Luna peeked just above the water’s surface to survey the beach. It was quiet and deserted save for a couple of birds squawking and fighting over a dead fish that washed ashore. As she swam closer, the sunlight warmed her scales sending a tingle down her spine that she hadn't felt in quite a while.
She swam until her tail began to brush over the sand as she pulled herself out of the water. As she crawled further away from the water, she felt the change start to set in. Spotting a small piece of driftwood laying in arms reach and she grabbed it quickly and bit down as the pain of her bones splitting and changing took its toll. Her dulled screams sent the nearby birds in a scatter leaving their meal behind. Luna's labored breathing slowed as her changed finally came to an end. She laid there sweat covered and trembling as she admired her new legs that lay where her tail once was. Iridescent scales trailed down the sides of her upper thighs, glistened in the setting sun telling the secret of what she is. Concealing them with dried sand, she went out in search of clothes.
Luna spied a man asleep outside on the porch of a small hut not far from the beach. He swayed back and forth in his chair a straw hat shielding his eyes from the sun. Perfect. She opens her mouth unleashing her song beckoning him to her. The sleeping man rises stumbling off his porch as he follows her call of the sea.
He stops before her dazed his eyes distant and vacant. She waved her hand in his face, but he didn't react. He was completely under her spell. She approached him closer her wet body nearly touching his and whispers in his ear. "Give me your clothes and any coin you may have."
The man immediately pulls a pouch that jingled with coins from his pocket and placed it in her hand then started to remove his clothes.
Fully clothed now, she places the coins in her pocket. "Thank you." She said as she smiled at the sight before her. "Now, return to your chair and remember nothing of me or what you’ve seen." He followed her instruction word for word and returned to his nap on the porch. She felt bad for what she did but still, she couldn't help but laugh as she headed down the path that leads into town.
The town the center of town was crowded, people and creatures alike rushing about from peddler to peddler searching for the best deal. Not wanting to deal with the large crowd she ran into the first door she came to. The room was dim lit by what she thought were candle at first sight, but as her eyes adjusted, she could see they were floating balls of fire hovering like torches on each wall. Orcs, Human, Polymorphic and other creatures Luna had never seen before sat scattered throughout the room all with drinks in hand.
"Hi, darling sit where ever you'd like." A woman’s voice called from behind the bar. Above the bar, there was a sign that read Silver Crystal tavern. Luna approached the bar just as the woman popped up from behind. “OH! hi, sorry I was looking for my eye patch it seems to have gone missing. I'm Eva don't think I've ever seen a pretty little thing like you around here before, where ya from?" Her ruffled silver hair a halo around her plump face. Luna tried her best not to stare at the hollow opening where her right eye once was.
"Far away from here.” not wanting to reveal anything that might give her away. Eva erupted in a fit of laughter when Luna failed to answer.
"You don't remember do you?" she asked in between laughs.
"That's alright it happens to the best of us. Most people here have drifted so far away from home in body and mind that they couldn't answer that question either. What brings you to a place like Shadow Haven? You don't look the type to be wondering these streets. Well…except for ya clothes. Ya look like old Joe from the beach dress ya up."
"I'm looking for three rare gemstones," Luna said hoping she could point her in the right direction.
"Oh, well you've come to the right place then, this island is covered in places that will have stuff like that Its a black market for all sorts of stuff and even if they don't have it, they'll get for ya for an extra price. What kinda gems ya lookin for?" Luna hesitated to answer, but she knew she needed as much help as she could get.
"Pink, blue, and purple moonstones."
" A water magic user...Interesting I wish I could help ya, but I haven't heard much about moonstones in quite a while but don't worry you will find someone here that could help. Shadow haven is full of pirates, thieves and all manner of beings that hunt for and sell things like that. In the meantime, have this." Eva set a large mug on the bar top, filled with an amber liquid and overflowing with foam. "That’s our best ale! It’s a tradition newcomer’s have to finish the whole thing. Don't worry about the cost it’s on the house." She winked walk off to help her other customers.
Luna took a sip of the drink gifted to her. Its tart flavor was a pleasant shock to her tongue. She got up to see what she could find out about the stones but stumbled back into someone very large. A large furry hand caught and supported her by the small of her back, she flinched and turned around too fine a large Catfolk man, whose face and body resembled a large panther with obsidian fur and yellow eyes. His whiskers turn up into a smile, and his tail swung happily behind him.
"Apologies miss, it looked like you needed a bit of help."
" No problem, don't let it happen again." He took a seat next to her at the bar and returned to his drink. Luna had already survey him. She noticed the large bag of coin on his right hip, the dagger on his left and a short sword sheathed on his back. If she had to guess, he was a paid mercenary and a good one from the lack of scaring and the size of his coin bag. She took another sip of her ale to calm her nerves but a strange tickle sensation against her back made her body jump and react before she could even think. The source was his tail trailing its way up her back which she now gripped tightly in her hand. Luna quickly removed his dagger from his hip shoving the sharp blade at his throat. He jumped up his playful expression replace with a defensive scowl and a low cat-like growl escaped his lips. He towered over her by at least two feet, but Luna didn't falter.
"I told you to watch yourself." She spat and forced the blade closer to his neck. A firm, strong hand grabbed her wrist pulling it away before she could attack. Another man had her in his grasp. She tried to escape his grip, but it was too strong.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you. You wouldn't like what happens next." The man squeezed her wrist tighter forcing her to drop the dagger as the pain crept up her forearm. The new man released her arm taking the dagger and shoving it safely into her opponent's chest.
"Adrik why do you have to be such an ass? Leave the lady alone." Yanking his tail from her grasp he stormed off mumbling under his breath in a language she didn't understand.
"You're a brave one, and stupid if you thought that was going to go well. I've seen Adrik slice a man guts out with one swoop of his paw. So, I guess you could say I just saved your life. The names Ian by the way." He winked at her as he signaled old Eva over to the bar for a drink.
"I don't remember asking your name, and I suppose you’re expecting a thank you?"
"No, ma'am a name would do just fine."
"I'm sorry I must go." Replied Luna as she stood to leave.
"That's a shame; I was hoping I could help you out. I heard you were looking for moonstones?" Luna froze in her tracks.
"There is a shop not far from here that just got some in a set of three. If you would like I can take you there?"
"How did you know?" Luna asked suspiciously
"I overheard you and old Eva talking, her voice travels further then she thinks.” He extended his hand in a friendly greeting. “you just gonna leave me hangin?” Luna let out an exasperated sigh and reluctantly took his hand.
"I'm Luna." He smiled and gently kissed the back of her hand. She pulled her hand back quickly and rubbed the residue of his kiss on her shirt. He chuckled at her and returned his attention to his drink for a moment.
" Luna…that’s beautiful. So, water magic huh, I thought my family was the only ones that still practiced it.”
“You practice water magic?” disbelief filled her words.
“Well, not me exactly, but my uncle still does. It’s his shop I was talking about…said he’s working on a project.” This coincidence almost seemed too good to be true.
"I can take you to them if you willing to trust me.” Luna wasn’t sure if she should trust him, but she didn’t have much time left. Maybe I can sing to him once were alone. she thought to herself making a back-up plan.
“Okay, I’ll come with you.”
“Great, follow me.” Ian said as a sly smile spread across his face.
Outside the Silver Crystal, A blanket of mist covered the ground. The streets were calm and quiet as shops closed their doors for the night and peddlers scurried back to the dark allies from once they came. Luna felt the power within her swell as the glow of the full moons in the sky touched her face.
"We need to hurry; I'm running out of time."
"No worries miss, It’s not far." Ian leads the way turning down a dark alleyway. "It's the door just there at the corner. They should have just what you’re looking for." Luna could hardly see through the fog, so she followed close behind. "Aha, we're here." Luna didn't see a shop or a door.
"What do you mean? Where’s the shop?"
"Well, Well, Well, what have you gotten yourself into?" a familiar voice called out. Luna spun around to find a tall, dark figure walking towards her from the entrance of the alley. She stumbled back into Ian's chest, and he grabbed her holding her still. "You're one of them ain't you? I can smell it." The figure accused. As he stalked closer, she could see his tail wagging from side to side. "We're gonna make a fortune off of you."
"Are you sure she's one of them, Adrik? No one’s seen mermaids in years. The boss will kill us if we're wrong." Luna went stiff. They know what I am.
"Of course! My nose never lies, she reeks of the sea. But if you want to be sure, pull her pants down a little and you'll see for yourself."
Ian holds her tight and strong around the neck as a low devious chuckle escaped his lips. He slipped his free hand into her pants and felt the smooth cool of her scales.
"You’re going to make use rich." He squealed and kissed her face.
"Come on man the guys are waiting, bring her," Adrik called out
"Let me go in I'll let you live," Luna whispered to Ian though she had no intention of doing any such thing. They both knew what she was and if that got out, she would be hunted down.
"Shut up! You’re outnumbered, and you can’t take us both." Seething with anger, she released her deadly song. Its haunting melody captivating his mind. His arm that was restraining her went slack, and she knew he was under her spell.
"Give me your dagger. “She whispered in his ear. After he placed it in her hand, she plunged it deep into his stomach and yanked it out quickly. His blood pooled on the ground as it spilled from his body. Ian screamed out and stumbled to the ground.
"What the fuc-" before Adrik could finish a dark hooded figure appeared behind him and in a flash, both were gone. The hooded figure reappeared in front of Luna seconds later and grabbed her arm an in a blink of an Eye she was inside a dark, dusty old building.
"You have no idea what you just started." The mysterious hooded man said as he paced around the room.
"Who are you? How did we get here? And where’s the other man?" Luna demanded.
"My names Grey, I was walking nearby, and I heard screams. As for Adrik, I left him back in his hometown; it’ll be weeks before he gets back here. But that’s not important, what is important is that you just killed one of The Scarlet Blades and they will hunt you down if you don’t leave now."
"I'm not leaving! I’ve come too far, and I haven't found what I'm looking for. I’m running out of time." Luna fought the burn of tears welling up in her eyes. Grey slowly took a step closer to her, and she flinched, immediately raising her bloody blade.
"Whoa, I'm not here to hurt you. Tell me what I can do to help, why are you here?"
"I need colored moonstones."
"I can help with that."
"The last man that said that was lying why should I trust you?"
"You shouldn’t trust anyone from this Island but, I can tell you this, hurting you won't benefit me at all and I actually know exactly where the stones are. I’m the one who commandeered them for a collector on the Island.”
"Where can I find them? I will not follow you anywhere."
"No, I will get them, but first I need to know why you need them before I hand them over.”
“Knowing this will do you no good, this spell will not work for you.” She said challenging his need for this information.
“Then it will do no harm if you tell me.”
She sighed as she gave in to his demand for time sake. “Moonstones can harness full moon power. Tonight, both moons are full, and I need the power to perform a locator spell to find my family. Each color moonstone represents which part of the world it was formed in when I do the spell mixed with my blood, one of them should light telling me which part of the world my family’s in.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
“Then…I really am alone.” seeming satisfied he backed away from her a few feet.
“Wait here.” He disappeared and reappeared moments later holding a velvet sack. He poured the contents in the palm of his hand revealed the moonstones she had been searching for.
“Why would you help me?” She asked still wary of accepting his help
“Let’s just say I know what it’s like to be alone in this world. Come on we should get going it won’t be long before Scarlet Blades have men scouring this entire island."
" The beach is the best place for the spell." she grabbed his hand.
“Hold on tight.” And they vanished leaving the dark room behind.
When she opened her eyes, she found herself on the beach where she crawled to shore and for once she felt she might have a chance at finding her family.
"I'll stand watch you do what you need to do." Grey watched Luna from behind the rocks as she quickly began to draw a formation in the sand and mumbled an incantation, she dug a hole in the center of the formation she had drawn and used her hands to call the water to her filling the hole. She took the dagger and wiped it clean of Ian's blood on her shirt the sliced the palm of her hand dripping it in the pool she made. Then, finally she placed the moonstones on each side of the pool and moved so the light of the moons could shine on them. Nothing happened. Am I too late? Luna shooed the water away and called forth more to fill to hole repeating the steps. Grey could hear her starting to choke up as she whispered again and failed to make anything happen.
"Is everything alright? You need to hurry I see torches coming down the road."
"Just let me think!" Luna was desperate now; the moonstones should be working if her family were alive or in this world. She whispered the incantation again but this time instead of her blood she pulled two scale from her hip and placed them in the pool and moved aside. The light of the moons hit the stones once again and the purple moonstone began to glow brightly. There are more!
The footsteps grew closer and she could hear the angry men running towards the beach.
"Did you get what you needed?" Grey asked as he readied himself to teleport.
"Yes, thank you." She kissed his cheek placed and placed the bag of coins in his hand and turn to the ocean.
"Where are you going? I can get you out of here." But she didn't turn around instead, and dove into the water. The last that he saw of her was the moonlight glittering off her majestic tail before she disappeared beneath the waves.