New Mermaid Story from Mermaiden Serena
Leon knocked on the palace doors right on schedule. “Come in!” I called in a sing song voice. I grinned mischievously at my sisters, all waiting in their own various hiding spots. Nadine hovered in the alcove that was overflowing with colorful plants and flowers, situated directly above the doors. Melody and Sybil, nearly identical twins who were rarely apart, had allowed themselves to be dyed the same royal blue that covered the wall behind them and stood flat against it on each side of the entrance. Studying my handiwork, I flicked a little more color on Sybil’s nose and she giggled. “Hush,” I warned, fighting the urge to giggle myself. Finally, I hid myself behind one of the twelve gigantic columns lining the front foyer.
I heard the last of the three tail slaps that Nadine had given and suddenly the room erupted. Whooping and screaming, Nadine plunged down from her perch onto Leon’s shoulders while Sybil and Melody sprang from their hiding places and tackled his tail. With a look of surprise and a slight cry, Leon went toppling over, still careful not to squish any of my sisters on the way down. He put his face to the ground to keep from letting my little twin sisters see how much he was laughing and I put a hand over my own mouth to choke back my giggles. Nadine plopped herself on top of Leon’s tail and pulled out the blunt little fake rock knife that she had strapped to her hip. She poked him in the fin with it while Sybil and Melody each grabbed one of his muscled arms.
From behind the pillar, I focused on my little sisters and gathered the color I had spattered them with back into my hands and dispersed it. Slowly the old, worn out hats, eyepatches and hook-shaped “hands” that my comrades wore appeared, giving us away for what we were (or at least what we were pretending to be).
“Pirates! Oh no! Oh Neptune, save me! Don’t make me walk the plank!” Leon flopped around, pretending to be stuck. Melody squealed with laughter and Sybil poked him in the head with her hook. “Silence, prisoner!” Nadine bellowed. “You’re under our command now! Quit your begging and be a merman! And stop that infernal shaking!”
Nadine was stone faced as if she believed each word she said, even though Leon was laughing so hard that he was shaking and she was bouncing because of it.
“Okay,” Leon gasped as he settled down. “Okay I’m calm. What are you to do with me, Pirate Princesses?”
“Now then, you have two options!” Nadine paced up and down Leon’s long blue tail, tapping her rock knife against her palm. “You can join our crew and help us search for the beautiful Lady Serena, to deliver her to a sea witch for a vast reward. Or, you can refuse and we’ll cut you up and feed you to our pet the Great White Shark,” she explained, very matter-of-factly.
Leon seemed to debate for a few moments, tilting his head from side to side. “Alright,” he declared. “I’ll join you. But only if I get fifty percent of the reward.”
Nadine looked down at him, unimpressed. “You get five. Now swab the deck, matey.”
I giggled a little and looked down beside me at Picasso, who was quivering with excitement. “Well I wasn’t really expecting him to say yes! What do I do now?” I whispered to him.
Sybil and Melody climbed on Leon’s back, ready to set out on their adventure to find…me! I almost forgot! I had to hide, quickly. I waited until Nadine turned Leon around to put an eyepatch on him and then dashed upward toward the large hallway in the top right corner of the foyer that would lead to the middle of the palace. I was just disappearing into safety when I heard Melody’s shrill voice as she spotted my escape. Picasso and I barreled into the maze of hallways as we heard our pursuers give chase.
My heart was pounding and exhilaration made my fingers shake as I paused at a crossroad that would take me either down to the pantries, up to the next floor, or left towards the old nursery wing. Hiding spots, even more room to run, or creepy and unexpected. I weighed the options while Picasso made excited little bubbling noises.
“There she is! Get her!” A chorus of cries sounded at the end of the hall. Laughing, I grabbed Picasso and darted up to the next floor. This floor was designated for my parents’ sleeping quarters and a few empty rooms for private meetings and parties, along with a few other rooms my father inhabited while doing whatever kings did.
I emerged in the middle of a passage and quickly chose to go forward. “Come on Picasso,” I whispered as he stopped to chase a reflection on the ground. “They’ll catch up with us and sell us to a sea witch if we dawdle!”
We raced through the hallways, seeing more of the palace now than I ever had before. I hadn’t been one for exploring when I was a little mermaid, preferring to stick to places I knew and things I was good at. As I heard my sisters’ shrieks and Leon’s laughter drawing closer, I searched for a hiding spot. My eyes settled on the window just in front of me. I grinned.
Positioning myself and Picasso as close to the window as we could be, I drank in the colors around me, allowing them to wash over me and my fishy friend. Within moments, we were completely camouflaged!
Nadine came into view first, stalking forward with her pretty blonde hair falling out of its tie. Then Leon appeared, with each of my little sisters sitting on one of his shoulders. As his eyes passed back and forth across the hallway, I could have sworn that they paused for just the briefest second when they met my own. But then they continued on and I waited for the group to pass out of view before I peeled myself off of the window and channeled the colors off of our skin.
“That was close!” I whispered to Picasso. Then I felt an arm sweep my tail out from under me and suddenly Leon held me up in triumph while I almost screamed. “Well, what do we have here?”
My heart was beating frantically as I clapped my hands over his mouth. “Shhhh! Don’t give me away!” I giggled as I looked into his blue eyes that danced with laughter. “Let’s think about this reasonably, ” I whispered. “I’ll give you twenty percent of the reward if we give Lady Nadine to the sea witch instead!”
Leon laughed, “Only twenty? Come on, Princess, I think I deserve at least sixty for discovering you and choosing not to divulge your secret to my murderous pirate allies!”
“Well we don’t have to decide right…” I trailed off as a voice began to speak within the door just beside us. I hadn’t realized that it was opened just a little when I had passed by earlier. The voices that floated out of them sounded serious, and familiar. I recognized one as my father’s.
Motioning with one hand, I drifted over to the sliver of faint light that shone out of the dark room and Leon followed me. I peered in, feeling a little guilty that I was listening in on my father’s private conversation, but I was so curious!
Inside the dark space was a gigantic mirror, the one that my father used to contact the MerCouncil. I had only seen him use it once before, as he said they were only to be used in special circumstances. From what I could see of my father’s face though, this looked like one of those times. He was hunched a little in his seat and the lines in his face seemed longer and deeper than usual. For the first time, I could see that my father was getting older.
I focused on the words being spoken by the mirror: “…will have to take extra precautions to make sure none of this gets out to anyone beyond the royal families. We don’t want our enemies thinking that we are weakened by our loss.”
My father looked up, exhaustion and sadness written plainly in each movement he took. “And what is being done to try to find him?”
The voice paused, then came again. “We have a few select individuals who are scouring the oceans as we speak, but you know, King Delmar, it is more than likely they won’t ever be able to recover him. As far as we know, Councilmember Aldric is dead.”