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i gotta get outta here

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October 2017 Event ParticipantAntarsia's 1st Birthday
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Ugh, his smile was charming. Rah-juh might look scruffy, but it was in a dark and rugged sort of way that worked for him. Heather refused to make eye contact or let herself get too comfortable around this guy, even if he was being sweet. She had already gotten into enough trouble by spending time around men, and she didn't know of anyone else who had ever benefited from a man, either. Let alone a land dwelling man. A land dwelling man who killed people. A land dwelling man who killed people and saved mermaids without asking for anything in return.

Anyway.

"If it's a big city for mermaids, it can't be that bad," said Heather in reply to Rah-juh's concerns about her comfort. "Better than where I came from, and that's all I wanted. I mean, there can't be that many options, anyway. So, like, I can just go down there and never have to deal with land again. Sounds good to me."

Even if the city wasn't that great, settling for such a large place with a lot of other mermaids sounded a lot better than being carted around land until she found something else. Or going home. As long as she was better off than she had been at home, she figured she could be content. Or, at least, not miserable. There was no need for this guy to wait around for her; he didn't owe her anything, and she didn't want to feel more indebted to him.

"Why would I want to grow legs?" Heather scoffed at the idea of a potion that could allow her to walk on land. "I think I've had enough of the land. Besides, legs are ugly. And I'm sure a potion like that isn't cheap or easy to get, either, so no thank you. I'll be fine."

Heather swam a bit away, getting ready to dive down and find this mermaid city she'd been told about. But first, she glanced back at Rah-juh, who was still sitting there on the dock. Why did he care so much about her happiness? Was it even genuine? Could he actually just be a kind guy? Well, whatever. Regardless of why he acted the way he did, they lived in completely different worlds and would have nothing to do with each other ever again after this.

"You don't have to wait around. I'm sure I'll be fine," she told him. "And if I'm not, it's not your problem, so..."

The mermaid glanced around, stalling. There wasn't anything more for her to say, but for some reason she just felt like they weren't done here.

"...thanks."

With that, Heather finally dove beneath the surface to look for her new home.

Kila Offline

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October 2017 Event ParticipantEvent HosterContributorAntarsia's 1st Birthday
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Well, he'd gotten a proper thanks! Rah found himself smiling, but before he could reply, Heather had slipped away beneath the water's surface.

And even though she was gone, the man couldn't stop thinking about the spunky mermaid with the toxic touch.

-----

Even though Heather had said he didn't need to stick around, Rah did exactly that. He'd spent the past few days lurking around the shores of the lake, sleeping in various odd places that were terrible for his back, keeping a watchful eye out for the mermaid who'd piqued his interest and concerns. He supposed no news was good news, but he was still concerned. A new city full of new merpeople, nixies, nox, and even sirens--it couldn't have been easy to adjust to. The poor girl. Rah wished he could breathe underwater so he could at least make sure she was okay, but he hadn't inherited that part of being a siren.

And he wasn't sure if that was a blessing of a curse.

He sat on the shore, fishing for his dinner. In truth, it was less fishing and more coercing the simple-minded fish to beach themselves and drown. The rod was simply to keep up appearances for anyone who happened to wander close to his makeshift camp. Tonight he'd be sleeping on the ground, and he hoped that'd be better than sleeping on top of crates. He could rough it, but he'd grown used to certain comforts like beds. Which he'd paid for a night at the inn, but unfortunately his concern for Heather drove him to stay close to the lake.

A waste of money, but he could deal with that if it meant saving Heather from herself.

He lay back on the shore, dark eyes fixed on some lazing clouds overhead. There was a tick in his brain, and that tick was Heather. It was so hard to shake her from his thoughts, and honestly? It was a bit exhilarating. He hadn't had a good hunt in a while, and difficult prey was always the most satisfying to catch... No. No, he couldn't allow himself to think like this. Not again. Not now. Not ever again.

But the dark thoughts lingered.

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October 2017 Event ParticipantAntarsia's 1st Birthday
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Life in the city was very different from what Heather had grown used to in her life so far. There were so many different kinds of people in Ecuru, and it was a bit overwhelming. Merfolk and other water-dwelling creatures from freshwater and ocean systems bustled around, and even some magic-enhanced land-dwellers moved about the collection of shipwrecks-turned-civilization. Aside from land people, the most different kind of person Heather had ever seen was her saltwater father, and she had certainly never seen such a lively and crowded environment. She didn't even know where to begin, or how to fit herself into the busy city.

For now, she kept mostly to herself, exploring and trying to understand how things worked around here. The young mermaid was intrigued as much as intimidated, and deep down she knew that this was much more her style than the small pond village she was used to. So many new things, so many things to do and talk about, if she could only just squeeze herself into this life somehow, she knew she would be much more content.

And it was all thanks to that weird land-dweller, Rah-juh. Heather found her thoughts turning to him even when the sights and sounds of the city roared around her. She had been kind of, well, rude to him, even after he saved her, and he seemed to have actually cared about her well being. He said he would stick around, but Heather had told him to go. Had he listened? As the days passed, Heather grew more curious about the mysterious man whom had brought her here.

This curiosity is what led Heather to approach the surface of the lake again that evening, lurking in the shallower areas to see if anyone was around. There were a few fishermen along the shore, but none of them were familiar. Having learned her lesson, Heather steered clear of the strange men and moved to other parts of the lake to see what she could find.

And that's when she saw fish beaching themselves for no apparent reason. Before Heather's eyes, a couple of smaller fish swam right up to the shore and hopped onto the sand. Confused, the mermaid cautiously swam closer, trying to understand what could drive the fish to do something so stupid. Fish couldn't be suicidal, right? She was about to re-evaluate how she viewed the sentience of lesser creatures when she saw a dark figure holding a stick over the water near where the fish were traveling.

It was Rah-juh, of course. Of course it was him who could persuade fish to jump out of the water! Heather almost wasn't surprised. After all, she had seen this man kill someone and convince his victim to just let it happen. What was up with that? An alarm in the back of Heather's mind went off, telling her to just turn back and go back to trying to find a place in the city. There could be nothing good about a magical man so fluent with killing. Even if he had saved her. And was kind of handsome. But handsome doesn't mean anything if he's going to kill you! she chided herself.

Undecided, Heather continued to lurk in the shallows, hiding in some weeds and cattails as she observed Rah-juh with burning intrigue. What was up with this guy?

Kila Offline

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October 2017 Event ParticipantEvent HosterContributorAntarsia's 1st Birthday
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Rah was very careful to keep an eye on how many fish he was catching. Any that were too big or too small, he ushered back into the lake. Take only what you need; it had been a philosophy his mentor had taught him from the very beginning all those years ago. It felt like a lifetime ago, with all that had changed.

With how much Rah himself had changed.

A tug at the edge of his radar let him know someone was watching from the water's edge, beyond the reeds and cattails. It was a familiar presence l, and one he'd been hoping for, but there was apprehension around her thoughts; and a tinge of curiosity that made his head swim and his heart swell.

But the grumbling of his stomach was more pressing than the pretty mermaid eyeing him from a distance, and it's do him no good to frighten her off so soon. At least until he got another look at those splendid violet eyes of hers...

Rah was very quick to clean the handful of fish he'd lured to their deaths as he opened their bellies with a single cut of a knife to discard the innards into the water. From there it was a matter of skewering them onto sticks and roasting them by the fire, and soon the air was thick with the scent of smoke and fish.

Perhaps now would be a good time to invite his guest to dinner?

As he washed his hands in the lake, Rah cast a glance over to Heather's hiding place as he gave a toothy grin.

"You know you don't have to hide from me, right?" He said teasingly. "I can tell you've been watching me this whole time, and I'm flattered, but I'd be happier if you came to join me." Rah patted the shore beside him. "The grass if soft, and I've got dinner. Plus I want to hear how you've been settling in here."

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October 2017 Event ParticipantAntarsia's 1st Birthday
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Heather watched with wide eyes as Rah finished picking out his fish and began preparing him. The way he easily gutted them reminded the mermaid of how simply he had killed the fisherman in the market only a few days ago. Was it normal for a guy to be that handy with a knife, using it like an extension of his hand? Like, Heather had obviously used knives before for various things, but it seemed different to watch Rah. At least it was just fish this time. Maybe she was just too paranoid.

After the fish had been skewered and set on the fire, Rah finally acknowledged that Heather was watching him. And apparently, he knew the whole time! He had just sat there quietly while she was hiding without saying anything? If Heather had realized someone was watching her, she for shire would have had something to say about it right away. He probably had only just noticed her and wanted to seem cool. Yeah, that was probably it.

Heather hesitated for a minute before slipping back into the deeper water to swim over to the bank where Rah was now waiting for her. 

“I was just watching the fish and happened to see you,” she said to him and she pulled herself up onto a shallow pool close but not too close to Rah’s fire. She normally ate fish raw- it wasn’t exactly easy to cook underwater- but the smell of the roasting skewers was definitely pleasant. Tempted, she scooted just a bit closer, keeping most of her tail in the shallows while her torso rested on the grass, her head propped up in her hands.

“I thought it was weird that they were just beaching themselves like that, though I wa less surprised when I saw they were swimming to you. What kind of weird magic is that?” Without waiting for him to answer, she went on: “The city is great, anyway. Like, I didn’t even know there could be so many kinds of people in one place. Especially, like, did you know there’s plants that let land species breath underwater? There are land people who live in the city. It’s really weird, but also really cool. So like, if they can do that, I’m sure I won’t have a problem fitting in.”

While talking she looked everywhere but directly at him, but her eyes met his now. “I told you I’d be fine, so you didn’t have to stay. Why are you still out here? Like, you could have been sitting here forever and never seen me. And like, I don’t think you just like fishing that much.”

Kila Offline

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October 2017 Event ParticipantEvent HosterContributorAntarsia's 1st Birthday
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Gods she was cute, struggling to rationalize how he could have noticed her there. And she was particularly cute as she rested her upper half on the grass propped up by her elbows...

She asked so many questions, and he drank up the sound of her voice, a smile on his lips. He'd love to reach out and pull her onto his lap, but with his ungloved hands and the memory of her neurotoxins, Rah thought better of it and kept his hands to himself. Instead he leaned over to lounge casually beside her, also propped up by one of his elbows. "You know, I didn't even think of how strange it must look to water dwellers," he admitted with a shrug. "Call my magic a parting gift from my mother. I'm half siren, see, so my magic lets me control those with weaker wills. Do with that what you will." He waved it off lazily, as though mind control was no big deal.

Besides, Heather didn't need to know that he could control just about anyone, given enough time and magic, or that he could read minds. Not yet, at least. He was terrified of her finding out--given how skittish she was she'd likely leave.

He didn't like that, and the dark thoughts probed at him to not let her go. She was his.

Rah sat up and rubbed his temples, willing the thoughts away. With a deft hand he turned the fish, focusing on the task so he could pull himself free from the darker corners of his mind. He could see in her eyes that the smell of cooking fish was enticing--or had he read that in her mind? It was hard to tell, everything was jumbling together. Damn.

"I'm glad you're enjoying the city," he replied rather dryly, though there was a small smile on his face. "Like I said, I stuck around because I was worried. I just couldn't leave in good faith without making sure you were okay? You're right, I could have never seen you again, but if that was the case I would have just nicked a Mermaid's Grace off some idiot and gone down to check on you myself." Another shrug. "I'd just hate to have freed you only for you to end up in a worse situation."

Rah gave another shrug as he took a skewer from the fire, which he held out in offering to Heather. "Here, eat. You seemed to be enjoying the smell."

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October 2017 Event ParticipantAntarsia's 1st Birthday
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Heather watched Rah-juh closely as he spoke. There was something odd about him that she just couldn’t place. Truthfully, she was not a great judge of character, and it was difficult for her to read anything suspicious in the man’s dark eyes. So she frowned at him as if studying him, even if she had given up on figuring out his I tentions already.

“You’re weird,” said Heather, shifting her weight a bit to get more comfortable in the sand. “Even my own mother wouldn’t go through that much to check on me. And like, she wouldn’t need to. I’m fine now.”

The mermaid flicked her tail fin with a huff, splashing a bit of water into the air. “I can do whatever I want now, so I don’t need more help. It’s one thing to, like, be stuffed into a tiny box. Now o can actually go places. I could probably, like, go anywhere from here.”

She didn’t know if that was actually true. Really, she knew almost nothing about the world; this was the biggest she had ever seen it. If she tried to leave the lake, she would probably end up in trouble again, or at least very lost.

When Rah-juh offered the skewer, though, she didn’t hesitate so much to take it. As stubborn as she wanted to be, and as weird as this guy was, he was still kind of cute. She supposed. And the fish did smell really good.

“So now that you know that I’m not like, dead or something, what are you going to do?” Heather asked, pausing to take a small bite from her fish. Wow, it was pretty good roasted. She’d have to try this again some time. “I’m sure you’re not planning on camping here forever. That would be boring, and like, extra weird.”

Kila Offline

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Oh, she could study him more, if she wanted. In fact, he wouldn't complain.

Rah couldn't help but laugh at her naivete, and at the fact that she was self-centered enough to assume he was there purely for her. She wasn't entirely wrong, of course, but Rah-juh was certainly good at lying on the fly. Oh, she was so cute. Not that he'd say that to her just yet. Her ego seemed large enough, and while she was cute, he was the only one who deserved to have an ego the size of a dragon's hoard.

"Whoa there my scaly princess of the depths, bold of you to assume I'm still here just because I was worried about you," he teased, taking a roasted fish for himself as he continued to lounge. "See, I have a life of my own. Crazy, I know," Rah said, averting eye contact with her deliberately, choosing to focus on his fish instead. With a large bite, and talking with his mouth full, he continued, "I was here on business before I even rescued you. I'm waiting to meet up with a contact of mine." It was a lie, of course, but Heather didn't need to know that.

The man took a few more large bites of fish, eating like he hadn't eaten in days--and that was a possibility, considering how many fish he'd charmed to their deaths--and looked to be deep in thought. Whatever he had been thinking, it was all but impossible to read in his dark eyes, and his dark features gave little away except for how much he was enjoying his lunch.

Tired of lounging in the sand, Rah pushed himself up into a sitting position and began rummaging around in his cloak. "See, Heather," he began, "the thing about living in a lake is that unless there's a river on both sides, you're pretty much stuck in one place." He crammed the skewed remains of his fish into the sand as he pulled out a folded piece of parchment with his other hand. "See?" Rah said, unfurling the parchment to reveal a very well worn map, marked up with tiny scrawled notes and various symbols across its weathered surface.

He placed to map between them, and waved a hand over Sleibte. The other continents were also marked up as well, all except for a rather large island to the south. It seemed there were far less markings there. "This is the continent we're on," he began casually before pointing a finger to a lake east of a forested peninsula. "This is where we are: Royard Lake and the city of Ecuru--the mermaid city." His finger trailed down to the river. "And this river leads nowhere but the ocean," he spoke while tracing his finger down the length of the river to the ocean. "And unless you want to end up in salt water, which you really don't seem to do well, given the state I found you in, you're not exactly going to get to do much site seeing." Rah rested a thoughtful hand on his chin before leaning into it.

"But like you said earlier, you can do whatever you want. And that includes throwing yourself into the ocean."

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October 2017 Event ParticipantAntarsia's 1st Birthday
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Heather narrowed her eyes as Rah-juh quipped back at her. Princess? Who did he think he was talking to? And of course she had assumed he was here for her when he had just said that he had stuck around because he was worried. But sure, he was waiting for a friend, or whatever. And he was talking with his mouth full. Any spell he might have been working on her was hereby shattered.

“Business, huh? That sounds really fun...” She nibbled on her fish a bit more, taking the time to swallow before talking again. “You’re either here really early or your contact is really late, huh? Sounds pretty lame.”

When he pulled out the map, Heather pushed herself up to get a better look. She had never really seen a big map before, and especially not one that covered more than a small local area. While Rah-juh explained, Heather squinted at the shapes and scribblings. Was the world really that big? And this lake really that small? And the ocean really that big? Without any experience with maps and only a little reading skill, it was hard for her to really understand anything on this parchment other than what Rah-juh pointed out, but it did look...discouraging.

“I know all that,” she lied, crossing her arms over her chest. “But merfolk travel like other people do, right? There are ways around.”

The mermaid’s cheeks had flushed a bit as she felt embarrassed about her ignorance, but she didn’t want him to continue to make fun of her.

“Anyway, you probably have to go back to waiting for your buddy, or whatever.” Heather took the last few bites out of her fish before setting the stick down and preparing to slip back into the lake.

Kila Offline

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October 2017 Event ParticipantEvent HosterContributorAntarsia's 1st Birthday
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Ooooooh she didn't like that. Not one bit. But he'd meant it as a compliment, couldn't she see that!? UGH why was Heather so infuriating and cute and infuriating? It was also clear that she hadn't known how large the world was, or how she was going to get anywhere. So he still had an in. She wouldn't be able to leave without him, but first...

First he had to keep her from leaving. Damn his clever and super believable lies! Damn them!

"Wait just a sec," he said quickly, leaning forward to get her attention. "Now that you mention it, my contact is pretty late. Like, super late. I'm a bit concerned." Rah's brows creased with worry, and the frown on his face was ill fitting of his features.

He had to think of a way to keep her there. She was so stubborn and would likely refuse any help to travel. Stupid, stubborn, and so attractive... She was a challenge he wanted to conquer, and even as his mind was flailing for any lie to keep her there he couldn't stop thinking about her. Gods damn it.

His eyes darted to the map, and he was struck with inspiration. Focusing back on her, Rah spoke again. "While I wait for him I could tell you about some of the places I've gone?" She had seemed interested in the map, even though she had been embarrassed by her limited knowledge. "It's boring to just wait by myself, and who knows, maybe my tales of daring will help you find a way to travel. Or maybe you'll change your mind and travel with me?" He gave Heather a crooked grin, dark eyes bright with mischief.

"Unless you have something better to do?" Rah asked, calling her bluff.


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