TIDE: Retelling the Little Mermaid
TIDE: Retelling the Little Mermaid novel stories
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A fathomless tale of a girl who dreams of living in another world--but if the prince refuses to marry her, she will die, and the great seal she protects will fall into the hands of the Sea Witch. For the sake of the entire realm, young Galahad Stormcrane, a great Curse-Breaker, must somehow persuade a royal prince to fall in love with a mermaid.

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TIDE: Retelling the Little Mermaid

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CHAPTER ONE

A lone, black figure stood upon the crest of a hill, astride a muscular horse—equally black.

The young rider’s cape twisted out behind him, borne on a cantankerous wind that had wound its way up through the craggy valley from the sea.

That same wind disturbed the long, rolling mane of the horse, sending it writhing across the rider’s gloved hands—and it troubled the rider’s shoulder-length, ebony hair.

The young rider turned his pale, scarred face toward the towering forest wall to his left, as his steed’s shod hooves shifted and scraped against beaten stone.

Even at the distance from whence he stood, he could feel an unearthly cold wafting out from between the gnarled fir trees.

And though steely clouds covered the sky, he could glimpse the dark sparkle of frost amongst the branches.

Frost. In summer.

The young man narrowed his black eyes and set his jaw.

“Cryck!” The throaty, creaking cry echoed through the shallow valley from above.

The rider glanced up to see the familiar form of a large, tattered raven swoop past, and glide ahead of him toward the deepening of the cleft in the hills.

The rider adjusted his grip on the reins, and, giving one last black look at the border of woods, urged his horse down the hill.

He balanced easily as his mighty horse trotted down the wide gravel road, ignoring the cut in the wind—so different from the sun-soaked, sweeping hills he’d recently left behind.

He passed down through the gully, and urged his steed into a canter. The long sword at his side beat a rhythm against his thigh, and his cape slapped the horse’s hindquarters.

The raven overhead gave another absent squawk, and flapped his wings against the breeze.

Within an hour, they left all sight of the woods behind, and the gully opened up to a broad moor dotted with rugged heath and exposed stone.

The sun shattered the clouds here, spilling down in waterfalls upon the earth below.

And at the edge of this moor, the earth fell away, and the sea spread like a glittering carpet all the way to the horizon—interrupted only by a set of islands,

the foremost island striking a vast and soaring form against the brilliance of the water.

The rider leaned back and gently tugged on the reins, slowing his horse to a walk.

He paused, taking a deep breath of the briny air, then glanced again to his left, and found the white road that wound down to the fishing village.

The rider gave a sharp whistle.

The raven cawed, and swung around midair, dove, flapped his great wings, and landed expertly on the rider’s right shoulder. The raven pecked at the rider’s long hair, and ruffled his feathers.

Without giving more than a cursory command to the horse, the rider sent him into a canter again, and the three of them started down the rolling hills.

Hooves clashed steadily against broken rock, and the roar of the wind increased, rushing through the rider’s clothes.

At last, they dipped into the shelter between two cliffsides, and old trees rose up around them. Ahead, the rider caught sight of smoke rising from chimneys.

The road turned to packed dirt, and to either side, two-story, grey-stone houses appeared, with bright windows, and blue, red or green doors.

The scent of smoked fish soon rolled out to meet him, along with the smell of burning wood. Bustling noise arose, accompanied by the dull, deep roll of the ocean swells.

He turned a corner and entered a broad lane busy with working people and carts and horses and donkeys.

The plain-clad folk carried wood, grain, ropes and fish in baskets, they shouted to each other, they rang silvery bells that hung from doorframes.

He slowed his horse. The raven gave a quiet cluck-cluck-cluck. The horse lowered his head, and stepped through the crowd, careful where he set his mighty hooves.

They followed the curve in the road, and at last achieved a downward ramp that led to the broad beach, where crowds of women in hiked-up skirts plied the sands for clams.

Seagulls flitted like wisps of cotton, diving and swirling over the breakers, crying and calling into the sky.

The rider and his raven maneuvered all the way to the end of a stone dock, where several beaten sailing vessels were moored.

Hooves now clattered on stone, and the gusts of wind billowed out the rider’s cloak.

He made his way to the very end of the dock, where a single, larger ship, much more finely-painted than the others, swayed with the tide.

Several sea-battered, ruddy men stood upon the deck, winding rope and polishing the wood.

They wore dark blue uniforms and white kerchiefs, and three of them heartily sang a sea chantey that the wind tried to steal away from them.

“Oh, the work was hard and the wages low

Leave her, Johnny, leave her!

I guess it’s time for us to go

Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!

Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!

Oh, the voyage is done, and the winds don’t blow

And it’s time for us to leave her.

I thought I heard the old man say

Leave her, Johnny, leave her!

Tomorrow you will get your pay

And it’s time for us to leave her

Leave her, Johnny, leave her!

Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!

Oh, the voyage is done and the winds don’t blow

And it’s time for us to leave her…”

One of the three singing men caught sight of the rider, and stood up straight. He had a short-trimmed white beard, and curly white hair that stuck out from beneath a brimmed cap.

He stopped singing, and beamed a wide smile that wrinkled his weathered face as he cast his blue gaze up and down the horse and rider’s towering black forms.

“Well…What a sight,” the sailor remarked. “What a sight, indeed.”

The other sailors immediately stopped what they were doing and looked up, as the rider gazed back down at them, his great cape rolling behind him, his raven hunching upon his shoulder,

and his horse lifting his proud, grand head. Their mouths opened, but none were able to speak.

“You’re…you’re Galahad Stormcrane,” one of the younger sailors finally spoke up, stepping forward. “The Curse-Breaker. The one we’re to take to Metern?”

“I am,” Galahad said, sat back, and swung down from the saddle. He landed easily, his raven flapping to compensate.

He turned and unstrapped a saddlebag, reached in, and pulled out a rolled up piece of parchment.

He stepped up to the side of the small ship and handed the scroll across to the older man—the captain.

“Thankee,” the captain said as he took it. Gripping hold of it with both hands as the wind tried to snatch it from him, he unrolled it and read it.

“Aye, yes,” he concluded, looking back up at Galahad with another smile. “I’m Captain McNeil, and this is His Majesty’s the Essa.”

“Thank you,” Galahad nodded, turned and grasped his horse’s bridle, and led the great animal toward the edge of the boat. Alarmed, the sailors stepped back.

“Do he need a—” McNeil started—

And the huge horse kicked off, leaped over the rail and onto the deck with a shaking thunder. The raven squawked in comment. Galahad hopped in after, as the horse snorted and tossed his head.

“What great black beasties ye have,” the younger sailor comment. “What be their names?”

“This is Thondorfax,” Galahad slapped the horse’s neck. “And this is Scraw.”

At the sound of his name, the raven let out a loud crack sound. The sailors laughed breathlessly, still shying clear of Thondorfax’s massive shoulders.

“You’re a tall lad yourself,” the captain noted, glancing him up and down. “A good head taller than my son!”

“How long till we make sail?” Galahad asked, turning to scan the sea.

“Not but a few minutes,” the captain answered, tugging on his cap. Galahad just nodded, reaching out to grasp Thondorfax’s reins again.

Comments and gasping were quickly replaced by the bustle of activity on deck as they reeled in the anchor, pushed away from the dock, and made sail.

The white canvas flapped slack in the wind before the captain turned the rudder and the sails snapped to.

In no time at all, they had pulled away from the dock, fore into the waves, and the little ship rocked smoothly like a galloping horse.

Cold spray splashed up over the rail, dotting Galahad’s cheeks.

As the crew worked, they gave Galahad and his animals a wide berth, but soon they began laughing amongst themselves again, and once more started to sing.

“The wind was foul an' the sea ran high,

Leave her, Johnny, leave her!

She shipped it green an' none went by.

An it's time for us to leave her!

Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!

Oh, the voyage is done, and the winds don’t blow

And it’s time for us to leave her.

The grub was bad an' the wages low,

Leave her, Johnny, leave her!

But now once more ashore we'll go.

As it's time for us to leave her!”

They picked up speed as the waves and wind arose. Gusts blasted across the deck,

but the sailors only sang louder.

“Oh, leave her, Johnny, an' we'll work no more,

Leave her, Johnny, leave her!

Of pump or drown we've had full store.

An it's time for us to leave her!

Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!

Oh, the voyage is done, and the winds don’t blow

And it’s time for us to leave her.

Leave her, Johnny, an' we'll leave her with a grin,

Leave her, Johnny, leave her!

There's many a worser we've sailed in.

And it's time for us to leave her!”

On either side, several smaller boats floated or sailed, the men aboard throwing

nets out or pulling them in. The Essa sailed between them, toward the great island that waited about two miles off shore.

As they passed over the surf, the sea smoothed, and the little ship leaned easily as the gale carried her.

Thondorfax braced his shoulder against the mast, and Scraw huddled down against Galahad’s neck.

The chilly gusts tried to slice through his clothes, but his heavy shirt, trousers, boots, tunic and waistcoat wouldn’t allow it.

Galahad rested his free hand on the silver butt of his sword, lifted his chin, and fixed his eyes on the far shore.

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