The boy watches the men tying their catch to a stake. She lets out a hellish howl and fights it for all it’s worth, whipping her tail loose from the binding. He sees one of the men pull out a machete.
“Mermaid!” the boy rushes up to her, his nose nearly on hers, “You make another move and you won’t live another moment.”
They glare at each other. She knows he is right, but isn’t convinced he’s saying this in her own interest. It’s too late to decide otherwise. Her tail is wrapped into the binding. The men lift the stake between 2 of them and the crew begin their hike into the woods.
The trail is long. The boy doesn’t say a word and is careful not to make eye contact with her.
Arriving in Thyatira, the men cut the mermaid loose into a small pool before going off about other things.
“Help me,” she pleads to the boy.
“Helping you would be a crime and I would loose any chance I have at working my way into rulership.”
“If you can get me out of here, I promise it will result in you becoming ruler.”
“Is that another one of your future predictions?” there’s a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“That’s not the way it works in our tribe, so what happens if I don’t?” He entertains the notion.
“Then you’ll die.”
“Ha, I doubt you’re able to pull that off.”
“Not by me, it’s your future.”
They both fall silent. He assesses the possibility as faint, but decides he’d rather not see her die.
“The full moon rituals start tomorrow. They won’t do anything to you until then. Keep quiet, don’t let out any of your howls or they will silence you. Don’t let anyone know that we know each other. I’ll be back tonight.”
After dark the boy wraps himself in a black cloak and returns to the mermaid.
“This is terrible,” she says, “Everyone was passing by talking and staring at me like I’m a … a… ”
“Spectacle? You are,” he smirks and hands her a small waterskin, “drink.”
“What is it…” she asks. His expression drops cold. He did not put his future on the line for her to hesitate about this.
“Even if I were offering you poison you’d be better off to take it without second thought.”
She slowly takes the waterskin. A little shaky she puts it to her mouth. The boy senses a watcher. He looks back but sees nothing.
“This is vile,” she wipes her mouth nearly gagging. The boy doesn’t answer. He hones his senses to discover the spy. That way. Within seconds he zeros in and pins the watcher to the ground.
“Hey, it’s just me,” the watcher muffles. It’s his peer and he’s terrified.
“Tomo…. why are you following me?” the boy holds a knife to kid’s throat.
“I’m sorry, I won’t tell anyone. What’s happened with you? You’re like part demon!”
“If you tell anyone you saw me here I will crush your skull. I promise you that,” the boy warns then lets his peer run off.
The mermaid is curled against the side of the pool as if in pain. The boy picks up the empty waterskin. She looks up at him, eyes tearing.
“I think it’s working,” she forces a smile and tries lifting herself out of the pool. He backs up a step to let her find her legs. Awkwardly, she moves. She lifts herself to her knees before he pulls out a second cloak and helps her to stand.
“Keep this on,” he says, “It will disguise you as one of us.”
He walks her through the village toward the west outskirt.
“Take this trail. You’ll reach a stream. Follow it down hill and it will bring you back to the ocean’s edge. You’ll turn back into a mermaid once your adrenaline wears off. With a little practice you should be able to switch between your two forms at will.”
“Thank you!” She hugs him tightly.
A Story of The Nepenthe
by Harley Kallisti