The baroness and her daughter, though, would not give up so easily. Especially not now that they knew the king was on their side. They frequented the palace, and because of that, the prince avoided the place. Since Leila was unkind to our mute mermaid, the prince often took her sailing with him. Again, another opportunity she didn’t take advantage of. When the prince tried conversing with her, she just nodded and smiled, and that was the end of it.
One day, though, the baroness arrived bringing along with her one of the nephews who were dependent on her for their allowance.
“My nephew, Pig, your highness,” the baroness told the prince.
“P-pig?” The prince asked.
“Yes. We call him that because he eats like one. For a living, he uh… plays with rocks.”
“I am a sculptor, Aunt,” Pig corrected the baroness. “I do not play with rocks, I make art.”
A blue diamond as big as a man’s fist rolled onto the square wooden table.
“Hope Diamond, they call it,” its owner, a huge dark-skinned man, explained as he clasped his sausage-like hands about his round belly. “Got a kingdom in exchange for getting it off their hands. Cursed, you know.”
“A kingdom?” The young woman on his right laughed. “Jabiri, I can sell your diamond for two!”
“Well, it’s yours if you win, girl.”
Twirling the edges if her long black curls, the woman raised a brow at Jabiri. “Given my age, I’m hardly what you’d call a ‘girl.’”
“You should take it az a compliment, Brey,” the small man across Jabiri said with a smile. “You don’t look your four hundred sirty yearz.”
“Thank you, Viggo, for announcing my age for all the universes to hear.” She crossed her legs, her thigh-high leather boots squeaking her displeasure.
Viggo inclined his head in a gracious gesture. “You are velcome.”