Lyr, the Lord of the Sea watches over his domain and awakens his underwater world.
Marilla, the youngest mermaid, sings an exquisite song. Her sisters, Evelina and Erina, swim to the surface to look for trinkets of gold and silver, but Marilla is too young to join them. Left alone with her friend Dillion the seahorse, she contemplates the world above.
Marilla’s sisters return. Playing with their new treasures, they toss a locket to the sea floor which Marilla opens to reveal a picture of a young human man. Enamoured, she decides to go to the surface to look for the man in the picture, despite Dillion’s protests.
On the surface, men are celebrating the day’s catch aboard a ship with a young prince, Adair. In awe, Marilla recognises him as the man in the locket.
Lyr is watching Marilla and, frightened for her, creates a powerful storm which splits the ship in two. Marilla rescues the Prince and carries him to the shore, holding him spellbound before returning to the water, singing her beautiful song.
On the shore, a group of women are passing by with their priestess instructors. One of the women, Dana, sees the Prince and as she approaches, he stirs. Disorientated, he searches for the owner of the beautiful voice that he thought he heard in a dream. Believing that Dana saved him, he thanks her, completely taken with this young woman. Marilla watches with sadness.
Marilla explains to Lyr that she loves Prince Adair. Lyr admonishes her, telling her that she belongs in the ocean. Faced with her desperate pleas, he agrees to give her a potion that will give her a human life – at a price. He will take her voice, and although she will move beautifully, every step will cause her pain.
Marilla returns to the place where she left the Prince. She swallows the potion and feels searing pain as her voice departs and her tail disappears to reveal human legs which cause her agony with every movement.
Prince Adair returns to the shore driven by his thoughts of Dana and a dream-like encounter that lingers in his mind. Noticing Marilla, he awakens her. She is overjoyed at the sight of her Prince but is unable to speak to him. Adair tries to communicate with the exotic and childlike woman and as she collapses has her taken to his home.
A period of time has passed and Marilla now lives with the Prince and his family. Unable to speak and in terrible pain, Marilla feels suffocated in this new world but in Adair’s presence she immediately forgets her suffering. The Prince finds himself drawn to her but does not realise that she was the one who saved him. He views her as a sweet child and yet glimpses from time to time the extraordinary woman that she is.
Prince Adair, his mother Brina and Marilla attend the gathering, a community celebration of the summer’s catch, in which they come together for food and dance. Marilla watches, amazed at the dancing, until she herself is placed in the middle to dance. At first she moves cautiously but soon is lost in the movement of her body. The people watch on in awe as Marilla dances, lost in her memories of the sea. Adair approaches and places a kiss upon her forehead, time suspends and Marilla dreams of how she would dance with her Adair. The dream ends and Brina announces Adair’s upcoming marriage.
Drawn to the water’s edge, the Prince is again lost in his dream-like memory. He is surprised to see Marilla who is also at the water’s edge. He explains to her that he loves the girl who found him and her beautiful voice. Remembering her now lost voice, Marilla’s pain sears her heart. Dillion and her sisters arrive to try to comfort her but can offer no solace.
Marilla’s sisters beg Lyr to help their youngest sister. Lyr offers a knife with which Marilla must kill the Prince to become a mermaid again. The sisters are grateful but again this comes at a price - Lyr takes their hair in exchange.
Prince Adair awaits the arrival of his veiled bride who is revealed to be Dana, the woman in his heart. The couple are thrilled and agree to be married instantly. The celebrations begin on the ship and the newlyweds dance.
On the ship Marilla sees her sisters who offer her the knife, telling her what she must do to become a mermaid again. Knife in hand, she approaches Prince Adair who is lost in thought as he awaits his bride. But when she gazes upon the Prince, her heart swells with love and she leaves him in peace.
Furious, Lyr calls a storm, turning the ship and causing chaos. Marilla throws the dagger at Lyr striking the heart of the storm. The sea begins to calm, but not before sweeping Marilla into its embrace.
As the water swirls around Marilla, she sings joyously with her now returned voice and disappears into the water. Dillion watches on as the soul of Marilla ascends.
Header image by Bill Cooper.