For the first part of this story, see Part 1.
The creatures of the sea surrounded the floating bodies, not allowing them to float away, and they sang to the tribespeople. There were no words to the song, but the tribe understood that the sea was begging them to bury their dead and mourn for their loss, but no one listened.
On the third day, the singing ceased, and the creatures parted. A man rode through their wake, carried by a shark and a dolphin. He was covered in kelp, and starfish clung to his wet hair. Although none had ever laid eyes on the man, it was immediately understood that this was the King of the Sea, and fear spread through their midst.
As the man emerged from the water, the sky darkened, and the creatures began to cry in anguish. “How dare you punish the sea for your own sins,” the Sea King began. “This was not a matter for the sea to settle, but by forcing your will on the sea, you have punished the sea as well. Even as the sea begged you to stop, you continued, ignoring her pleas. Now you will pay for your sins. You will no longer live on the land, but you will be forced to live in the sea. You will spend your lives repaying the sea, and her secrets will never be yours to tell, for you will be hunted and feared by your once fellow humans. They will force you to live in seclusion, for if they find you, they will annihilate you or trap you and rip you apart.”
When he was finished, the Sea King jumped back into the water, riding his creatures back into the sea. The sky remained dark, and the waves began rolling in with the ferocity of a great storm.
As soon as the man disappeared from sight, swallowed by the waves, the people of the tribe began falling to the ground, their legs replaced by tails like that of a dolphin. A great wail went up as the people felt the weight of their punishment, but it was too late for repentance. Their wails turned to unearthly cries and the sound of the wailing reached the surrounding tribes, who were already angered by the loss of many of their youth.
Upon seeing our tribespeople writhing on the ground, half fish, half human, the surrounding tribes were frightened, thinking us abominations, and they began attacking. Many of our people were lost that day, but many escaped to the sea. As further punishment, we found that the sea no longer loved us, and we had to learn how to survive in this now hostile environment.
The tale of our creation has been passed down throughout the generations. It serves as a warning to our people never to trust the landers – our fate is the sea and here we must remain – and to warn against further sins. For the most part, our people have been content with the life we have made for ourselves in the water, but I am not like most of our people, and I must confess that I long to learn more about those that would be our enemies. I fear in the end, my fate may one day be worse than that of our tribe.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this story, or on the idea of mermaids in general! I loved the Animal Planet’s airing of Mermaids: The Body Found, and found the idea that mermaids really could exist intriguing. There is so much we don’t know about the sea. Do you think mermaids could really exist?