Last Sneak Peek

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I’m loving the excited emails and messages about the upcoming release of Keeping Merminia. So here’s another sneak peek before it debuts in October. The Prologue is told from Walter’s point of view. He’s a human boy who we’ll see throughout the story. Remember the boy who watched Ulric walk out of the water in Merminia? Walter is that little boy.





She strings the flower stems around my wrist before she makes my crown. Standing in her chair, she bends over me to arrange them. Ellie is as careful as a small child can be. I wince as she tugs the hair left on my balding head.

“Will my ears sag like yours when I’m old?” she asks.

“No,” I say. “Your pretty brown skin and pointed ears come from your grandmother. I’m no elf. I make a plain human at best.”

She sticks the last of her rosebuds in my white hair. “There, Grandpa. You’re an elegant mermaid.”

I squint, holding up the looking glass. I nod to her. “Looks like a suitable crown for a mermaid.”

She sighs, fixing a falling pink flower. “I wish mermaids were real.”

I slide the looking glass onto the table. “What do you mean by real? Haven’t you paid attention to the stories I tell you? You don’t believe in the storyteller’s stone? A witch gave that to me, you know.”

She claps her hands over my drooping cheeks. “Of course I do. You tell the best stories. But mother says you’re always lost in them. And she said I should only trust half of what you tell me.”

I straighten up in my chair. “Well,” I say. “What about the ax above the bookshelf? Do you think the pictures carved on the handle could be thought up by the likes of me?” I point at the front doorway. “And I’ve also got the last known elf’s sword hanging over my door.”

“Elves don’t carry swords,” she says, adjusting her own flower crown.

“Ah,” I say. “But they used to. Before the Enchanteds scattered to the wind, they were proud of what made them different. Witches, elves, mermen, vampires—they didn’t try to blend in with everybody else. They didn’t want to appear so human.”

She giggles. “You’re silly, Grandpa.”

“Yes,” I say. “I try to be as silly as possible. It’s the only way to feel young when your hips give out.”

I don’t necessarily want to convince Ellie of the truth in my stories. I chuckle every time she searches the forest for flowers—never suspecting the pixies ducking in the leaves. At one time, those same fairies would’ve swarmed at a child taking their flowers, back when the forests almost ceased to be.

She’s never seen the Meadow Wood protected by an army of elves with crystal swords. But I did. I remember when elves had to guard the trees with their lives.

I also recall when mermen crawled out of the roaring waves. I glimpsed Ulric the Destroyer rise from the sea in the dark of night. He had his trident in one hand and Adessia’s ring in the other. To this day, I can feel the needling chill I did when he passed me. I thought Humans and Enchanteds might disappear altogether.

People often laugh when I tell them about those things. Especially since a simple rock, a glass sword, and an ax are the only proof I can offer. The ax on the bookshelf still dwarfs me. On end, it’s a foot taller than my head. My eyesight isn’t sharp anymore. But if I run my hand along the whittled handle, three faces come to life in my mind. Selinne. Aramis. Gabriel.

I can still see Selinne with her purple fingers—casting a glow across the pond. I can picture Aramis racing his horse behind Selinne’s while krowlers chased us. But mostly I see the face I miss the most. I see Gabriel swinging his ax, all shoulders and muscle.

He carved all of his favorite memories onto the ax handle—his beloved mermaid dancing with him in the grass, a Lily Fly landing on my nose, and the sandcastle.

Once I was grown he told me bits of the past I hadn’t pieced together. He told me why he hid Adessia’s ring from his own clan. He also admitted the storyteller’s stone he’d brought back from Dencur had no magic in it. I keep it anyway, because like the ax, it reminds me of him.

Gabriel revealed a lot of things I failed to notice on our ride to Dencur. But he never could bring himself to tell me what really happened after he followed Selinne and Aramis into the city. I’ll never be certain of the ending to my first adventure. It’s the only secret he kept from me.

I went to the spot years ago, but everything was missing where it should’ve been. Dencur was a blank spot of sand, except for the tree. I hiked up to the cliff top to touch it. I stared at the tree, counting all of the white blossoms dressing its trunk. The vines mysteriously settled into the wood, like they climbed up the cliff from the waves. They smelled of sugar when I inspected them. I recognized Selinne’s shell dagger wedged in the bark. It was cracked and worn with time. At a wrinkled eighty-seven years, I’m still guessing what happened there.

As Ellie spins around me with her bouquet, she whistles a tune she’s heard me hum many times. I whistle the notes with her. It’s a Merminian war song; the soldiers from the ocean depths used to sing it before a battle.

Gabriel should’ve disliked the melody, since Litiants and Merminians were sworn enemies. But for some reason, I’d catch that merman singing it as he sat, carving away on his ax. Gabriel always sang it slowly.

We steal your eyes. You take our flesh.

The fates watch as they will.

The waves will mourn. The wind will howl.

And still my soul goes free.

I’m not sorry those eerie lyrics will die with me. And I’m not sorry Gabriel’s brother ended up with the ring. If Ulric hadn’t taken it—if he hadn’t walked out of the waves and challenged everything—I’d be a man with a dull memory.

As I toss the storyteller’s stone up in the air, a grin twists on my face. Spelled rock or not, it reminds me of a time when I was surrounded by sorcery and enchantments. Even old age can’t make me forget the magic I saw the year I turned nine. Oh … the things that I have seen.


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