Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Works-In-Progress Wednesday: "Princess of Undersea" Excerpt--The Bargain

(Taken from Google)

 Nayidia was searching for trinkets among some of the outlying wrecks when she heard a voice calling out to her. Even from that distance, the voice seemed to strike a chord somewhere inside Nayidia. At once she was overcome with a sense of urgency that was more annoying than pertinent. She knew it was only Ylaine's voice that was doing this—and there was only one reason, Nayidia knew, why the mermaid would be so agitated as to use her gift so senselessly. She swam to the anxious young princess, exhibiting her resilience by moving at her own pace, in spite of the pervading influence.
"Kelpling!" She greeted Ylaine as if the visit came as a surprise. "The potions are not ready yet, dear; did I not say I would bring them to you myself?"
Ylaine wore her hair tied back from her face this time, instead of loose and floating. It was only one ring of seaweed, but it was more than usual. Her dark tail flicked almost involuntarily.
"Can you make it longer?" She asked abruptly.
"Make what longer?" Nayidia pressed. She had to give the young mermaid credit for figuring her new problem out so swiftly.
"Can you make one of the potions last longer? One day is not enough for me!"
"My dear, whatever can you mean? I thought you merely wanted to show your father the human world." Ylaine might have been clever, but Nayidia was exponentially more so.
Ylaine fluttered her gills and crossed her arms, gripping her shoulders in the universal body signal of emotional distress. "Something has happened, Nayidia." She suddenly reached out and took Nayidia's hand in both of her own. "Something incredible." Her aqua eyes danced.
Nayidia did not have to fake the smile. She knew that Ylaine had no reason to suspect her level of enthusiasm as she prompted, "Dear one, tell me everything!"
So Ylaine treated Nayidia to the story of how she came to rescue the human. On the outside, Nayidia was just as astonished as a mermaid should be; on the inside, she was fairly turning circles with glee. Her plan was working out so much better than she expected.
"—So you see, that's why I need more than one day, because I want to find him, Nayidia!" Ylaine's voice pleaded with her. "I need to find him."
The timbre resonated with ardent longing that told the merwoman that her goddaughter was exactly where she wanted her to be. Her heart was already hovering on the surface of the water. Time for her body to join it.
"And what will you do when you find him, Ylaine?" Nayidia asked carefully.
The fluttering of the gills was the mermaid equivalent of a blush. "I don't know." Ylaine looked as if she wanted to loose her hair and let it float in front of her face to avoid her godmother's gaze.
Nayidia let Ylaine begin to wonder for several minutes, and then said slowly, as if the idea had just occurred to her, "I am afraid I cannot make the potions last any longer, but I do have some old three-day potion." Nayidia swam down to the belly of her ship to retrieve the vial of potion.
Ylaine was so excited to receive it that she did not notice the sparkling sheen of a fresh-brewed potion. "Three days?"
"Yes; you'll be human for three days—unless..." Nayidia broke off just long enough for Ylaine to look up expectantly, then shook her head. "Never mind, it's silly."
"What is?" Ylaine took the bait as easily as a tarpon.
"Well," Nayidia rolled her eyes, "there is an old legend that states that if a mermaid becomes a human temporarily, and finds love in that time, she can stay human for as long as that love lasts."
"Really?" the younger mermaid gasped. She wondered if a rescue warranted love to a human. Certainly she would not object if he offered!
"But I said it was silly; I mean, humans don't live that long, and they are fickle. You probably couldn't find someone in three days who would love you forever."
Ylaine stared at the potion in her hands. "But ... But I could try," she whispered.
Nayidia watched her young charge. "You really want to do this?"
Ylaine nodded, "I do."
Nayidia swallowed back her laughter. It was just too perfect! "I must warn you, Ylaine, that this potion isn't cheap. I'm afraid it will cost you something."
Ylaine frowned in confusion. "I thought you said you would give it as a birthday present."
Nayidia shook her head. "That was the one-day potion for you and your father. It's not ready yet, but I'd still give it to you if you wanted to wait for two more days. If you take this potion now, though, I won't be able to do that."
Ylaine's lips trembled as she stared at the vial in her hand. "What do you want from me?"
"Come now, Kelpling," Nayidia responded smoothly, "it's not like that! I don't want anything from you, this is just an exchange, magic for magic."
Ylaine looked back to Nayidia. "What magic?"
Nayidia swam over to her cache of magic stones and chose a deep-green one. "Remember when we spoke, when I told you that I could temporarily remove your fairy gift? I was thinking that would be a fine bargain; I mean, I'll bet it only works in the water, anyway. It's not like you'll ever need it while you're human."
Ylaine hovered, mulling this over. "Won't that take away my voice?" She observed.
Nayidia bobbed her head. "No, it shouldn't; after all, you were born with a voice. The fairy only gave you the gift of song." She held up the green stone in her hand. "This stone can hold the gift for you. Can we try it?"
Ylaine squared her shoulders resolutely. "Go ahead," she answered.
Nayidia held the stone against her cheek and muttered the spell. A thin, glowing ribbon seeped out of Ylaine's mouth and entered the stone. The merprincess clutched her throat as if Nayidia had just ripped out her tongue.
Nayidia chuckled, "Oh come now! It can't be that bad; try speaking."
Ylaine felt her gills flex convulsively as she struggled to get the words out. "I-I th-th-think it-t-t w-w-work-ked." She yelped soundlessly and clapped a hand over her mouth. Ugh! Without the gift her voice hung flat and ungainly, and that stutter!
Nayidia didn't seem to notice as she tucked the stone into a small pouch at her side made of woven kelp. "You'll get used to it after a while, I'm sure," she told the young mermaid. "Don't worry about your gift. I'll keep it safe and give it right back when you return."
Ylaine did not want to have to hear her voice again, but she had to remind her godmother. "B-b-but-t i-if I f-f-find l-l-love, I w-won't b-be b-b-back."
Nayidia frowned as if recalling this for the first time. "Ah, I see; well, here's what we can do." She swam out to another ship covered over with smooth, round shells like large pearls. Picking one, she handed it to Ylaine. "This is called a mier. When the shell is struck, it makes a sound only merfolk can hear. Watch." Nayidia smacked the mier on the side of the ship, and a piercing shriek echoed through the water.
"If you find your love and are sure you're not coming back in three days, just place the mier in water and strike it, and I will swim up to you and return your gift. Does that sound all right to you?"
Ylaine nodded wordlessly.
Nayidia smiled, "Enjoy your three days, Princess. Oh, and one more thing: the potion will begin to work right away, so you'll want to swim as near the surface as you can get before taking it. Wouldn't want you drowning before you used your legs properly, now would we?"
Ylaine frowned with worry; she had never been able to get to the surface before. How would she do it now?
Nayidia seemed to understand. She beckoned to the Princess. "Follow me."

Nayidia and Ylaine swam along the sea bed till they reached a high cliff that Ylaine recognized as the foundation of Overcliff. The boundary stretched high overhead, but in the murk of the water, Ylaine saw a round cave cut into the side of the rock. Nayidia pointed to it.
"That is a tunnel that will take you to a spot within a few meters of the surface. When you're ready, swim through there and take the potion. The guards on the boundary will not catch you."
Ylaine was so excited that she threw her arms around Nayidia.
"Th-th-thank-k y-y-you!" She spluttered.
"For you, my Kelpling," Nayidia murmured, "anything."
Her heart nearly bursting with hope, Ylaine swam to the cave and entered the tunnel.
Nayidia returned to her lair. Soon enough, Davor would notice his daughter missing, and of course he would come immediately to her. Nayidia twirled her braids as she invented the perfect cover story. So far, the whole plan ran along smoothly. Davor would rue the day he ever thought he could rule the ocean all on his own.

Excerpts from "Princess of Undersea":
-"Undersea and Overcliff" 
-"The Wish" 
-"The Witch and The Storm" 
-"Fish Out of Water" 
-"Walking Through Overcliff" 
-"Dining With The King" 
-"Enter The Queen" 
-"Exposed" 
-"The Exchange" 
-"Carnival Showdown"