The Five Trials of Peru: Trial 3 Part 2

The men and Peru resided on the island a full year more. One night the prince left the makeshift camp the men built on the sands of the beach to wander the forests. Sitting against a tree Peru pulled from his pocket the portrait of his beloved Florette. Tracing the lines faded by wear and tear he sighed deeply, mourning for the two years lost to him. Surely she would be married by now and with child. What would he do if such and such had come to pass?

The prince looked up from his miserable gaze to see a small pond he had not noticed before. Without thought he stripped, hoping the cool water would clear his mind and steel his soul. No sooner had his feet touched the mossy bank than a beautiful melody filled his ears. Wading deeper he felt arms embrace his torso, filling him with wonder.

As if in a dream the image of Florette rose from the water, greeting him with a smile paling the glow of the moon shining above. Peru gave himself up to her whims as the joy he felt at standing before her completely overwhelmed him. Slowly she drew him farther into the pool until his chin treaded water.            

Peru felt his heart beat fast as he lost himself in her clear eyes. Reality crushed him like a wave. Sirens lacked souls making their eyes translucent, an unnatural color for any human. Crying out Peru jerked back, repulsed by the creature’s touch.

The siren ceased her singing and screeched, dismayed her spell was broken. A battle of wills ensued as the mermaid clung to Peru desperately as he fought towards shore. With one great heave he threw himself onto the bank, tearing himself away from the claws in his skin, sending the spirit swimming back to the depths of her home empty handed. Struggling to his feet Peru grabbed his sword and clothes and ran back to camp.

The men, hearing the unearthly sounds of the siren, gripped their swords and stood at the ready when the prince crashed through the trees. “We are leaving this island tomorrow.” He ordered and collapsed.

The next morning the prince led the men as they labored under the hard sun. Whether or not Peru was still in search of Florette was undecided, but the prince knew he and the others could not stay on the island any longer. With Peru’s intelligence and Lothar’s wisdom, for the prince knew much in theory but little by way of experience, they used what they had to cut and lash tree trunks together, forming a make-shift raft big enough to hold all contributing. Praying for safe deliverance to an island uninhabited by giant cyclops or witchy sirens, they cast off.

The Five Trials of Peru: Trial 3 Part 1

Looking at the sun the prince gauged the men were facing north. Heading west they traveled for several days before coming across a small lagoon. Emerald green trees and bright pink flowers grew around the water’s edge, enticing them with pleasant fragrances and the promise of cool relief. Striping of cloth the men waded into the water, grateful for a place to wash and refresh themselves. 

As the others chatted the prince hung back against the shore, lost in thought. Several months had passed since he left his homeland, possibly a whole year. He had planned on arriving in Asia by now to meet his would-be wife, Florette. Lothar, captain of the men, now looked to him for guidance, a mere seventeen year old. Peru held confidence but pressure weighted so heavily his shoulders sagged beneath the water. Survive and find a way off the island, that was most important now. But the prince could not escape the sound of bells haunting his dreams.    

An eerie silence settled over the men as a sound like harps filled the air. The water itself parted ways before the beautiful women rising from the depths of the pond, singing a beautiful melody. Awe-struck the men could only gaze as the slim figures coyly circled, continuing to sing until their song reached a fever pitch.

Astonished Prince Peru watched the women in awe until, from his distance, he noticed their legs were not two but one. They were mermaids who, like sirens, seek wayward men to ensnare in their song to drown and eat. Fewer in number the women gravitated to a select few, embracing the all too eager men in their arms. Reality stricken Peru called out to his men, warning them of the true nature of the predators. Some did not hear, already in the arms of the mermaids and lost in their magic. The men who had not been chosen by the woman, hearing Peru’s cries, swam towards shore panic stricken of a watery grave. Moving from the bank Peru swam opposite, prying the hypnotized men away from the sirens. But try as he might no sooner did he break the bond did the men hurry back to their maidens only as a pair to sink below the water out of sight. Peru felt arms wrap around him, promising everything he ever wanted and more. Refusing to listen Peru struggled until he broke free from the creature’s grasp and made his way to shore. Once safely on land he turned to see many men missing, never to be seen again.  

“Prince Peru,” Lothar spoke. “Once more I saw you risk your life to save others. The men remaining and I are eternally indebted to you and are your slaves for life, if you will take us.”        

“There is no need for such commitment,” the prince replied. “Help me reach my goal and your debt is paid.”

Steven (part 4 of 4)

Sara looked at Steven with sadness. How dull must his life be? Her parents long ago moved on to new and exciting projects and only saw Steven everyday because his tank had yet to be moved from the main room of their facility; and while she was out and about experiencing the world first hand he’d never seen the light of day save through a TV screen.

“Don’t you want more space to spread out? The ocean has tons of that, literally.” Sara commented over supper sandwiches she’d prepared for two.

Steven smiled. “You are so smart and yet think so little.”

“Bite your tongue,” she said, offended. “I only want what’s best for you. Keeping you lock up in here is self-righteous paranoia at best. My parents think if they let you outside other people will take you away and perform experiments,”

“They would.” He interjected.

“They are like children unwilling to share a toy. Do you want that?” She turned to him in flustered anger.

He touched her arm calmly. “Your parents are intelligent, but not perfect. True, my quality of life is probably lacking in certain areas. All I know of life is this tank and what I have learned from books and movies. But it is my fate; the limitations set down by my very existence. You think I belong in the ocean, but I am just as unnatural to that ecosystem as you are. A “fish out of water” one could say,”

“Why are you jokes so lame?” She cringed as he nudged her playfully.

He continued, “I don’t know how to hunt, find shelter, or protect myself from predators. And what’s more, the most important thing, I would be alone. Your family is my family and I would not trade that for all the space in the world. Just stay by my side and I’ll surely be the happiest Steven there ever was.”

Deflated Sara looked into Steven’s eyes, the deepest eyes she’d ever seen. “I love you Steven.”

“I love you too.”        

Steven (part 2 of 4)

“I wanna take Steven.” Sara said.

“Light of my life, sweet sweet child, no. We told you from the beginning he could not leave his tank.” Sara stomped her feet, displeased. Her parents raised their eyebrows in surprise. This was a new side of their daughter they had never seen. Sara and Steven bonded over a month’s time, spending almost every waking minute together and even some sleeping; a dream for them. But when it came time for Sara to head overseas again for school she refused to leave her friend behind.

She shipped out the next day without him. Saying goodbye was unfortunately one way as Steven still couldn’t speak coherently. Instead he looked sorrowfully on as Sara left the room, knowing she wouldn’t return for some months. Her parents cheered him, promising that while she busily studied so would he, and by the time she saw him again he would be able to welcome her home personally.

The next few weeks dragged. It never occurred to Sara to be lonely before, but since meeting Steven she found herself feeling restless when not at his side. Every time she looked through a window it only served as reminder of looking into Steven’s glass tank. Steven on the other hand was determined to make the best of the separation. Unlike Sara’s loneliness he felt almost palpable pain in his heart. Being so distant from the reason you were created can wear on one’s mind. So he threw himself into studies, hoping to hold meaningful conversations with Sara once she returned. Steven progressed while Sara fell behind; her grades slipped and her prestige fell to the wayside.

She soon found herself called to the dean’s office. All sorts of moody she stared at the floor while he begged for an explanation. “Why have your grades slip?” He asked kindly. “Is it a teacher? We can move you to a different tutor if that’s -“

“It’s not that,” she interrupted. “I just miss someone.”

“Miss… Your parents you miss?” The dean blinked at the oddity. Though still a young child never before had Sara shown any signs of homesickness.

“Not them…” She trailed off and refused to say more. 

The dean jumped on the phone to her parents, who more than displeased were troubled their only child was unhappy. After much discussion Sara was home by the end of the week.  Bursting into the laboratory directly from the airport she felt her heart swell at the sight of the giant fish tank. Climbing the metal steps leading to the top she clanked down a platform running along its curves.

Steven emerged from the water with a grin. “Hello Sara,” he greeted. Sara almost fell back in surprise. Steven had learned to talk. He spoke perfectly save a slight watery accent. Ecstatic she leapt forward, wrapping her arms around his neck. Taken aback Steven lost all train of thought but instinctively hugged back, careful to keep her from falling into the water.