Here’s a special sneak peak at un upcoming short story. I hope you all enjoy it.
A Prince Reborn
Drowning, thrown from a pirate ship and into the vast, cold, deep waters of the Corithian Ocean. The twelve-year-old prince was a pretty good swimmer. However, this exceeded his capabilities…
His captors were devious, no doubt. They snuck up on the three children who were playing on the beach. The two young princes were having a duel with toy swords, while the little duchess splashed around in the water, holding her skirt up above her knees. It was a lovely Sunday afternoon, and this was the best way to spend it.
Suddenly, Morrigan stood still, as if catatonic. Her mouth gaped open, her eyes glassy. Raphael looked at her puzzled—there was no apparent reason for the alarmed look on her face. She had worn that expression a lot lately, as she stares into the sky with a tear in her eye. He tried to understand it—but could not.
“No,” she said, in a hushed tone, she shook her head, as the golden waves swayed—twitched even—from the frantic movement. She grew more desperate, “We need to go home, Raphael. We need to go home now.”
“But why?” Little Jaryd said, looking skyward. “There’s not a cloud in the sky.”
“Jarry, I’m not talking about the weather, I…”
She trembled. Raphael wanted nothing more but to put his arm around her and reassure her, “Everything’s going to be fine.” He said, swallowing the lump in his throat. It killed him to see her this way.
She shook her head, violently. “No…no…” her lower lip started to quiver. Those deep, indigo eyes welled with tears. She gave him a look that almost seemed to say we’ll never see each other again. It felt like a knife had stabbed him in the heart.
“Morrigan, what’s—” Raphael started to speak, wanting to console her. He watched the panic in his sweet friend increase. He reached out to touch her shoulder. But, she screamed. She ran. And he felt a cold, firm hand around his arm. It pulled him back; fiercely tugged him away from her. The cold, callous laughter created dissonance as it blended with her screams. He turned to face the man who grabbed him. He was not your typical pirate; there was something about his eyes. The unique lines of his face made him look almost inhuman, and the lilting, high tone of his voice was hypnotic. “You are coming with us, little brat.” He said, “Wave your little girlfriend goodbye.”
The smell of his breath tingled Raphael’s nostrils. The boy grimaced, and thought it strange that it smelled of like smoke and sulfur, with maybe a touch of something venomous. He had always assumed that pirate breath would smell of rum. Raphael kicked and pushed, trying to break free of the large man’s grasp. He attempted to dig his feet deeper into the sand, making it harder for them to drag him. But, it was of little use. The boy’s strength was no match for the Captain, who carried him aboard the dark, mysterious ship. The last thing the young prince recalled was the sound of his best friend screaming, from the shoreline.
Poor Morrigan, he thought to himself. She must be so frightened. He prayed that she and his brother were safe; hoped that the Pirates would not go back to the beach and capture them too.
He gradually realized as they started to pull away from the shore that they had what they wanted. He was the one they were after; the only one. He took a long, bittersweet look at the Kingdom to emboss it in his memory. He feared he’d never see it again. He fought tears and swallowed the stone-like lump that arose in his throat.
The captain grabbed his shoulder and forced him to turn around. Its voice evil, hissing, almost inhuman as it began to chant in a language Raphael could not comprehend. The boy made the near fatal mistake of looking into his eyes. He stared intensely, as the captain continued to chant. It was as if he could not look away. Raphael caught a glimpse of something in the dark irises, near the pupil glimmering orange and gold. “Fire,” the prince whispered as he slipped into unconsciousness.
The boy awoke to the sound of footfall as he lay on the deck of the ship. As he opened his eyes, he saw three shadowy, green images standing over him. “What shall we do with him?” A raspy voice spoke, “Kill him now?”
Raphael rubbed his eyes. His heart raced, as panic arose within him.
“Certainly not!” Another voice said, “We must make our demands known to the King.”
“Silence, Fools!” The voice of the Captain chimed in, “I am in charge! I decide what we do with the brat!”
The boy’s pale blue eyes came into focus on three large, reptilian beasts. The smell of sulfur burned his nostrils. The creature with the same high, lilting voice as the captain spoke again, “This is not your typical ransom. He’s an obstacle to the throne. An obstacle that we need to remove!” He realized that these creatures were the Dorzyn; Shapeshifting dragons that his great grandfather had banished years ago for treason. They had returned seeking revenge.
The Dorzyn walked about on strong, muscular hind legs. Their scales were gold and green. And unlike the others, The Captain’s belly was bright yellow. She’s a female. He realized. Her claws clicked against the hard wooden floor of the deck as she paced.
“Well then, Lady Beliah,” a pale, old Dorzyn with stooped posture asked, “What exactly do you plan to do with him? And his brother?”
The Dorzyn leader cringed, her lizard-like lip curled up to reveal her hideous, knife-like fangs. She let out a “tsk,” and then smiled. Her eyes got wide and then narrowed in a sinister fashion. It made Raphael feel cold inside, as he feared for his brother.
“Well, Ziel, I have very special plans for Jaryd,” She said. “Don’t fret.” The creature rubbed her gold ring with an indigo colored stone on her left talon. Raphael wondered why he hadn’t noticed this ring before. As it glowed, its tone changed to a dark cyan-green and then turned dark amber.
“What plans?” The younger of the two male Dorzyn said. “Surely you must let us in on them!”
“You have failed before, Beliah,” Ziel said. “Let us not forget how you failed in conquering Sparia…”
“Damn you, Ziel!” She said, slapping him across the face. “How dare you blame that tragedy on me! It was not my fault! Besides, our goals there were secondary after all. Just a resting spot before reaching our real destination. Corithia.”
She raised her ringed hand high above her head. The gemstone glowed ominous orange in the sunlight. “I will succeed, old friend. And, you will never doubt me again!” A bolt of light shot from the ring and illuminated a spot on the deck a few feet from where Raphael laid. He struggled to sit up; tried to regain his strength.
He saw a woman, young and lovely with long golden hair. When he looked at her eyes—those unmistakable indigo eyes—there was no doubt that it was the Duchess Morrigan, in the future. She looked lovely as ever, curiously dressed in the gold and green robes of a high priestess. He saw someone else—the image of his brother, handsome and regal. A golden crown on his head. Just for a moment Raphael smiled. He was pleased to see them as grown adults alive and well, with Jaryd crowned king. But then, the vision changed. Fire surrounded the two figures, as a third character joined them. Just a coal-black, indistinguishable female shadow. It pushed Morrigan, and she fell to the ground, coughing and choking. She reached for Jaryd, who ignored her to take the hand of this shadow. Then, the dark silhouette stole the crown from Jaryd’s head and placed it on its own. Its eyes glowed fiery red, like that of the Dorzyn.
The expression on Jaryd’s face turned to that of horror. Orange and amber flames engulfed him. Finally, the whole scene dissolved into wisps of smoke.
Beliah let out a wicked, cacophonic laugh. “Corithia itself shall be ours!”
Raphael scowled. “You demonic witch,” he whispered hoarsely, barely able to speak. His throat clenched so tight from worry and fear that he could say no more.
Beliah just laughed at him and rolled her orange eyes. “But, first, we must rid ourselves of that little…” she moved toward the frightened boy, “Obstacle.” Her talons grasped him, claws digging into his flesh and raised him over her head.
“Put me down!” He said, hoarsely, “My father will—”
“He’ll never know what become of you,” She said, as she flung him over the side of the ship and into the cold, harsh waters of the sea.
The water chilled him to the bone. He had never known the ocean’s waters to be so cold. He’d always been a fair swimmer, but had never swam this far from shore before. He bobbed underneath the surface, then kicked and stroked his arms with more force, propelling himself back up. He knew enough not to panic, lest it would make him sink faster. Steady, strong movement kept him bobbing along at the surface. His muscles ached from fatigue. Waves rolled overhead, filling his mouth with salty water. He’d cough, spit as he tread water. The ocean waves began to overwhelm him. His vision blurred; eyes burned from the salt water. The late-afternoon sun created a glare on the surface as he searched for a sight of land—even a small, island. He prayed in his heart for a ship to pass. Even a pirate ship—a real pirate ship—would be a welcome sight at this point. Maybe he could bargain a deal with the mates that his father would pardon them if he were returned to the Kingdom safely.
Alas, no vessels came by as the sun set over the waves. The sea grew rough, waves crashed higher and higher at each turn. Raphael was getting more fatigued and weakened. His movements slowed, and eyelids grew heavy. The chill of the ocean became worse, as the boy stilled for one moment. Eyes closed. He began to sink and give into the sea’s wishes to envelope him and claim him as its own.
~ ~ ~
He awoke on a bed made of smooth abalone shell, and strangely it wasn’t uncomfortable. His eyes opened, no longer irritated but the vision still somewhat blurred. Gradually, everything came into focus. It all seemed rather strange. He realized he was still underwater, gasped and quickly sat up; astonished that he breathed freely. His neck felt strange and itchy on each side. When he went to scratch it, someone grabbed his hands. “Easy, lad.” A man in a silver, shimmering tunic said as he entered the room. His hair and beard were long waves of auburn, and his eyes emerald green. “The itching will go away within the hour. You’re healing nicely.”
“But…how…?” The prince spoke, very clearly. Opening up his mouth to speak did not drown him. He could breathe easily, but did not understand why. The ocean felt less cold than it had before. It felt comforting as if he belonged there. Schools of fish swam past. Anemone swayed with the current, along the walls of the room he was in—if you could call it a room. There were only three walls and no ceiling. The sea itself apparently was its roof and rose hundreds of leagues overhead.
“You have gills now.” The man said, “The healers needed to transform you to save your life.”
The boy let out a short, nervous laugh.
“You are probably wondering who I am,” The man said. “I am King Dylyn, a friend of your Grandfather. A man to whom I owe a great deal for his protection and safety. It is only fair that I return the favor, by rescuing you, keeping you safe from them.”
“The Dorzyn,” Raphael said. “I remember hearing my father tell stories of their destruction, how they ravage lands with fire and devour small beasts and fish…”
“They nearly destroyed Corithian Sea and all of the Isle kingdoms with it,” Dylyn said. “The Sea began to ebb away, as the shore expanded and became arid. Many of my people suffocated, many lives lost. We kept far away from the shore for many years.” He shook his head.
It dawned on the boy that King Dylyn was a Merman King, as he noticed his long, emerald green tail. As consciousness seeped into his mind, and he began to see more clearly, he tugged off the thin blanket that covered him. Raphael saw that he too now had a tail instead of legs. He gasped. Testing out his motor skills, he flapped the tail against the alabaster bed.
“Easy now,” Dylyn said. “You’re still healing.” The young prince relaxed at the king’s words, but couldn’t stop staring at his own ice-blue tail, letting it twitch and flail.
“What about my brother and Morrigan?” Raphael begged to know, “Are they safe?”
“For now,” The Sea King said. “Yes, they are safe. The Duchess’ Nurse came and rescued her, getting her safely to her father’s home. And, Jaryd, bless his sweet soul, found a safe place to hide until the danger had passed. Don’t worry, they’ll be safe.” The King let out a morose sigh. “For now…” His voice trailed off at those to words, as if he had more to say, but did not dare.
“Can we protect them?” Raphael said, rising through the water, and swimming about, he tested out his new merman tail. “Surely there is something we can do…”
The king smiled, “Certainly, my young friend.” He said, “We can watch over them from afar. But, be careful not to get too close to the shore after sunset. There are far worse creatures than Dorzyn to worry about.”
Soon after, he was adopted by the Sea King and named his heir. As he resided in Dylyn’s palace deep beneath the waves of the Corithian Ocean, he learned a great deal about what was happening in Corithia; especially regarding his brother and Morrigan.
“I vow to protect them,” He said. “For as long as I live.”
~ ~ ~
The Corithian Saga: Book I
~ ~ ~