TITLE: Mermaid's Blood
GENRE: Young Adult fantasy
“Go ahead, kill me,” the small boy said, gripping his sword between fingers still rounded with baby fat. A thin circle of gold gleamed through his shock of dark hair. “The clan will never accept you as their leader.” Though only four, Prince Theo spoke clearly, his cherubic face glaring defiantly at the soldier who towered over him.
Theo’s mother put both hands on the boy’s shoulder as if to help steady his resolve. “This is not what my husband would have wanted, Belino,” Queen Jessamine said. Her wide green eyes shone bright against her pale olive skin. “He made you commander of his army. He trusted you to protect us!”
Belino laughed, amused by the boy’s heroics and the Queen’s sentimental naiveté. He shook his head at the Queen before turning his eyes back to the boy. The sword-wielding child looked enough like him to be his own son, Belino thought, their hair and eyes matching shades of black, their tails matching shades of green. His own tail flicked steadily back and forth like a metronome, the emerald scales flashing with each swish.
Finally he smiled, looking down at the boy staring up at him. “Your father’s accidental death was a shock to us all, Your Highness,” he told Prince Theo, sarcasm dripping from his every word. “But the Adluo clan needs more than a boy to lead us to victory in the coming war. You may bear the Mark, but it is I who should be King.”