Chapter 4

Sunlight was filling the room, which was disturbing Kenneth's sleep. It wasn't unusual for the hotel rooms. The curtains were cheap. Kenneth shifted in the sheets. He kept this eyes firmly closed. The nightmare still in his mind and not quite sure if what had sure happened was a dream or not. It couldn't have been real and yet something was ringing in Kenneth's mind. Paranoid perhaps. Weird things happened in Enti and he wasn't really ready to find out of not yet.

Musing that he was being stupid, Kenneth forced himself to calm down a take a mental stock of things. He was not chained to a metal table, but was on something soft. Possibly softer than the hotel beds but it was also much more likely that he had grown used to the rough sheets. Still, being on something which was definitely not metal should have been a good sign and yet it wasn't. Kenneth could feel the softness all over his body, and there was a cold draft blowing over him which meant he was naked. He knew he had fallen to sleep fully clothed. Breathing slowly, Kenneth tried to reason with himself that he had just taken the clothes off in his sleep. A suit wasn't exactly a comfortable thing to sleep in after all.

Breathly slowly, Kenneth began to mentally psych himself up to open his eyes. The room didn't smell of damp or mould. He could still feel his limbs. Couldn't he? He whimpered slightly and went to push himself up as he realised his legs were numb, only to find he couldn't move his arms. They were tied together.

Inhaling in fright, he finally opened his eyes. Letting out a noise of distress, Kenneth shut his eyes firmly for a moment. He didn't believe what he had seen. It was impossible. Counting down from ten, Kenneth opened his eyes again but the sight was the same. Instead of two human legs, there was a scaled tail which led to a flared out forked tail fin. His arms were twisted strangely and on the end of them were hooves. Not gloves for people who liked horseplay but actually hooves. He was no longer human, just as the Mer had said. Is nightmare had been real. He was now a seahorse.

Kenneth wriggled, his eyes widening as he watched how his now thin skin stretched the bony plates which made up a seahorse's tail. The plates were arranged in rings throughout his body. It felt wrong to Kenneth, almost repulsive, as he could see the bones under the skin. It took an extra moment for the colour of the skin to actually sink in. His skin was now a deep blue, changing into a purple as his tail curled and flared into the tail fin. He tried to roll over but misjudged and ended up rolling off the bed.

He neighed in pain as he slammed into the tiled floor. If he had been human it possibly wouldn't have hurt so much as the bed was human height. As it was, as well as being turned into a seahorse, Kenneth seemed to have been shrunk and the fall was a long one. A burning pain shot through his body as he landed on one of the edges of his bony plates. Hooves tired together and flopping on the floor as he failed to support himself, Kenneth curled up into a ball and closed his eyes. He was wheezing in pain and felt a strange sensation as he began to cry. His tears rolling down his new face.

This couldn't be real and yet, it seemed to be. He was in pain from the fall. His tail was hurting from the weird angle he had landed. Panting, Kenneth opened his eyes again and twisted helpless, trying to work out how to move properly. Only, instead of working out how to move and therefore having a chance to escape the manic who had down this to him, he only ended tangling himself up in the sheets which had fallen with him. Neighing pitifully, Kenneth didn't know what to do next.

"Kenneth?" Endotuer's voice called softly, as he opened the door. "Oh dear," he said as he saw the situation and moments later Kenneth was being picked up and cradled into Endotuer's chest. Gentle hands rubbing his tail where he had landed, trying to smooth the hurting ache. "Shush baby. It's alright," Endotuer cooed, sitting on the bed but keeping Kenneth cradled in his arms, giving Kenneth a proper measure of his new size. Endotuer had been slightly taller than him before but now it seemed Kenneth was about the length of the man's forearm.

"There we go," Endotuer cooed as Kenneth's pained neighing faded into normal breathing. "I'm sorry, I meant to be here when you woke up so you wouldn't panic but someone called," Endotuer explained gently, rocking Kenneth. "Calm down, it's alright. It's alright," he repeated as Kenneth's breathing continued to have a slightly panicked edge to it.

"It's not bloody alright! I'm a seahorse," Kenneth cried in his mind, neighing loudly in distress. The sound only making him more panicked as he realised what the sound was. He couldn't speak anymore. Seahorse couldn't speak. Whimpering again, Kenneth pressed against Endotur and closed his eyes. He just wanted to wake up, this had to be a weird continuation of the nightmare. 'This can't be real!'

"But it is," the Mer gently whispered into his ear. Tightening his grip on Kenneth, the Mer stood up and carried him to the other end of the room. "And what a beauty you are," Endotuer purred clearly very pleased by this fact.

Kenneth looked up slowly from the Mer's arms to look into what he assumed was a mirror. Looking at the image of Endotuer holding a seahorse pup, it was hard for Kenneth to truly believe that the pup he was looking at was really himself. Yet, he knew it was true. Kenneth was now, admittedly a beautiful, mixture of pastel blues, purples and greens. The greens on his heads and neck. He was skinny enough to see the bony plates which made up his body, but not unhealthy. The thing which was fast overtaking being about to see the bones through his skin as the most creepy part of this entire experience was his eyes. Most seahorse eyes were completely black but currently, Kenneth's eyes were exactly the same as when he was a human.

"How is this even possible?" Kenneth wondered, looking into his brown eyes.

"Mer magic. It is very strong, you know. Your eyes will turn after tonight. They take a little longer to be affected. But I'm pleased with how you turned out, even if the side effects are annoying," Endotuer commented idly, rolling his eyes and he bounced Kenneth up and down in a way Kenneth suspected was supposed to be reassuring.

"Side effects?" Kenneth asked, twisting to look up at Endotuer.

"You'll find out tonight," Endotuer hummed, kissing Kenneth's forehead and stroking Kenneth's webbed ears backwards.

Kenneth neighed softly, his heart feeling very heavy at that moment. He didn't push for an answer, not sure if he wanted to know or not with how much was happening. Which is when something else suddenly clicked into the place. He couldn't talk. Yet Endotuer had been answering him. "You can read my thoughts," Kenneth thought with an edge of horror.

"You only just realised?" Endotuer chuckled as he heard that thought, nuzzling Kenneth's muzzle gently. "You did know Mer have a telepathic connection with their pets? It's not a secret and it was in the trial. We're connected now but only surface thoughts, mind you," Endotuer explained, not once stopping his gentle petting. "I'm blocking you at the moment but when you have grown more customed to the situation, I will open the links so you can hear me too," he promised.

"Is that supposed to be reassuring?" Kenneth wondered, looking back at the mirror and this reflection. He was so small. Kenneth knew a little bit about seahorses now, thanks to the case. He knew they could grow to the size of land-horses, sometimes even bigger. He didn't look like he would grow past the size of a pony.

"I don't know. You're the age of a pup at the moment. Twenty-something or other. Only just old enough to leave the safety of the incubator. You're a little on the small side but that properly a good thing too. Any bigger and would be harder to explain why you can't float in the air or do any tricks yet," Endotuer mused. "Takes newly emerged hippocampi a few weeks to learn how."

Kenneth hummed before freezing as the words sunk in. Fear and feeling of humiliation filling him at the idea of doing tricks of the entertainment of Mermen. He knew some seahorses were used as circus creatures. Then the second part of the statement hit. "Seahorses learn how to do that? It's not a natural thing?"

"Of course it isn't," chuckled Endotuer, hugging him close and rubbing his cheek against Kenneth's muzzle in a display of affection for his new pet. "Don't worry. I'll teach you. I've trained lots of seahorses. It's my profession, you know," he said proudly. "And I've won lots of awards because of it," Endotuer said proudly. Endotuer was right to be so proud as well, Kenneth had seen his records. It had not long been the late Beni who had been a winner for Endotuer. He had several winners trained up.

Something dropped in Kenneth's stomach fall. He wasn't just going to be used as entertainment for Endotuer's friends, he was going to be forced to race too. Panic gripped Kenneth and he struggled against the hug, not wanting to be touched by the Mer in any way. He just wanted to go home and burying himself in Rico's arms. Endotuer tightened his grip, almost painfully and made a low growling noise.

"Behave!" Endotuer snapped, slapping Kenneth's rear lightly, making Kenneth yell in surprise, but the grip loosened slightly so it was no longer painful once Kenneth stopped wriggling. Endotuer sat back down on the bed and crossed his legs, placing Kenneth in them. "Now, I don't expect you to accept this right away, but you'd better learn to behave at least! It will will be better for the both of us!" Endotuer warned.

"Why? Why me?!" Kenneth cried, looking up at the mer with tears in his eyes again. Why had the merman chosen him of all people? Was it just because of the trial? Kenneth had just done his job. It wasn't his fault if Endotuer had been on the wrong side of the law.

"Simple answer? I needed a new pet and you needed to disappear. So two birds, one stone as you humans like to say" the merman said matter of factly.

"You won't get away with this! Someone will wonder where I went! Rico won't believe I left him for no reason," Kenneth thought bitterly as Endotuer wiped the tears away and petted him.

"Maybe not Rico, but I wouldn't be so sure of others caring too much. You've been noticed by people, Kenneth. For a human, that is not a good thing. You've pissed a lot of people off. You're a good lawyer, too good for a human. That's not a good combination, it makes you dangerous," Endotuer murmured with a tone of what could only be called insanity in this voice. "The decision was made to remove you. If I hadn't claimed you with the intent to turn you, it would have been someone else," he warned softly. Kenneth felt like he had been thrown into the icy cold water.

Just what was the Mer talking about? A decision had been made to make him disappear?