The girls around me were freshening up their Merfolk language. Some were fluent. Others, less so.
Though most seemed to have a baseline knowledge.
My grasp of the Merfolk language was rusty, at least. I vaguely recalled some lessons during my days at
the Academy, but that felt like so long ago now.
I hadn’t had any need for Merfolk language or traditions in my day to day since leaving the Academy. I
didn’t really retain any of that knowledge.
I thought I might be able to recall some customs, though the bits of information I was hearing now and
then around me confused with my memories and left me unsure.
Also, I couldn’t trust what the girls around me were even saying.
Linda, especially, seemed to be purposefully polluting the water of fact and fiction. My knowledge was
shaky, but even I knew the Merfolk greeted each other with a deep bow, and not a fist bump like she was
suggesting to the more gullible girls.
I tried not to panic. I had been in worse situations. Heck, even lunch hour in the restaurant had often
been overwhelming, with everyone shouting orders and demanding attention,
If I could manage hungry, irritable customers as a waitress, I could handle almost anything.
I had to be careful. I had to try hard.
I really didn’t want to have to stand in the rain for a full day.
The girls and I were directed into a line to wait our turn to meet the ambassador. As the line grew shorter and shorter, my anxiety spiked.
The girls leaving the ambassador had mixed reactions. Some seemed pleased. Olivia and Linda seemed particularly confident. But most looked upset.
By the time it was my turn, I was a nervous ball of energy who felt a bit like I was walking into a lion’s den.
Yet, instead of a servant to escort me to the ambassador, as had guided everyone else, Mark, Nicholas’s Beta, was the one who offered me his arm.
“Allow me to escort you to Ambassador Zale,” Mark said.
It was a gift, being given his name. Whether Nathan had said it when he announced the challenge, i
“Thank you,” I said, accepting Mark’s arm.
I noticed right away that he was guiding me the long way around.
“You know, the first time Prince Nicholas met a Merfolk he made a common mistake. Most people in the kingdom believe that Merfolk bow at the waist as a form of greeting.”
“That’s what they taught us in the Academy,” I said. I’d been mostly sure of it.
“Perhaps among some Merfolk, that remains a tradition,” Mark conceded. “However, the royal family and their ambassadors have a much different formal greeting.”
I glanced at him. Surely he wasn’t just going to tell me what it
“They place a hand over their gills on either side of their neck. ‘My life, my friendship,‘ they say. It’s a symbolic show of trust and a gesture of sincerity.”
I had never heard this before. For a moment, I wondered if perhaps Mark was trying to lead me astray, Just as Linda had fooled those more gullible girls.
But Mark had always seemed an honest type of person. Surely he wouldn’t be so cruel as to want to see me humiliated, or worse.
“Nicholas bowed,” Mark continued. “Fortunately, the Merfolk and the Werewolves have a history of goodwill between our kingdoms. They don’t always correct the incorrect greeting out of politeness but in this case, the royals showed Nicholas the correct way.”
“A hand on either side of the neck,” I said.
“And the phrase,” Mark added.
“My life, my friendship.”
“Correct. Ah, here we are.” Mark led me now to a waiting gentleman. Compared to everyone else in the room, he was practically otherworldly. He had a head of wild dark hair, and blue–green scales down the bridge of his nose.
Gills fluttered at his neck, though his chest moved with breath. I remembered reading that Merfolk could breathe both above and under the water.
Today’s Bonus Offer
GET IT NOW