Today we have an excerpt of Heather McLaren’s book, Mythos.
About the Book
About the Author
The moonlight illuminated the moss growing along the Bimini Road and silvered the fish nibbling at the waving sea grass.
Faren approached the massive limestone blocks and placed her hands atop one of them, and within seconds, a faint blue glow surrounded her fingertips, lighting up the water around her. The stone ground away, revealing the entrance to the realm of the mers, reuniting her world with the human world for the briefest of moments.
She made her way through the breach with ease and down the two hundred-foot shaft sheltered beneath the sea floor. The algae lining the tunnel glowed like submerged sapphires, guiding her deeper. Once Faren made it to the sandy bottom, the flat stone moved back into place.
She slipped into a current that thrust her into the depths of a magical, walled underwater river. She raced toward Atlantis at an incredible rate, plunging around sharp corners and soaring over deep trenches. A heavy sprinkling of quartz, resembling stars plucked from the sky, covered the walls around her. Fish caught in the current leading away from the city raced past.
When the river released her, she swam the length of the corridor. A soft light twirled and tumbled up ahead. Faren followed it, swimming beneath the coral and crystal archway to the edge of the mighty cliff overlooking Atlantis. The underwater sun, now dimmed by nightfall, brought the city to life with a vivid mixture of orange and blue, purple and pink. The massive mountain range, encasing Atlantis on three sides, dwarfed the city. Beyond the harbor of these mighty giants, miles of sand ventured on until colliding with the walls of the cavern.
The two-story marble homes were submerged memories of their former selves. Their proud gardens and beautiful fountains had disappeared long ago, devoured by the powdery dunes. Now, sea lilies took up residence in the sandy yards. They crawled from house to house, dragging their wispy stalks behind them. Their many vibrant arms waved around them in a rainbow array.
The roads crisscrossing this side of the island brandished worn down way markers and old torches. Feather duster fans of beautiful hues–blue and red, purple and yellow–enveloped these surfaces like a brilliant carpet.
Faren heard the low ululation of a siren. The alarm had been sounded. The High Council only used the sirens in times of great peril. Faren sensed a thousand jumbled thoughts around her. Had the humans found them? Was it a sea demon attack? Faren hurried to follow the mers flocking to the temple.
The sacred building rested on the outermost edge of the city, ancient, but clean and whole. The courtyard around it was flanked by the remains of stone columns demolished by the sinking. The temple itself was still beautiful, carved of white and blue larimar that shimmered beneath the Atlantis night sun.
With their spears held high to ward off evil, two fifty-foot human statues stood just beyond the entrance.
Two–there were four here last night.
Where the other two once stood, there were now only piles of broken sandstone and coral.
A familiar voice shouted over the sounds of the frightened denizens. “Faren… Faren!”
Faren saw Luna in the crowd and swam over and hugged her. “Have you seen my father?”
“How about Cindel?”
“I haven’t seen your sister all day.”
“What’s going on?” Faren scanned the mers around them for any glimpse of her family. “Why have we been called here?”
Luna shrugged. “I have no idea.” She twitched her red and black tail from side to side nervously.
The voices around them stilled and Faren looked to see why.
The High Council emerged from the temple carrying coral scepters of their ancient ancestors and wearing larimar crowns.
Salene’s bright yellow tail propelled her beyond her fellow council members, Thaden and Servio.
“We float before you one less council member.” Faren could hear the quaver in her telepathic voice. “A sea demon murdered Abrielle earlier this afternoon off the coast of Bimini. Her escort survived, but just barely.”
Gasps erupted from the crowd.
Servio put his arm around Salene’s shoulders and whispered something to her. A few seconds later, she faced her subjects again. “My twin sister loved Atlantis.” She paused, shutting her eyes tight. “She loved each and every one of you. I… I…” Salene broke down. “I can’t,” she said through invisible tears, “I’m sorry.” Without saying another word, she swam back into the temple.
Thaden came forward, his long, dark hair billowing around his face. He clasped his hands behind his back and gave everyone a stern look. “The murder of our beloved Councilor, Abrielle, is not where the crisis ends,” he said. “We have been robbed. The crystal that fuels our sun is missing, and as you all know, Atlantis cannot survive without it. Two temple guards were killed during the robbery, and we think a sea demon is to blame.”
Faren couldn’t summon her own thoughts–her head was full of the frightened voices of the other mers. She tried to follow individual conversations, but with everyone speaking at once, it was impossible.
“The cold war we’ve shared with the sea demons for the last ten thousand years is over,” Thaden intoned. “In light of these vicious turn of events, I declare a state of war.” The crowd’s excited chatter escalated and Thaden raised his hand for silence. “Pavire has been notified of our predicament and their High Council has issued a similar declaration.”
“We must behave as if the sea demon is still with us,” Servio interrupted him. “Even if this fear turns out to be unfounded, we need to be prepared for anything. Since we don’t know when the crystal was taken, we cannot be certain how long we have until our sun dies.” He swam into the crowd. “Our warriors will invade Pandora and retrieve the missing crystal!” he screamed suddenly, making those around him jump. “With these monsters’ dwindling numbers, their fighting force could never hold a candle to the one thousand willing souls we’ll be sending to Pandora. Atlantis will go on!” He and Thaden swam back into the temple, leaving the citizens to ponder over the biggest question of their lives–would they see another Atlantis sunrise?
Harmony joined Faren and Luna at the back of the crowd. “What are we going to do?” she asked, moving her dark hair out of her face. “Pavire isn’t big enough to hold us all. The mers left homeless will have to live among the island dwellers.” An extra set of deformed dwarf fins protruded from the side of her pink and orange-splotched tail, swishing in sync with her flukes. “If only we knew where Cronin was,” Luna broke in. “I can’t believe we still haven’t found it after all this time.” She fidgeted with her pearl and seashell necklace, something she always did when she was anxious.
Harmony was right about Cronin–they needed it now more than ever–but the location of the city became a mystery centuries ago. As if someone had moved it, poof, just like that, it was gone. Atlantis and Pavire had sent warriors on countless missions to find the missing civilization, but they came up empty-handed every time.
While the girls talked among themselves, Teegan and Tristan swam up. <
“Can you believe this?” Tristan asked, looking around in amazement. “I wonder how the High Council expects our warriors to break into Pandora. The sea demons have to be on high alert for retaliation.”
“I’m supposed to go to Pavire to stay with my grandmother later today,” Teegan said. “If this mess isn’t cleaned up by then, you and your families are welcome to join me.”
“Hopefully it won’t come to that,” Tristan said, “but we’ll definitely take you up on your offer if we need to. The big question is what do we do in the meantime?”
Luna interceded with the best suggestion yet. And the most dangerous. “I think we should follow the warriors,” she declared. “We can’t put all of our trust in the High Council.”
Tristan was quick to side with his sister. “She has a good point. I say we do it.”
Faren didn’t need time to think about her response. Images of her family and friends made up her mind for her. “Me too,” she announced with conviction.
Harmony followed suit without argument.
“All right,” Teegan said. “We’re all in agreement then.”
The brave mers swam over the continental shelf, concealed by their gift of camouflage. The Gulf Stream blew their hair around, but their supernatural strength moved them forward with very little effort.
The sea demons were everywhere, climbing the sheer rock wall like monkeys and attacking fish caught in the current.
As they descended into the great abyss, Faren stared down into the depths to the evil hidden below. Furia, queen of the demons, still slumbered, and she would continue to sleep until the day of reckoning.
Please, don’t be today, Faren repeated in her head.
“Stay alert,” Harmony called out. “Pandora’s close.”
Six hundred feet beneath the surface of the sea, the city came into view, tucked into the side of a bluff. A metal gate separated the sea demons’ lair from the outside world, but to the mers’ surprise, it was still wide open.
The heroic band of Atlanteans were already battling their way through the enemy, and looked to be winning their fight until another wave of sea demons rushed from the city. Now the tables were turned, and the mers were on the losing end. Because these brave souls were too courageous to use their gift of invisibility, the monsters slaughtered them easily.