If you believed in merpeople in the lands of Angoria, you were considered a fool. Hardships had plagued the land, leaving the people weak and world weary. For many years, there had been great starvation throughout Angoria. After a harsh winter, colder than most, the plants came up black and rotten. It was the same with the sea. Everything from the fish to the little clumps of seaweed nestled between rocks was too toxic to eat. The country slowly starved from the lack of fresh food. Among city streets, there would lay the dead, corpses of the people who had given up the harshness of life. Even the toughest of the Angorians could be found among the body count.
After one hundred long tough years, the lands and the sea finally healed, and the crops sprouted up and the seas became teeming with fish. To several critical minds, it was puzzled on how the land could remain dead for a century and suddenly come back to life. Some believed it had been a curse cast upon them by the vengeful merpeople. Many others simply relished in the return of their fertile lands, in which their crops grew big and tall, better than before.
The hearty and strong Angorians who had lived through it, quickly set up a new life. All magic pushed aside, put into tales told before bed. The magic and mysteries of the world had all been but forgotten. Only few kept faith in their belief in the creatures that dominated the sea.
Carmine Moores, a fisherman, was one of the men among the few who still hunted for the mysterious merpeople. Nearly every day of his life had been dedicated into capturing one, proving to the world of the merpeople's existence. He declared himself a Mermaid Hunter; though never have catching one before. He claimed to have seen one, a whole nest actually. Many thought him as crazy.
Carmine also had a daughter, his only daughter. Her name was Annie, born at the end of the Great Hardship. They lived right upon the shore just outside of a small coastal village known as Eskelo. Annie, nothing like her father, didn't take much thought into the merpeople's existence. At the age of nine years old, she was a fair-minded child, and a rather pretty one, too.
Her hair fell in dark, reddish-brown ringlets. Her skin was a nice caramel color, the result of the beating sun's rays. The most stunning features were her eyes. They were a green, like the open sea. Her greatest care in the world was art. Till dawn to dusk, Annie dreamed about becoming an artist. Her little sketch pad was filled with elaborate sketches of what inspired her, a little boy chasing after a seagull or even the waves crashing against a cliff.
And Annie's story begins with a dream.
Another wave crashed into the hull of the boat, pitching it a little forward into the churning, inky black sea. Annie tightly gripped onto the mast of the boat for dear life. All she could hear was the roar of the wind in her ears and the crashing sound of the relentless surf. Lightning flashed across the sky followed by a boom of angry thunder. Annie wasn't sure how she got into this boat out in the middle of the ocean, during a storm.
After a couple moments, the boat finally returned to its regular position. From Annie's knowledge of ships, this little wooden fishing boat wouldn't last much longer in a storm like this. Sooner or later it would be swallowed up by the ocean. When Annie's eyes finally readjusted in the dark and the sheets of rain, she noticed black shapes dart around in the water. At first she thought they were pieces of wreckage or driftwood, but the more her eyes focused, she could make out fins slicing through the water. Sharks Annie guessed. But it still made her nervous. Whatever they were, they didn't look too friendly.
Something else moved out of the corner of her eye. Her gaze shifted to a figure gripping the railing. It was a woman she realized. The woman was young and pretty. She had long curly brown hair the color of cinnamon and warm brown eyes. However the look on her face was one of pure fear. Another wave shook the boat and the woman's face paled.
The woman started to lean like she going to fall, but she gripped the railing and somehow stayed on. Loud high-pitched angry shrieks echoed from the water. Whatever was down there wasn't happy the woman didn't fall in.
Annie knew it wouldn't take much more to knock the woman into the water. She couldn't just sit here and watch the woman die. Slowly, she moved her feet, careful not to slip on the deck, slicked from the rain. When she was as far forward as she could go without falling in, she extended her hand out to the woman.
The boat was yet again rocked by a large wave, bigger than the first two. It took all of Annie's strength to keep from falling into, what would surely be the end of her. By the time the wave had passed, her arm ached from gripping the mast. It wouldn't take much more to send Annie tumbling headfirst into the clutches of the creatures below. The creatures also knew this because Annie could hear them humming with excitement.
Annie suddenly lost her foot hold and was hanging in the air, suspended above the water. The creatures circled below, chanting eagerly. With all of her strength and effort, Annie finally managed to lock her feet back into place. She started to edge forward again. "Annie, get back!" ordered the woman, though it sounded more like a desperate plea. There was something warm and familiar about her voice. It sent shivers up Annie's spine.
The woman gave Annie a long, sad look. It all happened too quickly. The creatures suddenly jumped up and pulled the woman into the water. It was all over before Annie could do anything. The creatures eagerly dived into the water after the woman, going somewhere to enjoy their prize. One still remained. Its eyes glittered red in its skull and it flashed Annie long pointed fangs before disappearing into the dark water.
Annie awoke screaming, on the floor wrapped up in her bed quilt. Slowly she sat up, realizing how stiff her back was. Apparently, she had fallen right off her bed, taking the blankets with her. Annie quickly brushed herself off and made up her bed. She didn't want her father to discover she had another nightmare.
Annie readjusted the room until it was tidy, which was not something often seen in her small cluttered shoe-box of a room. It was merely larger than a broom closet. But it had the perk of being up in the attic, far away from her father and the other inconveniences of the world. Besides, it had a wonderful view of the stretching expanse of the ocean, turning a misty grey in the dawn light. Annie could already tell today was going to be a nice one. She felt compelled to capture it. Like her father always says, 'There will never be another day like this one we are living now. Something will have changed. We would've aged. The sun would've been in a different position. That's why we have to live everyday like it's the only one left, because, truthfully, it kind of is.'
In a hurry, Annie pulled on a white cotton dress, falling just to her calves. Annie slipped on a pair of strap sandals, shaking the excess sand out before putting them on. Sand was a large part of living near the ocean. It coated everything in a fine dust, including food, their clothes, and her father's plush chair seated in the den. It was even edged in the grains of their home's wooden floors. Annie didn't mind it, just like she didn't mind the little blue crabs that nested in the warm, sugary sand, even when they pinched her toes. They were natural parts of the ocean. These little things made up her home.
Before leaving her room, Annie quickly grabbed her special bag. It was woven from sea grass, interlaced with soft pink seashells. It was more than just a bag to Annie. Everything that had meaning to Annie she kept in the bag; pretty seashells that caught her eye while walking along the beach, her sketch pad, a book about the great ships of the sea, and her drawing utensils. Annie smiled slightly before slinging it over her shoulder.
It took Annie three forceful shoves before finally being able to open the door. The door always had a tendency to stick. Her father promised her he would fix it, but Annie knew better. He was too caught up with his "hunting" to be of much help. Most nights Annie stuck a shoe in the door to keep it from closing all the way, possibly locking her in. However, the shoe had managed to slip loose, probably sometime during the night, and the door had closed. On the bright side, Annie wasn't locked in, for that, she was grateful.
Annie quickly raced down the rickety attic stairs, jumping down on the last step, landing with a faint thud. The stairs led into the living room. The walls were painted a bright cheerful blue. A wooden hearth was built into the wall. Many nights were spent around the hearth, watching as flames, blue and green from the salty driftwood, crackled and danced. Her father, a master storyteller, would tell of ghost pirate ships that sailed the seas. His words held a mystical power that drew Annie in. On nights like those, Annie could almost believe magic was real.
There was also a large plush chair. It belonged to Annie's father. Her father would sit here when he needed to think, or when he read. Annie was not allowed to sit in her father's chair. If she did, she would be punished for dishonoring her father's position as the head of the house. But Annie never acted like that. She had always been well behaved. She learned that if she did nothing, her father would seldom pay attention to her. And Annie liked it that way. Anyways, she had her own seat. It was neither as big nor fancy, but it suited her just fine. It was a small ottoman type chair, seated close to the fire.
To the left of the living room was the kitchen, painted the same bright blue, with pastel yellow cabinets. There was also a small wood-burning stove. Annie noticed something over on the wooden dining table. She saw it was a note. Noticing her father's familiar loopy handwriting in dark, bold letters she read out loud: "Went out fishing earlier than usual today. I had a feeling the fish would bite the most before dawn. There are no chores needed to be done today. Take the day to have fun. Love your father."
Annie smiled; she would definitely enjoy the day. She would go to Moonbeam Cliff Annie decided. It was quite a bit of a walk, five miles of climbing up steep jagged cliffs and overhangs. But she had all day, and she hadn't been in a while.
If she was going to go today, she better leave soon, she decided. Annie grabbed a wicker basket and started to pack lunch. A picnic up there sounded like a great idea. Anyway, she would be famished after walking all five miles. She was also bringing her art supplies. Moonbeam Cliff offered a stunning view of the ocean. She would love to draw it.
In fifteen minutes, Annie was out the door. The sun had come out from behind the clouds and was shining down onto the water, now a brilliant azure. The sand gleamed white. Out in the distance, Annie could make out her father's fishing boat, a dot on the horizon. Annie began to walk down the sandy stretch of the beach, leaving behind her small cottage.
Waves broke and rolled up the shoreline. Yet Annie did not step foot in the surf. Ever since she could remember she had been terrified of the ocean. It was beautiful to Annie, to look at. But she would never actually enter it. Her own mother had drowned in the ocean when she was only three. Annie did not want the same history to repeat for her, so she always kept her distance, only living in it through her drawings. It was difficult for her to be afraid, especially since she lived only ten steps away.
By the time she reached the highest point of Moonbeam Cliff, the sun had climbed to the highest point in the sky, and Annie was sweating. She grabbed a handkerchief and whipped her damp brow. The humidity wasn't helping. It felt like she was swimming in a soupy haze.
Annie found a comfortable patch of grass where she sprawled out and gazed at the ocean. The view was more amazing than she could have ever imagined. She could see the other side of the bay from where she sat. The walls were tall and rocky and made a curve out to the ocean. The water here was a darker blue. It was definitely deeper at this point. Out in the middle of the bay, she could see sharp jagged rocks that stood out of the water. Foam sprayed over them as wave after wave hit them. For a split second, Annie swore she saw something dive into the water. She focused on the spot, but nothing came up. Annie decided it must have been a trick of the light.
Smiling, she pulled out her sketchpad and started to draw an ocean scene. It was peaceful just sitting here by herself. Annie smiled and began to sing. It was a song called Blow the Wind Southerly. It was a song many of the locals and fisherman sang. It was one of the songs Annie knew all the words to. In a soft voice, Annie sang the words she knew by heart.
Blow the wind southerly, southerly, southerly,
Blow the wind south o'er the bonny blue sea;
Blow the wind southerly, southerly, southerly,
Blow bonny breeze my lover to me.
They told me last night there were ships in the offing,
And I hurried down to the deep rolling sea;
But my eye could not see it,
Wherever might be it,
The bark that is bearing my lover to me.
Blow the wind southerly, southerly, southerly,
Blow the wind south that my lover may come;
Blow the wind southerly, southerly, southerly,
Blow bonny breeze and bring him safe home.
I stood by the lighthouse the last time we parted,
Till darkness came down o'er the deep rolling sea,
And no longer I saw the bright bark of my lover.
Blow, bonny breeze and bring him to me.
Is it not sweet to hear breezes blowing,
As lightly they come o'er the deep rolling sea?
But sweeter and dearer by far when tis bearing
The bark of my true love in safety to me.
Slowly Annie finished her song. She sighed softly and lay down on her back, and stared up at the fluffy clouds, noticing which ones looked like fish and boats. She even found one that looked like her father's round, squash-shaped nose. She laughed slightly. Suddenly there was a loud splash. Annie sat straight up, frightened. Had someone followed her here? Had they been watching her the whole time? She shook her head. "Silly Annie," she mumbled to herself. No one ever took an interest in her. Anyway, where would they hide? There was no cover except for the rocks on the ledge farther below. And it was impossible to reach it without dying first.
A new frightening thought occurred to her. What if someone had accidently fallen in? It was possible. Leaving behind her spot, she raced to the edge, and looked down at the water below. Waves were crashing against the rocky cliff wall. "Hello? Is anyone there?" she called down to the water. No response came. Annie stepped even closer to the edge. "Hello? Do you need…" The rocks gave way and suddenly Annie was plummeting to the dark water below, shrieking as wind whipped around her. She had a sensation of flying before crashing into the water. Salty water filled her mouth and she rapidly kicked her arms and legs, struggling to get her head above the surface.
It was hopeless Annie realized. She didn't know how to swim and the surf was to rough. The waves would just end up slamming her into the rocks. So she allowed herself to sink, to let the water consume her. She wasn't leaving anything behind. Of course, her father would be sad when learning about her death, but he would eventually move on. Darkness was closing in quickly. Annie would be dead in a matter of minutes.
There were suddenly strong arms around her. At first Annie thought they were pulling her under, but she realized they were carrying her to the surface. Something caught her eye. It was long and silver. It was also covered in shiny scales, reflecting the sun's light. It was a tail Annie realized, ending in two fins. Confused, Annie looked up at her savior. It was a boy, maybe thirteen or fourteen. He had golden hair tainted with bronze and a deep tan. His chest was firm and muscular. His gaze shifted down to her. He had piercing grey eyes, like a storm over the sea. The boy was handsome; no, not boy, merman.
The next thing Annie saw was bright light shining in her eyes. Groaning, she sat up and coughed up salt water that left her throat dry and raw. She was still sopping wet from her near death experience. Slowly, she stood up and brushed the sand off of her. That meant the merman was real? She fixed her gaze back onto the ocean, but there was no sign of him anywhere.
After standing there for a few minutes, she began to feel cold in her damp clothing. It would be best if she returned home and washed up. Her father would return from sea soon and would demand an explanation if he saw her like this.
As she started her way home, Annie remembered her stuff all back on Moonbeam Cliff. With a defeated sigh, she decided she would return for it whenever she got another chance. But she saw something that surprised her even more. Her stuff was there, sitting on the sand. She ran up and grabbed it. How did it get here? But her silent question was pushed away by something else.
There was a beautiful necklace, woven with seashells and thin golden rope lying on top of the basket. It certainly wasn't hers. Was it meant for her? Of course it was. No one would leave a necklace with all of her stuff if they didn't it intend for her to have it. Annie took it and clasped it around her neck. It was beautiful, shimmering almost. Strange, Annie thought. It almost seemed like this necklace was made for her.
She turned back to the ocean. She already knew who it was from.
Thanks for reading! For the record, I do not own Blow the Wind Southerly. I only used it for story purposes. Please tell me if I should continue! Please no venom. If you didn't like it, just don't say anything.