Of Lilies and Pearls

MARINA’S TALE

PART TWO:  ORIGINAL SIN

Ryvan immediately shoved Marina, who still had their daughter protectively nestled on her bosom behind him and prepared to attack Iara, the purported Siren but as predicted, Sol was soon upon them and they both cringed as the sun’s rays hit their sensitive skin. 

Iara offered the amulets she had brought with her to them and though Ryvan was very distrustful of her, Marina shoved him aside and accepted hers, wearing it gratefully and instantly feeling relieved. 

“Wear it, Ryvan. We can trust her,”

“How can you be so sure? You have heard the tales. You know what she is. How can you risk your life and that of our child so easily?”

“Because I do not believe that she is really a Siren, Ryvan. Reflect upon the teachings, Ry. You know that were she a Siren, the Sun would have burnt her to a crisp by now,”

“We know that she is a very powerful Siren. Don’t you think she is powerful enough to have found a means to survive the sun? Why would you want to risk Cora’s life?”

“Because as she has already stated, if she meant to harm us, we’d already be dead. Besides, what other option do we have? We cannot return to the Ocean and without her help, where will we go? We do not know this place, Ry. But she- she has been here for many cycles… She will surely show us the way,”

Iara then handed Marina an aqua colored liquid in a vial. Ryvan intercepted it by violently knocking the vial to the ground thus smashing it. 

“We can no longer suspend our distrust in you, foul beast! State your true intentions for us! Do not presume us to be so naive as to take up your so called generosity at face value,” 

“My lady Iara, please forgive his rudeness-” Marina apologized feeling embarrassed.

“Not at all. I would be just as skeptical if a complete stranger offered me help without asking for anything in return other than my trust. The potion I offered you gives extra protection from Sol’s effects. I merely wanted you to be as comfortable as possible as we have quite the journey ahead of us,” 

Marina nodded. “Would you happen to have any more of the potion, my lady?”

“Marina! What do you think you’re doing? She is a Siren! Why do you trust in her words? She probably wishes to enslave us. Have you forgotten what happened the last time you crossed their kind?”

Marina cringed at the thought of the torture she had endured at the hands of the treacherous Siren and Triton. Ryvan however, begun to feel the effects of the Sun as it steadily rose up in the sky. 

“If you don’t accept my help, Ryvan, your escape from that wretched Kingdom will be for naught. I am not a Siren but I am not fully a Mermaid either. That is why I can so comfortably walk in the sun without much consequence. I offer you and your family salvation. I understand why it is so difficult to trust me but as Marina has so brilliantly put it, what other option do you have but to trust in me? If you turn me down, where else can you go?”

Ryvan fell onto his knees in pain. “You- you are somehow amplifying the- the Sun’s light you- you foul- foul-” he said but his breathing soon was labored and each breath felt more torturous than the last. Marina hastily picked up the amulet he had cast onto the floor and forcibly placed it around his neck and he could breathe easier. She also requested for the vials of potions Iara offered and hastily drank some before helping her daughter consume some of the liquid and forcing Ryvan to drink some as well. Iara then placed a beautiful beaded bracelet that fit on Cora’s infant hand to help protect her from the effects of the sun.

Ryvan stood up and looked disdainfully at Marina who ignored him and dutifully followed behind Iara. 

“My lady Iara, are the stories about you true? Did you really orchestrate the murder of our King?” Marina asked timidly.

“Is that how those liars spun the tale? How unfortunate. No, I did not orchestrate the King’s murder. He was a Triton but he hid it well. He was… depraved… fanatical. He enjoyed torturing his lilies but the others at least had the luxury of brainwashing which I did not have. His men were turning Triton too- he was always taunting them about us and they had had enough. And so… well, they killed him. Had I been even one inch closer to him, I would have faced the spear too. And then something about our brainwashing took over and the lilies turned on the King’s Men… And then on themselves… That was when I escaped,”

“What preposterous lies… Who are you trying to fool?” snapped Ryvan. 

“Where did you go, my lady?” Marina asked ignoring Ryvan who soon mumbled angrily to himself.

“I’ll admit I was puzzled myself. I cast a powerful enchantment on the Ocean that I did not understand at the time. And then I left the Ocean and I just… I wandered a bit but then I found my way to my father,”

“To- to your father, my lady?” Marina asked surprised. 

Iara nodded. “He is named Basil. He met my mother many years ago. My mother then came back to the Ocean without telling my father that she had conceived his child and handed me over to the Sages… They took me to the Lily Institute,”

“Why would your mother want to come back or even hand you over to the Sages when she could just raise you with your father as her mate?”

“Because she had hopes that I would one day grow to undo the mistakes my family had done- the mistakes that have caused so much misery in the Ocean of Flora,”

“What- whatever do you mean, my lady?”

“There are entire Oceans out there in the world with Merfolk,”

“What- what do you mean? They told us that we are the last of our kind,”

“That, my dear Marina, is the furthest thing from the truth there is. Though our people suffer from infertility, there are other Mermaids and Mermen out there… We were taught different because that’s what the ones behind our imprisonment in the Florian Ocean wanted us to believe,”

“Why would they want us to… to think differently?”

“Because of my family’s influence. You see, a long time ago, during the age of our ancestors, a powerful fallen Servant of Atargatis, came to the Realm we are all originally from and deceived us all into thinking that she was Atargatis herself. This fallen Servant then had two daughters- one by the first Merman King of our people and named her Ursula, the other by a Nereid whom she named Naunet. The true Goddess Atargatis was furious of the atrocities our people committed because of this evil one’s influence and so she sent her Servants, the Watchers, to vanquish the fallen Servant…”

“Our people were given a chance to repent and evoke the Goddess’ mercy but we were stubborn and took the real Atargatis to be a false goddess. We were thus banished to the Ocean of Sorrow, or the Florian Ocean as we know it and a dark curse was instituted into these very waters thus imprisoning us…”

“My family were devout followers and Sages of the Fallen Servant and saw to it that Ursula, her daughter, was worshipped in her stead in the hopes of resurrecting her fallen Mother. When Ursula grew up, she lived up to her mother’s legacy but then one day mysteriously disappeared and the entire Florian Ocean descended into madness…”

“My family perpetuated the myth of the Omnipotent Atargatis and her daughter Ursula by making up the tales of their ascension into the other planes. The people’s eyes remained blinded by my family’s deception and as a result, our people have been living in ignorance ever since with the exception of those who chose to believe Atargatis’ messenger- the Sage of the Infinite Pillars who came to all the Realm’s wetlands preaching the true Gospel…”

“In time, in order to show the people of the Ocean of Flora that the Sage was wrong about Atargatis, my family came up with elaborate tales of how those that chose to worship the true Goddess had all perished for their beliefs in Her…”

“Atargatis’ ways are truly a mystery for She gave my family a chance at redemption by giving us the Counter-Curse to remove the ancient curse preventing our escape from the waters of the Ocean of Sorrow… That knowledge was handed over to me by my own mother whom implanted a memory in me right before she tragically passed…”

“So that is why you rescue us; to absolve yourself and your family from the harm inflicted by their own hand?” Ryvan asserted.

Iara nodded. “Nothing I ever do shall ever be good enough to make up for what my family did but I shall, nonetheless, see to it that our people learn the truth, even if it takes me my whole life,”

They traveled a few more miles silently on foot before coming to the intersection that clearly displayed which Island they came from and where they were headed. 

“We are headed North to Atlantica where you and your family can finally be safe, my lady,” Iara told Marina. 

Marina hesitated as she contemplated whether she and her family were truly ready to bid goodbye to the Florian Ocean.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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