Aquata Cove Chapter 25: Deep Lament
An eagle ray glides gradually along the water. It slowly flaps its flat wingspan as it breathes in the ocean, filtering peacefully as it flies steadily over in the water.
A tooth-lined spear suddenly shot right through the ray. A few wisps of blood seeped through, but no more from the injured ray as it simply floated in the water, instantly dead. A green tailed merman swam up to it, and took his spear, and looked at the ray. A clean kill.
The merman sighed sadly as he turned, and swam down, undulating his emerald tail moved up and down, sailing through the water, and found other merfolk of his kind. He removed the ray from his weapon, and put it into a sand bank with other prey. He turned around, and began to swim away, when a jellyfish mermaid came up to him.
"Brishen? What is the matter?" She asked as she loomed up behind him, and put her slippery, transparent hands onto his shoulders. The merman sighed as he looked at his harpoon, "You always love hunting... What is wrong?"
"I used to be so sloppy... Playful... Now I am far better than I ever have before... But... I cannot feel the joy of hunt I aspired for..."
"Brishen?" Penina asked. Brishen put his free hand to his brow, and looked up at the wavering surface.
"He was my friend... And I never knew the anguish he probably has suffered all those years..." Brishen inhaled a gulp of water, and turned his head to Penina, "I miss him... I will always miss him... Hunting shall never be the same..." Brishen closed his eyes as a thin wisp of glittering white wafted from his eyes, "Not without him..."
Merrick looks over the sparking, orange ocean as he sat on the cliff. The setting sun is illuminating the vast surface, reflecting the warmth of the sun. He puts a hand on the top of his chest, and feeling it bare...
Of all the times he's been on land, he has never felt truly naked until his necklace was taken away.
"... What will happen to them now?" He asked himself, "... Who will look after Sister, now that I am gone... Who shall guide Brishen to be the greatest hunter in the sea?" He shuddered as he whimpered, "Who will be there for my pod when Father..."
As he listened to the rhythm of the waves, he slipped his hand to behind his neck. He felt compelled to cry, just from knowing it's there. The mark that will always brand him, a symbol of his own shame as a merman, an outcast of the ocean.
The more he tried to look at the sea, the more his memories keep spiraling in his head.
"Greetings..." Said a very young, green meryin, slowly approaching a young Adra Triton, "My name is Brishen... I am not very good at hunting..." He looked up to the other male, "May I hunt with you so I can get better?"
Merrick would smile with glee as he nodded, "Yes! I have always wanted a best friend!" The green male giggled excitedly.
"Rrrgghh... That was a close one, Adra Merrick," Brishen said, injured from an attack of a giant crab. Merrick had one arm tucked over his shoulders as he helped his friend swim.
"You should not charge into giant beasts like that, Brishen. You were almost killed! Not even Tritons dare to challenge them!"
"Heh," Brishen simply smirked, "I cannot help it; it is my dream, Adra Merrick." Merrick sighed as he smiled too.
"Then at least get more careful about it. And please, just all me Merrick, Brishen."
"Just watch!" Brishen said as he looked up at Denizyr's smirk, "I will be the greatest hunter in the sea!" Merrick smiled as he patted Brishen's shoulder.
"And I will be right here to make sure you will be," Merrick said, "After all, you need to learn how to make a clean kill."
"Heh heh!" Brishen said, "What is a hunter without style?"
"As the Adra Triton," A large, navy blue mermaid said to a very small crystal blue and silver meryin, "It is your privilege and responsibility to wield the trident," He said as he gave a simple, wooden staff to young Merrick, "You must construct your own weapon," He then showed Merrick is own thick, heavy weapon, "Remember, Son," He said, "Three prongs. No more, no less."
The merman then backed away from a selection of various materials and items, all to assimilate his weapon, "Chose well, my Son."
The small meryin accepted the thin branch, and then swam to the items.
"As a Triton, your abilities alone are superior to that of any other merman of the pod," Kaiken said as he and the Adra swam.
"How do you mean, Father?" Merrick asked.
"You are able to see farther ahead. Your senses are more sensitive to your surroundings. Your combat intuition is much sharper than the normal merperson. Your own mind is more attuned to the embrace of other creatures. That is why we Tritons are the leaders of our kind, as they always have been."
"Your first catch," Kaiken said as Merrick carried a swordfish, motionless at the end of his trident, almost as big as himself.
"It was... Difficult, Father... It almost got away from me... I can do it faster next time..." Merrick said.
"Son, a swordfish is a swift and vicious opponent," He said with a smile, "Yet you have not a scratch on you," Kaiken drifted up to Merrick, and rubbed his shoulder, "When I was an Adra, my first kill was an eel."
"You have made me proud on this night, Son," Merrick smiled as his chest puffed out as pride welled up inside him.
"Your Father must be tough on you, Son," Umiato said as she rubbed young Merrick's back. She coddled him gently as he wept, having just received a rather harsh scolding from Kaiken, "He is only trying to shape you into the best Triton you can be."
"H-He... He-He was so... Scary, Mother..." Merrick cried, "He hates me! I can see it in his eyes, he hates me!"
"No," The Noita said, "He does not hate you. Anger and hate are not the same. His rage will subside soon..." She said softly, "You will see..."
"Am... Am I going to die, Mother?" Merrick asked, as Noita Umiato pressed her glowing hands upon a nasty gash on Merrick's back.
"No, you will not," She said while mending the torn flesh, "You have lost quite a bit of blood, so you shall rest."
"That creature..." Merrick said, "It came out of no where... No, I should have sensed it coming. This is my fault..."
"It was a Fang Jelly, Son," Umiato said as she healed him, "Their bodies are impervious to sense. It was not your fault."
"Compassion for all, my Son," She said as she put a hand on Merrick's cheek. She had followed him after he went hunting in the trench, and saw he has brought game to the young otter merman, "Is a rare and precious gift that eludes most of anyone."
Merrick smiled happily at her, and hugged his mother. She embraced him back, and muttered low, "I will not inform HIM if you will not." He nodded before they then swam in the same direction.
Umiato smiled happily, taking pride in knowing her son is as caring and understanding as he is.
"Son, this is your Sister," Umiato said, simply glowing with joy as she held a bundle of a baby meryin, wrapped in seaweed. Kaiken smiled as he held his mate's shoulder with one arm as the Adra Triton looked in wonder of the small mermaid, "Her name is Savarna."
"She is so small..." Merrick said, "I will always protect her!"
"Faster, faster, Brother!" The young Adra Noita said as she hung onto Merrick's shoulders, "We are losing!" With a whole pod of dolphins, other young mermen and mermaids are swimming fast in a race.
"Hold on tight, Sister!" Merrick said as he kicked his tail harder, and zoomed through the water. He passed, dipped and swayed around a pod of dolphins. Savarna squealed with laughter as the dolphins swam around the two Adras.
Finally, Merrick surpassed the front of the pod, winning the race. Savarna cheered as she loop-dee-looped in happiness, then proceeding to hug the Adra Triton, "I love you, Brother!" He smiled happily as he squeezed her tight in return.
"Brotherrr! Are you ok???" She asked as she had returned to her Sea Spot, holding his trident from the spot where Kaiken had just pinned him to the reef. Merrick is crying almost hysterically. She swam up beside him, and put her hand onto his back.
"Please do not cry, Brother... It will be alright..."
Merrick sniffed and cried as the memories wracked his heart with pain and misery. He whined silently as he placed his arms onto his knees, and tucked his head down.
"I'll never see them again... All of them... I've lost... Everything..."
=== The Previous Night ===
The pod is gathered together in its usual formation... Almost.
Adra Merrick is looking to his entire pod in front of him, his heart going crazy in his chest as they all looked at him, with the Triton, Noita, and Razirah looking to him.
"Adra Triton Merrick of the Piscien merfolk," Razirah Denizyr said, "You are presented before us of the Pod, accused, of breaking one of the Sacred Laws. You are guilty of contacting one or more humans, and thus under the premise of consorting with the human world. Do you deny or confirm this to be true?"
"..." Merrick closed his eyes and bowed his head, "... It is true..." The pod stayed silent as the merman's answer hung in the water.
"Very well then," Denizyr said, "Thus, as the Adra Triton of the pod, you are hereby granted the privilege of a second chance. You may-"
"No." Merrick said. The merpeople gasped in surprise as they looked at the young Triton. Merrick looked up at them, his eyes full of conviction, "Tell them the truth, Father..." He said. Kaiken leered at his son, shaking his head slowly, keeping his eyes on him. Merrick sighed, gazed upon his pod... His whole family... Taking one last look at his one true home.
"I have mated... With a human male."
The pod broke into a shocked murmur, mumbling amongst themselves at the sudden announcement.
"It happened on the night of the 3rd red moon of my life," Merrick began, his body feeling racked with fear, heavy with reluctance as he spoke, "Humiliated that I was not able to find a mermaid to be my future Noita, I swam away so I could be alone. Soon after, I saw an Undine right before it disappeared - the red moon did not end just yet..." Merrick held his arm, and looked to the side.
"When the Undine disappeared, I heard a human singing on the land, and I was curious to see what it was. I went to the surface, and I found a young man by the shore. He didn't see me, but when I saw his eyes, he began shining the aura of the Sea Mother's heart. And then I realized that I was illuminated as well.
"I tried to stay away from the human, trying to convince myself that this must not happen, that it was a mistake... But I longed for him, so much..." Merrick let go of his arm, and looked to his whole pod, "Ever since that night, when my bond was made, I go to find him when we come to these waters. I go to see my mate, and be with him." The pod mumbled further, all of them turning to each other and muttering.
"Very well then..." Denizyr said sadly as he bowed his own head, "From this moment forth, Adra Triton Merrick... You are now Coshiton."
The large, grey merman swam up to him, his many strapped shell slices clinking and wavering on his body, "As the Razirah of the Pod, I hereby relinquish the trace you hold to the pod," Denizyr took the necklace, and lifted it up over Merrick's head. Immediately, Merrick felt a strange sense of isolation enter his body when that necklace was removed from his body. Denizyr put the necklace on a hook-like appendage on his body, and faced Merrick, "May the Waves of Fate always guide you..."
When Razirah Denizyr swam away, Triton Kaiken swam up to Merrick, his own long, strong trident mounted on his back, while he held Merrick's shorter trident in his large hands. Merrick looked up at his father, giving him a defiant look, as Kaiken glared at him right back as he held his weapon, "As the Triton of the Pod, I hereby destroy the weapon you carry as punishment," Kaiken then snapped Merrick's trident in half, The two prongs of his weapon unfurled and detached from it, before Kaiken let the weapon drop, "May the Guardian Leviathan have mercy on your soul..."
As Triton Kaiken angrily swam away, Noita Umiato drifted up to Merrick. The palm of her hand is glowing a bright light as she came to him. Merrick's face softened as he looked to his beautiful mother. She looked sadly at him as she came close, "As the Noita of the Pod, I hereby mark your flesh with the symbol of your crime," Her other hand then rose up, and brushed against his cheek, "And know... That no matter where you go, or what you do," White wisps began to seep from her eyes, "You will always be, and forever more, my Son. My beloved, little Merrick..."
Merrick's eyes watered as a whimper came as he hugged her. Umiato wrapped one arm around him, and the other hand, the one with the glowing light, gently pressed upon his back, right between the shoulders, and just at the base of the neck.
"ENNNGGHH!" Merrick's clenched shut as his hands pressed down on his mother, while his whole body tensed up as he felt the magic burn into his flesh. He grunted, hissed, and whimpered in pain as the mystic energy singed into his skin, like fire slowly painting an intricate symbol on his flesh. Umiato gasped and sobbed as she kept her hand right on Merrick, feeling the magic burn her as bad as it did him, but not as much pain as what this process meant. Merrick's arms held around her tighter as he endured the cruel sting of the symbolization spell.
This is the agony Coshitons are given... The burn Arnaav had to embrace at such a young age... The one pain he wanted to spare his mother from as long as he could...
Merrick panted as he felt the burning start to subside. Glittering tears seeped from his closed eyelids as the outer pain started to leave his flesh. His grip on Umiato loosened up as the burning energy slowly faded away from her webbed hand. The light from Umiato's palm is gone, leaving her hand unmarred. The water around the back of Merrick's neck still has a resident fog of steam, as the intricate, heart-design symbol glowed faintly, as the heat absorbed the chill of the ocean.
"May the Sea Mother Atargatis always protect you..." She said as she gently rubbed Merrick, "My Son..."
Merrick nuzzled his mother softly, before reluctantly drifting from the heavenly mermaid, and swam away from the pod. He can feel the eyes of his entire pod looking at him as he moved his tail up and down.
Noita Umiato's body shimmered a blue sheen. More white mist started rising from her eyes as she brought her pearly hands to her face, and wept. She cringed and sobbed as she felt her son's melancholy aura move further and further away from them.
This is it... Her son is exiled... The Adra Triton of this pod is no more...
"Hm?" Adam felt a small tap on his cap, and looked up. Clouds are forming up above in the sky. It was sunny all day, but now some grey clouds are rolling into the sky. He blinked as he felt a cold dab land right on his cheek.
"... Rain?" He said, feeling a few more cool dots tap on his face and hands, "That's... Weird. The news said it's supposed to be sunny all week..." He then jogged over to the Fish House as the rain gradually intensified.
"NOOOOOO!" Merrick turned around, and gasped as he saw Savarna swim right up to him.
"S-Sister! Umf!" Merrick said as the young mermaid tackled her brother, crying profusely.
"You CANNOT leave, Brother! You can't!" She squeezed him tighter, "We need you, Brother! I will not allow you to go!"
"Sister..." Merrick said as he hugged her, feeling himself sob as well, "I must... I do not belong in our pod anymore..."
"I will not let you!" Savarna said as she buried her face into his chest, "You will die! You cannot leave us! You are NOT Coshiton! I cannot live without my Brother, please do not leave me!" The Adra pleaded, weeping hysterically, "Do not leave, Brother! Stay close with us! Please staaaay!" Merrick cried too as his sister begged him to stay.
"I wish I can, my dear Sister... I wish with all my heart I can stay with you..." Merrick said gently, "I love you, Sister... Look after the pod... Please see to it that Brishen becomes the hunter he is meant to be... Please make as many friends as you can... Sing better than any mermaid in the ocean..." He managed to say.
"NOO! You cannot do this! No!" She said. Just then, a strong pair of hands came in, grabbed Savarna, and yanked her away from Merrick, "NOOO! STOP IT!! Let me go!" The Triton turned, and waved his massive tail out, hitting Merrick with the sharp tailfin, and pushing him away with the water.
"You cannot do this, Father! He will die all alone! Do not let him die, please, Father!" Savarna struggled helplessly in Kaiken's grip, "Don't go, Brother! Please come back!"
Merrick turned around, and started swimming, as fast as he can - hearing his sister's screaming is more than his heart can bear. "NO! NONONO Please come back, Brother! Don't leave me!! MERRICK!!! Please don't die! MERRIIIICK!!!"
The merman cried as he pulled himself on the beach, his silvery blue body still showing as he moved to the rock-reef that is part of the cliff. He rolled himself onto his back, and growled in distraught aggravation as the rain continued to pour down upon him.
Merrick sat up, feeling so ready to die right now... His sister's cries and begging is still ringing in his head, deeply cutting into his heart.
He failed his father's legacy... He wounded his mother's heart... He disappeared from his sister's life... He abandoned his friend's dream... He left his pod behind...
Merrick put his hand to the white scallop shell on his forehead, and pulled off the headband from his finned head. The white shell is adorned with ornate silver designs, as are the shells on his shoulders. His hand shook as he gripped the headband tightly, before chucking it at the rocks, breaking the shell into three pieces. Merrick ripped off the left shoulder shell and threw it at the rock too. One belt of sharkteeth fell from his body, before he yanked off the other shoulder shell, and threw it right at the rock. He took the two belts, and flung them away as well.
His webbed hand tucked at his silver bracelet, and almost yanked it off of him as well. He stopped short, however, as he realized that it was his human that gave this token to him. "... Adam..."
The rain had came to a gentle stop as Merrick dragged himself along the sand, and feeling the grass brush on his tail, which has already shown a peach-colored hue and has a divide in the middle. He looked up, and saw the familiar land-ship, where his love resides in.
"Adam..." He grunted as he pulled his weight along the grass. Moments later, his legs had parted, showing a bit of blue scales and a pearly sheen on his body as he stood up, and ran up to the back porch. He hit into the glass door, grunting in discomfort as he slapped at the clear wall.
"No! Not again!" He said, hitting the invisible wall frantically, "Please, let me in! Adam!! Jamal! Yuri! ANYONE HERE?!" He yelled out as he banged on the glass. He looked to the side, and saw the handle. He immediately seized the handle, and yanked it hard. He grunted as he pulled with all his might, but it would not budge.
"How... Rrrggghhhh! By the DEPTHS!" He slammed the glass hard with his fist, "How do I open this infernal door?!" He said in anger as he tried opening the door several times, but it would not move. Yuri opened the door for him before he left, and it was easy! Why will it not move now?!
Merrick tried a few more times to open it, but to no avail. The merman sobbed gently as he crouched down, and slipped back. He gasped and cried as he lay on his back, and turned toward the glass, curling up as he wept.
"Anyone... Please..." He sobbed, "Not again... Waiting on endless time... I'm all alone now... So... Alone..." Shimmering white tears kept pouring from his eyes as he jerked and sobbed.
"Rarrrrr." Merrick gasped as he looked up, and saw the orange cat looking at him from a windowsill. The feline looked at the blonde curiously.
"... Ro... Roxas?"
"Purrrraarr?" The cat mewled as it let itself down, and trotted over to the merman. Merrick sniffled and whimpered as the soft feline came to him. It sniffed at his hand, before nuzzling it as he gently stroked along it. Merrick moved himself to sit up, and Roxas stepped onto his naked lap, curling up and tilting his head back as those fingers scratched along his head.
"... My pod..." Merrick said, "I am... I'm Coshiton now..." He said, with pearly white tears dropping from his eyes. Merrick spoke in the purring-like sound he did the night before he left. Roxas continued to purr as he lay down onto Merrick's legs.
Merrick lay there on the porch. Just like before, he is waiting on endless time, waiting for anyone to come home. Roxas stayed with him for the majority of the time, keeping him company as they both waited. Merrick is half asleep, half awake at this time, feeling more dead than alive. He still cannot believe his worst nightmare has come to pass - exiled from his pod...
He heard the distant, obnoxious rumbling. Roxas perked his ears as he looked up, moved up, and got up. The cat jumped up into Yuri's window, and entered the household. He heard a pleasantly familiar voice. Seconds later, he heard a click, and the glass door raced open "Oh my God!" Adam stepped out and knelt down, "Merrick?! What're you doing here?!"
Merrick looked up at his human, his lower lip trembling as he looked into Adam's handsome, concerned face, "Sweetie, what's wrong? Aren't you supposed to be gone by now? What happened, and where's your shells? What happened to your shark teeth?" The merman whined and sobbed as he moved up, and threw his arms around Adam. Merrick cried out, sobbing uncontrollably as he buried his face into Adam's shirt.
"Babe, what's the matter?!"
"M-My pod! ... Th-They..." Merrick tried to speak, but he couldn't get in a straight sentence without the hysterical weeping.
"A-Alright, it's ok, sweetheart, it's alright," Adam said calmly, holding the back of Merrick's blonde hair, and rubbing his back up and down as the merman wept continuously, "Here, lets come inside, alright?" Adam gently tucked his arm under Merrick's knees and picked him up, turning and carrying him into the house. Roxas meowed as he followed in, before Adam closed the door.
Merrick tried to suppress any more tears as the thoughts of what has transpired haunted his heart. The fact that Brishen will never hunt with him again... The look of utter disappoint on his father's face... The way his mother bid him a loving goodbye... The sound of Savarna's screams of sorrow as she was taken away from her beloved playmate...
"Hi, Merrick..." Came a soft voice. Merrick tried to stop crying at once, and looked behind. There is Yuri with a pair of light blue popsicles. She slowly approached him, and offered him one. The merman sniffled as he accepted it, and she sat right beside him.
"Thank you, Yuri..." Merrick said as he took it, turning it over, and looking at it curiously, "... What is it?"
"It's ice cream," She said, "It's from a video game I like to play."
"I... I've tried ice cream at the pier, this doesn't look anything like it..."
"Heh, I know, that's what I first thought too. It's more like an ice cream bar," She said as she nibbled at the top of her treat, "Try it," Yuri said before she licked her popsicle.
Merrick hesitated before he licked his blue bar. The very taste of it made him want to cry all over again.
"... It tastes so much like the ocean..." He mumbled. Yuri chuckled at that.
"Yeah, it's called Sea Salt Ice Cream." She said as she slurped it, "It's an exclusive flavor though; it had to be imported all the way from Japan." Merrick starred at his ice cream. The flavor is so sweet, and it's so nostalgic of where he was born. He took another lick. Again, a refreshing rush of cold and sweetness. He took another lick. It feels and tastes great after being out in the sun all day, looking over the sea. He took another lick. Sea and sweet, just like a few loved ones he will never see again. He took a bite. The taste is so nice and painful at the same time.
He rose the ice cream bar to take another bite, but he stopped. He closed his mouth as he slowly lowered it back down. His eyes twinkled again as he slowly hunched over.
"... Adam told me what happened to your pod..." Yuri said, looking at Merrick seeing a tear peek from his eye, and slipped along his cheek, "I'm sorry... It must have been a terrible attack..." Yuri looked as Merrick's popsicle dripped in the heat, "I can't imagine having to fight a two-tailed mermaid ambush on my family..." Yuri looked to him, and put her hand on his back, as his shoulders shook.
Yuri sighed as the Sea Salt bar slipped from Merrick's fingers, and dropped into the ocean, stick and all. "You know that we're here for you, right?" She asked softly as she rubbed his back.
"... Stop..." Merrick said, his voice thick and shaky, "Please don't touch me..."
Yuri blinked, and removed her hand from him, "Sorry, I was just trying to-"
"It's not your fault... I don't deserve your kindness..." Merrick sobbed, covering his eyes as he cried.
"... Look, Merrick. It's not your fault that you ran away. Anybody would be scared." Yuri said, trying to find the right words to console him.
"What?" Yuri asked, not knowing whether or not to feel offended.
"Lies..." Merrick repeated, "That is all I truly am... Lies, lies, lies!" Merrick said as he shook his head.
"Wh-What are you talking about?!" Yuri asked, a little taken aback by this sudden outburst.
"For 5 years... I have lied to my pod... I have lied to my Father... I have lied to my Mother, my MOTHER!" He said, "She is the Noita of the pod, she should have seen right through me! And I have fooled her for so long!" He sobbed, "The fact that I as so good at deception disturbs me! Even to my love..." Merrick moaned as he looked at his hands.
"Even to my mate... Adam... He even believed me... And he told you my lie..." Yuri blinked her eyes in surprise at the distraught merman.
"I lied, Yuri..." Merrick whimpered, "I lied, I always lie..." It is all he can do without breaking down completely, "Because the truth is so painful to me... It has always been agony to hide all this time, but I had no choice... My pod was so precious to me, I had no other choice... And now I have lied to the man I love!" Merrick cried, "I don't even deserve to live anymore!"
"Hey- Merrick!" Yuri said as she stared at him, "Merrick... What happened?" She asked. She knew it's probably impolite to ask him at this time, "What are you lying about...?" Merrick dug his fingers into his hair as he cried. Her dark eyes furrowed, before widening, "Ohhhh... I think I see...
"Your pod wasn't ambushed... Was it?" Merrick gasped and shuddered, looking at her, and back down, shaking his head, "Merrick? Look... You don't have to tell me if you don't want to..." Merrick sniffled and looked straight into the sea.
"Yuri... Please promise me you won't tell Adam about this... Not yet..."