“Who are you?” the creature in front of Jeffery asked. He ignored the question, struggling against the rope that had his hands tied up at his back.
One of the creatures gripped his tied up hands, probably suspicious that he would try to escape them.
“Who swims about with no company?” one of them asked. The question directed to no one in particular. He had a dark green tail and unlike the rest of the merpeople who had skin tones varying from pale to very dark, he had a greenish light skin tone.
“You have a point Yahus,” Althorn, the leader of the gatherers said as he swam up to Jeffery’s pitiful figure.
“What is your name?” he asked, raising Jeffery’s chin up so his face was on the same level as his.
Jeffery looked away from the awkwardly ruby colored eyes of the merman. He was still in relative shock from the capture and the last play of events from when he was last above water.
With his descent into the depths of the ocean, Jeffery had wandered aimlessly through the waters before being hit on the neck by a poisoned arrow belonging to one of the cove gatherers.
“Shouldn’t we let him be? He’s on no man’s land, isn’t he?” another merman intervened, making Althorn turn to him.
“Yes, but he has no company. Merpeople move with company,” Althorn said, turning back to give Jeffery an inquisitive look.
“If we could just get a name and a cove...” the merman trailed. Jeffery turned away, once again avoiding looking directly at the eyes of the merman.
Althorn sighed as he adjusted the belt of knives and arrows that he had on his waist. They had to return to the cove on time. They couldn’t waste their time with an irresponsive stray.
“Attach him to Ingrid. We’ll take him along with us and let the council decide his fate,” Althorn said. Jeffery was soon hoisted and dragged to the awaiting whale. He was tied fast to its back with ropes made of Dead Seaweed and moss.
Yahus turned to give Jeffery a brief look before calling out to Althorn that they were ready to leave.
The journey back to the cove was long and tiring. Jeffery’s inner clock was sending him into brief spells of sleep that were occasionally disturbed by the noise of the migrating mermen who were talking. He couldn’t even tell if it was day or night anymore. Time seemed the same close to the ocean floor.
Jeffery groaned as he was jolted awake one more time but not by the voice of his captors but that of a crowd.
His eyes fluttered open to witness the group of merpeople gathered around as he was being dragged through them on the back of the whale.
They gave him curious glances, turning whenever he tried to make eye contact with any of them. A small merchild tied to swim up to touch him but was quickly dragged back by the hand of its mother before being cradled in her naked chest.
“Don’t get close!” she warned the child, giving the child’s ear a little pull as her heavily beaded hair made a curtain over her child’s face.
What is this place? Jeffery thought to himself as he came into view of the council house that was carved into the cannon. He looked at the architectural mastery of it all. He expected these creatures to be barbarians not learned people.
He jolted at out his thoughts at the feel of hands trying to untie and began to struggle violently as two mermen began to undo the ropes.
“It’s no use,” one of them said as he removed a piece of cloth from a pouch he was wearing on his waist. Jeffery eyed the fabric warily before it was placed over his nose and mouth.
“Rest,” the merman instructed as an intoxicating smell hit Jeffery’s nose. His tail and arms soon felt numbed and he was soon unable to struggle anymore.
The merman nodded in approval of Jeffery’s condition before he and his mate undid the ropes in peace, hoisting Jeffery into an upright position before tying his hands behind his back securely. The rest of the mermen unloaded the other whales of their spoils, taking them and Jeffery into the council house.
Jeffery gave a muted cry of pain as he was dropped onto the hard floor with the rest of the spoils.
“Don’t treat him like that,” he heard a female voice echo through the convex room. He looked up to meet green gold speckled eyes, eyes so similar to that of the creature that watched over him. He wanted to scream, he wanted to ask for the creature’s whereabouts but everything including his speech was numbed.
“My name is Marsha, and you have entered the council house of this humble cove,” the green-eyed mermaid said as she brought her hand to the top of her chest that was clothed with carefully woven moss.
Jeffery looked around, noticing the five other members of the council on their seats behind the erected stone structure that served as a table. There were three males and two females excluding Marsha. Two of the males were aged, with graying hair and paling eyes. Two other merwomen looked well into their prime and the last male, although young, looked a few years older than Marsha.
“Why do you bring him with you?” One of the aged males asked, bringing long un-kept fingernails to brush his beard.
“He wanders no man’s land alone,” Yahus answered with a small bend. The elder nodded, turning his gaze back to Jeffery.
“Stranger, why do you wander these parts?” the elder eventually asked. Jeffery gave a low painful grunt. If he even intended to answer the question, there was no way he could in his condition.
“I’m sorry sir, but I’ve put him to rest with ivy weed,” the merman that drugged Jeffery confessed making the elder sigh as he shook his head.
“At least you must have questioned him yourselves,” one of the female council members said as she ran a hand through her dark hair. Her purple eyes shone beautifully, but they weren’t anything when compared with that of Marsha’s.
“He didn’t answer us,” Althorn finally said, speaking up as the leader.
“Maybe he’s lost?” Marsha offered, making the other females to nod at the possibility.
“He might have even lost his memory I say,” the bearded elder said, slouching on his seat as he looked at the terrified captive with interest.
Jeffery eyed them as they continued to discuss him. He looked about, idly observing the self-luminous creatures that were trapped in the transparent ceiling of the room to provide light.
“Take him to a secure dwelling. Feed him and keep him company. We clearly can’t continue our questioning with him in this state,” the bearded elder ordered, making the merman nod.
“Before you leave...” Marsha interrupted as two mermen took hold of Jeffery. “Stay for your blessings, they’re important,” she finished, looking over to the oldest elder.
The mermen let go of Jeffery, letting him fall to the hard stone floor one more time. This time Marsha didn’t seem to notice as she focused on calling the gatherers to approach the table in a neat line.
The other oldest male elder that hadn’t spoken throughout stretched out his bony wrinkled hands towards the lineup of gathers.
“I’ll our ancestors shall bless you for making this journey to provide for your people. May you obtain goodwill in this life and the next,” the old merman prophesied in a cracked voice shaken with age.
The gathers then went up one by one to him to have his hands laid on their heads with brief personal prayers accompanying the action.
Jeffery was dragged away afterward as servants came in to collect the spoils.
Before he was pulled out the council room he made eye contact with Marsha. She smiled at him, her green-gold specked eyes dancing. Jeffery’s stomach tightened in curiosity. The creature that took care of him was definitely here considering he was staring at who he figured was its sibling.