Aquatic Paramour

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The beautiful kingdom of Whyspir was preparing for their princess's departure. She was to be married off to the prince of their rival kingdom, Katan, as a way of ending their wars. No better solution could be thought of. The rule of two opposites could bring the two kingdoms together with a promise for peace and prosperity.

Merfolk tended to their daily businesses, while others bid the princess farewell, good luck and eternal gratitude. Times were hard for the Whyspirians. They were a much more peaceful race than the ones that opposed them, but had an army reliable enough to keep them from collapsing. To them, Princess Sarah was their last hope for harmony.

Floating outside Sarah's room was Orion, her bodyguard. Orion was, in a way, a misfit in Whyspir. At the age of a boy, he was purchased by Sarah's father to be employed as a slave. The king immediately noticed Orion's potential for strength, though. He had two rows of very sharp teeth upon a very strong jaw that could cut through stone. With enough training, he could build fine muscles. Also, the lower half of his body resembled a shark. That was a clear indication that he would grow to be a powerful merman. Instead of tedious chores, he was trained daily to be a fighter and protector for the king's daughter.

Now here he was, athletic and intimidating as ever, yet handsome. Long, dark brown hair flowed freely from his head, hiding the sets of gills at the sides of his neck. There was a confident look in his eyes of emerald. His body was toned nicely with muscle, his flesh light brown with scratch-like marks scarring it here and there from past times he needed to defend his princess. Armour wasn't necessary at the moment, however the palace guards left moments ago to fetch it for him. Normally, he'd wear a breast plate, a helm and guards for his wrists. In his capable hands, he held a halberd. He trusted his life to this weapon, as well as the life of his princess.

An occasional swish was made side to side with his shark tail, making bubbles float towards the surface. That half of him was a dark shade of gray with a white underbelly and a fin at the center. This tail stopped directly below his finely chiseled abdomen. A beautiful man, overall. This was rare for his kind; most sharks like him were far more ugly and terrifying. Being raised in this palace, he was well groomed and more tame.

Orion made no smiles when people spoke to him. He took his job seriously, and he was more the silent type. No disrespect was shown, of course. He thanked the people for their faith in him. Sarah meant everything to him; the Whyspirians knew that.

"I promise. She's in good hands."
Sarah, princess of the mermaids, was truly unhappy with her fate. No... unhappy couldn't describe anything well enough. Absolutely -miserable- was a better term. She wished she were a thousand miles away. Anywhere but this kingdom, among people who wanted to sacrifice her entire life to some whiny, angry, over-controlling prince that didn't have a shred of decency! She was much more interested in her guardian, and for a while, though it was against the law, they secretly dated, only breaking off their romance when it grew closer to time for her dreaded engagement. She was a pretty mermaid, with flowing red hair to her waist, bright blue eyes, an oval-shaped face, fair skin, and a long green-blue finn. She wore pearls around her neck and arms, and a tunic usually of bright colors, except today... she'd chosen to wear dark blue, out of sadness.

As she gazed with endlessly sad eyes at her surroundings of the underwater kingdom, she had a secret she'd never told anyone. Not even her parents. She could turn into human form anytime she wanted and walk on land! It was wonderful to have shape-shifting freedom, but she had to make sure no one found out. If this prince she was supposed to marry soon found out, he could potentially use her to start a war! She could have a good cry, just then, before she had to go speak to the king. But she didn't want to lose her composure, or royal image. She finished tying her hair back in a pony tail, and sat on her bed, waiting to be escorted, holding her head on her hands, miserably.~
The time to leave was nigh, so Orion pushed aside the curtain to Sarah's room so he could alert her of this. Normally, he would ask her if he could enter in case she might be undressed, but this one time, he knew she was not. Just by the sighs she made and the pacing he heard in the room, he knew she was agitatedly awaiting her destiny. This ached his heart, to see his princess so saddened. The life of royalty was filled with responsibilities and sacrifices, he noticed.

Orion leaned his halberd against a wall of her room before swimming towards the mermaid on the bed. She was a beautiful girl; he always thought so. Serving at her side as a weapon and shield was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. A more abusive master could have purchased him, or he could be cooking and cleaning all this time. He was eternally grateful for his position as a bodyguard!

"Your highness, we must leave in a few minutes," he told her in a gentle voice, lowering to her level so that his tail was resting on the floor. Even with her sitting that much off the ground, that extra height put them at direct eye contact. He was reasonably tall and bulky. Gingerly, he took one of her delicate hands into his own and gave it an affectionate squeeze. That seemed to help a lot of times when she was stressed or upset.

"I know this makes you unhappy. Perhaps it won't be as terrible as you imagine, though. We have to wait and see, right? The best part is I won't be leaving your side for a moment. It matters not where you live or where you go, you'll always have me to protect you and keep you company."

Orion nodded his head reassuringly after his words and made a genuine smile. She was the only one he ever smiled for.
Sarah managed a tiny smile, and squeezed Orion's hand back in return. Her life had been one of mostly isolation, save for Orion. "I just hope this prince doesn't expect -too- many children..." She was going to dread their wedding night, she knew. "Maybe he'll be too busy most of the time and not bother with me very much... If he has a library I can hide there." She sighed, rising to her full height, and straightening her shoulders. "Alright... let's.. get this over with." She said, trying to sound braver than she felt. At least Orion would go with her. She felt a bit safer and lead the way to the throne room, her one suitcase of clothes in her hand. Ordinarily, she didn't bother to wear anything except for her chest, but for public, she dressed nicely.

Once at the throne room in front of the king, she made a slight bow, showing her respect for her father, but on the inside she was still as miserable as anyone could possibly be. She just wished this didn't have to happen, that she could be with Orion instead. If she'd been allowed to choose, she would most certainly pick Orion over that daft Prince. She doubted she'd ever even -like- the prince she was doomed to marry!

She glanced at Orion, and wondered if she should tell him about her secret, about her ability to shift human. Would they be able to escape this then? But. . .she did owe her kingdom at least a meeting with this prince. Then if she found him cruel or intolerable, she could sneak away with Orion... except the fact she doubted he could turn human with her... Her mind raced with problems that day.~
There was a carriage prepared for them, pulled by a pair of majestic looking seahorses. Orion escorted the princess to their carriage and shut the door after them, and took his seat beside her. There was plenty of room for their tails to stretch out. As he sighed and leaned back, bubbles trailed from his lips. Life was going to be very different now. Even a stoic man like Orion couldn't hide that stress.

Merfolk said their last goodbyes and cheered on until the seahorse drawn carriage disappeared in the distance. There was quite a bit of ground to travel; he hoped she wouldn't get bored. It didn't even occur to him that he should bring along some kind of activity. His mind was always focused on protecting, nothing more. Orion liked to think he was more than a slave or guard, though... He liked to think he was a friend.

"What's on your mind, your highness?" Orion asked her in a gentle voice, evidently concerned. The way she was acting was not normal. Sarah was always so happy and bright. Today, she was lamenting every passing hour. He knew she was upset about this marriage situation, but perhaps there was something more? If anything, she'd probably like to talk about it.

Some conversation could make this trip less dull, too.
She waved back to the mere-people, and especially waved to her parents, knowing she might -never- see them again. "I.... it's complicated. But, I know you're my body-guard and best friend.. so I know you won't tell anyone." She took a deep breath, lowering her voice so only he could hear her. "I've had this strange ability to shift fully human, anytime I want. I've walked around on two legs before, up on the shore of the ocean, it feels different, but freer. Running is also nice. . .Anyway...If only there was a way to turn you human temporarily, we'd both be able to go live as humans..That's what's been on my mind.. Sorry I didn't tell you sooner, but it seemed like a bad time all the time.."

She was worried. Would he consider her a freak? Probably not. But this sort of secret was definitely a bit alarming. She just didn't know how Orion would react. . .or if it was possible, that he had a secret himself!
Orion was aware of merfolk being magically gifted. That was one thing he envied about them during his younger days. He was born a fiend; an exiled predator. There was nothing beautiful or special about him, until the king had him polished and trained to serve royalty. At this point, he could be considered the most attractive and tame of his kind.

Though, he had no idea her magical gift was something this absurd.

"That must be nice," he commented simply. Orion even smiled at her to emphasize his interest, a few of his crooked, pointy teeth poking past his lower lip. Usually, he'd avoid such big smiles because of how silly he looked, but Sarah could use a laugh, he thought.

The princess had duties, though, so he didn't want to encourage this idea of running away. In the form of humans, at that! Living on the surface was insane to merfolk. Just going to explore those parts of the world was forbidden. Orion would go wherever she went, however. On land or under the sea, he was to be at her side.

"You can trust me to keep this a secret. This thought you have... Of running away to the surface. No matter what, I would find a way to go there with you. Because without you, Princess Sarah, I am nothing.

Should life be miserable with your husband-to-be, I will not stop you."

Calling that prince her husband left a bad taste in his mouth. She was a generous, kind, loving mermaid; she deserved better than this. Orion just hoped life wouldn't be as bad as she predicted.
She managed a smile for Orion. "Thank-you. I am glad you'll be with me." She said, intending to give the place at least half a chance. "I can transform you as well... just so you know, in case we actually -have- to run." She assured him, hoping that things wouldn't be -too- terrible for them at that palace. But from all the rumors she'd heard about the brat-prince, she wasn't looking forward to this visit. Judging from the view out of the carriage window, she noticed that hours had passed, and they were almost at the palace of her 'fiance'! Her heart raced like a scared sea-horse, and she wished for the thousandth time, that she wasn't born royal... that she could have lived as a common girl falling in love...

But she knew from experience wishes usually didn't come true, and happy marriages belonged to those who weren't obligated to unite an entire two kingdoms. She felt very grim by the time the carriage pulled to a stop in front of the impressive palace. She was trying not to bolt out of the door and swim right back home! Yes, Sarah was a nervous -wreck-, but she managed to gain her composure gradually, by the time the doors were opened for the two of them.~
Orion paid extra attention to their new surroundings. The palace structure was similar to the one in Whyspir, as were the plants, species and fish and colourations of sand. That made the place feel a bit homey, therefore. He wondered if some of these customs were shared between the two kingdoms, or if the bottom of the sea was really the same wherever they'd go. Orion hadn't a clue; his travels were limited. He was only a bodyguard, after all.

With his weapon in hand, he swam silently beside Sarah, venturing further into the kingdom of Katan. The merfolk around them whispered about the newcomers. Some didn't seem to care, others rejoiced at the sight. There were many who yearned for peace between the rivaling kingdoms, and since this marriage would solve everything, people were happy as can be.

Waiting at the palace entrance was the prince destined to marry Sarah. He was very decorative with his crown and many jewels. His tail shined beautifully with scales of orange and his skin was a peachy tone. Excitement lit up his eyes, which were a dazzling colour of gold. Unlike Orion, the prince tamed his hair by having it cut and styled. His blonde hair was quite short with a spiky sort of style because of the water's current.

"Princess Sarah! How lovely to see you again after all this time," he said enthusiastically, his voice resembling something tenor. The prince gave Orion a strange look for a moment, until he remembered the purchased shark boy those many years ago. The last time Prince Luther saw him, or Sarah, they were all very young.

Orion eyed the prince warily, ever protective of his princess. He said nothing. All he did was nod at Luther and remain at Sarah's side to await orders.
"Greetings, Prince Luther. It has been a while. How are you?" She asked with nothing but politeness. She was careful, as always, to remember her manners and protocol. It wouldn't do any good to set this prince off right as they stepped out of the carriage! She too was captivated by some of the surroundings, and the mere-folk looked happy, most of them anyway. She remembered him now, when he'd been very small.

It seemed to her that the prince had grown very tall over the years, and bright as a jewel! Surely no harm would happen to her from him..? Maybe she just felt upset and nervous because of homesickness.~ She had to have a little hope, even if it would be dashed later, possibly.
"Oh, I've been well! Doing as I usually do with my studies and training and all that," Luther replied with a grin and a wave of his hand, bubbles flying through the water as he made that swishing motion. Handsome of a man as he was, there was a touch of feminine charm to him. He liked to be beautiful and clean, plus he had no interest in war or fighting. This was why he was so quick to agree to marrying Sarah; he simply wished for peace.

"Let's go inside, shall we? I'll have some refreshments prepared for you and your, ah... Bodyguard." A suspicious look was given to Orion before Luther offered his arm to Sarah so he could escort her inside.

Orion rolled his eyes to himself and floated closely behind them, ever watchful of this prince. Already, he didn't like him. People were already rude to Orion just because he was a misfit amongst them all. He was a carnivore, a natural born predator. For some reason, though... Prince Luther made Orion's eyes flare with a rage unlike any other.

How he hoped jealousy had nothing to do with it.
Sarah thanked Luther, and agreed to follow him inside the palace, feeling a little more hope. But she worried for Orien's sake, knowing how prejudiced mere-folk could be towards Orion at times. It wasn't fair, but she couldn't be quarrelsome just after arriving, could she? For Orion's sake, she took the prince's arm, consoling herself with her secret, knowing anytime things got too awful, she and Orion could run away whenever they needed to.

Such thoughts even made her smile that day, and it couldn't be helped that her eyes had a knowing secretive look.
Throughout the day, Luther showed Sarah around his palace. Where she'd be sleeping, the spot they'd celebrate their marriage, the garden--everything! The home was impressive and indeed suitable for a happy King and Queen. His parents lived there as well, of course, but they'd soon retire so their son and his bride can take over. It was for the best, so the warring kingdoms could be at peace.

Orion didn't speak a word the entire time. All he cared about was protecting Sarah. The glamour and the cushy life never appealed to him. They were nice, of course, but he could be happy any place else as long as he could still serve her.

The three of them ended up outside, eventually, simply wandering the palace property. Luther had reason for going back outside, though. His hand waved in the air, signaling for the gate to be opened.

"Princess Sarah, I have many find protectors to choose from. Some much more, erm... Well, not like him," he began to say, gesturing to Orion as if he was a flawed piece of merchandise.

Insulted, Orion's grip tightened around the pole of his halberd. Fury began to blaze in his eyes and his powerful jaw clenched tightly, a feral growl thumping in his throat. As calm as he was, his temper was something to be concerned about. One did not want to anger a predator.

"It is my job to protect her 'till the day I die. I won't be going anywhere, unless she commands it," he said through his teeth.

"Oh puh-lease! You don't belong here, bad boy. Don't you think so, my princess?"
"Actually, I do prefer Orion. He's all I've known as a good friend -and- very skilled body guard since I was little. Please don't look down on him, Prince Luther. He has many fine qualities." She said, never intending to trade Orion for a "mushy mere-guard!" She wasn't ever going to replace Orion, and he knew that. She made it very clear to Luther that he'd definitely made a wrong move by insulting her guard by frowning at him. Though impressed with the opulence of her new home, she just knew it would be full of prejudice and snobbery as well.

She would be fine here, but would Orion? She didn't like how people were already whispering about him, how he could turn violent, or show a more hostile side if provoked wrong! To Sarah, he was always careful, and very peaceful, unless she was in danger. Then it was as if a switch was pushed and he turned into a full-term shark, obliterating any threat in his path! Definitely Orion was the best guard for her!
"Well then!" Luther's voice suddenly sounded deeper, as if he suddenly switched from a cheerful, energetic prince to a serious, commanding ruler. He crossed his arms behind his back and stiffened his posture, his eyes displaying curiosity and disappointment.

Orion was sitting just as proudly, ever jubilant that his princess defended him the way she did. He and the merman stared each other down silently for a moment, as if challenging each others souls. Life here would be misery, that was for certain. With Sarah, though, Orion couldn't be so pessimistic. As long as she was around, life was as perfect as it could be.

"I won't be going anywhere, unless my princess commands it," Orion said coolly.

"Hah, we'll just see about that. Princess Sarah, that thing is not allowed in my palace. He will sleep out here, and you will come with me. Since we're to be married, we must be together."

Luther, obviously, would not take no for an answer.
"I'm sorry you feel so prejudiced towards my loyal guard, Prince Luther. But, he will be with -me- inside the palace. Or I'm not going inside at all." The princess was stern, and deeply disappointed. As well as a bit hurt. He really thought he could be as mean as he wanted to Orion... without anyone interfering? Clearly, this mere-prince needed lessons in humility and a little more tolerance!

"If I remain out here, then I'll sleep somewhere on the ground, or a bench. But I did not come all the way here, just to have my most trusted guard insulted like this." There was no way at all, Sarah would back down, and cast her own fiery glare at Luther!
"Hm. So be it then." With a shrug, Luther put his hands behind his back and drifted towards Sarah. Without warning, he leaned his face over hers and joined their lips together for a brief, passionate kiss. Smiling with satisfaction, he floated backwards from her and began to make his way back to his castle.

Orion was turned away from the two of them the whole time to avoid much sight of the kiss, and whatever else he wanted to bring to her. He was sorely tempted to pierce him with his halberd, or grab him by that pretty hair and toss him! There was a little bit of envy swelling within him, he admitted to himself. Seeing this man, so unworthy of Sarah's love and beauty, kiss her, let alone touch her...

"Are you... Sure, you'd want to be out here?" he asked her, making a crooked frown. Orion now wanted to acquire some bedding for her. At the least, she should have a pillow and blanket. He wasn't going to force her to sleep in the palace; she did not like to be told what to do. Orion liked her to be able to make her own choices, even if he didn't approve of them. Though, this one time, he was slightly glad. She chose him over Luther, after all.
Sarah gasped at Luther's audacity to kiss her like that! She wiped the back of her mouth and sighed, rubbing the beginning of a migraine from her temples. "Yes... I'll stay out here...Actually, I should have known this wouldn't have worked out. I must be the worst princess in history. Luther probably will leave me out here to rot... so much for peace." She sighed, sinking down on the floor, her head on her hands, despair overwhelming her. She just didn't know what to do or how to make things right.~ In her personal opinion, she was turning out to be a very lame bride, and a failure princess!
Orion made a crooked frown. This was certainly no way to treat a princess. Wouldn't Luther's parents disapprove? There was really no way of knowing, unless he could get past the security and ask them himself. He'd get that answer in a heartbeat if it were that easy, and if it didn't involve leaving Sarah alone for a while.

"He wants to make it known that he is in charge, and that you must do as he wishes. Otherwise, he'll punish you for it," Orion explained to her with disgust, but honesty. He'd seen this type of behaviour in rulers before. All the Queen was for those types of Kings, was a trophy. A symbol of their right to be royalty. He despised it.

"What can I do for you, princess? This is not a suitable place for bedtime... Being out here, I mean. You'll be safe, I promise that, but it's not comfortable."
"I .. I don't want to stay here at all, I'm sorry, Orion...I know I should try and make up with the prince... but I swear I'll be too miserable to even face him after tonight. I never want to see him again. Couldn't we just go to the surface? Maybe carve out a life as humans?" She was so unhappy, she rested her face on her hands, trying not to cry. But her heart felt so crushed, and the water itself, for the first time, seemed to cause claustrophobia.

She wanted the air, the sky, and vast landscapes around her. Not these. . .mere people who didn't really care who she loved, so long as she remained a trophy-wife for the rest of her existence, who would probably spend all her time trying to make sure nothing bad happened to Orion! Prejudice... that's what she wanted most of all to escape from. A simple life above these uncaring waters would grant that.

"Please... Orion... let's just... get out of here. I don't think I'll make it if I stay." And her words held an unveiled threat. She'd rather -die- than continue trying to please her new 'husband'.