The Piggy Farm: Yuuki'ed: Part 28 - The Piggy Farm

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Yuuki'ed: Part 28 valks become new Chicken Of the Sea masc

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 04:17 PM

Mari twirled her trident around in her hands, wrinkling her nose in a manner that would have been cute had she not had just a feral expression of battle-lust on her face. "I'm ready again... wooziness from its last attack wearing off. But it's still too gloomy down here, I'm not sure which way it went. Sister, you're a much better tracker than I am, at least when we're both leggy. you think you can figure out which way it's gone?"

"It descended into it's lair," She said smelling the blood in the water. "She will hole up there and hope that we don't find it."

Some of the aggression momentarily faded from Mari's eyes. "We DID blow a chunk out its tail and blow up its offspring... maybe it will deliberately avoid us now, and we came just wait in the lake safely now? No... we can't risk it. It will just prey on whoever ends up here next, some poor fisherman or something. It must be destroyed now. Lead the way, sister."

Brianna grinned, "I was hoping you'd say that!" She said. "We must be cautious, though. A cornered beast is at its most dangerous."She then began a slow cruise towards the lair, exactly like a Great White shark on the prowl.

Mari followed just behind Brianna. "Let us do what must be done, then we can work on leaving this lake and getting back to mother's domain somehow.. the sea. With the saltwater, and kelp, and starfish, and coral, and seals and sea lions.." Mari licked her lips and looked hungry. "Mmmm, sea lion..." She shook her head. "Ugh, being a sharkmaid is messing with my head. I like the added power, but miss my old tail."

"I do as well. But we can't think about that now." Bri said, loading her crossbow.
The walls of the lake-bottom canyon began to close in on them as they approached one of its ends. There was a large amount of disturbed debris and floating flotsam in the black waters. something big had been moving around here recently, kicking up the silt.

Mari swished her sharktail back and forth uneasily. She was itching for a fight, but this monster was still large, powerful, and dangerous. "It's close, isn't it?" The water here tasted foul on her tongue, like it had absorbed too much of the creature's slimy poison into itself.

"Yes. She is here." Bri said keeping her eyes open. "She hopes to use the darkness and silt to her advantage."

Mari scanned the area for something, anything, a sign of the beast's current location. The stench of its poison, the glint of its glowing eyes, an unnatural current or pressure wave in the water. There was.. nothing. Or rather, there was too much, the water itself was loaded with the scent of the poison, it was too black to see anything, and the shape of the end pf the canyon forced the water around them to move in unusual patterns. "It's no good.. she picked a very nice place to hide from us."

"Yes she has." Bri replied, slowing her pace. She tensed up and tried to anticipate an attack. "I can't sense her at all..."

Mari gnashed her sharp white teeth in frustration and made stabbing motions with her weapon. "It's still here somewhere... if we can just think of someway to get it to reveal itself... hey, sis, what about you blast parts of the area with your magic or bow? To flush it out?"

Bri looked at her and then grinned, "Good idea." She said. Quickly, she removed the current bolt and tapped it against a gem. "We should back off a bit."

"M'kay." Mari turned and swam several yards further back, constantly looking around for giant serpent-shaped patches of darkness. "Ready?"

Bri backed up until she was next to her sister. She nodded and then fired into the canyon wall. There was a popping sound as water flashed to steam and collapsed into a compressed bubble, jetting to the surface. The water rippled with shockwaves.

Mari frowned and braced herself against the shockwave. She scanned everything around her, but the blast also kicked up a lot of silt too. She kept tensed and ready, but when the disturbances finally died down, things seemed unchanged (aside from the chunk of missing rock). "I think it's not over there at least. Try again?"

Bri reloaded and fired into the opposite wall with the same explosion.

This time, along with the silt and chunks of stone, a long writhing shape disengaged from the wall, hissing and surge towards them with snapping jaws that could bite them in two.

Bri grinned, "That got her attention." She said before darting away from her sister, allowing Mari to be at the front so she could reload. This time, she tapped a different gem. The head of the bolt took on an icy blue quality.

Mari charged forward and slashed with the sharp tips of her trident, spinning around wildy in order to avoid the jaws. The wounds she inflicted did managed to turn the monster's attention from her sister to herself, giving Bri time to reload and aim. Mari smacked the monster hard against the head and then swam away. "Go for it!"

Bri fired the bolt, aiming for the creature's open maw. It streaked through the water, leaving a trail of frozen liquid in its wake. It exploded in the monster's open mouth, coating and filling it with ice. It thrashed violently as it realized that it could not close its mouth.

Mari gave a happy wild howl as she saw the monster's main weapon neutralized. She charged back into the fray, stabbing. However, after a few quick jabs found their mark, the monster's tail reached around and smashed into her. "Gah!" She groaned and shook her head. "I'm getting SO tired of getting hit by that thing!"

"Then allow me to take care of it!" Bri replied, loading another bolt with the same properties. As soon as she was ready, she fired at the tail.

The bolt exploded and now the monster that coated with a layer of ice at both ends. Fear and panic showed in its inhuman eyes. The added weight made it difficult to manuveur its body. Plus, being lighter than water, the ice was starting to drag the monster upwards slightly.

Mari shot forward, and buried the barbs of her trident deep into the monster's side, twisting them around for added damage. "We finally have this thing on the ropes! No mercy!"

Brianna charged in and began to attack the monster's head. She dug her claws in just below the creature's right eye and raked, gouging the eye out. She then attempted to repeat the attack on the other eye.

The monster tried to shriek through its mouthful of ice as Briana blinded it and Mari tried to get at it internal organs. It shuddered and stared hatefully at Bri with its remaining eye, then thrashed its whole body wildly and started swimming up towards the surface, anywhere away from them.

Bri engaged in pursuit, easily catching the partially immobilized serpent. She discarded her crossbow and dug her claws into the base of the skull, pulling herself in and sinking her sharpened teeth into its flesh.

Mari followed the monster and her sister upwards. "Ew, do you really have to go and bite it, sister? That can't taste good." She continued to use just her weapon to stab at it. The monster's movements were growing much weaker with loss of blood. It was still many yards below the surface of the lake though.

Bri pulled a chunk of flesh from the creature and spit it out, "Bleh! As foul as the poison it secretes. Bri then resumed shredding it with her claws.

The monster finally shattered the block of ice in its mouth and tried to turn its head to bite Bri, but she was finally directly behind its skull where it could not reach, so it targeted Mari instead. She gave a feral laugh at its now-feeble attempts to fight back, swimming in and out of its range. It lunged at her and pulled back repeatedly, tiring itself out.

Bri continued to attack, ripping flesh from the back of the creature's neck. She eventually reached bone and the spine, "Sister! Finish it!"

Mari paused for a moment, a more human expression of disgust at brutality and compassion touching her face. "I.. yes.. It tried to eat us, and we needed to kill it to survive. Put it out of its misery." She swam up and stabbed down, buried her weapon deep into the exposed area Bri had created. The monster bellowed weakly, body stiffening with shock. Then it went limp, the glow in its eyes fading.

Brianna released her grip and slowly drifted off of it, "It was for the best, my sister. This monster terrorized and killed many humans, destroying a part of this ancient forest, and meant to spread its evil by spawning. We have done the humans a favor." She said.

"I suppose. At least life will return to this lake now. And with the monster dead, prehaps Mother will be able to contact us again." Mari swam idly in a circle around Bri, staring downwards as the dead lake monster drifted back to the canyon bottom it had first emerged from.

Bri nodded, "Perhaps...We should venture closer to the dam. Mother's link should be strongest there."

"Good idea." Mari nodded as the monster's corpse finally vanished, swallowed up, back into the blackness below. "And even if not, we could still try tearing up the dam and letting the water flow freely, creating an outlet to the sea."

"That is an option, but what of any humans that may live downstream? This lake is immense and deep...Destroying the dam could unleash a flood of untold destruction."

"Aw, can we at least poke a hole in it or something then?" Mari looked pouty as she swam behind Bri.

"Not before I speak with Mother!" Bri snapped, moving to retrieve her weapon.

"Okay, okay." Mari rolled her eyes. "Get your crossbow and let's go."

Brianna picked up her weapon and returned to her sister. She seemed to glide through the water as she swam, moving much smoother than in mermaid form, "I could get used to this...Although I could do without the aggressive feelings."

"I don't know myself... it has its benefits, but still..." Mari looked down at her sharktail, ran her tongue across her fangs, flexed her clawed hands. "I kinda feel that when we're mermaids, it should be about having fun, not about hunting, killing, violence."

"Yea...But I'm sure Mother had her reasons for doing this to us." Bri replied, running her hand down her slick gray skin.

"To help us fight back against the monster.. but now that monster's dead, and I wanna go back to the way I was before." Mari sighed as they finally got to the dammed over area.

"Agreed." Bri said. She looked at the dam. "Well, think we should rest before we try to contact Mother?"

Mari nodded. "I'm kinda tired out from the fighting. And maybe something to eat too?" She flexed her tail and glanced around hopefully for some fish.

"Me too. Hopefully that trout wasn't the last in the lake." Bri replied. "Come, sister, let us use our shark like instincts to hunt one last time."

"Alright!" There was a hint of normal Mer-Mari's cheerfulness back in her voice now that the danger was gone. She swam alongside her sister, looking for fish and humming the 'Jaws' theme.

Bri giggled as the hostility faded from her as well. She then joined Mari in humming the theme as they cruised along, rising to the surface and allowing her dorsal fin to breach the surface, fully playing the role of a shark.
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Posted 28 April 2008 - 04:56 PM

After a hearty meal of several trout and a long sleep, Brianna awoke on the bed of rocks that she had found. Her aggressive feelings were abated a bit due to a full stomach, but she still had no desire to frolic if she were returned to a normal mermaid. She flashed her sharp teeth with a big yawn before using her shark tail to slap her sister's tail, "Wake up, lazy!"

Mari sat up and blinked , looking around in panic. "Huh? Wuzzat? We need to fight again?" She swam up a few feet, scanning the area with a woozy attempt at alertness. Then she focussed on her sister. "Oh.. hello. Is it morning yet or sumpting?" She yawned widely.

"We already beat that worm...It's time to go home!"

The memories of their victory came flooding back. Mari grinned and nodded, doing a little 'V' for victory with her clawed handfin. "So, what next? Try to contact Mother again?"

"Yea...Let's get closer to the dam and try again." Bri said swimming a slow circle around her sister.

Mari gave a yawn and stretched herself out, flexing her tail a few times. She picked up and hefted her trident, then started cruising towards the dammed up section of the lake. "Okay, feeling ready now."

Bri cradled her bow and swam alongside her sister, "I am so ready to go see Mother..."

"Our super happy fun time as mermaids was really messed up this time... we're supposed to be having fun swimming around, teasing fish and humans, not fighting for our lives against giant evil eels. We did enough of that stuff as human warriors way back when." Mari eyed her and Bri's shark tails rather distastefully.

"Yea...We made a mistake and it cost us. Mother won't be happy when we get home."

"I wonder if she'll punish us or something... though I'm not sure how she would. We did still beat the monster and save the lake after all." They arrived at the dam. Mari began idley prodding it, examining the rotting barrier of wood and bones with disgust. "Made from dead trees and dead animals, ick."

"Yea...It's barely holding." Bri said looking at it. "I am concerned about taking it down, though. That's an awful lot of water behind it."

"Without the monster to maintain it, it'll probably collapse on its own in a couple years, less if there's heavy rains. Anyway..." Mari lay her trident down on the mucky dam, and closed her eyes, concentrating. She used her tail tread water, swimming in an upright pose, arms outstretched. "Come on, sister."

Bri nodded and assumed the same position. She took her sister's hands and closed her eyes.

Mari held Bri's handfins and hummed quietly. After a few minutes, the two began to glow silvery, and a sense of warmth enveloped them. Hello, my daughters. I was becoming worried that, despite my attempts to help you deal with your predicament, I would never here from or see you again...

"Hello, Mother...It is good to see you again...And thank you for the gifts you gave us...We were victorious." Bri said with a smile.

Yes, I sense a weakening of the dark magic surrounding that area of water. The binding force there has been destroyed. Well done, my children I believe that I should be able to draw you out of it and back fully into my realm now. Oh, and how did you enjoy being sharks? There was a hint of a chuckle to the Sea Witch's mental 'voice'.

Mari shrugged. "Having the heightening senses, and stronger sense of well, driving force, was nice, though it did make me want to do not-nice things. I think I'd be happier going back to being a normal mermaid now though."

"I liked it for a while...But I too would like to return to normal." Bri said. "And I really want to come home...This fresh water is really starting to bother me."

Despite her not being physically present, the mermaids could somehow sense that mother had nodded. Yes, I understand. Just a moment, let me gather up the needed energies. There was silence for over a minute, then the water around them, already glowing softly, started churning around like a whirlpool, burning with silver radiance. Mari giggled a little and squeezed her sister's handfin.

Bri likewise giggled, but the stopped, "Mother! Wait!"

The motion of the water did not stop, but neither did it increase. Oh? What is it, daughter? Mari opened her eyes and looked at Bri curiously.

"The dam! We must destroy the dam and release the river that had been trapped by this monster!"

Mari flexed her tail so that the tip of it ended up poking her sister. "I though you were worried that destroying it might flood anyone living downstream of it?"

"One way or another, it will happen. We might have the power to help prevent the disaster." Bri said. "Mother...I have a favor to ask..."

And what would that be, child? Mother's 'voice' held a bit of interest and amusement.

"Can you control the flow of the water released by the dam? At least enough to minimize the damage it will cause?" Bri asked hopefully.

My powers over fresh water are limited, and it is also at some distance from the sea, but I suppose that I can try. Mother 'frowned', obviously thinking about how best to accomplish this task. Hm, just try blowing a small hole in the dam for water to flow out, and i'll stabilize the section around it enough so that it doesn't completely fall apart and flood, simply draining away.

"All right...Your help would be greatly appreciated, Mother. I know at the moment I am your daughter and should care little for the humans, but I will return to the human world...And to face a disaster that we may cause would be unbearable." Bri said. "In return for your assistance, I will stay with you for as long as it takes to recover your strength."

Really? Very well then. It'll still only be an extra week or so. What about you? The mermaids could sense that Mother's question was directed at Mariana. "I'll stay too, sticking with my sister no matter what." Mother mentally 'nodded' again. I'm already ready then. Daughter, use your weapon!

Brianna nodded and swam to the deepest part of the dam. She then loaded her crossbow with an arrow that had been touched to the amethyst, charging it with kinetic power. "I hope this isn't too much..." She said taking aim. "Stay near, sister...We might get sucked through..."

Mari picked up her own weapon and swam back many yards. "I'm ready!"

Bri let go the bolt. It impacted the dam and released its energy into the rotting wood and material. Shockwaves rippled through the water and debris clouded their vision. Nothing immediately happened, however.

The blasted part of the dam flared with light, then, over the hole created, a strong whirlpool appeared, sucking water out of the lake, allowing it to splash down out of the other side of the dam. A steady stream was created that began flowing down through the old riverbed that had existed before the dam had created the lake in the first place. There, that should be fine.

Bri smiled, "Thank you, Mother...Now we are ready to come home."

Mari swam back to the center of the glowing whirlpool. "Yay! I want my scaly, finny tail back. And no more fangs, I keep biting my tounge."

Bri giggled, joining her sister and taking her hands. "The first thing I want is a nice big fat abalone!"

Mari nodded and licked her lips. Once they were both close together again, the glowing swirling increasing, pulling their hair around, then starting to actually tug at their bodies. "Feelin' woozy.." Mari closed her eyes and shook her head. The light became blinding and the turbulence became more and more violent. Then the water itself seemed to burst!...

Bri closed her eyes and grunted. She felt sick to her stomach and gripped Mari's hands tightly.

It was dark, and the water they were floating in tasted different, better. both Brianna and Mariana felt a handfin gently pat them on the head. "Welcome back, children.'

Bri opened her eyes and looked. She then smiled widely, "Mother!" She beamed, launching herself at the silver tailed mermaid.

Mari promptly joined Bri in glomping the Sea Witch, who looked pleased, but slightly awkward under the squeezing affection of her adopted daughters. "Ulf! Hello!"

Bri squeezed her tightly, using nearly all of her strength. She then realized she may hurt her mother and broke the hug. "Oh...Sorry mother..." She then looked at herself, "Uh...Don't know my own strength."

The Sea Witch winced and rubbed her sore ribs. "Um, it's alright. You're just happy to see me after all."

Mari also let go for worry of hurting Mother. "It's nice to be back. Breath that sea water!" Mari took a deep gulp, smiling happily.

Bri swam back and inhaled deeply, "Aaaahhhhhhhhh!"

Mari swam around happily, wriggling her tail. Then she looked down at it and frowned. "Um, Mother, could you please?..."

The Sea Witch glanced at Mari and Bri's sharktails. "Oh, yes, back to normal with you two now?"

"Yes, please!" Bri said looking at her tail, "I don't like this grey anymore!"

The Sea witch nodded and snapped her fingers together, making a loud clicking snap, even underwater. "Brace yourselves, daughters."

"Brace ourselves for what? AAAAARGH!" Mari found herself twisting around in pain, thrashing her tail back and forth as it returned to its original state, blue scales and webbed horizontal fluke. The talons on her handfins vanished back into long soft webbing as well. Brianna gritted her un-sharpening teeth as her own shark parts resumed being normal mermaids fish parts. Well, normal by the standards of mermaids.

Bri gently patted down her tail with her handfins, as though trying reassuring herself it was back in its old state. "Mother, why does changing our tails, or growing or shedding them always so painful?" she frowned and rubbed the parts of it that were still sore.

"Yea!?" Mari flexed her own tail carefully, working out the kinks.

The Sea Witch simply shrugged her slim silvery shoulders. "It's just part of the process I'm afraid, as your nature as part-mermaids. If you were full mermaids, or at least changing back and forth much more often, your bodies would be more used to transforming. Oh well, it's not that big a deal, is it? Now, let's see... I got a short version of the events that let up to your being trapped in that lake, let's get a bite to eat, then you can fill me in on the entire misadventure, alright?"

Bri and Mari looked at each other, then back to Mother, and started talking at once. "We were!.. "It started cause!.." They stopped and laughed at themselves. The Sea Witch grinned and patted them both on the head again, sighing. "One at a time, and AFTER we've had something eat, remember?" She swam off, looking back once, waving her fluke streamers at her daughters. "I'm going out for a bite, are you coming or not?" She teased and then shot off at full speed. Bri and Mari looked at each other again, laughed at each other again, and shot off after her. "Wait for me/us!"
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Posted 13 May 2008 - 04:59 PM

...around 10 years after the first, fateful mission to find the Sea witch..

Bri stopped her horse as they reached the top of the hill overlooking the seaside village. She looked at it and sighed, "Well...Here we are...This time with plenty of light to spare."

Mariana, on her own horse, moved up around from behind Brianna to get a good view herself. "Oh yes. No more repeats of last time. I'm sure that finding us as mermaids in the castle library must have shaved a couple years off my husband's lifespan." Just then a sea breeze blew across them. Mari breathed in the salty air, wriggling her legs against the sides of her horse. "Oh, nice."

Bri smiled as the breeze blew. She too took a deep breath, "You know...For the trouble this is...It almost seems worth it." She said, releasing the reigns with one hand and rubbing a thigh. "It's like we're coming home."

Mari nodded slightly. "Well, it IS a coming home for a PART of us of course. I admit I look forward to it, but, well, it's Mer-Mariana's home; Mariana Deschain's home is back with Chris and the kids." She flexed one of her legs and looked at it thoughtfully.

"And I am the same way...But now it's time for the mermaids to come home." Bri said. "Come on...Let's go get our horses stabled for the week."

Mari stared out to sea for a long moment, grimacing at a sudden series of cramps in her calves and thighs. "Geez, it's still awhile before sunset, don't get so impatient." She gently rubbed the sore area of her legs and chided 'herself', then looked down at the village proper. "Looks busier than usual, doesn't it?"

"Yea. Something must be going on," Bri said. "Looks like a pretty big caravan."

Mari kicked the horse into a trot. "Slightly wrong season for the trade caravans to be passing through this part of the countryside. Or well, as long as it doesn't, um, get in our way."

"Let's hope the villagers realize what's about to happen and give us a hand." Bri said matching the trot with Mari.

"Yea. It shouldn't take too long, but I'd definitely be more comfortable without a bunch of strangers around who might, um, interfere." Mari looked for an open area to tie her horse too in front of the inn, but most of the spots were taken. "Dang..."

"Hmmm....This doesn't look good." Bri said.

"Well, as long as the docks or beach is left relatively alone. Heh. This reminds me of trying to find a parking place at the mall. Hey, there's a spot!" Mariana moved her horse closer... only to have someone riding a slightly faster horse get there first. She blinked and then sighed, rolling her eyes. "It IS parking at the mall!..."

Bri chuckled and smiled, "And we say chivalry is dead."

Mari snorted. " 'Chivalry'.. a double-edged sword in my opinion anyway. I like be treated politely, but not like a weak flower. But, anyway... Okay, over there." Her horse trotted over to an open area far from the inn. "The innkeeper knows what out horses look like, so hopefully he can come get them back to his stables, or at least find someone else to stable them for us. As long as we can pay.'

"Right." Bri agreed following along.

Just then, a man came out of the inn and saw them. He then ran up to them, waving them down, "My ladies!"
Sarge says:

Mari grinned and waved at him. "Yup, here we are, right on scheduale! Say, what's up with all these things here?" She waved towards the several colorful wagons. "Looks kinda like a caravan of gypsies passing through or something."

Bri looked down and picked up a bit of distress on his face. He looked at Mari, "My ladies...I bid you to leave and leave quickly! This caravan is ill willed...A man has been inquiring about the rumor of mermaids in this town..."

"Leave? But, ..." Mari turned and glanced at the sun. It was getting closer to touching the sea by the second. She looked at Brianna. "sister, er, Bri, what do you think?"

"I'm not sure..." Bri said looking down at him, "Where is this man?"

"He is in the tavern with an entorage. He asks all the townsfolk about them. Please!" He said nervously looking at the inn, "Go!"

Mari kept looking from the sun to the town. "Maybe we shold just do what he says. Leave him our horses and just make a run to the beach. I don't like the idea of running off by some strange guy asking questions, but time is upon us right now. Bri?"

"I agree, sister..." She said dismounting. She then looked at the boy, "The usual...We will pay when we return."

Mari swiftly dismounted her own horse, looking down at her clothes with annoyance. "Still all in my riding leathers. Oh well, we were going to need to get our clothes all off anyway."

Bri nodded, "Yea...I was hoping to get to change before, but I guess we're gonna have to do it...Gah!" As she started to walk, she reached down and grabbed her calf. "Damn...I think she's eager to go home...."

Mari gritted her teeth and walked swiftly if stiff-leggedly towards the water. "If we go faster, we can probably get around that little curve of rocky bluff and at least be out of sight from most of the villiage before we have to strip and change."

"Let's get going then." Bri said.

They started past the inn. Just as they came even with the door, a tall man emerged. He had a handlebar mustache, a tall top hat, a cane, and was dressed in rather extravagant clothing. He looked around and saw the two women moving hastily by. He then motioned to them, "Excuse me! Ladies? A moment of your time, please?"

Mari spared him a glance but only slowed her walking, not stopping. "Sorry, but we're really truly in a hurry. I apologize."

"Yes, No time to talk!" Bri said in a polite manner.

He then quirked an eyebrow and followed them, "But I only need a minute." He said in a similar polite tone.

Mari shook her head and kept walking, looking back towards the man. "On any other day, I'd have the time to help you out, but not today."

"I insist!" He said continuing to pester them.

Bri stopped and glared at him, "We said no! We do not have time for conversation!"

Mari reached back and grabbed one of Bri's hands, yanking her into motion again. "C'mon, s-sister."

The stranger stood there, taken aback by her harshness. He scowled as he watched them walk off.

Bri looked back and then to the sun, "We're not going to make the beach, sister...We have to use the dock." She said. Her face was changing, becoming more youthful and vibrant as the sun sank deeper below the horizon.

The wrinkles and gray hairs faded from Mari's own face, replaced by streaks of blue-green. "Maybe we can sorta hide under or behind it." She was panting, the air seemed drier than it had a moment ago. Her feet and legs ached with a soreness that had nothing to do with her currently walking pace.

Bri started to stagger a bit as her hair suddenly unwound from the braid and streak with red. "We need....to....Hurry..." She panted.

*There is something odd about those two...* The man thought to himself. He then followed them as they reached the dock.

Mari winced with every step she took, she wanted to rip the leather trousers off here and now, the sensation of them on the skin off her legs was becoming hard to bare, but there still might be people looking. "Bri, I think we'll have to do it in the water dive first, then take everything off before our tails start growing."

"Right..." Bri said. She then started to go for the water. She took three steps and collapsed as her legs failed to respond to human movements. "Uh oh!" She said. Quickly she began undoing her leather pants. "Sister....Get in the water! I can't....Make it...OW!"

The man walked up and then ducked behind a crate. He was watching with keen interest.

Mari shrieked as she felt her feet begining to flatten into flukes and her thighs begin to fuse... while she was still wearing boots and pants. She stumbled around in pain, but managed to throw herself over the edge of the pier into the water. Unfortunately, the touch of the seawater accelerated the transformation. Her hands immediately elongated and burst with webbing, and her legs stretched out and fused rapidly, sprouting scales. She thrashed in agony as she tried to rip her pants off with floppy webbed handfins. She arched her back and gave a silent bubbly scream as the extremely swift development of her tail simply caused the leather pants and boots to completely rip off her body. As her facial scales appeared and her ears, elbows and former rump grew fins and legbones joined together into her tailbone, then pain finally passed and she calmed down, relaxing, panting in deep breaths of water. Opening her brilliant blue-green eyes, Mer-Mari quickly and distainfully removed the remainder of her human self's clothes and ran her handfins through her blue-green hair. She 'sat' in the shallow water directly under the pier, looking up, happily waiting for her mer-sister to dive down and join her.

But Bri never came.

Above on the pier, the elaborately dressed man relentlessly pressed the heel of one of his fine black boots against the throat of the red-tailed mermaid laying in the pile of shredded leather clothes. He gently ran the tip of his cane along her tail, as though examining it carefully like a jewel or art appraiser, checking for any flaws or irregularties. Once assuring himself that it was real and in good condition, he smiled a smile devoid of kindness, mercy, and humanity itself, then looked Mer-Brianna directly in her golden, terror-filled eyes. "Well, hello my dear. I've been looking for you for ...quite some time now."
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Posted 14 May 2008 - 05:11 PM

Mariana continued to tread water with her tail, getting more and more anxious. "Sister? Brianna?" She called up towards the surface of the water, as if Bri could heard hear down here. She rubbed her handfins together in worry, starting to rub some of her scales off. "What do I do, what do I do?" She swam back and forth, in circles, constantly looking up at the pier, getting more and more worried.

Mari heard a muffled scream and heard thumping resonate from the dock. Bits of rock slid between the planks and splashed into the seawater.

The blue-green tailed mermaid screamed along with what was undoubtly her sister's fear and pain. "Bri! Sister! Oh no, no!" She became frantic, wanting to surface and even try to crawl back up to land on her handfins if need be.

The thumping stopped, followed by the sound of other footsteps on the pier. Mari heard angry voices and shouts exchanged by several people.

Mari had finally had enough. She kicked straight up to the surface, breaching up to her chest. She glared up at the underside of the main pier. There were some shadows moving on the other side of the cracks showing through. "Sister! sister! Where are you!? Are you okay!? Come down to me and the water!"

The shouting was mainly directed at the man who had held Bri on the pier. There was a sliding sound followed by a splash behind Mari.

Mari immediatly dived after the splash.

Bri was semi-conscious. She had a large bruise on her neck and was barely breathing. She sank towards the bottom slowly.

Mari gave a yelp that was both happy and worried and dove faster after Brianna, grabbing her unconcious sister and hugging her tightly to herself. "Sister! Are you alright!?" She tried to shake Bri awake. She was crying, but it was hard to tell, what with the saltwater coming out of her eyes just instantly being absorbed by the saltwater she was swimming in.

"Ungh..." Bri groaned. She then took a deep breath and opened her eyes, "Sister!" She yelped, hugging Mari.

Mari happily hugged back with all her strength, wrapping her tail around Bri's own as well. "What happened to you up there!?"

"I'll explain later! We have to leave! He's a nasty man that means to do terrible things!"

Mari nodded. "Okay, okay! We should go straight to mother, we'll be safe with her." She oriented herself, then started swimming out to the pen sea.

Bri swam up next to her, "Uh....Can we eat first? I'm....really hungry..."

Mari slowed and nodded. "We should make it quick though. We need to get as much distance between ourselves and land as possible right now." She began scanning the water for nearby fish or the sea floor for clams and crabs.

"I know...There's a cove not far from here...Lots of shellfish! Let's go there!" Bri said.

Mari smiled and shrugged her shoulders. "Mmm, okay! After you!"

Bri smiled back and swam off for the cove. She didn't swim fast, appearing to be in some sort of a daydream as she swam, staring blankly into the distance.

Mari followed her closely. "Are you sure you're alright, sister? That man didn't hurt you did he? I heard yelling from a bunch of people up on the pier, did the villagers help rescue you from him? That was nice of them."

"Huh?" Bri replied snapping out of it. She looked at Mari, "He held me down with his boot and said something to me...I...I don't....remember much after that...I woke up in your arms..."

Mari could see that there was something missing in Bri's gaze. Her eyes didn't quite sparkle like they should.

Mari swam closer and hugged Bri again. The trauma of that vile human's attack and her subsequent escape had obviously stressed her mind out. "It's okay, what's important is that you're safe now. Hopefully our human freinds from the village beat him up for us." Mari let her sister go and glanced around the seabed for snackable fish or crabs. "Hm, I don't see much here, actually."

Bri smiled back. "Thanks, sister. I hope I never see him again..." She kept swimming, "We have to go around that point to get to the cove...The tides funnel all of the local life into there."

"Alright!" Mari was feeling all bubbly and happy again. They would eat something, then go see Mother. Though they might have to be careful when they needed to go back up onto land and shead their tails for another couple of years if that guy had had any friends lurking about the village still.

They rounded the point and entered the cove. Sure enough, just as Bri had said, it was teeming with life. The two mermaids would feast.

As they swam into the cove, they had to pass over a long and very shallow ledge. The water was barely deep enough for the two to pass and remain submerged.

Mari noted the shallowness of the spot, but shrugged it off as a minor annoyance, too distracted by the free seafood buffet swimming around. "Yum!" She mananged to snag a couple of fish right off the bat, stuffing her mouth. "Dnt y wnt sm?" She asked Bri through the half-chewed raw fish.

Bri nodded and slowly dove. She started plodding around the bottom, presenting only a half-hearted effort at attempting to catch the scurrying crustetians. It was kind of obvious that she was still traumatized.

Mari shook her head sadly at Brianna's weak attempts to catch some fish. "Maybe I should give her more hugs to make her feel better?" She mumbled to herself as she plucked shrimp out of a little crevasse. Keeping a handful clutched in one handfin, she swam up behind Bri and lightly tugged at one of her sister's fluke streamers with her free handfin. "Want some help?"

"Uhm..." She said, weakly pawing at a crab that seemed more than slightly irritated. It scurried under a rock and she sighed before turning around, "Sure....Say...Those shrimp look good....Can I have a couple?"

Mari nodded and made an amused face. "Of course.. in fact, I got them for you, silly." She carefully poured the squirming shrimp from her handfin to her sister's cupped webbing. "There ya go!"

Bri smiled and let one crawl free before closing her handfins around the rest and scooping them towards her mouth. She slowly crunched them and savored the taste. She then smiled, revealing teeth coated with chitin, "Fanks..."

Mari laughed at her sister and backflipped/kicked away with her tail, looking for something else to eat. She hummed to herself, wondering what she, her sister, and mother would be doing this time for fun. Scaring swimmers at the large beach town to the south was fun, but maybe they should do something new instead. Tried and True, or experiment, hmmm.

"Sis, do you think that Mother will teach us any new mermaid magic stuff, like she did last time, after the big dealy with the lake and monster, so we could better protect ourselves?" Mari fiddled with her flukes streamers, comparing them to her sister's. She could never get them to twirl quite the same way Bri could.

Bri watched her sister for a few moments before returning to the task of chasing elusive crabs and shellfish. She picked up a clam and cracked it open on a sharp rock. She then sat and listened to Mari's comment while slowly picking the clam, "Maybe....I think we should ask her..."

"I think it would be a good idea; I mean, I'm still a few lessons behind you since there was that one summer where I decided to go back to Earth for a few days and you stayed and she taught you stuff by yourself." Finally having eaten her fill, Mari lay down on a soft-looking spot on the sandy beach bottom, flexing her tail, fluke, and other, smaller fins on her body contently.

"Well...True. I did learn a few things more than you have." She said. She glanced at the entrance of the cove before looking back at her sister, "Maybe I can show you what you're missing?"

Mari smirked. "If you think you'd be as good a teacher as mother, sure." From her tone of voice, she cleared didn't think Bri had a very good chance of succeeding. She wriggled a little more deeply into her sandbed, rubbing her handfin across her tail, idely trying to remember what it felt like to have her two human legs. Eh, wasn't really important, since she had legs most of the time anyway.

Bri nodded, "All right...First...Let me show you a little trick about creating a whirlpool.' She said pushing herself off of the rock. She started swimming for the surface with her hands in front of her. She then started speaking in the language of the mermaids while beginning to swim rapidly in a circle. Sure enough after a few moments, a small whirlpool began to form.

Mari looked up at the whirlpool with interest. Though small, it was way bigger than any natural whirlpool created by simply swimming in a tight circle could generate. "S'neat, anything else? What can you do with it?" She flicked her fluke streamers towards the swirling.

She began to swim faster, making a large whirlpool. The bottom reached down and touched the sand near Mari, kicking up the sand and pushing water out of the cove. She looked down at Mari and grinned as it expanded. Before long, Mari was at the center of a large vortex. All the water had been moved and she lay exposed on the sea floor.

Mari blinked and sat up, bracing her upper body with her handfins. She curled her tail up under herself and gave Bri (who she could only see as a pinkish/reddish blur on the other side of the wall of spinning water) a perplexed smile. "Okay, but so what?" She slapped the wet sand with her fluke. She was feeling kinda heavy and weighted down without the water to swim and float in.

Bri burst from the whirlpool and landed next to Mari. She then wrapped her arms around he, "I'm sorry, sister...But he wants the both of us." Bri said.

"Wait, what?" Mari started to return her sister's hug, then stopped, puzzled by her statement. "What are you talking about?"

With a loud shout in mermish, the whirlpool collapsed. The force launced both mermaids from the bottom of the cove on a column of water ten feet into the air. The water arced over and pushed them over the beach. It then fell away, dropping the two roughly fifty feet from the water.

Mari struck the ground hard, landing face-up with a bone-jarring thud. Stunned, she simply lay there, gasping and twitching. "Sister?..." she moaned weakly. The sun beat down on her, water was evaporating on her body, and she felt that she may have struck her head on a rock. She groaned and slowly started to flep herself over on her belly, so that she could start crawling back towards the sea.

A net was quickly tossed over the blue-green mermaid and cinched closed. Four very muscular men held the net tight as the elaborately dressed man from the dock walked up. He then started prodding the mermaid's tail with his cane, "Tell me, my lovely...Do you all travel in pairs?"

Mari thrashed weakly under the net, futily trying to escape. "Nn-nnno... help... who are you?" She tried to swipe the cane's tip off her tail with a handfin. "Where is... sister?"

He smiled wickedly and looked over at something close by. "She has done well...It seems that even a mermaid is susceptible to the power of suggestion."

Bri was on the sand near Mari. Her stare was completely vacant as she looked at the man, "I have done what you asked, master...."

The man laughed, "Thank you....Now sleep." He said, waving his hand at her. She immediately passed out, sound asleep.

Mari struggled harder. "N-no! you bastard! how dare youERK!" One of the burly men holding onto her net tugged too hard.

The thin dark-clothed man frowned at his minion and ran a finger along the rim of his hat, scowling. "Gently, you fool! I need them unharmed!" He pointed a hand directly at Mariana and closed his eyes in concentration. "You, too, sleep. I command it."

The blue-green mermaid tried to pull herself away, but it was much too little, much too late. It seemed as though a dark blanket dragged itself across her mind, shutting everything down. Her last sight as she drifted into unconciousness was the gleaming eyes and teeth of her smiling captor, standing over her, his face unaturly shadowed under the wide brim of his tophat.
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Posted 19 May 2008 - 04:31 PM

A gentle hum filled Mer-Brianna's ears as she started to stir from her slumber. She let out a soft moan while digging her handfins into soft sand. Her hair seemed to waver around her as if being blown by a breeze from one direction. Water flowed, pushed from some source that was much like a hose being sprayed. She slowly opened her amber eyes.

Mer-Mariana lay in a light troubled sleep next ot her sister, making small unhappy sounds and twitching her fluke and dorsal fin from time to time. Eventually, the unusual pattern of the water washing over her began to awake her. She blinked and yawn, stretching out her arms and tail. It was still rather dark, wherever she was. "Hey, shishter?" she slurred, looking around for Brianna.

"Uhng....Mah....Mari?" Bri said softly. Mari's hand made contact with Bri's tail, indicating that they were in close proximity to each other."

Mari let her eyes adjust to the darkness, handfin still touching Bri's tail, feeling it's way up to her hips, waist, shoulder, arm, and then finally grasping her sister's handfin and giving it a friendly squeeze. "What happened? Where are we? I remember... OH!" Mari pulled her hand back and slapped it hard against Bri's tail. "You helped the human catch us! Why!?"

"OW!" Bri shrilled, reflexively curling her tail up. "What are you talking about?! We've been caught?! What?!"

Mari curled her own tail up as a defensive measure against counter-slaps and glared at her sister. "You lured me to a shallow cove, then used water magic to sploosh us both up onto the beach where that creepy-looking guy and men with nets were!"

"I did no such thing!" Bri shouted. "In fact, I can't remember anything past sunset! And I don't believe you when you say we've been caught! Look!" She said, scooping up sand, "Would this be here if we were in nets?!"

"Well, we're not in nets NOW, obviously! But we were!" Mari started slapping her tail against the sandy bottom angrily. Swimming up to her full height/length, she still looked at Bri with an angry expression, tail kicking up the sand as she thrashed it around.

Bri sneered and then looked down at where the sand stirred. It had left a void and seemed to shine in what little light there was. Bri swam over and ran her handfin over the smooth surface. She then looked around and saw a small rock formation. She swam with the intention of going to the far side of it and slammed into something with a resounding thud.

Seeing sister smash into an unknown barrier and fall down stunned seemed to instantly burn away all the anger Mari still felt towards Bri at the moment. She shot over to Bri with a powerful kick of her tail and scooped her sister up in her arms. "Sis, are you okay? What happened, what did you hit?"

Bri had her hands covering her nose. Blood mixed with the water, floating around her face before being caught in a current and carried off. She looked ahead and then reached one hand out. She touched a seemingly invisible barrier that was as hard and smooth as polished stone. "I...I don't....know..."

"Hmmm..." Mari set her handfin out next to Bri's, the webbed appendage stopping against... something. She frowned and ran her fin up and down, side to side, then began swimming parallel to it while still touching it, trying to determine how far it extended. "This is creepy."

Bri wrinkled her nose as the bleeding stopped. She then moved above her sister, floating and rubbing the strange barrier. They came to another surface running perpendicular to the one they followed when they had reached roughly six times their length. "What's going on here?"

"I'm not quite sure yet, but... I have and idea. you may not remember what happened yesterday, but you DO still remember a minute ago when I said a creepy-looking guy captured us?" Mariana continued to swim along side the barrier.

"Uh...Yea?" Bri rolled her eyes and flicked her streamers

"Well... WE WERE CAPTURED! THIS IS A CAGE OF SOME KIND!" Mari scowled and kicked her tail, swimming straight up, carefully. "How far up does this go?."

Bri followed slowly. She didn't want to repeat the smashing that she had just experienced. Both mermaids broke the surface. As they broke the surface, the humming became loud and mechanical. Bri winced, "What is that awful noise?"

Mari looked around for the source. "Well, what about that thing?" The single noisest nearby object was a large black metal collection of tubes and boxes a few feet up and in the corner of whatever it was they were in. One large tube projected down, fresh saltwater poured out of it.

Bri swam over and inspected it. She then felt her tail streamers start to be sucked in by some force and darted away, returning to her sister, "It's some sort of...Uh...Pump...I think is the word..." She said, "Oh, sister! What's going on?!"

The necessary human thoughts and concepts finally forced their way into Mer-Mariana's mer-mind. "No! Oh no! Sister, we're in a giant fish tank!"

Bri looked at her sister in horror. She gasped and covered her mouth, "It's....True! This is....My fault!"

Just then, they heard a muffled voice followed by a loud clack. New machinery fired up and a crack appeared above them, allowing sunlight to flood them. Bri then closed and shielded her eyes from the blinding light.

Mari gasped and looked away, down at herself and what was now illuminated by the light: the tank they were in. It was a massive cube filled with water, with thick square glass walls about 50 feet high and wide. The bottom was covered with a layer of sand, and several large rocks poked up here and there, most likely simply as decoration. Peering upwards into the light through the webbing of her handfins so she wasn't blinded, she saw a series of metal bars, a grate hung only a couple of feet above the surface of the water to prevent any escape. The pumping and filteration device clung to one side, many small tubes sucking water in nearby the single large one tube pumping in fresh water in.

Several faces peered into the opening that had just appeared above them. Bri shrieked and dove to the bottom, frantically looking for anything she could use as cover. The tank jolted and started to rise.

Mari watched her sister and shook her head sadly, adjusting her tail movements to deal with the jostling of the tank as it rose up. They were to be displayed, and there would be no place to hide.

As the tank emerged from its storage place below the floor, Mari could see about three dozen men and women watching. One in particular was familiar to her. He was the one who she had last seen before waking up in this place. He watched, hands folded on his cane and a broad smile on his face.

Brianna swam around like a scared fish. She darted back and forth, trying to find a way out, repeatedly banging into the glass sides of the tank.

"Sister, stop! you're just going to hurt yourself!" Mari glanced down at Bri's panic attack in horror, then glared at the man in black who had done this to them.

He noticed Bri skittering around the tank and nodded, "I agree. She should stop before she injures or disfigures herself." He said, raising a hand. Below, Brianna came to a stop. She took a few moments to catch her breath before returning to the surface next to Mari. The expression on her face was of complete calm and her eyes were a bit glazed over.

That dazed and unaware expression on her sister's face was very familair. "You, you've done something to her mind! controlling her! That's why she helped you catch us!" Mari grabbed Bri's shoulder and and began shaking her, trying to snap her out of it.

The man grinned, "Well...Your intelligence matches your beauty, my dear." He said. "It seems that I may have underestimated you since I found that your...'Sister'...So easily willed into my bidding."

Bri gasped and then looked around, "Huhwha?!"

Mari hugged Bri to herself, still glaring at their captor. "It's okay, sister. It was him, he was using magic or something to mess with your thoughts."

Bri shook nervously in Mari's arms, shivering in fear and unhappiness.

"AH yes...Sisterly love...How touching." He said walking up a stairway and standing on a platform overlooking the tank. "Capturing the both of you may yet be a wise decision."

There was something about the way he said 'sisterly Love' that Mari found revolting, but she refused to release her hold on Bri. "It will prove to be very unwise once our mother finds out you've captured us!" She snapped with more courage than she actually felt.

"Mother?" He said, "Well, I'm sure that should I encounter her...Which at this point is highly unlikely...I will be sure to reunite her with her daughters."

Mari said nothing, but the constant, tense flicking of her fluke and streamers gave away her emotions.

He knelt down, "I trust the water is comfortable for you? I have gone to great lengths to prepare proper accomodations for the two of you."

Mari swam backwards, carrying herself and Bri as far back from the man as possible, bumping her dorsal fin hard against the far wall of the tank.

"Please, there is no need to be shy, my dear." He said looking at them, "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lucius Bauminster and I am the proprietor of the show that you two now belong with..."

Mari did her best to bristle at his words (Bri would have done it better, since she actually had spines in her fins). "We don't belong to anyone! You'd better be smart and set us free sooner rather than later, and pay the consequences!" She stoked her sister's hair with a handfin. "C'mon, sis, snap out of it..."

Bri continued to cower in her arms and shaking with fear.

"I beg to differ. You two are the main attraction...The stars of the show...The top billing in my 'Circus of Wonders!'"

"You caught us just to display us as part of a freakshow?" Mari sneered in disgust.

"No...Far from it! You are no more 'freaks' than the rest of my acts." Lucius said with a look of shock. "You are going to be the headline act! Showing off your mastery of the seas! Displaying your skills with your powers over the waters you call home!"

The thought of being the star of a show prickled Mer-Mari's vanity despite her repugnance to being held captive. "But.. I don't even really have much 'Mastery of the Sea'. I just kinda... live in it." And for only one week every two years at that she added in her mind. She still kept herself and Bri as far from him as possible.

"That is why we will rehearse." Lucius said with a grin. He then pointed and motioned someone forward, "But first, we must get you into your costumes."

"Costumes? What costumes? Mermaids don't wear clothes, they're itchy and clingy. They cause drag while swimming." Mari flexed her tail in the remembered annoyance of those instances of her legs growing into her tail while she had still been wearing dresses, or worse, pants.

"Don't worry...I've had these designed especially for you."Their captor said, still grinning somewhat... unpleasantly.

A man appeared on the platform with an armful of items. He dropped them into the tank and then walked away. Another man came up and handed Lucius a device that looked something similar to his cane. "You should be able to determine which is yours and which belongs to your sister."

Mari looked at the items as they sank to the bottom distastfully and made no move towards them. There were several bits of jewelry which sank quickly, and a pair of silky-looking halter-tops that floated down slowly and gently. some of the items had a blue-green color theme, and some had a red-yellow theme.

"Please...Put them on." Lucius said, adding a bit of harshness to his tone.

Mari stuck her tongue out at him instead.

Bauminister sneered and plunged the item he was handed into the water. He then pushed a button, sending a large amount of electricity into the tank.

Bri screamed. Her fins all flared out and jabbed into Mari, causing her to release the reddish mermaid. She then started darting around the tank, looking for ways to escape the pain.

Mari shrieked and spasmed. Unlike her sister, remained in the same spot, twisting and thrashing her arms head and tail around in agony. Blood leaked from punctures in her body where Bri's fin spines had stabbed deeply. "I'MSORRYI'MSORRYI'LLDOIT!" She screamed and dived down towards the clothes and ornaments desperately.

Bri settled down and quickly followed Mari. Although she was scared, she wasn't deaf. She darted in and started selecting the items that were created for her. The top went on and fit her like a second skin. It had a design that resembled scales that shimmered in her color pattern. Jewelry consisted of small gold bracers, a ruby necklace, and a circlet with a ruby in the center.

Lucius grinned and removed the pole. He watched intently as the two dressed.

As Mari dressed herself, she stared upwards towards Lucius with a mix of fear and hatred. Her items were pretty much the same as her sister's, just that her jewelry was silver and had smaller paired emeralds and sapphires instead of a singular larger ruby. The halter top was surprisingly comfortable on her skin; she suspected that it was magic. It still felt really weird not to be naked.

"Good..." Lucius said. "Now let us begin rehearsal. You have a show in three days...I expect you to have it down by then."

Mari ran her handfins over the halter top covering her chest and breasts with an uncomfortable look on her face. She looked over at Bri. "Sister, are you okay now? Er, at least better than you were?" She didn't want another bout of Brianna banging her head into the walls again.

"Yea...I'm OK now..." She said. She looked at Mari and noticed all of the holes in her, "You're bleeding!" She added before rushing over and looking at the wounds.

"I, um, was hugging you to myself when we got shocked. you extended all your spines in pain and got me several times." Mari winced as she fingered one of the holes in her tail. A couple of scales had been shattered, marring the loverly pattern that covered her tail, but the wound itself was sealing up now.

"I'm sorry...I didn't mean to..." She then looked at her outfit. "This feels....weird..."

"Come girls! Time is wasting!" Lucius ordered. "We have much to cover!"

Mari looked up and wondered how they had so easily heard his voice under 50 feet of water, from the top to bottom of the tank. He was doing something with his cane, probably some magic device like the zapping-cane. Thinking of that made her shudder, and prevented her from making another smartaleck remark. "Dammit.. let's go sister. For now at least." She sighed and swam up to begin their 'lesson'.

Bri followed, unsure of what was to happen. The metal grate was lifted off of the tank and a bucket was brought to Lucius. "Very good." He said. His voice almost seemed to echo in their ears. "Now...Let us begin..."
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Posted 28 May 2008 - 04:09 PM

"No...No...NO!" Lucius shouted, plunging the rod into the water near Brianna. She convulsed and twitched while he pressed the button, shooting voltage into the water near her. She screamed in agony for the umpteenth time, failing once again to meet Lucius's demands for the trick.

"I want you to jump and flip TWICE while twisting!"

Mariana was having a difficult time resisting the urge to lunge up and try to rip the bastard's head off as she received the backlash of Bri's zap. She'd only just recently managed to pull the trick off herself, and she was well behind Bri in doing water manipulation tricks.

He released the button and Bri sank to the bottom, quivering in fear. She looked up at him and tried to muster up a hateful glare, but she was too tired and sore to do it. Her stamina was fading due to the hunger she felt. She then heard his voice echo in her head, "Once more..."

She hesitated a moment in an attempt to build up the courage to do it.

Mari swam down after her sister, looking worried and angry (that is, angry at Lucius, not Bri). "Are you alright sister? Er, relatively alright?"

"I don't think I can do it, Mari...I'm too tired and hungry...And he's gonna keep zapping me until I get it..." She said, starting to sob.

Mari hugged Bri to herself and looked up at their captor hatefully. "She's had enough for today! We're both exhausted and hungry. We just can't do any more!"

He stared down at them and sighed, "Perhaps you're right...It's late anyway and dinner is waiting for me. But before I depart, I have to give you names...Although I could easily pick them from your minds, I am not interested anyway." He said with a smile. "And I must have your...'beds' placed in the tank."

Bri buried her head in her handfins and sank into Mari's hug. She felt safe in the grip of her sister, a small respite from the cruel reality they currently faced.

Mari patted Bri's head with one fin and her tail with the other. "What, now he's making up new names for us? Like we're just pets to him.. property."

"You...The blue and green one shall be known as Ice...Your companion...She shall be known as Fire." Lucius said. "You will only respond to those names from now on...Lest you be disciplined."

Mari bared her teeth at him, but said nothing, then continued tending to her sister. "C'mon, sis... you were always the tough one back when we were humans." She whispered.

He then motioned to someone outside the tank. The sound of machinery ripped through the water. A few moments later, two large grey shapes hovered over it. They were then lowered into the tank. Two large oyster shells were placed on the bottom. "I give you your beds." Lucius said.

Bri sniffed and looked at them and sighed. Both were sufficently large enough for one mermaid to curl up inside.

"At the beginning of your act, both of you will be inside and emerge from them.

Mari wiggled her fluke with some distaste at the giant shells. The sand at the bottom of the tank would probably be more comfortable, but then again, in this glass tank, anyone cuold wander bye and see her snoozing. The shell would at least offer some privacy. She reluctantly nodded.

"Now...I bid you good evening." He said, tipping his hat. "Randolph! If you would please feed our guests."

The prospect of food managed to perk up Mari's spirits... a little bit at least.

Bri heard the word 'feed' and looked up. A burly man took Lucius's place, holding a pair of buckets. He then uncerimoniusly dumped the buckets into the tank, pouring the frozen and old fish into the water and filling it with a bad scent.

Bri swam up and then immediately backed away, "Eeeewwwwwwww!"

Mari gagged, but her stomach was rumbling. "It's, it's better than nothing." She swam upwards, scooping up the largest bits in her handfins. "We gotta eat something, Bri."

"But....It's....Nasty!" She said looking at a fish that floated down. She grabbed it and bit into it. "Yuck!"

Mari forced herself to eat a piece. She managed not to immediately vomit it back up. "It's this or nothing at all." She forced herself to eat some more, hoping that it was merely the flavor from it being dead for some time that disagreed with her.

The large metal grate was replaced over the top of the tank and it was lowered into the ground. Bri tried her best to gag down her share of the disgusting meal.

"This is even worse than the time that we were trapped in the lake with the sea serpent! At least it was just an animal. Evil people are the worst monsters of all!" Mari swam around the edges of their tank, going as fast as she could without risking slamming into the sides, anger giving her energy even after the hours of hard 'training'.

Bri finished eating and looked at her sister. She watched as she swam around, "Save your strength, sister." She said. "We will need it in a moment."

"Okay, okay..." Mari settled down and 'landed' next to Bri on her next pass. "Need it for what?"

"Well, didn't we contact Mother when we were in the lake?" Bri said. "We can try to do it again."

"Oh yea! ...I feel dumb." Mari stared around them, glaring through the glass walls. "Are you sure we're not being watched though?"

"I don't think there's anyone around." Bri said looking out. "We can try it anyway."

"Mmmmmmm..." Mari was still glaring through the sides of the tank, trying to spot any possible interlopers, flicking her fluke streamers around suspiciously. "...alright."

"OK...Let's give it a try." Bri said offering her handfins. "Just like before."

Mari finally stopped looking for spies and spread out her handfins, touching them to Bri's. She curled her tail up underneath herself and started concentrating on making mental contact with Mother.

Bri did the same. They felt their minds start to reach out for her. But just as they began to drift into the state, an incredible jolt ripped through their minds and bodies. Brianna's hands locked and gripped Mari's hands with incredible force and she screamed loudly in pain.

Mari was nearly crushing Bri's handfins with her own. She kicked her tail hard, shooting upwards, thrashing painfully, dragging Bri along with her. "AIEEEE!"

"OWOWOWOWOWLEGGOLEGGO!!!!" Bri said, thrashing and squirming.

Mari continued to shriek and swim frantically, dragging Bri along for the ride. They barely managed to avoid ramming into one of the rock formations that adorned the bottom of the tank.

Bri's pain was magnified by the fact she was being dragged around the tank. She did her best to stop Mari by kicking and swimming in the opposite direction.

Mari got her head together and let go, letting herself sink back to the bottom, an expression of despair on her face. "She can't help us, we can't even talk to her, we're all alone."

Bri shook her hands and then sank next to her sister, "We're trapped here...Forever..."

There was an amused bleating noise. "Eh, join the club sister. Once you get into show business, it's damn hard to get out. And even if you somehow get outta your tank there, I somehow don't see you two running very far either." Something stepped out of the shadows, feet making little clip-clop noises on the ground next to the tank. It was a short, hairy ...man? With horns and hairy goat legs?

Bri looked over and raised an eyebrow, "Who are you?"

Mari didn't like how the weird person was leering at her and her sister. She curled her tail up under herself again. "Were you spying on us!?"

The fellow bleated again, like the goat he resembled. "I'm a satyr. Half man, half goat. Or, as some women would say, I'm exactly that same as regular human men! Heh! Vito's the name, and I've been here fer what seems like most of my life. Probably just a couple of years, but they drag, living here." He pulled a carrot out of.. somewhere behind his back and started chewing. "Heard there were some 'new recruits'. How ya doin?"

"We've....Uh....Been better..." Bri said.

"Yea... definatly been doing better than this... Hell, this is possibly the worst we're been for the past several years!" Mari practically growled the words out, crossing her arms over her breasts and keeping her tail as much out of Vito's view as she could.

The satyr noticed Mari's hostility, and guessed the reasons behind it. "Hey, you got nothin' to worry about lady. Sure, I like a piece of tail, but not like that. Besides, I know it'd never work out between us, every summer vacation, I'd wanna go to the mountains and you'd wanna go to the beach!"

Already on edge, the satyr's comments sparked something in Mariana. She gave an angry shout and lunged forward.... smacking her head against the glass tank with a mighty WONK! and sliding down it, laying stunned to the sandy bottom.

Vito took another bite out of his carrot and glanced from Mari to Bri. "Yer sister, the stress of captivity is giving her some anger issues I think. Not that I exactly blame her. Heck, I headbutted more than my fair share of people and things my first month here."

Brianna gave an unhappy groan of mental and physical exhaustion and swam over and scooped up her idiot sister, using her handfins to fan water into her face, trying to get her to wake up.
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Posted 29 May 2008 - 04:43 PM

"Sister....Wake up..." Bri said. She then looked back out of the tank to see that the satyr had disappeared. She looked around for him but there was no sign. She then returned to Mari, "Come on..."

Mari groaned and started rubbing a growing lump on her forhead with a handfin. "Ow... that was... stupid."

"Yea...At least I learned that it hurts." Bri said. "You all right?"

"Dumb goat-guy got me angry..." Mari 'sat up'floating in the water unassisted. She glared out of the tank towards where Vito had been standing. "Where'd he go? Ran off?"

"Yea...He's gone." She said. "I'm sure he'll be back when we don't want him to be."

"Hm" Mari thrashed her tail a little, then shook her head. "Yea, probably." She glanced at the pair of giant oyster shells. "Ugh... you want to get some sleep, sister?"

"Yea...I'm really tired. We need some sleep." Bri said. "I'll take that one over there." She added, pointing to the right.

Mari shrugged and brushed sand off her tail. "It probably doesn't matter." She swam over to the shell that Bri had not indicated and opened it up. It was a little less roomy inside than it looked, but still had enough space for her, barely. She lay down inside and curled up, pulling the top half of the shell down, not quite closed. Her blue-green fluke stuck out of it like a weird tongue.

Bri swam over to hers and found it similar in size. She too was unable to compeltely close it. "Good night, sister..."

An incomprehensible tired noise emanted from Mari's shell, and her fluke twitched slightly in the artifical currents created by the water pump.

Surprisingly, Brianna fell asleep quickly. She had been tormented and pushed to exaustion and now it all caught up to her. Moments later, the shell appeared to be snoring.

Outside the aquarium, a patch of shadow gave an amused bleat at the sight of a pair of giant snoring oysters laying at the sandy bottom of the tank, each with a giant red or blue fish fluke sticking out of it. "Heh, nighty-nighty ladies, see ya tomorrow." Vito finished off his carrot and skipped off.

* * * * *

Mari awoke the next morning in a dark and enclosed space, and panicked for a moment before remembering about the giant shell she was sleeping in. She shoved it open and sat up, stretching and yawning in a lungful of the rather stale water. She peered about, then swam over to Bri's shell ,and slapped it with a handfin. "Knock, knock."

"Mmmph...Goway...." Said the mermaid from within the shell.

"Hmph..." The night's rest seemed to have restred Mer-Mari's spirits somewhat, despite the cruddiness of their current situation. She grinned and assaulted Bri's fluke with her handfins; poking, tickling, and gently tugging on the waving streamers.

There was some banging within the shell as Bri attepted to pull it in. Her fluke looked like a big tongue waggling out of a closed mouth. "Hehe...Ow! Stop that!" Bri said.

Mari stuck her own tongue out at the 'tongue'. "No, make me!" She resumed her tickle attack. The time for fun was now, before Lucius or one of his goons showed up to put them to work.

There was some more laughing and writhing before the shell flew open and Bri lunged at Mari. "Let's see how you like it!" She said with a huge grin.

Mari gave a mock shriek of dismay as her sister tackled her. "Oh no! Not revenge!" She weakly tried to 'escape' Brianna's 'wrath'.

Bri tackled her and started attacking the tail with a tickle attack.

"Take that! And that! And that!" Bri said as she tickled Mari.

"Aaaa! Nooo!" Mari was laughing and writhing on the sand, trying to tug her tail out her sister's handfins. "Gah! Huh, Bri?.. What day is it today? Mwahaha!" She was finding it hard to talk and laugh at the same time.

"I think....It's Tuesday..." Bri said, continuing the attack.

"Nnnahah, no, I meant, how long has it been, since, uh, the solstice, when we got captured? I mean, we only get a week like this together anyway." Mari finally succeeded in yanking her tail out Bri's grasp.

"Oh..." Bri replied, turning and starting to swim away from her, "Three I think."

"Hmmm... I wonder how our captor will react at sunset in four days when his prizes turn back into a couple of middle-aged, if still very attractive and healthy if I do say so myself, human women?" Mer-Mari flexed and rubbed her tail pensively, thinking about her tail splitting into legs, of her sisterhood with Bri fading away. "I hope we're not still in this fish tank when it happens, we'd drown."

Bri stopped and looked back, "Wow...I never thought of that...I bet we'll still be in the tank when it happens."

"When what happens?" Asked a voice from above.

"Uhhhhhh...." Mari looked up nervously, fiddling with her jewelry and halter top.

Bri cringed and looked up to see Lucius. "Oh....Nothing....We were talking....About...the show!"

"I see...Then I take it that you are eager to perform?" Lucius asked.

"Sure, eager," Mari said in a tone of voice that sounded about as enthusistic as someone going to face a firing squad.

Bri chuckled a bit. Lucius then motioned to someone. The tank was raised from its storage place below the floor as another man appeared next to him, "Here is your breakfast. Eat and then we will begin practice once again."

Mari groaned and wiggled her tail fins. "Great... more chunks of dead frozen fish. Well, at least they don't feed us chum or something like that." she muttered to Bri.

No sooner did she finish than the mentioned meal rained down upon them. Bri sighed and swam over to pick up a few pieces. She wrinkled her nose and began eating.

Mari did her best to just eat the fish and mentally prepare herself for the degradation that was to come later during training.

The metal grate over the tank was removed just as the mermaids finished eating. She looked over at Mari and sighed, "Well....I hope this goes fast...I hate being zapped..."

Mari glared up at the water's surface that was both freedom and prison, then swam to meet it. "Probably wants us jumping through more hoops."

Bri followed and popped up next to her sister, "Maybe."

"Today, we will work on your magic...You two will make the water dance for me." Lucius said.

"Uhh, great." Mari winced. Bri was SO much better than her at that... she could barely make bubbles even after several hours of Bri trying to teach her.

"The first thing I want you to do is to make a whirlpool." Lucius said. "You two will do it together."

Mari looked at her sister with a panicked expression. "We will, er, do our very best."

Bri nodded. She then looked at Mari and spoke in the Mermaid language, *I've got it, sister...Just follow me...*

Mari nodded with relief and waited, treading water with her tail. *Okay, I guess I'm ready.*

"Go." Lucius said.

Bri dove and floated about halfway down. She began swimming in a circle with her hands in front of her. She then started to chant in mermish, loud enough for Mari to hear and encouraging her to repeat it.

Mari mumbled the words at first, then got the hang of them, swimming on the opposite side of the circle as Bri. Speaking them made her tail and fins feel slightly tingly as they became more and more familair somehow. *I'm doing! Aren't I?*

Bri seemed to be lost in some sort of fantastic feeling as she spoke. Both mermaids began swimming faster as a vortex formed. A few moments later, they had the whirlpool roaring along.

"Good!" Lucius said. "Now, collapse it as you did in the lagoon!" He ordered.

Mari glanced at Bri with an apologetic look on her face. *I think that part's still got to be all up to you sis...*

*Go into the center!* Bri shouted, diving and launching herself into the middle of the vortex.

Mari obeyed instantly, following Bri's example. *What happens now!?*

*Hold tight!* She said grabbing Mari. She then shouted a single word.

*Is this gonna beEEEEEEEEEEEEYYYAAAAA!* Mari's question was interrupted by the effect of Bri's final magic word activating.

The vortex collapsed, throwing tons of water into the void. It vaulted the mermaids straight up, roughly 15 feet over the tank. Brianna grinned and pushed Mari away, doing two backflips before splashing down in front of Lucius, drenching the man with gallons of water as she dove into the tank.

Mari giggled as she did her own flips and landed back in the tank, but then gave Bri a serious look. *Do you think drenching him like that will be worth it, given the very high odds he's just going to punish us for messing up all his expensive-looking clothes?*

*It'll be worth every bit of it!* Bri said with a smile. *Right now...I feel so good, I don't care!*

Lucius was nearly blown off the platform by the wave. He shook and looked down at the two, "Impressive...Very impressive..." He said with a smile. "I should have expected the splash."

Mari managed to smile herself. *Whoa, he's too impressed to care! At least this time. I still need to practice that myself more though. Think you can teach me a little more tonight?*

*Sure...We'll work on it.* Bri said slowly swimming to the surface.

Mari surfaced herself, looking at Lucius and waiting for his next, annoying, degrading, command. Maybe he would reward them with more chunks of frozen dead fish, yay. Ugh.

"That was impressive, ladies." Lucius said, wiping his face. "Now, let's try a few more things."

"Try things like what?" Mari fortunately managed to keep all the hatred and contempt out of her voice.

"Oh...Your water manipulation...Your...Singing...." He said with a wicked smile.

"And... Anything else?" Mari raised a delicately scaled eyebrow.

"Perhaps...If I should think of it..." He said. "Now...Back to work with you!"

Mari sighed in relief. She honestly wasn't sure what else Lucius could think up to make her preform, but didn't really want to find out. She turned to Bri. "I, I'm ready. You, sis?"

"Let's do it!" Bri said with an unusually cheery tone. She seemed eager and ready to go.

Lucius looked at her and smiled.

Mari screwed up enough cheerfulness (mostly from this morning's tickle fight) to display an honest-looking happy smile herself. She patted Bri on the shoulder with a handfin.

Lucius twirled his cane around, then took a moment to wring some of the water out of his suit. "for you next water trick.. I think... waterspouts. Oh, and I'll be standing further back this time." He stepped back several waters, wringing a bit more water out every couple of steps.

Bri and Mari spent the next half and hour or so learning how to create swirling pillars of water between 10 and 20 feet tall. Sometimes one of them would 'ride' the spout, precariously perched on the top of the bubbling twisting coloums as the other used her magic to properly support it.

Lucius abruptly clapped his hands together. "That's enough for the moment. you've earned a short break.. and I need to go get changed." He walked off, sopping, while Mari and Bri held on to the edge of the tank and watched him leave, resting.
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Posted 04 June 2008 - 03:36 PM

Lucius watched the two mermaids complete their last trick of the day with a broad smile on his face. He was pleased with their work, which for some reason, seemed to go with much less resistance as the day wore on. He pushed them to their physical and mental limits, but they kept going...The red one, which he now called 'Fire' seemed to want more and more. He applauded as they splashed down and resurfaced. "Well done, my lovelies! I believe that you are ready for the show!" He said, motioning to one of his cronies. "Tonight, I shall give you a special treat in your meal."

Mer-Brianna stared at him with a broad smile on her face. Her eyes were a bit glazed over and her expression portrayed hier in some sort of borderline drunken state, like she was carrying a solid buzz. "Wait...Are we done?" She asked, her expression shifting to disappointment.

Mer-Mariana bobbed next to her sister. "I guess so.. I wonder what the 'special treat' is that he was talking about." She was in a similar state, tired out, but with an oddly energized, almost intoxicated, look in her eyes. She ran her handfins up and down her pleasantly sore tail, proud of how well it had held up to Lucuis' rigorous workout.

"You shall see." He said. One of his cronies came up with two buckets and held them over the water. "Now, I need you two to get your rest. Tomorrow is a big day. You are going to make your debut as the headlining act!"

Bri seemed to giggle a bit, twirling and stretching her arms over her head, "Wheeeeeeee!" She said, slowly sinking below the surface and to the bottom.

Mari smirked at Bri and swam in a slow spiral downwards. "Sis... that guy's a bastard, making up do tricks for his and others amusement... so, why do we feel so good right now?" She settled next to her shell-bed, curling her tail up and playing around with the streamers at the end of her fluke.

Bri stretched out and sank to the bottom like a piece of paper, "I dunno, sister...I can't explain it....I feel this surge when I do something that is so intoxicating...I can't get enough of it!" She said, sinking her tail and hands into the sand.

Lucius dumped the buckets into the water. There seemed to be less dead and frozen fish this time and a pair of shapes darted out of each cloud, beelining for the rock formations in the tank. Bri stared and then recognized them, "Lobsters! Live ones, too!" She shrieked in joy, thrusting herself clear of the sand and raising a thick cloud of the material.

Mari squeed like a teenage girl and shot forward, kicking her tail hard as she could in spite of the previous hours of training, handfins greedily flexing, eager to grab some live shellfish. "Mine!Thatone'smine!" She lunged for the closest lobster.

Bri disappeared behind a rock and snatched one just before it reached a hiding place. There was a loud crunch before she reappeared holding the lobster, now bitten in two, and chewing happily. "Mmmmmmm! Fhis is soooo...MMMMMM!!!!!" She mumbled. She came to rest on the rock and took another bite.

Mari's lobster put up more of a fight, snapping at her grasping handfins as she tried to snag it before it could pull itself into a little covey. "Ow, ow, hey argh! Gottcha!" Mari carefully bit it behind the head once to kill it, then tore off the tail and started chowing down on it. "Mmmmmmm..."

The heightened state of emotions enhanced the taste of the fresh lobster for Brianna. She almost appeared to be in heaven chowing down on the sea bug. She made quick work of the first one and then started hunting for the second one.

"I loth freth lobther." Mari mumbled happily through a mouthful of lobster meat. She carefully cracked the thorax and claws open for the rest of its meat. Finishing it off, she discarded the shells and began hunting down her own second treat, swiming in a bit more relaxed manner than Bri.

Mari only saw Bri's tail poking over a rock. She yelped and then cursed, "Why you...! C'mere!" A few moments later, another crunch and Bri returned, "Oh yea...This one was a real fighter!" They had failed to notice that the tank had been covered with the metal grate and was lowered into the storage area.

Mari giggled at the sight of her sister's tail sticking out of the rocks. As she passed by, she slapped Bri's fluke with her own as she hunted. "C'mon, I know you're down here somewhere..." She poked around a different set of rocks. She paused and looked again. A set of nervous flicking feelers protruded from a small crevice. "Aha!"

She pressed herself against the sandy bottom, trying to get down close to her prey so she could flush it out. "Crap.. this one is hunkered down deep in his little hole here." She poked her handfin in and was rewarded with a pinch. "OW!"

Bri propped her elbows on the rock and watched, slowly nibbling on the lobster like an ear of corn. She giggled at her sister, "Feisty, aren't they?"

"Yea, dammit... ow!" Mari scowled and twisted her arm around, then grinned. "Ha!" She pulled her arm back out of the hole, dragging a struggling lobster out with it. Mari chomped down and began feeding. "Mmmph.." she said happily.

"Hmm...I wonder why he gave us these?" Bri asked before she sucked on the tail. "I mean... All of a sudden he's nice?"

"He's not being nice, really... just reward for good work I guess. If he were nice, he wouldn't have captured us in the first place. Or tortured us! This is just to encourage us to do good work for him." Mari munched her lobster and looked up, finally noticing that the tank cage top had been set and the tank itself lowered. The buzz from her 'performance' was starting to wear off.

Bri was starting to crash as well. She started to look tired, less energetic, and generally running out of gas, "Well...you have a point...Wow...I don't feel so happy anymore...."

"Me either... I still don't know why we felt so great after slaving away for the creep anyway." Mari flexed her tail thoughtfully.

"I dunno either..." Bri replied, discarding the rest of the half eaten lobster, "I'm not hungry anymore..."

Mari idely poked some of the chunks of dead fish still floating in the water. "We only ate the lobsters, I guess the rest here will go to waste. Meh, I don't care. Let the filter system clear it out of the water."
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Posted 06 June 2008 - 03:19 PM

Bri looked tired. "I'm gonna lay down..." She said to Mari as she slowly swam over to her shell bed and opened it, preparing to shut herself in. More than likely she would cry herself to sleep tonight.

Mari once again wanted to say something to happy comfort Bri, but couldn't really right now. "It has been a long day... I think. I haven't seen the sun to know for sure, all the lighting has been artificial." She swam to her own shell.

She let out a heavy sigh as she curled up on the shell. She looked over at her sister and offered a false smile, "Night, Sister..." She said in a tone filled with depression. Slowly she started closing the shell.

"Hey ladies, what's up? Ooo, did I catch ya at a bad time?" A bleaty voice spoke from outside the tank. Vito the satyr stood there, gnawing on a large head of cabbage and idley fingering the little goatee on his chin. "Saw your performance out there today; ya looked magnificent. Too bad we gotta pull all this crap as basically slaves here. Used to do it for fun."

Bri looked over, "Uh...Thanks...I think...." she said, stopping the action of closing her shell. "You used to do this...For fun?"

Vito laughed and took a bite out of his cabbage. "Well, I didn't swim around and sing and control water, I play the pipes. The Pan Pipes of course. And I dance a little jig. But it just isn't as fun when you GOTTA do it or get zapped or denied food until you perform it on command." He looked at the mermaids sadly. "Ya probably did all the stuff ya did today out in the sea just for fun, right?"

"Well...Sorta..." Bri replied as she slowly swam over, "We don't do a lot of magic out there...Because...Well...We don't know much..."

Mari nodded. "Yea.. we're.. kinda odd mermaids, and really young too." She flicked her flukes akwardly and blushed a little, thinking out she and Mer-Bri had come into being in the first place. Not that she regretted it of course, she just felt a little embaressed about how dumb she felt she'd been back then.

"Ya don't say...huh." Vito chewed another bite of cabbage and began looking them over more carefully. "Ya look pretty normal to me, and I've know a few mermaids in my time. Nixies and naiads too. Avoid sirens though, they're maneaters, literally."

"You've...Met others?" Bri asked him. "Have you ever met a silver-tailed one? Long silver hair...Strong....Full of magical power?"

Mari swam away from her shell and up close to the glass wall. Despite the unfortunate results of her first meeting with Vito, she was too curious to resist. "Yea, tell us more?..."

The satyr bleated and paused, a thoughtful expression on his face. "Hm, ya know, I never met one like that, but the description does sound familiar. Several of yer 'sisters' have mentioned one like that, says she's really old, like, the mother of an entire school of mermaids in the nothern waters or something. Dat was a long time ago though, maybe, oh, say, fifty years ago."

"She's our mother." Bri said. "She's the one that gave us our gifts...Albeit...It was...More of an act of...Anger than anything..."

Mari looked sheepish. "Yea, I was just remanicing about.. that... a moment ago myself." She patted her tail down gently. "We were being foolish, but if we hadn't then we never would have gotten to become like we are now, daughters of the sea and its mistress."

Vito laughed and almost choked on his cabbage. "Ya mean you're just two human dames who pissed off a Sea Queen or Sea Witch or whatever ya call'em, and got turned into mermaids as punishment. Heh. I heard they do that sometimes, ta make people respect da ocean more, just for a few days. But if they do it permanent, I heard ya completely forget ya was ever human.. and you still remember?"

"Well...That's the thing..." Bri said, idly flicking some sand with her tail. "We were going to become mermaids forever...And actually we were for a brief time...But Mother's grandson interviened and 'rescued' us...But it was not without consequence..." Bri then looked at Mari, prompting her to continue.

Mari mumbled something under her breath, then straightened up and continued in a louder voice. "Sorry, I'm still pretty embaressed by the whole ordeal. Anyway... because we actually were full mermaids for, I don't know, a couple of minutes, Sven, er, Mother's wizard or preist or something grandson, couldn't change us permanently back into humans." Mari looked ill at the thought.

of spending the entire rest of her life on land with legs and never getting to enjoy and explore the ocean almost as a part of it, with her sister and their tails. "So, most of the time we live up on land as humans women, and only come back to the sea as mermaids for a little while every couple of years."

"Yea...Since we were full mermaids, we have to come back...Every two years at the summer solstice...To spend seven days in the ocean as mermaids." Bri said with a sigh and looking sad, "Soon it will be over...And we never made it home..."

"I don't relish the thought of turning back into a normal, non-breathing-under-water human woman in a few days still trapped in a tank of deep water covered with a metal grill, I can tell you that." Mari looked up at the top of the tank unhappily.

Vito looked at the carefully, then shook his head and took a bite out of his diminishing handful or cabbage. "Yer in a pickle, to be sure. Never heard a tale quite like that. Hmmm. Hey." He pointed at their tails. "Were those as shiny and sparkly looking last night? you scrub them down clean, or somethin?"

Bri looked down at her tail. It indeed looked a little more vivid and colorful than she was used to. "Well...No...I've never...It's never looked that good..." She then rubbed it. It felt smooth and slightly different to the touch, as if the scales were strengthening or something.

Mari looked down at herself in puzzlement, flexing her tail. "Huh. That's funny. you'd think that after a couple days stuck in a giant fish tank instead of being out in the open ocean, that our scales would get dull, not develop this nice shimmer to them."

"Yea...Maybe it's something he's feeding us? Or something in the water?" Bri said looking at her hands. The scales there too looked shinier.

Mari stuck her tongue out. "Stale water, and chunks of dead frozen fish? I seriously doubt that. Still.. dunno what it could be."

Bri looked back at Vito, "You said you've known a couple of mermaids. Do you have any idea?"

Vito waved her off. "Ya, I'm thinkin, i'm thinkin... huh. Ya know, before, your tails didn't look as vibrant to me as most of the others mermaids I knew.. I took it to be bad living conditions... but now, havin' them start looking better now, that's don't make sense. Course, since yer not like normal mermaids..."

Mari swam up to her full height/length and curl up on her herself, examing her tail and fins. "Huh... it all looks a bit shinier than before. Some of the little side fins look stronger too." She swam over to her sister and poked and prodded her tail and fins. "I think yours is more than mine though, sis. Scales and stuff look prettier and stronger and stuff. Huh."

Bri watched her sister poke around her tail and fins. "What could it mean?" Bri asked. "Well...Maybe we should wait until morning...When the light is a bit better."

Vito bleated and shrugged, finishing off his cabbage. "Morning, eh, alright. Hope whatever condition ya got ain't terminal or nothin. Look, I'll think about all what ya told me, see if I can figure somethin out. No promises, but maybe I can put my hoof on yer problem." He pawed the ground with a hoof, looked around nervously at the shadows, then trotted off.

Bri tried to follow his gaze. Somewhere deep within her subconscious, she read his actions as nervous about something. She tried to see, but the darkness along with the light in their tank was too much to overcome. She then looked at Mari, "Well, now all we can do is hope he can help us."

Mari rubbed her handfins together and sighed. "you know, I thought that we'd retired from having adventures as humans and were supposed to look forward to being mermaids as a sort of vacation." She ran a hand along the inner surface of their tank. "..it seems not to be so though, huh?"

"I know what you mean." Bri replied, "If this is a vacation, this is the equivalent to going to your grandmother's house where everything smells like mothballs and she doesn't even have cable TV." She said with a bit of a joking grin.

"And grandmother has been replaced bye a giant evil wolf dressed in her clothes." Mari swam into her shell and prepared to close it on herself. "Have a good night sister.. as good as possible considering the circumstances at least."

"Thank you." Bri said. Before Mari could close her shell, she showed a quick burst of speed and grappled Mari in a huge hug.

"OoF! Ha!" Mari hugged back, wiggling her tail happily. "Thanks.. I needed that."

"So did I..." Bri said with a smile. The red mermaid broke the hug, "Good night, sister."

"Night.." The blue-green mermaid sighed, looked at her sister, looked up at the grate keeping them penned in, and closed her shell.

Bri swam over to her shell, looking out of the tank hoping to see any movement. Deep inside, she prayed that it would be her human husband...Well, werewolf husband...Who had this uncanny knack for knowing she was in trouble and bailing her out. She stared as she curled up in her shell and closed it.
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Posted 17 June 2008 - 03:21 PM

He stood on the platform that was over the tank staring down into the salt water, specifically at one of the shells. It was dark and the pair of mermaids slept inside, occasionally twitching their tails that hung out. He had lovely prizes here...Something he had spent years trying to acquire. He wasn't about to lose them, either. The information that his cronie had told him, things that were overheard between the mermaids and the satyr, needed to be verified. If it were true that these women would return to human form in a few days, it would throw everything he had worked for away. He needed more details on them...Who they were...Where they came from...How did they become mermaids with such special considerations? He must know. He then closed his eyes and focused on the shell with the blue-green mermaid...The one he had named Ice...Calling to her...

Mari slowly roused herself from her sleep, yawning in the tank water and smacking her mouth at its unpleasant semi-stale taste. There was a tickle, an itchiness at the back of her head, her mind. She pushed her shell open and looked out. It was very dark out right not, there were only a few torches lit far down a nearby corridor. She guessed that it was night outside, she hadn't actually seen the sun since she and her sister had been captured, they'd been keep indorrs the entire time. Thinking of Bri, she looked over at her sister's 'bed' and giggled at the sight of the giant oyster shell with the big red fish fluke sticking out like a tongue. "Heh. Do I look that silly when I'm alseep? I bet I do." The odd tickle persisted. She frowned, scratched the back of her head with a handfin, and started swimming slowly upwards to the top of the tank. She wasn't sure the reason, but she wanted to go up there. She was still rather tired, and kicked her tail lazily as she asscended. Her head broke the surface, and she looked around blinking.

"Good evening." The smooth male voice said as she popped up. "I hope you are resting comfortably?"

"No, I was resting comfortably, but then..." In her slightly befuddled state, Mari didn't immediately recognize the voice of her captor, and when she did, she cringed. "What do you want?"

"Just to have a little conversation is all..." He said with a smile. "I want to know more about my two stars."

"Oh, um..." Mari looked and felt unnerved and backed away a little bit, treading water with her tail. She suspected that if she just tried to flee she would get zapped. "Like, what do you want to know?"

"Well...Just a couple of things..." He said sitting down and dangling his feet into the water. "Come to me..." He stared her in the eye, pushing his power of the mind into her. His voice started to echo in her ears, attempting to command her closer.

Mari did swim a little closer, partially due to him 'pushing' her mind, and partially just because she was distracted by the sight of human feet. As always, it weirded her out a little to think that she usually was a human with split legs and those strange things at the end of them rather than her beautiful tail. She remained nervous though. " What's 'just a couple of things'?"

"Like...Who you really are..." He said, patting the platform, "Come here." His voice drowned out all other sounds and her vision seemed to focus on him...Everything else started to fade. He worked his way deeped into her mind, taking control.

Mari gave an unhappy, scared groan as she felt something.. let go. She was hyperventilating, mind so fuzzy, so faded. "Whazzizz?.."

He reached down, motioning her forward, "I won't hurt you...I only wish to know more..." He said, pulling her closer.

A shudder ran through Mari's body, from head to fluke streamers. She made another quite, terrified noise, but found herself unable to pull away from him. He touched her head as soon as he could. To Mari, it felt like thousands of threads wrapped around her mind, bringing her under his complete control. "Now then...Tell me your real name..."

Name, name? She didn't have a name, did she? She was her Mother's Daughter, her Sister's Sister, she was... in her mind, Lucius' threads of control reached in and found a thought like a tiny glowing pearl, another mind, another person, suppressed and sleeping. Touched, the person inside roused, and new/old thoughts and feelings became avaialbe to the mermaid. "Mari... Mariana Markenheim-Deschain."

He looked puzzled...There were two consciousnesses inside her...The mermaid and the human. He then focused again, "You are two beings...How is this possible?"

Mer-Mari blinked and shook her head slightly. "Mother, I guess. She made me from ...me. I mean, My sister and I... Briana and I... years ago, we went to the ocean searching for something... we met the Sea witch, and made her angry... so she turned us into, well, us." She frowned and swished her tail around, remembering the pain of the first time it grew from her legs.

"So you were once human?'

"Yes, and more and um, huh..." Mari blinked. She remembered back, being a duchess, mother, wife, lover, valkyrie warrior. Before all that, she recalled being a skinny little teenage boy, but somehow those last memories were especially blurred. She remembered what she'd experienced back then, but her mental self-image was that of the tall girl she'd become and spend the rest of her life as. "Yes."

He nodded and looked at her, "Is it true you will return to human form?"

"Yes... in a few days. Mother's Daughter's Son made a deal, and forced Mother to change us mostly back into humans. But every couple of years, we have to go back and be her daughters again for a week." Her head still fuzzy, Mari vaguely wondered how much of her mind he was reading directly, and managed to blush in anger and embaressment.

"I see..." He said. Lucius then examined her, "Your scales...They seem more vivid than before when I first captured you...Explain."

Mari opened and closed her mouth. She paused, then opened her mouth again. "I don't know. I had thought that being stuck in a tank with recycled water and a restricted diet would dull them, not brighten them. Sister's, Brianna's, are even shinier."

"Hmm..." He said. "Is there no way to stop your return to human form?"

"Not that I know." The idea of not having to return to human form, of being able to stay as a mermaid, brought mixed feelings; she could stay in the ocean and be young and play with her sister forever! and never be with her husband and children on land ever again... The emotional conflict between her human and mermaid personas was begining to cause her pain. She moaned and shook her head.

He looked disappointed, "I see..." Lucius replied, "Tell me of your human life..."

Mari stilled and focussed, her human side and its memories coming to the forefront. She mentioned being the youngest of three children from a different world, small and weak (she managed not to mention her gender at that age though). She told about Loki picking her and others to become a valkyrie, tall powerful and beautiful. Of battles and adventures, then eventually retiring, marrying, having kids.

Lucius seemed astounded at her story. He became slightly concerned when she mentioned the item about marrying the Duke. He had a duchess here...If he came looking for her... "Thank you for sharing that with me, Mariana...Now...You will retrieve your sister..."

Mari nodded sleepily, completely under his control. She dived and slowly swam to the bottom of the tank, and began slapping Briana's shell with her handfins. "Sister, wake up."

There was a sharp snore followed by a mumble. The tail sticking out of the shell stirred slightly before it opened. A groggy Brianna looked at Mari, "Whawhantsis?" she muttered.

"He wants to see you." Mari said simply, looking confused and tugging at some of the jewelry Lucius had given them on their first day. Her fluke flicked back and forth idly. Bri noted that Mari wasn't really looking at her so much as just in her direction, eyes half-closed and unblinking.

"Huh?" She said looking at her confused, "Sister, you...all right?"

Mari shrugged noncommitly, but her fluke and the small fins along her arms and tail went stiff. "I guess so."

Bri swam out and looked carefully at her. Just as she approached, she felt the same tugging that Mari had felt earlier.

Bring her! Lucius ordered Mari.

Mari hesistated a moment, then swam up close to her sister, and took her handfin in her own, then started swimming upwards, a dumb grin on her face.

Bri followed, a dumbfounded look on her face. She was pulled to the surface and then looked at Mari, "Hey! What are....Oh...It's you!"

Lucius smiled and then looked at Mari, "Thank you...Now...When you awaken, you will answer only to the name of Ice. The name Mariana has no more meaning to you...." He said.

"What are you doing!" Bri said. She moved to Mari and attempted to grab her, but froze when he looked at her. She tried to squirm free but he was holding her in a mental grip.

Lucius then said to Mari, "Return to your shell and sleep. Forgot that we ever spoke tonight"

Mari left go of Bri and started swimming back down to her 'bed', taking only one last glance back up towards her sister and Lucius, before going back into her shell and curling up in it and falling asleep.
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Posted 09 July 2008 - 04:10 PM

Mariana yawned and dragged herself out of her 'bed', stretching her arms and tail. She glanced over at her sister's 'bed'. "Well, another fine day trapped in a giant fish tank, just great." She swam over and lightly rapped a fist against the giant clamshell with the red fluke sticking out. "Waky-waky!"

The shell opened slowly and Mari was met by a glaring stare, "Do you delight in waking me up?" Bri asked, slapping her tail in an irritated manner.

"Yes, yes I do." Mari grinned and swam up and over Bri, flicking her fluke so that its long streamers batted across Bri's face. Then she turned around and sighed. "Got to find what joys we can, given our circumstances."

Bri swatted the streamers away and flopped back into the shell. "I'd rather just sleep it away..."

She then looked at Mari, "So...What should we do first? It's not like we can do much in this glass box with a metal lid over it..."

Mari tugged at her jewelry and halter-top. "We're probably just gonna swim around in here and look pretty for the yokels who pay to see, with a few jumping and diving tricks, like those dolphins at Sea world."

Bri slid from her shell over to the glass wall. She put her hand on it, "But you know...I've never felt better doing it...Something is making it fun..."

"Yea.. funny... Weirdly, I do enjoy it, more so than I think I should be. I mean, I think it would be funner if we weren't getting shocked each time we mess up of course! The idea of showing off to humans is actually exciting in itself." Mari swam in a circle around Bri, looking confused.

Bri glanced over at her, "Do you think it means something?"

"Maybe." Mari curled her tail and ran her handfins along it. It was glosier and brighter than normal. "And what's up with our tails? They look great. I mean, i know they're awesome as it is, but they really do look, well, nicer."

"Yea they do...And I like it..." Bri said admiring her own.

"I'd still like to know why though." Mari patted her tail once more, then looked upwards as a mild grinding sound echoed through the water. "Looks like they're opening the top up. Probably time for that crap they call our breakfast."

Bri sighed, "Yea..." She then swam up, poking her head out of the water.

Mari followed her sister. Crappy food was better than no food.

"Good morning." Lucius said. "I trust you slept well?"

Mari muttered something under her breath that sounded like "well enough" and didn't look directly at him, swishing her tail.

"I'll take that as a yes." He said. "Well...Big day for my star attractions...No sense in wasting any time...We'll start you with a good breakfast and then prepare you for the show."

Bri looked at him, "Prepare?"

"Yes...We have to make you two presentable." He said picking up a box he had sitting next to him.

Mari glared at him, but was obviously now curious, and swam a bit closer, constantly glancing between Lucius and Bri. "We aren't presentable right now?" A bit of her mer-vanity shone through.

"We just think that you two would look even better after we cleaned you up and gave you some makeup." Lucius said. "But we will take care of that after you eat."

Bri seemed to perk up. The thought of her becoming prettier played in her mind. She smiled a bit as a tingle of excitement coursed through her.

Lucius dumped the box into the water. Several abalone, a couple large crabs, and a large amount of shrimp splashed down. Bri squealed with delight and dove after the abalone.

Mari reacted much the same as Bri did. A strange but pleasant tingle curled her tail at the idea of being even prettier (She shook her head slightly. Prettier for who? A bunch of people who had come to see the circus freakshow?). The sight of all that delicioius-looking fresh seafood drove the idle thought from her mind as she doved after Bri. "That one there is mine!" She snatched at an abalone.

Bri easily ripped it open and began consuming it. "Mmmmm! When we get back, I'm gonna eat dozens of these!"

"Mrphlemrphle!" Mari agreed through a mouthful of food. She eyed the shrimp, which had already landed on the bottom and were scurrying into hiding places in the rocks below. "Shrimp-catching contest?"

Bri discarded the shell, "GO!" She shouted, bolting for the largest school of them.

The mermaids spent the next several minutes at the bottom of their tank, handfins grabbing at shrimp and scooping them into their greedy mouths. "Aw, you win." Mari scrunched up her shrimp.

After they had stuffed themselves, Bri swam over to a rock and lounged on it. She used the pointed end of a crab leg to pick something out of her teeth before letting out a content sigh. "Boy....What a feast!:"

Mari lay down next to Bri and looked upwards. "I know, but... he wouldn't treat us like this unless there was something else he wanted or expected from us. This is like... a master giving his dog some raw meat for being good or doing a trick right. today's the 'big day' he said. He wants us at our best for the show."

"Maybe you're right...But I'm not gonna complain about that...Too much at least..."

There was a splash on the surface. Bri looked up and saw a hand slapping the water.

"Here we go." Mari scowled but obdeintly swam upwards to the surface. "C'mon.. probably wants to make us sit up and beg for him or something."

Lucius stood on the platform flanked by four men in strange diving suits. Over them, a pair of cranes with slings hung over the tank. "Ladies, did you enjoy your meal?"

"Y-yes.." Mari stuttered with nervousness at the sight of the cranes and men. "What's all that for?" Her brilliant blue-green eyes were wide with fear.

"We need to clean your habitat out and get you ready. We will take you two out of the tank and put you into special chairs that will keep you from drying out while we get you ready." He said.

Bri fidgeted nervously and then bolted back as the four men jumped into the water.

Despite the sudden mental images of mermaid fillets, Mari stayed where she was. The water HAD been tasting kinda stale the past day or so. Though obviously still nervous herself, she turned and gestured towards Bri with her handfins. "Sister, I think it's alright... I think he's being honest. I don't really wanna leave the water either, but.."

Bri looked apprehensive but then approached. The slings were lowered into the water and a pair of men attended each one. They then aided the mermaids into the slings and hooked them back to the cranes. Soon, the two were slowly lifted out of the water. No sooner did that happen than the water was starting to drain from the tank.

Mari made a nervous unhappy sound as the water started draining away, her tail already feeling rather dry. She squirmed in her sling, making it rock, but got an arm free, which she used to pat Bri on her spiny dorsal fin. "Um, you mentioned special chairs which would keep us moist?" She glanced hopefully at Lucius.

"Yes...You shall see." He said.

Bri's tail flicked uneasily as the water quickly left her tail. They were moved and lowered into a chair that resembled a large dental chair. As they were placed in them, water began to spray on them from holes all over the chair. It was fresh, clean salt water. As it sprayed, it massaged the mermaids.

"Ooo!" Mari gave a surprised happy moan as she felt the jets of water wash over her scales and massage the tail muscles underneath. "This is nice!" She wriggled and turned to look at Bri. "What to yoOOOu think?" She slapped her fluke contently, gripping the sides of the chair with her handfins.

"Mmmmm!" Bri said with a relaxed smile. "Wow..."

"I wonder if I can find a way to teach my husband how to massage my tail like this... he's already great at doing my back and legs. Hm. I wonder where Lucius go these chairs? I don't think he would have just had them laying around, or made specifically for us." Mari ground into the chair a little, then flipped over onto her back despite how it squished her dorsal fin.

Several women appeared with trays of items. They then began applying make-up that matched their scales, scrubbing and cleaning their tails and handfins, and doing their hair. Bri let a contented sigh as they worked on her.

Mari pursed her lips so some blue-green lipstick could be applied. "This stuff IS all water-resistant, right?" she joked. Being pampered like this felt wonderful, and she had to think hard on the fact that she was a captive being dolled up for public display. She tried to talk to some of the women working on her. "How long have you worked here? Not usually used to putting make-up mermaids, right?"

They didn't say anything in response. Bri had a reddish-yellow lipstick applied as they began to rub small amounts of glitter on her cheeks, arms and torso. Her tail was spotless and even shinier than before. She lounged back as they worked on her hair, brushing it and styling it, placing baubles and hairpieces in a beautiful pattern and hairdo.

"Hmmm." Mari seemed upset by the grooming women's failure to speak to her. Possibly they were just more of Lucius' slaves themselves, ordered not to talk to the fish. Getting her hair and face made-up didn't seem so fun anymore. Even the scrubbing and rubbing for her tail, as pleasant as it was, didn't bring a smile to her face.

"Wow, they're really giving us the works, aren't they?" Mari's hair was now in large curling waves with little sparkly highlights. She held up a handfin and flexed the wide flat webbing. "No nail polish though of course."

Bri nodded, "Yea...Full makeover style..." She said. The women then started murmuring amongst themselves. One then asked Mari, "Uhm...Miss Mermaid?"

Mari perked up as one of her groomers finally said something. She leaned over to look at the one who had spoken up more directly. "Yes?"

"Some of the girls...Heard...That you were once...Human..." She said stumbling. "Is that true?"

Bri looked over and quirked an eyebrow.

Mari looked down at her tail and flexed it a little, curling the fluke. "Yes. Why do you ask?"

The girl stared at the fishiness below Mari's waist. "Well...We wondered...How do you become?..."

She was cut off by a clearing throat.

Mari was about to answer, but instead turning to look for the source of the interruption, knowing and fearing who it almost certainly was.

"That will be enough, ladies." Lucius said in a flat tone. "We will be opening shortly and we need to get them back into the tank."

Bri looked back at him, "Showtime soon?" She asked in a nervous tone.

"Yes, but first you have to be on display."

" 'On display'?" Mari gave Lucuis a look of distaste and apprehension.

"Yes...The paying public often likes to see my menageire before the show." He said. "Don't worry...They will only be able to see you and not touch or disturb the tank."

Bri groaned, "You're kidding, right?"

"He ain't... We going back into the big tank, or maybe a smaller one outside, where we sit on rocks and wave to rhe nice people?" Mari frowned and slapped her tail against the chair hard, spending out a little spray of water.

"Yes...And you will like it..." He said, stepping forward and placing a hand on Mari's head.

"I.. dunno.." Mari squirmed under his grip. The idea of having lots of humans admiring her WAS kinda fun-sounding... swimming around, lounging on a rock, letting them see how beautiful she was. She tail slapped against the chair again, this time not under her concious control, but with excitement.

He smirked and released the touch. He then repeated it to Bri, who gradually eased her expression. Once he was done, he signaled to the crew. They swarmed the mermaids and began placing them back in the tank. Bri looked over and smiled at Mari, "I think showing us off won't be so bad...I mean...We are very pretty and all!"

"We SHOULD want to be able to show ourselves off to people, it's just.." Mari frowned and looked confused, shaking her head as though there were thoughts in it she wanted out. Unable to verbalize what she meant, she swam over to the glass barrier keeping them enclosed and pressed a handfin against it briefly, glancing back at her sister with sad eyes, then swam back. "Oh well..."

Bri began to swim around the tank excitedly, "Oh come on, sister! It will be fun!"

"Maybe... I DO wanna look good for the humans, but couldn't it just be for... for.." Mari was getting a mild headache so she just stopped. "Gash, I dunno. Something. Let's just be prepared. And think about what things we're going to have to do in the actual show later."

Bri nodded and perched herself on a rock. She then started posing and preening herself. She had this strange desire to look her best for the arriving crowd.

Mari hummed to herself, a little mermaid tune, and ran the webs of her handfins over her clean and shimmering tail, ready and waiting. Trying to figure out what exactly was wrong...
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Posted 13 July 2008 - 03:53 PM

Mariana sat down on a flattish rock next to her shell. She hadn't thought about it until now, but it had probably been placed there for this specific purpose. She patted the make-up on her face lightly to make sure it was in fact not washing off. Her fluke flapped around a little uncontrollably with excitement. She looked out of the tank, but it was still too dark there.

Bri swam around nervously, watching the darkness for any signs of movement. She then approached her sister, anxiously speaking, "Are they here yet? Is it time? I can't wait for them to see us!"

"I don't know! Just sit down and wait!" Mari snapped, peering into the dark, looking for any sign of light or movement. Just then, it happened, the large curtains surrounding the tank were pulled back, and the area it sat in was filled with light. Despite having posed herself on the rock, Mari gasped and swam upwards to get a better look at everything around. Their tank was at the center of a very large circular room, and the largest single structure, though several other stretched all the way to the top of the ceiling. Huge square windows in the walls allowed light in, and several large mirrors hung from the ceiling reflracted that light throughout the place.

Bri gasped as well and smiled. She then darted back for her rock and perched herself, "Here they come! Now these humans will see us as we are truey are!" She said, checking her hair and adjusting her clothing.

There were already a few humans running around, but they ignored the mermaids. There were the routsabouts, Mari guessed, doing last-minute setting up of things. She swam up near the top to get a good view. There was a large cage off in one corner that appeared to contain big birds.. with the heads of women? Another water tank in the opposite corner that held... a giant octopus? Squid? A big glass dome in a shadowy area contained.. Mari shuddered in horror, a feral looking woman with the lower body of a giant black widow spider sat in a gargantuan web. Human shadows began filtering in one of the smaller windows up on the wall, and Mari swam back down.

Bri looked around as well, taking in the sights of the other 'captives'. She didn't seem to mind too much, worrying about her own appearance other than the condition of the others. She continued to preen herself, feeling more and more comfortable in her own skin. She felt good, wanting to show off. "Sister...Get ready!"

Mari nodded and swam back down to her own rock, laying her tail out straight to better display it, running her handfins through her hair. "How do I look?"

"Great! How about me?" Bri replied, fanning out her tail and fins to the fullest extent.

"Lovely! This is going to be so much more than just teasing one or two sailors passing by!" Mari giggled like a young girl, eagerly awaiting all the 'ooohs' and 'aaahs' she was surely about to get.

Bri giggled very child-like as well. She settled in and watched outside.

Mari dimly heard human voices through the glass of their tank, muttering and murmuring, making surprised, delighted, and sometimes horrified noises as they moved through the displays... and finally reached the big tank in the center. She noted that the humans here looked much better off than the people of the human villages she was famaiiar with in her human life of their clothes were any indicator. Well, it made sense that an operation of this scale could only be sustained by lots of customers with a goos amount of money. She didn't think about it too hard though, she was too busy watching others watch her and Bri, and enjoying it, laughing, preening, and flexing her tail around for all the legged people to see. Bri's reactions were identical to her sister's. She, however, paid particular attention to the children that approached the tank. She often swam back and forth, fanning out her fins and showing off to them, smiling, laughing, and waving. Occasionally, she would create a small bubble with her magic and make it dance for them.

Mari was less outgoing than her sister, prefering to merely lay on her rock or swim up once in awhile and do a little swimming 'dance', rolling her hips, arms and tail around. Like Bri she was especially fond of showing off for children, feeling a tight, strange something in her chest as she looked at them. She did her best to ignore it, but it refused to fade away completely. In between crowds in front of them, she would swim back up a little to observe the rest of the area. There was a pair of centaurs giving rides on theri backs, and she heard but did not see what she guessed was their satyr freind playing his pipes. A few normal clowns and jugglers wandered around among the rubes. In a smallish cage nearby a wolf-eared and tailed young woman in tattered clothes gave a mournful howl. Brianna's head turned to the sound of the howl. Something about it pulled at her...Something familiar, like someone she should know. She then watched as people pointed and laughed, tossing pieces of trash at her, making Bri both sad and a bit angry. As this group approached, Bri did something a bit rash. She glared at them as they stared at the two mermaids. With a subtle motion, a small globe of water rose from the tank and moved over their heads. With a smirk, she released it.

Mari, who had not been paying much attention to her sister, blinked as the people now watching her preen and swim were suddenly soaked in water. As the other humans laughed and pointed at the sopping wet ones (who cursed and stumbled off) she turned to Bri. "What was that? Did you you do that? You'll probably make Lucius mad at us for it."

"I don't know...I just....There's something wrong about these humans teasing that girl over there." Bri said. "It felt like the thing to do..."

Mari glanced over at the cage containing the sad wolfgirl, and slowly nodded. "Oh.. yes... I think I agree. Well, they better not do it to us, or else! hope they don't do something really stupid like tease the drider." She nervously thrashed her tail around, then calmed down and re-posed on her rock. The next several hours passed fairly uneventfully. The caged wolfgirl eventually looked a little less sad when she realized that everyone spitting at her or throwing trash ended up getting several gallons of water dumped on them. The mermaids were feeling rather little hungry and light-headed.

Bri flittered around as the last of the humans walked by and watched them. She swam over to Mari, "Sister, I don't feel so good..."

Mari patted her stomach and then tail. "I'm getting kinda tired, and could use something to eat. Tail muscles feel a little sore too, and I can usually swim for hours." She carefully stroked the glossy blue-green scales. "I hope we feel better for our show later today."

"Yea...I wanna do our best!" Bri said.

Outside the tank, Lucius appeared. "Ladies..." He said rather unemotionally.

Mari immediatly stiffened up and spun around to face him, looking extremely worried. Had all those soaking wet people figured it out and told on them? Her fluke and handfins curled up into themselves, and she couldn't look him in the face.

Bri looked at him, "Uh....Hi."

He looked at the ground near their tank and noticed the huge puddle of water. He then looked back at them, "I've had a few complaints about some of my guests getting a rather unexpected shower."

Bri cowered a little at the comment, "But..They deserved it..."

"Yea!" Mari looked briefly defiant.
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Posted 14 July 2008 - 04:22 PM

Lucius crossed his arms as he stared at the mermaids, "Consider this a warning...Do not douse the patrons again...Unless given express permission by myself...Are we clear?"

Mari ducked her head quickly, a sort of nod of aquiessence, if not really agreement. She swam around her sister, still not wanting to look directly at Lucius.

Bri looked a bit angry, "But...They were teasing that girl over there!"

"Do not question my authority!" Lucius barked. Bri then winced and held her head. She squirmed a bit as he gave her a small dose of pain for bucking his order.

"OK! OK! I won't do it again!" She yelped.

Mari immediately swam to Bri's side, holding her and glaring at Lucius hatefully. She held her tongue though, not wanting to receive the same treatment.

Lucius smirked, "Good...Now that we're clear on that..." He looked up and nodded. There was a splashing sound followed by the thrashing of live lobster scrambling for cover. Bri shook her head, clearing the cobwebs.

Mari's anger at Lucius was almost completely wiped away by her sudden hunger for fresh lobster. She still held Bri in a close embrace, but her tail twitched with eagerness to hunt down the shellfish.

Bri looked at Mari, "I'm all right, sister..." She said. "Let's eat."

Lucius walked away from the tank with his hands behind his back.

Mari refused to release her sister until Lucius was fully gone from sight. "Recently, I sometimes forget why I don't like him... then he comes and reminds me. I can't beleive that I actually almost forget he kidnapped us for his amusement."

"Me too...He's doing something to us, sister...Something that's making us want to be here...." Bri said watching him leave.

"He can make us hurt, command us... maybe it's these things he makes us wear?" She tugged at her jewelry and halter top. "Maybe he's just a wizard or something. Maybe we'll think better after eating some lobster and getting some rest?"

"Maybe..." Bri said suddenly feeling depressed. She slowly swam towards the lobsters.

Mari swam close behind, alarmed by the Bri's unhappy body language.. not that she had no reason to be upset right now. "We need to try to think about getting out."

"How?" Bri said moving to a rock outcrop near her shell. "Even if we did get out, who knows how far it is to any water...And whenever we try to call Mother, we get zapped."

"Hmmm... want to try to wait it out for the full week, change back into humans, and run off with our legs?" Mari poked around a large rock with lots of little hiding holes in it, then stabbed a handfin into one and pulled a large lobster out of it. She bit the back of its head to kill it. "Though, given the size of our tank, we'd have to change close to the top to get out of it without drowning."

Bri reached under and likewise pulled one out. She held it and spoke, "But...The metal grate is there...We won't be able to get out of the tank and eventually we'll get tired of hanging on." She said before biting the lobster.

"We'd have to get someone to open it for us from the outside.. maybe Vito?" Mari began shelling the lobster with her teeth, spitting bits out. "And out tails splitting into legs hurts, too. I'm not sure that i could hang onto the grate while undergoing that either." She made a face.

"Probably not." Bri replied. "What makes you think we can trust Vito?"

"I dunno... I trust him more than anyone else we're met since we got stuck here though." Mari finished off her lobster and lay on her rock. "Say, did you see how many lobsters were dumped in here? Was it just one each, or more?"

Bri shrugged as she sucked the meat out of a claw. "Take a look around?"

Mari poked her handfins into the holes a few more times, half-heartedly. "I don't see anything. Probably doesn't want us to eat too much and get fat and sleepy right before our big show."

"Probably..." Bri said picking the last shreds of meat off of the carcass. "Well...I suppose we need to get ready..."

"Let's see... I think I remember all the tricks we'll need to do. The jumping and slashing around is easy enough. I can sing fine. The water manipulation is still a little hard for me though." Mari cupped her handfins together and concentrated, and a small swirl appeared in them. She 'tossed' the swirl towards her sister, 'hitting' her in the head and mussing her hair up. "Heh."

"Hey!" Bri said, smoothing her hair, "Watch it!"

"Sorry! I need the practice." Using the little bit or mer-magic made Mari feel a little more glowy inside even considering their unpleasant circumstances. She breifly contemplated more mischeif, but sighed and targeted one of the rocks with water bombs instead, trying to learn to throw them like a baseball pitcher.

Bri then started to practice as well, causing small vortexes to appear in her hands. She too felt the glow picking up. "Mmmm...." She moaned.

Mari paused from her own water manipulation and looked over at Bri. "You okay? You moaned, getting tired? Or, is Lucius hurting you again?" She looked up and about for their captor with a nasty expression on her face.

"No...I just feel...Good!" Bri said, flipping over and juggling three shimmering water globes.

"Oh..." Mari watched Bri show off. "I'm feeling better myself. And I'd probably feel even more so if I wasn't constantly being reminded of how much better you are at that than me!"

"Sorry...But it's not my fault you wanted to go and play on Earth while I was taught by Mother!" Bri said sticking her tongue out and sending the globes at Mari. They spun rapidly around her head before dispersing, twirling her hair.

"Yea, yea, I know!" Mari tried to dodge, but her hair was soon even more messed up than she had gotten Bri's. "Stop it, we need to look our best!"

"Fine..." Bri said.

Above them, they heard Lucius speak into a microphone. His voice boomed as he welcomed the crowd to the circus. He then started introducing the acts. Bri then looked at Mari and seemed to instictively dart for her shell. She pulled herself inside as best she could and acted as if she fell asleep.

"Gaaah." Misunderstanding her sister's actions, Mari flicked her tail in irratation and swam to Bri's shell, grabbed Bri's sticking out fluke in her handfins and started to tug on it hard, trying to force Bri out. "Seriously, so you're so much more take-charge and fearless as a human. You know that if you don't show up, how badly Lucius is going to punish us."

The shell flew open and Bri glared at her, "Hey sis! Don't you remember? We're supposed to be in here when our act starts!"

"Oh... er. I forgot. Sorry!" Mari shook her head again, as if to clear it out. It felt hard to focus properly on anything right now. She dashed to her own shell and climbed in, with just her fluke sticking out slightly, still quietly apologizing to Bri and trying to remember the routine they were supposed to preform.

Bri began to fidget nervously inside her shell. She kept making small shimmering globes inside her shell, keeping the same feeling that she had built earlier.

There was a shudder that shook the entire tank, and it began to rise up to the stadium floor above...

"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! BOYS AND GIRLS!" Lucius barked into the mic. "Please direct your attention to the center ring! Now rising from the ground is the newest addition to the show!"

Mari's tail quivered, making the fluke sticking outside of the shell's lips look like a tongue gone utterly mad. "You really ready Sis?" She whispered loudly.

"Yes!" Bri said. "Just relax and remember the routine!"

"They are creatures of legend...Bane to sailors and swimmers alike...Known for their playfullness, beauty, and power...I give you our star attraction...The mermaids...Fire and Ice!"

Music began to play as the tank shuddered to a stop. Slowly the shells opened and the bright lights blinded the two.

Mari uncurled herself from her shell and 'stood' up in the water, posing and smiling for the audeince she couldn't quite see due to the glare of the spotlights. She hoped her smile looked genuine and not terrified.

Bri did the same. She then began the routine with her sister.

Mari swam in time with Bri, desparately hoping that everything would work out fine, and nothing would go horribly, horribly, wrong...
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Posted 16 July 2008 - 03:39 PM

There was applause from the audience as Brianna and Mari finished their first couple of tricks, showing off the power of their tails and grace in the water. It appeared as if the two were dancing in time with the music. After both mermaids splashed down after a display that launched them ten feet out of the water, Lucius then spoke, "Grace and beauty...Reflected not only in appearance,...but in movement!" He said. "Now, Ladies and Gentlemen...They shall display their command of the seas!"

Mari remained smiling, but her eyes showed anxiety. "This is the part I'm worst at... sister, I'll really need help here."

"Don't worry, sister...I have you covered." Bri said keeping her smile and winking at Mari. The first trick was to surface and juggle orbs of water, something that both could do without really a thought.

The next routine had the water shimmer and dance around them, merging into one giant globe then dispersing into hundreds of smaller ones. Bri was on the opposite end of the tank, keeping her handfins above water and gesturing, causing the water to move by her command. The smile on her face went from a forced one to one that was more relaxed and showed some sort of pleasure.... The more she commanded the water, the better she felt.

Mari carefully followed her every physical and magical move. It was tricky as first, but very quickly, the exehersion actually started feeling good to her. She swished her shimmery tail around happily at this pleasant development.

The tricks progressed into more difficult ones, forcing them to use more power. Surprisingly, the more Bri used, the easier it became. There was a cost, however...

As she sank deeper into the pleasure, those slumbering human thoughts she had were becoming more and more obscured. Fragments of them were chipped away and buried behind the pure thoughts of a mermaid. The desire to go to the sea and swim as far from the humans was creeping in. She was beginning to think of them differently...As if she were never one.

Mari started humming to herself in mermish, and glanced over at Bri, who seemed to have begun spacing out. not that she really blamed her, she was finding it quite hard to focus herself. The water she controlled, and her love of being in it, was all that seemed to matter to her at the moment. "Hmmm? Sister?"

"What is it, sister?" Bri replied, using the mermish language.

"You looked..." Mari started speaking human, then stopped and switched to mermish. "You looked rather... out of it. Like you weren't really here mentally."

"What do you mean?" She replied, raising a huge column of water. "I'm fine! Actually..." She added, raising another one under Mari and lifting her out of the water, supporting her with it, "Never have I felt better!"

"That's good.. I feel ...nice too. It's just, I'm not sure we should be or something. I mean, we should be free in the ocean feeling good, not trapped in a big fishtank doing tricks for humans under threat of torture feeling good! Shouldn't we?" Mari tried to look more pleased than she really was at being on top of a tall collum of water over an already tall tank. She was half fish, not half-bird1

The crowd oohed and aahed at the tricks and applauded loudly after each one was performed. Bri brought the column to the center of the tank and abruptly dropped it.

Mari resisted the urge to yelp as the water fell out from beneath her, and she dove down with a big splash.

Brianna swam over and circled Mari with a pleasured smile on her face. She looked tipsy and was humming a mermaid's song. She ran her handfin along Mari's tail as she recovered from the dive.

There was tremendous applause from the audience.

Lucius then spoke, "Ladies and Gentlemen, let us show you the true power of a mermaid. We will need a single volunteer from the audience!" He said, looking around. A smattering of people rose their hands.

He continued to look around until he found someone...An attractive young woman. He pointed and spoke, "You there...Miss in the blue shirt! If you would...Please step into the aisle. Ladies and Gentlemen around her, if you would remain seated during this demonstration...Thank you."

Lucius looked into the tank and directly at Brianna. She met his gaze and didn't take her eyes off of him for a few moments.

Mari treaded water with her tail, glaze switching between her sister and the slightly scared and excited young woman walking down to the stadium floor near their tank.

Lucius then looked at Mari, locking his gaze with her as Bri moved to one side of the tank and closed her eyes, beginning to focus.

Mari felt her mind go even fuzzier than it had been while shaping the water to her will. She swam over to the edge of the tank, looking down at the young human woman, fluke twitching. She needed to DO something, and was trying to remember what it was.

Bri then opened her eyes and moved her handfins. A column of water lifted Mari out of the water and then formed a globe around her. Mari felt herself float in the globe, resisting all gravity and free to swim around within it. The surface of it felt like glass.

The globe floated over the edge of the tank and began to descend to the floor near the girl.

Normally, Mari would have panicked at finding herself trapped in a big bubble, but something prevented her from losing control of her emotions right now. It wasn't simply trust in her sister, or realizing that Mother herself sometimes travelled out of water this way, something was simply blocked her ability to feel or think certian things. She stared at the girl, and gave what she hoped was a smile.

Bri stopped the globe inches from the ground. She then held it there and waited for Mari to act.

The girl looked at the mermaid and gave a shocked smile, "Heh....Hi..." She said shakily.

Mari realized what it was she was supposed to do, and actually didn't mind it. It sounds geniunely fun and interesting. She gave a real smile this time and held out her wide webbed hands. "Hello. Don't be afraid. I know I probably look weird, but you can trust me. What's your name?'

"Tanya..." She said softly. She looked at the webbed hands and reached for them. She then took a few moments to get used to the sensation of the mermaid's hands.

Mari for her part, found Tanya's individual webless fingers strange, as well as the movements of her legs under her dress. "Tanya, that's nice. now, as you may have guessed, yuo're going to get very wet doing this. Try to hold on." Mari closed her eyes and concentrated. "Don't try to hold your breath." She then quickly pulled Tanya inside the water bubble with her.

The girl gasped as did the crowd. Instinctively, the girl held her breath and scrunched her eyes shut.

Bri then began lifting the bubble up and back into the tank. Tanya struggled, trying to get to the surface. Outside, the crowd began to grow restless.

Mari held on to Tanya tightly and shushed her like a small child. "Wait, wait, it's okay!"

Bri released the bubble and swam up, "Yes...It's all right...Just breathe normally..." She said.

Tanya's eyes bulged from her head as she let the rest of the air out of her lungs. She was then forced to inhale, filling her with water. She struggled even more, trying to surface. She then took another breath and slowly started to relax.

"Maybe we should have told her that we were going to make it so she could breath water and swim with us from the begining? Or would that have spoiled too much of the surprise?" Mari patted Tanya worriedly, looking very maternal.

The people outside looked shocked...Some were still screaming for her to get out...Others were amazed.

Bri nodded, "It's all right...Just breathe now..." She said taking one of Tanya's hands.

Mari remained fully focussed on Tanya, ignoring the crowd and Lucius for the moment. "You should be able to talk too, though sound will seem pretty different underwater at first."

"I....Uh...." She muttered.

Mari smiled and patted her on the back. "Yes, keep trying, you'll get the hang of it!"

Bri moved to the girl's side and began to gently move her tail to begin swimming. "Come, Tanya...Swim with us..."

She nodded and smiled, "Ok...."

Mari swam around to her other side, holding on to her with a handfin. "Don't be afraid, we have you!"

Tanya started kicking, keeping up with the mermaids. She took several deep breaths of the salt water and relaxed. She then looked at them, "This is....Amazing!"

Mari shrugged. "Eh. We do it all the time. Swimming and talking and breathing underwater at least. To us, walking and dancing and other land-and leg-related activity seems strange."

The crowd began to applaud as they circled the tank with the young woman. She began to enjoy it and started to laugh. Bri looked at her and likewise smiled.

Mari was right, sharing the gift of being a child of the water, even in a diluted form, brought her genuine pleasure. She encourage Tanya to wave at her fellow humans outside. The crowd continued to applaud as the two mermaids swam with Tanya. She was extremely thrilled to be able to do so once she had defeated her fear. Bri continued to hold the young woman's hand and guide her around with her sister. She smiled broadly at the her as Tanya understood some of the pleasure that they felt when they were in the ocean.

Lucius smiled, "Fantastic, isn't it ladies and gentlemen!" he said. "Their power and command of the water is incredible!"

Mari was actually enjoying herself, only the (very significant) fact that she and her sister were being held prisoner marred her pleasure in showing off and sharing her gifts with the humans, Tanya especially. She smile faltered slightly. Exercising her abilities was definately giving her a rush though, she she tried not to focus on the bad right now, only on the moment.

"Now, Ladies and Gentlemen! One last treat for you..." Lucius said. "Sailors from all over tell of stories about hearing the call of these beautiful creatures, often throwing themselves overboard to be with them...They say the song of a mermaid is mesermizing...A sound of hypnotizing beauty..."

That was a cue. Bri looked at Tanya, "Well, I think it's time for you to get out now..." She said. "I hope you enjoyed it."

Tanya looked disappointed, "Aww..."

"You could always become a mermaid like us and enjoy it everyday!" Mari gave Tanya mischevious grin. "Though, maybe that would be a little too extreme." She tickled the human girl's feet with her fluke streamers and helped to carry her up towards the top of the tank.

"I can?" She said "How?"

Before they could answer her, Tanya was wisked away from the tank. Bri gave her a smile and a wave as she left. She then looked at Mari, giddy with a pleasant feeling. "Well, sister...Let's let them hear us..." Bri then swam to a corner of the tank and propped herself up on it. She balanced precariously and smiled out into the audience, waiting for a cue.

Mari swam to the opposite corner so the singing could be heard be everyone in the stands evenly, and carefully pulled herself up so she was sitting on the top edge. She tried not to look down, but did anyway, and nearly lost her wet webbed grip and fell over. After a nervous split-second, she righted herself. She swiftly looked over at Bri and Lucius, waiting to begin.

The lights in the building went dark. A pair of spotlights was turned on, shining directly on the mermaids. Bri closed her eyes started to sing. Her voice was hauntingly beautiful, unlike anything she was capable of as a human. She sang a melody in the language of the mermaids, adding to its beauty...A power started to flow from her, riding along on the tune and radiating out across the audience.

A split second after Bri started, Mari begin, copying her sister's mermish words words exactly, though in a slightly different tone of voice, adding to and building up the melody. She posed, tail curled up under her, back arched, chest thrust out and head tilted slightly. She kept her eyes open, wanting to see how the crowd was reacted. The vast majority had become completely silent, entranced.

The crowd was becoming entranced. Men, women, boys, and girls were all likewise affected by this melody. They all began to sway gently in time with the song. Bri opened her eyes and saw this reaction, filling her with pleasure to no end and causing her to radiate more power. The crowd swayed like kelp caught in the tides.

Mari likewise overcome by her own power, her own need to see/feel her ability to manipulate human emotions. She sang a little louder, letting the power of the seas bubble up within her, and out through her into the crowd. Her fluke and all the little fins along her tail, and at her ears and elbows started twitching unconciously, stretching and curling and flattening themselves, wriggling in glee.

So enthralled were the audeince and mermaids themselves by the song, that no one seemed to notice all the clowns and jugglers and simple roustabouts wandering among them, flitching rings and coins and necklaces. Oh, not from everyone, that would likely end up being noticed after the hypnotic effect of the Siren Song had worn off. And no one who was robbed had everything taken from them, that too would likely be noticed later. Instead, merely enough was taken that could be explained away bye simply having misplaced, lost, or 'spend a little more money than I thought I did'. did a little, here and there. Someone with only 5or 6 coins would merely have 1 taken, someone with twice as much would have 2 taken. A woman wearing two expensive diamond earrings would later discover one of gone; the next day a person from the circus would come to her home and claim he'd found it and was returning it, and receive a small reward. The woman would remember the kindness and honesty of the people there, since he man surely could have hocked it to a pawn shop for quite a bit, but he had nobled decided to return it to it's rightful owner...

Lucius, who, like his minions, currently had his ears carefully magically plugged, watched over the proceedings with great satisfaction. His newest aquisitions would be just as profitable as he'd hoped. Now he just had to figure out a way to keep them from changing back into human women when the time of their curse ran out. Their condition was extremely rare from what he'd read of mermaids in his large library of tomes about magic and magical creatures, but not completely unknown. He would find a way, and then, Fire and Ice would be his property for the rest of his life, and Mariana Markenheim-Deschain and Brianna Gibson-Silmar would be lost forever, never to be seen again.
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Posted 21 July 2008 - 04:16 PM

Brianna laughed in a very child-like tone as she swam about in the bottom of the tank. As she looked out, she saw the audience filter out in a semi-dazed state. She swam around Mari, pointing and laughing, *Look at them! Look what we did to them!* She said, in a giddy tone and speaking pure mermish.

Mariana flittered around her sister, swimming in tight fast circles around the limited space of the tank. "Yea... I wasn't even certain we could effect so many people at once. We've only ever tried it on small groups of people before. Are we really that powerful? Maybe something Lucius did amplified it?" She paused and pressed her face again the glass to get as good a look as she possibly could.

"Oh, look, there goes that human girl we swam with... Tanya? I think. Hello! Hello!? HELLO!?" Mari slapped her fins hard against the glass, trying to get the human's attention. "Maybe it's not her. Oh well." The girl looked dazed as she followed the crowd out. She didn't acknowledge them.

Bri squished up next to her sister and wrapped her arms around her, *Does it matter? Who cares what Lucius did! We really messed with all of their heads!* She said. She then backed off and ran her hands down her tail. It seemed to feel a bit different...Stronger...The scales even brighter and more defined than before the show. She flicked it and saw that the streamers had also lengthened a bit. Her hair had become even more golden with the red highlights deepening. Her eyes had also become the purest amber color anyone had ever seen. *Mmmm! I feel so good....* She muttered before moving back to the glass.

Mari hugged her sister back a bit as she watched Tanya walk away. "She looks kinda sleepy. I guess she would rather go home to her... what are they called... beds?" Mari tried to get the attentio of random humans walking past, but none seemed interested in reacting to her. "Oh, poo. Huh." She turned to Bri and paused, taking a good look at her. "Whoa.. sister, you're... beautiful."

Bri flicked her hair and posed, *Why thank you!* She said, *You should see yourself!*

*Myself?* Mari sat down on her rock and examined herself. Her hair was now a brilliant neon blue-green, as were the scales on her tail and webbing of her fins and flukes. There was no reflective enough surface for her to check, but she guessed her eyes were the same. Even the act of flexing her tail to swim felt a tiny bit different, as if part of it had grown, lengthened, or shifted inside her.

*What's going on with us? It's been happening ever since we got in here. Not that I mind the results, but still, I'd like to know WHY it's happening.* She ran her handfins carefully along her tail, looking for... she didn't know. Something. A sign, or clue to these changes.

Bri swam lazily along, feeling very content and happy. She started singing a mermaid song to herself. Mari could see it...Any hint of humanity that she once had was gone...

Mari frowned and blinked, thinking. She couldn't recall ever seeing Bri so... mermaidish. Except that one time, right before Sven changed them back into humans the first time. Her memories of her own time were pretty fuzzy, but it was the best she could remember that suited what she saw now. Still, it didn't quite make sense to her.. why would their mermaid aspects/halves get stronger in captivity?

Her curiousity and concern that something was wrong began to burn away at the happy fuzz filling her mind. She swam up to her sister and lightly tugged at one of her long (Longer? Thicker?) fluke streamers. *Sister?* She tried switching to English. "Shishta? ..Er, Sister? Bree.. yah.. nuh?.. Brianna?" Thinking in English rather than Mermish was like thinking through sticky syrup.

Bri looked at her, *Hey!* She said. *What's wrong?*

*I'm worried about you. I'm not sure, but I just think.. well, alright, it's more a feeling than a fully-formed thought, but I just.. something is wrong about all this. It's like we're more mermaids than we've ever been before... and than we're supposed to be. It's kinda hard to explain.* Mari sighed. *Sister, what's my name? My human name? I still remember it, do you?*

Bri stopped and floated in place, *Human...name?* She said. *You were...Human?*

There was a quick hard rapping on the glass of their tank. turning, Mari saw their satyr friend, Vito, standing there, looking slightly worried. He had somehow aquired and was smoking, a fat cigar. "Yo, ladies, wassup? Been talking around, got info you might want. Saw your show too. Impressive." He looked around to make sure no one else was in the area. "Ah, Zubans.. best cigars inna world."

Bri looked at the satyr outside the tank. She then swam up with a curious expression on her face, *Hello?* She said.

Vito blinked at the nonsense burbling noise Bri had made and looked her up and down with a critical eye. "Well, you're looking good. Which is probably NOT good, actually. Sooo... tell me, can you even still speak and understand any human languages?"

Mari swam up next to Bri and nodded her head. "I can. Bri is... I'm not sure what's up with her right now."

Bri cocked her head at him. She then looked at Mari, *What's he sayin?*

*He's asking if you can still speak any human languages... can you? Like English, the language of the country we were born and raised speaking? Or the Norse language or my adopted country?" Mari's tail twitched and 'kicked' about in agitation.

*English?* Bri said thinking hard. It didn't seem to ring a bell, *Why would I want to? I mean...We shouldn't interact with humans that much, sister! Mother will get mad!*

*Gah....* Mari closed her eyes, then lunged forward and grabbed her sister about her shoulders with both handfins and began shaking her voilently. *SISTER! BRIANNA! WE ARE HUMANS OURSELVES MOST OF THE TIME! WITH LEGS AND HUSBANDS AND CHILDREN AND HOMES UP ON LAND! JUST.. NOT AT THE MOMENT!*

Mari failed to mention that she herself was currently only vaguely familiar with the concepts she was trying to ram into Bri's brain.

Vito shook his head sadly and toked his cigar. "Wonder if I'm already too late."

Bri shook like a rag doll. She grabbed Mari's fins and pushed her off, *Stop it!* She yelled, glaring at her. *You're talking crazy* She then swam off to her shell and closed the shell.

Mari looked at the shimmering crimson fluke sticking out of the 'lips' of the clamshell that was all she could see of Brianna and shook her head. She turned back to Vito. "What did you mean, 'too late'?"

Vito took another long puff on his cigar before replying, not looking Mari directly in the face, a troubled expression in his eyes. "Well, you see.. given everything you've told me, I managed to ask around and look up some stuff. Right outta da bosses' personal library, and that was really risky. Thankfully he was too focussed on rolling the marks so I had a chance to sneak into there. Tell me, before your show, have you ever really used your natural mermaid magic very much? The singing, and water control?"

"No, no I haven't. The singing, just a few times, the water control, not until I needed to start practicing it for the show. My sister has used it before though. She's a lot better at it than me, she did most of the work on that during the show in fact."

The satyr ran a finger through his goatlike beard. "Yea, okay, that fits with what I'm thinking here... Ya see, you shouldn't be doing it. Or, well, it's risky. I read about a couple other cases like yours, where, a dame was turned partially into a mermaid, spent most of her life up here, and then had to go back to the sea wit her tail whenever. It turns out dat using mermaid magic increases yer.. mermaidness I guess. The more you use, over the shorter a period of time, the more you forget your human half and your mermaid half gets stronger. you said yer ssiter was doing most of the work in yer show, now she's can't seem to speak nothing but yer fishy language right now. Yer tail and colors changing, getting brighter and stronger is a visible sign of dat. You do it too much, you completely forget your human side, and it takes a lot longer to change back into a human. Possibly you need to come back and spend more and more time as a mermaid, and possibly never change back at all eventually. I'm sorry."

Mari stared at him wordlessly for a moment, then looked down at her tail with horror for the first time since her human legs had originally merged and grown together into it. "What? But, why wouldn't Mother tell us about that? Did she just not know, or not care, or secretly hoped that we were do exactly that and thus remain her daughters forever and...? ARGH!" Mari slammed a handfin hard against the glass.

"Sorry toots... y'know, it sounds like your sister has it bad right now, but the books also mentioned that if ya just go cold-turkey for awhile, things should go back to normal. Just don't use yer powers no more, and you should be safe."

Mari laughed bitterly and curled her tail up under herself. "Stop using them, right, when we have to do it at least once a day for the show, and practice for a couple hours for the next day's show? We are screwed. I'll bet that lucius actually knows about this somehow.. I don't know how, I don't remember telling him anything about our curse, but he did see us change from human into mermaids, and might have guessed that we weren't normal mermaids just pretending to be humans. We need to get the hell out of here more than ever."

"Ya gots my sympathies, but I'm otherwise not sure what I can do for you. I suppose i can risk going back to the books."

"You've already done a great service just by telling me this much. Thank you." Mari kissed the glass nearest to his face. The satyr smiled back and gave a bleat. "Been awhile since any pretty woman has blown me a kiss. Gotta try to remember that tactic, helping them out and being nice to them, heh."

There were footsteps from a group of rostabouts arriving to clean up the area after the show. Vito looked nervous. "Dang, gotta run, see ya soon as I can." He dashed off on his hooves. Mari watched him go, then sighed and swam over to Bri's shell. Laying a webbed finny ear against it, she heard bubbling snoring from inside. "Dang.. and I really need to talk to you right now sister. Come morning I guess." She went to her own shell and curled up in it, wrapping her arms around her long, beautiful glistening tail, and took a very long time to get to sleep.
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Posted 23 July 2008 - 02:56 PM

There was a groan from the shell that contained the red-tailed mermaid. "Ooooh...."

Mari had been awake for a little while now, and sat on her closed shell, watching Bri's shell for signs of life, slapping her tail impatiently against her seat. She munched on a handful of live shrimp that had been dumped into their tank several minutes ago. "Finally."

The shell opened slowly and Bri squinted against the light, "Ugh..." She groaned, using a handfin to shield her eyes. She looked ragged, having lost a bit of the glow she had last night, although the physical changes remained mostly intact. She looked at Mari, "What happened last night, sis?"

"You acted like a bubblehead who could only speaking mermish, and I learned something disturbing from Vito. Um, how are you feeling right now? You look kinda ..messed up." Mari swam over and laid a handfin across Bri's forehead. "Hm, cool and clammy. Of course, we're pretty much always that way."

"I feel like crud...Like I drank too much at a party..." She replied. "Got any aspirin?"

"Nope... got shrimp though." Mari held up a handfin full of skittering shrimp. "At least you actually remember what aspirin and drinknig at parties is like. Last night you didn't even remember that we used to be human."

"What?" She said looking at the shrimp then holding up a handfin. "No thanks...What do you mean remember being human?" She then put a hand on her head, "God, I don't remember much of anything last night...I vaguely remember doing the act...And singing...It's all fuzzy after that..."

"Yes... afterwards we were both really buzzed for some reason, you way more than me. We were watchnig the audience leaving

when Vito walked up to us and started talking. You acted like you'd never seen him before, and were only speaking Mermish. you got confused and angry, and curled up in your shell while he told me some ...thnigs." Mari bit her lip and looked concerned.

Bri looked at her. She could tell it wasn't good. "What did he say?"

Mari popped her last shrimp into her mouth and chewed it slowly before answering. "Welllll... basically, the more we use or mermaid magic, our human sides become weaker. We start forgetting about human things, even that we used to be human ourselves, and eventually may never change back and stay mermaids forever."

Bri looked shocked, "Wait...You mean...If we stay here...And keep doing this show...We will be.....Stuck this way?"

"Yup." A shrimp tail was still stuck out the corner of Mari's mouth. She curled her tail up so the fluke was nearly touching her nose, just silently looking at it. "Hmm. I don't remember what having legs feels like right now, but I still know that my tail will turn back into them eventually, and don't exactly look forward to it most of the time. But..."

"Sister...." Bri said swimming up and grabbing her by the shoulders, "We've got to get out of here...If Lucius finds out, he's going to push us harder and harder...He'll want us to stay this way forever...Then he'll have a permanent part of the show!" She then swam to the glass, "Where's Vito?! I need to talk to him!"

Mari sadly broke from her sister's grasp and swam to the glass wall, running a handfin along it. "Vito is on the other side of this thing. Like everyone and everything else here."

Bri started swimming back and forth, as if she were pacing. She looked deep in thought and worry. For a few minutes she kept doing it. She then stopped and looked at her sister, "Oh yea....I got it..." A devilish grin crossed her face.

Mari swam up to her sister. "What? What is it? I've seen that grin before, and it's not usually a good thing."

"I know how we're gonna get out of here..." Bri replied, "Do you know how the humans reacted when we sang? Well...Lucius is human, isn't he?"

"Yes. Well, probably. I've met too many shapeshifters to say for certain. But most likely, yes. And he knows it too. He probably has himself protected somehow." Mari poked around the nooks and crannies of theri rocks, searching for more shrimp.

"He had to protect himself or he'd be just like the rest of them..." She said. "Tonight...Let's change up the act a bit...If we sing first when he's not expecting it...He's ours..."

"Maybe.. if we can take him by surprise. But then what? Make him or the audeince carry us in wet tarps to the ocean? Just have then beat him up and sit in the tank and wait for rescue? Gah.. we used to get into these sorts of situations all the time as valkyries. If we think, we can get out of this one too." Mari swam up to Bri, holding another handfinfull of shrimp. "Hungry now?'

Bri picked one and examined it, "Sister, we're more powerful than you think...Especially now. The humans will be at our beck and call...They will do anything for us if we only tell them to." She then let the shrimp crawl over her handfin, "All you need to do is distract Lucius to keep him from zapping us while I sing. When he starts to fall under the spell, you join in."

"Distract him how? Womanly wiles? Hmmm. Back as a valkyrie, there was a couple things I was really good at. Protecting you guys with my forcefield, and.." She curled one handfin into a ball and slammed it into the other. "...hitting stuff."

"Do what you must..." Bri said flipping the shrimp into her mouth and crunching it. "But it's our last and best chance." She said. "I'm going to have to get ready...Please forgive me if I lose to my mermaidness...I need all the power I can get." She then swam up and hugged Mari, "That's in case Brianna Gibson-Silmar never sees you again."

Mari hugged back, but looked grim. "I'll tell Cai and the twins you went out fighting at least?"

"I wouldn't have it any other way." Bri replied. "Please tell them that I loved them with all of my heart." She then broke the hug, wiped her eyes, and swam for her shell. "Please...Keep Lucius busy and away from me..." She added, beginning to play with her water magic.

* * * * *

About two hours before the gates opened, Lucius walked up the platform carrying two buckets. He then looked down into the tank, "Good afternoon, ladies."

Mari looked up at him and tried to keep her face and voice civil. "Hello. What do you want?"

"I'm just checking in with my stars...And to bring them their meal." He replied. "I trust that you enjoyed the show last night?"

"...Yes." Mari admitted. She honestly HAd enjoyed doing what she had done last night, using her magic and showing off had brought her pleasure and appealed to her vanity.

"Good." He said with a smile, "There is plenty more opportunity to do that. We have a show every day for the next two weeks." He then looked around, "By the way, where is Fire?"

Mari pointed downwards. "Practicing. Down there at the bottom, last I checked with her."

"Excellent...Have you been practicing as well?" He said picking up a bucket.

"Yes. I'm still not as good as her in water manipulation, but I'm pretty sure I have the jumping and singing parts down." Mari swam in place, looking at the buckets he was carrying rather than his face

He laughed at her reaction. He knew he had her attention like a master offering a treat to a dog. He waited a moment, savoring the hold he had on her.

Just then, Bri breached the surface and soared fifteen feet into the air. A jet of water blasted from the area where she emerged and slammed into Lucius. He staggered back and released the buckets. The stream bent around and surrounded the two...

silver containers and brought them into the tank. One at Mari and the other to Bri, who caught it and disappeared below the surface.

Mari snagged the bucket 'aimed' at her out of the air, still treading water in the same place in mild shock at her sister's entrance and actions. "Um, what?" She looked down towards Bri, up at the wet Lucius and finally down into her bucket. "Sorry.. I didn't know she was going to do that."

He glared at her and then softened his expression, "That's all right...I'll let it go..." He then walked away.

Bri had gone to the bottom and picked the lobster out of the bucket. She had already killed it and was tearing it apart.

Mari waited until he was completely gone from her sight, then plucked the lobster out of her bucket and swam down next to Bri. "What were you doing? Showing off?"

*He was taunting you, sister...* She said, crunching a claw. *That human was teasing you for his amusement...I will not stand for that.*

Mari looked at Bri carefully, then killed her lobster and started eating it. *Sis.. Brianna, how are you feeling?*

*I am fine...I have never felt better...* She said. *But I have had enough of this human holding us captive...The sea calls us and will not be denied.*

*Hm. Yes. We need to be free. It should happen tonight. Well, if everything goes according to plan at least.* Mari torn open the lobster tail to get at the meat there. *It's too bad that so many of our times visiting mother have gotta messed up, isn't it?*

*Visiting?* Bri said, looking up from her lobster, *Since when do we just visit Mother?*

Mari hesitated, wondering what to say. *Well, we don't spend ALL of our time with her, do we? We do go other places a lot too, right?*

*Yes...But we should never be far from her.* She replied.

Mari wondered if she should try to mention the fact they were human most of the time, or their human families. She tried a different tactic first. *I was thinking about that wolfgirl in the cage yesterday, wondering what she might have looked like as a baby, with little puppy ears and tail...*

Bri paused, *Yes...That girl has always seemed a bit familiar to me...I can't quite place it, though...*

Mari sighed. Bri was obviously far gone. Being blunt would probably only irratate her right now. *Do you think you're ready for what we have to do tonight? I'm still nervous, but it's probably our only shot at escape.*

Bri looked up, *Yes...I am ready...That human...And all those that show up to watch us...Will be at our beck and call. They will be more than happy to get us to the sea.* She then looked at Mari, *And I plan on taking the one that captured us to see Mother...*

Mari cringed even as a vindictive smile split her face. Half of her felt hot glee at the thought of taking revenge, and half was repulsed at the thought of inflicting suffering on another, even one who had done bad things to her. She wasn't sure if the split of opinion was due to her human and mermaid halves in conflict, or something else.
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Posted 29 July 2008 - 03:53 PM

All the shrimp had been long ago found and eaten. Mari swam around the tank bottom nervously. "I hope this works, I hope this works..." She dashed up to Bri and poked her tail. "This WILL work, right? Oh, look, the crowds for today's show are already starting to move through the area. Remember, no soaking them, even if they tease the werewolf girl over there."

Bri spun around and threw a swirling globe of water at her, *I can't understand you!*

*Oops, sorry... I keep forgetting to speak in mermish..." Mari repeated her words, slowly and more calmly this time.

*Yes, it will work! Now you have to relax or the humans will suspect something* Bri said before looking at the tank walls and smiling at the gathering spectators.

Mari sighed and sat down on her shell, smiling and sometimes waving at the humans who walked up to their tank to peer at the two mermaids. *Your tail looks almost glowing. You're feeling alright, sister?*

*Of course!* She replied. *I feel wonderful!*

Mari shrugged and looked down at her own shimmering blue-green scales. It was beautiful and natural and fun and... *That's nice. Um, are you worried that you might be feeling TOO good? We've never felt like this before, what if it's not right, like a drug or something?* Mari scanned the people walking by for the girl (what was her name? T-something) from yesterday, but didn't see her.

Bri rolled her eyes, *Just go with it, will you, sister?* She said. *Enjoy it!*

*I am enjoying it. Just trying to keep a level head about everything. This is serious business after all.* Mari looked pouty and swam away from Bri, closer to the glass and people outside.

Bri started to swim in patterns, entertaining the crowd and showing off her full beauty. Vanity was absorbing her.

Mari noticed and began copying Bri's movements, not completely, adding her own. She still couldn't unmix her feeling of jealousy towards Bri's total comfort and love of who she was and worry that it would mean the destruction of her sister's human side. But surely, just showing off in front of the humans for awhile couldn't hurt, could it?

Bri caught sight of a few guests tormenting the wolf girl again. It was all she could do to restrain herself from dousing them. She made a mental note of their appearance, hoping for the chance to see them later.

Mari glanced at the light coming from outside, it had shifted as time had passed. Ever moment took them closer to their ultimate goal. Noting the brief flash of anger on her face, Mari swam up to Bri. *What was that?*

*They're teasing the girl again...*

*Oh... we can deal with them later.* Mari swam to a large rock and basked languidly, looking very much like a woman sunbathing at the beach, albeit one underwater and with a fish's tail instead of legs. *Just need to wait.. and keep a cool head.*

Bri nodded, continuing to glare at the group. She then slowly swam away, back to her rock.

Mari's gaze flicked from the crowds to her sister and back. She remained laying on her rock, occasianally waving or smiling at people who smiled or waved at her. She thought she recognized some of the humans from last night's audience once in awhile. Best to simply lay here and conserve her energies. At last, the milling crowds began to dwindle and move upstairs to the stadium seats above them.

Bri continued to subtly maintain her power state by executing small and simple tricks. She looked at Mari, *Very soon, sister.*

Mari nodded back, fluke twitching around as it often did when she was in an anxious state. *I don't wanna think about what he'll do to us if we fail.*

*This is our only shot, sister...I will try my best.* Bri said

*I know you will... I hope I do my part okay." Mari curled herself up on her rock, handfins wrapping around her tail. She could start to hear voices above them, Lucuis begining the opening acts.

Bri got herself into position to start the show. She closed her eyes and said a small prayer, *Mother...Give me the strength to earn our freedom."

Mari watched her sister, then closed her own eyes, thinking of Mother, hoping and praying. Also, kinda blurry and further back in her head, she imagined a tall handsome human man, holding onto four squirming children between the ages of 2 and 8. And just for good measure, in case her sister didn't think of them, she imagined a tall dark haired man with a set of black wolf ears and tail, and a pair of 8 year old twins, a boy dark like his father and a girl with light brown hair, both also sporting wolfy parts.

"Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls! It is now time for our main attraction!" Lucius said. His voice echoed through the tent. "Direct from the seven seas..."

The tank lurched as it began to rise. Lucius moved to the platform over the tank.

Mari yelped. *Should we get in our shells at first, like a regular show? So everything looks alright and he's not as suspicious?*

*Yes!* Bri tucked herself into her shell.

Mari immediately dashed into her shell and closed the lid on herself, as always, the end of her tail sticking out. She giggled suddenly. *Wait, sis, I wanna do this at least once before we leave this place forever...* She violently waggled the end of her tail and made a loud THPPPPPPPPPBBTT! noise. The giant clam with the blue-green fishtail tongue blew Bri a rasberry.

Bri started to laugh as the tank continued to ascend. Bri then mimiced the motion. The tank locked into position just as she made the sound, causing the crowd to laugh.

Lucius was cut off in mid-introduction, glaring down at the tank.

*NOW!* Bri shouted, throwing her shell open and racing for the surface.

Mari smashed her clam open and shot for the top, heading straight for their captor.

Just as Bri surfaced, she began the song. It was very powerful and beautiful in sound. Lucius looked shocked, "What are you....NO!" He then glared at Bri, attempting to stop her with his mental powers.

Just hen, Mari breached the surface just in front of him, splashing everything. She arched gracefully upwards.. and then downward.. towards the platform he was standing on.. towards him. There was a wet, slapping thud as several hundred pounds of mermaid (mainly tail)slammed down on top of the ringmaster, soaking and pinning him in place, stunned. "Hiya, boss!"

"Get....Off!" He ordered.

Bri continued to sing, drawing on more strength and raising herself out of the tank on a column of water. It took only moments before the crowd and the minions of Lucius were enthralled by the song. She then stared at Lucius and directed it at him.

He started to slow down his resistance, staring at her and doing all he could to fight.

Mari scowled at Lucius, righted herself on top of him, and rapidly and aggressively introduced his face to her fluke. "Say hello to my fishy end!" She punned, then 'kicked' it like a motorboat propeller. WAPWAPWAPWAPWAPWAPWAPWAP!

The stunning effect pushed his resistance to zero. He was now under Brianna's spell. His eyes glazed over and he lay there staring at her.

Mari slowed down her Viscous Fluke Assault ™. *Should I stop now? I kinda wanna do it more. And harder. A lot harder.*

*He's ours now.* Bri said, stopping her song. *We need to save him for Mother.*

*Yea... She'll do something nasty to him, for sure.* WAP! *So, what to do with our captive audience? We need transport to the nearest water source at least.*

Bri started looking around, *Where is the satyr?*

As though on cue, there was a grunting and clicking, and Vito pulled himself up to the top of the platform where Mari lay on top of a wet, squashed Lucius. "Dang.. I tell ya, dames, climbing up a vetical ladder ain't easy with hooves instead of feet. Wow! Ya did it!"

Bri looked at him and smiled. She then closed her eyes and focused, "Wher....wah....ta..."

Mari translated for Bri. "We need to get back to some source of water. Preferably the ocean. We were captured near there, but I'm not sure how long we were out of it until we woke up in this tank a couple days ago."

Vito nodded and stroked his beard. "There's a river going through town that leads to the sea. there's a port town about a day, day anna half south of here. The Boss here [Vito kicked Lucius in the head with a sharp little hoof] was gone for several weeks, though of course I dunno how much of that time was before and after he caught you." He glanced at the human audience. "What about them?"

Bri grinned, "Hel....p....fre.....uhs..."

Mari slapped Lucius across the face with her fluke a few more times. "We're gonna use them to help cart us to that river I guess. And free the other people that this creep has abducted over the years. Maybe not the more dangerous ones like the drider though." She gave Bri a glare. "And then we'll let them go home and do nothing else to them, right?"

She nodded, but then she pointed, "Cept....thos....toooo"

Mari turned to look. "Who?"

She was pointing to the people that had tormented the wolfgirl. They were standing and starting to walk forward.

"Oh, them... okay." *Please don't get TOO mean on them sister.* Mari turned to Vito. "She's got a beef with those guys."

Vito shrugged and rubbed his goat-bearded chin. "Whatever. Y'know, me and couple of others can probably take care of dismantling and fixing up this circus. A few may wanna stay on, but not too many. Bad memories. Let us take care of us, you just get yourselves home, eh?"

Bri turned her full attention to them. Minutes later, the two guys were standing naked locked in the wolfgirl's cage and she was outside. Another couple had shown up with piles of dung and rotten food. The girl was pelting the humans.

Bri had a satisfied grin on her face.
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Posted 31 July 2008 - 02:49 PM

Brianna propped herself up on the edge of the tank, staring at the enthralled crowd. She smiled, admiring her power over the humans. She then looked down and watched the wolf girl enjoy a measure of revenge against the few that tormented her earlier. She then listened to Mari and Vito exchange barely understandable dialect.

Mari tried to get comfortable on her evil ringmaster/bench, still occasianally slapping him across the face with her fluke. She watched the crowd of humans and her sister. *So, we need to get ourselves out of this tank, wrapped up in wet blankets, and carried to the river. Carting this mook along with us. Think you can compel a few of the strong ones to do that?*

*Of course.* Bri said. She then sang once more. Men from the crowd, here and there, started moving to the tank.

Mari grinned. Then she looked down around the edges of the platform she was on. "Ergh. Ladders. Don't work too well without feet." *Sister, think to get out of this, we're gonna have to jump out into a net of something.* "Vito, is there, like a trapeze net we can use to jump out into?"

"Oh, yeah, yeah, I see what you mean. I can go get one." The satyr stared climbing back down the ladder to the stadium floor. "Guys, we needs to get a big net down here. Why? Fer catching fish, that's why! Now do it!"

Bri looked at the activity below. She then dropped back into the tank and swam over to Mari, *So...What shall we do with him?* She asked, motioning to her sister's seat cushion.

WAP! *Take him to Mother, let her decide. Part of me wants to just take him to the ocean, and just throw him over the side of a boat and be done with it. I don't think that that would be crueler than anything mother might do though.* People were moving around underneath them, strong looking roustabouts carrying a large net.

*I think leaving him to drown would be too good for him.* Bri said. *Mother will love to meet him.*

After throwing Lucius gleefully over the edge (and into the net), the mermaids followed themselves. From there, Vito lead a group of burly guys under Bri's control to the river, stealthily creeping through the city where they had too. Mari squirmed a little from the dryness, but didn't complain about a bunch of big strong human men carting her about in their arms, doing anything she told them to.

She splashed around in the river, making disgusted faces, but happy to be free. *Ick, fresh water, no salt. I just hope this place hasn't been used by the humans to dump wastewater and, er, sewage.* "Thanks, everyone!"

Bri splashed in as well, grimacing at the feel of the water. She then looked at Lucius, who stood there with a vacant expression. She willed him forward and into the river. Bri then looked at Mari, *Tell Vito to take special care of the wolf girl...*

"Please take special care of the werewolf girl. My sister is ...fond of them."

Vito shrugged and nodded. "No problem. See ya! Or, well, probably not. Good luck. I'll take these guys back to the circus and try to explain what just happened. Er, how long will the spell yer sis cast on them last?"

*He says he will, and wants to know how long the humans will remain under the effects of your song.* Mari floated next to Lucuis, who was standing shoulder-deep in the water, still blank-eyed.

*They will be released in about 10 minutes and remember nothing of the time under the spell. He doesn't need to explain anything.* Bri replied. She then took Lucius's hand, *Mother is waiting.*

"Good-bye and thanks for your help!" Mari waved at the humans and satyr. "We're taking him back home for some... personal revenge." She gave a wicked grin, then dove and started swimming downstream. *C'mon, sis.*

Bri waved at the gathered group and dove, taking the man under with her.

They spend the next day and a half swimming towards the ocean, keeping their captive under the effects of Bri's song and also under their water-breathing spell so that they could all travel under the surface to avoid being seen. They tended to eat and sleep in shifts, watching over their prisoner. Finally, as they entered an estuary, the taste of salt in the water began to touch their lips.

"We're here, back in the sea!" Mari did a full body breach in joy, no longer caring if she was seen.

Bri took a deep breath and echoed her sister's sentiment. *Yay!* she squealed, breaching shortly after Mari.

Mari managed to settle down and tugged at the clothes and jewels still adorning her human torso. "Think it's safe to try to contact Mother now?" *Um, oops. Can you speak human again yet sister? Was asking if it's safe to try to contact Mother now. Lucius is under our control now, but there might still be something in these things he gave us.*

*I don't know...We can try...* Bri said, fidgeting at her own clothing. *Wait...We can make him take it off!*

Mari nodded, then giggled. *You're suggesting that we let the man who captured us and made us his slaves strip us naked? I'm now sure I'm comfortable with that... I just won't mention this part to Chris I guess. He might get jealous.*

*If it means getting home faster, then I couldn't care less!* Bri said. She then commanded Lucius to remove the offending articles from her. He did so with no show of emotion. Bri suddenly felt liberated.

Mari sighed and left Lucuis remove the odd halter top and jeweled tiara from her as well. Something.. lefted from her, something she couldn't quite describe. *I do feel.. something. Better, at least.* She patted herself down. *Try calling Mother now then?*

Bri nodded and moved to Mari, taking her handfins. It seemed almost automatic considering Bri's current condition.

Mari gave her sister's handfins a happy squeeze and thought about the Sea Witch. Almost immediately, a bubbling silver whirlpool appeared near them.

THERE YOU ARE! WHERE HAVE YOU TWO BEEN!? I'VE ALTERNATED BETWEEN BEING ANGRY WITH YOU AND WORRYING MY HEAD OFF!

Bri jumped, *But Mother! It's not our fault this time! We were...Detained.*

Detained? By what, who? Mari promptly showed Lucuis forward. *By this guy! He captured us just as our tails grew and dragged us to his circus and dumped us in a big fish tank and made us use our mermaid powers for his own benefit- stealing from his fellow humans!* She clenched her handfins angrily.

HE DID WHAT!? WHY, HOW, HE SHALL SUFFER FOR THIS INSULT AND AFFRONTERY!

Bri grinned, *I was hoping you'd say that. We were going to bring him to you.*

The silver mass of glowing bubbles grew larger. Grrr ... Yes, bring him to me! Oh, and come join me yourselves as well too of course! A portal opened up in the center of the bubbles.

Bri took the man's hand and pulled him through the portal. She was then in the Sea Witch's cave. She instantly released the man and swam for Mother.

She was nearly bowled away from behind by the blue-green rocket of her sister, who blasted past her at full speed, tackling/hugging the Sea Witch hard. *MOTHER! We missed you!*

Bri twirled in the water and then joined the hug.

Mari thrashed her tail around, like an overfriendly dog wagging. Mother hugged her and her sister back. *It's wonderful to have you two back here again... I had so many plans for what to do with you this time. We'll still think of something to do.*

*Yay!* Bri said gleefully. *It's so wonderful to be here, I don't want to ever leave!*

Mother looked at her red-tailed daughter. *That can be arranged... but I don't think you really mean that. Hm, what do you think, my other daughter?*

Mari's smile wavered. *I love being down here with you, being a mermaid and having fun with my sister, but...*

The Sea Witch sighed and patted Mari on the head. *I understand. Now, about that human man who captured you...*

Lucius stood there dumbfounded and with a vacant expression. Bri swam up to him and pushed him forward, *He did things to us...He hurt us with a cane that zapped us...Put things on us that caused us pain when we tried to call you...And he made us do tricks for his amusement.*

The Sea Witch looked grim, flexing her handfins like she wanted to just grab the human and tear him into itty-bitty bits. *Did he now.. you know, I think I know him from somewhere... often been poking around the sea for water and ocean based magics. Possibly got into a fight with Sven once or twice.. Lucy something? Lucius?*

*His name is Lucius, Mother. He runs a circus with other...Magical creatures...* Bri said as she circled Lucius, *I did this to him...Sister held him down and I sang, bringing the humans under our control and letting us escape.*

*I pinned him under my mer-butt and slapped him across the face with my tail!* Mari stated proudly.

The Sea Witch patted Mari on the head and continued to glare at he human. *Yes, very nice.. so.. what shall we do with him? I have several ideas, but would like your opinions.*

*Hmmm....* Bri said, *I don't know...What do you think sister? Do you think he should be made captive to serve for our amusement?*

Mari pondered. *Maybe... I refuse to kill him though... maybe turn him into a slimy eel? A spineless jellyfish? Just erase his memories and let him spend the rest of his life up on the surface as a beggar needing money from others? Hm, turn him into some kinda half-fish half-human creature and make him preform tricks for us? Or would that be too close to home?*

Bri looked at him with hate filling her eyes, *Mother, I want him to suffer...He should never again walk on land and be forced to serve us...Just like he did to us...Turn him into something...Whatever you want...But he should never be allowed to leave.*

*Alright then... let's see... I have an idea. He was a greedy, grasping person who used his abilities to capture others and to aquire wealth. Got it.* The Sea Witch closed hr eyes and waved her handfins at the object of her daughter's distain. She spoke, not in mermish or any human language, but with words of raw magic. A bolt of sickly green energy flashed between her and Lucius, who vanished in a burst of green bubbles. His shredded clothes floated own out of the bubbles. Mari and Bri swam up a little closer to get a good look at what had happened to him. As the bubbles around where he had been cleared, a very large octopus was revealed, puffing its mantle up and wriggling it tentacles around in confusion. It floated in the water, then shot off with a cloud of ink for a remote corner of the vast dark cave. A minute later, odd little clinking noises could be heard.

*I have sentenced him to guard all the human treasures that have ever fallen down into my realm, gold and jewels carried by sunken ships and the like. All the wealth he can wrap his tentacles around, but never use for himself anymore. Do you think this is a fitting punishment, daughters?* Their Mother flexed her tail proudly.

*I do...* Bri said. *It's over then...It's done.*

*It's fitting.* Mari listened to the sound of coins and gems constalty being scooped up and then dropped through octopus tentacles. She looked at her sister. *How are you feeling, sis?* She felt there was something else she needed to talk to Mother about, but wasn't sure if now was a good time or not.

*Free...* Bri said. *And just like I'm home!* She added, flipping around.
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Posted 01 August 2008 - 03:36 PM

The red-tailed mermaid swam slowly, using the tall and thick kelp as cover. She had seen the flash of a blue-green tail darting behind a rock, trying to hide. She made her way along the bottom and to the base of the rock before lurching over it and slapping the tail with a handfin, "Tag! You're it!"

Mari yelped in happy surprise and spun around, swimming after her fleeing sister. It had been well over a full day since their escape, it was good to just be able to swim around freely and have fun. Her sister was still acting rather airheaded (waterheaded?), but Mari was no longer worried that her human half had been totally subsumed.

She still had yet to confront their Mother about the information they'd learned from Vito, about using their magic too much could be addicitive and peramantly transform them. Mari wasn't quite certain she wanted to know if Mother knew or had intended it all along. For now, she just played with Bri and relished being back in the open sea.

Bri darted around the kelp. Although she hadn't been using her magic, the effects from the exertion still wore on her. Her tail had lost some of its shine, but she was still quite mermaidish, slowly remembering her human past. She giggled as she kept just out of reach of her sister. "Nya nya! Can't catch me!"

"You'll get tired sooner or later! Then I'll come after you when you're least expecting it!" Mari knew that Bri was generally faster and more agile, but didn't have the staying power. An ambush attack would probably be best. She abruptly broke off her pursuit and swam down into a coral forest, certain that Bri would eventually be unable to resist the urge to follow.

Bri kept swimming, looking back to see her sister break off. She was suddenly consumed by curiosity and turned around to follow. "Hey! Where ya going? Giving up?"

Mari said nothing and looked around for a good place to squeeze herself into and hide.

Bri started to look for Mari, poking around a kelp growth, "Sister?" She said.

Above her, a small rowboat paddled along the surface, cutting slowly through the kelp floating to the surface.

Mari popped out from behind a rock and shot towards Bri. Instead of simply tagging her, she wrapped her arms around Bri's tail in a bearhug and refused to let go. "Gotcha! Haha!"

"Gah!" Bri said, starting to kick furiously and head for the surface. She was going to try and leap clear and throw her sister off. She wound her way into the kelp growths, looking down at Mari, "Leggo!" She said, building speed. She didn't see the boat above her.

Mari stuck her tongue out. "Make me!"

"OK!..." With a heavy thud, she slammed into the bottom of the boat. It caused the boat to lurch upward and stopped Bri in her tracks. She then went limp, heavily dazed and bordering on unconsciousness.

"Oh crap!" Mari finally released Bri. "Boat! Sister! Thud!" She was reduced to near monosyballic panic, looking from the stunned Brianna to the shaking boat about then. She grabbed Bri and carefully rubbed the lump forming on her head with her handfins. "Are you alright!?"

"Ow...." Bri groaned. "Ooo...."

There was a second groan from above the surface that came from the boat.

"You stay here." Mari advised her sister, then swam up to the surface and poked her head above the water, looking at the boat, trying to get a peek at who was inside it. Humans could be tricky and dangerous, as they had so recently learned. They might need to rswim away fast, or the human might need help. "Hello?'

"Help me..." A weak female voice said. "Please...Help me..."

Mari cautiously swam closer and grabbed the edge of the small boat with her handfins, pulling it down on her side slightly, allowing her to look into it. "Hello?' she said again; there was something familair about that voice.

A young girl with bruises on her face and a few cuts that had been healing for a few days lay on the bottom of the boat in a shallow pool of water. A small sack was near her, oozing a milky liquid and giving off the smell of old bread. She was sunburned and exhausted. "Help..." She said.

She looked like the girl from the circus that swam with them.

"I know you! T-something? Tan... Tanya?" Mari slapped her tail against the underside of the boat in excitement, causing it to rock more. "You look bad. I can drag your boat to shore!"

"No...Not back..." She said softly. "He'll hurt...me."

Bri poked her head up next to Mari, keeping a handfin on the growing lump, "Who you talking to?"

"It's that girl from the circus, who we swam with. Tanya. Do you remember her? What's she doing out here?"

"Oh yea...I remember her!" Bri said, "I dunno...Let's ask her."

Mari leaned further into the boat, reaching out and shaking the young human woman hard with a handfin. "Hello? What's wrong? Why are you out here? Were, were you looking for us?"

She nodded, "Yes...Please...Help me..."

"Hmmmph. We could take you back down with us for awhile. You need to get those burns and cuts taken care of though." Mari turned to Bri. "Sister, what do you think?"

"I dunno...I don't think Mother wants any more human interaction..."

"Take me with...You..." She pleaded.

"Oh, dang..." Mari sighed and shook her head. "I'm gonna do it, whether Mother likes it or not." She grabbed Tanya's arm and slowly pulled her out of the boat and into the water, concentrating and casting the spell of granting water-breathing on her as she did so.

Bri then helped, not wanting to hinder her sister's wishes. She then aided in carrying the girl.

"Now what? Where? There's really only Mother's cave is she doesn't wanna go back to shore. And the water-breathing spell will also allow her to drink seawater with no ill effects, but she'll need something to eat, and I doubt she can just crunch up a raw live crab." Mari held the human close to herself, swimming vaguely in the direction of the Sea Witch's home. The girl greedily drank the seawater when she heard that.

"Let's get her to Mother, then." Bri said. "She'll know what to do."

Mari swam more slowly than she might otherwise have, minding the weakened human she carried. "Not too much further now... i'm still not sure what Mother will do with her though."

"I dunno either." Bri said.

The girl started to look a little better as she became rehydrated.

After slightly less than an hour of careful swimming, the mermaids sisters with human in tow arrived at the deep canyon where the Sea witch dwelling in her cavern. *Mother?* Mari called out loudly. *We have, uh, a guest.*

Tanya looked around in amazement at the sight. She looked nervous.

*'Guest'?* A silvery light began to glow, then the Sea Witch swam up into view. She blinked at the human female her daughters were carting around. *Um, who is that, and why are you bringing her here?*

*Her name is Tanya...We found her drifting in a boat.* Bri said. *When we were captive, one of our tricks was to swim with a human and grant them water breathing...She is the one that we performed with...*

*Oh. That's nice. But why is she here now?* Mother swam closer and examined Tanya, noting her ill-looking condition. *Drifting in a boat... do you think she actually followed you here for some reason?*

Bri shrugged. *I don't know...Let's ask her.*

Mari swam over to a long flat rock and lay Tanya down on it. "So... we meet again. Whatcha doing out here?"

"Looking for you." She said. "I want to join you."

"Looking for us? Join us? Why? What for?" Mari blinked and swam around in circles. "Join us how? You mean.. become a mermaid yourself?"

"Yes...I want to get away from the world up there..." She said. "I have nothing...And that little time I spent with you was...magical."

Bri joined the circling, "But there has to be something for you up there..."

"No, there isn't." She said sitting down. "I am an orphan...My parents abandoned me when I was two...No one would adopt me...And now that I've turned eighteen, I'm being forced to leave the orphanage...But that's not the worst part."

Mari 'sat' down on the rock next to her, laying her leg out alongside Tanya's legs. "What's the worst part? This is a very, very, big thing to decide to do, after all."

"There is a man up there....That is claiming me as his...'wife'...But I don't love him...He makes me do things...Hurts me...and treats me like a possession...not a human." Tanya said. "That is something I don't want to go back to ever."

"Can't you just run from him?" Bri asked.

"No...He locks me in my room. I had to jump out the window to escape."

Mari patted Tanya on the shoulder. "That's terrible, but there are... less extreme options."

Bri looked at Mari, "Are you trying to talk her out of it?"

The Sea Witch hovered close to the three younger women. "I'm not adverse to the idea of creating new mermaids. I just want to make certain that this is truly what you want."

Mari simply shrugged. "I'm just saying that it's serious business that souldn't be decided on a whim."

She looked at the Sea Witch, "Yes...I don't want to go back. There is nothing there for me...Nothing but suffering...And I'm afraid that I will die if I stay there...Please...Let me stay here...I beg you!"

Bri looked at Tanya, "Are you absolutley sure?" She asked.

She nodded with a very sad expression on her face, nearly pleading with them.

Bri then looked at Mother, "She's telling the truth...She doesn't want to go back..."

The Sea witch looked directly into the human's eyes and nodded. "Alright then, I will do it. How much of your human self do you wish to keep? The change in body also creates a change in mind. Once you're a mermaid, you'll never again be who you were as a human, but I can choose to let you keep most or none of your human personality and memories."

Tanya thought for a moment before answering, "There is nothing worth remembering as a human..." She said, "Let me be reborn as a mermaid...With no human thoughts..."

Mari looked uncomfortable. "Was it really that bad? It almost sounds a bit too much like sentancing the human Tanya to death, or non-existance. Be very sure."

Bri looked at Mari, "This is her choice, sister..."

The Sea Witch gathered up a globe of glowing silver water in her handfins, summoning her powers and focusing them. "Brace yourself, child, as the process of being reborn as new daughter is rather... painful."

Bri backed away and watched.

Tanya closed her eyes and waited.

Mari winced at mother's mention of that, and swam off the rock, looking at her own tail, then back at the human girl, who wouldn't be one for very long. The Sea Witch closed her eyes, then tossed the sphere of magic, which reached out and wrapped around Tanya almost hungrily.

Tanya gasped and then started to convulse. She shrieked as the process began. Her clothing shredded and fell to the cave floor, cast off of her as she writhed.

Brianna closed her eyes, trying to shut out the screaming.

The girl's transformation was relatively swift. In a matter of moments, she had the appearance that both Mari and Bri had after their initial transformation. Only her tail had formed, revealing that she would be a very dark blue in color. After her legs completed the transformation into her tail, her eyes rolled back in her head and she passed out.

Bri slowly swam up to her and looked, "Will she be all right?"

The Sea Witch carefully checked the sleeping body of her newest daughter. "Yes, but she'll probably be very child-like for her first few days after waking up, having no memories of being human, or who she once was, and only having the roughest knowledge of how to life and act as a mermaid at first. I'll probably need you two to help her out."

"We can do that..." Bri said, watching as Tanya's transformation slowly continued.

As Tanya's fingers thinned and hands flattened out into webbed blueish fins, Mari remembered her own first, slow, painful transformation from human woman to mermaid. At least Tanya was unconcious thoughout the ordeal. "How long should it take? Looks like she's already pretty close to done."

"I dunno..." Bri said, "But for now...." Bri swam past her sister and slapped her tail, "Last one to the Kelp field has to hunt!"

Mari gave her new sister one last long look before following her older one out of the cave. There were stills some things she felt uncomfortable with and would like an explaination for, but maybe now still wasn't the right time to ask.
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Posted 11 August 2008 - 04:05 PM

Brianna sighed as she stretched on the rock in Mother's cave. Time was nearing and she felt the need to get to the surface. She looked at Mari who was still showing their newest sister things about being a mermaid.

Tanya had completely changed. From the time she woke up from her transformation, she was just like a child. She tailed the two mermaids, learning and asking question after question.

Mari guessed that it was the fact that she wwas a mother in her human life that made teaching the former Tanya. Despite her unease and quiet disapproval with the girl's choice to completely erase who she had once been, Mari did her very best to show the new mermaid who had been born from her about life as a daughter of the sea.

She was currently regaling her sister/pupil about the time she and Bri had danced with the sea lions and narrowly escaped from the shark. Kelp forests were interesting places to see and explore, but they had their dangers. In fact, every part of the ocean was far less clam and safe under the surface than it looked at first. Which didn't mean you could never just swim around having fun.

Tanya listened intently, looking at Mari in awe. She then asked, "So...Stay away from sharks and keep your eyes open...Got it!" She said.

Bri then swam over to Mari, "Uh, sis...It's getting to be that time."

Mari paused. " 'That time?' OH! Wait, lemme see." She closed hr eyes and concentrated, treading water with her tail. Something was off, her fluke and handfins felt slightly numb and itchy; a sudden breif soreness rushed through her tail muscles. She'd felt all of this a couple of times before, the symptoms would gradually increase over the course of several hours into she and her sister found themselves suddenly changing back into human women around sunset. "Dang... I think our little sister still needs a lot to learn. Mother and certainly fill in the rest." Something else was still bugging Mari though. "Sister.. how long has it been? This time, since the day Lucius captured us?" She tried counting it out on the long spines of her handfins. "Wait, nine days!?"

"Nine days?!" Bri chirped, "That's not possible, is it?"

"What's going on?" Tanya asked, "Oh wait...This is about you having to go back to land, isn't it?"

"Yes, we do.. though we should have done it two days ago. That tears it, I really do need to talk with Mother about what Vito told me about using our magic. All that forced showing it off back at the circus delayed the change back until now." Mari balled her fins and swam down towards Mother's cave, despite the slowly rising instinct to swim up towards the surface, to land.

Bri followed Mari, knowing what she was going to discuss and wanting to hear the answers herself. Tanya followed idly like the little sister.

Mari swam around near the bottom of the deep sea canyon, actually sensing the pressure for the first time since as long as she could remember. "MOTHER! I NEED TO SPEAK WITH YOU AT ONCE!"

The Sea witch poked her head out one of the side caves, then swam out all the way. "What is it, daughter? You sound upset."

"I've been putting this off, because I wasn't sure how to ask, and not certain I wished to know that answers.... but, when you taught my sister... Brianna, how to use our inherant mermaid magic over water, why didn't you tell her that it was addictive to use, and might trap her forever in mermaid form so she could never change back into a human?" Mari thrashed her tail around in restrained anger.

Bri fidgeted behind Mari, "Yea. I've been wanting to use more magic, but have been resisting." She said. "That wasn't fair of you not to tell us!"

The Sea Witch's mouth made a dainty little 'O' of dismay. "I, I did mean to, but forgot, I never really intended, that is..." She looked away from Mari and Bri and sank a few yards to the sea floor, tail curling up underneath herself. "I didn't mean to deicve you. I neglected to tell you at first because I forgot that that might happen, and then when I remembered, I still didn't tell you because a part of me didn't want you to know; that actually hoped that it WOULD happen to you, and I'd finally have my daughters back with me full time again. And that made me feel guilty, but still not guilty enough to reveal my mistake, my greed. So, the longer I went without telling you, the harder I knew it would be when I finally did. I, I'm sorry." She started to cry, and couldn't meet their eyes.

Bri folded her arms and then sighed, "I can understand your desire...But you know that we have an agreement." She said, "And you now have a new daughter as a result of our use of magic..."

Mari bit her lip and looked her her Mother, very mixed feeling churning in her. She could understand what the Sea Witch had done, and her reasons for doing it, but it was still the wrong thing to have done. The part of her that loved the Sea Witch as her Mother had already been badly shaken, and was in the process of slowly slipping away by inches as it was. She sighed. "Mother, I... forgive you."

The Sea Witch looked up at her daughters, new and old. "I, don't know what to say. Thank you, Mariana. I'll try harder to earn your forgiveness. And I AM sorry about what I've done. And then, it's also true I have a new daughter to look after now..." She shifted around uncomfortably. "So... almost time for you two to leave me again?"

"Yes it is." Bri said. "But you know we will return in two years. And this time, we will try not to let anything happen to us."

Mari snorted. "We try EVERY year to not let something happen to us. But it has a couple times anyway. Oh well, we'll still keep on trying. No point in relaxing our guard. Ow!" A small muscle at base of her fluke cramped for a moment, causing the flipper to curl and flex painfully.

Bri's hands clenched involuntarily as her tail twitched. "Uh...We gotta..."

The Sea Witch rubbed her handfins together and sighed. "you know, it might be possible for me to... recind my gift to you both finally. It would take me a great deal of effort, but if you don't want to come back anymore, and are not sure if you can trust me, I can make it so you don't have to come back, ever again. I'd miss you very much, but I do have a new daughter to take care of now."

"No!" Bri said, "No...That's all right...I have a great time here...I actually look forward to it sometimes..."

Mari looked somewhat shocked by Mother's proposal. "Yes, yes, what sister, Bri, said! I don't want to give this up, but, well, I AM still upset with you and all." She fidgeted. "I'd nice you made the offer at least though. We, we all make mistakes. We just need to make sure we admit to them and try to correct them. That's all."

"Yea...Thanks anyway..." Bri said. She then swam forward and hugged the Sea Witch, "Thank you, Mother...Thank you for your gift to us...I shall miss you...And if ever you are in trouble and need us..."

Mari swam up and joined in the hug. "... we'll always be here for you."

Tanya swam up and hugged as well.

Mari reached out with a free handfin and tostled Tanya' hair. "Hey, little sister. Take care of mother while your big sisters are gone, okay?"

"Kay!" She said happily, "You're coming back soon, yes?"

"Well..." Mari look uncomfortable. "No, not very soon." She flexed her tail back and forth a few times, trying to aleaviate a growing ache in its muscles and bones.

"We'll be back in a while...Just don't go looking for us, OK?" Bri said.

Tanya nodded sadly, "I'll miss you, sisters..."

Bri looked at Mari, "Gotta go, Mari....Now..."

Mari nodded. It was still probably several hours away til sundown (hard to tell in pitch black water with eyes adapted to seeing at those depths), but as the bursts of pain slowly increased in length and frequency, swimming would get harder and harder. They needed to make for shore immediately. "mother, Tanya, I love you, bye-bye!" Mari flapped her aqua fluke like a hand waving goodbye, then fled.

Bri did the same and followed Mari. She caught up, "We have a long way to go and not a lot of time..."

Mari gritted her teeth. "I find that it helps to use childbirthing relaxatio techniques. Thinking of the process like contractions, labor pains." It was becoming easier and easier to remember and think about human terms and ideas. Mari recalled what it felt like to eat hot fresh cooked meat and bread, sleeping in a bed, wearing clothes. "Heh, you remember what getting your feet tickled feels like?"

"OH yea...It was a favorite thing of Cai to do." She said before groaning. Her tail seemed to do its own thing, causing her to surge forward and then stop.

Mari did a fast U-turn, flipping around and going back for Bri, scooping her under and arm and then shooting back towards shore with her. "Keep going, keep going! Tell me when you feel up to moving on yuor own again!"

It took a few moments before Bri said she was all right. She looked at her hands and could see the handfins beginning to shrink. "Go!" She shrieked.

Mari's own fins and fluke went from sore, itchy and slightly painful and burning with spurts of a stabbing pain. She worked her tail for all it was worth, knowing that the mild burning in her muscles there could erupt into true agony at any moment. "Still a couple miles to the shore, to the town. I think we'll make it, if only just barely."

Bri screamed as a massive spasm hit her. Once it passed, she grabbed Mari, "If we swim together, we might make it!"

Mari looked at her sister... at Brianna. She tried to agree but merely shrieked as her own tail felt like it was trying to tie itself into a knot and split in half at the same time. "GAAAH! YESsshhh. Do that." She held on to her sister and did her best to syncronise her tail moments with Bri's. They did speed up noticably, but was it enough? The sea floor below them was rising up towards a beach. Every few minutes, a wave a stabbing pain shot through the length of her tail, from fluke to pelvis. Mari groaned and tried to ride the waves through, taking deep breathes, in and out. The agonizing pulsing told her that the muscle and bone were begining to change, preparing to divide, split apart, reform themselves. She glanced at her sister and saw a furrow starting to develop down the middle of Bri's red tail, just a shallow indenation so far, but every time the pain washed through them again, it got deeper. Mari didn't check, but knew that her own tail was experiencing something similair.

Bri yelled as another wave hit her. She tried to work through, swimming as fast as she could. The water was twenty feet deep when she suddenly stopped and curled up. Her fluke split in half, shrinking and turning back into feet. The webbing between her fingers quickly receded and her fingers returned to their normal size while the scales and fins on her arms disappeared back into her flesh.

Mari screamed and burbled as her own fluke followed suit, mid-kick. Almost immediately the rest of her tail seemed to simply unzip itself, tear itself apart along the length of the furrow. She heard her sister's yell of pain redouble as the same happened to her. For a moment, Mari seemed to have two tails, then the 'tails' shortened, fins and flukes and scales disappearing, turning into soft pink human flesh. Throughout the agony of her splitting tail reforming into human legs, of her fluke and handfins thickening and shortening back into human feet and hands, she held on to Bri's arm, and desperately swam upwards towards the surface, kicking away with calves, knees, thighs and toes before they had even fully developed back into their human selves.

Bri tried to swim as well but was having trouble getting her legs to cooperate. She made very little motion upwards. Her eyes widened as she lost the ability to breathe water. Panic set in.

Ten feet below the surface, Mari's body completed the change back into a normal 30 year old human woman. Her water-filled lungs could no longer process their contents anymore than they could breath in raw fire. The faces of her children flashed in her mind as it began to black out. I'll miss you, my babies..

Bri's movements slowed as she started to pass out. They barely felt the heave of the water form into a large wave that pushed them towards the beach. With a mighty crash, the two women were thrown from the sea onto the beach. The water quickly receded and Bri rolled over, expelling the water from her lungs and gasping for air.

The impact shocked Mari back into full wakefulness. She thrashed on the sand, then painfully coughed the water out. After several minutes of extreme weakness, she began sucking air back in deeply and naturally. "Ooooh ..alive.. wa happen?"

Bri coughed a few times before looking back at the sea. A blue-haired woman looked at them and waved. "Looks like little sister is a fast learner."

Mari sat up and peered out at the ocean, then a wide grin split her face and she waved back. "Way to go little sis..." Then she flopped back down, exhausted. Coming from behind, she heard human voices. "Made it back to viliage. Hope they remembered to save us a new set of clothes. Mer-Mari may not have a problem with showing everything off, but Duchess Mariana Deschain is a married noblewoman."

"And Brianna Silmar is a proud Huntress." Bri added. "Well...That was certainly an interesting week."

" 'Interesting' is one way to put it anyway." Mari finally stood up, wobbled for a moment, then looked down at her new/old lower body. "Hello, legs and feet! nice to see you again!"

Bri likewise staggered to her feet, curling her toes into the sand. "Mmmm....Well...It was fun but I'm glad to be back."

Mari wriggled her toes at little as a pair of ten or twelve year old girls dashed up to them. "There you two are! The whole town has been in an uproar since that creepy guy dragged you off last week. Many of us were afraid we'd never see you again!" They began patting Mari and Bri down with the towels and blankets they carried. Mari accepted it, glancing back out to sea. There was a splash as a large dark blue fishtail went under. She looked back down at the girls, then to the nearby houses and shops lining the beach a hundred yards away. A group of adults were making their way down, some cheering, some still looking worried. "We had.. an experience. But it's over now and everything is alright. Come on, let's get back to town and get some real clothes on, and we can tell everyone about it..."
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