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Authors: Gwyneth Rees

The Shell Princess

BOOK: The Shell Princess
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In memory of my father and grandfather

   Contents   

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

   Chapter One   

Rani’s long red hair streamed out behind her as she swam through the clear, warm water of Tingle Reef. She was going to visit her friend, Morva, who lived in a floating
cave on the edge of the reef. To get there you had to swim past a sea-cactus with blue flowers and then carry on until you came to a needle-shaped bush which pointed up towards the magic rock where
Morva lived.

Morva was a magic mermaid, just like Rani. Both of them had orange tails and long red hair, unlike the other mermaids who had blonde hair and green tails. Morva had been teaching Rani how to use
her special powers ever since Rani had discovered that she could do magic too.

As she entered Morva’s cave, Rani stopped to stare at the painting on the wall. It showed a red-haired mermaid swimming down through what looked like a giant burst of golden light.

“You look thoughtful,” said Morva, swimming up behind her.

“I was just wondering,” Rani said, “if you ever miss your old home.”

Although Morva had lived in Tingle Reef for a very long time, she had not been born there. She had grown up in a secret place, far away in the Deep Blue, where magic mermaids lived. The giant
golden light in the picture was the entrance to the magic mermaids’ home.

“Sometimes I do,” Morva said. “Sometimes I dream about it.”

“I wish I could remember it,” sighed Rani.

Rani had been found in Tingle Reef as a baby – inside a Giant Clam-Shell – and she had lived there ever since. She had been adopted by a family who she loved very much, but she had
always felt curious about the place she had really come from.

“That mermaid looks
so
beautiful,” Rani said, still gazing at the picture. “I hope I look like her when I grow up.”

“Perhaps you’ll look like me,” Morva teased.

“Oh, no!” said Rani at once. “I could never look as beautiful as you!”

Morva’s red hair stretched to the tip of her tail and shone so brightly that Morva could always be spotted in dark water from a long way away. Not that the water in Tingle Reef was ever
dark – it was a lovely clear blue colour which made the reef such a wonderful place to live. But Rani had made a few trips with Morva into the Deep Blue, and she had noticed that the darker
the water became, the more Morva’s hair seemed to glow.

“Just like my pendant,” Rani thought, looking down at it. Rani’s amber pendant was a gift from her grandmother, and it seemed to glow against Rani’s skin. It wasn’t
just any necklace – it was a message-stone.
Her
message-stone. Magic mermaids use message-stones to see their families when they became separated from them. Rani had learned by looking
into her message-stone that her true parents had died when she was a baby, but that she had a twin brother. When she looked in her message-stone and saw his red hair and twinkly eyes looking back
at her, she could hardly wait to meet him.

“Morva,
when
will you take me there?” Rani asked, gazing longingly at the painting.

“I told you, Rani,” Morva replied. “When your magic is stronger.”

“But my magic is strong now,” Rani protested. “I’ve been practising really hard. Look!” And she closed her eyes and concentrated on turning the water in
Morva’s cave from crystal clear to bright pink. When she opened her eyes the water was orange.

“Oh dear,” Morva laughed, quickly turning it back again.

Rani felt silly and feeling silly made her cross. “It’s not fair!” she said, banging the end of her tail impatiently against the floor of the cave. “
Why
do I have
to keep waiting?”

Morva stopped laughing. Rani was usually very good-tempered. “I didn’t realize it was upsetting you so much, Rani,” she said gently. “I know how hard you’ve been
practising your magic and it’s getting stronger all the time. But I didn’t think there was any need to rush. I thought you were happy here in Tingle Reef.”

“I
am
happy here,” replied Rani. “But I really want to meet
him
!” She held the pendant in her hands and looked inside at the face of her brother. “He
misses me just as much, I know he does. I have to find him!”

“Listen carefully, Rani,” Morva said, looking at her gravely. “The first thing you have to realize is that your brother may not be where we think he is. If your parents put you
inside a Giant Clam-Shell in order to keep you safe, they probably did the same with your brother. He might not have been found by his own people. Like you, he may have been adopted by a different
group of mermaids, and if so he could be anywhere.”

Rani shook her head. “Morva, I just know he got back safely,” she said. “I can
feel
it.”

Morva paused, as if she was thinking really hard about something. “There’s something else you should know,” she said. “Another reason you might not be ready to make the
journey back yet.” She swam over to the painting and placed her hand over the place where the golden light seemed to be rising out of the sea-bed. “Watch carefully,” she
commanded.

As Rani watched, a gold line started to appear all by itself, on top of the picture. “What is it?” she gasped.

“Look more carefully,” Morva told her, as the line spread.

BOOK: The Shell Princess
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