Scales: A Falling in Deep Collection novella by Pauline Creeden, published on May 26, 2015
Verona is a bottom feeder. She is the one mer in her clan who is considered the ugliest and least intelligent. Growing up with the constant bullying and abuse wasn’t the worst of what her kind had in store for her. At seventeen years old, she must now endure “The Reckoning.” The scales will measure her worth to her clan. Will she endure thirty days as a land-walker to gather information and knowledge to appease her clan and return a valued member? Will she wait three years, until she is twenty, and find a mer of her kind to accept her and marry her? Or will she suffer exile for the rest of her life?
TO KEEP FROM SCREAMING, I bite hard on my lip. The copper mixture of blood and saltwater mingles on my tongue. Mer claws rake against my back. The barnacles on the post to which I’m tied stab me in the chest. Pain sets my body on fire. Everything burns. I squeeze my eyes shut tight and keep my silence. “Ugly.” “Repugnant.” “Unsightly.” “Ignorant.” “Bottom Feeder.” Each word cuts as deep in my flesh as the physical wounds my clan inflicts. It can’t last long. I can endure this. As soon as the sharks catch scent of my blood they will come, and the Mer will scatter. The world spins around me like a whirlpool. My breaths come quick and shallow, my heart pounds faster in my ears. Each second is an eternity, until I realize fresh wounds are not adding to the burning in my skin. The elder’s sharp tongue whispers in my ear. “Now you will be measured.” My wrists fall free of the post as he cuts the ties. Exile. My Reckoning has begun.
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