Winky let out a groan as she recovered some sense of being alive. Her head was throbbing, her body ached, and whatever she was laying on was cold and damp. Trying to sit up, Winky’s eyes popped open as she realized she didn’t have much use of her arms. Looking around she noticed that the chains around her wrist led to the stone wall. She didn’t see a way in or out, until she studied the ceiling. There was a single small trap door. Studying the chains around her wrist, she realized they were made of a special metal, specifically used on mages so they could not use their magic to escape.
“Why?” Winky thought. “How did this happen?” She closed her eyes to try to remember. Some partial memories came back. She had gotten dressed for the bonding ceremony. The Hahren was leading her out the backdoor to his garden where Tahlmus stood. She could remember hearing the screams, Tahlmus holding her close. Then the humans, Tevinters, they had stopped several feet from them holding out their weapons. Tahlmus whispered something in her ear, then it went black.
“It was Tahlmus,” she whispered, tears stinging her eyes. “He’s the reason I’m here. I thought he loved me,” she sobbed, the tears flowing freely. She cried until her eyes became dry and could no longer shed tears. Then her grief turned to anger, anger at Tahlmus for stringing her along; anger at herself for being so gullible. She even felt the anger she had harbored towards the Crouch’s for turning her out. The anger built up until she screamed.
Shortly after that a poorly dressed elf was ushered down a ladder that came through the trap door. Winky wasn’t sure if the elf was male or female, the clothes were shabby, and the elf looked to be nothing but pale skin and bones. Its ears were bigger than its head, and it had bug eyes, that just seemed to pop out of its head. It walked with a limp as it approached Winky. She was terrified, but there was nothing she could do.
“Don’t be afraid,” it said in a high squeaky voice. “Dobey will not hurt Winky. Dobey is just here to feed Winky,” it finished holding out the piece of bread it was carrying. Winky carefully took the first bite, before devouring the rest of it. She hadn’t realized just how hungry she had been. Once the bread was gone Dobey left, going back up through the trap door. The anger eventually left her exhausted and she fell asleep.
Dobey was back the next morning with more bread, which Dobey fed her, then left again. The elf came to give Winky a piece of bread at every meal for three days. During the long hours between meals, Winky’s hatred for Tahlmus grew.
On the fourth day, it was not Dobey who came down, but three men in armor. Winky recognized the insignia on the armor. The three men belonged to the Lord of Dark Magic. The one Winky had tried to keep from her master’s son. It was the reason they had let her go. She had supposedly interfered. Their armor she noticed was made of the same material as the chains. If she was touching any part of their armor, her magic would be useless. Winky held out a little hope because her dress had long sleeves; unfortunately the three men did not want to take chances. They ripped the sleeves off of her dress and made sure her arms maintained contact with their armor as they unchained her from the wall and put special cuffs on her wrists.
The three men then drug her up the ladder, and down to a large room with an exquisite chair. Upon the chair sat the one known as the Dark Lord. Winky did her best to walk with confidence. She did not want to show him fear. He smiled wickedly at her, as one of the armored men forced her to her knees in front of him. The Dark Lord launched into a long monologue about how Winky’s magic greatly hindered his armies, a dire offence. He was going to have mercy however because as a subservient elf, Winky’s duties were to her Masters, whether they be right or wrong.
Winky missed most of the monologue, she had been desperately thinking of a way to escape. The only part Winky rally heard was the end of the Dark Lord’s speech. “As your punishment you will serve me.” His laughter was cold, and sent chills down Winky’s spine. With a snap of his fingers the chain between the cuffs disappeared, and the cuffs shrunk in size to resemble bracelets. “Until you prove your loyalty,” the Dark Lord stated, “you will not be able to use your magic.” He snapped his fingers again, and the elf Dobey appeared. The elf motioned for Winky to follow, and so she did. She had no choice. Anger and depression fought for her attention as all that crossed her mind was how she wouldn’t be in this place, if it weren’t for Tahlmus.
Tahlmus groaned as he woke up. His head was throbbing. Slowly bringing his hand to the back of his head, he felt a knot, which had not been there before. “I don’t understand. I gave them what they wanted. That should have been enough,” he thought as he remembered what had happened. After the humans had rounded the corner, stopping only to aim their weapons at Winky and himself; Tahlmus had done what he had needed to do. The humans were there for Winky. He had used a small dagger hidden in his robes to knock her out, then told the humans they could have her, as he set her and the dagger on the ground.
Four of the humans had come forward. The first two took Tahlmus by the arms, their metal bracelets touching his skin. He had realized right away that his powers were no longer reachable. This had not been a part of the vision, and try hard as he could to stay calm, he couldn’t help but try to free himself from their grasp as one of the other men threw Winky over his shoulder and walked off. “Don’t hurt her, please,” Tahlmus had shouted as he struggled to get free, before his own world went black.
Tahlmus sighed, as he looked around. Trees were all around. He was in a forest, that much was clear, but was it the forest near the village, or another one. Closing his eyes Tahlmus could feel his power, so he used it to get an idea of a location. He tried focusing on the village, but couldn’t get a feel of it, which meant that the village didn’t exist anymore, or he was too far away for his magic to find it. He then focused on Winky. Her, he was able to locate. He could see her in a dungeon, eating a piece of bread, being held by a shabby looking elf.
Pain filled Tahlmus’ heart. “I will save you Winky. I just don’t know how yet,” he whispered before he cast a spell to find his way to her. A little wisp appeared and went off down a path Tahlmus had not noticed before. As he followed the wisp, Tahlmus gave thought to the odd bracelets the humans had been wearing. Touching them had made using his magic impossible. “I’ve got to find a way to use my magic even if those things are touching me… but how?” he said to the trees.
“The mervamps will know how to help,” a raspy voice sounded from the trees. Tahlmus looked around trying to find the voice. There was some movement in the trees. Tahlmus drew a dagger from inside his robes. The leaves rustled again, before a moose walked through the underbrush. Tahlmus was just releasing the breath he’d been holding when the raspy voice sounded again. “Put the dagger down boy, I’m not going to hurt you.” Tahlmus was so startled he about dropped the dagger. The voice, he realized sounded like it was coming from the moose. The moose had also been staring at him when the words were spoken.
“But… you’re… a moose…” Tahlmus finally stated out loud.
“Har, har, har,” the voice laughed. “I’m no moose, I’m a pirate,” the voice stated. As the voice spoke, Tahlmus saw a figure appear on the back of the moose. “Well,” the voice stated as the color drained from the young elf’s face, “I was a pirate. The leader of the mervamps took pity on me; allowing my ghost to wander the forest on this moose instead of being stuck in that watery grave.”
“M…mervamps… what… what are mervamps?”
The ghost pirate laughed a good hearty laugh. “Why, Sirens of course. Follow me,” the pirate said, “and I will tell you the tale of how I met the mervamps.”
Tahlmus gaped at him, as the moose walked past him in the direction, his little wisp had gone. After a few seconds, Tahlmus shook his head, and followed the moose riding ghost. As he followed along, he listened to the ghost’s story. It was a long story, and Tahlmus was sure some parts were exaggerated, but it was informative. The ghost couldn’t remember his real name. The name he had now, which was Davey, had been given to him by the mervamps. He found out that these Sirens lived in the waters that separated this land from the lands of Tevinter. When his ship got caught in a storm, it capsized, sending him and his crew to the bottom of those waters. To his luck a young mermaid, by the name of Fleur, had tried to rescue him. He may have been a pirate, but he had respected the Siren’s territory. When she had failed, Fleur had taken his body to the leader, Celestial. The leader had taken pity on him. For a small favor, she would let his soul leave the watery grave, and be land bound. He had agreed.
At this point, the ghost named Davey on his moose, had stopped by the water, as had Tahlmus’ wisp. “Wait here ‘til nightfall, they will find you,” Davey said. Tahlmus just stared at the ghost. “Oh,” he continued, “and remember, that cabbages don’t weigh as much as ducks, that’s why rocks will never float.” Tahlmus was bewildered as Davey and his moose disappeared.
“If they are Sirens,” he wondered, “why must I wait until evening? Aren’t they more active during the day?”
Tahlmus closed his eyes trying to focus on Winky. She was in the cell by herself, still chained. Concentrating more magic into the spell, he could see the details of the chain. It was the same kind of material as the bracelets the humans had worn. He opened his eyes kicking the sand. She couldn’t use her magic. Again the vision seemed to have left some details out. The vision had shown the best outcome was for him to hand Winky over. The elves would survive and the evil leader of the Tevinter Imperium would be defeated. Tahlmus cried out in frustration, “How am I to save Winky, and defeat the Tevinter leader if they have special items to restrict magic,” he yelled at the water, kicking some sand in the water as he did so. He sat down on the sand, and buried his head in his knees. It was going to be evening soon, and the warm gentle breeze had turned cold. He’d have to pull himself together to get a fire started, and maybe find some food. Then he could try to puzzle through his next move.
As he took a deep breath to calm himself, he heard murmured conversation and some giggling. Lifting his head, he noticed the sun had almost set. Looking around he couldn’t find the voices he’d heard. “Maybe I’m just hearing things,’ he thought as she stood and turned to the forest. Closing his eyes, he used his magic to bring him enough old, dead wood to start and keep a fire going through the night. As he did so, he heard more giggling, closer this time. Looking towards the water, he saw two women in the shallows. He shook his head, thinking he was imagining it; closed his eyes and opened them again. The two women were still there, though moving closer. They perched themselves on a nearby rock, the last of the sun’s rays glinting off the scales, of the mermaid like tail each of them had. They were pointing and smiling at him.
Night soon fell, and Tahlmus could no longer see past the glow of his campfire. He heard them first; unsure of what it was, then he saw them come into the light of his campfire. The two mermaids that had been watching him from the rock; except now they stood on two legs. Any clothing, if you could call it that, sparkled like their scales. Around their shoulders they each wore a black cape. Tahlmus tried to speak as they approached, but he couldn’t find any words. They sat down across from him, smiles on both their faces.
The one started to speak, “cabbages don’t weigh as much as ducks,” she then paused looking at Tahlmus.
“Uh… that’s… uh…” It was part of the odd saying the ghost Davey had said to him before leaving. “That’s why rocks will never float,” Tahlmus finished as the words came rushing back to him.
“This is the one, Fleur.” The one named Fleur nodded her head, smiling wider to reveal fangs.
“Davey never lets us down,” Fleur said. “Sing your song Coral; he was looking more longingly at you.”
Tahlmus’ eyes grew wide with panic, looking between both women. What had he gotten himself in to. He thought the ghost had said the mermaids would help. He tried to summon his magic, but the one named Coral had already started to sing. Tahlmus tried not to listen, but the voice was beautiful, melodious. Images of Winky and the beautiful mermaid mixed in his thoughts. An overwhelming need to follow the voice took control of him. So he followed Coral, reaching for her as he did so. She gently took his hand, and while still singing, led him into the water.
To continue reading check out Tahlmus, Winky, and the Vampire Mermaids: Pt. 3