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Chapter  II


  Or, more precisely, he saw her hair. She was sitting on the rock jetty, about halfway along its length, with her back to him. Her hair fell to the water below, the ends floating on the surface, rising and falling with the waves that lapped against the rocks. It was a cascade of gold, almost translucent in the sunlight, and it covered her back completely. Derry had never seen anything like it. He hurried his pace a bit and climbed out onto the rocks.

As he approached, he could hear that she was singing. It was an unfamiliar melody, vaguely disturbing and almost, but not quite, enticing at the same time. The best he could do to describe the way the music left him feeling was confused. He had almost reached the rock she sat on when she turned to look at him. Her eyes were the exact pale blue-green shade of the water and she was naked. It took several shocked seconds for Derry to realize this was not quite true. She was wearing a skirt of some sort of silvery blue metallic material, fitted tightly all the way from her waist to where her feet disappeared into the water at the ankles. From the waist up, she was definitely not wearing anything. She regarded him for a moment.

"You're not a sailor," she said. Her voice was light and melodic, with an undercurrent that reminded Derry of the waves rushing to shore from the sea. He shook his head.

"No, I'm not," he replied. "I'm a knight." She pouted.

"Too bad." She turned to face the water and resumed singing. Derry took a half step closer.

"Look, why don't you let me help you back to shore? The breeze is a bit chilly and you're not- ah- dressed for it. Besides, you're getting wet." She turned again.

"I never get cold," she said. "And I'm supposed to be wet! But you're not!" She laughed and flipped her tail out of the water, soaking Derry's tunic front and hair with salty water.



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