1824, somewhere in the Indian Ocean
Blaike loosened his grip on his trident, though his tail flicked violently from side to side. Behind him, his army waited attentively for his signal. It wasn’t yet time. They hovered near the city, Atargatis, hiding behind a massive rock formation. His enemy—his sister, who now held the title of Empress—wouldn’t see them coming.
Blaike had been twelve when he was cast out of the imperial palace by his sister, Nadiah. She had only been eleven herself then, but she had always been far wittier, far quicker, and far more cunning than anyone, even their father. At that age, she was already clever enough to look at the Emperor with wide, innocent eyes amid a court meeting and suggest that Blaike be used as a peace treaty, knowing that he’d never come back. Their father had listened to her. As a result, Blaike was swiped away without even being able to say goodbye to his mother. His father died a year later, and Nadiah had ascended the throne. Blaike had been forgotten, just like that.
Now, seven years later, Blaike had finally freed himself. He wanted to claim the throne, which was rightfully his. It had taken him four years to make enough ties to secure military funds, then another two to use that money to buy himself an army. In the last year, he’d trained alongside his soldiers and made sure they were all ready. It was finally time.
Just as Blaike screeched for his army to attack, he caught a splendid view of the city from where they were. It made him remember that when he was nine, he and his sister had escaped the palace and swam all the way up here just because they wondered what Atargatis would look like from afar. They had made a promise to each other that day to always have each other’s back. Needless to say, his sister had broken that promise, so Blaike knew he would never trust her again.
Nadiah had been prepared for an attack, but his army was stronger. Around him, the two armies fought, creating a flurry of colors as their scales shimmered against the city’s lights. Blaike hated that things had to turn out this way. If only their uncle hadn’t started mentoring them when Blaike was ten. It was his uncle that had turned Nadiah into this cruel, wicked mermaid who only hungered for power.
The army soon broke through the city’s defenses, and before Blaike could ready himself, he was in the throne room, facing his sister, but she looked like she didn’t want to fight. Not far from her, their uncle stood, lips curled into a sinister smile. “I told you so,” his uncle said loudly to his sister. “All along, he’s only wanted the throne for himself. End him!”
His sister shook her head. “No, uncle,” she whispered. She turned to their uncle, who suddenly cowered against the wall, frightened. She rose her trident, pointing it at him. “It was you who has always wanted the throne. You, who tricked me into sending my brother away. You, who refused to let me find my beloved brother. All this time, I waited. At last, he has found me, and you shall be gone.”
“What?” Blaike said in disbelief. But he had spent all these years hating his sister, all these years wanting to take revenge, and it was all because Nadiah couldn’t find him?
“No!” their uncle begged. “No! It wasn’t like that! It was—no! No! You don’t understand!”
His sister laughed loudly, a sound Blaike had missed all these years. “Enough!” she commanded. “Uncle, I hereby banish you from the Indian Ocean. Flee now, and never come back!”
Their uncle dashed out of the throne room, leaving the siblings alone. Nadiah finally lowered her trident and grinned at her brother. “You’ve been gone a long time, little brother,” she said. “Come, we have a lot of catching up to do.”
© 2018 Dionne Seah. All Rights Reserved.