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(note: I have always been fascinated with the ocean, ever since I was a child I found the concept of a hidden world under the waves to be mystifying - I was fortunate enough to grow up as what we call an "islander", going fishing in the deep sea with family was always great and the stories we shared continue to serve me well even as I live in a big city. This story is a homage to those days at sea, to the strange and wonderful tales of the "islands" and I hope those who join will be entertained by it..)

Prologue

Since time began there has been a hidden world beneath the waves known as Hildaland, a great and glorious city that surfaces every now and then as a shifting island - few mortals have ever gazed upon this kingdom and none have managed to set foot upon its surface.

Hildaland was inhabited by the peaceful Selkie folk, who often put on the guise of seals to swim across the ocean and interact with mortals - amongst the fairest of these Selkie folk was the Seal Maiden and she was beloved by her people as the rightful ruler of Hildaland.

Yet the day would come when Hildaland came under threat from the terrible Nuckelavee, an unstoppable demon of the sea who began to lay waste to the kingdom - the Seal Maiden used her song to defeat the demon and saved her home.

Tragically this act of bravery would become her curse and ever since the Seal Maiden has been forced to flee from isle to isle to avoid the wrath of the evil spirit known as Fisherman, who had been in command of the Nuckelavee.

Now in the modern age such stories have become known as the stuff of "fairy tales" - that was until today..

Chapter 1

A youthful male of no more than sixteen was standing by the shore as he often did, it was a remote area and he was seldom disturbed - as he looked out at the ocean he smiled slightly and watched as the sun began to set in the sky: causing an orange glow to bathe the ocean as the sound of birds fill the air.

(edit below if you wish to join, it's set on a fairly remote island in the modern age)

A teenage youth walks along the beach a distance off. His hair is long, dark, curly, and hangs a bit over his face. His eyes are a deep, rich brown. He wears only jeans, which are torn and frayed at the knees. Upon his chest glows a silver crystal, radiating a faint light. Walking with him is a girl of a slightly shorter stature. Her hair is black, with streaks of red. Her eyes are dark, but gentle. She wears shorts and a bikini top, and just above her chest glows a black crystal.

"See, Mist?" said the boy, indicating the sunset. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"

Mist sighs. "Yes, you're right... I guess we do need a break..."

"Uh-huh." the boy agreed.

The youth stares closer at the sea and without saying a word he begins to walk into the ocean - at first the action seems normal enough but soon it becomes decidely unnatural as he continues to smile as he become more and more submerged by the waves, for some reason it felt completely natural to himself as he closed his eyes and walked so far that he eventually became completely submerged under the calm tide.

As the boy descends, Mist and Xidnew turn to watch. "Well," Xidnew says, "We have seen a few interesting things in the worlds we've been on..."

"Yes. That we have." Mist replies.

"Let's follow him."

"Why?"

"Well... why not?"

"Hm... fine."

"You have the crystal?"

Mist opens the palm of her hand; with a small flash of light, several colored crystals appear, each one a different color, arranged in what seems to be an incomplete seven-point star. "Yes." she responds. She taps the blue crystal point; energy seems to exit the crystal in a glowing blue trail, entering the crystals that Xidnew and Mist bear on their chests, which immediately turn blue; the color seems to sparkle and swirl like the waves of the ocean.

"Well, let's go then." said Xidnew, walking toward the ocean. Mist follows him, and they both submerge underwater; the crystal's energy allowing them to breathe.

The youth stays submerged longer than any man could hold his breath and stares out at the sea - the salty water neither stinging his eyes nor freezing his blood as it should of done: as he floats in the deep water a mystical sight appears from the depths.

At first it looks like a collection of seals, numbering several dozen or more - yet as the figures come nearer it is apparent they are not ordinary seals, their upper-torso more closely resembling those of humans as well as their faces: the lower half remaining much like that of a regular seal.

The youth continues to float and seems to enter a trance as the seal-creatures surround him, their movements are akin to an underwater dance - after a few moments the youth closes his eyes and seems to pass out as the seal-creatures continue to swarm around his seemingly lifeless form.

"...Is he okay?" Xidnew asks, the crystals' extent of power allowing him to speak underwater as well. He starts toward the youth, but Mist holds out an arm to stop him.

"Wait..." she said quietly.

The creatures stop swarming around the boy as two males hold him by each arm and begin to rise to the surface - as this occurs the others begin to disperse into the deep sea, save for one seal-woman who swims over to Xidnew and Mist, she is clearly very old and her very presence gives off the impression of a creature that has more wisdom that any mortal could imagine - her pure black eyes glistening in the murky depths.

She stares at the two for a good few moments, not saying a word - it's a mystical experience - like seeing something from an ancient myth come to life before one's eyes.. then she too swims off into the sea, the two males seeming to vanish in seconds as the youth is left floating on the water above.

"Well... that was interesting..." Xidnew says. He immediately swims toward the surface after the youth. Mist stays in place for a moment, watching the location where the older seal-woman disappeared. Then she swims off after Xidnew.

The youth remains silent and still, his eyes closed as he floats on the surface of the ocean - all of a sudden his eyes open wide as a voice speaks out into his mind, as well as Xidnew and Mist <<swim as fast as the waves themselves, don't look down.. don't even think.. hurry.. go!>>

Within moments a terrifying sound akin to a drawn-out, deep fog horn echoes across the water - emitting from deep below the group as something gigantic begins to surface from the murky depths, the water suddenly becoming wild and stormy.

"What the-" Xidnew begins.

"No time! GO!" Mist exclaims, using her crystal's energy to create a water current which she rides to the surface.

"Wait!" yells Xidnew, using the same maneuver.

The youth's eyes suddenly shoot open and he swims towards the shore with amazing speed, which is just as well as a wall of water suddenly rises as a horrific monster surfaces - easily dwarving almost any creature in the ocean save perhaps the blue whale and resembling a horrific centaur with a swollen head that hangs limply on its flayed carcass of a body, the seas around the entity roar with fury as the overwhelming stench of death and disease covers the area as a thick sea fog begins to spread over the area.

The sea-demon lets out another unearthly cry, again like that of a drawn-out fog horn - it seems to be pursuing the youth with intent, obviously not intending to allow him to reach the shore..

Xidnew glances at the sea demon for a moment, then presses his hands together; the crystal on his chest turns a shade of silvery-blue as a javelin of ice appears, forming from the water. Xidnew takes the javelin and hurls it at the monster, using the power of his crystal to create a jetstream that propels the icy projectile further and faster.

The projectile strikes the monster yet alarmingly the beast does not slow down, snorting out a cloud of foul pestilence as it lets out another horrific howl - the youth turns around, despite the warning from the mysterious voic earlie: his eyes grow wide and he seems to freeze in fear.

Meanwhile a ghostly figure seems to appear just off the coast, resembling a cloaked man literally standing on the water - thick sea fog blurring most of his feature save for a haunting latern that shines out across the stormy oceans, like a beacon.

As this occurs the monster suddenly changes direction, heading towards the light and submerging itself back under the waves, causing a massive wave to sweep over the three youths in the process - with enough force to wash them onto the nearby shore, thankfully once they make contact with the sand they seem safe.. if shaken.

"...What was that thing?" Xidnew asks, gasping for breath.

"I don't know..." Mist responds.

The youth lays on the shore, apparently passed out - yet out of nowhere a voice speaks out "..Nuckelavee" - the source is soon revealed to be an old woman, dressed in a rather old-fashioned dress, she leans over to the youth and motions to a nearby building.

"Come.. we have much to discuss.. please.." the woman says, heading towards the building - despite her apparent age she carries the still lifeless body of the youth with her without apparent burden and, most unusual of all, she is barefoot despite the fact a bitterly cold wind has already began to blow over the island.

Mist and Xidnew begin to shiver as the icy cold sets in. Mist holds out the colored crystals once more. She taps the point of a red crystal- energy flows out of it, turning the gems implanted on their chests a fiery color. She claps her hands- a warm fire appears, glowing with a ruby light. Xidnew does the same.

"Better." Xidnew gasps. "So... wanna follow the other kid?"

"No." Mist says.

"Why not?"

"Not our business."

"It is now." Xidnew says, sprinting off after the old woman carrying the youth.

Mist sighs in slight annoyance before running off after Xidnew.

Chapter 2

The scene changes to the inside of the building the old woman inhabits, she has already laid the youth on a makeshift bed and sat down by a fireplace - it is like an old cabin yet is quite spacious, the old woman motions Mist and Xidnew to sit down nearby.

"I am afraid that you have bore witness to a grave omen, one that may well mean the end of my people.. the Nuckelavee has not been seen for many a year.. I had hoped it was just a tale.. yet now I see it was not.." the woman speaks, in the firelight her eyes sparkle slightly and are familiar - reminding Mist and Xidnew of the old seal-person that had observed them not long ago out at sea.

"Nuckelavee..." Mist repeats. "Are you talking about that giant thing we saw earlier?"

The woman nods slightly "the Nuckelavee is a demon of great and terrible might, nothing can stop it once it has been awoken.. save the call of the Seal Maiden.. but the Seal Maiden has not been seen for many a moon now.. the victim of the Fisherman's wrath.. yet if the Nuckelavee has awoken I imagine its master will have greater aspirations than revenge.. indeed I can feel my people calling to me from the depths, they speak of the Nuckelavee - it is heading towards Hildaland.. to finish what it started so long ago.." - her eyes grow sad and she lowers her head.

As she does so the youth finally stirs, sitting up as he clutches his head "..ugh.. what.. happened..?".

"He's awake." Mist says. She steps over to the youth. "It's alright... you're safe here, I think."

The youth nods slightly, still holding his head as he blinks a few times, "..grandmother? are you alright?".

The old woman smiles a little, yet her eyes are still sad as she raises her head and speaks softly "I am well, Thomas - do not be afraid.. the Nuckelavee can not harm us on the land.. though I am afraid I must take leave soon.."

The youth tilts his head slightly "..leave? where are you going?".

The old woman's smile fades yet she still speaks softly, it is obvious she cares for Thomas by her tone "to Hildaland - I will join the other Selkies in defence against the Nuckelavee..".

"..Nuckelavee? Hildaland? but.. grandmother.. these are fairy tales.." the youth begins.

The old woman nods a little "..aye, they are fairy tales - rightly so.. for we are fairies Thomas.. at least that's one of the names humans gave us.. you see, you're mother.. she was a Selkie.. she fell in love with a man from this very island when she was still young, yet he fell victim to the Fisherman's ghost lights and drowned off this shore.. your mother was never the same after that.."

The youth blinks a few times as he tries to take this in, yet simply clutches his head again as he closes his eyes - lowering his head "..I.. don't.. understand..".

Mist and Xidnew look at each other, remembering a time where they both were confronted with unusual happenings beyond their control- when they were rescued by a secret and told that the fate of the universe depended on them.

"So this... this Seal Maiden you told us about," Mist asks, "she's real?"

The old woman nods again as she turns towards the door, "..as real as any of us can be, though she has been cursed to drift forevermore amidst the waves - unable to rest as the Fisherman pursues her, his rage as endless as the sea itself.. I must go now.. Hildaland needs me..".

The youth stands up suddenly "no! grandmother! I'm coming with you -"

"Thomas, you're young and reckless - you've barely been introduced to the ways of the Merfolk.." the old woman replies.

"So? I may be young but I'm still the boy you raised - I'm still Thomas and you're still my grandmother.. you expect me to stay here as you go to your death? I won't do it! I won't let you die grandmother! I -!" Thomas begins only to be interrupted as the old woman turns around, her features becoming more like that of a seal.

"I have lived for many years, Thomas, I have seen many things and been gifted treasures mankind only dream of in fairy tales, yet the greatest treasure of all was having you as my grandson.. please.. do not throw yourself away.. " the old woman says.

"Wait-" Mist exclaims. "We can help! We're good fighters... and we can use magic!"

"But Mist," Xidnew interrupts, "We are on our own mission."

"It was you who wanted to take a break here." Mist responds, "and besides, I'm not going to stand by while these people are fighting for their very lives."

The old woman thinks for a moment, then turns away and heads outside "..the Seal Maiden swims from island to island, only stopping long enough to catch her breath before her endless journey begins again - or so the legend says.. seek her out, if you succeed she'll show you the way.. if you don't, at least you will be safe.. a little piece of Hildaland will live on in you.. now, no more arguing.. I must go.."

Thomas watches as the old woman heads out, he looks to Mist and Xidnew then runs after her - reaching out as if to stop her but freezing midway as he instead opts on watching her walk across the shore and into the sea: as she does so he yells out to her "..I'll find her grandmother! I'll bring her back! I promise!".

The old woman turns around slightly, changing almost entirely into a seal now as she gives a haunting look towards the group with gentle eyes - Thomas shakes ever so slightly, though it isn't due to the cold air, it's the rush of emotion one gets watching someone they love disappear without knowing if they'd ever return.

Then, after a few moments, the old Selkie disappears under the water and Thomas bows his head, "just.. don't die.. okay?" he whispers, even though he knows she couldn't hear.

Mist walks forward and places her hand on Thomas's shoulder. "She'll be fine. Just have faith, ok? It's the best you can do right now."

"Ok, ok," says Xidnew, strangely irritated. "So how do we find this Seal Maiden?"

Thomas closes his eyes and begins to concentrate, as he does so he enters a trance - after a few moments he opens his eyes with a start: they noticably change in the process much like his grandmother's did.. he tenses then runs towards the sea "..I can track her down.. it's a gift.. the Selkie Sight.. grandmother told me about it.. all I have to do is have faith.. come on..".

Thomas proceeds to dive into the ocean and swims with surprising speed, heading out into the freezing water without even flinching and seeming to move with the waves as if becoming one with the sea.

Mist and Xidnew look after him for a moment. "Well, let's follow." Mist says. Changing the crystals on their chests back to the color blue, they dive into the ocean once more, and dart after Thomas.

Chapter 3

Thomas continues swimming across the ocean at great speed, as he does so a small island comes into view - no more than a few rocks in the midst of an endless sea of blue - he swims over to the island without even thinking and grabs onto one of the rocks: he then gazes upon a magical sight, a young woman with the lower half of a seal sitting on the rocks and looking out at the sea with dark haunting eyes.

Thomas keeps still as the woman continues to look out at the sea, a breeze picking up as she suddenly begins to sing - as she does so the clouds begin to part as the ocean itself seems to calm for a few moments, her song is sad as it drifts across the waves and for now she seems either unaware of being observed or doesn't care.

Mist and Xidnew rise slowly out of the water, and listen for a few moments.

"That sounds... beautiful..." Mist whispers.

Thomas looks to the woman, transfixed for a moment as he listens to her - then raises himself out from the water and walks over to her: not saying a word.

The woman suddenly stops and turns around, looking to Thomas and the others, her expression changes to one of surprise.

"..oh? yes.. of course.. you came.. I should of expected this.. yet.. you must leave.. I can't bare to see you rush to your doom like so many before you.." she speaks.

Thomas shakes his head for a moment, as if awakening from a trance - his expression suddenly changes to mild anger as he too speaks out: "..grr.. look! I've had enough of this! I'm not a child you know - I know all about the Fisherman and the Nuckelavee.. this is my choice.. my battle.. my grandmother is going to fight for her family and home.. am I not allowed the same right?".

The woman tilts her head, as if thinking, her eyes growing sad - yet a smile creeps across her face as she responds after a moment:

"..you are brave, I can see that much - I've been running for so long.. sometimes I too wish to fight.. yet there is something you should know.. about the nature of the Fisherman..".

"Tell us, then." Xidnew says. "We'll do everything we can to help."

The woman's smile fades as her eyes grow wide, the sea suddenly stirring violently as a storm engulfs the area - a spectral figure walking over the waves, holding out a ghostly lantern as it heads over to the group: as the figure nears it is apparent that the figure is an old man dressed in a long coat with a hat that covers most of his face, save for a long beard.

"..brace yourselves!" the woman yells out and before much else can be done a massive wave erupts from behind the spectral figure - sweeping across the small island, causing the group to be swept into the raging ocean: the woman transforms into a seal as she swims with surprising agility despite the chaos, Thomas isn't nearly as skilled and ends up tumbling around in the water.

Mist reacts quickly, using the power of her crystal to dart through the water after Thomas; Xidnew is caught by suprise, and thrown into the currents.

As the group end up in the sea the old man speaks out, his voice like thunder - every spoken word seeming to stir the surrounding waves into a frenzy, as if caught in a storm:

"..you Selkies are all the same, soft and foolish - you still think that the spirits of nature can live in harmony with one another.. did you think I would forget? .. did you think I would forgive?"

Xidnew, having caught himself using the power of his crystal, creates a current that shoots him out of the water and right at the old man, where he aims a powerful kick.

Xidnew finds himself flying straight through the figure, like passing through a freezing cold waterfall - the figure's form rippling visibly before the old man forms a frown on his face and looks to the group:

"..I am the Fisherman.. the spirit of the sea.. you dare to strike at me? ..very well.. I accept your futile challenge.. NUCKELAVEE!".

The woman suddenly surfaces, her eyes growing wide as she heards the Fisherman's words and a familiar sentence is uttered: "..swim.. as fast as you can.. don't look back.. just.. swim.. now!".

With that the woman darts into the waves and swims with inhuman speed, Thomas eventually manages to recover in time for Mist to reach him: yet they have little time to ask questions as the all-too familiar sound of a drawn-out fog horn can be heard from the distance as something huge begins to rise from the water below the group.

"..no!.. I'm not going to run!.. I'm going to fight!.. I have too! ..for grandmother!" Thomas begins.

Xidnew's crystal changes into a pale, shimmering green. A small whirwind forms around him, powerful enough to keep him floating above the water's surface.

The woman suddenly stops and turns around, panicking slightly as she yells "..are you insane!? swim! swim damn you!" - however her yells fall on deaf ears as Thomas narrows his eyes and stays still in the water even as the horrific Nuckelavee rises in front of him, causing the water to crash in a chaotic frenzy.

"..no.. I won't.. I'm not scared.. this thing wants to kill my grandmother.. my family.. I won't run away.. I won't.." Thomas says, then swims forward - towards the Nuckelavee: the sea-demon letting out a horrific roar as it spews forth a tide of toxic fumes from its gaping mouth.

Above the waves the Fisherman observes the scene with emotionless eyes, "..Merfolk.. such pathetic creatures.. no matter.. Nuckelavee.. drag this insolent youth to the bottom of the ocean.. if his friends interfere.. kill them.. slowly.. I want to see the life drain from their eyes.."

"Bastard!" Xidnew yells in rage. Using the powers of ice within his crystal, he sprints at the Fisherman, each step freezing the surface of the water and giving him a platform to run across.

Mist catches up and uses her powers over fire to blast a wall of fire between the Nuckelavee and Thomas.

"That will distract it for a moment!" she says, grabbing Thomas's wrist. "Come on, we've got to go!"

The Nuckelavee recoils from the flames, emitting a terrifying roar as it forms a massive wave that crashes into the wall of fire, the creature swatting at the flames with its enlongted arms.

As this occurs the Fisherman watches Xidnew approaching, forming a tornado of water around himself as he notes: "..you are not worthy - Nuckelavee.. forget them.. Hildaland awaits us.. it is time for the Selkies to bow to their king, before they are crushed beneath the tides.."

"Oh, NO YOU DON'T!" Xidnew exclaims; as he continues running, he forms what appears to be a javelin out of ice, and in a move of incredible bravery (or perhaps, hotheaded stupidity), leaps at the tornado of water forming around the Fisherman, intending on impaling him with his weapon.

As Xidnew leaps at the tornado fo water he suddenly finds himself engulfed in a massive shockwave that sends him flying backwards before he can touch the Fisherman - who disappears beneath the waves in a frustrating display of power: the Nuckelavee following soon after, as the two monster vanish the skies begin to clear and the ocean begins to grow into a deadly calm.

Xidnew hits the water with enough force to black out for a second.

"Xidnew!" Mist calls out, swimming toward him.

"Dammit, dammit, dammit, DAMMIT!" Xidnew cursed, grasping his head with his hands. "That impact gave me one hell of a headache..."

The woman surfaces nearby and looks at Xidnew "..you should not of done that, the Fisherman is a child of the ocean.. you could not hope to beat him in his own domain..".

Thomas swims over and yells out at the woman "..why didn't you stop him!? you could of defeated that monster! my grandmother told me about the Seal Maiden's song.. how it can banish the Nuckelavee.. so why didn't you!?".

The woman turns to Thomas, "..I can't.. look what I have become.. I may of saved Hildaland but what of myself? for so long I have swam from the Fisherman.. seeking relief.. only for him to find me time and time again.. this is the price I pay for defying him.. if I did so again his rage would be even worse.. my suffering even greater..".

"..and what about Hildaland? what of my grandmother? are you just going to let them die? the Selkies speak of you as a hero, they tell stories of your bravery and sing songs of your beauty.. are you going to abandon them because you're afraid?" Thomas replies angrily.

Xidnew and Mist look at each other, as if daring the other to say something.

"your grandmother has lived a good live, you should be proud that she dies in defence of the people she loves.." the woman began.

"how can you say that!? you have the power to save her - to save them all.. yet you're too afraid to use it.. you're a coward! you hear me!?" Thomas yells.

"a coward, am I? I think it's time for you to wake up Thomas.." the woman says, her voice dangerous - suddenly grabbing Thomas and diving under the waves, swimming down into the depths at an alarming rate.

"Oh, snap..." Xidnew said, wide-eyed. "Did you see the look on her-"

"Xidnew! Shut up and dive!" Mist said, plunging under the water in pursuit. Xidnew sighed in irritation and followed.

Thomas struggled to free himself but was unable to do so, yet even as the two dived into the dark abyss he was unaffected - a combination of his Merfolk heritage and the Seal Maiden's presence stopping him from drowning or passing out in the depths: yet as he is turned to look at the bottom of the ocean he almost wished he had passed out: Laying at the bottom of the ocean was what looked like the ruins of several homes, shattered and broken.

<<this Thomas was once a fishing town, the Fisherman sank it alongside the island it sat upon.. pursuing me.. every human who lived in this town died.. because of me.. mothers.. children asleep in their beds.. infants..>> the Seal Maiden speaks.

Upon seeing the ruins, Xidnew's and Mist's eyes widen with horror.

Thomas struggles free, swimming down to rest on the bottom of the sea - looking around in disbelief at what he sees, as he lands a small object floats up from the seabed, obviously disturbed by his movements: as it floats his expression turns to anger as he sees it is a small ragdoll, floating eerily in the waves like a ghost.

<<..don't you see? this was the Fisherman's doing! you have to stop running - please.. I know you're scared.. we all are.. and.. maybe we can't win.. but we have to *try*! look around you.. Fisherman isn't going to stop until we're all dead..>> Thomas replies, looking to the Seal Maiden - his anger changing to a geniune look of desperation, pleading with her to understand.

The Seal Maiden in turn sways with the waves, her eyes drifting over to the ragdoll as it floats over to her - she reaches out and cups the object in her hands, the doll's head falls limply as its straw-like hair dances in time with the sea.

Xidnew lands in the midst of the ruins. "These people had lives... normal lives... not even children were spared..." he pauses for a moment. "That bastard Fisherman... he needs to die. And we'll take out his little pet, too."

The Seal Maiden continues to look at the doll, stroking its hair with a few fingers before releasing it - watching it float away, her eyes are sad - then change, becoming angry as she grows, her human features altering to become that of a full-grown Selkie: a near-perfect fusion of human and seal.

<<we can not kill the Fisherman.. yet we can make him feel fear.. this time he will be the one who runs..>> the Seal Maiden says.

<<so you're going to fight with us after all?>> Thomas asks.

<<..you're right, Thomas.. the Fisherman won't stop until everyone is dead.. I stopped the Nuckelavee once.. I have to try and do it again.. I've spent so long running I've forgotten what I am.. who I am.. Hildaland is my home.. the Selkies are my people.. I can't abandon them any longer..>> the Seal Maiden replies.

"We'll lend you every ounce of our strength." Mist says. "We can be quite formidible in a fight."

The Seal Maiden nods and the sea seems to change - the waves guiding the group along and making swimming a lot easier as they begin to breeze through the depths at great speed <<..we have to hurry.. I can sense the call of the Selkies.. the Nuckelavee is nearing Hildaland..>>.

Thomas' eyes grow wide for a moment <<..grandmother..>> - he then frowns as he picks up speed alongside the others <<..no.. I'm not afraid..>>.

Chapter 4

The scene shifts to Hildaland, which is surrounded by an entire army of Selkies - the seal-people are armed with what little weapons they have, being a peaceful people unaccustomed to warfare, they are of varying age and size ranging from powerful full-grown males to youths and even the eldery.

The Selkies prepare themselves as an all too familiar noise echoes across the depths as the Nuckelavee roars into view, the monster literally riding across the sea-bed like a horseman of the apocalype - its deformed head bobbing limply side to side as fiery eyes look forward, hateful clouds of pestilence spewing from its eternally open jaws as impossibly long arms drag along the sea-bed, creating a sandstorm that follows the beast's every movement.

<<..stay strong my brothers and sisters! for Hildaland!>> one of the Selkies yells out, proceeding to charge forward - the army following shortly after as the area erupts into a war-zone.

From above the Fisherman observes the carnage with an emotionless stare, Thomas' grandmother notices him and swims upwards to face her opponent: the old Selkie displaying calm and dignity in the face of utter destruction.

<<..Fisherman..>> she speaks.

<<..ah, Matron.. you still live?>> the Fisherman replies.

<<..aye, I live.. as do my people.. we are the Selkie.. you say we are weak yet you know we are not.. that is why you seek our destruction.. you fear us.. because we have power you can never hold.. yet in your rage you still don't see what that power is.. do you? the power we have.. the power you can never have.. is love.. love for all nature's gifts.. the world of man and the world of Fay are not enemies.. those days have gone.. I won't let you bring them back..>> Matron responds, her eyes staring at the Fisherman with the same haunting beauty and wisdom they had done when Xidnew and Mist had first saw her back at the shore.

The Seal Maiden and the others arrive on the scene a short while later, Thomas looking around to see his grandmother confronting the Fisherman and he instinctively swims forward.

<<..look around you, Matron.. mankind are doomed to extinction.. a curse brought down upon them from the beginning.. by those who dance in shadows..>> the Fisherman replies.

<<..the old gods do not have sway over me, Fisherman.. I do not fear those who dance in shadows.. nor do I share their belief that we are born only to die.. you were once a child of the sea yourself, Fisherman.. yet you became corrupted.. you let the old gods sway you.. now you are just a pawn.. one of many.. dancing to their tune..>> Matron responds.

<<..so you know of my past?>> Fisherman enquires.

<<..aye, that I do.. you were once in the presence of Neptune himself.. yet you threw it all away to follow the madness of those who dance in shadows..>> Matron replies.

<<Neptune is no more, Matron.. he dances in the shadows himself now.. one of the great ascended..>> Fisherman responds in turn.

<<..perhaps.. we will not join him..>> Matron says, her voice stern now.

The Fisherman observes Matron for a while, as if studying her for weakness - Thomas races forward, his eyes growing wide as the Fisherman morphs one of his arms into a large harpoon using driftwood from the seabed below and impales Matron straight through the torso.

<<..have it your way..>> Fisherman replies.

Xidnew, having arrived on the scene, forms a javelin out of ice and rushes at the Fisherman.

Fisherman pulls the harpoon from Matron's torso and turns in time for Xidnew's javelin to go straight through him - his form rippling like water itself as he frowns <<why? why do you waste your time here? you do not even belong! this is not your fight!>>.

Thomas ignores the Fisherman and Xidnew as he swims to his grandmother, the old Selkie's eyes remain open yet rapidly fade as her life ends - Thomas barely having time to hold her before the end comes: "..no.. no.. NO.." Thomas cries, trying to shake her awake as he slowly falls to the sea-bed, kneeling with her as he lowers his head, still crying "..I'm so sorry grandmother.. I tried.. I tried so hard.. I.. I'm sorry.. please.. don't die.. don't.. you're all I have.. grandmother.. please..".

As Thomas griefs the Seal Maiden makes her way to the Nuckelavee itself, the army of Selkies rapidly falling as the beast slaughtered all in its path - nearing the walls of Hildaland itself before it freezes as Seal Maiden yells out: <<NUCKELAVEE!>>

"I'm not wasting my time here!" Xidnew yells back at the Fisherman. "I want to help protect them from monsters like you!"

Three sharp points of ice hurtle toward the Fisherman as Mist arrives on the scene.

The Fisherman laughs as he suddenly begins to grow, transforming into a monstrous Great White Shark, many "ghost lights" erupting from his form and dancing along the ocean - threatening to collide with anyone in reach and trap them inside their own illusions as the fallen spirit of the sea roars:

<<.. a monster, am I? hahaha.. very well, boy.. come.. face me.. let death be your salvation!>>

As Xidnew and the Fisherman prepare for battle Thomas continues to hold his dead grandmother close, unable to let her go even as the Nuckelavee turns, its mouth gaping wide as its head bobs madly upon seeing the Seal Maiden - long arms flail as it spins around and charges towards her with a deafening roar, blackening the nearby waves with pestilence.. the beast threatening to run straight over the griefing Thomas..

Battle 1 - Fisherman

As the Fisherman changes form, Xidnew's eyes widen with fear. He quickly prepares a number of ice-spears, and grasps them tightly in his hands.

The Fisherman grins widely, revealing rows upon rows of sharp fangs as the "ghost lights" fly around the ocean - <<..dance, puppet.. dance to the tune of Those Who Dance In Shadows..>> - he swings his tail rapidly, as he does so multiple whirlpools erupt around Xidnew as the seabed itself seems to come to life in the chaos.

Xidnew begins to hurl his spears at the Fisherman, while keeping a careful eye on the now chaotic surroundings.

The Fisherman reacts by diving towards Xidnew, the spears hitting their mark and leaving wounds on the now monstrous shark - the whirlpools continuing to do a mad dance across the area as the spirit of the sea trashes his tail madly and snaps with his powerful jaws.

Xidnew, not physically powerful enough to escape the shark-form of the Fisherman is forced to use the power of his crystal to create currents of water that propel him away from the beast.

The Fisherman just laughs as he changes form once again, the sea around him becoming covered in a thick blanket of inky clouds as several tentacles spread out - the spirit taking the form of a large octopus:

<<..you foolish little land-dweller.. you come to my home and threaten me? no.. I don't think so.. not this time.. this time it is I who will have the final laugh.. as Hildaland is shattered and the Selkie race finally scattered across the seven seas like the pathetic vermin they are..>>.

Xidnew forms more ice-spears and hurls some of them at the Fisherman.

The Fisherman continues to laugh until he becomes aware of what is occuring with the Nuckelavee, at which point he knocks Xidnew to one side and hurls himself towards the others: the ice-spears piercing into his form as he panicks:

<<NUCKELAVEE! NUCKELAVEE!>>

Xidnew glances over and sees the Fisherman hurry to where the Nuckelavee is being pulled into the seabed by the power of the Seal Maiden's song, where he also sees Thomas being pulled under as well. Xidnew uses a current to dart over to the scene.

Battle 2 - Nuckelavee

The Seal Maiden sees Thomas still griefing as the Nuckelavee charges straight towards him, without thinking she unleashes a massive bolt of water at the sea-demon that actually manages to knock it back a few feet, the creature roaring in confusion and anger as it lashes out with its long arms.

Thomas continues to shiver as he kneels by his grandmother, then suddenly breathes deeply as he releases his dead grandmother and flies straight at the Nuckelavee with rage in his eyes <<AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!>>.

Mist creates a vortex of water around herself and begins to approach the Nuckelavee.

The Nuckelavee lets out a terrifying roar, the sea around it blackening as a cloud of pestilence spews forth from its gaping mouth - Thomas pounding at the immense sea-demon as it flails with oversized arms, attempting to swat him away.

As this occurs the Seal Maiden finally stops and glares at the Nuckelavee, she then begins to sing a haunting melody that drifts across the waves.

Mist stops to listen to the melody in curiosity.

As the melody drifts across the waves the Nuckelavee suddenly covers its ears, letting out a roar of anger and confusion - shaking its massive form side to side as if trying to drive the song from its mind, the sea around it growing into a massive storm as the seabed begins to become like quicksand, slowly sucking the monster under the shifting sands.

Thomas continues to attack the demon even as this occurs, unwilling to give up the fight.

Mist creates a current above the beast that serves to push it down into the seabed even further.

The Nuckelavee lets out another deafening roar as the Seal Maiden's song echoes through the area, the demon grabbing Thomas in one of its massive arms before it sinks under the seabed..

"Thomas!" Mist cries out, darting over to the seabed to pull Thomas up

(It's up to you whether or not she gets there in time or if she's capable of doing anything)

Battle's End

As the Nuckelavee sinks beneath the sands, still holding onto Thomas despite Mist's attempts to break him free - the Fisherman soon falls upon Mist and the Seal Maiden in a fury, still in the form of a monstrous octopus:

<<..NO! YOU FOOLS! NUCKELAVEE!>>

Mist does her best to continue holding onto Thomas despite the Fisherman's attacks; Xidnew forms a blade out of ice and attempts to stab the Fisherman with it.

Thomas looks to Mist as he begins to sink, speaking to her mind <<..it's alright, Mist.. let go..>> his voice and expression change, from pain and rage to something different now - sad yet knowing.

At the same time the Fisherman lets out a cry of fury as Xidnew attacks along with several Selkies, the Seal Maiden calling out: "..brothers and sisters, too long have we ran from fear and tyranny.. now it strikes at the very heart of Hildaland.. no.. I say.. if this is to be our last battle then let it be remembered.. let the song of the Selkies be heard across the seven seas.. for we are stronger than you think..".

Soon an entire army of Selkies swarm around the Fisherman, dragging his monstrous form down to the seabed as their haunting melody fills the waves.

"...No!" Mist exclaims (the power of ther crystal allowing her to speak underwater), "...I won't let another innocent die!"

The Selkies' song continues to fill the waves as the Fisherman is dragged down to the seabead, which opens like an abyss - the entire group apparently sacrificing themselves as they swim into the darkness with the struggling monster roaring in rage.

<<..Mist.. you've shown me kindness.. you and Xidnew.. now you need to show me something more.. you need to show me.. trust..>> Thomas speaks, keeping his gaze on Mist <<..now please.. let go..>>.

Mist, reluctant to do so, lets go of Thomas' hand...

<<..thank you, Mist..>> Thomas whispers, then sinks below the sand of the seabed as it suddenly turns calm - the stormy waters becoming hauntingly still as both the Nuckelavee and the Fisherman disappear: alongside Thomas and many of the Selkies, leaving only the Seal Maiden and several younger Selkies alongside Mist and Xidnew.

Mist simply kneels down and stares at the spot where Thomas disappeared for several moments.

Seal Maiden looks around and gathers the younger Selkies as she floats for a moment in the calm waters, <<..love is a gift that must be given freely, it can never be forced nor stolen.. today Thomas gave you that gift.. as did the brothers and sisters who layed down their lives to ensure the Fisherman would never again harm our children.. it hurts.. I know it hurts.. yet we must go on.. for it is in us that they survive..>>.

"...I promised myself... I promised that I wouldn't let anyone else die... if I could save them..."

"...Mist..." Xidnew said, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder.

Seal Maiden looks towards Xidnew and Mist <<..Thomas gave his life because he wanted to ensure the Nuckelavee would never return.. just as the other Selkies gave theirs to ensure the Fisherman would not return.. I think you two were brought here to witness this moment..>>

The young Selkies begin to swim towards Hildaland and Seal Maiden watches, beginning to move away as she turns to Xidnew and Mist once more: <<..Thomas will never truly die, Mist.. as long as you remember him..>>.

A familiar memory comes to Mist's mind:

A tiny cloaked figure floated around her head happily. "Well, of course, Mist. I want everyone I meet to remember me- I can live forever in people's memories!"

"...you're right." Mist said finally.

<<..now go.. with the blessing of Hildaland.. if ever you need us.. just call to the waves.. the Selkies will answer you as one of their own..>> Seal Maiden says before she disappears into the halls of Hildaland.

Chapter 5

(please use chapter 5 as a bit of a closing scene for Xidnew and Mist, I trust you when it comes to editting and I feel these two characters need a bit of closure to effectively end this story)

Xidnew and Mist sat together on the beach, overlooking the ocean waves sadly.

"...are you okay, Mist?" Xidnew finally says.

"...I think so... I'm doing pretty well for someone who just watched someone else die right in front of her..." she said with a hint of bitterness in her voice. "...I could've saved him, I know it..."

"I'm sorry." Xidnew said. "But you need to remember, it was his choice. His choice to sacrifice himself for his people. I think you could say he died a hero..."

"He's the third..." Mist said. "The third person to die in front of my eyes.. the third person I failed to save..."

"Mist, you can't blame yourself..." Xidnew begins.

"But what if this keeps happening?" she said, her voice growing frantic and her eyes tearing up. "Is every person I meet going to die in front of my eyes?! What if this happens to you?! What if you are dying and I can't save you?!"

"Mist..." Xidnew says, stunned at her sudden outbreak- this was not like the Mist he knew- Mist was usually so calm, collected and intense... now she was quite traumatized and upset.

Xidnew put his arm around her, and held her close. Mist threw her arms around him and sobbed into his shoulder. Xidnew couldn't help but shed a tear.

"Things will change... I promise they'll change..." Xidnew said.

And so the two friends continued to sit on the beach for the rest of the evening, as the sun slowly set and the stars began to sparkle overhead like beacons of hope from an unknown future...

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