The water was like a gigantic blanket, wrapping him in warmth and shielding him from any outside terrors. He was a tiny speck in the ocean and he liked it that way.
He was safe, and there was no feeling in the world greater than feeling safe.
The seal in question was named Merric, and he lived the simple and easy life that seals often do. He swam through the crystalline waters of his home and ate creatures that were much smaller than him; another gift from his greatest friend and ally, the ocean.
Beyond the clear waters in which he swam were murky, unclear depths which he steered clear of instinctually. He knew that within those murky waters lurked creatures that were not entirely good and simple like he was.
And, indeed, within the murky waters swam a mermaid. These were supposedly beautiful creatures, but if they truly were beautiful, they would not be living in ugly, murky waters of their own making.
The mermaid in question loved gold. She loved gold because she could buy herself beautiful trinkets and seashells from the vendors in the underwater sea kingdom, which was hardly the kingdom it once was long ago. Because mermaids were practical creatures, they gave their kingdom no name; however, because humans loved specificity, they had given the underwater kingdom the name of Antlandica (a name that the intelligent ants of Dru sorely took offense at).
The mermaid, Jeanie, took shady, odd jobs from humans whenever she could because gold had her so enraptured. Most of the time she was tasked with bringing humans silly things that they thought had value because they were rare on land.
She could not even count the number of times she had been paid an absurd amount of gold to go harvest ‘magical glowing seaweed’ for the humans, which, in actuality, was not magical at all and merely a different kind of seaweed than the kind humans were used to.
Other times, however, she was tasked with more dangerous jobs. These were the jobs that made her the most coin, so she did not hesitate to take them.
Just a day ago, she had popped up to the ocean’s surface at her usual time near the dock at the dry and dusty kingdom of Umohaw. She waited for any humans to notice and pay her for a job.
It was night, and all was silent but for the distant sound of human voices on land.
A handsome man with a beard appeared at the dock and looked down at her. She waved and asked with her down-stream accent, “ahoy, matey! Do ye have a job for lil’ ole Jeanie?”
Jeanie suddenly recognized the man she was looking up at. She gasped a little. “Belmarduk…”
The wizard had once been a merman. However, he was consumed with a desire for power that one could not easily find in the ocean. So he had given himself a pair of legs through putrid magic and decided he would find the power he desired on land.
“I will pay you six-hundred gold pieces to catch me a selkie and bring it to me. You will get the gold after completion.” Belmarduk said in his calm and emotionless way.
“A selkie, mate? Those things live in the Pure Waters! Neither mermaids nor mermen can enter those waters without their flesh being burnt! Why should ye need a selkie anyhow?” Jeanie wondered.
The man said nothing for a good while, and then he responded, “Word has it that selkies have the purest souls upon Dru. I need such a soul for my purposes. Do we have a deal?”
Jeanie thought about it for a moment, but gold called to her and she nodded. “But how will I capture the creature without having to enter the waters?”
“Lure them.” Belmarduk said simply.
She had been saving up for a beautiful, red, water-proof dress which she mistakenly thought would match her beautiful, flowing pink hair for years (she had a terrible sense of fashion), and with this amount of gold, she would finally be able to purchase it. Because dresses and fine jewelry were looked upon as luxuries to mermaids, the underwater vendors thought it fair to charge absurd amounts for them.
Without further adieu, Jeanie swam north toward the Pure Waters where the selkies dwelt.
Hardly anyone upon Dru knew of selkies, and even less knew how to get ahold of them. Jeanie had to work with old mermaid legends about selkies to figure out how to lure them out.
Supposedly, there are beautiful, human-like creatures hidden under that ugly seal skin of theirs. The only way to lure them is to bring out the side of them that is attracted to humanoid creatures. If the selkie is lured to take off their seal skin, supposedly it means the selkie and the person who lured them are soulmates. That part must be nonsense!