[Part2] ⤀ 14] The Sentinel First
[Part2] ⤀ 14] The Sentinel First
“A medic! A doctor! A healer! Anybody with an ear!” Blade hisses through his teeth, spit flying with his rage which is fuelled by his airy throat, so that it travels to all the Coral Mermaid and Merka in the Village centre, “My mate is dying!” Blade holds me to his chest, and has covered my face with his hand, to pretend to shield me from the morning sun, all the while, he caresses my lips with his thumb – slyly. He leaves his saltiness there for me to taste, while I don’t, I do feel my tongue tense to stay still.
“Who are you?” a deep masculine drawl intercepts us, while Blade chuckles under his breath.
“I require an audience with an authority, of course,” Blade could let go of the sarcasm but of course he does not.
“I am an authority of this Clan Village, Anka is my name, tell me what has happened and tell me who you are and who she is… you are brave or stupid coming here when Erebos are not so welcome right now –”
“I beg for your mercy, dear,” Blade insults the warrior Anka by endearing him so pitifully, and then he distracts from the insult by slowly lowering to his knees, cradling me even closer and leaning down to take his hand from my face, kissing my forehead, my cheek and my lips, lightly, “Sweetest Lily,” Blade’s green eyes blink slow, gazing into my small glare, amused as he prompts me, “…show everyone you can use that tongue, sing for me…”
“Lily,” Anka almost forgets to breathe as he pauses, “Lily the Bloodslut?”
I turn my head from Blade’s to look up at Anka, a tall robust Mermaid with stark yellow hair, “Take me to my mother, before I die, I have a message to share,” I whisper it.
“Kai, Bayou! Come here!” Anka calls out, while a small crowd of Corals start to form, and I can hear the muttered insults and the flying spit landing in the cobble stones, far too close for my liking.
I take in all their faces to remember each party to abuse. Older Mermaids, some younger Merka… and one keen eye takes in… Halina.
She stares at me from the back of the crowd, with wide eyes, looking guilty, but also showing clear confusion.
I stare at her a little too long, wishing to smile sadistically for what I had planned for the Darvs once I completed my journey to becoming an authority myself.
“We’re at your disposal,” two younger Merka appear with Anka.
“Escort them both, watch them closely, though they claim injury – I do not know for certain who this strange Erebos is, out in the broad daylight; we’re going to the Crown immediately. Don’t let this animal out of our sight.”
“Yes, Anka,” the two twins, Kai and Bayou, stand either side of us as we walk to the Crown.
Strangely, a place I had never been before.
I guess everything in my life was changing now; and I wanted that to be for the better.
I was finding my core identity, and establishing it today.
The Crown is a semi ancient cave, above ground, made of sand stone, surrounded by loose sand – and set in an open area by an inland beach.
The Crown was a temple. The cave itself was short and had an open end, the throne was a bench of driftwood in the middle of the cave entrance, where Fantasia sits covered in transparent pearls – Aegir kneels at her feet, a chain around his neck.
It wasn’t the safest place to kill a Queen. The Corals were training an army here, men and women, all fighting in the connecting shallows of a clear blue estuary. This place was once owned by the Firth Clan, who protected the Crown – this sacred cave.
Blade stands with me in front of Fantasia, at least thirty feet down from her but at least we’re here.
And, I have a voice.
“Kneel,” Fantasia murmurs softly… unconvinced with what is happening.
I finally pull out of Blade’s arms, and upon my feet, I turn to kiss him, but at the last moment I find myself hugging him instead, my cheek next to his. Yeah, I chickened out, b-but kissing another male Erebos wasn’t exactly a worry for me right now.
“Sweetling,” Blade chuckles lightly in my ear, highly amused by my frightfulness with him, even while acting, and I pull back. A blush is not what I needed right now in front of eyes and witnesses.
“Thank you. Blade – I love you so much,” I say it loudly, gulping as I turn and stalk up to my mother.
Anka tries to intercept me but I drop to my knees at the last moment, before he grabs me.
I hold my knees and I dig my toes into the sand, preparing my speech.
Fantasia looks on, in quiet confusion.
“I have been deceived,” I start off on a choking breath.
“I told you, you were welcome here,” Fantasia is mistaken, she thinks I speak of her, “I gave you an offer to remain as a protected hostage, while we sought justice – running has made your situation all the worse for you, Lily,” Fantasia sounds truly empathetic, and worried for me, but I’m sure it’s a lie, she is interested in her crown of jewels and that is all.
“I was deceived by a monster, Eros was that monster, mother… I’ve come to the conclusion, that he was never my mate,” I gasp it out, mostly fighting the lie. I would start my true identity on a falsehood – but first I needed protecting. Real protection. A real home. How else would I grow?
“That is I! You are welcome,” Blade speaks from behind me, solemnly, “Your highness. May I add. Your beauty is likened to Lily – the natural grace you hold in your slender frame, I see where she received her goddess-like beauty – poison to any Male eyes.”
“Oh, please,” Fantasia holds up a hand, rolling her eyes, “I do not need to hear an Erebos’ attempt at flattery. It is all self-inclined, I have lived you know, young one.”
“Blade is my mate, mother,” I speak quietly upon my knees, “I dreamt of him. I was mistaken when I thought it was Eros, they look so alike in some ways,” which was untrue, but anything to make my story sound good in the moment. I glance up. Fantasia blinks. I quickly beg, “Believe me, please, I only ask for you to understand the severity of what’s happened to me. The lies surrounding me. My whole life since –”
“I see. You want to be free of your stigma… claiming coercion… by the King of Ezili…” Fantasia speaks quietly, almost, almost as if she’s helping me, “I will hear more of this.”
“Look at her face, look at her eyes,” Aegir speaks up, in a dribble as he glares at me, looking malnourished, “She lies. She has your face when you lie –” he doesn’t seem himself.
It is almost bothersome to me, but what did I care of their relationship? If it was a relationship. I wasn’t so sure. More like Mistress and Slave.
Fantasia tightens the leash until Aegir chokes and then remains quiet.
She shakes her head as she looks at me, ignoring him.
“My Queen?” Anka prompts her, “The Island’s retribution –”
“We have no use for Lily to be imprisoned unless Eros does love her, despite a coerced mating,” Fantasia adds her own twist to the story, “Except now she will wish for revenge – won’t she? Don’t you, Lily? Eros deserves death.”
I didn’t think of this part.
However, I nod for this beginning to start, “Yes, my Queen. You are correct in your assumptions.”
“You will need training – and Blade is forbidden from our land, a mate? I don’t care – you can play with his fins in the sea, but not on my Island,” Fantasia is final about this.
“I am a sensible Erebos,” Blade whispers out, and I turn to see him wink at Fantasia, “I would never do anything to offend my mate’s mother.”
“Escort him off the Island, please,” Fantasia nods to Anka, “Lily, you will walk with me.”
“What about the charges against her?” Anka questions.
“I thank you,” and I also rise to my feet, “What do you wish to speak to me about?” I ask her, in a polite, quiet tone, “Is it important?”
“We’ll speak in private, come with me,” Fantasia hands her leash and Aegir to another guard, and she curls her fingers at me, “Come on, daughter.”
I nod respectfully but look behind at Blade as he saunters off, making jokes to the guards.
I narrow my eyes.
I know that kind of silliness and strange pose – he’d rip their heads off if he got the chance. I am certain one of them will be dead before they get to the sea, but I try not to think of Blade’s recklessness for passion.
I follow Fantasia, and I follow three steps behind.
She walks quickly through the sand of the massive estuary and takes me to a little slice of paradise, a pruned garden in the shade of many tall palm trees.
We sit down across from each other in soft white sand, Fantasia is a mirror image of me, kneeling, her arms scarred from old battle wounds.
She watches me solemnly, with a knowing look in her eye, “I had to send the Island after you, whether you were innocent or guilty for colluding with Eros… I needed to break you in. You most of all. You were just like me in some ways. On the verge of more – but you won’t get there unless you are forced into survival. I see I’ve achieved what I wanted. Your eyes shine brighter now. Do you know what you have to do?”
“Fight,” I whisper the word, but I say it strong, regardless.
“You were orphaned after all,” Fantasia’s eyes almost water, but she continues, “…then your sisters grew jealous of your beauty, and eventually your power… you were betrayed… and then you were imprisoned… and then you were betrayed again… and all the while, you didn’t even know who you were… your sisters told me your story in detail,” Fantasia shakes her head, having pity, “You must know. Power over the Rough is unrivalled in magic. You are formidable. You could drown the island. You can kill Clans or build Clans. You can conquer too… but you must learn how to defend, first.”
“Why are you saying this to me now –?” I ask, genuinely worried Fantasia is about to let a surprise out of the empty shell which I thought represented my entire life.
Pointless. Useless. What purpose? I just existed. That’s all, and that’s all I ever really believed about who I was, until recently...
“You don’t know. The Island is the only place in the world, where Mermaids can breed successfully,” Fantasia gulps with the severity of this, “With the way things are going, we’ll be wiped out in a hundred years. Too many people know of us now. We’ll be located on the world map soon… when before we were secret through the secret negotiations; but that’s all over now. My Power over the Rough has also weakened over time – but I know it rages strong in a younger heart. You have your purpose, but a warning, it is not so lovely and sweet.”
“What is it?” I am desperate for it. I need to know it.
“We need to disappear off the maps, but we can’t leave – so I’ve set patrols to sink wandering ships. We’re spreading stories of a Bermuda Curse – our location shall be known as cursed. Once one ship becomes many – we’ll need you and your power. The Sentinel. That is your place. You’ll be in charge of killing anyone that comes here that isn’t welcome or known. We’ll be cursing the Island from mortals. It’ll involve a lot of murder, a lot of blood, to save our own species. I don’t care if the ships are innocent fishermen who need to feed hungry mouths on land, it’s all or nothing now to save all of us.”
“What about Erebos? What are the rules around them?” I ask, for a friend.
“Forbidden in groups or pairs, but they are allowed alone to transit, or feed… but we don’t speak of that part; I will not totally abandon them, I need to know what they’re up to,” Fantasia’s murmur trails off, “…where did you find this Blade?”
“He’s a pirate, my sisters know of him,” I do not smile.
“You hate them, don’t you?” Fantasia asks me, seemingly understanding me, which confuses me.
“Yes,” I answer honestly, even though I don’t have to.
“Sentinels are hated – they work alone,” Fantasia raises her hand and lets the sand float through her fingers, “I was a Sentinel. Do you know how to kill without flinching? Have the Orca showed you how to play with your food?”
“…no,” I murmur.
“Then you have a lot to learn as my eldest of the septuplets,” Fantasia watches me, without blinking, seemingly reading my mind, “Don’t kill me yet, Lily. You’d be murdered by an angry mob, in a coup, if you tried to reign this Island. You need to learn charisma.”
“I am sweet –”
“A Siren’s trait, you need more than sweetness, you need an iron hand – but a gentle smile,” Fantasia smirks, “I’ll make you a Princess yet. I love you, Lily, I’m proud of you. For surviving all these tests. You’re still alive.” She rises to her feet and walks off, “Rest now, daughter, you’ll be in training from dawn till dusk from tomorrow, every day, until you’re well on your way…” my mother sing songs – a beautiful tune to herself as she leaves me to wallow alone.
Fantasia has enlightened me and given me hope, when I thought by now I’d have ripped her fucking head off.
I guess all was fair in love and war.
I had been through so much uncertainty, tethered so long to Eros and our failing future. We were mates, but he was so selfish.
Now, it was my turn to learn a little confidence, and apparently I had a mother who did care all along – just very oddly, in her own way.
My lips curl, amused… perhaps… perhaps I was odd too… with odd quirks I didn’t even know I had. Unique, strange traits... my own identifying marks.
I still had a lot to find out about myself, and for once, I felt free to explore.
Even if I was technically indebted to Blade… just a little bit more than I’d like to be.
Because… argh… he didn’t exactly get the gold I promised him. So, great, I knew he’d be wanting some kind of payment.
I sigh – I needed to sort this out; soon.