I sing a song about a time of long ago. Long before strange walkers ruled the lands above, long before the merpeople built the most beautiful kingdoms under the sea and even long before the dragons roamed the skies, mermaids lived in crystal-clear blue waters.
In these times mermaids did not know Kings and Queens as we know them today. All of them were free. They knew the stars, the moon, the sun and the ocean currents. The ancient mermaids knew more than we know today and passed on their knowledge in songs from grandmother to mother to son, from father to daughter.
And the ancients were able to speak to corals and understood their words of magic like no one else. Mermaids and corals conversed like friends talk to each other today. They did not live in symbiosis, growing with one another as we mermaids live with them now. But in the distant past mermaids and corals were one in the ocean. Together they listened to the songs of the stars. Together they lived by the cycles of the moon, they grew strong from the rays of the sun and they shared the sea together as if they were one species.
Some mermaids and corals even fell in love and their love was most sacred. When a coral and a mermaid entered such a union their spirits became one and one could not live without the other and one died when the other one left this world. It was a time of harmony for mermaids and corals and they grew strong from their union. The corals shared their life force with the mermaids and the mermaids in turn shared their life force with them. They were the children of the ocean.
But life is about balance and where there was light and life in the oceans, darkness had a place too. The mermaids and the corals were not alone but in deeper waters roamed the creatures of black, the children of the abyss. Their tails were as powerful as serpent fins. Black and blood red scales covered their streamlined bodies and, as red was the first colour to be consumed by darker waters, they appeared to be half there and half invisible. They were creatures of this world and another, they lived a shadow existence, here and there but not belonging to any world.
With their long arms and sharp claws, they reached through the inky black waters. They snatched for fish or other luckless animals and consumed them with their lipless mouths, tearing them apart with rows of razor-sharp teeth, stretching along their throat, only to turn into nothing. Because the children of the abyss had no purpose but to consume. Their throats were holes of terror without lips, without a tongue to speak but only to taste, its only purpose to take pleasure in tasting flesh and blood. And they did not know what they ate for they were blind in the canyons below. Their heads were smooth and hairless and where two seeing eyes should have been, grey flesh stretched over empty eye sockets, seeing nothing. But the slits between their empty eyes and their consuming hole understood the world around them. Their slits, their nose, created a world for them, below and above.
And in their black space, they sensed magic of a higher place. These creatures of the deep would lift up their scaly heads, sniff, sense another world and taste its colours. They could not grasp the beauty of the world of light for they did not understand what beauty was, but only realised the chance of an unending number of prey above. With two little holes on the sides of their heads, they could also hear the cheerful echoes of another world. But they did not understand the language. And the children of the abyss knew they could not live there in the light among the laughter of the children of the ocean.
After a while, some of them grew jealous of this other life for their lives were hard and cold. And they could smell the colours from above. Like flakes they poured down on them, spectres of a different world they could never join. The children of the abyss felt mocked because they knew how powerful they were in their dark waters and they were the lords of their black realm.
All of them craved the life above, they felt they were left out. Slowly they ascended from the deep and carefully they moved forward one by one waiting in the shadows, just where light could not touch them. When the sun disappeared and shadows filled the space of daylight and the colours turned grey and black, they knew their time had come.
The children of the abyss broke into the waters of mermaids and corals and driven mad by taste and lust they began to claw at the mermaids and carried them into the deep below. They did not care for the corals as they were immobile, no flesh and blood pumped through their bodies. But the corals were one with the mermaids and sensed the terror of their companions.
In the darkness, the children of the abyss screamed at their captives, wanting to learn their secrets, how did they do it? How do they live in harmony with nature above for the creatures of black could not? How were there so many colours and different tastes in their world? But the children of the abyss did not speak with their inner oceans. There was only darkness inside of them. And the mermaids could not understand them. They only heard screams and cackling voices. The captors held down the bodies of the mermaids on the cold ocean floor. They pressed down on them, feeling their hot bodies underneath them. The tongues of the black creatures began to lick over the mermaids’ bodies, trying to make sense of them. With their bony claws they touched all over their bright scales and grabbed at their luscious hair. And they felt their smooth skin, sensing their warm blood beneath. The shadow creatures began to scream at the mermaids, going mad, wanting to taste what they had above.
And in their rage and lustfulness they began to kiss the mermaids with their lipless mouths and their tongues began to taste the colours of the ocean. And now they could not stop. The children were hungry, the children wanted more, the children began to bite into the flesh of their newfound prey. And the children tasted colour.
They tore the mermaids limb from limb until they had consumed every last piece of their flesh and breathed in every juicy drop of their mermaid blood. They smelled the heat of the sun they could not feel. They sucked the mermaids’ eyes from their sockets, tasting all the colours the mermaids had once seen. And when only bones were left, they held on to the white mermaid skulls. With their bony fingers they stroked over the smooth surface in the dark, realising the skulls of their prey were not unlike their own. They licked over the white skulls with their black tongues, like hungry lovers, tasting the fading magic of a life lived in blue waters. They were in ecstasy. They wanted more. It was their only way to be part of the harmony above.
And so, when day turned to night, when light turned to darkness, the children of the abyss ascended and devoured the mermaids one by one. But within the darkness, within the blood thickening around them, the mermaids began to battle. They fought the creatures of black with everything, with all the coral magic they had, but nothing could stop them. And soon the corals became terrified of what their mermaid friends were to endure. The corals sensed all their pain and fear. They were so in shock they forgot how to speak and to sing. Their colourful spirits fled into the insides of the roots of the corals and the mermaids were left alone.
They knew they had to call upon greater powers. They summoned ocean magic first. With waves and currents, they tried to defeat the hungry monsters but they seemed unstoppable. They had powerful fins to master the currents of the deep sea. With every night more and more mermaids disappeared. And as the spirits of the corals had fled and had closed their minds from the outside world, their physical bodies began to crumble. The spirits of the corals began to fall asleep and die. The magic of the mermaids was fading.
So, they decided to call upon the magic of the stars for they were fierce and forceful. But their celestial light was too cold to harm the children of the abyss. They knew the cold and did not mind the starlight. Once again, they feasted on the flesh of the mermaids.
The remaining mermaids chose to ask the moon for help. She aided the children of the ocean gladly but even her power was nothing compared to the hunger of the deep. Her pure silver light was just as cold as the starlight. The monsters of the night seemed unstoppable.
When almost all mermaids were gone and their coral gardens had turned to grey fields of bones, one young mermaid chose to risk it all. Her name was Sarahenyra. Her eyes were green like kelp. Her hair glowed red like foam corals and her skin was amber like the gemstones she sometimes found on the ocean floor. But it was her fin that made her who she was, that shimmered in purple and green, the most potent colours that mermaids sometimes see dancing in the night sky when the mermaids travel north.
After another night of carnage, she rose to the surface and stared into the sun’s all-powerful light. No mermaid had ever dared summon sunlight herself. While the sunrays and her warmth had always made the sea thrive, the ancient mermaids knew that the sun’s magic was too powerful, too destructive. But as the sun began to sink, another night of terror laid ahead and Sarahenyra knew what had to be done.
When a red sun kissed the sea on the horizon, she began to sing a song of the sun. She looked at the golden orb like a lover and voiced the celestial beauty of her fire, telling the sun about the misery and despair of the mermaids. Her melody was about every tear she had wept and every drop of blood that had been spilled in the nights of horror. She sang about her murdered father, her sisters that were devoured in the deep and her little brother she tried to save from the clutches of a monster. But she saw him torn to pieces in front of her eyes. It was a song of sadness but also filled with one last spark of hope and love.
And when she ended her song and the sun had almost disappeared, glittering waves appeared on the horizon and streamed like a golden river on the waves towards the brave mermaid. When the sun’s magic touched the mermaid’s fin, Sarahenyra could feel power rise within her. The purple and green scales in her fin were joined by a third colour, yellow, like the sun herself, and she knew the sun had answered her call.
She dived down into the coming darkness and saw her remaining friends and family hide in the shadows. The children of the abyss were coming. With their bony claws, they snatched through the water, sniffing through the sea, always hungry.
Sarahenyra’s mother called out to her, hide, hide my daughter! They are coming! But the young mermaid was not afraid. She waited until the monsters were all beneath her and then she raised her arms. The creatures sensed her presence and raced towards her, licking their sharp teeth, over their lipless holes. When the first one reached the mermaid, a golden spark erupted from her hand. The moment it touched the child of darkness, its black skin began to blister and it screamed out in agony, a sound, a horror worse than death. The creature twisted and turned in unimaginable pain. It pleaded to the mermaid to make it stop, make it end. And for the first time, the mermaid understood the language of the creature because, since their arrival, she had come to learn the language of pain. But she chose not to listen for the true magic of the sun was within her. There was no mercy for the hunger of these monsters. Another spark of gold erupted from her hand and reached the creature. The second spark was final and ended the creature’s misery. Lifeless it sank back into the darkness below. The other monsters sensed the death of their family member and their fear drove them back into the deep.
But Sarahenyra was not done. She followed the enemies of the mermaids into the blackness. Her family and friends looked after her, followed her but stopped where the cliffs into darkness began. But the young mermaid was not frightened. The sun was with her. She descended and the children of the abyss sensed her and turned around. Who dared entering their realm? A foolish mermaid filled with colours and light. They would rip her apart and taste her colours.
The hungry monsters began to circle the mermaid in the blackness, ready to strike. But so was she. Her inner ocean was filled with sunlight, pure golden white glowing power. And she began to sing. She sang the song of the sun herself. When the melody reached the ears of the monsters they began to turn and twist in pain. The song burnt into the holes that were their ears and from there the magic of the sun began to burn the rest of their hungry bodies. The children of the abyss erupted into fireballs.
Moments before, they had circled the mermaid like a shark its prey, now as fireballs, they orbited the mermaid, glowing golden in the dark. She was the centre of the universe. And her magic burnt them all. They burnt slowly and in pain. They burnt all night, until the sun rose once more and by dawn not a single child of the abyss was left alive.
They were slaughtered by the sun’s absolute magic for hungry darkness must always bow to the thriving light. And when the mermaid saw her melody fulfilled, she rose towards the surface and felt the magic of the sun leaving her inner ocean except for one spark that now belonged to her. And with this spark she taught all her friends and family about the wisdom of the sun and they too felt a fire begin to burn inside of them. A glimmer that would always protect them when the night turned to horror.
With the sun’s light inside of them they began to sing a new melody of healing and rebuilding. The corals that had survived their sleep were woken by the sweet tunes of their old companions. However, the trauma they had endured had made them forget the language of the mermaids. But they still understood the beauty of their voices, for they were filled with the warmth of the sun and this was magic the corals could never forget.
And so, the ancient days came to an end and the age of harmony between corals and mermaids ended. They learned to protect each other and thrive among each other again. They learned to sing songs to each other again. Sometimes they were in tune but sometimes they were not. Their voices would never be one again. Their once deep connecting magic was lost after the shadows of the deep had broken them. For some traumas are too grave and some wounds go too deep to ever heal completely.