This is just a brief excerpt of the only story I've had published.
"Goodnight, my gem of the sea. I'll be in our chambers soon. I only need to see to this final problem," Barra said as I nodded my head.
"Goodnight, my king. I'll see you when you arrive." He pressed a kiss to my forehead, and I smiled as he swam away to attend to his duties, before I turned and swam to our chambers.
"Seira, come to me," Barra said as he raced into our chambers moments later. I sat up and looked at him, but his face gave nothing away. "Seira, now." I heard a sense of urgency in his voice and swam right to him.
"Barra, my king, what's wrong?"
"Rogues are surrounding the city walls. I refuse to lose my gem of the sea to those uncivilized creatures."
We weren't always like this - loving to each other, polite, protective, and I certainly have changed since we met. You're probably wondering who I am and what the heck I mean. Let me backstroke for a moment and I'll fill you in so you can see for yourself how good I have it now and what my world is like. My name is Seira and I'm the most unique mermaid in all of the 13 kingdoms. I have beautiful long blonde hair, eyes that are as blue as the deep blue ocean, fins as pink as the pink sea urchin, and my tail scales are as yellow as the yellow tang with a golden tint to them. But that's not what makes me Barra's gem of the sea. That name comes from the fact that my tail scales change color with my mood. When I'm mad, stressed out, or frustrated, my tail scales turn as red as the Mediterranean Red Sea Star, and when I'm sad, I can blend in with a crowd of normal merfolk since my tail scales match my deep sea blue eyes. No other has these traits. That's how unique I am; why I'm Barra's gem of the sea.
You see, where I live, every kingdom is ruled by a separate king, but there are 2 rules that every one of us must follow. No swimming to shore and every city has a king, but while you humans follow the male line, we merfolk follow the female line. There's little details for both though. Like if we're washed ashore, to help keep our world a secret, we're given legs for the day but have to be back in the ocean by your nightfall or our legs are permanent. Now, what I mean by us merfolk following the female line, the eldest princess takes over the city with her mate when her father dies, at least in Amphilora. True, her mate becomes king, but here in the world of Mer, the prince that takes over is from another kingdom. Our kings take care of the more generalized issues and deal with occasional meetings in the Central Station, while we queens command the military, handle the day to day affairs, and set the harvest dates.
While you humans measure time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years, we have two measurements of time - warmings and cold falls, although the warmings don't last long, the more cold falls you have, the older you are. I'm 9,125 cold falls, but in your terms, I'm only 25. Barra, my handsome mate, is 10,950 cold falls. In each of the 13 kingdoms, there's a different language spoken, and we all look like the humans on the shore near us so that we can blend in easier. We each speak at least one other language, but in the Central Station, there is only one language allowed - Common Mer, or the language of business. It's the same in my city of Amphilora. The only language spoken in our market ring is the language of business, although we typically speak that language all over the city to make everything easier on our visitors. From what Barra says, his home city of Glacada in the Northeast waters does the same, and 4 of my brothers claim that their new cities do the same as well.
I would say that it's my own knowledge, but Queens and Princesses are not to leave the safety of the city due to our duties. Until I was mated, I was confined to the palace and palace waters. Barra says that now I'm not to go any further than the military training waters unless he's with me. I've tried sneaking past the training waters, but he always finds out when the military commander brings me back to the palace. He says that it's for my safety and because he doesn't want to lose his gem of the sea.
Our cities are dotted along the rim of what you call the Atlantic. Including Amphilora, there's 4 in the Northwest waters, 2 in the Northeast waters, 3 in the Southwest waters, and 4 more in the Southeast waters. As I said before, travel to shore is forbidden and results in us being exiled from our world, but the shore is a different direction for about half of our cities. Here in Amphilora, travel to the West is strictly forbidden because that's swimming to shore, travel to the East is only allowed by our military and those in the cable cars that are heading to the Central Station, where they can catch another cable car to go to another city. To the North lies our coral reef where we get most of our supplies like shells for the females, pearls for jewelry, sponges for beds and pillows, and other things like that. To the South lies the seaweed fields where the majority of our food comes from, although we do occasionally eat fish, crab, lobster, squid, and octopus when we can catch them.
I bet you're probably still wondering what I meant when I said that Barra and I weren't always like this. Let me go back 3,285 cold falls and I'll tell you everything.
First Meetings Blow Bubbles
"Seira, this is Barracudon. He is to be your mate if you accept him by your 7,300th cold fall," said my father.
I looked over Barracudon and even though he was cute with his black hair, grey eyes, and grey to black tail with a tattoo on his left side, he didn't seem like my type. "And if I don't want to be mated? I'm only 5,840 cold falls, Father." He narrowed his gold eyes at me, and his gold tail swished down angrily.
"And you must at least agree to be mated by your 7,300th. Plenty of time for you to get to know him. If you refuse, then your eldest unmated brother decides your fate. If your brothers are all mated and you don't accept Barracudon, then you will be outcast from Amphilora when the military commander takes the ruling upon my death. You know the law, my rare beauty." I looked away from my father and sighed, hating that he always called me that. "Be polite and greet your future mate, Seira."
"Nice to meet you," I grumbled out as I looked back at Barracudon and my father.
"The pleasure's all mine," he said as he took my hand in his. "I admit to having my doubts about your supposed looks, but I'm glad to see that our fathers were not acting as dolphins. You really are a beautiful rarity," he said as he kissed my hand.
"Ugh," I said as I rolled my eyes. I turned and swam off, heading back to the palace and my chambers so that I could avoid him. I stayed in my window on the ledge until just before cold fall when I went down to join my family for dinner.
"I'm assuming Seira already met you, Barra?" came Finn's voice as I reached the seagrass curtain. His full name was Finnigan, but we all called him Finn, he was my oldest brother and had grey eyes, grey tail scales, and black edges on his tail fin. He always acted so much like my father that it drove me shark-raving mad.
"Yes. She didn't seem too pleased that I was to be her mate, but I'm going to do what my position requires of me."
Of course, he'd be having dinner with us. I suppose he's living with us too? I thought bitterly as I swam through the curtain.
"Nice to see you out of your chambers, dear sister," said Oshi, the middle of my 5 older brothers. His full name was Oceanus, he had green eyes, green tail scales, and light green edges on his tail fin.
"I didn't feel like seeing anyone earlier," I said as Trenton, my second oldest brother, swam to me.
"Seira, what are you mad about?" he asked softly.
"Later," I muttered. He nodded and took my arm, swimming me to my seat at the table. "Thank you," I murmured as I looked at his smiling, kind face and purple eyes that matched his purple tail scales, although they clashed against the brown edges on his tail fin.
"Cheer up and be happy, Seira. You don't have to go to a new city when your future mate reaches 5,840 cold falls, unlike us princes," he muttered in my ear. I smiled and held in a laugh.
"True, but I have to deal with a new guy in my home. I have enough of you in here already." He chuckled and went back to his seat, between my other 2 brothers: Seaton and Fjord. Seaton, or Seeti as we call him, has blue eyes like me, but his tail scales are blue with light blue edges on his tail fin. Fjord has orange eyes and tail scales, but the yellow edges of his tail fin blend in perfectly with his scales.
"Seira, you should be sitting by your future mate from now on," came my father's voice making me look at him.
"So? I don't want to sit by him. I don't even know him." My mother let out a sigh and most of my brothers held in a laugh, but Finn and my father glared at me.
"Seira, do not make me say it again. Move to your new seat," my father grumbled at me.
"I'm not hungry. Good cold fall, everyone." I pushed up from my coral seat and left my plate still full, stalling just as the seagrass curtain closed behind me so that I could listen to what everyone told Barracudon.
"Just give her time, Barra. She'll come around and warm up to you," said my father.
"I doubt it will be any time soon, Father," said Finn. "She's as strong as you and was mad when she came in for dinner. Even madder when she left."
"Do her tail scales change color? I thought they were yellow with a hint of gold when I met her earlier, but just now they looked red." Barra asked, sounding shocked.
"Yes. Red when she's mad and blue when she's sad, but yellow is her normal color," came my mother's voice.
"That is definitely a rarity. I've never heard of that." Barra said. I rolled my eyes and swam to my tower chamber, sitting back down on the window ledge and looking out at the city that I wasn't allowed to explore. I never let that stop me though. I would usually sneak away from the palace and palace waters just before the warming and go to the market ring to talk to others. I was curious about how they survived when nothing was ever done for them, but every time I asked, I always got the same response - we do it ourselves.
"Seira?" I turned and saw Trenton floating in my doorway. "Can I come in?" I nodded. "Don't like your future mate, do you?" he asked as he swam toward me.
"Not at all," I said, turning my back to the city to face my room and Trenton.
"At least you've gotten to meet yours. I'm still waiting on Father to send me to meet mine."
"And you'll probably be head over tail for her the same way she'll be for you because she'll be like every other princess and be obedient. I'm sick of all the rules. I'm not to go see the city I'm meant to rule, I have to mate the merman Father chose for me or leave my home... Don't you ever get sick of it all?"
"At times, yes. I have to mate the princess Father agreed upon with some other king that I've never met, I have to be consistent with everyone, regardless of who they are or what the situation is, and I'm required to be myself at the same time through all of that."
"At least you're allowed to go see the city and people that you're meant to rule. I'm not allowed to leave the palace waters. I'm sure if Mother and Father had their way, I wouldn't be allowed out of the palace," I grumbled. Trenton's arms came around me and gave me a comforting hug that only he had ever been able to give me.
"Perhaps, but when you're the queen of Amphilora, you'll have more allowance on where you can roam. Just look at Mother. She can go to the market ring without anyone with her."
"That's Mother. Father would never tell her no," I muttered, hearing Trenton chuckle.
"May I know why you don't like Barra?"
"Because I don't know him. Why should I like someone that I know nothing about?"
"Then why not spend the next warming getting to know him? It'll show you what he's like, dear sister. Just give him a chance. It's hard moving to a new city to mate someone that you have never met or heard of." I sighed and looked at my tail as I played with my pink fins for a moment but nodded and got a kiss on my temple. "Thank you, Seira. I'll let him know you want to spend it with him when I pass his chambers on the way to mine. Have a good cold fall." I nodded again and he pushed off the ledge, swimming through my seagrass curtain and heading to his chambers.
Getting To Know You
I woke up just before the warming when everyone else in the palace would start waking up and swam out my window, heading towards the market stalls in the market ring. "Seira? Where are you heading? I thought we were going to be getting to know each other. Or did Trenton have his warmings mixed up?" I came to a stop and spun at the voice that came from behind me just as I reached the edge of the palace waters and saw Barracudon swimming towards me.
"No, he didn't have them mixed up. I was just going for a swim."
"You're not supposed to leave the palace waters," he said, looking confused about something as he stopped in front of me.
"And?" I asked, feeling my anger at him already building.
"You're almost at the edge of them and it didn't look like you were going to stop."
"Because I wasn't. I'd like to go see the city I'm meant to rule, but I can't do that if I follow these stupid laws." The confusion cleared from his face, letting him look a little ticked but hopeful, and I saw the same look from him that my brothers gave me when they'd catch me out in the city.
"You're not to leave the palace waters, Seira. Come for a swim with me instead. We'll swim around here all warming and we'll get to know each other. I'd like to at least try to get to know the mate that was selected for me before she decides to accept or refuse our mating."
"Well, that makes one of us. And I'd rather go learn about the city and its inhabitants," I said, sounding sick of talking to him.
"You leave the palace waters and I'll have to tell the king, Seira," he said, his face showing only anger. "I'd rather not do that. How happy would it make your parents, to see us swimming the palace waters and getting to know each other? Your father has already said that he wants you to sit next to me at meals from now on." I sighed and looked away from him, looking longingly at my city. "Please, Seira. Don't make me wake the king," he said a little softer. I rolled my eyes but turned away from the city, deciding to try to get to know Barracudon to uphold my promise to Trenton. "Thank you, beautiful."
"Don't even try with that. Pretty pet names for me aren't going to make me like you." I grumbled.
"Alright. See? Learning about each other is easy. We just have to talk." I rolled my eyes again and started swimming off slowly. "Is it safe for me to assume that you don't like being called rare or unique as well?" he asked, swimming next to me.
"Very safe. Call me those again, and we'll never talk again."
"Understood." We swam in silence for a bit while I thought of what I could ask him.
"So what did you do with your spare time in whatever city you're from while waiting for me to reach mating age?"
"I'm from Glacada. Know where that is?"
"Northeast waters, right?"
"Exactly. It's the northernmost city in those waters. Before Father sent me here to you, I spent most of my time in the military training waters."
"So you're more of a soldier than a prince?"
"In a way, I'm a bit of both. See, in Glacada, the princes are expected to have some sort of backup plan in case their assigned princess refuses to mate. Since I'm the eldest son, my backup choice was made for me. I trained as a soldier in case you refuse the mating, and my sister is to be mated to someone from the Southwest waters. If she refuses that mating and you refuse our mating, I take over the ruling upon Father's death, and my military training aids in the protection of the city."
"What about your other sisters? Isn't the ruling supposed to go to one of them?"
"Glacada law says that only the eldest princess can take the ruling if mated. If she does not accept her chosen mate, her eldest brother takes it. Which is me. I prefer these warm waters more, so I'm sincerely hoping you accept our mating."
"But what if your sister accepts her chosen mate and I don't?"
"Then I become a soldier in Glacada."
"Are you any good?"
"I've been training with our military for the last 2,920 cold falls. I would hope I'm good," he said with a slight chuckle.
"You should keep up with your training. Our military will be glad to help you. And maybe you have some moves they don't, so it would help them as well."
"You're already refusing the mating? After 1 cold fall?" he asked, stopping his tail and falling behind me a bit.
"No. Just a precaution for you since I'm probably not going to want to spend much time with you, Barracudon," I called over my shoulder.
"Call me Barra. It's easier to say," he said as he caught up to me.
"Fine. I'm still not going to want to spend much time with you. So that means we won't be getting to know each other much more after today, and you can spend your time in the training waters with our military." He swam in front of me and stopped in my way, blocking my path each time I tried to go around him and looking ticked.
"Seira, that's not getting to know me. That's not even going to give us a chance. Why not be more of an adult about this and at least give a better attempt at getting to know me?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe because I don't see the point in getting to know someone just because my father wants me to mate them. Maybe because I shouldn't have to be mated to rule the city I grew up in. Maybe because I'm sick of following rules. Either way, it's mostly because I already know that you just like me for my looks and rarity," I snarled. I swam off, leaving him in the palace waters and went straight back to my window, swimming in, and sinking down onto my sponge bed.
For the next 1,089 cold falls, I placated Father by sitting next to Barra, but only when I joined them for meals which were becoming few and far between. That's not to say that I wasn't eating, I just wasn't eating with my family. I'd swim to the kitchens and have the cooks give me something to eat before everyone else came in or after everyone else had left the dining chambers. Thanks to Barra catching me that warming, I stopped sneaking off to the city just before warming and started waiting until mid-warming to sneak off. It somehow seemed easier, but Barra was almost always in the training waters. I saw him in there one day as I was sneaking through and allowed myself to pause for a moment and watch him while I stayed out of sight.
He actually is pretty good with a sword. I wasn't expecting that. He's confident, calm, dodging strikes from our military... it almost seems like he's taunting them, I thought as a smile curled my lips. I watched him for a bit longer, then continued on my way to the city, making sure he didn't see me.