2 days later.
Queen Zillath was approaching the surface and all around her the light from the sun lit the water she was gliding through. There were small fish darting for protection in amongst weeds and reeds that moved in the current and pieces of rusted junk that had caught the rocky crags on the way down the Dx4H now stood out to Zillath as she made her way to the surface. In all her trips to the surface before it was never in her mind to look at much of the surrounds around the jail and she had over looked all the rubbish and junk that was thrown there because it was, in her eyes, as it should be in all respects. This was why her home was hallowed ground and sacred to all her people. It was clean and tidy, well set out, there were boundaries, rules and sanctions and Zillath and her late husband ruled fairly and with dignity. Their people respected them and their decision making and it was good to be part of the Mer-population in the Dx4H. Now she was almost at the surface and in years gone by she was always guarded about breaking the surface and giving away her position ...thereby giving an end to the rumours and mythology that surrounded Merrow people.
Zillath stayed about 6 feet below the surface of the water and continued to the old jail that looked less ominous the closer she got to it. Her eyes picked up everything as she fanned her way with her tail to the edge of the jail. There was a ledge almost directly next to the Dx4H and entrance to her home world below. She stopped and gathered her thoughts for a moment. It was while she was thinking to herself about how to make contact with the land people that there was a splash from behind her and before whoever it was could see her through the white wash of tiny bubbles she sped into the Dx4H and lent against the wall.
Zillath didn’t know that people were brave enough to swim in her waters but so many things didn’t make sense to her so she raised herself up a little to see if she could gain a better look at who it was that made the splash. Just as she stuck her nose over the top of the Dx4H there was another splash and this time it was a body with what looked like 4 arms furiously thrashing in the water. Zillath was confused now. The land person who jumped in first was wearing a skin with lots of holes in it.
Was that how this creature could breathe under water?
Why did the new splashing creature have so many arms?
Zillath kept watching and waited for a sign to make her presence felt.
‘Come on Lamb Shanks you can do it boy, keep your nose up, atta boy,’ said Ben as he watched Lamb Shanks take his first real swim in the Loch with his master. Hambone waited nervously on the bank watching his cousin swim in the freezing water below him and he almost let out a nervous howl in protest. Lamb Shanks kept up and made it out of the water while Ben was a bit slower. His skin, Zillath noticed, emptied like an old sea sponge as he broke the surface of the water. Zillath was shocked seeing a skin that held the seawater and released it upon entering the land space. Most perplexing she thought to herself as she watched this land person put something on his face and a long fat glow worm like thing in his mouth and then he came back into the water. Zillath crouched down again and watched as he paddled around looking at the jail wall underwater. The land person pointed himself in the direction of the ledge completely under the water and kicked his huge webbed feet to propel himself in much the same way she did but with two tails instead one big one. Zillath was fascinated by this and slowly her nerves eased. Contact with this half land, half sea creature was more feasible than a mystery or a potential exercise in futility. Now the only problem was how to make contact?
Should Zillath just swim up and try to reason with this creature or kidnap him back to the depths of her cave in the wall 50,000 leagues beneath the surface of the water and the jail. Zillath decided to play it safe and just make him aware of her presence and leave it at that for the time being. She had always played it safe and it had not seen her done badly thus far. The land person was swimming next to the wall and looking at one spot with intense interest. Zillath could see two beasts with lots of arms watching the bubbles come to the surface of the water above the land person and it was then that she decided to catch his eye. She came out from down in the Dx4H and just floated over the precipice moving her tail ever so gently to remain as motionless as possible.
The land person kept returning to the surface of her realm and then back down again to the same spot. So far she had not been seen, so she decided to move closer again, just up to the edge and definitely within eye shot of the land person. Ben broke the surface of the Loch and his head was aching with how cold the water was but he had to check on the dogs to make sure they were okay. Hambone and Lamb Shanks both wagged their tails when he came up for air much to the delight of Ben who knew in his heart of hearts he had found two really good buddies to hang out with.
The hole in the wall that Taran had made was holding up okay from this side of the wall and would only take one more look to dispel any grievance Ben had with its construction. So down he went again.
Zillath tensed up when the land person dove down again to examine the wall and she held her arms straight out and curled her hands gently in the water. The land person didn’t see her...again. So she moved closer...again. The land person expressed some bubbles and turned to make his way back to the surface when he stopped and slowly turned his head toward the Dx4H and laid eyes on Zillath for the first time. He stopped moving totally.
He began to drift ever so slightly with the current but was still motionless.
Zillath bought her arms to her sides and swam even closer to him.
The land person looked up toward the surface of the water then back at Zillath. He moved his hand from side to side in a rocking motion and Zillath tilted her head sideways to understand this gesture. The land person went up to the surface in a hurry then came back down at break neck speed. Zillath was deciding whether or not to trap him now and take him down to her home or just let the first meeting be enough to begin with. The land person came back to her depth in the water and about one Mer-person’s length away from her.
He didn’t look scary.
He smiled at her and kept waving his hand.
Zillath was wrong in her assessment of these land people.
They weren’t bad or cruel, well not this one anyway.
Ben could not believe his eyes. He just could not believe he was looking at a real honest to God, fish tail and all, life size MERMAID. After all that had been shown to him and his new found friends that lived on the other side of life, seeing this, such a beautiful creature as this mermaid was, Ben’s world expanded yet again. She was looking at him with her head tilted to one side as if she was trying to work out what he was doing by waving at her. Her hair moved in the Lochs current and she moved her tail very slowly but managed to stay in the one spot never taking her gaze of Ben at all. This was amazing to Ben.
Years of school books with Mythological creatures beckoning sailors and fisherman to their doom and destruction paled into insignificance to the charm and beauty of this genuine mermaid that was floating before him. She seemed at ease with Ben in his holey wetsuit, goggles and flippers. It was almost like she could relate to him because he was under the water with her. Ben felt the ache in his lungs that told him he needed to replenish his air supply. He tapped his chest and pointed up then bowed very slightly in respect and returned to the surface to fill his lungs with much needed air.
After three deep consecutive breaths of air he put his head under the water again and saw his new friend bow to him and turn to swim back into the Dx4H. He watched as her tail propelled her in to the chasm and out of sight. Ben was jubilant and wanted to tell everyone in Amazing and Graceful what he had seen. He surfaced again and was met with the wagging tail dog chorus and a happy growl from Hambone. Lamb Shanks had not mastered the art of the happy growl yet so when he tried to do the same thing it came out like a power tool misfiring.
Ben had seen a mermaid and he was so happy about this.
Queen Zillath had seen a land person, under water, and she was concerned.