28.03.2020 11:59:45 PM (GMT)

Romance Detective: Never apologize for being in love.

28.03.2020 11:58:16 PM (GMT)

Romance Detective: Love never rests...

28.03.2020 11:57:07 PM (GMT)

Romance Detective: You're a fan? An unexpected twist...

28.03.2020 11:53:44 PM (GMT)

Romance Detective: This is a case of love, Romance Cop. It's our duty to solve it.

Romance Cop: My only duty is to uphold the law! Not to get concert tickets for some shady fanboy!

Romance Detective: Romance Cop. We mustn't forsake this lovestruck man, even if his intentions are... questionable.

Lupin: Enough verbal abuse!

28.03.2020 11:18:52 PM (GMT)


28.03.2020 11:17:53 PM (GMT)

– The giant mountain of destruction outside suggests that my errant maid is sealing off the exits.

28.03.2020 10:16:11 PM (GMT)

– All is well that ends well. And this well is an example of wellness.

28.03.2020 07:15:04 PM (GMT)

«I came to find my father», – she answered as truthfully as she could. «Everything else depends on that. We will do all we can to free you from the sea witch, afterward».

«Yes... about this sea witch. Do we have proof that she is indeed a... cecaelia?»

«Cecaelia?» – Carlotta interrupted.

«Half human, half octopus», – Grimsby explained. – «Like a mermaid, but with tentacles».

«Half in the form of the gods», – Ariel corrected gently. – «We are not humans who are half fish, the way you people always say. We are children of Neptune and are not like you – even half you – at all».

Both Carlotta and Grimsby looked surprised and a little confused. All right, maybe not the time to get into ancient prejudices, Ariel decided. Someday if she stuck around in the Dry World she would set it straight.

28.03.2020 07:15:02 PM (GMT)

«Well... I think I've learned the hard way that there is no fair bargaining with a sea witch».

28.03.2020 07:15:00 PM (GMT)

How epic! He was going to help rescue the King of the Sea!

His heart exploded a little each time his thoughts came close to the idea. All his life he wanted to set sail for adventure: and here it was – right here! And it was greater than anything he could dream of: greater than discovering a golden city in the deepest jungles of the lands in the west. The king of the merfolk, cousin to gods, in Eric's castle, hidden as a polyp in jar.

28.03.2020 07:14:58 PM (GMT)

«Besides», – Ariel said. – «Octopuses are some of the smartest creatures in the sea – only dolphins and whales and seals surpass them. And dolphins have frightfully short attention spans. Octopuses are creatures of great wisdom, and ancient secrets».

«All right, all right. Octopuses are great. I'm a bigot with tentacle issues».

28.03.2020 07:14:56 PM (GMT)

«...on the other hand, it's also possible my father the King of the Sea, would have stormed your castle, drowned all the inhabitants, and dragged me back home. He's a bit controlling that way».

«Drowned? Everyone?»

«I mean stormed quite literally», – Ariel said with a tight smile. It was a power she now controlled, by means of the trident disguised as a beautiful and ostensibly harmless hair comb. Eric took a moment to digest this.

«I guess falling in love with mermaids is pretty dangerous», – he finally said.

28.03.2020 07:14:54 PM (GMT)

«Very well», – Grimsby said carefully, clearing his throat. From the new look in his eyes it was obvious he was reevaluating her. She wasn't the playful, simple girl who couldn't speak she had been before. She was someone who had things to say, who had goals, plans, opinions.

A woman, perhaps.

28.03.2020 07:14:52 PM (GMT)

The first part, at least, was easy. There was no issue trailing along with the other servant girls and boys as they finished up their errands and returned to the castle; many were already gossiping and flirting, done with work whether or not they were officially done. A couple of young men were definitely lookmg at her. She tried not to smile.

But then... several girls were looking at her, and whispering to each other. And they didn't look appreciative or jealous.

Ariel began to feel uneasy.

28.03.2020 07:14:50 PM (GMT)

«Nice try. Flipper», – she said with a sniff.

28.03.2020 07:14:48 PM (GMT)

«Yet you are not with her. You are supposed to be with her. If she is not here, you should not be here, either. You should be there. With her. Protecting her».

«I don't know how much good I could do protecting the Queen of the Sea», – Flounder said, a little archly. – «She sent me back to give you an update, Sebastian. Scuttle and his, uh, great-grandgull are keeping an eye on her on the land».


28.03.2020 07:14:46 PM (GMT)

She wrung the water out of her skirts and prepared for the walk back to face a castle full of sea witches and soldiers who were probably waiting to grab her.

28.03.2020 07:14:44 PM (GMT)

«Stop beating yourself up, Ariel», – Flounder said sternly. – «There's no guarantee you would have found him the first time you looked, anyway. Ursula isn't stupid. She's not going to leave the king around in a vase labeled «Ariel's Father, Don't Touch». Just because you made the first move doesn't mean you would have been successful. Games take a long time, and a lot of moves, before someone wins».

28.03.2020 07:14:42 PM (GMT)

Ariel sighed and sat down in the shallow water. A warm breeze picked up the tendrils of her hair that were sticking out of the head cloth. She wrapped her arms around her knees, feeling young and exposed.

28.03.2020 07:14:40 PM (GMT)

But if Ariel was a mermaid, what was Vanessa? Pretty and ostensibly human... But then again, Ariel had looked just like a human, too.

Eric couldn't remember Vanessa looking any different. His princess had just appeared, walking on the beach. And then she met Eric... and sang... and married him... and then... all was grey.

28.03.2020 07:14:38 PM (GMT)

If Eric had just listened to his heart and not someone else's singing, none of this would have happened.

He had fallen in love with the voiceless red-haired girl. He was just too stupid and obstinate to recognize it. He loved everything about her. Her smile, the way she moved, the way she took delight m everything around her. She was impulsive, unmannered, willing to get dirty, a little strange, and extremely hands-on. And beautiful. So different from all the princesses and ladies his parents had introduced him to.

If he had just married her, he would be... married to that girl. Who was a mermaid.

He blinked at the thought. Imagine that! He, Eric, who always loved the sea, could have married a child of the sea.

Would she have stayed human? Would she have eventually returned to the water, leaving him heartbroken? That happened in a lot of fairy tales. Sometimes after having a child.

28.03.2020 07:14:36 PM (GMT)

«I must go», – she said, throwing the sack of fruit over her shoulder as gracefully as she could. Things in this world were heavy.

28.03.2020 07:14:34 PM (GMT)

As queen and as girl, as someone who could sing like the gods and someone who had been mute as a stone, one thing about Ariel had never changed: she was a terrible liar. Most of the time it didn't even occur to her to lie.

Which, now that she thought about it, would have made things a lot easier with her dad.

28.03.2020 07:14:32 PM (GMT)

Besides monumental art and kings and queens, humans were very recognizably similar to mer in their normal, everyday lives. The women over there, heads bent together, were obviously gossiping. The men over there, heads bent together, were obviously discussing something they thought was very important and that they had great influence over – but which, of course, was also just gossip.

28.03.2020 07:14:30 PM (GMT)

For there were obvious similarities between them that could not be demed. The tendency toward ridiculous monuments that commemorated unlikely events, for instance. The mer had a mural the size of a reef illustrating the division of the two worlds, embedded with gems and bright coral that hurt the eyes to look at. The Tirulians had an ugly fountain in the square where she and Eric had once danced. Neptune was caned into the face of the bowl, along with some utterly unrealistic dolphins. The Tirulians believed that the sea god had a fight with Minerva over who would be the patron god of Tirulia: and that he had won by creating this font of undrinkable salt water that was somehow channeled up from the sea.

(All wrong, as the mute Ariel couldn't explain to Eric at the time. Neptune had lost the fight, because he'd made a useless salt spring while Minerva Athena had made the olive tree. Oh, and it took place in Athens, because, well – Athena).