Volume Four(On Hiatus Indefinitely)

Chapter One:

"Rissie, wake up!" Lady Violet exclaimed, shaking Crown Princess Nerissa Donnatella Sanderson of Pacifica awake. "We have school today, and I really would not care to be late yet again" declared Coral.

"Late?" Nerissa mumbled in her sleep. "Must…get…to…the…sea…chapel…on…time! Must…not…keep…Zale…waiting!"

Lady Violet giggled. "Ooh, she's dreaming about getting married to Lord Zale! What do ya think, Cor, maybe we should let her sleep in then?"

Coral shook her head. "I very much doubt that Mr. Ashman would accept allowing my host to finish dreaming of her wedding day as a valid excuse for tardiness".

"I…do…" sighed Princess Nerissa, and then her blue-gray eyes finally fluttered open. Looking quite refreshed, she quickly threw herself out of bed and rushed into the bathroom. Deep in thought, the half-mermaid Princess of Pacifica studied her reflection in the mirror as she brushed her braced teeth. No one in a hundred billion years would ever guess by just looking at me who, or more precisely, what I am, she deliberated. Or for that matter, I most certainly would have never in a hundred billion years guessed what I really am.

For most of her life, Nerissa's mother, Melinda, had hidden the truth about her daughter's unusual heritage from her, going so far as to make up a story about how her husband had been a U.S. naval officer who passed away before the Crown Princess was born, in order to satisfy Nerissa's curiosity in regards to her absent father, but on her fifteenth birthday she finally revealed to her that her father was actually still very much alive, and was in fact not even human, he was King Poseidon, ruler of the magical undersea kingdom of Pacifica. He and Melinda had met and fell madly in love after he had valiantly rescued her from drowning in the ocean. When Poseidon offered her a proposal of marriage, she didn't have to think twice before agreeing to leave her life on land behind, be transformed into a stunning mermaid, or Sea Nymph, as they much preferred to be called, and join him in his beautiful domain far beneath the surface of the sea.

Shortly after Princess Nerissa's birth, the Cursed Black Pearls, one of the strongest sources of dark magic in the known universe, were accidentally unleashed by extremely curious five-year-old twin Sea Nymphs named Della and Mirabella. The evil energy contained in the Cursed Black Pearls transforms any Sea Nymph who touches them, with the notable exception of a Crown Princess who is mature enough to know how to properly channel the power of her Enchanted Royal Aquamarine pendant, into a Sea Siren, a creature so cruel and heartless that some refer to her as the "vampire of the sea". Within minutes of their release, the dreaded Cursed Black Pearls changed the generally peaceful realm of Pacifica into a place of destruction and chaos, so King Poseidon decided that his wife and infant daughter were, at least for the time being, no longer safe in the sea. He sent them back to dry land, where they were to remain until there were no longer any Sea Sirens or Cursed Black Pearls in the kingdom of Pacifica. It was now Nerissa's mission, as Keeper of the Enchanted Royal Aquamarine of Pacifica, to help restore peace and harmony in the Sea Nymph world by keeping a sharp eye out for Sea Sirens disguised in human form and changing them back into their true selves.

Chapter Two:

"Good morning, Nerissa" a familiar voice greeted the Crown Princess of Pacifica as she slammed her locker shut.

"Hello, Adam", Nerissa responded rather distantly. She refused to meet Adam Fonda's hazel eyes as she rushed off through the corridor, determined to be on time for her first-period biology class. For the past two weeks, Princess Nerissa had been doing her best to politely ignore the very boy she would have had not too long ago given just about anything for him to notice her in any way, for now her young heart belonged only to the warm-hearted, not to mention devastatingly handsome Sea Nymph Consort, or merman, Lord Zale Delmar, even though he was currently thousands of miles away, studying at the South Pacific Consort Academy, a prestigious boarding school in Coralia, a small kingdom located somewhere off the eastern coast of Australia.

Though they had not known each for very long at all, the Keeper of the Enchanted Royal Aquamarine of Pacifica truly felt that she and Zale had been through quite a lot together. He had the honor of being the first and only one to kiss her, as well as the only member of the opposite sex she had ever danced with. If it wasn't for Lord Zale telling her what his father said to him after his younger sister was Sired five years earlier, Nerissa was pretty sure she may have never figured out the most effective way to purify a Sea Siren. He had surprised her by showing up at a Magical Creatures' Convention held on La Isla Magica, a magical island on the way to the Academy, that Pacifica's Princess, her family, and her Ladies-in-Waiting, Coral and Violet, had attended, where they had shared the adventure of a lifetime, and grown much closer in the process, but unfortunately, Zale had left before Princess Nerissa had the chance to tell him that she loved him.

"Phew", sighed Nerissa, sliding into her desk as the bell rang loudly.

"Good morning, Sunshine Valley High students" the gravelly voice of Mr. Kidd, the principal, sounded over the PA system. "The Sunshine Valley High School Drama Department is pleased beyond words to announce that they are putting on a production of Walt Disney's The Little Mermaid musical". Crown Princess Nerissa couldn't resist smiling to herself, due to the unbelievable irony of the fact that a school with three genuine Sea Nymphs among its student population would produce a play about mermaids.

"The Fonda Seafood Company has generously offered to pay for all the costumes, sets, props, and other miscellaneous expenses, in exchange for their company name to be featured on the programs and posters". Nerissa groaned. There really is something innately wrong about a company which cruelly traps and kills countless innocent sea creatures for profit sponsoring a musical with singing fish in it, the semi-mermaid thought to herself. One of the wealthiest corporations in the state of California, the Fonda Seafood Company, which just happened to be owned by Adam's father, always publically claimed that their fishing practices were ecologically sustainable, but nothing could possibly be further from the truth, according to Sunshine Valley's Chief of Police, Rodney Greenbaum, who, several weeks ago, by sheer accident discovered what Princess Nerissa, Lady Coral, and Lady Violet were after they had saved his drowning daughter.

"Auditions will take place today in the auditorium immediately after school. To all you budding thespians auditioning, break a leg, or shall I say, break a fin!". Mr. Kidd laughed at his own somewhat cringe-worthy joke.

Chapter Three:

At lunchtime, the cafeteria was audibly buzzing with the enthusiastic chatter of dozens and dozens of stagestruck teenagers. "I so have the role of Ariel in the bag!" Princess Nerissa overheard Teagan Wakefield, the wealthiest and most popular girl at Sunshine Valley High, and Lady Violet's arch-rival teammate on the girls' swim team, resoundingly proclaim.

"But, Teagan!" protested Teagan's best friend, Sandra Crawford. "We both know good and well that you cannot carry a tune in a bucket even if somebody else was carrying it!"

Teagan rolled her pretty hazel eyes skyward. "Everybody knows that what the star of a musical looks like is so much more important than what she sounds like, especially when she's unable to speak, much less sing, for half of the play anyway", she insisted.

"Right, if you say so" replied Sandra with a shrug of her shoulders, not sounding fully convinced by any means.

"I knew from the moment I found out that this year's school musical was going to The Little Mermaid that I wanted more than anything to play Ursula the Sea Witch" Vanessa Hogland, Nerissa's closest friend since kindergarten, asserted in between bites of her veggie burger. "If I get the part, I, as a matter of fact, hope Teagan does get cast as Ariel".

"Why's that?" inquired Violet, who was seated directly across the lunch table from Vanessa. Her pale forehead was wrinkled in confusion.

Vanessa smirked. "Well, duh, so I can be as much of a rhymes-with-witch as I wanna be to Teagan on stage, of course". She then hummed a few bars of "Poor Unfortunate Souls" softly to herself.

Chapter Four:

Princess Nerissa stopped at the school library after lunch to return a slightly overdue book. She stopped dead in her tracks, nearly dropping her book in shock, once she saw the gorgeous cover on a large hardcover that three sophomore girls who she didn't recognize were pouring over intently at a table by the door. Depicted against a lush backdrop of brightly colored marine life was a lovely young mermaid with a cloud of wavy titian locks framing her delicately featured, serenely smiling countenance and an exquisite fish-like tail in soft pastel shades of aqua, lavender, and pink that ended in graceful flukes, the spitting image of the Crown Princess of Pacifica in her true Sea Nymph form. "The Magical World of Sea Nymphs and Their Consorts by Tamara Derwick" was printed above the beautiful watercolor illustration in frilly silver lettering.

The Keeper of Pacifica's Enchanted Royal Aquamarine hastily placed her book into the return slot and began searching the fiction section. "Let's see", she muttered to herself under her breath, scanning the shelves. "Dahl, Daniels, Davis, Defoe, here we go, Derwick". She anxiously pulled the heavy hardback tome off of the tightly packed shelf and flipped it open near the middle. Chapter Six: Magi-Biology and Anatomy of Sea Nymphs and their Consorts, she read. As purely magical creatures, Sea Nymphs and their Consorts do not eliminate metabolic waste from their bodies like humans and other natural creatures do. Instead, they invisibly and odorlessly secrete excess nutrients through their scales, almost like sweating, which is somewhat similar as well to how some reptiles function. They can subsist on a low-calorie, vegetarian diet composed entirely of seaweed and other sea vegetables prepared many different ways. Their reproductive system is pretty different from that of humans, fish, and any other non-magical being(see diagram on opposite page). Pacifica's Princess tucked the book under her arm and headed to the checkout counter. There are far too many similarities to the real Sea Nymph World for it to be merely coincidental, she considered. I really need to show this book to my father the next time I see him.

Mrs. Clements, the elderly librarian who had quite a reputation among the students of Sunshine Valley High as an uptight literary snob, frowned deeply and shook her head when she saw what Nerissa was checking out. "I swear to God that you kids' taste in reading material gets worse and worse with every passing year. If it isn't about mermaids, vampires, werewolves, wizards, dragons, or teenagers killing each other in an arena, it simply sits on the shelf and collects dust". She let out a sigh. "I have a feeling that this twaddle of a book is only going to become even more in demand, what with our school putting on a production of The Little Mermaid and all".

Chapter Five:

"You know, Vi, this is the second time you have dragged me along with you to watch you try out for some extracurricular activity that I would never dream of going out for myself" Crown Princess Nerissa remarked as she entered the auditorium of Sunshine Valley High with her Ladies-in-Waiting and Vanessa that afternoon after school.

"And knowing our Vi, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it wasn't the last" stated Lady Coral, a good-natured grin spreading over her exotically attractive, olive-complected face.

Just as they settled into a row of seats near the back of the auditorium, the Princess of Pacifica's cellular phone rang. "Hello?" she answered.

"Good afternoon, my precious little pearl". Much to Nerissa's astonishment, it was King Poseidon's voice on the other end of the line.

"Hi, dad. I didn't know you were coming to land today".

Vanessa eyed her longtime best friend strangely. "Dad? But your father died before you were even born!" she exclaimed. In spite of their usual tendency to confide in each other about anything, Princess Nerissa had not yet disclosed her true origins to Vanessa.

The Keeper of the Enchanted Royal Aquamarine never felt more like slapping herself in her entire life. Way to be discrete, Nerissa! she silently scolded herself. How could I be so stupid? Looks like I might have no choice now but to confess to Vanessa that I have been lying to her for almost two months. I suppose it serves me right, since I probably should have come clean to her about everything the first chance I got.

"Dearest daughter, I have called to let you know that I would like you to return home as soon as Sea Nymphly possible, as I have a surprise for you that I wish to give to you in person, and I cannot stay in the human world much longer as I have a very important meeting in less than an hour".

"I have something, well actually two somethings, that I need to talk to you about as well" the half-mermaid murmured. "See you soon, I love you" she said before closing her phone and throwing her book-bag over her shoulder. "Good luck auditioning!" Pacificia's Crown Princess called back to her friends while stepping out of the auditorium.

Chapter Six:

The Crown Princess of Pacifica continued to mentally berate herself for her complete and utter carelessness over the whole short walk from the Sunshine Valley High campus to the Sandersons' rambler condominium. I sure hope that my father won't kill me when he finds out that a mere mortal now suspects pretty strongly that I haven't been exactly honest with her about my family situation . As much as Nerissa had grown to care for King Poseidon, she still felt intimidated by him at times and frankly feared how he might react if she ever failed to live up to his rather high expectations. He always meant well, but he had plenty of trouble understanding the complex ways of the human world and seemed to sometimes forget just how new the Keeper of Pacifica's Enchanted Royal Aquamarine truly was to the world of magical creatures.

Nerissa took a deep breath while she bent down to retrieve the house key from underneath the welcome mat. Poseidon, in human form and sharply dressed in a forest green pinstripe designer suit that perfectly complemented his long titian hair, which was pulled back into a sleek ponytail, answered the door. "Greetings! How's my favorite daughter on this lovely afternoon?" he asked, a warm smile softening his chiseled facial features.

The Pacifican Princess couldn't remember the last time she had seen the King in such a good mood, which she naturally hoped would work to her advantage. "I'm OK" she responded, settling down on the living room sofa, and motioning for her father to sit down next to her.

"So, pearl, what is it that you wanted to tell me?" questioned King Poseidon, putting an affectionate arm around Nerissa.

"Well, first of all, when you called me at school, I really kind of blew it" Nerissa sheepishly uttered.

The King of Pacifica's brow furrowed. "What under the sea do you mean, darling? You blew what?"

Crown Princess Nerissa could not hold back a giggle. "No, Dad, it's just a silly human expression. It means I messed up, you know, made a big mistake".

King Poseidon held his gaze steadily on his 15-year-old daughter's face. "What sort of mistake?"

"When you called, my best friend Vanessa was sitting right next to me, so of course she heard every single word I said to you. Since it didn't occur to me to make any kind of effort to hide the fact that I was talking to my father, she pretty much knows now that you're not really dead. I think just maybe that the time has come to tell Vanessa, you know, everything".

"I am not so sure about that, Rissie" Poseidon sighed. "Revealing to a human that what they have been taught to consider mythical beings exist can have some very serious consequences, not just for you individually, but for our world at large. It is therefore of vital importance that you fully comprehend that this is in no way a decision to be made lightly. Not only do you need to be one hundred percent sure that you can trust this Vanessa to keep our existence a secret from other humans, but that telling her the truth wouldn't put an end to your friendship. I suggest that you really think this through before you decide to tell her anything".

"Hi, honeys, I'm home" quipped Melinda, after letting herself into the condo. "Where are Violet and Coral? Don't tell me that Vi got detention again!"

Princess Nerissa shook her head. "No, not today. They stayed after school to try out for the annual school musical, which is, believe it or not, The Little Mermaid, of all things".

"Our Rissie just told me that she is toying with the idea of letting the catfish out of the bag regarding who she truly is to her human friend Vanessa. I am most interested in hearing your opinion on this matter, my dear, since you probably know this Vanessa girl relatively well and as such, I do believe I can trust your judgment in guiding Rissie toward making the right choice".

"In all honesty, Rissie, I am actually a bit surprised that you didn't want to tell her right away, considering how close of friends you and Vanessa are" averred Queen Melinda, meeting her daughter's gray-blue eyes.

"Perhaps I should've" Nerissa admitted. "I have never kept anything from her before, so it will more than likely not be easy for her to take, but I'm really starting to get sick and tired of constantly lying to my best friend. It just doesn't feel right sometimes, you know?"

Poseidon nodded. "When you put it that way, dear Rissie, I can completely see your point. Honesty is a great virtue that the Sea Nymph world has always very much valued. As you are destined to be the future Queen of the Kingdom of Pacifica, I am most certainly glad to hear that you are concerned about remaining ethical in your close interpersonal relationships. I suppose if you genuinely feel that it is necessary to divulge your true identity to your friend, so be it, provided of course that you know for sure that you will be able to trust her to protect your secret". He turned to glance at the digital clock on the coffee table, which sat beside a large pinkish conch shell that for some reason the Keeper of the Enchanted Royal Aquamarine of Pacifica hadn't noticed there before. "I have to leave in about a minute, or I'll risk being late for my meeting". He then smiled at Princess Nerissa and placed the conch shell in her pale hand. "Here is my surprise gift to you, Rissie. It's a brand-new invention for the Sea Nymph World called a Shellophone. When you put the Shellophone up to your ear and say out loud the name of any Sea Nymph or Sea Nymph Consort, you can talk to them. I am aware that you miss Lord Zale immensely, so I wanted you to have a Shellophone so you could keep in touch with him, as well as me, more easily".

Nerissa threw her arms around King Poseidon. "Thank you so much, Dad! I cannot count the times I wished I could call Zale. I read all of his letters over and over, but it isn't the same as being able to hear his voice".

"You are greatly welcome, Dearest. Lord Zale Delmar is a fine young Consort who could make an excellent King for you some day".

"Before you go, Dad, there is something that you need to see". The Crown Princess of Pacifica reached down into her book bag, which laid at her feet, pulled out the "Magical World of Sea Nymphs and their Consorts" book, and handed it over to her father.

"The Magical World of Sea Nymphs and their Consorts by Tamara Derwick", Poseidon read aloud, his bright turquoise eyes widening out of shock.

"Tamara?" repeated Melinda, her face growing pale.

"Before I met your mother, everyone in Pacifica assumed I would marry a Sea Nymph named Lady Tamara Syrena. She was head over flukes in love with me, but I only loved her the way a brother loves his sister. She was so heartbroken when I announced my engagement to your mother that she fled the Kingdom and nobody has seen scale or hair of her ever since. Rissie, would you mind if I bring this book with me to the royal court meeting? I believe the Elders of Pacifica will be interested in seeing this".

Chapter Seven:

Thank the Goddess of the Sea for the Internet! Tamara Syrena Derwick thought to herself as she pushed open the glass double doors of Sunshine Valley High's main entrance. One quick Google search, and I found out the precise location of the high school which the Keeper of the Enchanted Royal Aquamarine of Pacifica attends. It absolutely goes to show what a lousy job that human wench Melinda is doing protecting her daughter from danger. If I were in that witch's position, I would have known better than to allow the heir to the throne of Pacifica to use social media! Why, if you ask me, they should have never left Pacifica at all. I am certain that raising our Crown Princess in the mortal realm was that ugly human's idea, as my Poseidon is surely much too wise of a King to initiate such an inherently nonsensical plan.

Not wishing to be caught trespassing at the school, she kept glancing over shoulder while stealthily tip-toeing through the hallways. Tamara paused in her tracks when she heard singing coming from inside the auditorium. If you could even call that singing, she regarded, a smug smirk appearing on her alluringly beautiful face.

"Looooooooook aaaaaaaaaattttttt tttttthhissss ssstttufff, isssnn't ittttttttt neaaattt?" loudly shrieked a shrill voice. "Wouuuullddnnn't yooouuu thiiiinnnkkk myyyyy cooolllleccctttiiooonnn's cooommmppppllettte?"

Tamara covered her ears and rolled her eyes. Most leg-walkers, except for perhaps that lovely Lady Gaga and the late Michael Jackson, wouldn't know how to make halfway decent music if their pathetically short lives depended on it.

"Wouulddddddn'tttttt yoooouuuu thiiiinnkkk Iiiiii'mmmm thhhheeee giiiiirrrrrrllll, ttttttthheeee giiiiiiiiiirrrrllll whhoooooo haaaaaaasssssss ? Loooookkkkkkk aaaaaaaaaaattttt ttttttttttthhhhhhhhhisssssss , 'ssss uuunnnntttoooollllddd, hhhhhhooowww maaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnyyyyy woooonnndddeeeeeerrrsss caaaaaaaannnn ooonnne caaaaaaaaavvveeeeeerrrrnnn hooolllddd? Looookkkkiiiinnnnggg aaarrrrooouuunnnddd heeeerrre yooouuu tthhhiinnkk suuurrreee, ssshheee'ssss gooottt eeevvveeerrrryyytthhhiiingg! Iiii'vvve gooottt…"

"I think I've heard quite enough, Ms. Wakefield" a high-pitched male voice cut off the staggeringly tone deaf singer before she had a chance to finish her song. "Uh, thanks for auditioning. Next!"

"But Mr. Sherman!" objected Teagan indignantly. "Do you have any idea who my father is?"

"Next!" Mr. Sherman shouted, ignoring Teagan Wakefield altogether.

Luckily, the second auditioner turned out to be a much, much better singer than Teagan. Mr. Sherman applauded once she was done singing. "Brava, Ms. Van Der Zee! You, my dahling, have a fantastic voice for musical theatre, so clear and expressive! Young ladies and gentleman, I have found my Ariel!"

Several voices gasped. "You didn't give me a chance to audition yet!" one girl exclaimed.

"Me either!" another one bellowed.

"Ladies, Violet here has truly a rare talent. I dare say that I wouldn't be surprised to see her on the Broadway or West End stage in a few years' time. I sincerely doubt any of you girls could hold a candle to her unique and exceptional blend of vocal power, raw charisma, and delicate, youthful beauty".

"No, not again!" Teagan clamored, ambling out of the auditorium in a huff. "I'm counting the days till that wretched foreign exchange student goes back to Austria, or wherever the heck she came from" she grumbled out loud while she burst into the corridor. "First she stole my thunder on the swim team, and now she won the starring role in what is expected to be the most lavish high school production in Orange County history!"

Tamara flashed a seemingly sympathetic smile in Teagan's direction, which incited the girl to trip and fall flat on her posterior. Like all Sea Sirens, Tamara possessed the ability to cause people all matter of physical damage by merely smiling at or singing to them.

Chapter Eight:

Tamara Derwick waited impatiently as the Little Mermaid auditions carried on for over another half an hour. She paced back and forth through the school hallway, her narrow green eyes never leaving the large, round clock on the wall. The only girl who wished to audition for the part of Ursula the Sea Witch was Vanessa Hogland, who Mr. Sherman said had "a fabulously deep, sultry, and soulful voice that couldn't be any more perfect for the role". Adam Fonda, possessing a passable though by no means spectacular tenor singing voice, became cast as Prince Eric

"About time!" the Sea Siren murmured under her breath once the auditions were finally over. The corridor was suddenly so full of teenagers that, much to her relief, no one seemed to notice her while they scampered toward the door. "I can't believe I'm gonna be the star of the show!" Tamara overheard a petite schoolgirl with long, glossy, jet-black tresses declare to a breathtakingly gorgeous medium-skinned girl and a plump African-American adolescent. "Then again, I suppose I can believe it! After all, it is only natural for one of us to play a mermaid princess!"

Tamara's ears perked up. Only natural for one of us to play a mermaid princess…she repeated to herself.

"I wonder how Rissie will react to finding out that her longtime crush is playing your love interest" Vanessa stated.

Upon hearing the nickname "Rissie" mentioned, as far as Tamara was concerned, her suspicions were confirmed to be true. Violet Van Der Zee and the girl walking next to her must be Crown Princess Nerissa's Ladies-in-Waiting! All I would need to do is follow them and they should lead me straight to the phony Queen of Pacifica's front door!

Chapter Nine:

On the way home, Violet, Coral, and Vanessa were so thoroughly engaged in conversation about the musical that they did not notice at all that they were being trailed by Tamara Derwick. "How did the audition go?" Nerissa, who was doing her homework at the kitchen table, asked her Ladies-in-Waiting once they were inside the condominium.

"It went splashtacularly!" Lady Violet asserted, practically jumping up and down with enthusiasm. "I…" she began, but the doorbell ringing cut her off.

"I'll get it!" proclaimed Queen Melinda, getting up from the sofa. Her heart nearly stopped as she found herself face to face with somebody she hadn't seen in sixteen years and never expected to ever see again.

The Crown Princess of Pacifica got up from the table, wanting to get a closer look at their visitor. Recognizing immediately who presently hovered in the door frame, Nerissa let out a gasp. Her Sea Nymph's intuition told her that her mother is probably in grave danger from someone that she very strongly suspected was a Sea Siren. Lady Coral and Lady Violet exchanged a concerned look and protectively took ahold of the Keeper of the kingdom's Enchanted Royal Aquamarine's hands.

"Tamara?" Melinda breathed, more to herself than to anybody else within earshot.

"Wow, I am quite astounded that you remember who I am. In the Sea Nymph world, some fish like to say that you humans are incapable of remembering anything for more than three seconds" uttered Tamara icily, stepping through the door.

"What do you want with me?" the Queen of Pacifica questioned, matching the Siren's penetrating tone and crossing her arms over her chest.

Tamara gazed sharply into Melinda's misty blue eyes, standing much too close to the Queen for her comfort. "I do not want anything to do with you, my so-called queen!" attested Tamara, her sea green eyes blazing.

"Then what are you doing here?" Queen Melinda shot back, her hands placed firmly on her hips.

"Yeah, why are you here?" chimed in Nerissa, surprising herself with her sudden boldness. "If you came here in order to somehow hurt my mom, you…"

"I came here to take back what is rightfully mine" Tamara affirmed coolly.

"Which is?" inquired Melinda.

"You stupid human wench, shouldn't the answer to that question be obvious? Why, if it wasn't for you, I would have won the hand of my beloved Poseidon and been crowned Queen of the great Sea Nymph Kingdom of Pacifica! Thanks to you, I was Sired and…"

"But you disappeared months before the Cursed Black Pearls were released by accident!" Melinda balked.

"After your engagement was announced, I needed desperately to be alone so I moved into a grotto on the remote outskirts of the Kingdom, not far from where the Cursed Black Pearls had been sealed away for countless centuries. Because of you, my heart became so filled with bitterness that when I cried, black pearls fell from my eyes. When those two pesky fluke-biters managed to break through the force-field which protected Pacifica from the Cursed Black Pearls, my body supernaturally absorbed the pile of tear-pearls on the floor of my cavern, transforming me into by far the most powerful Sea Siren in all of the twenty Sea Nymph kingdoms".

Crown Princess Nerissa and her mother gasped in unison as Tamara raised her palm, causing the Enchanted Royal Aquamarine pendant around Nerissa's neck and the Enchanted Personal Aquamarine rings on Nerissa and her Ladies-in-Waiting's hands to vanish into thin air. Tamara was then out the door in a flash.

Chapter Ten:

Her mouth gaping open in shock, Crown Princess Nerissa's hands went to her neck. Having very seldom ever taken off her Enchanted Royal Aquamarine pendant over the past several weeks, she found that she felt positively naked without it on. "How the heck did she do that?" she blurted out. "I don't recall my dad ever saying anything to me about Sea Sirens being able to make stuff disappear".

"You know what that means, Vi? Without our Enchanted Aquamarines, changing back and forth from human to Sea Nymph form will be pretty difficult indeed" declared Coral.

"And we won't be able to defend ourselves by putting up Bubble-Fields!" the heir to the throne of Pacifica added. Their Enchanted Aquamarines gave mermaids the power to project bubble-shaped protective force-fields called Bubble-Fields around themselves.

Queen Melinda sighed deeply. "Rissie, we need to try to get a hold of your father on the Shellophone right away".

"Right" Nerissa said, picking the Shellophone up from the coffee table and holding it up to her ear. "Dad?" she murmured uncertainly.

"Who is this?" a rather stern man's voice questioned bluntly over the Shellophone.

"Um, I'm Princess Nerissa, uh, King Poseidon's daughter" mumbled the Keeper of the Enchanted Royal Aquamarine of Pacifica, who was somewhat shocked to hear a stranger's voice seemingly coming from inside the conch shell.

"Why, hello then, Your Highness" the strange merman whom the Pacifican Princess presumed to be one of her father's assistants responded, his tone softening considerably once he realized just who he was talking to. "This is Duke Myrrdin Zealand, your most esteemed father, His Royal Majesty, King Poseidon's advisor. I am afraid that he is preoccupied in a meeting with the Elders of Pacifica at the moment. May I please take a message?"

The Crown Princess of Pacifica let out a sigh. "You see, it's kind of an emergency".

"An…emergency?" Myrrdin repeated, concern suddenly evident in his voice. "Pray tell, what kind of emergency, exactly?"

"It's actually pretty complicated, to be honest" replied Nerissa.

"I see" Myrrdin uttered. "Well, in that case, please hold the Shellophone for a moment".

About two or three minutes later, the distressed voice of Crown Princess Nerissa's father came through the Shellophone. "What under the sea is the matter, my little pearl?" he inquired.

Nerissa took a deep breath. "You're not in a million years going to believe who showed up on our doorstep right after you left".

"Not…Tamara?"

"Yes, Tamara" confirmed Nerissa.

"Oh my sea-god! May I talk to your mother for a little bit?"

"Sure" Princess Nerissa agreed, quickly handing the Shellophone over to Melinda.

"Hi, darling" said Queen Melinda into the Shellophone. The Crown Princess of Pacifica and her Ladies-in-Waiting anxiously hovered nearby.

"She told me that she came here to take back what she believes is rightfully hers, meaning you" the Queen of Pacifica stated after a minute or so of silence on her end of the Shellophone connection. "She thinks that if you hadn't married me, you would have settled for marrying her". She continued to explain to her husband in vivid detail what had just occurred, and then she listened quietly to Poseidon for several moments. "All right, we'll be right there" assured Melinda prior to setting the Shellophone down. "He wants us to meet him on the beach ASAP".

Chapter Eleven:

Crown Princess Nerissa, Queen Melinda, Lady Violet, and Lady Coral piled into the Queen of Pacifica's silver Toyota Prius hybrid sedan, and headed to Sunshine Cove, the beach which served as the Pacifican Royal Family's official rendezvous point, as hastily as the speed limit would allow them. They arrived at the secluded beach to find King Poseidon waiting for them, his head bobbing above the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

Poseidon's beautiful blue-green eyes studied his daughter's bare neckline and her Ladies-in-Waiting's ringless fingers. "I am quite ashamed", he sighed, "to admit that I am not the least bit sure in regards to what can be done in order to retrieve your Enchanted Aquamarines back from Tamara. Your mother told me that Tamara claimed to be the most powerful of all Sea Sirens, and considering that I have never heard before of a Sea Siren possessing such a unique and downright formidable ability, I do not believe for a second that she was in any way exaggerating about her great power".

"By the way, what did the Elders think about that book she wrote?" the Keeper of Pacifica's Enchanted Royal Aquamarine asked her father.

"They were quite alarmed indeed. None of us had ever expected that a Pacifican would publish a tome for the human market full of comprehensive facts regarding the Sea Nymph world, including some intriguing information that was news to even some of the Elders".

"Oh?" exhaled Melinda. "What sort of information?"

"You should really read the book for yourself, dearest. It begins by describing the origins of magical creatures in great detail. According to the book, a very long time ago there were four young human girls of roughly the same age who resided in four different parts of the Earth, a warm tropical island, the snowy Arctic, the emerald green British Isles, and the lush gardens of the Far East. Each of these little girls were given beautiful gemstone jewelry by their mothers for their birthdays; the tropical islander was given an aquamarine pendant, the Arctic girl's mother gave her a pair of snowdrop earrings, the British Islander's gift was an amber ring, and the Far Easterner was given a jade necklace. Tragically, the mothers of all of these girls died the day after the girls' birthdays. The girls simultaneously weeped tears of sorrow, which some how caused a miracle to occur. The little girls gasped as their tear-dampened gems fall down on the ground, and then split apart into two separate pieces. The parts of each girl's jewel are transformed into the very first Nymphs and their Consorts. The tropical girl's Aquamarine pendant becomes a lovely Sea Nymph and her handsome mate, the Inuit girl's snowdrop earrings transform into a Snow Nymph and an Ice Man, the British girl's amber ring turns into a Meadow Nymph and her Consort, and the Asian girl's jade necklace is reformed into a Sky Nymph and her Consort"

In addition to Sea Nymphs and their Consorts, there were at least three other races of magical beings scattered around the world, unbeknownst to humankind: Snow Nymphs and Ice Men, ethereal-looking humanoid creatures who lived only in the planet's coldest and most remote locations; Meadow Nymphs and their Consorts, also known by humans as centaurs, who resembled half-human/half-horse hybrids; and Sky Nymphs and their Consorts, butterfly-winged humanoids who served as the basis for humans' tales of fairies. The Pacifican Crown Princess had recently met quite a few other mythical entities at the very same Magical Creatures' Convention that was the last place that she had seen her beloved Lord Zale. At the Convention, Nerissa befriended a Meadow Nymph called Tawny and a Sky Nymph by the name of Magenta, but sadly, their friendship had turned sour when Tawny took offense to a remark made by Crown Princess Nerita, the Keeper of the Enchanted Royal Aquamarine of MexiSea, the underwater kingdom which bordered Pacifica to the south, at a party that the Crown Princess of Pacifica had invited them to, even though she and Tawny were the only non-mermaids in attendance.

"Wow, what an interesting story" Coral commented.

"I remember that my mama used to tell me that legend before bed when I was a wee little Nymph" said Lady Violet.

King Poseidon nodded. "I can vaguely recall my own mother telling me a similar story many years ago as well, but I never believed it was true".

"But how can we be so sure that everything that Tamara's book says is the truth?" Melinda wanted to know, raising an eyebrow.

"I absolutely understand your point, my dear, but it is the opinion of myself as well as each and every one of the Elders of my Kingdom that we really should not doubt the accuracy of any of the information contained in the book that Tamara wrote".

"Did you happen to have enough time to read the entire book, from cover to cover?" questioned Nerissa.

"No, we did not" Poseidon answered. He appeared thoughtful for a moment. "Do you think there is any chance that the book could tell us what we need to do to get you Sea Nymphs' Enchanted Aqumarines back?"

"I think that's a definite possibility" said Queen Melinda.

"We also must figure out whether or not you young ladies can still be transformed by other Sea Nymphs' Enchanted Aquamarines" King Poseidon stated. "Please stay right there" he requested before vanishing below the waves.

Chapter Twelve:

Vanessa Hogland's parents, who were both psychiatrists, were still at the office when she returned home from the musical auditions, her younger sister Patti had left a note saying she was over at a friend's house, and she didn't have much homework to do, so she at the spur of the moment decided to for once follow her doctor's and parents' advice and get some good exercise by taking a long walk to the beach. As she walked, she replayed in her mind the rather mysterious words she overheard her closest friend speak into her cell phone: "Hi dad. I didn't know you were coming to land today". If Nerissa's father was really alive, why had she told her he was dead all this time?

For the last couple of months, she had to admit that her best friend had behaved pretty strangely at times and seemed to be keeping secrets from her, which she had most certainly never done before. It all began this past October, shortly after Nerissa's fifteenth birthday, when she had seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth for an entire weekend, only to suddenly reappear with two foreign exchange students just their age, Violet Van Der Zee from Germany, who just got cast as Ariel in the school musical, and Coral de la Mar from Mexico. From the moment she met them, Vanessa had suspected there was something very fishy about those two, though she couldn't for the life of her even begin to guess what that might be. Violet's German accent sounded completely fake to her, and she deeply resented how Nerissa often blew her off to spend time with the exchange students. She honestly could not count the times she heard them laughing among themselves at their own inside jokes. Vanessa also observed that her lifelong friend had apparently all of a sudden lost interest in Adam Fonda, whom she had a major crush on for years, and she couldn't help but wonder if Coral and Violet had something to do with that.

Vanessa couldn't keep herself from smiling from ear to ear as she walked across Sunshine Cove Beach. The blue-green waters of the Pacific Ocean sparkled like priceless diamonds in the warm late-afternoon sunlight and, as usual, the beach was far from crowded. She stopped in her tracks when she saw none other than Nerissa standing at the water's edge, with her mother and the foreign exchange students right beside her. "Rissie?"

"Hi Vanessa" said Nerissa sheepishly, and then Vanessa's jaw dropped as a strikingly handsome long-haired man who appeared to be in his early thirties rose out of the waves.

Chapter Thirteen:

King Poseidon instinctively backed half a dozen yards away from the shoreline. "Hey, wait!" Vanessa yelled. "I know who you are. You're Nerissa's father, aren't you?!"

"Vanessa..." sighed Queen Melinda. "From now on, we can promise that we will not lie to you any more".

"I'm so sorry, Vanessa" Nerissa apologized, looking straight into Vanessa's large brown eyes. "I know I really should have told you the truth ages ago".

"Well, I am not so sure that a public beach is the most appropriate place to reveal our secrets to a mere mortal" Poseidon said, glancing from side to side while swimming back to the shore.

"What do you mean, 'mere mortal'?" questioned Vanessa angrily, waving a finger in King Poseidon's direction. "Tell me right now, what the heck are you?!"

The King of Pacifica responded by impulsively leaping into the air like a dolphin, which gave his daughter's best friend a great view of his gorgeous turquoise mertail, and then quickly diving back into the ocean.

"YOUR DAD'S A FREAKING MERMAID?!" Vanessa screamed. "WHAT DOES THAT MAKE YOU, RISSIE? ARE YOU TWO SO-CALLED EXCHANGE STUDENTS MERMAIDS TOO?!"

Nerissa nodded silently. "Sshh, let's go back to my house. We'll fill you in on everything there". The rightful Keeper of The Enchanted Aquamarine of Pacifica leaned in to give her longtime friend a hug, but Vanessa pulled away. "GET AWAY FROM ME, YOU FREAK!" she shrieked, hot tears rolling down her dark cheeks, before jogging up the beach.

Chapter Fourteen:

Warm tears glided down the Crown Princess of Pacifica's pale cheeks as Melinda's Prius pulled into the driveway and she stumbled through the front door, Lady Violet and Lady Coral following closely behind her. Staring down at her own feet, Nerissa darted across the Sandersons' living room, grabbed the Shellophone off of the coffee table, and ambled into her bedroom, shutting the door behind her. She then laid down on her twin bed and placed the Shellophone close to her left ear. "I would like to speak to Lord Zale Delmar, please" the true Keeper of Pacifica's Enchanted Royal Aquamarine said into the shell.

"Hello?" uttered a pleasantly familiar male voice.

"Oh, Zale!" Princess Nerissa exclaimed. "You have no idea how happy simply hearing your voice makes me, especially after everything I've been through today".

"Hey, tell me what happened" said Zale.

"Where do I even begin?" the Pacifican Princess sighed.

"I'm afraid so. My dad's crazy Sea Siren ex-girlfriend, who's a published author, took away our Enchanted Aquamarines so me, Coral, Violet, and my mom are currently unable to transform into Sea Nymphs or defend ourselves with magic, and my human friend Vanessa now knows what we really are and is pretty upset that I kept such a big secret from her, to put it mildly. She actually called me a freak".

"Oh my, love, mere words could never even come remotely close to expressing how truly sorry I am that you are going through all this" conveyed Lord Zale.

"Thanks. Got any advice about what I can do about any of this?"

"Well, are you sure that you are completely unable to transform?"

"I just don't think I have ever heard before of a Sea Nymph assuming human form to not be able to be changed back by the power of an Enchanted Aquamarine. Have you tried utilizing another Nymph's Aquamarine?"

"No, but, knowing my father, I would think that if he thought there was any chance at all that that would work, he would have tried it" Nerissa stated.

"Yes, you have a valid point there. Very few Sea Nymphs or their Consorts are more knowledgeable about our world than your father" sighed Zale. "Nonethless, I am sure that there must be a way to reverse this spell. Perhaps if we pour over enough books we can figure it out".

"Books, that's it!" the Pacifican Crown Princess burst out. "I had forgotten how my father said that the book that Tamara wrote contained facts about the Sea Nymph world that even some of the Elders of Pacifica weren't aware of. Maybe the solution is written somewhere in that book. It would be pretty stupid of Tamara to spell out for us in her book how to break her spell, but there could be some kind of clue in there".

"There probably is" agreed Zale. "Oh, sorry, but I must let you go now. My Romantic Poetry 101 class begins in five minutes. Talk to you later, my sweet love".

"Good-bye" Nerissa murmured.