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The Little Mermaid of Hawaiki
Kiomidya, Rasanova 6th;
Pu'uwai Village, Hawaiki Island, Hawaiki, Maritimus;
While war raged in northern Aquilonis, the southeastern ocean of Maritimus was enjoying a period of peace. In the Kingdom of Hawaiki, there was another person who would have a part to play in the conflict; this person was Nai'a Palakiko, 13-years-old, Lunaculus of Maritimus.
Today, she was participating in a hula recital with several other female students. Having naturally tanned skin and short brown hair (as was common for most Hawaikian natives) with a single short braid the only thing that made her stand out was her different colored eyes, along with the fact that Nai'a was dancing in the center.
♫ Oh, Great Maritimus, ♫
♫ Founder of our ocean, ♫
♫ Great mother of the sea. ♫
♫ When the night was darkest, ♫
♫ And hope was all lost, ♫
♫ Iekika lit the way to peace. ♫
♫ Out with the darkness, ♫
♫ And in with freedom's light, ♫
♫ With love in the hearts of every being. ♫
♫ Defender of the right, ♫
♫ champion of the free, ♫
♫ Guardian of the great blue dream. ♫
♫ From Kappa, to the Wildlands, ♫
♫ Oh, Iekika Maritimus, is her name! ♫
"In honor of Iekika Maritimus, founder of our ocean." the dancers finished off with a final pose. Applause followed, and the dancers bowed. As everyone dispersed, one of the dancers approached Nai'a.
"That was so great, Nai'a." said Lani Kawai (15), a friend of Nai'a's, who stood out from having long black hair and pale skin, mainly because she wasn't born in Hawaiki.
"What do you say we change, find Manu, and go surfing?" At that moment, Nai'a's pet ocelot rubbed himself against her bare legs. "Okay, Tiki, you too."
After changing into some skimpier clothing and finding their friend Manu Mahi'ai (16), the only boy among them, the three of them went to the beaches on the southwest side of the Pu'uwai Village to surf.
Within minutes, the three of them, and Tiki, who was on Nai'a's surfboard with her, were riding the waves.
"I never get tired of this!" Nai'a yelled.
"You and me both, girl." Lani yelled back.
"Girls, not so fas- Woah!" Manu wiped out.
"Wipe out!" Nai'a said with a laugh. As they entered calmer water, Nai'a took off a blue-scale bracelet she was wearing and gave it to Tiki "Take care of that. I'll be back." Na'a then dived into the water, leaving her bottoms behind. But that was on purpose.
After Nai'a dived in, she felt a slight tingle as it happened. Her legs lightly elongated, grew scales, and fused together, leaving a tail with a fin on the end, a dorsal fin on her backside, and two pelvic fins near her waist. Nai'a's legs had turned into a mermaid tail. Webs also grew between Nai'a fingers.
Nai'a was a half-mermaid. Being one, she could change her lower body between legs and a tail when she got wet, but only when she was wet. However, most half-mers can't control the transformation until they learn how, and Nai'a still hasn't; so, she wore a bracelet made from leviathan scales to keep herself from changing against her will. Nai'a could also communicate with sea creatures telepathically, and she had a weapon in her voice, but was careful to control this particular power.
"See where Manu went to?" Nai'a heard Lani's voice in her head. Nai turned around and saw her. Lani's legs had turned into eight octopus tentacles.
Lani was half-Cecaelia, or Scylla, a fact she normally kept hidden since her kind was looked down upon by most, but Nai'a excepted it and was her best friend. Lani also had the same abilities, and problem, as Nai'a.
"I don't see him yet." Nai'a replied, until she saw Manu, also a half-mer, swimming up to them. the three of them swam back up to the surface to talk.
"Why take me surfing when you know I can't do it well?" Manu asked.
"Because Lani and I love surfing." Nai'a replied.
"Well I don't. I'm going home." Manu started swimming off at that.
"Oh, don't be such a spoilsport, Manu." said Lani.
"It is getting rather late anyway." said Nai'a, seeing the sunset in the distance. "Let's dry off, and go home."
After drying off on the beach, reverting their legs to normal, the three of them went home. Nai'a and Tiki slept in a small one-person 10x15ft bamboo hut raised up above the sand. Nai'a was an orphan and had been living like this since she was 5. She never starved though, because the people revered her as the Lunaculus and were more than happy to feed her, though Nai'a could get food on her own. When her parents died, many offered to take her in as their own, but she refused all offers, not wanting to be dependent on anyone.
As the sun left the sky for the night, Nai'a stripped, being a nude sleeper, and covered herself with her sheets. Tiki laid down next to her.
After a few hours, Nai'a was starting to get restless. This had happened for the last few nights. She tossed and turned in her sleep, sweating like mad, while visions flew through her mind. Most of them depicted battles in a land she didn't recognize. One depicted a girl weeping over a dead body. She also saw herself, a girl with long silver hair, a girl with short black hair, a boy with weird wings, a male elf, a girl wearing weird clothes and a middle-aged man all in a line and sent a beam flying from their hands. Finally, Nai'a woke up and sat up.
"Again?" Nai'a thought as she wiped the sweat off her face. "That's the fifth time this week. Every night it is the same." Nai'a got up, wrapped her bare body in her sheet, stepped barefoot onto the sand, and looked up at the moons; Vermiculus was in new-moon phase, while Hyacintho was currently in the last stages of waning crescent. "What does it mean? Maybe I should go see the oracle after I do my deliveries."
Later that day; Eardya, Rasanova 7th;
Nai'a was doing her job running deliveries around Pu'uwai Village, and occasionally to villages around the island and on nearby islands. It paid well and was enough for her to wake herself up after an almost sleepless night. Tiki ran this job with her, occasionally pointing out anything she might miss.
As she left a package with its recipient, she caught a snatch of a couple's conversation.
"Did you hear? Yamatai is finally sending its army to mainland Aquilonis. Some of the troops stationed in the Kappa Islands were called up to assist." said one person.
"I did hear. Is it possible that war will come to Maritimus?"
"Maybe Yamatai doesn't think do. If it recalled some of its troops in Kappa, they must think it will say on that continent."
"That's right. Umdar launched a war on most of Aquilonis six years ago." Nai'a thought. "My dreams... could they have something to do with that war?"
A couple of deliveries later, she ran into Lani, who was also working as a delivery girl.
"Hey, Nai'a!" Lani exclaimed when they saw each other.
"Hey, yourself." Nai'a replied, hugging her best friend. "Had a good run so far?"
"It hasn't been too difficult." Lani replied as they sat down on a bench. "I know I ask often, but is this really what you wanna do? Since you're a Lunaculus, I guess people would expect a bit more from you. Like maybe helping with some problems around Maritimus?"
"As far as this job goes, I just want to be useful. The last thing I want is to be special."
At that moment, they caught the conversation of two women nearby.
"Isn't that Nai'a? The poor dear, an orphan at such a young age." said one woman.
"And she's the Lunaculus of Maritimus too." said the second woman. "Working as a delivery girl? It's a bit of a waste. And she's always barefoot. It mustn't pay well if she can't afford a pair of shoes."
"I don't wear shoes." Nai'a said to Lani as she fed Tiki some fish. "I prefer to feel the ground beneath my feet."
"That aside, you look tired." said Lani.
"Do I? But I'm fine." said Nai'a.
"(sigh) Oh, all right. I haven't been sleeping well."
"Every night I have weird dreams. And when they're over I wake up sweating. And lately I've been thinking they're more than just dreams."
"You think they're 'more'? You mean like visions?" Lani asked.
"Something like that." Nai'a paused before speaking again "I'm going to visit your mother later. The oracle will know the answer."
"Say hi to my mother for me."
After finishing her deliveries for the day, Nai'a went to the edge of the island, put Tiki, her bracelet, and her bottoms in her bag, which had a charm on it to keep anything and everything in it dry, and swam out upon changing into a mermaid. Because mermaids were fast swimmers, she reached her destination in some twenty minutes; an undersea cave on the edge of Hanalei, the central island in Hawaiki. After swimming into the cave, she soon came up to an air pocket, which held a larger chamber. At the end of the chamber was a small pool, and in it was a scylla, Lani's mother, that lived there. A fire was also alight in a small crater nearby, but didn't seem to be fueled by anything.
"Well, well, well, the Lunaculus of Maritimus graces me with her presence." said Lani's mother as Nai'a hoisted herself out of the water and crawled over to her, releasing Tiki as well. "It's been a long time. How is my daughter?"
"Lani is doing fine, Kamila. She's still not comfortable about revealing her heritage, but she gets along with people." Nai'a replied.
"That's like her. So, to what do I owe this pleasure? I can tell that something is troubling you."
"(Heh) There's no deceiving an oracle." Nai'a pulled Tiki back as he started playing with the flames. "Every night for the past week, I've been having... dreams."
"What sort of dreams?" Kamila inquired.
"Every night it is the same. I see a large battle taking place, in a land I've never seen before. And myself and three men and three other women standing together, doing... something. What do these dreams mean?"
"(Hmmm) Did you see the faces of the six other individuals?" Nai'a shook her head. Kamila took a fistful of powder and threw it in the flame. "As you know, there is a war going on in northern Aquilonis. Perhaps what you saw was soon to come battle. As for those individuals, you saw... perhaps they are your fellows, your equals. Other Lunaculi."
"The others? But why did I see all seven?" Nai asked.
"As far as I know, the current Lunaculus of Marlakcor was last seen leaving his home country on a journey. You may run into him in time." Kamila explained. "And the current Lunaculus of Necrosia has not been seen since she was born sixteen years ago. No one knows where she is or what happened to her, not even I. Yet... maybe the time to gather is approaching. For the first time in five hundred years, it's time for a gathering of the Lunaculi. Perhaps you are needed to assist in the war."
"But I'm just a half-mermaid messenger girl; what can I do?"
"I'm sure you will find out eventually. We all have our part to play in life and destiny. We just need to find out what it is. There is one other thing too." Kamila took out a scroll, which was a map of Aquilonis, dipped a thin stick of coral in some squid ink, and drew a strange circular symbol with long notches on it. "Seek this symbol, for they are the guardians of peace. And you must guard against the red cross of eight points, for they are the oppressors."
Nai'a had no idea what she meant.
Nai'a returned home, unsure if her worries had faded or elevated. Staring into the ceiling of her hut, Nai'a was unsure what to do. She was scared of the thought of leaving, never mind going into what was the most dangerous place on Patria, but if the visions showed that she needed to be there, she should go. Tiki crawled onto Nai'a's stomach and purred, as if trying to console her.
"What do you think I should do, Tiki?" Nai'a asked. "I just feel so lost right now." At that moment, Manu appeared in her doorway. "Hey, Manu." Nai'a said dully, rolling on her side, away from Manu.
"What's with the gloom?" Manu asked as he sat behind Nai'a. "Did Lani's mom tell you something bad?"
"Lani told you, didn't she?"
"Of course, she did. How long have the three of us known each other?"
"But she has a big mouth."
"So... what did Kamila say about your dreams?"
"(sigh) She said it should be taken as a sign that it's time for the Lunaculi to gather again, possibly to stop the war in Aquilonis."
"But the war is an Aquilonian problem!" said Manu.
"That's what I thought. But if my visions show most of the Lunaculi together, it may be that we're needed together again."
"Still.... I'm scared of leaving home." Nai'a confessed. "I might not come back for months, maybe years. And there's a chance I might not come back at all. I'm scared."
"It's alright to be scared." said Lani, who was standing outside the hut.
"Lani?! How long have you been there?" Nai'a demanded, sitting up.
"The whole time." Lani admitted as she climbed into the hut as well, making it a bit crowded. "I know how scary leaving home is. How do you think I felt when I had to leave Long Qundao?"
"It's not just that. I'd be going into one of the most dangerous places in Aquilonis. War isn't a game."
"Don't you think we know that?" Manu asked. "But there comes a time when we must face destiny when it calls us. Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing."
"Tell me about it." said Lani. "Fate forced me out of my homeland, but I found my two best friends as a result."
"(sigh) I guess destiny plays funny." said Nai'a, her expression clearing, her mind made up. "Alright. I'll follow the visions and go to Aquilonis."
"That's the spirit." said Manu with a thumb's up.
"But it will be lonely. Leaving Hawaiki on my own will be such a-"
"What are you talking about?" Lani interrupted.
"We're going with you."
"No way! Absolutely not!"
"We're coming, like it or not." said Manu.
"No 'buts'." said Lani. "You don't need to face this 'destiny' on your own. We won't allow it."
"Don't argue." said Manu.
Nai'a sighed and gave in, "Alright, but I'm not responsible for anything that happens to you."
"We know that." said Lani. "If anything, we're responsible for you since you're the youngest of us."
Evening the next day; Hoderdya, Rasanova 8th;
After some preparation, the three young Hawaikians were set to leave. Their plan was to leave under the cover of night so no one would try to stop them.
"Alright." said Nai'a as they arrived on the beaches they would be swimming off from. All three of them were wearing a skirt they would discard as they swam off. Both Vermiculus and Hyacintho were still in New Moon phase, and this relative darkness would make the three youths harder to notice. "It's time."
The three of them began undoing their skirts when they were interrupted.
"Nice night for a swim." said a voice behind them. They turned around and saw that it was Ku'ualoha, Ali'i Nui of Hawaiki, flanked by the Noho Ali'i Council. "You three are leaving?"
"Don't try to stop us!" said Manu.
"And, why shouldn't we?" said one of the council members.
"Becuase-" Lani started, but Nai'a put a hand on her shoulder and stepped forward.
"These two don't have to come with me, but I have to go." Nai'a told the council as Tiki poked his head out of Nai'a's bag.
"You're going to that war in Aquilonis, aren't you?" said Ku'ualoha.
"I have to. It's my duty as a Lunaculus. Not just for Maritimus, but for all of Patria."
"We know." said Ku'ualoha with a smile. At that moment, the entirety of Pu'uwai village made themselves seen, many of them carrying a cage filled with a green fire. Several merpeople rose up out of the waves, also carrying cages filled with blue flames. "The mystics feel that some other dark force is manipulating that terrible war from the shadows. And we know that it is your duty to try to put a stop to it. We will not stop you from going, but know that we will miss you. Koe ta ney heeneoteolee i ta mjely ko e kiytiy. (May the blessings of the waves be with you.)" Ku'ualoha added in Hasawiko.
"Koe ta ney heeneoteolee i ta mjely ko e kiytiy. (May the blessings of the waves be with you.)" everyone chanted.
"Everyone...." Nai'a said with a tear running down her cheek. She wiped it away and pushed Tiki's head back into her bag. "I'll make you all proud! Alright you two, let's go."
Lani and Manu nodded, discarded their skirts with Nai'a, and dived into the sea. Their legs transformed into their aquatic forms quickly, and they were on their way.
They had to swim around Hawaiki Island, the largest island in the nation, before they could get to the open ocean. Then they had to brave the 175-mile-wide Grand Line, which had the strongest currents on all of Patria. Thankfully they were able to locate a current independent of the Grand Line's, and make it to the northern hemisphere. They then swam west, into the waters of Aquilonis. They then located the Orient Current, which passed by Hinomoto, and flowed northwest before passing by Mizuho and then going north. By following this current, they made it all the way up to the northern waters of the Sea of Orient after just over a week of swimming.
Northern Sea of Orient, Goddya Rasanova 16th;
"Is it much farther?" Lani asked for the umpteenth time that day.
"As I've told you a dozen times, I don't know!" Nai'a exclaimed.
"According to this map, we've already passed by Soleil." said Manu. "Do you even know where we're supposed to make landfall."
"Kamila told me to seek that symbol she drew on it. I don't really know what it means, so, for now, all I can do is trust my instincts."
"You don't know what you're doing, do you?" said Lani. "And has it been getting colder?"
"What would you expect now that we've swum so far north?" Manu asked.
"I'm surprised we made it this far in just a week. What's that?" Nai'a asked, seeing shapes up above on the surface.
"Is that a fleet of ships?" Lani asked.
"It might be the Yamato fleet!" Nai'a exclaimed as she made for the surface.
"Nai'a! Wait for us!" Manu exclaimed as he and Lani swam after her.
They broke the surface of the sea, where a storm was raging. They were tossed around by the waves, but it mattered little to them.
"Look!" Nai'a yelled over the roar of the storm. "They're all flying the Imperial Flag of Yamatai. We've gotta find the flagship!"
They swam into the fleet, careful to avoid smashing into the ships, which would've caused them serious injury.
Meanwhile, on the Teikoku no Hokori, Suguha was in her cabin and awoken by the storm again. Feeling the need to get up and stretch her legs, despite the swaying of the ship, she wandered over to the glass window.
"We've been on the waves for over a week now." Suguha thought. "And yet, we're only halfway to Markaydia."
At that moment, a hand slapped the outside of the window, startling Suguha into jumping away from it. In another second, the hand moved away and a face appeared instead. A lightly tanned girl with short brown hair and single braid, and also had the same eyes as she did; she was a Lunaculus. Nai'a mouthed that there were three people in the water. Suguha got the message and hurried topside, where the crew was struggling to maintain control of the ship.
"Your highness, what are you doing here?" A crew member yelled.
"Three people in the water off the port-stern!" Suguha yelled back "I need a few aquateers!"
Three aquateers broke from what they were doing and followed Suguha to the stern. Looking out, they saw Nai'a, Lani and Manu. Working together, the four of them aquateered the waves and carried Nai'a, Lani and Manu aboard.
"Much obliged!" said Nai'a when they were on board.
"A mermaid, a merman and a scylla?" said one of the aquateers. "We should've left these three in the sea!"
"But the mermaid is a Lunaculus!" Suguha replied, surprising them.
"And we're actually half-breeds!" Manu told them. "Our tail's, or in Lani's case tentacles, will turn back to legs when we dry off."
"Take them to my cabin and bring some towels" Suguha ordered.
Nai'a, Lani and Manu were taken to Suguha's cabin. As the four of them started drying themselves with the towels that were brought, they got to talking.
"My father, Emperor Tatsuhiko Oda, will be along in a few minutes." said Suguha as she dried her hair. "I'm Suguha Oda, First Princess of the Empire of Yamatai. So, who are you three, and where did you come from?"
"I'm Nai'a Palakiko, Lunaculus of Maritimus." said Nai'a, as she dried herself. "These are my two best friends, Lani Kawai and Manu Mahi'ai." Tiki poked his head out of Nai'a's bag. "And this little furball is Tiki. We come from Hawaiki."
"I've heard of the country." said Tatsuhiko, who just entered the room. "So, what brings you this far north?"
"The war, Your Majesty. I've been having visions, and Hawaiki's resident oracle Kamila, Lani's mother, believed they meant that it is time for the Lunaculi to gather again. So here we are."
"It was exhausting though." said Manu. "Covering this much distance in just a week was-"
"A WEEK!" Suguha yelled in surprise. "We've been on the waves over a week, and we're only halfway to Markaydia. Hawaiki's got to be more than 8,000 miles away, how did you cover that much distance in a week?"
"Merpeople and scyllas are fast." said Lani "That, and the Orient Current helped." At that moment, their tails/tentacles reverted to their legs now that they were dry. They then put on their bottoms and bracelets.
"What's with the bracelets?" Suguha asked.
"Like most half-breeds, we can't control our transformations when we get wet, so we wear these bracelets of leviathan scales to stop us from changing unwillingly." Nai'a explained as she pulled out the map Kamila gave her. "Also, before we left, I was told to seek this symbol."
"I've never seen that mark before." said Suguha.
"But I have; once when I was younger." said Tatsuhiko. "Young lady, do you even know what that symbol represents, or what you're asking?" Nai'a shook her head. "I thought not. In any case, since you've came all this way to help with the war effort, you can stick with us."
"Palakiko and Kawai can stay in here with me, but Mahi'ai will need separate accommodations." said Suguha.
"He can sleep with the crew. I’ll let the captain know so they can make room." said Tatsuhiko as he left the room.
"What's our destination?" Nai'a asked.
"Markaydia's southeast island." said Suguha. "We're not going to just charge headlong into the conflict. We need an ally."
"Understood. In the meantime, you can use us as messengers, since deliveries is our job back home."
"That should be helpful. Welcome aboard." Suguha shook hands with each of them.
Now that two Lunaculi had gathered so far, Markaydia was waiting for them.