Tallahassee, FL – January 24, 2012
Continued from The Mercrone’s Necklace, Part 1 of 4.
The young princess crossed calm waters and colorful coral beds and kept swimming deeper and deeper, far away from her father’s kingdom, until she found the old, haunted reef. Almost no light reached that far down. Everything was gray and black. Shadows seemed to move just beyond her vision. She felt scared and excited at the same time. She looked around for the ship, slipping between rocks, peering into the darkness, and finally found it, an old Spanish galleon cracked in two pieces, laying on its side. She peered into holds filled with gold and rusted cannons. She spun the great wooden wheel and made robes out of tattered sails. She stacked cutlasses into piles and stared at her reflection in an old silver plate.
“You’re quite pretty,” she said to her reflection.
Just as she was about to drop the plate–for there were plenty back at the palace–a giant shadow appeared above her. She looked up and saw a mighty shark rushing in to eat her for dinner. She threw the plate into its mouth and dove out of the way, but the shark was very quick and caught a piece of her tail in its teeth. Luckily, the silver plate stuck in the shark’s throat and the princess pulled her tail free and disappeared into a crack of rock. The shark choked and coughed, but the silver plate would not come out. It stuck fast until the giant beast died and sank into the ocean.
The princess stared at it, then felt a tap on her shoulder.
“That was quite unkind,” a voice said. “You come into that shark’s home and when it defends itself, you attack it? Certainly a princess should behave better than that. You could rule the kingdom one day.”
The princess spun and saw an old mercrone floating behind her. The mercrone’s tail hung in tatters. Giant scars ran down her bent and crooked body and one arm ended at the elbow. The mercrone looked as old as the reef itself.
Frightened, the princess rushed to swim away, but the mercrone grabbed her arm and held her still.
“Wait,” the mercrone said. “Your tail. That is a nasty bite.”
The princess looked down and saw the giant hole ripped out of her tail by the shark’s teeth. For a moment she wanted to cry because she knew her tail would never be perfect again, then she felt faint, and almost collapsed in the mercrone’s arms. The mercrone reached down for the wounded tail and passed her hand above it. The edges of the cut hardened and turned to scars. Blood stopped flowing into the water.
“You’ll live,” the mercrone said.
“But my tail,” the princess said. “It is ruined. I am ruined. I will never be perfect again.”
“Steady, child,” the mercrone whispered. “I know old magic and I will fix your tail, but you must make me a promise first.”
“Anything,” the princess said. “Anything you want. I am a princess. A coral castle, the finest seaweed, seahorses, name what you want, just make my tail perfect again.”
“You must bring me a necklace strung with the best seashells in the ocean,” the mercrone said.
“That’s all?” the princess asked.
The mercrone nodded.
“Then I promise,” the princess said.
To be continued…