Keeping Merminia, New Excerpt

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As promised, here is a small excerpt from Keeping Merminia, from Selinne’s point of view. Keep in mind that this is still an ongoing draft. There may be small errors I have overlooked.

This scene takes place when Selinne attempts to leave the ocean and find Ulric:

 

As the sea gets low, I fall. I hit the ground so hard that my teeth knock together. My fins twist beneath me. I’m numb from the waist down. My new legs are limp. They’re pins that keep me from rising. The waves punch at me. My black hair tangles in my mouth and eyes. My brother’s shield slips out of my hand. It’s lost under the colorless, rushing tide. I scramble for it. My fingers rake the silt. I stick my head under the water only to find blackness. Why can’t I see anything? I have to lift my head back up. Gradually, the blurriness leaves my eyes.

“The shield,” I cry. “I can’t find it.”

His hand locks around my arm. “Don’t let go,” he yells as the waves smash us. “Leave it for now.”

I gasp and cough as the water plugs my throat. I panic. Aramis braces himself on the spiky boulder. He tries to pull me up with his free arm. We keep sliding. The fishermen’s huts spout smoke, but there’s nobody to help us out of the whitecaps. The ocean suddenly feels like ice. The water is cruel—painful on my skin. It slices right through my bones. I shiver and shake. I cling to his arm as I try to get a better hold on the rock. My fingers are a ghoulish purple where my rays should be. There’s nothing left of my mermaid self. The light drained right out of me. The waves seal my nose and mouth. I heave, spitting the sea.

The veins in his forehead and neck look as if they’ll burst. He lifts me until I’m between him and the stone. He draws his arms around me to keep the waves from slamming my face. I lower my head into his chest, trying to slow my breathing. I hear the ripping slap of the sea on his back. I worry at the way his biceps vibrate–wondering how much longer he can support us both.

He squints at the beach. I turn my head to see what’s coming. A figure moves on the sand. A skinny, speckled boy appears at the edge of the waves. He yells something. Aramis shrugs. I can’t make out what the child says either. My ears are half-clogged. All of my senses are dull—slow. My human body already seems quite useless. It’s not built to survive much, I think.

The red-haired boy runs back up the shoreline.

“I think he’s getting help,” Aramis hollers into my ear. “We just have to hold on a little longer.”

I can’t get warm. I’m so cold—I’d huddle with a Red-tail if it would get rid of the chill in my blood. I inch toward him.

He shifts. “I won’t let you go, okay?” he says, arching his brow.

He leans away to keep some space between our naked bodies. I think to myself that it’s no time for him to be concerned with decency. As the tide speeds past, I stare aimlessly. I strain to find where the shield fell. I picture my dead brother’s name scrolled on its edge—my father’s name as well. I get frantic again. Images of Silas wearing it—of Bayren picking it up when he took my father’s place—it’s all I have left of them.

“What if it’s gone? What if I really lost it?” I realize my fingers are tearing into his shoulder as I say it.

Drops of seawater trickle down his chin. “We won’t leave the sea without it.”

A clip-clop noise carries on the wind. We turn to find the boy running back. Behind him is a horse. The four hooves tap at the rocky beach. I hold my breath. It’s a creature more beautiful than any of the tales I’ve heard of them. The horse’s coat has a blood-red sheen under the moonlight. His legs hardly touch the ground, as if he dashes on a carpet of air. The animal’s mane floats like seaweed around his ears. Tiny clouds shoot from his nose. A giant man hunches on the horse’s back.

That’s when I see the blazing eyes beneath the brown hood. It’s not human. There’s nobody coming to our rescue. Only Litiants have eyes that shine so blue. Aramis instinctively looks down to make sure he has his dagger. The boy tries to outrun the merman, but the giant’s horse is faster. If the Litiant drags us from the water, it won’t be to help us.  My heart tosses itself about as he heads straight for us. Our enemy rides with purpose.  And as with all Litiants, our death is riding with him.

Aramis pushes my head down behind the rock, hiding me from view. I listen to the pounding of the horse get closer and closer. I want to shut my eyes when I hear the splashing. But I make myself look. I won’t shrink under anyone, not even Aramis. The Merminian dagger glimmers as Aramis brings it up from his side. The shadow coils over us. I scowl up at the hooded face. Suddenly, I’m fighting to hold Aramis back.

“Stop it,” I scream. “Don’t.”

The Litiant clamps his hand around Aramis’ wrist. He twists until Aramis drops the blade. He doesn’t even have to pull his hood back. I know it’s him. Gabriel.

I’d know those eyes anywhere.

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