The sunrise over the sea above Atlantica was exceptionally bright as the young King Triton rose from his bed. The first thing he had to do was look at him-self in the mirror. His red hair and bird floated around his head as he said to himself. “King Triton!” With emphases on ‘king’, a grin fell lightly across his face.
Triton felt that things were finally going his way. It was only the night before that the young merman was crowned as king of all the oceans. On the same day his sister Ursula was named his First Advisor. She was an over weight mermaid with an unusual black tail and she liked wearing matching black shells. She also had a hobby of playing around with black magic.
To top off his joy he was betrothed to the beautiful princess, Ariana from the distant City of Mediterranea.
The past few years had not been all that good for Triton. A war with the Octopods had lasted for years causing the loss of his father in the war and his mother from a broken heart.
Triton had not seen Ariana for many years. Not sense they were children and played together the summer their parents arranged for their marriage. Even at that young age the boy could see the beauty that the girl would grow into. Yes, Triton was on top of the world even though he was at the bottom of the sea.
The first day at court was mostly formalities. Most of the decisions the new king had to do were about how his new government would be set up and run. The biggest job went to the First Adviser she was in charge of all the detail stuff. At the end of court and under new busyness, Ursula said. “We should move on the Octopods as soon as possible your majesty. They hold the only water in this ocean that is not under your control. And it will be sweet revenge.”
Shock fell on everyone’s face even more so on the King’s. “I promised our father on his death bed that I would try to keep the seven seas at peace. Atlantica will go to war only when attacked.” He scowled at his sister. His face brightened as he added. “The first order of new busyness is to prepare for Ariana’s arrival and our wedding. Ursula, I am putting you in-charge of all the arrangements.”
Triton thought he was giving her a task of great honor. But to his ambitious sister, the last thing she wanted to do was help her older brother get married. She had higher goals for him to reach before she took over. But a wife would keep him preoccupied, so he might not notice the grand plan she had in mind. But for now all she could say was. “It will be an honor your majesty.”
Ariana was to arrive in Atlantica that week so Triton was preoccupied with the details of the wedding and honeymoon. He was so busy that he did not notice that Ursula was slowly tacking command of the royal grads and had set up her cauldron in the basement of the palace. He had not taken seriously the times she played around with witchcraft. Now she was quite good at the craft and had little trouble getting the guards to do what she wanted.
When Ariana’s conch shell couch arrived Triton met it at the main entrance to the palace. When she emerged from the shell couch, he was in awe of her beauty. She was of slight build with a red tail and long blond hair that fell over a shapely body. She had a cute face with big blue eyes, a perk noise and full red lips.
Ursula did put on the most lavish and opulent wedding the kingdom had ever seen. The happy couple and all the guests were treated to the grandest reception ever seen under the sea. The joy at the palace was so great that the King did not notice what it was costing the people on Atlantica.
The first indicator that something was wrong came on the return from their honeymoon when Triton presented his Queen to the population. The couple’s reception by the people was cold people with empty stomachs are not happy a people. But young couple’s happiness was so great for one another that they did not notice.
Triton and Ariana were so in love that nether even noticed the unrest in the kingdom. They spent their days visiting the surface where they would spend their time sunning them selves on a beach or watching the humans work tilling the soil or doing some other hard labor to survive. It was all great fun the young couple.
While the King and Queen were away Ursula put on lavish parties, mostly for herself and a few of her friends. The rest of the court was not invited. Even if they had been, they would not have liked it because the Sea Witch forced the kitchen staff to prepare huge amounts of food, including fish, shrimp, and other sea foods that turned the stomachs of the vegetarian mer people. It was like eating friends to them.
All this just added to the unrest in the kingdom. The Sea Witch let it be known that all the problems were do to the Octopods. If an Octopod showed up in Atlantica, Ursula would have them arrested as a spy. Then release them latter and sent them back to their part of the ocean and told them. “You are lucky I could get you released. Triton is crazy he wants to rule all of the seas.” This made the Octopods angry with the Atlanticans and called for a war with them.
Ursula wanted Atlantica to attack the Octopods, because she felt she could kill Triton during the fighting, bring peace to the sea and place her-self on the thrown.
Weeks passed and the population called out for Triton to attack the Octopods. Unknown to the King, Ursula was steeling most of the kelp and seaweed production of the farmers and selling it to the Octapods at a price that made it unnecessary for the Octapods to raise food for themselves and made her rich too.
The food supply was so low the average citizens of Atlantica were on the verge of starvation. They believed what the Sea Witch told them. It was the doing of the Octopods.
Ursula played both sides. She sent Emperor Octavian a message, telling him that Atlantica was preparing for war. This news prompted the Octopod Emperor to send his army to attack Atlantica first.
Before the news of the appending war, Ariana came to Triton news of her own. “Triton dear, I am with child!” She smiled. His sprites soared over her news, he swoop her up in his mighty arms and carried her to their bed where he kissed her face many times then he said. “That is wonderful darling . . . when?”
“Not until the spring, when the sea warms and the land blooms.”
Triton and Ariana’s joy was short lived. Ursula’s treachery and hate of her brother had brought the Octopod army to the doorstep of Atlantica to fulfill her ambition to rule Atlantica.
By the time Triton heard of the impending Octopod attack he had replaced Ursula as head of the Atlantican forces with old academy friend, Apollo.
After the war with the Octopods, Triton welcomed the peace and quiet. Apollo now a war hero set out on a new adventure to explore the seven seas. Although Apollo was a war hero he seemed sad, one of many mysteries to the King. On the other hand Ursula was glad to see him go his heroism destroyed her plans to take over the kingdom.
By the spring the war was a bad memory and just as predicted with the warm current from the south came little Aquata. Triton and Ariana were thrilled over their new baby. She had her mother’s blond hair and her father’s light blue tail.
The all crab steel calypso band was in the groove at the club Paddle Wheel in Eel-lectric City. The band, lead by Dizzy Crustashy, would have brought down the house. But when they finished the song and the house lights were brought up, the little crab could see just a few patrons.
Back in his dressing room Dizzy was trying to figure what had gone wrong in his carrier when there was a knock on the door. “Da door id open!” He said. In came the Paddle Wheel’s manager, a moray eel named Ben. He had bad news for the crab.
“I’m going to have to let you and your band go. We are not getting enough customers to cover the cost of a live band. I’m replacing you with a one-octopus band. That way my pay role
“Why Ben, why are we losing de night club crowed?” Wondered Dizzy.
“I don’t have any food to serve, so no one wants to go out to a club that can’t serve food.”
“Oh mon, times are bad for everyone. Someone should go to Atlantica and give dat new King a peace of his mind, don’t you know.”
“Well you are now looking for a job, why don’t you go!” Smirked the eel.
“Well I just might do dat!” Said the angry crab.
King Triton continued to think all was well because no one came to court to complain. The real reason was Ursula’s guards intimidated anyone that showed up to see the King. Even when the little red crab with the thick Jamaican accent came he too was turned away. But he did not take no as an answer, he slipped by the screening guards and into the thrown room.
Ursula had left before the end of the morning session of court to meet with one of the Octopod spies. Before Triton ended court he asked. “Is there any unfinished business?” A loud voice with an accent said. “Yea! Why is dere no food for da people?”
Ursula's guards tried to locate the source of the outburst. One of them found Dizzy and tried to cast him out of the thrown room. Her standing orders were to take troublemakers to the Sea Witch’s dungeon. Unknown to the little crab, his life was saved when Triton ordered. “Bring him here!”
“This is just an insignificant little crab Your Highness. No need for you to trouble yourself with him. We’ll take care of what ever his problem is.” Groveled Ursula's men.
“Bring him to me!” Ordered the King. “If one of my subjects has a complaint I want to know about it!”
“But Your Majesty . . .” The guard was cut off by Triton holding up his hand and ordering. “Here! . . .Now!”
When the crab was before the King, Triton asked. “Who are you and what is the problem?”
Finally standing before the mighty King the crab’s 6 legs started to clatter. “I’m Dizzy . . .” squeaked Dizzy. Clearing his voice, he continued. “I’m called Dizzy but my real name is Sebastian.” The little crab stammered some more. “But you can call me Sebastian, Sire.”
“Go ahead . . . Sebastian!” Smiled the King to try to calm the nervous crustacean.
With great apprehension Sebastian continued and told the King of the suffering of the people due to the lack of food. "Impossible!" Roared Triton. "My advisors would not let that happen."
Still shaking so hard the little crab rattled like the reeds of the salt marsh in the wind, he said. "But it's true, your majesty. Go out in the market place and see for your self."
Triton doubted the strange little crustacean but agreed to take a trip to the market in disguise to see what was going on.
When Ursula heard of what the King was doing she called in her secrete assassin eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, to find Triton in the market place and kill him.
"Where is all the food?" The disguised Triton asked a shopkeeper, while Sebastian sat on his shoulder.
"We don't get any anymore. It is all diverted to the palace for the King's parties. The greedy sea slug." Replied the chubby merman.
Triton's face turned red. Not just from being called names but from the embarrassment of the problem. The King found the same response at all the other shops that sold food in Atlantica.
While on the way back to the palace Triton and Sebastian was discussing the food shortage and were passing by a tall column of coral. "I don't understand, even if all the food was sent to the palace, my parties could not use all of it. Even if we had a party every day, and we don't." Quizzed the King. Before Sebastian could reply the column began to topple over on the two.
"Look out!" Cried the crab. Triton's powerful tail gave a mighty flip, the serge of speed made the column fall short of it mark.
"Whew! Dat was close." Said Sebastian as the two looked at the rubble that had been the coral out croup. Triton did not notice the two eels slither away but the crab did. Flotsam and Jetsam knew they were in trouble with Ursula for their failure and did not notice the two fallowing them.
The Sea Witch was well into her punishment of her two hench-eels when Triton, now out of his disguise and Trident in hand, came to Ursula’s dungeon. At the door he could hear her anger.
“I gave you two slugs one simple job to do and you dare to come back and tell me you failed. I should turn you two into the slim you are.” Raved the Witch as she unleashed her fury on the helpless eels in the form of purple energy bolt to their bodies. Two Octopods watched and laughed as Ursula’s fury racked the two ells.
"URSULA!" Roared Triton as he entered the chamber.
Shocked by the intrusion but without missing a beat Ursula redirected the energy that was punishing Flotsam and Jetsam at the Sea King. "I guess I will have to finish the job my self." She said.
But with a reaction equal to Ursula's speed, Triton blocked the energy stream with one of his own from his Trident. The two streams collided in a shower of purple and gold sparks at the point of collision. That point moved back and forth in the room as the two tried to over power the other. Triton bit his lip with determination and his Trident pushed back the stream coming from the Witch's cauldron. It exploded in a purple cloud, knocking everyone down.
Triton quickly recovered and said. "URSULA, GET OUT! And take everyone of your people with you!" When he saw the two Octopods with her he added. “Sense you like the Octopods so much, you can join them!” Another yellow stream came from his Trident turning her into an Octopod. “I do not want to see you slimy tentacles in Atlantica again.”
After Ursula and her Ells packed and moved out, Triton made a decree that no one in the kingdom shell go hungry again and that there would be a celebration at the palace for everyone to celebrate the end of Ursula’s tertiary. And there will be a celebration every year there after.
The news of Ursula’s banishment was great news to the people and joy was had by all. Except Triton, he was saddened by the loss of his sister. When he returned from the Celebration with his wife to their room, she said to him. “Triton my love, I have some wonderful news. I am with child.”
Triton was ecstatic with the news but his happiness was tempered when he got word that an evil sorceress was terrorizing the small mer town of Bahamia. The town was not far from Atlantica but the king knew he would be away for as long as it took to vanquish the evil woman.
When the young king arrived in Bahamia he could not believe his eyes. The devastation was massive, it reminded him of the time he went to the surface after a hurricane hit an island. There was vary little left and the people that survived were injured and starving. “Who is responsible for this?” He asked a merman that was dying in the street.
“The sorceress!” he mumbles and pointed to the only coral building left standing. Triton turned his Trident on the man to try to heal his injuries. But it was too late for it to help the poor man.
The building the man had pointed out stood out because it was the only thing not damaged in what ever was the reason for all the death and destruction. Before he could see to the sorceress he had to help as many people as he could. He swam high about the disaster and laid out a blanket of healing golden energy from his Trident.
The flood of magic brought the sorceress from her lair to see what was happening. She was a dark woman with black hair that looked like eels and a black robe that covered her from her neck to the end of what ever was under the robe. Every thing about her was dark she seamed to absorb the light making things around her appear dark too. The only thing not dark about her was her eyes. They glowed, a bright orange that radiated an evil glare.
Seeing the sea king and what he was doing through her into a rage. “You!” she shouted in surprise. “I’ll teach you to meddle in my affairs!” She reached into the pocket of her robe and pulled out a hand full of crystals. Selecting a red one and returning to rest to the pocket her dark hand returned with a golden flute. By playing the flute the crystal sent red bolt of fire at Triton.
Triton did not hear the sorceress and was surprised by her attack as it came from behind. A fire ball exploded near him knocking him down and dislodging the Trident from his grasp. With the loss of magic from the King more people died, giving the dark woman a rush of power.
Triton fell to the sea floor one way and the Trident went another. His impact was hard but did anger the King to a new resolve to put the dark lady away. He began to swim as fast as he could to retrieve the Trident. The sorceress seeing this played her flute again, causing more fire to fly at the King.
Fire balls exploded about Triton as he swam. He had to dodge the blots as he tried to get his Trident. The explosions around him came so fast and furious he had to duck into a cave to avoid destruction.
Triton was breathing hard and pinned down in the cave but he was not helpless. He had some magic of his own. He held out his hand. The Trident started to glow and rise, then flew like and arrow to his out stretched hand.
What followed was a magical fire fight between the King and the Sorceress. Each was trying to destroy the other with all the power at their disposal. The fireworks were awesome and would have been beautiful if it were not so deadly.
Then a lucky bolt from the Trident hit the Sorceress’ red crystal destroying it. Triton quickly used his advantage and put an energy shield around her.
“For the terrible things you have done here I sentence you to eternity in this cave.” Triton roared.
“No, have mercy!” She pleaded and the eels on her head turned into black hair.
“You have shown that you do not have mercy, I will not grant you any.” With that he threw the Sorceress into the cave and placed a permeate magic shield over the entrance, one that would allow her to retrieve food but not escape.
Next Triton ordered all the survivors of the destroyed town of Bahamia to a new town he had built and provided the food and expense for the move. This left the Sorceress alone and unable to do any more terror to the mer people.
When Triton returned he was exhausted, it had been a struggle to imprison the evil sorceress in a cave and relocate the people. So the young family spent a lot of time at the surface relaxing.
One day Triton, Ariana and little Aquata were playing on a beach. Triton was normally very vigilant for danger, but on this day his joy so overwhelmed him that he did not notice a fishing boat sailing by. By the time he had noticed the ship it was too late. The sailors had seen them. It was fortunate for the Sea King that their hold was already full of fish. The captain said to his crew. "Lads, as soon as we have sold our catch we will return to catch the mermaids. We will all be rich from the sale of those creatures." Unfortunate for the fishermen the mer-family was gone when they returned. "I promise to ye lads, we will not leave these waters till we catch them fish people." He went on and added. “Don’t ye breathe a word to another soul or we will have to fight them fer the mermaids.”
Over the next 3 years Ariana presented the King with a line of mer-babies, Twins Andrina and Arista, twins Attina and Adella, and Alana. Each one a beautiful mermaid (Maternal twins are common among mermaid) and after each birth when the increasing family tried to celebrate at the surface the fishing boat would spoil their day. At each encounter Triton would become more furious with the lung folk over the harassment.
Yet again Ariana came to Triton for the fifth time with the news of an appending birth and that the baby would come when the trees on the land lost their leaves. The king was once again overjoyed with the news.
Triton knew that his frail wife was growing weaker with every childbirth. He would often pry to Poseidon for Ariana to be strong and deliver a healthy baby. His prayers appeared to be answered because Ariana seamed to handle her pregnancy well. By all signs she was the happiest with this child, always singing and smiling with that joy that only shows on the face of a mother to be.
Late in the summer Ariana asked Triton. “Let’s go the surface we have not been to the beach in months. It’s a warm sunny day, the girls will love it.”
“But dear, my patrols tell me that that fishing boat has been in the area for weeks now. I can’t let my family be in any danger.”
“Come on Triton, we use to have so much fun watching the humans stumbling about on their scrawny lags on their pitching boats.”
After a few more exchanges, Ariana batted her eyes and smiled that smile that always prevails in an argument.
The afternoon sun on the beach was warm but a cool breeze off the ocean made the sand very pleasant indeed. The girls were playing not far from their father. They were taking turns covering their tail with sand and forming it into legs and giggling at how funny each looked with those silly things. Ariana was on the other side of Triton where a large flat rock made the ideal sunning place.
Unknown to the Royal family the humans from the fishing boat had been to the island first. They knew that the mers liked this particular beach and had set a trap.
Triton spotted the boat first. “To the water! Everyone to the water! Fast!” He roared.
The girls wasted not time in doing what they have practiced many times, wiggling their way to the surf. This time they made it in record time. Ariana, being slower do to her condition tried to slide off the slopping rock surface to a pool at its base. In her labored haste she did not see the trip line that popped a net over her. By the time Triton heard her call for help, he was well beyond the reef with the girls.
“Aquata, you’re the oldest! Your in-charge, see to it that you all get home.”
“No buts. Swim! . . . Now!”
Triton could see Ariana thrashing about trying to free herself from the net. He had to get to her before the humans. Pointing his Trident to the sky, a bolt of golden energy shot to the clear sky. With in seconds the clouds rolled in, the surface began to heave as the worst storm in human memory came out on nowhere.
The captain of the fishing boat could not believe his eyes. Yes he had netted a mermaid but just as he was about to move in to bring her into his boat, this blasted storm blew in. The rain was so heavy the he was unable to see to pilot the boat around an island’s reef. “Blast the luck, will have to belay this catch and try another day, lads. Less we lose our lives in this accursed weather.”
Under the vale of the heavy rain Triton freed his battered wife from the net and brought her back to the palace. With the healing magic of his Trident Ariana’s scrapes and bruises were relieved. But the shock had started a more powerful magical event. She was in labor! Even though she was a month early a beautiful little mermaid baby graced the royal family that night. But it was not a total joyful night for, despite all the magic of the Trident and the royal doctors Ariana strength was failing.
With tears in his eyes, Triton laid the red headed baby girl in Ariana’s arms. “I love you!” He said.
“Triton dear!” Ariana said to him. “Don’t be better the girls will need you more then ever. If you hate the humans because of the actions of a few that were evil, what will that teach them?”
“But you would not be sick if it were not for them!” Triton snarled.
“We don’t know that. I was frail from the beginning.” There was a pause, and then she added. “Triton dear can we call her Ariel?”
“So it shall be, she will be called Ariel!”
“When Ariel is old enough give her this amulet. I had it made to protect her in the face of danger. I know I will not be able to give it to her myself.” Triton had to hide his face in his hands as he broke down and cried. She tried to comfort him by patting his hand. “Don’t grieve for me I will always be with you and the girls.” Ariana said as she suckled Ariel for the first and last time.
After Ariana’s funeral, Triton secluded himself in the palace for over one moon leaving the care of his girls in the hands of the royal nannies. When he emerged he had lost his red hair for that of white. He also had a hand full of new decrees for the kingdom, all aimed at keeping the mer world from coming into contact with the human world. The most important of them stated: “No one shall go to the surface!”
Roy D Stanton is the pen name of Dan Saltzman
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Last Up Date Sept. 9, 2015