Aquata Cove

Chapter 67: Homecoming

Arnaav quivers as he holds onto the Capricorn, on his own. His little heart is going insane in his chest, beating a mile a minute as they move through the ocean.

He shouldn’t be doing this. The mark on his left chest symbolizes his betrayal, why would they insist that he leaves? What if something happens? What are they going to do once they see him?

He eeps as he signals ahead, hearing a collection of voices from the distance. His body is heavy with fear and suspense. He wishes that he can just turn back, he shouldn’t have to endure the ranting he is about to receive.

Moments later, Arnaav can hear the school of otter merfolk before him. He huffs and whimpers as the Capricorn slows down, still shaking to the point of vibration as he rises up. He huffs and whimpers as he sees a large white, furry mass at the front of the pod, along with a female otter mermaid by his side.

His throat clenches as he rises up, and gives a very timid call. He gasps a little as he sees the pod slow down, if only slightly. He gives another faltering call out to them, and turns the head of the large Triton at the front.

Triton Bertone gaps as he sees the tiny boy floating there, alone, looking very terrified just to be there. “My boy…” He mutters. Bertone immediately pushes his mighty arms to launch forth towards Arnaav.

Arnaav squeaks in fear as Bertone paddles swiftly to him, shaking with terror before those huge arms grab him tightly. He grunts as he is forced into the polar bear merman’s big, fluffy body. Arnaav wriggles against him, and moves into a more suitable position as he feels his father hold him tightly.

“F-Father,” He grunts as he tries to talk, “I-I-”

“I am so happy you are back…” Bertone whimpers. Arnaav’s trembling starts to ease as puts his small paws onto the bear’s chest, “I have missed you so much…”

“Y-You mean…” Arnaav looks up with emotional eyes, “You do not hate me?”

“Mnnhh!” Bertone hugs tighter as he shook his head.

“We were never angry, Arnaav,” Noita Rayette says she comes around, and gently caresses the boy, “You are back, if only for a little while… We have always loved you…”

Arnaav sniffles as he reaches an arm out, and feels his mother’s touch. Bertone huffs with emotion as he opens one arm up, and allow the Noita to come in closer. Adra Aricio swims around, and puts her arms in as well.

Arnaav purrs lowly as he snuggles in the crowded embrace, moaning in contentment as the fear melts away inside him.

-Almost 2 Years Later-

A large, unsuspecting flounder hovers by along the reef. Its body casually hovers along the sand as it moves peacefully, minding its own business.

Its body halts as its wavering fins slow for a moment, sensing a slight disturbance in its vicinity, like a wave of invisible prickling from all around.

In a flash of a moment, a brown and cream blur hurls forth in a rapid wheel of motion! The flounder opens its small fins JUST before a pair of blades sink into it! At the hands of an otter merman as he grinned deviously at the kill, his tail moving to and fro with suppressed excitement.

Arnaav removes the ornate dagger from the flounder’s carcass, while keeping the survival knife impaled into it. He swims back to the ascending Piscien hiding under a large stone.

“That was a good kill,” Merrick commented as his protégé presents his prey to him, “One-hit strike, very decisive and precise.” He observed that the flounder has not moved at all since Arnaav killed it, “You are still sending one too many signals than you need. At the last moment, it sensed that you were near.”

“I am beginning to understand what you say about knowing the prey’s next movement,” Arnaav told him, “The way it was moving its fins and tentacles, I was almost sure of where it was going to go, as if I can see into the future!”

Merrick chuckled as he scratched the otter’s fuzzy head, “Not quite. Intuition is not the same as psychic. You are coming into your talents nicely, now that your Father has been able to instruct you when you see him.”

“Yes, that is because he did not yell at me at each lesson!” Arnaav stuck his tongue at Merrick.

“Oh, lay off, Arnaav,” Merrick tapped the young one’s nose, “I haven’t yelled at you in years, and I stopped soon enough. Besides, my own Father was the one who was harsh on me. My first kill was that of a swordfish, and that was when I was younger than you.”

“Hanngh,” Arnaav nipped at Merrick’s hand with his mouth, before they chuckled and turned.

“Come. Let us return to the pod. I am wondering if it is time for me to return home yet.”

“Hrrmm…” Arnaav’s ears lowered as he murred sadly as they loomed forward towards the pod while Arnaav nibbles on his lunch. Moments later, they meet with the band of Coshitons, resting for a moment before continuing on to their travels.

Noita Vanora has her hands upon Deilan’s head, her eyes closed as she feels his energy and stamina, reading into his body and analyzing his very being while her fingers radiate with abundant power.

Finally, she opens her eyes and addresses the squid merman before her, “You are not yet ready, Deilan. I advise 2 more moons before returning to the land.”

“Confound it…” Deilan scowled.

“My turn!” Syrinx says as she paddles up. Vanora places her hands upon Syrinx’s temples, and began to feel her soul’s aura as well. In a few moments, the Noita removes her hands gently from her.

“You are ready, Syrinx.” Vanora informed her.

“Wonderful!” Syrinx rejoiced. Merrick’s heart pounds as he swims up to Vanora.

“And me?”

“Come.” Vanora feels Merrick’s head, like the others, and reads into his aura. She winces slightly as she delves into his being – even after as much personal growth he’s had, the scars of his heart are still painstakingly obvious.

Vanora takes a few more seconds, before opening her eyes, “You are barely ready. But I would wager you would leave regardless if you were completely recovered or not.”

“I need to be with my mate,” Merrick smiled, “What can I say?”

“This is only your second occupation in the pod, Merrick,” Samudra smirks, “So eager to live on the land, you must truly yearn for your human.”

“I am.” Merrick nods, “I almost cannot stop thinking about him the whole I am here.”

Triton Samudra chuckles before he sends a couple of signals, calling a Capricorn to drift along to him, “It is convenient that the both of you live on the same isle of land,” He tells Syrinx and Merrick, indicating that they are to share a ride, so to speak.

“Yes.” Syrinx nods, “I am ready-”

“Wait!” Arnaav pipes up. Eyes turn to the young otter, as he floats there, now looking shy and awkward.

“What is the matter?” Merrick asked curiously.

“I… Um…” He looks up with pleading eyes, “T-Take me with you… Please?”

The members of the pod gapped at Arnaav from his request.

“You… Want to come with us?” Merrick asked, “To the human world?”

“P-Please, Merrick…” He begged softly, “I missed you so much when you left the first time… I felt so lonely without you…” He whimpers as he looks up with those big, orb-like eyes.

“Arnaav, an average merfolk cannot last for more than 14 suns upon land, let alone as young as you are.” Merrick says, “I am going to be gone for a lot of moons.”

“I do not care!” He says, “Please do not leave me behind!” He begged.

“What do you think?” Merrick asked the Triton.

“It is his decision,” Samudra says, “He knows the limits. Or else you can appeal to the Forbidden Ancient, if she might know a way to allow him to remain on land longer.”

“Even with the scales she makes for me, that doesn’t make me any more resistant to the call of the sea than I already am.” Merrick said.

“Pleeeaase, Merrick, pleeeaase,” Arnaav begs. Merrick smiles as he chuckles.

“Alright, yes. You may come.”

“Yay!” Arnaav races up to Merrick and hugs him tightly. He hugs him back before the three of them take a hold of the Capricorn, and wave goodbye as they start to leave the Kenovani.

“He truly is pushing himself too far sometimes,” Vanora said, “Deilan and Syrinx aren’t nearly as impatient as he is.”

“From what he tells me of humans and their opinion on same-gender love, I can hardly blame him.” Samudra says.

“How do you mean?”

“Men who love other men as mates, as Merrick tells me, are held as taboo amongst humans.” He explained, “Males who are attracted to females have little to fear when they are together where all can see. But males who mate with males, and conversely…” He glances to a pair of mermaids of the Kenovoni – one has the Forbidden Love symbol on her stomach, and the other has the symbol on her left shoulder, mated to each other, “Females who are mated with females as well. They cannot show themselves so openly to other humans.”

“It is true,” Vanora says, “The more you hide something, the more it will want to come out.” She sighs as she watches the three young merfolk riding the Capricorn ride into the ocean, “Given that, is it any wonder why Merrick feels so drawn away then.”

The trio holds tightly onto the aquatic goat as it slowly races across the sea – while it seems and feels as if it is moving gradually, the three merfolk notice that they are moving faster than it looks. They watch up above as a colossal whale calls its haunting melody while they move through the open space of the ocean.

The Capricorn guides them through a roaming school of Hippocampi as their flippers gallop in the water. Arnaav laughs in wonder as he reaches up to pet one of the horse-like fish, feeling very excited as he feels along the very colorful flesh – so smooth, yet so very scaled with a small mail of shiny specs.

After what feels like an hour of no doubt probably half of a day from traveling through the ocean, Merrick smiles with excitement, as he can taste the familiar waters of Hawaii, as well as his own sense of balance and perception of time and surroundings shifting in his head as he can feel the Capricorn coming to a stop.

Syrinx turns her head as something catches her peripheral vision, before her eyes widen with a gasp.

“I think I know the way from here,” Merrick says, as he takes a moment to stretch his arms – the altered perception of time is now messing with his body and mind. Arnaav yawned as he started to float up, “Syrinx, you-”

“Merrick look there,” Syrinx nudged him. Merrick turns his face to look, and feel his insides tighten up.

There, floating a fair distance away, shimmering white from her veil-like fins that drape and waft around her body. Long tendrils of thin membranes drift from her head while her long tail billows gracefully down like a giant, angelic beta fish. Her platinum eyes look upon the three merfolk as they gaze at her, alone – no other merfolk are present.

‘Why is she here?’ Merrick thinks as he trembles as a rush of emotion starts to surge in his body.

“Do you know her?” Syrinx whispered, “I cannot recall if I have seen her before.” She looks in fascination to this celestial being, as if she could be the Herald of the Sea Mother Herself, coming to them like a heavenly messenger from the radiant moon, “She is… Beautiful.”

Merrick’s chest feels like a fragile rock, with his heart feeling like a blunt hammer pounding inside of him. His body trembles terribly as he sees the wavering aurora-like mermaid come slightly closer.

“Muh… Mother…” Merrick whimpers. Syrinx blinks as her head quirked to him.

“THAT is your Mother?!” She asked, completely astonished. She takes a moment to glance at Merrick – in particular, the pearly sheen around his body, as well as the elegant membranes along the sides of his tail, and then back at the gorgeous mermaid all the way over there, “By the depths…” ‘So that is an Arctic Veil mermaid…’ Syrinx thought, ‘She just looks so glorious…’

“Why is she alone?” Merrick mumbled, “I do not understand…” Honestly, he feels terrified. He has not even seen her ever since he was banished. Sea Mother knows just how she must feel about him by now, “Why is she here…” He mumbles.

“Merrick…” Syrinx puts a hand on his shoulder from behind, “I think she wants to see you…”

“But I… I cannot. I failed her,” His eyes begin to tear up, “I could not succeed my pod. I lied to her time and time again. I lied to the pod. I abandoned everything I was supposed to be. I can never be the son she deserve-”

“Merrick…” Arnaav paws at his arm. Merrick turns to look at him, and those big, innocent eyes gaze back up at him, “Do not leave her...” Merrick’s chest shuddered as a white wisp started to come from his eyes, “Please go to her… Please…”

Merrick put his hand onto Arnaav’s paws, and gently moved them down, just as Arnaav took his harpoon. Merrick turned to face the mermaid, and trembled as he undulated his tail, while Syrinx and Arnaav stayed behind.

The banished Triton waves his tail up and down, finding himself sobbing little by little the closer he comes to his mother.

Umiato looks sadly upon her son. His aura… It’s so different. It’s been altered so much since that day when she last held him in her arms – the day she left that mark on the back of his neck. Consumed in so much, with rays of light rolling and roaming the darkness in attempts to heal itself, with more than half of it restored, but with more energy that is still undone to be comfortable with – especially a sudden spike of emotion just now, right when they saw each other.

“Come,” Syrinx nudged Arnaav, “Let them have a moment alone…” She brings Arnaav closer, and bids the Capricorn to drift away.

Merrick huffs as he swims to her, sniffling as he flaps his tail before he is right in front of her, and he stops, “M-Mother, I-I-” He didn’t even finish his sentence. Umiato puts her hands around the merman, just before Merrick did the same. He sobbed as he squeezed her tight, feeling so much heaviness in such a short moment.

Noita Umiato presses one hand upon Merrick’s back, and the other on the back of his head as he hugs her, whimpering and crying into her breast.

“Hush, my Son…” She gently said, “I am here…” Her veil-like fins waver slowly as she holds onto him, “I am here…” Lost, alone, or scared. That’s always what she’d say when Merrick needs her.


“Be still, my Son… I am here…” Merrick takes deep, harsh breaths as he struggles to cope with his inner demons while clinging to the mermaid who gave him life. To see her now, after all that he’s done to her.

“It has been so long…” She muttered, “I feel so much hurt and complexity inside of you…” She softly pushes Merrick back a little, and presses her hand to his chin to bring his face up, “Let me see you,” Merrick moved his head away, casting his face down and shaking his head.

“No, Mother, do not…” He huffs and sobs as he can feel her aura try to see into him, “Do not, please.”

“Son, let me see you, please,” She insists, “It is alright, I am here.”

“I cannot, my soul… It is too torn. I am not, please,”

“Hush now,” She gently says as she brings his face up to see her. Umiato gasps as flashes of the past surface from just a glimpse of Merrick’s sobbing eyes.

Drying sickness raking every part of his being as an endless cloud of terror pulls at his mind and heart from just looking upon the ocean, while falling into very bad health, desperate to stay alive while ashamed to live at all. Wasting away to nothing, yet feeling as if there is no right to grieve and seek aid; only to hide the scorching drain inside until everything goes black again. All in fear of a silent killer that will never leave him alone in the sea, to turn your back on something so desperately needed and desired, to adopt an alien life that is slowly extinguishing one’s soul.

“Ghh…” Merrick’s chest clenches as he sees Umiato gasp silently.

Love and trust shatter in the wake of personal failure. Purpose lost, fractured holes falling like glass shards, punctured by deprivation from those he holds so close to his heart, not cast away, forever out of his reach as he remembers who he was for the sake of identity, like refusing to move from a tree that bares fruit that is too tall for him to reach, just for the sake of knowing that it used to supposed to belong to him, now alone in a place where he knows nothing, surrounded by unfamiliar creatures that can never even begin to know what true isolation and suffering is.

Horror and sadness pours inside Umiato’s chest as she absorbs Merrick’s memories, “Mother… Please stop…” She should not have come here. Though he does not see what she is looking into, the expression of rapidly growing sorrow on her fair face tells him far more than she has to say.

Evil. Sheer evil. The sun turned into a weapon as a demon probes him with endless questions, and robs him of life after he mocks and trap him in a never-ending maze of deception and pain. A cackling guardian who laughs at each moment of punishment and ridicule that his lashed onto a dying merman. A human with a dead soul, mutilating, cutting, dissecting, unfeeling. Liars, liars everywhere, all monsters that deserve as much mercy as was given. So desperate for escape, refuge, yet at all costs, secrets must be kept and locked away of a life that is no longer his to have, yet is determined to protect and preserve, even at the cost of endless agony. The life of one so precious being forced out by one’s own hand, to soon snap back into the mind, and realize what kind of a monster one has become. All to cling and preserve one’s own self, on behalf of their own kind.

“Oh Son…” Umiato shakes her head with great sadness as the tapestry of anguish seems endless, “What has happened to my Son…”

“I cannot, please stop looking in me!” Merrick clenches his eyes shut as he shakes himself out of Umiato’s arms. “Do not look at me, I am nothing now. Just-” He starts to turn to swim away, feeling deep despair for letting his own mother see the pit of shadow and misery his aura has become.

“Merrick.” He froze, just as he feels a hand on his wrist. Merrick huffs as he keeps his eyes cast down. He doesn’t have the heart to push her away, even though she shouldn’t see what he is… He’s not her son anymore…

“Son…” Umiato pulls him gently. Her eyes wisp for tears as she catches a last a glimpse of his eye.

Wave-crashing guilt, spiraling constantly as a whirlpool of darkness. A shining future as a Triton of the Navyn Tail merfolk, crumbling away into fragments within a single hour. Contained deception, true love turned into a crushing secret, locked away and sinking like a knife, deeper and deeper into one’s stomach the longer it continued. To let everyone believe there was so much hope, too much trust. To hide and deceive…

The one he truly identified with… The one who always trusted him, he promised her to be the best example one can offer. Everything there was, everything that was said, everything that was tried: Lies. Everything is a lie. Hopes and love shattered. To betray someone who gave one life, led her on into thinking he was anything more than distant prince, and then abandon everything and leave it all behind. To never deserve to even look upon her again.

“Son, no…” Umiato softly said as she brought him closer, “Come,” Merrick wept as she holds him close. The negative energy inside of Merrick is so turbulent, it’s almost too difficult to even hold him. He seemed almost fine and content when he was riding the Capricorn a few minutes ago, but ever sense he noticed her presence, there was a sudden rush of hurt in his aura.

He shakes his head, trembling more as he inwardly insists that he shouldn’t have her here. “I am sorry, Mother,” Merrick sobbed as more guilt spiraled up inside him, thinking again and again the very point of how it all began – on that Red Moon, “I tried, I tried… I could not help it… I am sorry, I have failed you… I have failed them all… I do not know, I just, it-” Black and blue fire rages and spirals inside of the banished prince as he feels the embrace of the Noita. He doesn’t even have the right to feel her, to hear her voice, to have her touch him, not after everything… Not now. Not ever.

“I am sorry, Mother…” Merrick continued, “I do not know what happened, I did not know what to do when it happened, I just… I cannot…”

“Hush, Son,” Umiato calmly repeated as she held him close, “It is not your fault.” She hugs him tenderly as Merrick sniffled and choked, “It was never your fault.”

“But I lied to you… I betrayed you, I betrayed the pod… I turned my back to the sea…”

“You did no such thing…” She said, “I learned you were mated to a human man before you were banished…” Umiato said, feeling a clench from her son’s hands “I was... Shocked when he informed me. But I can see that he was a good human… One who went so far to protect you…His soul is a bright one.” She looks down upon his head with a soft smile, “I was happy. You have found the one true love of your life.”

Merrick takes deep breaths as he tries to cope with this very moment alone, “From then on, I knew it was only a matter of time before you were made a Coshiton… I had hoped to talk to you before that happened,” Merrick whimpers as his tail twitches, ready to whip around and swim away, “So that I may discover this new side of you, Son.” Merrick stops his tail immediately, “You… My Son… So unique and different from any merman I have ever seen, it seemed, with a different mind and perspective…”

Umiato frowns slightly, “But your Father…”

“Mnnnhh…” Merrick cringed.

“He knew… Before I had discovered, he knew, and…” Umiato took a deep breath, and sighed, “I begged your Father to not invoke your trial – to call out your violation of the Sacred Laws. But you know him…” Merrick nodded against her chest, “Nothing would do but to have you answer for your crime. I sensed that he did not believe that you were mated a man. That invoking your trial would set you on a proper state of being…”

“Please, Mother…” Merrick whined, his feelings only growing darker, “Let me vanish, Mother…”

“Oh, Son…” Umiato’s aura began to shift and waft around her, “You have been lost and gone mad within the darkness…” Umiato whispers with tenderness, “I should have taught you how to hold the light… A long time ago.”

Merrick tenses as Umiato’s arms held him closer.

Laughter, and welcoming sunshine. A human with warm brown hair, chocolate eyes, a smile that brings the heartening breeze of a caring, beloved heart. He’s such a beautiful creature, constantly happy to give himself to anyone he knows and loves. He holds his arms out, and brings the light out of someone just from the mere touch. To give and sooth, and protect, to give momentary life in a whole different world, away from everything else.

A healer. Fair and calm, serene and caring, if not strictly prohibitive. Talks, so many talks, about life and matters that seem to trivial but feels fulfilling at the same time, while also in a place full of words and paper, with other such people with similar interests and energies. A healer who, despite what she may have thought after breaking the heart of her friend, stayed by one’s side, and helped him as the blood of the earth poisoned his veins, and held his hand as it tore him apart. She never judged, never gave a harsh word.

Someone fun to be with, a virile, beastly companion who is so free with the body, to be one who understands casual bareness. A soul who has had so much burning turmoil, to feel more alone than anyone for so young, as well as being punished by the law for a crime he never committed. Given means for a new home, he recovered so long ago, and even has a different family that suits him for more than anyone he’s ever had.

“Hold the light, Son…” Umiato mutters as her aura slowly but surely cleanses into Merrick’s body. His heart beats harshly as a semi-foreign feeling starts to bathe into him, “The dark will always be there, but you left behind the light… I will see you find it again.” The Noita puts her hand over the mark she left on Merrick’s flesh, so long ago.

A lost boy, abandoned by his own pod, so young he can barely swim on his own. Though the Father scorns him with sheer, arrogant anger, one comes back to the fledgling, and gives him means of survival. Compassion that eludes most, but shines brightest in even the least good deed given.

One step at a time, planting one foot over the other upon a blazing hot rock. Looking up into the eyes of excitement and pride. A rush of butterflies and happiness surges in the belly as one’s limbs are used for the first time, to walk on his own to the one he loves. Finally evolved to make the effort for him. To make him happy.

Treading a world that is completely unfamiliar. Humans, countless faces, everywhere, yet none show a single trace of malice or interest. Many places for them to be, for him to be, everywhere he looks and everywhere he goes, new discoveries, infinite wonders, passing fancies, endless possibilities, every single second is a brand new adventure all on its own, with the hand holding of one’s mate to ensure safety that may not even be needed.

On every full moon, every mermaid comes to the surface, and pays due respect to the Sea Mother through beautiful song. Charm the moon, move the tides with harmony, give thanks and earn needed forgiveness for one and all. Sister leads them all into song; so young, so new, but so ready as she gives the first melody to the moon. Swelling pride and happiness comes to one’s chest as she performs one of many duties of a Noita. She will one day surpass that of her mother, as the winds themselves grace her very voice.

Merrick’s breathing calms down. The crackling shadows of his heart is weakening, waning in the sight of Umiato’s heart.

Waking from grueling nightmare of black slime and crippling poison. The smell of trees and old soil come into be as the eyes open, spotting the Ancient as she pours a dark essence into a jar. Fatigued, she smiles as she helps him up. The bad blood is gone; the body feels so much lighter now. Breathing is harder at the time, even as he looks out to see sunlight beaming into a bright river, and sees the love of his life there. He’s there, as always, right then. Waiting for him, always waiting. He’s never left his side.

A new life. A solved puzzle once set is now scattered in a new array, like a piece of glass that can be pieced together. It’s not an easy task, nor is it all that welcome. But bravery and determination drives forward. Always must keep moving forward. That is what the humans do, and thus begins a journey in its new form.

“Nnhh…” Merrick squirms a little as the good memories try to bring the other ones back into the surface.

“Let them flow, Son…” Umiato says quietly, “Let the light balance the dark…”

A whole moon brought nothing but anger and despair. In a lair of monsters, come emissaries of trust and goodness. Familiar faces appear in the darkness, loving and helping. They free him, they heal him, and they find his mate. Against all odds, he leaves the lair of endless torture, hand in hand, escape into the open air.

Merrick’s arms soften quite a bit. His gills loosen as breathing becomes so much easier. Umiato smiles softly as his grip becomes firm, but smoothed. He’s finally calming down. The tears have finally stopped. The shroud is finally mending properly.

The creature was never meant to end him. So much fear of the ocean, so much time trying to evade the vast envoy of the world, all for naught. A mighty rogue comes to gracefully bring so much perspective and knowledge. In only a single night, everything becomes so clear, it’s almost too much to bare, too much to believe.

A voice of innocence, long believed to have disappeared into the depths of the sea. A boy, left behind from his pod, survived after all of this time. A way back home, to the other place where one belongs.

One will never be alone. Others are there to share his pain. They are there while he fights his sorrow. They understand him, they want him. They care for his life, they are his kind. They understand the ravages of his life, as greatly large as it is.

Merrick breaths a quivering breath, feeling more lighter than he has ever felt, in a long, long time.

“Are you still ashamed to see me?” Umiato asked, “Because I was never ashamed of you…” Merrick shakes his head ‘No.’

“I also sense that you have been touched by the Land Father…” She says, “Are you…”

“One could say that…” Merrick smiled, “My Mother and my Father, as well as the Forbidden Ancient, protected me.”

Though confused by the cryptic answer, Umiato holds him closer. Merrick’s soul… It truly is as good as new. Once again, it’s the worthy tapestry of life that it previously was.

“Mother… Why are you here?” Merrick asked, “How have you found me?”

“We were leaving, and I sensed your aura…” Umiato said as she moved back, “A Coshiton may never come back to their pod. But a member of the pod may always seek out a Coshiton,” She brings up her hand, “I barrowed a treasure from Daughter so I may see you again.” Merrick smiles and chuckles as he sees a very little scallop shell, scripted with the Chinese kanji for ‘Light’. “I could scarcely believe that… After all of this time, you are here… Alive.” Umiato says with utter happiness, “I had thought… I had hoped you had left the sea to escape the Capricorn-”

“We were wrong,” Merrick said as he looked into her eyes, “The Capricorn – it was never meant to guide anyone to their death.”

“Then, where did it deliver you, Son?”

“Other rogues. Like me.” He answered, “Coshitons who have been lost, and then found.” He smiles as his mother looks at him with surprise, “We are called the Kenovani. We have alliances with a few other pods, those who still see us, even as outcasts of the Laws.” He smiles to her, “We live, we fight, and we traverse like any other pod. The Capricorn protects us.”

“Oh Son…” Sparkling white wisps begin to waft from Umiato’s eyes again as her heart swells with joy and relief.

“I someday hope that…” Merrick smirks as he shakes his head, “That you and Father may someday align with us.”

Umiato chuckles weakly, “I doubt he will agree. But if he does not,” She puts her hand onto his shoulder, “I will align in his place.” Merrick blinks from that.

“You… Will align? You can do that?”

“Tritons and Noitas are balance within a pod – equal in ruling. Not every alliance is made by a Triton – I have made pacts with other pods when Kaiken has refused.”

“Hah,” Merrick smirks, “I pray I will see that sun come to pass.”

“Hmhmhm,” They hug again, before the shell upon Umiato’s headband begins to glow and vibrate, “Oh, Denizyr, he calls.”

“I see.” Merrick nods, “I wish to know how the pod fairs, but we will meet another sun, Mother.” He moves back to move away.

“Wait, Son” She stops him, “Before you leave, I wish to give you one more ease of mind.”

“Huh?” Merrick quirks his head as Umiato adjusts a lovely tether made of silk from a human-made gown.

“I sense that you worry for the pod,” Merrick’s eyes beamed as he looks into the frilly pouch as her hands tuck into them, “The Sea Mother has blessed us, my Son.”

Merrick takes a huff of disbelief as Umiato holds up what looks like a very large opal in her arms. Light from the sea’s surface dance the light of the opal beautifully in an array of colors along smooth lines on its surface.

Merrick stares in wonder as he puts a hand onto the large, smooth jewel. He feels a distinct warmth and inner voice within the stone itself.

“Your Father refuses to tell me.” Umiato said, “May you-”

“Yes.” Merrick smiles as closes his eyes, and puts his forehead to the opal, and gives a single signal.

Moments seem to pass by as Merrick swims alone through the warm waters around him, his heart fluttering like it never has in a long, long time.

‘Tell Father that I am sorry for what had happened, but what is done is done. What I did is indeed my responsibility, but I do exist no matter what he wishes to think. I am his Son, and I will have him always remember that.’

Merrick smiles as he sees the Capricorn.

‘Tell Sister that I have missed her more than she could ever possibly imagine. If she ever wishes to play with me again, like the old suns, I will, anytime, and anywhere. I’ll spare any moment she would have of me.’

Arnaav perks up as he looks at him, smiling eagerly as he swims closer. Syrinx is already gone.

‘Tell Brishen that the game and the wager is still on. He swore before the sea that he will become the greatest hunter in the sea, but he cannot do that when the score has been left unattended. If he would have me, I want to hunt with him again.’

Merrick rubs Arnaav’s fuzzy head as he takes back his harpoon, and dismisses the Capricorn. They both swim forth into the shallow waters.

‘I miss you all; you are the place I was born, and are responsible with how I came to be, and I could not be more happier with how the Waves of Fate have washed over my existence. I often worried how the pod would go on once I was banished. So I thank you, Mother, for absolving me of my darkness, and showing me the light that I had forgotten.’

Merrick takes a moment to take his scale necklace from his pouch, and ties it around his neck, immediately transforming himself into human form.

‘And I wish you all the best of luck with my new Brother. May the Sea Mother shine upon you, may the Guardian Leviathan protect you, and may the Waves of Fate guide you.’


Upon the shore, Merrick walks partially naked as normal as can be, while Arnaav barrows his harpoon as a walking stick to tread the sand, still in his true form as an otter merman – Triton Samudra regularly has the pod go on land to practice how to walk in their human forms.

Arnaav looks, and spots a strange-looking ship surrounded by logs of white-ish reef, “Is that where we’re going? Where the humans live?”

“Yes, that’s it.” Merrick answered, “It’s called a ‘House’. That’s where humans usually live.”

They move up to the back porch of the house, where Merrick went to a wove-basket, and picked out a couple of towels. He turned around and bent over to start running the towel on and round Arnaav’s body.

He dried off his hair, face, torso around his sea gear and belt, and legs morphing his body into a humanoid shape.

“What’s that for?” Arnaav asked.

“It’s better to be dry when you go inside a house.” He said, before drying himself off, and locating a hidden key to unlock the glass sliding door to open it.

“RAAAH RAAH RAAH! ARROOROOOROO!” Comes a loud, golden flash of abrupt noise and force.

“AAEEEHHH!” Arnaav screams as he clings behind Merrick as the loud barking continued.

“HEY! Hey-ey-ey, get back! Get back!!” Merrick yelled. He shouted a few strange hollers at the creature, doing little to calm it down.

“What is that thing?!” Arnaav yelped, terrified, “Make it stop!”

“Easy! Down girl! Down!” Merrick commanded, “It’s ok, Arnaav, it’s just the dog, she won’t hurt you.”

“RAAHH! RAAHH!” The golden retriever jumped about, her tail flopping left and right as she barked. Merrick growled before he grabbed a nearby chew toy, and threw it across the house. The dog then raced after it, barking still until she sank her fangs into the squeaky plush.

“That is Sally,” Merrick said as he brought the shaking boy around, and held securely to him as he quivers with fear, “She’s Jamal’s dog. Humans have a common habit of keeping animals in their houses.” The poor boy sniffled and moaned with bewilderment, as Sally viciously shook her toy around in her maw, “Don’t worry, she won’t hurt you. She’s just loud and obnoxious.”

“Thhrraawwr~?” Comes a more welcome, mellow noise. Merrick looks down and smiles as the semi-fluffy, orange cat trots up to him.

“Hi there, Roxas~!” Merrick got down and pet the cat as it came purring to him, pushing his face into Merrick’s palm as he gently picks him up, “Aww hello, little buddy~. How’s da cutie little kitty~ Yesh he is, he’s so soft and fluffy~” He coos to the feline.

Merrick turns and holds the cat up for the boy to see, “Here, this is a cat. His name is Roxas.” Arnaav whimpers as he took a step back, “It’s ok, go ahead and touch his head, like this,” Merrick pets Roxas, “He’s a good boy, don’t worry.”

Arnaav gulps, before reaching a shaking hand over and softly touching the soft fur. Roxas purrs as he watches Arnaav carefully, even as he cautiously strokes him.

“Yeah, that’s it, don’t be afraid.” Merrick encourages. Arnaav smiles weakly as he brushes into Roxas’s warm neck fur.

Merrick lets the cat go, and stands back up, “Ok, follow me.” Merrick says as he turns and walks into Adam’s room. Arnaav looks all around the house – it looks so different, so unlike the sea. So many foreign objects for who knows how many different unknown purposes, what do humans possibly do with so many different things? And this is only where they live.

They enter Adam’s bedroom, and Merrick picks up his iPhone from his shelf. He immediately dials Adam’s number, and holds it to his ear. Seconds later, Arnaav jumps as a sudden playful ringtone jingled out of nowhere. Merrick jerks around and scoffed with displeasure, “Ah dammit, he forgot his damn phone.”

Merrick ended the call, and started to strip down from his equipment – removing his shark-tooth headband and cross-belts. Not exactly sure what to do, Arnaav does the same.

Once completely naked, Merrick goes to the drawers, and fished out a pair of nice satin boxers. Arnaav watches with estrangement as Merrick bent over, and pulled up the small piece of shiny cloth up between his legs, and then putting on a long piece of dark blue up to his waist, that covers his legs completely. Merrick pulls on a shirt as well, before he looks to the kid, who is just standing there, wearing absolutely nothing.

“Oh damn, that’s right…” Merrick winced, “We don’t have any kid clothes here.”

“Kid… Clothes?” Arnaav said with an estranged look, “What does that mean?”

“Well… See what I’m wearing right now?” Merrick asked while pulling on his shirt and pants, “Humans are notorious about covering up their bodies with sails and nets – they’re called ‘Clothes’. If you walk around like… How you are now,” Arnaav looks down upon his exposed body, “They would start to freak out.”

“Why?” Arnaav asked, “That seems a bit weird.”

“It is. Frankly it’s annoying half the time, but it’s bearable. Here,” Merrick pulled out some extra small underwear, and went down to put it on the boy. Merrick then picked up his wallet, and opened it, “Kay… 5, 10, 20… Got $24 in here… Lemme…” Merrick then took his iPhone from his shelf, and dialed a number.

“Huh?” Arnaav blinked curiously as Merrick held the strange, flat device up to his head, and stood still. He took a moment to dial a few other numbers onto the phone, and held it up to his ear again. After a short pause, he nodded once and hung up, “Still have over a hundred dollars in there, we’re good.”

“Good? I don’t understand.”

“Oh, um, well see,” Merrick opened up his wallet, and showed Arnaav the slips of pale green paper, “This is called Money. Humans use these to trade items and services.”

“Don’t they trade item for item instead? That might make more sense.”

“No, they don’t. They used to, centuries ago, but in this age, their whole sense of trade revolves around money.” Merrick pockets his wallet, and goes to put on a white leather jacket, “And we need this to get you some clothes.”

“If you say so.” Arnaav said, “H-Hey, Merrick? You know about… What we know about humans… Are you sure they’re not as powerful and colossal as we think.”

“Oh yeah. All exaggerated and made-up. Humans are no more powerful than we are – except they can’t conjure and cast like Noitas at all. Hang on…” Merrick looks, and picks up a couple of small boxes on his shelf – parcels he ordered, “Sweeet,” He smiles as he cuts them opened, and pulls up his satchel. Arnaav watches as Merrick puts the contents of his parcel into his pack, and equips it over his shoulder.

“Ok, all set. Lets go.” He said as he escorted the boy outside, and straddled onto his black and gold moped.


Merrick leans on the wall next to a door of a changing room for Arnaav to finish. It’s taking a long while, but Arnaav insisted on figuring out how to put on the clothes by himself. Merrick chuckles as he can hear the boy grunt in discomfort, shuffling in there, before the door opened for him to walk out, wearing a yellow and blue star shirt, blue shorts and nearly tripping in Velcro sandals.

“I don’t like this,” Arnaav whines as he plucks at his shirt, and tugging at his shorts, “I feel so trapped.” He waddles and skids in his open-toed footware, “How do humans even do this?”

“It takes some getting used-to,” Merrick said, “I felt the same way.”

“Do I have to wear this all the time?” Arnaav groaned as he squirms on the spot, “Can I take these off when we are back in the house?”

“Uummm…” Merrick pondered, “Yes, but you still have to at least wear that shiny cloth I gave you. Even in the house, humans prefer to stay in their clothes, and one of the humans who lives with me is pretty strict about wearing clothes.”

“Aaawwwooo…” Arnaav moaned as they walked to the cashier, and paid for the clothes.

Once they walked out of the clothing shop, Merrick takes his iPhone out of his pocket, “Hang on, I’m gonna make a call…”

“Call?” Arnaav looked, “Call what?”

“Just one of the humans who live with me.”


“Hang, just a sec…” The phone rings a couple of times, before it’s picked up on the other line.


“Hey Yuri! Guess who!”

“Oh my God, Merrick?! When did you get back??”

“About an hour ago. Hey, do you know where Adam is? He left his phone at home.” Arnaav looks at Merrick with an expression of bewilderment and curiosity. He can distinctly hear

“He’s probably working at the Fish House, I don’t know.”

“Ah damn. Better head over there then.” He leaned on one leg, “Other than that how’re things?”

“Well-” In the background, there came to crash on Yuri’s end, “Oh shit, gotta go. A patient just wrecked some of the equipment.”

“Ok, bye-” Merrick winced as Yuri already hung up, “Ah crap,” Merrick closed up the call.

“What was that now?” Arnaav asked, “Why were you talking to nothing? And I think I heard a hidden voice somewhere.”

“Oh yeah,” Merrick smiles as he then shows Arnaav his iPhone, “This is called a ‘Cell Phone’, or ‘Phone’ for short. It’s one of the method humans use to communicate from almost anywhere in the world.”

“Reeaallly??” Arnaav gasped in amazement, “You can talk to anyone, no matter where they are, even if they’re on the other side of the world??”

“That’s right.” Merrick nods.

“Could you even contact the Kenovani pod?? Or could you let me use it to talk to my Mother and Father??”

“Heh, actually, no, it doesn’t work like that,” Merrick said, “In order to call someone using a phone, they must also have a phone with them for the connection to work. And phones can’t function in the water at all.”

“Oh, ok…” Arnaav pouted. Merrick smiled as he took his hand.

“Come on. Lets head for the pier.”


Merrick locks up his moped in the parking lot of the Kele-Kolika Pier. Arnaav trembles with nerves as he looks around the countless cars, and even spotting a few humans here and there. Merrick smiled softly as he kneels down, and gently rubs the boy’s shoulders.

 “Everything’s gonna be fine, ok?” He muttered, “Just stay close to me, and don’t talk to stangers.” Arnaav nods, and walks forth, trying to keep his balance in these confounding sandals.

Merrick guides Arnaav to the Pearly Seagull, where the jingle of the door’s bell startles Arnaav, just as it did to Merrick all those years ago.

Arnaav looks, and his hazel, orb-like eyes widen as he slowly gasped while he looked at everything in sight of the candy store.

Gems, jewels, stones everywhere, held inside invisible barriers, infinity of colors dazzle and shimmer in the light as he walks forward. He’s never seen such a whimsical sight, like someone somehow built a brand new treasure chest full of wondrous riches on a giant scale, from the inside.

The clerk, old Bertha, looks and smiles as she sees one of her favorite regulars walk in, along with a youthful specimen, looking more amazed with every step he took. While Merrick goes to the counter, Arnaav darts to the tall columns of jellybeans, each glass cylinder holding a separate color, and making a rainbow in a total of 10 colors/flavors. Arnaav gasped and plants his small hands onto the tops of the containers of rock candy, beaming upon the array of sparkling crystals within. He turns, and giggles as he sees the silly images of the gummies.

“Well howdy do, Merrick!” Bertha greeted as the tall, blonde male came to her.

“Hey, Bertha. How’s biz?” He asked.

“Oh, business as usual. Who’s you’re little buddy?”

“That’s Arnaav,” Merrick answered as he turns halfway around to glance at the boy, “He’s my little brother… Sort of.”

“Oh, he just looks about the sweetest little thing in here~” She says as Arnaav squeaks in bewilderment as a popcorn machine starts to pop and crackle, before the hidden pot within starts to overflow with white and yellow clumps.

“Heh, yeah, he is. Although, fair warning, he’s sorting out the same kind of social problems that I used to have, and this is his very first time in a candy shop, so please,” Merrick puts his hands together, “PLEASE forgive him if he breaks anything or makes a mess.”

“Oh that’s alright, honey~!” Bertha merrily says as she waves her hand down dismissively, “He looks just like MY boy when he was that tiny~” She giggles as Arnaav instantly becomes mesmerized as he presses his face and hands against the glass of the ever-working taffy puller, rolling and stretching a fat ribbon of green apple taffy, “He’s just about the most precious thing~!” She almost squealed.

“So do you know where Adam is?” Merrick asked, “I’ve been looking for him, and he forgot to take his phone with him.”

“I saw him driving his fish cart a while go,” Bertha answered.

“Great,” Merrick smiles. He glances at the astounded otter boy darting about from location to location, before taking a couple of plastic bags, “I better take a little bit of everything, see what he likes.”

“Take your time~” Bertha said.

Moments later, the two boys walk out of the shop, Merrick licking his strawberry ice cream, and Arnaav crunching on some purple rock candy, still hardly believing that this is one kind of jewel one is supposed to eat.

“Haannngghh, kkkklllgggg, Nnnaanngghh so this is what humans eat??” He asked.

“Sort of. Humans get hungry a lot, so they make morsels like this to nibble on when they’re just a little hungry. Heh, and don’t get me started on just what they can do with food, or even what they’d eat!”

They walk to the Fish House, and Arnaav tucks his bag of treats into Merrick’s pack, just as he smells a LOT of fish somewhere nearby. Merrick smiles as they push through the glass doors of the front area of the Fish House, and entered into the nicely kept lounge – a few years back, the Captain a business deal for some major renovations; the Fish House now has its own tiny fish market, as well as large tanks full of exotic fish in a reef.

Arnaav quirks and turns his head everywhere, gasping and beaming as he sees dozens upon dozens of fish, octopi and squid, and crustatians, adorned with green vegetation upon beds of ice! Arnaav growls with hunger as he quivers with anxious yearning as he looks upon everything in sight! They’re calling him. They mock him.

Merrick kneels down, grinning, “Crazy, isn’t it?” He asked.

“Yeeeaaahhh.” Arnaav half-squeaked as he nods.

“Though don’t touch anything though. Humans react every badly when you just take things without permission or trade.”

“Can we come here every sun???” Arnaav whimpered, his little nostrils completely filled with the aromas of so many different prey, just LYING there, almost begging him to sink a weapon in them for an instant hunt!

“Heheheh,” Merrick pats his shoulder, “We’ll see.” He stood up, and peered about until he spotted the fat, old, pirate-like boss of this establishment, looking as ornery and crusty as ever. “Hey, Captain, excuse me?”

The grumpy looking man turns his attention the blonde trick striding up to him, “So what the hell do YOU want??” He growled.

“I- um, sorry, Captain, it’s me,” Merrick said, a little taken aback by Captain’s demeanor, as always, “Mer-”

“What are ya talkin about? I’ve got shit to do.”

“I-I know, I-I’m just looking for Adam, remember?” He said, earning a narrow, sinister squint from the older sea dog, “Merrick? I’m his boyfriend, I’m looking for him.”

“Merrick, oh Merrick! Yes, goddammit, I git it,” Captains also suffers from acute Alzheimer’s; it’s not as bad as it can be, but it’s caused a few problems here and again. Times like these show that he hasn’t taken his pills today, “You’re my fuckin good-luck charm.” He chuckles with his cigar-scraped voice as he roughly pats Merrick’s shoulders, almost knocking him off balance.

“Heh, yeah, I’m looking for Adam, I just got back into town.”

“Adam who?” Captain snarled.

“Adam, Adam Bryant.” Merrick reminded him, “He has brown hair and uh-”

“Ah yes! Yes! I’m sorry, blondie, I can’t even remember 5 minutes ago today.” He growled, “I think he’s off work now, I’m sorry.”

“Ah dammit.” Merrick took a look around and gasped, as Arnaav is now dangerously near a small spread of shrimp. “ARNAAV!”

The boy whips around, looking startled as his mouth gnaws on the upper part of the shrimp. He looks nervously as Merrick strides to him, “Arnaav, I told you, don’t take things without permission!”

“I-I’m sorry, Merrick,” The boy stammered, while Captain comes laughing over, “I just- I dunno, I can’t, I’m sorry!”

“I’m very sorry, Captain,” Merrick apologized as he turned around, “He has a hard time listening sometimes, I told him not to. I can pay for it.”

“Oh fuck off, it’s fine!” Captain laughed, “It’s just one damn little shrimp it ain’t gonna hurt nobody.” Merrick rolled his eyes as Arnaav was encouraged to eat up the shrimp – he’s trying to restrain himself from going on a tangent like his own Father would, but if Merrick ever pulled a stunt like that in front of Kaiken, he would not stop hearing about it for hours.

“Now quit yur bitchin and come fishin with me,” Captain said, “I got a fuckin bet to settle before the end of the week, and I need your fishin mojo to git me a huge-ass fish.”

“Language, Captain?” Merrick said, “My brother here is only 11 years old,” He estimated on the spot, though Arnaav is rather short for such an age, “And do you know where I can find Adam?”

“Ah, find him later, c’mon!” He insisted, “Bet’s over in 3 days. Lets get a move on!”

“I can fish with you later,” Merrick said, “It’s getting late out, and my brother’s not used to being out at night.”

“Ah you fuckin priss.” Captain growled, “Fine, but Bryant’s already off the clock. He still has that second job, doesn’t he? Over at that gay bar.”

“It’s not a gay bar, it’s a nightclub.”

“Whatever,” Captain grumbled, “That’s where ya probably find him.”

“Right. Thanks.” Merrick nodded. He looked to Arnaav, who still looks remorseful up at him, groaning with minor sorrow for another misdemeanor. Then again, he hasn’t exactly had much to since that flounder. He goes to the counter for this particular stand, and rings the bell for service.


“Hanngh hannnghh, nnhnnhnn,” Arnaav crunches into an orange crab as the two of them walk down the side walk of a more city-oriented area, finishing the last of the sea meat as they approached a long line of people waiting outside of a bustling nightclub.

Merrick brings out his membership card as he and Arnaav approaches the beefy bouncer at the front of the line, next to the door, “Hey, Steve,” Merrick says as he shows him his card.

“Whoa whoa whoa, hang on,” Steve stopped him, “Who’s the kid?” He asked.

“Oh don’t worry, he’s with me.”

“You know we don’t allow minors in the Waltz, Merrick.”

“Only on Exotic nights, Steve.” Merrick crossed his arms while giving a quizzical look, “Is it Exotic night tonight, Steve?”

“… No.” He pouts before letting them in. Merrick holds onto Arnaav’s hand as they entered into the club. Arnaav beamed about as he looks upon the décor all around, big, soft looking sponges placed upon large soft reefs around one area, while there are humans dancing in a large, flat scape.

They moved over to the bar, where Merrick picks up the boy, and places him on one of the tall stools.

“Oh, Merrick!” Comes a semi-thick, feminine voice. Merrick turns and smiles as he sees Rajani right next to them.

“Raja, hi!” Merrick greets as they hug tightly.

“Oh my Gohd, when did you come back into town?”

“Just today. I’ve been looking for Adam all day, but I keep missing him.”

“Oh I see, he checked in about an hourr ago. No doubt He and Chloe are having anodder on of there fights.”

“Hahaha. Ohh! Raj, Raj! Lemme show you what I got for Adam!” Merrick whips out his iPhone.

“MMMM!” Rajani flaps her hand about just while in the middle of drinking her margarita, and putting a sudden rush to it. “MmOhh, show me, show me!” She sets down her glass while Merrick swipes his fingertip on the screen, and then shows her his phone. “OOOOEEEEEHH!” She squeals as Merrick also acts in the same giddy fashion, “Oh my gohd, you are so bad, Merrick!” She holds his phone as she laughs.

On the screen of his phone, shows a set of skimpy lingerie – thin, borderline transparent pink fabric laced with small jewels along the line of the waist, with a single larger jewel tied at the rear area of the panty. A matching bra is shown above the bottom piece.

“It arrived before I came. I can’t wait to try it on!”

“Good lord, Merrick, dis is girly even for you!” Rajani laughs, “What in Gohd’s name are you gonna do with the bra?”

“What, I can’t wear it?” Merrick jested with a smirk. Rajani laughs out as her face turns a little red.

“Oh my gohd! Hahaha!” She then gives the phone back, almost forcefully, “Send me deh link. Send it to me now!” She urged, “I need an orange set of these!”

“Haha, you got it,” Merrick laughed as he copied the link of the website, and then pasted it to a text message, and sent it to Rajani’s number. Rajani grins as she sees a new message on her phone.

“You have amaezing taste, Merrick!” She says, “Honestly, I neva know where to look for the kind of things you get.”

“Yeah, you don’t find fancy stuff like that at Lovers. Ooh! Lemme show you a toy I bought too! It’s a neat jockstr-” Merrick takes a minute to realize that he’s still around a kid right now, “Ah, maybe later.” He chuckles as he puts his phone away.

Arnaav tilts his head as he looks at this brown-skinned woman. She sounds a lot different from all the other humans he’s heard today.

“Ahnd who is this?” Rajani asked as she turns her gaze to the younger male.

“This is Arnaav, he’s my little brother.”

“Ohh, I didn’t know you had a brother.” She said with surprise.

“He’s my adoptive brother.”

“I’m surprised they let him in, hello~” She says with a welcoming smile.

“Why do you talk differently?” Arnaav innocently asked, causing a wave of awkwardness to stun Merrick’s face, “I don’t understand.”

Rajani laughs at such a question, “Escuse me little man!” She smirks, “Aren’t you a bold little cutie, huh?”

“Damn, I’m very sorry, Raja,” Merrick said quickly as he put his hands firmly onto Arnaav’s shoulders, “He’s never met any other ethnicity. This is his first time talking to someone from India.”

“Oh that is fine, no harm done,” She dismisses, “He’s just so damn cute~!” Rajani says as she feels at Arnaav’s cheeks.

“Whassup, sunSHHIIINE??” Comes a fun, playful voice. Merrick turns and grins to see Jamal on the other side of the bar.

“Hey, Jamal, you horny bastard!” Merrick grabbed Jamal’s approaching arm, and pull each other in for a slapping hug over that bar.

“And whassup wit you, lil man??” Jamal says as he ruffles Arnaav’s hair.

“This is my brother, Arnaav, Jamal.”

“Wait, what?” Jamal quirks a brow with a look of disbelief.

“He’s from the Kenovani, and he’s gonna be visiting us for a couple of weeks.”

“Oh! Aight, I get ya.” He nodded. He smiles as he looks to the small boy, “What can I getcha, lil man?”

“U-Um, whaa?” Arnaav meeped, having no idea what’s going on here, let alone why Merrick’s talking about the pod.

“He’s shy, don’t worry about,” Merrick says, “Just get him a glass of water, Jamal. I’m gonna have a Sky Mix.”

“Heh, sure thing!” Jamal shuffled about the glasses.

“Kenovani, huh? What does that mean?” Rajani asked, “Is dat a club or something?”

“It’s just where Arnaav is from; it’s kind of a boarding school. It’s where I go every few months as an intern to get some experience. Though Arnaav can only stay for about 2 weeks before he needs to go back.”

“Ahh, I see.”

‘Merrick…’ Arnaav thought as he looked up at him, ‘Why is he lying? What is he even saying? Surely humans already know about merfolk, right?’ He pondered this while the big, dark human places a tiny tank onto the bar – similar to the tanks from this Fish House place Merrick took him, but it’s a lot smaller than those, and it doesn’t have any fish in it.

“It’s ok, Arnaav,” Merrick says as he takes his own drink, “You just drink it like this.” He demonstrates.

‘So it’s already traded?’ Arnaav thought before he takes the glass as prompted, soon becoming mildly surprised as he can smell the very fresh water inside the clear object.

“So when’s Adam coming on?” Merrick asked, “Do you know?”

Just then, the lights dimmed all over, and the stage gained the attention all around.

“He’s coming on now.” Jamal answered. Merrick whipped right around, and pats Arnaav’s shoulder.

“Here, Arnaav, look! Look look look look!” He spoke rapidly


“My mate’s up right over there!” Merrick said eagerly.

A warm tone rings of the mix between guitars to the steady beat. In the complimenting light of mostly dark with white spotlights and many dots of white star lights all around, Adam walks to the front of the stage, mic in hand, and dressed in sparkling apparel as the crowd cheers.

The music plays on, and Adam brings the mic to his mouth.

“~Oh you shine briiiight~” The crowd gives a generous round of cheers as Adam began to sing, holding his arm up and out beside him, “~Brighter than all the staaarrrs~” He smiles as he takes in the praise and calls, “~Brighter than firewooorrrrks ~So I give you all my loooo… OOooove~”

“Hoohhh…” Merrick is literally left breathless just from the first few verses.

Arnaav stars as his jaw drops, seeing a MALE, of all things, singing! How can males even sing? Only females can ever sing!

“~And you’re perfection, even in your mistakes~” Adam walks to the side of the stage, along the ridge, “~Give a~ffection, even when your heart aches ~When I'm away,

you're who I'm thinking of, becaaauuse~”

“~You are my home, home, home~!” The audience cheers as he holds his hand out and up, “~Where ever I may rooaam~! ~You are the place where I can rest my weary bones~” He puts a gentle fist to this chest, “~You are my home, home, home ~You are my home, home, home~”

The music plays in a powerful and pounding rhythm as he dances to the beat, before continuing to the next lyrics

“~You're a diiiamond ~Brightening my cloudy skyyyy ~Sparkling all through the niiighhht ~Light me up like firefliiiiii~iiies~” The few star lights circulate around him as he walks along to the other side of the stage, “~I see you, shining even in the darkness ~Stand be~side me, when I don't deserve it~” He points his index finger up as he gestures, “~That's why I say ~I give you all my love, because~”

“~You are my home, home, home~! ~Wherever I may roooaaam ~You are the place where I can belong ~You are my home, home, home ~You are my home, home, home~”

The beat speeds up as he sings/talks in a steady tone while pacing here and there, and gesturing with his hands accordingly to the words, “~You're my number 1, there's no doubt ~And we stick together throughout ~Like boy scouts we are 'bout ~All for one till life out ~So babe, where you at? ~Wave your hands, front to back ~Everybody take a look around ~At my babe, up in the crowd~!

The music gets more dramatic as the conclusion of the song comes about, “I love you, babe~!” Adam calls out to the club, unknowingly causing a surge of ecstasy to a certain someone at the bar.

The music calms for one more instant, “~You are my home, home, home~”

Adam lets the mic down, and holds his arm up to have to the crowd, smiling as humbly acknowledges his performance.



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