The First of the Mermaids: Part IV
Leara watched as Nim’s body burned down into ashes. She still couldn’t believe her beautiful sister was dead. She was so angry at the Nazhu, but she was also angry at the people of Merdoc. If they had been different, if they hadn’t always been so set on fighting and angry words, there never would have been a problem.
“We should go after them,” said one man. “We can’t let them get away killing Nim. She was one of us.”
“We’re not skilled enough to fight them,” said a woman. “They’ll kill us all if we try to attack them.”
The man said, “What if we go in at night, and attack them while they’re sleeping? We can get the element of surprise.”
Leara was barely listening. She wanted only one thing now, and that thing was peace. She thought of Mikael, waiting by the seaside. Would he come to her still? Or would he leave now that his people had attacked? He had caught her heart with his teeth though. He couldn’t leave her now. They were in love. She absently wiped a tear from her face.
“We will not go after them,” she said suddenly. “We need to put aside our anger. If we cannot do this, then we will all perish.”
Everyone seemed to disagree with her. There was nothing she could say to convince them, though, so she went home to get the flute. Maybe this was the perfect time to play. Maybe she could play so well that the people would forget the death of Nim. When she got to her home, she picked up her hairbrush. She thought of all the times that her sister had run it through her hair, detangling it. Making her pretty. She would never again do this.
She took the flute and headed back to the village. There, she saw something that made her heart stop. One of the villagers of Merdoc was holding the head of Mikael. He threw it to her. Leara caught it instinctively and then let out a wail of misery. “Why would you do this? What’s wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with me?” The villager repeated. “He is one of the Nazhu. He deserved to die.”
“Nobody deserves to die,” Leara whispered, stroking the hair of the man who had made love to her, who had promised to stay by her side, who had laid nights awake with her, enjoying her company. This was proof, she thought. The people of Merdoc would never be satisfied with peace. No matter how well she played, they would never want what she wanted: she just wanted love and harmony.
There was only one thing to do. Leara brought the flute to her lips, thinking of Nim and Mikael. She thought of all the death, and all the death that was sure to come from the tempers of the Merdoc. She wanted to stop that, and so when she played, she played the most beautiful song that anyone had ever heard. Villagers fell silent as they listened to the magical notes. Then slowly, they closed their eyes and fell into a deep slumber.
Once they were all asleep, Leara put down the flute. She took a knife and walked among the people. There was only one thing to be done, she thought. She slit their throats — all of their throats, men, women, and children alike. She did this because she wanted peace, and the Merdoc people would never allow it. When she was done, she was drenched in blood.
She walked back to the seaside and stripped out of her clothing. The sea would wash away the blood. She walked into it, aware of her legacy, and aware of the thing she had done, her fingers clasping the flute once more. The cold of the water didn’t bother her, but it never had.
This time, she thought, she would never come back out. She took the sea into herself, and when she dove into the waters, she never returned. Fishermen would tell tales, after this. They would speak of a woman who lived in the water, half human, half fish. A beautiful woman with a warm smile, and the ability to lure men to their deaths with a single, beautiful song.