I stepped to the edge of the ocean and took a deep breath. It might be my last as far as I knew. I didn’t turn back or think about the people I was leaving behind, because my future was ahead of me, however short it might be. I was here to save my mom and sister, whatever the cost may be. And with that thought I dove into the cold, dark ocean.
It took my eye a moment to adjust to the sea, its murky water obscuring my view. However I was determined to find my mother and I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way. I swam desperately towards the bottom of the sea then searched my surroundings. After that I’m not sure how I found the right direction, maybe I just felt it. Perhaps the painful tug on my heart grew more noticeable as I drew closer to my mother. Regardless in a matter of minutes I had found what appeared to be a sunken castle. Quickly I swam inside and searched for my mom. It didn’t take long to find her. Seeing her slumped on the floor bloody and bruised broke my heart. I took her into my arms and promised her that I would get her out of here. I had to keep them safe.
I forced my eyes to open and looked at my daughter.
“Grace, sweetie you shouldn’t be here. It’s not safe. I don’t want him to hurt you.” She gave a sad smile.
“And I don’t want him to hurt you. Please let me help you. We all need you to be okay.” She rested one of her hands on my stomach and sighed. I placed my hand over hers and interlocked our fingers.
“And I need you to be okay too.” Grace nodded.
“I know mom, I know.” She pulled me closer to her and I could feel her shaking. She was scared, no actually she was more than scared. And for good reason too. This fish had hurt her in the past and it was clear that she knew it was him. I wanted to help Grace, wanted to do something to protect her, but my magic still refused to cooperate. And now it didn’t matter because I could hear the grinding noise of the stone door opening and closing once more. My body tensed and I turned to protect Grace as much as I could while still chained to the wall.
“Well, well, well. Look what we have here. Or should I say who we have here.”
“You! What do you want?” Grace snarled and I was surprised that my sweet girl could sound so much like me, or rather my former self.
“I want you of course.” He grinned that sick grin.
“Then you should have taken me in the first place instead of creating this game of cat and mouse.” Grace felt like a stone wall as she now pressed herself in front of me.
“Yes well it just wouldn’t have been as much fun if I only took you. Taking your mother caused you even more pain than a punch or any other physical blow could have, because I took the one thing you can’t live without.” His smile was triumphant as he finished.
“Well now you have what you truly want so let my mother go and do with me as you please. I am all yours once I know she is safe.”
“No Grace.” I couldn’t let her do this. The fish would surly kill her and I couldn’t bear that.
“Mom stay out of this please.” Her hand pressed against my stomach again and I realized she was reminding me I had someone else to protect; someone completely defenseless.
“Yes Regina it would be best if you stayed out of this.” He snarled eyes locked on Grace.
“What do you want?” The fish gave Grace a confused look.
“I have already told you the answer, I want you.” Grace sighed with frustration.
“I know that, what I mean is what do you want with me? You are not a guard. How is it that you were chosen to find me?” A sly, sick smile spread across his scaly face.
“I volunteered. You see when the guards reported that a voice had been stolen I was intrigued. When I heard who’s voice had been taken I offered to be the one to find it and return it to the guards. Seeing as you left quite the impression on them there were no other eager volunteers, and thus I was chosen. It was only a matter of time before your voice was returned to you and then of course I knew exactly where you were.” He paused looking for his next words.
“And you took my mother to draw me out, because you knew not only would I search day and night until I found her, but also it was yet another way to harm me, and you do so enjoy that don’t you? You could never get enough of harming the Evil Queen’s daughter.” Grace’s confidence and anger flooded the room.
“You know me too well.” He sneered.
“Indeed I do.” This seemed to anger the fish as rage visibly bubbled under his skin.
“Enough! You are mine.” I watched in horror as he lunged toward Grace, who stood firmly in front of me.
“No! Please don’t hurt-“ but my words were cut off as he grabbed Grace and threw her across the room.
“Look at you,” Grace gasped, slumping against the wall. “You are stronger than you were the last time we saw one another.” It was at that moment that realization crashed down around me. This fish was the one who had hurt her while she served the merking. My hatred for this “man” grew tenfold as I watched him beat my daughter. I yanked at my chains again and again but it was no use because they were not budging. In fact the more I tugged, the tighter the iron cuffs seemed to become. I had to do something. I had to make my magic obey me. I closed my eyes and as hard as it was I shut out the painful cries of my daughter and focused solely on my magic. I could feel it fighting against me but I fought back harder and forced it back into submission. Thankfully I felt a cool sensation rush through my body and I knew my magic was under my control again. My eyes flashed open and were met with an empty room. My heart raced frantically as I searched each corner of this stone prison, but Grace and the fish were gone. How long had it taken me to regain control over my magic? It had only felt like a few moments.
The chains were still firmly clasped over my wrist and when I tried yet again to break free of them it was to no avail.
“Why can’t I get free?” A tear slipped down my face. I needed to help Grace and that was impossible if I remained chained to this wall. I looked to the only comfort I had, my unborn child.
“What am I doing wrong? I want to help Grace.” I closed my eyes as more tears captured my cheeks. My heart was breaking as my imagination ran wild with possibilities of the harm she was enduring, for me, because she loved me. And that’s when it hit me. Love. How could I forget. I had to focus on the love I had for my daughter instead of my fear. My magic was based no longer on anger but on love. And with that thought it was mere seconds before I was free of my chains. I looked down to my other daughter and smiled. Now I could find Grace.