Through the crystalline blue waters of Shiva-Mire a trail of iridescent bubbles floated to the surface of the sea. Deliarili reclined on a large purple-tinted stone that was covered with slippery little green plants that grew tiny little trails over the rock. Del blew another bubble through her lips, watching it float gracefully through the water, glimmering prettily with sunlight from the surface.
Smiling thoughtfully, Del flicked her shimmering fin through the water, watching the scales catch every color of the rainbow in the light and sparkle like a million diamonds and precious jewels. A Lyhri's beauty is determined by their tail, and Del was graced with a tail of the line of Aremil. Her tail was of the many colors, with scales that appeared crystal, or even diamond, that shone like a thousand colored rainbow. Most Lyhri's were born with a muted grey or blue tail that blended with the waters, or every once in awhile you would find a very dark green tail, the color of seaweed. Only a Lyhri of the Aremil descent could posses a tail of the colors.
What is a Lyhri? They are the people of the sea. They have been called mermaids, but that is not so. They are Lyhri, and they are a noble race. Mermaids are fairytales, they are myths. One foolish Lyhri, of the Aremil descent, of Del's lineage once made the choice to trade fins for legs. Her name was Armenia, and became called Arial by the common ones, the land-people. Her story became romanticized and mostly false. Among the Lyhri she was scorned.
She swam to the shores of Acquittal, and cut off her tail. For beneath the scales of every Aremil Lyhri lie the legs of a human. Armenia gave her tail to her lover, a sailor, who sold it for much wealth. A Lyhri tail is prized as a priceless fortune among the common ones, and Armenia used it to gain her sailor's love. Somehow in the story the common ones changed the sailor to a prince, and Armenia to a beautiful mermaid, but that was not true. Armenia was not a beautiful Lyhri. In fact, she was very ugly. Her hair was the color of seaweed, and her face very grey from never breathing the surface air and swimming deep in the shadows. For this, she felt that the common one's, who were generally unhandsome, would be more accepting of her lack of beauty, and that they might perhaps consider her handsome by their standards. She had the Lyhri voice, and her beautiful tail, but she gave away one, and her voice served her little when her sailor left her. Nobody ever learned of the rest of Armenia's fate. But the Lyhri people knew it surely had been a bad ending, and while scorned the foolish girl's choice, all felt a grief at her passing into the cruel other world above the comfort of the waves.
Del pushed away the depressing thoughts, hating the terrible story. Armenia was foolish, but she was not heartless, and certainly had feelings. What a dreadful end she must have come to, in the cruel world of the common ones.
Swimming away from her purple rock Del glided gracefully through the cool water, loving the fresh feel on her skin and streaming through her hair. It was the day of the Festival, the day when Del would be named Princess in the Aremil lineage.
Del's sisters, Elytra, Felinely, and Seelmi all were named Princesses, and her brother's Elemis and Sepias were named Princes of the thrown of Shiva, the underwater kingdom. Del would never rule the thrown, Princes and Princesses were not candidates for ruling such as in the common people's world. Princesses and Princesses were court members, and royal Lyhri's that lived in the Shivaian Palace and were asked for advice and help from the outermost Shivian Lyhri's.
Del was not a particular Princess; in fact she was not the oldest, nor the youngest. She was not the most beautiful, nor possessed the most beautiful voice, not even the longest and most colorful tail for an Aremil. No, the only difference between Del and her sister's, brothers and parents was that she was one of the Aremilian-shifters. She possessed legs beneath her tail.
The only way to tell was that on Del's birthday every year, the moon would shine round and full, and her tail would shimmer brilliantly with the gold of the sun and the white of the moon, and she would have to surface on Shiva Rock, the Island Rock, and sleep there. For her tail would shed from her legs, and each scale would drop, slowly and painfully; her father commanded her to stay on Shiva Rock, for when her tail shed her lungs would require the air, because without a tail, a Lyhri was human, and unable to breath the water. Also she was commanded to collect her scales, they were worth much, and possessed a certain measure of magic that her father decreed must not be left neglected on the Island Rock.
Del hated the yearly shedding of her tail. It was agonizing, and took very long to complete. Also Shiva Rock was open and without the comfort of water. Air was rough on poor Del's Lyhri skin. She felt naked without water covering her, hiding her from the common one's eyes. Her father had told her what to do if one of their ships came into view. She must lie flat against the rock, pressed as close to the floor of it as possible. That was hard to do when her scales were shedding; the pain of one scale lost is the equivalent of a common one's fingernail being ripped from the finger.
When the shedding of the scales had been complete, Del's human legs would appear from beneath the shimmering colors – pale and white limbs that tapered down at the ends, much like her fin, and then formed into two small white feet. Del would wiggle her toes in amazement, and with a sense of loss. She found her tail much more attractive, and had no use for the two, colorless wastes of flesh. Last year, of her fourteenth shedding Del had attempted to stand on her two human feet, as she had seen sailors do on a passing ship when she was twelve. It was difficult work, and Del found herself clumsy and awkward on them, but after several hours of trying she stood up completely, wobbling and feeling as if in another world, and how strange it felt to be standing straight. She felt much, much heavier above water and her gracefulness that she possessed while swimming was replaced with a clumsy heaviness on the Island Rock that she hadn't experienced anywhere else.
After the shedding of her old scales, and with the dawning of the next morning, the golden brilliancy of the sun would shimmer over her flops of legs, and then the new scales would form, seeming clearer and more colorful than the last; then her feet would point, and flippers would grow out from her small toes, in a ray of corals, greens, and gold's. Then Del would gather together her shed scales and flop gratefully and wearily back into the cool, refreshing water, and swim down deeply to her home.