Playful merchild and her pet turtle
Eiluvial was the last of seven daughters, born to vaguely noble merfolk. The family’s estate was far from court, however, though it never occured to Eil to ask why they rarely consorted with merfolk from the capital city. At least, not until after her sixth birthday. That was the first time she remembered seeing her mother slovenly drunk, her father exasperatedly leading her from the dining table to bed. Although she had ever been inquisitive, it took many long hours lolling in the aunties’ parlor, pretending to be fascinated by their weaving, to piece together that the family’s fortunes of old had long been lost to drink and gambling. The Taletreader “estate” was merely a cast-off chunk in a backwater county that the family had been allowed to keep for appearance’s sake.
When she was eight, the aunties taught her secret magic that could turn her shimmering tail into strange, stumpy appendages. They would take her ashore in a nearby fishing village to sell their weaving. To pass the time, Eil would sing songs learned beneath the waves, and passersby would smile and visit her aunties’ ramshackle stall more frequently. But her magical legs didn’t last long, and Eiluvial would return to the ocean ever more reluctantly each time the charm began to wear off.
For Eil loved observing the world above the waves, so different from the dismal conditions in her home. It became commonplace for her to journey into the village even when it wasn’t a market day, and on a few occasions she dared to stay above when the magic faded and her tail returned. On these occasions she would keep to the sandy beaches, skirts tucked carefully around her fins, mounted primly on the back of the turtle she had kept since she was old enough to feed it from their table.
As the family fortune grew ever scarcer, Eiluvial’s sisters and aunties left one after another for warmer waters. Her parents were lost even further into their respective vices, and when she was ten years old her last remaining aunt took her aside. Pack a bag, little one, she intoned. There’s nothing left here, not anymore. That was the last she saw of her childhood home, for she, Aunt Andrina, and her precious turtle Tank took up residence on the surface world, in the little fishing village they had always sold their weaving in. The residents of Souston welcomed them warmly, even after they began attending market with tails instead of legs, and little Eil began attending the local school, and made fast friends with several of the local children.
Eiluvial has found purpose among the surface-dwellers. Tales of famous explorers, half-overheard from the corners of market stalls and mentioned in the history lessons at school, have inspired the girl’s songs, weavings, and spirits. She sells her own weavings in the market stall now, and saves every shiny coin for the journey she hopes to take on her own one day.