Thursday, August 29, 2019

Drabble No. 8: Where We Were Part 8

Where We Were Part 8

Levine was weak, but he didn't want to show that to the others. Five days had passed, and still his men had not returned for him. He began to worry as the sun set on the fifth day. Had they all been killed in the attack?

The two humans were quiet and efficient, moving about when the sun was down and the breeze was cooler, resting in the day when the heat was the worst. They'd constructed a bit of shade with palm leaves, and he was grateful for it as he lay under it next to them.

The woman was strong, and she moved with purpose. She thought carefully about each task, and completed it efficiently and without complaint. He let her pour desalinated water down his throat, and even some salty, fishy soup that she and the man assured him had the protein he would need to heal. 

His leg was healing, he could feel the lessening of the pain, the throbbing dull instead of sharp enough to feel as if his leg was being severed. Every few hours the woman would unwrap the bandages, boil them to keep them clean, and wash the wound before applying more of the yellow paste. The man was hesitant to get too close, but he was smart. Levine knew many healers who would not recognize the deep sea sponge that was working to cleanse the poison from his wound. He left the man be, as much as he could. He saw no point in forcing the man to interact with him. The woman, on the other hand, was happy to chat with Levine as she went about her work. 

"This is looking much better," she told him as she rewrapped the wound in the clean, dry bandages. "I think you'll feel great by tomorrow night."

"Feeling better already."

She sat back on her heels and put her hands in her lap. He noticed things about her that told him more of her story that he supposed she would like. Her hands, for example, were rough with calluses from days of hard labor. Her knuckles were large from the swelling, and her joints cracked when she moved too quickly. She had a small scar just under her eye, and it was the crescent shape of a sharp fist that hit bone and tore the delicate flesh across her cheekbone. 

She caught him staring and her lashes fluttered down over her startling amber eyes. "Are you feeling well?"

"Fine." He shifted some, missing his bed in the palace of the Jengu king. "Thank you for your care."

"It's our duty, master."

"You may call me Levine." He nodded at the man who lay resting with his good arm over his eyes, asking her to translate. "Don't call me master or sir."

She spoke to the man, who raised his hand in acknowledgement, before she turned back to him. 

"Do you want to ask me more questions?" he teased. She was careful, testing his patience with her, but she had many questions. Most of them were things he'd want to know if he was in her position, so he answered without ire.

A blush colored her cheeks, but she raised her chin. "May I?"

He waved for her to go ahead.

"Tell me about the Jengu."

That was a loaded question. As far as most humans knew, the Jengu were nothing but folklore. Not officially existing was a boon for the Jengu, all told, because they moved about the open waters without much fear of coming across vessels hellbent on capturing or killing them. He supposed it wouldn't hurt to tell her what he knew. She was never going to return to the human world anyway. 

"When the world was new, and humans were just learning to poke at anthills with sticks, the Jengu were at the height of their civilization deep beneath the seas. They had hundreds of cities in every ocean across the world. But as with any population, they began to outgrow their habitat. Food became scarce, and the world was an ever-changing environment. When fire rained down from the skies it began to evaporate the oceans, and most of the Jengu died out."

She bit her lip, thinking over his revelation. "But some survived."

"The current king's father was the last of his people. He lived so deep in the ocean that he managed to survive, but he knew that if he wanted to continue his bloodline he would need to find a mate."

Her cheeks bloomed with color again. He found it interesting that the talk of mates would illicit such a reaction. 

"He swam near the shores and waited for a human female to come close enough to the edge. He took her, and brought her to his palace deep in the ocean to help repopulate his kingdom."

"That's terrible."

He coughed, surprised by her reaction. "Terrible?"

"That poor woman! Taken from her home, never to see her family again. Forced to breed with an inhuman!"

"We don't condone his actions," he said, affronted. "Times were desperate but it doesn't excuse his behavior. I'm just telling you the history."

"How did he do it?"

Levine froze, uncertain of the question. "Do it?"

"How did he bring a human to the bottom of the ocean without drowning her?"

Despite her disgust, she was quite practical. "The Jengu are magical creatures, I suppose you could say. There were ancient practices that the king's father read about in the great library, and he used them to bring the human woman to his palace."

"And now? You take humans from ships to become servants of the Jengu."

"When the king's father bred with the human woman, the king was born. He had several siblings who did not survive childhood. As he grew, they began to discover that he had a strange ability. Any human he used this ability on would transform into a Jengu. This is how we repopulated the city."

Her mouth fell open. "The current Jengu were once human?"

"All but the king. His parents are gone now, though they lived for centuries before they died. I, and the others like me, became Jengu after we passed the trials."


He shook his head. "Only those who are deemed worthy of the trials can know their details. Just know that the king can foresee the outcome, and he will choose those who can survive to be Jengu with us."

"Could Jerome or I be chosen?"

"It's not out of the question." He yawned, tired. "We will talk more tomorrow."

She stood, but then paused. "Are they coming, Levine?"

He liked the sound of his name on her lips. He couldn't lie, even if it might make her feel better. "I don't know." 

"What do we do if they don't?"

"I'll think of something."

She left, and he watched her tend the fire. The flames lit up her hair and turned her skin to caramel in the moonlight. As sleep overtook him, he wondered where the hell his men were.

***DONT FORGET! If you like the story, leave a comment and let me know!!***

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