I stood on the balcony of our palace, looking out to sea and scanning for danger. Twice had evil from the depths tried to steal those closest to my heart. Though all had been calm and safe for years now, I could not help but worry.
I turned behind me to see Ariel sleeping soundly. Her auburn hair flowed like the gentlest of waves down those delicate shoulders. She smiled slightly in her sleep, lips pursed. I leaned down and stroked a finger along her cheek before landing a soft kiss on her forehead.
After leaving the bedroom quietly I made my way down the hall. I peeked into Melody's room, just to make sure she was safe. It didn't really surprise me when I saw two vibrant blue eyes staring back out at me, lit up by a small lamp. They were eyes full of the mysteries of water -- her mother's eyes. I was there, too, in her dark hair and eyebrows that she plucked at furiously in order to look more feminine. Little did she know how beautiful she was.
"Nice try, Dad. I see you," she called out, putting a book down in her lap.
"You caught me," I laughed. "I was just checking on you. Go to sleep now."
I shut the door as she rolled her eyes and set off down the hallway. Each night I would visit the beach and watch for lurking evils. Part of me still loved the water, but never did I trust it.
I made my way slowly, enjoying the quiet and the short freedom from responsibility. The sand was soft beneath my feet, but the water lapped at me like a ravenous animal. No, I did not trust the ocean at all.
My heart thudded for a moment when I thought I saw a dark shape and eight cruel tentacles beneath the surface. However, it was just a trick of my imagination. I could no longer be sure if the visits to the beach calmed my mind or made me paranoid. I had to keep checking, just in case.
"Eric, how very typical: Always searching for evil in the sea, even when it is standing right behind you," came a cold voice.
I spun around. First, I saw a tall man standing right before me, wearing a dark hood and sneering happily. Then I saw something that made my blood run cold. In the distance behind the man were two glowing blue eyes, glinting in the moonlight.
"Melody, get inside, now!" I shouted before diving at the man.
He was weak and I felt it right away. For a moment I doubted myself. What if I was being paranoid? What if this was just a friendly old man? My grip slackened and a weight suddenly piled on my back. I was pulled to the ground, head pressed against the sand. Vile black creatures were holding me down, hitting and kicking.
The last thing I saw was Melody's long dark hair swirling behind a corner. They came for me, I thought, allowing myself to smile with relief before a sack took away my vision. Everything was black after that.
My dreams were wonderful that night. Eric kneeled before me, face pressed against my stomach. He had been beaming, and at first I did not know why. I glanced away for a moment, confused. When I looked back down my stomach was bulging, pregnant again after years of trying. I smiled into my love's eyes as he listened to our child kick.
Then, shouts invaded our private moment. They were far off and disturbingly familiar. I snapped awake and knew two things at once: I was pregnant and Eric was in trouble.
Seconds later, Melody burst into the room.
"They took Dad!" she shouted, almost in complete hysterics. "A cloaked man and these strange creatures, they took him away!"
I jumped up and secured my robe, following Melody out of the palace at a run. There were signs of a struggle in the sand, but Eric was nowhere to be seen.