The Choosing of Scoral and Lune (878 words)
Scoral was a handsome mer, graceful and strong, his long hair the color of ripe kelp and his scales the same fiery orange-gold. He was chosen by Lune for his fearlessness and wildness. All mer have that wild edge to their personality, but Scoral was known to test his elders almost to the limit. More than once he was threatened with banishment from the chorus. Although lone mer were not unheard of, in dangerous ocean waters these solitary-minded mer only rarely survived.
Scoral himself was not concerned. He swam alone frequently, relishing the freedom of his own path.
Lune was his own age, the daughter of a chieftain. She was quieter and more thoughtful in her ways than Scoral, and she knew he was far too reckless. She better than anyone understood that to say so would be useless. Others had told him and Scoral refused to listen. It was left to him, to decide what his fate would be.
Lune was dark-haired, her fish color a radiant green. That she was beautiful was undeniable, and many young mer tried for her attention. Her eyes were only for Scoral. The times she spoke to the mer were few, but her parents were not unaware, seeing how she looked at him whenever Scoral sang with the others.
Once when he went out alone, Scoral did not come back. The mer, who constantly moved within the bounds of their chorus’s territory, were unconcerned and restless to leave him. But as they swam, Lune fell behind and looked for Scoral herself.
She found him badly hurt, bleeding from tears in his scale and skin. He had been attacked by a gorfish, the hated enemy of mer. He had fought the monster and although the fish was mortally wounded, he was dying as surely.
In the sea, it was a fatal thing to bleed. Lune was amazed none of the other water predators had found him and killed him. She bound his injuries tightly with seaweed and as he lay, began to bury him to his waist in mud and sand to keep the wounds in his tail from bleeding. She found him plants and clams to nourish himself.
“Why are you doing this?” Scoral’s voice was harsh. “You should have left me. That is the Way of the Sea.”
“Do you want me to leave you?” asked Lune quietly.
“Yes.” His eyes met hers, black eyes that were once bright.
She didn’t speak to him again. She didn’t leave him, and as night fell she kept watch while he slept. When he woke she fed him again and this time he thanked her, his thanks muted. Lune knew that he was ashamed. She uncovered him and he was no longer bleeding.
“Can you swim?”
Scoral tried. He flinched and shuddered, his belly brushing the sand. “You go,” he said. “You’ve done enough for me.”
“When you can swim again,” said Lune, “you may go as far from me as you wish. For now, you will rest.”
He saw a little of her mother in her then. The chieftain Sanbar was known as a stern protector of her chorus.
“I didn’t mean that,” he said. The words burned him to say, but burned worse left unspoken. “That you’re here—I—I do not want you to die for me.”
Lune looked at him. Her quietness was touched with an almost disbelieving wonder. She stayed with him, and for several days they were left to themselves. Lune foraged for them both, and as Scoral gained strength he helped her. At night, in the relative safety of a shallow cave they found close by, they twined together for warmth and comfort. Although Lune was determined to stay with him, she was afraid to be so suddenly apart from her people.
In that time together, both the young mer were tested. Attacks from sea predators were not uncommon, but it was the rogue mer that were most dangerous. Frequently, these lone mer were killers of their own kind, desperate and cruel. Lune was attacked by one, and with Scoral’s help they were able to escape the cannibal merog, a creature more fish than human.
When they were reunited with their chorus, the bond that had formed between them was deep. Everyone could see the change not just in Lune but in Scoral himself, who swam beside the chieftain’s daughter. He no longer seemed so restless and ready for a fight, and there was a surer sign, too, that betrayed him. In times of intense feeling, a mer’s color changed. That change was sometimes passing, like the feverish hues of the bludding, but love was not a passing thing for the mer. Scoral’s color had changed, his scales a deeper, richer gold than before. He was no longer the rebellious young fish he was known for, but an adult mer, almost painfully beautiful.
Lune, too, had changed. She was still quiet, but no longer timid, and when she joined her parents it was clearer than ever that she was the chieftain’s daughter. Her choice had been made. For the mer, there was no bonding ceremony. The understanding that the two had chosen each other was clear and irrevocable, and their decision was honored by all.
A very strange ramble, in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt. Check it out!