23] A Second Beginning
23] A Second Beginning
The girls and I make it to the Ruins without disturbance. I change the currents of the Rough to make our journey invisible, creating enough waves to obscure our swim through the shallows.
By the time we arrive, the seven of us explore the Ruins and eventually everyone decides to sit in the large shallow rock pool, with our tails out, discussing possibilities of what this place means.
“Can you feel the heat?” I ask, “Below us?”
“It’s indescribable, better than a spa. My whole spine is shivering with those good feels,” Halina sighs and sinks until the water is at her chin and her tail flops further through the water.
“Servants of the Water’s Will,” Darya whispers.
“Huh?” Halina raises her chin, “Wha-?”
“What did you say? Servants –?” Roanne gets cut off as Darya holds up her palm.
“It’s what I read on the walls, itched above the fossilised swords,” Darya points to the mermaids on the ceiling, “It’s a prophecy, obviously. We are the mermaids up there.”
“Prophecy?” I murmur, “I assumed the ceiling art was in memory of whoever was here before us…”
“Oh, no,” Darya shakes her head, “Those swords? Can be broken out of the rock with a spell. I have no idea what it is. We are Servants of the Water’s Will, so we need to tread carefully and keep close until we figure out what that means.”
“I don’t like the sound of that,” Rivea whispers, nudging Vanora, her best friend, “I got the feeling there is a price to pay for all this power flowing straight for us… don’t you?”
“Don’t be so negative,” Vanora tries to stay optimistic.
“We’ll just have to work it out as we go,” I shift to my legs, filling full with power and magic after a good half an hour of resting in the power. I’m jittery. I can’t stay still much longer. I step out of the rock pool and slip on a blue silk robe, it doesn’t tie in the middle and it’s comfortable.
“Where…” Darya gulps, “…are you going… Lily…?” she knows, I can hear it in her worried tone.
“Lily, what are you thinking?” Halina snaps, “Stop thinking it.”
“Oh, I know that look in a girl’s eyes,” Rivea sighs in defeat.
“Take a weapon,” Vanora begs me with her eyes, “Please, Lily.”
“I have a weapon now,” I smile even though I have tears in my eyes from their protectiveness, “Inside me.”
“Why do you have to go?” Roanne flips her tail, splashing the water in anger, “Why?”
“There was a battle and he is a King,” I explain, “He is a monster. And a rouge. But he is still my mate. So, I owe it to… no, not to him, but to fate, to check. I need to see if he’s dead.”
“Good riddance if he is,” Halina scoffs, “I wouldn’t want to be bitten by that monster again. I can’t believe you survived the pain when he did it to you.”
I blush when I think about how it did the exact opposite for me. A shrill orgasm, sudden and tail breaking. I felt both euphoria and weak during and after that experience.
I start to turn to go, until I decide to say one last thing, “If I’m not back in twenty minutes… he’s alive and I’m probably dead.”
“Lily,” Halina hisses, “Don’t say that, ever –”
“I won’t go back alive with him, if he is alive and attacks me… I won’t let it happen,” I snarl it, sounding almost like his kind. Except my voice is hoarse and husky from rising tears. Longing. Disappointment. Lingering betrayal. The fact I was now a murderer, as bad as he was. I didn’t even feel bad about killing Irsa, although I did feel regret at shunning my own integrity. I was better than that.
Yet, I couldn’t feel guilty.
So, I just felt everything else.
I had unfinished business.
I turn, and I go out to see the aftermath of the battle before the sun rises.
I swim in empty waters, past foul tasting water, but no bodies. Both sides had retrieved the dead, the wounded or the dying. For creatures of the water, we mermaids often stayed out of it. I wonder briefly if that makes us more land mammal than sea mammal.
Not that it mattered.
I cruise around the castle in quick searches, my eyes scanning the bay, the rocks, the windows in the castle itself. The activity is minimal.
I get the feeling neither side achieved a victory today.
I almost return to the Ruins, until I realise I need to check one more place.
There was a possibility, if injured in battle, Eros has retreated to a solitary rock pool to heal. Like the first night we met.
I don’t like the coincidence of my thoughts, especially with the coincidences of those Ruins. If this was fate, then me finding Eros in a similar way to the beginning, was a symbol of another beginning… or an end.
I wasn’t weak anymore. With a pull of a thread, I could shape the Rough. I still had the Orca teeth around my neck, and they seemed to stay warm, as if holding the magic for me.
I head away from the battle waters and swim around the cliffs.
They jut, curve and wind in this area of the Belle Island. It’s hard to swim through these Rough currents. Well, it would have been hard to swim, except now I tread through easily because of my recognised power.
I turn around one particular jutting cliff, where the water is more violent and although I see nothing yet – my heart rate speeds right up.
A strange feeling from here.
I slowly, slowly tread forward, navigating the rise and fall of waves to try and get a better look.
Over the rough waves, is a flat plateau. Rock pools. Mostly untouched by the raging waters. A perfect hiding place to heal.
It’s empty, each pool is untouched… and behind one huge boulder that has crashed from an unstable cliff wall… I spot something.
At first, I think it’s just a log.
But it’s a limp, long tail… too long to be of a Coral Merka or Mermaid.
There was a pool that the tail was protruding from, but there was no twitch, flip or swiping.
It was as still as a dead corpse.
I had to see. I had to know.
I ride a large wave to the hidden area, shifting and landing in a squat. I pull my drenched silk robe around me and I don’t creep close like the first time. I jump over the pools and skid around the boulder, curious to see…
Not just a half dead Erebos.
Eros is bleeding, his nose is barely above the water line, but his got one eye open. His whole demeanour rapidly changes as he witnesses me. I stand a few feet from his tail, shocked as he forces himself out of a slump, sitting upright, his tail shifting back a bit, one arm against the rocks, hauling his torso upwards. He shifts backward, gets comfortable and opens both eyes, holding one broken arm close to his body… trying to hide the fact that it’s broken. He bends his tail, trying to hide the second fact that a deep spear wound is bleeding slowly but steadily from the middle of it.
“Leave,” Eros snarls quietly, through his gritted teeth. He waits for me to run but I stand my ground, “Leave me –!”
“Shut up!” I snarl over the top of him, “You’ll not use my words against me.”
Eros half smirks before the pain is too much, and he grimaces and leans back, his hair willowing out, his ocean blue eyes staring at the dawning sky. He chuckles, half-heartedly and in his rough way.
“You’re a horrible mate and a monster,” I speak, I do not yell, I don’t need to, “But you’re going to bleed to death and fate brought me here to fix you one last time.”
“Did it?” Eros flips up his tail and cringes in his attempt to show me strength, and more blood just pumps out.
“Stop moving!” I stamp my foot and fling off my robe, grabbing his tail and wrapping the cloth around the wound, “I’ll wrap this gash and you’ll be swimming by night fall. Fucking your Sirens by the moon. And slashing heads off necks for dinner. The only thing you need me for right now, is a patch job. The last one you’ll ever get off me, you soulless, ungrateful eel…” I look up and Eros is shaking, physically jerking, growing whiter by the second.
He’s heart is failing.
Oh, no, oh, no, oh no!
I lunge over his tail, my own heart getting the better of me. My intense panic rips all my hatred out of my bones and nothing is left but my need to save a life. I fall in the bloody pool and grab his head in both my hands, yanking him into the curve of my neck.
“Drink!” I scream at him, “Quickly!”
Nothing happens, for a second… and my panic causes my pulse to beat loud… tempting him… come on… come on…
“…n..o…,” the weakest response ever is growled past Eros’ lips.
“Drink!” I scream it twice and Eros’ still lips caress my neck, even while he’s body goes into shock.
“…forgive me first…” he forces out the whisper, somehow it’s both manipulative and seductive, even as the bastard is dying, “…Li-ly…”
“You’re insane! Don’t make me… oh… shit,” I hold his head tight to my neck, urging him to drink before he made me say it. I hold my tongue, Eros’ skin grows colder by the second… this bastard… this stubborn shark, stupid eel! If I waited any longer it’d be too late, “…I forgive you! Drink!” I hiss it, closing my eyes, holding my forehead down to his shoulder.
Eros’ weakly opens his jaw and sinks his fangs into my neck.
He had no will to excrete any happy hormones for me. I whimper with the sharp pain, crying from the thickness ripping past my flesh, digging into my blood supply.
I can’t help but cry as he drinks. I’m confused, in a combination of relief and every other emotion, tearing me one way and then another.
Forgiveness. He didn’t deserve it. But he asked for it. Which was a wayward apology. Almost.
Every breath I take shakes horribly, and eventually Eros drinks a bit deeper and a bit faster. I wince the most at this last part, feeling a strong exhale from his nose as he’s organs start pumping again.
I feel a little faint, the first hint he needed to stop and Eros instantly pulls out, licking my wound shut. He doesn’t pull up straight away.
I wait, feeling his lips stay on my neck, as one working, strong arm wraps around my waist very slowly and he pulls me into his torso. Eros shifts, slightly, pulls my naked body down deeper into the water… he tries to stay conscious, but his head leans up, only to loll to the side before it flops back… he passes out then, but his sharp nails dig into my hip, his arm still tensed and tight around me.
Don’t go. He didn’t want me to go.
I hold him for a minute, waiting until I feel his heart beat through his chest, thumping steady and just fine. I listen to his lungs open and close through my ear. Everything sounds fine.
I slowly pry off him, his nails scrapping through my skin, every move I take hurts my heart.
“I’m sorry… Eros… ” I whisper, knowing he can’t hear me while he’s sleeping. I move his arm from my hip and I sit on the edge of the pool, “I can’t stay…” I gulp, “…I can’t be walked over anymore… I have to find out who I am… I have to go… you’ll be safe… you’ll… be fine…” I choke up on a rising sob as I stand against that kind part of my soul.
That sweetest part.
I wanted to hold him until he woke up.
I wanted to stay.
But if I did, he’d wake up and he’d have no respect for me. He’d never respect me. He’d abuse the fact I caved in.
So, I had no choice but to go. I had to keep my sanity, build my strength and learn who I was. Until then, I wouldn’t know how to handle someone like him.
Eros would be the end of me. I had to save myself before I tried to face a challenge like that. I wasn’t ready.