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Realm Beneath the Waves

by queen_aingeal


There was moonlight on the water that night. A beautiful silver path leading towards eternity. The sea was calm, only the slightest ripples disturbing the sapphire water. Far in the distance, one could just make out the smoky volcanoes of Mystery Island. The air was warm and salty and the stars glittered in the sky.

      The still silence was broken by a loud splash. A Peophin emerged from the water, sending sparkling droplets flying everywhere. She was a beautiful young Rainbow mare, and her multicoloured body gleamed in the moonlight. She twisted gracefully in the air and landed again in the water.

      The Peophin swam downwards, her muscular tail propelling her forward. She was heading to her home in the ruins of Old Maraqua. Her entire herd lived there - some had integrated themselves into New Maraqua, but the others couldn't bear the thought of so many ugly buildings. Just mentioning the word "Kelp" made many elders shudder.

      At last the Peophin reached her home. She swam through the ruins, smiling fondly. Those new buildings were hideous, but the old ruins were so overgrown with seaweed and moss that they were hardly recognizable. Many underwater creatures had made their homes here, and they too camouflaged the city.

      "Misu!" called a deep voice. The Peophin turned, hearing her name, and saw a muscular Shadow stallion standing before her. "Are you aware of what time it is?" he asked.

      Misu looked down. "Yes, Dax," she said. "I'm sorry."

      "Why were you up at the surface again?" Dax asked,

      "I couldn't sleep!" Misu protested. "I was restless!"

      "So you swim about here, NOT at the surface!" Dax said. "Have you any idea how many people are up there, just waiting for a pretty little Peophin to come up to them? Have you any idea how easy it is to be captured and taken to some prison of a Neohome, far away from any water at ALL?"

      "YES, Dax," Misu said. "I know! You've told me this!"

      "Then why do you still DO IT?" Dax bellowed, rearing up. "I tell you so many times, and yet you still disobey me!"

      Misu made to reply, but a soft voice cut through her. "Is there something wrong, Dax?" the voice asked in a way that demanded attention without being too forceful.

      Misu and Dax both looked over and saw a stunning orange mare. Her reddish mane swirled around her gentle face, and on her head was a glittering golden crown. "Your Majesty," Dax said, bowing. "Misu was at the surface again. I was simply… warning her of the dangers that lurk at the surface."

      "Were you?" the mare said, her dark eyes flashing slightly. "May I remind you, Dax, that we have all been up at the surface at least once in our lives. I myself frequently go up to Mystery Island. In fact, I was just about to go up there now. Misu, would you care to join me?"

      Misu looked at Dax's astonished face, then grinned at her Queen. "I would love to, Milady," she said, bowing her head and swimming forward.

      "Excellent. Goodnight, Dax," the Queen said, and began swimming up, with Misu following close behind. "He reminds me of that King Kelpbeard at times, doesn't he?" the old one said.

      "That he does, Milady," Misu said with a small smile. The two Peophins made it to the surface without much trouble, carefully avoiding New Maraqua. Misu noticed that the Queen looked sad. "What's wrong, Milady?" Misu asked.

      "Oh, it's just this whole business of having an underwater city," the Queen said. "We Peophins were rulers of the ocean long before anyone else set foot here. It is our land!"

      "I agree," Misu said. "But what hurts me the most is these tame Peophins living above the water. They don't even remember their lives below the waves."

      "That's very true." The Queen looked at Misu. "By the way, I would like it if you would stop it with this 'Milady' business. My name is Shasa." She smiled. "And if people don't start using it, I may forget it."

      Misu laughed. "Very well, Shasa. Anything for Queen and country."

      Shasa looked up. The surface was very close, and the two mares could see the moon shining down on them. Shasa smiled wickedly and increased her speed. Misu watched in astonishment as the old Queen swam directly up and burst out of the water with a loud whinny of joy. Misu laughed and followed suit, neighing loudly as she flew through the air and landed with a tremendous splash. Shasa laughed and flicked her tail, sending a spray of water at Misu. The two were soon playing together like fillies, laughing and neighing.

      Later on, the two were lying on the beach talking as the sun rose. "You've had an amazing life," Misu said, looking at Shasa in awe.

      Shasa smiled out at the sea. The early morning sun shone on her orange coat, making her entire body burn like fire. The sea glittered like the golden crown on her head. "I have had a good run," she admitted. "But my time grows short. Very soon, I shall be too old to lead the herd." She looked at Misu, tears shining in her eyes. "I have no heir. Well, that's not quite true," she corrected herself. "I have a son, but he cannot take over for me when I'm gone."

      "Why not?" Misu asked.

      "He is a castle guard in New Maraqua. He would never leave his duties as a soldier to lead some wild Peophins." Shasa's expression changed to one of mingled pride and sorrow as she thought of the handsome red stallion. She remembered seeing him from afar as he helped fight off the pirates that fateful day. He had seemed so strong, and though the event was terrible, she could see that there was a part of him that loved his life dearly. How could she take him away from that? "Besides," Shasa said, "the leader of the herd must always be a mare. It is written. And I have no daughters who would be suitable."

      "Suitable?" Misu said.

      Shasa snorted disdainfully. "My daughter - Naiya - she is not worthy. I do love her, of course, but she fills her mind with useless thoughts, without a care in the world."

      "Naiya…" Misu pondered. "Is that the purple filly with the sort of blue-green eyes?"

      Shasa nodded. "Yes, do you know her?"

      Misu giggled. "Yes, I do. And believe me, I know what you mean about the useless thoughts. Airheaded little thing, if you will pardon me."

      "Of course," Shasa said, smiling. "Did you notice the horns she has on her face?"

      "Yes, I did!" Misu laughed. "Was her father a Uni or something?"

      "No… they're seashells!" Shasa started to laugh. "Seashells, painted gold! And the necklace she wears? She may claim it's a family heirloom, but it was really made from rocks!"

      "Rocks?" Misu asked incredulously.

      "Yes, rocks! Rocks, that it took her nearly ten years to gather up and make perfectly circular!"

      "That's unbelievable," Misu said, shaking her head.

      "So clearly, she would NOT make a good herd leader," Shasa said, after she'd stopped laughing.

      "What are you going to do?" Misu asked.

      "I don't know," Shasa sighed, looking out at the waves. The sun was fully up now, and the Mystery Island natives were starting to stir. "Come on, we'd better get back."

      Misu nodded and the two slipped into the water. Misu could feel her sun-warmed skin cooling as she swam downwards. "I've been thinking," said Shasa suddenly, "that I might allow Dax to rule the herd."

      "No!" Misu said suddenly, stopping short.

      Shasa turned to look at her. "Why not?" she asked.

      "Because he is a tyrant!" Misu exploded. "He will never allow free rein to the Peophin herd! If he is in power, we will no longer be free! Dax refuses to allow us to wander our own land. You saw how he tried to restrict me from going to the surface! You said yourself that he was like King Kelpbeard! If he were to be made ruler, we would be just like New Maraqua in a matter of months!"

      "I see," Shasa said gravely. "Thank you for telling me this." She broke into a smile. "Actually, I would never consider Dax as a possibility for leadership."

      Misu suddenly felt extremely self-conscious. "Then… why…" she said slowly.

      "Because," Shasa said, "I wanted to see your reaction. Had you said yes, or worse, said no simply because you were not particularly fond of him, I would not say what I am about to."

      "And… what are you about to say?" Misu asked.

      "I am about to say that I would like you to take over when the time comes."

      Misu went silent. The entire ocean seemed to still. "You mean it?" she asked in a hushed voice.

      "Absolutely," Shasa said. "There is no one whom I would think more worthy than you."

      "Well… thank you!" Misu started to smile. "Thank you very much! It would be an honour to lead the herd!"

      Shasa smiled. "Come, we must return." She began to swim homeward, and Misu followed with joy in her heart.

      Several weeks later, Shasa announced that the time had come for a new leader. "I am pleased to say," she called out to the herd, "that the new leader has already been chosen." Misu looked around at the surrounding Peophins, and saw that Dax was smiling smugly, as though he already knew that he would be selected. "So without further ado," Shasa continued, "it gives me great pleasure to announce that the new leader of the Maraquan herd is… Misu."

      There was a roar of cheering as the Rainbow Peophin slowly made her way to the front of the herd. She smiled brilliantly as Shasa removed the crown from her own head and placed it on Misu's. "Well done, my dear," the old one whispered, turning Misu to face the herd. Misu gazed out at the rearing Peophins, all neighing and whinnying happily. Her eyes found Dax, and she was happy to see him looking extremely miffed about the whole affair. She smiled and reared up, neighing triumphantly. The herd neighed back, and they began to swim. Misu took her place at the head of the herd and led them on a wild swim throughout Maraqua. Misu led them directly over New Maraqua, and neighed as the citizens pointed and stared at the beautiful wild creatures. As she swam, Misu realised that she would not be happy anywhere else other than her realm beneath the waves.

The End

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