The war within the sea had been going on for so long that the origin in which it began had faded into myth within the opposing kingdoms. Each kingdom believed they were fighting for a just cause, though each had suffered untold loss throughout the centuries. The last great battle named Thalassa the victor, having fewer casualties than Pelagia. The next would likely see Pelagia overcome Thalassa, as they redoubled their efforts. It had continued like this for many years, neither side able to fully conquer the other – and neither kingdom making any effort towards the first steps of peace.
Within the large expanse between the eastern kingdom of Thalassa and the western kingdom of Pelagia, the newest battle had broken out between the two nations. Nerina, the Thalassan princess, lead the battle for her people. She was raised to believe the Pelagians were ruthless people who were in league with the land-dwellers, the very same who were responsible for the death of her father. That was when the meaning of the war deepened for the princess as she swore her father would find peace. She vowed to end the war – no matter how many Pelagians she had to cut through to do so. The peace she sought was at the end of her trident.
Hundreds of merfolk attacked one another in the battlewaters, each wearing scaled armor with the insignias of those they had pledged their allegiance. The expanse was desolate, any sea life which had been residing in the area had long migrated to safer areas or were destroyed. A wall of Thalassan soldiers held their waters, stacked above and below one another in neat lines, holding their spears and shields in the formation. The Pelagian army, using a different strategy, had broken off into smaller units in an attempt to weaken parts of the wall.
As the two armies met in battle, shockwaves were felt emanating from the skirmishes. Soldiers’ weapons and armour connected, creating rippling disturbances within the depths of the sea, causing turbulent waters for any land-dweller who dared to travel upon. The cobalt blood of the merfolk darkened the waters, mixing with the blue-green hue of their surroundings.
Nerina sounded the battle call, a high-pitched sonar scream which caused the shockwaves to resonate further. Thalassan soldiers tightened their wall, as they closed in on the pockets of Pelagians. A few of the Pelagians had punched through the shield wall, attacking Thalassan soldiers from the tail. With the wall formation dissolving, more Pelagians entered the fray, attacking the weak point in the Thalassan defences. The wall defence broke and the battle dissolved into smaller scale assaults on the opposing kingdom. The Pelagians had the upper hand now, clearly having been better trained in small tactical units.
The princess let out another sonar scream, rushing in to attack a group of three. Her trident slashed through the waters, finding a target and clipping them with enough force to daze. Not permitting her enemies any advantage, Nerina allowed the current to move her trident in a full circle. This time she pulled the weapon back to allow more force when thrusting forward, finding an enemy to impale with the barbs of her weapon. As the last one lunged in for an attack, Nerina kicked her tail and propelled herself to the side, blocking the blade with the shaft of her trident.
The princess pulled her trident out of its previous target, jerking it backwards in a swift motion. The barbs dislodged from the Pelagian, allowing her to use it on the last. He attempted to block her attack, though it was too late. Nerina stabbed the trident forward, the points sliding under the scales of the merman’s armor. This time she pierced and then twisted, her weapon’s barbs shredding her enemy’s innards. He cried out, though his sonar scream weakened as her tail lashed against his throat to silence his final scream.
Though the princess was victorious, her army had not done so well. Thalassan casualties were rising as the Pelagians were overcoming them. Her kingdom’s healers passed through the grim scene, the only units able to move seamlessly through the battles – each side had sworn an oath, allowing healers to return the injured and dead to their respective kingdoms. One of the healers, an old friend of Nerina’s, paused to give her a somber look and shake of her head. This battle was Pelagia’s, and if the princess wanted any of her troops to survive, now was the time to fall back.
Begrudgingly, Nerina let out the call for her soldiers to withdraw. They would need to regroup at Thalassa for training and recovery. Inwardly she cursed, blaming herself as she withdrew with the final Thalassan forces that had been in the battlewaters. The wall had always held when her father had commanded the legion. Today, it fell with her in the front lines.
The morale of Thalassa had been low since her father’s death, only a week prior. Their forces had pledged their lives, vowing to follow their princess in the war – yet Nerina could feel how heavy their hearts were. Her own had mirrored theirs, though the princess knew she did not have the luxury of grieving. In the thick of the war, none of them had the time to spend in sorrow. There was one, however, who refused to leave the shroud of mourning – the Queen of Thalassa, Nerina’s mother. She had refused to leave her bedroom chambers since her husband’s death, forcing Nerina to both rule in her stead and command the armies of Thalassa.
To those who had been close to Nerina, prior to her father’s death and mother’s seclusion, it was obvious the leadership which was thrust on the princess was straining her. She barely slept, usually demanding to be among each battle their forces fought in the war, darkened rings circling her once bright eyes.
Those eyes looked upon the devastation of the battlewaters, the cobalt hue of her people’s lifeblood mingling in the current with that of Pelagia’s. Nerina held up the end of the lines, fending off the Pelagians until her people had made it through to safe waters and back in Thalassa, where they were unable to be followed. The barrier kept out those who would do Thalassa harm, mirroring one that Pelagia had in place. It kept the war in the battlewaters and away from innocents.
Nerina could feel the coolness of the barrier pass over her body. The sensation was akin to seaweed, though more viscous. She was the last of Thalassa to re-enter the kingdom, and had stayed with her legion until the land-dweller debris sank into her lands. It was the fifth time this week alone that they had polluted the kingdom with land-walker filth. As the barrier only kept out other merfolk intent on harm, it had no effect on the pieces of refuse from the world above. Most which came were broken pieces of some sort of shiny rock, some appearing as if it had once been in a flat circular shape, bearing a rim around the edges. Others appeared as if they had been more concave, a loop attached to some of the sides of the pieces.
This time, along with the usual land-dwelling offal tossed into their waters, a box made of silver metal plummeted with them. As it sank closer towards Thalassa, a shadow seeped from one of the corners. Assuming the shadow was cast from the ship, the Thassans paid no heed to it and were solely curious of the box itself.
The darkness, suddenly moving away from the silver object, was finally freed of its prison.