28] A Strategy of War
28] A Strategy of War
My dreaming is extremely violent. Yet I can’t see the images as I wake abruptly. It’s gone too quick to remember. All I know is it’s gut wrenchingly wrong. Whatever happened. It’s pure evil. But then I’m traversing, into the land of the conscious. I was rocking awake, floating in the soft waves of the Deep, my eyes focused on the sun burning and blistering my lips. I feel my tail slowly being dragged with a hand around the base of it. I look up.
Eros is dragging me deep into the middle of the ocean.
“Brutus!” he screams at the top of his lungs, “Brutus! Hey, buddy!” Eros unhands me and abruptly swims away, laughing so loudly he sounds like an overexcited child, with a rough jagged chuckle.
I slowly right myself into a vertical position and rub over my sore, foggy eyes. Every limb is hurting. I have no idea how I got out here but my neck, it hurts too. I reach up and I flinch with the pain. I’m dizzy, hungry, thirsty and very, very sore, all over. I feel like I’ve been to battle and back.
I look ahead and I can’t see Eros for a time, he’s out of sight underwater.
I remember, vaguely, how we had sex for the first time, but how it ended, how it went, and where it went… I don’t really remember. How I got out here, I had no idea.
I look down and I see claw marks on my arms. They hurt too.
When I look up, I see Eros playing around in the water with a… Great White Shark.
My instincts have me frozen. I watch, completely still, as my mate swims around it’s girth, slaps it’s fins and kisses it by the mouth. All the while, the shark thrashes as Eros keeps jerking teeth out of its mouth. The big fat shark swims around him, almost seemingly hunting him.
I’m not entirely sure they are playing.
But by the time they’re done, Eros has collected many teeth and uses his power over the Rough to guide Brutus dearest away.
Eros slowly turns and holds a handful of shark teeth in his palm. He looks up at me and smirks when he sees that I am now awake.
“…currency, Lily,” Eros slowly descends his chin into the water and swims towards me.
“I don’t know how I got here, or what I just watched,” I whisper, “Or why I’m injured. Or why you need shark teeth for money…”
Eros doesn’t explain right away. He swims right up into my front, wraps a free arm around my waist and hoists me up in front of him.
I’m so high above, I look down upon his face, his chin tilted up, his hair billowing backwards and his eyes eating me up.
“Sweetest…” Eros begins, “Today. You become a Queen.”
“I’m not sure I follow you,” I whisper, nervous by his passionate intent.
“I vowed I would not tell you the truth of what you were, until you submitted to me, and since you have….” Eros smirks at this, “It’s time for you to take back your fated revenge.”
“On whom? And wait, what the heck happened and why are we here… in the Deep? I can’t see any land,” I shake my head to show my confusion, grabbing his shoulders, “…and I feel so weak.”
“We fucked and an over supply of my venom mixed with a substantial amount of blood loss sent you into a mindless rage…” Eros is very quick to explain, “You went back to the Ruins and almost killed your best friends.”
“No,” I shake my head, “No. I didn’t. I would remember.”
“The one called Halina was clawing at you,” Eros nods to my arms, “Don’t worry, I pulled you away before you finished her off.”
“I… don’t remember any of this…”
“It is my fault, sweet half-wit… last night, I was the half-wit… your body and cries reduced me to a level of stupidity I’d rather forget…” Eros slowly lets me slide down his front, until we’re nose to nose, and I’m rather suspicious of his excitement, “…and now you’ll find out your truth…”
“What truth?” I ask, short and to the point.
“Why do no Darvs live in the Clans of Belle Island?” Eros asks me.
I think about it, and answer, “I don’t know if any do because I haven’t been allowed into the Clans…”
“The answer is none, Lily,” Eros shakes his head, “None survive. There is a reason my kind, pity yours…”
“…do I have Erebos blood in my veins?” I ask, confused, trying to guess what he means.
“Oh, no,” Eros murmurs rough and low, his face setting into a stoney cold expressionless mask, “Your fate is much, much worse.”
“I don’t… understand…”
“You shouldn’t, but you will now,” Eros slowly turns and scans the horizon, “Just in time.”
I follow his gaze and out far, I see a triangle white shape on the edge of the ocean. A sail?
“Mortals?” I ask.
“They stray not far from Belle Island,” Eros murmurs, deathly quietly, “…because they’re paid to stay a certain distance from it…”
I wait for Eros to explain more, but he seems to have gone silent. I reach for his hand in the water and I pull out one of the shark teeth from his grasp. I hold it up and assess it’s worth. Very, very sharp, very similar to his own fangs.
“What is this going to pay for?” I ask, gulping, “Why haven’t you healed my wounds?”
“You must look like an injured slave,” Eros explains, his eyes wide and full of emotions I can’t name as he glares back at me, “This is your fate. Or was. The mortals are very, very weak feeble things, but they come in strong numbers, on many ships. They also harbour strong weapons, harnessed by weak hands and weak minds. They stray from Belle Island in return for enslaved Mermaids. As payment. The corpses and some alive are sold for high prices, into research or black markets... the Coral Mermaids and Merka refused to give their own kind, so they tricked the mortals in their trade. The Mermaids secretly mate with mortals, have their babes… and they become Darvs… and when you are the right age, which would have been some time this year… you’re traded off in return for peace,” Eros growls low, “The clueless mortals have no idea that you’re only half a Mermaid. It’s a trick. It’s your purpose. Sacrifice.”
“You’re so very insane,” I shake my head, “That can’t be true, it’s just too crazy.”
“It is crazy, but it’s truth,” Eros snarls over the top of me, “This is a lesson, Lily. I’m giving you the answer on how to overthrow the two shitless Aegirs. They need the treaty with mortals to stand. So, you’re going to break it.”
“…how…?” I can barely ask the question.
“I’m boarding the ship with you, as your courier… I’ll be dropping you off to them as payment… then you and I will slaughter the whole crew, make a bloody mess and start a war with the mortals.”
“Doesn’t sound like a very good plan, Eros,” I hiss.
“Do you want the practice of creating Darvs for sacrifice to stop? You’ll start a war, Lily,” Eros nods, “You will.”
“I thought I would reunite Belle Island as your mate, not slaughter mortals I’ve never met based off a story you could have made up…” I complain, trying to fathom how to get out of this situation.
“You will not survive for long back on the island,” Eros shakes his head, “Your kind have the power to become Overseers, the Coral Clans don’t want your kind around, they will find a way to kill you when you aren’t prepared,” Eros hisses the last part with violent enthusiasm, “This is how it ends, Lily. The mortals will come to war on Belle Island. Your Darv friends will be safe in the Ruins. My castle is hidden from the sight of the sea. My Clan of Erebos will gather. When the mortal battle begins with the Coral Clans, we’ll agree at the last moment to help Aegir kill off the mortals. We’ll massacre them and become the Clan’s saving grace. We’ll end both wars. By starting one, we save each other and give a reason for the Coral Clans to be indebted to us.”
“This is too much information all at once. And is Halina okay after I attacked her…?” my thoughts are all over the place with all these bombshells at once.
“Do not fret about your friend,” Eros slowly leans in and bites my nose, shocking me out of my nerves. It’s so random, I jerk back and my thoughts focus on nothing but him. Eros is joyful from seeing the way I conform to silence due to his little shock tactic. Idiot. I just glare back.
“I will take over from here, you follow my lead…” Eros rumbles, barely keeping in a grin of triumph, “We slaughter. And then. We rule. Sacrifice. We will show the Clans what real sacrifice means. If you prefer to drown them from the water, you can jump back in and I’ll throw you a few… what do you say?” My automatic response would be ‘no’. However, I hesitate and Eros takes that as a clear yes, apparently, “Today you learn about war strategy, Lily.”
“Why can’t we just go back and have sex and pretend the mortal boat isn’t coming anywhere near us again?” I ask, hopelessly.
“Because my Clan will die at the hands of the four Coral Clans. Crest, Pavati, Pelagicand Firth are too strong. We scared them into retreat, but if they kept pushing, my Ezili Clan would have been wiped out. I convinced Aegir there were at least a hundred more of us ready to swarm out and finish him. He believed the lie. But it won’t save our next battle for territory. For justice of my parents… for the justice of your fate… not a slave… well, at least not to them,” Eros’ eyes hungrily scan over my body, while he bites his lip, “…and I promise as mine, you’ll always come first… even if you cry from a few mental or meagre physical wounds… you’ll sing my name… you’ll sing it proud… I am the fury the Belle Island has been dreading for two decades, sweet Lily. I’m the sword of retribution. I am. Their demise. Fuck. I’m horny,” Eros snarls the last part, “Shall we… no…” he’s trying to stop himself from pouncing on my ass. Kind of cute. Kind of.
“Just give me one good reason to kill a boat of mortals that won’t see it coming,” I consider my response carefully.
“…mortal pirates aren’t exactly men to care for, half-wit…” Eros keeps staring at my lips.
“If you want to kiss me –”
“I want to drown you on my cock, Lily,” Eros slowly smiles, “I want to fuck you apart. Tow you around on a piece of sea vine. Feed you off my seed… many, many meals for you to come, sweetest -”
“Okay, Okay. I get it, Eros, you’re horny, probably because you’re about to murder a bunch of people,” I laugh, trying to pass it off as a great situation to find humour in, when it clearly wasn’t.
Eros shakes his head and closes his eyes, as if stopping himself from going down the wrong path of sin today, “Enough. Talking. Now. I need you to scream, convincingly, half-wit, if you can manage it…” he opens his eyes and tries to look serious and less hungry for my tail.
“For… for what though?” I raise a brow.
“You’re weak, starved, and violently abused,” Eros explains, “Act like you’re about to get sold off to die.”
He says it like he’s talking about the tide, the weather, or commenting on the colour of a strange fish, or the shape of a cloud. Typical Eros.
“I’m not sure that’s safe… you’ll just end up horny as hell again if I start screaming, Eros…”
“You know me so well, do you now, sweet…?” Eros slowly swims around me, like a shark circling his prey, “Now scream convincingly before I give you a reason to do so.”
“Scream bloody murder… then commit bloody murder… to stop a war?” I ask, “You really are insane.”
“And it’s exactly why you’re going to listen to me, half-wit…” Eros snarls from behind me, “…because if you don’t…”
“You’ll throw me in the tank? Where you can’t get me?” I ask, smirking.
“Do as I say, half-wit… or my cock is going in your ass through your private fins without warning… you know I’ll do it… quite happily… no venom…” Eros swims in closer, licking my neck “…just pain.” I swim to the side and face him.
I just shake my head at him and stop following Eros’ direction, to simply turn to the looming ship, slowly getting bigger on the horizon.
If he was right, and it was a good possibility that he was telling the truth because it did add up… to some extent… oh, shit… I can’t believe I was about to do this.
“Drag me,” I gulp, “And I’ll scream. I’ll do what I can from the water. You go on the boat… I’ll… drown them if I have to… if they try to kill me first…”
Eros swims below me and grabs my tail, tugging me through the water.
I scream as I’m told to do so, and it’s all fun and games for a few minutes.
Until it’s not.
We get so close that I look up and forget to breathe as I see a ship for the very first time in my life.
But that’s not what’s stopped my lungs working.
Eros turns to me and hisses, while I’m stunned silent, “Don’t fret, Lily. I’ve avenged you. I’m training you for this strange reality of yours… wrap your feeble mind around it, half-wit, and remember my plan is still amazing…” Eros leans closer, to whisper devastatingly over my lips, “Erebos don’t play games in war, now trust in me.”
I pull sharply away while I feel a stabbing pain from my fins. I reach down, pulling out shark teeth he’s stabbed through my sensitive nerves. He’s causing a visible pool of blood, to make me look weaker. I rip out the teeth one by one, and the wounds are so shallow, but the damage means I can’t swim away, either.
Eros has already swum away to climb up the side of the ship.
I gasp in breaths of panic and pain as I glance back up to what made me halt screaming in the first place.
Tied upside down from chains, hanging between wooden posts in the middle of the ship, are alive and injured Darvs. Six of them.
My best friends.
Eros had played me from the start! He had to give me a reason to kill everyone on the ship.
He gave it to me.
To save them. I had to kill everyone else.
I’m so incredibly enraged, by the one who put all this into motion.
My anger, is beyond words.
I had to kill him for this. I had to kill the monster who’d hurt my friends to win a war. Bastard. Fucking bastard.
I shake with a surge of pure passion… the rest naturally follows.
The sea slants, waves rise and the currents start to bubble and foam across the surface of the ocean.
Everything turns Rough.
Eros is now on the ship.
And I’m ready to face this, fix this and end this.