Alain’s story had been interesting till now. But, he had failed to explain anything about his motives, which gave Edwards no reason to trust Alain. He decided to leave Alain as he was, tied to the bed. Edwards removed his flintlock pistol from its position in his belt and placed it on the table, pointing in the direction of Alain. He placed is hand on the flintlock and looked at Alain –
“The story is nice. But, you had better get to the point now, fast.”
Alain glanced at the flintlock. Showing no sign of fear, he continued the story.
‘The teenage prince sunk rapidly, the chains bound to his body speeding up his descent. Mer held his breath. His vision started being invaded by darkness. His shock at being condemned to this fate was soon replaced by fear. His vision went completely black as his lungs finally gave in to the pressure. But instead of suffocating and drowning completely, Mer found it to be more pleasant under water than over it. He had no trouble breathing. His vision fully returned to him. He looked at his body. His elbows had developed prominent scales on them. The same could be said about his feet. He felt his neck. His fingers met with thin slits. Gills, he thought to himself. His body was still loosely bound with chains. His fear had now left him. It had been replaced with anger, a burning wrath against his father. He pushed out with his hands and to his surprise, the chains broke apart. This was a feat he could have never dreamed of performing before whatever it was that had happened to him. Free from his shackles, he scouted the area around him with his eyes. To his surprise, multiple pairs of peering red eyes looked back at him through the thick ocean flora. Slowly, hundreds of people began coming out of their hiding spots surrounding him. He looked around. All of them had red eyes and scales on their elbows and feet, just like him. He spotted features that seemingly matched his stable boy’s features, before he was drowned in the sea. He kept looking around and found several faces that were known to him. Then it dawned upon him. None of the condemned people had died. They were alive, just like him. The people had surrounded him now.
“It is Prince Mer. Let’s rip him apart. His father did this to us. “
A random voice said from the crowd.
Mer had always thought that talking underwater was impossible. But apparently, it wasn’t so.
“Yes. Kill him!”
More voices joined in.
Soon, the crowd began moving slowly towards Mer, their discontent clearly visible. Mer knew he had to put a stop this, or else his new lease on life would be a very short one.
“Stop! Listen to me. I know how you feel. I know you are all angry, angry with the King. Angry, that he abandoned you and condemned you, no us, to this fate.”
Mer paused. He looked around to check whether his words had been registered by the people. They had stopped moving towards him. Mer let his anger swell within him.
“I share this fate with you. My own father did this to me. And he will pay. I swear this to you. You, you are all my people. And I, Prince Mer shall lead you. Together, you and I shall crush the Kingdom of Veluise. I promise you, we will have our revenge. Will you share this revenge with me?”
A long pause followed. Mer had spoken with true feelings, and his speech was soon met with cries of approval. And from that day, Mer became the king of these people, and they came to call themselves – Merfolk.
Mer’s first order of business was to understand the extents of their new abilities, their strengths and weaknesses. Mer discovered that his people though much stronger inside water, could survive on the surface as well. As long as they were near the sea air, they would not die due to suffocation. However, they were not very physically strong without the presence of water. He also understood that their diseased bodies could only digest meat, even human meat. One of the amazing things Mer discovered was that a few of his kind could alter their physical features to look like normal humans for a short amount of time. They would manage to get rid of their gills and the red hue of their eyes. Mer felt this was most interesting and useful to his plan. He began training his people to fight as soldiers. He would need them for the war that was coming. He continued planning his revenge for many months, biding his time and waiting for the right moment to make his move.
The time finally came after thirteen months. The disease had been eradicated from the Kingdom of Veluise, and the king reigned over a peaceful time. Mer had carefully selected his time. At the night of the King’s birthday, the whole kingdom was in a celebratory mood. Taking advantage of the thin vigilance, Mer and his group of thirty best soldiers snuck into the royal palace. The hooded Mer made his way into the gala and approached the king. Mer taking his hood off, revealed his presence. Mer’s face was the last thing the old King ever saw, as Mer plunged a sword into his chest. His soldiers made quick work of the astonished royal guards. He went to the ramparts and lit a torch. His Generals recognizing this as the pre-planned signal launched their attacks. Merfolk began rising from the sea and attacking the island cities from all directions. The Veluise soldiers were caught unawares. It was a massacre. The unsuspecting people of Veluise stood no chance. A once great Kingdom had been turned into a mass grave.
Mer returned to the sea. Even though Veluise was destroyed, his own losses had been heavy. More than half of his people were among the bodies littering the islands. Mer’s hatred had extended towards the rest of humanity now. A few of his subjects did not agree with his actions. Realizing his cruel ambitions, they decided to not be a part of his actions. They decided to stand beside humanity and act against Mer.
I am one of their descendants. ‘
Edwards took a moment to register everything. He went up to Alain and cut the cloth near his elbow. The gills on his elbow glittered in the lamp’s light.
“You still haven’t told me what you were doing yesterday night”, Edwards said as he lifted his pistol.
“I was making sure things do not go wrong. We are in Merfolk territory now. Every night, I keep a lookout for those who dwell inside these seas. I know they are planning something big and it is related to you somehow. “
Edwards was bemused now.
“Me? And how do you even know about all of this? “
Alain smiled dryly.
“Captain Edwards, how did you find someone to navigate these treacherous waters so easily? A bit too convenient, I would say. I did mention that some Merfolk could change their appearance, to appear human like. “
Edwards understood now.
“Jach! “, he exclaimed.
“Yes, captain. Jach. I have been keeping an eye on him, working undercover to get wind of their plan for humanity. They – “
Alain was cut short by the impact of motion as the ship suddenly stopped. Almost instantly a knock sounded on the door.
“Captain Edwards, we seem to have hit a reef.”
Edwards looked at Alain with alarm on his face.
“They are here”, Alain responded with equal alarm.