The waves lapped gently against the beach at the quiet stretch of shoreline Cindra had chosen for her emergence from the sea. She swam up from the depths clutching a bag of tightly woven kelp filled with pieces of gold. The mermaid remembered the Sea Queens parting words
The humans seem to prize these shiny metal discsperhaps they will aid you in your search for Kiana.
Cindra shook the bag dubiously, hearing the muted clink of the pieces as they rubbed against each other.
If humans truly value theseI shall have to guard them closely and use them carefully
She lay in the surf, the soft susurrus echoing in her ears, the gritty sand against her skin and the unfamiliar tickle of wind playing with her hair. Cindra had embarked upon her quest with great urgency, for who knew what become of her sister if she were not found quickly?
But now she was loathe to leave the sea, to walk upon dry land with the strange legs that her tail would become if she willed it so. The wide fin flapped in the water idly, catching the sunlight on sparkling scales, and Cindra set her teeth.
I must do this.
Closing her eyes, she felt the magic of the sea and pulledand a soft tingle ran along her tail from her waist to the tip of the fin. If Cindra had known the pins and needles feeling of a limb gone to sleep, she might have likened this sensation to it, but she didnt, so she only waited as the magic cocooned around her, changing her body.
She opened her eyes and looked downher tail was gone, and in its place she had legsthe strange appendages used by the surface dwellers. She struggled to her feet, wobbling and falling to the sand more than once before she established an unsteady balance. Frightened and lonely, she stood on the beach, clothed in her long hair and clutching her bag. Her sisters fellow scouts had reported that Kiana had last been seen in this area, and that a check of the surface had shown her being carried away in a net by a pair of bearded humans. Communications with allies among the water sprites, and through them, dryads, had revealed that the men had dumped Kiana into a wagon marked with human writing and bright flags.
Cindra had nothing else to go on. She had memorized the description provided and knew of only two things that would lead her to her sister. First, she must walk among the humans and seek out a wagon that met the description, and secondly, she must constantly search for Kianas mental presence. Cindra and her people had long communicated with one another telepathically, but on the surface, this ability was weakened and the range decreased. Cindra would have to be reasonably close her sister to sense her.
So. I will walk among the humans.
She took one slow step forward, then another, and another, until she stopped and rested her hand on a rock for balance. These legs were strange, and this method of moving about on them seemed awkward and graceless to one used to gliding through currents and riding waves with dolphins.
Perhapsa short rest
Cindra sat on the rock, staring out at the waves. They seemed to call to hercome home, come home
Well, what have we here?
The mermaids head whipped around and her eyes widened as she stared at the human. He was large, so much bigger than any merman she had ever seenand hairy. His smell assaulted herflesh and dirt and sweat.
Ren! Oi, Ren! Lookee here! Weve got a real sweet piece here!
Another man jogged up, small and rat-faced.
Think the bossll mind if we-
Please The words sounded strange, coming from her mouthfelt strange. Please leave me alone.
So she speaks. Well, missy. Why dont you come over here and-
These could be the humans who took Kiana! They could take mebut if I were held in their thrall I could not free either of us
Cindra reached out to the seaand it answered. A surge of water rose up from the waves and hurtled towards the men, sweeping them off their feet and swirling up around them, holding them in a vise grip and stinging their faces with spray.
A mermaid, have you seen her? Violet hair and eyes, a crimson tailshe was seen here, taken by men
Damn these awkward words
The men spluttered and fought against the water, but it held them with an inexorable grip.
I will let you go if you tell me.
Cindra commanded the waters to pull them towards the ocean, to pull them beneath the waves until they gasped their last breathstheir feet were dragging the sand
Wait, I saw er. I saw somethin!
She stopped, yanking him forward in a spray of sea foam.
What? Tell me what you have seen!
A freakshow, with a fish girl in a water tank. And dancers He stuttered, terrifiedthen fainted.
I will learn nothing more from these men. But I will not kill them.
The water released them, flowing back into the ocean and Cindra longed to flow back with itbut she curled up on the rock, knees against her chest, arms wrapped around her legs, and cried.
The larger man fled, throwing his waterlogged companion over one burly shoulder as he went, muttering about witches.
Witch? Nobut a sorceress of the court of the sea queen surely does not belong here on the surface
We see the world as "we" are, not as "it" is; because it is the "I" behind the "eye" that does the seeing.