Here is the first part of my Little Mermaid / Riders of the Realm story! Hope that you enjoy, and I will appreciate any comments! It is the perfect post for my 100th!
Over the rice fields and past the farms of the Fifth Sandwen Clan resides a large ocean known as the Dark Water. It is called this because the water is so deep and dark that few who end up submerged in its domain ever end up surviving. No one finds the urge to go there, and it is avoided whenever possible. This is because of the spells of the Merfolk.
A few leagues from the shore of the Fifth Clan you will find the kingdom of Atlantia. This is the kingdom of the Merfolk. Here, it is light and bright. Special glowing seastones bring light to this place in the darkest of oceans. The capital of Atlantia is Corallia, the site of the greatest castle known to Merkind.
It is here that our protagonist finds herself most often. As the child of a noblemerman, she was immediately taken on as one of the Dowager Queen’s ladies-in-waiting. It is a boring duty, filled with endless streams of gossip and fruitless dances, but a high-ranking one.
She hates it. See her now, riding through the statue gardens of the palace on her hippocamp, looking for an escape from the boringness of life at court?
Luckily for her, adventure is coming soon. This adventure takes the form of a little boat which is currently floating down the Tsallen River in the Fifth Clan, and a powerful storm which is gathering on the horizon. Hear the gentle crashing of the waves, and listen to my story.
Avalyn laughed as Coco, her hippocamp, whisked her at a breakneck speed past a statue of the Dowager Queen. Coco was a palomino hippocamp with a peachy colored tail. She was one of the fastest hippocamps in Atlantia, mainly due to her small size. Avalyn, on the other hand, wasn’t the fastest mermaid. She found herself to be quite average, and everyone seemed to agree with that statement.
“Faster, Coco,” she bade her hippocamp. “We don’t have much time, and I want to get back before anyone realizes that I am gone.”
Coco picked up the pace and Avalyn struggled to stay on by holding the reins. They swam over the castle walls and into the lush seaweed forest beyond. It was here where it was quiet, where it was calm. The green spears swayed back and forth with the tides.
Avalyn pulled back on the reins to make Coco stop once they had reached her secret cove. It was here that she stored all her valuables. If she had carried them into the castle, there would have been talk for sure.
One by one, she pulled them out of a reed chest. A scroll of her mother’s songs. An etched comb made from coral. A shard of a human mirror. She held the mirror shard the longest and looked into its depths.
Avalyn saw herself looking back at her, but her reflection was slightly warped by the age of the glass. Her dark brown hair floated around herself, and she examined the purple tips she had applied earlier. It was what made her feel unique. The other mermaids wore spiffy outfits made of drowned human clothing and styled their hair to excessive lengths, but none of that was for Avalyn.
She was average in intellect, song-skill, grace, all the things needed for court. However, she didn’t feel like the rest of her kind. The surface had always interested her more than it had for them. Now that she was eighteen, she could go up to the surface as many times as she liked.
“Oh, I’m so excited, Coco!” Avalyn did a few flips while still holding the mirror shard. “I will get to see the sky! Maybe I can bring back a piece of it with me!”
Her hippocamp looked down at the sea floor and refused to take on the joyous attitude she had just moments ago. She pawed at the sand in her panic. Coco didn’t like talk of the surface.
“Aw, it’s okay, girl.” Avalyn patted her ride’s soft nose. “I will be careful. Later tonight, when everyone in the castle has gone to sleep except for the guards. I will sneak out and take one little peak.” Seemingly reassured by this, Coco nuzzled Avalyn’s shoulder. Up ahead, the seaweed parted and revealed a frantic looking octopus.
Though Avalyn did not understand Octupen, she could see from the gestures of the octopus that something was wrong. The octopus used its numerous arms to give a message. “S-t-o-r-m…h-u-m-a-n-s.”
“A storm…humans,” Avalyn muttered. “Does this mean more drowned human bodies to litter our realm?”
She could remember other times this had happened, and it wasn’t fun. Once, a human body had lodged itself on the top spire of the castle. It had been hard to remove, and had caused many of the members of royalty to faint.
Avalyn looked towards Coco. “I need to make sure that no more bodies fall through the water tonight. If they do, I’m afraid that the king might ban going to the surface. He has already been threatening it for weeks…”
Her hippocamp nodded, but dug her hooves into the sea floor. She didn’t want to have to follow her owner up to the danger of the surface. If they were caught by the humans, it would mean captivity or worse.
Avalyn stroked Coco in understanding, then swam back. “It’s fine. I will go up on my own.” She released Coco’s reins. “You can go back to the stable.”
Her hippocamp snorted in gratitude and swam off through the water. Avalyn looked up and gathered her strength. She had never been expecting her moment to come so soon, but she was more than ready for it.
Avalyn swam up through the dusky water, letting the faint glimmer of sun be her guide.
Princess Tameria of the Fifth Clan looked out the side of the boat, growing worried. “Hey, are you sure that this is right? I don’t think we are on the River Tsallen anymore.”
Hillalum, the man who was supposed to be taking her on a short trip from Fort Prowl to the farms, nodded. “Yup.” He consulted the map he had brought and smoothed out the creases.
Tameria was unsure of Hillalum’s piloting abilities. She could no longer see the bank on either side of the river, and the water seemed frighteningly deep. A fear itched in the corner of her mind. “Are you sure that we didn’t go too far? The water looks very…dark. Like…we could be on the Dark Waters.”
Hillalum stroked his beard. “It is a possibility.”
“What!” Tameria exploded, her gaze darting to the water. She didn’t know why she had ever allowed her father to let her go on this trip. He had wanted her to see more of her kingdom, but she wasn’t interested. Ruling was something she knew that she would not excel at. It was dancing that really made her heart sing.
Her navigator looked over his instruments and stroked his beard again. “It also appears as though a storm is coming our way. Hold on.”
What had started as lulling small waves was now waves as tall as the first floor of the palace. Tameria shrieked as cold water spilled over into the boat. The priceless pink satin of her dress was soon stained and waterlogged. Thunder rumbled overhead, and a bolt of lightning struck nearby, illuminating the deep water beneath.
The little boat was rocked from side to side by the powerful waves, and Tameria closed her eyes against the spray. She dug her nails into the wood of her seat, praying for a miracle.