Chapter Eighteen

"Circady!" the Doctor yelled as everyone except Sapphire ran to the side of the boat.

They couldn't see him anywhere, their eyes frantically scanning the ocean and looking down into the depths for any sign of him. They waited and waited and just when they thought he had drowned, he resurfaced with a man and a woman. The man and woman had silvery grey hair that matched Sapphire's hair. Circady asked them to lower the net for them and Furnish barked the order to his men. They lowered the net into the water for a few minutes and when they brought it back up, Circady, the man and woman were lying in it. To everyone's surprise, Circady had his tail back.

"How'd that happen?" Rose said to the Doctor. "It hasn't been twenty four hours yet."

"I have a feeling that's something else Circady lied about," the Doctor said, watching while the crewmen grabbed the net and gently pulled it into the boat.

They helped them out of the net and the man and woman embraced Sapphire. Circady looked at the Doctor. The Doctor folded his arms over his chest and gave his tail a pointed look.

"Twenty four hours, eh?" he said.

"I wasn't truthful about that," Circady said sheepishly.

"So I see, so give us the truth then," the Doctor said.

"The pills allow a change back to the original body when necessary. I didn't tell Rose because I was planning to kidnap her at some point when you weren't looking."

"Except you couldn't since someone is always looking at her," the Doctor said. "That's why you were so insistent you remain by her so you could snatch her at the first opportunity."

"I told you my reasons for doing so," Circady said.

"Sire, is this true? You were trying to kidnap a human?" the silver haired man said.

"Only because they've been taking our people," Circady said, pointing to Furnish. "Taking your daughter is proof of that."

"That was an accident, I didn't know your people existed until now," Furnish said while his men nodded in agreement. "I'm sorry. She got caught in my net with the other fish."

"Pardon me," the Doctor said, bending down to the silver haired man. "Who are you and is this your wife?"

"I'm Attickus and this is my wife, Merlainy. Sapphire is our daughter. Who are you?"

"I'm the Doctor, pleasure to meet you," he said, extending his hand.

Attickus looked at it in confusion and Rose giggled when the Doctor sheepishly withdrew it.

"These people live in the town of Seashell," the Doctor said, pointing to Furnish and his men. "They have lived here for generations and fish these waters."

"You oughta see what's below," Circady said to them. "How much they've taken from us!"

"The ocean belongs to our people," Attickus said. "It has always been that way for as long as we can remember."

"Yes, but there are others now who wish to live off what they catch and I would recommend negotiating with them and coming to an understanding rather than engage in all out war," the Doctor said.

"War?" Merlainy said alarmed. "When are we going to war?"

"It has only been discussed, Merthaine," Circady said. "But it is an option."

"Merthaine?" Rory said. "I thought her name was Merlainy."

"Merthaine is her title," Circady said. "Merthaine Merlainy and he is Merthorpe Attickus."

Rory nodded.

"I was wondering if you lot would come with us back to the human village and talk with the elders," Rory said.

"Yeah, you are a prince and nobility so surely you can speak for your people," Amy added.

Merlainy looked at her husband and Circady.

"Go among the above dwellers? Be in their midst?" she said worriedly.

"My friends and I will provide you with protection. We will look after you if you wish to do this," the Doctor said.

"But what of this…human you tried to kidnap? Will they be angry about that?" Attickus said.

"Where is this person?" Merlainy said, looking around.

"Me," Rose said, raising her hand and coming forward.

She took off her trainers and showed them her purple feet. Furnish's men muttered amongst themselves while Furnish shook his head in disbelief.

"How is this possible? You can be both a human and a mermaid?" Furnish asked.

"Circady gave her a pill that turned her fishtail into legs. But she was taken from me and my friends and turned into a mermaid first. She's human like you are," the Doctor said.

"And how do you change back and forth by the way?" Rose said to Circady.

"The pill has a delayed effect to it," Circady said. "For the first three hours, there can be no change but after that, salt water reacts with a thin coating of chemicals that are secreted from your skin. That stuff you thought was bodily waste earlier is the chemical I was talking about. It builds up slowly until it itches. Normally, the chemical is slow enough that the first time you notice it is past three hours but it's not always a guarantee."

Rose lifted up her dress and looked at the thin glossy film on her legs.

"So if I get in the water now, I become a mermaid again?" she said.

"Only if it contains salt like the ocean," Circady said.

"So you're like Daryl Hannah in the Splash film," the Doctor said to her. "You get in the water and out comes the fishtail."

"Does it hurt?" Rose said. "It hurt like Hell when I changed earlier."

"Yes, it still hurts a bit but not like the first time because your body had to adjust to the change," Circady said.

"Well, I'll keep out of the water for the moment," Rose said, leaning on the railing so she could put her shoe back on.

"So we're taking these people to see the elders?" Furnish said.

"Do you want to go and speak to them?" the Doctor said to Attickus. "No one seemed to know of your existence before now and it might make a difference. Besides, I want to speak to them anyway…"

He trailed off when he noticed Circady's tail was beginning to separate into legs again.

"It does this when it dries out," Circady explained. "As long as I'm in the ocean, I'll have my tail."

"So it is like Splash then!" the Doctor said gleefully. "Never mind," he added when he saw the confused looks on the merpeople's faces. "So…what do you think? Would you like to speak to them?"

"What do you think?" Attickus said to his wife.

"If these humans are hurting our environment unintentionally then I think we should speak to them and try for a peaceful solution," Merlainy said.

"And you'll protect us?" Attickus said to the Doctor.

"You have my word, I and my friends will protect you," the Doctor said.

"Very well, we'll go. But are you going to carry us there? We can't walk on land," Attickus said.

"I will go and get some more pills for them if you'll give me time," Circady said. "Just help me go back into the water.

The Doctor nodded. He picked up Circady and held him out over the side of the boat. Circady nodded and when the Doctor let go he dove back into the water and swam away.

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