Bedazzled

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Chapter 12

The day Encaca reached Afibia was filled with celebratory screams and cheers. Jeffery could barely hear the music played by the musicians accompanying the witch as it drowned in the screams and cheers of the merpeople that had flooded the streets in hopes of laying their eyes on her.

Merpeople of all ages stretched out their hands to try and touch her. It was like she was a god in the flesh being paraded within the cove.

Interesting. Jeffery thought as he finally got a glimpse of the sorcerer that had everyone adoring her. Her skin was a dark ebony tone, and her tail was a charcoal black. Her kinky hair was laced and adorned with small ornaments and beads Jeffery thought to be charms of some sort.

Jeffery felt Aquas’ smaller hand find its way in his as he gazed on at the merwoman. Aquas gave Jeffery’s and a squeeze. He’d promised to follow him when it was time and give him some moral support.

Encaca swam through the crowd with the musicians and the guards that accompanied her. The trident she held in her left hand resembled the implement thought to be carried by the mermen according to human mythology. That was probably another almost fact that had to be fixed.

Jeffery and Aquas followed the crowd as they migrated towards the cove’s council house. The members of the council were waiting outside by the entrance. The elders looking on at the approaching crowd with a straight face while Marsha and her younger male counterpart smiled as the witch approached them.

“Encaca, the people of Afibia are happy to host you!” Marsha said when the witch came face to face with the council. A smile made its way to the colored lips of the witch.

“It’s I who should be happy. I can’t believe I get to serves such a great civilization,” Encaca said as she turned to the cheering crowd. She raised her trident in the air, quieting them.

“I am here in accordance with the law of our people and the will of our ancestors. I am not here to destroy. I am here to grant fertility, cure the sick amongst you, and I am here to answer your requests. Leadership is a temporary, and a seal of servitude. May our ancestors help me carry out my duties with accordance,” she said, her words followed with murmurs of agreement that gradually advanced to full out cheers and screams.

Encaca plunged the base of her trident into the seafloor, eyeing the crowd as she spoke.

“I don’t know how long I will be with you, but I am following the migrating pattern of a school of fish, meaning that I can only stay for so long. Do not feel intimidated and shy any from asking me for help.” Encaca continued as she looking at the crowd with one of the most sincere smiles Jeffery had ever seen on a living being. She seemed approachable so far, and that was very encouraging to him.

“We will house her now. An announcement will be made to inform you of when you can come to her,” the purple-haired lady who was a member of the council said as the guards proceeded to clear out the crowd. Jeffery and Aquas took their leave soon after, heading for Aquas’ dwelling.

“What’s your take on her?” Aquas asked as Jeffery made to lie on Aquas’ nest. The softness provided by the layer of animal skin made Jeffery close his eyes briefly in bliss before looking over at Aquas who was sat at the edge of the nest.

“The witch?” Jeffery asked making Aquas nod. Jeffery bit the inside of his cheek. What really was his take?

“She seems very approachable but I’m a little overwhelmed by how she was treated, it was as if she was being worshiped—”

“It’s only right, she represents our ancestors,” Aquas said, cutting Jeffery off.

Although Jeffery wanted to talk more about the apparent hero worship Jeffery kept quiet on the mater and settled with resting his head on the softness of Aquas’ nest. His mind wandered to the dark-skinned mermaid the merpeople treated like a prophet. His mind wandered to questions like, how powerful was she? Would she be able to know his situation just by looking at him?

Jeffery was brought out of his thoughts when he felt the base of Aquas’ tail lazily brush over his. Jeffery turned to face the merman who had his eyes half-closed to give him a look of confusion. Aquas smiled lazily before full on entwining his tail with Jeffery’s. Jeffery’s look softened as he decided to just dwell on the act of intimacy. His face paled when Aquas moved closer so he could bury his face in Jeffery’s shoulder.

Jeffery let his hand run over the merman’s arm, smiling softly as they both waited for the call that it’d be time to see Encaca.

━━━━━━━━

Jeffery’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of metal clattering against metal. The sound of a horn followed briefly. The witch must be ready to attend to the merpeople.

“It’s time,” he heard Aquas mutter into his neck. Jeffery looked down at the merman he was holding on to, earning a weak smile from him. Aquas soon undid their hold, swimming out of the nest and towards the dwelling’s entrance. He paused briefly, turning to motion for Jeffery to follow him before swimming off.

Jeffery followed suit, joining Aquas in the now crowded streets. Everyone was heading to the council hall, talking amongst themselves as they swam. Some merpeople were holding on to items or containers containing things ranging from foodstuff to jewelry that they planned to gift to Encaca.

Jeffery didn’t know what to think of it all. Everything that was happening was overwhelming to him. He had a hard time imagining a supreme being watching over all human actions and maybe that’s why the ancestor and hero worship the merpeople partook in was unnerving to him. He’d never wanted to be rude and question Aquas it, but the curiosity pricked him from time to time when he watched the Merpeople take part in praying and praise rituals.

They soon reached the council hall. The place was filled up, with merpeople not being able to get in and having to watch whatever was going on through the crowded entrance or by hovering above the other merpeople. With a lot of pushing, Aquas and Jeffery were able to force their way through into the crowded hall. Apparently, people from nearby coves were also present due to their inability to exercise patience and wait for Encaca to make an appearance in their own cove.

Jeffery got a glimpse of the dark-skinned witch sitting at the council table. Marsha had given up her space for the sea witch, so she stayed by the table. Overlooking the crowd and periodically turning to have a light conversation with one of the members of the council. Encaca’s eyes were moving from individual to individual. It seemed like she was taking her time to study every single individual in the room.

“Silence,” she muttered, raising and dropping her trident to the stone structure that served as a raised stage beneath her. The whole hall went silent, including the merchildren who had been wailing. Jeffery found the control she had over them fascinating. From a hand full of personal experiences he knew that the emotions merpeople felt were close to impossible to conceal. They were volatile, deciding to show up and disappear just as fast.

Everyone in the hall looked towards Encaca in silence. Although she seemed approachable there was an air of intimidation that seemed to surround her being. She was smallish, and frighteningly beautiful- if that made any logical sense.

The ornaments wrapped, pinned or matted into her kinky shoulder-length hair added to the intimidating feel. Her gaze was piercing and her eyes were unnervingly black and glossy like the skin of eels. Her tail took on the color of her eyes, and her fin was translucent and long, branching out into multiple directions unlike the regular two.

“You,” Encaca muttered all of a sudden, pointing to someone within the crowd. Merpeople around the specific area she’d pointed at muttered to each other as they tried to agree on who she was calling. It took a while, but a merman supported by the shoulders by a younger merwoman was soon let through to head over to the stage.

“Come,” Encaca said in encouragement as the merman and woman stopped suddenly on their way up to the stage. The merwoman looked flustered. She took in a breath before nodding at Encaca’s word and helping the man she was supporting up the stage as he broke into a wail.

“It’s okay,” Encaca muttered as the merwoman swam up the stage with him. She gave the crying man a small peck on the cheek before giving him some space. Encaca left her seat, moving to hover over the merman.

“You are blind,” she stated plainly as she brushed aside the long fringe that covered the man’s face. Jeffery cringed at the sight of the scares running through the man’s face. It looked like something had held on to him by its teeth and proceeded to toss him around like a rag doll.

“The ancestors wish that you may see again,” Encaca said as she took his face in her hands. The merman responded by holding on to the hands she had on his face as he continued to wail softly.

Encaca took a good look at the face of the wailing merman before moving the position of her palms until they covered his damaged eyes. She muttered words under her breath as she massaged the area and dropped her hands a few seconds later. The scars were miraculously gone leaving behind clear eyes that shown with a deep red color. The redness of the merman’s new eyes contrasted with his silver tail but they were otherwise perfect.

“Wow,” Jeffery muttered underneath his breath as a small smile formed on Aquas’ lips.

“She’s nothing compared to some sorcerers from the past. She’s not even the most powerful at the moment,” Aquas muttered earning a smile from Jeffery. Jeffery saw that Aquas took great pride in his people and it was admirable.

Jeffery watched as Merperson after Merperson was called up to the council table. A huge pile of gifts was piling up by the corner with Marsha directing the guards on where to place them.

Jeffery was so engrossed in the magic that he hadn’t noticed when the people around him had given way.

“She is pointing at you,” Aquas muttered into Jeffery’s ear, bringing him out of his thoughts. Jeffery’s eyes widened in realization as Aquas gave way to him as well.

“Something bothers you, what is it?” Encaca asked as Jeffery nervously swam up to the council table.

“I...” Jeffery muttered, unsure of how to put his situation into words. The council and everyone within the hall would undoubtedly be shocked but he had to come clean now or soon in the future.

“I...” he started again, trying to put his sentence together.

“Stop there,” a loud thundering voice soon erupted through the hall. Everyone was turning from left to right looking for the source until someone pointed at the merwoman hovering close to the ceiling.

She swam down towards the council table, stopping directly in front of Jeffery and Encaca.

“Who are you?” Encaca asked in a mutter as she eyed the dark-haired woman. Jeffery’s heart seemed to miss a beat when he recognized the freckled chest, dark eyes woman sprouting an unnerving smirk.

Why in the world would did the witch refuse to leave him alone?

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