The Mermaid's Pearl (Tears of the Deep Book 1)

The Mermaid’s Pearl

 

By Brooke Kennedy

The Mermaid’s Pearl

By Brooke Kennedy

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No part of this book may be reproduced or shared by any electronic or mechanical means, including but not limited to printing, file sharing, and email, without prior written permission from the author and is protected by the Copyright Laws of 1988 and the Digital Laws of the Berne Convention from 1998.
www.brookekennedy.org

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Copyright © 2014 by Brooke Kennedy

First Edition, 2014

 

Cover by Cheryl at
http://www.selfpubbookcovers.com/CherylCCR

 

Formatting by Candace Bowser

https://www.facebook.com/candace.bowser

 

This is a work of fiction.

 

All characters appearing in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons living or dead are purely coincidental.

Chapter One

I’d had enough.

My throat burned as I choked back the tears. Being forced to dance the night away with suitors reminded me just how much my people’s culture had changed into something terrible. Extinction was inevitable if things didn’t change soon.

I could hear my sister’s tail splashing quickly behind me as I raced through the coral hallway to our small bedroom. I pushed through the blue water, slashing my fin back and forth even faster. Getting out of the castle and into the open ocean was harder than I thought it would be. Especially with my sister on my fin.

“Raewyn! Please stop!” Lucy cried out.

I really wished she’d stop screaming like that. She was going to give me away, and I was so close to the freedom I yearned for. The quest that would take me away from the stress, even if temporarily.

When I reached the room at the end of the hall, I closed the seaweed curtain behind me and hurried over to my wardrobe. I pulled off my gown and tossed it aside. I hurried, so I could get away before someone caught me. The rush was invigorating. As I rushed to my closet, I undid my long hair from its braid. I had to get away before anyone came looking for me. Just as I was tying the back of my shimmering blue top, Lucy pushed her way through the curtains, causing them to sway in the water.

“Raewyn! Will you stop and listen to me?”

I whirled around and shook my head. “I have better things to do than dance the night away with a bunch of suitors who could care less about me!”

“But Augustus adores you! The way he looks at you is just so…” She sighed in happiness and flittered over to me.

“I really don’t care. You know how I feel about that.”

“But he will be a wonderful husband! He’s so handsome and charming and—”

“Stop with the 'buts'! You don’t remember how things used to be. Love was cherished and encouraged.”

Lucy crossed her arms and shook her head, her red braid swishing behind her as she did. Her hair was perfect. It didn’t float around her—all crazy—like mine did. “No, this is the way it has to be. Our people won’t survive if we don’t do this. We have no choice. There’s no point in fighting it.”

For the past thirteen years, we have struggled to find a way to save our people from dying out and becoming a fairy tale. The only answer the royalty could come up with was arranging marriages and messing up everything I ever imagined as perfect. I witnessed it too often in the past few years to be comfortable, even in my own home.

“If someone doesn’t fight it, this will be all that’s left of our kind. It will continue to be a bunch of arranged marriages and partners chosen at a stupid ball. We will all be unhappy and miserable.”

“Father has made it clear that—”

“He’s not your father, Lucy.”

Her face fell, sadness creeping up into it. It pained me to see it there, even more so that I put it there, but she could never understand. She was only three years younger than I was, but that made her too young to remember when love was cherished.

“Well, he won’t be happy,” she shot back at me, bringing a ferocity to her words that she was known for.

The king made it clear my focus should be on the preservation of my people and not the wiles of a young girl. He meant well, but I couldn’t get myself to care. He loved me, he did. For a stepfather, he was the best I could have asked for. My mother wouldn’t have chosen anyone else for her companion after my father died. She believed in true love, and her words were inscribed deeply on my soul. I wouldn’t settle for just anyone, not until I found my one true love. If such a thing still existed. I wasn’t so sure anymore, and I was not going to be let down. I hated to be skeptical, but I had no reason to believe.

I reached out to take Lucy’s face between my hands gently. Her eyes echoed back with the deep blue of our mother’s, wide and confused. She didn’t understand why I was always running off on some adventure instead of putting my duty as a princess first. In some ways we were alike, and in others we were completely different.

“Tristen is waiting on me. I have to go. Please just keep this a secret.” My pulse raced in my veins. Exploration was waiting for me, the one thing I could depend on in a world so unknown. I couldn’t wait.

Still, a part of me insisted I should stay there to watch over my younger sisters. They, like the rest of the kingdom, depended on me. I was the oldest
princess in our kingdom, and I often encouraged the others around me to be themselves.

“You have to stop sneaking out to see him! He’s common folk.”

I rolled my eyes. “And you should know that I have better things to do than worry about rules.”

“They’re there for a reason!” she exclaimed. “Father has forbidden you to run around with Tristen. He’s trying to keep you safe.”

“No, he’s trying to smother me.”

“Raewyn—”

“This is the only way I get to see Tristen. He’s one of the most important merfolk in my life, beside you guys. Maybe it’s love.” Okay, that was stretching it a bit. I loved him, but I wasn’t sure if I was
in
love with him.

“Father will never let you marry him. You don’t really believe that you love him do you?”

“Who knows what love is anymore…”

This was not the first time we’d had this same disagreement. Instead of delving back into it, I swam over to the small window and glanced outside into the depths of the ocean. I longed for the moon to illuminate me in her silver glow, but she did not shine down this far below the surface.

Lucy swam up beside me and placed a soft hand on my shoulder. “Where are you going?” Her question was curious.

I lowered my voice. “Death Valley.”

Her eyes grew wide and her mouth fell open in shock. “No you aren’t. There are humans there.”

“Humans? This far under water?” It was a ridiculous thought.

“Or giant sea creatures that will eat you! Evil monsters!”

“Will you keep your voice down? You’re going to get me caught.”

“It would be better than seeing you die. No one has come out of there alive!”

I was hoping to be the first one.

“I’m not going to die,” I insisted with a laugh. By going to Death Valley, I was blatantly defying the king, and putting my life in danger—as well as my partner in crime, Tristen. He should be waiting for me there.

Lucy scowled and crossed her arms. “You’re lucky you haven’t already. It’s dangerous out there. What’s there that’s worth risking your life?”

“Do I really have to repeat myself? Treasure
and
Tristen,” I said. My smile grew wide and adrenaline coursed through me. Once I satisfied that need, I would find a way to free my people. Tristen would help me, I was sure, but I couldn’t tell my sister that part. It needed to be kept a secret.

“Listen, I know that you have a good time sneaking about with him, but one of these days you’re going to get yourself into some serious trouble. No treasure is worth that.”

“But it’s a
pearl
, Lucy, my favorite. This one is supposed to be magnificent.”

“I don’t care how magnificent—”

“I’ll be fine,” I said. I yearned for the adventure and the chance to add it to my collection. 

The sad but disappointed frown on her face should have told me what was coming. “What would mother say?”

“She would want me to follow my dreams.” But my mother wouldn’t have been happy I was sneaking out in the middle of the night to go on some adventure and leave my sisters behind.

“Raewyn, please,” Lucy plead. Her words cut me deeply. She was right on some accounts. I
should
have been dancing the night away at the ball and then sleeping soundly in my bed. Being the oldest, I
should
have been the one to set a good example. I
should
have stayed and watched over my sisters. Had I done as I was supposed to, things would have remained simple in my life.

“I love you,” I said and planted a kiss on her forehead. I might not see her again.

Without another thought, I slipped out of my window and swam toward adventure, over the lands of the merfolk. My blood raced with a mixture of excitement and nervousness.

Our kingdom was small, and it reminded me of all that we lost. We had once been a vast race and ruled both land and sea. I didn’t stop to look back until I was out of our territory.
Finally,
I turned to look at my home, my eyes searching for the large architecture of rocks that hid our existence from the prying eyes of the humans. I couldn’t see it because it was hidden among the other rocks and stones here at the bottom of the ocean.

“You can do this,” I told myself as I swam toward Death Valley.

When fear crept up in me, I pushed it down and ignored it. I focused on the treasure that was waiting for me. Pushing past the fish and other sea life that swam around me, I continued on my journey.

A large construction of coral appeared in the distance, showing I was near my destination. It was beautiful, with all of the colors of the rainbow dancing along it. Behind the coral I found the valley hidden from sight—the one holding the treasure. The area was closer to the surface than my kingdom, and a single ray of moonlight shone down through the water.

The closer I got, the more my body shook in excitement. I forced myself to brush off the fear and uncertainty, but it persisted. As I entered Death Valley, the fish became sparse, showing me even sea life was terrified of this place. I had never seen anything like it.

A large current hit me out of nowhere, sending me spiraling backwards out of control. I screamed and struggled to stop spinning through the water. When I finally stopped flipping, I steadied myself. With a frown, I headed back toward the uneasy waters. Carefully I swam, fighting against the harsh currents that threatened to push me away again. As I reached the coral, the temperature dropped significantly. Chills broke out along my skin. I looked down below me to see dead sea life scattered about and bones…lots of them. Even the plant life was dead. Nothing about this place looked inviting. In fact, it looked like something had slaughtered everything that came here.

When I saw Tristen waiting for me at the top of the coral, my body stopped shaking. I was no longer alone in the deserted area. His back was to me, and his green tail flipped excitedly. His shoulders were broad, and as I got closer I could see the way his muscles rippled underneath his skin from all the extra swimming he did. He was handsome and my closest friend, but still, I wasn’t sure what we had was true love. If my father forced me to marry, I would choose him. I had absolutely no interest in any of my suitors.

I ran my hand through my thick brown hair, which always seemed to be knotted, and slipped over to where he was. A devious smile twisted on my face as I reached out to push him against the coral and leaned over to whisper in his ear. “Caught you!”

Tristen whirled around to face me. He took my cheeks in his hands and a smile broadened over his handsome face “Ah, so she lives! She survived the evil dancing of doom.”

I giggled. “I did, but it was awful. You can’t imagine.”

“That’s because I’m not invited.” He frowned.

“You aren’t royalty,” I said deep and shaky, with the best impersonation of the king’s voice that I could muster. “Besides, you wouldn’t have had fun anyway. It’s only to match people up with someone they will marry and have babies with. It’s not like you get to meet someone you care about and fall in love.” I was rambling, so I shut my mouth. I was going to ruin my own fun if I kept that up. It was hard, though, because I remembered another time when we roamed free on land, or under the waves, and did as we pleased. It was a time when falling in love was encouraged, and stories were told of past great rulers and their adventures. I remembered my mother filling my head with stories while we sat at my bedroom window and looked towards the sea.

“Raewyn!” Tristen snapped. “Stop worrying about all that. Things weren’t always like this, and they don’t have to be forever.”

“If it’s my choice, it won’t be.”

“Well, then once we get this treasure of yours, we can do something about it.”

I smiled. “You read my mind; that’s the plan.”

He ruffled his short, blond hair. “You need to stop dwelling on the past.”

I sighed and nodded. He was right.

“So, what’s it look like?” I asked.

He motioned to the other side of the coral. “Awesome. You have to see this thing, it’s massive. The rumors are true.”

Tristen’s blue eyes beamed with excitement, and I was glad I had him with me. My pulse began to race, and my body filled with anticipation. I almost didn’t believe his words, so I moved to peek over the top of the coral. The breath in my throat caught as I laid my eyes on the prize.

In the distance, I could see it. The pearl was five times the size of a regular one, almost pink in color, and glistening inside a gray clam. The clam was open and obviously dead, thankfully, or we would have a more difficult time obtaining the pearl. It glowed beneath a single ray of moonlight, just as the rumors said it would. Only during a full moon would it glow like that. We were closer to the surface than we were supposed to be, but the moon would keep us safe if we needed her. She always did.