CASeries #2: LEGEND
Chapter 15 ♕ The Blessing of the Sea
Valeriana didn’t feel comfortable submerging herself in salty water for three reasons. One, she was traumatized from the different incidents involving water; second, she had enough of drowning for the day; and third, she couldn’t just bring herself to trust the undines.
Calder volunteered to take her as close as the lone rock sitting somewhere near the coast where it was a sure thing for the passing ship to see her if ever.
When she was about to dive—with great persuasion from her saviors—into the water, however, she saw her reflection on the surface.
She was more than amazed of Clyte’s ability to weave her hair into something so beautiful and intricate. What else shocked her was the fact that the little undine girl somehow managed to curl her naturally straight hair artfully, braiding the sides before it ended up being twisted in a loose chignon.
When she tried to question Clyte, she was suddenly pulled underwater that she barely had anytime to breathe. She couldn’t help but think if this was it, but it didn’t seem that way. Calder dragged her with him towards somewhere, the dolphins swimming on either side in fluid motions.
The water was cold as they passed though the wide opening of the cave mouth that led outside. Swimming fishes occasionally appeared and swam by them with their little fins. Although it was somehow dark and scary considering the lack of proper lighting, it was beautiful.
They surfaced a few moments later, Valeriana hanging on to Calder for support as she took in a few gulps of air desperately. Her legs were alternately swaying underwater contrary to Calder’s tail’s movements.
Valeriana started coughing, rubbing her face as stray bits of her hair stuck to her skin. She was worried about her hair, now that it was wet. It also felt a lot heavier that it could almost pass off as a big chunk of rock. Chit and Chat circled them joyfully, leaping from the water and spinning in the air once or twice before landing back down with a splash.
“Easy there now, Val,” said Calder, holding her around the shoulder that helped keep her afloat. “We don’t want you going under. Literally.”
She nodded a bit too fast to look calm and collected. Nevertheless, she was more than shaken. “Y-yes, sure.”
“You seem to not like being in water,” Calder observed as he started moving.
“N-not really.” She squeaked.
“Why? Being in water is fun!” he told her. One of the dolphins pushed him forward playfully while the other slipped under his arms. “Naughty fish-ball.” He tapped the dolphin on the nose before chuckling and letting it swim off again.
“Coming from an undine, I’m sure it is,” she muttered, clinging to his muscled biceps as if she would lose her life if she let go.
“Alright,” he said, seeming unaffected by her sarcastic remark. “Tell me why. Is it because of what happened before?”
“Yeah. And because this isn’t exactly the first time I was attacked by a demon and fell into the water. Now, I’m kinda traumatized,” she admitted, and glared at Calder as well. “Not to mention you guys keep scaring me . . .”
“Is that so?” He mused, looking up towards the sky while deep in his thoughts. “Well, we can’t help it with the way you react—it’s just funny. Then, how about this?” Calder halted and looked into the girl’s eyes with a mischievous grin. “To make you afraid of water no longer, I’ll give you the Blessing of the Sea.”
“The Blessing of the Sea?” She tilted her head to the side and stared at him inquiringly.
Calder leaned forward, invading the gap between him and Valeriana. The girl was more than confused by the motive behind his actions until a split second later that she realized what he was up to.
She fell back and pushed him off with a startled shriek as the tips of their noses touched. “Oh my—”
A loud splash was then heard, followed by Calder’s amused laughs. Valeriana’s fear spiked when she realized she just lost her life preserver and started drowning once more.
A strong arm pulled her upwards. Valeriana broke into the surface with relief and started breathing heavily. She then glared at the mischievous undine before her. Really, these people had that naughty side to them!
“It isn’t funny!”
“Relax, I was joking. It’ll be cruel to just take your first kiss without warning.” He winked at her teasingly.
She blushed. “H-How did you—”
“Remember I can read minds.”
“That is just so cruel! How could you!” She smacked him on the arm. “Gah, I’m starting to hate you people.”
“Relax, I won’t make fun of you because you never had a boyfriend your entire life. You almost managed to hit off with a really cool guy, but then you accidentally pushed him off when he wanted to kiss you and you kicked him where the sun didn’t shine before he could ask why,” he narrated, flinching as he did. “After that, even though a lot of guys probably liked you, they stayed away. How sad.” The undine then shrugged.
She went even redder that even her ears were burning. “Shut up.”
“Can’t help it when you’re fun to tease. No wonder that Corvan guy likes to argue, huh?” He started rubbing his chin problematically. “But I need to kiss you if I want to give you the blessing.”
“No thanks, I’d rather not. Whatever it is, I’m not interested.”
“Not necessarily on the lips. Unless you want to, of course,” he added before she could protest.
“Ugh. Thank you, but no thank you. I don’t trust you anymore. Who knows if that blessing is actually a curse!”
“Aw,” he said. “No matter.” He laughed.
Calder’s hands shot out and grabbed the sides of Valeriana’s head. Before she could protest, he planted a kiss on her forehead and allowed his lips to linger there for a good few seconds.
For someone who had soaked into the water for so long, he was unbelievably warm. There was an odd sensation that she felt when his lips suddenly made contact with her skin. It spread throughout her entire body, stimulating every single one of her nerves.
Her eyes widened as she felt a strong surge strike the very core of her heart and straight into the deepest depths of her soul.
The beating within her chest increased and, without her realizing, the water around her rippled as a strong burst of energy flared from the both of them. Her breathing hastened as the sharp sensation of electrical snaps reached the tips of her toes and fingers.
Calder pulled away and smiled at the girl. “There.”
She looked down at herself. “Something feels different,” she muttered. It was as though a huge wall was broken down and set her free. “What happened?”
“Listen here, Valeriana,” said Calder, his tone never being anything else than cheerful. Valeriana sensed something else, though. He was turning serious. “There’s something entirely off about you, but I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing.”
She stared at him, wanting to know what exactly happened. She couldn’t bring herself to speak up and ask.
“Your soul.” He pointed at her chest. “Is being suppressed.”
“There’s something that’s keeping you caged in and locked up from being entirely you,” he explained. “What you are right now is just a piece of who you actually are, the rest are sleeping and are hidden deep inside of you—to a place where you can’t reach it. If whatever keeping the rest if you sealed up is not removed, you will never be complete.”
Valeriana shook her head. “I don’t understand this.”
“I don’t either,” Calder replied. “But I sense that the power you so possess is potent, and your soul radiates purity I’ve never seen before. It’s as though you were blessed by the gods themselves long before you were born.” He then smiled, flashing his pearly white teeth at her. “With the Blessing of the Sea, I managed to awaken a part of you but it wasn’t strong enough to break whatever’s holding you back entirely. So, Valeriana, this is the gift of the undines to you and one which another cannot take away. I pray you’ll use it for a good cause, but I’m not worried about that because I trust you—we trust you.”
“Remember that your past is not important. I know that no matter how many times you say that you’re not bothered by it anymore, it’s nagging you to find answers to the questions which you seek. But I wouldn’t worry about that,” he reassured her as he took her hand and held it in his comfortingly, but the look on her face said that she was more than bewildered by the words he was saying. “You shouldn’t find the answers for the answers will come to find you. Just wait.”
It was baffling how he sounded like he knew so much yet they barely even knew each other. How much undines can do with their abilities to delve into other people’s minds was scarier than any monster jumping out of the closet.
“I was drawn to you when you fell into the water for a reason. I don’t know what it is, but whatever.” He laughed. “I wish you luck, Valeriana. From here on out will be the start of your journey.”
“No wait! I’m confused! I have no idea what the heck you’ve been talking about since a while ago.”
“You’ll know eventually. Now, we should get you to that rock.”
Calder then started swimming towards a certain direction, tugging on Valeriana’s hand as he went. Although the girl wanted to ask what he exactly meant, she got the feeling that he would no longer give her the answers she wanted. Instead, she took notice of the fact that the slight fear she felt a while ago disappeared completely. The water around her suddenly felt comforting, as if the mishaps she experienced in it never happened at all.
She took her hand and stared at it before dipping it halfway on the surface, letting the soft and smooth ripples slip through her fingers as they moved.
It was . . . exhilarating. Pleasant, perhaps? She never had this kind of experience with water.
“What exactly did you do?” she asked Calder. “What is the Blessing of the Sea?”
“It’s not exactly something I’m capable of explaining. The Blessing of the Sea differs for each and every one. It’s up to you what way you’re going to describe it as. Fact is that it’ll never be the same for all.”
“Do I get cool superpowers or something?”
Calder chuckled at her question. “It’s a blessing. Just remember that.”
Valeriana sighed at his reply and decided to remain quiet, knowing that he would probably never give her a straight and decent answer. Were undines this vague all the time?
“This is as far as I can go,” he said.
“We’re not even on the rock yet.”
“Chit and Chat will lead you there for me. Right, fish-balls? That ship is coming close, so I can’t risk being seen. It’s a rule to keep at least a good distance from those things.” He turned towards the two bottlenose dolphins that were circling them that entire time.
Valeriana eyed the approaching mass of brown and white and breathed. She couldn’t wait to be back to those people she actually knew. Heck, she wanted to hug Corvan to death. She gave a slight smile at this thought and shook her head. As if Corvan would actually allow himself to be hugged by someone like her—or something.
She was startled, however, when she heard a pair of voices that surely didn’t belong to Calder and her.
“We will!” a voice exclaimed.
“You can count on us!”
Valeriana’s brow shot up. “It talked!” She pointed at them in shock. “Say something again!”
“She can hear us!”
“Oh my god. I can hear you.” She gasped.
“So this is what you get.” He laughed. “Prepare for this is only the start.”
“Ugh.” She sagged but tried to keep herself floating at the same time. “I already talked with lions so it’s no longer a big deal,” she muttered.
“Well, then. I have one last thing I have to do,” Calder told her. “Unfortunately, miss. You are not allowed to remember anything.”
“What? What do you mean not allowed to remember anything?”
“It’s a rule. But don’t worry, you won’t forget the experience,” he said before putting two fingers on Valeriana forehead and chanted a small mantra. “Please don’t take this against me in the future. I’m not doing this because we don’t trust you.”
Valeriana felt her vision dimming for some reason, as though everything was getting blurry. Calder gave her one last wink and a grin before dunking into the water and saying, “Till we meet again, Valeriana!”
And he disappeared while Valeriana was still in a trance.
“Something’s coming this way!” squeaked one of the dolphins.
“It’s big. Really big!”
A spray of water came raining down on the girl’s face as a larger version of a snake shot out of the water and curled towards them in a slow and elegant manner. This was when everything came back to the girl—consciousness and all.
“Huh? Where am I?”
She turned and saw the serpent as it hovered above the water while moving, defying the law of gravity. This beast resembled Avaro in a sense, but entirely different when it came to appearance and . . . form.
It was a sea serpent.
It came to a halt right in front of them, and all they could do was stare at it in awe and wonder.
But then it roared.
The sound vibrated into their ears deafeningly, the wind coming from its mouth directly rushing to their faces that the water flew into the air and jumped in unbelievably high and frightening waves. The current brought them along with it, causing Valeriana to roll back and be engulfed by the disturbed water from the intensity.
After it subsided, the two dolphins circled her beckoningly and offered their assistance. She didn’t know how to swim upward properly that she was helplessly flapping her arms and feet underwater like a fool. This made her want to start learning swimming lessons. She could only hope there were things like it in the academy. There probably was but it wasn’t introduced just yet.
“Grab on to us so we can bring you to the surface!” said the one probably named Chit.
Valeriana was not sure what happened before, but hearing dolphins talk took her aback—oddly, it didn’t seem that strange. She reluctantly held the tough fins on their back and was more than relieved when they took her with them and broke towards the water’s surface.
She coughed out the water she accidentally breathed in and took a few gulps of air. “Ah, thanks.”
“Art thou Valeriana?”
The girl looked towards the sky and saw the serpent’s head right in front of her. Although tough, white skin covered its face, it was entirely covered in scales in exception for the area around his stomach which possessed a series of lines like that of a typical snake. Horns protruded out of its head and numerous arms jutted out from its body.
“Ahhhh!” she screamed, the sound echoing until nearly a mile away.
It waited for her to calm down before repeating its question. “Art thou Valeriana?”
She swallowed, trembling in fear like the dolphins under her arms. “If I say yes, will you eat me?”
For some reason, she had a feeling she had that idea going around inside her head for quite a while now . . .
She swore she could see the amusement twinkling in the eyes of the beast when she answered.
What she didn’t expect was when it opened its jaws wide and took her inside its mouth whole.