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Chapter  VI


  "What about you?" she asked. Before Derry could answer, she swam back toward him. "I could just leave you here." Derry, left treading water precariously, almost ended up underwater yet again in reaction to her words.

"You can't!" he exclaimed. "I couldn't swim well enough to reach the shore. I'd drown!" He tried to grab at her wrist, but the sea nymph was too quick and darted out of his reach. She began to swim around and around him in circles, forcing Derry to keep twisting to keep her in sight. He finally gave up, and tried to think. He couldn't let her leave him here. He'd never make it to shore alone, and Rhafallia was too far away to help him. Syrene finally stopped her circling and faced him.

"Well, at least I'd have something. If I can't have that pretty ship, maybe I should settle for you." Derry tried not to look as frightened as he was beginning to feel. He forced his mind to remain calm and tried to think quickly.

"But you said yourself that I'm not a sailor, and it wouldn' t be the same. Knights have a code of honor. Don't mer-I mean, sea nymphs?" Syrene tilted her head and regarded him out of slitted eyes for a moment, then began to laugh.

"No, not really," she said finally. "But I like you. You' re kind of funny. And kind of cute. Come on." She held out her hand again. Derry grasped it, and was pulled underwater again immediately. This time, he was more prepared and able to relax and swim along with her. Moments later, they surfaced near the rock jetty where he had first seen the sea nymph. She watched while he climbed out onto the rocks, then turned and swam toward the mouth of the bay.

"Good-bye, sir knight," she called, turning briefly to wave back at Derry. He waved back, and then watched as she arced a flying leap out of the water and back in, to disappear beneath the surface. Derry watched for a few minutes, but she did not reappear. He walked back to his horse, which shied briefly at the touch of Derry's wet tunic against his neck.

"Easy, boy," Derry said softly, steadying the animal with a few strokes. "Maybe we'll just walk back. With any luck, I'll have dried out enough by then that no one will notice. Or ask any questions. I'm not sure I could explain this without sounding completely crazy!" He picked up the reins and led his mount up the trail toward Coroth Castle.

~ The End ~ 



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