never made it. Instead, he found himself fully underwater, on the verge
of panic. In the next instant, his warrior training took over and he
began to struggle upward toward the surface. A moment later, he broke
through and gulped in a few deep breaths of air. He tried to spin around
as he heard Syrene's laughter from behind him, and only managed to dunk
himself underwater again. He spat a mouthful of saltwater as he
surfaced, and glared at the sea nymph as he tried clumsily to keep
himself reasonably upright and afloat. "You humans are so
funny," Syrene said with a giggle. "Swimming is so easy!"
She flipped backwards into a dive that took her underwater, and surfaced
again a short distance away, to balance half out of the water on her
tail. Derry looked rather unimpressed.
"Easy enough for you to say," he growled. "I'm not half fish and I don't have a tail!" Syrene swam over to him and reached for his hand.
"You don't have to be," she said quietly. "Just hold my hand." Derry looked into her sea-green eyes for a long moment, then slowly reached out to take her hand. He only resisted slightly as she pulled him beneath the surface with her.
The water was warm. That surprised Derry, as did the realization that either he could breathe easily underwater or he didn't need to breathe- he wasn't sure which, only that he did not have a panicked need to get back to the surface and gulp air. He also found that he was swimming effortlessly. He looked over at Syrene, who smiled at the look of combined surprise and wonder on his face.
"Just don't let go of my hand." Her voice sounded in his mind. "If you do, I won't be able to help you." Derry nodded and turned his attention to the watery world surrounding them.
They dived toward the floor of the bay, skimming along the sand at an almost dizzying speed. Derry lost all sense of direction in the water. He could see clearly all around them for a short distance, but everything faded to a milky gray beyond, as if they were floating through a fog. Now and then, a fish would pass by, occasionally swimming close enough to almost touch, then darting away. Derry was beginning to truly relax and enjoy this strange new world, when Syrene stopped suddenly. She turned her head as if she was listening to something. Try as he might, Derry could hear nothing.
"What?" he asked, forgetting they were underwater and letting the word out as a stream of bubbles.
"A ship!" came Syrene's reply. With a sudden flip of her tail and twist of muscle, she darted off in the opposite direction they had been traveling, pulling Derry around so suddenly, he almost lost hold of her hand.
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