Child of the Drenched: Return to the Depths - Part Two
Two days passed normally and Mara began to relax a little. Surely, she reasoned, whatever had been after the king must have been stopped by now. Garin and Jacques still looked grim, but Mara was trying to make the best of it and be optimistic.
On the third day, Mara was heading to the galley for lunch when she noticed Talak leaning over the side of the ship; he seemed to be talking to someone. He beckoned to her and she walked over and looked down. There was a Maraquan Aisha who resembled Isca floating there, Caylis.
"Are you, Mara?" Caylis called up.
"Yes, ma'am," Mara replied.
"Don't 'ma'am' me, I'm not that much older than you," Caylis sighed. "My sister has summoned you to fulfill the promise you made her. I'm to bring you to Maraqua."
Mara's heart sank. "All right, just let me go tell the captain I need to leave. I'll be back in a minute."
She hurried down to the galley and spotted Garin and Jacques at their usual table, eating lunch and discussing their plans on what to pillage next. Mara walked over to them as casually as possible, she didn't want to alarm any of her fellow crewmates.
"There you are, Mara. You're a bit late; I was beginning to think you were skipping lunch," Garin called when he saw her.
"I'm afraid I am, Captain. Isca has summoned me, and Caylis is waiting to take me to Maraqua," Mara said in a low voice, keeping a smile on her face.
Garin and Jacques pushed their plates away and got up. Garin led them to his cabin and, once there, opened his safe and took out the seaweed necklace Isca had given him years ago. He handed it to Jacques who put it on. Mara and Jacques were about to leave when Garin stopped them. He held out his Maractite dagger.
"Just in case, Jacques," Garin said.
Jacques nodded as he put on his belt. "I'll take good care of it."
"No, you'll take good care of Mara. I don't want anything to happen to my sorceress; she's too useful. Hurry and get to the bottom if this. Good luck, you two," Garin replied.
Mara smiled and put a hand on his arm. "Don't worry, Captain, everything will be fine. We'll be back before you know it."
Garin smiled and nodded. "Take care, Mara. I'm sure you've got this handled."
Jacques and Mara went out on deck and over to where Caylis was waiting. They said goodbye to Talak who was still there and dived into the ocean. Caylis nodded at Jacques and motioned for them to follow. They arrived at the gates of Maraqua three hours later. The city was continuing as normal, no one looked panicked or upset.
"They don't know yet, do they?" Jacques asked.
"No, Princess Mizumi decided it was best to conceal this as long as possible. We don't need any interference, good or bad, while we try to save King Kelpbeard," Caylis replied.
"What happened to him?" Mara asked.
"I don't know. Isca summoned me a few days ago to ask that if something should happen I would be ready to bring you to Maraqua so she would not have to leave. All I know is that something took place this morning. My sister will be ready to tell you all when we arrive at the palace," Caylis said.
They swam in silence through the city until they reached the palace gates. The daughter of the Drenched and Caylis the Cursed passing through the city together naturally attracted attention, but Mara tried to ignore the looks of disdain the Maraquans threw at them. When they reached the palace, the guards let them through without a word. Before they even entered the palace Isca met them.
"Oh, thank Fyora, you're finally here!" Isca gasped, her face was white.
"What's happened, Isca?" Jacques asked as they swam through the palace.
"We don't know. King Kelpbeard was fine last night, but when he awoke this morning he was dreadfully ill. We think he has been poisoned by something. We don't know how it could have gotten to him. Whatever the poison they used is still unknown. They haven't been able to identify it yet. However our specialists believe that it might have been made by a-" she hesitated a second, "a sea witch," Isca explained.
They came to a room that was being watched over by six of the king's elite guard. They eyed Mara and Caylis suspiciously, but let them pass into the room. It was King Kelpbeard's bedroom. The Koi king looked dreadful; his normal blue color was now a sickly green. Sitting by his side was a beautiful Maraquan Gelert, his daughter Mizumi. She was stroking his hand as she spoke softly and lovingly to her father.
She looked up when Isca entered the room. Her eyes passed over to Jacques, she nodded as he bowed, and then onto Mara. Her face filled with anger as she rose from her seat.
"Isca, what is the meaning of this? My father has been poisoned by those witches and you bring their apprentice into his presence?" Mizumi shouted.
"I'm not their apprentice, I'm their daughter," Mara corrected with a sneer.
Despite choosing piracy as her profession, Mara was the nicest girl in the world, until you insulted her foster mothers. She loved them in spite of their wickedness and refused to allow anyone to speak ill of them to her. She also was highly irritated that everyone always judged her by their actions.
Mizumi was shaking with anger but Isca said, "I'm sorry, Princess, but according to my dreams Mara is the only one who can save your father. She has come here to help. Please, for your father's sake, don't start a fight. That won't help him."
Mizumi turned away and said, "As you wish, Isca. I trust you. However, her participation saving my father will not sway me to show mercy. I will have the heads of those witches for this."
Mara swam over to Kelpbeard beside and placed a hand on his forehead. She closed her eyes and concentrated. They all watched as her hand began to glow. Mara had learned healing spells along with her water magic. While she was less proficient in them than her offensive spells, she was confident that she could heal a poisoning.
Without warning, Mara let out a scream and instinctively pulled her hand away. She looked at her hand and found it was burned.
"That's not poison, that's magic. Ow, that's nasty, really. That's not my mothers' doing. It's enough to do the job, but it's sloppy. It'll take a week and a half or two to finish him off. He'd be dead already if my mothers were behind this. Besides, they have no reason to do this. They have no quarrel with Kelpbeard and they gain nothing by harm coming to Maraqua. My mothers are nothing if not mercenary," Mara said staring at her burn.
Jacques took her hand and began to bandage it as Isca asked, "What do we do then?"
"I go home and show my burned palm to my mothers. They know every sea witch in the ocean; they will know who did this. I'll apprehend the culprit and force the counterspell out of her, and then bring her back so you can force the why out of her," Mara answered promptly.
Jacques finished tying the bandage and Mara turned to him and said, "You should stay here with Isca and help her."
"Why would I do that?" Jacques asked.
"Because I have to go see my mothers. I'm pretty sure you don't want to have to see them again, do you?" Mara reminded.
"No, I don't want to see those witches again, but I'm also not letting you go after another one by yourself," Jacques said. "No, don't argue, Mara. You can't shake me. I'll forget about my quarrel with the Drenched long enough to help you figure out how to find whoever did this to Kelpbeard."
"Are you sure? I love my mothers, but I can't pretend that they aren't what they are. They might make things uncomfortable for their own amusement," Mara pointed out.
"I'm a big boy, Mara. They aren't going to try anything with you there, and I can put up with their taunts."
Mara gave in. They said goodbye to Mizumi, promising to be as quick as they could. Isca and Caylis went with them as far as the city gates, where they wished them luck and sped and returned to the palace. Mara and Jacques swam off in the direction of the Drenched's lair.
"So, I don't get it; how many sea witches out there, are there? I thought your mothers were the only ones," Jacques asked after they had been swimming for a while.
Mara laughed. "Ah, no. There are huge misconceptions about faeries from those who don't know much about them. The popular belief is that dark faeries are bad and the rest of them are good. Totally untrue, though. There are more good dark faeries than you would think, Delina being a perfect example of that. There are also plenty of wicked faeries of other types. Remember Florina from that whole debacle with my uncle? She was an earth faerie and she was as wicked as they came. No, sea witch is simply the term for a water faerie that lives in the sea and chooses to not be as nice as Marina. Of course, regular water faeries aren't considered to be the nicest people anyway. Sea witches generally also dabble in arts that regular water faeries don't, and they rarely focus on healing. My mothers are definitely the most notorious of this variety."
Jacques was silent as he digested this information and Mara looked over at him and laughed again.
"I've made your head spin. I told you I was very knowledge about matters of magic and the ocean, but you didn't believe me because I didn't know what a Pawkeet was."
"I never made fun of you for not knowing what a Pawkeet was," Jacques protested.
"No, not in words, but I saw that look in your eyes when I got frightened by one trying to land on my shoulder when I was on Scurvy Island for the first time," Mara teased.
"I'm sure it was just simple amusement for the fact that petpets adore you, even wild ones," Jacques countered.
"We're here," Mara said abruptly.
"What?" Jacques asked.
Mara pointed and he looked. He repressed a shudder as he stared at the familiar undersea caves where the Drenched made their home. It was the last place in Neopia he ever thought he would return to.
To be continued...