Dear Readers, Please Advise the Revision
Well, I went through my Melody's Song prologue, took your advice and tampered with a few things. So let me know what you think of it now, and if there's anything that still looks iffy.
Two shadows flitted across the mouth of a bottomless ocean chasm that yawned in both directions for miles. One of the shadows held a squirming shape close, gently shushing his cries as she bolted after the preceding form. They weaved their way in and out of the kelp and coral, one intent on catching up to the one in the lead, while the figure in front was determined to keep the other from following, no matter what the cost.
“Zeke, please! Won't you at least give me a chance to reason with you?”
Zeke spared a glance in the direction where the voice had come from, his eyes wide and frantic as they settled on the form in front of him.
“Delia. Stay away. Now. It is the way it must be,” he ordered, using the unnervingly calm voice he always reserved for when he was furious.
“But you don't understand!” Delia said accusingly, jabbing an angry finger at him, a hair too close for Zeke's comfort.
The hiss of a sword being released from its scabbard was heard, strangely loud in the calm waters of the sea.
“No,” Delia gasped, clutching her merchild even closer and backpedaling quickly with her purple tail, the scales on it already chinking together in its natural protective armor.
“I warned you, Delia,” Zeke tutted, letting his blade, Decessus, cut through the water menacingly. His tail was suiting up in its own battle attire as well.
Delia cowered from the blade, her hazel eyes as large as pearls. Decussus meant “deceased” in the ancient language that Delia had learned from her great-grandmother many years ago. Most merfolk were taught about the legend of Decussus, and the merman named Death who had wielded it, when they were only tiny merchildren who did nothing but laugh and play during the hours of light. They were taught what that merman's fate had been only days after he had first had the sword forged for him by the master smiths that lived in caverns off the coast of the north. Everyone knew that the sword had overpowered him and consumed the merman before being lost to the currents of the sea forever. Forever, it had seemed, until that day when Zeke had found it's hilt sticking out of the rock of his castle wall near his window.
“Zeke!” she hissed, stricken at the sight of Death's blade. “What are you doing with that accursed weapon?! You know what happened to its last owner, do you not?”
Zeke laughed. It was not a happy laugh, but the laugh of someone on the brink of insanity.
“Aye, I do know exactly who possessed this stunning sword before it came to me,” Zeke chuckled. “And I know that it will not consume me.”
“How could you know? I know you better than anyone, and I know that the sword will consume anyone it wishes.”
“I am much too strong for that to happen, Delia. Surely you know how headstrong I can be when I wish to be?”
Delia averted her eyes to the sea floor, gently stroking the bundle in her arms. “Yes.”
Zeke nodded, satisfied.
Finally, her gaze returned to meet his, her hazel eyes burning with a fiery defiance that was met with an equal opposition from his green, piercing ones. Neither was going to back down now.
“But you have no rights to abandon both your child and your wife, Zeke! Is this the way a good prince should behave?”
Zeke didn't even blink. “Delia. I am a prince. You are a commoner. You do not come from royal blood—how could I stay with you? Even this child here will not receive any inheritance from me as he is not purely of sovereign parentage. If you had been a princess, a duchess, or perhaps a queen, then yes, it would be possible for me to stay with you. There would be no problems. But you are not. So I cannot stay.”
“Yes you can!” Delia objected. “If you just searched through the laws and found some way to change the rules, I'm positive that you would be able to find a way. Because, if you remember, you can be quite headstrong sometimes, yes?” Surreptitiously she began to grope blindly for her sword with one hand, keeping her eyes steady on Zeke's. Her eyes widened just a fraction as she realized she could not reach it while holding her merchild.
A pair of chilling green eyes locked onto Delia's face in a deathly stare, oblivious to the fact that Delia was still stretching to reach the sword by her hip. If looks could kill, Delia would be six feet under in flash.
“Enough. I have no more to say on this matter.”
“I . . . said . . . enough!” Zeke leaned forward and put his face only a hairsbreath from hers. “And if you know what's good for you, you'll leave it at that.”
Delia let out a snort of disgust. “You princes are all the same. Vapid and vain. And you,” she moved her face even closer, her eyes on fire once more, “are the worst. I wish I'd never fallen for you and your lopsided grin that day. It's only caused me grief and anger. I hate you.”
The prince shook his head, snickering lightly. “No you don't. You love me. If you didn't, you wouldn't have wanted me to stay with you. You're afraid, Delia. You're scared and you need me to protect you and the child. But I refuse.”
To prove his point, Zeke unsheathed Decussus and swung it in another dangerous arc, stopping the blade's path at the throat of his terrified, but furious, wife.
“Now be gone, my wife. Let me never see your face again, or once again you will be met with Death's blade.” Zeke paused as if to ponder this notion. He licked his lips hungrily. “Yes. Decussus will not mind a little fresh blood to cleanse itself with. “
“You're a sea monster!” his bride cried, not daring to move with the sword still locked at her throat. “It's the sword! Throw it into the abyss! It will overpower you, Zeke, get rid of it. Look what it has done to you already in such a short amount of time you have had it in your possession! Promise me you'll destroy it.”
Zeke bowed his head low, as if he really did feel sorry that he wasn't listening to his beloved Delia. “Delia, you do not understand the value of such a blade! I will not promise to rid myself of it.” He stopped, and cocked his head to the side. “But I will promise you this.”
“What is it?” Delia asked eagerly, praying desperately that her husband would soon see sense in the wrong that he was doing to both himself, her, and their merchild that was cradled in the crook of her arm.
Zeke's sea green eyes blazed, flashing for an instant to a deep ebony that was even darker than the depths of the chasm below. He was angry, that much was clear. Angry at his father, for introducing him to Delia those many years ago after the war of Shipwreck Bay. Angry at his wife for being stubborn and insolent. But most of all, angry at his son, for just being born. If that Whistle Tree had had any sense, it would've found a different family for the merchild instead of the one it had stupidly chose. When this little inconvenience was dealt with, Zeke swore that he would take Decussus and slice the tree to pieces to make it pay for the pain it had given him.
“I am going back to Manoa Lai. If you or your child—”
“Aye.” Zeke's cold stare flicked briefly across her face, causing Delia to wince slightly. “If you or our child,” he began, saying the word our with disgust, “steps foot into my kingdom ever again, I will personally come and impale both you and this child upon Death's blade so that your souls will wander for eternity.”
Delia emitted a garbled squawk of protest. The legend of Death's blade in addition told the tale that if you were unlucky enough to be killed in battle by the saber, the sheer evil that dwelt inside of it would cause your soul not to enter the golden gates of the Overwhere, where the merfolk believed your soul would go when you were deceased, and instead to wander through the Underthere for all eternity, shrouded by clouds of pure darkness. The darkness was said to attack your soul, and show you everything you were afraid of, everything that had caused you to worry in life, everything you hated, to terrorize you until you were in the weakest state of being possible. Once you had arrive at this state, the darkness would not hesitate to consume your soul. There would be nothing left. Not a trace of your soul would remain amongst the masses of shadows that waited to prey on another wandering soul to feed their undying hunger.
“Go. Get out of my sight. Build a kingdom of your own. Raise that accursed child of yours. Tell him of a world where everything is good, the way that you always wished it would be. I don't give a barnacle about it. But if I ever see you again, even from a distance, I won't hesitate to kill you. And I will hunt down your child as well. So it would serve you well to never cross my line of sight,” Zeke threatened.
Delia's fingers grasped her child even closer to her, as if the nearer he was to her, the less he could be harmed by Zeke's words. Her free hand went unconsciously to the hilt of her own sword, Aeva, and an overwhelming sense of relief flew through her at the touch of the blade. Aeva. Life. The two swords were opposites of each other. One hungered to bring about death to every being that came near, the other yearned to bring light and sunshine to people's lives. Both were equally deadly when opposed.
Zeke's stare flitted briefly to her sword, his eyebrows creasing for a moment when he realized that if Delia had possession of this sword, there was a chance she could come after him and seize his throne. He had a snap decision.
“There is one more thing,” he intoned, paying no mind to the daggers Delia was shooting at him with her eyes.
“What is it?” Delia snapped, brushing a loose blonde hair from her face.
“Give me your sword.”
“Do not play innocent with me! I can see you carry the blade, Aeva, and I know that you will not rest until you have beheaded me with it. I must squelch this threat before it arises. Nip the plan in the bud. So. Give. Me. That. Sword,” Zeke ordered, bobbing up and down as his seaweed green tail kept him level.
Delia did not move. She eyed him cooly.
“NOW!” he screamed, jabbing Decussus into her throat, making a thin stream of blood flow from the wound and float into the sea in a crimson cloud.
Aeva blazed inside of the scabbard it was placed within, burning white-hot for a moment and burning Delia's tail, leaving a scalding pain. Whenever its opposite was delivering a blow to a being, Aeva would burn with fury, aching to ease the pain of the victim. The best it could do was fight against the evil that brought about the agony.
Delia felt her sword of light burning in its scabbard feverishly, and this time it was she who made the snap decision. She grabbed the golden entwined hilt of the sword and yanked it free of the scabbard, feeling how the sword automatically balanced to fit its bearer, and slashed it towards the dark blade of Death.
The two swords clashed, and tiny sparks flew out before being quickly snuffed out by the sea. Both blades burned with rage against the other, each wanting to alter effects the other had already done.
Delia was not experienced in the field of fighting, as it was not a usual activity of the commoners, but Zeke had been trained by the head swordsman when he was only at the age of twelve. There really was not a contest between the two opponents; Zeke easily flung Delia's sword away from her shaking hand, leaving her weaponless and defenseless as well.
The prince looked at Delia balefully. “You should have just handed me Aeva when you had the chance. Because you didn't, I am going to kill you right here and right now. The child too,” he added as an afterthought.
Deeply troubled from the change that had overtaken her husband, Delia ran desperately through any options she had left. The run-through was, not surprisingly, quite short, being as it was that Zeke was planning on killing them both with Decussus without a second thought, while cackling evilly no doubt. An idea popped into her head unexpectedly, and she decided that, ridiculous as it was, it was her only chance to live. She took a deep breath, readying herself for what was to come. It would not be pleasant, that much she knew.
“Father, let us go. This instant.”
Delia's mouth dropped open, as well as Zeke's. Zeke was so astounded that for a second he dropped his sword hand away from Delia's throat. Unfortunately, his wife wasn't paying the least bit of attention to him, so she didn't take the opportunity to bolt from the area. Instead, she gawked at the child she was holding. The said child was in fact staring with his intense deep blue eyes at his parents, as though he had plenty wisdom beyond his years.
Zeke was the first to recover. “What did you just say?”
The merchild shrugged. “I didn't say it; I ordered it.” He stopped, glaring forcefully at his father, daring him to disagree. “Let us go. This instant, or you will suffer the consequences.” The child's voice was unwavering, and the tone made his father flinch as the words cut into him like a trident's prongs. His mother hadn't moved a muscle since the child had spoken, except that the scales on her tail had relaxed from their natural armor to the usual normal supple plates. Though Zeke was in a state of shock and disbelief, he kept his emotions in check and still had his hand on the hilt on Decussus, continuing to point the blade at his wife's throat. His free hand was slowly reaching for Aeva, the gold hilt gleaming temptingly on the ocean floor, the glassy blade glinting.
“And while you're at it . . . “ the merchild continued calmly, “Get your grubby paws away from the Sword of Light!” When Zeke hesitated, his son glared at him meaningfully and made a shooing motion. “Mother . . . get me the sword,” he commanded. His mother obliged, although not without a significant amount of timidness. Her baby merman had just spoken his first words after all, and they weren't the usual “Mum”'s and “Papa”'s that most children would say for their first, but instead an order to the prince of Manoa Lai to release them and spare their lives. And, surprisingly, the prince had obeyed.
Delia gave her son the sword, almost reverently, and he took it gingerly, holding the hilt with both of his tiny hands, his deep blue eyes intense with concentration.
“Ocean, Canyon, Mountain, Sky, use your power, use it well. Sway the threads of time with ease, lock away Decussus, annihilate the seven keys!”
Both parents stared, dumbfounded. The Ocean, Canyon, Mountain, and Sky were the four corners of the world that only the most knowledgeable merfolk knew of. Most merfolk only knew of their realm: Ocean. The legend of the seven keys was even more rare. The tale stated that one who knew the spell of power could overcome the power of Decussus and lock it away for a short while, or if they were stronger yet, forever. There were seven keys that would need to be found to unlock Decussus for it to be used once more, but when the child had told the corners to annihilate them, it ensured that Decussus would not be returning anytime soon. Neither of the merchild's parents were sure of what had happened, or even if the spell had worked, until the sword of Death swelled ten times its normal size and exploded into fragments of pure darkness, scattering amongst the coral and seaweed. Seven silver keys then appeared, glowing with a potent light. They too swelled up beyond their standard sizes before erupting into minuscule segments.
Nothing moved. No flora or fauna, nor any of the merfolk present. Finally Delia came to her senses and fled, holding her miraculous child to her chest, murmuring unrecognizable words to herself.
Zeke was not as quick to react, but as he came to his senses, the first thing he noticed was not the heavy dark cloud lifting from his shoulders like a cloak, making him feel more normal again. He did not notice that his wife and child had fled from the scene.
No, the first thing that Zeke saw, after blinking several times, was Aeva, the golden blade of light, shuddering and creaking, before laying still in the sand, being clouded over and turning dark.
Decussus was back.
And it hungered revenge.