Prologue

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Far away, deep beneath the Cobalt Sea, where the waters are as clear as crystal, lies the kingdom of Atlantica. There, amid the white coral castle, rules the Sea King, Triton. King Triton controls the very tides and ocean waves through the use of his enchanted golden horn. However, King Triton's most valued treasure could not be weighed in wealth. His greatest gift were his three daughters: Delmara, Mareena, and Dylana.

Delmara, the eldest, was known throughout the sea kingdom for having the most voluminous and beautiful hair beneath the waves. Mareena, the middle child, was known for possessing the more radiant golden scales in all the oceans. And the youngest, Dylana, while very plain looking, possessed the most enchanting voice ever heard throughout the sea. King Triton valued them above all else.

The princesses' grandmother often regaled the sisters with tales of the elves and their land far above the waves. The sisters were fascinated by the strange creatures who possessed no gills, fins or tails as they did. They wished desperately to see what a cloud was as it drifted across the sky, or watch the smooth sailing of a vessel as it traversed on top of the waters. Luckily, on their 18th birthday, each of the daughters would be allowed to visit the lands above the sea.

While they were not allowed to go near the maelstroms or deepest caverns where dangerous creatures lurked, the sisters traveled together and often explored sunken vessels left behind from the land above the waves. They collected trinkets and baubles to bring back for their collection. The grandmother would often identify the strange objects: a hair brush, a fork, a cuff-link from a suit jacket. The sisters marveled at the strange new possessions and began to hoard them away within their rooms. They filled brilliantly-colored coral caches with the shiny new gifts, given to them by the forgotten elven ships.

As Delmara's eighteenth year approached, she knew her time to visit the elven lands would soon come. The sisters gathered and made a promise to each other to bring back stories of their favorite sight from the dry lands of the world they now knew as Estia.

On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Delmara swam up to the surface for the first time. She surfaced near the edge of a beach-side palace. There, through the golden glow of the windows, she watched a stream of elven dancers move so gracefully that Delmara couldn't believe they weren't swimming. She watched a ship arrive in port, gliding so silently over the waves that she almost didn't notice it approaching. She watched a couple walk along the beach, hand in hand, on those strange two legs that replaced a tail. She returned by daybreak and regaled her sisters with tales of the two-legged elves who moved so gracefully on solid ground.

A year later was Mareena's eighteenth birthday. She swam up to the surface at daybreak and was greeted with her first sunrise. She stared in awe at the brilliant sky of pink and gold, and wondered briefly if her radiant tail was as beautiful to behold. She stayed further away from the land, and followed ships as they glided over the water. At the end of the day, she watched a sunset, the vibrant red, orange and golds beckoning on the dark hues of night. She got to see the stars appear, one by one, and twinkle in the night sky. She had never before witnessed such beauty in her life, and she happily returned to share her stories with her sisters.

Now Dylana was much younger than her sisters, only yet fifteen. It would still be long years before she could travel up to the surface. She lived vicariously through her sister's stories, but eventually the two eldest became tired of repeating the same tales. They stopped talking of the surface world, and turned their attention to the suitors who had begun to woo them; they were of wedded age, and must soon pick husbands. Disheartened, Dylana spent more time away from the palace, exploring sunken wrecks alone.

The grandmother, moved by Dylana's plight, summoned the youngest to her hidden grotto. "Here is a magic mirror from the elven lands," her grandmother said, "it will show you the land you so desire to visit. While it cannot take you there, you may see the same things you sisters have, and learn more of life above the sea." But before she would hand the excited young mermaid the mirror, she warned: "Many have withered away by desiring that which they can never have; do not let that become your fate."

And so begins our mermaid's tale...

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