The Sea Fairies

Page 34

Zog's face was the face of a man, except that the tops of his ears were pointed like horns and he had small horns instead of eyebrows and a horn on the end of his chin. In spite of these deformities, the expression of the face was not unpleasant or repulsive. His hair was carefully parted and brushed, and his mouth and nose were not only perfect in shape but quite handsome.

Only the eyes betrayed Zog and made him terrible to all beholders. They seemed like coals of glowing fire and sparkled so fiercely that no one ever cared to meet their gaze for more than an instant. Perhaps the monster realized this, for he usually drooped his long lashes over his fiery eyes to shut out their glare. Zog had two well-shaped legs which ended in the hoofs of beasts instead of feet, and these hoofs were shod with gold. His body was a shapeless mass covered with richly embroidered rainment, over which a great robe of cloth of gold fell in many folds. This robe was intended to hide the magician's body from view, but Trot noticed that the cloth moved constantly in little ripples, as if what lay underneath would not keep still.

The best features of which Zog could boast were his arms and hands, the latter being as well formed, as delicate and white as those of a well-bred woman. When he spoke, his voice sounded sweet and clear, and its tones were very gentle. He had given them a few moments to stare at him, for he was examining them in turn with considerable curiosity. "Well," said he, "do you not find me the most hateful creature you have ever beheld?"

The queen refrained from answering, but Trot said promptly, "We do. Nothing could be more horrider or more disgustin' than you are, it seems to me."

"Very good, very good indeed," declared the monster, lifting his lashes to flash his glowing eyes upon them. Then he turned toward Cap'n Bill. "Man-fish," he continued, "what do YOU think of me?"

"Mighty little," the sailor replied. "You orter be 'shamed to ask sech a question, knowin' you look worse ner the devil himself."

"Very true," answered Zog, frowning. He felt that he had received a high compliment, and the frown showed he was pleased with Cap'n Bill.

But now Queen Aquareine advanced to a position in front of their captor and said, "Tell me, Zog, why have you trapped us and brought us here?"

"To destroy you," was the quick answer, and the magician turned for an instant to flash his eyes upon the beautiful mermaid. "For two hundred years I have been awaiting a chance to get within my power some friend of Anko the Sea Serpent--of Anko, whom I hate!" he added, smiling sweetly. "When you left your palace today, my swift spies warned me, and so I sent the sea devils to capture you. Often have they tried to do this before, but always failed. Today, acting by my command, they tricked you, and by surrounding you forced you to the entrance of my enchanted castle. The result is a fine capture of important personages. I have now in my power the queen and princess of the fairy mermaids, as well as two wandering earth people, and I assure you I shall take great pleasure in destroying you utterly."

"You are a coward," declared the Queen proudly. "You dared not meet us in the open sea."

"No, I dare not leave this castle," Zog admitted, still smiling. "But here in my own domain my power is supreme. Nothing can interfere with my vengeance."

"That remains to be seen," said Aquareine, firmly meeting the gaze of the terrible eyes.

"Of course," he answered, nodding his head with a graceful movement. "You will try to thwart me and escape. You will pit your fairy power against my powers of magic. That will give me great pleasure, for the more you struggle, the greater will be my revenge."

"But why should you seek revenge upon us?" asked Clia. "We have never harmed you."

"That is true," replied Zog. "I bear you no personal ill will. But you are friends of my great enemy, King Anko, and it will annoy him very much when he finds that you have been destroyed by me. I cannot hurt the rascally old sea serpent himself, but through you I can make him feel my vengeance."

"The mermaids have existed thousands of years," said the Queen in a tone of pride.

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