He watched in dismay as his brother's life was fallen before him. He knew that he would never see him again - he was dead to him now. Or perhaps fate would be better to consider him truely dead. The hole in the living rock allowed him enough purchase to see through, to see the open ocean far beyond the walls of the palace-city. Every once in a while he could glimpse one of the females - the flash of brilliant color shimmering deep beneth the waves. They were so distant there in their scouting that he couldn't even make out the weapons they carried, but he could imagine them. He could hear their voices in his mind, that silence that they screamed. All was silent and calm out in the waves. And soon, his brother would be amongst them. His flesh would be twisted, his face distorted... he would be no more. He would join them there in the deep.
Ichi turned away from the peering hole, and glided his way down the vast halls of living rock, passing by and over non-blood-brothers whispering to one another. Playing, bartering for the goods they took care to sell, and mating. It was all the same. He had no heart to join them, for he was too lost in his grief to take any joy in the regular activities of the day. Instead, he made his way toward his brother's chambers - soon to belong to his sister and her life-mate. Only when he got here, he hadn't the heart to enter, and he passed it by as well, slowly turning toward the seer's grand hall. The others could feel his grief, and reached out to comfort him, the softest touches - but he ignored them all.
The seer's chamber was huge - and it's walls were the darkest of corals - they had been touched so often that their walls were smooth as glass, and reflected even the soul (it was said) in their depths. All along it's surface, small creatures clung to life, sparkling and glowing faintly, as if they dared to defy the world with their presence. But the seers paid them no mind. They never did. They had long since gouged out their own eyes so as to better see, so the glowing slugs entrapped in the ebony coral they paid no mind to. The heart rested on a dias at the center of the chamber, it's center swirling with the purest of blues and greens - a small ribbon if white dancing in it's mists.
Not even their fellow siren could understand their ways - and their mystery perhaps is what drew him here. When he glided his way into the chamber, it did not surprise them. Instead, they all turned their empty sockets toward him, and stared through his body, deep down into his soul with their eyeless faces, blank of expression. He froze, and averted his gaze, looking instead to the floor, coated in the finest of black sands, and waited. It felt like an eternity, but eventually he could feel them, feel them move away and so he looked up. When he saw, they were all hidden amongst the walls - their own black scales matching the crooks in which they rested - and a single seer was looking at him - waiting for him at the dias. His blood ran cold. It was a woman.
"Come." her command was simple enough, whispered lightly into his mind's ear, but the ecco of it screamed in his brain. She was so strong - even a whisper could crush him - and he quivered, slithering foreward as quickly as possible, his belly touching the sand in submission, his head bowed - until he reached the dias where she waited, looking up only briefly - but he could not bare to stare into her face.
She reached up to the dias, and waved her hands over the crystal that rested there - 'the heart' it was called, and rightfully so, for as rumor had it, it was literally the heart of an old glory, a god of the sea, and it's soul still pulsed within'. "Your grief is misplaced..." her whisper scolded him, and if he were able to lower his head further, he would have - but it were not possible.
"I.... he will be dead ... to me." Ichi replied, his own voice shattering the silence of the seer's chamber.
"No. She will kill you." her thoughts were simple. Quiet, and harsh. They were not for comfort. And he felt as though his heart would shatter. It was true, he was lost to him now.
"A soul from the land screams in mourning for you. You will go. Or you will stay, and she will kill you." her whisper to his mind was sharp again, like a knife. What was this "soul" that she spoke of? Where on the land? Must he go? Would she truely kill him?... Yes... In his heart, he knew it to be true, but he couldn't accept it. He couldn't. He choked on a sob, refusing to let it escape his throat.
Her brow furrowed, and the words came to his brain like ice, "You use your tongue to speak. This flaw will be your gift. Take it with you.". She slowly turned from him, and began to glide away. Clearly, her wisdom and advice was done for the day. He would dare not ask more of her - for not only would he be tempting the seer, but a woman as well - a dangerous game, he knew, even if she was placid in her old age.
Back in his own chamber - the world seemed to melt away around him. Kamage felt his insides burn and twist and melt away, just as he could see the walls of what was once his home do around him. The pain seared through his body and mind, and even soul - like a great vent of red-water from the depths where no light could touch - but it felt right reguardless. He accepted the pain. He welcomed the pain.
From the corner of the brightly-colored room, his mate waited. Coiled there defensively between the wall and the chest which contained the favorite of their belongings, his pet fang-eel wrapped tightly in his arms for feigned protection. It even dared to bare his teeth at him - dared - how DARE it bare his teeth at him! He's rip it's life from it's throat! Teeth, in his chamber, HIS! The room flashed violently red, and he uncoiled toward the serpent, making to strike out at it - destroy, but the pain wracked his body and caused him to draw back upon himself, only to watch his mate flinch in the corner - cowering there in fear with the equally frightened eel baring it's teeth again safe in his arms still.
What was wrong with him? Why would he do such a thing? He liked the stupid little eel - he hand fed it from a hatchling. It was so afraid... and look at his mate. How he shivered. What were they afraid of? He moved to twist his head around to see what else was in the room, what other danger there could have been, but the pain in his face caused him to just bury his head in the silks instead. He tried to ignore the pain, and turned his thoughts toward his mate - tried to focus on the good things. Kamage remembered his mate, remembered his gentle touches. He could remember how kind he was to him, and every intimate detail when he had taken him. Why was today different. Why was there pain today? Why when he was taken by his love, when his love - who had ever been so gentle with him, even at this time, when he had been coiled inside of him - had there been pain? Why was his gentle lover now in the corner? Huddling there with his pet? He didn't understand. He wanted the pain. He NEEDED the pain. And like the room, like his body, like his soul - his mind melted away, and all thoughts bled from him. He hissed violently - and his gentle mate in the corner tried to make himself all the smaller. The eel screeched.
As Ichi left the seer's chamber - he felt the stab in his heart. All of them felt it. The fellow non-blood-brothers twitched in the halls, and all trade seemed to stop. Here was a pause in the merry-making. A pause in the trading. A pause in the playing, and mating, and even a pause with the mer-man - the creature they knew had no true soul. They all felt it, though some more strongly than others. Ichi felt it the most however. This was his brother. His brother he felt. He could feel his pain echoing through the halls, and all was still. Slowly, the cause dawned upon them, and quietly the others went back about their business. But not Ichi. Ichi was stricken with panic. He was in pain! Pain! He could feel it! And without a further thought, he raced his way back through the hallways - past the mosaics and paintings, and bright colors. He raced past the marketplace, and the winding stair - rushing toward his brother's room.
He reached the door - noted by the bright violet coral that his brother had loved so much, and the coral recognized him and parted as he reached it. But what he found inside was not his brother. He could see his brother's mate in the corner, huddled in terror with his pet Eel - and in the bed - writhing in pain was.... was...
The female looked up from the bed - her scales turned from the dusty lavender they had been, to a brilliant swirling flash of almost neon colors - violet and orange, stripes of white and black - stark and harsh. A warning - if there ever was one. A warning of color to easily match her face. Her face, where once had been his brother's - a soft thing with kind eyes - was now sharp and harsh. His cheeks had left him, exposing the wide row of teeth which now were lengthened and wicked like daggers. There were no lips to smile - only fangs to rend flesh. His claws were now talons, and his fins were lined with thorns. No. Not his. Hers. He was too late.
She - who had once been Kamage, looked to his brother Ichi - a stranger now. A stranger, and an intruder in his mate's chamber. HER mate's chamber. HERS. Intruder. Intruder! Mate-slayer! Egg-snatcher! Intruder! Intruder!
Ichi froze briefly in terror, just as his sister's mate had - but the terror rose in him faster, all the better for his survival - for his sister screeched at him, and in less than a second was off the bed, and chasing after him like a shark after a helpless baby dolphin, alone and away from it's pod. And so his brother was - and he turned and bolted. Gods and Spirits alike - he should have heeded the seer! He should have heeded her! She told him, TOLD him she would kill him! His heart raced, and blood pumped through his veins so quickly that he could hear and feel his pulse all the way in his ears. She was chasing after him, and he dare not slow down. If she caught him, he knew what would happen.
They used to play this game when they were brothers, the chasing game - and Ichi had always been faster. But that wasn't when it counted. And gods, it counted now. He weaved to the left, then to the right - knocking over carts and stands, lovers in the halls, and even an emissary of some kind. He hadn't even room in his mind to appolagize - all his mind was focused on the flee. Close behind him, so close he could feel her presence upon his tail was his sister. While he simply tried to make his way foreward, she destroyed anything in her way. Any cart that barred her cracked and snapped with her fury, and any man that was foolish enough to not part for her was parted BY her and her claws. He was beginning to tire - but her fury seemed to have no end. He had to think of something, some way to escape her - some way to... the seers! The land! He changed his path, and weaved his way toward the window - squeezing his way through it to escape. She didn't bother with squeezing. She simply broke through it, shattering the living-stone as she went. Blood from her scales filled the water where the impact hit her - but she only snarled, and seemed to have the blood fuel her fury all the more.
Those shapes. Those shapes he had seen before off in the distance. Those bright colors - where they getting larger? No, they were coming toward him. He she raised an alarm? They were hunting him like orcas keen on a seel pup! Spirits, he should have listened! He should have never sought him out - HER out, he knew better, he KNEW! He could see the colors coming toward him. She was brilliant green, and SHE was crimson like the color of blood - brilliant colors, brilliant colors. Beautiful, and deadly - the warning screaming in his head. God, he was going to die. There was nowhere to go - not left, not right, not even back with his Sister close behind him. But he was in the open now, in the ocean - not the palace-city - there was up and down as well! Up was frightening, it was of light and land. Down - down he had to go! Deeper, in the dark! In the - no... NO! Panic had taken him! As he turned to go down to the safety of the depths, he could feel the current turning as all the females swirled to chase him into the depths. He saw his "safety" down below. Down below, resting in the sands as they had been there all those years - and one more recently, as he would be soon - the bones of hundereds. Whales, men, skelletons of wooden ships - and even the tattered and pearly white remains of the bones of other Siren - males all. They had all fallen to the depths, never to rise again. When the females were on guard (as they always were), there was nothing that escaped their wrath. He was done. And he knew it.
Kyou had remained in the corner for some time. He watched in horror as his mate twisted and changed before him. He told him that he wanted his children. He even knew what that meant - but the truth of it - the shock of it, could not be comprehended until he saw with his own eyes. At one moment they had been kissing - and in the next he had been... changing. Screeching, writhing - there was blood everywhere - and even his little Ki, his little Eel had attempted to guard him defensively. But there was nothing that could save him. And so he huddled in the corner, and watched as his gentle lover was twisted into HER.
Then Ichi, his mate's own brother entered the room - and Kamage went mad. He... no... SHE had meant to kill him, and he only huddled in a corner and watched as she chased him out, no doubt blood on her mind. He was going to wait there, and know that Ichi - his mate's brother, his friend.... would die.
It was quiet in the room now, the blood that filled the water near the silks of the bed slowly filtered toward his nostrils. It smelled different than his blood normally did. It was... stronger. He hated the smell. Ki, his eel, nuzzled him to try to make him feel better, and he looked down to it in sorrow.
He couldn't let him... no, her... do that. Not to Ichi. He loved Ichi. SHE loved Ichi, he knew. He had to do something. She would never hurt him for he was hers as she was his, he knew that - but she'd hurt Ichi. Never hurt him. He had to stop her.
She could smell him - smell his fear - smell her own blood in the water. Intruder! Egg-snatcher! Mate-slayer! She screamed her fury to her sisters, and every one in the water heard her call. They screamed together the battle-cry of the Siren Sentries, a soundless thing that makes the blood run cold - but to hers, it only made it boil further. Down they chased him - this intruder, and she could almsot taste his flesh already - and she imagined already how his flesh would part between her teeth just as the water did now the faster she swam. Soon his bones would rest at the bottom of the sea surrounding the palace, just as so many intruders before him. Intruder, INRUDER!
He had nowhere left to go, and he coiled himself in fear and waiting against the skull-bone of a greater whale. She slashed out with her talons, and he barely dodged, his blood and loosened breast-scales filling the salty water in the deep. The bones seemed to scream in envy - they wanted him to come and rest with them. She could hear them scream with want - calling to him. Begging of her to send him to them. Her teeth snapped, and claws flashed. Her frills extended and rattle, causing a shuffling and hissing sound in the water. Her sisters swarmed him, their ever-grin upon their faces - teeth gleaming white or black. They would not kill him. Not yet. This was her kill. Her intruder. Her hunt. They simply prevented this intruder from fleeing. But once her kill was done, they would help her feast. Oh, yes - they would. He screamed at her through his mind - words, they were words, she could tell - but she was deaf to them. What were the words of an intruder? It didnt' matter - and how DARE he have the gall to scream at her, to try to shatter through the barrier of her mind and reach her, reach her in her weakness, at her TIME of weakness - this change of hers? She was volnurable now - and so was her mate, and she would NOT allow some... some... INTRUDER to harm--
They heard it. They all did. The faintest of sounds. So faint of a sound that it didn't even vibrate the water. It vibrated their minds.
"Lonely." It cried.
"Scared." It whimpered.
"Need." It begged.
"Come." It whispered.
Everything was still. The intruder. The bones. The sisters. Everything. Mate. She was needed. He needed her. Now. She had to be there, with him. He was weak. He needed her. Her quarry - bleeding before her, her teeth already barely piercing the delicate skin of his neck, was forgotten. She loosed her grip, and he went limp from fear, defeat, or relief. It mattered nothing. Her mate needed her. She heard him. They all did.
Kyou stood just outside the shattered window, looking down to the scene below him. He could see them while they hunted. See the bones that they all previously ignored. He could see the many scaled hides of brilliant and exotic colors, each unique in their warnings. He tried to swallow his fear as they approached - the whole swarm of them, to investigate his plea.
He reconginzed her first. She, who used to be his lover. She who still was. She approached him without caution - her new colors of threat and war glimmering even in these depths. Violet. How he used to love that color, and how she must now. Accented with orange, and the stripes of black and white. She was beautiful, if not deadly. Of her, he was not afraid. This was his mate. His. She would keep him safe, even if she had forgotten her brother. The other females looked on in curiosity, wondering in awe over their new sister's mate. So this was he? He who made her? He whom she was willing to die for. To kill for? Interesting male, this one.
Kamage knew Kyou's body. Knew every nook, cranny, extremity, and scale. Not a single one was to be out of place. She swum around him, petting him, pawing at him. Pushing her nose into every place in her thourough examination. He was not hurt? Not hurt? No injury? What was wrong? Why was he afraid? She would kill what made him afraid, she would. She would kill. He would be safe. Not a scale out of place. Not her mate. Father of her children, keeper of her children. Her-... no... no, she had been interupted. Intruder? Intruder! Her frills raised and rattled, and she glanced back down to the disgusting creature laying there amonsgt the bones in fear - but a gentle touch swayed her mind.
"Safe." it assured as he stroked her face, once it had flesh there across her jaw - but now every razor fang was exposed.
"Need." it begged, when his hands traced down her back, smoothing her frills down flat.
Yes. No killing. Safe. He needed her. And so there, amongst her sisters, she coiled with him. He would give her children - and they would be safe. He would raise them for her, and she would make SURE they were safe. No intruders. No egg-snatchers. No mate-slayers. He would give her children, safe in her coils - and all would be right under the waves.
Ichi looked up. He could see the glittering forms above him. He could even make out the tangled mess of his friend Kyou, mating with what had once been his brother. He could taste the bitter tang of his own blood in the water. He... Kyou saved him. Was it on purpose? He... He looked up at the event, and thought bitterly - even if he did save him, it would not last forever. He'd best not be here on the borders with blood on his body, and stink of fear - they would notice him after they were done for sure.
He clenched at his side to help with the bleeding, and slowly snaked his way through the water - leaving a milky red trail behind him. He would make it. He would. But to what end? He couldn't go back to the city - he had been so foolish, interupting when he knew better... the seer knew. She knew... To whe-... oh... to land, isn't that what the Seer said? To land.
The journey to land had been long and harsh - but not entirely unpleasant. He made many friends along the way. A lamprey helped him heal. A whale guided him. A dolphin pod played with him and gave him comfort that his non-blood-brothers would once give. He even met a shark, who taught him a thing or two of catching fish, which helped greatly - for there were no feasts in the open as there had been back in the only civilized part of the world, the palace-city.
When he reached land, he found it most un-appealing. The air burned at him, and he had to stop using his gills - them laying cloased at his ribs was un-natural, but air through his face was not entirely dreadful. The water dried over his scales and gave way to wind, which also felt un-natural. It was three days of dragging his fin across the sand and rock when he had the idea to retract them. They were tattered and bloodied, and with much dismay (he rather liked them pretty and displayed out in the open), he sheathed them much like a cat's claws - leaving his tail to be no more than a barbed stump. He felt clumbsy, akward, ugly, and lonely on land. Not even a stray fish would comfort him - and they were of the dullest of minds.
He reflected sourly back upon his sister. Kyou would raise their children well. The entire city would fawn over them, and say how beautiful and strong they looked. Kyou would be a good father. Just as their mother - they would quickly forget the mistaken rage of her change, and revere her just as they did all the other colorful beauties that sentried the open ocean. All would tell their children of how brave their mother was, how great a warrior - and how she protected them all within' their palace-city. No doubt her children would know her by sight as well, for they would have to build a window in Kyou's room so she could enter and more children would they make. But never into the city. Not with Kamage. Her place was outside, keeping the city safe. Safe with the rest of the females, while Kyou was safe, warm, happy, bedded, and no doubt by now raising many fat and happy children with his friends and brothers.
But Ichi was miserable. Miserable, alone, and on land. What was it the seer had said? 'On land, a soul screams in mourning for you'... what does that even mean? He would suppose, that there was only one way to find out. Land be damned. He would be here on the land, amongst the weak of mind and soul - and he would use his 'gift' of speaking with his tongue, and not his mind.... and he would find this soul screamer. What else was he to do?