Chapter ONE: The stars have spoken

The night air is calm; the breeze is warm and the ocean waves are tired. I am a top a massive volcanic sea rock: the star gazing rock. I am alone. Off in the distance a dolphin jumps twice, its splash is so tremendous that is sprays me with mist. I let out a short, small laugh of delight. I gaze up into the heavens to see the stars twinkling brightly. They are singing to me, as they often do. I stretch upward to hear their soft, sweet melody:

Oh little fish,

Lady of the sea,

When you gain legs,

You shall be free.

Then, there is utter and complete silence. I stare into the darkness…… Wondering…… "What does this mean?" I cry at last. The stars have never been so vainly blunt. I am frustrated, but then:

Oh little fish,

Lady of the sea,

Do not question the stars,

You know what must be.

"No! I don't! Legs?" I shout, "What do these words mean?" There is no answer. But though I am frustrated, I know that what the stars want me to do is important; it is something I must do. The air grows cold and the stars fade out in to the gray, moon-lit clouds. All is quiet, except for the gentle sound of the water lapping the edge of the star gazing rock. As I sit there staring in to the inky water, I feel lost in it's cradling waves. I become them, am them. There is no thought, no breath, but just barely being…

Sleep clouds my mind. My eye lids droop and my head falls forward, almost hitting the star gazing rock. I wake just in time and slip down under the ocean's foam. My tail shines pearl-green in the moon's dimming beams and my golden hair glides lazily along while I mentally map out my destination in my mind: home.

My home is like an extra-large den with a wide opening that is hidden in kelp. Inside my home is sprawling in rich silks, old brass furniture and gems of many colors; all I own has been discovered by shipwrecks. Ever since I can remember I have been alone, except for a large parrot fish who shelters in my den and has cared and hunted for me like a real mother, but she does this less now that I am older. She is my gardian fish.

I am almost there now, for I see it off in the distance. As I draw nearer I spot a shadowy figure outside of my den, resting on a large rock. I become suspicious but soon I realize that it is only Dane, my dearest and only true friend, but yet I know he secretly has stronger feelings for me. Though at the moment he seems lonely, and almost sad. As I swim up to him his face lights up. He embraces me like a rushing current, I hug him also. "Marina!" He exclaims, "Were in Neptune have you been? I've been looking all over for you!" His voice carries a note of worry, but he is grinning. "At the star gazing rock," I reply truthfully. "You should not have been away, Marina, not at a time like this! The humans are at war with us! Their battle ships cross our waters to the sea of Crete daily. If they saw you- why Marina, I couldn't bare to lose you!"

The Red water war, as I have heard from Dane, is horrendous! The water is thick with the blood of our kind and of the human's. Harpoons shower down into the water, killing legions of merpeople, while the humans are assaulted by stones and daggers, their ships sinking into the ocean's great depths. Sharks swarm in hundreds of thousands in those waters; they are drawn to the blood, and eat all: the living and the dead. He has told me it was caused by the humans. They had declared us to be evil half-breeds, that eat children, cast evil spells, and wreck ships: this is the reason of the war. But he says I could never understand war, for I am too unknowing, too innocent. He is probably right.

"Why did you go?" He inquired. I blink and rouse myself out of my thoughts; searching my brain for an excuse. For if he knew that I had gone to the star gazing rock to look for ships, he would be in a rage. "I wanted to be alone," I lied. "Oh," he said bluntly. I smile grimly up at him; his finger raps around one of my golden locks and he stares at me as if it was the first time he had ever seen me, then said softly, "You look so different from the rest of us. You and your sun golden hair and pearl white skin... while the rest of us have jet black hair and deep tan skin. It is so... odd." I turn away, then say, "Dane, the stars have spoken to me." "Oh?" his pearly gray eyes look longingly into my seaweed green ones, "and what did they say?"

"They say-" I began, "They say I ought to get legs. Now Dane, I know this sounds foolish, but it's something I must do." His face pales and a mix of concern, disbelief, and shock show plainly on his face. "You're serious?" I nod. "But Marina! "he pleads, "You mustn't leave me! You can't! You just can't! Land is not your home. Your home is here-" he makes a wide gesture with his arms- "the ocean is your home! Don't leave your home, Marina." "I am truly sorry," I say, head bowed, "But when the stars sing, it is for the better. You will see this one day...soon." My eyes fill with tears that mix into the water. "Please don't me at me." I leave him, stunned.

I lay, sobbing on my bed, letting the last tears fall until there are none left. 'What have I done?' The question runs through my mind; I should have never said anything. Scales brush against my cheek and I look up to see my guardian fish nuzzling my cheek. I smile and pour out to her my troubles, while she listens intently. She nods and swims to the entrance then turns and looks at me, and beckons me to follow. I do not know were she is taking me, yet I sense a journey on the horizon.