Please read Chapter 23 here.
Chapter 24: Escaping Talise, A Wicked Sea Witch
Nina wanted to scream but the hand covering her mouth made it impossible for her to make a sound. She could barely breath she was so afraid of who had captured her. The man held her solidly against his his chest. Perhaps, Malcolm was still bewitched by Talise and keeping Nina trapped in the water for Talise to find?
Nina started to struggle against the man holding her captive. He had them both propped up against the boat where Nina had decided to hide from Talise. Nina splashed and pushed against the man’s chest, but he wouldn’t let her go. Talise was chanting her spell so loudly, her words could be heard throughout Adare’s Harbour.Had she noticed Nina had disappeared?
Nina kicked against the man holding her and attempted to use her elbows to injure him. She tried to knee him where it would hurt but then the arms holding her dunked Nina in the water a moment, before bringing her back up to the surface of the Sirene sputtering.
A familiar voice behind her said: “Shhh.” Nina turned her head minutely, enough to see a man holding a finger to his full lips. Nina peered over her shoulder to get a peek at the man. Maybe this man was trying to help her and he would aid her in escaping Talise?
Nina whispered so quietly she wasn’t sure the man could hear her, “Who are you? Is it Malcolm? John?” She whispered the last name hopefully. A kiss to her temple reassured her.
Nina wanted to jump for joy but she remained completely still and calm. She whispered to John, “I missed you. You wouldn’t answer your phone.” Behind her, John chuckled. His lips moved to Nina’s ear kissing the tip of it.
“My Nina,” John said in a hushed voice. Nina wanted to shout in happiness but she knew the perilous position both she and John were in. She snuggled against John in the coolness of the water. John kept Nina afloat in the Sirene, leaning on the boat.
He released his tight hold on Nina so she was able to turn in arms and face John. She peered into John’s sapphire eyes beneath his sopping dark brown hair. Nina brushed wet hair off John’s forehead tenderly and gasped seeing how purple the circles under John’s eyes appeared. John regarded Nina tiredly with a soft smile but she noticed how much John leaned on the boat for support and how his eyes kept shutting.
“John,” Nina whispered,”Did you swim the entire way back from Talise’s cave? You look exhausted. I don’t know how you were holding me so tightly when you look as if you’ve had every ounce of strength zapped out of you. You need to sleep.”
“Miles to go before I sleep,” John quoted Blake, smiling at Nina. “You’re wearing the necklace from the Farmer’s Market.”
“Of course,” Nina said quietly, “I never take it off. You know that. It seems as if attempting to save me from Talise alone, hasn’t been working for you John. I think it’s better when we collaborate; if we face Talise as a team.” John grinned but his face appeared wan.
“I got her dagger, Nina,” John whispered. “She’ll want me because I have her dagger. I injured her with it. She’s not letting on, but it’s why her spell isn’t working right now. Usually, I think she could use the Sirene’s Lake water and kill you no matter where you were in the Lake. But Talise can’t find you in the lake, her magic isn’t powerful enough.”
“She doesn’t want to kill me John. Talise wants us to suffer to be a part. She’s been considering this for the three-months I was healing from my head and you weren’t feeling as if you were cursed. She wants to change me into a mermaid and bewitch you permanently, so you have little free will.” Nina murmured.
“Talise wants to use us each to taunt the other, knowing we can never be together. If you’re human and I’m a mermaid, you’ll die and I’ll have hundreds of years alive without you. Only when your dead, will I be able to walk on land as mermaids sometimes do.” Nina whispered, tears escaping her pale blue eyes.
John looked aghast.”Talise – Tia is awful. I can’t believe she was special to me at one time. When I was twenty-five-years-old, I actually thought I loved her. I even told her I lied to my brothers, that I actually cared about her. Talise doesn’t believe me. She has past issues, about a guy named Ethan, her beloved husband. He cheated on her throughout their entire marriage in the 1800’s.”
“I know,” Nina said hushing John’s words with a finger to his lips. The tears dripping from her eyes stung her chilly skin.”There’s something worse though John . . . Talise said we can’t break the curse. If you sacrifice yourself for me, you’ll die. I’ll be alone, saved from death or a fish tale but without you in my life.”
John, with great effort, kissed Nina, exploring her mouth with his own, before pulling himself back up against the boat. “I had figured the curse might be that kind of curse.” John murmured tiredly.
“What kind? You mean not the kind that exists in fairytales where good always wins?”
“Yes, my Nina. That kind. The type where evil lives to thrive and destroy another day.” John sighed. He was freakishly pale.
“I’m sorry Nina. I have to end this whatever the outcome. I have to finish off Talise. It’s the reason I went to get her dagger. I will thrust it through her heart. She said she would do the same to you. I have to ensure that never happens.” John gazed at Nina determinedly.
Nina could see John gathering himself together for one last fight, ready to leave the boats where they both hid and declare his presence to Talise. But suddenly, the water around them began to froth and bubble.
Waves rose and separated John and Nina, carrying Nina far out to the middle of the Sirene, past all the yachts, sailing boats and any kind of boat a person might have kept at the harbour in Adare.
Nina was pulled out to where she could barely swim because the swells of waves kept burying her in the Sirene’s water, which Nina was choking up. She was having trouble catching her breathe.
Nina glanced at John before she was carried under the waves of the Sirene, under the water. He was leaning against the boat one minute, then feverishly swimming out to Nina with all his might. He struggled because he was so worn out and Nina noticed John’s strength was fading fast. There was only so much swimming a body could possibly do in one night.
Talise in rage, appeared behind Nina. She was a mermaid, hag, and sea witch with fierce neon green eyes and teeth which were sharp and pointed. Nina never pictured a sea witch or a mermaid having such fearsome teeth.
Talise laughed darkly, holding Nina against her frightening yet frail appearance. Nina knew better then to think Talise weak. She reached her hand to Talise’s wrinkled arm, which was putting Nina in a choke hold, and dug her long oval pink nails, into Talise’s arm wound. Nina poked and pried at Talise’s injury until Talise cried out in pain. She pushed Nina under the water to make Nina stop further injuring Talise’s arm.
Nina wouldn’t end her hold on Talise’s arm wound, even as she felt herself struggling to breathe underwater. Briefly, her hand lifted from Talise’s arm when Talise pulled Nina up above the Sirene Lake’s water.
“Stop it you little bitch,” Talise told Nina. She grabbed Nina’s hair plunging Nina’s face into the water, regarding Nina as she would a gnat, as Nina drowned.
Talise pulled Nina’s face out of the water and close to her mouth and sharp teeth. “Behave Nina,” Talise warned and held Nina against her.
“I know you swim poorly, but don’t worry I have a tail and can swim for us both. We’re going to be great friends you and I Nina, as I’ve said. John is a blip. No good for either of us. What’s that they say, ‘ho’s before bro’s.'” Talise cackled at her own lame humour.
Nina didn’t find Talise funny at all.”Leave him alone. Don’t you dare touch John. I will hurt you and I will find a way to kill you if dare lay a finger on him.You’re injured Talise. I’ll stop at nothing to use that weakness against you.”
Talise smiled flashing her pointed teeth.”There’s that spirit John adores. Watch him struggle in the waves, he’s been swimming for hours and hours, he hasn’t much strength left.” Talise remarked.”As he drowns, I’ll get my dagger. I’m ending this here and now.”
Nina watched John fight and attempt to swim in the water which was still frothing and bubbling around him. She began to cry, fearing she was watching the man she loved drowning
In a moment, there were lights in the middle of the Sirene Lake. A sailing boat came thrusting through the water shining light on Nina and Talise in the water. The boat’s name was written in huge navy letters across its side. It’s name was Faith. Something Nina desperately needed at present.
Another light from Faith fell on John and a lifesaver was thrown out towards him. John grabbed unto the lifesaver gratefully, his sapphire gaze glued on Nina, beneath his darkly bruised under eye skin.
Talise screamed in rage, terrifyingly ugly. She had become a freak of nature, of even folklore. Nina began digging her hand into Talise’s arm wound, scraping out chunks of flesh as Talise’s elbow grip around Nina’s neck increased until it was asphyxiating Nina.
Nina thought she would pass out. In the haze of her mind, somewhere between breathe and death, Nina saw Jordan swimming out to meet John. Jordan and John were both the light provided by Faith, John’s sail boat.
The weather wasn’t stormy but nor was the Lake around Talise gentle. Her magic was powerful enough to make the middle of the Sirene rough. It must have been around 3:00 am, Nina thought judging from the time she was bewitched into leaving her condo. She wondered what Talise thought about Nina being able to break her bewitchment spell.
Nina dug her free hand into Talise’s face scratching and attempting to gouge Talise’s glowing eyes. Talise shrieked trying to asphyxiate Nina again. When Nina wouldn’t cease digging her fingers into Talise’s arm wound and face, Talise bit Nina’s shoulder.
“Ahhh…” Nina cried out. The pain she felt was searing and could be felt by her entire nervous system. Instantly, Nina’s gaze flew to her shoulder, a blackish-green substance oozed out of ferocious bite marks. “Poison…” Nina whispered to herself. Her body was shuddering from the pain and the toxin from Talise’s mouth; the poison was causing Nina lethargy.
Nina had to have screamed loudly because Nina saw John thrust something at Jordan. Jordan grasped the dagger John had stolen from Talise. It was what Talise most wanted. Through haze and mental fog, Nina saw Talise’s eyes grow wide as she spotted the dagger Jordan held.
Talise smiled and told Nina: “I’m going to get the dagger back now Nina. It’s mine. I killed the evilest sea witch for it. I’m killing John with it. I shouldn’t have changed my mind about killing you. My bite is poisonous and the toxins have entered your bloodstream. You’ll die as John will and probably his meddlesome brother Jordan as well.”
“You won’t kill John. Part of you still wants him. Part of you loves him, it’s why you want to control him. To make him your perfect boyfriend. The husband, you never had because let’s face it Talise your a dumb childless witch and no one wants to be with someone like you. Someone who would sell her soul, for revenge.” Nina’s voice was surprisingly loud, it hurt her own ears.
“Get your soul back Talise. It’s the only way you can go back. You could have a normal life and meet someone new.Better then Ethan or John. But once you kill with that dagger, I’m guessing you can’t go back…” Nina’s voice faltered.
Talise observed Nina as the poison made Nina weak. Nina’s body was shuddering and turning rigid. Talise was noticeably quiet as she thought about what Nina said. The pronounced wrinkles on her forehead folding deeper. ” I can’t be saved. I made my choice. You know nothing about Ethan. John could never take his place, not know. I can’t take the risk of another man like Ethan or John. I can’t just start all over again . . .”
“Every woman, every girl, starts over again in the world Talise. It’s how relationships work. It’s why we’re the stronger sex, why we can handle having kids. Because we can handle the pain of having our hearts broken again and again first.” Nina’s voice was barely a whisper, she was fading into light.
Then, Talise was pulling Nina’s body through the water, weightlessly, towards John who clung to the lifesaver. Jordan held onto his own lifesaver, the black dagger in his hands ready to plunge into Talise’s heart. Archaic symbols glowed red on the dagger as Talise grew nearer to its presence. To John and Jordan Talise was terrifying, yet the tumbling water around them had ceased, and Talise’s eyes had dimmed to a muddy-green.
Nina faded out of consciousness.There was colour here. Beautiful and brilliant waves and patterns of colour everywhere. It was overwhelming at first. The colour folded Nina’s body in its vividness and she felt as if she could finally sleep. Recalling John’s words from the Robert Frost poem as she drifted: “. . . And miles to go before I sleep.” Perhaps, Nina’s miles were done.
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