24] A Rouge Queen
24] A Rouge Queen
1 week later
The water at the inland island river was dark and curling in and out in special rivulets. It was magic untamed and reckless, something I experienced when I first had the Rough powers flow through me. It wasn’t totally uncommon for the Water’s Will to gift Mermaids and Merka with unique powers. It depended on the blood, the destiny and the need for species to survive.
I was gifted with power over the Rough, I was therefore the strongest Erebos and the one to save my species. Only 18 of us remained after Lily killed Irsa and the battle picked off our youngest male Erebos… but I blamed myself for both those deaths. In a sick way, I was proud of Lily for showing her jealousy 1 week ago.
I look past the river, through the dense jungle and I spot the pool where my mate is standing by the green water shallows, speaking to a Merka. I was planning to trap Lily in the river currents when she swam out. There was a rocky outcrop near by, an inner cave network, abandoned. It was where the ancient Erebos used to reside on Belle Island. Within island inland caves, with the bats, the leeches and the Belle pythons. When we upgraded from cavern to castle, it was to appear civilized.
Lily didn’t understand.
I was not a social animal, I feasted on my kind. Stalking, hunting and planning attacks was a part of my blood. Executing a life, forcing blood from another’s veins was like breathing. I didn’t care what my food source thought, I had to survive. I would take what I needed.
It was complicated, that one of my main food supplies was now also my mate, and her blood was sweeter than any other. And now, not only was she Lily the half-wit, she was Lily the sweetest half-wit who could control the Rough with the same ferocity as I.
I, the King of an infamous Ezili Clan. The only Erebos in the world who lived in a Clan, the rest in the sea were loners.
Lily was meeting with an old man called Aegir, the temporary, self-proclaimed king of Belle Island, with his red haired son, also called Aegir. Lily, being less of a half-wit today, was speaking to the two Merka with her back up. Six other Darvs stood with her, showing a united front. For whatever reason, Lily had gained respect from the Clans by wearing the Orca teeth necklace and she was becoming a political power head.
I knew all this because I had been spying on her from afar for most of the week. I had sent my own entire Clan away to heal and thrive in all directions of the Deep, until I needed them to unite again, I would invite them back to land.
All I had were my castle, my angry estranged mate and limited knowledge of her change. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t know what that Orca necklace meant. I had no historical facts to pull from, only young years of being raised by parents I could barely remember. All I had from my upbringing, was two swords that killed my father, my mother and the majority of my Clan.
Those swords were my truth. Lily was just as lost as I in that sense, she was orphaned, given up. In my own terms, my parents were ripped away. Therefore, we were both lost and working out the currents as we swam towards out legacies.
I had to shoulder the responsibility of Ezili, with no knowledge, and this powerful half-wit who was avoiding me with a smile on her face.
I kindly taught her how to swim. She kindly fucked off.
Admittedly, I had been pushed to do the unthinkable. Fucking Irsa, or pretending too, on that rock, was a show of needless dominance. Lily was so easy to torture, that was my problem.
She was too easy, but I didn’t want her any other way. I was the one that had to learn self-control. Torturing my mate was reckless and now she was withdrawn.
I felt more her enemy, than her ally.
I didn’t know if I was more angry at her, or myself. I hated both of us right now.
I wanted to apologise, but I never would.
However, now I had to trap the wayward half-wit because of what the Rough showed me in the river bank. The dark and curling rivulets were based off rage, power unbalanced and dangerous in Lily right now. Whatever the two Aegirs were saying to her made her power start surging.
If anything, I needed to teach Lily how to control it, even if she thought she could out swim me – which she couldn’t – she needed another lesson.
She needed me.
First, I taught her how to swim again. Now, my estranged Queen needed to learn how to control the Rough. I was the only one who could teach her.
Lily would have no choice but to welcome me back.
No more games. Just plain, simple, truth. She needed my help. She needed me.
“So, Lily, you’ll agree to the Clan meet? In the village. No Erebos allowed,” The King Aegir was rallying the Clans to a full alliance for any future war. All the Clan’s plans were post boned, however, with the discovery of my Orca necklace, that both father and son Aegir, were eyeing with both awe and fear.
“The seven of us will meet you on our terms, where we choose. The Ruins,” I begin to negotiate.
“Impossible, the Erebos will have a chance to pick us off,” Aegir slices his hand through the air.
“I’ll guarantee your protection with the currents under my control,” I open up my hand, palm facing my Darvs behind me. I could feel them wanting to speak, but I warned them not to. We had to appear unified, no discord, “You will come to my territory if you want to speak of alliances.”
“You sound awfully confident about your situation… do the Erebos have an alliance with you already, Lily? You have the look of a traitor in your eyes,” younger Aegir states this carefully.
“Watch your mouth,” Halina snarls from behind me.
“The Erebos are our neighbours, nothing more,” I cut in, shrugging a shoulder, “Is there a problem with that?”
“Neighbours? So, you think you can be a neutral part of the Island? We’ll see about that, Lily,” the father looks to his son, and Aegir watches all of us with both fear and confusion. We were all friends once, but no more, “Do you have anything to impart? Any wisdom for the young Darvs, son?”
Younger Aegir steps forward, holding a wooden spear that he leans into the ground and holds with both palms, steadying himself as he looks me in the eyes.
“I know your mother, Lily,” Aegir starts, “She’ll do well to be sacrificed for protection should you cause any of our Clans any violent trouble in the mean time,” Aegir is straight to the point and the girls stop breathing behind me.
I hope it’s a bluff, but now I had to bluff in return.
“You’d kill someone I’ve never met? You think I care?” I have to force every word out, force my eyes cold, my mouth still. It surges the power inside me off balance.
A tug of a thread and I could wash them both in and drown them under the rocks.
But, unlike Eros, I couldn’t kill everyone I had a feud with.
“1 week,” the temporary King growls and turns to head off, while younger Aegir doesn’t blink while staring me down, “In a few days we’ll discuss where we meet.”
“The Ruins,” I state again, “Or not at all.”
Both Merka turn and stalk off, backs straight, strides imposing but forced.
When they’re in the cover of the trees and out of sight, I haven’t moved.
“…Lily? Are you okay?” Vanora whispers.
“It was a lie, about your mother, clearly,” Roanne adds.
“Let’s go,” I leave it at that and turn, walking past them into the pool. I shift and the Darvs follow.
We start to swim in Rough water, that I try to calm as I go, but it doesn’t quit raging.
I’m then so focused on trying to calm the currents, that I lose focus on staring inward, rather than ahead.
A loud splash and bubbles appear right in front of me around two long legs, that shift and form into one long and thick Erebos tail. It swipes left and right to block me and I rise to the surface.
Simultaneously, all seven of us lift our heads out of the water to face the threat stopping us from progressing down the river to the ocean.
There is just one enemy – Eros.
I watch him casually munch on a fish he’s caught, ripping the head off and spitting it out after gathering a few drops of blood.
“Lily,” Eros tilts his head, “What a surprise.”
“Go on foot,” I speak to the rest of the Darvs, “I’ll deal with this eel.”
Eros slowly floats down, until his eyes are just above the water line as he watches the six girls scramble out of the water and run off at my command.
Eros looks unaggressive, which calms me to a certain point.
I hadn’t seen Eros for 7 days, but I felt him around, my instincts suggesting he was close and always watching. Since I was expecting him to approach me soon, I had already prepared the girls to leave and put as much distance between Eros and I once it came to that.
I guess this was our next meet, but this time I wasn’t going to be so sweet.
“What do you want?” I ask, as neutral as possible. Eros doesn’t rise above the water but I see his ocean blue eyes next to the water, which contrast against the river, focusing on my mouth, “We’re not going to play games anymore, Eros, move out of my way. I’m busy.”
But then something else happens.
The Rough around me, despite my own energies causing the water to surge – are pulled out flat. Entirely flat in a second. The water around us goes so still, there isn’t a single ripple. I feel my own power being forced to halt, and I feel uncomfortable and strange, like we’re in a battle I didn’t ask for.
Eros raises his head out of the water. He raises a brow, and says nothing.
“Are you mocking me?” I ask, noting his smug and calm expression, “Challenging me and my control over the water? Really?”
Eros slowly smirks and I pull so hard on my own power, I don’t realise he’s released his own grasp.
A wave surges over the top of me, splattering my hair all over my cheeks and my eyes so it’s in a tangled mess over my face.
Eros breaks the wave so it misses him, but he watches me with my hair now all over my face. He’s made me look like a novice in the water. I hate him.
“Calm the water and I’ll leave,” Eros murmurs.
I push the hair out of my face and Eros is trying not to laugh.
“You think this is funny?” I want to yell and cry, so many emotions are tearing through me. Why was he here? To play a pre-school game of I can and you can’t? To make me feel inadequate and naïve? Fine. But I couldn’t let him prove a point.
I needed to triumph over something.
I hold my hand out above the water, and I yell to Eros, “You think I can’t do it? Just watch me!”