PART ONE: DREAMS OF MANANNSHIRE
Iara was surprised that in three short years, the work of liberating the Merfolk of the Florian Ocean from the previously tyrannical reign of their slain Triton King, was almost complete. The Queen Sage that ruled the Sprite nation of Atlantica in the Second Physical Plane of Existence had been a great influence in assisting Iara with her mission by not only helping the former lily to liberate the Merfolk still trapped in the Protected waters that imprisoned them but also in mentoring the budding Princess into becoming a Royal worthy of ruling the Merfolk Kingdom.
The Merfolk would remain eternally grateful to Iara who had opened up their eyes as to the true cause of their suffering- which had been due to a misleading interpretation of their Mythical origins. Previously, they had held the belief that their Royalty were direct descendants of their goddess, Atargatis, through the demi-goddess Ursula. Since all Merfolk Royalty had the power of mental compulsion over their subjects that was so strong, it could essentially almost entirely negate their Free Will, it was easy for them to believe that the demi-goddess Ursula had not only existed but she had bestowed her power of mental compulsion to Merfolk Royalty as was written. Iara had helped reveal that Ursula was not a demi-goddess and was in fact one of the fallen Grigori and through the Merfolk clerics Iara was descended from, had helped construct fables that had mislead Merfolk society for ages.
Following the hard work put in by Iara to correct the old ways of thinking, the One True Religion had rightfully been adopted by a vast majority of Merfolk society. The quality of life had also drastically peaked under Iara’s leadership and seeing as she was a Princess by birthright (from her father’s side who was the Prince Consort of Atlantica by virtue of being the Protector and mate of the Queen Sage, Denise), they felt it right that Iara inherit the crown of the Florian Kingdom.
Iara had already undergone a formal ceremony that saw her obtain the title of Princess Regnant of the Merfolk Kingdom but felt unworthy of transitioning into becoming the Queen of the Kingdom. Iara was convinced that the title of Queen or King of the Merfolk belonged to a Mermaid or Merman who would surely be more qualified than she could ever hope to be. She had poured herself into her work to hide the fact that unlike her step-mother and step-sister that had found guaranteed true love in the persons of their Protectors, she had not been even half as lucky…
Her renowned beauty, talent and stature had drawn many suitors to pursue Iara in the hopes of being the one to secure the Princess’ much coveted heart but none of them had managed to break down the walls she had put following her disappointment at having not been paired with Skip, the Lake Guardian who had found a Protector of his own and had happily settled down with her. With her failed attempts at securing an eternal romance of her own, Iara found herself turning to her own imagination to help alleviate her distress, envisioning what her perfect mate could be…
When in la-la land, Iara often met up with a Prince named Rian. The Prince told her that he came from a wondrous land with Beast-men of all kinds occupying the Oceans and drylands alike. He, like her, had a huge responsibility helping his mother Niamh rule over the Seal-folk of the Manannshire Kingdom, vast ocean-lands where his kind reigned supreme; a Kingdom which Rian would someday rule over when he became King. Iara and Rian bonded over their mutual love of music and dance, often writing, choreographing and performing power ballads and dances about all kinds of subject matters from Romance to War and Politics (based upon lengthy discussions they had on the subjects).
Rian’s wetlands were ravaged by terrifying beasts such as the Kraken, their natural enemy that had caused the deaths of several Seal-folk numbering in the thousands and other beasts such as the Leviathan, the dreaded Sea-Serpentine beast that could be conjured and controlled by evil beast-men that coveted the thriving Seal-folk Kingdom. He spoke of all the challenges the Seal-folk experienced in the songs that he sang playing his favorite instrument, the Gue, a two-stringed lyre.
The strings of the Gue, Rian explained, were made from the magical hairs of a Centaur’s mane. Rian was personally acquainted with the Centaur whom he had befriended when he had accompanied his mother on a diplomatic visit to the mystical land of Thessaly, where the legendary Centaurs reigned supreme adding to the expanding glossary of Mythological creatures and places Rian had spoken to Iara about.
“If only you were real, Rian,” Iara muttered under her breath, sighing loudly as she admitted that perhaps indulging in her fanciful dreams was more detrimental to her well-being than she would like it to be. However, Iara found that even in her waking life, she felt a great sense of hiraeth for Manannshire and for the Selkies (Seal-folk) that lived there and most of all, she longed for her dream Prince, Rian, her heart aching at the realization that he was just imaginary.
As the days of Summer swiftly swept by, Iara found herself indulging even more in her lofty dreams to an extent where she could hear Rian’s voice whispering in her mind, consoling her and strengthening her to carry on with the tough work that was required of her. With his encouragement, Iara felt that she could indeed take the mantle of becoming the Queen of the Florian Kingdom and most importantly, she felt worthy of true love like everyone she knew.
Her family grew increasingly concerned that Iara was not doing well because her attention span was greatly diminished prompting them to invite her for a dinner party. During the party, while the rest of her family indulged in lively conversation, the Princess’ mind drifted so much that she interrupted their excited babbling by humming a song Rian had sang to her a few days prior.
“What a lovely song to be humming, Iara dear, where’d you hear it?” Queen Denise fondly asked her.
Iara snapped out of it and shook her head. “I didn’t hear it from anywhere… I was just idly humming something…”
“Could it be a self-composed song?” her father, Basil, asked her beaming with pride at his daughter’s talents.
Iara nodded since she knew Rian too was as imaginary as the songs he wrote for and with her.
“It sounds a bit sad though, like it would be best performed on a Minor Key,” her half-sister, Princess Calliope, chimed in. Calliope’s Protector Ovid, nodded in agreement to his charge’s musings.
Iara ruminated on her half-sister’s words and then nodded in agreement.
“I suppose it is a sad song and performing it in a Minor key would capture the mood of the song perfectly,” Iara added after giving it some more thought.
“What do you suppose the song is about?” Queen Denise asked her.
“The song is about a people that are just trying to live out the rest of their days in peace in a cruel world surrounded by monsters that would snuff out their peace in the name of conquest,”
“What an interesting concept. Have you thought up some lyrics?” her father brightly chimed in.
Iara nodded. She dug deep into her memories and began to sing the lyrics to Rian’s song as best she could. By the end of the song, her family’s mouths were ajar and she wondered what was so strange about her rendition of Rian’s song that would inspire such awe from her family. Iara, like her kind, was gifted in song and dance in equal measures therefore she was confident that she had performed the song correctly.
Her father Basil, broke out of his awed stupor first and awkwardly clapped for her and the rest of the family followed suit.
“Is everything alright, father? You all seem very surprised by my song,” Iara asked suddenly doubting her natural abilities.
“It was unexpectedly unique, dear… We are just taken aback by your sheer talent,” Queen Denise offered after a while. Iara thanked her family and smiled brightly although the mood of the dinner party drastically changed after the performance or the song prompting the Princess to wonder what had been so off-putting about it.
TO BE CONTINUED…
What mystery lay behind the Princess’ song? Stay tuned to find out. Links to the Fascinating Tale of Princess Iara are listed below: