In this scene from — Yes, EEL’S REVERENCE — Aunt Libby, octogenarian priest of Micah, meets Blennie, mermayd member of the mercenary band called the Fortunatos.
My capture exhilarated me. No wonder I’d been so angry with Clare and her plan; she’d brought me back to a place where a true priest belonged—into the thick of a wrong situation—and then had stored me safely away from it. Now I’d been dragged out where I should be, smack in the middle of something nasty. The blood sang in my veins.
We trotted, single file, along a wolf track. We made quite a bit of noise; it wasn’t until I caught a flash of sunlight reflected off a moving eye that I realized we were being monitored. Naturally, I should have known we would be. Did the Fortunatos see the wolf? Did they expect it? Did they care? On the chance I was being rescued from Uncle Phineas, I should have pointed out the animal. On the chance my abductors would kill it, I kept quiet.
We reached some sort of boundary; suddenly, the undergrowth became low ground cover. The wolf didn’t accompany us into the cleared woods, confirming my suspicion that it and the Fortunatos were not in league.
“Let me see this true priest,” the tenor voice said. A horse moved up on our left. “It must be eight years or more since I’ve seen a true priest; they’ve been through, I suppose, but I haven’t paid any attention to them.”
“Paid a lot of attention to them before, Blennie?” someone asked.
The horse pulled along next to us now, and I could see the rider: a mermayd, with skin as pearly as Loach’s, a dark blue tail, and “salt-and-pepper” hair done up in the Fortunato topknot. His skin showed no sign of age, of course, no more than a landsman’s
would, if he spent his life covered in either water or salve. Only his hands showed age: ridged and veined with blue, red, and silvery gray. He must’ve been at least fifty—old for a mercenary.
His saddle and tack looked old, too, gleaming with the soft patina of much use and good care. His gillband was covered with sharkskin and metal mesh.
I looked around and counted four other Fortunatos, none of them mermayds.
“Yes, I’m the only one,” Blennie said. “Why the surprise? You’ve seen mermayds before.”
“Not on horseback. I’ve never seen a mermayd on horseback anywhere in the world but here. Is it normal in the Eel, like the Coalition, or this game of pass-the-priest all you Eelites seem to be playing, with me for a marker?”
“Blennie’s one of a kind, Auntie,” said the woman on whose horse I rode. “Don’t worry about that.”
There was some rough-humored laughter, Blennie joining in with a touch of bitterness.
“I heard you were brought into Port Novo by a mermayd,” Blennie said. “And followed out by the same one, somewhat the worse for wear. Some of your best friends…”
“Are somewhat the worse for wear, yes.”
For more posts about EEL’S REVERENCE, including more excerpts, click here. There’s more about the book on the Novels page and the EEL’S REVERENCE page. EEL’S REVERENCE is available for the low, low price of $2.99 in eBook formats only, from Amazon, B&N, OmniLit and who knows where else. I also have a free short story set in the same world, available in a variety of eBook formats at Smashwords, or in PDF here.
WRITING PROMPT: Do you remember your first meeting with someone who turned out to be very important to you? Write such a meeting for one of your characters, or invent two characters and give them a first meeting that implies a future relationship, positive or negative.