As much as he’d traveled across vast oceans, as much as he’d gazed upon hundreds of horizons, nothing could take his breath away like dark moon nights on high seas for Evan. He lay flat against the cold, dark cherry wood floor of the Tiamat’s forecastle deck, he’d snuck out of his quarters to enjoy that which brought him so much joy for a small while. A cloudless night allowed for the vast array of stars and cosmic clouds to be brilliantly seen, the ghosts of the world’s two moons the only lightless spots. The star ridden sky above him showed him the way to a new land, a place he’d visited briefly a few years ago on his father’s ship.
“Hoshigami.” A woman’s voice called his name. Evan rolled his eyes and sighed displeased. His alone time was over. “Excuse me, but tomorrow we’re supposed to arrive at the Sea Lands. Don’t you think you should be sleeping in a proper bed?”
Empress Ashura Amachi stood above him wearing her nightgown, a simple semi-transparent short dress that sparkled even without moonlight. Her pitch-black hair fell loose past her shoulders, her slanted dark eyes sparkling with wit and high-spirits. Evan liked to tease her about how pale her skin was, even after spending months at sea, the woman hadn’t taken the slightest bit of any color.
Ashura had been Evan’s friend since they were children. He’d stay in the royal palace and remained alone due to him looking very different from others in Akakawa. His skin was the color of milk chocolate, his eyes the shape of almonds and his eye color jade green. The only thing he shared with the princess was his dark, straight, silky hair which he’d kept long past his waist until three years ago, when it got chopped off in a sword fight. Now he kept it short, close cropped at the back and the sides.
“Your Highness, with all due respect, you could catch a cold in garments such as yours out here.”
“Ha! Try again, Captain. C’mon, I need a well-rested associate when we reach port.” Ashura pulled him up by his arm, the woman was a whole head shorter than he was but twice as strong as he was. The Empress of Akakawa Shirogane may have looked like a gentle soul in her usual royal dresses, but in truth she was a strong warrior queen who would prefer beating her opponents with her bear fists. “I know you enjoy the night sky way more than anyone else, but tonight I think you should go back to bed.”
Evan crossed his arms, giving Ashura a soft smile before he started making his way back to the captain’s quarters on the other side of the Tiamat.
“I love you too, Evan.” She giggled before taking a glimpse towards the ship’s forecastle. “Oi… Evan…!”
Ashura sounded excited, the man had to turn around and see her hanging over the ship’s forecastle, staring towards the horizon. Before them, they could see land. Multiple lights could be seen hanging above the water alongside shadows of mountains and smaller islands close to the would-be coast.
“The Sea Lands!” Ashura breathed out, Evan now observing at her side making sure she wouldn’t fall off the ship. “I can’t wait to see it under sunlight… I can’t wait to meet the people who live there!”
“You’ll love it, I can guarantee that.” Evan patted the Empress’ shoulder caringly. “Now let’s—”
Evan wasn’t half way through finishing his sentence when he noticed something odd. Someone floated on the ship’s port side. He’d seen corpses float about when he’d been to war at sea… the body he peered at held life as he could see it struggling.
“Ashura, tell Touta to slow down the Tiamat and get Hikaru to get the medical bay ready to receive a severely injured patient!” Evan talked as he rushed towards a secret compartment on deck. From it he pulled out a long board alongside a staff.
“Aye, captain!” Ashura realized what he was up to and darted off to do as he asked.
Evan ran the full length of the forecastle and jumped off the edge, placing his feet on the board and slamming the staff against it and between his feet. Magic flowed out of him, triggering a spell inside the board and staff. A translucent green sail sprouted from the staff, and the board itself began glowing blue. When the board hit the water, he didn’t sink. He glided over the sea’s surface, his sail gathering wind, even on this windless night, and pushing him fast towards his goal.
The body floating on the water remained twitching as Evan approached it. When he was close enough to distinguish his features, he noticed rope and hooks sticking out of the man’s bare back. Silvery, short hair covered the man’s head, his bronze colored skin covered in bruises and blood. Evan stopped the board by the man’s body and sat on it to pull him unto it. He soon realized the man had something he did not. A tail with green scales, looking quite sickly and marred, replaced the man’s legs.
“Hey, you’re going to be fine.” Evan spoke the common tongue as the people of the Sea Land’s called it. The man tangled in bloody ropes on his board gave him a glance, his silver eyes peering at Evan with a glimmer of hope. “It’s okay.”
“Thank you…” the man mumbled before passing out on Evan’s board.
Evan strengthened the magic on his board and headed back to the Tiamat, being careful not to make rough movements.
“Evan!” A young man with dyed blond hair called after him as he reached the Tiamat’s metal hull.
“Yuki, I’m going to need another board down here!” Evan called out as he touched the Tiamat’s hull, runes glowing and making their way upwards towards the deck.
Yuki dropped off from deck, using the same type of board and staff as Evan and landed close to them. The young man was Evan’s quartermaster. Like most of the people of Asakawa, he had slanted eyes although his were colored a misty blue. His face was riddled with freckles, a direct response to all the time he’d spent under the sun since he was a child.
“Holy hell! Is that a merman?!” Yuki asked as he sat on his board and stared at the large green tail. “Evan, he’s really hurt…”
“I know, get his tail carefully on your board. We’ll get him onboard and have Hikaru remove all this junk.” Evan explained as he sat down on the board newly and carefully placed the merman’s head on his lap while Yuki used magic to lift his tail out of the water and onto the board. The merman twitched slightly as the hooks all over his body probably hurt him as he was being transferred onto a solid surface.
“We’ll make you better, I promise.” Evan spoke in the Common Tongue as he stroke the merman’s hair.
Yuki touched the hull of the Tiamat, runes running upwards like when Evan did the same. Both men said “up” and the boards started floating upwards along the golden runes. Once they reached the deck, the men were greeted by a woman in a pair of shorts, a tank top and a doctor’s coat. Her long, black hair was tied up in a ponytail and her dark eyes set on the merman before her.
“That’s messy, looks like a fishing net.” The woman neared them as the pair of men delicately got off the boards now hovering over the deck. “I assume he doesn’t speak our language, Evan please tell him that what I’ll do now may hurt.”
Evan placed a hand on the merman’s head, Yuki removed his belt and handed it over to Evan.
“Listen, our healer’s going to help you now. They say that what they’ll do now will hurt, I’ll place a belt in your mouth just in case, so you won’t bite off your tongue, alright?” Evan explained. The merman nodded slightly, having regained some consciousness after being brought aboard. His reply gave the captain permission to place Yuki’s belt between his teeth. Evan noticed the merman had fangs and that his tongue was a bluish color.
“Here I go.” The doctor raised her hands to chest level, green sparkles appearing around her and forming a blanket before her. She moved her hands, moving the blanket and placing it so it covered the entirety of the merman’s wounded body. Once he was covered, the woman closed her hands into fists and moved them upwards.
The merman moaned, squealed in pain as the hooks all over his body came off at the same time. Some hooks the magic did not move, and Hikaru assumed those were the ones that were causing the merman trouble. She tried to move them, got one to get out but it tore through skin, causing Yuki to flinch.
“Hikaru!” Yuki whined.
“Yuki, if this man has caught your eye as such, you’ll be happy to remember I’m the best doctor at the royal capital. Yelling isn’t going to help me get these strange hooks out of him.” Hikaru took a look at the hook that had come out. Unlike the others she’d effortlessly yanked off, this one had a multiple barbs. She wouldn’t be able to take them out as painlessly as she wanted. “If you’re so worried about him, I suggest you hold him and comfort him now. I’m going to pull them out all at once.”
The blond looked at the doctor with a mortified expression before he placed a hand on the merman’s head and another on one of his shoulders. Hikaru once again settled the green blankets over the merman’s back and pulled upwards. All the remaining hooks came off, the merman’s screams muffled by Yuki’s belt. Yuki himself tried his best to calm him, which kinda worked as the merman found the blond’s reassuring strokes soothing before he fainted newly.
With all the hooks off, Hikaru then placed her hands over the merman’s skin. Her hands glowed and little by little the wounds and torn skin on the merman’s body healed up leaving small, silvery scars as the only reminder of his plight.
“Good as new…” She spoke up before she realized the tail hadn’t healed but was instead turning gray. “What…?”
“What’s happening…?” Yuki asked placing a hand on the merman’s tail and feeling it come undone and turn to goo.
“Leave it, Yuki.” The doctor stood back, Evan observing what was happening from her side. Yuki removed his hand but remained close to the merman.
The gray tail started falling to pieces and turning into slob on the floor. As it slid off the board, it revealed tanned skin. With the once green tail changed to sickly goo gone, a pair of legs with scratch marks all over them had taken its place as the merman’s lower body.
“Nice work, doctor.” Evan patted the woman’s back who in turn nudged him on the shoulder. “Yuki, since you’re so attached to him, why don’t you take him to the med bay along with Hikaru?”
The blond man nodded and held the hovering boards tight. Hikaru signaled him with her head to follow, and off they went to the inside of the ship.
Evan took a last glimpse at the sea around the Tiamat before going below deck. He walked over to the medical bay, a large, white room inside his ship with all of Asakawa’s latest medical equipment and enough room for fifty patients. Hikaru was still setting up their guest while Yuki helped her. The merman looked frail on the bed, without any clothes. At least now he looked healthy.
Hikaru had a green, floating screen following her as she typed over the merman’s body.
“He’s okay, captain, weakened and in need of nourishment, but otherwise fine.” Hikaru explained stopping her typing and the green screen vanishing into thin air. “I’ll hook him up with an IV, his current form isn’t different from a human’s.”
“Thanks again, doctor.” Evan said as he asked Yuki to come close to him. “Go tell our Highness all’s well, afterwards you can do as you please.”
Yuki nodded, walking off not after giving one last glimpse at the unconscious merman.
“Kid’s got a crush on this poor fellow. Not that I judge him, hard not to like pretty moonlight hair and this bronze skin.” Hikaru gave Evan an amused smile. “I’ll check on the net they used on him and confirm whether it was a mistake or fully intended to catch him. You should go rest, I’ll call on you if he awakens before dawn.”
“Good, I’ll leave you to it then.” Evan took one last look at their guest before he exited the bay, thinking about what dawn would bring, what the Sea Lands had to offer.
They’d already saved a merman, that was a good omen if he said so himself.