Hating the feeling of apprehension, Pythis went upstairs for the luggage. Two large packs were thrown down the stairwell, tumbling like dice. One spilled outside, just as his father led an animal past. It resembled an anteater but with four long ostrich-like legs.
The old man’s breath rasped through his gills. “When I was a young man I was a martyr to this farmstead. For twenty years I wouldn’t make the journey. Don’t waste time on martyrdom!”
“I won’t,” replied Pythis.
With the beast saddled and loaded, he set off.
Three days later he rode along a beach of rust-coloured sand bordering a silver sea. In the distance a huge encampment shimmered.
At sunrise next morning, hundreds of men stood, knee-deep in the ocean.
The sea was glassy, the scene eerily silent. Then, far out in the water, a green tail thrashed. The crowd cheered. Another splash, this one closer, and then another ….
Pythis stood expectantly. Suddenly a young female emerged before him. Soft brown eyes observed him from a smooth, symmetrical face. Long, matted hair half-obscured pendulous breasts. The mermaid spoke telepathically, ‘I offer myself in peace. Please mate with me.’
Pythis smiled. “With pleasure!”