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Al The Great . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 4

“I command you to release those unfortunate creatures back to the water!”The man looked up, squinting in the noon-light. 

“Go home, boy.  No child commands me in that tone.”

“I’m no mere child!” Alex called back, incensed.

Heph came to stand beside him.  “This is one of King Phillip’s sons.  I’d do as he says if I were you.  Unless you desire trouble with the king himself!”

The other captain merely raised an eyebrow.

“You’ll forgive me for not believing the word of two children.  If you’ll excuse me, I’ve a livelihood to earn.”

Al gritted his teeth as the man turned back to his men as they pulled yet another gasping merchild over the side of the boat.  Al thought he could see small slits running along the child’s neck.  Gills, he realized.

“We have to move quickly,” he said to Heph and Lem, not caring who overheard.  He called for his captain.

“We’re boarding,” he said quietly when Nestor was close enough.

The captain frowned.

“Yes, my prince.”

Al smiled grimly.

“Don’t fret, captain.  We’re working on Poseidon’s behalf.  He shall protect us.”

“Very well, my prince.”

The captain directed the rowers to maneuver the boat alongside the other craft.  Heph, Lem, and half of the rowers followed Al onto the other boat.

“Help them!” Al commanded, pointing to the struggling figures on the deck.  Several of the men seized them, dragging them to port, dropping them into the water below.  Al reached for the closest one, a mergirl with green-tinged brown braids.  She was heavier than he expected, but he managed to drag her to the boat’s side and heave her into the water.  The strangers looked up; they let go of their nets and started towards the intruders, many reaching for weapons.

“Don’t be foolish,” Nestor barked.  “We outnumber you.  Submit peacefully, and we’ll leave you alive.  Pray Poseidon might be so merciful.”

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