The wind and sea were howling in a blinding rage. From one second to the next the blue of the sky had turned to a dark, ominous grey. Lightning danced through the darkness and the air as if foretelling of the end of the world. Amidst the turmoil, so kilometres apart, where two shapes, engulfed in a bright, yet sickenly greyish light, as the tainted magic fulfilled the twin wishes.
The knife came down on the still glowing body, only to break into pieces upon contact with the skin, no, not skin anymore but scales. Bright yellow scales starting to cover her body. It was the last thing the human attacker saw and noticed before his neck was snapped cleanly apart.
The corpse was carelessly thrown away by Duode. He was still seething with anger and hatred to himself, his eyes ablaze with rage for the stupid human who had foiled all the careful planning he and the mother of the sea had done to get rid of the scales…
With pained sorrow he could only watch as Theta changed more before his very eyes, lost the ability to breath under water as the scales engulfed her gills and sealed them off. Her pained screams tore at his heart.
This was not how it was planned to happen. Theta was meant destroy the scales, being one of two, who could touch them bare handed and not being corrupted by it. She was not meant to use the scale herself to stop someone else from using it and wrecking havoc.
Her screams stopped and he bent down carefully pressing his head to her scaly chest. Du dum, du dum. His eyes closed in painful mourning. Theta the two hearts mermaid was no more, born was Theta the single heart Naga, freed from the shackles of her tribe and the sea, only to be enslaved by the harsh, unforgiving land and on her own.
He cradled her still small form in his arms and wept silent tears. He had failed in his task to watch and protect her. He whispered many apologies against her red scale temple, begging for her forgiveness.
It is only a small movement in his arms that warns him of Theta waking up for the moment.
“Duode, your eyes are leaking, why?” came the weak question from Theta. “Because I couldn’t protect you…” was his hoarse answer.
With her now reptilian features it was hard to tell, but he got the image that she was trying to smile at him. “It is alright, you know? Or it will be, in the end. And if it isn’t alright yet, we are not at the end. Your words.” Before he can answer her she falls unconscious again.
Theta was too pure at heart to be left alone in this harsh world. He had plenty of experience with the land and an orphaned child separated from her adoptive family, without a guide, a protecting hand was as good as dead.
Still holding her close he looked up, seeing the remaining humans, who still kept a safe distance to him but one. He didn’t like religious men. In his opinion they were far too many times too narrow minded.
What a disaster! Antonius was only able to watch the unfolding horror, unable to do anything. He was still processing that the little mermaid had used the scale herself to prevent a far more grievous disaster. Only seconds later he had been witness to an attempted murder and an actual murder. The silver haired and grey tailed merman was stronger than he looked. With his bare hands he had snapped a human’s neck in protection of the youngling. Her pained screams went like a knife straight to his heart and his hand throbbed in phantom pain.
With the light fading his mouth dropped open in surprise. The girl was a mermaid no more, but a naga, half human, half snake. Her front was covered in bright yellow scales, looking like those of a dragon. The same shape had the scales on top of her head and the back of her tail. They were different colours of red and rust.
Whatever the relationship between the two was, the older cared deeply for her, ready and willing to kill for her protection. It was heart wrenching to watch him cradle her in his arms, exchanging soft words in their musical language unspoken by humans.
He slowly approached them, holding his friend and husband Quartus back. It was better to not trigger another attack if more then one person came near them.
Light blue eyes, darkened by grief focused on him. The impressive bushy eyebrows were drawn together in a scowl.
As much as he hated it, he needed to negotiate the safety of Theta and her being allowed to stay with the humans besides her different look. “I am sorry.” It was the religious man who spoke first. “I tried to help her destroy the scales, but…” he looked equally sadly at the naga girl.
“Her name is Theta.” Duode finally spoke in the language of the humans, much to the human’s surprise. “She is an orphan and I was tasked with her protection and failed. My failure cut her off from the sea, from her adoptive family. She is land bound and I can’t follow her.” Which was partly true. Without explicit permission he couldn’t leave the sea although he could shift and take on a human appearance.
“I will take her in and protect her in your stead. It is the least I can offer after everything she did.” Duode’s eyes widened in real surprise. He would have expected more resistance or negotiating on his part… “She saved my life on a personal level and so did you. The man who died by your hands, we had our suspicion that he was a hired murderer sent after me. I promise you by my life…” he looked over his shoulder at Quartus, receiving a nod, “...and the life of my husband, we will take her in and care for her, as if she was our own in blood.” Antonius placed his scarred hand over his heart.
Duode gave a curt nod before the human could change his mind. He gave one last kiss to Theta’s forehead, murmuring a blessing. before he hesitantly handed her over to him, the human’s husband finally approaching them as well. “Never let me regret my decision. The both of you. I will know if you are true to your given word.” Before they could answer he returned to the sea. They would take him into custody, but by the time they would come for him to take him to trial he would be gone and the forgetting of him ever being with them would start. One of his many curses or blessings depending on the situation.
The humans and Theta would forget him as well, only the promise remaining, that they would protect her.
It was the price he had to pay for his longevity. Being forgotten by all but HER. his wife, his queen, his goddess, the mother of the sea. River Song.