Caylis's Necklace: Part Three
"Please, this is urgent! You have to let me in!"
Schala stood – er, floated face to face with a pair of bulky Maraquan Skeiths. They were in front of the gates to the underwater city and held large spears of Maractite. It was clear they were very serious about their jobs.
"We don't allow land-dwellers here," one of them said in a gruff voice.
"Please, listen!" Schala pleaded. "There's something King Kelpbeard needs to know! And he needs to know it now –"
"GET OUT!" bellowed the other guard. "Or I will have to call for the royal militia!" He angled his spear so that it almost was pointed at Schala.
The Cybunny, now a bit frightened, immediately swam away.
There was no way she would be able to take on those Skeith guards. She had no idea how to handle any kind of weapon, and they were so much larger than she was.
She would just have to find another way in.
"SCHALA! Schala, where in the blessed ocean are you?!"
Caylis had been frantically searching the seas for the lost Cybunny for the whole night. Being a creature of the water, she could see better in the dark seas than land-dwellers could. But she hadn't found a trace of the Cybunny; she had taken the most direct path to Maraqua, where she was sure Schala would have gone. Unfortunately, Schala had gotten lost in the dark. And by the time she had reached the gates to the city, Caylis was searching elsewhere.
She continued to speed through the deep waters as she spied a cave. By now, she had guessed that perhaps the Cybunny was lost and had taken shelter somewhere. The Aisha swam in but abruptly stopped in her tracks when she heard a voice.
"Isn't that a little risky?" Lirita was saying. "We could get caught and be thrown in the dungeon!"
"For the love of the Darkest Faerie, shut it, will you?!" Reisna snapped. "We are far more powerful than those puny little warriors of his. Capturing the Aisha will be easy."
Caylis gasped. The only Maraquan Aisha she knew who could possibly help in an invasion was her sister.
Lirita turned to see where the sound was coming from, only to be interrupted by Reisna.
"Stop messing around and listen!" she commanded.
"Why are doing this ransom thing?!" Alira snarled. "It would be better to just overthrow the king!"
"If we do that," Reisna responded, "they will just get someone to succeed him. Someone who isn't one of us. No... we need to be legally handed the land in order for this to work. The king is so easily manipulated. Remember the time we tricked him into charming Isca?"
The three of them laughed darkly.
"He loves the girl like a daughter," Reisna continued in an amused voice. "If we offer her in exchange for Maraqua, he will oblige. And then we will take our rightful revenge on the fish who unreasonably sent us away!"
"Charming" Isca? Caylis did not like the sound of that. Had the king himself given Isca her gift of prophecy? No, he couldn't do that. But the Water Faeries of his court... they could.
Just as Schala had done, Caylis turned and sped towards Maraqua. She had to warn Isca of this plot and get her out of the city before those three vile sea urchins could find her.
Ducking behind a low coral, Schala peered up at the waters above and the guards of the Maraquan gates. She had decided to wait for the next Neopet to be let in and then follow them inside while the gates were still open. She knew it wasn't the best plan in the world and it most certainly would not work out, but it was the best she had, as she had not found another entrance to the city.
Just then, a glimpse of a familiar Aisha caught her eye. As a graceful sail dances in the wind, Caylis's speedy movements under the water had a certain elegance to it. She reminded Schala of a queen; a warrior queen rushing to defend her land.
The Cybunny swam up to Caylis and tapped her on the shoulder.
"KYAAA – oh, Schala, it's just –"
For the second time, Caylis stopped speaking. She couldn't believe her eyes.
"Schala..." she said, small tears leaking out of her eyes. The tears, to Schala, appeared to be gazing on her with love. That... wasn't possible, was it? They looked like regular tears.
Then, without warning, Caylis erupted into joyous laughter. It was the first time she had laughed in twenty-seven years.
Then, suddenly, her expression turned angry.
"Don't ever sneak out on me again! Something very bad could have happened! You're a little girl, and your family is very worried about you, I'll bet! You are getting back to them if it's the last thing I do.
"Come on, we need to get to Maraqua. Those three Dark Faeries in Water Faerie forms are planning something horrid."
Schala took Caylis's paw and the pair swam to the gate.
The Skeith guards, upon seeing Caylis, looked quizzically at one another.
"Listen," Caylis said, letting go of Schala's paw. "I happen to have a certain amount of magical talent." She formed in her left paw what looked like a bluish-green orb. "If you don't let us in, land-dweller included, I just might use this." The orb bounced up and down.
Immediately the guards opened the gate nice and wide.
"Whoa," Schala said as she followed Caylis into the kingdom. "If I'd known they were such scaredy-Kadoaties, I would have pushed them aside myself."
Caylis was not listening. Her mind was focused on one thing and one thing alone: getting her sister out of the kingdom. If the Drenched found her, Caylis would never, ever forgive herself.
Trembling, the two Skeith guards took their places at the gate, closing it behind Caylis and Schala. Both breathed huge sighs of relief. Unfortunately for them, it didn't last for long. On the horizon one of them spotted three shadows of what looked like a trio of Water Faeries. He had a hunch, and it was right.
"Get out of my way, you slimy stalk of seaweed!" Alira snapped as she pushed ahead of Lirita in line.
"Stop it, you two!" Reisna ordered. "We are almost to the city. Soon, very soon, our plan will be working!" She laughed darkly. "Just look at those 'tough' guards. If Caylis's sparklets are enough to scare them, we should have no problem getting in."
She smiled an evil smile and swam quickly towards the gate. Upon seeing her, the Skeiths' eyes grew as big as sand dollars, and without a second thought they screamed and scrammed.
"Ha ha," Reisna chuckled as she opened the golden gate. "Come on, sisters. We have a little... princess to capture."
Schala floated into King Kelpbeard's throne room. Caylis had, in the same manner as with the gate guards, "persuaded" the palace guards to let the both of them see the King.
King Kelpbeard looked down at where the girl's voice had come from. Floating there was a young land-dwelling Cybunny of no more than fourteen. What was she, a land-dweller, doing in here?! And how was she breathing?
That was when he saw the necklace glowing around the young girl's neck.
Isca, again! That was it. She had absentmindedly let another land-dwelling Neopet into the city clearly meant for water-dwelling Neopets and water-dwelling Neopets alone! Could they not have some peace, just for once?
"Y-your Highness," she stammered, "I-I'm here because C-Caylis overheard-d a plot to – "
The King started listening closely. He swam off his throne and landed in a spot where he and the girl could easily see eye-to-eye. Schala gasped and attempted a quick bow, which resulted in her floating backwards. Feeling awkward, she straightened herself.
"What is this about a plot, child?" the King asked.
"Um..." What was she supposed to say in the presence of a king? More importantly, how could she say it without insulting him or making him think she was making it up? If she were to be thrown in the Maraquan dungeons simply because she said the wrong thing, she would never see Mima again. And the Drenched would probably take over Maraqua. Then she would be locked up underwater forever, if something worse didn't happen.
"I'm listening. Spit it out."
"Well..." she began, "Your... Highness, there's a sort of a plot sort of thing to take over – "
It was Caylis's voice. The gates to the throne room were open wide. It appeared that Caylis had opened them herself. With an angry look in her eyes, she stormed toward the king.
"I want to know how you 'charmed' Isca," she demanded, looking the king right in the eye.
"Caylis?!" the king snapped, aghast. "Just who do you think you're speaking to?!"
Schala gave a faint gasp. "Charmed" Isca? Did that mean the King himself had gifted her with prophetic dreams? But that also meant –
"It was you?!" Schala snarled, also looking King Kelpbeard in the eye. "You gave Isca and Caylis the visions?! You put a curse on her?!" She gestured at Caylis. "Is that how you treat your subjects?! I can see why she doesn't like you. Maybe three deranged Faeries would make better rulers."
Caylis's mouth sprang open in surprise. She had never thought Schala would say that, much less to a king. If Mima had been there, she would have been surprised too. And she had known Schala ever since the day she was born.
King Kelpbeard instantly glared at the Cybunny. What had she just said?!
Who did this bratty kid think she was, speaking to a king that way?! It was none of her business.
"GET OUT!" the king roared. "THE BOTH OF YOU, GET OUT OF MY SIGHT! NOW, OR ELSE!"
"Come on," Caylis whispered as she and Schala flew to the entrance.
However, there was no denying that the two of them had stumbled on the truth.
Except, he had not known that it would be a curse for Caylis. He only thought it meant they would be able to see into the future. The disasters Caylis dreamed of just happened to be unstoppable by her, for reasons unknown. Indeed, the king had questioned his court Faeries, including Nereid, who supposedly had cast the spell on his orders.
Unless... was she tricked as well? It was true that the Drenched had turned on King Kelpbeard, promising to protect Maraqua in exchange and instead letting slip to Captain Scarblade and his crew where the underwater city was. But Nereid, he was sure, would not have tried to curse anyone.
He had to talk to Nereid. Why had he never bothered to find out about this until now? Maybe the Cybunny was right about one thing. Maybe he was a foolish king.
To be continued...