Queen of the Rock
Down into the depths of the blue ocean Tiané swam.
The environment that has been her home was now threatening, murky and - Tiané
shivered - ice cold too. The bulky tank and helmet impeded her stroke and were
heavy, even in the weightless water. She delved further and further down till
all light, save the tiny one on her helmet, was swallowed up by the water. It
was hard to see or to keep swimming but something pushed Tiané on.
Tiané gritted her teeth as her former
palace came into view. Awkwardly swimming towards the domed building, Tiané
felt as if her heart would burst. She speeded up, ignoring her private doubts
and fears. This had been her home for many years. Penetrating the outer bubble
of magic around it was easy enough - Tiané had retained the blood of
a MerAisha that still flowed through her. She skirted around the large central
dome to a small side one. This contained the Crown and the heart of the MerAisha
Kingdom. Tiané steeled herself and entered the building.
It was her home, as she had left it, though eerily
silent. What had happened to the children laughing so gaily as irate adults
chased them? The soul had gone out of the place and Tiané suddenly knew
why - as heir to the Crown, she could command the hearts and souls of the MerAishas
and lead the Kingdom. She had left and the life had gone. No laughter would
echo in these buildings for a long time.
As Tiané crept along the corridor, her
paws sounded harsh on stones sanded smooth by generations of scaled tails. The
heavy equipment slowed her pace to a crawl and the water seemed to cast unnatural
flickering shadows on the walls. A fine way for a MerAisha princess to come
back - lugging along poor substitutes for things she had given up without a
Tiané at last arrived in the central chamber,
left trustingly open to all, for no one of not of MerAisha blood knew or could
enter this place. They had concocted the shield to keep the evil out; they had
never dreamt that the real threat could come from within. Tiané lifted
shaking paws and let them rest on the Crown. In her mind, she was reciting the
ancient words that, once, might have made her Queen. This crown contained all
of the protective magic for their kingdom - every MerAisha lived and died for
this, for the Kingdom. Inside this crown, the heart, mind, spirit, soul and
blood of every MerAisha lived. It was the truly the Crown of the MerAishas.
Tiané experienced a shudder of revulsion
at herself as she picked up the shining crown, leaving the Kingdom defenceless.
Clasping it to her chest, she exited the chamber. Even as she swam up to meet
her waiting love, she fancied she saw the sorrowful face of her father, gazing
after her. As she swam through the water, she felt it pushing against her, the
MerAishas' emotions fuelling it. Anger, hatred partly, but mostly sadness, hurt,
pain, even pity. They were still loyal to their traitor.
As Tiané emerged from the sea, she heard
clearly the voices of her subje...of the MerAishas calling to her.
"MerAisha," they whispered, over and over again.
Rising to a higher pitch, they sounded more urgent. "MerAisha...Princess...Queen...Traitor..."
The sky was calm - when Tiané had taken the Crown, the storm had disappeared
- but yet the true turmoil raged inside Tiané's heart.
The Aisha was waiting impatiently on the ship,
handsome in flawed imperfection. His eyes fixed on the Crown and Tiané
felt herself both love and hate this Aisha. The conflicting emotions still seethed
within her as his face turned to her eyes.
"The crown, Tia," he said gently.
Even as Tiané lifted the crown to him,
the sea gave a lurch and the Aisha was pitched headlong into the water. Tiané
dropped the crown and swam towards him, supporting him with her body. She managed
to manoeuvre him to the side of the ship, where someone had thrown down a rope
ladder. As she clung to the ladder, she realised what she had done. She had
truly abandoned her people for her foolish heart - she had thrown away the Crown
and forgotten her first duty, to her people.
"The crown!" he said more urgently. He clung
to the rope ladder with a paw and reached towards her. Tiané looked around
for it desperately. The Pirate Aisha cried out.
"You fool! If you have lost the Crown, then you
shall lose your life!"
In tears, Tiané cast around in the water.
She had thrown away her people on an empty dream. She looked deeper, into herself
and the water, and felt something reassuringly solid meet her flailing paw.
She may have turned her back on her people, but they had not given up on her.
Tiané brought the Crown up in a moment
of triumph. The Aisha grabbed it from her. Grasping it firmly, he signalled
to his crew to haul him up. When the Aisha was safely aboard, he smiled cruelly
down at Tiané.
"Shall I leave you here?" he mused.
Tiané's anguish showed in her eyes. She
must leave the ocean now, as she was no longer part of it. A MerAisha no more.
The Aisha smiled and lowered the ladder so Tiané could just catch the
first rung. Hoisting her up to eye level, his cold steel eyes shone with malice.
"Goodbye, love!" he spat and his foot connected
squarely with Tiané's face, pushing her backwards into the sea. Tiané
numbly paddled until the ship disappeared into the mists, taking her heart,
and her people's hearts, with it.
Still the ocean cared for her lost child and
a wave dragged Tiané down into oblivion. Tiané welcomed the offer,
stretching out her paws, hoping to lose herself into emptiness. The ocean was
not done yet. The wave swept Tiané onto an outcrop of rocks. Tiané
felt her bitterness and disappointment overwhelm her and passed out.
Tiané woke up, her heart twisted inside her, bitter that she had survived to
endure more torment. She surveyed the area around her and recognised it with
a pang. This was the place where she had sat, only two days ago, as a young
innocent MerAisha, contemplating the future. Tiané bitterly sat herself upon
Soon, a distant glitter on the sea caught her
eye. Tiané smiled wearily and scooped the object off the floating plank
of wood. It was the Crown. It looked after itself, she recalled. Tiané
set it slowly upon her head. Perhaps, had her head governed her heart she would
now be Queen, to lead her people. The Last Queen of the MerAishas...Queen of
nothing now but a lonely rock.
And there Tiané sat, with straight back
and proud head, Queen of the Rock.
Finally, Tiané drooped and a tear coursed
its way down her cheek. It hung motionless on the end of her chin for a second
then dropped off into the sea. Tiané recalled Manicla's words.
"Find the tear in the ocean...if you ever desire
to change back..."
Tiané slipped from the rock into the cold
embrace of the waiting ocean.
So what happened next? Those who do not know MerAishas, or the ocean, well
say she perished. But once a child of the sea, always a child. And the sea is
patient, old and infinite. Tiané is still searching for that tear so she may
reclaim her place in the world and wear the crown again, this time as Queen
of the MerAishas. But that is not an easy task, for MerAishas are rare and widely
scattered...scattered like teardrops in an ocean.
One day, I hope Tiané will find her tear and solve the bitterness within
her. A broken heart takes long to heal but I hope that one day the MerAishas
will be a legend no more...