Into the Depths: Part One
The ocean had gone cold and dark; a shadow spread across the ocean floor, and red eyes gleamed through the waters. A sense of fear ran through the spines of all who witnessed it, though they did not yet know the reason for their fright. A large mass, silent as death, slowly sank down and headed towards the city of coral and shell. What could it be, a ship? It had what could be the shape of masts and sails, but its features were vague, as if surrounded by a dark fog that blurred her vision. It doesn’t make sense, though, for it’s not sinking, yet I feel such a sense of dread coming from it. And those eyes, red and terrible to behold...
“Begone from our sight, child of misfortune!” a voice of fury roared, echoing throughout the vast coral halls of the palace. King Kelpbeard, his fins pounding against the gilded armrests of his ornate throne, looked down upon the small Maraquan Aisha child. The young Aisha cowered before the normally benevolent King, tears welling up within her eyes.
Her grey-blue body shook uncontrollably, both in fear and frustration, as she stared into the king’s eyes: they held no compassion or warmth as they did for others, but a look of disdain as cold as the seas of Terror Mountain. Why did everyone have to look at her with those same eyes? No matter where she went, those eyes seemed to follow her, haunt her with that same cold, disgusted look.
Another young Maraquan Aisha swam swiftly between the first child and the king, her arms spread as if to further separate the two. Her bright blue skin gleamed with a beautiful iridescence, from the rays of sunlight that reached the ocean’s floor. “Your Majesty, it is not her fault! Caylis cannot control her nightmares, any more than I can control my dreams! Please, great king, show her mercy.” The bright blue Aisha kneeled before the king’s throne, her pleading eyes welling up with tears.
King Kelpbeard lessened the harshness in his tone and replied, “I am sorry, dear Isca, but sister or no, she is too dangerous to keep within the city walls. I can no longer risk the safety of my people; tragedy after tragedy follow her, and many have been injured due to her dark predictions. Many of the people of new Maraqua have even begun to believe that she calls upon the hardships herself within her dreams, like a dark curse.” His kindly countenance took a cold turn as his eyes fell upon the grey skinned Aisha once more.
“I have done no such thing!” Caylis shouted, hot tears falling from her cheeks, “I have done nothing but try to warn the people of Maraqua of the visions I have seen. Instead of taking heed, they ignored me, only to lay blame when disaster finally struck.”
“Enough of this!” the king slammed his fin upon his armrest in anger once more. “You will have the rest of the day to take what supplies you may need, and by nightfall you will be escorted outside of the city walls. Never again darken Maraqua with your dreaded shadow.”
With that, he waved his fin, and a pair of armored Maraquan Draiks began to drag the unfortunate Aisha outside of the palace doors. As she was unceremoniously shoved out, she swam over to a nearby kelp bed, and covered her face with her hands as if it would stifle the crying.
How could they do this? I am but a child, and they accuse me of doing such awful things? Is it not hard enough to have terrible nightmares of things to come, and then to be blamed for them when I try to help prevent them?
Caylis was so upset by these thoughts that she didn’t realize that at that point she was strangling the fronds of seaweed with an unrelenting grip. She quickly let go, but the plant had been painfully severed; its remains began to slowly float up towards the ocean’s surface. Her face still stinging from the tears, she clenched her fists tightly in frustration.
Moments later Isca swam out of the palace as well; the very same guards walked with her on each side, and bowed deeply as they held the doors for her to pass through. She searched for her sister Caylis, and seeing the hunched over figure among the tall seaweed, glided towards her and held the crying Aisha tightly in her arms. “Dear sister, I tried to reason with him, but it’s of no use. The people are afraid, and the king has no choice but to do as they ask.”
Caylis lifted her head towards her sister, broken voiced, “I only tried to warn them, Isca, and look what it brought me! Why must they hate me so, when I wished for nothing but to help them as you did?”
Isca could foretell good tidings within her dreams, and the people loved her for it, Caylis thought, while she was plagued with nightmares of ill happenings, and branded a doom bringer.
Anger welled up within the grey Aisha, and her scowling face frightened a passing group of Maraquan Meowclops; they scattered through the waters frantically as Caylis glared at them through the streaming fronds of seaweed.
Isca’s bright blue eyes met the dark blue eyes of her sister, her eyebrows furrowed in concern. Face to face, Caylis could not help but notice how similar, yet different they were from one another. Isca, with her soothing and kind manner, was like the shimmering waters by the shore, full of light and beauty. While she, with her gloomy exterior and dark, evocative eyes, was like the very depths of the ocean; a lonely place where light could not reach.
Isca took her sister’s hands in hers and said, “Caylis, I will continue to plead on your behalf to the King; hopefully he will listen to reason and you will be allowed to return home soon.”
Caylis, eyes flashing, threw her hands out of her sister’s grasp. “What do you mean to say, that you will allow them to banish me? You intend to stay here with them, while your own kin is thrown beyond the walls to fend for herself?” She turned away from Isca in disgust, her face burning with anger. She clutched at her chest in hopes of easing her pained heart; to be abandoned, by her own sister, wounded her more than anyone else ever could.
They had been through so much together. At a tender age, their first moments of life were wrought with terror as the pirate’s curse destroyed the former Maraqua, along with everything they held dear: their family, their home, all in an instant. With no one but the other for comfort, they could hardly be separated from their embrace, as if one would be lost from the other should they let go. She remembered how they scrounged among the ruins for scraps of food, always being sure to divide the food equally. How they would huddle next to each other those cold Maraquan nights, afraid of what foul creatures lurked in those dark waters. They, who had been together for so long, were so easily separated, as if their bond had been nothing to begin with.
“Sister,” Isca began, teary eyed, “I cannot go with you; I must stay here to protect my people-”
“They are not your people!” Caylis shouted abruptly. “I am the one who should matter to you most; that is, after all,” she paused slightly, head downcast, “how you are to me.”
The water was slowly becoming cold; Caylis raised her eyes towards the surface, and noticed the light was beginning to fade from the world above. “It will be time for me to leave soon; I must get ready,” Caylis remarked, not bothering to look at her sister reaching out to her. She quickly swam away into the darkening waters in a flurry of bubbles, leaving Isca to wallow in her guilt among the kelp beds.
Sure enough, as night fell a pair of guards came to her dwelling to escort her outside of the city. As she passed through the now empty streets of Maraqua, Caylis could see phantom eyes glimmering through the dark windows, watching her. Each holding that same look she hated so much; eyes filled with loathing and contempt, eyes that wished she did not even exist. Yet as she reached the heavy Maractite gates, she could not find the eyes she truly wished to see: those of her sister.
“I guess she decided not to say goodbye,” Caylis thought to herself. The last time they might ever see each other, and Isca was nowhere to be found. Her heart felt heavy as she realized that she was now truly alone in this world, with not a soul to miss her. She hardened her face, so that none could see the disaster bringing witch shed a tear, lest they mock her for that as well.
She gave one last look upon her home, though it had never felt like a home to her; a dark and terrible scowl that contorted her features and would have frightened Jhudora herself. The eyes peering through the window panes vanished as curtains were quickly drawn up in fright.
The massive Maractite gates slowly opened with a loud creak, and Caylis ventured into the open ocean, without purpose or reason. She didn’t look back as the gates creaked to a close, for there was no longer anything for her to look back to; nothing but a desolate and lonely ocean awaited her. The further away she swam from the city, the more she realized that she was not really alone; however, as a giant shadow began to hover above her head, she certainly began to wish that she was.
To be continued...