Black Pearl

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Princess Impersonation

It seemed like everyone was occupied except Maria. Garai had disappeared somewhere, Alima was showing off her map to Antoine, and Victoria sat with her, eyeing Antoine suspiciously with defensive crossed arms. Maria wanted to join in on their conversation but she knew that it would bring up some old memories. Maria wasn’t that old. In fact, compared to all the others (except maybe Garai who was still much a stranger to Maria), Maria would be considered an infant compared to the other mermaids.

Maria paced around in the ship, walking in circles while staring off into the vast dark cold sea. Such unfamiliar waters, Maria had thought to herself. For the six centuries she had been alive, Maria had stuck close to her home waters in the Caribbeans. Maria’s heart ached. She slowly slid her hand to her heart. The feeling of homesickness throbbed. To lessen the pain, Maria thought about what she’d be getting out of the mission. Maria extended her bronzed leg and ran her hand down it, starting from the top her her thigh to her ankle. How she had longed to explore the human lands. Always intrigued by the people and their strange culture.

Maria was tired of the sea. She was tired of the water, the fish, the annoying bubbly mermaids whose sole interest were stringing pearls and braiding hair! She needed something new! She dreamt of the towering cities, the buzzing people, and of course, the parties! She_

“Were you just rubbing your leg?” Maria heard Garai’s voice from behind her. Maria turned around. Garai was standing there with a friendly smirk on her face. “You’re so weird.”

“Whatever chica. So, are you feeling better? You seemed, earlier.”

“I’m fine now,” Garai said and waved her hand to dismiss the subject. “Come, let’s get Alima and Victoria. We’re almost at the coast.” Garai walked ahead slowly so they had time to chat.

“That’s good. I’m glad you and Greg were able to find common ground,” Maria winked.

“Greg?” Garai blew air out of her nose. “I was alone. Greg is a nuisance.” Garai walked faster and urged Maria to do the same. “We should hurry if we want to reach Amsterdam by sundown.” Garai rushed off into a full sprint.

Maria panted as she ran after Garai. But Maria wasn’t much of a runner so she stopped, bent down and rested her hands on her knees. She shouted, “Go ahead! I’ll walk!”

“Slow turtle!” Garai teased.

Maria watched Garai -run. Something had caught her eye. Right there, on Garai’s forearm, was a written sequence of numbers paired together in a way that Maria recognized was a cell-phone number. Maria’s eyes lowered and she saw that written underneath those numbers was a name written sloppily: Greg.

“A nuisance, huh?” Maria mumbled to herself.

Strangely, the search for Alima and the other girls lasted less than a day. At first, Ally was distraught at the seemingly impossible task of finding the girls but Freddy had suggested finding a place to stay and then explore around. It’s not everyday you get to travel to Amsterdam! Freddy had said. Freddy insisted they visited the Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam, which was one of Napoleon’s royal palaces during the Napoleonic wars.

So after taking an overdue nap, they walked to the palace. The palace was a washed out white and was very long horizontally. Windows after windows covered its walls and on top of its triangular roof was a metal artwork and three statues that stood on the three points of the roof. To their surprise, there was no long line. None. No people waiting to get in. It didn’t make sense. the Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam was one of the most visited tourist attractions of Amsterdam, if not, the most.

“Let’s check it out!” Ally dragged her brother by the hand before he had a chance to protest.

The seven doorways were all locked. “Maybe it’s closed.” Ally said.

“It shouldn’t be,” Freddy said.

A muffled nasal voice was heard from inside the castle. “She travelled miles to be with us today. Please welcome, Princess Mary Elizabeth of Denmark!” A loud applause was heard after.

“Princess of Denmark?” Ally chirped. “I want to see!”

“Ally, you’re forgetting the doors are locked.” Freddy said grimly.

“Oh well,” Ally shrugged. “Eavesdropping is fine to me!” Ally pressed her ear onto one of the wooden doors. Carelessly, she had her hands on the door as well and within less than half a minute, the door burned into a pile of ashes. “Whoops.”

“Ally!” Freddy said in a harsh whisper. “Y-You just burned the door to the royal castle!”

“It’s fine, right?” Ally said nervously. “I mean, there’s like six more doors.”

“What’s going on?” said another nasal voice from within the castle.

Ally and Freddy braced themselves for the worst. Ally shook in fear while Freddy stopped breathing. But today, luck was on their side. The first person to appear through the burned doorway was Victoria herself, dressed in a classic red dress.

“Victoria?” Ally exclaimed.

“It’s Princess Mary Elizabeth.” Victoria said in the same nasal accent as the men from inside. A smile grew on her face. “You must be the V.I.P. guests.”

“V.I.P?” Freddy could hardly believe his eyes.

“Come,” Victoria turned her body to the doorway. “We have much to discuss.”

Freddy and Ally exchanged looks and they went in.

Inside the royal castle was much more impressive than the outside. Gigantic fancy chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Each wall displayed massive renaissance paintings. And antique furniture was placed in every nook and cranny following the color schemes of rich reds, golds, and browns.

“Hey, someone burned the door!” Said a security guard who was looking from the ashes beneath his feet to the vacant doorway.

“Forget it dear,” Victoria said to the guard and opened her fan. With a simple flick of the wrist, her fan spreaded elegantly and fanned herself. While she was doing that, she also batted her eyelashes. Freddy noticed how long and dramatic each eyelash was. Victoria obviously had a major makeover.

“How are you doing this?” Freddy asked and eyed her strangely. “Impersonating people, let alone a princess, is against the law.”

Victoria rolled her black seal eyes. “Freddy, please. Where I come from, there are no such rules.”

“Um...yeah. Where you come from, there are no people.” Freddy argued back.

“Where are the others?” Ally asked.

Victoria rolled her eyes once more. Ally seriously thought she was getting way into character. “They’re on the second floor. Apparently, they found another clue.”

“Another clue?” Ally said. “But the map we found before! It was of the Rhine river! It’s supposed to be in Germany!”

“We might have misinterpreted the map.” Victoria said and shrugged. “We also have another problem.”

“What now?” Freddy said with dread.

“We have another new guest. Her name’s Phoebe. She’s also on the mission as well.”

“You’re kidding!” Freddy said. “There’s more of you!”

“Lot’s,” Victoria said. “But you’ve got to understand, there are seven of us in total. And there’s a lot of competition too. It’s a miracle that we’re even working together.”

“Okay, so I guess we should check on the others.” Ally said. “Where are the stairs?”

“It’s on the right hallway. Keep going straight until you see the royal bathroom. The stairs should be there.” Victoria’s eyes widened and she snapped her fingers. “Make sure to call everyone by their fake names. Alima is Princess Ameera Al-Taweel of Saudi Arabia. Maria is Princess Casiraghi of Monaco, and Garai is Princess Sikanyiso Dlamini of Swaziland.”

Freddy’s jaw dropped. “Are we supposed to remember this?”

“Hmm,” Victoria tapped her fingers on her chin. “Never mind. You two should probably go find them.”

Freddy and Ally sighed and made a run.

They made it upstairs and saw that there were five girls standing in the center. Ally recognized all of them except for one girl. She was gorgeous. She had wavy golden brown hair that was twisted into a messy greek hairdo and skin as fair as fine white sand. Her eyebrows were also arched to signify her wit and her dress looked exactly those of an old greek painting, long, loose, white, and one-shouldered.

“Out of all the places, we’ve found you here.” Garai said.

“Of course,” the girl said and gestured to the whole palace. “I love architecture and history. But I’m mostly here for the clue.” She held scroll in her hand.

“No! We were here first!” Maria said shook her head. “It’s not fair!”

“You all were too slow.” The girl laughed. “It’s mine now.”

“So what?” Alima took a step closer towards her and in turn, the girl stepped backward. “You’ve found your first clue. My team and I have found two of the clues. Do you really think that one clue is going to give you the answer to where the princess actually is?”

“Yes, I do.” The girls backed away in shock. The girl smirked. “I have the power of premonition, which means, anything I touch, I can read it like a book. I can know what she was thinking when she made this, where, why, how. I’m better than all of you combined.”

Someone’s got a huge ego, Ally thought to herself.

The girls turned to each other and they laughed. The girl scowled. “What’s so funny?”

“She’s so cute!” Maria said. “Yeah…” Maria faked a wince. “I was the one that sunk theNuestra Señora de Atocha back in 1622.” Maria pulled out her golden comb from her thick hair. “Where’d you think I got this from?”

“No way!” Garai said. “I cursed a bunch of sailors once in the early colonial era!” Garai sighed nostalgically. “Oh yes...malaria…”

“And I led an army of thousands of sirens back in b.c.” Alima said. They all high-fived each other in sisterhood.

“And I just burned down the doorway!” Ally said.

All five girls turned around to see Ally whose cheerful smile had turned upside down in awkwardness and Freddy who was horrified. Freddy’s eyes were paralyzed in shock and he silently left the room.

“Freddy!” Alima chased after him and ran out of the room.

The girl smiled and said, “I’m impressed. Even I’m not that messed up.” She straightened her posture. “I’ll be joining your group on the mission whether you all like it or not. I’m Phoebe by the way.”

“The more the better, right Ally?” Maria said.

But Ally was worried. Freddy had ran off just like that. Now that Ally thought about it, it was pretty messed up. Ally was in the same room with a bunch of sociopathic killers. Sure, they were beautiful, powerful, mythical beings. But they were still dangerous. They could probably easily kill someone and not feel an ounce of guilt. Ally felt like the air from her lungs had been knocked out of her as she realized that she was one of them too. No. Ally shook her head. She couldn’t. She would never kill anyone. She wasn’t like them. She was mostly human. She could be a good person. She refused to become like them.

“Ally, are you okay?” Maria asked. Maria tried to give Ally a comforting squeeze but Ally slapped her hand away. “Don’t touch me.” Ally said in a grave voice.

“Freak,” she mumbled and exited the room.

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