PART TWO: THE GRAND FEAST
Iara thought about the awe she had inspired the last time she had visited her family and sang for them and it still baffled her. In retrospect, she felt guilty that she had shared something so deeply intimate between herself and Rian although that feeling was certainly curious considering that he was just a figment of her imagination. In the subsequent dreams she had involving Rian, her dream Prince expressed concern at the great unease the Princess unwittingly displayed when they met in her dreamscape.
Iara admitted to Rian that she had done something terrible and the Prince had paid rapt attention to her as she recounted what had unfolded during the night of her family’s dinner party where she had shared one of their songs together. After keenly listening to the Princess’ woes, Rian shook his head and playfully pinched her nose stating, “That is nothing to concern yourself over, Princess Iara. They are our songs and as such, you should feel free to share them whenever and with whomever you please. Perhaps your family were at a loss because of how impressive your talents are…”
“Oh, stop it being so corny with your sweet nothings, you flirt!” Iara teased back and they both chuckled and held hands.
“Everything is so blissful whenever you’re around. Am I losing my mind?” Iara thought aloud.
“If you have lost your mind, then I too must have gone stark raving mad, for never in a thousand years could I imagine meeting someone like you,”
“Oh how I wish that this love that only exists in our dreams could be brought into being,”
“As do I, my Princess,” Rian stated, bringing Iara’s right hand to his lips. Warmth spread all over her body right down to her tail fin as she held onto Rian’s hand. She indulged her hopeless desire and gazed at the Prince in awe and got lost in the depth of his green eyes and before Iara would have wanted, she was awake where she proceeded to carry out her royal duties with gusto
One Friday evening, a Chief Royal guard announced that a Messenger claiming to have been sent by the Queen of Atlantica, Her Royal Majesty Queen Denise. Following proper security clearance after verifying his claims, Princess Iara permitted the Messenger to deliver the message to her. It appeared that her family wanted to visit the Florian Ocean and the Sage of Light, Zariya and her mate, Protector Ekene; Skip, the Lake Guardian and his Protector Maris would all be tagging along to see how the Merfolk Kingdom was doing.
Iara was surprised such renowned figures would be visiting the Florian Kingdom and therefore, she immediately began preparations, ensuring Merfolk were well prepared for the visit. By the time the Royal guests arrived, the Merfolk Kingdom was well prepared, exercising their legendary hospitality upon the royal guests. The fanfare of the events that followed was enough to impress the guests and everyone had a great time. Towards the end of the visit after three days packed to the brim with activities, a great feast was held at the Florian Royal Palace and the guests enjoyed the best of Merfolk delicacies with pleasant music played in the background adding to the ambiance of the dining area.
“Princess Iara, I am impressed with how quickly the Kingdom has come up. You are doing a stellar job,” Sage Zariya mused.
Iara bowed reverently and said, “You honor me, your holiness. I am so glad you were able to pay our humble Kingdom a visit and I am glad you enjoyed your stay here.”
“It was an amazing experience, really more of a vacation, I am so grateful to be here,” Zariya stated with a bright smile.
Iara smiled right back and bowed.
“It is my understanding that you have yet to take over the throne. May I ask why that is?” Zariya asked Iara.
Iara shyly smiled and nodded. “Your holiness, that is simply because I feel undeserving of being a throne-bearer of this great Kingdom,”
“This Kingdom is flourishing under your leadership. Indeed, the Merfolk here are well and thriving, and the consensus is in favor of you taking up the mantle of leadership. What is holding you back?”
Iara simply shook her head, offering no further explanation.
“Whatever assistance you may require, Princess Iara, be rest assured, that all gathered here would be happy to accord it to you,”
“Thank you for your kindness, your holiness,” Iara stated with a bow.
Zariya turned to Queen Denise who nodded, smiled and raised her goblet of lotus wine.
“Princess Iara, your family informs me of your great talent in song and dance. Might I request a mini-performance perhaps?” Zariya asked.
Iara smiled and nodded, bowing and moving towards the instrumentalists playing in the background. She had prepared a performance just in case it was requested, going as far as to work with a composer to help her create the sheets of music accordingly. Iara also found a Merman to sing Rian’s parts of the song for their duet.
The instrumentals played along as the Merman sang his part of their duet and when it was Iara’s turn to perform, she sang her heart out. Iara got so engrossed in the lyrics that she did not notice that the instrumentalists had stopped dead in their tracks. Iara found that even her duet partner had stopped singing and was looking at her as awed as her audience. Iara stopped abruptly and asked, “What’s wrong? Why is everyone looking at me like I lost it?”
“Princess Iara, from where and when did you first hear that song?” Sage Zariya asked seriously.
“About a week ago. I…composed it in my dreams,” Iara responded suddenly feeling scared of all the attention she was garnering.
“Were you alone in these dreams?” asked Zariya.
Iara thought about the question deeper. Would revealing the whole truth be preferable in that instance? She knew the path of the Siren was one paved with little white lies that gradually escalated to greater lies until there a point of no return. She also knew that one of the hallmarks of Mermaid existence was Candor even when it proved difficult but Iara was terrified of her public image and how her family would react if they knew she had fashioned Rian out of sheer desperation caused by loneliness.
“Yes, I was alone in my dreams,” Iara stated.
“Are you sure, Princess Iara? No one would think any lesser of you if that were not the case,” Zariya reassured her.
Iara shook her head vehemently denying the assertion, holding back tears. “I was alone in my dreams. What is this truly about?”
The guests exchanged worried looks and it seemed that they were all keeping some grand secret from her.
“Mom, dad, Calli, please tell me, what is this about?” Iara asked her family.
They all looked down presumably in shame.
“Princess Iara, when you sang your part in the song, you began singing in a different tongue,” Zariya explained.
“A different tongue? You mean like Mermish?”
“You did not sing in Mermish as that is a well recognized language… I am still unsure about it but I sent a clip of your performance to some friends we have on the surface to help pinpoint what language exactly it is. It is quite possible that it originated from a different Reality,”
“What?” Iara asked in shock.
“Please forgive me for causing you distress but for the purposes of clarity, are you absolutely sure that you have not seen anyone or anything strange in these dreams you had where the song occurred to you?”
Iara suddenly realized the importance of her Candor then, consequences be damned.
“I did meet with someone in my dreams but he is just a figment of my imagination. I never could have imagined that he would teach me another language…”
“Who is he, Princess Iara?”
“Prince Rian,” she responded candidly.
“What race does Prince Rian belong to, your majesty?” Zariya pressed on.
Iara shook her head but then stated, “He is a Selkie- or Seal-folk.”
Zariya nodded. “Thank you for sharing all that with us. I am certain it was not easy,”
“But he isn’t real, my lady… He is just a figment of my imagination… He exists only in my dreams,”
The tension in the room escalated to a degree that it was palpable and there was silence as the guests continued to stare at Iara in shock. The silence was punctuated by the beeping of Zariya’s communicator and she looked at the screen for a while before nodding.
“Princess Iara, my friends from the surface just got back to me. They have requested that you present yourself to the surface for an examination at your earliest convenience,”
Iara was taken aback by the request.
“Why should I present myself for an examination? This is all too strange,”
“They might be able to pinpoint how it is you acquired comprehension of the language of the Seal-folk and help explain the origin of your dreams of Prince Rian,”
“But- he- isn’t real… There is no way that he could be real… Right?” Iara mumbled in utter confusion.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Could Rian and the Selkies be real after all? Stay tuned to find out! Links to previous parts are linked below: