Trinity's eyes grew wide and his cheeks flushed, but he quickly regained his composure. He had very rarely needed to be angry at his daughter, but he would not allow her to speak to him in such a way.
"Excuse me?" he said quietly. His suddenly stern manner was enough to give Aren pause in the tirade she had been about to let loose.
"Father," she said in a calmer tone. "Please tell me how mother died."
"Why do we need to speak of this now? The deed is done. I don't wish to resurrect her ghost by discussing the matter. Let her rest easy."
"But you never told me."
"You didn't ask. And now it's over and we must move on."
"No buts, Aren. It's over."
"But father," she insisted, desperate to be heard. "Edris said..."
"EDRIS SAID WHAT?"
To the princess, it seemed her father had double in size. He reared up, trident in hand, face thunderous.
"Nothing," she said quietly. "It doesn't matter."
It did matter, but the fear that had taken a hold of her at her father's reaction told her to retreat and leave him be. She would find Edris and push him for the information she needed.
"Edris said what?" Trinity repeated.
"Father, it doesn't matter. I'm sorry I brought it up."
"Yes, you did bring it up, but I will not, now allow it to be laid back down. You will tell me."
Aren knew him well enough to know she couldn't argue. His word was law and no-one, not even his own daughter, would ignore that fact. She sighed.
"He said she was killed by a human."
The king didn't speak. He watched her intently, carefully thinking what to say and how to say it. The bond between mother and her offspring had been steadfast and unbreakable. What purpose would telling her anything serve? But the silence had already been broken by that fool.
"That she was," he said finally.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because you didn't need to know. You were grieving. Besides, we do not deal with the humans anyway. It does not matter."
"Doesn't matter? Of course it matters! Didn't you do anything about it? Didn't you go to war with the landwalkers?"
"War? Of course not! I, too, was grieving. I have a kingdom to rule and to think of. I have increased the guard. I have the Korel. I have my broken heart!"
Aren sneered, her fear turning quickly to rage. How could he not make the humans pay? Was Sebastian's friendship a ruse to lure her to her death also?
"Your heart is broken, but also is your mind, father. If you could allow them to murder my mother, your supposed beloved, and not take them to task, you, yourself are broken."
She was gone before he could respond. She had a meeting with a friend. A human friend.
She reached the surface quickly, not so much breaking the surface as allowing it to slide apart for her to see the shore. She was away from where she would traditionally rise, off to the side of Sebastian's field of view. She watched him silently. He was skimming pebbles, making them skip across the lips of the ripples, bouncing from one to another as if dancing. It was a game they both played regularly, with Aren easily besting the boy. The water was her friend. Her real friend. Her life.
The humans, she realised, were death.
She moved closer to the shore, coming closer before verring towards Sebastian to ensure she remained hidden. As she neared, she heard him singing. It was a song he'd taught her, one of hope and love and blossoming dreams.
She stopped and waited for him to finish, but he didn't. As the final verse was sung, he started again from the beginning.
Aren closed her eyes and let his words fill her. Her bond with him was too strong. He wasn't responsible, she knew that. He wasn't bait. He was just a boy. Just a friend.
She sank beneath the waves and swam off, the deeper ocean beckoning. She heeded its call and turned her back on the human who had given her so much only for Edris and her father to take it away.
Aren skimmed the underside of the surface just as Sebastian's stones had skimmed above. She went where the sea told her, casting a meandering wake that was quickly swallowed by the vastness of her home.
And there it was. Huge and ugly and alien. A ship. Laughter and shouting from the humans aboard were spines in her ears. They were searching for something. No, not something. Someone. A man had fallen overboard, the excessive intake of alcohol causing him to stumble and miss his footing. He was close to her, calling back up to the men who couldn't see him in the darkness.
She slid through the water, an invisible legend he would not have believed if he'd had the chance to see her. But the chance evaded him as easily as had his steadiness.
Aren watched his legs kicking in the water from a few feet below. She reached up and grabbed his ankles.
She knew where she would go. She didn't know, nor did she care, how long the human had remained alive before the water in his lungs had washed away his breath.
The cave had been a sanctuary. It had been a place of calm.
Now, it would be a place of reparation rather than retreat. Now it would be where she went to contemplate the only thing she had left.
YOU ARE READING
And the Meek Shall WalkFantasy
Princess Aren is determined to make the human who killed her mother and exiled her people to the bottom of the ocean pay. To do so, she must go to extremes of pain and heartache in her search for justice. Aren, however, is no sweet, happy mermai...