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).

28.03.2020 07:14:28 PM (GMT)

Of course she knew that a ruler's actions had an effect on the people, but up until now, she had thought only of the direct effect. She wouldn't send merguards to storm Eric's castle, for instance, because she didn't want to put their lives at risk. But... would she have thought of how sending soldiers into battle might impact bakers, down the line? Was this something her father understood, and which had tempered his own decisions?

28.03.2020 07:14:26 PM (GMT)

And with that, the pie maker turned his back on her.

Ariel was a little flummoxed. She was queen; no one ever turned his, her, or its back on her. To someone who couldn't speak aloud, that was the most effective – and devastating – way to end a conversation with her.

28.03.2020 07:14:24 PM (GMT)

Ariel studied the baker: what was his age, really? He seemed young, but spoke with a strange authority on the subject. Like a mermaid suddenly made queen.

28.03.2020 07:14:22 PM (GMT)

«I want this castle put on high alert», – Ursula snapped. – «I want a meeting with a captain of the guard. I want watches doubled, tripled. I want everyone to know about a certain red-haired enemy of the state. I want a reward put out for a sighting and another for capture. I want dozens of men on the beach again, men in front of every low window, and for every maid to be told exactly what she looks like». «Absolutely, Ursula», – Flotsam said with a grin. «About time, Ursula», – Jetsam said with a sneer. Vareet said nothing.

28.03.2020 07:14:20 PM (GMT)

And was Eric regaining his will? He had acted a little odd at lunch, but sometimes it was hard to tell with humans. Especially dumb ones.

28.03.2020 04:19:55 PM (GMT)

«I was dangerously close to becoming my little sister's little sister there...»

28.03.2020 04:03:19 PM (GMT)


28.03.2020 03:49:26 PM (GMT)

MMORPG: Mostly Men Online Role Playing as Girls

28.03.2020 03:47:08 PM (GMT)

«Damn Kerori. Making me out like I'm a cross-player... Though there really aren't that many girls playing net games. The cute girls are just old men in disguise...»

28.03.2020 03:36:02 PM (GMT)

«I've been plenty careful to make sure it was safe. Why would this happen now after he's been a girl for almost a month..? «A month»..?»

4.03.2020 11:51:24 PM (GMT)

– Огурчики! Толстые, шероховатые и полны удовольствия!

4.03.2020 11:14:13 PM (GMT)

Не важно, что за сон тебе снится, приходит время, когда ты должен проснуться.