A short story that I thought up when I was thinking of the book I’m working on, and the seahorse centaur sketch that John Howe did.
He was young and strong. He was gifted with extremely artistic talents, and echo-raised in the most beautiful voice. However, his fellow villagers sent him to tend the crops of seaweed, for he had two faults. One, his spine was bent, so he was slightly stooped all the time, and this impaired his swimming.
The other was that he told stories. Only nobility, those who stayed on the cutting edge of the seashell, were allowed to write stories. For commoners to do so was to invite death. The tools required for writing were the same as those that were used for carving, unless you could get enchanted ink and paper, and a decent petrified octopus tentacle.
His name was Shoet, rhyming with his favorite word: poet. To him, the sound held a hidden beauty. Maybe that was because it sounds different in his language. It was a short whistle followed by a sound like whale song.
However, the fact that he might be killed did not stop Shoet from writing. A mermaid secretly visited him in the fields, enchanting the seaweed he was allowed to keep and giving him enchanted ink to use. Getting an octopus tentacle for her to petrify was easy enough, seataurs were always going out and hunting octopuses.
Doing so meant you were finally fully matured. So when he gathered the seaweed and started weaving what would be used for clothing for the higher ups, he quietly started writing by the light of a coral lamp. He wrote in script made neat by practicing. He recorded fantasies about the mythical, creative surface dwellers.
With their huge round, cold heads with strange facial features that were hidden behind an invisible wall. He wrote about their huge flippers and strange feeling skin, about their strange language with it’s hard sounds.
Alallia read the stories and praised them to the surface of the Big Deep, sharing what she could remember with her family. Sometimes Shoet wished he had been born a mermaid, their laws did not prohibit commoners from writing stories or wearing seaweed clothes.
Shoet’s weavings found their way into a huge wedding cloak for the Prince of seataurs, Arlafs. The Prince didn’t notice the writting, but the aging king, who was sick of the generic stories his court made, did notice. When Arlafs was out at parties, Morcrill would drift into his room and read the story.
When he finished it, he felt agitated, wanting to find the writer. He knew the enchanter had to be a mermaid, no seataur would have cast the spells for a commoner. And it must be a commoner, for nobility did not weave seaweed.
He left for the court of the mermaid king. Over boiled eel and paste made from crab meat and the highly nutritious wood of sunken ships, Morcrill told the mermaid king the story.
Alvoru sent out search teams, and soon they brought back a group of mermen and mermaids who made regular trips to visit seataurs. Soon, Alallia was giving Shoet’s name.
When Morcrill found Shoet, the seataur was writing something in what he thought was privacy. Morcrill read what had been written, then commented. Shoet paled, feeling that he was to die, but Morcrill took his hand and they went to the palace, with the king asking about his inspirations.
Shoet ended up being the royal story writer, by popular choice. Soon, his stories were being recited everywhere, and he wore seaweed robes. Once, his stories actually prevented a kraken invasion. But that, my friends, is another story.
Please note: there was no dialogue because seataur language cannot be translated properly. The names were created through efforts to translate them, and what other seataur words they resembled.