What I remember most of my life beneath the waves was the glorious sensation of power, vast and all-encompassing. Oh, not my own power, of course. It was never that. However much pride I may have taken in my body’s strength and speed, in my ability to glide through the stormiest waters unimpeded, to leap and dance upon the surface, to race and twist, to hunt and play, I was always conscious of the ocean’s supreme mastery over me.
How could it be otherwise? I felt that power in every wave that lifted me up, or bore down upon me. It was manifest in every tide or current that ever guided me, gently pushing me along in whatever direction the great ocean wished me to go. Dragging me there by force if I refused to take the hint.
I may have deluded myself upon occasion. I may have pretended I was free to choose my own course, but deep down inside I always understood that my freedom was naught but illusion. Each breath, each thought, each move I made was at the ocean’s decree—either a kind indulgence or a stern command. And every moment spent within its arms was a form of surrender.
Some might see such obeisance, my humble acknowledgement of a power far greater than myself, as a form of weakness. But what do I care what they think? Land-bound creatures, content to spend their entire lives in the open air, how could they hope to understand what it is I feel? What it meant to know one’s place, to belong to so powerful a master? Life without that sense of fealty is no life at all, as I know now to my sorrow.
If only I’d shown more faith in the ocean's wisdom. If only I’d swallowed my pride, accepted my fate. Instead, I panicked. I fled for shore, for the safety of the shallows. I shed my skin and, in so doing, found myself indentured to a new master. To the fisherman who found me. To Ronan.
So much has changed. And yet perhaps the biggest difference is that, in my new life, I am no longer allowed even the illusion of freedom. I am at Ronan's mercy, my entire existence dependent upon the whims of my new master. And we both know that to be so.