Meeting a Princess

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Mermaids Suck, I thought as I swam for my life. There could be only one thing that had the force to pull me under the water like this and that was an unholy creature of the deep. I fought for breath and kicked for the surface. I resisted the temptation to look down. To see what had grabbed a hold of me. I focused on reaching the surface, but I was so far down. I swam and kicked. Almost there. My lungs burned. I wasn't going to make it. I was going to drown.

Yes! I broke through the surface of the water like a breaching whale. I gulped sweet air and treaded water while the warm sun of the South Pacific beamed down on me. I looked around. I was about a hundred yards off shore. No one was on the beach or had seen me be pulled under the water. It looked like I was on my own.

Just then, cold hands grabbed my legs again. I summoned my Etheric Knife and slashed underneath me. Dragon Fire could be used underwater and even in the cold vacuum of space. There was only one thing to do and that was to take the fight to the enemy. As Mary always told me – When in Doubt, Attack.

"All right enough of this," I said and took a deep breath and plunged underwater. I was supposed to be on vacation and now I had almost drowned. It didn't help my mood that I was supposed to have dinner with Michael Ross later that evening. To be honest, I would rather be fighting mermaids then have dinner with that man. At least this would give me an excuse as to why I was going to be late.

I kicked down into the water. The warm red and white dragon fire of my Etheric Knife lit up the gloom and I searched through the fog to see my attacker.

It was a mermaid. A young one by the looks of it. The mermaid lurked on the sandy bottom of the ocean, looked up at me, scowled, and stuck its tongue out. I streamed dragon fire at the mermaid, who darted away at an insane speed. It moved like a fighter plane underwater.

But what surprised me the most was how attractive the creature was. It was obviously female and young to boot. It had long clumps of seaweed entwined in its short hair that streamed out behind it and covered its naked body. I looked for the signature fish tail but didn't see it which was surprising. Was this a mermaid or something else?

Just then, the cold force of the Wend blasted through me, warning me of danger. I turned to my right and something large bumped into me. I slashed furiously with my Etheric Knife. A inky black shadow darted away. I knew what it was. What it could only be. A shark and a large one. I streamed dragon fire at the shark, but it easily dodged. I was fighting a losing battle and worse I was doing it on my enemy's turf.

Wham! Something slammed into me with the force of a freight train. I turned to face it. It was another shark. From out of nowhere, half a dozen sharks appeared. They looked to be tiger sharks. I could see the familiar brown and white stripes. One thing was for sure, these sharks were killers.

I was in over my head. I couldn't take on a mermaid and half a dozen tiger sharks. I kicked for the surface and broke through. Sure enough large fins circled me. I tried to Jump into Fast Time so I could run back to the beach and safety, but I was hurt. My ribs felt like they had been hit with a sledgehammer.

I only had one option. I started swimming slowly back toward the beach. I didn't look back. The cold icy talons of fear gripped me, but I forced myself to concentrate on my form. I couldn't show any fear because I knew that the sharks would sense it and attack. I was almost to the beach. I was almost safe. Just a few more feet. Just then, I felt the ground under my feet and I staggered out of the water and collapsed on the beach.

I rested for a moment.

"Hey, I'm not done playing with you," a melodious voice spoke to me.

I propped myself up on my elbow and looked out at the ocean.

Sure enough there was the mermaid. She treaded water out beyond the tidal reach and moved back and forth in the water with pure grace and style. I saw more shark fins circling around her.

"Yeah. Well, I am," I said.

"Oh come on, Eliza. Let's play," the mermaid said.

I blinked and sat up. How did this mermaid know my name? I had to know more.

"Is this how you get your kicks? Pretending to be in trouble and then drowning people?' I yelled at the mermaid. I could feel the cold fury of the Wend building in me. I hadn't feed in a while. I reached down and tried to control my anger. I took a few deep breaths.

The mermaid reached up and covered her mouth and giggled. "Oh, come on. I just wanted to play. I promise my friends won't hurt you."

"Yeah, well you could have fooled me," I said.

"Look, My name is Princess Doria. I just wanted to make your acquaintance. I heard you were coming here and I got all excited. My sister told me all about the Keepers of the Wend," the mermaid said.

I got to my feet. I walked into the surf.

"What did she tell you?" I asked.

The mermaid swam closer to me.

"That you were our friends. That you helped us a long time ago," Princess Doria said.

This was news to me.

"All right, Princess. Let me tell you something right now. Back where I come from if you want to make someone's acquaintance, you don't start off by trying to drown them."

"I'm sorry. It's just that I didn't think you would pay me any attention if I came up on land," Princess Doria said.

That was true. The mermaid looked to be no older than twelve. I'd never paid much attention to the tween set even if they were good looking. Suddenly, the cold energy of the Wend blasted through me again. I tried to step back and run, but something yanked me off my feet and I was pulled underwater in a vicious undertow.

***

My fingers scrapped against the sandy bottom. I kicked wildly, but it was almost impossible to fight against the iron grip of the current. I tried to remember what my Uncle Paul told me about swimming against a riptide – always swim sideways. I kicked off sideways, swimming frantically. Finally, the vicious undertow relaxed.

I oriented myself by breathing bubbles to see where the surface of the water was. There! I kicked for the surface and sputtering and gasping for breath, I broke through. I turned around and looked for the shore. I was even further out to sea then before. In the distance the green splendor of Calypso receded as the current pulled me out to sea. All I could do was tread water and hope for the best, which wasn't the best plan. I cursed myself for trusting a mermaid. Now I was going to have to fight off sharks and who knows what else. Even with the Wend and my Etheric Knife, I wouldn't lay any money on my surviving for long, especially with night coming on.

As the current swept me out into the open ocean, I forced myself to try and relax. Now was not the time to panic. I thought back and thought of how long I had been gone. Surely, Thomas would sound the alarm when I didn't show up for dinner, and I imagined that David would come looking for me in Cassie. I didn't have my Razor Phone so there was no way to track me. Still, I knew that David and Thomas wouldn't give up until they found me. I just had to hold out until they put two and two together.

Hours passed. I treaded water and forced myself to conserve my energy. The sun began to set. It was absolutely beautiful. The sun looked like a red coal in the sky and illuminated the clouds as it sank in the west. To amuse myself , I tried to imagine which was worse. Having dinner with Michael and Nicholas Ross or my current situation. I wasn't sure.

You're really in it now, Eliza, I thought.

To Be Continued

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