A Writer's Journey

November 3, 2013

Meeting His Majesty

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
Tags: ,

Last time, Kate and Matt were reunited in a castle underneath the sea. They spent a night fighting their growing attraction to each other and were summoned to appear before the king of the merfolk.

Their guide floated along down the hallways, bending in the water around corners so fast Kate feared they would lose her. Matt placed a hand on her back, making sure they wouldn’t lose each other. Her heart sped up at the feel of his skin against hers for the flimsy material did little to cover her. It gave her a push to keep up with the guide.

When they reached a chute, their guide turned to them. “Who will go first?”

“Ladies first.” Matt held out his arm and urged her forward.

As the mermaid took her by the arms, Kate stared down the chute. It was a mistake and she knew it the moment she did it. Darkness stared back at her, beckoning her into its never-ending depths. She found it difficult to catch her breath as the floor began to tilt up toward her.

Strong arms stopped her from plunging down into the abyss, pulling her against something warm and firm. “Breathe, Kate. It’s okay. It’s okay,” a low smooth voice whispered in her ear. Hands rubbed her clammy skin.

Closing her eyes, she focused on the comforting voice in her ear. Her heartbeat slowed to a regular pace and oxygen flowed into her burning lungs. The hands kept stroking her and the voice kept muttering comforting things.

“Is she feeling better?” The mermaid’s voice echoed over her.

“I think so. But can you give us a few minutes anyway?”

“Of course. Just give me a call when you are ready.”

Kate heard the mermaid swim away, a gentle swooshing sound. She laid her head back against the chest and felt like going to sleep.

The arms holding her jostled her a bit. “Don’t fall asleep on me now. We have a king to meet,” he whispered.

Groaning, Kate sat up. She missed the warmth as soon as she did.

“So, I guess you’re scared of heights?” Matt asked.

She nodded, turning to face him. “It’s usually not so bad but I forgot not to look down.”

Matt smiled. “Understandable. Do you want me to go first then?”

“No. It’ll only make things worse. I’ll be standing up here, worrying and picturing all the ways I can die. And then I’ll be frozen when she comes back up to get me and we’ll have more problems.” She sighed.

Matt rubbed her arms. “Okay. Do you want me to call our guide back now?”

Kate nodded again, taking a deep breath as he did so. Their guide floated back in, her expression neutral. “Are you ready to continue?”

“Yes. Can you make it quick? It will help with my fears,” Kate said.

The mermaid nodded. “If that is is what you wish. You give me the signal when you want to go.”

She placed her hands under Kate’s arms again. As she took a deep breath, Matt took her hand. “Close your eyes. It’ll help,” he told her. He squeezed her hand before stepping back.

Kate did as he instructed and felt herself lifted up. Then came the worst part—the falling, even if it was controlled. Her stomach rose into her throat and she shivered, feeling goosebumps rise on her skin.

You’re okay, Kate. Just keep your eyes closed and all will be well. You’re almost there.

Her feet hit something soft yet solid and she opened her eyes. She recognized the surroundings as the first floor of the palace.

The mermaid floated in front of her. “Are you well? I am going to go back for your companion. Can you bear to be alone for a bit?”

“Yes, I’m fine now that I’m not falling. Go ahead.” Kate smiled, waving her hand.

Her guide swam off, back to fetch Matt and Stormy. Kate took a deep breath, placing a hand on her stomach as if it could calm the butterflies inside. It didn’t. And she cursed herself for reacting like a schoolgirl with a crush around Matt.

Get a hold of yourself! You are a grown woman. No need to be pining over him. Especially as you barely know him!

Matt landed in front of her, kicking up a cloud of sand. He smiled and handed her Stormy’s basket. “Here you go. She’s safe and sound.”

“Thank you. I’m glad she’s comfortable with you.” Kate glanced down at her slumbering cat. “She doesn’t take to people as quickly as she has to you.”

Maybe it’s a sign. She pushed the thought back as their guide swam past them.

The mermaid stopped, floating in front of them. “Are you coming?”

“Yes. Lead the way, please.” Matt waved the mermaid on and she took off. He placed a hand on Kate’s back, propelling her after the creature.

They wound through sandy hallways, following the glance of a tail and a trail of bubbles. After several turns, they found their guide waiting for them outside a large coral double door. Crowns were etched into the doors.

“Are you ready?” their guide asked.

“Do we have a choice?” Kate muttered. The mermaid took it as acquiescence and opened the door. Without thinking, she took Matt’s hand as they walked inside.

Merfolk floated around the cavernous room, their numbers stretching to the ceiling. Kate studied them as they walked through the room, realizing they were sorted by class. The further up in the room the merfolk were, the lower their class and the less ornamentation they wore. Pearls dripped from the ones closest to her and Matt, mostly on their fins.  Kate wondered if it was painful to attach the pearls there.

At the end of the aisle was the dais where a golden throne sat. Shells, pearls and coral decorated the top part, which seemed to gleam though there was no discernable light source. And on the throne sat the king. He was a large creature, all muscle in his torso and broad shouldered. A long white beard floated amongst the currents, as did the long white hair flowing down his back. His fin was a deep purple color with blue highlights running through it.

His green eyes watched as they approached, his fingers curling around his golden trident. “Welcome, land dwellers, to my kingdom. I hope you have found your accommodations fitting. We do not have many visitors from the land.”

Kate and Matt looked at each other. “It suits us fine, your majesty. Thank you for your generosity,” Matt said. Kate nodded, finding she had no voice.

The king smiled. “I am glad. And I am glad you have found your companion, again, good lady. Companions should not be separated for long, I believe.”

He glanced to his right, where a mermaid sat next to him. She had long silver hair and a purple fin like the king’s. Pearls were laced through the braids in her hair, forming a coronet of sorts. She smiled at her king. “Indeed, my companion.”

The king turned back to Kate and Matt. “How can we help you?” he asked.

Looking at each other, the two shrugged. “We ended up here by accident…or at least I did,” Kate replied. “I think we just need to know how to get back to the surface.”

“Of course. But is there anything I can provide you to help on your quest?” He opened his arms. “I will give it to you if it is in my power.”

“Weapons, perhaps?” Matt shrugged. “We could use those.”

“Against what? A mysterious shadowy thing?” A gasp filled the room after Kate’s statement. She glanced over her shoulder to see horrified faces on every merperson behind her.

“Shadow?” The king leaned forward. “The shadow walks on land too?”

Matt and Kate nodded slowly. “It comes down here?” Matt asked.

“It goes everywhere.”

“And the voice returns.” Matt looked at Kate. “Or have you heard it down here?”

She shook her head. “First time since I left you.”

The king looked up. “It is good to hear you, old friend.”

“And you as well.” The voice sounded pleased to Kate. She could almost see the smile on the shadowy face she pictured every time the voice spoke to them. “Thank you for taking care of my friends. My foe saw fit to separate them.”

“Of course it did.” The king shook his head. “I will do anything to help you defeat the shadow once and for all.”

“Thank you. I think they need weapons. The shadow is getting more dangerous.”

The king nodded. “Of course.”

He rose from his throne, hair billowing around him in the water. “Follow me.”

They floated down a long hallway, past several coral doors. Kate worried they would lose the king like they had their guide, but he kept at a pace they could follow.

Kate leaned over to speak to Matt. “What type of weapons do you think we’ll get? I can’t use any.”

“I’m sure they’ll train us. Don’t worry.” Matt took her hand and squeezed. Kate noticed he never let go. She didn’t say anything and kept their fingers interlocked.

The king stopped before one of the doors and turned to face them. “This is my royal armory. You can pick anything you want.”

He threw open the door and floated inside. Rows of weapons lined the walls. Kate’s mouth fell open at the sight. “How are we supposed to choose?”

“I can help.” The king floated over to her, studying her. He lifted one of her arms and examined it. “Hmm, not much muscle in the arm. But I can work with this.”

“Uh…thanks?” Kate did not know if it was a good thing or not but didn’t want to insult the king. Not after how kind he had been to her and Matt.

The king swam off, searching for the weapon that best suited her. She doubted he’d find anything. “Perhaps I should just practice ducking and hiding.”

“Give yourself some credit. I’m sure you can fight, you just don’t know it.” Matt winked. “After all, you did survive Wall Street, right?”

Kate found herself laughing. “I guess you’re right.”

The king swam back over, holding a dagger. It had an onxy handle lined with turquoise gems. The blade was long and no doubt sharp.

Kate looked up to meet the king’s aqua-colored eyes. “You are giving this to me?”

“Yes, I am,” the king said. “It was wielded by a great warrior—a mermaid called Ianthe. She defended our great kingdom from the giant squid. It is a well known tale in our waters.”

“Sounds like an interesting one,” Matt said.

Their voices faded out for Kate. She focused on the blade, on its beauty and danger. It fascinated and frightened her. How was she to use it without hurting herself?

“Do not worry. I will have you trained before you leave my realm.” The king and Matt looked at her and she realized she must have spoken aloud. Sheepish, she thanked him and took the dagger.

The king nodded and turned to study Matt. “I know the right weapon for you. Wait here.”

Once again, the king swam back to find the right weapon as Matt stepped next to her. “It’s beautiful. And I’m sure it’ll come in handy.”

“I hope so. What do you think he’ll give you?”

Matt shrugged. “Hopefully something I can learn easily.”

“I’m sure you’ll have no problem.”

“Because being a teacher means you have to be a warrior.” Sarcasm coated his words.

Kate tilted her head. “Depends on where you teach.”

“True,” he agreed.

They lapsed into silence as the king swam back to them. In his hands was a long silver sword with turquoise gems which matched the ones on the hilt of Kate’s dagger. He held it out to Matt as he explained: “This belonged to Ianthe’s companion, Ahti. I believe it is fitting you now carry it.”

“Wow, thanks.” Matt picked up the sword, getting used to the feel of it. “I will need training in this.”

“As I said, you will get it. I promise. Though it means you will have to stay a bit longer in my realm.”

Kate smiled. “And that’s a problem because…?”

The king laughed, clapping the two on the back. “That’s the spirit! Now come, let us sup together.”

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