“You will need to tell him, Saeesar. It will do him no good to learn you are Fomorii, a child of Domnu and not a child of Llyr,” a low voice said over me in the dark. I had been asleep on Saeesar, heading out to sea. Now, I found myself stationary.
“He has met very few of any of the Antumnos, Nuada. Are the politics necessary?” Saeesar quipped.
“Not politics, Saeesar. Not in this regard. He should know the separation between the children of the sea and the children of the river. A Kraken child mated to a Fomorii will suffer,” the low voice continued.
“I can live in the salt,” Saeesar protested.
“And it does you no good. It is stressful for your body. The white lines have grown since last I saw you.”
Bubbles, a swirling sound of water echoed in my skull. I was numb to my sensations, floating in a quiet abyss.
“I am getting older. Age happens,” Saeesar defended.
“You are still quite young, Bet-tah, for your kind. You have centuries before your colours should change as drastically as they have,” Nuada placated.
“What would you have me do, Council Leader?” Saeesar yielded. “Leviathan has already threatened Mate Claim in favour of using him to take your position. They are after a rebellion.”
“You haven’t claimed the Kraken Child as a mate. Everyone would know it,” Nuada bit.
“He was raised human. Antumnos customs intimidate him. I have given him a dowry, and he agreed to it,” Saeesar tried to explain.
“Of pearls? Castoffs from meals, Saeesar? That is nothing more than an insult!” Nuada reprimanded. “Are you after a mate, or are you too trying to take my position like Leviathan?”
“Pearls were meaningful to the humans of my home waters,” Saeesar hissed. “Do not disregard his heritage so easily as you do mine.”
Peeling my eyes open to the low light blue water, I sucked in a deep gasp. It didn’t hurt. That caught me off guard, along with Saeesar and two other individuals of a bizarre shape to my predispositions of normal. “Pearls,” I coughed, coming to Saeesar’s defence, “are actually quite valuable to humans. What he offered me, I could buy back my dad’s farm, and more land on top of that, livestock, and never suffer a shortage of food,” I coughed again, wheezing this time, “sorry, sir.” Saeesar reached for my hand as I tried to turn off the stone I was laying belly flat on.
“Careful, Dian Cecht is seeing to your shoulder. She said it will take a few more hours to pull the rest of the shrapnel and mend the bone,” Saeesar cautioned as he helped position me so I could sit upright.
The surroundings of the pit contained metal tubes, scattered like so many upended dominoes. The ends were capped and rounded. Too large to be fence posts by nearly triple the width, I was left puzzled with what I was looking at. One of the long tubes had a fist-sized propeller at one end, trapped within a crushed circular cage of a type.
“He does have Puca’s lights. You are a son of Puca. The sea king has never held a human farm such that you speak of.” A massive creature, well over eight times Saeesar’s size and a deep blood red, peered down at me from over a ledge. Not as large as Leviathan, he still set all of my spots pulsing. A bulbous glowing bag, almost like a lantern hung from the top of his head, and abominably massive fangs curled up near his eyes. “And I am not sir, I am ma’am. My mates have been well part of me for aeons; they were all sirs.” Nuada motioned irreverently long arms towards the length of her body where lumps rose along her. “Stop flashing. I will not eat you.”
Rendered mute, I could do no more than turn from Nuada to Saeesar and back. Out of terrified curiosity, I turned to see who was behind me, working on my shoulder. A smaller creature of similar build to a dynllyr but of my size stood on a series of multiple thin tube-like legs, a short, thick, lobed tail jutted from the back. Compound eyes glittered in a myriad of rainbow colours. “I am Dian Cecht, Kraken child; it is an honour to meet the progeny of Puca,” Dian Cecht bowed. Multiple sets of arms, one on the right possessing a massive claw was enough to set my spots going all over again.
In that moment, the metal tubes around me solidified into one word. Torpedo. I was sat in an old blast site, surrounded by undetonated torpedoes. Searching over the sides of the depression, the carcass of a shattered u-boat grew from the reef bed in a sullen grey heap.
“You may wish to lower your stress, Kraken Child. You will wear through the charm allowing you to breathe comfortably,” Nuada cautioned. That did nothing for my rising level of anxiety.
“Marin?” Saeesar tried to draw my attention. I turned to him as he slipped his fingers beneath mine. I latched on, desperate that I not be in this seventh layer of hell.
“I can’t do this.” I gulped. The lights under my skin had not had a sensation up to this point. The brighter I got in the blue depression, the more my skin prickled. “I want to go home. I want my little plot of land on dad’s farm. I want to feed Omah. I want my mandolin. I want my pencils. I can’t do this.”
“I hear you. I know this is scary. I remember being scared when I first came to the Antumnos Council. Let’s get your shoulder fixed first, okay?” Saeesar bobbed to keep my attention focused on him.
“How am I talking proper?” I asked.
“Cainte, another of the Antumnos Council, put a charm between your throat and your iase, where you seem most attached to communicate so that you weren’t left dependent on me,” he explained. I nodded as Dian Cecht prodded into my flesh.
“And Siren’s Voice?” I whimpered as fire shot through my nerves. Dian Cecht dropped a piece of metal on my rock slab.
Nuada pulled closer to me, her lantern illuminating the bowl-shaped crevice we were hiding within to keep from being swept by the currents. “Do you have Siren’s Voice, like Saeesar claims?”
I shifted from the monstrous visage in my face. “I could not tell you. It is what your people have claimed since the moment one of yours bit me, and I started glowing in the dark.”
“Then it is probably nothing more than the wishful thinking of errant upstarts and calves who have not been exposed to the sound in their years,” Nuada assumed. “You need not fear others coming after you, Kraken child. I highly doubt Leviathan was who you saw. You’ve been in Karis’s nesting grounds too long, Bet-tah.”
“I am unsure of its tone, unaware in the moments they have claimed me to have used it,” I conceded.
“He sings. Your heart breaks in listening to it. Craves hearing it again. Do not insinuate I am outside of my depths because I am Fomorii,” Saeesar hissed darkly at the creature.
“Many of our people sing, Bet-tah. It is not an uncommon phenomenon,” Nuada admonished.
“You’re telling me this when I have lived as foster child and now guard of Karis’s nesting grounds?” Saeesar’s fins were twitching, laying flat in agitation.
“Others do too, Bet-tah. It is for being stuck in Karis’s nesting grounds that you may not have experienced others of the Antumnos singing and just been confused by it,” Nuada tried to placate.
“Tell me of a Kraken that sings, Nuada. Who? Puca communicates through his lights to warn others. He does not sing. Neither he, or others like him. Does Lamhfada, being half-human and Great Kraken child?” Saeesar seethed.
“He is ancient. Of course, he does not sing,” Nuada rationalized.
“He still occupies the land near my old nesting grounds?” Saeesar asked.
“I know not. He has slipped from the waters into the human realms, and no one has heard from him in over a century,” Nuada conceded.
“Then you are not sure if he can sing or not,” Saeesar judged.
“He does not have Siren’s Voice. That much I can guarantee.” Nuada leaned her massive head on her hand to regard Saeesar with one of her massive brown and black eyes.
“And you would leave Marin to his own safety by stating he does not possess Siren’s Voice upon seeing him. You would risk a Siren in the Antumnos by dismissing him? You would not ask of him anything? Leviathan imposed on Mate Claim!” Saeesar’s fins went as flat as I had seen him achieve.
“Singing. Music? That is Siren’s Voice? My heart singing? And you would make me do it on command?” I muttered at the concept, agitated at the merfolk. Dian Cecht patted me on the shoulder, finished with pulling the buckshot out of my wounds.
“I had always hoped it would be my art that was admired through the world. I wanted to be famous, escape my parents’ farm, go to the city, become something. Now, my world has turned inside out, and you want me to shred my soul for you so I can claim a spot in this food chain?” I growled at Nuada, fingers tightening on Saeesar’s wrists.
“I meant no ill-will, Kraken child. I do not trust the lack of evidence. You are clearly of Puca’s lineage. I will not dismiss that. However, you are not of Siren’s Voice. I have met several in passing, and I would know it.” Nuada dismissed with a flick of her wrist.
“Then pearls and rivers will make no nevermind to you.” I pushed myself from the stone slab. My shoulder blazed, but I was not going to sit in a torpedo nest for another second.
“Where do you think you are off to, Kraken child, to leave a Council Leader who has not dismissed you?” Nuada reprimanded.
Numb terror had turned to boiling anger. My spots changed, toning down, dimming the space around us. I slipped my fingers from Saeesar’s, using a kink in his tail to launch myself up out of the sheltered bowl. The only light, the red-orange glow of Nuada’s lamp cast eerie shadows around the old sub’s graveyard, torpedos casting up like so many headstones. I had hold of Nuada’s enormous jaw before she realized I had moved. “Call me Kraken child again, mudskipper, and I will become your Kraken. Do you taste like Leviathan?”
“You wouldn’t.” Nuada shivered under my hold, her massive eyes swivelling to my location.
“Strip me of my name. Strip me of my humanity. You do not rule me, mudskipper. I have not acknowledged you as any leader of mine. Shall I leave you the way I left Leviathan?” I barred my teeth.
“You really maimed them? You left your mark on them to be hunted by your siblings? For questioning the legitimacy -”
“If it is the one power I hold in this place. I will protect myself. I don’t trust you. You’ll be letting me pass now,” I interrupted her. She kept quiet at the threat. “Saeesar, stay here or come with or do whatever you choose to do. Just point me in the direction of land. Rather take pot shots from bb guns than deal with entitled eels.”
Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.
If you would like to tip the author, check out the following buttons: