After receiving Iz’s letter (forwarded by Dr. Caulfield), I decided to dust off my research to see if I could find any reason for a mermaid to be drawn so far inland. The only reference that made any sense was that of a young woman named Melusine, who was cursed to become a mermaid each Saturday. Of course, Iz didn’t spot her on a Saturday, and as far as I can tell, Melusine wasn’t the type to stop and snack on birds in a nature preserve, so I think we can safely eliminate that lead.
Without much else to go on, I’ve compiled what I know about mermaids (Iz seemed pretty convinced it was a mermaid, and not a siren) below.
What is a Mermaid?
A mermaid (rough translation: maiden of the sea) is a creature with the upper-body of a woman, and the lower half of a fish, or sea serpent. Although some are harmless, many have been noted to be territorial and vindictive. Like sirens, they lure sailors off-course by singing or mimicking human voices; however, unlike sirens, mermaids do not have wings. Ever.
Like many seafaring mammals, mermaids tend to swim in pods, but it is not unusual to see them alone for extended periods of time. Although they always return to the nest when injured, after feeding, and to raise their young, mermaids tend to be very insular creatures, and enjoy time apart from their sisters.
As with most creatures, evolution has had an impact on mermaids, and for many groups, their humanoid characteristics have begun to fade. While some mermaids have retained their female form from the waist up, others have transitioned into a more fish-like appearance. Instead of a nose, they have small slits–similar to gills–in the front of the face, and their eyes are completely black to facilitate perception in limited light. In rare cases, certain pods have developed a shape-shifting ability, which allows them to transition between their humanoid and fish-like characteristics at will.
As with all Abnormal creatures, unless you are familiar with mermaids, it is unwise to approach a pod or a single mermaid. Although they may appear gentle and serene (depending on the type), they are deceptively strong, and are excellent swimmers.
Origin: Global. Like werewolves, mermaids are an Abnormal phenomenon that exists across the world. Many countries have stories of mermaids, though they are often confused with sirens.
Identifying Traits: Mermaids are excellent swimmers. Although they have the upper-halves of human females–or at least, they did in the past–all mermaids have webbed fingers to help them swim in the water. At some points in history, royals would snip the webs of prize mermaids to prevent them from escaping a certain body of water. Unfortunately, without her pod, a mermaid is unlikely to survive longer than a decade in captivity.
Although it is not true of all mermaids, many have evolved to resemble fish-like creatures, and include features such as: gills, fins on the back and forearms, modified eyes and eyelids, and pointed teeth.
In addition to their physical traits, mermaids are known for being excellent singers, and for having an uncanny ability to imitate sound. For some pods, this is little more than a source of joy and entertainment. In other pods, it is used to lure sailors and other creatures to their deaths.
Weaknesses: Mermaids cannot survive out of water for extended periods of time, nor can they survive without coming to the surface at intervals. (The interval required is dependent on where they sit on the spectrum between human and fish.)
Although they are stronger than most humans, they are relatively easy to dispatch–if you know what you’re doing. A standard kill shot will suffice. Of course, if facing a nasty pod, using fire can be a considerable advantage.
Strengths: Unlike some Abnormals, mermaids are capable of human speech and communication. This can be helpful in determining whether or not they intend to harm you. And of course, they are excellent swimmers, capable of traveling extreme speeds and distances in short periods of time.
Please note: As we continue compiling research for this blog, we will add to this article. If you have any relevant information to contribute, please feel free to comment!