UNDERSEA

Published by United Faedom Publishing 2020

Denizen and her pod swam into the warmth of the grotto and emerged from the water. Others moved aside to make room for them.

“Calm yourselves,” Anduras shouted to the assembly. “We have missing fry, but arguing amongst ourselves will not help them.” The room became quiet. The high moon outside the grotto illuminated the anxious faces of the Merfolk.

“Where are the Northern pods?” Anduras asked.

“They are on their way,” Denizen sang into the silence. She was exceptional among her peers. Sought as a mate for her beauty and cunning. Her lovely, thick locks a startling white, braided into countless strands and caught up with pearls at the base of her skull. Many braided tresses trailed behind her, leaving her lush fragrance wherever she traveled.

Denizen was centuries old, yet her jade-colored skin shone smooth and inviting in the moonlight. Her full breasts swelled above the emerald tail that began at a vee below her slight waist, a smooth shimmering green radiance growing steadily darker to the black fluke above the elaborate and lengthy caudal fins in an intricate rainbow of color. Fast and efficient, she and her pod were as close to a martial force as the Merfolk possessed.

“The central pods have lost nine fry this rotation,” she continued. “The Southern pods are missing one, but the Western pods have lost seven. The Northern pods have reported two fry missing and the selkies are looking for them,” Denizen sang to the gathering in the grotto.

“Madrigal is missing since last night. I have searched for her everywhere. We must find the fry. It is our greatest concern,” Cyrene sang from the rear of the grotto. “Perhaps they’re trapped or captured.”

Denizen feared Cyrene was right. The Land Dwellers were hunting the fry. “It would not be the first time the Land Dwellers have hunted our children,” she sang in a quiet, whisper.

“Do we have a zone of disappearance?” Anduras asked. The quiet conversation prompted Denizen to answer.

“The similarity is in age. All the missing fry are between twenty and twenty-five cycles. They may have been gathering somewhere.” A gasp sounded from the pods as they realized the age of the missing fry. Close to physical maturity, yet childlike in mind and experience. Merfolk lived in pods as they had since the ancient time they left Atlantis. Many of the fry had never seen land by the age of twenty-five. They played among the wrecked ships and sunken cities of the Land Dwellers but had no experience with harpoons and nets or other devices of tracking and weapons. Merfolk lived thousands of years. They rarely reproduced, and the missing young would be a strain on the carefully managed population of the pods.

“Denizen. Please form a search party and send out the dolphin seekers. Let us try to find the fry,” Anduras said. Denizen nodded to the chieftain and submerged. The Merfolk, fiercely independent, chose a chieftain when a gathering was called. That chieftain was obeyed until the gathering disbursed.

Fathoms below the grotto, Denizen waited for her pod. Twenty, all her children, their mates, and grandchildren ... the young fry would await them in the grotto. Many of her older children had taken mates and formed pods of their own. Denizen, widowed in her youth, had not taken another mate, although she took part in the spawn when she wanted fry.

Underwater the Merfolk spoke with sound waves like the dolphin and whale. She called the dolphin seekers, and they gathered round the pod. “We are seeking the missing fry.”

“Madrigal ... is my friend,” sang one of their number.

Denizen knew her. “Aileen? Have you news?”

“There is a secret inlet ... where the fry come together.”

“Will you take us there?”

“Yes,” Aileen sang, flipped, and struck off quickly, leaving a whirring underwater spout in her wake.

They traveled at the Dolphin’s pace, although the Merfolk could swim at much greater speeds. Through the darkening water, the pod followed the dolphin.

“What is this?” Denizen asked, and the dolphin sang back ... “It is from the village of the Land Dwellers.”

Ugh. This is why I never approach the land. It became hard for her to breathe, “Turn back,” she directed the pod.

They turned without question, yet they would not go far. A pod’s first responsibility was to the safety of its members. They could hear sounds of distress across great distances.

She rose above the water to breathe with lungs instead of gills. “How much further?” she sang to the Dolphin seeker.

Aileen shot from the water propelled backward, screeching ... “There they are!”

Denizen spotted the fry, hanging in a large net over the water, draped atop each other, drying out. Dying slowly. She watched a man poke at them through the net with a spear as the crowd of land-dwellers on the water’s edge made noises she discerned as laughter. Her ire rose and her golden eyes flamed.

“Danger,” Aileen shrilled and dived.

Denizen did the same, too late as a net dropped around her. Aileen darted back and forth outside the boundary of the net. Denizen paddled the water softly, relaxed but alert. She fleetingly thought of sinking the small wooden craft but thought better of it. She let the net draw until it just began to close. The fry did not stand a chance, she thought.

As the net slowly moved around her, she leapt into the air. A perfect arc out from the open top of the net, over the trawler, and into the water on the other side. She heard a cheer from the weakened fry. “We will return,” she sang to them. Her appearance would give them hope. The Land Dwellers have gone too far this time. She sent the silent message to Anduras as she hit the water. Send the young to safe haven with the nurses. Gather the pods.

Anduras did as Denizen asked. He suffered her wrath once before and had no wish to revisit it. She would never have given a directive for safe haven if it were unnecessary.

“Did you see that one?” the Captain of the trawler shouted. “She were thirty foot if she were an inch. Now ... that’s more like it.” He rubbed his hands together. “Can you imagine what they’ll pay for that tail?”

It sickened cubby. A selkie in human form, he didn’t know how to help the captured Merchildren. When he’d seen them in the net and heard their cries, he searched for Firkin, his friend of the Northern pods. He learned from the fry the Captain had murdered him. Cubby didn’t leave the captives, feeding and giving them water when he could. He took work on this boat to stay close to them, and to kill the Captain for the murder of Firkin.

“I told ‘ya no good would come of capturin’ the Merfolk,” Cubby shouted, mimicking the speech of the fishermen. “That’s her children, they are. They’ll take your hide, they will. Or worse, they’ll turn ye. Turn ye into some blasted devilment. Get me back to shore. I’m a leavin’ outta here!”

“No, yer not, Cubby. We’re going fishing,” the Captain laughed. “Do you know how much I been offered for the tails of the young ones? That she-devil that jumped this rig will make me rich!”

“They are not animals,” Cubby growled, then looked over the starboard side at the churning water and back at the captain. He let his clothing fall as he took seal form and slipped over the side of the trawler without a sound. He swam back to shore under the water. Madrigal watched him. When he broke the top of the water and glanced at the Captain who was frantically turning the fishing trawler, but too far away to stop him. Leaving the water in the form of man, he walked to the net, still unclothed, lowered it into the water, and opened it, setting the Merchildren free.

“Run home, little ones, before he comes back,” Cubby sang.

Madrigal rose above the water. He fed them last night when they had been without food. She looked at him and sang her gratitude. He nodded at her and jumped in behind them, taking his seal form.

Madrigal caught up with her companions and Aileen took them to the grotto, flanked by Denizen and her pod.

“A selkie freed us,” the fry sang to the pods. Many of them showed signs of trauma. Hollow eyed and lifeless with bruises, open wounds, and sores on their fins and tails. The physical signs told of the abuse they’d suffered.

Denizen felt rage well within her as the fry told of their experience. They all spoke at once, easily understood in the language of the Merfolk. Two of their number had been killed and their tails harvested. A great wailing began among the pods. Mourning the lives taken from them.

Denizen spoke and all became quiet, the emotion radiating between them, thick in the air of the grotto. “The Land Dwellers do not remember the ancient time they left the oceans or that they descend from Merfolk. When they took these lives, they took their own, like a cannibal preying on its own flesh.” She spat into the water.

“We must never forget this time,” Anduras whispered solemnly.

“How do we stop it from happening?” Siméon, a Western pod principal asked.

“This is something that must be considered. We’ll gather again in this rotation to discuss plans for the long term ...” Denizen stopped speaking as she heard the whisper of a selkie with the Northern pods. There were many selkies with them.

“One of the dead was my friend, Firkin. I was searching for him when I found the captured fry,” the selkie sang to the gathered pods. “The Land Dwellers will not stop. They have a form of exchange they call gold. Someone gave it in payment to the fisherman for the tails. It is why they killed the fry.”

This idea was so foreign to the Merfolk, no one spoke for their shock. “What is payment?” Denizen finally asked.

“They trade gold for goods like food and shelter. Those who have a large amount of gold live in comfortable houses and eat better food. If a Land Dweller has no gold, they will starve to death or freeze when the weather is too cold, and they cannot pay for shelter ...”

“Incredible,” Anduras shouted. “How can they allow their own to starve or to perish from the elements?”

“Some of them are like us and try to help those with no gold. Others are greedy and enslave their own kind to do their bidding without giving them anything for their labor and punish them if they ...”

“Enough,” Denizen whispered, and the selkie was quiet. “We must consider the danger this poses to our kind and what action to take.”

“Go to safe haven,” Anduras told the fry. “Stay there until we call!”

When the fry left, Denizen spoke. “In the ancient of days, the Merfolk attacked the Land Dwellers and sank the city of Atlantis for this reason ... hunting and enslaving the fry. At that time, we could communicate ...”

“They will not listen to you,” the selkie interrupted. “They will only kill.”

Denizen felt his grief for the death of his friend. “If we attack, we may lose lives and if we do not attack, they will continue to hunt us. Is that what you are trying to tell us?”

“Yes,” he whispered.

“We will vote,” Anduras sang. “A show of hands for Aye.” He waited. “A show of hands for Nay. The Ayes have it,” he said.

A murmuring began. “Those who are pregnant and the aged go to safe haven and help with the fry. See they remain until we return,” Anduras sang.

When those had left the grotto and only the able-bodied and experienced remained together with the selkies, a voice sang from the rear. It was Aileen, the Dolphin seeker. “If you harm indiscriminately both the innocent and guilty, then you are no better than they.”

“Cubby?” Jalan, the Northern pod principal called.

“I am here.” he sang. “I am going with you.”

“Can you point out the guilty for us?”

“Yes. Yes, I know who murdered the fry. The Captain ...” the selkie mourned audibly. “He hoisted Firkin and another with chains and cut their throats. Their lifeblood has stained the wood of the dock,” he sobbed and could no longer sing, so he spoke. “The other fry said they gutted them like fish to see what was inside, severed the upper bodies, and discarded them in the water of the bay with the fish entrails. They hauled their tails away.”

The gathered pods wept, every territory and every ilk joined in ritual bereavement. Denizen thought herself long past tears in this life, but the senseless carnage grieved her spirit and she mourned with her kin. Her teeth bared and snarling, both rows extended, head swinging back and forth. Like sharks, the Merfolk’s lower jaws connect to the upper by flexible cartilage and attach to solid muscle used for an extreme bite during hunting. The jaw thrusting forward and out from the skull as they did now, gnashing and grinding in the cycle of tribute and grief. They swam in a slow circle, contorting their bodies in rhythmic patterns. A dance, their faces humanlike, in a myriad of shades, tropical pastels, and greens, gray and blue. Some scaled and some smooth skinned. Some finned and webbed, some not. They evolved according to their regions, and what they had in common was a spirit. Fellowship of the Merfolk, their first order. Preservation of their kind.

Denizen quieted and swam out of the circle, watching the others. Her broken heart thudded in her chest. The Land Dwellers threaten our survival. We must find a safer way to live, she thought.

Caldor swam toward her, and she watched the sinuous muscle of his body move. He was beautiful. She reached out to touch him, and he understood as he pulled her close. Adult Merfolk had all the advantages of the ocean’s evolution. They were hunting machines, massively muscled, intelligent, disciplined, and methodical. Overtly sexual creatures, physically, the Land Dwellers were no match for them ... But in nets, at the end of harpoons and spears? The Merfolk were too few to survive such a confrontation with them.

Caldor smiled, shook his head and released her. “We are in trouble and we have ignored it for much too long. Their sound devices disrupt our communication and prohibit our use of many parts of the ocean. The waters polluted with their waste, projectiles and explosive devices, underwater vessels, and tubes of poison goo deep in our oceans. Although we are the superior species ... we could not withstand a war with the Land Dwellers. We have whittled our population to hide in the waters still free of their presence ...” Caldor whispered. “We must find a solution this time. No more running and hiding.”

Denizen’s thoughts narrowed with her eyes as the dance ended. “Our way of life is over. I fear no matter what we do ... now that they know us they will never stop hunting.”

Anduras swam to the front of the grotto. “We will reassemble here and discuss the future. Denizen, this is your province. Please offer instruction.”

“I want to recognize Aileen’s statement. She is right. We do not want to harm the innocent. However, experience has taught us the Land Dwellers are superstitious, filled with fear of our kind. We will reinforce their fear and encourage the legends they tell amongst themselves. It will make them wary of hunting us. Be seen ... in numbers unbelievable to them. They will retain an elusive memory, but it will in due course, be a memory of fear.”

A murmur of agreement traveled through the throng. “Caldor, Cyrene, and Anduras ... many a day we have hunted the deep together and learned the wiles and traps of the Land Dwellers. The four of us will take the trawler and not just sink it but reduce it to rubble. Remain wary of their weapons and nets, my brothers and sister. My pod will watch for any that may try to attack the Merfolk. Sink them immediately if they appear aggressive.”

The three lifelong friends gathered near Denizen. The oldest and most experienced of the able-bodied Merfolk gathered round them and the younger round them in generational circles. My pod will recover those aboard the vessel and give them to the families of the dead. They may do as they wish with the guilty.” She hesitated.

“While we are engaged, the rest of you will sing and swim, calling the water, stir the wave. They are spellbound by our song ... Audible and visible to those onshore until the wave crests. Not big enough to sink the land, but big enough to flood the town, cause them to fear what we might do in the future. They will call it a rogue wave in time, denying our existence, I expect. Such is their arrogance. At my signal, we submerge together, split up, and return to the grotto.”

Over ten thousand Merfolk swam through the murky water into the Land Dwellers harbor. Their faces set in grim lines. As Denizen gave the call, they rose. “There!” Cubby sang out. The four old friends sped to the trawler that traveled toward the open sea. The Merfolk sang and swam, and many Land Dwellers gathered at the shore as the waters rose.

Caldor was first to reach the trawler with Sea Witch printed in gold lettering across the bow. He leapt into the air, graceful and agile as he turned and spun, striking the bow with the full force of his tail and splintering the wood. Water poured into the gaping hole, but the little boat did not have time to list as Cyrene and Denizen took out the starboard and port sides. Anduras flailed the stern repeatedly. They continued to beat the trawler into debris. A second trawler advanced on them, then turned, trying to escape back into the harbor at top speed. It could not outrun the Merfolk. Denizen’s pod reduced it to nothing more than rubble, quickly drawn into the emergent wave.

The Land Dweller crews gathered by Denizen’s pod were hauled to the family of the murdered fry. Gnashing teeth and powerful jaws did the rest. The Land Dweller’s bodies were in as many pieces as the trawlers when the Merfolk had sated their grief. They were hunters. Rulers of the seas, and there was an echelon of importance in Merfolk tradition.

“To take life without cause is death. Preservation of the Pod is the first rule. Loyalty to the Species in hunting and controlled spawn.” Denizen recited the creed while they ripped the guilty Land Dwellers to pieces.

The Merfolk continued to sing and dance to the peculiar rhythm of their melody, and those onshore remained mesmerized by the song as the wave vibrated and hovered over the harbor. They watched their fellows scream in torture until they screamed no more. None realized they were in trouble. They gazed out to sea in peaceful silence. On their faces, an expression of rapt delight, entranced by the song of the Sirens. Denizen saw the children on the beach, and she trilled to the Merfolk to alter the song. She knew the Land Dwellers would not have given her people the same option.

The Land Dwellers saw the wave, realized their danger, and ran. Denizen waited until they’d acknowledged the threat before singing out. The Merfolk submerged with Denizen’s call and the roaring wave collapsed and deluged the land, no longer held by the song of the Merfolk. It burst into the harbor, capsized the moored boats, and beat them against the wharf. Water flattened the shops and homes. Under a beautiful translucent sky, a wave from nowhere leveled the entire harbor town. An alert went out and the National Guard moved in. No one had taken pictures, mesmerized by the song. Only the vaguest memory remained to tell the story ... still, there were the tails.

Denizen knew they could trace a large force. They split into small groups as she had suggested. Swam to the depths and took different routes back to the grotto.

Anduras called them to order. “I want to suggest we vote on a return to Atlantis. I have considered the extreme consequences, yet we dare not persist in the reduction of our population, especially now. We can live there shielded from the Land Dwellers as we did in the ancient time. Our fry will be safe, and we can multiply without fear in the undersea. I will take all suggestions.”

Moira spoke up. She was Denizen’s daughter and principal of her own pod. In some ways physically reminiscent of her mother with shock white hair she wore in the same style. She had her mother’s small flat nose, large golden eyes, set wide apart above prominent cheekbones, but her complexion was a deep rosy hue. Her tail a mass of reddish-golden scales shimmering in complicated geometric designs to the myriad colored fluke and caudal fins. She was Siméon’s daughter. The coloring could not be mistaken.

“I have been to Atlantis many times. My mother took us there to hunt when we were young. It is safe for the fry and I for one will be happy to return to the undersea where we never have to deal with the plague of Land Dwellers again,” her voice hissed, and her intense emotion affected those around her.

“We will need to hunt,” Caldor said. “I suggest we train our fry as we teach them to hunt. In small groups, so they will never again be caught unaware by the Land Dwellers.”

“Yes,” Denizen agreed. “I thought of suggesting the same, I trained my fry before the age of twenty. The stories my grandmothers told still haunt me.”

Cyrene interrupted. “You are wise to have done so, Denizen. We have lost two fry because we have not taken the precaution to protect them,” the grief unmistakable in her voice. “We have ignored the danger rather than return to the depths, and the responsibility is ours. They look to us for their protection,” Cyrene sang.

“Atlantis is beautiful,” Moira whispered.

Denizen heard quiet sobbing in the grotto from grieving parents. It was like a catalyst, and the energy of the pods increased. “We must never again allow sighting by Land Dwellers. They should continue to think we are myth and legend and tell fearful stories of the Merfolk. They will forget sooner than we,” Denizen sang.

“I agree. From this day forth if a Land Dweller happens upon us we must sing until they are marooned, or we must take their life. They left us no choice when they attacked and murdered our young.”

“Are there any further suggestions?” Anduras asked the pods.

“Must we return to the undersea? Is there is no other choice?” Bayuk asked. “I have never been there, it will be strange to be ... confined.”

Anduras breathed audibly, “There is no better alternative for both protection and defense than the city of Atlantis and the undersea. You are right Bayuk, it is not the open ocean, but it is not confining. If we manage the propagation of our sustenance, we will not need to leave the undersea for many hundreds of years.”

Moira chided Bayuk, her mate, “You will not feel confined and if you do, you may swim into the ocean occasionally. We are not prisoners, after all.”

“Not at first,” Denizen cautioned her daughter. “First, you must allow the water to clear so you may safely find alternative routes to the ocean.”

Moira nodded at her mother’s wise words in both agreement and respect.

“We must rebuild our population. We cannot hope to give our fry a future in the present circumstances. Are there any further suggestions?” Anduras asked.

Only the gentle lapping of water against the rock of the grotto answered him.

“It is time to vote. Do we return to Atlantis and the undersea? Ayes?” He waited. “Nays?” Not one hand lifted. “It is a unanimous decision for the return to Atlantis,” Anduras called out. “We will vote to stop future sightings of the Merfolk by Land Dwellers using whatever means necessary. Ayes? Nays? The Ayes have it. It is another unanimous vote.”

“Caldor and Denizen have suggested training for the fry. I believe our ancestors taught their fry after Atlantis in an exacting strategy and we should reinstate the tradition. They must know what is out there and what the consequences of being careless are. Not only for them individually, but for the entire population of Merfolk. May I hear suggestions?”

Silence. He waited for a moment and then called the vote. The Merfolk wanted training for the fry. Denizen’s fry were trained and experienced. They knew the story of Atlantis and the undersea. They knew the secret tunnels from safe haven and how to get to the protection of the undersea in an emergency. Denizen’s pod had been to Atlantis many times.

“We have decided,” Anduras sang. “Denizen, will you direct us?”

She looked around. “We will need a chieftain to guide us in the beginning. Anduras managed this crisis decisively. I nominate him to continue through the transition period,” she sang to the collected pods.

“I will second the nomination,” Caldor sang.

“I am a third for that nomination,” Cyrene called out. “Anduras is fair and wise.”

“If you will accept the nomination, Anduras?” Denizen asked.

“I am honored,” he breathed. “I will do my best. Shall we vote? Ayes?” he laughed as every hand in the grotto reached for the sky. “Nays? Another unanimous vote. Thank you,” he sang.

Denizen spoke then, “Kai and Jett, go to safe haven and lead those in the cave into the undersea without reemerging into the ocean. Do not disburse, wait for us in the city. We must close the entrances.” Kai, also Denizen’s daughter, and her mate Jett had two fry in safe haven, and they submerged, happy to be returning to their young.

“The rest of us will enter the undersea through the volcanic cone. The way is perilous, and the volcanic obsidian sharpened and honed by current and debris will easily slice through a careless tail or arm,” she warned in a sing-song tone. “Moira and Bayuk ... Will you please lead the Northern pods?”

“Why do we have to go in pods?” Galena asked.

“We must avoid large numbers. They can trace us in big pods and the Land Dwellers will investigate anything unusual after today,” Denizen answered Firkin’s mother softly. She knew her concern was for her fry.

“Anduras will you and Aetna take the Southern pods in a few hours. Again, please do not disburse. Remain in the city. It will take us all to seal the undersea.”

Denizen took a deep breath. She was running out of experienced swimmers to lead the pods.

“I can take the Western pods,” Siméon called. “Sealy and I have been there many times. He smiled at his mate.

“My pod and I will bring the remainder of the Eastern pods into the undersea and we will gather in the city. Is there anything further, Anduras?” Denizen asked.

No one spoke. “We shall disband, keep your numbers small. I’ll see you all in the undersea,” Anduras sang and swam off to find the Southern pods and his sister, Aetna.

The Merfolk submerged and left the grotto in the North Atlantic for the last time.

***

Denizen brought up the rear of her pod. All Merfolk assembled in the city of Atlantis waiting for her. The first challenge they must face would be the sealing of the undersea to prevent the Land Dwellers' access.

She marveled at the deep-sea coral reefs, prolific on the ceiling of the undersea. She regretted some of them would be damaged from the sealing. The species that make the coral reefs their habitat, require the protection for nesting and propagation, and also for their food. They depend on the reefs. The Merfolk also depend on the reefs for propagating their food.

Much of the vegetation that grew in the undersea were delicacies to the Merfolk. The red algae fields and kelp jungles, the verdant meadows of deep-sea grass were healthful, vibrant foodstuffs for the fry.

Denizen didn’t follow her pod to the city but remained swimming beneath the colorful coral. Watching the tiny fish of every exotic color swim in and out among the lacy strands of white and gold. Rock coral in vibrant lavender and orange, fans of red and shades of blue. An undersea garden, virtually a rainbow of color under the ocean floor, incredibly old and diverse, ranging in size from smaller than she could see to gigantic tree like towers of life-giving shelter in the undersea.

“What are you thinking?” Caldor swam up behind her.

“I am wondering how to seal the undersea without harming the coral reefs.”

“There are only three passages to seal...” he began.

“The dormant volcanic cone that formed the undersea when our ancestors sank Atlantis has many entrances and must be sealed. We can never let them find the undersea,” she whispered.

“What about the plume? If the concentration of the eruption moves upward, we might spare the undersea,” Caldor sang.

She stared into his face. “Yes. The volcanic cone is the only worry. The hot vents on the outer rings of Atlantis should not be affected if we can stop the volcanism in the undersea and minimize the aftershock here.”

“I came to find you because the pods are becoming restless and hungry. They are ready to hunt and explore, but they are waiting as you directed.”

“We must meet with them,” she sang as she glided out of sight toward the city. Caldor followed her over the fabled walls of the sunken city and into the temple mount where the pods awaited her.

Denizen smiled as she watched the fry cavort in and out of the Land Dwellers' temples. “Anduras,” Denizen sang. “I would like time to explore the volcanic cone for a way to ...”

“We tire of waiting, Denizen. Our fry are hungry and we need to find our homes,” Siméon snapped at her.

“We must seal the volcanic cone,” she barked. Suddenly furious and moving toward him.

“Stop!” Anduras shouted.

The disagreement ceased, and the pods gathered around him. “We have lost life and taken life this day. It is a burden, but we will not argue among ourselves. We have already lost too much.”

Siméon knew he was wrong to provoke Denizen. He swam to her and put an arm around her slender shoulders. “I apologize. I know you are trying to keep us safe.”

“I accept your apology and offer one of my own. There is no excuse for anger,” Denizen breathed. “Anduras is right, we have lost enough.”

“What do we need to do?” Anduras looked at Denizen, still unhappy with her behavior.

“I thought we should seal the volcanic cone by calling the magma as our ancestors did when they sank the island of Atlantis and the undersea formed. However, I am not certain about the damage to the coral reef and to the undersea itself.”

“What do you propose to do?”

“I shall ask Oriol and Aneesa to accompany me. They will know more about the effects of volcanism than I do, for they come from volcanic regions. When we have decided, we will gather again.”

“As wise as you are beautiful,” Oriol said.

“We will disburse, listen for the call to gather when a decision has been made. Enjoy your explorations, and be safe,” Anduras sang.

Denizen waited with Anduras and watched the pods glide from view. “It is a relief,” he sighed. “We need time to cope with our new situation.”

“I know,” Denizen sang and looked toward the huge marble structures she and Anduras had explored as fry. Grand statues of long-forgotten Land Dwellers still standing. She swam toward her pod, then looked back at Anduras.

 

It has been a long time since I have invited someone to my pod and taken a mate, she thought

“Would you like to accompany us on our exploration, Anduras?”

He smiled and swam toward her. “Yes, I would,” he sang and reached for her hand.

The End

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