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Love as pure as water (Sea Bishop)

EighthSpan Dec 27th, 2017 (edited) 604 Never
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  1. It was all going wrong. And even worse, it was all going wrong at the same time.
  3. One of the panels in the cockpit lit up, and a shrill tone began to drone on in warning.
  5. "As if I don't know!" Thomas shouted, wrestling with the controls.
  7. Thomas was a good pilot. He was good enough to know how to react to a mechanical failure during flight, good enough to stay calm and look for the solution. He was good enough to not even mind that the company he worked for was too cheap to hire him a copilot. They generally didn't do much, anyway.
  9. What he wasn't good enough to do was to keep his modified Douglas DC-6 chemical transport plane from losing altitude at an alarming rate. It was a just a bit difficult to control the plane when two of his engines had caught fire and exploded in a matter of seconds, for seemingly no reason at all.
  11. "Why the hell is this happening?" Thomas complained aloud.
  13. Things weren't looking good. He was still over the Carribean Sea, still hours away from reaching Florida. And there wasn't a speck of land in sight beneath him.
  15. The plane continued to fall, the alarms continued to ring. But all Thomas could do was sit there, overtaken by a sudden realization.
  17. "I'm gonna crash," he muttered. "Gonna die in the middle of the goddamn ocean." He was surprised by how calm he sounded.
  19. The vast majority of plane crashes were due to communication failures. Actual, random mechanical failures were very rare.
  21. I wonder if I'm going to be anything more than a statistic, Thomas thought. I wonder if anyone will remember me.
  23. Thomas had no significant other, no remaining family. He had some friends, yes...but it had been years since they had last talked. The only person waiting for him was the indifferent air control officer at his destination.
  25. Thomas took a deep breath and nodded to himself. He should at least try to survive this. His GPS system wasn't responding anymore, but if he was right, he was just a ways past the Dominican Republic. There were coral reefs here, and the odd chain of islands. It was a long shot, but there was still a chance he could crash next to some tiny, deserted islet, and somehow survive long enough to be rescued.
  27. Another warning siren began to blare, this one even harsher than the last. He didn't have long until he splashed down.
  29. "What a way to go," Thomas sighed, hastily putting on his life jacket. "Nothing more than a number."
  31. As he busied himself sending off an automated distress signal - which he wasn't sure even worked - he wondered if the chemicals in his cargo bay would break and spill out during the crash. There were all sorts...bleaches, dyes, oils. None of it would be very good for the ocean, especially so for the coral reef area he was trying to crash near.
  33. How tragic. By trying to save himself, was he putting an entire ecosystem at risk?
  35. Thomas shook his head. It didn't matter. Even if he wanted to martyr himself for the sake of some coral, it was too late now. The plane was going down in mere seconds. He could see the massive surface of water getting closer and closer, ready and waiting for him to smash against it like solid concrete.
  37. Thomas grit his teeth and tried his hardest to steady the plane's final moments. He wasn't going in nose first - that meant that he at least had a chance to survive this. It was midday, and the tropical waters were warm, so he wouldn't freeze. He definitely had a chance, right?
  39. I just hope there aren't any sharks.
  41. Finally, the impact came as his plane's belly met the waves. It was more violent than he expected. The entire plane jerked and rumbled. He felt a loud, metallic crunch from somewhere behind him - what was that? His wing? Did he just lose an entire wing? The DC-6 was a great model, and heavily upgraded, but there was no denying that it was an ancient design.
  43. That's not very comforting! Come on, happy thoughts, happy thoughts!
  45. The rumbling and shaking continued to rattle him, tossing him around in his chair like a toy. Finally, the plane began to slow to a stop.
  47. But he wasn't even close to being safe. One quick glance through the cockpit door behind him confirmed it - there was a significant chunk of the plane missing, a gaping hole in the left side. And the water had been rushing in for a while now. Already, a puddle was forming beneath his feet as water sept in through the crack beneath the cockpit door. He reached for the door handle, gripped it with both hands, and pulled strongly.
  49. And nothing happened. It was stuck, barely wiggling a little.
  51. "No!" he cried desperately, immediately gripping it again and pulling even stronger.
  53. After all that? After surviving a plane crash, a fucking door was going to kill him?
  55. The water continued to rise. Thomas grunted and pleaded to the door for mercy, putting one of his legs against it and pulling with all his might.
  57. The door did not relent. As the water reached his knees, the animal part of his brain took over. He screamed frantically, pounding and kicking at the door as hard as he could.
  59. This isn't fair! This isn't right!
  61. He was going to die. Worse, he was going to drown, one of the worst possible ways to go. All because of a string of random mechanical failures that he had no control over.
  63. Thomas kept kicking at the door, even as the water reached his chest. He had no other options. There was no way that he was breaking through the windshield, and the little window at the top of the cockpit door was far too small to squeeze through.
  65. If his foot was beginning to throb and ache with pain, he couldn't notice it. The adrenaline in his system blocked everything else out - in his world, there was nothing but him, and the door. The door sneered at him, mocking his efforts.
  67. He kept kicking out of spite. It could be made of brick, for all he cared. He was still going to try.
  69. Eventually, he felt that the door was beginning to buckle. He was making progress!
  71. But so was the water. It was up to his neck, now. With one final, huge breath, he kicked again, converting his panic and desperation into physical force.
  73. Even as the water finally enveloped him, he kept kicking with all the force he could muster. Even if he was to die here, he wouldn't go without a struggle!  He slammed his foot against the door again, and again, and again!
  75. And then, finally, it was forced backwards, swinging open to reveal the rest of the plane, entirely submerged. Thomas swam forward without a second thought, swimming right through the hole in the plane's side. As he began to kick upwards, he looked up and realized the true cruelty of his situation.
  77. It's too far.
  79. The plane had been sinking the entire time he had been struggling with the door. And now he was easily two dozen meters beneath the surface of the water. He had already expended the majority of his final breath on the door.
  81. His lungs felt like they were burning with pressure, screaming for relief. He was going to drown before he could breach the surface!
  83. Darkness began to envelop his vision as he kicked upwards even more frantically than before. He was so close! Mere seconds away from survival, but he knew that he was going to die on top of the finish line.
  85. It was cruelty beyond comprehension. What had he done to deserve this? What had turned his plane into a sudden deathtrap? Why did he deserve to die in such a torturous manner?
  87. His vision was engulfed entirely, and he knew it was over. The very last thing he felt was a rough, pulling force around his torso. It seemed that the sharks weren't even going to wait for him to die.
  89. He felt something press against his lips, which was strange. Why would a shark do that?
  91. Everything faded away.
  93. **********
  95. At first, there was nothing.
  97. Thomas didn't know what he had expected death to be like. But this probably seemed right. Nothing to see, nothing to hear, nothing to do...just darkness. A complete and all-encompassing lack of anything at all.
  99. He just sat there. There didn't seem to be any such thing as time here, but it felt like he was there for hours.
  101. And then there was light.
  103. In an instant, the darkness became light. Thomas looked up, looked down, looked at himself...but there was still nothing. He held out his hands to look at himself, but he had no hands. He was nothing, too. All around him, nothing but white light, stretching out...forever.
  105. What was this? Was he a spirit? Was this purgatory?
  107. Then he felt two things begin to happen at once. First, he heard something - barely even a whisper, but he heard it. And second...he felt something pulling him. Was it it the voice? If so, why, and how? He was nothing. How could he hear, how could he be pulled? Who did the voice belong to? What were they saying?
  109. So many questions. And they were all silenced when he realized that the whisper was growing louder, the tugging sensation on his being growing more forceful.
  111. "Back..." the voice said.
  113. "Who's there?" Thomas asked, spinning around. "Where am I? Where are you?"
  115. The sensations grew stronger. If he had a body, the sudden jerking sensation might have made him nauseous.
  117. "Come back..." the voice pleaded, growing stronger and louder still. "Please, come back!"
  119. Thomas looked around, already knowing that whoever the voice belonged to, they weren't here.
  121. "Where are you?" he asked. "How do I get to you?"
  123. "I won't give up!" The voice shouted. Thomas realized that it was the voice of a young woman, rife with desperation.
  125. Thomas felt like he was being stretched apart. The woman's voice - she was doing this, somehow. He didn't understand any of this. All he knew was that he was deeply uncomfortable, perturbed by the sensations pulling on his ethereal form.
  127. "Come back!" the woman repeated. "Please, come back!"
  129. Thomas felt something else. He felt...warm. But he also felt cool, and wet.  And then he heard...the sounds of water. Waves?
  131. The ghosts of sensation. Something he no longer had.
  133. But, wait...
  135. It all came rushing back to him. The plane! The crash, him drowning, and that bizarre last sensation he felt! Had this woman rescued him?
  137. "Please!" the woman sobbed, her voice breaking. "Don't...don't die...I can't..."
  139. Thomas realized that he had been fighting her efforts. He smiled, surrendered to the pulling sensation, and allowed himself to be carried away atop an invisible current. He needed no map or instrument. He simply listened to the woman's gentle sobs, following her sounds in the same way that ancient sailors navigated by the stars.
  141. The sounds and sensations grew louder and stronger, as if they were becoming more real. Thomas floated towards them, not having any sense of time. Eventually, the sensations and his perception bled together, combining and becoming the same...
  143. He opened his eyes.
  145. **********
  147. Everything hurt. Thomas had never been so exhausted in his entire life. The warmth of the sunlight suddenly felt overwhelming, and he was welcome for the cool ocean water that he was partially submerged in.
  149. With a sputtering cough, he gasped and tried to sit up, covering his eyes with one hand. More than a few drops of water escaped his lips, and he immediately fell back down, coughing and wheezing for nearly a minute as he got used to being alive again.
  151. "Oh, thank goodness!" the woman said. His body was so overwhelmed, he had somehow forgotten about his savior.
  153. She was too blurry to see clearly, his senses still overloaded, his body aching with pain and exhaustion. But Thomas could make out a vaguely female shape kneeling over him.
  155. "It worked..." she said, voice shining with joyful relief. "It worked, thank Poseidon!"
  157. Thomas groaned and tried to sit up, breathing heavily.
  159. "Don't try to move yet!" she said worriedly. "It's okay, I'll stay with you, I promise! You're safe now. You're alive..."
  161. He decided that it would be best to follow her advice, and simply lay on his back, covering his eyes from the sun. As his breathing slowly returned to normal, his savior adjusted her position so that she was closer to his head. She gently placed his head into her lap, soothingly ran her fingers through his hair with one hand, and massaged his shoulder with the other. Then she began to quietly hum, singing a wordless tune.
  163. Thomas closed his eyes and listened to her. Once again, he let her voice be his anchor, surrounding himself in it, taking comfort in it.
  165. Dazed and exhausted as he was, it was hard to focus on her song. If he could listen properly, though, he was sure that it would have been the most beautiful song that he had ever heard. There was something special about her song. The longer he listened, the more at peace he felt, the more his pain slipped away without his notice. His body felt warm, and not just from being in the sun. The many questions swarming in his mind were pacified, and they patiently sat down, waiting for their time.
  167. Eventually, her song came to an end, and he realized that was feeling incredibly tired. Not the same painful exhaustion that he experienced when he woke up, but the comforting, gentle kind of tiredness, the kind felt when bundled up in warm blankets at the end of a long day. His savior stopped massaging his shoulder and took his left hand into her own.
  169. "It's okay," she promised. "You can rest. I promise that I'll still be here when you wake up."
  171. "Thank you," Thomas mumbled, feeling himself drift away.
  173. She only hummed in response, continuing to run her fingers through his hair until he finally fell into a comfortable slumber.
  175. **********
  177. When Thomas awoke, he realized that his head was still in his savior's lap. Had she not moved since he fell asleep?
  179. On the horizon, the evening sun was falling, casting the sea in a beautiful fire-gold radiance. Thomas watched the sun for a moment, then tilted his head backwards to look up at the woman's face.
  181. She seemed to be asleep, although he wasn't sure how that had happened. She was breathing harder than a sleeping person should, her cheeks were flushed with red, and her hand felt a little clammy. Thomas gently rolled off of her, pushing himself up and sitting cross-legged. The fact that she didn't notice his stirring was...worrying. He thought that she looked haggard, like she was feeling the early signs of a fever.
  183. He reached over and gently squeezed her shoulder, which caused her to stir and shake her head.
  185. "What?" she asked tiredly, rubbing her eyes. "Oh, you're awake...good." She gave a smile, but her pained expression gave the truth away.
  187. "You don't look well," Thomas said gently. "What's wrong? Are you sick?"
  189. "I'll be fine," she softly, shaking her head. "This is temporary. I've just...been here a long time."
  191. "You could have moved me. Your legs must be really cramped, now."
  193. "My legs? Oh, right. Yes...they do feel...rather sore, now that I think about it. But I just...I couldn't move. When I saw your sleeping face...how peaceful you looked. I mean with the plane, and everything, I just...it was too much. I didn't want to risk waking you."
  195. "I get it," Thomas said, looking out over the evening ocean with a pensive expression. The two shared the moment for a while.
  197. "I suppose I should thank you properly, Miss...?"
  199. "Alana," she finished with a smile. "My name is Alana."
  201. "Thomas, " he replied, returning her smile. "Thank you for rescuing me, Alana. It felt like the universe was conspiring against me today. I sure am lucky you were here, huh? I seriously thought I was going to die."
  203. Alana winced, her smile suddenly becoming an uneasy frown.
  205. "What's wrong?" he asked, noticing her discomfort.
  207. "A-about that...I, um, don't really know how to say this, but...you did."
  209. "I did what?"
  211. Alana looked into his eyes, keeping contact for what felt like nearly a minute. Eventually, her shoulders drooped, and she gave a small sigh.
  213. "You drowned," she confessed. "You were dead for at least ten minutes before I brought you back."
  215. He stared at her, utterly dumbfounded.
  217. "I was...dead?"
  219. "Yes," she said solemnly. "I'm sorry, Thomas."
  221. Thomas nodded sagely and started rubbing his chin with one hand.
  223. "So that's what that was," he said. "It was you. You were the one pulling on me - the voice that I heard."
  225. She looked surprised. "You...heard me? What...what was it like?"
  227. She immediately blushed and shook her head fiercely. "No, no no! I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked that. That was so-"
  229. "It's fine," Thomas said, holding up a hand to stop her. "It wasn't much of anything, really. It's...kind of foggy, but for a while, there was just...nothing. Nothing but total darkness. I wasn't even sure if I was real anymore. Then, when I first began to hear you, feel you? It all got brighter, turned into white light. Then you just got louder, and stronger, and then...I was here."
  231. "That's...incredible..." she said, jaw slackened.
  233. Thomas watched her for a while, finally taking a proper look at his savior. She seemed to be in her early or mid twenties, about this same age as him. She was clad in a large, white cloak. On closer inspection, the cloak was made of finer material that it first appeared - there were swirls of gold trim running around the waist and wrists, with a triangular motif looping around the collar in teal. The cloak was buttoned down the center, with the silver emblem of a trident clasping the two halves of the cloak together at the top. The cloak had a hood, which was currently down, revealing a seafoam-green head of hair that draped just past her shoulders. A single, large lock of her hair drooped in between her eyes, which she unconsciously flicked away.
  235. Her cloak ran down to her waist, but she didn't seem to have any other clothes on. Her legs were long and slender, both of which were partially submerged by the gentle waves. Thomas looked at her hazel eyes, and their gazes locked for a while.
  237. "I was dead," he stated plainly.
  239. "Yes...you were."
  241. "And you brought me back to life."
  243. "Yes, I...I did," she nodded.
  245. "...how?"
  247. "Well..." she fidgeted nervously, averting her eyes from his. "I...how to put this? Um..."
  249. "You don't have to tell me, if you don't want to," Thomas shrugged. "It's one of those things where I don't want to know, right?"
  251. "Not exactly, but-"
  253. "As long as you didn't use voodoo to resurrect me, I think I'm okay with it," he laughed.
  255. "Voodoo...?" she looked at him blankly, tilting her head inquisitively, then shook her head. "No, it's...I think it would be easier to just show you."
  257. She took a deep breath to help gather her resolve, then stood up. Her legs shook, nearly toppling her, and she had to put her hands out to steady herself. Thomas moved to help her, but she held up her hand. She unsteadily walked further into the ocean, arms held out like she was walking a tightrope. When the water reached up to her knees, she turned around and sat down cross-legged, bringing the water level to just below her neck.
  259. "Watch me," she said, closing her eyes and interlocking her fingers. She inclined her head and held her hands close to her chest. At first, Thomas thought that it was some kind of meditative stance.
  261. But really, it looks more like a prayer.
  263. Alana held the position for a few seconds before a radiant light enveloped her body. It wasn't blinding, but it was potent enough to convince Thomas to avert his gaze until the light faded. When he looked back, Alana's legs were gone. A long fish tail, ending in a fin had replaced them, her tail being the same color as her hair. Additionally, a small pair of fins jutted out from either side of her head, covering her ears. These were colored differently from her hair, being more of a mint green. A larger pair grew from each of her wrists, and an even larger pair than that grew from her hips, poking out under her cloak.
  265. "A mermaid," he muttered. It made sense. What other reason could there for someone to be this far out into the remote ocean?
  267. "No," he said, shaking his head and correcting himself. "You're a sea bishop. Right?"
  269. "I am," she acknowledged. "You're...much calmer about this than I expected. Have you already met one of my kind before?"
  271. "No, I've never. But pretty much anyone sailor or pilot that crosses the oceans knows a few rumors, here and there. I hear bits and pieces about all of you aquatic mamono."
  273. "I know the basics, I think," he said, clearing his throat. "You're basically priestess mermaids, right? And you have...ocean magic. Or something. Right? Is that how you brought me back?"
  275. "That is correct," she nodded.
  277. Thomas looked at her curiously. "You had human legs. That was magic, too?"
  279. "Yes. I can take a human form, but it takes a great deal of energy to maintain. That's why I was so tired."
  281. "I'll say," Thomas nodded. "You looked like a newborn deer, finding its legs for the first time."
  283. "Hey!" Alana huffed. "It's not like I have legs very often! It's difficult, okay? You wouldn't see me making fun of you for not being able to swim as well as I can!"
  285. "Sorry!" he laughed, running a hand through his hair and falling backwards onto the sand. The heat of the sun had cooled significantly, and he sighed contently.
  287. "I wasn't trying to be mean," he explained. "I guess it's all just...sinking in. My plane crashed...I died...and then I was resurrected by a magical mermaid. It all sounds so surreal."
  289. "If it makes you feel any better, I think you're taking this very well," she said softly, swimming closer to him. She let her human half fall forward, lying face-up on the beach along with him, her tail submerged in the waves.
  291. "In most of the tales I've heard about humans being stranded," Alana explained. "They are often distraught, or angry."
  293. "Mm," he hummed absentmindedly. "Maybe I'll start screaming and crying later. Personally, though, I think I did enough of that during the crash. And, you know...I died, and all. Being stranded doesn't seem like such a big deal when you compare it to that."
  295. "That's a very healthy way to look at it, I think," Alana smiled.
  297. "If I had life insurance, I wonder if they would let me collect," he thought aloud.
  299. "Probably not," she said, smiling sadly up at the sky. "Even if they would, there's no way to prove it."
  301. The two watched the sun fall deeper into the horizon. The air grew cooler as night began to creep forward. They lay there for several minutes in peace, the only sounds being those of the waves. Their peaceful moment was interrupted when his stomach rumbled loudly, reminding him that, while he had surpassed mortal limitations with his resurrection, his body still needed to have its needs met.
  303. Thomas laughed sheepishly and rubbed the back of his head, taking the opportunity to stand up and stretch out. As peaceful as it was just being next to Alana in the waves, he couldn't lie down forever. It was time to take stock of the situation.
  305. "So, Alana..." he started, arching his back and twisting around, "Any idea where we are?"
  307. "I'm sorry," she said, rotating to look up at him. "I'm not very familiar with human geography. But I know that we're north of one of your...republics?"
  309. Not very helpful. But to be fair, that's about all he knew, too.
  311. "What were you even doing out here?" he asked. "I'm certainly not complaining, but this place feels remote, even for you. Don't sea bishops usually live in communities with lots of other species?"
  313. "Oh, no, I don't live out here. I guess it might sound kind of silly, but I come here to...get away from it all. This place is so quiet, so calm...I like to meditate here, study on the wisdom of Poseidon, practice a hobby or two. There aren't many places that I can find this kind of peaceful solitude."
  315. "Poseidon," he repeated. "That's your goddess, right?"
  317. "Yes," Alana affirmed. "She is the patron goddess of the oceans. Her desire is the health and well-being of all who love the oceans - and those who fall into them. As her bishop, I work to spread her ideals and further her goals."
  319. "I see. That sounds like a very noble goal, Alana."
  321. She smiled and took a breath, starting to say more, but Thomas cut her off by holding up his palm.
  323. "I'd love to hear more about you and Poseidon, but I think it's time we turned our attention to the situation, here."
  325. "Of course!" Alana gasped, hand flying to her chest. "I'm sorry! I should have realized sooner, I just-"
  327. "It's okay," Thomas smiled. "You have nothing to apologize for. You saved my life, remember? Let's stay calm and work this out, together."
  329. "O-of course," she breathed. "You're right. I'm sor-" Alana stopped herself before she could finish, clearing her throat and speaking with a calm tone.
  331. "Thank you. I'll do whatever I need to in order to help."
  333. "Much obliged," Thomas nodded. "Well, let's start by taking inventory. What do you know about this island?"
  335. He turned around and placed his hands on his hips, eyes scanning back and forth across the little islet. It wasn't much, but it could definitely have been worse. A few dozen palm trees grew along the island, and many of them were mature enough to have coconuts. That alone could be his salvation - coconuts were practically a godsend to the stranded. Tropical ferns grew along the grassy center of the island. Dead, dry foliage was scattered here and there - good kindling material, but he would need a way to ignite it. There were also a few small rocks strewn across the island randomly. Surely, he could find a use for those.
  337. "I don't know much about the surface," Alana admitted. "I come ashore with legs sometimes, but I generally stay near the beach. You shouldn't have to worry about food, at least. I can easily get more than enough for the both of us from the sea floor."
  339. "That's comforting," Thomas nodded, still considering his options. "I guess that just leaves shelter, and I guess a fire. Going to need a way to signal any potential rescuers, after all."
  341. "I'm afraid that I can't really help you, there," Alana frowned. "I'd come ashore and help, but..."
  343. "Save your energy," he nodded again. "I'm no expert, but I think I can handle this. I can think of something you can do that would be incredibly useful, though."
  345. "Of course!" Alana said excitedly, the small fins on her head flaring outward. "What is it?"
  347. Thomas couldn't help but smile. She was adorable - the ways her fins perked up like that, it reminded him of his old cat, his ears perking up whenever he wanted to play.
  349. ...when he realized that he still hadn't said anything, he coughed and turned away to hide his embarrassment. She tilted her head at him curiously - again reminding him of a cat.
  351. "Right!" he coughed. "Uh, so, providing that it didn't fall out, there should be a big, olive green bag in the plane. It'll say 'Emergency supplies', in big red lettering, so you can't miss it. It's waterproof, so could you try to find it, please?"
  353. "Of course!" Alana said eagerly. "Just leave it to me, I'll be back in no time!"
  355. "I guess this means you might save me twice," Thomas chuckled. "I'll have to see if I can think of a way to pay you back. Anyway, if you don't see me when I come back, just shout, alright?"
  357. "Alright. Good luck, Thomas."
  359. "You too, Alana."
  361. **********
  363. Fortunately, Alana managed to find the emergency bag without any trouble, and it was still in good condition. When she gave it to Thomas, he took out the survival knife inside and set to work obtaining cuttings of palm fronds. By planting a few pieces of dead wood in a vaguely tent-shaped fashion, he placed the fronds upon the frame of the shelter, and attempted to bind them to the pieces of wood with bits of string from the emergency kit. It was more difficult and time consuming than he expected, and he worked well into the night as he constructed the makeshift shelter.
  365. Meanwhile, Alana delved under the water to forage for food. She returned within ten minutes, holding two, large yellow fruits that resembled a crossbreed between a zucchini and a banana.
  367. "Talua fruits," she explained. "They're vaguely magical. They grow in shallow, tropical waters, especially in reef areas like this one. I know it doesn't look like much, but they're incredibly dense with nutrients."
  369. Thomas took the offered fruit gratefully and sat down next to her, sharing the quick meal in silence. He expected a bland flavor, with an awkward texture to match. But when he took the first bite of the fruit, he found that it was surprisingly sweet. The taste reminded him of some fried bananas that he had tried in Jamaica, a few years back. He hungrily devoured the rest of the talua fruit, realizing how hungry he truly was.
  371. Thomas continued to work into the night, suppressing many a yawn, until the shelter was finally in a state that he could call 'roughly passable'. As he lay his back upon a bed of cut ferns, Alana departed to rest somewhere on the ocean floor, promising that she would return in the morning.
  373. With the soothing sound of the waves not far off, and the comforting assurance of Alana's return, Thomas had never fallen asleep so easily in his life.
  375. **********
  377. "Tell me more about Poseidon," Thomas suggested, pausing to wipe his brow after depositing another load of wood and dead foliage next to his shelter.
  379. The midday sun was beating down upon him harshly. He sat down in the meager shade that his shelter offered, but it wasn't quite as helpful as he wanted. Alana sat in the surf, curled up like a snake as she watched him. Her tail fin crested out of the water, absentmindedly swaying back and forth.
  381. "More than a thousand years ago," Alana started. "Poseidon was a very different goddess. She was aligned with the Chief God's Divine Order, not with Maou. I'll spare you the ancient history lesson, but suffice to say, Poseidon grew...dissatisfied with the Divine Order. She started clashing with her associates, contesting their ideas, voicing her dissent. She disagreed with much of what the Order had to say, seeing most of their policies as pointless, if not downright malicious."
  383. "Hurricanes and tsunamis, for example," she continued. "Why should she create these? To keep the human population in check? What was the point of that, she started to wonder. Were the humans truly such a problem? What were her storms accomplishing, if not needless death? Upon Maou's ascension, Poseidon began to see the truth. The members of the Divine Order were not acting the way that divine beings should. They were stubborn, uncaring, and illogical."
  385. "Contrary to the popular myth," Alana said, clearing her throat, "She was not seduced by Maou, or anyone else, for that matter. Poseidon left the Order and joined Maou's cause by her own free will. In her eyes, she saw it as an opportunity to repent for her actions. She would no longer promote death and destruction, but life, and creation. When Maou's great spell took effect, Poseidon met with a group of her most loyal followers. She tasked them with aiding her new goals, and imbued them with her power. Those ancient mermaids ended up becoming her first priestesses. And what was once a religious group ended up evolving into an entirely different subspecies of mermaid - the sea bishop."
  387. "I never knew that," Thomas admitted, tugging at his collar. "I never really gave any of the gods or goddesses much of a second thought. Maybe there's more to them than I gave them credit for."
  389. "Besides," he continued. "Any divine being that can admit they were wrong, and try to change that? That's promising. Your Poseidon sounds alright, in my book."
  391. "Hearing that makes me happier than you realize," Alana smiled warmly. "For a long time, I've felt...lost, at times. I just feel so...small. Like it's impossible to make a difference, like I can't really live up to Poseidon's expectations of me. So hearing that...it really does mean a lot to me. Thank you, Thomas."
  393. "Oh, uh..." he chuckled nervously at her heartfelt reply, and started to rub his neck. "You're welcome?"
  395. Alana nodded contently, her tail fin bobbing up and down with her. "So what's the next stage of the plan?" she asked.
  397. "I went and used some of the rocks around here to make a fire pit," he explained. "Should have plenty of fuel to make a signal fire, now...and lighting it won't be an issue, thanks to you recovering the survival kit. I think that's all of the immediate problems solved, so now I guess we just...wait."
  399. "Alright," Alana said.
  401. They said no more for a short while. Eventually, an idea struck Thomas, and he stood up, tugged off his shirt, and joined Alana in the surf.
  403. "Oh!" she exclaimed, blushing and averting her eyes as he sat down next to her. "You're...you're um...I mean, aha..."
  405. "I felt like joining you," he explained. "Besides, the water's great. Should help me cool off faster, too."
  407. "T-that's true," she said, turning to glance at him. Her gaze ended up lingering longer than she intended. She had seen humans before, of course. She had met all manner of aquatic mamono and their husbands during her travels across the Caribbean. But she had never seen a man so...close. So personally. She found him fascinating - the lightly tanned skin, his gentle muscles, his broad shoulders...his upper half was similar to her own, and yet, incredibly different.
  409. Thomas didn't seem to notice, being content to shut his eyes and lean back, basking in the comforting water. The rhythmic, rising and falling of his chest caught her attention, and she watched him breathe for a while.
  411. "Can I touch you?" she asked suddenly. Thomas opened his eyes and looked at her in surprise.
  413. Alana clasped her hands over her mouth in shock. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to say that, I really didn't, it just kind of slipped out! I've just never really seen a human so close before, so I just-"
  415. "Sure," Thomas laughed. "Do as you like."
  417. Alana let her hands slip down, and started to reach one of them towards him.
  419. "T-this seems weird," she said hurriedly. "Are you sure this okay? I mean-"
  421. Thomas rolled his eyes and reached out with his own hand, grasping hers and placing it on his shoulder. The sudden movement made her give an excited squeak.
  423. He felt...strange. But it was the good kind of strange, the curious satisfaction felt when exploring something new. She spread out her fingers, and began to smoothly run them across his upper body, pausing whenever she felt a subtle change in sensation.
  425. ...she liked doing this, she realized. It was an experience shared only between them. To Alana, most things in her life had been done for others - for the sake of other couples, for communities, for Poseidon. She had very few personal possessions, able to carry all of her belongings in a single satchel. And while she had no claim of ownership over this small island, she felt something of a personal connection here. And this experience? This was something personal, something new, and it was just for her.
  427. It just all felt so...what was that word Thomas had used? Surreal.
  429. "So?" he prompted. "Do I live up to your expectations?"
  431. "So strange," she muttered. "Sorry, not you. I just meant...this whole situation."
  433. Alana withdrew her hand and nodded sagely. "A week or so ago, I was visiting an underwater town, a few dozen miles from here. And I can remember wanting to come back here again, but...the feeling was stronger than usual. It was almost like...some invisible force was calling me back here. And I just...I had no idea. No idea that any of this would happen."
  435. "I was on the beach when I first heard it," she continued. "Your plane, I mean. And when I saw you falling down, crashing into the water...I suddenly realized that I was drawn back here so that I could save you. And when you came back, when you started gasping and coughing...seeing the effects of my powers like that, on such a close and personal level...I don't know. It was like I found something in myself that was missing, like I fulfilled a part of my destiny."
  437. Thomas frowned and looked at the sky. "I'm not sure if I believe in destiny."
  439. "I'm not sure I do either," Alana smiled sadly, moving over next to him and leaning her head against his shoulder.
  441. "Not even Poseidon has the power to cause random plane crashes," she giggled. "But even so, I'm glad that I was here. I'm glad that I got to meet you, Thomas."
  443. "I'm glad you were here, too," he grinned. "I've never really had any good friends before. I'm glad that I met you, too."
  445. "I've never really had a good friend, either," she admitted. "I'd be honored to have you as my first."
  447. Thomas raised an eyebrow at her.
  449. "N-not like that!" she protested, pushing herself away. "Don't look at me like that, you know what I meant!"
  451. Thomas laughed heartily at her reaction, which made her cross her arms and pout.
  453. "I love the way your head fins stick out like that when you get worked up," he sighed. "You seriously remind me of my old cat, its adorable."
  455. "A-adorable?" she asked, her annoyance gone. "You really think that?"
  457. "I do," he affirmed. "Actually, would it be alright if I touched your fins? I did let you go first."
  459. "I...I suppose that it's only fair," she said, doing her best to keep her voice neutral.
  461. His hand approached her lowest fin first - slowly, as if waiting for her permission. She nodded at him, allowing him to reach out and gently stroke the lower part of her tail.
  463. "Your tail," Thomas muttered in surprise, "It's so much smoother than I expected. Your scales aren't rough at all."
  465. "T-that's very flattering," she laughed nervously. "Thank you."
  467. Thomas continued to run his fingers along her tail, gradually going lower until he reached her tail fin. He looked back and simply admired her body for a while. It was an impressive work of nature - powerful and muscular, strong enough to propel her through the water, yet also it was also beautiful and feminine, adorned in colorful scales. He brushed the exterior of his fingers against the membrane of her tail fin, which made her shiver.
  469. "Did I do something wrong?" he asked, stopping immediately.
  471. "N-no, it's fine," she assured him, shaking her head. "I just wasn't expecting that. You can keep going."
  473. He nodded and moved up to the fins at her waist, which were by far the largest. He very gently pinched one of them in between his thumb and index finger, massaging it with his fingers. They felt mostly similar to her tail - soft, smooth, and a little bit squishy, so he moved on after a few seconds.
  475. The smaller pair of fins on her wrists, however, were quite different.  
  477. "These ones feel different," he exclaimed softly. "They're even softer, somehow."
  479. "W-well, yes," Alana stammered. "My tail and hip fins are built for power, to help my control my movements through the ocean. The ones on my wrist are more for precision movements. They also help me...sense things below me. I guess that's a good way to explain it."
  481. He began to run one of her wrist fins through his fingers, and the sensations made Alana squirm and giggle.
  483. "T-That tickles!" she protested, half-heartedly trying to push his hand away with her own. Thomas laughed with her, and pulled his hand away.
  485. "A sensitive spot," he concluded. "Duly noted."
  487. The pair smiled at each other, eyes locked. After a moment, their smiles faded, and each of them found it more and more difficult to find a reason to break the eye contact. Thomas fell into Alana's hazel-colored eyes like a whirlpool, pulling him in closer and closer to her. And Alana felt herself unable to pull away from him, giving no protest as he inched a little closer towards her.
  489. He started to reach his hand towards her face, but hesitated.
  491. "May I?" he asked, voice just above a whisper.
  493. "Yes," Alana replied, equally quiet.
  495. He brushed that same stray lock of hair out of her face, and gently caressed her cheek. For once, he experienced exactly what he expected. She was warm, and soft, and entirely lovely.
  497. Alana closed her eyes and surrendered herself to the moment, smiling at the sudden turn their exploration session had taken.
  499. And then she felt his hand start to drift upwards, towards her ears. When she realized what he was about to do, she tried to speak up, tried to warn him, but she was too late. She felt his touch upon her head's fins, and any sounds of protest died in her throat. She inhaled sharply and swallowed hard as he started to stroke them.
  501. "And these," he said softly. "These feel amazing to touch. And they're so colorful! How is it possible that they feel so soft?"
  503. He was so close to her, and touching her fins like that? Alana unconsciously curled her fingers into fists and began to breathe harder. This was all too much. To be this close to him, to receive his soft, gentle praise, to feel him touch her? It was entirely novel to her. She had never felt anything this intimate, not ever!
  505. And it proved to be too much. A soft, breathy moan of unrestrained pleasure escaped her lips.
  507. Her eyes went wide as saucers when she realized what she had just done. She leaned back, mouth agape, and utterly mortified.
  509. "I-" she squeaked, attempting to say something, but she could barely speak, let alone think of what to say.
  511. How on Earth could she have let that happen? What was he going to think of her now? Why didn't she warn him, why didn't she say anything? And why wasn't she saying anything right now?
  513. Thomas seemed equally stunned. He had withdrawn his hand, leaning back and staring at her with an awed expression.
  515. "I-I'm so sorry!" she suddenly blurted, her voice rushing back into her like a surging tide. "T-that was not supposed to happen! I was trying to warn you, but, I, I just! And then you were touching me, and I couldn't think anymore, and...it just spilled out! Oh, I've never been more embarrassed in my entire life!"
  517. Thomas only stared at her, his own voice not yet having returned.
  519. In that moment, Alana felt like she would rather die than look him in the eye. She held her arms tightly against her stomach, looking down and away from him.
  521. "A sea bishop's head fins," she muttered. "They're um...an...e-erogenous zone..."
  523. "Oh," Thomas muttered dumbly. "Oh! Oh my god, I'm really sorry, I-I had no idea! I would never have done that if I knew, please believe me!"
  525. "I think we would both like to just forget this," Alana laughed weakly. "If that's alright with you..."
  527. "Yeah, uh, definitely," he agreed. "That's...right."
  529. The two sat back down, looking in opposite directions. They were silent for a long time, unable to think of a way to break the horrendously awkward silence.
  531. Alana found herself watching the tide recede, allowing the sound of the waves to take over her mind. It was easier than trying to think of something to say.
  533. "Spilled out," Thomas muttered, too quiet for Alana to hear. "Wait a minute...oh. Oh, no."
  535. He stood up frantically, gripping his head with both hands and grunting fiercely in frustration. Alana gasped in surprise and turned to watch him.
  537. "Shit!" he roared, slamming his fists against his head. "Thomas, how could you have been so stupid? Damn it!"
  539. "Thomas?" she asked in a concerned tone. "What's wrong?"
  541. "The plane!" he burst. "Alana, we have to get back to the plane!"
  543. "What? Do you need something from the plane? Just tell me what it is, and I'll-"
  545. "No," he said, shaking his head fiercely. "It has to be me."
  547. "W-why?" she questioned. "Thomas, tell me what's going on!"
  549. "It's the cargo," he sighed. "I can't believe I forgot! Alana, my plane was carrying all sorts of chemicals. And there's a pretty strong probability that some of the containers were damaged or even thrown out of the plane during the crash. We have to get down there, and move anything that might be damaged out of the water, or this entire area could be at risk of contamination!"
  551. Thomas placed his hands on his hips in contemplation. "Do you know how deep the wreck is?"
  553. "A-about thirty meters?" she estimated. "I still don't see why you in particular have to be the one to go down there."
  555. "A lot of the crates are magnetically bolted to the floor," he explained. "And there's no way to undo that, if you aren't a company affiliate. It needs to scan my handprint - if the damn scanner hasn't broken, anyway."
  557. "I'm an okay swimmer," he groaned, starting to massage his temples. "But I don't know if I can hold my breath long enough to even get down there, let alone come back up with cargo."
  559. Thomas squatted down as he considered his scant options. What could he possibly do? The wreck was beyond his reach.
  561. Think, think! Is there anyway to override the magnetic lock? Any way to bypass the biometric scanner?
  563. If there was an answer, Thomas didn't have it.
  565. "There is a way," Alana said calmly, drawing him out of his mire.
  567. "How?" he pleaded. There had to be a way to set this right.
  569. "Sea bishops can temporarily imbue humans with the ability to breathe underwater," she explained. "As long as I am with you, you will have nothing to fear."
  571. "That's amazing!" Thomas beamed. "How do we do it?"
  573. "Come and step back into the water with me," she said, smiling softly. As he approached, Alana pushed herself further into the water, where it crept up to her neck. As he joined her, she offered her hand, which he took.
  575. "Do you trust me, Thomas?" she asked.
  577. "Of course I do," he said without hesitation.
  579. "Why?"
  581. "You saved my life," he put plainly.
  583. "True," she laughed sweetly. "But there's more to it than that. Right?"
  585. Thomas let out a breath that he didn't realize he had been holding. He smiled, relieved.
  587. "I think you might be right," he said, returning the smile. "Each of us is something that the other has never really known. And we've only known each other for what - a bit more than a day? But I already feel closer to you than...well, pretty much anyone."
  589. "That means so much to me," she said warmly, pulling in close and hugging him. "Thank you. I want you to know that I feel the same way."
  591. He squeezed her back gently, returning the embrace. She pulled away, and she wore a confident smile upon her lips.
  593. "Here's what you need to do," she started. "Submerge yourself completely underwater - and don't let go of me until I say so. You will feel a warmth passing through you - don't resist it. Just go with the flow. Simple, right?"
  595. "Sounds easy enough," Thomas agreed. "I'm ready when you are."
  597. Alana nodded, and gestured towards the horizon with her other hand. Thomas began to walk further out into the ocean, Alana holding onto him and floating just behind him. When the water reached his chin, he turned to Alana for one last look of confirmation. She nodded at him, and he took one final gulp of air, before fully plunging himself into the ocean. He decided to keep his eyes open - he was curious what it was that she was going to do. Breathing underwater - what an idea!
  599. Alana spun around him, coming to look at him face-to-face. She still held his left hand in her own, and smiled sweetly at him. Her tail stuck out behind her, pointing towards the horizon. They watched each other for a while - Thomas found himself captivated by the way her hair spread out behind her when she was underwater.
  601. When the moment passed, Alana reached towards him with her free hand, and began to gently stroke his face, mimicking the motions that he had performed on her, not all that long ago.
  603. What happened next caught him totally off guard.
  605. Alana's hand moved to the back of his head, and her other hand left his own to hold his back. She pulled him in closer to her and then...pressed her lips against his own. His eyes went wide, and he almost mumbled something into her mouth, until he remembered her advice. He silenced himself, and let go of his inhibitions.
  607. Already, he was starting to feel the warmth that she mentioned. He closed his eyes, and gave himself over to the sensation. He wasn't frightened in the least - he would put his life into Alana's hands without a second thought, for there was no place he would rather be than right here.
  609. As Alana pulled away, he realized that the kiss was far shorter than he would have liked. Alana smiled at him, and even underwater, he could tell that she was blushing.
  611. So she liked it, too...
  613. Her lips began to move, and somehow, he found that he could understand her.
  615. "Now breathe, Thomas," she said. "Put your trust into me. Push aside your fear of drowning, and trust that I am here for you."
  617. What she asked went against every natural instinct he had. You simply do not open your mouth underwater.
  619. ...but it was all so easy to shove aside. It felt like anything was possible, as long as he was with her.
  621. He exhaled, and a stream of bubbles escaped his lips. Curiously, when he inhaled, no water entered his mouth, yet he felt his lungs fill with air all the same.
  623. He laughed at the wonder of it all. The magic that this wonderful mermaid could work!
  625. "Let's go," he grinned.
  627. **********
  629. Mercifully, the biometric scanner was still intact. After accepting his handprint, all of the locked chemical crates released, some of them beginning to bob up and down. More than one of the crates had already been knocked loose during the crash. The interior of the ruined plane was dark, but there was just enough light to inspect the containers.
  631. While the damage was worse than he had hoped, it was better than he had feared. Some of them had significant dents, and others bore cracks down the side. Thankfully, nothing appeared to be leaking. At least, not yet.
  633. Alana helped transport the crates back up to the surface of the island. Beneath the waves, she was much stronger and faster than Thomas, and carried three crates up in the time it took Thomas to take one. In the end, it took them about an hour to empty the plane, and another twenty minutes to drag all of the chemical crates towards the center of the island. Thomas had planned to do that part on his own, but Alana had insisted on shifting into her human form to help out.
  635. With their task complete, the reef's safety was assured. Instead of lounging in the waves for the remainder of the day, Alana suggested that he visit the local reef with her.
  637. "You should see what you worked to protect with your own eyes," she had said.
  639. The reef was small, but was dense with life. He had never witnessed such a variety of colorful life, all bound in such close proximity. There were tiny fish that lived within the coral itself - and others that swam around it in mighty schools, their scales glittering in the evening sunlight. The inhabitants of the reef did not shy away from Alana. In some cases, they even flocked towards her, greeting her like a beloved elder sister. Thomas was shocked when even a young reef shark approached her, swimming close to her as if it was greeting her.
  641. "All creatures of the ocean instinctively recognize sea bishops as allies," she explained, affectionately petting the diminutive shark. "Even the largest of predators will never attack us. As long as you are with me, that protection is extended to you, as well."
  643. "That's nice to know," Thomas said. "But I think I'll need a bit more time before I'm comfortable petting sharks, if it's all the same to you."
  645. "Of course," she smiled.
  647. It was a magical experience, utterly unlike anything Thomas had ever experienced. He had seen pictures of coral reefs, heard the excited tales of the odd tourist family. But this? Being given a tour by Alana, breathing underwater? It was incredible. No tourist paradise could have compared.
  649. It dawned on him that she was showing him around her personal sanctuary - a place that had once been known only to her. She was opening up and revealing herself in a way that she had never done before. And in a way, that left more of an impact on him than anything else.
  651. Day began to turn to night once again, and Thomas and Alana reluctantly parted, promising to meet again as soon as possible. This time, sleep did not come as easily, for each of them was consumed by thoughts of the other. Memories of the past two days, reliving every smile, laugh, and touch. What would become of them? His disappearance would have been noticed by now; rescue missions could not be that far off. How much more time would they have together?
  653. Was it insane to hope that rescue never came?
  655. **********
  657. The next day passed fairly uneventfully. Thomas stockpiled more wood and improved his shelter, while Alana sang one of her wordless songs to keep him company. Thomas stole a glance at her when he thought that she wasn't looking. It was mildly infuriating how her cloak never seemed to be wet, despite being perpetually underwater. Seeing the curves of her body outlined against her wet clothing was quickly becoming a recurring fantasy for him.
  659. Feeling hot and bothered, Thomas suggested that they dive beneath the waves again to escape the sun.
  661. "I think that you just want to kiss me again," Alana giggled.
  663. "It's definitely a benefit," he smirked.
  665. The two spent their afternoon lazily floating about the reef, sharing whatever ideas came to them and talking about anything and everything. Alana revealed that she enjoyed learning new songs wherever she went, both human and mamono. She shared a few that she had heard from passing fishermen, some of which Thomas recognized. She told him that her mother had taught her how to read from a very young age, and that her collection of books was among her most prized possessions.
  667. When Thomas asked how it was that she read underwater, she laughed and revealed the existence of her waterproof, electronic tablet - an incredibly valuable gift from her father. It even came with its own solar-powered charger.
  669. "What?" she giggled. "Did you think that we all still carried around stone tablets? Modern tools for a modern age, and all that. I can even keep scriptures on there. Songs and pictures, too!"
  671. When Alana asked him what it was that he wanted to do with his life, he admitted that he didn't really know. He had tried to join the air force, but that ended up falling through. Becoming a civilian cargo pilot was a way to get away - but talking like this also made him realize that it meant that he was a kind of wanderer, too. How many times had he missed out on some adventure, ignored a new song, turned down a new recipe?
  673. It made him feel foolish. He had ignored so many opportunities, and why? Because he couldn't be bothered? Because it was more comfortable to focus on work? Sure, it made him some decent money, but what did that matter if he wasn't happy?
  675. Well, all of that could change, now. Being with Alana liked this had opened his eyes, shown him a glimpse of what he had been missing. He saw what he had done wrong, how he could improve...and for perhaps the first time in a very long time, he was excited for what the future held.
  677. As the evening sun began to set, a small little red fish approached Alana, and buzzed around her ear. She nodded perceptively, and then frowned.
  679. "Surface with me," she said seriously. "We should see this for ourselves."
  681. When they broke the ocean's surface, Alana realized that the little fish was right. The water was slightly cooler, the sky a little darker, the wind a little fiercer.
  683. Dark, angry clouds were billowing on the horizon. A storm was coming.
  685. "That isn't good," Thomas whistled. "I don't think my little lean-to is going to help much against a tropical storm."
  687. "You're right," Alana said. "It's not safe for you to stay on the surface tonight."
  689. "What should we do?" he asked with a frown. "Can you maintain your breathing spell for an entire night?"
  691. "Not on my own," she admitted. "Well...unless..." Alana trailed off, unwilling to finish the idea.
  693. "Unless what?" Thomas prompted.
  695. "Um...can we talk about this on the shore, please?"
  697. Thomas gave her an inquisitive look, but relented, giving a nod and swimming towards the shore. When they arrived, they pulled themselves onto the shore. This had quickly become one of their favorite spots to talk and relax at, but tonight, the waves were not comforting. Each was ever so slightly stronger than the last, far-reaching whispers of the coming storm.
  699. "You said you couldn't maintain the spell on your own?" Thomas asked again. "Can you elaborate?"
  701. "Well..." Alana started fidgeting with her fingers, interlocking them and squeezing them. "Letting you breathe water like that? It takes energy. Not as much as maintaining a human form, but it adds up. And I naturally recharge that magical 'energy' over by time, but my total capacity isn't great enough to sustain you for an entire day. And I've already used up a good portion of it today. Are you still with me?"
  703. "I follow you," he nodded. "So it's possible to do, but you would need have some kind of extra energy source to recharge your magic on. Is there some kind of special fruit for that, or something?"
  705. "Not...exactly," Alana muttered. "I'm really going to have to just say it, aren't I?"
  707. Thomas looked at her blankly.
  709. Alana sighed. "Thomas, you're aware of spiritual and demonic energies, right?"
  711. "More or less...they're the 'life force' of humans and mamono respectively, yeah?"
  713. "Right," Alana nodded. "And what's the one thing that all mamono have in common?"
  715. "They're all exclusively female?" Thomas finished.
  717. "Oh, for Poseidon's sake!" Alana groaned and slapped her own forehead. "The other thing! What's the one thing that they all treat as a source of power, that they all love to consume more than anything else?"
  719. "Spiritual energy," he finished, wincing at her frustrated burst.
  721. Alana, caught up in the heat of the moment, stood up and balanced herself on her tail.
  723. "And spiritual energy is released during...?" She shouted, arms held apart and aimed to the sky.
  725. "Sexual acts?!" he shouted back. "Why are we shouting?"
  727. Alana felt like tearing her hair out. How could he be so dense about this? Was this Poseidon, testing her patience? With a scream of frustration, she pushed off her tail and tackled Thomas into the sand.
  729. "Thomas!" she cried out exasperatedly, "Who is the only human within a hundred miles of here, and is therefore the only human who could possibly serve as a power source for me?!"
  731. "I am!" he cried back. "I'm the power source!"
  733. His eyes went wide as he finally, finally, put two and two together. Alana's frustration melted away as quickly as it came, and she instead only felt the rising heat of embarrassment.
  735. She also became very aware of the fact that she was lying on top of him with her entire body, pinning him to the ground. She lifted her tail off of his legs to give him some breathing room.
  737. "Which means that," she said, voice soft and full of emotion, "In order to keep you alive, you would need to... to make love with me..."
  739. Finally, she had said it. Why was that so difficult for her? What had her parents taught her, what was the very core of Poseidon's teachings? Love, of course. And what was sex but the purest, most intimate form of love?
  741. She was doing the right thing, so why did her heart feel like it was about to burst out of her chest?
  743. Thomas stared at her with a stunned expression, facial features unchanging.
  745. "Say something!" she pleaded.
  747. "Is..." His eyes darted away as he regained a sliver of composure. "Is that okay? I mean, do you even want to...?"
  749. "Do I even want to?" Alana looked hurt. "Thomas, when I asked my sisters about it, they always told me that I would recognize the feeling of love when I felt it. I always thought that was some awful way to dodge the question, but I get it now! They were telling the truth!"
  751. "I know it seems impossible," she continued. "I kept telling myself that the past two nights. There's no way, I thought. There's no way I could have possibly come to...to love someone that quickly! And even if I did, there's no way he would return my feelings. But I look at you now, and I think...I think I really am in love with you!"
  753. "Alana," Thomas said, voice hoarse. "I..."
  755. Alana snatched his hand and pressed it against her chest, just below her throat. The sensation made her pulse quicken that much more.
  757. "Can you feel my heartbeat?" she asked softly. "That's what you do to me. That's how I've been feeling this entire day! It just...everything seems better with you around! Like I can notice all sorts of things that I couldn't before!"
  759. She trailed off and looked pleadingly into his eyes. "I...of course I want to be with you..."
  761. "Do..." she swallowed the lump in her throat and looked at him nervously. "Do you feel the same way?"
  763. The tension hung in the air as she waited for his reply. Their eyes remained locked together, and her heart continued to beat.
  765. Thump-thump. Thump-thump.
  767. That was all there was. His eyes, and her heart - the only things in her world at that moment.
  769. "I'm sorry that I was too dense to understand your meaning," he smiled sheepishly. "But I just didn't know what to say until a second ago."
  771. "I was thinking the same thing," he continued. "I didn't want to admit to anything, because I wasn't sure what my own feelings were. I was doubtful. You said it, right? That there's no way I could love someone so quickly. But..."
  773. "Every day, I learn something more about you. Your magic, your singing, your tail, your sanctuary, your god, your family...the more I learn, the more I want to learn. And you've been helping me learn about myself, too. I've realized a lot, in these last few days. You said you were noticing all sorts of things that you didn't before? That's exactly what I've been going through."
  775. Alana hung on to his every word, eyes still shining with hope.
  777. "So...here's your answer."
  779. Thomas leaned up and kissed her. It was a brief kiss, not all that much longer than their first time, but it felt like so much more. All their passion, their joy, their fear, their stress...it all flowed freely between them in one, tender moment. Without even being aware of it, Alana had ignited her magic, renewing the breathing spell. This time, however, she didn't want to send just the warmth of the spell through his body. She wanted to show him how warm - how safe, how free - he made her feel. She wanted to express as much of herself through a single kiss as she possibly could.
  781. When Alana finally pulled away, the tearful, yet joyous expression that she wore on her face made it all worth it to Thomas. Everything - years of his stress, grief, and loneliness - were washed away in that moment.
  783. And all that remained was love.
  785. "Pack your bag," Alana giggled. "Tonight, you're staying at my place."
  787. **********
  789. Alana's place turned out to be a cave in the seafloor, forming a comfortable little hollow in an underwater hill. She didn't have much to decorate it with - her sole bag of possessions leaning against one of the walls - but she had taken great care in keeping it clean, moving out all of the urchins and aquatic moss. Surprisingly, he noticed that Alana actually had a bed. It wasn't a wooden or metal bed, but an ingenious display of nature. A network of coral formed the frame of the bed, with a mass of aquatic fibers and plants forming the mattress. She had a blanket made of kelp, that somehow seemed to be quilted into a diamond pattern, despite being mostly all the same color.
  791. "What?" she laughed. "Did you think that I slept while moving, like a shark?"
  793. "Maybe," he admitted, echoing her amusement.
  795. "Mersharks actually do that, though," she pointed out. "So I guess I can't entirely fault you. Anyway...here we are! Home sweet home. What do you think?"
  797. Thomas nodded, taking the question seriously as he appraised the place.
  799. "It's very you," he concluded. "I like it."
  801. "Thank you," Alana beamed. "Sit with me?"
  803. The pair swam over to her bed, which was thankfully plenty large enough for the two of them. Thomas sat on the edge of the bed, and Alana joined him. Her tail was too long to dangle off the edge of the bed, so she had to wrap it around her body, coiling up like a snake. She absentmindedly began stroking her tail fin after a few seconds.
  805. Neither of them could find the right words, and the silence began to stretch on for a while. Thomas took a deep breath, and welled up as much manliness as he could muster.
  807. "Alright," he said confidently, turning to face her. "There's no way I'm gonna make you take the initiative again. So...how about this?"
  809. He reached out and stroked her cheek with his fingers, repeating the little game that they had played before. Alana smiled, closed her eyes, and nuzzled her cheek against him.
  811. "That feels wonderful," she said softly. "But I don't know how much time we have. We should probably...skip this part...at least for this time."
  813. "This time," he repeated. "I like the sound of that."
  815. "So do I," Alana cooed. "Take my cloak off."
  817. Thomas grinned at that, and moved to begin unbuttoning her cloak, starting from the bottom up.
  819. "Don't get me wrong," he started. "I love your cloak. The design is neat, and it's really well-made. But I've been waiting to see you without it for a while now!"
  821. "It wasn't fair when you took your shirt off in front of me," she complained, still smiling. "Now I get to even the score."
  823. "I think I'm still beating you," Thomas said, reaching the silver trident emblem near her collar. "Remember the fin incident?"
  825. "Please don't ever remind me of that. I never felt so mortified in my life."
  827. "Hmm," Thomas hummed noncommittally, finally undoing her cloak and shrugging it off her shoulders. He breathed in sharply through his teeth when he finally laid eyes on her.
  829. "Alana..." he muttered. "You're gorgeous..."
  831. Beneath her cloak, Alana only had two more pieces of clothing. A black bra, which held back her moderately-sized breasts, and a black sash that looped around her waist, concealing the line where her hips gave way to her fish tail.
  833. She blushed and smiled, but refused the urge to look away.
  835. "I could say the same to you," she said. "Lift your arms up...I want to see you again."
  837. Thomas complied, and Alana lifted his shirt off of him, quickly folding it and placing it next to her cloak. She wasted no time in placing both of her hands against his chest, sighing as she ran her fingers over his muscles.
  839. "I love the way you feel," she said appreciatively.
  841. Thomas took angled her head towards him with one hand, moving in for a kiss. She allowed him, and eagerly met his lips.
  843. When they pulled apart, Thomas smiled.
  845. "I think it's only fair if you let me do the same to you, Alana."
  847. "Of course," she smiled. "Undress me...lover."
  849. Upon saying that, she tried and failed to suppress a small giggle as Thomas moved to undo her bra.
  851. "Lover," she repeated. "I'd never thought that I'd have anyone to call that."
  853. "I like it, though..." Thomas grinned, undoing her straps and casting her bra into the growing pile of clothing. He leaned in close to her and whispered directly into her ear. "...lover."
  855. Before she could react, Thomas leaned over and took one of her head fins into his mouth, and gave it a very gentle nibble, while his hands moved to gently cup and massage her breasts. The unexpected stimuli caused her to gasp and shudder.
  857. "That felt really good," she breathed happily. "But...warn me next time!"
  859. "Alright," he smiled nefariously. "I'm about to bite your fin again."
  861. "Wai-"
  863. She couldn't finish her protest before another shudder and gasp coursed through her body. Being so close to her brain, the pleasure affected her almost instantly, and it felt like the blissful waves of pleasure bouncing around in her head were turning her brain into mush.
  865. "That's not what I meant," she protested weakly.
  867. "You said it, right?" he teased. "We don't have much time. I'm just acting in my own survival interests, here."
  869. Before she could get in another word, Thomas moved one of his hands up to gently pinch one of her nipples, again causing her to moan and squirm.
  871. "I'm not the one who..." Alana grit her teeth as she tried to get her words out. Thomas gave her no mercy, continuing to explore and play with her body. "...who needs to get off first!"
  873. "Maybe I like to take risks." Thomas moved down her body, and took one of her nipples into his mouth, gently sucking on it.
  875. "You have got to be kidding me," she moaned into his shoulders. "I'm trying to save your life, here! And you're acting like-like a newborn!"
  877. He intensified her pleasure by starting to play with her other breast at the same time.
  879. "Do you truly find my breasts so captivating?" she complained. "They aren't that special..."
  881. "Yes," Thomas grunted, pausing briefly to come up for air. "They're perfect."
  883. He kept playing with her body for another few minutes. The only sounds that filled the cave were Alana's moans and gasps of pleasure - they were safe, totally insulted from the storm raging above them.
  885. "Alright," she said firmly. "Alright, enough! Seriously, I don't think I can hold the magic for more than fifteen minutes. Hands above your head, mister!"
  887. Thomas reluctantly complied, but not before removing himself from her nipples with a small pop. To her credit, Alana only gave a small gasp before resuming her stern glare.
  889. "You have some gall," she admonished, working his pants down and tossing them aside. "Teasing me like that...I hope you're ready for some payback!"
  891. Alana stopped as she saw the outline of his member, sticking out pointedly at her through his boxers. She briefly lost her train of thought until she remembered her purpose. She summoned her all of her willpower - his life quite literally depended on her ability to get him off in these next few minutes. Before she moved to undress him completely, a curious idea struck her.
  893. She pulled back for a moment, which prompted her lover to give her a curious look.
  895. "You keep those hands where I can see them," she threatened. "It's my turn."
  897. Alana let her hands fall to her hips and undid the sash that hid her womanhood, but she did not cast it aside. She turned her attention back to her lover, and swam towards him with as much seductiveness as one could have while swimming. He moved to speak, but she put her index finger against his lips to silence him.
  899. "Quiet," she commanded. Her voice was firm, yet still playful. "We can take our time and have fun when I'm sure that you're not going to drown in the middle of it. But for right now? I need to make sure that you don't interrupt me. Open your mouth, lover."
  901. He blinked at her, then grinned eagerly.
  903. "I like where this is going," he chuckled, allowing her to gag him with her sash and tie a knot around the back of his head.
  905. "Now, then," Alana said, smiling sweetly. "Let's get back to business, shall we?"
  907. Without warning, Alana yanked off her lover's boxers, revealing his painfully hard cock. She took hold of her lover's hips and spun him around, pushing him down onto the bed, face-up. She moved in to settle in between his legs, her tail hanging off the frame of the bed. Before she began, however, she looked up at her lover's eager face, and gave him a serious expression.
  909. "One last thing," she warned, "Keep your hands under your body. If you so much as touch me, I am going to stop for an entire minute. Understand?"
  911. He nodded, unable to speak. And with that, she reached for his hardness and took him into her hands.
  913. And then she realized...that she didn't really know what she was doing.
  915. Perhaps this wasn't the wisest idea...
  917. ...no, it was too late to back out now. She understood the very basics of sex, at least. Her sisters had helped her learn that much. Play with his penis, remember to be gentle, and don't stop when he starts to pop. She took a breath to steady herself - she would just have to learn quickly, and adapt based on his reactions.
  919. Alana adjusted her grip, wrapping both hands around his cock. One near the tip, and one near the base. She started to gently tug him up and down, sliding her hands to match the motion. The effect on him was immediate - a long, muffled moan escaped from his gag. That sounded promising! Alana kept the position for a while before deciding to throw in some extra moves.
  921. She started twisting her hands around him as she went up and down, adding in gentle squeezes at random to break up her rhythm. Thomas moaned again, louder and longer this time, and he arched his back a little every time she squeezed him. This was coming to her far easier than she had expected. She kept pleasuring him in this way for a few minutes, taking great enjoyment in watching him squirm at her touch.
  923. Alana watched her lover start to breathe more heavily, felt his cock swell even larger. Those were signs that she was doing well. Her sisters had never specified that before, but she simply knew it to be true. Her mamono instincts  were taking over, she assumed.
  925. It was time to intensify his pleasure even more.
  927. "I can feel your dick throbbing," she said, shocked by how easy it felt to slip into dirty talk. "Do you like what I'm doing to you? Do you like being gagged, unable to talk or touch me? Your pleasure is totally at my mercy, right now."
  929. Alana didn't consider herself a sadistic person, not in the slightest. Sadism just wasn't in the nature of a sea bishop. This was just an extension of their earlier game, really. It was something private, something just for the two of them to explore with each other. It was to be expected that they would find new sides of themselves when they made love - and wasn't that wonderful?
  931. Alana laughed and leaned forward, planting a small kiss on the tip of his dick, which made him wriggle.
  933. "Do you want me to take you in my mouth?" she teased. Thomas nodded vigorously.
  935. "Okay," she said sweetly. "Here I go...aah..." Alana opened her mouth wide and slowly lowered her head towards her lover's aching dick, all while maintaining eye contact. She could see the desperation in his eyes, how badly he needed her to please him. She let the head of his cock pass into her mouth, but without letting it touch any part of her. Then she stopped, paused for a moment, and pulled back. She leaned back and dipped her head towards his sack, giving his shaft a long lick from base to tip.
  937. Thomas screamed his frustration into his gag and began thrusting his hips, desperate for stronger stimulation. Alana giggled and let go of him completely.
  939. "That's my payback," she said, smiling innocently. "Maybe next time you'll think twice about being so rough with my fins, hmm?"
  941. Thomas nodded fiercely, and she could tell that he was silently begging her for mercy.
  943. "Hmm..." Alana started running a finger around his pelvic area, avoiding his cock. She wasn't ready to give up teasing him quite yet - this was far more fun than she had ever imagined. "Are you sure you want my mouth?"
  945. He nodded again.
  947. "Really?" she pressed. "You wouldn't prefer my hands?"
  949. He shook his head.
  951. "Well, alright," she laughed. "I think you've learned your lesson."
  953. Alana reached down towards him and gave his shaft another lick. This time, when she reached the top, she kept going, and took about half of his shaft into her mouth before she sealed her lips around him and began to suck.
  955. "Mm..." she moaned into him, savoring his taste. Thomas moaned in blessed relief at the beautiful sight of Alana fellating him. He wanted so badly to give her praise, to run his fingers through her hair and to stroke her soft fins...but he wasn't sure if Alana was still playing or not. He decided not to risk it, as she sounded pretty serious when she warned him about moving his hands.
  957. Alana kept up the routine for a while before coming off of him with a satisfying pop.
  959. "Ah...you taste wonderful, lover..." she said breathily. "But you know that you need to cum soon, right? You know that you need to feed me."
  961. She licked him again, and started to use one of her hands to massage his sack.
  963. "Feed me," she commanded. "Give me your energy, give me the power to make us both happy for a long time..."
  965. She took him back into her mouth, continuing to play with his sack, and adding in the extra simulation of her hand on the lower part of his shaft. She started rotating her head around him as she sucked him, and added extra powerful sucks at random intervals, mirroring the same techniques she used during her handjob.
  967. It all felt so natural to do this. It felt so right!
  969. Meanwhile, the danger of drowning was adding an unexpected edge for Thomas. The risk was intoxicating! He groaned deeper and louder than even before, arching his neck backwards as the pleasure started to prove too much for him. It was obvious to her eyes, but Alana swore that she could practically sense his impending orgasm on an almost supernatural level.
  971. Drops of precum were oozing out of his cockhead. Without realizing it, Alana lapped them up with her tongue, unwilling to release his shaft for even a moment. It awakened her to yet another avenue of pleasuring her lover, and she started to throw her tongue into the mix, as well.
  973. That was the final sensation Thomas felt before he started to tip over the edge. All of the pleasure that Alana was giving him blended together into a single mass that overwhelmed his senses, causing him to groan in ecstasy.
  975. Alana felt him peaking, and doubled her efforts. She clearly remembered one piece of advice from her eldest sister - to not stop pleasuring him as he burst, because that was when the man was most sensitive, when he needed your touch the most.
  977. He cried out again and his dick began to jerk, pulsing his warm essence into her mouth. The second that she felt the first spurt leave his body, she gave a strong suck and swallowed it all down.
  979. The instant that his seed hit her taste buds, her eyes went wide. She knew that she had a specialized organ in her body that consumed the spiritual energy from human sperm, but this? This was taste beyond comprehension!
  981. Delicious was an understatement. She immediately understood that she would never be able to forget this moment. As cliche as it seemed, it felt like she had truly opened her eyes for the first time, beginning to see colors that weren't there before.
  983. This taste - it was her lover's pleasure, given physical form. It was his essence - she could taste the power contained within it, she could taste that the very core of her lover's being was contained in this energy.
  985. Words couldn't do it measure. It was indescribably good, and she had to have more of it!
  987. Alana increased the intensity of her ministrations, tugging on his shaft, kneading his balls, and sucking on the tip of his cock, even as he thrashed and groaned into his gag. She swallowed everything that he had to give her, lovingly teasing more and more out of him. When he finally stopped throbbing and pulsing into her mouth, she slowly pulled off him, giving a strong suck the entire time.
  989. She had to be sure she got it all. It would be the greatest possible sin to waste even a drop of his ambrosia.
  991. Alana collected the final remnants of his seed with her fingers, making a show of licking it up.
  993. "I can't even begin to describe how good that was," she sighed happily. "And I really mean that. It's like I've discovered a brand new sense."
  995. Her lover's eyes were half-lidded and his expression slackened. Clearly, he was still a little overwhelmed by what had just happened.
  997. I did that, she realized. She was the cause of his bliss, she had tended to his sexual needs with instinctual skill, and this wonderful image was the end result. It made her feel a little naughty - but the good, happy kind of naughty, reserved only for intimate couples. Alana smiled and moved to undo his gag, retrieving her sash and tossing it aside.
  999. "Was it good for you?" she asked, unable to keep a straight face, She burst into giggles as Thomas sighed blissfully.
  1001. "Alana, that was...I just...I don't even know how to begin...amazing...you're amazing."
  1003. "I did a good job, huh? Good to know!" Alana huffed out her chest proudly. "Go on, lover, take a deep breath. We've got plenty of time now."
  1005. Alana sighed contently and lay her head on his chest, listening to his heartbeat slow as he wound down from his climax.
  1007. "You...said..." Thomas panted. "Whole...new sense? Elaborate?"
  1009. "I guess it's like this," Alana said softly. "I can feel your energy inside me. I already swallowed it, but I can still taste it...and it isn't any less delicious."
  1011. "I've never felt so alive," she added. "It makes me feel so powerful, so fulfilled! I'm not sure if I can ever go without this, now!"
  1013. "Me either," he said tiredly.
  1015. The pair rested together for several minutes, simply taking comfort in each other after such an intense moment. They interlocked their fingers and held each other close, gently touching and kissing.
  1017. "I had an idea," Thomas said softly.
  1019. "What would that be?" Alana asked.
  1021. "The storm...it's going to delay any search parties. I figure that we have two or three days before anyone finds us, at the very earliest."
  1023. Rescue. The idea made Alana's heart flinch. Did he want to leave?
  1025. "But...Alana, you said that there was a mamono village not too far from here, right?"
  1027. "Yes, a few dozen miles or so," she confirmed. "But that's too far for you to swim, even with my help."
  1029. "I know," he admitted. "But what if we made a raft? You can manipulate currents, can't you? What if you pushed the raft along? What if we left this island, went to that village? Surely someone there can help us get to land, or at least to a phone. Then we could just report the crash ourselves, point the search crew in the right direction."
  1031. Alana blinked at him.
  1033. "What do you think?" Thomas prompted her.
  1035. "I..." she started. "I think...I think that could actually work! Yes, a raft could definitely work!"
  1037. "I can't believe that I didn't think of that before!" she beamed. "I was starting to think that maybe I should swim there myself, but I didn't want to leave you. But...Thomas, does that mean that you...want to stay with me?"
  1039. His head jerked back a little, and he looked almost offended.
  1041. "Are you joking? Alana, you think that I could just up and leave you, after all this?"
  1043. "You gave me a new life," he said with a heartfelt smile. "Literally and figuratively. I...of course I want to stay with you. I want you to be a part of this new life. I love, you Alana."
  1045. If she wasn't underwater, tears would have started falling from her eyes. "Do you really mean that? Oh, Thomas, thank you! I love you, too!"
  1047. She wrapped her arms around him tightly, hugging him passionately. She tilted her head upwards, and his lips met hers for a long while. When they pulled apart, she ran a finger across his cheek, and looked deep into his eyes.
  1049. "I've never been so happy in my life," she said. "Please...I don't want to stop here."
  1051. She smiled lovingly, and pushed away from him. She twisted her body so that she lay on the bed face-up, and started to sensually caress her own body. One hand went to cup her breast, gently squeezing it, while the other went lower, to the line where her human half met her aquatic half. Her vagina rested just above that line, and looked almost identical to a human woman's. She began to touch and pleasure herself, sighing at the feeling. Thomas watched her, spellbound.
  1053. "Please," she said breathily. "Show me how much you love me..."
  1055. Thomas needed no further invitation. He adjusted himself so that he was on top of her and gave her another kiss, bringing a hand up to massage her other breast. When he pulled back, he found himself captivated by her eyes once more. He found that they held a depth that he had not yet seen before - that they were full of love, trust, and acceptance.
  1057. "Move back for me," he suggested, gently guiding her. She complied, adjusting her position so that Thomas had more room. He gave her a suggestive smile before sliding down her body, positioning his face just an inch from her waist. Alana used her hands to spread her pussy apart, smiling widely as she exposed her cute, pink flesh. With a wicked grin, Thomas moved in and began to pleasure her with his mouth.
  1059. He figured that he would learn by experimenting, like Alana had done with him. He started by simply licking her outer folds. That earned him a pleasant sigh, but he knew he could do so much more. When he started dipping his tongue inside her, she moaned in delight, and started playing with her breasts. He started to mix up his patterns - thrust, sweep, return. When she moaned even more loudly and gripped his head with both hands, he hummed in satisfaction. It didn't physically do much for him, but pleasuring Alana like this was deeply satisfying. And she completely deserved it, after all that she had done for him.
  1061. Meanwhile, Alana was having the time of her life. His tongue was infinitely better than her own fingers - it was wet, warm, and entirely unpredictable. Unable to find a pattern, she resigned herself to her lover's attention, letting the pleasure carry her closer and closer to its delicious peak.
  1063. When he started to tease her clitoris, she knew that she couldn't last much longer. She gripped his head more forcefully, moaning and urging him to continue.
  1065. "You're so good at this," she praised. "More, please, don't stop! Keep going, I'm right there!"
  1067. He followed her wishes, and didn't stop pleasuring her, even as she tightly gripped the edges of the bed and started to cry out unintelligibly as her orgasm crashed into her like a great wave. She shuddered and quivered as the pleasure wracked through her body in a maelstrom of bliss. When the storm broke, she found herself understanding the position Thomas was in not all that long ago. Eyes half-lidded, facial expression stuck in dazed joy, unwilling to move and risk losing the afterglow of an incredibly potent orgasm.
  1069. "That felt incredible," she laughed tiredly. "How are you so good at this?"
  1071. "I don't know," Thomas smirked. "I guess I just wanted to make you sing for me."
  1073. Thomas moved up and kissed her. Alana realized that something was different - and she instinctively pushed him back.
  1075. "What's wrong?" he asked, eyes shining with concern.
  1077. "The taste," she blushed. "I-I've never had myself before."
  1079. "Oh," Thomas blinked. "Was it bad?"
  1081. "I don't know, I just kind of reacted without thinking. Why don't we find out?"
  1083. Alana passionately resumed the kiss - this was just another thing to explore. She pulled back, and Thomas smiled.
  1085. "How is it?" he asked with a grin.
  1087. "Results are inconclusive," she smiled. "It's a hard flavor to judge. A little sweet, a little bitter. I guess we'll need to run the experiment again!"
  1089. "Sign me up," he laughed. "I find you delicious, by the way."
  1091. Alana felt something hard poking her in the stomach. She raised her eyebrow at Thomas.
  1093. "Think you're ready to go again?" she asked, moving her hand down to caress his dick. "You certainly feel ready."
  1095. "Ready and incredibly willing."
  1097. She gave him a little squeeze, and positioned his tip at the entrance of her folds. She started to push him in, but hesitated.
  1099. "Alana?" he asked.
  1101. "Promise me," she said softly. "Promise me that you'll always be mine, and I'll always be yours."
  1103. "I wouldn't have it any other way," he said tenderly, sealing the vow with a kiss.
  1105. Alana's tail wrapped around his backside, and slowly pushed him inside. The sensation made them both moan at the same time, the sounds trapped in each other's mouths. Thomas took over, and with one, strong thrust, he hilted himself inside her, feeling something something change along the way. Their bodies were very different, yet each knew with certainty - they had taken their partner's virginity.
  1107. Alana gasped sharply, for her loss gave her no pain. Mamono bodies, after all, had been designed with maximum pleasure in mind.
  1109. "Are you alright?" he asked, face contorted with worry and ecstasy. "Am I hurting you?"
  1111. "No!" she affirmed. "You feel - I can't even describe it! Just, keep going!"
  1113. So he did.
  1115. Thomas slowly withdrew from her body until only the tip of his shaft remained inside her. Then he slowly, gruelingly, pushed himself back in, making them both cry out again. Unlike before, neither felt like experimenting on the other to find what worked best. This was somehow too intimate and too personal for that to work. So Thomas and Alana let the primal parts of their minds take over, feeling that it was the best way to express their satisfaction with the other.
  1117. A pattern emerged. Thrust. Moan. I love you. Kiss. Withdraw. Thrust. Moan.
  1119. Everything else seemed so small. The storm? Rescue? What came next? None of that mattered right now.
  1121. Faster. Thrust! Moan! I love you! Kiss! Withdraw! Thrust! Moan!
  1123. "Trying to hold on," Thomas grunted. "Are you close?"
  1125. "Wait for me," Alana panted. "I want us to come together, just a little longer, please!"
  1127. Their lovemaking sped up yet again, becoming almost frantic now. Thomas knew that he was at his very edge, knew that he could only hold back for a few more seconds.
  1129. Consequences be damned. He leaned over and took the tip of one of Alana's head fins into his mouth, giving it a sudden suck and a lick. It made her scream as she finally toppled over the edge, the sensuous storm inside her flaring up again. As she shook and quivered, her pussy clenched around him, again and again, tighter and tighter, shoving him into the depths of pleasure right after her. Her cried out and erupted inside her, staining her insides white.
  1131. Although her rational mind was temporarily unavailable, somewhere deep down, Alana realized that she could still taste the power contained in her lover's essence, a recognition that only added to her ecstasy.
  1133. Their mutual bliss wound together, stretching on and on into the heavens, until it finally began to cascade back to the physical plane.
  1135. They collapsed into a tired, messy heap, the unspoken promise of a blissful slumber awaiting them.
  1137. **********
  1139. In the morning, the storm had passed, and a sense of tranquility hung in the air, carried along by the ocean breeze. When Thomas and Alana left the submerged cave, the latter spotted something in the difference, and excitedly swam towards it. Thomas swam after her, confused. Why was she heading towards the reef? Did she want to give a last goodbye to all of her fish friends?
  1141. "Thomas!" Alana called out, waving him over. "Can you see it?"
  1143. When he arrived, he had to admit that something felt a little different about the reef, but he couldn't quite place what it was. He stroked his chin as he swept his eyes back and forth across the corals, surveying the colorful little fish swimming about.
  1145. "It's...bigger?" he realized aloud. "How is that possible?"
  1147. "It was us," Alana smiled, blushing warmly. "This is the result of last night."
  1149. She placed her hands upon her head and shook back and forth, excited giggling spilling forth.
  1151. "This is a sign from Poseidon!" she squealed. "It means she approves! Look around us, Thomas! You can see it now, right?"
  1153. He nodded. He could see it - he saw that the coral seemed larger, healthier. There seemed to be more fish around than previously, and more couples were retreating into private little spaces in the coral. Even the water itself seemed to have changed a little, as if it had become even clearer. It was subtle, but there was definitely a sense that the reef had become slightly...more.
  1155. "I see it," Thomas said. "It's incredible. You continue to amaze me, Alana."
  1157. "Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself here," she said, as her cheeks began to turn even redder. "But do you think that we should have our relationship properly recognized?"
  1159. "What do you mean?" he asked, coming over next to her and placing an arm around her shoulder.
  1161. "A proper marriage ceremony," she smiled. "I think we should really consider it! It's taboo to officiate your own wedding, so we'd have to find another bishop, but I don't think would be much of a problem. And Poseidon would actually give each of us permanent blessings, you know?"
  1163. Marriage. If you had asked him a year ago, Thomas probably would have laughed at the idea that anyone would have wanted to marry him.
  1165. "Like what?" he asked, nuzzling against her. Somehow, it didn't surprise him that the idea of marrying Alana wasn't intimidating in the least. He felt no fear or anxiety - only a strong, warm sense of optimism for their shared future.
  1167. "You could breathe underwater forever, for starters," she beamed. "You wouldn't need my help anymore. And you could manipulate the water to push you along, so you could swim as fast as I can! And I could take a human form, whenever I want, at no cost! We could go anywhere together - do anything we wanted!"
  1169. "That sounds wonderful," Thomas said softly. "And it sounds incredibly generous, too. What does your goddess expect in return?"
  1171. "Only that we spread love and peace wherever we go, on land or beneath water," she nodded. "That we love each other freely, and encourage others to do the same."
  1173. "Sign me up," he chuckled. "And maybe read some of those scriptures to me while we're traveling. If I'm gonna help spread Poseidon's message, I'd like to know more about her."
  1175. "Of course!" Alana returned his laughter and hugged him tightly.
  1177. "Alana," Thomas started. "I want to go everywhere with you. I want to see it all with you."
  1179. She pulled him in closer and pressed her lips against his, holding the kiss for only a second. Then she leaned back, smiled, and asked him:
  1181. "Where should we start?"
  1183. **********
  1185. A/N: Yes, I know that kelp doesn't grow in the Caribbean. No, I don't care.
  1187. So, here we are. I'm not new to writing, but this is my first piece with eroticism in it. I felt like trying my hand at it, it seemed like an interesting challenge. What did you think, how did I do?
  1189. I was interested in writing for some of the monster girls that don't have many (or any) stories yet, and the Sea Bishop felt like a very good candidate. Monster girls are a big kink for me, but I also like lore and backstory, which is why this had a lot of buildup. I picked the Sea Bishop in particular because I love their selfless, calm nature, and of course their magic is very interesting, too. I felt that it was important a story with a sea bishop had a believable romance, not just sex and lust.
  1191. Future stories will vary in tone - they definitely won't all be as long or as romantic as this one. Is there any particular monster girl you'd like to read about? The top three ideas that I'm hovering on right now are the Dark Slime, the Nightgaunt (brand new!) and the Shoggoth, my absolute favorite monster girl. And if you don't know what any of that meant, I applaud you for reading all of this without already knowing about the Monster Girl Encyclopedia. Check it out, it's fun!
  1193. I hope you had a good read, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. You can message u/EighthSpan on reddit or email EighthSpan@protonmail.com!
  1195. -EighthSpan
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