James and Ethan knew the fields well. They helped me over the large logs and rocks that were in the way of the path, ignoring my clumsy stumble. How did humans walk on the thick branches that sprouted from their torsos? Legs were way out of my understanding-- why didn't everyone just fly like a bird, or swim like a fish? Walking was a bumbling movement, not graceful or flowing at all.
The cottage of the twins--that is what I assumed they were for they looked so close in age, and were surly related-- was threadbare and poor. It sat nestled between two large hills, a cow shed sharing the same wall as the house. A nice, clean gate wrapped around the house and sure enough, smoke floated from the chimney.
"Home! Home!" Merv cried, sailing on his white wings far above me.
"Come along, girly!" James laughed, tugging at my hand. He couldn't understand Merv's speech.
We entered the cottage. I was greeted by the smell of soup cooking on the stove and the crackle of bread.
"James, Ethan, you're home early." A lovely looking woman with similar hair to Ethan tied up in a bun on her head, came out of the kitchen. When she spotted me, her eyes grew wide and nervous. "Who's this?"
"This is Grace. She comes from the ocean."
"Really?" The woman seemed to calm down. "Grace. What a pretty name. I'm Mara."
"Hello Mara." I said and tried to bow. I stumbled and fell, leaving a long, jagged scratch up my arm as flesh caught sharp wood.
"Oh dear," Mara looked me up and down as if noticing for the first time. "You have no clothes."
I frowned at my bleeding arm. "No, ma'am." I looked down at my human body for the first time. I was awkward and lanky, too skinny and too tall.
Behind Mara came in another boy. He was closer to my age, sixteen at the oldest. Long, brown hair sprung in curls into deep blue eyes. His hands were rough from hard farm work and his eyes sparkled with laughter as he spotted me.
"Oh my." He said, alarmed, and turned away, blushing.
"Hush." Mara slapped him softly. "Ethan, get her some clothes. Mine will fit, I think."
Ethan disappeared and I looked about, smiling. "I like your home." I said.
"Thank you." Mara said, staring at me. "May I ask where you come from?"
"The sea." I told her. "I come from the sea."
"The sea." The other boy said, still turned away. "You mean, overseas?"
I couldn't answer. If anyone found out what I meant, I would be sent back to the marakihau. I didn't want that…I had seen the folk who had been banished from the island, sent back into the ocean. They would try and go back on land, but died, dried out like the fish back on the beach. Their ties to human kind were to strong.
"Here, momma. Here are the clothes." Ethan handed his mama a plain white dress with seashells tied to the hem. I smiled as Ethan passed it to Mara who passed it to me.
"Thank you." I said politely. I pulled the dress on carefully, avoiding my cut.
When I was fully clothed, the brown-haired boy turned back around, hesitantly. When he saw me in my dress, he smiled. "It looks good." He told me. "I am Jonathan, by the way."
I smiled, feeling a blush. I touched one of the seashells in my hair, looking away.
"John, go to the fields and get your father." Mara said. "Grace, come and get some soup and bread."
Jonathan gave a mock bow to me and strode out of the house.
I followed Mara and sipped at the soup she offered me. It was sweet and I had a second bowl after I finished the first. By that time John had returned with his father.
"This is Grace. She is from the sea." John told the man next to him. "Grace, this is Tomas, my dad."
I stood to bow again, but stopped, remembering my arm. Tomas eyed me, and motioned at the chair. I sat and he sat across from me.
Mara put a bowl of soup in front of her husband and patted his shoulder.
"From the sea, eh?" Tomas said. "Where are you really from, Grace?"
I didn't want to lie, but I had to. The image of the dried out marakihau hung in my head.
"I lived on a boat, at sea. Our ship crashed in the last storm and my parents died."
Mara and Tomas exchanged looks. James and Ethan were wide-eyed and John's face was pale with pity.
"Please, I don't have a home to live in." I said. "Let me stay here for a few nights."
Tomas nodded. "You can stay for as long as you like, Grace. Our family is to be welcoming and if there is anything you want, just ask."
Mara continued the thought. "Tomorrow I will take you to the market to get clothes. Then we can see to finding you a permanent home."
Back by popular damand, I present...Grace of the Sea, chapter two! Not as good as chapter one but the romance, mystery and danger comes in full force in chapter three. I hope you stick around to read it!
Many of you guys asked what myth this was from. It is the story of the marakihau, the female sea serpents that live in the waters around New Zealand. They would become human women and go on land to find a husband. If anyone found out that they were a marakihau the woman would be sent back to the ocean. But their ties to human life would be so great that they'd try to crawl back on land, only to die like a fish out of water...
This chapter goes out for...
-Black Sword Bearer
Until next time!