Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница

Her anger hadn’t abated any; it had only grown. Drink walrus milk? Eat sweets? Rest? Hardly! She was going to sneak out and head for Cerulea.

She took a transparensea pebble from her bag. She would cast it, then make her way out of the palace. But were there guards outside in the hallway? If so, they would see her door open and close. She would have to check.

Neela grasped the doorknob and turned it, but nothing happened. The door wouldn’t open.

Suma had locked her in.


THE UNDERWATER ENTRANCE to the duca’s palazzo was shrouded Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница in darkness. The lava globes flanking the tall double doors had gone out. The carved stone faces were silent.

Serafina knocked on one of the doors. It swung open at her touch. That’s odd, she thought. Why isn’t it locked?

She looked up and down the current, feeling uneasy. Here and there, a shadowy figure came or went, but most of the palazzos were locked up tight, their windows shuttered. The Lagoon looked very different from the last time she’d been here.

Serafina looked different, too. Swimming for weeks on end had made her body lean Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница and taut. Her cheekbones were sharper under her skin. Her clothing was frayed and silt-stained. She was getting the hard, rangy look of a merl who’d been on the currents too long.

She’d left Ling a week ago and swum west to the Mediterranean, then north to the Adriatic, sticking to lonely back currents the whole way. She knew that returning to Cerulea would be extremely dangerous. Before she attempted it, she wanted to get as much information as she could from the duca on the number of troops still in the city and the locations of Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница any safe houses. She hoped he might have news of her family, too. Of the Matalis. And of Blu.

“Hello?” she called out, swimming through the doorway. “Is anyone here? Blu? Grigio?”

No one answered. She moved down the hallway warily. Her fins started to prickle. As soon as she broke the surface of the duca’s pool, she knew something was seriously wrong. It was dark inside the library. There were no lamps lit, no fire blazing. She hoisted herself up on the edge of the pool, and cut her palm on a shard of broken glass.

“Ouch Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница!” she yelped, shaking her hand. “Duca Armando?” she called out. “Are you here?”

There was no answer. A dozen or so bioluminescent jellyfish were floating in the pool. She cast an illuminata over them and they lit up brightly. In their blue glow, she could see the library properly. She gasped as her eyes traveled over the broken statues and slashed paintings. Bookshelves had been pulled over and their contents trampled. Furniture had been smashed.

Suddenly, she heard footsteps. They were coming fast. Something swished through the air over her head. She flipped backward into the pool. When Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница she surfaced, she saw a pan floating on the water and a terrified woman standing at its edge.

“Filomena? It’s me, Serafina!”

“Oh, mio Dio! Che cosa ho fatto? Mi dispiace tanto!” Filomena said tearfully.

“You’re talking too fast. I can’t understand you. Do you speak Mermish?”

Filomena nodded. “Forgive me, Principessa,” she said, her voice halting and uncertain. “I no see it was you. I think Traho and his soldiers come again.” She began to cry. “The duca, he is dead. Oh, Principessa, he is dead.” She sat down heavily.

“No!” Serafina cried. With shaking arms Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница she pushed herself out of the water and sat on the pool’s edge, next to Filomena.

“It happen the night you and the Princess Neela are here,” Filomena said. “The men who came…the humans…they torture him. Then they kill him.”

Sera was stricken by guilt. “It was because of us, wasn’t it?” she said. “Neela and me. The duca died because of us.”

Filomena shook her head. “No, child. They know you escape and still they kill him. They want information. They think the duca have it.”

The talismans, Serafina thought.

“Please, Filomena Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница, it’s very important,” Serafina said as gently as she could. “The men who came here, did you hear what they said?”

Filomena pressed the heels of her hands against her brow, as if she’d like to pound the memories out of her brain. “The one man…he have sunglasses,” she said.



“Rafe Mfeme,” Serafina said.

“Yes. He shout at the duca. Same thing, over and over. He beat him…an old man, a gentle man…” She dissolved into tears again.

Serafina took her hand. “What did he say?”

“He say, ‘Where is it? Where is Neria’s Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница Stone?’ And the duca, he tell him he do not know. But Mfeme, he no believe it.”

Serafina swore silently. Now she was certain that Traho knew what the talismans were. He’d told Mfeme and sent him after them. But how did he know? Not even the Iele knew. Had he gone to Atlantis and found Lady Thalia? No, he couldn’t have. Thalia had said she’d been alone ever since the island was destroyed.

“Did Mfeme say anything else?” Serafina asked.

“No, but he take something—a painting. Of Maria Theresa.”

Serafina remembered the portrait of Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница the beautiful, sad-eyed infanta of Spain in her sumptuous clothing and magnificent jewels. She’d drowned centuries ago, when her ship was attacked by pirates.

“Do you have any idea why?” Sera asked.

Filomena shook her head.

Serafina had one more question. It took all her courage to ask it. “Do you know what happened to the Praedatori? One of them, Blu, was badly wounded.”

“No. There was big fight. Some Praedatori are hurt. Some are killed. There are bodies in the water. I cannot look at them. I am sorry.”

Her voice broke off and Serafina knew she couldn Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница’t press her any further.

“Thank you for telling me all this, Filomena,” she said. “What will you do now? Will you stay here?”

“Si, si. The duca’s son, he come from Roma soon. He is duca now. He ask me to stay.” She squeezed Serafina’s hand. “But you, you go now, Principessa. It is not safe for you here.”

Serafina hugged her and was about to say good-bye when Filomena said, “Oh, Principessa, I forget! The duca, he leave something for you.”

She hurried out of the room, then returned with a small wooden box. “He Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница give this to me. The night you and the Princess Neela come. After you go to bed. ‘In case something happen to me, you give this to the principessa,’ he say. I hide it in my kitchen under tomatoes.”

Serafina opened the box. It contained twenty gold trocus coins and a small conch. She held it to her ear. The sound of the duca’s voice made her heart clench.

My dearest Principessa,

I’ve received news tonight. Your uncle is alive and was seen at the Straits of Gibraltar. My source says he is indeed heading to Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница the North Sea to seek an alliance with the Kobold. We must wait with hope to see what the days ahead bring.

If something happens, if I am taken or killed, do not go home. Go to Matali. The Praedatori will escort you and the Princess Neela to the palace. The Matalis are stalwart friends of Miromara and will offer you sanctuary. If you will not heed my advice—and I fear you will not—know that Cerulea is a very dangerous place. Do not allow yourself to be seen. There is a safe house in the Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница fabra. 16 Basalt Street. The password is starfish.

Be brave, Principessa. Be wary. Trust no one.

Ever yours,

Armando

Serafina lowered the conch. Her Uncle Vallerio—her mother’s brother and Miromara’s high commander—was alive. Happiness and hope flooded through her. If he succeeded in his efforts with the Kobold, he’d be able to assemble an army and take Cerulea back. The sea goblins were fearsome fighters. If anyone could force the invaders out, they could.

Serafina’s happiness abruptly dimmed, however, as the memory of Ava’s vision—the one they had shared when Ava had cast Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница a convoca in the caves of the Iele—returned to her. In it, the goblins had been her foes, not her allies. She’d seen herself on a battlefield, moving soldiers into position. On the other end of the field was a goblin army. One of its soldiers had crept up behind Serafina and swung an ax at her.

Sera told herself that there was a simple explanation. There were four goblin tribes—the Feuerkumpel, the Höllebläser, the Meerteufel, and the Ekelshmutz. Perhaps one of them had sided with Traho, and it was that tribe she’d Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница been preparing to fight in the vision.

“You go someplace safe now?” Filomena asked.

“I’m going to Cerulea,” Serafina replied. Despite what the duca had advised, she knew it was what she had to do.

“How do you get there? The Lagoon is full of soldiers. You never make it like that,” Filomena said, pointing at Serafina’s swashbuckler outfit. “If you swim through Lagoon, you must look like Lagoona.”

Serafina cast an illusio songspell. Her hair turned pink.

“No,” Filomena said. “Now you look like anemone.”

Serafina cast another spell. It turned green.

“Now you look like Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница frog. Make hair black again. But long.”

Serafina tried it and Filomena smiled. She took the red silk scarf she was wearing around her neck and tied it around Serafina’s head, knotting it at the nape of her neck and letting the ends trail. Next, she went to the kitchen for her purse, and returned with a selection of makeup.

“Gogg makeup? It’ll wash off,” Serafina said.

“This makeup is waterproof. What else would Venetian lady use?” Filomena asked.

She outlined Serafina’s eyes heavily with a black kohl stick, then gave her a beauty mark. Next she painted Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница her lips a deep crimson. Lastly, she put her own gold hoop earrings in Serafina’s ears.

She stood back, appraised her work, and frowned. “The clothes, no good. Can you not make song on them, too?”

Serafina looked at her black tunic. She transformed it to a long black dress. A flowery tunic. A red gown.

Filomena shook her head at each transformation. “No, make it like this,” she said. She undid the top buttons of her blouse. Underneath it, she was wearing a pretty bustier.

“All right,” Serafina said skeptically. She sang a new songspell and the next Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница minute, the top of her tunic had become a bustier and the bottom a short, floaty skirt.

“Si! Much better!” Filomena said. “Only the top, make bigger.”

Serafina sang again. The bustier expanded and nearly slipped off her.

Filomena shook her head impatiently. “No, cara, no. La tua sfaldamento!” She placed her hands at the sides of her enormous bosom and hiked it up. “Capito?” she said.

“Make them bigger? They’re already up under my chin in this thing as it is!”

“Si! Maggiore! Bigger!” Filomena said.

Serafina tightened the bustier, then looked down at her Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница cleavage. “It looks like I have two sea mounts stuck on the front of me. With an abyss between them,” she said. She peered at her reflection in the pool water. “All I can see is my chest!”

“Buono! This is what soldati will see, too,” Filomena said. “Not the face.” She stood. “Now, you no swim like this, all elbows,” she said, mimicking Serafina’s brisk stroke. “Lagoona swim like this.” She held her head high, smiled invitingly, and led with her chest. “When in Rome, do as Romans. When in Lagoon, do as Lagoona. Swing the Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница hips! Flutter the fins!”

“I’ll try,” Serafina said uncertainly, wondering how she’d ever get her hips to sway like Filomena’s. “Thank you,” she added, putting the currensea the duca had left for her into her pocket. “For everything.”

Filomena waved her words away. “Take this,” she said, handing Serafina her makeup. “No thank me now. You thank when you get to other side.”

“If I get to the other side,” Serafina said.

Then she dove into the pool, and disappeared under the water.


“HEY, MERLIE, OVER HERE!” the death rider called to Serafina. He and some fellow soldiers were Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница floating outside a bar on the Corrente Largo, the Lagoon’s main thoroughfare, goggling at her.

Sera’s heart was slamming, but her face showed no fear. She flipped her tail at them and swam on, chest out, head high, black tresses swirling behind her like ribbonworms in a riptide.

My gods, what if they’d recognized me? she thought.

Traho’s soldiers were everywhere. Serafina knew she had to get out of the Lagoon, and fast. She thanked Neria that it was nighttime. The darkness, her makeup, and her clothing made her look totally different from the naive Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница young princess staring out from the wanted posters all over the place. The soldiers had been drinking; that helped, too. Sera saw bottles of posidonia, a sweet wine made from fermented seaweed; and brack, a frothy ale brewed from sour sea apples.

There were more whistles and catfishcalls as she swam down the current. She ignored them haughtily. Shops were open. Through their windows, she saw shopmerls briskly wrapping purchases. Cafés and restaurants were busy too. Their signs—made of tiny bioluminescents—flashed brightly. Trouncers—large jellyfish with long, dangling tentacles—floated above entrances to nightclubs, zapping Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница anyone who tried to sneak in without paying.

None of the Lagoon’s residents had been taken away, it seemed, and Serafina soon realized why—the Lagoon had become one big barracks for many of Traho’s troops, and the Lagoonas were needed to cater to them. The sight of the invaders carrying on in Miromaran waters as if they owned them put her into a seething rage.

Stay cool. You don’t have much farther to go, she told herself.

She passed another café. Two more bars. She saw a fancy wine shop up ahead in the Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница bottom of a large yellow coral. Ten yards past it was a fork in the current. She wanted the stream on the left, which led south. Once she was off the busy Corrente Largo, she’d be able to swim away fast.

Slow and steady, Serafina, she cautioned herself. One fin in front of the other. Don’t give the game away. You’re almost there.

Just as she passed the last nightclub on the current, a soldier—milling around with his friends outside it—reached out and grabbed her wrist. Startled, Serafina tried to pull free but couldn’t.

“Not Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница so fast, bella,” he said. “I feel like hearing a siren’s song tonight.”

A siren? Serafina thought, horrified. She’d obviously overdone it with the makeup and the cleavage. Sirens sang for currensea—and this walrus-faced lump thought she was one. What am I going to do? She decided to go along with him. She had no choice. She couldn’t afford to make a scene and draw attention.

“What have you caught there, Sergeant?” one of his friends shouted.

Serafina panicked. If he pulled her into the midst of his group, she was dead. She Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница might deceive one drunken fool, but the rest of the sergeant’s companions might not be so far gone. Instead of bringing her over to the others, though, the sergeant led her into the glow of a streetlamp. There was a poster of her attached to it.

Oh, no, Serafina thought. This is even worse.

“What’s your name, cara?” he asked. His breath stank. His jacket was unbuttoned and his large gut spilled out of it.

“Lisabetta,” Serafina said, trying to lead him away from the lamppost.

“Ah, a shy one, are you? Let me see Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница you,” he said, pulling her back toward the light. His eyes crawled over her. “Oh, yes. You’ll do. If your voice is half as pretty as your face, you’ll do very nicely,” he said.

Serafina prayed he wouldn’t see the wanted sign, but the gods weren’t listening. His eyes suddenly flickered from her face to the sign and back again.

“You look a little bit like the outlaw princess,” he said, lifting her chin with his finger.

“Must be because I always give my audience the royal treatment,” Serafina purred.

“How much?”

Serafina had no Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница idea. “Ten trochii,” she said.

“That’s an outrageous amount!”

Oh, thank goodness, she thought. He doesn’t have the money.

“Maybe another time,” she said, trying to move off.

“Here,” the sergeant said, handing her ten gold coins. “And it had better be worth every cowrie.” Still holding her wrist, he pulled her toward the nightclub. “Come on. Me and my mermen want a song.”

Sera had to think fast, but she was so scared, she couldn’t think at all. She had to get away. She couldn’t go through with this. The soldiers would know she Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница wasn’t a siren as soon as she opened her mouth.

Sera’s voice was strong and pretty and it carried magic well, but a siren’s voice had a very particular magic. Their voices, and the songs they sang, were so achingly beautiful that listeners forgot everything: their disappointments and heartaches, their lost loves and broken dreams. Some became so deeply enchanted they forgot their own names.

What would they do when they found out who she really was? They’d put her in irons and deliver her to Traho.

The sergeant pulled her down a dimly lit hallway. There were Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница a few sputtering lava torches on the wall. I could grab one and hit him over the head with it, she thought. But what if I miss? Or what if I manage to hit him, but don’t knock him out? He’ll shout and more death riders will come. Her fear was yammering so loudly now, it threatened to overwhelm her.

Then she heard a different voice in her head.

Think, Serafina, think. Ruling is like playing chess. Danger comes from many directions, from a pawn as well as a queen. You must play the board, not Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница the piece.

Those were her mother’s words. Isabella had said them to her on the morning of her Dokimí.

Play the board, Sera, she repeated silently to herself. Think.

She and the sergeant were approaching a set of double doors at the end of the hallway. Loud voices and laughter were coming from behind them. She tried to slow down, to stall for time, but the sergeant yanked her hard. As he did, her bag banged against her side. Something inside it rattled.

Vrăja’s gifts! The witch had given her and the other four mermaids magical Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница items right before they fled the caves: transparensea pebbles, ink bombs, and vials of potion.

Sera knew a transparensea pebble wouldn’t help her. The death riders would see her cast it. They could simply block her exit until the spell of invisibility wore off. She doubted the ink bomb would help, either. Soldiers who dealt with dragons and lava bombs wouldn’t even blink at an ink bomb.

That left the vial of potion. It’s Moses potion, from the Moses sole in the Red Sea. Sharks hate it. Maybe death riders do, too, Vrăja had said.

Why Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница did sharks hate it? What did it do? Sera wondered. There hadn’t been time to ask. She would have to release it inside the nightclub and hope it spread quickly through the water to each and every death rider. But she would be in the water too. How could she protect herself from the potion’s effects?

The sergeant pushed the doors open. Sera was out of time. She reached into her bag, pulled out the vial, and secreted it in her hand.

A loud, raucous cheer went up as the sergeant entered the room, dragging her Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница behind him. The soldiers applauded loudly. Sera forced herself to smile. The sergeant cleared a space for her by the bar, shooing all the mermen to the other side of the room. As they settled themselves, Sera folded her hands behind her back and worked the top of the vial off. She knew she had to act fast, before the noise died down.

“Help me,” she said quietly in Pesca to a stargazer swimming by. “Take this vial and pour it out in the waters above the soldiers’ heads.”

The fish fearfully darted away.

“Help me, please,” she said Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница in Tortoisha to a loggerhead turtle carrying a bottle of wine on his back. “I’m not a siren. I need to escape before they find out.”

Far too slowly the turtle said, “If…I…help…you…they’ll…kill…me….I’m…a…prisoner…here.”

Serafina felt a soft touch on her hand. She risked a glance behind her. It was an octopus.

“I’ll help you,” the creature said in Molluska, “if you get us out, too. They took us from our homes and use us as slaves. I want to see my children again.”

“I will Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница, I promise,” Serafina said.

The octopus took the vial and swam off.

The sergeant stopped speaking. He swept a hand toward Serafina. The soldiers started pounding on tables. “Sing! Sing! Sing! Sing!” they shouted.

Sera, a smile pasted on her face, held up a hand for silence. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the octopus move along the floor, pass under some tables, then creep up a wall behind the soldiers, her color blending with her surroundings. The creature tipped the vial, then swam over the death riders’ heads, trailing a milky ribbon of Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница potion behind her.

Sera desperately hoped that no one looked up. How long does it take for the Moses potion to work? she wondered.

“Whatcha waiting for, merlie? Sing!” someone shouted.

Sera tried not to show any of the panic rising up inside her. She bowed her head and slowly lifted it again—stalling for time.

“It will be my pleasure,” she said. “But first, I’d like to tell you a story about the very special song I’m going to sing for you….”

“Stuff the story, sister!” someone else yelled. “Sing!”

And then Sera saw one of the soldiers Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница frown. He nudged his companion and pointed at a wanted poster on the wall. Sera didn’t have to look closely to know whose face was on it. The soldier shot out of his chair and pointed at her. Sera’s stomach tightened with terror. It was over. He would shout out her name now. She would be seized and taken to Traho.

But that didn’t happen.

Instead of shouting, the soldier yawned. His eyes fluttered shut. He swayed back and forth, then toppled back into his chair.

Another soldier fell over, and another, until almost every merman Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница in the room was out cold. Only the sergeant was still upright.

“You…Youdidthis,” he said, slurring his words. He took a few strokes toward her, then crashed to the floor.

As Sera looked around the room, in a state of disbelief, she felt a heavy sleepiness steal over her.

That’s how the potion works! she thought.

She knew if she breathed much more of it, she would pass out, too—right here next to a hundred of her enemies. She ripped Filomena’s scarf out of her hair and tied it over her nose and mouth.

At that Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница moment, the bartender, who’d gone to the basement to fetch more wine, came back into the room. He promptly dropped the bottles. “You crazy-wrasse merl! What have you done?” he shouted, looking at the motionless bodies. “I’m not going down for this. No way,” he said. He grabbed a rag off the bar, tied it over his nose and mouth as Sera had, and then started for the door.

In the blink of an eye, Serafina had the sleeping sergeant’s speargun out of its holster. “Not another stroke or I’ll shoot Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница,” she said, training it on the barman.

He stopped short, only a foot or so from the door, and slowly turned around. As his eyes met hers, they widened in recognition.

“You’re her. The principessa.”

“Back away from the door,” Sera said. “Now.”

The merman didn’t move.

Serafina raised the speargun so it was level with his head. “You can’t spend the bounty money if you’re dead,” she said, moving closer to him.

It was a total bluff. She had no idea how to shoot the thing. But it worked. The merman backed away.

“Sit down,” Sera said Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница, motioning to a nearby chair. “Put your arms at your sides.”

The merman did so.

There was a string of tiny, twinkling lava lights behind the bar. Sera sang a vortex spell and wound the string around him, binding him to the chair.

“I can’t let you sell me to Traho,” she said.

“I would never do that, Principessa. I swear,” he protested. “I only want to help you.”

Serafina laughed, remembering how, only a few weeks ago, she had trusted a merman named Zeno Piscor and his offer of help. She glanced at the sergeant Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница who’d brought her into the club. He was still out cold.

“The royal treatment,” she said under her breath. “As if. What you got, lumpsucker, was the royal flush.”

She put the speargun down on the bar. It was too dangerous to carry. If she was stopped by another death rider, she wouldn’t be able to explain how she got it.

Moving quickly, she threw open the double doors. “Go, all of you! Get out of here before the soldiers wake up!”

The stargazer and half a dozen turtles swam by her, struggling against the effects of Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница the potion. They were followed by three octopuses.

“Thank you, Principessa!” the one who’d helped her called out. “We won’t forget this!”

Sera was just about to leave when she saw a flag hanging on the wall behind the bar. It was not Miromara’s.

“Whose banner is that?” she demanded of the barman.

“The invaders’,” he replied.

“That can’t be right,” she murmured. The flag was not Ondalina’s—a black and white orca against a red background; it was merely a black circle on a red background. What if Astrid had been telling Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница her the truth back when they were with the Iele? What if the Arctic realm wasn’t behind the invasion of Cerulea?

It’s probably a regimental flag, Sera thought.

She tore it off the wall and threw it on the floor. Then she took a bottle of wine from the bar and doused the flag, ruining it. She pulled the lipstick Filomena had given her out of her bag and scrawled Merrovingia regere hic on the wall. She used Latin, the language of history. Because she was determined to make some.

“When the sea scum come to, translate for them,” she Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница said to the barman. “Tell them what this says: the Merrovingia rule here.”

And then she was gone, out of the club and down the dark current, swimming fast for the open waters of the Adriatic. For Cerulea.

For home.


IT WAS NEARLY MIDNIGHT when Serafina reached the walls of her city—or what was left of them. The route had been difficult to navigate because familiar landmarks had been destroyed or obscured and lava globes had been broken. She’d taken a back current and swum low to avoid detection. She hadn’t seen another soul on Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница the way.

Only a few globes sputtered weakly above the East Gate now. Sera swam through the archway and stopped dead. She took a few more stumbling strokes then slowly sank through the water until she was sitting in the silt.

“No,” she said, unable to believe her eyes. “No.”

Her beloved city was in ruins.

Serafina had fled when Cerulea first fell under attack. She hadn’t witnessed the full force of the invaders’ destruction. All that remained of the thicket of Devil’s Tail that once floated protectively above the city were stumps where the vines Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница had been hacked away. Huge sections of the wall that surrounded Cerulea had caved in. The ancient stone houses that once lined the Corrente Regina were now piles of rubble. Temples to the sea gods and goddesses had been pulled down. Worst of all, a terrible silence had descended. Serafina knew that the heart of a city was its people, and Cerulea’s were gone.

Tears threatened, but she held them back. Grief was a luxury she could no longer afford. The sun would be up in only a few hours and the waters would lighten. She remembered the Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница duca’s warning not to be seen, to find a safe house. She had come here to find the locations of the talismans. That’s what would defeat her enemies. That’s what would help her people. Not sitting in the silt, crying.

She started up the Corrente Regina. There were only a few lava globes left to light her way. In their flickering half-light she could see the broken windows of looted shops and the remains of hippokamps killed in the fighting. Wild dogfish roamed in packs, feasting on carrion, or growling from the shadows.

Sera swam across Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница a deserted intersection, turned a bend, and saw the royal palace, high on its hill. It was the only building that was still illuminated. Some of the damage inflicted by the Blackclaws had been repaired, but not all of it. A large chunk of the east outer wall was still missing. Sera remembered how the dragons had battered their way through it and into her mother’s stateroom.

Scores of soldiers rode in and out of the west wing of the palace on hippokamps. They must be using it as their base, she thought. Her eyes followed the riders Copyright © 2015 by Disney Publishing Worldwide Cover photo by Rachel Elkind and Roberto Falck Cover illustration by Shane Rebenscheid and Grace Lee Cover design by SJI Associates: Endpaper maps and 4 страница. She wondered if her own hippokamp, Clio, now belonged to them. And her pet octopus, Sylvestre—had he survived the attack?

Staying in the shadows, she continued up the current until she reached the Ostrokon. Its large, ornate pediment had fallen to the sea floor, and its entrance was filled with debris. She thought about Fossegrim, the elderly liber magus, the keeper of knowledge. He would never have willingly allowed the invaders to enter this place of learning and peace. The death riders had surely killed him.

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