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Outside the Castle

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Far above their heads, what Kappa declared a “flappy” floated by. It was wide and flat like a jellyfish, but its scales looked smooth like Kappa’s stomach. Its body was covered in short, deep blue hair, and its long arms flapped languidly. What really caught Siren’s attention, though, were the small blue lights caught in the current the flappy was riding. They weren’t unlike the ones in the castle, but here, they seemed more free. Kappa told him they were tiny creatures with thousands of even tinier legs, but Siren didn’t know if he believed it.

Siren swam toward the surface, hoping to find out for himself. Kappa called after him, but he ignored it. Kappa had been really stiff about his safety ever since they left the castle, even though he was the one that had been so excited to show him the world.

The current was stronger than he thought. It whipped him away faster than he could even try to brace himself. He slammed against a rock, hitting his shoulder painfully. An unintelligible cry told him Kappa was caught in the current, too. Siren panicked. He couldn’t let anything happen to Kappa, not now! Not after everything they had been through! He tried to swim against the current, but it was too tough. Another bump against some rocks, and another, and then he was in open water. He could see Kappa’s golden glow behind him.

A strange whooping noise came from him. Siren squinted against the rush. Kappa was...cheering? Kappa smiled and waved at him encouragingly. He supposed it was kind of fun, if he looked past his fear. It was certainly exhilarating, anyway. Siren cheered back half-heartedly before turning to see where he was going.

He cried out as he sped toward a cliff face, but the current carried him above it-and straight into a field of green, wiggling plants. Kappa ran straight into his back.

“Woo-hoo!” he enthused. Siren tried to rejoin his enthusiasm, but he was starting to panic. The plants were wrapping around his wrists!

“Ahhh! Kappa!! They’re taking me to their lair!” He yelled as he began to sink, more of the green ilk wrapping around him and tangling in his hair. “You have to swim away and save yourself!”

Kappa laughed, hard. “No, Siren! They’re just wiggle boys! They won’t harm you.” Kappa swam over and began pulling them away. “Don’t worry, I’ll have you free in a minute.” Siren blushed in embarrassment as the last of the fragile plants broke in Kappa’s strong grip. How was he supposed to know? This was his first time outside the castle in his entire life!

Kappa caught the look on his face, and smiled softly. “Come on, I have something amazing to show you.” Kappa swam briskly towards the surface. Siren followed slowly. There wasn’t anything up there. At least, nothing that Siren could see, so where was he going?

Siren was alarmed. Kappa kept swimming, even though he was nearing the surface. Only the surface god lived up there! He wasn’t going to meet him, was he? Kappa said he’d met him once before, when he was born, but Kappa was the Beacon. He could do things no other Mer could. Would it really be alright for Siren to meet him? True, he was the prince of the sharks, but he was still mortal! He swam after Kappa, calling for him to come back, but Kappa ignored him, forging ahead. Siren broke the surface seconds later.

He couldn’t believe what he saw. Above the surface, above the ocean and above everything he ever knew...was another ocean, reflecting back at him. Siren stared and stared as Kappa giggled. The ocean above was a lighter blue, like his skin, and thinner, too. Large, fluffy fish, white as his own hair, floated by, ignoring him.

He couldn’t see anything else, except for the world between theirs. It was a place where the water was so thin that he could only take shallow breaths. He couldn’t tell what color it was, either. It didn’t seem to be any color at all.

The barrier to the ocean above him was so clear that he couldn’t tell where it began. The one under him rippled slightly. Oh, and there was the Surface God. He shone brilliantly, even more brightly, he thinks, than Kappa. A golden yellow orb...not what he expected.

“Don’t stare at it!” laughed Kappa.

“R-right!” Siren looked down. Who was he to stare??

“That’s the sun,” Kappa explained patiently. Siren turned to him.

“That’s not the Surface God?” he asked, bewildered. Kappa’s happy expression turned melancholy.

“No, that’s not him. At least, I don’t think so. I’ve never seen him before,” he said, before brightening again. “That’s the sun. He warms the ocean and the sky, so we don’t freeze. Because of him, life exists.”

“The sky…,” Siren mused, glancing back up again, “and the sun….” He turned back to Kappa, smiling softly.

“Kappa...I’m really glad I met you.”

Kappa blushed. “I’m glad I met you, too, Siren.”