The High Queen nods approvingly when I enter the throne room, the two children under my arms and Anders over my shoulder. Her piercing golden eyes rove over my kills, and she tosses her ankle length blond hair over her shoulder.
“Splendid, Nereibel. We will have a feast tonight.” I try not to vomit; the thought of eating my beloved sickens me. In fact, eating any men sickens me too, but I’m good at covering. Seaweed and candied coral chews are my diet these days.
“Thank you, Your Majesty.” I respond without a hint of pride.
That night I dream. No, it’s not a dream. It’s a nightmare. In it, I stand watching as Anders is killed by me, but it’s not me, not really. I have fangs, claws, leathery red skin, and eyes that burn like glowing embers.
“Goodbye, dearest.” the monster snarls. I jolt awake in a cold sweat, my dark hair plastered to my face.
Breakfast is leftovers from last night. I don’t know which meat is which, so I subtly toss my share to a hungry pink catfish swimming at my feet. Then, nibbling on some coral, I stand from the table and go to my chambers to dress.
Flinging open my armoire, I scour the racks for something simple. I need to leave, and quickly. The longer I wait, the shorter Anders’ brother will have.
I toss on a yellow shirt and yank my tangled hair into a hasty ponytail.
Then I fill a knapsack with essentials and make a break for it. I race past stony guards, several of my sisters, and then the imperial gates loom before me.
Once I’m well out of sight of the palace, I realize something. How am I to exit the water with a full-fledged, golden tail? I’d flop around like a fish out of water and die. Which is why I’ve never been able to leave this cursed underwater land.
I can only think of one person to get me legs.