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Here’s the latest from Mermaiden Destiny
Continued from Destiny’s Tropical Sunrise Surprise…
“Hold on, Frank!” I could barely push the command out. My tongue seemed two sizes too big for my mouth and my ribs felt like they were caving in. I heard him whimper as I thrust Frank into my tangled curls and dove as far down into the murky water as I could go. Breathing was harder down there and I felt like I was sucking in more dirt than water! I beat my tail back and forth, pushing myself down farther than the gigantic ship in front of me could go. Then I shot forward under the hull, to freedom!
Except the pirates were smarter than I realized. They had fastened nets across the gap beneath their ship stretching from each end of the small opening to the cove. By the time I realized this, I only had time to cry out before I went colliding into the trap and was instantly tangled in hundreds of ropes and lines that cut into my skin and scales and twisted my fin! I screamed in frustration and pain.
In my mind, I flashed back to another time when I had been caught in a net. Frank had saved me by cutting the thin ropes with his claws! Like he had read my mind, I heard the snip of Frank’s claws somewhere above me. He chirped in my ear, “No worries, mademoiselle! Ze crab will rescue you!”
“Oh Frank! What would I do without you?” I told him with a forced smile. There’s no way he can free me. He’s too small and these ropes are so thick. I have to get him to safety before they can get their dirty hands on both of us! As I opened my mouth to say something to my little crab friend, I felt the ropes around me tighten and pull upwards. I bit my lip to keep from crying out again, while my limbs went numb with fear.
I looked around frantically for something to distract Frank with. Something in the sand below us caught my eye, glittering and sparkling in the little sunlight that penetrated the foggy water. “Frank,” I said hopefully. “Look, I think there’s a coin down there in the sand!”
Frank’s eyes popped down into my view. “Destiny, this is no time to be playing at treasure hunting,” he scolded me. I almost laughed as he went back to work, thinking that for once in his life Frank had cared about something, in this case someone, more than treasure!
As we were lifted higher and higher, my stomach sank lower and lower. I began screaming for help. What could it hurt? I thought.
“Help! Please, we need help! Somebody help us!” I sent my voice hurling as far as I could. The surface was only a few yards away! Dread and desperation filled my head and I thrashed harder to free myself.
All of a sudden a hand caught my wrist, which was sticking through one of the larger holes in the netting I was tangled in. “Stop moving. You’re only making it worse,” a voice hissed in my ear. Immediately I froze, shocked and just the tiniest bit hopeful that that voice and hand could somehow help.
All in one moment, I heard Frank screech, a whizzing sound right above my head, and multiple ropes snapping. The upward momentum stopped, hesitated, then resumed with more ferocity than ever. Another whizzing sound and more ropes broke! I felt the bands around my arms loosen. I was too afraid to move much yet, but I wiggled my arms just a little to let off the snapped ropes. As I watched the ends of the thick material as it sank out of view, I noticed that the severed parts weren’t frayed. It’s almost like they’ve been cut with a—
The last whizzing sound came and then we were falling, floating quickly toward the welcome sand below. “Oof!” I grunted as I hit the hard ocean bottom, unable to slow myself down while still tangled up in nets. I sighed, suddenly able to breathe again now that the panic was subdued. I heard a few more ropes snap and finally, I was able to push the remaining knots off of my arms and tail. Frank collapsed to the sand beside me and retracted into his shell, something he only did when he was truly terrified or thoroughly irritated. I patted him gently and rolled over onto my back, breathing heavily.
When I finally gained the energy to push myself into a sitting position, I squinted up at my unknown hero. She sat on a tall boulder five feet away, sharpening her long silver sword with a smaller rock. Her face looked serene, a mask of utter calm. She was beautiful, I could tell even from her profile. Dark, ebony, wavy locks were casually hanging around her face, though they were tinted with a deep red streaks when they moved. Her skin was dark and contrasted nicely with her lustrous red scaled tail. I spied golden bangles on each of her arms as well as a thin crown of gold hanging around her head. The mysterious stranger carried a pack over her shoulders as well as a belt encircling her hips with a sheath for her knife. All in all she looked very impressive. And more than a little dangerous. But she saved your life, I reminded myself with a grateful smile.
“Thank you,” I said after a long silence, not sure what else to say. “Thank you so much. I can’t express my gratitude enough. You’ll be rewarded for this, I promise. I—“
“I don’t want your riches. Or your gold or treasures.” The mermaid looked up at me with flashing eyes. I scooted back a little, alarmed at all the anger coming from those brown eyes. When she finally looked away, I swallowed and found my words.
“All the same, I have to insist that I do something to repay you.”
“There’s nothing I want that you can give me.”
“Nothing at all? Are you sure?”
“Yes!” Again, an unexpected rage filled her voice and I felt very small when her gaze was on me. She stared at me for longer this time. Then she straightened and in one smooth movement she slid her sword into the sheath strapped to her back and began to drift away.
“Wait!” I called, frustrated with this angry stranger who seemed to refuse any attempt at gratitude that was offered to her. I scooped up Frank and followed the red mermaid, feeling bold. “At least tell me what your name is! You can’t refuse that.”
She kept swimming forward without acknowledging me. “Come on,” I whined, sounding like my little brother when he was tired. “Please,” I tried again, positioning myself in front of her, drifting backwards while she tried to look anywhere but my eyes. “I can give you whatever you want! I can sing for you! I can dance for you? I can make Frank provide you with some comedic banter all the way home!” I held up Frank in his shell to demonstrate my point. Frank stuck one eye out, then the other, gave an unsatisfied belch, and then retreated farther into his shell. I looked at him with disappointment and then stuck him back into my hair. “Alright, maybe not the banter.”
I let the red mermaid push past me. I followed her even more closely now. “Please! I have to find some way to repay you! I was so terrified back there! Who knows what those dirty pirates would have done with me if you hadn’t saved me! Oh, please let me help you in some way!”
“I already told you. You can’t help me. Now take your little lobster and go.” She mumbled it, but without the anger from before–like all the fire was gone out of her.
Just then Frank popped out of his shell. “Excuse me, you overgrown algae patch! ‘Er little lobster is a crab! And ze crab is not happy! Not happy at all!”
I quickly turned Frank around and tried to poke him back into his shell, hoping the mysterious red mermaid wouldn’t be angry again. But Frank just leaned around his shell and shook his pinchers at her while screaming, “You see the claws, you limp piece of seaweed? They are coming for you! Ze crab is—“
I gave the angry crustacean one last poke and he fell back into his shell. Sheepishly I looked back up at the mysterious mermaid while tucking Frank back into my hair. She was staring at the shell with her jaw dropped and eyes wide. Silent awkwardness ensued until I finally gave her a hesitant smile.
“There’s that comedic banter I mentioned earlier…” I trailed off tentatively.
The red mermaid dropped her eyes to look at me, then snapped her mouth shut. She paused for a moment and then promptly split into a small half smile. “Well,” she said in a strange accent that I hadn’t noticed before, “I admit that anyone with the backbone to talk to me in that way has me intrigued. Before, when you were asking my name, I thought that you already knew of my reputation. The question took on a different meaning. Now I understand that you and your crab truly don’t know who I am.”
The mermaid thrust her hand toward me. “I’m Scarlet.” Shocked at the sudden change in her demeanor, I eyed her uncertainly but clasped her arm anyway.
“And I’m Destiny.”
Frank stuck his head out snootily. “Royal Mermaiden of the Caribbean Sea.”
I poked him again.
As I looked back at Scarlet, her eyes widened, hardly perceivable. I waited for the exclamations that often followed my introduction. There weren’t any. Huh, I thought to myself, surprised and pleased. For a moment Scarlet and I just stood there studying each other. Then suddenly she nodded her head as if she had decided something. “Alright, Princess. I confess there is something I’d like from you. I’ve heard of your power and I think you can help me find something that I’ve lost.”
I grinned. “Excellent! Well then. Come with me to my home and then we can gather some provisions and be off. About how far do you think this thing you’re searching for is?” I added, over my shoulder as I began to swim in the direction of home.
“Far. But Princess, I’d really rather not go into your kingdom. I—“
“Nonsense. My parents would sic a thousand jellyfish on me if I didn’t bring my rescuer back with me to receive their thanks!”
“I won’t take any excuses, Scarlet,” I demanded in a singsong voice. I heard her humph in defeat and start to follow me. I felt pretty pleased with myself, despite the fact that I was also very bruised and going to be in a lot of trouble.
“Destiny!” My mother shrieked as soon as we entered my father’s throne room. She came flying toward me with open arms. “What happened, dearest?” My little brother stood balking at the bruises on my arms, torso, neck, and face.
“I’ll tell you in a minute, Mom. But first, let me introduce you to someone, a friend,” I looked up at my dad, who had tears in his eyes as he studied my bruises.
I beckoned toward Scarlet and she floated forward out of the shadows.
“This is Scarlet. She saved my life today.”