Chapter 22: Good Medicine
"Ennnggghh..." Merrick moaned as he lay on the rollaway cot, realizing that he is now in Adam's bedroom. He can hear Adam's voice talking. He peeked as he saw Adam standing at the doorway, his back facing him, and holding up a small object to his ear.
"... Yes, Captain? It's Adam... Yeah, I'm calling to ask if I might have the next few days off? ... It's um..." Adam sighed and paused, "It's about my... Best Catch... Yeah... No no, we're back together... Well, actually, that's not the best way to put it... It's just... He's... He's on his deathbed, Captain..." Adam said as his voice trembled, "I need to be with him, please... All right, thank you... Ok, thanks, Captain, I really appreciate this... Goodbye..."
Adam brought the cellphone down, and leaned on the doorframe. After taking a moment, he walked away, and into the kitchen. Minutes later, he came back with glass and a purifying pitcher of water - the kind that filters water. Adam put them on the nightstand, and gently caressed Merrick, "How're you doing, sweetie?"
"I... I feel heavy" Merrick moaned feebly, "And so hot..."
"Really? Lemme check..." Adam put his hand onto the blonde's forehead, "... Oh my God!" He put the back of his hand onto his forehead "You're burning up!" Adam got up, and ran back out, and came back with an ice pack wrapped in a cloth, "Here, keep this on your head," He then poured some cold, fresh water into the glass.
"Wait, Adam," Merrick began coughing and moving off to the side of the bed. Adam hurriedly grabbed the bucket, and held it for the merman. Merrick grabbed onto it, tucked his head into it, and began to vomit a mess of blood and oil again. His eyes clenched and watered as his body forced out the morbid contents of his insides. Adam gently rubbed Merrick's greasy back as he heard his lover suffer.
After a couple of minutes of hurling into the bucket, Merrick shook as he lay back down. Adam wiped up his mouth. Merrick curled up and started to cry. Adam looked sadly onto his love, wanting nothing more than to curl up with him and hold him close.
"It's... It's just not fair..." Merrick whimpered, "I love you, Adam..." The merman shuddered and sobbed "I don't WANT to die...!" Merrick cried profusely as Adam rubbed his arm.
"Honey, I have an idea," He said hastily, "You said merfolk don't waste anything that they eat, right? What if you kept drinking water, huh? Wouldn't it get the oil out of your body?" Merrick sniffled and shook his head, "C'mon, sweetie, you say there's no cure, that not even a Noita can save you, but lets at least try this, huh?" Adam said as he offered the glass of water. Merrick's reddened, blue eyes looked at the glass, "Please..." Adam said, "I can't live without you..."
Merrick reached out his shaking hand, and gently pressed it around the glass. He attempted to take it, but it slipped from his oily hand. Adam caught it before it could spill, but then gently slipped his hand below Merrick's head. With his other hand, he gently held the glass of water to the merman's lips, and let the water flow into his mouth.
The day went on and on. Adam stayed at Merrick's side, not even leaving to get something to eat - the only reason he'd have leave was to get more water for Merrick.
Jamal put on his jacket, and glanced into Adam's room. Merrick coughed weakly as Adam gave him a very gentle sponge bath, having laid a large beach towel over his bed and tending gently to Merrick, with various parts of Merrick's body blue and silver from the moisture of the sponge.
He sighed sadly as the blonde would start hacking and coughing, before Adam would pick up the bucket, and gently rub him as he vomited into the pail.
Adam groaned as he poured another glass of water, but it slipped from his oiled hands. "Ah dammit," He swore as he picked up the glass. It's getting harder to keep Merrick awake long enough to have him drink the water. He fears his time is coming...
"Huh?" Adam turned his head to see Yuri coming in with a couple of PB&J sandwiches and two glasses of milk.
"Here. You need to eat something," She said. Adam wiped his eyes and accepted the plate and glasses.
"Thanks, Yuri..." He mumbled as he took a bite; regardless of a slight nagging of hunger in his gut, he felt extremely reluctant to eat from feeling so much of this grief. She sat down at the end of the bed, moved her hand under the ice pack.
"... His fever hasn't gotten any lower." Adam sighed as he set aside the food.
"... I'll go get some saline and an I.V. for him" She said as she got up.
"Yuri, that's all the way at the hospital." He groaned in response, feeling exhausted as well.
"I know," She said as she turned to look at him from the doorway, "Oh, and for the record... I would've believed you." She said with a soft smile. Adam nodded and looked to his merman again as Yuri went out, and drove off.
All day at this, and Merrick doesn't show any signs of getting better. He's had to have had 50 glasses of water already, but he's still perspiring grease, running a fever, and vomiting blood and oil occasionally. It's dusk now - it's dark outside as well.
Adam's eyelids are growing extremely heavy as he rubbed the wet sponge onto Merrick's belly for his 7th sponge bath. He has not slept a wink since he brought Merrick here. His will power is dwindling as he began to see images, before his body finally gave in, and lowered down, asleep.
"Mmmmgghhh..." Adam slowly woke up, suddenly jolting up and realizing how dark it is! He checked his cellphone.
He put his ear to Merrick's chest again. He sighed as he heard a weak heartbeat, still resonating in his chest.
"... Saaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnaaaaaaaaaaaaaa~" He blinked as he heard a woman singing. It reminds him of the siren's voice from 5 years ago, but this voice is on a slightly deeper pitch, like she could be singing in an opera. He felt a cold wind blow through his open window as the voice flowed through the breeze. He got up, but looked at Merrick. He wrapped the towel around him, and kissed Merrick's cheek, before taking the back way out.
"Hooooooonnnnnoooooooooooooooorrrrrrruuuuuuuuuuusssssaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnn~~" The female voice sung out as Adam ran into the very windy night. He carefully listened for the wondrous singing, and looked in several directions before walked in one of them.
There, he spotted a grown woman, shined by the moonlight. As she sang, the wind whirled around her long, flowing platinum blonde hair. She walked slowly with her dainty feet, feeling the winds willow and blow around her long, flowing white dress - the fabric gleamed and shined in the moon's rays.
Adam trotted up to her, and followed her to the small cliff over by the beach as she continued to sing, as if luring him to the ocean. She stopped at the cliff, singing a long, beautiful note as she sang to the ocean. He waited until the last lyric finished, before saying something.
"E-Excuse me, Miss?" He said. The woman gracefully turned around, looking at him with silvery eyes, as her hair and veil dress danced to the flowing wind, "Is there anything I can help you with? Are you lost?" He asked.
The woman then started drop backward. Adam gasped as he sprinted up to her, "Miss!" He called out as he held out his hand, and missed her by inches as she fell off the cliff. "Oh my God!!!" The woman fell from the cliff, and splashed into the sea. Adam walked back, and ran back up to the cliff, and dove right in!
Adam grunted internally as he felt the icy bite of the water numb his body. He swam and looked around, looking for the woman. As dark as it is, and as clearly as Adam can see, he can't see anything white around! It's like that woman dissolved into the water itself...
He moved his arms to push forward, until he felt his arms stop. He gasped as it felt like his arms are being... Squeezed. It's like the water around his arms thickened to a point where it's like gravity and density intensified around him. He struggled, and felt a tinge of fear as he felt his legs sealed and held in place, just like his arms! Then, his torso felt pressed upon, like the water is thickening everywhere on his body! He felt the cold force push onto his neck, and push around his mouth.
"~Do not try to escape...~" Came a gentle, stern tone, "~I can end you at any moment...~" A mystical voice that echoed around and inside his head. Adam's eyes darted around, until he spotted a glamorous, pearly white mermaid with a veil-like body with long, white tendrils on her head. She wears a band of seaweed wrapped around her head, under half of her head-fins, which bound several spiral shell slices, as well as various shell shards and slices draped and adorned on her elegant form. On either side of her are thin, semi-transparent, cloak-like membranes run from her wrist, and reached to her hips. Her long tail flows with a long, veil-like tail fin.
"~This shall not be long. I know humans cannot survive in the sea~" She loomed gracefully around Adam, her mouth not moving at all as she slowly circled him. She looks just like the mermaid on the beach the other day... Except THIS one is much bigger and has more veils and frills around her body...
"~The one you keep in your land-ship...~" Her voice rang in Adam's head, echoing and rippling in his inner ear as Adam's own house came into his mind, "~The one who is poisoned by the black blood of the earth...~" Images of Merrick floating in the water with red coming from his mouth and gills, and resting, coughing in a bed.
"~His time in our worlds grow shorter and shorter as you keep him in your dwelling~" Adam couldn't help but tremble in fear - he can't move, she has him just where she wants him, and who knows what this mermaid can and will do to him.
"~Your healers cannot help him~" He watched as the mermaid's veiled body undulated very smoothly in front of him as she swam slowly around him, "~Nor can we of his pod can give him aid~" She isn't talking at all... Or is she? Is it telepathy? Merrick said only mermen can do that... What is she?
"~There is only one way to save him~" The mystical mermaid then turned herself as she drifted in front of Adam, her gleaming eyes looking into his.
"~Seek out Atarah. The Forbidden Ancient~" For the first time, the mermaid's mouth moved, talking as her eyes flashed. Images of a swamp and a river with crystal clear waters flashed in Adam's mind, along with a mysterious figure, a female, and an image of Adam, holding Merrick in his arms, "~For it is only she who knows the secret of purification~"
The next thing Adam knew, the mermaid is swimming away from him, her voice still echoing in his head. "~He has but one sun left...~" His eyes grow heavy again, as if the water is lulling him to sleep "~Do not allow him to perish, or I shall bring the wrath of the sea upon your door~"
"GUH-HHHHHHHHH!" Adam gasped out as he sat right up! He shivers madly as he looked around, realizing that he has washed up on the beach near his home. He jumbled as a wave washed up to him. Adam then looked up at the faintly lit sky - it's early dawn.
His heart pounded as a single statement echoed in his head:
"~~~Seek out Atarah. The Forbidden Ancient~~~" Those words in that mermaid's mystic voice bounced around in his mind as he looked at the water. It seems to real to be a dream, but it seems too fanciful to be real.
Who is Atarah? Where does he find them?
Regardless, Adam turned around, and sprinted off.
Adam rode his motorcycle as fast as he could towards the pier, revving at full throttle as he took the bath to the pier's beach instead of the docks. He soon stopped his vehicle, and jumped off of it, toppling over, before throwing off his helmet. He dashed desperately to the beach, under the large docks.
"BELINDA!!!!" He called out. Adam ran along the beach, and cupping his hands to his mouth, "BELIIIINNNNDAAAAA!!!" He yelled out, "BELINDA, WHERE ARE YOU?!" Adam ran back to under the dock, and yelled out again, "BELINDAAA!!"
"Ah-Adahm??" He turned around, and saw the familiar Holsien climbing out of a dark cavernous crack between the rocks, in her human form.
"Belinda!" Adam dashed up to her, "You got to help me!" Belinda backed up as Adam ran up to her, "Atarah, the Forbidden Ancient! Do you know it??"
"Ye-Yes, Adahm, I do know her?" Belinda answered.
"Who is she?!" Adam demanded.
"She is a hyuman. A hurmeet, she halped me at a time. She libe ina swamp miles into deh island."
"Tell me where she is, please!" Adam said. Belinda narrowed her eyes at him.
"Why? Last dime we meet, you say you is done wit me. Now you ask forrr mee halp you?"
"Yes, I know, but it's Merrick, he's sick!"
"Deh fooleesh Adra who attack mee," Belinda said.
"Yes, HIM! Now listen carefully. He was poisoned by the blood of the earth, and he is dying! He only has one day left to live! I GOTTA know where this Atarah is!"
Belinda shoved Adam back.
"No! I no halp you..." She glared at him, "He waz cruel to mee. He threat mee wit deh Piscien Guardian. I do not care if he leeve or die," She said coldly, "And yu. You turn our back to me, you judge mee unwell." She stepped towards her cave, "Find 'er on your own-"
Belinda would then feel her wrist get yanked back. She was pulled back, and slammed into the rock, with Adam pushing her down against it.
"YOU OWE ME, BELINDA!!!" Adam bellowed. The tan, pink-haired female looked fearfully at him, for the first time, showing intimidation to a human.
"All those years ago, you tried to kill me! And then I helped you and Herald get back together!" He exclaimed, "Who covered for you every time you stole from the Fish House?! I DID! Who was the referee when you and Herald had a fight! ME! I was the one who gave him a viable story every time you guys wouldn't speak to each other! I smoothed things out with you two many times over!!" Adam seethed as he glared at the Holsien, "I KEPT your secret hidden from EVERYONE! I helped you! I helped you stay a secret to humans, Belinda!" Adam began to feel his eyes water as he kept her pinned down.
"I love him, Belinda... Think about you and Herald..." She blinked at him, her violet eyes looking into his brown ones, "You and him... It happened on the night of a red moon, didn't it?" Belinda gasped at that, "A Lunar Eclipse. Herald was glowing pink and purple, wasn't he?? And you were glowing too!" Belinda whimpered as she looked into Adam's eyes, "He doesn't even know, does he? That you two are bonded forever. Or that he still doesn't know you're a mermaid," Adam asked, "No... Because I made sure he never found out about you..."
"That's what happened with me and Merrick. We're soul-mates, Belinda." He shook his head as tears rolled down his cheeks. Belinda's expression became softer as Adam cried, "Don't do it for Merrick, do it for me..." His eyes glimmered with sorrow, "I lost him once... He tried to leave me behind because he feared he would get banished... It tore me apart when he did that... Don't let me lose him again... I'm not strong enough to go through that again..."
"Adam???" They turned to see Herald standing there, with a bouquet of Tiger-Lilies and Birds-of-Paradise, "Adam, what the hell are you doing to her?"
"Herald," Belinda said as she stepped away from Adam, "Is alright."
"Belinda," Herald said as he advanced forward, "He had you pinned to the rock!"
"Is ok, love," She said to him, "Wai forrr me at deh dock. I will come," Herald huffed and glared at Adam, but she turned his head to look at her, "He need my halp... Is alright..." Herald sighed as he patted her shoulder.
"Alright, hun... Don't take too long..." He kissed her, and left up the rocks. Belinda turned around, and approached Adam.
"Adahm..." She began, "Do you truss me?"
"... I have to..." Adam said, "Please... Tell me where she is... Where is Atarah?"
Belinda raised her hands to his head, and he flinched back. "Adahm!" She hissed irritably. She stepped up again, "You muss truss me..." Adam reluctantly stayed still. Belinda then pressed her thumbs onto his forehead. Adam immediately felt himself paralyzed as a strange buzzing vibration entered his head. Belinda hissed and exhaled as images raced into Adam's head!
Adam sighed as he held Merrick. The merman is wrapped up in the beach towel, looking pale and darkened from the infection. His pulse is growing weaker by the minute. As he just lay there, bundled up. He won't wake anymore, he won't even stir. He's still alive, but just on the brink.
"Adam..." Jamal said as he drove, "You sure this is the right way? I never been here before." Adam is in the back seat with Merrick on him.
"Yeah, I can feel it, we're on the right track."
"Who told you bout this lady anyway?"
"A tan girl with pink hair, Belinda. She's a friend of mine."
"Oh her? I know Belinda. She and her bo, Herald were at the club one time. Had a good time at their place."
"Ah, figures," Adam said, "She's a mermaid." Jamal jumbled as he looked at his rear-view mirror.
"Wh-Wut? You serious???"
"Yeah. She's Holsien"
"Holseewhat?" Jamal asked.
"Turn right," Adam said. Jamal moved the car, and drove on, "There are three kinds of merfolk: Pisciens, Amniens, and Holsiens. Pisciens are fish, Amniens are mammals, and Holsiens are reptiles and squids and such. Merrick is a Piscien merman."
"Whoa man..." Jamal said, shaking his head chuckling, "So Belinda's a octopus mermaid or sumthin?"
"No, sea snake. She told me where to find this person. It's hard to explain how, just trust me on this."
After a long pause of driving, with Adam giving him directions here and there, Jamal spoke again,
"... Ah shyit," Jamal said as he came to a stop, "Yo Adam, I can't go any further." Jamal said. He looked up, and saw they are facing a bog.
"This is good," Adam said. Jamal turned off his car, and got out. He opened the door, and gently took Merrick off of Adam's lap. Adam climbed out, and took his merman back, "If it's gonna take a while, go ahead and head home, and I'll let you know-"
"Nuh-uh." Jamal said as he closed his door, and locked up his vehicle, "I ain't missin this." Adam couldn't help but smile.
"Jamal... Thanks, buddy..."
"Save that, AFTER yo Bo gits betta, eh homeboy?" Jamal said with a smile as Adam walked along the mushy path of the bog.
As they walked they began to sweat profusely from the immense humidity. As they went, Jamal stepped on what looked like a large, thick leaf, before it yanked out from him. "WHOA!!" He yelped as a huge lump of mud rose up, and snarled at the two humans, "The hell is that, man?!"
"I don't know!" Adam said as he looked at the muddy creature. It looks like saber-toothed manate-walrus with clawed feet and a long, thick tail with willowed fin-hairs at the end. It growled and opened its mouth, and let out a loud, blood-curdling roar.
"AHHH SHYIT!!!" Jamal exclaimed as he clapped his ears shut. Adam cringed as he was forced to listen to it scream in the woods. The weird creature stopped its noise, and snarled at them. It then proceeded to waddle into a pond of muddy water, and swim into it.
"I think that was a Bunyip. I remember seeing it in my Monsterology book."
"A what now?"
"Bunyip. Supposedly, it's a mythical beast that dwells in swamps. They're supposed to be extremely docile, but scream out loud when they're scared or angry."
"Uh-huh..." Jamal said before they proceeded on. They tread on large tree roots within the bog. The marsh got steadily less and less muddy and ridden with root rot, and soon came to a body of clear water. Most of the trees are rooted from the pond-bottom.
"Hey, look!" Jamal said as he pointed. Adam looked, and smiled as he saw the bunyip swimming along the large roots. It sucked in a nearby fish and swallowed it whole.
Adam and Jamal kept walking along the river, and spotted a large hut. It looks very shabby, the wooden planks look rotten and old, there weren't any windows, and there are various small objects tied up and dangling from the rafters like wind chimes.
At the dock of the hut, there is a woman there. She wears various dirty rags on her body to form a dress, and a wide turtle shell over her head like a sun-hat. Her skin is dark, or perhaps caked up with dirt. She is looked down and smiled as she crouching down when the bunyip's head came up from the surface. She rubs and pets the face of the bunyip like a pet dog.
"Um... *Ahem* Excuse me?" She turned her head, and looked at Adam as she stood up. Strangely enough, she doesn't look ancient at all. She looks like she could be in her 30's. Heck, she reminds him a lot of Tia Dalma from Pirates of the Caribbean - pretty much the only difference is the hair, as it is a tangled mess with dried out leaves and flowers instead of all dreads "Are you, Atarah?"
"... Yees." She responded, "Who ah you?"
"M-My name's Adam. This is my friend, Jamal," Adam said as he indicated his roommate.
"Sup?" Jamal said.
"What buseeness to yo seek heer?" She asked, "To vencha so fah into teh woods to seek audience of me," She looked at the bundle in Adam's arms, "Do you weesh to bring tat one back from teh deat?" She asked, "You shood know I do cannot walk te deat, and besides, tat is not deat... Yet."
"Y-Yeah, I know-"
"Wait," Atarah said as she held her hand out. She walked to Adam, "Someting feels... Familia..." She approached him, and looked into the face of the blonde merman. She gasped as she looked at him, "Merreek..."
"Yo-You know him?! He's sick," Adam said, "I found him in the oil spill! Please, can you save him?"
"Into teh shack! Quickly!" She said as she turned around, and led Adam and Jamal over the plank-bridge, and into her overgrown hut. There are all kinds of objects and items, jars full of various animal parts, herbs, plants, fluids and other various contents that Adam would rather not know about.
"Een heer, come!" Atarah said as she escorted Adam into a cramped room.
"Here, take the towel," Adam said as he turned to Jamal.
"Aight," Jamal then unfurled the oily towel, and took it from Merrick's body, "Go on, I'll wait here."
"Ok," Adam then carried Merrick into the room.
"Lay heem," She instructed as she knelt to the floor. Adam gently placed Merrick onto the wooden floor, and. She felt along Merrick's stomach, and then peeled back one of hid eyelids, seeing into the severely blood-shot and blue eyes. She opened his mouth, and wiped her finger across his tongue, before swiping it on her own tongue. Her dark eyes looked up at Adam inquisitively, "You feed heem watrr?"
"Yes... Why, was that wrong??" He asked. She pointed a finger at him.
"Tat ees smart," She said as stood up and turned around, "Teh process ees half complete forr tat..." She reached up to the shelf of jars full of various liquids, "You say heem was swimming in teh oil?"
"Yes, he was... He was alone when I found him. I don't know where his pod was."
"Hmmm..." The woman hovered her finger around the jars, "Teh Shroud of Deat?"
"Y-Yes. He also called it the Blood of the Earth."
"Ah!" She grabbed one of the jars - filled with a jet-black liquid. She turned around and knelt back down. She dipped two fingers into the jar, and put the black oil onto Merrick's belly button. She then drew a spiral on his abdomen, which led to his chest, "Why do you halp Merreek? I am... Curious," She asked as she continued to draw the oil in intricate lines and tribal symbols.
"Well... He's my boyfriend," Adam said. Atarah looked up, and she slowly smiled as her eyes reflected glee.
"Ahhhhhh, Ah hear you. So you ees teh Adahm he talk of," She then continued to dip her finger tips into the jar of oil, and draw along Merrick's body.
"How do YOU know him?"
"When you do not come to meet heem, he come to veeset me. He bring me geefs of teh sea when he come," Atarah said as she marked along Merrick's face, "He ees vedy kind boy, like hees Modder," She looked up at Adam.
"Go and wait wit yourr Jamal. Tis will take time."
"Oh... Ok..." He looked with worry at his dormant lover, "You... You can save him, right?"
"He is verry weaken... But yee. He well leve." Atarah told him.
"Ok... Thank you... So much..." Adam felt himself tear up again as he walked out of the room, through the crowded shack, and outside, to find Jamal sitting at the dock, dangling his feet over the water. The bunyip drifted idly around in the very clear water with a few other fish.
"She says he's gonna make it..." Jamal looked at him, and smiled wide.
"That's great, yo!"
"Yeah..." Adam replied.
"... Well try not to sound disappointed man."
"I know, I just... I'd rather get excited AFTER I see him walking again..." Adam said. Jamal nodded in agreement. Adam sighed as he sat down, feeling his stomach churn with high anticipation.
Atarah hit the wall with a thick branch, causing the blinds of the glassless window to fall, and block out the light. She held a steaming punk with an ember tip to a few cream candles. The yellow flame on each wick blinked into an aqua color. Once the candles around Merrick were all lit, the room glowed with a green-blue color.
She picked up a very old teakettle, with various ingredients stashed into it. She gently held Merrick's head, and lift him up, just enough to carefully pry his mouth open, and tilt the kettle to slowly ease in the liquid into his mouth, and down his throat.
Atarah then took a scallop shell, and trickled in some collected rainwater from a leaf. She took a pinch of dried sea salt, and sprinkled it into the shell of water, before she carefully placed it onto Merrick's stomach.
Atarah scooped up a dab of potion from the corner of Merrick's mouth before it could touch the oil mark on his cheek.
After a while, both males are sitting at the dock. "So Adam..." Jamal said as he stirred a stick in the water.
"Are there any um... Side effects?" Jamal asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Ya know, with... Sexin a mermaid or merman? Am I gonna turn all fishy or sumthin?" Adam chuckled and shook his head.
"No, not at all. I've been doing Merrick for a long time now. But there ARE somethings that I get from mating with him.
"L-Like what?" Jamal said, growing nervous, "Adam, I was barebackin wit you guys, tell me if you guys snatched me sumthin."
"Hahaha, relax, Jamal, nothing's wrong with you... But recall that you kissed Merrick when we were getting into it, right? And did you kiss Belinda when you, her, and Herald were going at it?"
"Well, there's an urban rumor - and it's true, it does work - that the kiss of a merperson allows a human to stay underwater for as long as they need to without drowning." Jamal rose his eyebrows.
"Whoa, fo real?? I can breath undawater?"
"No, you just won't drown. How did you think I stayed under the sea for so long when I was looking for Merrick, without needing to go up for air? One kiss, that's all it took, and I never have to worry about drowning again."
"Whoa... So dat's why..." He said as he tossed a pebble into the water, "Anything else?"
"Well, my eyes got more accustomed to the water. Now I can see clearly underwater as if I'm wearing goggles. I took the goggles with me though, so I could protect my eyes from the oil."
"Ah, I see... Can I see underwater too?"
"Maybe. It took some time for my eyes to become more accustomed to the water, but I did notice a definite difference."
"Aight... That all?" He asked.
"Among other things I'm curious about... I'll have to ask him when I get the chance... IF I get the chance..." Adam said with a nervous sigh.
"Hey," Jamal said, "He be aight..."
The oil designs that were painted on Merrick's legs, thighs, and hands had disappeared, while the ornate markings on his arms, abs, chest, neck, and face remained. His skin hasn't gained back its bright color, but it has improved in tone and has become significantly less greasy.
Three of the candles in the small room were put out, leaving seven left still burning with blue flames. Atarah moved her index finger and thumb over to one of the candles, and pinched over it, ignoring the light hissing noise from the heat wisping away.
She hovered her face over Merrick's mouth, and slowly and deeply inhaled. Merrick let out a raspy groan as his chest rose up, and his mouth opened. A black mist rose steadily out from the depths of his body, and through his open mouth. The dark fog rose from him, and entered into Atarah's mouth. As the blackness exited from the merman's lips, the oil markings on his arms slowly evaporated from his skin. The oil on his arms withered into ash-like flakes as it turned to dust, and disappeared into the aqua flames of the candles.
Atarah started shaking violently as the oil essence floated out of Merrick, and rolled into her open mouth. She grunted in the back of her throat before she closed her mouth, having to painfully force down a storm of coughing inside of her. Merrick's body lowered back down while she quaked and quivered, holding her shaky hand over the jar of oil. With her other hand, she held her wrist still.
Little black droplets oozed from below her dark fingernails, and dribbled into the half-empty jar. Atarah wheezed and panted as she stayed crouched, allowing her hand to drain the oil drops into the glass jar. After having her darkened fingers slip out the oil, she moved her shaky hand to the teakettle, and took off the lid to make sure there is enough potion left.
Clinking the lid to the kettle back on, she brought it back up, and gently propped the merman's head up for the second time, and put the spout to Merrick's mouth again, tilting it up in order to let the fluid slide into his throat again.
If he had more time, she wouldn't have to rush through this strenuous process.
After about an hour of waiting, Jamal sighed as he played his 23rd game of Tetris on Adam's iPhone. Laid back, "What chu think she doin in there?"
"Not a clue... I just hope Merrick's alright in there-"
His ears picked up the sound of footsteps pressing on the creaky wood planks of the shack. He whirled around and shot up. Jamal woke up and looked at Adam, before standing up too.
Adam's eyes felt more tears as he saw his Merrick standing in the shack. The blonde stepped out of the shack, smiling happily at the humans as the sunlight touched his bright, peach-colored body, his golden blonde hair, his dazzling blue eyes.
"... Merrick..." Adam said as he slowly walked towards him.
"A-Adam..." Merrick said, suppressing a laugh of joy, "I'm-" Suddenly, Merrick groaned, and toppled over.
"MERRICK!" Adam exclaimed.
"Whoa!" Jamal dashed up, and caught Merrick before he could fall, "Gotchu, gotchu, gotchu!" Merrick groaned as Adam knelt down to him, putting his arms around his lover.
"Merrick! Talk to me, baby, say something!" Adam said.
"I'm... I'm alright, Adam..." Merrick said.
"He need rest and heal," Atarah said as she came in, "Teh Shroud of Deat ees eh poison. Even when purged, damage ees left behind. Drink heem water, and he well be bettrr."
"Th-Then he'll be ok, right?" Adam said as he picked up Merrick. Atarah smiled and nodded.
"Yees. He ees te 17th merperson eva to survive teh black blood."
"Atarah..." Merrick said as he hung on to Adam, still feeling weak and tired, as if he has just woken up from a coma, "How long... Did you know how to heal?" He asked, "Of all the time I've known you, you never told me you knew tricks like that." Atarah just chuckled in her hoarse voice.
"You dinna ahsk me, Merreek," She replied.
"Atarah... Thank you..." The merman said.
"Eef you become injured again," Atarah said, "You know what I can do now," She said with a smile.
"We better head out, guys," Jamal said as he checked his cellphone, "I ain't getting any reception here, and Yuri's prolly wonderin where we at."
"Ok," Adam said, "And thanks again, Atarah, thank you so much."
"Eet was good to meet teh Adam," The ancient said.
Soon, Jamal and Adam carrying Merrick are walking through the swamp. Merrick looked, and smiled as he patted at Adam, "H-Hey! It's Oyana!"
"Huh?" Adam asked as he turned his head to the merman, "What're you talking about?"
"Atarah's bunyip!" He said as he pointed. They turned to see the large creature coming out of the murky water, away from the crystal clear river by Atarah's shack, "A bunyip is-"
"Yeah, I know, I know." Adam said with chuckle.
"We found out when we got here." Jamal said.
"Bring me to her, I wanna say hello!" Merrick said. Adam smiled as he turned, and brought his blonde over to the water, and knelt down to allow Merrick to reach out, and pet the walrus-like animal. The bunyip purred a deep grumble as it nuzzled Merrick's hand, with the water on its head turning his palm silver.
It's all Adam can do to keep from bursting into tears of happiness and spinning Merrick around.
The fact that he's alive to pet a bunyip.
Merrick wiggled comfortably in the freshly cleaned sheets, smiling happily as he enjoyed the warmth from the dryer. Adam smiled as he crawled into bed with him, making Merrick giggle as he kissed his neck, along his cheek. He then smacked his lips rapidly on Merrick's ear. The merman squealed as he felt Adam's lips and tongue tickled him, squirming wildly under Adam.
Adam couldn't stop smiling as he tickled Merrick's smooth skin. He probably should be taking it easy with him to allow Merrick to recover, but he can't help but play with him. He held himself up above the blonde, smiling happily - on the same stance he had with Nick. Adam doesn't feel any guilt about it; why should he? Nothing happened, and he's glad that it didn't. He's got his sea angel right here.
"How're you feeling, babe?" He asked lowly.
"Bored~" Merrick said with a grin as he felt along Adam's burly chest. Adam grinned as he flexed his pecs for his blonde cutie.
"Ooh~ Is that a challenge?" Adam said right before putting his mouth onto Merrick's neck.
"Nonon-HAHAHA!" Merrick laughed even more as he struggled below Adam as he licked and nibbled on his neck.
Yuri is sitting in the lounge chair with her cat on her lap, while brushing Roxas's fur, and Jamal is stabbing Clickers in The Last Of Us. They rolled their eyes as they heard Merrick laughing out loud from Adam's room.
"What is it you said they were supposed to be doing again?" Yuri asked as she scratched the cat's ears while the brush went through the orange-blonde fur.
"Pssh. He's suppose to be restin." Jamal said before another Clicker snuck up on him and took him out.
"Pff," Yuri scoffed as Roxas rolled onto his back, prompting Yuri to stroke and rub around the cat's underbelly, "THAT'S resting?"
"Been drinkin water all day like that lady said. Couple hours later, like nuthin eva happened." He said. Yuri just shrugged as Merrick laughed more from behind the closed door.
"Whatever floats their boat," She said as she rubbed the sides of Roxas's facial fur.
Adam cuddled with Merrick lovingly as he felt his very soft complexion. Merrick blushed and flexed his tummy for Adam, but then cringed and grunted, letting off a cough.
"Aww," Adam said as he rubbed Merrick's arm as he settled right next to him. Merrick reached for the water bottle, and suckled down some water. After taking in a few gulps, Merrick sighed, turned and huddled up to Adam. He giggled as he felt Adam's strong arms wrap around him, feeling his lightly fuzzy, warm body.
Frankly, Adam's too scared to ask if they're officially back together. He figures it's best to just leave well enough alone. After all, from what Merrick says, they're already boyfriends.
He just kissed Merrick's lips as he cuddled him, "Good night, Merrick~" He whispered. Merrick kissed back nuzzled into Adam's manly chest.
"Good night, Adam~" Nestled in each other's arms, they fell asleep.
Adam slowly blinked awake as he heard a familiar, beautiful singing. He groaned as he carefully sat up, and opened his heavy eyes.
He gasped lightly as he saw a white, sheet-like dress flap and waver in the winds. He looked at his curled up lover, and slowly got out of bed, as to not disturb him in his sleep. He kissed his sleeping boyfriend, and tiptoed out of the dark, quiet house.
The porch light lit up as Adam carefully opened the door, exited, and closed it. It's another windy night. The clouds are moving swiftly through the sky, the wind is whistling through the nearby trees, as the waves crashed upon the reef-rocks and washed upon the shore.
Adam ran up to the small cliff by the beach, where the mysterious woman is waiting, facing the sea with her back towards the human. She isn't singing like before, but just standing in silence. Adam huffed and kept his distance, in case this lady is planning on trying something on him.
"... He's fine now. Merrick's still alive. The oil left some internal damage, but Atarah said he'll be alright with some rest and water..." The woman stayed silent, still not turning to him. Adam sighed as he rubbed the back of his neck, "Look, I know even talking to me is off-limits, so... I just wanna say... Thank you..."
After a pause, the woman finally spoke, "Do you know what he is? That he is not human? Or what he means to his kind?" Her voice is strong, yet gentle and calm, with a slight eloquent accent.
"Yes. The Adra Triton, right?" Adam asked.
"... A human who knows of our world..." She said, "You realize what sort of threat that presents to me. To my kind." She said.
Adam felt a tinge of fear from her, "Look, you don't have to worry about me; even if I did say anything to anyone, no one would believe me. To humans, merfolk are myths."
She said nothing as he looked at her flowing, platinum hair, "I know that merfolk believe horrible things about humans... And I'm ashamed to say I don't have much to say to vouch for us... But I hope you believe me when I say that not all humans monsters..."
There came another pause.
"... As a matter of fact... I do believe you," She said, "I know very well humans do not have domain of the skies, or that they cannot command the mountains. I also know that they invent their own chaos, and that they are guilty of immense foolishness..."
"Hmph, you got that right..." Adam stood in awkwardness, "Listen, I appreciate you sticking your neck out, and telling me about Atarah, but... Who are you? Even just being here is a huge risk for you, right? Who are you to him that you would take a chance of being exiled?"
The woman stayed silent for a moment, and then turned her head for a moment, "And who are you? To go to such lengths to save a creature who is not even of your own species?"
"Well..." Adam blushed, "He's my boyfriend... Or, lover, mate, whatever merfolk call it."
For the second time, ever, the mysterious woman turned around to face him, her silver eyes looking at him with a look of surprise on her face, "What? What did you say?"
"Yeah..." Adam said as he felt a hot tingle on his cheeks, "He said something about a Lunar Eclipse," The woman gave a brief look of confusion, "Er, that's a red moon - humans call it a Lunar Eclipse. He said that he fell in love with me on his 3rd red moon? And that I fell in love with him without even knowing it..."
"You are... His mate?" The woman said.
"Yeah. For about 5 years now. He tried to break up with me about 2 weeks ago... It broke my heart as well as his, but he says it's inevitable..." Adam looked aside as he put his hand on his arm, "It devastated me when he tried to end it with us, when he tried to leave me behind, but... I... I still love him, after all that's happened... And he loves me too..."
"... I see..." The woman turned back around, and looked to the ocean, "... Now it is clear..." She muttered, low enough so Adam didn't hear her.
"B-But listen! Please don't tell his pod he's with me - Especially his mother and father. His pod is precious to him... It'll tear him apart if he's banished. Just... Please tell them that he's safe and he's just recovering with Atarah in her river, and that he'll be back soon... Please? I don't want him to lose his pod so soon..." He shook his head, "I can't even stand the thought of him crying again..."
"... Very well. He will rest here, for the time being," The woman said softly, "I trust he is safe in your care..."
"Yes, he is. He's always safe with me." The woman nodded, and took a step off the cliff "Wait! You haven't told me who YOU are! And how did you know about Atarah?" The woman paused, and she chuckled with a smile.
"Amusing... Humans are so clueless, are they not?"
"Huh? Hey! What's THAT supposed to mean??" He said with an irk.
"To think I wove a beautiful shroud to wear for your sake, but to no avail. Are humans not notorious for their physical modesty?"
"Huh?" Adam blinked and gave a weird look, "What're you talking about? What's that got to do with anything? Who ARE you?" Laughing softly, the woman stepped off, and dove into the sea, "HEY!" He grumbled as he slouched, "... AH?! Oh shit!" He just realized that this entire time, he has been completely nude! He covered his crotch for a second, before realizing that he's alone right now. Grimacing, he quickly dashed back to the house, his face going red hot as the cold breeze played along his naked body.