37] A War to an End
37] A War to an End
1 week later
I stand on soft sand, watching the Rough bearing down on the Island… bringing in the war ships quicker. Vonky, Aegir’s mother was loose and raging through the Ezili Castle. The Darvs were freed this morning, pat on the bums and told to swim south.
They swam. I stayed.
Eros was gone last night and he told me nothing. Probably because I refused to have sex with him all week. All we did was argue over everything. Our loving moments were naught. I noticed his appetite to torture my mind was lacking the last 7 days. Eros was pre-occupied in his own brain.
Now, a war had arrived and he was gone.
The Darvs were gone.
The Sirens were gone.
The Generals and the Merka Erebos?
Gone. Except for Bellus.
He remained in the castle watching me from the window as I stood in the bay, looking out at all the shapes moving closer to Main Beach which led direct to the Clan Village.
The Ezili Clan appeared to have abandoned the Island… and I was more certain than ever that the plan was to watch the Island burn.
Just a few days ago, the treasure was negotiated. To a select location I was not savvy of. In return for Ezili’s departure – today. It was all going in Eros’ favour.
I’m sure, Eros may even be collecting the treasure right now. But I was terrified he might even be helping the ships arrive more quickly. I could tell from the swells that was already happening. Not only that, but Fantasia was let out too. I wonder if she’ll succeed in stopping the war.
All that was left was Vonky, Bellus and I.
And a war on the horizon as the sky turned black.
I remember my mate’s words the day he ended the Darv practice by killing all those mortals… 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…
Rough words off a commonly rough Erebos tongue.
Now, those statements held more weight. I feel my hands tremble as I watch every second, bringing more ships to the Island.
I didn’t know what to think.
I hear sand crunch behind me and I turn to see the shell eyes of Bellus, shining like burning silver in the dark, only reflected by the moon.
“You came down to watch from the bay too?” I ask, numb.
“You need to come back to the castle,” Bellus crosses his arms over his chest and won’t look me in the eye. I turn to him properly, waiting for Bellus to speak about the plan. Any hint. Any clue. My gaze turns to a desperate pleading glare, until he finally meets my eyes.
“I want to stay on the shore,” I state.
“The castle. Or swim south, those are your two options,” Bellus reasons, “Every other direction is death.”
Then, Bellus stalks past me… I turn to watch him wade, into the shallows… then deeper still.
“Where are you going?” I ask.
I shut my lips and I watch Bellus dunk under the waves and disappear.
What in the Deep?
“Girly!” I hear a screech of panic, “Lily!” Vonky, Aegir’s mother, is half way down the cliff stairs, begging for my attention, “Come quickly! They’re coming!” I turn in the sand and run to her, “Hurry!”
This was the last option. After my attempt to regain the Ezili Castle on the island, with a powerful, respected position… Aegir’s words… from father and son, including the general disrespect shown from his party when conjoined to meet with our treaty talks… had sealed their short fate.
If I could not calm their sour souls; no mercy would be shown. It could have been a scare tactic. All this. But now, this war, was going to end the Coral Clans and start a new era of Mermaid Lore.
The men behind me follow close, a few of the crew staying behind to defend my ship.
“Where to?” one man asks me, excited for the blood of supernatural creatures.
“This way, to a black castle hidden on clifftops,” I turn, my smile wide, “I hear a princess lives there. I shall claim her for myself.”
“What if she has fled?”
“A Princess Mermaid won’t flea, she’ll stay to defend. Half-witted creatures are simple minded… now, remember what I told you all. I will proceed. Understood? Now… stay close and keep your guard up.”
I had been gone over a year in the Deep. My crew missed me, assuming I was in business on the main land from the Topaz Isle.
Now they were excited to watch me lead them to yet more treasure.
I never thought I’d go back to that life if my reclamation of the Island was secure. However… that reality was over. The only thing that remained was total change through retribution; and I would do it with Coral blood and Coral tears. Today was also the anniversary of my parent’s death. A rather strange coincidence.
Which made all this; all the more perfect.
“Can you see the Village burning?” Vonky paces a window of the Ezili Castle on the second floor, “Can you see their violence? We’re only safe until we’re found.”
“I just hope Eros knows what he’s doing,” I mumble, pulling on my red dress and fiddling with the ribbon at the waist, “Knowing how reckless he is –”
“You’re worried about an Erebos?…lost child… Erebos care naught for anything but themselves,” Vonky stares at me like I’m insane, “Have you not worked that out yet? If you cross an Erebos. Let alone a King. You won’t live if they survive to wreck havoc. Eros is out for blood for what happened to his family.”
“Eros just wants the Island under his tail,” I snap, “He’s a bastard, damn straight, but he said for me to trust him. He has a plan.”
“That you do not know anything about?” Vonky scoffs, but her lips tremble in fear and she walks up to me, clasping up my hand, “You are deceived.”
“No,” I feel like I lie, when she looks at me so convinced.
“We’re all going to die tonight,” Vonky breaks down in tears and falls to her knees, “We’re all… we’re all going to… to be slaughtered… a bloody… wretched death… if they do not rape us first – they’ll sell our parts as creatures they do not understand… oh, we’re doomed to die painfully…”
“Stop, you’re being hysterical,” I snap and walk past her heaving form on the ground, looking out the window myself.
I spot more ships landing, from this far away, they’re mere specks.
But then… something else catches my eye.
I blink a couple of times and rub the palms of my hands into my eyes.
Then I focus my gaze.
Black shadows moving by the tree line?
A scouting party found the Ezili Castle already.
“We have to hide,” I whisper, turning and grabbing Vonky’s arm, I haul her up and she pulls from me.
“We stand a better chance separated,” she hobbles away into a different direction, her entire old form is shaking. Her panic settles in me next and I can’t stop my adrenaline from taking over.
I run through the rooms on top, looking for a suitable hideaway.
I find a fire place, I duck under to see if I can squeeze up the chimney… no… it’s too tiny.
I run to a closet or two. But no, they’re too obvious.
Under the bed? I’d be dead before I could beg for my life… no.
“Don’t hide,” I whisper to myself, “Don’t run.”
I lift my head and I close my eyes, sucking in a deep breath.
Wait by the front door, you’re a Queen of Ezili. Hold your head high and talk calmly. It’s only a small party. I could bargain. I could at least talk my way out of it. If I tried to hide and failed to escape their eye, I would be dead far quicker. I’d be an exciting catch.
Not so, if I faced them bravely.
I head down the stairs and I control my breathing until I feel a strange sense of calm override my senses while I face the front Castle doors.
Through the stained glass on either side, I see shadows moving in closer and I hear the voices of excited men.
It’s not long before the shadows stop moving.
A silence ensues for three seconds and then crash!
Both doors are slammed in and mortal men hurry through with swords raised.
I clasp my hands behind my back even tighter, a flurry of ten men enter and halt in the hall, frozen by my open stance.
They murmur and exclaim to each other. I raise my head as I see a far taller man walking into the door next and my heart thumps a bit quicker.
The familiarity is…
“Lord Edwin,” a mortal addresses the giant, “…you were correct, the princess… she must have wealth. Look at her dress.”
I start shaking when Eros raises his head, his hair tied back with a leather strap. A mortal uniform covering every limb. Brown, white, grey. So plain. But his eyes…
“She is the wealth,” Eros speaks with glory, “She even stands to greet her end to rule and royalty… with a quiet courage.”
Two words keep repeating inside my brain.
“Will the Princess Mermaid surrender willingly?” one of his men ask. Eros’ slowly rises an amused brow and faces me. His eyes ask for me.
A silence ensues.
“What do you -?” I ask, my voice calm, yet Eros cuts me off.
“Do not speak, strange creature. Simply bow to your Lord and we’ll chain you gently. You are now my property. My prize from Belle Island. My pet.”
My mate is clearly in hysterics. He’s consumed in an Erebos revenge plot. I don’t think Eros can even see me as Lily right now. He seems to view me as an obstacle.
Some of the men come forward with chains.
I want to run. Don’t run. I want to scream. Don’t scream.
I smile and I raise my wrists for them to chain gently.
And I say nothing.
Eros watches my defiance through my silence.
He wanted to hear me squeal. I wouldn’t let the sounds of my terror grace his ears.
I tremble as Eros’ temper cracks and he shoves men out of the way, grabbing my chin in front of his crew, “Lower your eyes, when I speak to you, sweet creature.” I do not.
“She is defying her captor, my Lord?” one man points out like a daft urchin.
“She is in need of training to submit to her superior,” Eros – no. Lord Edwin licks his lips and I spot one of his fangs, hiding, “I think you’ll find your accommodations at my property in Angleton quite pleasing… as long as you please me… princess–”
“Queen –” I snarl his correction.
“Queen? No longer. Creature. You are nothing now. Someone, gag her mouth shut. I will not hear her whine,” Eros unhands me, I watch from my position as if in slow motion, as he waltzes toward the doors, and a sing song can’t help but pass through his lips, “This victory is sweetest without mercy. What a glorious night for pure bloodshed.”
A/N: End of Part 1. Part 2 is up next, in this same book!