Aquata Cove

Chapter 18: Stories and Myths

"Ok, Merrick. Your turn." Adam said as he sat on his bed. Merrick pondered as he thought.

"Ok, uhhmm... Ooh! How about stories or legends? Do humans have any of those?"

"Hahaha," Laughed Adam, "I'LL say we have. We have millions, if not trillions of books and stories, along wit countless myths."

"Ooh, really? Like what? Tell me one." Merrick asked.

"Hm, alright," Adam then got up and walked over to one of his shelves, where he has several large books by Candlewick Press, "Lets see..." He then picked a couple out, a few of them, and took them back to Merrick, "Candlewick Press didn't usually print these old stories, I'm glad they do, I like their publishing.

"Here's one of MY favorites," He said as he showed the merman a blue book with a pumpkin on it, with a woman in a dazzling white dress, "It's about a girl named Cinderella," He scooted right next to Merrick, and opened the book, showing him the pictures in several flips of the firm pages, "She was an abused servant in her own home. Cinderella worked night and day to clean the chateau, appease her two bitchy stepsisters, and her evil stepmother."

"You mean... She lived to please them? Even though they were cruel to her?" Merrick asked.

"Cinderella was too kind. They took advantage of her after her own father died. Her only friends," He turned the page, "Were the mice, birds, and farm animals of her home," He said, pointing out the illustrations - Candlewick press combined the elements of Disney's rendition of Cinderella with the origins of Perrault's version, "You see, her stepmother was jealous of Cinderella, because she was so charming and beautiful, unlike her OWN daughters, who were kinda ugly and obnoxious."

"... Wait, her OWN daughters? You mean Cinderella wasn't her daughter?"

"No. See, sometimes, some humans have children with one person, and they separate - be it divorce, death, or just a break-up - and when they get together with ANOTHER person, maybe one with children of their own, they become STEP-Sisters or STEP-Brothers. And the person the parent mates becomes a STEP-Mother, or STEP-Father."

"That sounds confusing... And silly." Merrick said. Adam chuckled and nuzzled his merman.

"It's just what humans do sometimes, babe. Anyway, one day," Adam turned the page, "A Fairy Godmother visited Cinderella, when Cinderella's stepsister destroyed a gown she was going to wear to a ball - that's a formal event that's arranged and celebrated by royalty. And with her magic, the Fairy Godmother transformed mice," He turned the page, "Into horses!"

Merrick looked curiously at the illustration of a mouse growing into a horse - both animals looking completely strange to him. "He-Hey! Those are hippocampi!" He said.

"Hippo-wha?"

"A hippocampus? They look just like these things, but they're colorful, and have large fins instead of those... Legs and baleen," He said pointed out the horses' legs, tails and manes, "They live in the depths, and they're very easy to tame. We call one when one or more merpeople are weak or injured to carry them... Anyway, go on with the story!" Merrick said eagerly.

"Heh heh, anyway, the Fairy Godmother then turned a vegetable, called a pumpkin," He turned the page, "Into a dazzling coach," He said as Merrick looked at the fancy white object, "And when that was said and done, she turned the tattered shreds of Cinderella's gown into a more gorgeous gown!" Merrick looked in awe at the drawings of the fairy's magic.

"... Why did the Fairy Godmother help Cinderella? Was SHE her real mother?" He asked in wonder. Adam smiled as he shook his head.

"No, nothing like that. The Fairy Godmother was more like a guardian angel; after all the suffering Cinderella has gone through, she decided to lend a helping hand to her," He turned the page, and showed what happened next, "So then, Cinderella rode the carriage to the ball, where she met a handsome prince," He turned the page to show the glittering woman, waltzing with a young man, "Where they fell in love, and danced until the stroke of 12, and she had to leave."

"What? Why? If they fell in love, why did she have to leave so soon?" Merrick asked.

"Because of the magic. As powerful as the Fairy Godmother was, her magic only lasts until midnight, and then it would wear off, and everything would go back to normal." Adam flipped the page, "So she ran away as soon as the clock struck 12, RIGHT before she and the prince were about to kiss," Merrick pouted at that, "She rushed down the steps at the front of the castle, and one of her glass slippers," He said as he turned the page, where a clear, plastic high-heel was inserted into the page.

"What's that?" Merrick asked as he tapped onto the fake glass on the page.

"That's a glass slipper. It's a type of shoe human females wear to formal events - though, shoes made of glass went out of style several centuries. Here," Adam then swung his legs over the bed, and put on a sandal, "See? This is another type of shoe," He then slipped it off, and put on one of his tennis shoes, "And this is a shoe I always wear," Adam tugged it off, and got back to the story.

"Cinderella didn't have time to put the glass slipper, so she just went into her coach, and rode back home as fast as the horses can go." He turned the page "As the clock rang out, one by one, the her dress withered back into tatters and shreds, the pumpkin turned orange again, and shrunk back into a large vegetable, and the horses transformed back into mice, the only thing she had to remember the night, was the other glass slipper on her foot." Adam said as he showed him the next page, showing Cinderella looking down onto her foot.

"So... What happened? Did they all just forget?"

"Nope," Adam turned the page, "No one forgot the beautiful woman at the ball, though no one knew who she was, not even her stepsisters or stepmother recognized her.

"After Cinderella left, the Prince found the glass slipper on the stairs, and vowed to find and mate with girl who fits the shoe," He turned the page, "So he searched night and day, trying the glass slipper on every woman in the kingdom, until he came to Cinderella's home. The stepsisters tried in vain to infatuate the Prince, but it wouldn't work at all. And then, Cinderella walked in, with one foot bare, and the other wearing the other glass slipper."

Merrick smiled as Adam turned the page, showing the Prince kneeling down and fitting Cinderella's dainty foot into the other glass slipper, "Once the glass slipper was placed onto Cinderella's foot, she forgave her stepsisters and stepmother for everything they've done to her. The she married the Prince and they both lived happily ever after." Adam said as he closed the book, "The End."

"Hehehe, that was an interesting story," Said Merrick, "Did this really happen?"

"Hahahah, no. It's just a story," Adam then put aside the book, and looked to his merman, "What about you though? Do merpeople have any stories like that?"

"Mhm," Merrick nodded, "Yeah, we have. There this one we... We THOUGHT it was a myth, but it turned out to be real..." Merrick's smiled faded, "It actually happened when we were on our way back here... I... I almost lost everything to it..." Adam gasped lightly.

"What happened?" He asked. Merrick looked back up.

"One moon ago, we were resting, and our Razirah was telling the pod a story, as usual..."

--- One Month Ago ---

"This is the tale," Denizyr said, "Of the Phantasma Whale..." He said, as Noita Umiato used her magic to illustrate a cluster of energy glowing in the middle of the pod, with them huddled in a circular area, like a campfire. Savarna, who is curled up next to Merrick, gasped quietly as she held his arm tightly. Merrick chuckled as he sensed the fear coursing through his baby sister, having heard this eerie story several times before in the past.

"There once was a colossal white whale - some say it was a child of the former Amnien Guardian Taniwa," The burning energy gave birth to a shape of a lion-like whale image. A large sperm whale swam from the same energy, calling out an artificial cry.

"The Whale was great and powerful! And like its parent, was able to create whirlpools and fierce, spiraling hurricanes with a whim." The whale surged around, and swam threateningly around the pod. Savarna squealed as the scary whale apparition howled. The mermaid clutched onto her brother, who wrapped his arm around her protectively, and held her close.

"However, the Whale was arrogant, and sought blood sport," A squid-like image rose from the energy, and wrapped it tentacles around the whale, "And so it challenged the champions of the deep - giant squids," The whale moved looped out of the tentacles, and bit down onto the squid, "Mighty sea serpents," A snake-like monster slithered from the energy, and attacked the whale, to which the whale howled and eliminated with a swipe of its large tail "Godly fish of the dark and black light," Several strange and oddly shaped fish swam and attempted to take down the whale, yet it eluded them all, defeated them, and devouring each opponent, "With each opponent that fell before him, the Whale swallowed them all, stealing their strengths and becoming even stronger.

"It was never enough for the Whale, for his victories made him grow ever more vicious and arrogant. Until one day, he challenged the Piscien and Holsien Guardians of old," A giant shark shot from the swirling energy.

"The former Piscien Guardian, Megalodon, the last living remnant of the ancient times, the very last of its kind, old and battle scarred from ruthless wars gone by, taunted the Whale of his impudence," The much larger shark laughed down at the whale, "He accepted the Whale's challenge, and initiated combat for many moons."

"As mighty and strong as the Whale was, it was no match for Megalodon's vast experience of war and fighting. Too injured to carry on, the Whale could not continue engaging the battalized Guardian, and left in disgrace. Though he hid it well, Guardian Megalodon was severely injured by the battle, and soon perished peacefully." The shark-like image curled up, and slowly disappeared, "To be succeeded by the brave Leviathan to protect the Piscien Merpeople."

"Angered and humiliated from his first defeat, the Whale sought out yet another powerful, indomitable foe."

A 5-headed water dragon appeared from the burning energy, and hissed an eerie roar, "The former Holsien Guardian, Hydra, rose to the Whale's challenge," The reptilian creature swam in loops, its heads contradicting the Whales very move, "As skillful as the Whale was, Guardian Hydra was far too clever to be defeated. The battled ensued for many moons - for Hydra was not made for a battle of force, but a battle of wits. Years of struggling with the cruel mind-games of the Holsien Guardian, until the Whale's mind was too tired to continue. The Whale swam again, hearing the patronizing laugh of his two adversaries, still echoing in his head," A grotesque, squid-like creature came up from the energy, and confronted the Hydra image, "Disdained by the cruelty of Hydra, the cunning Kraken rose up, and challenged Guardian Hydra to its own game of wits. Hydra lost, and fell into insanity, leaving Kraken to become the new Holsien Guardian."

"Bitter and full of rage from his losses, the Whale done the unforgivable: Challenge its own mother, Guardian Taniwa, to a duel to the death." The angered whale apparition howled and roared at the feline-whale image, "The Whale, consumed in its hatred, mocked and raged at its parent.

"Hurt by the Whale's words, Guardian Taniwa refused to fight her own child, and so gave birth to the benevolent, gentle Charybdis. In hopes of subsiding the Whale's anger, she gave the White Whale a sister to guide him in his time of anger," The larger whale image then created a whirlpool, triggered by a large, flurring dolphin-like image, "Outraged by this action, which the Whale deemed as weak and cowardly, the Whale charged at Guardian Taniwa, and killed her in cold blood."

Savarna gasped as the violent whale image tore into the Taniwa, "Charybdis watched in horror as the Whale destroyed its own mother.

"Having finally conquered one of the three Guardians, the Whale devoured the remains of Taniwa. Before he could claim the title of Guardian, he could feel the soul of his mother destroying him from the inside. The Whale cried out in agony, begging the Charybdis to save him. Sadly, the Whale had then disappeared before Charybdis can help him, and so was dubbed as the new Amnien Guardian."

Savarna shook fearfully, as a glowing circle then appeared, "Some say the Whale still lingers in our world. On a moonless night, when the Shining Sea Mother Atargatis sleeps, the Whale appears - later named the Phantasma Whale" The merpeople looked on as a half skeletal sperm whale, floated around, "When the moon loses its light for one night, it is said the Whale returns, its hollow, dead soul make its form glow - a terrifying ghost of what it used to be, its rage still fresh in its spirit, and instantly killing and devouring any living thing its empty eyes sees. Once inside the belly of the Phantasma, the souls of everything it swallowed, lost long after its time..."

The energy vanished slowly, with half the pod spooked by the story. It is late, and it is time to rest. Merrick chuckled lowly as he felt Savarna swim away from him to huddle over to their mother and father.

Merrick chuckled as he laid himself down onto the sand, and soon drifted off into slumber.

A few hours later, while the pod is sleeping, Savarna is still unable to sleep. She is still quaking from the story. She keeps imagining a grotesque, whale skeleton, swimming in her head. The image itself is enough to keep her scared.

Then, she sensed something. She looked up, and looked out into the vast blueness of the ocean. She softly drifted up from the arms of her mother, and swam away.

As she moved, the orb-like eyes of Penina, the jellyfish mermaid, and Brishen's mate, opened as she felt a small flurry of water. She woke up, to see the young Adra Noita swimming away. Curious, the semi-transparent mermaid swam gradually after the younger female.

Savarna swam as she followed a strange, cold trace. She doesn't know what it could be, but her curiosity has gotten the better of her. The Adra followed the feeling to a huge trench. She looked into the bottomless abyss.

"Adra Savarna?" The little mermaid yelped as she heard a sudden voice. She turned quickly to see Penina. The jelly mermaid has glowing lines and circles adorned upon her body, along with the leaf-like appendages on her three, long tendrils, illuminating the dark.

"P-Penina! What are you doing here?!" She demanded.

"What are YOU doing here?" Penina asked back, "We are supposed to be resting. Let us go back to the pod."

"But I feel something..." She said. Penina tilted her head as she drifted closer, "Can you not feel it too?"

"... Now that you have mention it... I feel a dark foreboding from the depths..." She crept and floated over the edge of the trench.

"I want to see..." Savarna said as she sunk herself lower.

"No," Penina said as she stopped her, "I will go. My body is more flexible under deep waters, and I am more adapted for darkness." She said to the young mermaid; it's probably nothing, at this point, she's only doing this so Adra Savarna will be persuaded to return.

"All alone?" Savarna asked.

"I am from those depths," She said, "I do not fear the darkness. Wait here, Adra Savarna. I will be back shortly..." With that, the flowery mermaid swam down, and dove steadily down into the blackness. Her bioluminescent body faded more and more as she sunk lower to the trench. It wasn't long before her blue and yellow light faded into the abyss.

Savarna grew nervous as she waited. The more seconds that passed by, the more fearful she became. After waiting a total of two minutes, the small mermaid swam over the edge, and hurriedly downward.

~~~

Merrick sound multiple signals along the reef, swimming as fast as he can, he spotted a pod of dolphins, to which he swam forward too. His throat stiffened as he sounded a pattern of squeaks and clicking noises. The dolphins immediately swam in his direction, and he swam up to them in turn. He continued to speak in a crackling noise, until the pod itself separated in multiple directions.

"Adra Merrick!" Called Brishen. Merrick swam up to the green-tailed merman, "Any luck?"

"No. I cannot find Sister anywhere. I just sent those dolphins to locate a small mermaid. I pray they will be of help," He sighed as he looked to his friend, "I surmise that none of the other mermen have not been successful?" Brishen shook his head.

"No... Razirah Denizyr cannot sense her trace. He cannot sense her at all... And it has gotten worse..."

"What? How?" Merrick asked. Brishen looked, up, looking scared.

"No one knows where Penina is!" Merrick gasped as he looked at Brishen, looking as if he is about to weep, "I cannot find her anywhere! No one has seen her since last night, she's gone! Denizyr cannot feel her, just like Adra Savarna!"

"Brishen, it is going to be alright. We will find them..." He said, though he cannot deny that he is feeling doubt and fear as well.

His gills twitched, and he turned around. Merrick blinked as the dolphins he summoned earlier are swimming away...

"Adra Merrick... We have been searching all through the sun... We have not found so much as a scent," Merrick sent out a few more signals. He looked up to see a few hammerhead sharks swimming quickly away, "I... I keep thinking about her... My Penina..." Brishen started to feel more distraught, "I do not understand... How can- Mmmff!" He felt Merrick's hand over his mouth.

"Brishen, I need quiet..." He said. He closed his eyes and sent a signal every 10 seconds. Moments pass by, and a low, long call came from the silence. Brishen removed Merrick's hand.

"That's one sad whale..." Merrick then swam around, and forward, "Adra Merrick? Where are you going?"

Merrick placed his webbed hand onto the sand, keeping his eyes shut, and sent out a long, loud moan. Moments later, the same, sad moan from before was called. He moved his head to a certain direction, and swam forth. "Merrick! It's just a lone whale!" Brishen said irritably, "We have to find Penina and Adra Savarna!"

The Adra Triton ignored him as he followed blindly to the source of the low call. He eventually opened his eyes and peered down into a gigantic trench. "Merrick! Stop wasting time chasing whales!" Brishen said to him as he swam up next to him.

"Brishen..." Merrick uttered. He turned around, and looked directly at Brishen in the eyes, "There are not any whales within 50 miles of here."

"RRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNNNNHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Both mermen gasped as they heard the same voice, this time, it sounded angry instead of sad. They stared down into the abyss. Brishen sent a signal, but nothing responded. Not even a faint glow from any bioluminescent creatures from below.

"... Why is there not anything down there?"

"There is. But they are silent. They won't give any signals."

"Why not?"

"... Let us find out..." Merrick said as he swam down. Brishen followed the Adra, both of them holding their weapons tightly. The delved into the darkness, growing colder and colder the more they traveled down. Both mermen kept sending down signals, everything in the trench remaining silent, no matter what angle they sent a signal.

---The Previous Night---

Savarna grew nervous as she waited. The more seconds that passed by, the more fearful she became. After waiting a total of two minutes, the small mermaid swam over the edge, and hurriedly downward.

"Rrrrrrreeeeeeennnnnnnnnnrrrrrrrrrrrrr"

Savarna eeped as there came a deep, sad moan from the darkness, like a dying whale, calling out for aid.

"ADRA SAVARNA!!!" Yelled out a blue glow from the darkness. Penina is jetting as fast as she can, ascending at top speeds towards the small mermaid, "GET BACK TO THE POD! GET BACK TO THE POD!" Savarna gasped as the jelliscent mermaid, desperately swim.

However, eventually, she came to a stop, but still kept undulating her veiled body and three stingers. Savarna gasped as Penina tried desperately to swim up, up was seemed to be being pulled back, "GO BACK TO THE POD, ADRA SAVARNA, PLEEEAAASSSE!!"

Instead, Savarna jet down, and grabbed Penina's slippery arm. "NOOOOO!! YOU'LL DIE TOO!!" The Adra pulled as hard as she could, refusing to abandon Penina.

"HHHHHHHRRRRRRREEEEEEENNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!"

Came an angered roar from below. Savarna looked and screamed as she saw a colossal, narrow pair of jaws open. She turned and clutched onto Penina as the huge teeth clench all round the two mermaids in a mighty SNAP!

~~~

"Merrick..." Brishen said as they explored the trench, "I do not sense ANYTHING down here..."

"Me neither... I thought they were hiding because they were afraid. They were BEFORE we came here, but... It seems as though they have disappeared..."

"You may be a Triton, but I doubt there was anything here..."

"Which is strange, because this abyss should have a lot more life than this." Merrick replied, feeling irritated and paranoid, "In case you have not noticed, those dolphins I found swam away. While you were talking, I saw a pod of hammerheads hastily moving about. And I have been sending signals in EVERY direction, and every living creature is swimming AWAY from this part of the ocean!

"Why do you think Denizyr chose to tell the story of the Phantasma Whale last night??"

"Merrick... You are starting to scare me..." Brishen said, swimming backwards a little.

"Because my Mother said Sea Mother Atargatis is going to sleep for this one night, so he told THAT story for a fearful affect - for fun!"

"Merrick, stop!" Brishen said, "That's JUST a legend!"

"No, but what IF! What IF, the legend is real?! What if the Phantasma Whale DOES exist?! WHAT IF the Phantasma swallowed Sister and Penina?!" Merrick slapped his webbed hand over his own mouth as his eyes bulged. Brishen stared at him, but then gasped as he swam back.

"MERRICK! Behind you!!"

Merrick swung his trident around him, and swiped behind him, only to find he swung at a tunnel. The Adra gasped as he swam back, seeing a white, malevolent glow around a big, black, empty circle.

Brishen stared wide-eyed as a stench and image of a rotting sperm whale head slowly glows with a ghostly aura. He sent a signal, but he cannot sense the whale's presence. It doesn't exist, or it's not supposed to, yet it is forming out of nothing, RIGHT in front of him!

The giant ghost let out a long, aggressive moan as it moved forward. As it moved, its full form developed; its pectoral flippers half rotted with bones sticking out of them, its head withered out so its shining spine and ribcage is showing, with its mighty, intact tail pushed down, with a trail of aquatic ectoplasm washing in its wake.

Merrick and Brishen stared as the giant phantom dove gradually down, in the deepest darkness.

"... It has seen me..." Merrick uttered.

"Merrick... We need to get back to the pod... Your Mother will know what to do... You figured it out; we can find Adra Savarna and Penina! We have to-"

"No!" Merrick turned around, "Remember what Denizyr said?! The Phantasma Whale swallows any living creature it sees! If I go back to the pod, it will devour them too! It is going to follow me, it is coming right now!"

"RRRRRRRHHHHHHHHHEEEEEENNNNNGGGGHHHHHHHHH!"

There came a low roar of anger, and Merrick felt himself being pulled back. He gasped as he swam forward, feeling sucked backward like a vacuum. Brishen stuck his spear into a crack in the trench, and wrapped his arm tightly around it, and held out his other hand.

"Merrick, quick! Grab my hand!" He said, reaching for his friend. The Adra Triton reached out grunting as he pushed his tail as hard as he could. He inched closer and closer, as another low call rumbled behind him. No matter how hard he swam, or how close he got to gripping Brishen's hand, he steadily was pulled backward.

Merrick winced, and lowered his hand, "Merrick, NOO!"

"Get to the pod!" Merrick yelled, "It has not seen YOU yet! You have to go to the pod! GET THEM OUT OF HERE!!" He called. Brishen looked in terror as Merrick slowly inched backward as he yelled.

"NO! I am NOT leaving you behind!! You are the Adra Triton!! Swim harder, Merrick! Keep going!"

"IT'S TOO LATE!!!" Merrick called out, "GET. THE POD. AWAY FROM HERE!!" With reluctance, Merrick stopped swimming, and drifted away fast.

"MEEEERRRRIIIIIICK!!!!" Brishen called out as the large, glowing beast closed its jaws around the Adra Triton. Brishen flinched, and curled himself tightly under a large rocky protrusion as the Phantasma moaned out another dark call as it moved through the water, ascending up, without disturbing the water.

Brishen pulled his spear out of the trench wall, and shot up as fast as he could. He swam until he broke the surface. He turned around and looked everywhere in the sky. It is VERY dark tonight - he can only see the stars. The green-tailed merman looked carefully around, until he saw a big dark circle in the sky - it's VERY subtle, but he can see it. It's a new moon, or otherwise, "... Sea Mother Atargatis is in slumber..." He looked in horror, and gasped as he turned to his side, seeing a glowing white, mighty, rotting whale tail rise up on the surface of the water, and diving back in.

~~~

Razirah Denizyr concentrated as he held his palms together, every broken shell on his body glowing and vibrating, all but two on his long tail. He hopes of activating all of his mediums in order to locate Adra Savarna and Penina, but has been unsuccessful. No matter how far a merperson goes, he should still feel the trace of their medium, but it seems as though Savarna and Penina has both-

"Oh!" His eyes opened, and he gasped as one more shell on his tail stopped glowing and vibrating, "Triton Kaiken" He said to the large, dark blue merman. Kaiken turned to him.

"What is it? Have you found them??"

"No... Adra Merrick's link... It too has disappeared..." He stated.

"No... Not my Son too..." Kaiken then turned and called out to all the nearby merpeople, "Double the search! The Adra Triton has disappeared!" The other merpeople gasped at the news, "I want every merman and mermaid on the watch for them! Summon any creature you see, and bid them to search as well!" The rest of the pod swam hurriedly away on his command, "Leave no shell or sand unturned! Not one of us will rest until we find them!"

Soon, only the meryin remained unsure of what to do. Kaiken scowled as he shook his head. "First my Daughter and Penina... And now my Son... Where is Umiato?" Kaiken asked the Razirah.

"She is tending to the meryin, Triton Kaiken."

"I need her to-"

"TRITON KAIKEN!!!" Yelled a voice.

"What?" He turned around, and saw a merman of his pod, a green tail. Merrick's friend, Brishen, he believes. The young merman swam up to him frantically to the Triton.

"Adra Merrick is gone! He's been swallowed!"

"What?!"

"Impossible!" Denizyr said in disbelief, "Even of he was eaten, I should still be able to sense his shell."

"You do not understand!" Brishen yelled, "It was the Phantasma Whale! It is real!"

"Brishen!" Kaiken growled, "My Son, my Daughter, YOUR mate is missing, do NOT start prattling jokes!"

"This is NOT a joke, Triton Kaiken! I saw it with my own eyes! It's real!"

"It is only a legend, Brishen!" Denizyr said, "We have no time to waste on nonsense!"

"I am telling you, Merrick was swallowed! Please believe me!!"

"Brishen, I will not tolerate-"

"KAIKEN!" Came a stern voice. All three mermen turned to see the pearly white veil mermaid, looking quite cross. She drifted herself over to the green merman, "Alright, Brishen. Please tell me what happened." Umiato said softly.

"Adra Merrick and I were searching, and we found an abyss. We looked down there to investigate, and we found the Phantasma Whale! It appeared as a withering whale carcass! It saw Merrick, and it swallowed him! He told me to warn everyone, to get the pod away from here!" He said, a white mist forming around his eyes as he began to sob, "He said it swallowed Adra Savarna and Penina! Noita Umiato, the moon is dark tonight! The Shining Sea Mother is sleeping! The Phantasma Whale is REAL!"

There was a short pause and silence.

"RRRRRRRHHHHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMMRRRRRRRRR" Came a distant, whale call that sounded of loneliness and anger. Umiato nodded slowly.

"Very well. Take me to where you and my Son found it." She said gently to the merman.

"Y-Yes, Noita Umiato." Brishen turned around, and swam forth.

"Kaiken," Umiato said as she turned, "Come with us. If it is indeed a whale, we shall try and reason with it." The Triton scowled before he too moved beside her, "Razirah Denizyr, I want you to watch after the meryin. Keep them safe while we are gone."

"Yes, Noita Umiato."

And with that, they swam quickly.

~~~

The three of them swam swiftly through the open water, the Triton, the Noita, and the merman.

"Umiato, we are wasting time," Kaiken stubbornly said, "I do not sense a single whale anywhere near here."

"That is because it is a ghost!" Brishen said, "It is not alive, Adra Merrick and I were not able to sense it."

"Then how have you and Son found it?" Umiato asked.

"... We heard a whale calling, and he traced it into a trench..." Brishen said, "I could not help him... I was useless... I did not even believe him..."

"No, Brishen," Umiato said, as she gently felt his shoulder, "You reported what happened. You helped in bringing us a moment closer to finding the ones we love."

"You had better not have been wrong, Brishen," Kaiken said, "Or else, you have only-"

"Stop!" Umiato said, coming to an abrupt stop.

"What? What is it, Umiato?" The mermaid is looking directly up. Brishen and Kaiken tilted their heads back, and looked up.

There it is, the underside of the phantom. Half decayed with its head, flippers, and tail flipper preserved, and its ribcage and spine cleaned out. It glows with an eerie, ghostly aura as it floats near the surface of the ocean.

Kaiken sent a few signals to it, but felt and heard nothing between himself and the surface. It does not exist.

The Triton then let out a long, deep call to the giant phantom, as he would communicate with a whale. The ghostly apparition did nothing as it lingered there.

"... It will not respond... I cannot feel it, Umiato..." He muttered.

"It is a dead soul," Umiato said, "It is not of this world. It should not exist, and yet it does," She narrowed her eyes, before waving her veil-like tail, and ascending up to the whale. Brishen suppressed a whimper as the Noita approached the creature. Triton Kaiken rose up, following his mate to the unworldly beast.

Noita Umiato then came eye-to-eye with the ghost. She looked into the big black hole, an empty eye socket that she could just swim into. She glided along the rotted head, and faced the front of it.

"Phantasma Whale! Horror of the sleeping moon! Devourer of life itself!" He called out to it, "You have consumed some things I hold very precious to me." Her eyes then glared in anger at the whale.

"You will give them back."

The colossal demon opened its narrow mouth, withered and decayed, and let out a low grumbling noise. Kaiken gasped as he felt the water pulling himself and the Noita toward it. Umiato stayed still, allowing the ghost's inhale to draw her in. Brishen gasped before he kicked his tail hard to shoot up!

Right before Umiato could get near the rotting phantom flesh, she waved her frilled hand. Her pearly palm then lit up brightly, and outshined the whale itself! The flash caused the whale to roar in pain. The ghost writhed as the light of the Noita shocked it to its core.

"You WILL give them back to us!!" Umiato called out in anger.

The whale moaned in outrage before it dove down, and loomed into the sea. Umiato simply turned about face, and drifted to her mate.

"Alright, my love," She said calmly, "This is what I want you to do..."

~~~

Brishen panted as he swam quickly up. He has NO idea what Noita Umiato is playing at! She PRESENTED herself to the Phantasma! Why would she do that?! Didn't she listen to the story?! That ghost will NEVER let her go!

The merman turned and panicked as he say the giant carcass turn about, getting ready to charge at the Triton and Noita.

~~~

Kaiken and Umiato faced the incoming creature. It let out a low, enraged moan as it opened its large, rotting jaws.

Triton Kaiken opened his own mouth, and released a mighty roar. Umiato placed her hands onto his back, and channeled her power into his body. Kaiken felt a surge force out of his throat and from his mouth, his eyes glowing bright white as his voice became distorted with the magic of the Noita.

Immediately, the Phantasma Whale stopped in its tracks. Its moan became haltered as it froze on the spot. The remaining meat of its form blinked out. It shuddered and rumbled in sheer agony before it became a shambling skeleton of a colossal sperm whale.

With the Phantasma locked in the bewitched sound, Umiato began singing a battle melody as she drifted up, and swam into the shaking bone maw. Her song made the ribcage of the whale shimmer and glow, before a school of different kinds of deep-sea animals swarmed out of between the ribs of the Phantasma bones - the species of fish that live in Deep Ocean trenches.

Brishen looked in awe as the Phantasma quaked, stopped dead in its tracks as it rumbled its dead call in pain. He gasped as his eyes spotted a translucent, jellyfish like mermaid, with her arms around a shorter mermaid with frilly head-fins. "PENINA!!!" He jet right up, and in-between the ribs of the whale skeleton. Penina lift her head from Savarna, hastily taking Brishen's webbed hand, and swimming with him out of the Phantasma. Noita Umiato came behind her son, him turning his head, and both of them looming out of the ghost whale.

Kaiken stopped the call, and rubbed his very sore throat, his gills flaring as his the inside of his neck burned from both the effort, and the spell from his mate. Upon spotting Penina holding Adra Savarna in her transparent arms, and Umiato guiding Merrick with her, Kaiken kicked his powerful tail to join them.

The Phantasma Whale raged as its decayed flesh returned to its form. It turned around, and opened its huge mouth to suck them in, RIGHT before it dissolved into nothingess, vanished without a trace.

Above the surface of the sea, the darkened moon had a very sliver of white peeking from it. Besides that, the sky is beginning to lighten up from the morning rays.

---One Month Later---

Adam stared wide-eyed at Merrick, "So... It's gone, forever?"

"No," Merrick shook his head, "You can't kill the dead. Not even a Noita has the power to end ghost. She was only able to save us..." He rubbed his arm, "I asked how she could do it, but she said it was too complicated to explain.

"Anyway," He said, "I wanna hear another human story~!" He said with a smile. Adam chuckled as he picked up a purple and magenta book.

"Ok, this one is called, 'Sleeping Beaut-"

*BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP*

"Ty'." He grumbled and sighed, "I'm sorry, Merrick... I have to go to work."

"Awwooooo!" Merrick whined, "NOW? But I feel spooked from remembering the Phantasma! Please, can't you stay for a little while longer?"

"I'm sorry, Merrick, I can't." Adam said as he got dressed, "I told you, that's why I woke up early this morning, so we could cuddle and chat." Merrick sighed in disappointment. Adam tilted his head to him, "I'm sorry, sweetie. I have to work. Otherwise, I can't live here..." The merman sighed and nodded. Adam kissed his lips, and stood up, "I'll be back soon, sweetheart..." Reluctantly, Adam walked out of his room.

"Yeah... I'll be here..." Merrick said, taking the pillow, and hugged it close, "Like always..."

 

Feare

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