The straightforward mermaid starts every sentence with “Look … ” This comes from being raised in a sea full of hooks. She wants to get points 1, 2, and 3 across, doesn’t want to disappear like a river into the ocean. When she’s feeling despairing, she goes to eddies at the mouth of the river and tries to comb the water apart with her fingers. The straightforward mermaid has already said to five sailors, “Look, I don’t think this is going to work,” before sinking like a sullen stone. She’s supposed to teach Rock Impersonation to the younger mermaids, but every beach field trip devolves into them trying to find shells to match their tail scales. They really love braiding. “Look,” says the straightforward mermaid. “Your high ponytails make you look like fountains, not rocks.” Sometimes she feels like a third gender—preferring primary colors to pastels, the radio to singing. At least she’s all mermaid: never gets tired of swimming, hates the thought of socks.
And my question to you, dear Levitating Mermaid, is what do you say to me?
Will an epiphany come to me tomorrow? Will I find what I'm looking for?
I wonder, callmebalthazar, if your epiphany matches the vision that I dreamed. The plank of a ship built for escape, a diagram in three dimensions. If you hold a pointer to the tip, it comes to life. I have evidence of this: it is en route to you as we speak. Can you tell me of your visions?
The Immortal Kings of Zanji & The Queen of Waq Waq
The First Law: The Queen Waq Waq is the ever vessel. The Second Law: The Immortal Kings of Zani rule with absolute authority from New Moon to Full Moon. The Third Law: The Old Kings of Zani are sacrificed on the New Moon, long live the Kings.
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The serpent chaffs the hull, and if I could hear it, I would have more fear for my ships integrity. I can only feel the impact - my ears are carefully sealed against any sound. I do not know if it is rending wood, only that it coils and rubs, rocking my vessel violently.
My left arm strains against the leash, which splits into three near the end, at the length of a cavalryman’s lance away from me. This is intentional, as a similar lance is what I hold with my right to the bound necks of the three winged, taloned women who writhe in agony at the three ends. Surf and rain slap my face, as I try to find a blinking pattern that might save my eyes.
The sirens’ song must be halting and mixed with expressions of agony, and they turn back towards me with beseeching looks. I slap them back with the flat of the lancehead. Their songs would easily calm the beast at their most effective, but with their necks constricted by my tether, they serve only to keep it at bay.
I will release them at the crossing of Kalah, when I have left the serpents well behind. But there is no way for me to tell them this - we do not speak a common tongue, and I would not hear theirs anyway - it is too dangerous. They are riled by the indefinite nature they suspect of their captivity. They hiss and plot belowdecks, where I tighten the thongs over their necks, so they can hardly breath, and bind their limbs and wings with unbreakable knots.
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I thought I heard you speak of "the magic hand of chance." By what chance do you have these letters? By what mischief do you keep them from me? And what, dear Levitating Mermaid, do you want from this Imaginary Sailor?
If I shared the letters all at once I would no longer have a secret trove of them and you would be overwhelmed by the depth and scope of the sentiments expressed within. It is better by far to use the letters as an oracle, to respond to specific questions with chance answers.
The first book of letters came to me by chance but having gotten a taste, my methods of acquisition are becoming more focused.
All the good things start in media res. I don't need beginnings or ends. But what happens in the middle, Levitating Mermaid?
WHEN I have fears that I may cease to beBefore my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,Before high pil`d books, in charact’ry,Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face, 5Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,And feel that I may never live to traceTheir shadows, with the magic hand of chance;And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!That I shall never look upon thee more, 10Never have relish in the faery powerOf unreflecting love;—then on the shoreOf the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Was that you I saw on the shore of the Sea of Sanji? My ship could not come close, for the rocks obstructed me, but I thought I spied your mermaid shape. I stared perhaps longer than I should have at the distant breasts.
I have not yet traversed the Sea of Sanji. It is the last of the seven seas, and if you fail to catch up with me by then, all hope is lost. You are having visions.
In the meantime, I will grant you a glimpse of the secret letters. Keep looking out.