Oria the Sea Witch
Where was she? Maria’s head felt groggy. With her eyes still closed, she allowed her hands to feel the area around her. Cold hard stone, her fingertips identified. Maria sat right up on her tail and looked around. She was in a cavern of somesort. The walls were enclosed and were made of solid grey rock. It was dark. The only lighting came from mysterious candles. The flames were a glowing purple. She guessed they were enchanted. After all, what kind of candles burned underwater? And as for the rest of the cavern, tall endless shelves of jars contained with eerie globby substances took up most of the space in the room with the exception of a large bubbling cauldron that sat in the center. Intense steam rose from the cauldron.
She heard a sickly sweet voice from behind her. “Buenas tardes, Maria.” Maria spun around and saw the sea-witch sitting comfortably on her opened rose colored scallop shell. She hadn’t changed at all since Maria last saw her. The sea-witch had the same sharp nose, the pink skin of an octopus, two bulging eyes that detected anything that moved, and from below her waist were eight gruesome tentacles with hundreds of little suckers on the underside.
“Oria.” Maria tried to swim towards her but she felt a pressure on her tail that restrained her. She looked back and saw that at the base of her fin was a rusty shackle that jingled under the slightest movement.
“Lucky me,” Oria said with a bored expression. “You remember.”
Maria looked left to right and panicked. “Where are my friends?” she demanded.
“They’re fine.” Oria said after she rolled her eyes. She continued to observe Maria from her Scallop couch and licked her thick plump lips. “I thought I was your friend.”
Maria sighed and said, “I thought so too. But friends don’t magically impale each other with sea-urchin spines.” She looked down at her side and noticed that there was not a mark.
“It’s just a way of payback, that’s all.” Oria let out a little chuckle and scrutinized her nails. Maria thought they looked fine but she went to her wooden trove and used her tentacles to grab a nail file, nail clippers, cuticle cutters, a base polish, a colored nail polish, and a top coat, and she still had enough tentacles left over to propel herself back to her seat. She began to work on her nails but stopped to point at her with the nail filer and said, “and the spell reversal too.”
“I don’t get it.” Maria said. “What have I done to offend you?”
“Oh...chica.” Oria said and gave her a fake pathetic smile with her pouty big lips. “You didn’t offend me. You offended my best friend, Cassandra. If anyone hurts her, I hurt them back.”
“CASSANDRA?” Maria’s voice shook the cavern.
“Mhm,” Oria said, not even looking at her. All eight of her tentacles began simultaneously working on her nails. They worked so quickly that just trying to pinpoint which tentacle was doing what gave Maria a migraine.
“But…” Maria’s voice died off. “I thought I was your best friend.” Maria didn’t feel angry anymore. She felt betrayed. When Maria was still a control-freak and lived in the Caribbeans, she and Oria used to hang out all the time. They’d secretly gossip about Cassandra behind her back. None of them liked her. She always went too far with the ship sinkings. Sinking ships wasn’t satisfying enough for Cassandra. She needed to drown men by seducing them first, then dragging them down to their deaths. She really was a sociopath.
Oria dropped all of her manicure instruments down and swam to Maria. One of her tentacles lifted Maria’s chin up so they could see eye to eye. Oria narrowed her eyes at her and said, “You were. I loved you dear but you’ve been gone for too long. A sea-witch like me can’t wait a lifetime, you know?”
“Are you mad at me?” Maria asked. “Is that why you’ve taken back my legs and brought me here?
“I’m not mad at all!” Oria said. Maria tried to detect any sense of lies but Oria was all honest. “I just wanted to see you, that’s all. I’ve missed you.” Oria said with a half-smile.
“I missed you too.” Maria said and smiled back.
Oria saw this and her smile dropped. “No you don’t. If you did, you would’ve visited me at least every decade or so. But as soon as I gave you what you wanted, you ran as far as your pretty human legs could away from here.”
“I’m sorry,” Maria said and she meant it. “Oria, I didn’t mean to hurt you. It’s just that...exploring the human world was my dream. Up there is so amazing Oria. You wouldn’t believe it.” Maria remembered the day she got her legs. For the first time she was able to feel the warmth of the sun toast all of her body. For the first time she felt soft powdery sand under her feet. For the first time she’d got to see houses, touch a tree. It was the most magical experience in all of the four centuries of her life.
Oria held up a tentacle and said, “I don’t want to hear a word about the stupid human world.”
“Fine,” Maria said disappointingly and said, “Can you at least let my friends go?”
Oria shook her head and said, “No, Cassandra’s playing with them.”
There was a sinking feeling in Maria’s stomach. “She’s playing with them?”
“Si,” Oria said and grabbed a flask from one of her hundreds of shelves. The liquid in the flask changed color constantly. It went from blue, to red, to green, to orange, to violet, and so on. “And you’ll be joining them.” Before Maria got a chance to object, Oria smashed the flask at Maria and everything went black.
“Hola puny mermaids,” Cassandra said. The girls woke up from unconsciousness. They groaned and sat straight up. Cassandra was working at a lab table. Several jars of potions were laid out in an orderly fashion, each containing a what could be fatal spell. The jars clinked as she moved them around.
Xi Shi was the first to speak. “W-What is that?” She said, eyeballing the third jar to the right. It contained a deformed hermit crab with five claws. Its shell was brittle. She stuck out her tongue in distaste.
“These are jars of fun, my little peces.”
“I don’t think this’ll be fun for us.” Ally said nervously.
Alima turned to Ally and whispered in her ear, “Ally, bust us out. Heat up two of the cell bars and bend them wide. Then we could__”
“No, no, little peces.” Cassandra said with her back still turned to them. “I’ve disabled all of your pesky magic.” She giggled and said, “I can’t have you breaking out before the fun begins.”
“You’re kidding!” Victoria said and held out her hand in a ‘stop’ gesture to try to freeze the cell bars but nothing happened. Alima sang. Her song was beautiful like always but lacked its alluring magic quality. And Ally brushed her fingers against the bar to melt them but nothing happened either.
“So what are you planning to do with us?” Garai said. She was cool-headed like always although it was obvious that she was masking her fear.
Cassandra took the first potion from the left. It container was in the shape of a skinny test tube and the substance was a sickly green that vibrated in its glass. “I’ll just be honest with you all. It’s been an awful long time since I’ve caused an awful wreck.”
Victoria gave her a strange look and said, “And that’s bad because…”
Cassandra glared at her and flipped her wavy brown hair. She went on. “The humans aren’t like what they were before. They don’t travel as far, their boats are too secure, and there’s barely any people who go far-swimming. What a shame.” She shook her head slowly and turned her direction to the girls. There was a new gleam in her eyes. “But when I drowned your dear brother, Ally, I felt the thrill and rush of the olden days.”
“Don’t get me started on the olden days.” Alima said with a smirk. “I was born back in B.C. If anything, I should be the one who deserves to say that.”
That caught Cassandra’s attention. “B.C?” She went up close to the cell. Close enough for Alima to grab her by the neck. Her long black talons pierced the Cassandra’s delicate skin, slightly. Ally whimpered. “Recognize me yet?”
Cassandra struggled to breathe. In between her shaky uneven gasps, she said, “Siren...queen.”
“Yep.” Alima said, a cold smile grew on her lips. “It warms my heart that mer-folks still remember me.”
“E-Everyone thinks you’re dead.”
“Well, as you can see now, I’m not. Now let my friends and I go!” Alima squeezed her neck harder.
“No.” Cassandra said and crushed a vile that was hidden in her hand. The liquid in the vile simmered and became a toxic green gas. Alima coughed and wheezed. She let go of Cassandra’s neck. Immediately, Cassandra began chanting and Alima shrinked in size. She shrunk and shrunk until only a hermit crab remained in her place.
“Alima!” Ally shouted. Ally dove to scoop up the hermit crab but Cassandra swiped it with one hand.
“My apologies,” Cassandra said, not looking so sorry. She pinched Alima by the shell and said to the poor dangling crab, “You’ll make tasty entree.”
“NO!” They all screamed. Cassandra swam to the corner of the cavern where a boiling cauldron lied. Her hand hovered over the cauldron with Alima dangling over the steam. Just when Cassandra was about to drop her in to her boiling doom, a voice rang from the other side of the cavern.
“Cassandra! I have another play thing for you!” It was the sea-witch. Her hair was a blend of cold and peach coral and was styled in a pixie-cut. She had pink skin and down below her waist were eight tentacles with hundreds of little rings of suckers. The sea-witch was carrying a chain leash. At the end of the leash was Maria who was bound by her hands and her tail in rusty shackles. Maria’s eyes went to the dangling crab in Cassandra’s hands.
“Is that a crab?” Maria asked.
“Say goodbye to your amiga.” Cassandra said with a villainous smirk.
Maria glanced to the cell that trapped her friends and noticed Alima was gone. “Alima!” Maria panicked as she wondered what she could do. If she came any closer, Cassandra would drop Alima for sure! So with that in mind, a word rose to the tip of her tongue. “Torbellino!”
A whirlpool was summoned. White twists of water engulfed Cassandra, wrapping her in tight ribbons of water that spun her around and around. Alima the hermit crab was tossed out of the whirlpool and gently landed on the cavern floor meanwhile Cassandra spun out of the cavern leaving only the horrified sea-witch free to Maria’s wrath.
“Would you like to be next?” Maria said and tilted her head in full confidence.
Oria laughed nervously and backed down. “No thankyou. Um...would you like your legs back?”
“Yes, please.” Maria said and swam down to the cavern floor to scoop Alima the hermit crab right up. “And turn my friend back.”
Oria sighed and said, “I can fullfill your first request but not the second one. I can’t reverse the spell on your friend with magic. However, I’m sure that it’s temporary.” Oria quickly added in, “I think.”
Maria heated with rage. “What do you mean, ‘I think’? Is it reversible or not?” Maria said forcibly.
Oria winced and her tentacles curled. “Of all the times I’ve used it, it’s worked ninety-percent of the time. But the other ten-percent…”
Ally looked at the crab with pity. “Oh, poor Alima.” The crab was small and brown, the size of Maria’s thumb. And the shell was a glossy charcoal black like Alima’s tail. The crab seemed to understand all that was happening and it retreated inside its shell.
“There’s nothing we can do about it?” Maria asked.
“No.” Oria said and hung her head low. “But do you still want you legs back?” Maria nodded solemnly. Oria let out Maria’s caged friends first. They passed by her without looking at her with the exception of Victoria who tripped the Oria with her tail.
“Ooops,” Victoria muttered, and she left.
It didn’t take long for the spell was complete. But this time, as an apology gift to Maria, Oria allowed Maria to keep her powers. Then, it was time to leave. Maria uttered a goodbye and hoped she’d never have to meet Oria again. On their way back to the beach-house, the girls conversed with each other.
“How are we going to tell Freddy about Alima?” Ally said and looked at the crab on Maria’s shoulder. The crab shrugged.
“I guess we’ll start off slow,” Garai said and she knocked on the front door of the beach-house. But no one answered. Garai turned the door handle and they went in. Freddy was found no where. They searched every room but he was gone.
“Where is that boy?” Xi Shi said. She leaned against the fridge and felt a piece of paper rub on her skin. It was a note. “Hey everybody!” Xi Shi called and she took the paper and read it aloud.
It’s Freddy here. I’ll be right back.
Having a friendly talk with our vampire uncle.
“Oh, shoot.” Ally said and the girls exchanged looks. “It’s Matthew.”