LOR: Still Waters

Today I am again introducing you to another of my most anticipated prompts of the 2015: DRitC Event. This time it is Kathleen’s mer-prompt!

There is so much to get excited about with this prompt. Firstly, the picture Kathleen chose absolutely demands a story. I’m usually more about the prompts than the pictures, but in this case the picture speaks eloquently enough on its own! I mean — look at him! Also, the prompt. I’m not a big fan of simple prompts either. I need a hook. Kathleen’s excitement, however, is contagious: I only have two words for you: ginger merman! Everything else is up to you. See what I mean? The scope is endless, there are so many possibilities here!

Still Waters cover

But with so many possibilities, there is a risk of the story drifting without clear direction. No worries there. The prompt was snagged by Alex Gabriel, of Love for the Cold-Blooded fame. From the very first extract shared on the discussion thread, Alex owns this story! Drakjan shrugs off legs to walk on land with a laconic resignation I found utterly compelling, while the humour and the hint of mystery introduced by the beavers and their habit of collecting corpses had me wanting more. Finally, Drakjan’s song hints at both melancholy and passion. He is such an individual, in fact, that it was days after reading the first extract before I realized that Still Waters has a lot in common with my prompt this year!

Want to share the excitement? Alex has kindly allowed me to repost the first extract here:

The beavers had multiplied again, and were busy building yet another secondary dam a few kilometers further down the river. They’d also dragged a corpse to the top of their primary dam and covered it up in twigs and mud. Drakjan didn’t understand why beavers deposited carcasses on top of dams – it made no sense. Quite apart from the fouling of the water, a human corpse was large enough to attract dangerous predators. The beavers could just as easily have dragged the thing onto dry land and buried it there.

But that was beavers for you: Extremely useful… impossibly stubborn.

At least this time, none of them had migrated to the tributary that fed into his lake. Drakjan wasn’t about to put up with a dam changing the pleasant currents and energies of his lake and getting in the way of fish, and he was glad he wouldn’t have to spend weeks chasing off beavers to prevent just that.

With a long-suffering sigh, Drakjan expelled the water from his lungs and shrugged on legs, climbing painstakingly up the banks as close to the dam as he could get. The air was unpleasantly thin when he inhaled a breath of it, and the lack of substance against his body gave him goosebumps. A nearby beaver kit floated on the other side of the dam, almost completely submerged except for its small, suspicious eyes. It didn’t retreat into its lodge, clearly used to his scent and presence.

The water-logged branches of the dam cut the soles of his feet unpleasantly as he made his way to the twig-obscured heap of the corpse. At least it hadn’t been dead for long, so Drakjan could drag it onto dry land without much of a mess. He grumbled to himself as he tugged it through the thick brambles at the water’s edge, dry twigs and thorns catching on the corpse’s clothes and Drakjan’s skin.

“The water rushed, the water swelled, a fisherman sat nigh,” he sang, rather than dwelling on the feeling of mossy forest mulch underneath his feet. It had been a while since he’d been out of the lake, and it always took some time to get used to breathing and walking. He hadn’t remembered how soft and vulnerable legs were, either. “Tempts not this river’s glassy blue, so crystal, clear and bright?”

Maybe he should have taken the time to go back for his clothes, but it hadn’t occurred to him, and seemed too much of a bother now. Oh well, not like it was a big deal. The scratches would heal when he threw off the legs.

“To him she said, to him she sung, the river’s guileful queen…” Singing, at least, was pure pleasure; nothing made him as happy as raising his voice and filling the empty air with sound and beauty. The way a melody could lift and carry in this element, the way his voice rang and resonated, deep and powerful and clear… this pure, joyous and aching beauty. This was the one thing he truly loved about breathing air. “Half in he fell, half in he sprung, and never more was seen.”

If you are anything like me, you are currently wondering how on earth you are going to wait for summer to be able to read this. Never fear, you have options! Alex’s LOR discussion thread is one that I constantly return to. In addition to some highly enjoyable banter (I may be biased), the second extract is incredible, I highly urge everyone to read it! If that is not enough, then you can read about Alex’s upcoming projects at alexgabriel.net or check out Alex’s published books.

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