Chapter 31: Without Him
The pod swims through the sea. More than half of the pod is in nervous anticipation; they are entering the very waters where they have lost their Adra Triton.
Brishen looks gloomily down onto the sandy bottom. Sending a signal, he can detect small prey hidden within the sand. He felt a tinge of sadness as he watched a crab creep along the floor, between the shells and over a few rocks.
The small green meryin spied upon a cuttlefish hovering over the sand. He sneers down at the fluttering side fins of the strange, flashing animal.
Brishen’s gills twitched as he heard a signal from across from him. He peered over, and spotted a blue and silver meryin with a scallop shell and kelp around his head. The blue meryin lightly traced his short, three-pronged spear onto the sand, signaling he is in the right position.
The green one then shot up, and rang out a small battle cry!
“Brishen! No!” Adra Merrick signaled. Regardless, the green meryin through his spear at the cuttlefish, rather poorly, however. The cuttlefish suddenly jet itself away from the incoming spear, though it was easy enough to dodge to begin with.
The blue and silver meryin growled as he flourished out from the rock, and signaled a fearsome snarl at the cuttlefish. The aquatic creature quivered, and sped off in another direction. Brishen ignored his spear, and when after the cuttlefish with his bare hands!
“Your weapon, Brishen! It’s going to escape!” Adra Merrick said as they pursued the cuttlefish quickly. Merrick threw his trident at the cuttlefish, alas missed my mere inches — though as young as his companion, his aim and tactics are stronger than any other meryin of their pod.
“Rrrrraaaa!” Brishen kicked forth, and sprang himself upon the cuttlefish! He gasped excitedly as the animal writhed under his hands, “I-I have done it! I caught my first catch!” He said while Merrick swam up to him with his spear, “Hold my spear for me while I take it to the others!” He said.
“Ok…” Merrick said as he watched his friend’s webbed hands try to tuck under the cuttlefish, and lift it from the sand.
In that moment, the cuttlefish squirmed harshly, and latched itself onto Brishen’s wrist!
“AAHHHHH!” He screamed as it bit down ferociously into his flesh. Adra Merrick unleashed a blood-curdling shriek, focused solely onto the cuttlefish. The cuttlefish shook violently as it immediately released Brishen’s wrist, and shot away from them both.
“A-Adra Merrick…” Brishen whimpered as he held the wrist that issued blood.
“Quick! We must go back to my Mother! She will heal you!” Adra Merrick said as the two meryin quickly swam away.
Brishen frowned as he saw a few cuttlefish swim along the sand, followed by a weak chuckle. Both of them got in trouble on that day – both of them having been too young to hunt, and resulted in him getting hurt.
He has no idea why he ignored Merrick’s advice half the time — the reason they became friends was so that he can get better at hunting. Hunting was always so fun though. Whether Brishen succeeded or screwed up, he loved every part of it. More often than not though, Merrick would always have to bail him out of a very tight spot.
And now that Merrick is gone, everyone in the pod has noticed Brishen’s skill has elevated considerably. Now that he doesn’t have a best friend anymore, the fun and the thrill of the hunt has disappeared.
Merrick has always been there for his friend. He was there to prevent a shark from devouring him. He was there to help find him a good courtship gift for his mate, Penina. He always vouched for him when he did make a successful kill. He always consoled him when he failed at a hunt, before he got better.
Brishen closed his eyes and bowed his head. Merrick was always there for him, yet he never thought to be as good a friend as he was, never knowing Merrick was holding such a secret, or having to carry that kind of a burden, and acting as if he was fine.
Soon, Triton Kaiken sensed another pod coming their way. A pod of Holsien merfolk — beings of turtles, to be precise. When Adra Merrick was still in existence, he would have to quiz him as to what could be up ahead. Merrick would be correct for most of the time, but he always made it sound like a guess. That was a habit Kaiken tried to break Merrick out of doing — a Triton must not only always be vigilant, but also must see any and everything that is ahead of the pod.
“Son, signal ahead. What do you sense?” Triton Kaiken inquired. The young merman narrowed his eyes, and sent a wave of subtle sound forward. The signal traced back to him as a multiple of other merfolk. They sound firmer in form than that of the other merfolk in his pod. It’s a familiar feeling, as they have encountered other merfolk of that kind.
“… I think it is a pod of Holsien merfolk?” Adra Merrick responded.
“Do you think? Or do you know?” Kaiken asked firmly, “You must know what is bahis firmaları ahead of us at first sight.”
“… Yes, Father,” Merrick replied, still uncertain about who are what lay beyond them.
“You are correct, however,” Kaiken said, “It is indeed a pod of Holsien merfolk. Now, will you tell me what type of Holsiens they are?”
“… I-” Merrick caught himself, “They are turtle shell merfolk.”
“Correct. And we are now to approach them.” Kaiken stated as he led his pod towards the pod of sea turtle merfolk. They appeared to be that of humanoid shape, with their torsos stout and formed with the shells on their backs, their arms and legs are flat for paddling in the water.
Kaiken signaled to the pod, prompting them to turn their attention to his pod. They moved in formation to greet the pod of Pisciens, before the two pods have met.
The Holsien Triton swam forth. A large, black and white sea turtle merman, with four old gashes on his shell, a shock of spiral shells along both wrists and ankles. While he holds his own trident in one thick flipper-like hand, he put his other hand onto the shaft of his trident, and held it out. Kaiken took his trident, and held it in the same fashion and touched the tridents in an X fashion.
“I, Triton Kaiken of the Piscien merfolk, greet you peacefully, in the name of Guardian Leviathan.” He said.
“And I, Triton Olaroc of the Holsien merfolk, greet you peacefully, in the name of Guardian Kraken, so let it be,” The Holsien Triton lowered his trident, “But must we be so formal, Kaiken? We have known each other since the days of youth.” He asked.
“It is tradition, Olaroc, you know that.” Kaiken retorted.
“And is this your Son? He has grown since I last saw him. I hardly recognized him.”
“This is my Son, Adra Trition Merrick, yes.” Kaiken said.
“It is an honor to meet you, Triton Olaroc.”
“I am in remorse for your Son, then,” Olaroc jested, “Be warned, young Adra,” He said, turning to Merrick, “This Father of yours was stern with me when we were of your age.”
“Where you not so complacent when we were young,” Kaiken said with a smirk, “Come, do you have items of trade?”
“I do. In the meantime, perhaps my Komeko can be acquainted with your Merrick?” He said as he motioned to his own son, a sunshine yellow turtle merman, holding his own short trident.
“First, we trade. I have not taught my Son the act of exchange,” He replied. Merrick pouted as his shoulders drooped, to Olaroc’s amusement.
“As I said,” He chuckled as Merrick reformed himself.
“And I, Triton Kaiken of the Piscien merfolk, greet you peacefully, in the name of Guardian Leviathan, so let it be,” He said as he and Olaroc exchanged the greetings.
“It is good to see you, my friend.” The sea turtle said, “My Son has looked forward to playing your Merrick,” He said with a smile, “Where is your Adra Triton?” Kaiken sighed, and turned his head.
“Adra Merrick has ceased to be, Olaroc.” He said.
“He… Has perished?” Olaroc asked, looking concerned for his friend, “I am sorry-“
“No. I mean, he has forsaken his existence,” Kaiken said bitterly. Umiato frowned as she took his arm.
“Kaiken,” She said firmly, before turning to the sea turtle, “Our Son is Coshiton. He has been banished.”
“Ohhh…” Olaroc said, “That is a shame. He was a splendid one…” He said, “What has he-“
“I wish not to discuss it!” Kaiken snapped, “There is no Son to talk of now.” Umiato shook her head as she swam away.
Kaiken insists on thinking of Merrick as a ghost now — no, not even a ghost. The Triton speaks of him as if he never had existed, and that is what hurts her the most. He DOES exist, and to imply otherwise is a very cruel thing to do, especially to someone like Merrick. Though he was the Adra Triton, it always seemed like he took after her.
Though he was the finest hunter of the pod, and so formal around Kaiken, Umiato feels his aura far softer than that of Kaiken’s. Kaiken’s energy is rough, callous, bold, while Merrick’s energy is flexible, cooler, more balanced in nature. And though Savarna is young, Umiato can still read that her aura is more similar to that of her father’s.
She loves her children both equally, but it has wounded her the most to lose the son that is most compatible with her.
‘… I should have seen this coming…’ Umiato told herself, ‘Somehow… I must have known he was hiding from me…’ She held back a tear as she swam further, ‘Was he so good at masking his inner pain and deception? Or did I blind myself…?’
“Mother…” Merrick said as they swam through a forest of kelp, “There has been something that has been bothering me… It is about Arnaav… That Coshiton…” He said, rather hesitantly.
“What is it?” Umiato said.
“… Why was Father so… Harsh with him? I have never seen him display such wrath… And to a meryin like that…”
“Your Father is very strict when it comes to the guidance of merfolk.”
“Yes… kaçak iddaa I know…” Merrick said as he and Umiato tugged and severed at bundles of kelp to bring to the pod, “Why, though? Arnaav said his crime was playing with a human girl. He did not hurt anyone; he did not even know he was breaking a Sacred Law. You saw how old he was, he is no older than Sister. And yet Father bellowed at him as if he cursed the Sea Mother.”
“I agree with you, Son.” The Noita said. Merrick whirled around, and beamed up at her.
“Yes…” She said, “To be Coshiton, means to not exist in the eyes of merfolk. Whatever they have done, it was in violation of the Sacred Laws. Your Father does not care to know their story. All he knows is that they have been banished for an unforgivable crime, and they deserve no mercy.”
“But…” Merrick said, “That is not fair!” He said, “All Arnaav did was fetch toys for a human child! He did not deserve the rage Father gave him!”
“Once again, I agree.”
“Would he be so wrathful were I a Coshiton?” Merrick asked.
“I am afraid so…” Umiato said. She blinked as she sensed a brief quiver in Merrick’s aura, “Son…” She said, “Is there something else that is troubling you?”
“What?” Merrick said, his aura now reverting to a normal pulse, “Why do you-” Then there came a strained scream. Both of them gasped before the Merrick loomed out and wove between the kelp stalks.
“Son!” Umiato called out. She let down the kelp and drifted in the same direction as Merrick. She glided along the kelp, and smelled a hint of blood. The Noita quickly undulated herself until she located the Adra. She gasped softly as he is down by a hippocampus. The horse-like fish neighs weakly as a crimson cloud hovered from its side. Merrick turned to Umiato, his eyes wisping with tears.
“A shark was biting into it,” He said, his voice trembling, “I made it go away, please, Mother. Can you heal it??”
Umiato smiled softly as she lowered down, “Yes, I can mend him…” She then placed her hands onto the dying animal.
With not much else to do, Savarna swims along the reef. She remembers this spot where she attacked that human.
Savarna looks up at the surface when she feels a familiar aura up above.
“… Here he is…” The Adra Noita frowns as she sees the image of her long-forsaken brother. Standing there, appearing that of a human. White twinkles outline her eyes as she barely recognized his appearance; seeing him in human form is disheartening enough, but he is also wearing sails and draperies around his body, as if hiding himself from the ocean.
“No…” She muttered as seeing Merrick deepened her anguish, “It… It is just as Father said…” Savarna said to herself, “He has forsaken himself as a merman…”
Up on the wavering surface, she can see the sight of the human walking up behind Merrick, “He is…” Savarna’s heart filled with dread as she saw Merrick turn and kiss the human, feeling a purge of repulsion from witnessing this, “He gave himself to the land… To the humans…” Savarna clenched her pearly fist as her insides churned with sorrow and hatred.
“So my Brother HAS died…” The Adra Noita told herself, “Fine… I hope the Radiant Land Father Mithras makes him very happy.” She said bitterly as she turned herself around, and kicked her tail, crying wisps of tears as her heart cracked a little more, once again.
“Brother!! Brother, where are you?!” Savarna called. The sirens have all been slain by the pod — a very dicey battle, but the pod was able to pull through with moderate damage. Her trace-shell in her headband kelp is glowing and vibrating against her forehead, but she ignores it.
Last she has seen, Merrick was fighting a siren, but it was leading him astray from all the others. She heard a melodic shriek a few minutes ago, which has led her towards one direction: a massive, black, ominous cloud.
The Razirah has told stories about such a dark fog: the Shroud of Death. When the world is wounded, it bleeds its black blood into the sea, and poisons all that enter into it.
“Adam…” Savarna gasped as she heard a weak, feeble voice amidst the blackness. She darted up, but found no opening in the black cloud. She looped to and fro, looking for any sign of Merrick.
“Brother!” She called out, centering the source from inside the Shroud.
“Aaa… Dahh…” Came the voice again.
“I’m coming, Brother!!” Holding out her webbed hands, the palms began to radiate a gravitational force into the fog. With her arms held out in front of her, the mermaid swam forth.
The black fog shifted and moved out of her way as she braved the darkness of the earth’s blood. “Brotherrrr!” She called out in a hushed tone — somehow, she feels that she might perish if she’s too loud in the Shroud of Death, “Brother, where-” She gasped before she ducked down.
There, an alien creature swims in the blackness. It appears to be a human, but it has strange fins on the ends of its kaçak bahis bottom limbs, and seems to be wearing strange bubbles on its eyes — it looks more like a mutant siren, but it’s not singing at all. She watched as the human moved through the oil, its lower appendages paddling one at a time, and stopped at a floating merman. Tears welled in her eyes as she recognized the blue and silver Piscien.
“(Brother!)” She whimpered, shaking with emotion as she also spotted a small cloud of blood coming from Merrick’s mouth and gills, “(Leave him alone!)” She uttered as the human put its hands on the Adra Triton. Fear and anxiety kept her anchored to the spot, from taking action in charging in while the human wrapped his arms around Merrick, and took him away from the spot.
“No… No!” She strafed in the water, turning, and swimming as fast as she can while still shielding herself from the fog. It’s like an invisible maze — there are no visible obstacles, yet it is hard for her to find her way out of it. Could this be the Shroud of Death trying to keep her?
No! Her brother needs her! She can’t let the blood of the earth get to her now!
Wincing, she channeled more energy into her hands, forcing the water all around her to spiral away and filter from her, until she could see deep blue instead of black.
She whirled around as she desperately swam away from the massive darkness, “Brother! BROTHERRR!” She called out, spinning in all directions until she spotted the far away human. “Brother!” She kicked her tail as hard as she could, and sped off toward that human.
Her tail waved up and down, letting out a small yelp as she saw the human and Merrick ascend up to the surface.
“NOO!” She exclaimed as she accelerated, until she neared what appears to be a floating rock. It’s not at all jagged like one — it is curved from both sides with an arc down the middle.
Just before she could do anything, the mermaid gasped and backed away as a rumble came from the large, bobbing object, “By the depths, what is it doing?!” The large object then moved. It moved in a half circle, and started to speed off in a direction.
“NOOO!” She screamed as she swam forward to follow the thing.
While vigorously swimming, Savarna noticed the trail of foam and waves the rumbling object left in its wake. She also took note that this thing, whatever it is, is too fast for her. She groaned and wept as she kicked her tail as hard as she could, panting as all she could see as he kept her chin up is the trail of the object as it got further and further away from her.
Using her magic, Savarna sent an invisible current to make the water trail remain as it is, “I will not lose my Brother!” She declared as she powered through the water, following the paralyzed trail of wash.
Panting, exasperated, the young mermaid drifted to the soft, sandy bottom of a tidal beach. Every inch of her is aching from both the exertion of swimming nonstop, and the weakening sensation of overusing her magic in order to follow the trail. She has been following the trail for so long, she knows the sun is about to sleep, and the moon is about to awaken.
She can still sense Merrick’s aura nearby. She’s close. She can’t give up now, she’s come too far.
“I’m coming… Brother…” Savarna moaned as she grabbed the reef with her hand, and pulled herself up from the sand, “I’m coming…” Her tail is too weak to swim anymore, so she must rely on her upper body strength, though her body and spirit are almost burned out from all of the effort.
The Adra Noita’s gills closed as she broke the surface. Grunting and moaning, the mermaid maneuvered herself on the rocks, and soon found herself on top of a large rock, where she laid herself down for a short reprieve.
It was not until a few minutes before she realized she’s not alone.
“… God…” She gasped as she heard a voice, “Or, Sea Mother…” The mermaid shook as she peered over, and spotted a human on the dry sand, “Whatever’s up there… Please…” Savarna pushed her webbed hands onto the stone, ready to dive right back into the sea, “Give me something… Anything… Don’t do this to him…”
Minutes pass by, and the sun is setting. As Savarna watched this human, she can see the massive anguish inside this human’s aura. He is feeling great sadness, like that of a breaking heart.
Do such monsters as these have hearts?
The human wept as he pushed himself to his feet, and then saw her. Savarna moved backward quickly when he suddenly advanced toward her, “Wa-Wa-Wa-Wait!” The human stammered as he held up his hands. Savarna stopped, but her fin is hanging over the rock, ready for her to drop into the water at a moment’s notice.
“Please, don’t go… I need your help…” The human said. Savarna blinked and tilted her head. Help? This human wants her to help him? “It’s ok, I’m not gonna hurt you, just please listen…” Savarna hesitated — if she says one word to him, she’s as good as gone. So long as he stays his ground she should be safe.
“Do you understand me?” He asked. There was a short pause before Savarna slowly nodded, “D-Do you know Merrick??” The mermaid nodded again. This human DOES have her brother! What does he want with him??