I was dreaming. I knew I was dreaming because I was under water and I wasn’t drowning. The salt from to ocean water wasn’t stinging my eyes, and I could see everything around me so clearly. I looked at my hands, the iridescent fins and scales were back on my fingers. I noticed that the scales went up my arms as well. I studied the rest of my body to find all of my pale pink skin covered in the iridescent scales and formed fins along my elbows and legs. My toes were slightly webbed together as well as my fingers. It looked like rainbows were sparkling off of my skin.
A small school of orange and black colored fish swam around me and brushed my skin lightly, tickling me with their fins. The group swam a little away from me and started to dance in the water, creating a small whirl pool in the water. They started to swim deeper towards a large bunch of colorful coral on the ocean floor.
I felt the urge to follow them and get a better look of the coral. It was beautiful, majestic. The coral came out of the sand in large sections, covered in bright shimmering colors. Once I was placed over the middle of the large reef, I noticed a large black hole in the center, large enough to swim into. It was strange, why was there this giant black tunnel in the middle of this beautiful coral formation.
The school of fish swam closer to the opening and then one by one disappeared into the black unknown. I was hesitant to follow, something felt wrong. Where did this tunnel go? Was it safe? Then I remembered that I was in a dream, it didn’t matter what was in the hole since this was all coming from my imagination anyways.
I swam closer to the black tunnel and was surprised to feel the water was much warmer the closer I got to it. I got even closer and then my mind was invaded by whispers from a woman’s voice, I immediately stopped swimming and listened to try and make out what the voice was saying.
“Cora….Cora…Follow your heart.”, the mystery voice said.
I tried to speak back but nothing came out of my mouth. The voice was in my head…maybe if I think really hard I can communicate to the voice?
I thought as hard as I could, “Hello? Hello? Where are you? Where am I?”
The voice responded, and was no longer a whisper but a soft female voice, “You are where you are meant to be. Follow your heart.”
“Follow my heart? Where will my heart take me? What is going on?”, I pleaded for more information.
“You have learned half of the truth now. Follow your heart, follow the sea and you will learn the rest of your truth.”, the voice was back to a whisper and seemed to be fading away, “Find Mulki a Okean, become Kraljica a Teku.”
“The truth? Wait where should I go? Please help me!”, I screamed in my head as loud as I could.
The voice was gone, and I knew that it wouldn’t be coming back again for now. I was so confused. What did she mean about knowing half of my truth? What language was she speaking at the end? What was the other half? Where was I, when would I wake up? There were so many questions I needed answers, so I went into the black hole without any hesitation. As soon as my body was surrounded in the darkness I saw a light ahead. I widened my eyes to find that I was no longer in a dream but was laying in the bed in the Captains tent.
The light from the sun was brighter that I had expected, telling me that I had slept late into the morning. I sat up and stretched my arms high above my head to help me wake up. I searched the tent with my eyes and saw that I was alone. As I stood I noticed a plate filled with a hot breakfast of porridge with potatoes and ham sitting on the table. My stomach growled at the thought of food, before I knew it I had shoveled half of the plate into my mouth, completely disregarding any ladylike eating habits.
“Oh, good you are awake. I thought I may need to come and wake you soon.”, Captain Tucker said as he strode into the tent and took the seat opposite from me.
I gulped down my mouth full of food and replied, “Thank you, I didn’t mean to sleep so late. I have been having the strangest dreams the last few days, I guess I just didn’t want to wake up to reality.”
Captain Tucker looked at me with his eyebrows drawn together, “Strange dreams? What’s in these dreams lass?”
“Well…”, I didn’t know if I should tell him, he might think I’m some crazy little girl who spends her time dreaming of being a mermaid. Normally I would write my dreams down in my journal, but that was now lost at sea with the rest of the Lignum Vitae. Maybe sharing my dreams with Captain Tucker would help to put my mind at ease.
He kept his questioning gaze on me, urging me to share. Something about him made me feel like I could tell him anything, tell him everything. I truly felt like I could trust Captain Phineas Tucker. I took a deep breath and slowly let it out, gaining some courage.
“W-well it’s about the sea. I am in the ocean, under the water, far beneath the surface. But I’m not drowning, I am able to breathe and see everything clearly. It all feels so real…almost too real.”, I took a look into the Captains eyes and continued, “My body gets covered in shimmering scales, and it glows like crystals in the sunlight. A-and I am always near this beautiful shining coral, made from all different colors.”
A smile lifted in the right corner of the Captains lip, “Well now, that doesn’t seem too bad. You clearly just have a passion for the sea. Something we have in common. Tis just a dream lass.”
“Yes, I know I love the sea, and it is quite a lovely dream. But there is this voice, a-a woman’s voice. And she is always telling me the same thing. “Follow your heart, follow the sea.”, I just don’t understand what it means. Its always the same thing, well except last night it was a bit different.”, I didn’t notice that I had stood up and was suddenly close to the flap of the tent, staring out into the ocean.
The captains voice was right behind me when he spoke, and it made the hairs on my neck stand up, “What was different about the voice last night, love?”
I turned around, my face was only inches away from the Captains. I could feel his breath on my skin, and it sent a shiver into the core of my belly. He was so close.
“Sh-She said “Now you know half of your truth- Find Mulki a Okean, become Kraljica a Teku.”, but I have no idea what those words mean an no idea what language it could be. It’s probably just some made up language in my head that I created when I was a child.”, I shook my head a little knowing how silly that must sound to him.
Captain Tucker took in a quick breath, “Actually no, some of those words sound
African, and I think possibly… Croatian.”
I looked up into his emerald green eyes, they had a quizzical look in them. I could see that he was trying just as hard as I was to piece together the parts of the mystery. But he also looked as if he knew something that I didn’t. Was he hiding something from me?
“African? Croatian? You can’t be serious.”, I said, still not believing his words.
“Lekan has taught me some of his mother language, I know that teku means ‘sea’ and mulki means ‘kingdom’. I don’t know much Croatian, but I do know that Kraljica means ‘Queen’. The other word…okean, it must mean ‘ocean’.”
I don’t know how he could get any closer than he already was without touching me, but somehow, he leaned in closer and looked deeply into my eyes, like he was looking into my very soul for answers.
“If I am correct, the translation roughly says, ‘Find the Kingdom of the Ocean, become Queen of the Sea.’”, he said with his deep silky voice, like he was trying to either intimidate me or seduce me.
“WH-WHAT?”, I turned around then and looked back out towards the sea, a whisper escaped my lips, “Queen of the sea…”
Captain Tucker made his way to my left side, he had not taken his eyes off me for a second. Not that I would even notice, let alone care. My thoughts were too occupied at the moment to ponder over anything else but how confused I was.
I forgot that the Captain was next to me and jumped when he spoke, “You have never heard either of those languages before, lass? How would you be able to create real words from other languages in your mind if you did not already know them? Are you messing with me Miss Cora?”
His last words made me angry and I spat out at him, “CAPTAIN TUCKER! Excuse me sir, but I am not making up some story to mess with you. Yes, I may have a wild imagination, but I have never presumed to use it to fool with people. I am not some child trying to play a game.”
I walked out of the tent as soon as I could trying to evade the Captain, but he was hot on my heals. In just a few strides he grabbed my arm in his right hand and spun me around towards him. As soon as his hand touched my skin I felt a light vibration pulsing into my arm and bleeding into my chest. Captain Tucker must have felt something too because he suddenly dropped his grip from my arm and stared at his right hand.
After he let go of my arm, my body felt slightly weak, like a piece of my soul had just been taken out of my body and replaced with something else. It wasn’t painful, but it felt empty in a way. My body felt like it was longing to be whole, and I felt a tugging sensation from my chest pulling an imaginary string towards Captain Tucker.
I followed my eyes to where the captain was looking on his hand. It was the hand that wore the blue stoned ring I had noticed a few days before. For a moment I could have sworn that I saw a glimmer coming from the stone ring, but it was over before I could even really see it.
Captain Tucker turned his eyes to mine and softly said, “Cora…I…”
He was cut off my Lekan, “Scuse’ me Miss Jatau Cora, Captain. Is everything fine?”
Captain Tucker looked to his first mate then back to me, a look of slight defeat in his eyes, “Yes Lekan, do not worry yourself. But you are just the man I was hoping to see, will you please tell Miss Cora here what the words for Kingdom and Sea are in your native tongue?”
Lekan answered with hesitation, not understanding why he was being asked this question, “Kingdom mean ‘mulki’ and sea is ‘teku’.”
Lekan’s confirmation of the African words just made me more confused. So many foreign emotions were filling my body, and I didn’t know how to calm them or contain them. I took a deep breath and tried to push the feelings away, but it didn’t work. Instead, I spun around to face the ocean. The salty sea air tingled my nose in the light breeze. Looking out into the ocean with the reflection of the sun burning on the surface helped me to relax.
Captain Tucker brought his lips to my ear and said in a soft voice so no one else could hear him but me, “Do not speak of any of this to the crew, we don’t want them spooked by you before we cast off today.”