The Mermaid's Spell
The instant Alex was immersed into the water, she felt at home. The momentum of her dive was slowed by the water, until soon she was motionless, hovering above the floor of the lake. She adored the familiar sensation of the water hugging, cocooning her body as her puffy black hair floated around her head. Slightly buried in the sand, pressed against the wall of the ledge, was a silver box, sparkling in the sunlight seeping through the water.
She grinned, bubbles shooting out from between her teeth, feeling an urge to go touch it. There was definitely a page in that box.
Alex reached for the box, its metal brushing against her fingers when she heard the most beautiful sound in the world.
She looked up from the box and saw a single mermaid, floating in front of her. She sang without moving her mouth, staring at Alex with deep, intense gray eyes. Her purple, sparkling hair floated and danced around her head. The singing voice seemed to come from inside Alex’s mind.
The mysterious song was joined in by another mermaid, creating a harmonious duet. The second mermaid came up from behind the pirate, curling around her with smooth motions of her green tail, her bright green hair brushing against Alex’s cheeks.
Alex let out a deep, awe-stricken sigh. How long have I been down here? she thought.
The purple and green mermaids swirled around each other like floating ribbons. Their long, slender tails curled around Alex, gently holding her and pulling her towards them. It wasn’t painful, being held like this, it was actually quite comforting. The mermaids’ song drowned out any other noise.
The green mermaid rested her forehead on Alex’s, cupping her chin in her hands. She tilted Alex’s upwards, pressing her cold, scaly lips to hers.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!
Dylan turned off the alarm on his watch. “It’s been five minutes. Her marble is going to run out.”
“And she’s not back yet,” Sofia said, watching the water with intensity. “Give me the bag.”
“You can’t!” Sera objected. Rebecca took the sack of magic marbles out of her hands and handed it to Sofia.
“You are a good swimmer?”
Sofia nodded seriously.
“Then go save the pirate.”
Sofia nodded again, popping a marble into her mouth. She struggled to swallow, but when she threw up a thumbs-up, Dylan pressed LAP on his watch, and Sofia flicked off her shoes, put them next to Alex’s, and jumped over the edge of the pier.
“What happened to ‘not surviving’?” Kyros asked, with a hint of amusement. “Princess Sofia was the one to mention it.” The others turned to him with worry.
“She’ll be fine,” Sera said stubbornly, nodding. “Probably.”
“You sound confident,” Kyros snickered.
“I liked you more when you were the mysterious, silent guy!” Sera growled, shaking her fist at him.
“No more fighting, please!” Zach begged, pinching his nose. “Can’t we all just act civil?”
“Trying to force your ‘civilized ways’ on me now, are ya?!” Sera put her hands on Zach’s chest and pushed him back. “Trying to ‘train’ me, huh?! ‘Tame’ another banished creature?!”
“Calm down, Serafina,” Zach grabbed her wrists.
“In case you don’t remember, Your Highness, I’m the one with training memories! Not you!” Sera yanked out of his grasp and pushed him again. “I have powers, and you can’t even remember who you ARE!”
“I’m the one who rules our kingdom!” Zach shot back, stepping forward and pushing his sister. “Not you, firstborn! Dad chose me!”
Rebecca grabbed both of them by the shoulders and shoved them apart. “THAT’S ENOUGH!”
Kyros couldn’t help but chuckle, shaking his head. “These guys are touchy.”
“You stay out of this, Top Hat!” Sera snapped, turning and pointing at the demon.
“Ooh, that was a good one,” Kyros smirked. “Hurt right in here,” he tapped his chest with one hand, the other holding onto his cane.
“She’s right, Kyros, this is none of your business!” Rebecca said. “Stay out of it.”
“Oh, like you are?” Kyros asked innocently, resting his other hand back on his cane. “You’re right, I should totally follow your example.”
“You pompous-” Rebecca stormed forward, raising her fist. Dylan jumped into the center of the circle.
“YOU ARE ALL ACTING LIKE CHILDREN!” he scolded, yelling over Rebecca’s insult.
“And you two are children!” Sera shot back instantly. “So stop telling us what to do, shrimp!”
“Hey, be nice to my brother!” little Ella stood in front of Dylan, crossing her arms and frowning up at Sera.
“You bratty little-” Sera mumbled before Rebecca stepped in front of Ella protectively.
“She is a child! You will be nice!” Rebecca threatened.
“Are we forgetting that there are two people down there potentially drowning?!” Dylan exclaimed, motioning off the pier to the water below them.
Sofia opened her eyes under the water. Through its slight murkiness, she could make out two glowing figures, one purple and one green, swirling around something.
Alex! she thought, kicking her feet to propel her towards them. A mermaid, the purple one, looked towards her and sang louder, swimming over and grabbing her wrist.
This may work on greedy pirates, but not on me! she thought, lifting her foot and thrusting it into the mermaid’s stomach, propelling them in opposite directions. Sofia actually considered herself a pretty strong swimmer, and so she pushed off of the lake floor, rocketing towards Alex and the green mermaid.
The green mermaid cut off her kiss to look at Sofia as Alex went limp in her arms. Sofia wrapped one arm around Alex’s torso, pushing away from the mermaid. However, the purple one decided to come back and grab Sofia’s ankle.
She gasped inwardly, lucky enough to have the Pirate’s Gills to do so. She kicked at the mermaid as the other one swam around her in circles. The one holding onto her ankle had a hard grip, and Sofia found herself being dragged deeper underwater.
The unconscious Alex slipped out of her arms, floating upwards as Sofia was pulled downwards. The purple mermaid pulled Sofia all the way to the bottom of the lake. Sofia closed her eyes when she landed belly-down on the lake floor, sand kicking up and floating around her. When she opened her eyes again, she caught sight of a metal box, only a few feet away.
With a confident grin, she thrust her leg back, hitting the mermaid right in the nose with her heel. Pushing off of the mermaid’s face, Sofia launched herself towards the box, grabbing it and holding it to her chest. There is definitely a page in here, she thought as something inside her resonated with the box.
When she looked up, there were two mermaids headed straight for her, angrily, and Alex was still floating away.
Kyros watched in amusement, both hands on his cane, as the group in front of him fell to pieces, bickering. This is not a surprise. When you combine the villain and the hero of the story to work together, it’s destined to fail. He turned his attention to the water below them. He raised an eyebrow as the water rippled, and he could see something come up through the water.
He cleared his throat. “I hate to interrupt,” he said, obviously not hating the interruption. “But perhaps we could focus on this?” He motioned to the water and, as if on cue, Sofia burst through the surface.
“Help me!” she growled through clenched teeth, holding an unconscious Alex with one arm and a metal box with the other. She struggled to tread water as the others cut off their argument to help. Rebecca rushed over to the edge of the pier, reaching out and grabbing Alex by the forearm. She tugged the pirate up onto the pier and laid her down, shaking her gently. As soon as fresh air hit Alex’s skin, she was out of the mermaid’s mental grasp, and she gasped, sitting up straight.
Zach rushed past Rebecca to lean over the pier and help Sofia. Sofia tossed him the box before she was dragged back underwater.
“Princess Sofia!” Alex gasped, stretching her arm out as Rebecca rushed back to the edge of the pier, ready to come to the princess’s rescue.
Sofia gasped, popping out of the water again and clinging to the edge of the pier. “A-Ayudame!” she shrieked in her native Spanish. Rebecca grabbed her forearm, ready to help her up when the green mermaid launched out of the water as well, grabbing onto Sofia’s waist. She bared her fangs at Rebecca, who reached for her sword and-
THUNK! Kyros, somehow, was standing above Rebecca, bringing his cane down on the mermaid’s head, his other hand behind his back. The mermaid slipped down Sofia’s body and fell back into the water with a splash.
Kyros retracted his cane and moved away without giving Rebecca and Sofia a second glance. Rebecca blinked for a second, in shock, before Alex crawled over.
“Princess Sofia!” she gasped, grabbing her other arm and helping Rebecca pull Sofia up. “Are you crazy?! A princess like you, taking on mermaids like that-?!”
“You’re safe now, right?” Sofia cut her off, wringing out her hair. “That’s what’s important.”
Alex frowned, but Sofia wore such a huge, proud smile that the pirate couldn’t help but roll her eyes and smile as well. “Aye, well that was pretty brave.”
Meanwhile, Dylan and Ella had been clinging to each other, staring at the other characters in fear. Zach cleared his throat, putting his hand on Dylan’s back. “Perhaps we could open this box back on the beach? Something tells me this pier isn’t safe.”
Everyone else mumbled their agreements as Alex and Sofia helped each other to their feet and began to slip on their shoes. Zach handed the box off to Sofia before gently steering the children off of the pier, the rest following suit. Rebecca shot Kyros one last, curious glance.
The demon was leaning on his cane, looking out at the water. Feeling the warrior’s gaze, he looked back and smiled a mysterious smile, not menacing but definitely not friendly, either. Rebecca scoffed and turned away, following the rest off the pier.
“That was amazing!” Sofia gushed to Alex, hugging the box to her chest. “The mermaids had you, but I came in like ‘POW!’” She kicked her heel forward, laughing.
“Very impressive,” Alex agreed, nodding as they marched through the sand, away from the pier. “But let’s open the box, I can’t wait any longer!”
Sofia nodded, looking back at Dylan. He slipped his backpack off his shoulder and pulled out the Storybook, waving it in the air before opening it and holding it out. With a grin, Sofia opened the silver box, and a page flew out. The pages already in the book flipped open to a gap, and the page attached itself to the binding.
Alex choked and collapsed to the ground.
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