The Transformation Story Archive Mythical Beings

No Template Chosen!

Highest Tide

by Eala Dubh

The lone diver sat waiting on the reef where he and his lover had arranged to meet, exultant in the knowledge that his life was about to change utterly.

Jarvis, for that was his name, was a dreamer, his imagination having been active since his early childhood. Life for him thus far had been kind; a steady job, a close-knit circle of friends, his own home, paid for by a mortgage comfortably within his reach. But it all bored him. The mundanities of normal day-to-day existence had of late begun to drain his spirits, for a different pull tugged at his inner soul. More than anything else, Jarvis longed to break the shackles of his humdrum life, to rise above and become the individual person he knew he truly was at heart. The trouble was, he'd had no idea of exactly how to achieve that. Almost every day his mind would suggest a fresh, new, exciting idea to him; however, it only took a few hours of clarity and reasoning for the idea to collapse and come to nothing each time. All he knew for certain was that he was capable of becoming so much more, something unique, if only the right opportunity would present itself. But now, all being well, that miracle would be his in just a very fewminutes. He had brought no equipment this time, save the boat to transport himself here. It would surely have been redundant.

Until now, Jarvis had never truly found love, for that too was linked to his wish-fulfillment fantasies. His friends and acquaintances were all nice enough people, and several times he had attempted to forge a close relationship. Sooner or later though he would always be left wanting when the other's mask peeled away to reveal the drab, ordinary person underneath. But that was before he had chanced upon Lissia. Though he had stopped believing it could be possible, she had instantly stolen his heart away. In every respect, Lissia was as different a person to anyone he had ever encountered. She was beautiful, intelligent and charming, everything Jarvis had been saving himself for. She was single, and similarly dispossessed, with no true love to call her own. But the most fortuitous thing of all was, Lissia was a mermaid. Moreover, she could offer him something which no other person or being alive possibly could; a new life.

Jarvis had encountered her a mere two days before, but even in that short space of time it was clear where their joined destinies lay.

Lissia too had a tale of woe. Her father was a powerful figure in the undersea kingdom, where close ties were kept and enforced between rich and noble families. To this end, Lissia was to be forced into an arranged and loveless marriage with an aristocrat suitor many years her senior, whom she had little in common with and hardly even knew. As the fated day grew closer she had swum to the surface in despair, desperate for a means of escape, and that's when she and Jarvis had found each other, and fallen in love in an instant.

A tryst was the only possible answer for either of them. She could not venture onto the land, but maybe, just possibly, he could come to her. Her ancestors had dabbled in magic, and old relics still remained in the family vault. If any solution was to be found, it would be there.

She would steal a treasure that had the power to change Jarvis into a merman, and the two together would flee. The sea folk did not approve of any dealings with the human world; close contact was expressly forbidden. She had made Jarvis promise not to tell a soul about her, and smitten, he had agreed. She, after all, would be making a far greater sacrifice, for she would never be able to go home again. There would be an outcry when it was discovered what Lissia had done.

Even now, a part of Jarvis couldn't quite believe his incredible fortune. He fidgeted as she sat on the reef. Where could she be? A splash and a shout closeby alerted him, and his face lit up in delight. Lissia had appeared exactly on time, after all.

"Did you find it? Have you got it there?"

Grinning, Lissia held up a small glass bottle shaped like a shell, filled with a pink liquid. "I'm sure this is what we're looking for," she replied in a high, musical voice. "There's nothing else in the vault it could possibly be."

Lissia handed the bottle to Jarvis. He cradled it as a parent would a newborn baby; it was as equally precious to him. Passage to a different world; the freedom of the entire ocean, where finally he would feel like somebody special. He stood that way for a minute, until Lissia urged him on.

"Come on, Jarvis, we don't have much time. When they find the find the vault key missing, and me along with it, they'll put two and two together and come after us. Hurry up and drink the elixir, I'll see you below." With that, she vanished underwater.

This was the moment. Jarvis stood up, and took off the few clothes he had on. He unstoppered the bottle and sniffed its contents, savouring the strange, musty aroma of a bygone age. Then he wasted no time in quaffing the potion that would renounce his human life forever.

Instantly, Jarvis began to choke. He couldn't breathe. Dropping the bottle, he clutched his throat, staggering, his body wracked by pain and nausea. His vision was a swirl of fog. Reeling, he toppled off the reef and plunged into the awaiting brine...

Some minutes later, Jarvis opened his eyes. He was alive; more to the point, he was breathing again. What had happened? He had not been fully prepared for the unpleasant effects of the elixir, but it must have worked. Something was definitely different. He was underwater, suspended as if to defy gravity, an unknown distance down. The moment he has aware of it, his body instinctively righted itself, his head pointing upwards towards the surface, which he could see clearly above him. He felt elated; that was something that no human in the same circumstances should be able to do. As he breathed, he became aware of the strange feel of water pulsing out of the slits in his neck. Gill slits.

He was truly a sea-creature.

Jarvis looked around, taking in for the first time a proper view of a genuinely alien world. The subtle changes to his eyes and ears let in a wash of altered visions and sounds, creating new sensations he could never have appreciated before as a human. How different it all seemed, now. No longer dim and blurred, the colours were bright and vibrant. He was close to the bottom, where the delicate fronds of the the plant life that grew underwater were fantastically detailed, utterly exqisite. The scales of the fish that swam nearby reflected a splendid kaleidoscope of tiny sparkles. He turned for a closer look and the school flashed away with a streak of sliver.

One major drawback was that it was now much more difficult for Jarvis to judge distance. The sunrays hung in the water, and the shadows on the ground below were more indistinct. The local fauna moved past with no visible reference linking it to the ocean floor. To his eyes the perspective also seemed peculiar, like he was very near-sighted. He assumed it would just take time for him to become accustomed to how the light that reached his eyes was affected by the depths, and put it out of his mind.

Then Lissia was there before him, some distance away, beckoning him to come to her. She floated in place, more radiant and lovely than ever before. Desire filled Jarvis. He had never felt so alive. Suddenly his body was gripped by a wild urge to charge away and tear through the ocean, never tiring, never slowing, powered by the long, supple piscine tail he was overjoyed that his legs had become. It was full of strength. A simple flick of the tail and he could cover the distance between himself and Lissia in a second.

But he resisted; there was still a lot to get used to, and he didn't want to risk hurting Lissia if he found he couldn't stop again. For now, he was content to let the ocean currents carry him, balancing himself with his tail, a symbol of who and what he now was. Jarvis drifted over to Lissia. She had been much closer to him than he'd realized; it was their difference in size that had caused his confusion. As a human he had been smaller than she, for her own tail and fins measured half again as long as his legs had done. Now, he almost dwarfed her. Unlike her slight upper frame, his own build felt massive, his lower piscine half no less so. Lissia however saw nothing strange in this, and Jarvis did not care, consumed as he was with pride. Lissia appeared to be every bit as happy as he was himself. She marvelled at him, telling him repeatedly how big and handsome he was. While she spoke, she petted him, and scratched his head behind his ears, sending shivers of pure pleasure through every fibre of Jarvis' body.

Jarvis was lost in a bleary haze of ecstacy. He had made the right decision, and though his former life was fast becoming a distant memory, he missed and regretted nothing. Lissia meant the whole world to him now, far more than the one above he had wilfully forsaken. More so even than the new life he had embraced to be with her. They would be together forever, there was nothing he would not do for her.

Suddenly the water erupted with a rush of bubbles as a cluster of hidden figures sprang up from the rocks and ocean undergrowth. Mermen, eight of them, armed between them with nets, ropes and a trident. Before Jarvis knew what was happening, they had surrounded him. Jarvis panicked, his only thoughts those of flight. He outsized and outweighed them, and was certain that with his newfound strength and stamina he could easily outdistance his captors. But they had realized this too, and had blocked off all possible escape routes. Mere seconds later a number of seaweed ropes were thrown and wound around him, pinning Jarvis' remaining limbs to his heavy chest and ending his hopes of freedom. He squirmed around, rolling his eyes and screaming, all his power counting for naught. In vain he snapped at the ropes, hoping to bite through or pull them until they broke, but they bound him too tightly for his teeth to get a grip. Lissia, who had somehow managed to avoid being caught in the scuffle, swam back to him, careful to avoid being struck by a blow from his thrashing tail, and put her arms around him. At her touch, Jarvis' panic dissolved, replaced once more by rapt adoration as she caressed him, soothing his frightened snorts.

"Whoa there. Easy, big fellow." One of the merman had decided to join them, and Jarvis had shied from the unfamilliar scent. The visitor was an obvious figure of authority, bearded and wearing a suit of scaled mail that shimmered different colours. It was he who carried the trident. He looked Jarvis up and down, and nodded in satisfaction. From a pack, he took out a sizable and weighty pouch, and handed it to Lissia.

"Amazing. He's absolutely magnificent. I take it all back, he's well worth the five thousand corals asking price. Now I know why your customers come away satisfied. Will he be difficult to train?"

"Oh, he'll be no trouble at all," Lissia replied. "He's practically tame already. I'm sure he doesn't even remember his own name by now. Do you, boy?"

She patted Jarvis' nose; he mhrred obligingly in response.

"I'll give him a worthier one. He'll be a champion, he looks so strong, swift and powerful. I'll call him 'Tsunami.'" The chief gestured to his helpers. "You can take him away now."

Jarvis struggled as the other mermen tried to drag him off. All he knew was that he was being seperated from his love, and didn't want to go. He tried to say so; the words did not form, but the resultant sound was heartfelt.

"Ahh, don't be so sad," Lissia cooed at him. "I'll visit you every day or two. Just to check up, until I know you've truly forgotten everything." The words held little meaning to him, but Jarvis no longer cared. Her voice was enough to pacify him.

"You know, this is a pretty chancy business you run," the merman leader remarked with a note of concern. "Doesn't it ever worry you that you'll be caught someday?"

"Not really," Lissia replied. "You just have to be careful and hide all the evidence. They never tell anyone, the charm keeps it all a secret, and the potion ensures they can never go back again. Not that any ever want to. Sure, there's always some element of risk, but that's why you people pay half the money up front. It's also a lot quicker, easier and safer than capturing and breaking in the beasts from the wild."

She chinked the large bag of coins in her hand as she watched the mermen lead Jarvis, or Tsunami as he would be now until the end of his days, away to a new life of obedient servitude. "And as you can see, they make such wonderful sea-horses."