The Mermaid That's Sweetest

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5] A Prophetic Alliance

5] A Prophetic Alliance

1 week later

Halina had fully recovered when I made the antidote with the Erebos’ scale. While the Darvs discussed the handsome Erebos that nearly killed Halina all week, Aegir and the other Merka’s on patrol were always at sea, every day hunting for any more.

I would spend the days in the hospital, the nights listening to the rapid gossip about Halina’s bravery and her strength. Always keen for a good gossip, I was unusually quiet and the Darvs had noticed. I avoided their questions and eventually they all just assumed I was jealous of Halina’s encounter with an Erebos and her miraculous survival. But, how was I supposed to tell them that I had also survived the same Merka? Every part of me urged my mouth shut, to keep it a secret.

I was glad to be distracted later that week by a Deep Reflection Council which had been called in the Overseer’s Cove. A makeshift hut on the east edge of the village, with no windows and a smokey fire from within, burning shells and rocks. An Overseer from each Clan; Crest, Pavati, Pelagic and Firth – came here to discuss visions.

The Darvs had been called into the Overseer’s Cove and the ten of us were lined up in a row, with the fire separating the muttering Overseers.

“A Deep Reflection Council has been called to help you all stray away from darkness and all things evil,” one woman smiles, from the Crest Clan, Signet was always kind. That’s how this always started – because Darvs were strongly believed to attract bad omens.

We needed to be cleansed carefully once a month.

“Close your eyes while you undress, you’ll all bathe blind and anyone who opens their eyes will be cursed – anyone who has the strength to remain obedient will remain pure for another month,” the Clan Overseer from Firth, Darneek, was snappy and always angry.

The rest murmur agreements.

So, a blind cleansing. It changed every month, but this was the one us Darvs hated the most.

It was so barbaric. It was much nicer to eat an aged oyster, or sing a song in perfect harmony – than be watched naked and bathed like a babe.

We all hated it.

I hear the other girls groan in annoyance as they start taking off their shifts.

“Don’t open your eyes,” Darneek snarls and the girls shut their lips.

Each girl is bathed one by one, while I stand second from the end and I await my turn while imagining him.

I had been daydreaming a lot all week, I admit. All kinds of scenarios. I imagined him coming back and asking me if I went for a swim. I imagined finding him wounded again, in the same rock pools, but this time I helped bandage him and he smiled and was actually grateful and kind. My final fantasy was a little bit darker, and only for the adventure… I would imagine him pulling me from my bed at night, whispering that I had to follow him. Whispering words about how he’d protect me and take me away because I was his mate. Sometimes I imagined that tank he threatened me with, no doubt to scare me off from coming near another Erebos. A dark favour, I assumed. But the kindness from a shark, a formidable figure that everyone was terrified of… was my little secret. My little adventure. It wasn’t much and it was just my mind. It was harmless thoughts. I was glad not to see him again. I was glad to leave our encounters at twice. Besides, there was no other reason that would change to thrice, simply because –

“Lily,” Signet calls me forward, interrupting my thoughts. I take a tentative blind step forward, walking around the fire with my memory of doing this many times before. I head to the bathing area at the back. A little rock pool full of dirty water and bugs. The kind that’ll test you to open your eyes.

“I’m here,” I murmur obediently as I reach out a toe and Signet grabs my elbow, guiding me closer to the water.

“Something is not right,” Jarv from the Pavati Clan calls out.

“My goodness, what is that smell?” Korout from the Pelagic Clan agrees something is awfully wrong.

I test myself by keeping my eyes shut.

“I can sense nothing wrong with Lily,” I hear the over sensitised and forced positivity from kind Signet.

“She reeks of… arousal…” Darkneek snarls, “Arousal for the sharks of the sea. She’s tainted by their magic. A deluded mind.”

“Lily has been acting off all week!” I hear Halina call out.

I try not to gasp, instead I grit my teeth.

She just threw me in the flames! What in the world?

“You’ve been spelled, oh dear,” Signet whispered, “Oh, dear, oh, dear…”

“I feel fine,” I admit.

“…this is the threshold we all envisioned…” Darneek whispers this to the other Overseers and insists to the Darvs, “Girls. Out!”

I hear the Darvs sigh and run out of the Overseer’s Cove.

I open my eyes and I see each Overseer in front of me, staring carefully at my face, sniffing me.

“Oh, dear,” Signet looks sympathetic, “What have you done, have you mated with an Erebos?”

“Mated?” I ask.

“You’ve spread your legs,” Darneek hisses, “Have you opened yourself to an Erebos’ sick delights?”

“No!” I answer truthfully.

“This is a terrible omen,” Jarv looks at Korout, who looks at Signet… and then they all glance at Darneek.

They were all old and had wispy grey hair, they were always bickering or animated when something dramatic was unfolding. Clearly, I had made their day.

“There is only one way to fix what you have done,” Darneek grabs my elbow, leaning in closely, scrutinising my confused expression, she spits out, “You little Erebos whore, you’ve cursed every Clan and you must be tested. 24 hours at sea, tied and at the mercy of the Rough and its inhabitants. Perhaps the Erebos that was between your legs will come feast on you a second time – and not in the way you wish… look at her eyes… she’s guilty of secrets. Lily must be put out, if she returns, she will be innocent. If she is never seen again, it will be her own wrong doing. She must be punished for her flimsy whims. This is the definition of disgusting and cursed behaviour –”

“I didn’t sleep with him!” I yell it at all of them, furious, “I haven’t slept with, with h…” him.

I already said him.

Shit.

Each Overseer takes a step back, but I am not unhanded.

“You foolish little slut,” Darneek growls, she forces me to turn and grabs a bunch of my long unbound darkest green hair.

She forces my face into the smoke of the fire and she pulls so hard on my strands, it feels like she’s ripping out chunks.

As I panic and my adrenaline spikes, my breathing also increases and I suck in the smoke. I cough and wheeze. I try to struggle, to protest Darneek’s wrongful judgement, but I can’t get out. I’m doomed when I feel other hands join in and grab my neck, squeezing… squeezing my neck… it’d be bruised when I woke up.

I cough and choke as I lose consciousness with the strangest final thought.

That my neck was safer in his hands.

That I was safer with him.

Safer than on this bloody Island!

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