Keeljoy Chapter 1

This story is technically written for Mermay, but since it’s going to go on for a long time, I thought I would start it on my Patreon. I have 8 chapters completed, and it features Atlanteans out of my Black Rose Universe. This is the rough draft, but it has been run through Grammarly. Unfortunately, pasting it removes all of my formatting and it’s missing some; I tried to put it back, but probably missed some italics.

  • Tiff

The rules were simple, straightforward, and set. 

Finn had repeated the rules every evening and every morning since he could speak. His mother and father taught them to him in multiple languages so he would remember. 

Swim only in dark water. 

Sleep during the day, hunt at night.

Stay away from other Atlanteans. 

Stay away from humans. 

Stay away from anything and anyone you do not know. 

He kept the rules flawlessly. Why would he break them? As an Atlantean raised in the Pacific Ocean, he was an apex predator. There was no reason to break the rules. 

Until there was. 

Finn was out hunting with his father when it happened. At sixteen, he hadn’t decided on the body he would personalize. For now, he held the killer whale form, like his father. His upper body was human, melding into the lower half of an orca with powerful flukes. 

His father, Firth, was lean and powerful, cutting through the water ahead of Finn, in search of prey. They were on a mission to find Albacore tuna, a fatty fish that would be good for his mother, who laid at home, sick. 

Firth suddenly stopped swimming, his body rising into an upright position. Finn almost crashed into him but stopped short, bumping into his back.

What is it? Why did he stop? He never stops. ‘Dad?’

Finn looked out into the open ocean as Firth held a hand out, gesturing to Finn to stay back. ‘Scent the water,’ he spoke in their mental language, floating rigidly next to him. ‘Do you smell it?’ 

Finn concentrated on the odors in the water. There was something there, but it was faint: fear, blood, and anger? His skin prickled before the screech pierced the stillness of the ocean. There was something, no, someone, swimming far away. A cloud of red followed the form, and there were two larger beings behind her. 

Firth snarled, brandishing his spear. ‘Stay back, Finn,” he ordered, not looking back as he surged forward. Finn floated, frozen in place, watching. 

Atlanteans. 

He jerked forward, eyes wide. People like him and his father. Atlanteans! Wait, we aren’t supposed to go near them! Why is Dad breaking the rules! 

The bleeding Atlantean saw Firth coming and immediately angled toward him, casting her voice so loud it reached Finn, clear and full of terror. He cringed, gripping his hunting spear tight in his arms. The sound sent chills up his spine, from the tip of his tail to his head. 

‘Get behind me, girl!’ ordered Firth as he reached the injured Atlantean. She obeyed without hesitation, swinging behind him as he snarled and slammed into her two pursuers. 

Finn’s gills fluttered, observing his father tear into the pair of larger Atlanteans. They held the form of sharks and were thick and stocky. Even though they were bigger than Firth, they were no match for him. He was older. More skilled. Firth was something they would never be, a noble-born Atlantean trained in the old ways. 

In a matter of seconds, blood bloomed in the water, clouding the combatants in battle. Then one floated to the sand, massive gashes from the spear and claws seeping blood into the ever-present water. 

The second Atlantean went up, his body rended in half, with only a strip of flesh and muscle holding it together along the hip. Finn gaped. He had seen his father hunt many times, but this was horrific. A sight he would never forget. 

Firth emerged from the crimson cloud, a few shallow gashes on his chest and side bleeding freely. The woman he had rescued curled into a tight ball, making herself smaller as he towered over her. 

Why is she afraid of Dad? He rescued her! Finn went forward, then back, unsure of what to do now that the fight was over. They were talking, then she relaxed, and Firth took her in his arms. She was so small compared to him, smaller than even his mother, and Finn had been taller than her since he was twelve. 

‘This is Kaia and Pearl,’ said Firth, swimming past Finn. ‘We’re going home immediately.’ 

Finn blinked, startled at his father giving him two names. Then he realized the woman wasn’t alone. She had a cloth wrapped over her shoulders and torso with a tiny occupant. A baby? 

“Finnley,” growled Firth. “Move your fins. We have to get her home, and sharks are coming.” 

“Yes, sir,” said Finn, bolting after his father. He swam a little ahead, looking at the newcomer. Blood flowed from numerous deep gashes in her body, and she was pale despite her dark skin. 

The baby. 

It cried, tiny distressed whimpers, but didn’t seem to be harmed. There were no injuries near it. The cloth shifted, and Finn found himself staring into wide, pale blue eyes set into a fair-skinned face. Ringlets of brilliant red hair wafted in the water, and the baby met his eyes. 

Whether it could see him that well or not was debatable, but her perfect rosebud lips spread into a smile. She stopped crying for a moment…and he fell in love. 

Finn had never seen a baby before, but every instinct in his body told him he had to protect her. She was tiny and defenseless. And then, he understood why his father had rushed to their aid. 

Firth couldn’t float by, rules or not, when someone needed help.

  

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