The following is a story from a series of short fiction exploring some of the Faerie Shepherds and Shepherdesses within my fantasy world. Read below the story for further explanation and head over to my first tale in this series if you’d like to read more!

Marin’s tongue raked the sea’s tangy kiss from her lips. The Gulf’s warming winds tap-danced along the waves before swinging a quadrille through her wavy locks. She’d stood on this rock countless times before. Each time the view struck her as familiar as it was ever-changing. Water and sky stretched as far as her sight could reach.

Perhaps that’s what she loved about it—the never-ending newness. Every tide breathed its first and last upon this rock. Each drowning and breaching sun would never cast the exact hues again. Even she found herself on each visit a remade version of the Marin she knew deep down.

Since early childhood, sleep would transport her to this spot. She would stay to swim and play with the creatures of the sea for far longer than a single human night. Always, when she grew tired, she would lay upon a bed of starfish as seahorses and dolphins harmonized to give her a sea song for slumber.

As she grew older, her visits to the rock grew longer. The sea creatures began to rely on her presence. Her appearances became legend amongst the peoples of the ocean’s depths and even the Undines—the very spirits of the water—enveloped her into their councils.

As Marin breathed in the briny breeze, she picked up a hint of something foreign. Her deep brown eyes scanned the horizon until she realized the colors were wrong—off, somehow. Too bright or not sharp enough? Too much of one tone and not enough of another—perhaps that was it. Like she was peering through a tinted filter at the view she loved the best.

Vibrations massaged her feet, heel to toe and back again. Growing stronger, they ran up her legs and throughout her body until her ears alerted her to more unusual activity. A grating, scraping, breaking crunch shook the sound waves behind her.

Her rock had come alive.

Marin bowed her head to the scene before her as she steadied herself for whatever discovery would come. Her turn came quicker only than her eyelids’ choice to rise. Before her—where once she’d found steady support from the rock against which she would rest to think and dream and wish—a wide, dark opening beckoned to her.

From its depths came the siren song of porpoises playing and splashing within a watery cave. Marin longed to join them, to frolic with them in the cooling waters tucked away within this ancient—yet newly birthed—grotto.

She could feel the memory of the smooth velvet of the porpoises’ sides brushing against her skin. She heard their teasing calls and smelled the sea billowing from the cleft. The intensity of the vibrations beneath her had increased and traveled until they filled the air around her and seemed to originate within her chest.

As she squinted into the opening, Marin caught a slight shimmer far inside the murkiness. Like a candlewick struggling to latch onto a match’s offering, the glint appeared here and there, disappearing again and again but reappearing slightly brighter than before.

The colors beckoned.

The calls of the impish creatures enticed.

But, it was the water that lured her toward the cave’s yawn. The lapping began softly, slowly; gradually joining in the chorus of all the other gifts to Marin’s senses. As it rose into a mighty rushing culmination of the sea’s symphony, she knew this was the end to the musical masterpiece she’d only heard in shortened movements.

Its melody filled her soul and overflowed from her mouth in words she’d always carried but could not understand. As she joined the performance, her feet led her inside the grotto. They felt her path down moss-covered stairs as her eyes never wavered from the glimmer ahead. It grew larger the deeper she trod as the song she sang rose in fullness and volume.

In unison with a rousing crescendo, the light burst forth as her toes reached lightly lapping waves and she sank slowly into the water with its glowing rainbow shimmer spreading out as far as Marin could see.

She became one with the water, the light, the chorus and the creatures teeming in the deep.

Sirena, queen of the Undines, greeted Marin with arms wide open, princesses of the Gulf fanning out from her as they sang in unison.

“Welcome, Marin—Chosen to lead. Come, take your place; assume your Calling. Shepherdess of the Seas.”

“Grotto in the Gulf” Copyright © 2018 by Joy E. Rancatore. All Rights Reserved.

I’d love to hear what you think about Marin and the water she loves! My hope is that you’re drawn to these characters from this tiny window into their world. My goal is to gift you a monthly story post as I slowly develop this fantasy world of mine and plan out a series of books surrounding the Shepherds and Shepherdesses of the Fae. Read my last story with more on Marin’s sister, Montana, in this post.

This month’s story flowed from the inspiration of a delightful monthly online writing prompt, #BlogBattle. As you will read on their site, “Blog Battle is a monthly writing prompt meant to inspire writers and entertain readers.” To read several outstanding stories inspired by October’s prompt, “Cave,” head on over to the BlogBattlers site! You may just find a new favorite author to follow!

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The following is a story from a series of short fiction exploring some of the Faerie Shepherds and Shepherdesses within my fantasy world.