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Chapter  III


  "Who.? What are you?" Derry asked, sputtering a bit as he cleared the salt water from his mouth. His eyes and nose stung just a bit, and his pride was definitely bruised.

"My name is Syrene," she said. "And I'm a sea nymph." Derry stared down to the water, where her tail flipped gently in and out of the tiny swells that lapped against the rocks. He shook his head, sending a spray of saltwater flying from his dark curls.

"You're a mermaid," he answered. Syrene made a face.

"We don't like to be called that, you know," she said, brushing a strand of hair off her face. "We're sea nymphs, and we have been in the oceans longer than you have."

"Considering the fact that I have never actually been in the ocean, that's not saying much," Derry muttered. "Look, aren't you supposed to be trying to drown me or something?" Syrene laughed.

" I told you: you're not a sailor."

"What's that got to do with it?" he asked. She sighed deeply.

"Our songs are made from the ocean: from the waves, and the currents, and the tides. They only work on those who have the ocean in their blood," she said, as if explaining a difficult concept to a slow child. "Since you are a knight," she said the word as if it tasted badly, "you aren't affected."

She slid into the water in one fluid motion. Floating a few yards out, head and shoulders visible above the waves, she watched the Marcher lord as he straddled two large rocks.

Derry looked down at her, hands on his hips. "So, you can't do anything to me?"

"I didn't say that," Syrene said. "Can you swim?"

As her word registered, Derry began to scramble backwards off the rock jetty.



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