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The Maiden and the Merman by Pensierri32

Chapter 1

Author’s Note: This story was inspired by my love of the ocean and copious hours of watching Blue Planet and all sorts of killer whale shows. I hope you like it, adore it, gush about it like fangirls or boys and want to read more; however, if you do not, please let me know why so that I may improve upon my writing. Cheerio, beautiful people!

The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach.

-Henry Beston

I:

            The sea sang to her the heartbeat of the moon, the crash and sigh of the waves as they surged against the shore so close to her window. High tide erased the pathway to the dormitories of the Western Citadel from view, covering the raised stone walkways with a foot of clear water. The walkways were far enough from the bay that they rested beneath calm waves, high enough over the ocean floor that the unseen tides beneath could not sweep away the Maidens of the Citadel to sea.

            Not that any of them would have minded. They were, after all, the esteemed Maidens of the Western Seas, beholden of the knowledge of the waves and blessed with the light of the Storm God himself. They had been brought to the Citadel so early in childhood they barely remembered their geographical origin; and, thusly, had been raised in the small seaside Villa of the Citadel, lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean and woken by the cries of its birds.

            Her thoughts wandered, sapphire-shaded blue eyes catching the play of light on the dark waves, even as she tried to force herself to sleep. Yet, she couldn’t. Tomorrow was too big a day for her elder sister and one she almost could not bear to think of. The very thought made her throat tighten. Her eyes closed against the tears and she turned from the window to the interior of the room, facing the empty bed on the far wall.

            Her sister was holding her vigil in the steeple tonight, meditating in the confines of the bell so that her energies drifted with the amplified sound of the waves beneath her feet. She was holding vigil tonight and tomorrow she would leave, having finally finished her training as a Maiden. She would be gifted with the symbol of the Western Citadel, a necklace adorned with a pink pearl- the rarest of oceanic treasures, found only in the deep caves beneath the edge of their bay. Tomorrow, Kikyou would become a Jewel and would take her first assignment inland.

            Kagome sniffled, turning away from the empty bed and back to the sea, a few tears escaping despite her promise not to cry. She had idolized her sister since she had been sent here, beyond happy to have a relative with her in the strange place her parents had sent her to. Kikyou had helped her adjust but they had both been quickly caught up in their studies, theology, geography, cartography until Kikyou had turned 16 and they had realized they only had one year left together. They had grown close, closer than they had ever been as children, in these past few months leading up to Kikyou’s departure, knowing that they were probably never going to see each other again.

            Kikyou had an explorer’s heart and the wandering feet to match. She would not be one of the graduated Jewels who would return time and again to reacquaint herself with the sea from which their light came. Conversely, her younger sister would never be able to part from the sea.

            The moon’s heartbeat was her own, the splash of the waves reminiscent of her laughter, the blue of her eyes as changeable as the color of the ocean. She was the essence of their Order and vastly acknowledged as such.

            It had already been decided that when she turned 16 later that summer, her final year of training would be spent under the guidance of their leader, Kaede. She was to be groomed for the position of Honored Jewel and was to learn the manipulation of water itself instead of just her own light. It was an honor and it was wonderful; but, she would miss her sister.

            Slowly, reluctantly, she fell asleep, lulled into relaxation as the vibrations from a whale’s song crept up through the stone and echoed faintly around her room. In the morning, she would curse her restlessness the night before for her sister would leave her a note of farewell and would be long gone towards the land-locked principalities by sunrise.

~*~

            He drifted closer, aware that she was unconscious of his silent perusal of her; but, his curiosity simply could not be sated from far away. After all, she was the first human he had seen in centuries, having been so busy fighting in the Sea King’s wars against his titanic brethren and the traitorous faction of the Court.

Lazily, he swam closer, ignoring the clacking of his crabby advisor and the spontaneous humming of his red-haired paige. The world tuned out around him as his eyes drifted over the young woman sitting so forlornly by the seaside, dangling small feet into the water.

Her hair was the shade of a raven’s wings- glossy and blue-black even in the height of the noon sun. Her skin was tanned though smooth and soft from never having worked on land. Her frame was petite and rather curvy, barely hidden from his gaze by the filmy pair of loose leggings and the tight shift around her torso. Around her neck dangled a crescent moon pendant, the symbol of his house.

            His eyebrow rose as he drifted closer still, trying to catch the color of her eyes. She was a Maiden of the Western Citadel, the women who paid tribute to the Sea King for the gift of their light. She was lovely in the way of her kind and had she been born a mermaid, she would have already been betrothed. He knew, though, that humans did things differently. The Maidens chose their own mates.

            Absently stopping his paige before he could prank his advisor, he wondered if this one had chosen her mate yet. Then, abruptly, wondered why the hell he cared.

            “Come,” he spoke coldly, turning away to dive back beneath the waves, nothing more than the glimpse of a pale gold fin to show his presence above water. His two companions followed him swiftly, unaware of the direction of his thoughts. They had noticed the direction of his gaze; but, of all the merfolk who lived beneath the Sea King’s rule, their leader was the last possible person they would associate with the breaking of the law.

            Especially the cardinal rule, the taboo set down by the Sea God himself: to never speak with humans. They were the children of his brother and while the sea and sky were not enemies, neither were they friends. Their children, as a whole, followed their example and never strayed too far from the boundaries of their patron deities.

            There were few exceptions to this convention, the most well-known of which were the Maidens of the Sea. For ages, they had been the only humans allowed to devote their livelihoods to the sea without retribution from the Sky God.

            As he swam further into the black waters of the deep ocean, the merman wondered why. If there was a legend explaining the creation of the Western Citadel, then it was not one most were familiar with.

            His thoughts returned to the beautiful Maiden by the shore, briefly contemplating the uncomfortable notion that he seemed to be more like his father than he had originally believed.

            No. He wasn’t.

            He was simply curious about her and her order.

            There was nothing wrong with a little curiosity.

~*~

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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