They quickly hacked at the pieces that bound me, and I was free. But surely they had another net.
“We need to keep the landfolk from tossing another net out… Mates! Pull the net overboard!” Together with the school of swordfish, we pulled at the ropes with all our might. Finally, we lurched forward, and a group of humans fell into the sea.
When they opened their eyes and started to swim away, Mariana and her blazing blade was the first thing they saw. “Go help her,” I said to one of the swordfish, and his entire school rounded up the humans in a circle. “Don’t let them drown, mates!” I called before turning back to Calisto.
I had missed the bulk of the action. Destiny had flung herself at Calisto’s tail, and others grabbed her arms and torso, much like when I had instigated our game to take down Sid. Brynn pried the trident from her fingers while the witch screamed threats all the while. Brynn popped her head out of the water, raised her arms up high, and brought the trident down onto a rock, breaking it in half and rendering it unusable.
Crystal tore the crown from Calisto’s hair and tossed it to Serena, who focused her power within the gems until they shattered into a million tiny pieces, glittering in the sunlight as they fell to the seafloor.
Damon approached his mother, and Mariana joined his side. She reached into her pouch and handed him a pearl. “You’re the firstborn of a MerKing, right? I felt it a while ago and didn’t realize it, but you have a power, don’t you?”
His eyes were full of amazement as he accepted the pearl. “You trust me?”
Mariana smiled and tipped her head back slightly. “I don’t know anyone who wants Calisto brought to justice more than you.”
Damon’s fingers curled around the gem, and his face hardened.
Calisto laughed. “You’ve never been able to disobey me, son. You think now is any different? You’re just as helpless now as you were when you begged me to spare that old man’s life. You’re pitiful. Worthless. You—”
Damon’s eyes squeezed shut as he yelled, “Enough! I’m not yours anymore!”
Calisto’s eyes rolled back, and her body tensed up. Fearful, Destiny, the soldiers, and I let her go and backed away. She sank to the sand, muscles spasming at random.
I looked to Jia for her medical expertise. “Jia?!”
Her eyebrows pressed together in confusion and concern, Jia landed in the sand next to Calisto and grabbed her head. She closed her eyes and focused her power on the witch. Serena joined her side.
“What kind of power do you have??” I turned my eyes, wide in terror, to Damon.
He shrunk as we stared at him. His mouth opened a few times as he tried to find the right words, but in the end, he stayed silent and watched his mother.
As Jia used her power, Calisto fell motionless, her mouth dropped open and eyes closed. The gem shards in the sand rose, reflecting all the colors of the rainbow, and blended together to play out a scene.
We watched a young, beautiful Calisto singing while surrounded by animals that had brought a man ashore on her island. She nursed him to health, and they fell in love.
I’ve seen this story before. I didn’t notice that Sid was by my side. Forgetting about our argument before, my fingers quickly found his and grasped them tightly.
Reflected in the gem shards, the man sailed away, and we watched young Calisto cry and stare out at the horizon for his return that never came. She begged Poseidon to help her, and she crumpled to his palace floor in agony. She screamed at him, face contorted, and she ran away, cursed to search the ocean alone. It was just like the legend MerKing Takumi related to us.
I didn’t realize it until the lights faded and the shards sank back to the sand, but I was sobbing uncontrollably. Sid wrapped his arms around me and held me close. Once I calmed down a bit, I turned my head away from his chest to see the others.
Almost everyone was rubbing tears from their eyes by the emotions that overwhelmed us. Even Sid sniffled.
Mariana waited until Damon’s eyes met hers before she spoke. “So you can force others to feel your emotions. That’s your power?”
“Oh, that’s why I feel like an emotional mess right now?” Sid chuckled, letting me go to rub his eyes.
Damon nodded, eyes downward. “That’s likely why each of you felt so uncomfortable around me… and perhaps why my own mother couldn’t seem to stand me.”
All of our eyes fell on Calisto, still laying in the sand. Jia was still by her side, though she was leaning on Serena for support. Calisto’s eyes cracked open. “Damon, I’m sorry.”
He slowly dropped to her side, and the rest of us joined him. Sid grabbed my hand again.
Calisto continued, “I was consumed. I just… wanted to find him.”
I had that feeling of bubbles in my chest again that expanded my chest until I let out the words building up inside me. “But that’s no reason to harm countless innocent people. None of us deserved this, least of all Damon.”
Damon shot me a small smile that I returned.
I continued, “Calisto, please let this go. I know it’s hard, but you have a family right here, right now. Let’s go back to the MerCouncil and work this out. We don’t want to fight. But as the Mermaidens, we must keep our kingdoms safe.”
Zoey spoke next. She was covered in burns from Calisto’s trident (and Brynn was still holding the pieces), so she sat carefully. “Calisto, I could help you in your search if you want. Every sea creature listens to me, so we could use them to inspect every piece of sand, every cavern, and every wave around the world. My one condition is that you stop the violence. Poseidon may have ignored your pain, but had you turned to others for help, maybe things would have been different. You can try now though, and I know many people will be glad to see the kind mer you used to be.”
For the first time, I saw a sincere smile tug at Calisto’s lips. And for a brief moment, I saw a flash of the young woman that saved a man and wanted nothing more than to spend time with him and care for the ocean. “Mermaidens… you’re too kind. But I must decline.”
I stiffened at her words. Is she still going to fight us?
“I… won’t be around much longer. I neglected my duty. I… will become one with the sea.”
Damon reached out to grab her hand. His motions were stiff, but I’m sure he’d never had such an opportunity before. “Mother.”
Calisto’s eyes closed, and I watched her fingers tighten around his. “Damon, I wish you all the love… and happiness… that I couldn’t give you.” Her fingers lost their grip, and her muscles relaxed. Little bubbles gathered on her skin, then floated up to the surface. And where the bubbles left, she started to disappear. She was dissolving into sea foam.
Damon’s lips tightened as he fought back his emotions. However, I could feel guilt, anger, and despair wash over me. Jia sat up from Serena’s embrace and placed a comforting hand on Damon’s shoulder.
“It’s okay to cry,” she said quietly. “It’ll make you feel better.”
He ignored Jia until Calisto’s hand had fully dissolved and his was left empty. Then, in anguish, he fell into her arms and cried long and hard while she stroked his hair.