Once Upon a Time – Chap. 40.2

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Meriall, you such have a lovely accent.” Gwendoloena set down her tea cup while giving the girl a brief study. “Tell me, where are you originally from?”

Meriall shrugged before taking a nibble into her new scone. “Just a village somewhere like anyone else.”

Good luck getting any idea of where that somewhere is out of her.” Algar shook his head. “I’ve asked a hundred times and rarely get more than that same answer. All I know is I went fishing one day and a bunch of mermaids floated over to me, begging me to take this little lass they saved from the remains of a shipwreck. Not having gills and fins, she naturally couldn’t stay with that lot but they’d tried several times to get her own kind to take her in. No luck, no luck. Every human they spotted apparently fled as soon as the mermaids swam in shouting distance of the shore.” He turned to Simone and Ian. “Which reminds me to say many thanks to the two of you again for letting us come here with you. People usually tuck tail and run when they catch sight of me.”

Trevor pouted at being left out of the ogre’s gratitude. “Hey, I was there too! I steered the horses most of the way back.”

Algar nodded an apology. “That you did. You hid under your cloak the entire time before we left, but you did a fine job with the horses.”

“But why would anyone run or hide from a mermaid?” asked Ian. “Aren’t they basically just people with fishtails? You know, beautiful women with long flowing hair and swimsuit tops made out of sea shells or something?” His eyes panned the suddenly quiet table where everyone gawked at him. “I mean, that’s what they supposedly look like in all the stories I’ve ever read about them.”

“You’re right about the fish tails at least,” said Deigen with a raised brow. “But I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a mermaid around here having hair, long flowing or otherwise. And as far as looking human, well, no. They have scales and claws and, eh, have a reputation for causing shipwrecks and eating people.”

That’s not true!” Meriall banged a fist on the table and glared at him. “The ship I was on had a bunch of gold and other heavy nonsense it’s owners didn’t need. It sank because those same owners were too stupid to handle rough sea and too greedy to throw anything off when we started to sink.” She whirled her head around to look up at Algar. “The mermaids didn’t appear until after the ship was lost and they saved me from drowning when I was the only left hanging onto an emptied chest for dear life. I didn’t even know how to swim until they taught me.”

The ogre gave a sympathetic nod. “I know, little one, I know.”

Meriall narrowed her eyes at Deigen again. “And they didn’t eat any of the other people on that ship but I wish they had. They were taking me to go live and work at their grungy clock factory.” She held up her tiny hands and arms, seeming to do a self inspection. “I’m the only one in my family with small enough fingers to work with all the little gears and pieces that go in them. I was supposed to work in that clock factory to help pay off a debt for the useless plot of land we live on but I’d probably have stayed there my whole life with as much as we owe.” She crossed her arms. “I’m never telling anyone where I’m from because you’ll just try to take me back home. I’m never going back there. I hated that village, I hate my family, and I hate anyone that isn’t a monster.”

But my dear,” Gwendoloena leaned over the table and gently clasp one of the little girl’s hands, “you are not even a monster yourself.”

Yes I am, I have fangs like a vampire and claws just like the mermaids, see?” Meriall stood up in the chair and raised both sets of “claws” over her head while bearing a mouthful of completely normal teeth. She closed her eyes and made an admirable yet adorable attempt at growling.

Oh my.” Gwendoloena seemed to ignore her own real fangs as she made a mock look of surprise at the little girl. “Yes, very frightening indeed! And do you have scales like a mermaid as well?”

Meriall lowered her “claws” and gave a mighty nod. “Mm-hmm, but mine are invisible so you can’t see them. And one day,” she shot her arms back up to stretch toward the ceiling, “I’ll grow to be as big as an ogre!”

I see.” Gwendoloena shared a look with Algar and the table’s other monsters while Meriall hopped back down into her chair. “You know Meriall, part of the responsibility for anyone with so many extraordinary attributes is to make sure you don’t forget regular people are special too.”

The little girl pouted. “But people don’t have scary claws or anything that makes them special. People are liars and greedy when they’re adults. And when they’re kids, people are mean and they won’t play with you and they call you names.”

Yes, calling someone names is not a nice thing to do,” agreed Gwendoloena with a nod. “But not all people are like that and some are actually quite nice.” The vampire waved her hand toward Ian, Simone, and Trevor. “What about these three people? They helped you and Algar find a safe place to stay and get some food.”

Meriall continued pouting but gave an accepting shrug as she darted her eyes over to the ordinary heroes of the day. “Yeah, I guess some people are okay.” She turned back to Gwendoloena. “But they’re still not as awesome as mermaids, ogres, or vampires!”

Over by the window, Albert hobbled closer to stand shoulder to shoulder with Seth. “We didn’t get mentioned at all. But then why would anyone want to be a zombie? We’re slower than any other monster, smell bad, and have even less strength and coordination than a regular person.”

True.” Seth leaned in with a nod. “But what we lack in speed or strength, we make up for in persistence and not needing to sleep.” He glanced at his own missing limb. “And only zombies can use their severed arm as a club to whop someone in the head.”

Albert sighed. “I can definitely see how we wouldn’t be a little girl’s first choice. But really, is there anything worse than being a zombie? What’s a sadder state of monster than us?”

Mmmm.” Seth leaned back to his rigid standing position and thought for a moment. “Trolls maybe?”

 

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1 Comment

Filed under Once Upon a Time

One response to “Once Upon a Time – Chap. 40.2

  1. Haha! I would have said vampire but trolls will work, too! 🙂

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