Firefly Fish: Ch 18

The nesting grounds caught me by surprise as we exited from the current. It spat us out into a shallower area where the light could penetrate to the seafloor. Coral arches and swaths of reef unfolded in brilliant colours beneath the oscillating sparkles. “Welcome to Keris’s territory.” Saeesar took me for an overview above the grounds, or at least part of the grounds. It reached well past the end of my sight. Children of Llyr peered out from arches, cracks, and crevices. Soon, recognizing the Fomorii, they emerged, waving to him. He circled back towards a low hill amid the reef.

     “Saeesar!” A particularly large dynllyr approached him as he settled to the coral. This individual flickered with coloured blossoms. I stayed behind Saeesar, peeking out to observe.

     “You’ve got a clinger, Sar!” A female chortled. I span to put my back to Saeesar. The female child of Llyr towered over me, at least four times Saeesar’s size.

     “Hello.” I waved timidly up at her form.

     “Oh, not a clinger. Who’d you bring back? Is this the Kraken child Taigre’s been telling long tales about?” the female asked.

     “Pursha, fantastic I should find you! How is Taigre doing?” Saeesar turned to her, wrapping me under his arm protectively.

     “Robust bull calf. He’s off playing with friends for the moment. I came when Keris said he’d gone missing.” She pushed a shocking amount of grey hair from her shoulder, a flash of red lines across her bicep uncovered momentarily.

     “No one’s come since then?” Saeesar asked, agitated.

     “None that I’ve noticed. Why? What’s wrong?” She ducked down to our level. Her face was huge compared to me. Fathomless grey eyes blinked at me.

     “Are you his mother?” I stuttered.

     “I am.” She tilted her head at the question, eyes flicking between Saeesar and me.

     “Um…I…did he say anything more about what I am?” I desperately wanted to hide behind Saeesar.

     “You are one of Puca’s children and have Siren Voice. I mean, your spots glow; you are Puca’s if there was ever a doubt in the seas,” she qualified.

     I winced at what I had to say. “Did he mention I bit him?” The water went chilly at that question.

     “What did that idiot son of mine do to raise the ire of a Kraken child?” she hissed. Not the response I had expected. Saeesar pushed me gently towards her so I would quit trying to merge with his skin.

     “It was an accident,” I tried to protest.

     “Marin is half-human if you could not already assume from his structure. Taigre saw his mantel and thought he could breathe. Pulled him into a mix without casting a charm. Could have killed him, Pursha.” Saeesar explained solemnly.

     “He didn’t mean any harm, but, um, well, Saeesar’s explained, and I didn’t know that if I bit someone, that it would call others. I’m still a little new at all this. I bit Leviathan, and if there is a pack, they will probably go after them first. Is there a way to undo it? Taigre doesn’t need to be in danger. I’m sorry.” My comforting ability to swallow my panic was gone under water.

     “A way to cancel a Puca child’s call? None that I’ve ever heard of, little one.” Pursha bobbed back, a different signal I had seen Saeesar use that I equated to shaking a head.

     “Can the scar heal such that someone with Puca’s blood won’t notice it after a time?” I asked.

     “No, he’ll smell of you for the rest of his life.” Pusha’s frame sagged as she realized the issue in full depth.

     “Are those of the Antumnos literate?” I turned the question to Saeesar.

     “Literate?” he asked, the word unfamiliar.

     “Do you write, leave notes, use signs?” Maybe I could make something that Taigre could show to others of Puca’s lineage that could be recognized as a ‘do no eat me’ sign.

     “No. We’ll chip off rocks in patterns to show that we’ve claimed a nest. Some of the Antumnos will decorate their burrows in similar ways. Otherwise, there’s never been a need to,” Saeesar replied.

     “Then I need to talk to Puca.” I arrived at the conclusion I had not been interested in up until now.

     “Your father? You would talk to him to save a child of Llyr after they upset you?” Pusha gasped.

     “Not my father. He never raised me,” I qualified that statement quickly, a bit of a bite setting all of my spots glowing. “All he did was contribute to why I was born.”

     “Forgive me, Kraken child.” Pursha ducked low at the admonishment.

     I would have sighed if my charm would have allowed it. Rubbing at the back of my neck, I let my feet settle to the sands where I could stand, feel a little more stable in the swirling drafts. “My name is Marin, please, ma’am. I knew myself as nothing more than human up until recently, and I don’t know how things work here. I’d like to fix what has happened. He shouldn’t have to bear this fate,” I tried again.

     “Marin Kraken child, you bless me with your name. I would ask Keris if one of his scouts has seen Puca’s whereabouts. I have been outside of the nesting grounds for some time and very rarely left when I was within it. I have never met Puca.” She exuded authority, and yet she deferred to me. I hated this.

     Pinching the bridge of my nose, I gave myself a moment to think. I kept running into walls, though. The only solution I could find was to talk to this Kraken and see if he could call the Pack off. Not that I had seen this Pack, though.

“For now,” Pursha took my focus, “why don’t you come into our cave and settle yourself for a minute. You look to be asleep on your feet.”

“I couldn’t possibly impose, ma’am.” I backed up a step.

“Well, it is Keris’s cave now, rather than mine, but I shared these walls long enough. Come, sit. Saeesar?” Pursha motioned to me.

“If he doesn’t want to, I’m not making him, Pursha. I’ve given a dowry for Mate Claim; I won’t force him.” Saeesar sank lower to lay his tail loosely around the area I stood as if to protect me from the giant that was Taigre’s mother.

Pursha came down to our level, shock settling about her features. “Mate Claim, Saeesar? You know what Keris will say about this, don’t you?”

“I won’t be his arena winner anymore, Pursha. I have a home and a nest where I belong. I will claim my title as Baya. I was only meant to be here until I came of age. It’s been well past that time, and he will need to release my title. I intend on taking my nesting grounds back.” Saeesar’s fins twitched in the current.

Pursha turned her head to search around us, looking for anyone listening to the conversation. “Let’s take this inside. Would that be alright, Marin Kraken child?”

That tell of concern caught my focus. Twisting my head, I nodded once and watched the mermaid the size of the shrimp trawler disappear into the massive black maw of a cave.

Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.

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