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 1xbet yeni giriş 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.
“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 1xbet giriş 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 1xbet güvenilirmi 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.