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Oxfordshire, Avashire, Yorkshire, Devonshire, Wentleshire; nearly all of our main cities end in –shire. No one seems to know why. “It’s just always been that way, Shelby,” said my geography tutor. Of our 17 main cities, only two are not like the others: Atlantis and Bermuda (and both just happen to be in the Atlantic Ocean). My father has plans to dedicate his next city after me; “Shelshire” is my best guess but I don’t know much else. I don’t really like the idea of a whole city with a part of my name. But even for being the Crown Princess, it’s because I'm a girl no one tells me much.

This year for Yuletide my mother gave each of us our own little diaries. I am very excited because this coming year will be my thirteenth, which means I will pass into womanhood. Mother says that as soon as I am officially presented to the people, then Father will start looking for a husband. I have made it clear that if I'm to marry, I am the one to rule; not the husband.

Later

While we, ourselves, are mythical, we have many of our own stories from the past. I find it a shame that they are not all written in books. I said this to Mother over the mid-day meal. She suggests that maybe I write one of these books. “I've always said that you’ve a gift for writing, Shelby. Why not write the book in our Mermish and, when you are ready, I will hire a language tutor so you can also make a copy in English.” “But why must I learn English, Mother? It is so long, complicated and nearly unintelligible underwater.” I say to her without the tone of defiance. Father speaks up, “If you know the stories as well as you say you do, Shelby, you should remember that I was raised by humans for the first 13 years of my life. I still have a good opinion towards those who took me in and then were willing to give me back when the time came. Some day, I hope that both of our people can work together without fear & in peace.” I had felt very shameful after that. I apologized to Father but I don’t think that he was really listening by that point.

Father seems very distracted a lot lately. I'm not the only one to notice this... Mother appears worried & is short tempered. My companion, Kayla, tells me that there’s a rumour of an up-rising in the South Seas. I may not know much but what I do know is that the last thing our people need is another civil war!

December 31st, 2011 ~ Still at Sydnishire

Father has decided to extend our stay here until the end of March instead of leaving when we usually do at the end of Yuletide, 3 weeks from now. It seems like a last minute change of plans because even Mother appeared surprised by this!

I am totally ok with the extended stay because then I get to spend more time working on my tan and gathering coral to make beads. Mother says that along with my gift for writing, I also have a good eye for beadwork. I agree with the writings but a gift for beadwork? Really? I don’t always see it that way. It’s just one more lady-like craft for me to learn in order to become Queen some day. Hmm... A couple years ago, Father brought back an old tradition of a market day during Yuletide (which lasts three weeks) and Mother encouraged me to set up a booth selling many of the beadwork pieces I had done over the year. I make more than what my small family can wear so most of the time, I end up selling my extra pieces to the Royal Council, their families and sometimes to visiting officials. They are always praising my work as extraordinary even though they all appear similar to the ones done by the apprentices in the villages. For that market day, Mother had set me up in the block with all of the other jewellery venders and by mid-day, I had sold nearly every piece! Mother & my two younger sisters got the last pieces & I took special orders for people who still wanted them. Those orders kept me busy with beadwork for nearly three months! When Mother brought up the Market Day idea again for this year, everyone was going to be disappointed because not only had I not done any beadwork for a while so I had no samples but the day before, I caught a nasty head cold & was ordered to bed rest by the royal doctor. Luckily, with all of the best wishes from the people I had recovered enough to celebrate the rest of Yuletide with my family. I am hoping that this next year can be different. Mother says that with our extra time here, I can save up a lot more beads & make a lot more pieces. I don’t mean to sound vain but seeing my pieces on other people gives me pride and sometimes I wonder if this is how I am going to feel all of the time as Queen. The royal scribe has slipped me some extra paper so that I can start designing my brand new royal jewellery that I plan to wear for my presentation ceremony in less than four months (my birthday is April 18th).

January 3rd, 2012 ~ Wiltshire, coast of California USA

Sadly, our extended stay in Sydnishire did not last very long. In fact, we had to be secretly moved in the dark of night (mind, 100 fathoms below the sea one can’t really tell the difference other than more magical lights lit during the day). News had arrived from Downshire (southern most point, on the east coast of South America) that a revolution had been initiated by rebels. Mother has finally started telling me details: we are going from here to the Panama Canal & we will sneak in the locks along with a cruise ship that will be passing through there in a couple of weeks. The ship departs from a port in a city called Los Angelis, sorry if spelled wrong. We will ALL be swimming along underneath the haul of the ship as it passes through the many “stations” of the canal. I've traveled it many times before; Panama Canal is the fastest route from Wiltshire to Bermuda; otherwise we’d have to go all of the way around South America, straight into the rebels! Father does not want to take the risk of an ambush at Panama so we leave here in the morning. I could have kept going but my little sisters (& Mother) begged for a rest. Father appears more worried than usual. I do what I can for him & Mother but I am still too young to really understand. Mother worries that I might be “growing up too fast” but all I want to do is to prove to Father that I can be Queen one day & rule.

January 18th, 2012 ~ Pacific Ocean side of Panama Canal

We beat the cruise ship to the canal so Mother insists we wait for them before making the pass. There is a small village here, called Panshire, but it is smaller than even our Arctic Circle cities. Here, we find that everyone is still loyal to Father and we are all able to relax for the first time in weeks. On the journey here from Wiltshire, I was able to work on a few pieces of jewellery but not my “special” pieces. These were more plain ones and yet, nearly everyone wanted one. I was able to trade one of the necklaces for some tropical scallop sea shells that are my favourite. Those, I plan to use in my “special” pieces. I am still sorting all of my coral beads & pearls; the ‘perfect’ ones go into a white canvas bag to be used in the “special” pieces while the lesser go into a darker blue canvas bag to be used in the rest. I have already placed my new scallop shells into the white bag for safe keeping & I did not dare unpack anything other than this in case we have to leave at a moment’s notice.

January 20th, 2012 ~ Bermuda!

We are here together, safe and sound... or so I thought! Father now says that we can’t stay here. “We must move on to Berkshire and quickly,” I heard him say to Mother. “Berkshire?! Whatever for? Why must we go all of that way?” she asked him, filled with great concern. “Berkshire is so far north, these rebels are not accustomed to the cold. They will not follow, kidnap and use you as ransom against me. You & the children must stay there until I can arrange a peace agreement. I will be with you until Hampshire but you will go onto Berkshire while I will go on to Atlantis. When I have done this, I will join you and then we will go to Ayrshire & then onto Oxfordshire. I won’t know how long this will take so gather whatever beadwork, weaving, sewing & metalworking supplies you can along the way. Whatever happens, we will still have Shelby’s presentation.” When I heard that part, I nearly burst out in tears of sheer happiness. No matter what would happen, Father would insist that tradition continues on. I have confided this information to Kayla & swore her to secrecy. She has agreed to help wherever & whenever she can. I only hope that Father will not send her away when we go from Hampshire to Berkshire!

January 31st ~ Yorkshire, the coast of NYC, USA

Again, we are only here for a rest stop. Mother & my sisters appear exhausted and I know that Father worries about them as much as I do. Mother’s ladies are completely in the dark as to what is going on so they are not as much help as Kayla. All along the journey from Bermuda to here, Kayla helped me gather more coral, pearls & sea shells to do my “extraordinary” beadwork; Kayla helped me & my sisters gather bits of cloth from sunken ships and she helped me make new warmer clothes for everyone.

Father has not spoken to me about Kayla yet. I hold out my hope that she’ll be allowed to stay with me!

February 5th ~ Cheshire, the coast of Nova Scotia, CAN

We are only here for a couple hours of sleep. While we usually spend the Canadian winter months in the tropics, one begins to forget how cold it can get, even for being under the sea!

February 21st ~ Hampshire, the coast of Plymouth, England

We arrived here in the hours of the very early morning. It’s colder here than in Cheshire! We have to be especially careful in the shallows because the ice is so thick this year, according to Father.

He says that Kayla will be allowed to accompany us onto Berkshire if that is what Mother wants. Kayla & I went to speak to Mother right away and Mother said yes! Kayla was thrilled to learn of this; Mother has written a short letter for Father to take with him for Kayla’s mother & Father promises to bring back a response when he can.

March 14th ~ Berkshire, the coast of Rynda, Russia

It is so cold here! It’s about as bad as Cheshire and Hampshire put together! Mother is so glad that I had the right of mind to prepare some warmer clothes. She has all of her ladies doing the same thing now, as best as we can with nearly-numb fingers. We miss Father so terribly already & we worry about him every moment.

March 15th ~ Still at Berkshire

Barely here a day and we are all already bored! Kayla tries to cheer me up by encouraging me to work on my “special” pieces. “Your birthday is only just a month from now and you’ve barely started! You need to focus your mind on one task. Much more can be accomplished in beadwork than your writing in your diary. I don’t mean to sound out of rank, miss... I am worried for all of us too,” Kayla said to me when I spoke of my boredom. I am always wondering how Father is doing, wherever he is. If he is at Atlantis, I can just imagine him sitting in Grandmother’s private chamber, on one of her cushions, her working on some cloth and giving him comfort like my Kayla does for me. Having friends is a million times better than having enemies.

March 19th ~ Still at Berkshire

And still bored... Kayla appears distracted as well as I try to work on my special pieces but finally even she can’t concentrate; leaves the pieces in the pouch & wanders out into the courtyard to swim laps. Mother says that swimming laps helps one to warm up. I’d rather just keep the magic fire going all day & night.

March 31st ~ AGAIN still at Berkshire

I was so bored, I could not write but I do know. Father has arrived! The Rebels have agreed to not lay a hand or a tail against the Royal Family so that we can be moved to a warmer location. We leave for Ayrshire in the morning; I will be so glad when we are back into warmer waters. Mother appears ill from her extended stay in the Arctic Circle.

April 12th ~ Ayrshire, the coast of Nalychevo, Russia

We are all together and safe. Mother is now in panic-mode; she’s worried that nothing will be ready for my birthday in time, plus we still have yet another city to make before then. Mother is insisting that we not stay here long; she wants to be at Oxfordshire in plenty of time. I am finally starting to feel nervous & excited about my birthday.

April 15th ~ Oxfordshire, the coast of Papua New Guinea

Mother says that we will be here for my birthday/presentation and Grandmother arrives this afternoon! Everyone is in an excited frenzy. My “special” pieces are nearly done & Mother is very impressed. She never had any idea of what I was working on ALL of this time! I've told her about the pieces but only Kayla & I are allowed to be working on them.

In the meantime, Mother & my sisters are working on my dress for the presentation. I don’t know how or where, but they got their hands on some huge sheets of white cloth! Mother uses one of her ladies who are the same size as me for her model. I’m always finding that making gowns are so much more trouble than the shorter shirts. I asked Mother if after my birthday I am allowed to go without any shirt, I must have a huge elaborate gown for the day? “A visual representation of your transition, my daughter,” she replied while trying to force back laughter.

April 18th, 2012 ~ Still at Oxfordshire

Today is my 13th birthday! I must get dressed and meet with my family. They let me sleep in a little later than custom.

Later

The party was amazing! There was a feast, aquaria music, dancing, (drinking for my Mother’s ladies), and a lot of gift-giving to me. Father gave me the royal crown ring, a gold ring in the shape of a very old Spanish doubloon; Mother gave me a beautiful set of beadwork that has now become my favourite: a double pearl chain twined with larger pearls, square blue (man-made) beads & navy blue precious stones cut into a teardrop-shape; and a matching arm band. I can’t wait for the day that I'm allowed to wear these pieces without any shirt! No boy will be able to resist me and then I’ll know that I can find one who will love me for me, not for my money or the crown.

December 13th, 2013 ~ Oxfordshire

Oh my poor diary! Shortly after my birthday/presentation, Oxfordshire was attacked by a gang of Rebel loyalists. We were in such a rush to escape that I left you behind, hidden in a tiny crevice of my bedchamber. It has taken us this long to return after making our escape.

As you can tell, while we were on the run, I celebrated my 14th birthday. It was nothing special whatsoever other than the usual darkness escape and sneaking around. We were too busy escaping to do any party, feasts or gifts. I expressed that by best gift was that we were all still together and alive. Many of those loyal to Father have perished at the hands of the Rebels in attempt to protect us.

I think we might have circled the globe twice during our numerous escapes. At some point, it was quickly realized that the Rebels were not after me or my sisters, Ileana or Iris. They were only after Mother and Father the whole time! I hear whispers that we children are going to be moved to Atlantis while Mother and Father continue escaping & hiding.

March 4th, 2014 ~ Oxfordshire

Oh diary, I had done it again! I had left you in that same crevice overnight; we children were lead away at such short notice and you got left behind! I swear on the royal crown ring, I WILL NOT FORGET YOU EVER AGAIN!

It was just as the whispers had said: Ileana, Iris and I were secreted to Atlantis to be hidden by our Grandmother. Unfortunately, when we arrived, we discovered that she was under house-arrest by Rebel loyalists so we were hidden in the mansion of a noble family. Their eldest son, a boy named Swayze, was very kind to us. He treated us with great respect and I came to really enjoy his company.

April 18th ~ Oxfordshire

Father has received word that the Rebels have withdrawn to Downshire and have agreed to meet with him for a resolution! Today we celebrate my 15th birthday and the royal family liberation!

April 21st ~ Oxfordshire

Oh my goodness! Father is insisting that I accompany him to Downshire! He has already expressed his desire for me to accompany him so that I can learn leadership & something called “diplomacy”. When Mother left the chamber in a fit of tears, Father whispered to me that he’d like me to not wear shirts while in the cities and only while traveling. He claims that it helps us to travel light so I asked him if that means I can’t take Kayla with me and he gave a jolly laugh. He would allow me to bring a small bag so I could carry this with me but nothing more. He recommended that I pick only a few pieces of jewellery to wear so I've chosen those pieces I received for my birthday: the belt & armband from Mother, and the royal crown ring from Father (which I wear on a plain piece of gold chain about my neck until it fits me). I've noticed that he is doing the same; bringing only one shirt for travel & one bag, I mean. He wears a hunting dagger on a belt of strong cloth and a long spear worn over his shoulder on a length of sailing rope.

I left my original “special” jewellery in the care of Kayla because I knew I could trust her... now that I think about it, I had totally forgotten to wear them to the party!

April 24th. ~ On route to Coxshire

I've decided that while I'm with Father on this tour, I will only write in this in-between each city and just before we leave each city. This will become clearer as I go along.

The trip around the tip of India was really quite warm; Father let me take my shirt off while we take a few hours rest. One of the local ladies has taken us to a secluded island not far from India; a popular hangout for teenagers to sunbathe this time of year. Father kept looking at me with raised eyebrows but I pretended not to notice. Instead, as soon as we arrived, I snuck away from Father, leaving him to chat with the local lady and I searched for a private place to write.

Around the south side of the island, I've found this deep cove and in the very middle, this magnificent hibiscus tree growing mostly in the shallows of the water. The flowers were in complete bloom & I wished that I could take a couple with me.

Suddenly, someone coughed behind me & I spun around to see an elderly merman clutching a stack of papers. I realized from the stains on his fingers, he was an artist, a rare profession for our people and only a special few were chosen to study.

I approached the man & I guess that he recognized me because he bowed to me. “Are you an artist?” I asked him. “Why, yes Highness. Can I be of service?” he replied and I smiled. I asked him to draw the same picture three times: a small one each for Mother and Father and a little bit larger one for the first page of this book. For mine, I asked him to go “a little more generous in the front.” He seemed to blush a little as I spoke but obliged. He used every colour in his collection and the result was amazing! [I am still wearing the royal crown ring on its necklace; it just can’t be seen because my arm was in the way.]

The man made the bigger version first then used that to make the copies so I would not have to hold the position too long. His drawing was amazingly realistic. I had never known that this is what people see when they look at me. Father found us just as the old man finished the last copy. Father was astounded; he said that these drawings are as magnificent as my beadwork! That put some strange idea in my head: magical abilities among merfolk. But Father’s words broke me from my thoughts before I could get very far. “We should find a messenger to take your Mother’s picture back to her right away. She, your sisters & Kayla are on their way to Devonshire to visit the people there and then on to Hillshire to await news of our progress. She will be so proud of our princess!” he exclaimed as he hugged me.

In all of my life, I've only remembered twice before where Father has hugged me: the day that my sisters were born and my recent birthday party.

Father rewarded the elderly man with gold & silver coins, precious stones and a new gather of more papers. He seemed pleasingly surprised by Father’s gifts. I whispered something to Father and he nodded. I took two identical pieces of beadwork I had been doing along the journey, originally planned for my sisters but instead I placed the lighter coloured one on the wrist of the local lady who led us to the island and the darker one on the old man’s wrist. I heard his raspy & amazed voice, “Thank you, princess,” as Father led me back into the deeper waters. The lady was equally grateful, brought us back to her home and served us a wonderful dinner. She also found us a messenger heading for Devonshire; we gave him the letters for Mother as well has her copy of my picture, carefully rolled & tied it with a piece of turquoise string from within my bag. [My sisters had snuck these strings to me, instructing me to tie my messages with them so they know that these were not fakes from the enemy.]

Father says that we are going to be leaving in the morning instead as the “local lady”, who I found out later was named Mika, had invited us to stay the night.

April 29th ~ Coxshire, off the coast of Oman

Our first main city stop; the streets were filled with cheering people. I was surprised to realize that they were more cheering for me and not Father! He seems very well pleased by this but I'm still not sure why. All I can do is take it in strides, graciously accept their cheers & handshakes. I soon discovered that I was very quite shy as I paraded through the city streets without my shirt!

May 13th. ~ On route to Hullshire

Father was well pleased with the reception we received at Coxshire. He still does have a lot of loyal subjects & I know that this raises his spirits. I have noticed that the closer we get to Hullshire, the more nervous & jumpy he becomes. I believe that it’s because Hullshire is only a three-day journey from Downshire & Father worries about a premature ambush.

May 18th ~ Hullshire, the coast of South Africa

This place has the best market to buy shark teeth to make into necklaces. Father has given me some currency so I can buy some pieces and make some of my beadwork, to create a peace offering to the leaders of the Rebels. It was my idea & he was quite stunned by my ingenuity. He kept going on about his “creative, brilliant Princess daughter! She’s as good as any son!” I wasn’t sure if I was to be embarrassed or pleased. All I know is that I blushed.

May 19th. ~ On route to Wentleshire

While on this journey, Father asked me to teach him how to do beadwork! I use the peace necklace as a sample to teach: while I work on the peace necklace, Father works on a simpler design of a matching bracelet to wear himself. He is actually quite good for a beginner and I know that Mother would be quite impressed; I know that I am! Maybe it’s from Father that I get my imagination from. I tell him this & he just laughs.

May 23rd ~ Wentleshire, off the coast of Nigeria

More feasts, parties and more of Father showing me off to the officials & eligible mermen of each town. Originally I had thought he had brought me along to do the presentations as Crown Princess but now I'm beginning to think that maybe he’s hoping someone will catch my eye!

This is also another town to work on my gifts to the Rebel leader. We learn from some of the locals that the leader has four very loyal aides who practically never leave his side. I ask Father if I should make the aides some necklaces too but he says no. “We go to speak with the leader; not his aides. By a demonstration of you presenting the leader with the necklace, it will show to all of them that we come in peace directly to him.” Father is so clever! I hope to be as wise as him some day when I am Queen!

May 31st ~ on route to Downshire

Wentleshire has many cute males but none that really caught my eye. Then again, I am only 15... Mother always said that there’s plenty of time.

I only write now because the necklace is done & so is Father’s bracelet. He wears it on his right wrist which will be the hand he uses in the Shake of Truce, a war-times tradition of ending a feud. Of course, there will still be the signed papers officially ending the problems, with the terms all lined out (“See Father? A human invention that has been much use to us down here!” I exclaim. “Don’t be so sassy, Shelby,” he replies. I blush & say no more.)

June 14th ~ Downshire, the coast of Rio Gallegos, Argentina

We arrived safely & Father has parlayed, via messenger, with the Rebel leader. We have been taken to a home for rest & food while we wait on a response. First thing I did was write letters to Mother, letting her know we’ve arrived safely. I do hope that my gift will be received accordingly & I plan to use a little bit of my “princess-y charm” to them. Father already wears the bracelet he made & tells the story (of how he made it himself and was taught by his brilliant & patient teacher, his Princess daughter) to anyone who will listen.

Later

Father is now in a terrible mood. Once the messenger had left our shelter, the Rebel leader ordered that our letters be opened and searched for secret codes! The lady of the house (Maria) is still loyal to Father & whispers to me that the Rebel leader is a traitor; he risks death should his revolt fail. “He takes no chances, miss. That’s why he has also ordered for you and your Father, the King, to always be escorted by his guards, forbids any visitors & will not allow you to send any further messages. Those ones for your Mother were sent but only after my husband, Marco, intervened. He is the Rebel leader’s secretary & tells me so much so that if anything were to happen to him, I’d know what really happened.” I begged her to say no more, out of fear that we’d be overheard.

June 15th ~ still at Downshire, mid-night

The Rebel leader is a young merman by the name of Rifkin. He was civil towards us & he graciously accepted my gift. He actually did a double-take when he received the necklace: a piece of string beaded with pale red & charcoal-grey coral, and a large great white sharks tooth as a centerpiece. It was a very simple design & one that I've done hundreds of times before. Even my own “special” necklace was similar to this style (turquoise and ivory coral beads & had a pair of pure white scallop shells bound together in such a way that I could still open it like a locket) and yet he acted as if it was the most amazing, original piece he had ever seen.

I have been starting to suspect that maybe I've intertwined my beadwork with magic after all!

I had done exactly as Father wanted me to do and Maria had helped me practice by playing the part of the Rebel leader, using her kitchen table as a mock-up of the meeting room. I had not worn any shirt but I did bring the peace necklace & I wore my armband with belt and I was able to wear the royal crown ring on my thumb. (Father says that I'm growing quite quickly & it won’t be long before the ring will fit me properly, to wear on the middle finger of my right hand as tradition states.)

As we had been led into the meeting room, Rifkin was surprised to see me, I like to believe. I heard quite a few whispers from his aides: the disrespect of Father bringing his daughter, her not being properly clothed as she appears much too young... blah, blah, blah. Maria had accompanied us from her home to do the formal introductions & I had whispered to her, asking that she say my full name with title and my age. She raised a noticeable eyebrow but did as I wished. When she came to introducing me she said, “Her Royal Highness, the 15-year-old, Crown Princess Shelby.” Father’s eyes went as wide as a puffer fish expands but I smiled & laughed sweetly, letting Rifkin kiss my hand during his bow. Oh, dear diary, I'm sorry to admit this but I flirted! I flirted with the enemy! I feel much embarrassment & shame... I wish Mother were here or at the very least, Kayla of whom I know I can trust to keep this secret.

Rifkin made some kind of attempt to express regret for the act of our letters being confiscated. He, himself, was not the one to make the orders; it had been one of his aides who had done that and Rifkin promised that it would not happen again. “We are under a flag of truce here & there should be no mistrust between us.” The first thing that I noticed was that Rifkin could not take his eyes off me. I could tell that Father noticed as well because he kept smiling & nodding approvingly. When Father had placed his right hand on the table, Rifkin noticed how similar it was to his necklace. Father explained that I had taught him my beadwork & gave him the leftover beads from Rifkin’s necklace. “I hate to waste perfectly good beads, my Lord, and my Father, the King, did not seem to mind that the patterns matched.” I spoke with such passion behind my words; I hoped that Rifkin would not feel offended that their pieces were purposefully done that way.

Our first day of talks went quite well & we were escorted to separate rooms to have our own private mid-day meals; Father & I were taken to the kitchen while Rifkin & his aides were left in the meeting room. Maria tells us that it will be the other way around tomorrow.

June 16th ~ still at Downshire, near mid-night again

Father tells me how much honour & pride I am bringing to my family & those loyal to us. Today, Father tried to meet with Rifkin alone but he would have nothing of it. “I will meet with the princess or no deal,” Rifkin had said. I wrote a letter to Rifkin, saying that I would meet with him but not without my father present. A reply came back; Rifkin agreed. So Father & I went back to speaking in closed-door sessions with Rifkin & the others. Rifkin was more interested in trying to admire my figure whenever my hair no longer covered enough of my front.

Father seemed quite tense & had instructed me to not eat any of the shrimp. He suspected that they were rotten but Rifkin & his aides were still eating them. They appeared ok, a little dark but I did not take any chances. Instead, I ate nothing during the whole meeting. I was starving by the time we got done but I believe that it was worth it. Father made me drink this nasty bitter sea kelp tea immediately after the meeting... I sure hope that all of this is worth it!

June 18th ~ Victory at Downshire!!

Rifkin & all of his aides are dead! The shrimp were spoiled to the point of poisoned. That was the reason for that bitter tea, a preventative cure in case the poison traveled in the water. And even though I flirted with Rifkin, I feel no grief over his demise. Once the deaths were proclaimed through-out the city, Marco came forward & confessed to doing the terrible deed of the switching of the fresh for the spoiled. Father took one look at him & burst out laughing! Father praised Marco, declaring him a hero to the crown! I hurried forward and placed two kisses on Marco’s face, one on each side. Then Father called for messengers to spread the good news around to all of the cities.

Father says that we shall stay here a little longer so that he can assist in arresting the other Rebel loyalists & see to it that they are punished. He also says that we shall be going around to Avashire in a few days or a week and then back to Wiltshire to meet up with Mother, Kayla & my sisters!

August 1st ~ Avashire, coast of Coquimbo, Chile

Our arrival was one of complete relief & celebration! City officials kissed my father’s hand in a show of loyal respect and presented to me water flowers braided into a crown that gently settled on my head & stayed on quite well. [I had always believed that the people of Avashire to be the best when it came to headdresses, tiaras and such.]

The reason for the huge gap was because Father needed me to assist him in the interrogations of the rebel loyalists. He instructed me to question the younger members and many of the women of the group. I determined that most of them were only a part of the revolt out of fear & under threats. Many of those whom I interviewed were cleared, but I uncovered a situation where a group of 5 boys ganged up on a 7-year-old mer-girl so that her parents would cooperate with one of the boy’s fathers, who happened to be one of Rifkin’s aides that died that day.

August 14th ~ Back at Wiltshire

Oh, I am SO happy to be reunited with Mother & sisters! Kayla tells me that after Father & I left Oxfordshire for Coxshire, they returned to Ayrshire for a week, moved onto Devonshire to visit with the loyalists and then they went onto Hillshire to do the same. They stayed in Hillshire from May 18th until a week ago when they received word of our “success” in Downshire. Mother’s health had not improved much until they were at least in Hillshire. “The cold does not do well for her, miss. I don’t recommend any more visits for her to the Arctic Circle. She was always tired, weak & ate little. I feared for her health very much, miss! She had me sleep on her floor each night & I could hear her breathing raspy in her sleep, and that was not until she cried herself to sleep. Go to her, miss, as soon as you can speak with her privately.” Kayla sounded amiably worried for my Mother’s sake. I vowed to her that I would speak to Mother. I've let Kayla read my entries from Father & my leaving Oxfordshire to today’s entry. She does not believe the thing about magic being intertwined with my beadwork but other than that, she’s amazed how my adventure went.

By the way, Mother is amazed at how much I've grown in such a short amount of time. She believes that I am allowed to decide when I wear clothes from now on. She says that I now almost match my portrait! I did not believe that I’d grow up that quickly but Kayla agrees & so I must trust their words.

August 15th ~ Still at Wiltshire, and not minding! ;)

Father says that since all of the Rebel followers have been captured, we are now able to go onto Atlantis to visit with Grandmother again! Maybe I can finally get some more stories for my book. Mother has been letting me go without wearing shirts while we are here. I do not look as nearly as pretty as Mother but she promises that I will grow fairly quickly, especially once I've received my first ladies bleed. I do hope that it will happen soon.

August 30th ~ Back at Pacific Side of Panama Canal

The mood is completely changed this time going through. We are able to pass through under a cargo container ship this time which means that we have to be split into two groups, one on each side of the vessel. Father & sisters went on one side; Mother, Kayla & I were on the other side.

September 1st ~ Bermuda, again!

The welcome was enormous! Father and Mother were having their hands shaken & young mermen kept coming forward to kiss my hand. My sisters thrived in this attention and kept giggling behind me. The one thing I really noticed was that people kept passing me pouches of coral beads, pearls, sea shells, sharks teeth & lengths of strings. I believed that I had enough supplies to keep me busy with beadwork for the next three years!

September 5th ~ Bermuda, still

I have noticed Mother’s weakness. She tires quite easily from the shortest of walks. I must speak with her privately soon.

Later

Mother has confided in me & Kayla as to why she appears weak all of the time: Mother is pregnant! She’s known about her condition for quite some time & the Arctic Circle cold actually helped her fight off a terrible fever that would have surely made her loose the child. She knows that now she must stay in the warmer waters if she wishes to keep the child safe.

September 9th ~ Still at Bermuda

Mother still does not tell anyone else of her condition but she has become very self-conscious; she constantly wears shirts all of the time. This causes her ladies to whisper behind her back but Kayla tells me of what they say and then I go to tell Mother. She promises to make the announcement official before Father, Kayla, my sisters & I leave for Atlantis.

September 13th ~ Yup, still at Bermuda

Father says that our little group will be leaving for Atlantis very soon and we’ll be crossing the Atlantic Ocean first before following the west coastlines.

September 21st ~ on route to Atlantis!

Mother made her announcement swiftly and it was greeted with immense cheers from the gathered people. Father was in such shock, I had to pinch him so that he’d come to his senses quickly enough. He reacted to my pinch swiftly; Father hurried forward and embraced Mother in a huge hug and started kissing her. Ladies gathered forward, laid out ocean flowers onto the stage where Mother stood & the elder ladies started a kind of traditional dance, asking the ocean waves to watch over Mother while Father was away.

October 2nd ~ Atlantis, off the coast of Italy

Grandmother’s welcome was very warm & joyously. She was ecstatic to learn of Mother’s condition. She promises to perform special, traditional rites & “spells” to ensure a healthy birth. “I've done this for every one of the royal children; even for my sister-in-law’s daughter when she was pregnant with Kayla. But I’ll tell you a secret my Sweet Shelby: when I did this for you, my white crystal shone a bright red,” she whispered to me. “So what did that mean, Grandmother?” I asked. She smiled warmly at me with her grey eyes and said, “It told me that the child was a girl & that she was destined to be Queen.”

October 7th ~ Still at Atlantis

Grandmother tells me, Kayla & my sisters many stories from her own childhood, growing up with a younger brother. We are always busy, which is why I write so little.

October 10th ~ Still at Atlantis

Still more stories from Grandmother as she works on new clothes for the baby, my sisters worked on their own shirts and Kayla & I were working on new beadwork. Father had shown Grandmother the portrait I had done that hot day in India. Grandmother says that I am a spitting image her when she was my age. One of my sisters asked Grandmother how old she was, Grandmother just laughed with her wrinkled lines on her face. She did not say exactly how old she was but gave some vague estimate that made the older ladies laugh.

October 24th ~ on route back to Bermuda

Our visit with Grandmother was very helpful. She, I & Kayla would sit privately; Kayla would work on beadwork while Grandmother would tell us more stories & I would take notes on a separate pile of papers.

Later

I've decided that since I am running quite low on paper, I should not write so much unless there was something really worth writing about. Father says that we’ll be back at Bermuda in time for my sisters’ 10th birthday!

October 31st ~ still on route to Bermuda

Father has taken me & Kayla privately for a special beaching. He takes us to a particular hidden beach where we can watch the humans but they can’t see us. What I see is hard to explain: human children are dressed up in weird clothes, walking from house to house, knocking on “doors” and we can clearly hear them saying, “Trick or Treat!” Father says that this day is All Hallows Eve or Halloween. He says that it’s a very popular holiday for human children and even he used to enjoy it at one time. Then he pointed out a young girl, not much older than my sisters; she was dressed in a long shimmery light blue skirt, peach coloured shirt and a tiny shimmery pink top. She had fabric seashells sewn to a headband and she carried a bag decorated with more. Father watched me as I figured out the girl’s costume. “She’s dressed as a mermaid, isn’t she Father?” I asked in awe. “Very good, Shelby. Yes, that human girl is dressed as one of us. To them, we don’t exist except only in stories. I do believe that it is your destiny to not only be Queen but to bring our people to the surface.” We all stayed quiet as we watched the little mermaid human girl skip along side of her mother.

November 9th ~ back at Bermuda (staying until further notice)

Mother is very happy to have us home. My sisters’ birthday is in two days and we were starting to worry about returning late. Mother looks amazing; her full strength has returned and so have her colour & her appetite. According to one of Mother’s ladies, Mother is eating heartily again.

December 25th, 2014

Three years ago today, I got this book from Mother. She gave me another since she knew of how few pages I have left. I believe that I’ll be saving the second book to use during my first year as Queen.

Mother is doing quite well & is really showing. The ladies are starting to whisper that maybe we should suspect twins again, like my sisters, Ileana & Iris.

January 5th, 2015

Mother says that we shall just be staying here for the winter and then move onto Yorkshire before the birth of her child. She says that Grandmother will be meeting us there as she is the only mid-wife that she would trust and Grandmother would be bringing Kayla’s mother! Kayla is very excited as we had not seen her since our visit last year.

March 30th ~ on route to Yorkshire

Mother is quite slow in her journey so she sent Kayla & me ahead to Yorkshire, “To oversee the preparations before my arrival, my dear daughter. I trust no one else,” she had whispered to me when I asked why. Then she sassed me by saying, “And no one questions the decisions of the Queen, not even the future Queen to her mother.”

April 18th, 2015~ Yorkshire

We celebrate my 16th birthday today. I had decided to wear the armband and belt Mother gave me three years ago this day. But in all honesty, diary, I have barely taken the set off me in the last year; since I started going completely without shirts. I had made it quite clear to my family that I did not want any gifts. “The biggest feast ever will suffice for me,” I had expressed. Thankfully, they respected my wishes. The feasting went on for hours and it was toast after toast from every single person in attendance.

June 23rd ~ Yorkshire

A son! Mother has given birth to a little young prince! His name is to be Edmond; Mother picked the name, not I.

June 30th ~ Yorkshire

Mother is quite ill & Father worries excessively. I sit with Mother and Edmond every day; I've even loaned Kayla to Mother as extra help.

October 14th ~ Hallowshire (South East tip of Florida, USA)

Edmond grows so quickly & I feel as if I've grown up in such a short time. Mother’s recovery is extremely slow & she does not get out much.

December 26th. 2015 ~ Bermuda

Another year went by & I still don’t switch to my new book I got last year. I'm sorry to say it, but I'm beginning to think that maybe writing in my diary is very childish.

April 18th, 2016 ~ Hallowshire

This will be my final entry in this book; my 17th birthday.

 

Epilogue

Shelby did not have to wait very long for her life to totally change. Early in the winter of 2017, her father was stricken by a terrible disease. He lived his last days utterly alone, refusing passage of anyone for fear of passing it along. He left specific orders to take his body to a surface island & burn his body in a royal pyre, “large enough for the humans to take notice but not action”. Shelby’s mother, Queen Lillian, followed every one of her husband’s requests with every honour due to him as King.

In February of 2017, Queen Lillian, assumed the throne of Earth’s merfolk. Even though Lillian had the loyalty of the people, her problems had started back with the birth of her fourth child, the young prince Edmond. Lillian had only partially recovered from the birth & the stress of being on the throne took its toll on her health. Lillian continued to rule as Queen for 2 years until her poor health caught up with her.

In the two years following her father’s death, Princess Shelby continued to shadow her mother. Shelby & her cousin, Kayla, was very instrumental in raising Shelby’s twin sisters (Ileana and Iris) and young Edmond. During this time, Shelby was reunited with a young merman of high rank, named Swayze. They had met, as mentioned in the story when the Royal Princesses were being hidden from the Rebel loyalists during the first uprising. Both Shelby & Swayze were 18 years old when Queen Lillian married them in the summer of 2017.

Sadly, Queen Lillian passed away in the early months of 2018, with Shelby next in line. Crown Princess Shelby was made Queen on April 18th, 2018; the day of her 19th birthday. In September, 2018, Shelby gave birth to a princess daughter, named Kasey in honour of her beloved cousin Kayla, who had been married the year previously & was no longer a Queen’s lady-in-waiting. The twin sisters, Ileana & Iris, now both 14 years old, were still living with Queen Shelby, serving her as ladies-in-waiting & still being “raised” by Shelby; as well as a now three-year-old Edmond.

This extended family continued to travel between Bermuda & Sydnishire in the winter and Yorkshire & Atlantis in the summer. Shelby’s Grandmother lived until 2021, when Shelby turned 22. In that time, Queen Shelby had been given enough stories to fill three books worth of merfolk history & legends. No one knows what became of Queen Shelby’s books but some say that she entrusted them to her father’s (human) best friend, Oceanographer Dr. Jesse Wetly from Marlin Bay, Maine-land, USA.

Queen Shelby ruled as the leader of the merfolk until her daughter, Princess Kasey turned 18 years old and advocated the throne to Kasey. Shelby’s husband, Swayze, was only known as “king consort” but he served as a Counsellor to Shelby when it came to times of war. Swayze died just after Kasey’s 16th birthday. Shelby’s second diary was never used by her. Instead, she gave it to Kasey on the occasion of her 14th birthday.

The Royal Mer-Family Tree

Not much is truly known of the royal family but what is known is that although it had been predicted that Shelby was destined to return her people to the surface, this did not happen since there is no human public record of any such event occurring.

As this was a fictional novel, the author based the dates on a Disney movie, “The Thirteenth Year” (1999) where a young boy, Cody Griffin, discovers that he is of merfolk decent and starts to revert back to that form after his 13th birthday. Shelby’s father is based on that character.

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank The Royal Diaries collection for a format & the inspiration behind this story and Ed Tomes for his second opinion.

The author would also like it to be understood that this novel was written without taking into account the terrible BP oil spill disaster of April 2010, on the Gulf of Mexico. This could have been because the novel was written before the spill actually occurred but that can no longer be determined. Moreover, even with the passage of over a year, the author decided not to change to story to account for it. The decision was made that adding the BP spill would only make the story too long, complicated and likely dishonour those brave people who perished in the oil platform explosion. The author wishes her condolences to the families of those eleven people.

According to the story, the BP spill of 2010 never happened so it had no effect on the course of the characters and that is why Shelby was able to safely visit Bermuda in the winter of 2012.

Novel given first printing on May 12th, 2o11. The second printing came in early 2012.