She came of age in her father’s castle. The festivities went on forever, at least it seemed so to the restless Princess. Ari moved through the crowds, stopped over and over again, was offered felicitations, titbits to eat, all the latest gossip. She nodded, smiled until her cheeks were numb. On the outside she was the perfect princess….inside, the impatience boiled.
She just wanted to go!
Tonight was the night she had yearned for, dreamt of, for months. Tonight for the first time in her life, she would leave her father’s castle, and journey to the far reaches of his realm.
At long last, her father called her to his side, and quietly gave her leave to begin her journey. Kissing him hastily on his cheek, she was off like a shot.
She was at the shore. Rocks jutted around the harbor like dark spires. The sound of gulls was a harsh and lonely echo, the sound of the waves mournful counterpoint. The wind blew her long hair around her face, and she brushed it impatiently away. She had to see what was going on!
The cries of the woman had drawn her attention. She would have gone forward, given what aid she could, had not the woman’s cries of “Yes! OH! YES!” followed directly after her loud moans. They stopped her in her tracks, but the sounds of moaning and groaning kept her hiding behind the rocks, as she stealthily peered around them, watching avidly.
He was large, and lay atop the woman sprawled there. She had thought he was a monster, as he pinned her, but the woman was grasping his shoulders, and crying out with a blissful joy that Ari had never heard before. The woman arched, her hair fanning out on the sand of the beach, her arms weaving around his back, his neck, her breasts squashed flat against his chest.
His buttocks clenched, working up and down in wild gyrations. His back gleamed with sweat, his hair, as dark as midnight, was all waves, like the sea at midnight, tossing about his head. When they both cried out, she jolted, and gasped. The sound of the waves crashing had surely buried the sound of it, or the two were so engaged as to not notice aught but each other.
She watched, ensnared in the drama unfolding before her. The waves crashed, gulls screamed as they rode the wind, the sun painted the sand in golden hues, and still the lovers held to one another.
At long last they rolled apart. He helped her to rise, and Ari saw the truth of them. His legs were thickly muscled, and covered with dark hairs. He had a thicker mat of hair at the junction of his legs, and a strange jumble of flesh hanging from that dense forest. The woman was slender-waisted, hips flaring in a gentle curve, until they too split into two slender columns. There was a deep cleft between her thighs, and the sheen of wetness there as well.
Ari watched as, hand in hand, the two lovers walked across the sand. She continued to watch, hidden, as they dressed quickly, then climbed the hidden path up the stone-faced cliff. With a sigh of longing, she turned in the water, and dove beneath the waves.
“You went to the edge, didn’t you?”
Her sister Coraline looked at her, reading her face before she could even reply.
“You did! Were you terrified? What did you see?”
“I….” She fell silent. How to express and explain what she had seen.
“Well? Arianna, tell me! I told you of the great ship that I saw on my first journey. It’s not fair of you to hold back.”
“The youngest is always spoilt.” This from their sister, Shelly. She tossed her dark hair, watching it undulate on the current. She had 4 children of her own, and she understood the nature of ‘spoiling’…by the time the last one came around, you just didn’t feel like fighting. Her view on this was pragmatic, and certainly necessary…or she would have skinned all her offspring by now! Mermen! They were the same headstrong lot the world over.
“I’m not spoiled…I…just don’t have words. Their clothing was so beautiful.”
“It would hurt to wear all those things on your body!”
“They had NO tails.”
“They were….mating…on the beach.”
“You saw them fucking??!” Shelly flopped over to stare at Ari. “How do they??? I …” she waved a hand in front of her face, fanning the water where her flushed cheeks had warmed it. “Tell us, Ari.”
That was the older sister Ari knew. So bossy.
“He has a worm between his…stubs.”
“Legs, Ari, they’re called legs, not stubs.” Coraline giggled.
“A worm? How could he keep a worm there?”
The girls giggled, thinking of the sea worms that moved sluggishly across the sea bottom.
“It wasn’t a real worm, it just looked that way. It stuck out at first, but after he…pierced the girl with it, it just hung down.”
“You’re not making any sense.” Shelly tossed her hair again. “How could he be jutting out, and then limp? And pierced her? How? Like a swordfish?”
Ari showed them the split between the woman’s legs, explained about the hole there, and the ‘worm” that darted in and out of the hole.
The girls giggled merrily. It seemed so much more cumbersome than how mermen mated…spraying their semen into the water where their mate lay, as she rolled and swam through the cloudy fog. They would do this many times a day until she quickened with their offspring.
“The way he touched her…it was…” Ari trailed off, unable to explain the thrill it gave her, to see them touching. His hands on her body, touching her breasts, not just to receive milk, but to give pleasure. She tried to push away the envy.
It wasn’t easy.
Later, after her sisters had gone, she floated around her room. In her hands was a strand of the finest pearls. She had pearls aplenty. What she wanted, however, was not pearls. Her mind played back to the female on the beach, as she had walked with her lover to the cliff. There they had dressed, he in fine clothing, she in simpler garb, and hand-in-hand had climbed up and out of sight.
She wanted to be that female. But she had no legs with which to walk, no clothing to dress in. There was a way, but there would be a price to pay. Sighing, she moved stealthily out of her room, exited the royal palace.
The swim to the wizard woman’s lair grew darker, colder. Drunada the Sea Witch lived in eternal gloom, making the journey even more frightening. Not many came to see her, that was true, and what she knew of the witch and her powers was all here say.
With a shaking hand, Ari, touched the conch shell, which immediately sang out a shocking note.
In moments Drunada appeared. She was large, and inky black, with intense eyes.
“Come in, Ariana, do come in.” Her voice was thick and rich, and flowed through the water like summer-warmed water. Ari followed her, not certain of what exactly to ask for.
“You’ve been above, haven’t you my dear?” At Ari’s nod, she smiled. “And it tempts you, doesn’t it? Humans and boats and sand and sun? And I imagine, knowing you, gardens and birds and bees, too.”
How did the witch know so much about her already, Ari wondered.
Thick dark tentacles offered her delicacies.
“Why is it so dark here?” The question rose unbidden.
“My eyes, little one, see so much more than yours. The light hurts them, and impedes my true vision. I’ve seen you, dancing at the castle on the edge of a cliff.”
Ari’s eyes widened, and her mouth opened to emit a beautiful “ooohh”. Drunada smiled. “Your voice is as lovely as it ever was, girl.”
“I have these…” Ari thrust the packet of pearls towards the witch.
“What need have I for pearls? What I want Ariana is your voice. Sing for me, and I shall give you legs. You will have a month to try to capture the heart of your prince, for he is, indeed, a prince of the land above. But if you do not, you must return to the sea, or die. On the night of the full moon, 30 days hence, you must marry and kiss your love, or dive into the sea quickly. To do anything else, my dear, will end you.”
Her eyes widened, then shut briefly. Hope flared in her heart. He’d been so beautiful to look at, the prince. Whatever a prince was. She only knew that she had to do this, had to try.
“What shall I sing?”
She swam to the cove where she had first seen the humans mating. Her heart beat fast as she thought one last time about what she was doing. Her life seemed to be focused at getting here, to this point. How long she had yearned and longed to travel to the Edge, to see what the Other side was all about, and once she had, hadn’t she known that she needed to be here?
She’d sung for the Sea Witch, sang until her throat was tired and aching. Sang into the conch shell all the music she knew, hoping to please the witch with her voice. At last Drunada had held up her hand, and spoken a single word.
She’d drunk some tea from the witches abalone set, her voice hoarse and raw. She had no idea how long she’d been singing, but she was exhausted.
“You’ll be tired, so swim carefully. Wouldn’t want to get hauled up by a fishing ship and transform in front of all those men. That would be an experience,” the witch had chortled, and it wasn’t a pleasant sound at all. She made rude gestures with her tentacles, that wouldn’t have made sense to Ari if she’d not seen the humans mating the day before. She blushed as Drunada laughed suggestively again.
Another tentacle appeared before Ari. It held a beautiful vase with a glass stopper. Inside was an inky blue-black liquid.
“When you get to the Edge, drink this. It’s going to hurt, girl, when your flippers peel off and legs are made. This kind of rebirth isn’t meant to be pretty, but, for what it’s worth? I think you’re strong enough to bear it. If not, return to the sea, and in a few hours your fins will regenerate. It won’t feel good when that happens, either. But there is always a price to be paid for transformation. You paid part of it with your music; the rest must come from your inner strength…and your heart.”
Ari had turned to go then, thanking the witch, kissing her inky face. For a moment she was embraced by a tangled mass of tentacles.
“Good luck, girl.” The witches voice was gruff, but kind.
Holding onto the same rocky outcropping that had hidden her from the lovers days before, she took a few deep breaths. She wasn’t afraid of pain, exactly. Well, perhaps a little. In her heart, excitement warred with fear, twisted with desire. She wanted.
Moving to the very edge of the sea, where water kissed against the sand, she unstoppered the bottle and drank the potion in one long gulp. It tasted like guppy piss and barracuda blood. It was vile. It was disgusting. Her stomach flopped, flipped, like a beached fish. She coughed, then screamed once, a loud, sharp cry as she felt a stab of pain from her belly to her flippers. It was as if razors scraped away her scales, as if fire had bled along the length of her. She continued to scream, yet no sound emerged. Her last conscious thought was that the witch had tricked her after all, and had poisoned her.
“She’s coming around.” The voice came from far away, and just above her. The sun beat down on her, making her hot. Sand scratched under her back, and the sea was cold where it splashed on her skin.
A dark head blotted out the sun as her eyes half-opened.
“That’s it, little one, open your eyes,” the voice crooned.
“You should just pick her up, Mudge. Tides coming in and we’ll all drown here. This part of the beach gets cut off fast.”
She felt arms under her body, and the strange feeling of flying. Then she was pulled tight against a strong, warm body. She shivered.
“If I ever find the person who did this to you, I’ll pull ’em apart with my bare hands,” growled the person carrying her. It must be a male, with the scraggle of hair on his face. He was enormous.
She smiled, snuggling closer, and slept.
She woke, stretching and yawning widely. She felt, with her whole body, in a way she never had before. Something scratched under her, something rough, but warm. She moved, to sit, quickly, and threw back the blanket that covered her.
She had long, long legs the color of whitefish, and feet with wiggly things at the ends…toes, she remembered. At the juncture of her legs, was a split, where there was warmth and moistness. The sea witch had told her that her body would retain a “memory of the sea” in her own dark, wet chasm. She touched herself, exploring. A bevy of sensations confused and aroused her. A sound outside the door caught her attention.
“There you…whoops, you be nekkid as a jaybird, girl!” The large, hairy man who had rescued her stood there, staring in wonder at her large breasts. “Trey, get in here,” he half-whispered out the corner of his mouth. Moments later, a second man joined him. The two stared at her. She stared back. She was unused to being stared at this way.
She realized that they were captivated by her bosom. Her people always went around bare to the caress of the ocean, but above, she recalled, they put coverings over their skin. She tugged the blanket up around her.
It was as if they came out of a trance. They blinked, smiled, and stumbled into the room.
“How’re you feeling, girl?”
“We found you on the beach.”
“Who put you there?”
“Didja fall off the cliff?”
“Where are your parents?”
“Are ye married?”
She held up her hands, and spoke. Or tried to. She opened her mouth, yet not a sound escaped. She blinked, tried clearing her throat. Her lips moved, but again, no sound emerged.
“I’ll be fucked. She can’t speak, Trey.”
“I can see that for myself, Mudge.”
Her hands dropped the blanket and rose to her throat in disbelief.
The Sea Witch had stolen her voice.
She met the prince on the third day on her feet. The first day had been one full of shock tinged with horror. She could not speak. She had trouble standing, let alone walking. For all his huge size, Mudge was gentle, and helped to guide her around the small cottage. That he and Trey were devoted to one another was something she learned quickly. They teased, they ribbed one another, they hugged, they argued. But at dinner that first night, as she sat on her new leg tops, what the men called her but-tocks, she watched as they held hands and said a blessing over their food. They had each taken one of her hands, pulling her into their circle.
She’d cried herself to sleep that night, exhausted by the physical transformation, and all the new sights and smells and sounds that assailed her senses. It was overwhelming. Yet when she woke the next morning, moving seemed easier. She was lighter and more graceful on her feet, and she began to make sense of the larger world around her. The window in her room was open to the sea, and she heard the call of the water like distant music. Yet she turned her back to it, and moved into the day, promising herself to embrace it as fully as she could.
She had come, after all, to find her love.
Mudge and Trey helped her outside. The feel of the sun was the same, except not cooled by water lapping around her. Taking her hand, Trey guided her to the garden, and showed her how to weed between the neat rows of vegetables. It was there that a long shadow fell upon her. A hard swat against her but-tocks startled her into falling forward, face first into the dirt. Opening her mouth in a silent yelp of surprise only added to the mess, filling her mouth with soil.
Turning over, she saw him, his head ringed in a halo of light from the sun behind him. Shielding her eyes, she was dazzled by his up-close beauty. His eyes were dark and golden at once. His hair gleamed like the gold that she and her sisters found sometimes on the ocean floor. His doublet was rich deep blue, edged with white epaulets on the shoulders. His boots were tall and gleamed, as did his smile as he looked down at her laying at his feet.
“My, what a tasty morsel.”
She looked at the fistful of weeds in her hand, then up at him. Silently she proffered the greens. He tilted his head back and laughed.
Mudge came out of the house, tugging his forelock of hair and giving a short bow.
“Yer Majesty.” Although she didn’t know Mudge all that well, his tone carried a note of …disdain?
“You didn’t tell me you had such a pretty gel here, Mudge. Hiding her away for yourself?”
Mudge shook his head, scowling a bit. Tricky ground here.
“She’s Trey’s family. His sisters husbands sister’s adopted daughter. She’s mute, and didn’t get along with her….” Mudge fumbled his way through the convoluted lie. “….stepfather.”
The Prince’s eyebrow raised as he tried to work his way around the lineage, then waved a hand in dismissal.
“She’s a prime piece, Mudge.”
“She’s not for sale, Majesty.” The note of censure was obvious, even to Ari. Yet the Prince rolled over the unspoken objection.
“Is this not my kingdom?” At Mudges terse nod, he continued. “Is this not my land? Why, even this little hovel is, by letter of the law, mine.”
Mudge bit the inside of his cheek hard enough to taste blood. Fucking royal ass. The property they stood upon had been deeded to him by the Prince’s mother years ago, and well he knew it.
“By the letter of the law, Sir, the house and property are fairly mine. And she is family, mine and Trey’s to watch over.”
“You can watch.” The Prince’s crude humor made a rush of color rise in Mudges face.
“Go inside, girl and wash your face,” ordered Mudge.
“I will help,” offered the Prince.
“You’ve not been invited, Majesty. I bid you good day.” Turning his back on the Prince might be constrained as an insult, but Mudge was not a man of the courts, but a man of the earth. He leaned back against the door, listening for what would come next.
He heard the Prince mutter under his breath, as he moved away. He’d bought them some time, then.
When Trey returned from the village, they sat at the table, holding hands, as Ari watched each of them avidly, trying to figure out what was being said.
“He’ll take her and use her and I can’t let that happen,” Mudge said, looking angry.
“It’s really her choice, Mudge. Maybe we should ask her.”
Carefully they walked around the issue, until she was so confused she shook her head, pulled her hands free, and ran to her room. Silent tears fell from her eyes as she tried to make sense of what they were not telling her.
An hour later, Trey knocked on her door.
“Girl, I’m coming in.”
He heard nothing through the door, and thinking she had fallen asleep, he opened the door to the wee room. The window stood open wide, with the sound of the sea filling the room.
She had left as quietly as she had come.
She sat curled up on the beach, pressed hard against the cliff. Her knees pulled up to her chest, chin resting on the top, silent tears marking passage down her pale cheeks.
She didn’t fit in here.
She wanted to. Desperately wanted to. The intonations of the Prince had made her nervous, and the tones of Mudge had been as protective as the guards back in her father’s castle. This prince was not like the mermen down below. He didn’t fawn over her, but looked her over as one would a tasty morsel. It didn’t take a genius to understand that they, the two men, were talking about that mating ritual.
Wasn’t that part of what she had come here for? To find her love, to discover the feeling of legs, to see and smell the air and be part of all of this “above” life? She was fascinated by gardens, and birds, and animals. By the two men she was “saved” by, and the little place they called ‘home’.
But she had a burning curiosity, too. What had the Prince wanted from her? Why had Mudge sent her inside? What had Mudge and Trey been trying to tell her?
The sound of the tide was louder. In an hour or less, the waves would cut off this spit of land, taking the choice from her. She could sit here, in the shadows, and become part of the sea once more.
“There you are! You scared the living daylights out of us! Whatever are you doing down here?”
She looked up at Trey’s worried face. Though he didn’t have the size of Mudge, he was every bit as strong. He lifted her easily from the sand, and siding his arm around her waist, began walking her towards the path up and away from the sea.
That evening, the two men were desperate to break the disconsolate air that came from the three of them. Mudge slapped his hands on the tabletop, startling both Trey and Ari.
“Let’s break out our fiddles and set this place to happy, Trey.”
Obligingly, Trey rose, and lifted the two fiddles from the wall. Mudge pushed the table to the far side of the room, moving the chairs away and clearing a small place in the center. He and Trey took up their instruments and began a cheery melody.
At first, her toes tapped. Then her fingers wove the counterbeat on her lap. Soon, her head was swinging and her mouth was smiling. Without thought, she rose and began swirling, twirling, dancing to the beat as light on her feet as moonbeams on water. One tune moved into the next, and still she danced.
At long last Trey dropped his arms, panting.
“Girl, you plumb wore me out!” He exclaimed, clapping a hand over his heart. Yet his face was wreathed in a giant smile, sublimed only by Mudges grin.
“You sure dance purty.”
Mudge took her hand, raising it to his lips in a courtly gesture. Her fingers curled around his, then raised to cup his cheek. He drew her into his arms, hugging her tightly.
“Purty girl, purty girl,” he crooned. In a moment, she felt Trey behind her, hugging her tightly.
“We’re family. We stick together.”
She felt warm, tender, cared for.
And a bit of something…else.
Her nipples rose and pressed against Mudges chest, even as she pressed her bottom back against Trey. She felt something poking her but-tocks. Wondering if it was his man-snake, she turned, and pointed. Trey flushed.
She shook her head, frustrated to not be able to say what she wanted to. She pointed to his crotch, then to her eyes.
“You wanna see my cock?” Trey’s eyes were wide, his tone one of disbelief.
She nodded vigorously.
He shook his head no.
“It ain’t right…” but his words cut off abruptly as she sank down and pressed her face against his groin, rubbing her cheek against the bulge.
“Freda!” he moaned. His hands pressed against her head, as if to push her away, but he held her there.
“Let her. Let her see…maybe she …maybe she likes you.”
Half turning, still on her knees, she put her small hand against Mudge’s large groin, looking up at him as well.
“Great Green Goddess! She wants to see us …both!”
She looked at the two man-eels in her hands. One was large, with a thick and bulbous head. The other was not so large, but both had a heavy-looking sack hanging below. Both also had curly hairs there, and each had a little slit in the top of their staff. As her fists worked up and down, exploring the two man-snakes, they grew harder, longer. Small pearls came out of the slits on the top, and without thinking she lapped one, then the other. The taste was almost the same. The big one was a bit saltier, reminding her of the sea.
Both men stood, frozen in shock and lust as her unskilled hands rubbed in all the right places. Their hands linked on her head, and with each other, completing the circle.
She gazed from one cock to the other. She opted to taste the smaller one first. Mudge groaned as her hot mouth encircled his shaft, his hand pressing her head forward. His man-snake pressed towards the back of her throat, making her eyes water a bit, then he tugged her back by her hair. The head of his cock popped from between her pursed lips with an audible sound, making him moan again. Turning, she took Trey’s much longer, thicker rod into her mouth. The veins on this shaft were more pronounced, making her tongue feel the sensations more intensely. She felt a burning between her legs, and wondered at it. Trey lurched forward, slamming his man-snake into her, surprising her, and making her stomach feel as though it would rise up, and then he was out of her mouth and turning her towards Mudge.
Moving between the two men, she felt them shivering as they got harder, thicker. Hips pumped as she worked with hands and lips and tongue, unknowing what the end of this dance would bring.
Two silver jets erupted from the men, nearly simultaneously, landing on her cheek, her chest, her fingers. She tasted, she licked, she lapped, a kitten to cream, until it was all gone. Her companions slumped, gasping, to the floor.
She watched, amazed, as the man-snakes grew smaller, and hid in their nest of curls once more. She was charmed at how they changed, from these small creatures, to the mighty and strong beasts they had been when she had played with them. Reaching out a tentative hand, she tried to touch Trey’s cock.
He stopped her.
“No, no, girlie, my cock is tired! ‘Sides, it’s our turn to make you feel good. But not here.”
“No, we outta put her in our bed tonight and play with her and make her feel good, too.”
“I wonder, girl, if anyone ever has touched you before.”
She shook her head, her heart racing. Finally, finally she would find out about all this…
A loud pounding interrupted the trio.
“OPEN UP, IN THE NAME OF THE KING!” a voice bellowed from beyond.
“Go, girl, go wash yourself and stay in your room.” Quickly Mudge stuffed his penis into his pants, drawing the string up.
“C’mming,” he said, with a quick wink towards Trey. He opened the door a scant moment after Ari’s door shut. A trio of guards, dressed in their red suits, stood at bored attention. The leader, a tall fellow himself, still needed to look up at the taller farmer.
“Clarence.” Mudge inclined his head. “Pins night already?” he asked, referring to a game that he and some of the soldiers engaged in.
Clarence hurrumphed, and shook his head, no.
“I’m here to take you and Trey and a girl to the king.”
“My sister’s brothers cousins mute daughter?” Mudge bit his lip to keep from laughing.
“Yes, that’s the one.”
“Girl!” Mudge yelled over his shoulder. “C’mon out here.”
“She’s a bit ….slow…” he said, his tone apologetic, but still loud. Ari heard him, and while she didn’t fully understand why, she came out, a bit hunched over, her hair a messy tangle still from being on the beach.
“This is the girl?” The tone of incredulity from the soldier confirmed that the Prince had run to daddy to try to wrest her away from them.
“This be her. We try to keep her clean, but she keeps…well, she’s slow.” Mudge tried to wipe away the soot that she’d smeared on one cheek, only further mussing her. She understood his warning scowl, and nodded once.
Without further ado, they were marched to the castle to be seen by the King.
King Eustice was old, potbellied, and jovial. His son stood by his left elbow, gloating, as Mudge, Trey and Ari were admitted to the King’s presence. His gloating smile didn’t last long as the trio came slowly down the center aisle, meant to intimidate newcomers. Ari had been raised with plenty of pomp, and the room had no effect on her. Mudge and Trey were too concerned for her performance to attend to the “intimidation” techniques, instead helping to keep her pace slow by a hand on each elbow.
“This is the gail?” the King spoke in a loud aside to his son, in a tone that clearly said “are you nuts?”
The Prince frowned. Where had the pretty lass who had tumbled at his feet gone? Her hair was frizzled and frazzled, soot marked her face, and her eyes were vacant. In truth, Ari was staring beyond the prince, focusing on the tapestry of a unicorn that rose behind him, a full 20 feet or more across.
“This is the girl we are fostering,” confirmed Trey. “She’s a bit…slow, and mute. Our relationship is tangled, but she is in the way of being a cousin, Sire.”
“The daughter of the brother of the wife of the cousin of Mudge, Sir,” spoke the guard who continued to escort them to stand before the King.
“Close enough, then,” said Mudge with a faint smile.
“What is your name, gel,” barked the Prince. Ari looked at his feet. He snapped his fingers, and she jumped back, almost into Mudges arms, quivering and shaking.
“Now, now, son, you’ve frightened the poor unfortunate thing,” the King said, frowning at the Prince.
“It’s okay gail, we just wanted to be sure that your….best interests…were being attended to.” The King held out a hand, as he would to a stray cat. She shook her head, hiding against Mudge.
“Come, sweet darling, come see your Uncle King,” He crooned at her. “Get a confection from the kitchen, quickly,” he ordered a guard, and the man scurried off.
“I have a lovely treat for you, sweeting, if you come here and let me give it to you.”
She looked up at Mudge, a large tear slowly slipping down her cheek. She’d bitten the inside of her cheek hard to draw that single tear, and to hold back the smile that threatened at the King’s suddenly tender way with her. Mudge nodded encouragingly, and “whispered” that it was okay, that the King was kind and would not harm her.
Limping and listing, she made her way to where the King sat. In moments, the breathless guard bolted through the doors, and ran up to Mudge, before skidding to a halt, and stepping neatly to the King. The royal eyebrow raised at the performance of the guard, but he clipped the treat up quickly and dismissed the man, who, Ari was sure, wanted to fall gasping to the floor.
“Here, gel, come get your treat, now.” The King held the treat out.
Ari clasped her hands around her waist, and halted. Throwing a nervous glance back at Mudge and Trey, who made brushing motions to move forward, she took a halting step, and another.
“Majesty, are you considering taking her into yer court?” Trey asked, just as Ari took the treat and crammed it, in its entirety, into her mouth, chewing loudly. Food fell from between her lips, bespeckling the simple white shift she wore with pink and chocolate bits. She licked around her lips and smiled, the smears from the treat now spread evenly around her mouth. The King stared at her in horror, then looked to where the two men stood, a hopeful look on their faces, if He was any judge.
“No, no, not at all my dear friends. She will do well under your tutelage I’m certain. I thank you for coming so promptly, but I am certain you have many tasks to attend to. Guard? Show these fine people the way out of the castle.”
He muttered something under his breath to his son, who looked on with a petulant face as they left. Ari swore she could feel his eyes boring into the soft flesh of her but-tocks. She knew the feeling of an enemy, now, for they had just made one.
There was a sound of hushed voices from the other room. She lay in her little bed, listening to the song of the sea through her window. She tried to figure out what they were saying, but beyond the knowledge that it concerned her she had no idea.
She’d been very proud of her performance as an ill-mannered lack-wit before the King. What was a king anyway, but a man in a smelly old robe and a crown? While he seemed nice enough, he was still just a man. Men didn’t impress her all that much, and his offspring was not a pleasant person. He made her skin pebble with nerves, and she knew that Mudge and Trey distrusted him.
She felt the press of the passage of time…she needed to find the one she loved, the man she had seen at the cliffs that day. She’d thought it was the Prince, until she’d gotten a good look at him. He was not the one. She sighed, flopping over onto her belly, head resting on her folded arms. Closing her eyes, she tried to recapture the feelings from that experience.
She remembered the fluttery feeling she’d gotten as she had watched his mighty sword plunge between the legs of the female. Since she’d been here, she’d seen horses and goats do it, and had touched the swords….cocks….of the two men who had taken her in.
Even thinking of the experience, she could recapture the flutter in her belly, only now, with her own legs, she felt the flutter betwixt them. Unfolding her arms, and turning to her side, she explored there. She touched a small button, and jumped!
That felt…good. Her nipples rose, and she touched one with a long and slender finger. She felt that touch in her breast, but also in that sensitive button place. Her finger returned touching the button. Her nipples crinkled tighter.
She pushed between the folds, and felt water.
She was leaking?
Lifting her finger to her nose, she smelled that same sea-smell that had leaked from her friends man-snakes. Cocks. She corrected herself again. She tasted her digit, liking it.
Fingers dipped into folds again, until she found the little space where a probing finger slipped deeper.
A feeling of incomparable bliss.
Her finger slid in, then out. The feeling grew more intense, the finger dipped and moved quicker. There was a clenching against that digit, as her inner muscles began to contract and quiver. Her breathing deepened, her back arched, her mouth opened in a silent moan, as her body burst in rays of ecstasy.
Quivering, she touched the valleys and folds, discovering a lot more moisture. She must have done what her friends cocks did, and leaked out excitement juice, much as mermen did in the sea to fertilize mermaid eggs.
It was a delightful sensation.
In her mind she saw again that man and woman on the beach, the locking of limbs, the cries of bliss. She began to understand…and fantasize…about the movement of a cock where her finger had been.
“It’s not safe for her to remain here.”
“I know, I know. The King isn’t a problem, Trey-”
“It’s not the King I’m worried about- it’s his sneaky cur of a son that concerns me. He was staring at her the entire time, almost drooling over her. If we don’t do something, he’ll just come by and take her, maybe when we’re not even here.”
“Can’t let that happen to our little miss.”
The two men shook their heads in unison. They’d been together for so long that they could complete each others thoughts.
“I could ask Cedric…” Mudge began.
“CEDRIC? Fae! He’s almost as much a lecher as the Prince. He’d be balls-deep in her before he got out of the yard.”
Mudge frowned. That was true. As keeper of the Royal Stables, Cedric was in charge of the breeding program, and he was often fondling his cock under his tunic. Mudge doubted he was really aware of it. Truth was, he was so used to seeing Cedric do it, that he’d forgotten about it.
They went back and forth from candidate to candidate. Each was ruled out for a variety of reasons. Nelson was too often at the Prince’s beck and call, Will Taft was always half-drunk, Mistress Kimberly would just as soon install the girl in her pleasure house, the cook, while dependable, only had one day off each week, and had just had one, two days ago. She needed to find sanctuary, and sooner rather than later.
They went out to the garden, subject shelved for now.
She heard them go outside, decided to join them in the late-day sunshine. She’d had a lovely nap, then woke and lightly bathed her leg-parts. They were inspecting the beans for insects, she saw, as she left the house. The chickens were feasting on their finds, squawking and setting up a flurry of feathers with every tidbit dropped to the ground. They still made her a bit nervous, those chickens. One of her first tasks had been to gather eggs, and the hens did not like cold hands thrust under their bottoms. She’d been pecked many times in the last week, until Mudge sighed and took up the task once more.
She debated going in to join them, but instead, leaned on the fence and watched.
“Well, there you are, girl!” Mudge waved at her. She curled her fingers at him, in the way of her people.
“Come join us,” called Trey.
She shook her head no, pointing at the chickens.
“Scared of a few chickens, are you?”
The voice, thick and rich, came from right behind her. Heart racing, she whirled, staring up, and up into the face that had haunted her memory for more than a week.
It was him!
Her man, from the beach.
Her mouth opened, closed. Eyes wide, she took a half step forward, as if to touch him, then froze. An echo of the sea witch’s words came to her, then.
Be certain, Princess. Once th’ deed is done, there shall be no going back. To kiss, to be loved, is the greatest of pleasures, and the deepest of pains. You will feel both, before this is through.
Mudge and Trey hurried from the garden, greeting the man like a long-lost brother. Ushering everyone into the house, Trey moved to set out a tray of nibbles and a beaker of ale for all, except for the Princess, who had taken one taste of it on her first day and spit it onto the floor. She knew by now to fetch her own glass of water from the pail in the kitchen. When she returned, three male heads were close together and speaking in low, conspiratorial tones.
She stood, tapping her bare foot on the thrushes until Mudge noticed her.
“Back so soon, girl?” he asked, trying hard to sound nonchalant. She would have none of it, and stalked up to them, arms folded across her chest and scowling.
“This be Lucas George Woodman. We’ve known each other forever.”
She scowled at Lucas George Woodman. He smiled back at her. He had no idea what was up her bucket, but she was very obviously pissed as hell.
“Say your piece girl, and get it off your chest.” And a fine chest it was, too, he noted silently to himself.
She stared at him a moment.
“Uh…Luke, the thing is…” Mudge began, casting worried looks at the girl. She’d never been so… temperamental…before. Maybe she was having her moon-cycle? He knew his mother and sisters could be hell on earth to live with during those times. Woe be to the man who pointed out that wee fact to one of them, however.
“She’s mute.” Trey spoke in a manner-of-fact tone, taking her by the hand and tugging her into his lap.
“We’ve been protecting her, you see,” continued Mudge.
“The Kings spawn has taken a fancy to her,” finished Trey.
“Aaah.” Luke’s face grew concerned. The Prince was well known for his brutality with the fairer sex, often maiming them in the most horrible of ways as he and his cronies “played”. He had a very strong preference for virgins. It all became clear to him now, what his two oldest friends were asking him to do. Yet miss high-n-mighty kept frowning at him.
“What is it with you, girl? What are you angry with me about, eh?”
Mudge jumped in. His friend was an only child, after all.
“It’s okay, really. She’s just…a bit…off today. And…-”
“Mudge, shut up!” Trey laughed. He spoke to the Princess. “He thinks you have your moon cycle, girl. You don’t do you?”
She shook her head. It was not egg-laying season for her yet, if that is what the men referred to. She smiled at Mudge, then went back to scowling at their guest. She wondered why she was so attracted to him. He kept looking at her breasts, and then looked like he was still laughing at her about those stupid birds. He had played swords with another female, and wondered why she was standing away from him? Human males, it seemed, were as thoughtless as mermen.
Trey pushed her off his lap, and towards Lucas George Woodman.
“You best learn to get along with him, girl. He has agreed to be your new protector. He’ll take you far from the Prince, back to his home in the deep woods, and care for you. It is a good match for you. Likely a good one for him as well. And we see each other a few times a year, so we won’t “lose” you, either.”
Mouth open, she stared at Trey, not even noticing when Lucas gently took her hand, pulling her to his lap. They were sending her away?
Her heart sank, her eyes welled with tears. A blink, and a silver drop fell from her face to Lucas’ hand. He shivered, suddenly suffused with caring for her.
“Ah, doan cry, girl,” Mudge sniffed a bit himself. “We love you, we do. And we’ll come to visit you, as soon as we can. When it’s safe and the Prince has forgotten you.”
Rising, the large man crossed to her, and pulled her into his arms for a giant hug. He almost crushed her, speaking quietly against her ear “if ever you need us…we’ll be there. I vow this to you, little girl.”
Trey took up the hug where Mudge left off. The smaller man was no less overcome than his companion. Cupping her small face in his hands, he kissed each cheek tenderly.
“You’ll always be our little princess,” he said, little realizing the truth of that statement.
In short order, they had put together a travel packet for her, a satchel of food, and then they were off. She was confused, scared, and for the second time, considered sliding off the giant horse, and running back to the sea from where she had come. Yet his arm was snug around her, holding her tight.
Dusk was falling as they made their way out of Mudge and Trey’s small cottage-yard, and down the lane, heading inland, away from the song of the sea.
The ride through the fields and valleys passed in a blur. She felt the heart-wrenching pain as they moved deeper inland, away from the sight, sound, and smell of the sea. The dark cloak of night fell around them, and she hid her face against his chest, letting tears of loss flow freely.
He felt her tears dampen his shirt, and not certain of the cause, let her be. As the darkness fell, a cool, loamy waft of air rose from the ground, creating small tendrils of fog. She shivered, more from the strange scents, but unknowing the reason, he wrapped his arm around her tighter. The horse walked on, until they reached the edge of the forest.
Her head raised at last, as she tried to see beyond the ears of their mount.
“Time to get down, give Equus a rest. Best not to travel in the forest in full dark—hard to see low branches, easy to get lost.” He moved away from her in the darkness, tending to the beast, and she stood, arms wrapped around herself, already feeling lost enough.
Done with caring for the horse, he took her hand, drew her to a cluster of large boulders. An overhanging pine gave some shelter, as he spread a blanket on the ground. Pulling her down, he sat behind her, digging in the satchel for food, before passing it to her. She didn’t move. Her but-tocks ached, her back ached, and it felt as though the ground moved under her.
“Saddle-sore. I’ll help work out the kinks after we eat.” He gestured for her to find food, and reluctantly, she pulled out something, ate it slowly. He finished, quaffed some water, offered her the skin. She pulled away, repelled by the scent of the thing.
“Look, girl, I know they coddled you some, but I am not going to. Get over yourself, drink some water or I’ll pour it down your throat. Need to keep moist or you’ll keel over on me. Don’t have time for that.”
“Gee, thanks for caring,” she thought, scowling furiously at him. As if she were an encumbrance. How she wished she had her voice. She’d give him an earful, alright. He turned away from her, and in the light of the stars and slivered moon, she could see his firm but-tocks, and remembered again the first time she saw them, bare. Of the sack of balls that had slapped at the females…no. She wasn’t going to think about that any more. A sharp, acrid tang came to her nose, just as her ears heard the sound of spurting splashes. He didn’t even have the decency to move away from her before voiding his piss? She shook her head, which he saw as he turned back, striding to the other side of their makeshift camp, before pissing there as well.
“The piss keeps other animals away,” he said, catching her expression as he tucked his cock away, and sat beside her. “Like I said, get over yourself. Now, roll over. Onto your belly.”
She stared at him.
“NOW.” The tone was implacable, and she found herself sliding down, rolling over before she could stop herself. Damn him!
Large, warm, strong hands began kneading her left shoulder, then her right. Working down her back, she might have protested the roughness of the touch, if he wasn’t hitting all the exactly right spots…it hurt and felt delicious at the same time.
His hands kneaded down her body, and he tried not to notice the warm scent of her, the relaxing posture, the swell of her delightful bottom. His cock paid no attention to his silent command to ignore her, instead growing quickly to a hard, throbbing state. Hands working over the curves of her ass, he felt those muscles tense as his hands touched, then relax as he smoothed out the ache of hours of riding. His hands kneaded over, around the soft mounds, then slid down to her upper thigh. His fingers brushed between those thighs, and he felt her tremble.
And smelled the unmistakable scent of aroused woman-flesh.
He was not the King’s spawn, to be sure. But he was only human, after all. His fingers massaged the cleft between, and she surprised them both by pressing back against his rubbing fingers.
He turned her over, and she lifted her shift, exposing her pale legs, and the enchanting vee where shadows played. He lay beside her, touching her, fingers slippery with her lust-juices, roaming up and down that delightful valley.
Insensate with sensations, she arched up, begging for his finger to find the spot hers had journeyed not long ago. He didn’t disappoint. She would have whimpered, had the Sea Witch not taken her voice. She wanted…something. That shiver of sensation, that rise of her body, the swirl that reminded her of a whirlpool back at her father’s kingdom. His fingers rose and plunged, taking her up, even as she ground down on him.
And then he took them away.
Her breath caught in her throat as she grasped blindly for him. Yet in moments his warmth covered her, his knee nudging her legs farther apart. She became aware of his hand fumbling with his clothing in the darkness, and a burning need between her thighs. “Hurry,” she thought, still not entirely certain that she knew exactly what he needed to hurry for.
The horse whinnied, stamping his front feet, tossing his head and setting his harness to jingling.
“Fuck,” he whispered, jumping up. He drew a blade from the front of the rucksack he’d carried, and pulled his woodsman’s axe from a holder on the horses saddle. She shivered in the dark. He looked formidable. Glancing down at her, he spoke, quietly, but firmly.
He returned to the campsite after a brief scuffle with a lone wolf. It was old, and its heart wasn’t really in the battle, more testing. Luke knew more about wolves than most men, and chose to not kill the beast. All part of the circle, he knew. Still, he didn’t want the thing coming up on them whilst they slept, so he chased it a goodly distance from their camp. He’d startled up a small herd of deer, and the old hunter had decided to chase that quarry instead. He’d waited until the sounds of crashing and yipping had died off in the distance, before turning, heading back to camp. He’d expected to find her, curled up and fearful, and smiled thinking of his ‘warriors reward’.
She was curled up.
With a sigh, he put the weapons close to hand, gathered her close, and rolled them up in the sleeping cloth. He fell asleep with his hand curled around a bounteous breast.
He rose early, and broke camp after draining his bladder, and tending the horse. He woke her by toeing her gently in her belly. The temptation to fall on her and finish what was started last night weighed on him for longer than he liked, and knowing that touching her would cause him to throw caution to the wind, he was brusque in bidding her to rise, and pee, and get on with helping.
It wasn’t long before they were done, not even waiting for breaking their fast. He preferred to ride, hoping to be home before midday. Her belly growled, but he ignored it, curling his arm around her waist as she settled on the horse, seated in front of him. Her round tush pressed against his cock, reminding him that he’d not had a good fuck in quite some time. But he’d promised her “uncles” to take care of her, and mounting her like an animal in rut was something he could well avoid.
He avoided it by pretending she wasn’t there.
He was a quiet man by nature, and she didn’t mind the silence all that much. She cast a few glances at his hands, remembering the feel of them in her secret places, and wondering what would have happened had the wolf not come crying in the night. She supposed she’d have been just like the female on the beach, wrapping herself around him and taking his sword deep into her belly.
There was an ache there, between her legs. It made her irritable. She wanted. Damn the wolf. Damn the man. Damn falling asleep!
He watched the expressions on her face. She was mad about something. Because he’d taken liberties with her cunt, he supposed. Fae, but women were so hard to figure out. Fucking a woman should be easier, yet it never was. The woman he’d seen each time he’d gone to visit Mudge and Trey had fucked with him each time he showed up at her door, but of late had taken to making demands. She worked hard, she’d said, needed a man to take care of. She wanted him to leave the woods, come to stay with her. He’d broken away from her with no regret. He wanted no part of city life. He much preferred the rhythm of the seasons, the call of the great owl in the dusk, the running of squirrels, the scent of water over a mossy falls. No, city life was not for the likes of him.
He did what he thought best about her pique. He ignored her. It seemed to have worked thus far with the wench.
After riding for an hour or more, she tapped his hand. He ignored that, too. She poked his hand, and he pretended she hadn’t. After not getting any response, she went from frustrated to aggravated, to simply irate. Bending down, she bit him on the hand.
“FAE!! What the fuck!”
She turned and smiled up at him beatifically, then scowled.
Women! Drawing the horse to a halt, he all but pushed her from his lap, watching her land on the ground with an audible thud, before dismounting himself. Might as well try to figure out what was on the girls mind.
He wasn’t looking forward to it.
It had been a week since he had pulled Equus to a stop at the clearing where his small house sat. Tall pines circled the area, blueberry bushes bore heavy crops of still-green fruits, and the house itself, while tiny, was well-kept.
In the days since their journey here, she’d tried to get her point across. She needed something that he hadn’t given her. He totally misunderstood. The stupid man! Instead of taking her to the ground after she had bitten him, and instead of touching her, he’d gotten gruff, and sent her off to piss. When they’d remounted the horse, he held himself stiff, trying to not touch her.
Eventually they had arrived here.
Time had continue to flow onward, as the moon moved from darkness, to a thin sliver, and even now was rising, more than half-rounded, in the evening sky. It sailed above the trees as a ship sailed across the seas, making her feel frenzied with fear. She had no idea what would happen to her if she didn’t find a way to make him love her, kiss her, claim her before the moon was full and round. Would she just…evaporate into thin air? And if he didn’t love her, would it even matter?
She had fallen into a routine with him, making his dinner, not often all that well, but she tried hard. He ate, nearly silent ,rarely commenting unless he wanted to tell her that he’d be away for longer than normal. He’d done that twice now. She found for the first time in her life, that being alone only made her lonely.
And though she was loathe to admit it to herself, she was scared. Unused to forest noises, she jumped at the crash of brush nearby, the grunting of a wild pig perhaps? She trembled when the wind rattled the door, and the trees sighed and groaned as they twisted in the breeze. She found herself smoothing the sheets on his bed, smelling the scent of him as her hands moved across the coarse woolen blanket, drawing comfort from the reminders of his presence.
Now, with the quarter moon hanging large in the sky above, and him not home yet, she paced nervously around his house. What to do about this situation? The moon grew fuller each night, and she was no closer to drawing his attention since that first night of their travels. She found herself yearning for his touch.
Hadn’t she known how to tease and entice the mermen of her father’s castle? Had losing her voice meant losing her feminine skills? She, who now had long and lovely legs, had kept them covered in the long skirts provided by her two uncles. Well, that could change! With a smile, she tucked one side of the hem up into the waistband, baring a long, generous slice of leg to view. She practiced walking until her hips swung as if dancing to unheard music. And she remembered how to smile, cocking her head and peering up coyly.
At long last, the door opened and he appeared. He was caked in mud, carrying a basket in one hand, and he smelled…foul. She wanted to run to him, so happy was she that he had finally returned, but in the last moment, remembered to use her coquette skills. With a gentle easy walk, she all but glided across the rude floor towards him. He looked at her, his brows beetled.
Something was different. She was…softer. Prettier? No, she was stunning already. As she reached him, she petted his arm, and standing on tiptoe, kissed his cheek.
He was not used to that. He’d been trying to avoid touching her. The need and yearning grew daily, and he found himself moving further afield to avoid her. Yet, he needed to be working towards unity with her. Needed to be working on teaching her the skills she would need to help them survive the winter. Drying meats, stacking wood, gathering and preserving nuts and berries. . . all a necessity of the late summer months, as they prepared for the winter, which always seemed to be approaching faster than one could get all the necessities accomplished.
Mostly, he wanted to fuck her, pour his seed into her belly, and grind deep into her. Her scent made him long for her, reminded him of the sea smells near Trey and Mudge’s place. Which reminded him. He pushed her away, ignoring the hurt look on her face as he dug in his tunic.
“I got a note today from your ‘uncles’. They say the Prince has left on a sea voyage, off to find a bride from another land. It should be safe for us to pay them a visit in the spring.”
She took the paper, but never having learned to read, merely traced the letters with a finger.
“Ye can’t read?” He wasn’t totally surprised. It wasn’t common for wenches, anyway. “I’ll teach you this winter. We’ll be stuck in here together and it will help pass the time for us.”
He knew how he’d rather spend the time, but he had promised Trey to not fall upon the poor mute thing. Inwardly, he sighed. It was getting harder and harder to ignore her, and that was the full truth.
Her heart sank at his words “we’ll be stuck here together.” It didn’t sound like he liked her much at all, let alone “love”.
He tried not to notice the quick flash of lovely lithe limbs as she turned from him to fetch his dinner from the heart. She was playing hell on his groin, and that was the truth!
She watched. She learned. She watched his body move as he took care of chores around their home; the play of his muscles as he chopped wood, the sheen of sweat gleaming on his tough, tanned torso. She learned how to make bread, how to not be afraid when the wind tossed the trees, and where the native fruits were to be gathered. She helped to stack the wood he cut each evening when he returned from his daily sojourns through the woods.
She continued to learn to walk confidently, and once, when he broke into a tuneless whistle while chopping wood, did a little twirling dance as she carried a limb to the growing pile near their home. She cast a quick look over her shoulder, saw him staring at her bemused, axe frozen in midair as he watched her swirling skirts and flashing legs. With a shake, he’d returned to chopping, ever vigorously. She’d smiles a secret smile to herself at that.
She grew stronger, more confident, and more deeply in love with him every day.
But time was passing far too quickly!
The moon was moving ever closer to fullness. She knew he desired her, she could certainly read his body language. She saw, often, the sharp outline of his shaft in his pants when he didn’t know she was looking at him, looking at her. He spent a long time staring at her breasts. And that was when she realized that she would have to take an even more extreme effort. She was desperate to know if those long looks from him meant that he wanted her. It was time for action! A plan took form in her mind.
She kept the fire low, nearly out. She was naked, as she had been the day she’d been found by the uncles, seaside. She sat in his chair, feet tucked up, forming shadows of her hidden places. Her hair was loose and flowing around her shoulders, cascading over her breasts. The fire flickered, the late evening sun slanted through the one window, casting the inside of the cabin in a warm, ruby glow. She knew he was caring for Equus and would be in soon. She held a mug of the brew he liked in one hand, and waited.
He came in, closing the door, then turned.
She looked like a statue carved from alabaster. Her skin glowed, white as chalk, soft as pearl. Her hair fell in turbulent curls like sea-foam on the edge of a wave, catching the light of the fire and sunset, and painting her in a rosy glow that only highlighted her paleness. Her beautiful legs hinted at deeper valleys. His mouth fell open, his breath hitched, and still he looked.
Her breasts were stunning. Large, perfectly formed, they hung, pink-tipped and waiting for …
He shook his head. No. He couldn’t…
She watched him, a bit wary. Her small pink tongue darted out, moistening dry lips. She was done with waiting. The moon would be full tonight. It was show him, tonight, or be gone, tomorrow.
He took a step forward, another. He didn’t remember moving all the way across the room, but suddenly, she was in his arms, his mouth moving over her cheeks, her nose, her chin, her throat, until his mouth closed on one fiery nipple. Her head fell back as she bowed under the onslaught of pleasure. Lips pursed, sucked, suckled. Teeth nipped, tongue lapped. Switching to her other breast, his finger twisted and squeezed the hard orb of the first nipple.
She felt the deep throb of need between her thighs. At long last he raised his head, and his lips danced across hers. A brush, like a feather over her parted mouth, a second touch, just a bare whisper, and then his head moved and his lips merged with hers. The press of flesh on flesh was aided by a spark of need so intense it lit the room. Their bodies fused, sizzling, the buzz in the air vibrating against her bare skin. She was suffused with love, with joy.
“I need you.” He whispered the words, moving from mouth to ear, his tongue darting along those whorls. “You are so beautiful. So special. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to let you go. They asked me to hide you, but I’m never going to give you back. I don’t know your name, but I know your breath, your smell, your eyes. I know when you’re happy, and sad and pissed.”
The sun fell, casting the room in darkness. The sky glowed pink. Her heart raced. She loved him. Had loved him from that first moment on the beach. For him, though he had yet to know it, she had given up all. Her family, her friends, her life in the sea, and if he didn’t love her in return, her sacrifice would be for naught.
She could see the moon on the edge of the horizon. Her blood sizzled, and she felt like she might boil away.
His mouth moved over her face, kissing her. Tears leaked from her eyes as she prepared to die in her beloved’s arms. He wouldn’t understand, he wouldn’t ever know…
“I love you.” The words were whispered against her lips.
A sound like a thunder-clap filled the room, and they clung together in shock.
“It is done. You have succeeded, little one, and I had not thought it possible. Your gift is yours to keep, and your forfeit is returned to you. I bid you a happy life.”
From within the depths of the fire, Ari could make out the form of the Sea Witch.
“Who the fuck are you?” Growled Lucas, pushing Ari behind him.
“Ask her, gorgeous. And congratulation on the twins…! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have another thing to attend to!” With a soft whoosh, and a dramatic flare of the fire, the witch was gone.
“Are you okay?” The woodsman gathered Ari close.
“I am. Thank you.” Ari grabbed her throat in shock…her voice was returned!
“You can TALK!”
“I can talk!” She spun around in a fast twirl, making certain she still had two legs. Yes! She was whole, and fine and madly in love!
She grabbed Lucas by the hand and pulled him out the door to watch the rising of the full moon. “Come, Lucas, and I’ll tell you a story in the moonlight, about a mermaid and a man….”
The ship rolled on each swell, dipping low enough that it felt like riding a slide down into the depths, then climbed back up the next wave. Over and over, as rain lashed the deck.
Seasoned sailors were hurling over the side rails as the tossing ship upset stomachs. Soon they were joined by their Prince. Many were secretly gleeful to see him laid low, as he bent, and emptied the contents of his stomach into the waves. He’d been a bastard to travel with, full of demands. He’d even tried to fuck his cabin boy, but the mates had put and end to that nasty little plot. Those that saw what happened next agreed to never, ever, share the story, no matter how many buckets of ale they consumed.
As he leaned over the railing, vomiting, a large, dark and inky tentacle slipped out of the water and wrapped around the ill Prince. In seconds, he’d been pulled off the ship. He’d screamed and fought, calling out over the sounds of the now-calming seas for help. Sailors stood, frozen in shock at the railings. His screams were quickly silenced, however, as his open mouth was filled with a thick, black tentacle. Judging by the sounds coming from around that effective gag, it wasn’t the only hole being violated. Many were secretly glad to see the wicked Prince receive his comeuppance. Soft prayers were quickly chanted to the Sea Witch who resided in the dark depths of the ocean, even as the captain ordered sails raised with a terse, shocked, “quick-like, mates.” Snapped out of their fear-driven immobility, the crew scrambled to obey, praying that they wouldn’t be taken off the ship to join the Prince. As the ship sailed away, many dropped to their knees and offered prayers to the Merfolk to guide them safely back home.
They returned to port days later, battered and weary. Of the lost Prince, there was no trace. But rumor has it, from old sea-dogs hanging in the bars at ports, that sometimes, when the wind is running high and the waves are hissing, that you can hear the Prince’s screams still.
She stood at the edge of the sea, knee-deep in the surf, a baby in each arm. Standing beside her was her husband of many months, and her uncles, Mudge and Trey. It was spring, the season of renewal and birth. In the water with them was a heavily bearded man, who wasn’t a man at all. Carefully, he took each child, looked at them solemnly, and kissing each soft cheek. His grandson squirmed and whimpered, but his granddaughter, ah! She looked up at him with solemn eyes, meeting his look with a steady one of her own. Green eyes met green eyes, weighing one another. “This one will be a fiesty lass,” he spoke to Lucas. “Much like her mother,” and he smiled at his daughter, fondly. He offered a blessing to each babe, and a kiss to his daughter and son-in-law, then passed the children back to their parents.
To Mudge and Trey, he passed a heavy bag of gold each, in thanks for their care of his ‘baby’ girl. With an admonishment to take care of one another, the King of the Sea turned, and dove beneath the waves.
She knew, as they made their way back up the path to the cliffs, that her life had been irrevocably changed. Turning one last time, she wondered if she’d ever see her family again. For a moment she was sad for all she had left behind, but her son whimpered again, hungry, and her attention was returned to her “land” family.
“Still think he looked like a fish.”
“He’s a King, for goodness sake, Mudge.”
“Smelt like a fish.”
“You smell like dung. That doesn’t make you a cow.”
She laughed as she caught up with the two men. Of course she’d come back. She wouldn’t miss coming back to visit these two Uncles of hers for all the gold in the sea!
And that, my good friends, is the end of this tail.