This is the Realm of Darkness interview series! Neri (from The Shadow of Death) will be interviewing characters from the other stories in this amazing set.
Muriel (The Mermaid and the Pearl)
Neri sits with her hands in her lap, watching the pool of water inside the cave. It is cold, and she resists the urge to hug herself. The surface of the water stirs, and she tenses.
Up slides a most peculiar head; hair as red as a flaming sunset drowning in the waters, even more glorious against the whiteness of her face. It looks very much like a human skull.
Neri clears her throat, trying to breathe deeply and evenly, securing her courage. The smell of the sea is strong, and she welcomes it. “Hello Muriel. Thank you for agreeing to talk to me about your life and your tale. Where do you live?”
Muriel’s hair floats on the water. She glances up at the cave ceiling, flushing. “I was trapped in a tank for many years, but now I travel the seven seas with the Cirque du Mer. I live out of my giant clamshell skiff as we perform for every colony of Merfolk.”
Neri tips her head. “Merfolk?” She relaxes slightly. At least she isn’t a siren. “What do you do with them?”
“I am the skeleton dancer for the Cirque du Mer. With the sound of my voice and a magic Pearl necklace, I make human skeletons dance!”
Neri blinks slowly. Is she… joking? Neri scoots backwards.
Muriel continues, folding her arms on the edge of the pool and gushing. “My days are spent either finding new skeletons and their soul’s pearl, rehearsing, traveling, and having fun with my friends Llyr, Coquina, and Coral.”
Neri purses her lips. “What do you like about what you do?”
Muriel smiles, teeth flashing in the low light. “I do enjoy boosting the morale of Merfolk throughout the seas and knowing that our circus is a cover for a most noble act: rescuing enslaved Mer.”
Neri nods; that does sound like a worthy occupation. “What don’t you like about it?”
Muriel taps her lip. “I suppose I don’t love being indebted to the circus for my freedom and don’t enjoy not having a home. Other Mer can proudly wear their seashells adorned with the moon phase of their reef, while I have to wear the new moon—meant for only orphans and former slaves.” She holds it up for Neri to see.
“Oh.” Neri brushes the sides of it, then snatches her hand back out of reach. Muriel seems friendly enough, but wariness around sirens has been ingrained in selkies and their songs for generations.
Muriel seems to be more comfortable and heaves herself onto the rocks next to Neri.
Neri forces herself to stay still, but something flashes from the hip of the mermaid. “What’s that?” she asks her.
“This?” Muriel shifts to show her. “I have a crescent moon carved into the scales on my hip signifying that I am indebted to the Moon Priestess, patron of the Cirque du Mer.” She pats it lovingly. “It was carved into my scales by Ringmaster Triton while my best friend Llyr held my hand.”
“Sounds like that might have hurt.” Neri wraps her arms around her knees. “But it also sounds like you enjoy what you do.”
“I am the star performer of the circus. I was merely a dolphin handler until one accident led Triton and Llyr to discover the magic in my voice.”
“Magic? In your voice? That sounds really interesting.” And siren-like. Neri shivers. “Is there anything in your life you regret?”
“So far, I have two regrets. I regret not being able to find my parents (and desperately hope to be reunited with them some tide). I also regret going too far with Llyr, who is my best friend. I’m afraid I may have to break his heart.”
“Oh.” Neri nods. “That can happen, if one side expects more than the other is willing to give, I suppose.” She tugs at her white hair, so straw-like compared to Muriel’s soft tresses. “Do you believe in soul mates?”
Muriel clasps her hands in front of her. “Oh, I want to believe I have a soul mate out there somewhere. Merfolk have soul mates and share their souls when they make love—it sounds beautiful. It didn’t happen for Llyr and me, and I’m concerned I will never find my soul mate.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll find the, uh… merperson for you.”
Muriel sighs. “I want to find someone who makes my soul sing and who makes me feel free.”
“Yes. Someone who makes you feel free. I like that.” Neri turns a pebble over in her hand, trying to push out thoughts of a certain shadowy figure. “Have you ever felt that way about anyone?”
Muriel’s eyes harden. “How did you find out about my secret human? Were you spying on us?” She flips her tail. “Well, if you promise not to tell anyone, I thought Yara was the most beautiful and delicate creature in all the world when I found her during the Sacrifice. I couldn’t just drown her!”
Neri’s eyes bulge. “Sacrifice?”
Muriel smiles, teeth flashing in the skull-like glimmer of her face. “We perform the Siren’s Call to sacrifice humans. The priestess then takes the humans and uses them to feed the coral beds.”
Oh, heck. “Wow, is that the time? Sorry, but I really have to go!” Neri scoots away, back to her story, leaving Muriel in hers.
The Mermaid & the Pearl by Rosalyn Briar will be included in the Realm of Darkness box set.
An underwater circus.
A magic pearl.
Love conquers death.
Set in the same world as A Sea of Pearls & Leaves, this twisted retelling of The Little Mermaid is whimsically dark and delightful.
Preorder your copy of Realm of Darkness now! https://books2read.com/RealmOfDarknessSet
About Rosalyn Briar
Rosalyn Briar is a mother and a wife living near St. Louis, MO. She is a former teacher and has many creative hobbies. Writing quickly became her passion a few years ago. The Crown of Bones is her debut novel. She loves to write dark fantasy novels that dip into the horror genre and always have a splash of romance.
Her website is https://www.rosalynbriar.com/