These were dark days in the watery kingdoms of the Merfolk. Turbulent, all-consuming waves crashed overhead, wreaking vengeance on those unfortunate souls who sought to weather the maelstrom on any remaining land. Foolish bipedal monstrosities, calling themselves human, withdrew from the coastlines, abandoning their tall towers in an attempt to survive the ever-increasing storms. Those who were once proud rulers were brought to their knees, submitting to what their arrogance had wrought.
In the calmer depths below, a single, brave mermaid tailed a cruise-ship, filled with would-be survivors, struggling to stay afloat. Half-capsized from the mountainous waves rocking its battered frame, it was only hours, or minutes, from being a new treasure in Davey Jones’s locker. Fortana knew he liked fearful souls the best; they made prized slaves amongst the ranks of his undead fleet.
Grasping her scepter in hand, she pressed the indent on the side, releasing a booming sonic pulse that stirred the waters around her. The waves overhead ceased, and the echoes from the initial pulse filtered through the now calm seas, resounding kilometers away. Sea-life, big and small, heard the call and hastened to answer its desperate plea. Fortana could only hold Davey Jones’s wrath at bay for a few moments longer. If backup did not arrive soon, all of the Merfolk’s efforts, plans, and unfortunate deaths would have been for nothing.
Already, most of the remaining Merfolk wanted to leave the humans to their inevitable fates. It was, after all, their fault that the collector of souls had been awoken in the first place. Their increasing assault on Mother Earth’s form had resulted in the unbalancing of the fragile ecosystem, ushering in a warming of the planet. This event alone was enough to result in his tomb being laid bare, having been hidden for eons under the massive ice sheet that once covered what was known to the humans as Antarctica.
The other more forgiving Merfolk, like Fortana, wished to protect the last remnants of those that walked freely upon the soil above. Hoping that their combined intelligence would be enough to put the insatiable Captain back into his watery locker for good, she planned to succeed in her promise to the Elders. They had entrusted her with the Calming scepter she now held. If she could not rescue these humans from a watery grave, she would have let down all those that believed she was the best choice.
Flicking the golden-rod towards the sinking liner overhead, a thin stream of silver mist was ejected from the tip. It swirled upwards, effortlessly gliding through the water to attach itself to the damaged bottom, helping it to stay afloat. Three more times Fortana shook the rod, each jerking motion sending another thin string of silver flying to knit itself to the crumpled exterior of the hull. She could see the cracks increasing, allowing more water to flow into the interior. Soon, even her meager spells would not be enough to keep the ship from being pulled to the murky depths below.
A high-pitched squeal echoed through the currents, reaching her ears, and her heart began to race. The Dolphins had heard her call! Shielding her eyes from the flashes of light that pierced their way into the water, she saw dozens of pods swimming quickly towards her. Swishing her fin, she hurried to meet up with the agile creatures, knowing they too had a strange affinity for the two-legged land walkers.
The largest of the Dolphins detached himself from his pod, issuing a series of clicks to those who followed. Their heads bobbed up and down, showing they heard him and would follow his orders. He turned his attention back to Fortana, swimming close enough to press his long, gray rostrum into her outstretched palm. The other Dolphins closed ranks, swirling in a close-knit formation around the two conversing, forming a moving ball of protection.
Fortana’s eyes closed, and her hand slid up the smooth gray snout of the lead Dolphin, coming to rest near the blow-hole on top. She moved in, pressing her forehead to the spot between his own closed orbs. This was a deeper form of communication for these two species that had co-inhabited the Earth’s oceans.
For thousands of years now, Fortana’s people and those of the dolphins had worked together peacefully, protecting one another when needed. The Merfolk helped the dolphins ages ago when the sharks and other marine life under Davey Jones’s control threatened their breeding grounds, nearly decimating their entire population. Working in unison, they formed special coves that none of the creatures he held sway over had been able to gain entry too, allowing the dolphins to breed and birth in relative safety. In return, the grateful creatures promised to keep any curious humans from finding the Merfolks underwater Kingdoms when Davey’s forces had scattered after his imprisonment.
Now, here they were, being asked to break that promise by Fortana. Her plea was; they help now rescuing the humans, bring up the underwater rebreathers her people had created from the ocean floor, and transport those who were willing to the air-tight sanctuaries that were waiting, kilometers below the surface in her kingdom Sylvain. What she was asking for was far more than any other Merfolk had requested from their valuable friends, and she knew it. So far, Davey Jones had no reason to unleash his fury upon the Dolphins. They had been giving him the impression that they were no more than underwater dogs, and that suited them just fine.
A piercing whistle and a booming reply, bellowed across the ocean, reaching Fortana and the male Dolphin, who had just agreed to her plans. The frenzied mass of Dolphins encircling them parted, scattering to reform their ranks as the larger, slower Whales finally appeared. They were majestic in their size, being able to transport huge weights with the flip of a fin alone. They would be able to carry multiple survivors at once, ensuring that all aboard the floundering ship survived.
The female whale in lead rumbled her message again, resonating Fortana’s bone with the urgency held within. This would be the last of the human survivors to be saved. The shelters below were now filled to almost max capacity by the other Merfolk who had been on their own rescue missions. Humanity would survive as long as the Merfolk were able to shelter them from Davey Jones’s prying eyes.
The other successful forays, however, were easier than the task that still lay ahead for Fortana. They had the necessary backup from the start, with dozens of other Merfolk at hand, ready to help if needed. Fortana, being the fastest swimmer out of all those below, had been tasked with rescuing the humans aboard this ship. No other Merfolk could have reached them in time, and for whatever reason, the Lord of the ocean wanted this ship more than all the others. It was in their best interest, that whatever, or whoever was on board, not be allowed to find its way into his chilling grasp.
Fortana and the species of the sea, now ready and able to aide her, approached the faltering vessel from below. They were ready to snag any living being that was fortunate enough to find their way into the ocean and carry them off to the pre-built fortresses. Fortana raised the scepter in hand high, a small yellow light appearing when she did and issued a series of clicks to those around her. It was time to pull down her spell and rescue all those unfortunate souls aboard. With one swiping motion of her arm, the light increased, pulling away the support spells underneath the ship.
Swimming to the surface, dark curls breached the calm surface of the water, and she felt a Whale slip under her, lifting her out of the water to the amazement of the human’s now crowding the deck. None said a word while the large animal brought her closer, and Fortana raised her free hand, palm-outward, and formed a small circle in the air. She regarded their reactions to her greeting, wary and guarded. She did not blame them, they had believed that Merfolk never truly existed. They may have hoped, wished, and dreamed for it to be true till the end of their days, but until now, there had been no reason to reveal the existence of her people.
“What do you want?”
Eyes that matched the color of the tumultuous waters around her narrowed, taking in the appearance of the man who spoke. Another reason she had been sent on this particular mission was, she had taken the time to learn dozens of their languages and would be able to converse with anyone she met. Now being an expert in which humans were ones of being note-worthy, she regarded the two behind the man, flanking him. The way they hovered over his every movement or word gave him the air of someone of importance, and she knew she had to tread carefully.
“Greetings, our land-cousins,” she bowed her head slowly before continuing her speech, “For eons, our two people have lived separately from one another. Long ago we used to frolick on the coastlines, co-mingling quite easily, but your prejudices and your arrogance eventually sent us back to the depths below. Over time, your ancestors forgot us and became to think of my people as myths. I am here today, to put aside all disillusions and offer a helping hand, or fin, to those of you who wish to survive Davey Jones’s destruction. I have no time to discuss anything further, as you can see,” she peered over her shoulder, over the still calm waters at a black dot on the horizon before turning back to look up at the enthralled humans above, “He is almost here.”
Her initial words had held those aboard under her spell, calm and quiet, they listened to what she had said, but her last few words sent a ripple of panic through those aboard. Screaming erupted, louder than the waves that had crashed on top, and many started to jump over the ledge. Anything was better than being caught by the sailor Devil himself and enslaved for the rest of eternity to one of his demonic ships.
Fortana was ready for such a thing and started clicking a series of commands to her underwater friends. Pre-laid bags on the bottom were already picked up by the pods of dolphins, who swam alongside her, and when she would reach a human, she would pull out a rebreather and pop it into their mouth. A dolphin would swim up and either the human, having come to their senses, would grab hold and be whisked away. Those too panicked were quickly grabbed hold of by whatever article of clothing they wore being dragged off in the same direction. Approaching a human from behind she was surprised to have come across the man who had spoken before. She went to shove a rebreather in his mouth and was pushed away as he swam up to yell at those still aboard.
“JUMP, YOU IDIOTS! I’D RATHER RISK IT WITH MERMAIDS THAN THAT ASSHOLE THAT’S COMING AND SO SHOULD YOU!”
Whatever sway he held worked, those aboard started jumping off in growing numbers, and Fortana quickly realized she would not be able to reach everyone fast enough.
“Just tell your Dolphin buddies to carry me around with one of those bags. I’ll help,” the man said quietly to her.
Catching his blue gaze, she nodded once and dived below the surface that was now beginning to show signs of resuming their treacherous waves. Quickly relaying the message to the Dolphins, the two worked in unison, her swimming, him being carted around. Within minutes they had every human survivor outfitted with a rebreather and paired with either a dolphin or dozens to a whale that was now headed to the nearest sanctuary. Only the Lead Dolphin remained with his mate to help carry the strange human male to safety.
Suddenly, a deafening boom wrenched through air and water, breaking the calm Fortana had been holding. A torrential downpour started overhead, and increasing waves swelled over the empty ship, dragging it down. Issuing a series of clicks to the finned-pair waiting, she pointed the scepter towards the dark shapes on the surface and pressed the indent below the first. A thick silver beam shot out, just as the vessels above crashed into a towering wave, their bows piercing the large swell drew down sharply, to continue their journey below the surface.
Fortana closed her eyes, her dark hair shimmering like a halo around her head in the silvery glare of the stream pouring out of the rod in hand. Releasing the mechanism. she slid it into the belt encircling her thin waist and raised her hands towards the misty substance. Palms facing the thick string, she splayed her fingers and it reacted pulling apart. Her fingers twitched, moving and continued to increase in speed until they were almost a blur, till finally, she brought them together quickly, a small pop was heard and the silverish silk spread out creating a gossamer barricade. It would not hold forever, but it would delay the inevitable assault on the fortifications below, allowing the Merfolk to finish shuttling the humans to their final shelter.
An angry roar sounded from Davey’s ship, and Fortana could just make out the angry Captain shouting orders to his crew of damned souls through the silver-web. Turning her back on the shield she had successfully created, she flipped her fin quickly, urging her tired muscles to catch up with the Dolphins waiting just ahead. She needed to report to the Elders and tell them their plan had worked, and about the man, she believed Davey Jones was after.