Famished, she had been drawn to the shore of the loch by blood, flowing into the water; a promise of feast and satisfaction. She licked her lips with hunger. It tasted so good already. She could feel the life in the blood and from what she could taste, there were a hundred men near the loch. A hundred men; her stomach growled with impatience as she formulated the thought.
But in spite of its alluring nature, the blood tasted something else: fear, despair and death. It intrigued her. What could have those men lived to be this afraid? What happened to them?
She swam to the shore, curious and drawn by her senses. She wanted to eat and this blood held a promise of knowledge and food. She could already feel the tender flesh on her tongue and her teeth ripping skin from a man. She could already taste the metallic flavor of blood. She wondered if the men's heart would be enough to give her groans of pleasure.
The mere thought of textures and tastes, blood and flesh, food to feast on and men to devour sent shivers down her spine. It had been months since she last lured a man in the loch. Months since she last had ripped off flesh and heart from a human. She wanted to feel it again; the despair, the pain and the terror her beautiful sharp white teeth on a human's skin felt; the pain he suffered as she ate him alive, that delightful sound it made when she took his heart in her hands, breaking what kept it in his chest; his screams of agony as she opened his bones; the sheer terror he felt as he realized he would not survive the experience.
The memories were dazzling. She wondered which part she would eat first. The throat perhaps? Or maybe the lungs... The legs! Humans walked! Their legs must be tender and filled with blood. She licked her lips thinking of the flavors flesh had. She will begin by the legs. Then, she will eat the heart.
The heart was juicy. The blood, tasty. It was eating a plump fruit in Summer; it was better than flesh or every gift from Nature. It was enough to tear her groans of pleasure.
She stopped swimming and hid behind a rock when she reached the shore. Her green fishtail glittered under the sunlight, contrasting with her red hair. She peeked out of her shelter and to her great disappointment, saw only one man, laying on his stomach by the shore, washing his hand, covered with blood. So much for a feast! A man, for her starvation, was not enough.
From his mail coat and the axes carelessly placed beside him, she deduced he was a warrior. And a foreign one considering the strange blue marks on his neck and the way his helmet and weapons were crafted.
Good. So he was uninformed of the dangers of the lochs. So he did not know about its inhabitants; mermaids hungry for flesh, blood, luring men into the waters to eat them alive. And he did not know about the legends surrounding the place and the ancient weapons hidden under the surface.
This man was ignorant. It only served her plan better. He was ignorant so it will only be easier to eat him and feast on his heart.
And what a feast! As if his flesh was not enough, he was also covered with blood she believed belonged to people he had slain in battle and murdered. She licked his lips and inhaled the delicious scent of death. So that was what drawn her to the shore; the blood of the slain, fear and battle, slaughter and carnage.
She gave a cruel grin. Delicious.
She peeked once more and gave a groan of disappointment as she noticed his legs, tied together, so skinny, with no flesh to feast on. So he was a cripple. What a shame for such a pretty man. And then, she saw his arms, so mucular and massive, able, she was convinced of it, to break a tree in half. She licked her lips once more. The flesh on his arms compensated for his legs. She will eat it first.
She was about to dive in the water and play her usual trick to lure men to her and eat them when a ringing sound called from the abyss. A sound she had not heard for centuries. Something called her from the bottom of the lake, something ancient and powerful. She gave a sigh of deceit and annoyance.
The sword of a fallen called, begging her to give it to that human who had just killed and slaughtered an entire village. It called, singing from the darkness of the abyss; it called, the bright light of destiny and glory shining like the brightest of suns.
She groaned. So much for her meal. Her stomach growled in protest. She was hungry and yet the sword called.
A sacrifice must be made. Duty or hunger. Her choice.
The sword still called, ringing in her ears, drawn to her hands and her decision. Her stomach still growled with hunger. She closed her eyes and clenched her teeth to shut a howl of agony.
She opened her eyes, her decision taken. "If I do not deem him worthy, I will eat him." she said for herself.
Then, she dove under the surface and swam to him. Once at a reasonable distance away from this foreign cripple, she raised her head out of the water and looked at him.
The sword still called in the loch's abyss; her hunger still roared, begged her to kill and eat that easy prey who was washing his hands in the water. She had never been so torn. Her brain was divided and her body pressed her, drew her to duty and hunger. And she could not satisfy both.
His face was still covered with blood. She licked her lips. How tender his cheek must be; so juicy! And his lips... So full! She moaned thinking of his blood dripping from her mouth filled with his flesh.
Just as she formulated the thought, the sword rang louder and she instantly took her head in her hands out of pain. That ring was like a hammer blow straight into her head. It was a wonder her brain did not melt. It was so painful to be enchained and to feel those chains famish her; twist her mind and her willpower. She was a slave; prisoner of her own nature. She was a mermaid of the loch; it was her nature to comply to the ancient weapons in the abyss.
She shed a tear of sheer spite and clenched her teeth. Her hatred for this human started to boil in her veins. She was hungry but couldn't eat him! Why, oh why, must he tear her away from herself?
A flash of ice-blue eyes drew her back to reality. He was looking at her, confused and puzzled about her presence in the water. Her eyes locked on his and for a moment, a second of eternity, silence fell and there was nothing more but his eyes and the fascination this man had over her.
Eternity ceased as hunger came back; a wave impossible to tame. She clenched her teeth again and bit her lips not to dig her sharp teeth into his flesh she imagined tender. Silence vanished with the sound the sword made deep into the dark water. Eternity was gone, leaving only hunger and pain behind; a reminder of time.
He tilted his head and stared longily at her and her firey hair. He gave a gasp of awe but then cruelly smiled. She could tell he was already planning to kill her; perhaps he would rape her also. But the fool ignored she was no human. Her tail was strong, her scales, sharp and her teeth ready to bite. He will not kill her. She will kill him first and feast on his flesh.
Just as she formulated the thought, the sword rang, piercing her brain like a thousand arrows. She flinched and closed her eyes with the pain. When she opened her eyes again, he looked at her with fascination. A look on her reflection on the water told her that her face showed nothing but wrath. So this was what he liked then; wrath, death, suffering and destruction. How could such a man be worthy of the ancient artifact?
"Come." he said, offering his hand to her, as if he tamed some wild animal.
She started. He spoke her tongue. That foreign warrior spoke her tongue! He had been in this land for longer than she thought. Perhaps for years, raiding, killing, slaughtering men, women and children, like his kind did.
"You are not from here. You are a foreigner!" she seethed.
Her face was distorted with hatred. A foreigner! Wielder of a sword which belonged to her people and culture? A foreigner, being granted something true Scotsmen had been deprived for generations? She enraged. After everything those Northmen deprived them of, lives, gold, identity, now they deprived the Scots and Picts of glory! What else will they sacrifice to their vile ways?
No, this Northman would be better in her stomach than wielding a sword belonging to a fallen. He was a foreigner. There was no way he deserved the sword. None.
And yet, the sword called; begged to be wielded by this man who probably slaughtered the descendants of its previous wielder.
"A foreigner!" she seethed again, her eyes burning with hatred and wrath.
"That I am." he said, relaxing against a stone, an ancient one, which held the spirit of a warrior within.
"And ignorant foreigner! Get off that stone! You are offending the spirits and the people of this land!" she spat.
"I have no lessons to be given by a girl barely out of childhood!" he replied. "Come out of the water and stop me, woman!" he spat. "But I can assure you, you will be dead before you reach the shore."
"Unless I kill you first. It has been such a while," she cruelly smiled. "I last ate."
She frowned and closed her eyes, teeth clenched. The sword was ringing louder than ever. She seethed a curse and opened her eyes again. The foreigner was smiling and brushed his tongue against his teeth.
"So they eat people in this land? Is that why they were so weak and soft? Are people in this land warriors? I doubt it. They fought like children." he scoffed as his head rested on the stone.
She gave a scream of rage and moved closer to the shore, crawling, gripping stones and mud. "Get off you monster! You ignorant savages are too stupid to understand us! Get off that stone!"
"Why?" he asked. "Will it kill me? Huh?" he snarked.
"No." she said, her voice, softer. "But the warrior within could have..." her eyes brightened suddenly. "Perhaps..." she exclaimed. "No. That would have been too coincidental."
"What are you talking about, woman?" he asked with annoyance.
"Things you do not understand. You are a foreigner. You are here to rape, murder and steal. You cannot understand." she said, suddenly colder.
He scoffed and relaxed on the stone. "What is so special about this stone anyway? It is just a stone. There is no markings here. Nothing to tell."
"Or a warrior to kill you." she said. "A great warrior, fallen who inhabits now the stone. This stone is the guardian of the loch."
"He is dead. What harm could he do to me?" he shrugged.
"Do you not fear magic?"
"Yours, no. Mine neither. I respect this. My gods are dark and greedy; bloodthirsty and cruel. My gods are mighty and their magic mightier. I do not fear them. I admire them." he said, looking straight into her eyes.
She gave a cruel smile. "So you are unaware of what wanders in the lochs. So you do not know the dangers of the water." she chuckled. "Good." she seethed. "You will make this so much easier."
"What..." he began.
Her fingers dug deep into the ground. She gave a cold smile, bloodthirsty, showing her teeth, telling this human that she will eat him alive and feast on his screams of pain as she will rip his flesh off his bones. She crawled to him, faster than before; so fast her nails hurt and her fingers bled. Her tail made a horrible screeching sound as she crawled ashore. She seethed her anger and hunger. She screeched with power and magic; with horror. Her red hair was a fire ready to consume him and her eyes irradiated thunder and terror. She was a violent storm at sea; a wild something to be feared. In a second, she was in front of him, ready to devour to his bones.
The sword was still calling but she did not care. She was hungry and she did not deem him worthy. He was her meal. She will start with the arms.
His eyes opened wide as he realized what she was. He gasped with fright but regained his cold and calculated attitude. As she was about to dig her teeth in his flesh and rip it, he took his axe and tried to strike her head. She dodged the blow but aimed for his neck. She gripped it tight, scratching him to blood. He dropped his weapon realizing it would not help him in close combat and aimed for her neck. He pressed her jugular and she suffocated. She seethed and screeched. It was a sound he had never heard before. It was the sound of a monster.
She let go of his neck then pressed her thumbs on those gorgeous eyes of his, scratching every part of his face. He bit her thumbs and she gave a scream of rage and pain. She tried to resist but there was no use. His arms were strong and the blood he was covered with convinced her that he was a man of might and great strength. He was brutal, but she was fierce. In a last attempt to get out of his grasp, she dug her bleeding nails into his skin, drew his wrists to her mouth and bit them as strong as she could.
He roared his pain and crawled away from her, looking at his bleeding arm. He gave an angered roar and punched her in the jaw to which she replied by a heavy blow from her tail. Her sharp scales gashing part of his other arms.
She moaned. The blood was calling. His blood on her lips gave her shivers of pleasure. She inhaled and quivered with sheer delight and gave a monstrous sigh; raw and husky, which reminded him of a serpent; of Jormungand. She licked her lips and quivered.
"You will be such a perfect meal." she seethed as she crawled to him, a menacing smile on her face.
His weapons were gone. His arms bled. His upper body, like his legs was nothing but pain and suffering. He hesitated to laugh, but instead shot her a glare full of hatred. That woman was a monster. A monster to end another! The Norns had the sense of humor.
He watched, powerless as she crawled, faster, seething and grunting to end and eat him. So he will end. So will Ivar the Boneless die.
Her teeth were an inch to his face. He could smell her foul breath; the smell of death and carnage. She was seething her hunger, ready to bite. Ready to eat.
But then, suddenly, she gave a long high pitched scream which resonated with the mountains and the calm, yet dangerous water of the loch. She closed her eyes, brows furrowed, her face distorted with sheer agony.
"It calls again! It calls again!" she screeched.
She moved back, squirmed on the ground, screaming, begging for the sound of the sword to end. She pressed her hands on her ears but it was no use; they started bleeding and the ringing sound never left. She was bound to hear it; bound to the loch and its intentions. The high pitched sound rang so loud in her head she felt like her brain will melt. She was on the verge of destruction.
"It calls again! It calls again!" she yelled.
Then, slowly, as she still covered her ears with her hands, the sound stopped, vanished into thin air. She panted, weeping and howling her pain away as she noted the blood coming out of her ears. The pain in her head stopped but still, her hunger was still there. She was starving. Starving with such an intensity the pain itself was equal to the one the sword had made in her brain.
She howled again, weeping. Her strength was gone, now, she was vulnerable. Vulnerable and famished. In such a state, she was a dead mermaid.
"You..." he panted, looking at her with curiosity. "You are a mermaid, aren't you?"
She gave a long whine of pain.
"There? In the lake?" he asked in disbelief, waving at the water.
"Yes." she breathed. "I belong to the lake."
"Why did you try to eat me?" he asked.
"Because I am starving. The blood on your face drew me here; it called me. Your blood tastes good." she said with her seething and husky voice.
"So... was it what you were talking about before? It calls again?" he asked, his confidence coming back.
She gave him a look full of wrath. "No." she seethed.
"Why are you so angry?" he brutally asked out of annoyance.
"Because I am starving! Because I am in pain!" she said. "But I don't presume you know how it feels! Your flesh and blood could have relieved me from that pain!"
"You think I am not angry? Huh? You think I do not suffer? I am a cripple!" he seethed, his nostrils quivering. "I was born with the pain! Therefore I was born with anger! Do not pretend you are half as angry as me! Do not pretend," he said. "You know the real pain!"
"You are a monster." she seethed. "Like your kind! You are a monster taking everything we have left from those Saxons! You do not know the pain of starving! I bet you never did!"
"I never did, alright." he admitted. "I was well fed by my mother, whether it was from her breast or the feast she gave. I am a son of Ragnar, a prince! But I was never admired for that. I am a cripple; for most of the world, I am weak. That will be their fatal mistake." he said as a menacing grin came to light his face.
He was beautiful when he smiled. His eyes shone like diamonds but they were cold; his smile looked like the smile of a god, but it was cruel. His beauty was alluring but at the same time otherwordly. This man could draw every women to him like the ground drew rain to it. But his beauty hid something darker; a beast, untamed, within the soul of this human. That something, she felt it, could burn the loch and spread over the world, setting it ablaze. That something slept, but a drop of blood; a bit of anger could awake it.
That man was dangerous, but so deliciously alluring. It reminded her of those tales about other mermaids who also ate sailors, like her kind. Would he eat her? Or would she bite first, risking her own existence for some meat?
"You cannot walk, so what?!" she scoffed. "I cannot walk either and I was stronger than you. I could have eaten you. Your blood..." she shivered with delight. "Your arms seem so tender. I wonder what it will feel like in my mouth. I wonder if you will be easy to chew..."
"Try to eat me, and I kill you." he softly said.
"Not if I rip off your lungs first." she fiercely said. "Not if I take your heart in my hands and watch it pulse as it tries to keep you alive." she shook with a delighted anticipation. "Your blood will drip from my hands, warm; so warm. Then, I will drink it and feast on your miserable life."
He laughed. "You can try. I am a good warrior; my axe will prove it to you soon enough."
"Oh, really?" she whispered.
She leaned to his lips and grazed them with hers; quivering, begging for a taste of the blood that covered his skin. Her heart stopped beating for a moment and she lowered her sight to those alluring lips of his, mesmerized by the sudden attraction blood and beauty was.
He gasped as he saw her eyes and sharp teeth from up close. He gasped at her beauty and savagery. He gasped, mesmerized by this creature, kissed by fire, who belonged to the water. A shiver ran down his spine but he could not tell if it was from fear or lust. That creature tried to eat him once. In her own way, she was far more dangerous than the beast who slept within his soul.
She growled and seethed with hunger; growl turned moan, arousing and feral. She licked his lips, groaning her starvation for his flesh. She licked but he did not pull back. She licked his lips, then, his neck.
He gave a moan. He had never met such creature; as bloodthirsty as him, as angry as him and more dangerous than him. He had never met such violent, such cruel woman. But it was no surprise; she was a mermaid, a monster; born from the deepest abyss of that lake. He let her lick him, mesmerized by the wild beauty of this monster; closed his eyes with the delight it was to feel her warm breath on his flesh. Had she been human, he would have taken her on the spot, striked her to come. But she wasn't; and it was better that way.
She stopped licking him and shivered with delight. "The blood on your face..." she moaned. "So delicious. Tell me, how did you kill them?"
"Why do you care? Don't you hate us for killing them?" he whispered, his lips grazing her ear.
"I hate you for slaughtering my preys without even sacrificing a bit of them into the water. That is all." she said. "Now tell me..."
He grinned and drew her to him. "First, we came with the fog." he growled in her neck.
She gasped and moaned.
"We started killing the men. It was not easy." he continued. "We slaughtered those Christians. We opened their chests and watched as their guts came out. We watched as they died. Then, we struck other men with our axes. The grass was red with blood, the soils were fed with it. Then, we took their woman. The oldest, we killed, the others, we took them as slaves after we had our way with them. Is that what you wanted to hear?"
"Did it feel good?" she asked. "Tell me, did it feel good to feel their blood spattered all over your skin? Was it warm? What sound did their bones make when you broke them?"
"Their blood was warm, smoking in the cold. It was warm, so warm. Their screams were desperate, horrified; screams of terror. Their tears mixed with the blood. Their blood was delicious. You would have loved it." he growled in her ear.
She gasped and moaned with utter pleasure, hearing him describe all she longed for since her last meal. She licked his neck again, then his lips, biting his flesh to feel his own blood on her skin. She heard him give a grunt of surprise and he pulled back.
"So you eat humans?" he asked.
"Yes." she said.
"Our tales do not speak of man-eating mermaids." he noted. "Floki would have told me."
"That is because your kind does not belong here." she fiercely said. "Why are your kind here?"
"To conquer of course! What else to do?! We raid, we conquer and we rule; that is how we live."
"To make our people's life better; to farm and increase our wealth. My father... he had this dream of farming in Wessex. But he was killed. He tried to make an alliance and the Christians killed him, threw him to serpents with no weapons; depriving him of safe passage to Valhalla! They cannot be trusted. They betrayed us so we raid for revenge now." he angrily said. "And we had our revenge. My father's murderer, Aelle; we killed him a year ago. We blood-eagled him and now our father is avenged. But another king was responsible for our father's demise, so we wage war against him. We wage war against the world and have no rest until all the Christians are dead or enslaved." he said, shaking with hatred, a jubilating smile on his face.
"How can a cripple avenge a father on a battlefield?" she scoffed.
"I am a cripple. It's true. But I am angry, and my arms are strong. And I have my wits. I am a clever man, mermaid. A very clever man. I could defeat an army alone." he said with pride. "I crawl, but I am strong."
"Had you been born a merman, perhaps you would not feel that way. But you are human and therefore, crawling is seen as weak." she turned to him. "I understand you. You crawl but your legs aren't your strength. Your legs are not what makes you human; you found a way to exist in that world."
"And yet, they still think I am some kind of monster." he scoffed. "They see me as a monster because of my darkness. They see me as a monster for what I did."
"The world." he answered. "The world sees me as something I am not. I am not what they think of me. I am not only wrath and ire. My heart stays hidden. I do feel love; but I feel it my peculiar way." he said, suddenly softer.
"Who do you love?"
"My mother. For her, I would set the world ablaze. I love my brothers also. Sigurd, I don't know, but Ubbe, I do love him. But most importantly, I love my mother; she saved me. She was the only woman who ever loved me. I wish she was with me. But I am a man now, and the days she fed me are gone." he said, a tender smile spreading across his face. "My mother was gifted. She could see the future. My mother was beautiful, powerful and full of might. My mother was the daughter of a goddess. My mother became my own goddess."
"As the loch became to me." she said.
He gave a genuine smile of happiness when he recalled Aslaug's eyes and her soft hair. He missed her. Between the pain in his legs and the suffering he felt because of her absence, the latter was perhaps the worst. He suffered and he could not do anything to get rid of that pain he could not exteriorize. The pain was still here, a gaping wound unable to heal up. It was a gap in his heart; a hole he will never fill.
"What is your name, you, who understands and desires to eat me?" he asked.
"I am beginning to like you, human." she said. "My name is Morven."
"Mine is Ivar. Ivar the Boneless." he added with pride at this name his father gave him.
"You spoke of other tales about my kind." she said. "I am curious of what they say."
"What I know, it is Floki, one of my father's friends who taught me. It is said our mermaids are hideous creatures. It is said their voices are able to kill a man. It is said they rip off souls to bring them in Ran's hall." Ivar said with a cold smile, enjoying the violence and darkness of those tales he grew up with. Floki spoke of the true gods, not the ones the soft Sigurd spoke of.
"Ran?" Morven asked, puzzled.
"One of our goddesses; the goddess of the sea, raging and deadly."
"I like this goddess. I like those tales." Morven said, cruelly grinning. "But I do believe my kind is better than those mermaids. We are mightier and much more ancient. We even are better than those women who can remove their tails. Their mission is not as sacred as ours."
She flinched. The sword still called, but the mention she just made of the artifact did nothing but bring back its presence in her mind. And she was still hungry. So hungry! Suddenly, the smell of his flesh and its tenderness aroused her stomach she heard growl in protest.
"You are hungry." Ivar noted. "But it seems like you cannot eat me." he grinned. "Maybe I could tie you to that stone and watch you starve as I eat in front of you..." he pondered, staring at her, his mouth an inch to hers. "I wonder how many hours you'd last..."
Morven shivered, then smiled. "Then I will watch you getting fatter and fatter. And when you will fall asleep, I will get rid of my ties and crawl to your so tender flesh. I will rip it off your bones and take great delight in savoring your screams. I wonder if the pain will be worse than the absence of your mother... but I wont care, for I will be satisfied; my pain, relieved." she said on the same tone as his.
"You cannot eat me." he mockingly said.
"No. I cannot. My mission calls each time I desire to feast on your flesh. But I am hopeful it can forget me." she replied.
Ivar gave an annoyed sigh. "You speak of a mission! Always your mission! I am tired of all of those mysteries. Tell me what it is, woman, or I'll strike you with my blade!"
"You are not a patient man." Morven noted.
"No. I am not. And I am almost out of some." he warned.
"Humans; legged and so eager for our secrets! You are just like him!" she hissed, showing the stone with her hand. "Impatient, arrogant and brutal! But in the end he was slain. Serves him right, he was slain by his own daughter."
"Then he was not a good warrior. Then, he was weak and soft." he spat.
"And there, I wonder why it chose you. And then, I rage that I am the one to be called." Morven seethed. "But I am not surprised. It recognized its type of wielder; a brutish, ignorant and arrogant man, slain, not how he wants, but how destiny sees fit."
"By Odin, woman! Unveil your words!" he raged.
"What is there to unveil that I did not reveal already?" said Morven.
"Everything." he seethed. "Unveil the stone, unveil the loch and unveil your words! Reveal your truth, mermaid!"
"Then, tell me, meat, what do you want to know?" Morven said, coldly grinning.
"Meat?" he scoffed. "You cannot eat me. Your head hurts every time you try!"
"Yes. And that is part of my 'secrets' as you call them."
"Speak! Or I'll rip off your tongue!" Ivar raged.
"Oh, that would be such a shame! I will no longer be able to lick that delicious blood on your lips." she said, licking hers. "And I see you are still covered with it. So tempting."
She shivered with delight and let out giggles of pleasure. Slowly, she leaned on him and licked his ears, covered with blood. She felt him shivering and heard him groaning his arousal. Humans; those bags of meat were so easy to lure.
Just as she formulated the thought, she flinched with pain. The sword. It called again. Morven sighed. She had made a promise. She intended on keeping it. Her duty was her honor and pride; and a mermaid's pride was stronger than starvation and hunger.
"My words, as you say, holds no secrets." she sighed. "I am a mermaid and for all the might I am, I have been given sacred duties over this loch and the fate of what is in them."
"Speak!" he ordered.
"What is in the loch is linked to that stone behind you." said the mermaid.
"What is it?"
"What does a warrior needs to fight?" she asked.
"You're speaking in riddles again! Woman!" he yelled.
"Answer my question!" she seethed, ire and might incarnate.
Her eyes coldly glowed; her hair was a flame on her head, her face had never been so terrifying. She was cold beauty; alluring and cruel. And it was enough to calm the storm he was.
"A warrior needs weapons to fight." he said with caution. "Or his teeth."
"What is the best weapon, according to you?" she asked.
"An axe." he answered with no hesitation.
"That is because you are not from here. Here, we tend to like swords; long swords with mighty blades, forged with dragon breath. Or so the legends says." said Morven.
"So what?" He sighed. "I told you woman! I do not enjoy riddles! Speak and unveil your words!"
She gave a menacing grin. "And here I thought you were a witted man. Clearly I was wrong."
"In the loch, there is an ancient sword. A blade which belonged to the warrior in the stone. This sword calls me; begging for a new wielder. That wielder is you. That sword chose you for a new life of glory and power. She calls for blood." she said, savoring the shock carved on his face. "That is my sacred duty. I must give you the sword."
"But although duty represents what I am as a mermaid, I demand blood and flesh too. I need to eat. If I am to give you the sword and let you live a life full of glory and power, I demand that you give me what I long for. I demand a sacrifice. Give me three of your best warriors. Tie them to the stone and I will call my mermaid sisters and eat them alive."
"Is that the price for my life? Three men?"
"You are not worth more than that. Your cripple legs do not represent much meat."
"Cripple!" he scoffed. "Here I am again! A mere cripple!"
"Yes you are! On land I am your equal! But in the water, I am a goddess and you are nothing but flesh to eat and soul to drown." she seethed. "Make your choice now! Three of your best warriors for a life full of victories and slaughter."
"What says I won't slay you with the sword?" Ivar casually said, coldly grinning.
"What says I won't eat you once you get it?" she suggested. "I told you; on land I am your equal and my strength is equalling yours. Do not pretend to escape me. I crawl faster than you."
Ivar grinned. If anything, that woman reminded him of himself; only she was a being made of an ancient magic and was, therefore, more dangerous than him. He gave a silent chuckle. Who knew there was someone worse than him? Someone as angry as him, as bloodthirsty and as cruel. But he was also born with divine blood. His mother herself was descended from Odin and Valkyries.
She was right. On land, she was his equal, but on the battlefied he was a god. Three men's life for his own and a lifetime of victory and carnage. That was a small price to pay.
"Then, you have my word, mermaid, that I shall pay the price for the blade." Ivar said. "And I shall not seek to kill you."
"Swear it by the most sacred thing to you." she commanded.
"On my mother's life and soul I swear." he said, soft, so suddenly.
"Good." said Morven. "Go fetch your men now and tie them to the stone. In the meantime, I shall dive and fetch the ancient sword. Remember, meat, do no decieve me. Stay true to your words."
She gave him a last warning look and dove into the loch, her green tail spattering Ivar with water. He watched her swim away, mesmerized by the allure of carnage she breathed. He watched her, fascinated by the strength of this monster so much like him and yet so different. He gave a cold grin and crawled away. He was used to sacrifices; but his thirst for violence, pain and blood was infinite as chaos. It overwhelmed him like a wave and there was no resisting it. She will eat some of his men; who said he couldn't attend the scene?
In the dark water of the loch, Morven swam; she swam, following that golden thread leading to the ancient sword in the abyss. The thread, calling her, glowed in the dark like the most warm of lights. She swam, thinking with delight, that soon, her ordeal will end. She shivered with pleasure as she pictured flesh and skin ripped off, bones, white and blood, red and warm. She shivered again, picturing their screams of horror; half the nutritive values a human was.
The horrible screech the sword made in her brain slowly faded as she approached the blade. It slowly turned into a gentle lullaby; a gentle song thanking her for the relief it will be to be wielded again and be covered with blood. The more she approached, the warmer that water was. The loch itself celebrated duty fulfilled and relief.
Morven closed her eyes, letting go of everything, following the thread instinctively. She no longer needed eyes to see. She knew that she was bound to the sword. She knew her path; the same way kittens knew where their mother was while blind. She followed, carried by her nature, called by the blade.
She savored the peace she was feeling at the moment. For all the pain of her hollow stomach, the sweet music in her head was a balm, soothing every wound. She had never felt so connected with what made her what she was. She had never felt duty in such a way and never hunger so intensely. She was a mermaid, with all its perks and disadvantages. She was a mermaid of the loch; she was mighty in strength and weakness. Was this what mermaids felt when they were called for the first time?
At last, her hand reached the handle of the sword. As last, her fingers grasped it. At last, she felt its suddenly warmth fill her veins. And suddenly she saw; she saw victory, battlefields, glory and wooden walls made of gold, carved with glorious deeds. She saw, past, present and future. She saw the warrior being slain, his fierce daughter throwing his body into the loch, then, running into the deep forest, her red locks bouncing on her back. She saw the warrior's spirit fill the hollow stone; saw the daughter again, a few years later, reflecting on life and ancestry. She saw Ivar also, on a chariot, dragging three of the most muscular men she had ever seen to the stone. She saw promises fulfilled and vengeance achieved.
The blade suddenly stopped glowing and she was back to reality. She gave a gentle smile; her first in over a century. She silently thanked the loch and the spirit of the sword, then, with no look to the pile of bones, ashed and rocks she just destroyed to get to the sword underneath, she swam back to the surface; to her feast and to Ivar, now, wielder of the ancient blade.
Her duty was almost fulfilled, her hunger, soon extinguished. She was close to her release. She swam faster as she formulated the thought and emerged from the water to hear Ivar's men scream.
"Ivar, what does this mean?!" one yelled, sheer terror in his eyes at the sight of Ivar's, cold and cruel.
"Release us! The gods will never forgive you! Ivar!" another roared.
"Come, come, my friends, this is for the greater good." he said.
"The gods!" one began.
"Ah, there she is." Ivar said, finishing his work, turning to Morven. "Three of my men, as we agreed."
Morven nodded and smiled, licking her lips, aroused by the men's warmth and the delicious smell of their flesh.
"Then I must fulfill my promise." she said.
The men gasped as she spoke and she could feel their heavy and aroused eyes on her naked breasts, hidden by her long red hair. Morven knew how tempting she was. She gave them a cold smile, yet enchanting, finishing the mesmerizing power she now had on them. She could almost see their erections as they saw her. She had never felt so beautiful. Nor so dangerous. Soon, their awe will cease, leaving place only for terror and horror. She grinned again.
She held him the sword out, laying on her palms, offered to his hands. She raised it to him, taking care not to reveal her nature to the sacrifices tied to the stone. A mermaid was far more terrifying hidden to the eyes.
Ivar's eyes widened as he saw the perfectly crafted blade, its strange handle, representing what seemed like a man, spreading his arms like an eagle. He could not help staring at this strangely shaped blade, so different than the one he saw at the forge, back in Kattegat. It seemed so much more ancient; something crafted before even the birth of the gods.
And, as he touched the handle, a wave of past and future took him. In a second every fight the sword witnessed came to him and every fight to come. In a second, he was given the Sight; the gift – or curse – his mother had been blessed with. It took a second, but for him, an eternity, to vanish in the sea of time and as suddenly as the wave came, he was back in the present.
He panted with exhaustion, holding the sword in his hands and looked at her for a moment. He was sweating, his sweat mixing with the blood still covering his face, dripping into the loch's dark water. So this was what his mother might have felt while seeing. So this was the curse of a Seer. The world seemed entirely new, now. Now, he was fully aware of life and death. Now, he was wiser.
"Ivar Ragnarsson," Morven declaimed, the words pouring out of her mouth without her even knowing. "Hereby, I present the sword of a fallen, which chose to as its new wielder. Do you accept and swear to wield it in battle, slaughter and carnage? To feed it blood and victory? Do you swear to cover yoursel with glory?"
"I swear." he said, nodding.
"Swear it on the loch and on your blood." Morven said.
"I swear on the loch and my blood. I shall cover myself with glory and prevail upon my enemies. I shall be famous and I shall conquer the world."
"Then, the sword is yours." Morven said. "You and I are bound to one another now. This blade is our link."
"Ivar..." One of the men said, with caution. "What..."
"Farewell, Morven." Ivar said. "And enjoy your feast."
"I will." Morven said.
"May the gods welcome you in their halls." Ivar said to his men. "Have courage. You will need it."
"Ivar!" one of the men said.
"The gods will be angry!" another said.
"Don't turn your back on us! Ivar!"
But it was too late. Their fate has been scealed with Ivar's promise to Morven. They were destined to die as meat, eaten by a being made of magic and death. Ivar crawled away to the forest, not even flinching or blinking because of their outraged screams, asking revenge for being abandonned, cursing and raging. Ivar did not care. They were dead already. There was no use to weep dead men.
Morven waited until Ivar disappeared in the forest, holding the blade in one of his hands. Then, as he disappeared from her sight and smell, she turned to the men, still yelling their anger and grinned. There. She could eat, at last... and their legs were plump and muscular, the exact opposite of Ivar's. She licked her lips with anticipation.
She gave a grin which turned into a feral scowl. She was no longer the maid of the loch. She was a mermaid. And here, she will prove her reputation and the dread her kind was. Her fingers dug into the mud, gripping rocks and dirt; her nails, sharp like blades and eyes cold with death and cruelty. She brushed her tongue on her teeth and seethed with that monstruous voice of hers as she crawled to them, slowly revealing to those warriors their fates and the dark secrets of the loch.
She crawled, faster, revealing her tail, her face, distorted with cruelty. She saw their eyes widening and felt their terror as they realized what she was and how lured they had been. She was not a maiden; but a monster. A monster more terrifying than Jormungand himself. They had been offered in sacrifice to that thing they mistook as a woman.
They started screaming but the tone was changed. No longer they were screaming their anger; this time, they screamed their horror. This time, they were screaming for their life, begging her not to do whatever she intended to.
But Morven did not care about those humans' voices; nor did she care for that bag of meat, crawling in the forest, staring at what was about to come. She only saw flesh, places to bite and skin to rip off.
And so she bit, tearing that man a dreadful scream of pain. She dug her sharp teeth deep in his flesh and savored as his blood dripped from her lips. She sucked the blood, then, ripped off the flesh from the bone while he was howling his agony, seemingly about to vomit his terror. Morven laughed. The meat made her stomach growl. The man's agony warmed her whole body and she suddenly felt stronger.
She gave a groan of sheer delight as she ate another part of his leg. She heard him scream, joined by the two other men. She licked her lips and looked at them, smiling; dreadful temptress. She saw their fear, felt it all around them. Now, they knew how deadly she was. Now, they knew they were going to end in her stomach; that nothing will be left of them.
"Do not worry," she seethed, cruelly calm and tempting, showing her red teeth. "I have not enough space in my stomach for the three of you. No. Only for one. It will take me days to finish this one, but I trust he will fill that hole inside of me. The rest of you... well, once I am satisfied with this one, I will call my mermaid sisters and they will come for you. Do not worry," she said with a delightful smile. "they will come soon enough. You won't even have time to die."
Another scream followed that declaration. She laughed and bit again, eating, ripping flesh off of bones, savoring the warm blood, the tender flesh, the texture of bones, screams of pain and terror, howls of agony, death. Savoring the thought of them, watching her eat one of them for days. She shivered with pleasure while a man, in the forest, concealed his own arousal.
Morven ate and smiled with satisfaction. Who knew that a pact between two monsters could be that fruitful? Who knew that fate could be this satisfying?
Morven smiled as blood poured over her body, mixing with the red of her hair. Her duty was fulfilled. Now, her stomach will be full. She was a mermaid of the loch; in each of its aspects.
Guyssssssss! This is probably my last fanfic. I started uni this year to study foreign languages and I do not think I will get time to write anymore (especially since I wanna tell my own original stories). It is probably the harderst fic I ever wrote because of all the angst and violence, but I believe it was worth it. Anyway, It has been fun writing it and I hope you had fun reading it. I also must thank Ceridwenofwales for the inspo! You're amazing Rê!
Thank you all for reading this! I love every one of you for this! As always, I crave for your words so send them in please ;) Again, thank you for reading.