Arda gazed out across the plain. The Garzen forces were out in full force, testing their weapons and working on their training manoeuvres in the heat of the afternoon sun. They were well ordered, extremely well disciplined and their weapons and armour were superiorly advanced. I have to give it to them he supposed, they know what they are doing.
For a hundred years the Garzen’s had ruled the Kingdom of Arfell since their invasion from the sea and long had the true people of the land been forced to live in the forests. It was from the trees that Arda and Ragen watched on at a safe distance as the Garzen’s displayed their capabilities.
“My father should have rid these demons long ago,” Arda spoke, each and every word saturated with venom. “To long has it been since we stood against them, why does your father not act in his stead?”
“Arda you must not blame my father, he has done the best he can to protect our people… What would you have him do?”
“I would have him fight, Ragen. Take back what is rightfully ours.”
“And to what cost? How many died during the last rebellion? Ten years it has been since your father perished and my father has sought peace every day since, is that not enough to ask for? Can we not live in peace? We do not have the strength in numbers, the tribes are divided. This is not a war that can be won!”
“It will be won Ragen. You will see,” Arda turned and smiled at his best friend. They had been friends all their lives. Ragen followed Arda everywhere. Their fathers had been on the small council together. Arda’s father had been the ruler of their tribe until his death, when Ragen’s father took the rule until Arda was of an age to lead and tonight was the eve of his eighteenth birthday.
“Where are you going now?” Ragen asked Arda as he made to walk away.
“To see the mermaids,” he replied.
“Oh not again Arda, you know I hate it when you go to see the mermaids. They’re dangerous!”
“Yeah, to you maybe, but not to me,” Arda smiled again as he left Ragen at the edge of the clearing a bemused expression upon his face and made his way deeper in to the woods.
It had been a few weeks since Arda had been to see the mermaids and he wished to embrace their warmth and magic once again. The rumour was that no man could walk into mermaid cove and come out with both his sanity and his live. It was the reason therefore that no man dared go within ten miles of it, except Arda of course. He always wondered what he possessed that others did not but perhaps the mermaids just wanted company and he was the only one to offer it to them.
As Arda walked deeper into the woods it grew darker with every step and just when he though it could get no darker it got yet darker still. The trees grew thicker and the branches wilder until nearly all light was diminished. Arda knew these footsteps off by heart and was sorely tempted to try it blindfolded, but where would the fun be if no one was there to say that he had done it. Even Ragen himself dare not follow.
The ground started to rise beneath Arda’s feet and the incline told him that he was near. Ahead of him he could see the ridge and as he bore ever closer he could see the faint purple glow that could be found emitting only, from the mermaids lair. Arda had never figured out the source of the glow, yet he had no desire to. It all felt a part of the mystery of this special place.
He made his way over the ridge and down the hill that sloped to a small sandy shore, which was accompanied by a huge black lake, the water was still and as smooth as silk. Trees surrounded the lake on all sides, it was well and truly hidden and far from prying eyes. The constant glow and the mist issuing from the water’s surface filled Arda with a sense of warmth and comfort.
Taking off his shoes and feeling the soft sand between his toes Arda made his way to the water’s edge. He felt the sudden sensation as the cool water submerged and soothed his aching feet. He always summoned them this way. He heard their song whether out loud or not he was never entirely sure but it filled his head none the less. Closing his eyes Arda let the music flood through him.
As he opened his eyes, he saw them. Their heads were bobbing just above the surface. They swam in surrounding him, getting ever close until the water became too shallow and they were forced to stand. As their bodies pierced the surface of the water Arda watched on as their shiny scale covered tails were replaced by long beautiful human legs.
He raised his gaze from their legs to their chests. This was always his favourite part. For all of them wore no form of clothing. They were naked and their full round wet breasts shone in the purple glow. Each and every one of them was stunningly perfect in their own special way and as they all looked upon him with smiles on their face’s he looked back, hunger deep in his eyes.
Their hair was of different colours, some had red, others brown and some yellow. Arda knew them all and even by name for he had been here many times before.
“And we know you, Arda son of Arden.”
How does she always know what I am thinking? She soon appeared, walking towards him. She was the most beautiful of all the mermaids. Her hair, long, red and shiny fell to her hips. She had piercing blue eyes and small soft pink lips. Her large breasts swayed slightly as she walked towards him, teasing him.
“Away with you all” she said aloud to the other mermaids, her eyes she never took from Arda’s face. “For tonight he lies with me.”
The other mermaids all with disappointed expressions sighed and submerged themselves back into the waters depths. The Queen her face full of lust edged her way into Arda’s embrace. She planted a kiss on his lips and pushed him back on to the soft sand.
When it was over they lay side by side, staring up at the night sky. Hundreds of stars stared at them as they lay there bare skinned their breath still heavy. They lay in quiet, Arda deep in thought as the Queen ran her hand over his chest.
“Ashai, if you can walk out of water, why do you confide yourself to this place?” Arda asked suddenly, but the Queen was not surprised.
“You do not know? I thought by now you would have come to love this place as we do, do you not feel its power, its magic?”
“I do, very much so, but you have the whole world to explore. If it was not for the Garzen’s presence, would you not wish to see it?”
“Arda, you know us as well as any. We mermaids are vein creatures are we not? But our beauty is tied to the magic of this place, should we choose to abandon it our true form would show, we would be but monsters to your eyes.”
“And what of the Garzen’s”
“What of them?”
“Should they find this place they will destroy it and no doubt take you prisoner, they are a mean race Ashai.”
“Exactly the reason why it is better for us if we stay, for a thousand years we have been here and no Garzen has ever come close. But we know of their power all too well. We fought against them a long time ago.” Completely taken aback by this unexpected news Arda pushed Ashai’s hand from his chest and raised himself up.
“You fought them? When? How?”
“Yes we fought them when they first invaded, but we were too few, we tried to join forces with your grandfather but he didn’t trust us, your father tried to persuade him that it was for the best of all our kinds, but your grandfather didn’t trust the dragons.”
“You knew my grandfather? And what? Dragons?”
“Your grandfather spent the best part of his life slaying Dragons, before the Garzen’s came, but he simply didn’t understand them, they only obey those who possess the Horn of Gold and I possessed it. Together our forces would have been strong, but your grandfather would not listen!”
“And my father you knew him?”
“Knew him? I know your father still”
“Do not lie Ashai, my father is dead!”
“In a way, but not quite. Have you ever heard of Mathayar?”
“The Queen of Darkness some call her. She was driven into the mountains by your grandfather many years ago, but even her spells linger on. I stand living proof of that.”
“You are cursed?”
“That I am, I was a Queen in these lands once, beautiful, innocent and pure. Through jealousy she turned me and the others into what we are now. Hideous beasts, but only here, in Mermaid cove can we be ourselves.”
“Did she curse my father in such a way?”
“You have a quick mind Arda. For that she did and many of his men. Have you ever heard of the men of the night?”
“You mean Vampires?”
“That is what the common folk call them yes and it is what your father and his men have become. Mathayar offered her services to the Garzen’s the moment they arrived in return for the downfall of your grandfather. When your father rebelled years later, she turned him, like she turned me all that time ago.”
“Where is he?”
“If rumour serves true, atop Hyron Mountain, Mathayar had him and his men locked away in a tower of Ice.”
“Ashai, why did you not speak of this before, why have you not tried to release him?”
“Tell me Arda, what is it that I owe your people? They turned us away when we needed each other most. Your father showed us some kindness yes, but do you think I would risk the extinction of my people? We are too few Arda and I would not have you risk your life on such folly either, it is why I have not told you because it is a fool’s errand. Your father is not the man he was and do you think he would have you see him like that?”
“Despite what he may have become he is still my father, I can save him, I will save him!” Arda stood up, there was a fire burning deep in his eyes.
“Your heart is true Arda it is why my people love you so, but how do you expect to free your father, your people are weak, your tribes are divided, the Garzen’s are two strong.”
“Have faith in me Ashai, I will unite the tribes, there is a blinding strength in my people just waiting to explode, It is time we fought back, all we need is that spark, something to give them hope and courage!”
“You have your father’s strength in you Arda I see it now, I have always believed it but in a way I have come to love you and I would sooner see you safe from harm, but if this is the path you choose then you have but one hope you must bring together all the free folk it is the only way.”
“Will you fight again Ashai, will you join our cause?”
“My dear boy, our fighting days are long gone, we are quite content with our life here, what goes on beyond our borders is no longer our concern, however the men of the night may join you, should you set them free.”
“The Vampires? But I thought you said it was folly?”
“Ah yes, to attempt it alone would be so, but you Arda will not be going alone, there at least I can help you,” Ashai revealed as she smiled up at Arda as he stood over her, from this vantage point he could see the full length of her body and admired her stunning beauty. She had a way of just turning his thoughts solely on to her in an instant. “But for now, enough talk,” she whispered as she pulled his leg closer to her. Arda giving into temptation lay down atop her placing his leg between hers, spreading them slightly. He kissed her gently and felt her tongue upon his and he took one of her breasts in his hand and fondled it softly. He looked down deep into her piercing blue eyes and for a second he saw hope, then he took her there again upon the sandy shore.