Misty Shore

Tinnin entered the building, fashionably late, because she knew that going early to these events just meant you'd be bored for longer. Tonight the Atlantean and Pacific mers were holding a joint banquet as a way to network. And by network you could be certain people in power were trying to marry off some of their offspring to cement a bond with the other side. Centuries long their people had not bothered with each other. Every so often an inter-racial couple appeared but they were rare and mostly frowned upon. 
But times they were a-changing as the song went. The humans were becoming an increasing danger. Long before in ancient times the mers had responded with their powers. Causing storms, floods and tornados. But the humans had grown more powerful themselves, creating technology that could pose a serious threat to the merpeople on either side of the planet. 
Tinnin was certain her parents had plans for her. She'd always known she was fated to an arranged marriage. Her parents and their parents had done the same and most other nobles wanted to keep their bloodline pure. Butall those close relations were doing damage. Birth-rates among nobles were declining which wasn't a bad thing per se, but the children that were born, were often feeble and prone to disease. If she'd have her way she wouldn't waste time in choosing her mate. She'd already picked out the one she wanted but they were so far apart in status they might as well live in a different galaxy. 
Tinnin glanced sideways to the servant that had been appointed to her. Lothan had grown up in their household from the time he'd been born. Like most servants he was incredibly powerful but also loyal and submissive. Which was crazy really. If they wanted they could grab the power and rule. But none of them seemed inclined to do that. Aside from his power, he was also physically fit. Tinnin had to admit that his nice body was a large part of the attraction. But he was also quiet and attentive. He often tended to the garden and seemed to enjoy nature. These were things that she also valued and she felt that they would make a good match and would come to love each other over time. 
These thoughts and more were flying through her mind as she made her way down to the large seacave where they would mingle. Her eyes darted left and right and she recognised the effort that had been made to clean the place up. Rock shelves were laden with fresh seafood and algae. Sparkly fish swam near the ceiling and the floor had been thoroughly cleaned so not a pebble remained in the sand. It truly was a gorgeous venue. Still, she couldn't afford to let down her guard because she knew what was coming...

Lothan let his senses take in everything. He'd been assigned to guard his household's heir at the banquet. He took his task serious although he'd gathered from his instructions that his most important task was to keep single males away from here except when they were called Nestor. Later in the evening the master and lady of the house would come with their personal servants and the talks would commence. The parents would arrange a good trade and the youngsters would be allowed to get to know each other. In theory one of them could refuse the match if there were reasonable grounds to do so but since most families had investigated the other party well before they even sat down to talk the chances of that were almost zero. 
His own situation was similar and different at the same time. He'd been born into servitude and would stay with this noble family for his entire life as would his children. He was free to choose a partner but lately the prestige that had once accompanied his class had started to wane. In fact he was a glorified servant, but to him and his family they were so much more. They had a religious duty to protect their family and felt as much part of it's noble heritage as the real descendants. 
They were family. Which is why they shouldn't marry. Which is why Lothan was feeling increasingly disturbed about the way the young mistress looked at him. She was often around when he was working in the garden. She often swam by real close, her tail accidentally touching his. He was used to females approaching him. They never wanted a lasting connection. Most likely Tinnin also just wanted a fling before she'd have to marry. But it's not like they could say goodbye in the morning and go their separate ways. He would forever stay near her, having to bear the guilt of tarnishing her. But he had yet to find a respectful way to reject her. He couldn't just bring it up so he waited for her to proposition him. 
His ears caught the name Nestor and his eyes pinpointed the handsome pale merman. Although he was a lesser noble, he carried himself very well and caught a lot of attention. Tinnin moved closer and whispered:
"Is that him?"
"Who my lady?" Lothan asked.
"The one I've come to meet of course. I know my parents are arranging a marriage."
"I'm not supposed to say." Lothan replied but his short nod told her what she needed to know.
"I might as well get this out of the way." Tinnin said and advanced. 

Nestor saw the greyish Pacific mermaid approach. She was an imposing presence, large for a mermaid and dressed in such flowing gowns that she took up even more space. She was like one of those tropical Betta, beautiful but deadly. He knew his parents had plans for him tonight. He hadn't been able to get out of the match but he had no desire to marry anyone with such a presence. Although if his wife grabbed all the attention he might be left alone which wouldn't be a bad development. But truth be told his heart had already been taken. The lady who was now it's owner just hadn't accepted it yet but Nestor was positive that was just a matter of time. 
"My Lady." he said with a flourish as Tinnin reached him.
"Evening." She answered, "Might we go somewhere more private to talk?"
Nestor was surprised by her direct demeanour. Most high-born ladies took their time to make acquaintances, playing the courting game to maximise their profit and power in the relationship. It seemed lady Tinnin just expected to be on top. She was of higher rank of course. Nestor doubted she would let a man dictate what she was to do. In fact he suspected that she probably didn't let anyone dictate what she had to do. Which opened possibilities.
"I can suggest a stroll outside away from the crowd." Nestor proposed.
He had his own reason to suggest going outside. The lady he coveted often sat around here watching the fishes swim by. He secretly hoped that the sparkling fishes the pacific visitors had brought would entice her to come. If he was lucky he might even be able to speak to her. So far she'd only answered briefly and then raced away as fast as she could. 
"That would be wonderful." Tinnin nodded and placed her hand in his.
Together they swam outside, followed by Tinnin's guard who kept a respectable distance so he wouldn't overhear what they were saying. Nestor had his doubts though since he suspected Tinnin's parents would want a full report of what they'd said.

Odjured watched from afar as the nobles arrived. They all looked amazing, dressed in finery and adorned with jewels and shells. She let out a sigh as she let the fairytale setting bespell her. But she quickly remembered that most dreams were too good to be true. She suspected these people had their own problems and that she probably shouldn't be all that interested in joining their ranks. After all she had a nice life. 
Lately her only nuisance was a certain noble who kept trying to talk to her. Why he had taken an interest in such a boring fish as herself she couldn't fathom. Nestor was the talk of the town, all her girlfriends swooned when his name popped up and more than a few had their eyes on becoming his partner. Odjured had to agree that he looked nice, the foreign blood in his veins gave him an exotic pale look and those eyebrows were a nice feature in his face. Which was why Odjured always pictured him with a foreign princess. 
Looking down at the colourful fishes and exotic faces from her hidden shelf, Odjured caught movement out of the corner of her eye. Behold there was Nestor and sure enough he was leading a beautiful, if slightly scary, pacific mermaid toward the gardens. Odjured knew what men planned to do in such a quiet space. Not by experience mind, but she'd heard stories. Stories that made her heart race so without a thought she started to follow the couple. It didn't take long for them to reach a satisfactory spot and they started talking. 
Odjured inched closer, oblivious to the guard that was closing in on her...

"No further." Lothan said as he caught the drab mermaid that had followed his lady and her suitor. 
The young woman shrieked, causing Tinnin and Nestor to look up. Surprisingly to Lothan, Nestor was quick to come closer. But instead of containing the young woman, the minor noble grabbed Lothan's hand and called:
"Unhand her!"
Lothan let go and watched as Nestor carefully took the woman's hand and asked: "Are you okay, Odjured?"
The young woman looked frightened but she managed a nod. If Nestor wouldn't be holding her hand, Lothan was certain she'd darted away already.
"Is this the lady you have promised your heart to?" Tinnin asked.
"She is." Nestor nodded.
Tinnin swam closer and looked at Odjured like she was examining a treasure.
"I don't think your parents would be impressed. But I think I can see the appeal. She is certainly cute."
Odjured started to thrash about at those words, humiliated and embarrassed. But Nestor still held her close.
"Please believe me when I say I'm serious about you, Odjured." Nestor said.
"You can't be." Odjured said, stilling as she let those words filter in. Surely Nestor was joking.
"Now how can we convince our parents to abandon this match?" Tinnin asked.
"It has to be something serious." Nestor said.
"Lothan, what are the terms they will be discussing?" Tinnin asked her servant.
"I'm not at liberty to say." Lothan answered.
"Sometimes you're just too loyal." Tinnin sighed and then whispered in his ear: "Come on, don't you like me a little bit? Aren't you jealous?"
Lothan darted back: "I would never. You are family..."
"You most certainly are not." Tinnin interrupted him, "I checked."
While the four of them were discussing and trying to convince each other to do the right thing - which differed according to who was talking-, a patch of sand suddenly stirred. A strange current clashed with the cold waters and a young merman appeared in the waters near them. He was joined by a dark blue sea dragon, sleak and whiskered with large fins and a playful air.
"Oh good! people!" the young merman said.
"Who are you?" Lothan asked as he moved to the front, shielding his lady from the intruder.
"Aquion." the boy said, "And this is my nekrat Iyru." 
"Charmed." the nekrat said with a flourish, "We are looking for people to come with us to act as possible bonds for sea dragons."
"Eggs just started appearing and we're seriously lacking in Candidates." Aquion nodded, "You wouldn't happen to know of likely candidates, do you?"
Tinnin smiled as her mind quickly considered the implications: "As a matter of fact, I do." and gestured to the four of them.
"I guess that would take us away from our parents." Nestor agreed.
"But..." Odjured objected, "Won't you come with me, my lady?"
"Lothan, you're coming with me." Tinnin just stated to which the servant nodded. He was still under orders after all.
A kiss seemed to have convinced Odjured of Nestor's sincerity and she too nodded now.
"Great! Let's not waste time." Aquion said and within seconds they were whisked away, transported to the oceans around Lantessama Isle where they would wait to bond sea dragons of their own. 


Lantessama Isle
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