Fable Page 34

Mina sat up, and one hand went to her rib cage in pain. She must have been passed out for a while, because all of her clothes were dry. She looked around at her prison. She was in a cave, and the walls were covered with glowing crystals that created the luminescent light. There was a small bed, which she was lying in, a blanket, a cup, and a small pack of items by a far wall, but no obvious exit.

“What did you do to her?” he asked warily.

“You mean the girl who tried to kill me?” Mina answered.

He nodded.

“I’m not sure. I stabbed her with a piece of golden glass, and she changed,” Mina replied, trying to sound nonchalant.

He looked at her, and she felt herself shiver under his dark stare. And then she realized the difference between Nix and the woman. Where the sea witch’s eyes were an intense black, Nix’s cat-shaped eyes were bright green and still very human-looking.

“You’re different. You and her.” Mina pointed to his eyes. “Her eyes were filled with evil.”

Nix’s green skin turned an odd shade as he paled and refused to meet her gaze. He leaned forward and ran his fingers through the water as if he took comfort from its touch.

“Yes. She was seduced by our own blood.” He sighed and pulled his leg from the water, and leaned his chin on his knee. “Water witch, sea witch, nixies…we are all one and the same. Cursed by our own desires, so most think of us as evil. But I tell you, we are not born that way. We are gentle creatures. Once we reach a certain age, our power over water fades and we become desperate, thirsty for that power again. And then we have to make a choice: to eventually lose our connection with water, grow old, and die, or begin drowning and killing innocents to feed on and live forever.”

Fear raked through her body. Her eyes searched the cave again, looking for another way out, until it dawned on her. The water-filled hole. The only way out was through the water, and Nix was blocking the way.

Nix could see her fear and raised his voice. “Yes, but not all of us are like that! Look at me! Look at my eyes. I’m not like her. I’ve not become seduced by lust for power. Raina wasn’t always like that, either.” Nix looked so heartbroken and alone that she couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.

“What happened between you?”

“We were in love once. We made a promise to each other to grow old and die together. To not give in to the curse of our race. We thought we were stronger than the temptation, which usually surfaces once we reach adulthood. But then one day last year, I found her crying in the shallows of the water. She could no longer hear the fishes’ thoughts, or speak to the tadpoles. No matter how much she sang to them, they never answered. I told her it was okay, she could still speak to me. She was older than I am, so it affected her first. It’s scary, to see a curse affect someone you love and knowing that it would be my fate as well.”

“Yes, it is,” Mina said, thinking of her own troubles.

Nix nodded; he was lost deep in thought. She thought he was done, but he turned his head, and she could see that there was a tear sliding down his delicately scaled cheek.

“I told her we would suffer together, that I would always be there for her until our very end. Then I awoke one morning to a song—her song, and I knew. I knew she had made her choice, and I didn’t stop her. I could have. I knew what she was doing, but I refused to watch. I was scared. I was scared that I would join her and turn, too.” He sniffed and then looked up proudly into Mina’s eyes. His deep green eyes filled with tears. “But I haven’t.”

Mina couldn’t help but feel sorry for Nix and Raina’s lost love, and wiped at the corner of her eye as a tear began to manifest.

“She is no longer the Raina I knew and loved. She is a monster, a true sea witch, and I am cursed to die alone.”

“And I’m cursed to die during a fairy tale, so we won’t go out alone.” Mina laughed softly.

Nix leapt up from the water’s edge and stumbled away from her. “You’re a Grimm! Here on the Fae plane.”

“Yes, and you’re a nixie. So what?”

“But—but there are too many tales involving us and Grimms, and we are the ones who end up dead. I don’t want to be a part of that.”

Mina sighed loudly. “I think it’s already too late. If you didn’t want to get involved, you should have let me drown.”

He stood there, silent, before he nodded in agreement. “Yes. You’re right. I should have let you drown.” He dove into the water, and like a fish shot through the murky depths and disappeared. Mina went to the water’s edge and looked into the darkness, and knew that he’d abandoned her to die.

Chapter 21

Mina picked up the cup that Nix had been trying to coerce her to drink from and dropped it into the watery abyss, counting how many seconds it took before she could no longer see it. It disappeared into the blackness after three. Who knew if there even was a bottom? She sat back on her heels and tried to not panic. They were probably in an underwater cavern that was only accessible from, well, under the water. But what if there was a maze of caverns. If she could hold her breath long enough, she might be able explore or find a way out. Or she might drown in her attempts.

What to do? She chewed on her bottom lip as she looked around the small cave and contemplated her options. This was not the time to break down and cry. This was the time to be smart. Mina went to Nix’s pack and dug through the items he had left behind. He had a few small sacks with shells in them, some twine, a knife, and a lidded jar with some blue liquid in it.

A plan began to form in her mind, and she took the knife, went to the cavern wall, and began to dig out one of the glowing stones. Again and again she scraped, hit, and pried at only the red and green stones, being careful to separate them into two piles.

When she had what she thought was a sufficient amount, she dumped out the bag filled with shells and replaced them with the stones. She washed out the jar, phoenix feather inside it, resealing it with the wax and twine. When fully dry and protected from the water, the feather created a warm glowing light inside the jar. She had gotten the idea from Jared’s Coke bottle. When the feather became wet, the fiery light burned down to almost nothing until it was fully dry again.

Mina then went to work on making a weapon out of the shard of the Stiltskin’s glass. She found a piece of wood and attached the glass shard to it by wrapping it with more twine, creating a small knife. She made a sheath out of seaweed, and attached the knife and sheath to her thigh with twine. Mina was pretty proud of her ingenuity and was ready to test out her plan.

She took off her shoes and jacket. After tying her hair back with a piece of string she found and using more of the string, she attached the two sacks and the jar with the phoenix feather to her shorts. She then took her first plunge and gasped at how cold the water was against her skin. The water could only be this cold if the cavern was really deep. Mina took a couple of dunks and started to practice deep breathing and counting how long she could hold her breath. She refused to die in an underground cave on the Fae plane alone. She had to save her brother.

Confident that she could hold her breath for at least a minute, she took one last look around the cave before taking a breath and beginning her escape. It was dark, and the jar with the feather created a beautiful warm glow against the shadows. She could see at least two paths, and who knew how many more after that. She was going to have to leave a breadcrumb trail back to this cave if she got lost.

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