3: The Princess and the Sailor

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Princess Aren surfaced next to the ship. She had always pitied the humans who needed to build these wooden monstrosities to be able to cross her beloved ocean. Their legs meant they were imprisoned on land unless they used ships which were, essentially, floating land. Not only that, but they couldn't breathe underwater! How did they survive in the world when they would die if they were submerged for more than a few seconds?

Aren admitted to herself that she desired legs too, but she couldn't turn her back on the sea. She wished for the ability to walk and to swim. She wanted the human spirit but the mer physiology. Legs and a tail at the same time. She didn't know how it could be, but there had to be a way.

One day, she would walk among them. She would live their life. She'd have her revenge and her soul.

She heard the command of the man, clearly the captain from his stature and the authority in his voice. The ship's wheel was spun about, the crew leaping to action, carrying out the orders from the first mate. The rudder turned, forcing the ship into a too-tight turn and a man, climbing the Jacobs Ladder, was thrown off. At first, no-one noticed, being too involved in straightening the ship. They were all well experienced and had been with the prince for a number of years. The spark of a new adventure, vague though the terminus might be, had momentarily caused a lapse in their well versed judgement and both Rick and Blake were barking orders to right the ship before serious damage was caused.

They were a fair distance away before the missing man was noticed and cries of 'man overboard' could be heard from where Princess Aren had been. She was long gone, swimming down, passing the krill who ignored her presence. In her hand was the right leg of the sailor. Slowly sinking, but now far above her, was the left leg and the fingers of the left hand. She'd cut them quickly, a serrated lump of reef rammed into the man's throat to prevent him screaming. She removed his fingers, but cast them aside. They were short and stubby. The left leg was slightly deformed, an odd lump at the knee causing it to bend awkwardly. The right was acceptable. It would do for her purposes. Or at least for the trials.

Aren swam down to her outcrop and disappeared into the cave. She emerged a few moments later, her hands empty. She swam over the top of the rocks and turned towards the palace. It was her birthday. She might as well pretend to join in the celebrations.

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