She grew into her role. She knew they expected her to lose, but she only lived for the day she would get back to the mainland and see Juhudi.
The old woman, Aziza, was the one she bowed down to, in this realm. Her green eyes glistened here and whenever she asked about Swazuri’s training regimen, all Swazuri could do was say that all was well. She loved waking up to join Lawama in the battle ground, she loved sparring with the other warriors, and slowly her heart closed on the memories she had of Juhudi.
When the world went to sleep Aziza would sneak up to the surface to watch the Prince of Sirens play his flute. There were nights when she would send a wave towards him to acknowledge that she’d been pleased with him, but even then, the Prince never seemed to see her or accept the waves that she sent his way.
On this particular night, she approached Aziza with the request to visit the mainland.
“You do not belong there. This is your home.”
“It is my home indeed, Queen Aziza, however, all I ask for is one night on the mainland. I will return stronger and ready for the next stage of my training, please do not deny this humble request of mine.”
“If you so wish, then, I will accompany you.”
“No, the mainland is not worthy of your presence my Queen. Please, I need to this alone.”
“Fine, you will be accompanied by Lawama.”
“Thank you Your Majesty.”
Swazuri waited for the moon to awaken to her glory before she resurfaced on the mainland. Juhudi was seated on the sand, his fingers, working the flute that he called his own, his heart heavy and how weary he’d grown. Swazuri walked up to him and gently laid her head on his lap as he played, she had listened and watched him all these years but here he was and his sorrow too grave for her to bear.
When he stopped playing he touched her hair, his fingers weaving their way into her hair. “My Princess…are the gods mocking me, is this you Swazuri?”
“Can’t you see, it’s me?”
Swazuri sat up looking into Juhudi’s eyes but where she’d once seen blue now she saw white.
“What happened to you Juhudi? Can you really not see me?”
“You still ask too many questions, little one, the years have done this to me. You are of another realm where you do not grow old and weak, but here on the mainland, we grow into our frailty as the years go by.”
“Juhudi, you are a Prince! A Prince of the Sirens, and we both know that the Sirens do not grow old and weak, tell me, who did this to you?”
“You have grown into your powers Swazuri. Promise me one thing…”
“Anything Juhudi, what is it?”
“Promise me that you’ll not believe anything they tell you about your mother. She was a Queen by her own right, though not of the sea, but of the lake on the western side of this land.”
“What are you saying?”
“Your mother was Ghadhabu’s grand daughter my little one. All these years, I thought that time would come when we would all understand the ways of the goddess, but it hurt me when I learned of this, so they struck her for choosing to have you…they should not have, but they went ahead and did it, oh how the waters deny us sanity.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I could not tell you too that the one who trains you is my younger brother too, and the one you bow down to, my mother. I can speak freely now because my time here has come to an end.”
“What did they do to you Juhudi? Tell me and I will make them regret ever crossing my path, I will drown them in their own quest, just say the word and I will make them pay…all these years, and yet no one told me, no one told me…”
“I fell in love with a mortal. She had blue eyes. Sirens never came to the surface and when I was forced to choose between my heritage and her, I chose her…and for every child she bore, the goddess would send my brother when the child turned six, to train them in the fight against Ghadhabu.”
“So…you are my Father!”
“Forgive me little one…for seven years I loved and lost and the cycle would continue, the goddess mocking me, punishing me for loving a mere mortal, until Ghadhabu intervened, and now I cannot live to see what will become of you.”
“All these years…”
“Little one, listen…when my time comes, take me to your mother’s people and there will I rest. I have played this flute unto the goddess for centuries and what did I get in return? Pain and misery. Now, go back with Lawama and fulfill your quest, my little one, your mother would be proud of you. Swazuri, you are a Princess among men, a goddess among immortals, never forget that. Now go before my brother sends a wave for you.”