"Father, may I have a pet?" Nine year old Talula pulled at the King's arm down, forcing him to bend down to her level. "Please. Maisy has one. Her Mother brought it to school." Her red hair was placed in a high ponytail and her plain purple school pouch was still resting across her body, with no doubt containing anything but books.
The King held his face mere centimetres from his daughters, their noses almost touching. His eyes looked into her big eyes and sighed.
"Of course, Angel. What would you like?" They both sat in the carriage, the green horses pulling them slowly through the water. Their guard Maltu had been the driver that day, sitting up front with his brown, short hair, and his dull red tail lying across the drivers floor, all whilst his hands held tightly around the weaved seaweed that formed as rope around the horses. The chattering of other merfolk could be heard as the rich sat within their own carriages, and the not-so-rich swam along side them, staring and gossiping about the individuals they spotted within the different carriages.
"I want a... a horse!" Talula practically screamed so everybody could hear her. One person in particular did have the Princess's voice reach her ears.
Her jaw dropped at hearing what she had said. We are friends. I could ask to stroke it. Desdemona got herself all giddy with the thought, excited that she may have the chance to do something other than clean up after her family and eat kelp. She lagged behind her family to hear the rest of the conversation taking place in the gold coloured carriage.
"Of course, my dear." The King's words made both girls squeal in happiness, just at different frequencies. Eyes from those within the carriages surrounding them all looked over, curious as to why the girl was making such racket. Nobody paid any mind to Desdemona squealing; not even her own family.
"A horse you shall have. What colour?" The King's head moved back to face forward for a moment, when the carriage jolted in the slow moving traffic.
Desdemona's eyes went wide as she watched the Princess' head bounce up and down. So engrossed within their conversation, she'd almost stopped moving her tail. If she wanted a horse, her mother would tell her to keep dreaming, not ask her what colour.
"Hmm..." Talula tapped away at her chin with her index finger, as if debating on which colour she wanted. Desdemona giggled at the suspense her friend had created. They all knew what colour she would say.
"Pink. I want a big, pink horse!" The King chuckled at the reaction of his daughter. Her smile showed off all her teeth, and took up residency across a large amount of her face.
"It is yours."
Desdemona wagged her tail quickly, in anticipation of wanting to see Talula's horse, wishing that time would hurry up.
Making her way home, all she could think of was the big, pink horse Talula was having. She'd imagine what it would feel like to touch; to feed; to ride. Her family hadn't made it far in front, so she easily catched up to them, avoiding a whipping from her father when he returned home for straying.
The King had taken Talula straight to his horse dealer, in search of the horse she wished, immediately. The barn was clear of any other presences, but the horses and a merman called Drew.
"Your Highness, what do I owe the pleasure?" The orange tailed merman came closer with a stubble homing his face, and a pitchfork in hand, as if he'd just fed the horses Posidonia.
"Drew, Talula here wants a horse." Talula's dad watched Drew carefully with eyes of a shark, unable to place the feeling he had around Drew.
"What type of horse, m'lady?" He bent down, just as the King had within the carriage to her. Talula's smile refused to decrease.
"A pink one! For me to learn to ride."
Drew swam closer to the princess, his tail only moving slightly to edge him forward. The pitchfork dragged slowly across the floors surface of sand as he did.
"Little girl, you're wasting my time!" He growled and pointed the pitchfork at her. Within a flash, the king held Drew's neck in his hands, the merman's body held up one of the barn's brown coral walls. At the sound of Drew's pitchfork hitting the ground, and his body up on the coral, Maltu rushed into the barn, and witnessed the sight of the merman being held within the king's hand, wriggling, trying to escape his majesty's grip.
"You dare try to harm the princess?"
Maltu waved his arm in the direction of the young Talula and brought it back to himself, signalling her to move to him. She complied, with harsh breathing and her eyes never leaving her fathers back.
"She is no princess," Drew spat in the king's face, his eyes staring into the King's' own.
"Maltu, take him to the prisoner cells. He is to be beheaded tomorrow for attacking the princess."
Talula's tail moved quickly towards her father whilst Maltu held Drew's wrists tightly in the spare piece of rope he'd carried on himself.
The King bent down and held his daughter in his arms, picking her up and cradling her, vowing to never let her do anything alone in case of danger. Talula's head was buried within his neck, making the two yellow.
Desdemona's family sat gathered around the table, waiting for their fathers return from work. He was late. All three of them stared at the kelp that sat on their plates in anticipation. When they had heard the door be knocked, the two siblings looked at each other in confusion. Who would be knocking at this time? It wouldn't be father. The two of them thought as their eyebrows lowered. The two watched as their mother raised herself from her stool in the dark and made her way to the door, only having to swim through the empty room at the front of their red coral home, the glofish being her only source of light.
When Melissa opened the door, she was greeted by a man in the royal guard uniform. Red covered his chest with the symbol of the crown the king wears sitting on the head of a faint blue horse.
"This is the home of Drew, the horseman, correct?" The brown haired merman stood, looking at the blue tailed mermaid who may have just lost her partner. Melissa looked behind into the house, over her left shoulder, making sure the children weren't present before nodding. She knew if a royals guard was really standing at her door, it wouldn't be good news.
Little did her mother know, Desdemona's ears tuned into the adults' conversation as they spoke her fathers name.
"Yes, this is the home of Drew."
"Then I am here to inform you that he attacked the princess and is to be beheaded at dawn," he bowed his head, so to not see the look of disbelief on the mermaids face.
"Thank you for telling me." Her face was currently dry, but her throat was tight. She watched as the guard retreated away from her home before closing the door and walking to the table where their kelp sat, waiting for them. As she entered the eating area, she forced a smile onto her lips and placed herself down onto the stool, before holding a hand of her daughters and a hand of her sons, before nodding, signalling them to eat their kelp. As she watched them eat, she didn't touch her own. We're going to die, she thought as the news settled into her mind, making her throat only grow tighter.
Desdemona caught hold of her mother not touching her food in the corner of her eye. It was the only meal they could afford to have, so she knew there was now a problem with their food supply with the news of her fathers beheading. Are they trying to kill both my parents? Desdemona's grip around her spoon tightened at the thought of both her parents dying. I will get you for this, princess.
The green coral walled castle had been decorated with multi-coloured, dyed seaweed and shells that hung across the walls for the princess' twenty-first birthday; the day her life was to change. Every member of the merfolk society knew of the princess' fascination with the land folk, and none had been surprised at all by her request for her father, taking her to where no merfolk dared to go.
"Father, my request is to go to the rock bed," her hands locked together in front of her whilst she looked up at him. "May I, may I go to the rock bed, father?" His only daughter asked the very same question he knew she was going to ask.
She, of course, asked for the same thing on every birthday that had passed, and he feared she would not quit asking until he finally allowed her to. Besides, he knew she would go now she was of age, with or without his consent. At least, with his consent, it was within his control.
Desdemona, the maid wearing a blue top that matched her tails gills, had been hovering right next to his daughter, Talula. As his worry filled gaze landed on her, and felt that he was not alone in worrying, as, to him, it was clear she'd been worrying for her friend just as much as he. However, her wide green eyes and pale skin had been mistaken for worry, rather than envy.
His eyes steered back onto his daughter, who hovered less than a foot in front of him. He sat on his thrown trying to weigh himself down, by gripping the arms of his throne. Resting every muscle in his lower body seemed to be the only way he could feel the coral against his blue gills that decorated his long tail.
"Talula, my dear, I-I-I-ahh..." He struggled to find the words to use. Her eyes were staring at him, making it harder for him to possibly say no. How could he say no to his only daughter? He simply could not.
Talula was full of hope as she tried keeping her own yellow tail as close to the sand floor of the castle as possible. She watched impatiently as his facial expression changed dramatically whilst lost in thought. Her green eyes got wider with anticipation whilst witnessing a battle within his own brown pair.
"Fine," he drew out the breath as though he sighed, "as long as you promise you will participate in the concert in a day's time."
She dived at him, her arms wrapping around his neck and she squealed down his ear, before half his sentence made an appearance. Desdemona watched in envy of the small princess, never once having gotten whatever she had wanted without a second thought. Unless it brought a reason or function to her life, or her family, then she was not given a yes.
"Thank you, Father, thank you." Her tail moved frantically as she made her way across the ballroom, creating bubbles that ended up in Desdemona's already unhappy face. The king watched her, still in shock as to how she responded.
"My dear, where are you going?" He was tempted to chase her, but decided against it as his injured hip from an attack across the ocean the week before brought chaos to his movements. The doctor advised him to not move unless necessary. Talula ceased and spun around quickly, her dark red hair had ended up covering her face, but could not hide the smile that she was wearing.
"I'm going, Father." Her left hand pointed whilst her right had continued fighting against her hair. "To the rock bed." She did not want to wait a second longer to see her dream. The king could not believe how willing to leave, before the party he was hosting for her birthday even started, his daughter appeared to be.
"But what of your guest's? Should you not thank them all for turning up to celebrate their princess' birthday? Do you plan to leave them without the guest of honour?" Talula's mind tossed out all information about the celebration. The only thing on her mind was that she could go to the rock bed on the surface.
"I shall return before the guests gather for the celebration, Father. You have my word."
He smiled, allowing her to not see the worry that he'd been feeling. He couldn't show her how disappointed he was, not the slightest bit happy she wanted to go right that second. He wanted to have time to talk her out of it and have her do it the day after instead; he just wanted time. She hovered and watched him before turning back around and heading straight through the reef and to the rock bed that had her name written on then.
"Desdemona. Go and watch her. And make sure she stays safe." His eyes snapped to the mermaid who'd been viciously bitten by the green eyed monster the second his daughter left the castle.
"Of course, Sire," Desdemona all but mumbled before swimming away, following the trail of bubbles the princess left behind her in her frantic escape. When Desdemona caught up with the little mermaid, she found her lying across the biggest rock there, splashing her tail in the water, the sun beating down on it, making it sparkle. She peered behind another rock and kept an eye on her from behind. Her hair stuck to her skin as her head bobbed above the surface, just as Talula's had, but Desdemona's brown hair still pooled around her shoulders in the water whilst Talula's stuck to her arms as she sat in the sun. She hovered and watched the princess as she sung a happy tune whilst she dried herself out in the land folks' air.
Desdemona watched for a while, as nothing happened but Talula singing and splashing the water with her tail, until a ship came into view. It was not clear to Desdemona whether Talula noticed it, but Desdemona did and she was not going to chance being seen because of the stupid princess. The land folk were quick to approach the rock bed the two were in. Desdemona hid herself more into the water, only allowing her eyes and above to stay above the surface. Talula kept herself singing her happy tunes as she watched the ship boarding just as noisy land folk approached her.
This is it, Talula thought as she became even louder and waved her hand to them. This is where my dream comes completely true.
Desdemona fought the urge to grab her arm and pull her into the water. The spoilt brat deserves whatever happens. I will most definitely not be associated, nor at blame for it.
When the ship ceased a fair distance away from the two of them, the princess had not ceased her singing, but those on the boat had. Within seconds, the men on the ship started jumping off the boat. No, not jumping, walking. The boat started lowering itself into the water, sinking as the men aboard disappeared from the deck and into the ocean.
Talula continued her singing, oblivious to what was happening around her, as Desdemona watched as each one of the humans tried to stay above the surface, but sank as quickly as their ship had. As screams echoed through the air, Talula finally stopped her singing, and watched as the land folk moved in the water, bobbing and sinking further into the water.
Oh, sea barnacles, did I cause this? She watched hopelessly as they all disappeared, one by one, into the water she called home. Her tail twitched as her face dampened. Tears ran straight down her face as she dived into the water, saving the first one she saw, seeing the reason they were falling deeply into the water; they held no possession of a tail. Her arms were tightly placed around his waist and pulled the heavy lump of flesh close to her chest and keeping him in such a position all the way to the shore, where she managed to lumber him to the shallowest part of the sea, allowing his airways to be out of the reach of the ocean. She lay there on the surface of the ocean, close to the man, checking if he was breathing and alive before disappearing.
Maybe, maybe the whole ordeal will be off my chest if I can save this one life, she thought as she placed her hand on his chest and started pushing down a little when she could not feel it moving. Are they not like us? Is their heart located in another area? Then she gasped. Do they even have hearts?
Her hands started to feel across his chest slowly, trying to locate where it was, pressing down every now and then to figure out where it was. After a few minutes of doing this, the man had started coughing. She took this as her cue to leave and dived back into the ocean, feeling a little relief to fill her chest as she swam back to her home, to the castle, to the celebration of her twenty-first, with Desdemona not so far behind her, wearing a smirk as she took in everything she had just witnessed.
The little princess was not so perfectly fitted to her title after all.
When the two arrived to the castle, Talula was afraid to find out whether her lip had been chewed up or not. She was wrong about saving one person; it just created more guilt inside her. The images of the land folk sinking to the bottom of the ocean and their screams haunted her all the way back.
It may not have been my fault. I shall return there tomorrow and see. Talula decided just before entering the castle she called home once again. The whole journey back, she had not been aware of her maid following her.
Desdemona herself created her own little world to become lost in with her thoughts, not allowing anybody else's thoughts to enter; not even the princess'. A smile brighter than her tail was evidence that she revelled from the event she witnessed mere minutes before. I shall follow her every move and catch her doing so again. They killed my brother; it is only fair the princess kills them all for him. A scowl sat on Desdemona's lips at the thought of those horrid creatures.
The two mermaids were locked in their own thoughts all the way back, placing their bodies on autopilot to get to the castle.
Once Talula entered the castle, she was instantly swarmed by maids, who'd been ordered to get her ready for the celebration by the king. She allowed them to pull her away from the ballroom, into her own chamber room and push her onto the stool that sat before a table. There were clams placed on the counter, ready to be opened and hold the paints of the ocean that could only be made above the surface. She sat as one maid held a comb and the others each held a clam.
The princess closed her eyes and waited for one of them to say she can open them. However, her eyes being shut were painful for her. Her memory of the men sinking replayed in her mind. It took all her strength to not freak out and reopen them. She knew she would be welcomed by powder going into her eye.
"Ahh. Desdemona, how was the journey?" The king discretely asked the maid as she stumbled into the ballroom when the guests started making their appearances, passing him in the process.
"It was fine, your highness. Nothing to worry about." She smiled on the outside, but smirked on the inside before leaving to go to face her other chores for the day. She could not be happier that the princess had made a mess of going on the rock bed and she got to witness it. The little mermaid may just be my way of revenge. Desdemona chuckled quietly to herself.
When the maids were done pampering the princess, they went to the rack and pulled out a hanger with a new outfit for her to slip on. They assisted in her changing as her eyes remained closed as they instructed her. The top covered her whole stomach and the tail cover which tied nicely with the top at the sides and back.
"You can open your eyes now, Princess." Eagerly, the maids giggled as they held each others hands, as if bracing for her verdict. Talula peered through her eyelashes slightly, before blinking quickly twice and looking down. Her eyes felt like they'd been attacked by a horrid sight. Inside, she grimaced. Outside, she smiled and drew a breath.
"Wow..." Not an ounce of enthusiasm could be detected, but it didn't matter anyway. As the maids squealed in delight, Talula stared at what she had been placed in for her party. Why in Neptune's name have they chosen all green?
"Princess, all the guests are here." Desdemona knocked on the door and waited outside. An uncontrollable smirk was presented to her onlookers, as laughter built up inside her. She bit her bottom lip to maintain some control. The role of the unaware maid was needed to provide knowledge on the Princess.
Talula released herself from the claws of her maids and swam slowly to the door, not wanting to ruin the maids' hard work on her hair. Desdemona moved and allowed the princess to exit her room.
"How do I look?" Talula lacked confidence in the green with her red hair, but the maids kept reassuring it matched her eyes.
"Magical, Princess." Desdemona was starting to lose control over the laughter and smirk that resided inside her. Both dying to come out and play at her own little pun. Talula smiled at her and made her way to the stair case. Once she was gone, Desdemona allowed it all to come out of her, holding her stomach in pain as she released it all. Stupid little mermaid.
Her father looked up at her as Talula descended from the stairs, holding the banister as she was as up straight as she possibly could be and made her way down one step at a time. When she reached the bottom, she was reached out to by every merfolk member that could reach her, wanting to give their celebrations and wishes to their princess. She wore a fake smile and made her way over to where the king sat, placing herself onto the throne next to his.
"How are you enjoying your birthday, my dear?" He asked as the music had started back up and everyone had resumed to their dancing.
"I am enjoying it immensely, thank you father." She did not like lying to her father, but she would never face her freedom again if she informed him of the events of the day.
"I am glad to hear so." They smiled before returning to watch the citizens dance the evening away, enjoying themselves whilst the two sat in silence.
"My princess." A blue haired merman had rested his red tail against the ground behind him and bowed his head, with a hidden smirk on his face. Talula knew it was out of respect for the royal title they both wore but she did not enjoy enduring it when being singled out.
"Rise." Her father's voice could barely be heard, but made it to the merman's ears as he raised himself up from the flooring of the castle. "What business do you have up here?"
"Well, Sire, I wish to ask your daughter for a dance." He looked nervous and refused to meet the kings eyes, just as he liked it. Talula smiled and gathered it would keep her mind off the event of earlier that day.
"I would be delighted to." She held out her hand, waiting for him to take hold of it and guide her down the stairs. Once he did, he led her to the middle of the floor as a new song had started playing. The two circled one another, swaying their tails in time with the music the orchestra had provided for the evening.
"You dance extremely well, Princess." He smiled as his hands rested on her waist and her arms around his neck loosely whilst their tails grazed against one another.
"As do you," she paused, realising she had no idea as to his name. His smile grew when he noticed she paused to allow him to allow her to know his name.
"Titus. The name is Titus, my princess."
"Titus. Call me Talula." The pair smiled at each other whilst they laughed and danced the evening away, embracing their newly found friendship.
Desdemona watched the two from afar, smirking from the balcony at the stupidity of the girl, yet wanting to rip her head off right that second for dancing with the individual Desdemona has always fantasised of in sorts from a distance, since they were both young. Her hand held tightly onto the banister, her hand snapping the wood into splinters at the sight as the green eyed monster reappeared from within her. She gets admired by all, the crown and the one I have wanted to get my hands on for years, even when she's a monster.
It struck almost the middle of the night when Talula and Titus parted as the celebration was over, called by the king after he was done enjoying watching his daughter dancing with the blue haired boy, happy she was socialising. As they parted, Titus kissed the back of Talula's hand and made plans for the following day.
"Meet me at the closest reef west at dawn." He urged, wanting to show her something and spend more time with the sweet mermaid princess.
"At dawn, I shall be there." She smiled as he glanced at her, but when he started retreating from her sight, she sighed wishing he didn't have to go. She'd been right. Dancing with him would keep her mind from the rock bed, but now it came rushing back in vicious waves.
"Good night, Father." She placed her lips on the king's cheek, thanking the God of the seas that he was newly shaved, before disappearing to her chambers. The second she was alone, she quickly changing her top, removed the tail cover and combed her hair. At the sight of her shell, she tossed the comb over her right shoulder as she released a yawn. Slowly, she made her way to the welcoming sight and nested herself in. Unlike expected, she only to toss and turn all night; the land folk not being able to leave her mind.
"Murderer!" A group of them screamed at her.
"Siren!" Others shouted as they all pointed at her.
"No. No. You have it wrong. I did not do anything!" She pleaded, but they would not stop pointing their pitchforks and shouting at her. The princess could not leave either, the land folk her tied up to the rock she was forced to lie on.