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Only Darkness

The First Chapter of my unpublished Mermaid novel The Children of the Ocean and the Secret of Venice

Cold waves towered and fell in the freezing sea far to the South. Clouds covered the sky. Darkness ruled this place. This night, a single merman swam against the current to reach a distant destination. It was a sea, a kingdom as far as South could go. It was the end of the world. It was where darkness began.

In the merman’s world it was known as the Sea of Death. A place where freedom ended, murder was the law, a place of terror and fear. It was the kingdom of a Queen that had killed a million merpeople.

 He swam on and on, closer to danger, closer to death. But he had to swim on. There was no other way. He wanted to seek out her power and join her. He had to. Her spies in the Atlantic Kingdom were murdered and he wanted to become her new spy for the city of Atlantis. He was a high ranked merman at court and he could see that even the Atlantic Kingdom would not be able to withstand her power for much longer. If he wanted to live, there was only one way out. Within the darkness he moved, he could see little pale lights shining from the bottom of the sea. Finally, he had reached the border of the Sea of Death. Beneath him were the fields of bones. Here this Queen of nightmares had disposed of her dead enemies to let them rot and let everyone know, who dared try to oppose her, that this would be their fate. The merman did not want to look but the pale lights were like bony fingers reaching out for his eyes and it was like a spell, he could not resist but observe the scene. There were bones everywhere. Skulls of merpeople, some still fresh, just started rotting. Others were already covered in algae and would soon disappear within the darkness of the bottom of this cursed sea. Other bones and skulls were there too. Dolphins, whales, all sort of fish bones and even some dragon bones, for not even the might of fire could resist the darkness of this Queen.

 And she was the one the merman was trying to seek out.  He did not know if his plans would succeed. It was the only way to save himself. He was the only one left in the Atlantic Kingdom that would be of use to her, the only one to come to her willingly and he hoped she would realise that. If not, he would join the fields of bones soon enough. He would become one of the silent skulls that would be forgotten within the darkness. The sea grew colder the further South he swam. He left the pale lights behind him. Now he had crossed the border and was within her kingdom. Suddenly, he noticed two figures emerging from the blackness. He knew he had to act quickly. They would not spare his life.

“I came to see Mervita!“ He said as loud as he could. His voice cut through the sea, louder than he thought it would be. There was a deadly silence all around him.

The two great figures swam ever closer. They weren’t even three metres away before he could see who they were. Two redskull sharks, creatures so big he had never seen before, were circling around him. In the sunlight, in which they rarely swim in, they would shimmer red and white, like bloody flesh on white bone. But here in the dark they were simply huge and black.

“Who are you?“ One of the sharks inquired. His voice cut like lightning through the cold water.

“Don’t you recognise a merman of the Atlantic when he swims in front of    you?“ The other shark countered, whose voice sounded even more dangerous.

“We should eat him!“ The other one said with an even more dangerous tone.

“No! Stop!“ The desperate merman screamed. “I want to see Mervita. I- I want to make her an offer!“

The sharks were drawing their circle ever closer around him.

“He is talking about Mira. Only the freedom fighters call her Mervita…“ One of the sharks said.

“Tell me… Freedom fighter… Do you want to call her Mira?“ The other redskull shark asked threatening.

“Yes… Yes… I- I want to call her Mira.“

“Have you heard that brother?“ One of the sharks said amused. “A freedom fighter wants to flip sides!“

“What a stupid little boy. Just to come here and tell us you want to be on our side. You should have gotten into contact with one of the spies of the Atlantic. Then you would have lived longer.“ The other one shouted.

“Oh yes…“ His fellow approved and opened his jaws to reveal teeth as big as daggers.

The merman saw his last moment coming. He had failed.

“The spies are dead!“ He screamed with the last bit of power that was left within him.

“NO!“

The merman flinched, terrified. This wasn’t one of the sharks. There was someone else. Someone who had screamed and he came closer. The merman was even more terrified now. He knew to whom this voice belonged to. He knew who this person was. He met him a long time ago. He was another reason why he came here. But he had also heard of him in old stories. It was Celeborn. The closest ally of Mervita. Some were convinced that he was just as dangerous and deadly. He was a merman of the Atlantic. Or at least, he used to be one of them.

“Arlox! Marax! Who is that?!“

The two sharks moved back quickly. Even they were afraid of him.

“A merman of the Atlantic. He wants to crossover.“ One of them whispered intimidated.

“Is it true? Are the spies of the Atlantic dead? We have heard rumours but no word of them. We feared the worst.“

“Yes, the King of the Atlantic found out about it and they were all assassinated in an ambush. I- I want to be the new spy for the Atlantic.“ The merman whispered terrified.

 With a cunning smile Celeborn looked at the merman but then his smile vanished as quickly as it came and he continued talking “And you came here willingly. That was very brave of you, almost stupid though. Unfortunately, this I cannot and am not allowed to decide… Merman of the Atlantic… You look good… And strong…Young… Yes… I think Mira will like you. I will bring you to her!“

The merman’s eyes widened.

“You- you will bring me to her?“  

“Fear? Nearly everyone is afraid in her presence. But you have entered the ream of the Queen of Darkness. There is no going back for you into the light.“

Celeborn moved closer and whispered into his ear. “But if you like, I can leave you here, with Arlox and Marax. They will have a lot of fun with your flesh.“

Celeborn grinned and stared into the merman’s face. “Death or Mira?“ He asked. “Death or Mira… Mervita… How your people call her…“

For a moment it was completely quiet. Only the distant roaring of the waves on the surface could be heard.

“I choose Mervita… or as I will say from now onwards… Mira.“

Celeborn nodded contently. From the darkness, deep down below he summoned seaweed, black as night, strings rose towards them and like snakes they slithered around the young merman until he was unable to move. He was a prisoner of darkness now.

The four swam on further into the South, towards blackness. They swam on and on until they came to a city built out of dark marble. The city was lit weakly by green flames. It was a fire so hot it could burn under water. It used to be a beautiful city glittering gold and green in the sun. This was long before Mervita came and murdered everyone. Now, the city rose high over all the bones and dark creatures that roamed the sea here. Like a tomb, ancient and powerful. The pale light was just enough so the prisoner could see Celeborn’s face. He had black silver hair, dark eyes, speckled with silver. His fin was just as silver, its scales appeared to be impenetrable like armour. He was very muscular, as if there was only steel underneath his skin. He was a deadly warrior. His face reflected the same strength. There was no real expression to be seen. He wore his face almost like a shield ready for battle. He radiated strength and power.

The city was teeming with more redskull sharks. None of them were as big as Arlox and Marax though. Skeletal creatures, they used to be humans who drowned at sea and whose dead bodies were resurrected with black magic to serve the Queen of darkness, were floating around trying to stay away from the dim lights in the city. Other monsters of the deep were there too. Fish and kraken in all shapes and sizes. Some with huge eyes to see in the dark, others with no eyes at all. They would not need them. Their Queen was their absolute master and they did not need eyes to see in her kingdom. There were also other merpeople with dark fins and grey skin. They had willingly given up on their life of freedom because they were terrified but loved their Queen. They had bound their life force to her to serve her, as long as they lived, for she was immortal. With empty expressions they looked after Celeborn, the newcomer and the two sharks.

 They came closer to the palace. Celeborn stopped them in front of a black gate and knocked seven times against it. It opened and bubbles rose up along the wall and then along an invisible wall of water that stretched beyond and into nothing. They swam through and passed another four gates, each one bigger than the last. Great and ancient, so powerful and black they had not let any enemy pass in over seven thousand years. And finally, they reached a gigantic court which was full of old buildings encircled with black roses that towered the buildings like fences. All the houses were black or silver radiating magic from within. Here the Queen’s closest servants were living. They were masters of the dark arts and were creating new forms of black magic behind the closed doors of the houses. Nightmares, terrifying atrocities, no one would ever awake from.

 After another gate that looked transparent but radiated the darkest magic the merman had ever felt, they swam towards a huge double gate. Celeborn turned to Arlox and Marax and said “You are not allowed further. You are released for today.“

The two nodded thankfully and disappeared within the shadows of the city.

“Ready?“ Celeborn asked the prisoner.

He nodded. Celeborn threw the double gates open and they entered. The moment they stepped through, they transformed into their human forms. No more fins but legs. The double gates didn’t let pass a single drop of saltwater. It was a foaming wall of water which, when the gate closed, silenced. They were in a great dome. It resembled a hall. The floor was made out of black marble and the dome itself was pure diamond glass. Here it was lighter than in the city.

 A single woman was standing on the other side of the hall and said in a sweet girlish voice “Leave me alone with the prisoner.“

Without saying anything, Celeborn disappeared back into darkness.

“Step forward.“ She said bored and the black seaweed dissolved into smoke.

The merman who made it that far didn’t want to give up right in front of his goal and slowly stepped forward. Mervita turned around and the prisoner looked into the blackest eyes he had ever seen. Darker than night, more threatening than the deepest sea canyon and more dangerous than the deadliest curse they stared at him like two pitch black holes. But he had never seen anyone so beautiful, someone so pale. She radiated beauty that was absolutely terrifying. The merman feared if he looked away, he would die instantly, despairing to death because his eyes would turn away from such a wonderful angel of death. Her long beautiful silver- grey hair flowed down her body and her dress, that was as clear as the night sky with droplets of starlight woven into it. As if she had murdered and sliced open all the stars from the heavens and wove their sparkling blood into her dress.

“My- my name is A-“

“Only speak when you are asked to speak! I already know everything you told Celeborn. There is no need to explain. I can see through you like you can see through glass.“ She said coldly.

Quietly she circled him like a shark and said “You are a merman of the Atlantic… You are a warrior… You are handsome, healthy and you are strong… And you want to side with me because my spies in the Atlantic were murdered.“

Now Mervita strode towards the other end of the dome and with her sharp steel fingernails, almost like claws, she moved over the diamond glass in which a great triton but with four spikes was engraved. A painful tone sounded through the dome when her fingernails scratched over the glass.

“I like warriors. You know…“ She said amused. “Come here.“

The merman stood up and walked towards her.

“What is my realm?“

“Your- your realm?“

She nodded. 

“Well… You are the Queen of the Sea of Death… You conquered the Menar Sea… The Aklohoro Sea… And- and the Alaskanta Sea. And you have allies everywhere in the ocean. And at land. And in the skies.“

“That is not quite right.“ She said in her girlish voice.

“Remember… No one can harm my realm. No one can stand against me. No one can kill me.“ She said coldly.

With her sweet lovely voice, she continued “So… What is my realm, warrior? Look outside the dome. What do you see?“

“Nothing… Only darkness…“

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