6.08.2022 09:51:06 AM (GMT)

Demnogonis, The Dark Apostle of Disease, has found a home on Venus. You will go in and hand him an eviction notice.

26.10.2021 10:23:03 PM (GMT)

A gull called from overhead. Suddenly, Jona dove like a porpoise right into Flotsam's face (Or maybe it was Jetsam. Honestly, Ariel could never tell them apart). She stabbed her beak into his face like she was spearing an especially truculent fish.

Flotsam (or Jetsam) eerily did not scream – he merely put one hand up to protect his face and very methodically tried to pick the bird off with the other.

Scuttle followed close behind, ripping at Jetsam's (or Flotsam's) nose. That eel also didn't scream; he just knocked the old gull aside with the back of his hand.

26.10.2021 10:23:01 PM (GMT)

There was also a chance, if they succeeded, that her father, once returned to full power, would never allow her to come onto land again. He could make it so that no one could become human. Of course, she could always search for another way. But last time that had led to Ursula, and...

26.10.2021 10:22:59 PM (GMT)

«Then apparently you don't understand humans as much as you claim to. At some point one of your friends or enemies is going to use our inimical relationship to drive a wedge through the kingdom. Many countries are already getting rid of their kings and queens and princes and princesses – or at least taking away their power while letting them keep their pretty crowns. Royalty that actually rules is a dying breed. Do we really want to give anyone the opportunity to speed it along here in Tirulia?»

Ursula had never thought of it that way before. It was true – a lot of nasty populist places were having revolutions and becoming republics and democracies, patting their royalty on the head and pushing them on their way.

(If the royalty was lucky, that was all that happened to their heads)

26.10.2021 10:22:57 PM (GMT)

«Slow down there», – Ariel said cautiously. – «This is Ursula. Nothing is over until it's actually over».

26.10.2021 10:22:55 PM (GMT)

Holding on to one of those boulders was Ariel, strangely placid in the turbulent water. Her tail snaked sinuously out behind her, keeping her level and on the surface of the water like a kraken. «This is amazing», – he said, as delighted as a child. – «This is how you really are».

«This is how I really am», – she agreed, touched that he had phrased it that way. She was no longer a human girl who became a mermaid to him; she was a mermaid first and foremost, and a human occasionally by choice.

26.10.2021 09:11:09 PM (GMT)

– Power's off... That means no security. Well, 'cept me. I'm always on.

26.10.2021 09:11:05 PM (GMT)

– Пусто. Думаю, это было, как бы сказать... игра света и тени.

29.08.2021 01:26:44 AM (GMT)

«What is a musician to do?»

«Maybe stop whining and be grateful for a chance to serve his kingdom», – Ariel suggested dryly.

29.08.2021 01:26:42 AM (GMT)

«Well... I think I've learned the hard way that there is no fair bargaining with a sea witch. Also, I wouldn't just be abandoning Eric. I'd be leaving his kingdom to a terrible fate as well. Our worlds should never have collided, and the people of Tirulia are dealing with the results of...» – a rash decision by a lovesick mermaid, – «choices I myself made years ago».

29.08.2021 01:26:40 AM (GMT)

«So I was looking for the beautiful mermaid who sang me awake», – Eric mused, thinking back on the time. – «And all the while she was right there before me». «YES».

Ariel said it a little louder, a little more fiercely than she had meant. Her eyes blazed. Eric looked at her, surprised. «You had legs», – he pointed out.

«I had the same face and hair, Eric», – she said, using his name for the first time.

29.08.2021 01:26:38 AM (GMT)

«Suffice it to say I made a bargain with Ursula the sea witch that if I couldn't make you fall in love with me m three days, she would keep my voice forever – and me, as her prisoner».

«Three days? That seems rather short. To make someone fall in love with you, I mean».

«I'm a mermaid», – Ariel reminded him. – «For thousands of years you people have been falling in love with us at first sight, immediately and forever upon hearing our songs. I didn't think it would be a problem». «But you weren't a mermaid. You were a human».

«Yes, and I had no voice, which made things even harder than I imagined», – she said bitterly.

29.08.2021 01:26:36 AM (GMT)

«There was a storm, and a ship. I think most of the crew died. But I managed to save you and take you to shore. You were so... handsome and strange».

«Strange?» – he asked in surprise.

She laughed softly. «You had two legs: silly. And no fins. Strange». «Right. Of course. Strange from a mermaid's perspective», – he said quickly.

«'From a mermaid's perspective...' Yes. Anyway».

29.08.2021 01:26:34 AM (GMT)

«I just thought... I mean... I had hoped... you came back to take me away from all of this. To go live happily ever after somewhere. Under the sea, maybe». «You would drown under the sea».

«I'm drowning up here. I've been drowning. For years. Under water, it felt like. Now that I'm waking up, of course it makes sense that you would come. And... end it».

29.08.2021 01:26:32 AM (GMT)

His eyes shone with open emotion: hope and wonder after a long period of darkness, the beautiful look of a child who, having passed through the gloom of puberty, is suddenly shown that unicorns and fairies are real after all.

11.05.2021 03:13:48 AM (GMT)

He smiled in surprise. He put his hand up to touch her face, perhaps brush away a stray hair... before his fingers did what they really wanted and pulled her chin closer to him. He kissed her on the lips.

It was brief, but in the moment their skin touched she closed her eyes and consumed him: his smell, his warmth, the movement of his mouth against hers. It was like... A good-night kiss.

Over too quickly, but every moment of it meant a universe.

All those years before, and all those years in between... She had dreamed so many different scenarios of this moment! Ariel as a human, Ariel as a mer. Eric as a mer! Eric opening his eyes right when she rescued him and kissing her, falling in love with her on the spot. Eric kissing her in the boat, when she really, really thought he was going to, and the night was so romantic... Kissing her on any of the three mornings, or realizing at the last minute Vanessa was a fake and kissing Ariel instead, and the wedding would have been for them...

And here it finally was.

11.05.2021 03:13:42 AM (GMT)

The pictures on the back of the strange-feeling vellum were far more disturbing than the weird Dry World creature on the front. There were lines and shapes that looked like they could be runes but shuddered when she tried to look at them too closely. Curves somehow didn't bend properly on the paper, and constellations of dots made her sick when she studied them, suggesting terrible things.

Ariel shook her head at the blasphemous sigils. «I don't know what these say for certain. They aren't mer runes; they're like a twisted, upside-down version of them. If I had to guess I would say they're black runes of the Deep Ones. Forbidden, evil... the whole deal».

«Can you read them at all?»

«This is just a noise, I think», – she said, pointing. – «Like ai ai. No idea what 'phtaqn' means. This here I think refers to a circuex, a powerful spell that is capable of disrupting – or joining – worlds. This looks like the mer word for 'blood', and that looks like a determinative for 'god'. Or possibly 'great' or 'lots'».


«So she needs blood, the blood of a god». – Ariel bit her lip, seeing where it was all leading. – «Ancient blood flows through my father's veins... That would explain why she's keeping him around. She needs him for something, something involving magic. But for what exactly I can't tell».

Ariel felt sick as she said the words. She pushed the paper back at him.

«Here, please take this. I don't enjoy the feel of dead human skin».

«Dead...? Human...?» – Eric took it back, aghast.

11.05.2021 03:13:37 AM (GMT)

«Just that everything she did to you and your father didn't keep you down. You popped up, older, stronger, more powerful than ever. She realizes she didn't beat you enough last time. Now she wants complete victory, which involves wiping out your home».

11.05.2021 03:13:32 AM (GMT)

Eric smiled. «I think my character would have a song about how he's been caught by a siren and is under her spell».

Ariel made a face. «I'm not a siren. Trust me. I have cousins... distant cousins... We don't get along. But what were you saying? About Ursula?»

11.05.2021 03:13:27 AM (GMT)

«Exactly. Then she wins the bet, you lose your voice, she gets your dad, she becomes princess, you swim sadly back down to the bottom of the sea... But then you resurface in her life, and you're Queen of the Sea. You manage to get your voice back. You control storms and the heart of the man she is married to...»

«I do?» – Ariel asked with delight.

«I'm just telling a story here. But yes, obviously. You've become a queen, a woman with a complicated personality. You have hidden depths and a wisdom and intelligence that all went unnoticed before by an idiot prince whose heart couldn't listen to anything his ears couldn't hear».

Ariel felt a little giddy. «I control storms and the heart of a prince. I like that». If she were in the sea she would have been swooning, thrashing her tail and spinning in circles until she was dizzy.

Well, as a girl. Not as queen, not where anyone could have seen her.

11.05.2021 03:13:21 AM (GMT)

Though her whole walking straight into the water without floating or swimming thing was more than a little creepy. Almost like a lead soldier.

11.05.2021 03:13:17 AM (GMT)

«Let's... just... see how it goes», – she said, heading off to the water.

He watched her walk straight into the waves, no hesitation, no floating, until it was up to her neck. «Hey – aren't you going to ruin your clothes?» – he called.

She rolled her eyes and dove, letting her tail hit the surface like a whale's, slapping a spray in his direction.

11.05.2021 03:13:11 AM (GMT)

«Oh, my cod», – Ariel said, putting a hand to her head.

11.05.2021 02:42:48 AM (GMT)

«Why?» – she finally asked, voice cracking. – «She's got my dad: she's got your kingdom, she's got me beat no matter what I do! What more does she want? Why does she need to destroy everything?»

«She's not a rational being, Ariel. She's like... a walking mouth that's hungry all the time. She sees something and she wants it. So she does everything she can to get it. She wanted revenge on your father and you. She thought she got it, and was content, and moved on to the next thing – ruling Tirulia. But then you showed up again. To stop her. You're like an annoying gnat she can't slap away».

«I don't know what a 'gnat' is».

«Um... kind of like a remora? Tiny thing that bites you and sucks your blood and irritates you?»

«I'm a parasitic fish that has latched on to her and won't let go», – Ariel said flatly, trying not to imagine what the words looked like.

«No, that's not – look, forget the gnat. And the remora. She hates you, maybe just because you remind her of your dad. Weirdly, I don't think she's just jealous of your beauty or youth, which is how it would go in a traditional fairy tale», – he added, looking thoughtful. – «That's sort of how I made it in my opera, and it's a motive that most people understand. Audiences love that kind of thing; jealousy is simple, it makes sense. But I don't think that's all of what's going on here».

18.04.2021 03:15:51 PM (GMT)

Lockpicking Instructions

Since selling thief-tools with no instructions can produce angry thieves, Farkus provides a brief «owner's manual» for his wares.