“Wistful Selkie” art by Mark Tedin, from Magic: the Gathering’s ‘Eventide’ set
Selkies call to a sea they never swam, in a tongue they never spoke, with a song they never learned.
The Seel Witch of Merrow Marsh
Pokémon target: Lotad
Required Characters: 5000 - 10000
Notes: It would be awesome if this got graded before the Gift Station is over, because I'll be gifting this Lotad. Story is also inspired by Magic: The Gathering's Selkies and Merfolk. ^_^
Far beyond the fortified castle of Revelstrom and just past Webspinner Wood lays a great marsh, perhaps the greatest in all the five kingdoms. No mortal man would be able to compare its vastness with the other wetlands, however, since there has not been a single person to get past the Arachnid Sentinels of the wood which came before it.
Although, in recent time, a foreigner of the wet wilds was able to best the reclusive nature of the marsh. And rest assured the stranger was not of man’s likeness in blood and flesh; he was a merman who came to Merrow Marsh through a clear stream that was connected to its eastern side, so he easily avoided the Galvantula and Ariados of Webspinner Wood.
The merman was a lost soldier who belonged to the Kingdra’s Trident Platoon; the army force of the Eastern Sea. Fourteen starnights ago they were in great battle with the Huntail Brigand, pirate-merfolk who had been the enemies of their Sea Kingdom since the infamous tragedy involving the rightful ownership of the Golden Kelp.
The warfare raged on for days, each side wielding the force of water, rain and waves against the other. Our enstranged merman, however, had been swept out from the rest of his patrol by a strong whirlpool cast by one of the Brigand’s elementalists. He had lost consciousness for some time, and when he had woken up he was swimming into the area of the Merrow Marsh: a dank, mangrove-filled swamp which seemed to stretch on for miles.
Now, aside from the Corphish, Krabby, Swampert and other sorts of fish Pokémon which inhabited the wetland, there existed two kinds of merfolk in Merrow Marsh: the Clearfins and the “Mudscale” Selkies.
As it became known to the merman on the first day of his arrival, the Clearfins were the merfolk who were silver-finned and had scales of sparkling diamond; their fish halves ranged from Goldeen to Finneon to Remoraid. The Selkies, on the other hand, or “Mudscales” as the Clearfins call them, were composed of three sisters. These sisters had half-Seel or half-Dewgong bodies instead of being half-fish. They were shunned and rejected by the Clearfins, because in addition to being half-Seel (or half-Dewgong) the three were also witches.
In truth, Merrow Marsh had once been a freshwater lake, with clear weed-less water. In those times, the water was so pristine the Clearfins could navigate its depths with hardly any trouble. It is their belief that the Selkie sisters put a curse on the lake’s entirety, or that the “corruption” of the lake was the result of all their potion-brewing in the waters. For whatever reason Merrow Marsh became what it is today, it was certainly the Mudscale’s doing—this is the idea etched into every Clearfin’s mind. So they treated them with such unfairness (to the point that they had injured one of the sisters in the eye) that the Selkies were forced to hide in Merrow Marsh’s murky depths.
The mersoldier became instantly adored by the Clearfin women and envied by the other mermen. Why wouldn’t they? Their last visitors were three abominations to all merkind, and the soldier was just perfect, according to the mermaid that is. Being from the Eastern Ocean he was blue scaled and his fins were like barbs of brilliant sapphire; and he was half-Kingdra too. He was muscular and carried with him a fearsome trident made from what seemed to be the branches of numerous Corsola. Not having seen such a fine specimen in a long time, the Clearfin mermaid swam to him by the schools, each one desperate to be his spawnmate.
It was enough to say that the Clearfin society loved him. He decided to stay in Merrow Marsh for good—the constant battling between the Kingdom of the Eastern Sea and the Huntail Brigand was not worth returning to. Here he would have a peaceful life amongst merfolk who welcomed him.
A few days after, news of the merman’s arrival traveled to the Selkie sisters, who controlled some Quagsire to spy on the Clearfin’s affairs. The marsh witches currently were inside an underwater cave situated at the very bottom of the marsh.
“Gah!” exclaimed the eldest Selkie, who was half-Dewgong and had long sea-weed hair. “Another nuisance has come upon the Marsh!”
“We should hex their new, beloved idol,” the second eldest suggested to the firstborn. “Let’s see how much they admire that Wailord-head after we’ve made him scaleless!”
“I like what you’re thinking, Aristel,” responded the oldest Selkie. “We could also jinx him with boils!”
The two cackled in unison. Aristel, with her half-Dewgong body and a crown of Kingler shell placed on top of her flowing, black hair, spoke once more, “Still as cruel as ever, sister Misibeth.”
Then, the youngest Selkie appeared. Her name was Cledicea, and was half-Seel. Her hair was like Aristel’s: night black and long, which seemed to shimmer in a strange white light. Her left eye was blank white, like a pearl that had lost its luster. The other one was still a fine shade of black.
In a soft voice she spoke, “He is not as awful as the rest, sisters… He’s really kind; quite completely unlike them…”
At this, Misibeth and Aristel both gave the youngest witch a look of surprise.
“’Kind,’ you say?” began Misibeth in a piercing tone. “’Kind,’ she thinks of one of them! You really were third-born for a reason, Cledicea! Aristel, deal with this!”
Misibeth had swam out of the cave, her seaweed hair writhing as she rushed past her sisters. She had managed to scream “Kind!”just before leaving the two, with a hint of disgust in her voice.
Aristel turned to Cledicea. “Look at what you’ve done, Cleo. How can you defend one of the Clearfins after they’ve treated us all this time as if we were Slowpoke piss?!”
“Well, we did turn their lake into—“ at this point Cledicea paused to look at her surrounding before continuing. “Into this.”
“You very well know we only put the enchantment to protect us, ugh, and protect them too from a Gyarados Invasion. If we kept this a lake or turn it back right now they would swarm in from the North Banks and would multiply by the second! We all know what happened when we told them the truth, that this was the only solution we had left…They didn’t want to vacate the lake, remember? And it was our lake too!”
Cledicea fell silent and looked away from her sister.
“I’m going to see if Misibeth is all right,” Aristel said sharply. “And don’t go off into their territory to look at that mersoldier.”
“But I didn’t say I was go—”
Aristel, however, had already gotten out of the submerged cave before Cledicea could finish her sentence, leaving her alone.
But she has indeed been going to the Clearfin’s part of the marsh to look at the mersoldier, under a Ditto charm that made her appear as a Clearfin mermaid, even if only for a short time. All the rest of the mermaids were simply allured to him, so was she not allowed to feel the same? Had she no right to be in love with the fantastic mersoldier? He was everything she was not, which made her want the mersoldier even more… She realized the awful answers when she would return to their cave, the charm wearing off and she becoming a Selkie—a Mudscale again. Who would love a horror such as her? And just now her sisters made it perfectly clear… It was hopeless to love the mersoldier…
There’s a lot of Clearfin mermaid he can choose from, she thought presently, and unable to withhold tearless sobs she decided to leave the cave too.
Where would she go? It wasn’t like she had friends: the only merfolk she knew were her sisters, and even then they didn’t get along very well.
There was, however, one place in the marsh that would cheer her up—if she was still able to feel happiness, that is.
She swam upwards after crossing a Clamperl bed, surfacing onto shallow water. This part of the marsh was known only to her, and since the mangroves didn’t grow as high and as clustered she was able to see the whole sky. Night had fallen, and her hair shone under the moon’s faint light. She got out of the water and sat herself on a rock which pointed upwards from the marsh. She was still able to breathe because she and her sisters had once bewitched themselves to be able to breathe in air when necessary. She began to sing, mournfully, while she waded one hand in the water, near where her collection, or ‘garden’ would be a better description, of Lotad which were all already asleep. Her song was cold and shrill, and would remind one of something unattainable… She sang with unknown words, although it was clear in every syllable that it was a song of accepted grief. She started attracting some Seel to the rock, but soon she found out something else had answered to her song…
Not far from where she was singing, something blue rose from the marsh water. It was the mersoldier.
Shocked to see him in the place she thought was secret—not even her sisters knew she frequented this spot—she immediately stopped singing and dove into the water, desperate to swim away before the mersoldier reached her Lotad garden. But when she did, she found the mersoldier already face to face with her. In surprise, she surfaced as he did the same.
“That was an enchanting melody,” the mersoldier professed. “I can feel something gloomy over the tune, but it’s deeply moving.”
Cledicea said nothing, and turned her eyes to her Lotad. She was still in shock that the mersoldier arrived.
“Excuse my trespassing,” the merman said, with his coral trident in hand. “I was just swimming by and I heard your song. It really was beautiful.”
The mersoldier bowed his head, and then turned to swim away, but Cledicea stopped him. “Wait!” she let out.
Her visitor thankfully turned back, looking at her oddly. “What is it?”
“Oh, it’s nothing…” Cledicea said, and fell silent again as she looked at her Lotad.
“You have wonderful Lotad too,” the merman responded, with a smile.
“My name is Cledi—I mean, call me—“she felt embarrassed with herself, and recaptured a breath to regain herself. “I’m Cleo.”
“Hello, Cleo,” the merman spoke. “I am Isanke. Your song really was great. I must get going now, but perhaps I can return tomorrow morning if you will let me?”
“Oh…” Cledicea didn’t know what to think, or what to say. Did he know he was a Mudscale, a Selkie? Of course he would have known, the mermaids would not let their mersoldier near the sisters. Not knowing what else to do, Cledicea resolved to utter,
“Yes, of course.”
She stayed by the green caps of the Lotad thunderstruck, and snapped back when Isanke was a mere flash of cobalt disappearing into the black waters. She retreated to their cave soon after, and met with her sisters there.
When she swam into the cave, she saw that Misibeth and Aristel were already there. She could not wait to tell them how really different Isanke was, and how he told her that he loved her song. She didn’t even care she would reveal the location of her Lotad garden; the feeling was just too otherworldy she couldn’t believe it happened just a moment ago. Yet it did, and here she was, for the first time in her miserable life, telling good news to her sisters.
Misibeth and Aristel were silent throughout Cledicea’s story; their faces unreadable as the marsh water gets at night. And when Cledicea had finished, they were silent still, and looked at one another sinisterly.
The silence was broken when Aristel got some sand from the marsh bottom, and then uttered an incantus. The sand formed into a crystal phial filled with a bubbly mauve-tinged liquid. Misibeth took this from Aristel’s hands and shoved it to Cledicea’s.
“You will know, dear Cleo,” began Misibeth; her seaweed hair going off in all directions as she told the youngest of the Selkies this. “If he loves you back or not with this; if his intentions are true and if he is speaking the truth.”
“Just give him that elixir to drink,” added in Aristel. “If he does love you, you’ll have him at your hands forever, if you’re willing to keep him.”
Cledicea would be offended that her sisters do not fully believe in her words; but she returned to reality and began to doubt to.
“Keep him?” she asked, confused.
“I said ‘if you’re willing to keep loving him’,” Aristel defended.
She decided to ask no further questions; she would decide what to do with the phial in the morning. When Cledicea was fast asleep, however, her two sisters began to talk the matter over.
“It feels awful to deceive our own sister,” Aristel confessed in whispers.
“It would be worse to have that outlander fool her,” said Misibeth wisely. “She could keep her as a Lotad when that elixir transform that mersoldier into one.”
“Don’t you think of it a bit wicked, my sister?”
“I think we’ve had enough examples of wickedness to distinguish it, Aristel.”
A cold current swept through the cave as the two older sisters decided to sleep too. It was in the morning that Cledicea would decide the fate of the mersoldier, and as this tale is now drawing its end, one can only wonder if another Lotad had been added to the young Selkie’s garden…