Child of the Drenched: Return to the Depths - Part Five
Mara was ready to simply break down the gates and walk in, regardless of the consequences of the action. Howl had a firm grip on her arm, wordlessly urging her to remain diplomatic. The guards at the gates were making no exceptions; they wouldn't even let them explain why it was so important that they speak to Brynn.
"Look, just tell her that Delia, Headmaster of the Royal University of Faerieland's niece, really needs to see her. She'll understand," Mara shouted, frustrated to the last degree.
"No exceptions, ma'am. Send a request to meet with Captain Brynn through the proper channels and she will respond in due time," one of them said for the umpteenth time.
"I can't wait that long!" Mara shouted. "I need to see her now."
The guard just shrugged.
Mara turned to Howl and said in an undertone, "Got any ideas? Because, it seems diplomacy does not get anyone anywhere."
"Delia, please don't do anything rash. If you and Jacques get thrown into prison it will make your job that much harder," Howl warned.
Mara looked to Jacques who also shrugged, he had no ideas either. She turned back to guards.
"I'm giving you one last chance to take my message straight to Captain Brynn before I do something we all will regret," Mara warned.
The guards lowered their weapons and pointed them at her defensively. Before the situation could get any more out of hand a voice interrupted them.
"Oh, what juicy drama is unfolding here?"
Mara recognized the voice and turned to look. Slouching against a building behind them was Hanso. He grinned widely at her.
"Hey, I know you. You're that girl with two names from the incident with Fyora's staff last year. The one who saved my life and said the Drenched were her mothers. How are you doing, beautiful?"
"Three names, actually," Mara corrected. "You can call me Mara. It is so good to see you again, Sir Hanso. Your timing is impeccable, as always. I really need to see Captain Brynn. It is of vital importance."
"Well then!" Hanso strode forward and offered her his arm. "Come right along. Open the gates, boys; I owe this lady a few favors. If she says she needs to see Brynn, then I'm sure she has a very good reason."
The guards reluctantly opened the gates and the four strode though. Mara couldn't resist throwing a superior grin at the guards as she passed. Hanso led her through the familiar halls to Brynn's office. He threw open the door without knocking. Brynn was seated at her desk writing something. Her head snapped up and she glared at Hanso.
"Hanso, you know I hate it when you do that. Would you knock and open the door like a normal person, please?" The 'please' she tacked on at the end sounded more like a threat than an appeal.
"Sorry, sweetheart. Anyway, look what I found! Old friends of ours come for a very important visit," Hanso said, waving a hand at his guests.
Mara expected Brynn to be annoyed, but instead she beamed at them.
"Headmaster Howl, so good to see you again. And, Delia, right? The girl who saved my undeserving louse's life. He hasn't done anything useful with it since, so you wasted your effort. But, I'll have to admit that I'm still grateful anyway. I'm afraid I don't remember your name, sir. I don't know that I ever caught it."
"I'm Jacques. A pleasure to see you again, Captain Brynn," Jacques replied.
"So, to what do I owe the visit? I'm guessing it isn't a social visit?" Brynn asked, waving them to chairs.
They sat down and Hanso went around to sit on the arm of Brynn's chair. Mara and Jacques condensed it as much as possible, and Brynn listened intently.
"Wouldn't it be better to find healing faeries to undo the spell, rather than trying to hunt down this mysterious spellcaster?" Hanso asked at the end.
"They are trying, but it is a very powerful spell. So powerful that the healers didn't realize it was magic originally. I had to figure that out the hard way. They are still trying even now, but the sure way to solve this is to find the source of the magic to undo it," Mara explained. "We hope that Fyora might be able to recognize the magic 'fingerprint' and tell us who it is and how to find them."
Brynn rose from her seat. "Hanso, keep them entertained with some of your stories while I go hunt down the queen. I know Fyora will see you as soon as I tell her of what has occurred."
Hanso slipped into her seat and put his feet up on the desk as he nodded. Brynn slapped his feet from her desk before leaving. The moment she was gone he replaced them.
"So, a good story, huh? Actually, I've got one about Brynn. It is rather funny, really. It happened a couple months ago while I was away in Qasala. She joined up with Queen Nabile and Hannah the Brave for an adventure..."
Hanso had just finished his tale when the door opened again. He immediately pulled his feet from the desk and assumed an innocent face, but Mara could tell from Brynn's expression that she wasn't fooled. Fyora entered, her guards in tow. They all rose and bowed to the queen. Fyora smiled and waved for them to be at ease. Everyone except Mara sat back down, Brynn seating herself on the arm of her desk chair this time.
"Brynn has informed me of the situation, young Mara. I will simply probe the block, just as the students did. There should not be any pain this time," Fyora said. "Are you ready?"
"Yes, your highness," Mara replied.
Fyora took Mara's face in her hands and closed her eyes to concentrate. Her hands began to glow subtly as she worked her magic. After a minute she opened her eyes and took her hands from Mara's face. Mara looked up at her hopefully.
"I have found what you seek. The one you are looking for is Amalithia. She is one of the most gifted water faeries in recorded history. Some of the best Neopet sorcerers and sorceresses of the last century were trained by her. Because of this, she became prideful and, as a result, careless. This led to a mistake of which the ramifications are still being felt across the five seas. After that, Amalithia went into isolation. She keeps to herself in a sea cave not far from Zephyr Island, which is where you come from, is it not?"
"It is, ma'am," Mara said.
"I suppose that it should not be surprising, then. I do not know how she was involved in your life, or what lies behind the barrier in your mind. I will not undo the spell. When you find her, you may decide whether you want to ask her what lies behind the memory block. Amalithia keeps a wary eye on what occurs in the ocean. She does not often interfere, however I feel that she would have in this instance, as it was one of her artifacts that was used to cast that spell. I fear this means she is not in a position to do so," Fyora warned.
"Well, I suppose it would be too much to hope anything would be easy," Jacques said.
Fyora's hand glowed and a rolled up scroll appeared in it. She handed it to Mara who unrolled it. It was a map, marked with a symbol for where they would find Amalithia.
"I expect that with your help the Maraquans should be able to deal with whatever awaits you there. Still, should the situation prove more dire than we expect, do not hesitate to send a call for help. Amalithia is a subject of Faerieland, and Maraqua is an ally. We will render aid should you need it," Fyora told them.
"Thank you, your highness. We will remember your generous offer if we find ourselves in need. We are in your debt for your help," Mara said, bowing.
Fyora smiled. "The blessings of my people go with you."
Hanso got up from the chair. "Well, I guess you two will need to be hurrying off now. I'll escort you out so you don't have any trouble with the guards."
They all thanked Fyora and Brynn a final time and followed Hanso from the room. Hanso walked with them all the way to the Eyrie Taxi, where they parted with him and Howl. Hanso wished them luck and made them promise to come back to tell him the full story once it was over. They climbed into the cab and the Eyries took off, bearing them back towards Zephyr.
Once they settled in the taxi, Mara and Jacques unrolled the map, trying to plan out what they would do.
"We're probably walking into a trap," Mara said. "It's a very defensible position, under the water, at least. I don't like it."
"More than likely, but what choice do we have? If we lose Kelpbeard and Scarblade gains the upper-hand the Black Pawkeet is done for and Garin and I will be as good as dead."
"I'd protect you if it came to that," Mara said.
"Thank you kindly, but I don't fancy sanctuary among the Drenched, Mara," Jacques chuckled.
"It won't come to that, though. Isca already foresaw this, I can stop this, and I will. I'm not about to let Scarblade take away my best friend," Mara said, not looking up from the map.
"Oh?" Jacques teased poking her arm.
"I won't let him hurt you, either. The Black Pawkeet needs her first mate," Mara said looking up at him, her face serious.
For a moment Jacques looked confused. She lost it and laughed at him.
"Wait, who are we talking about?" Jacques asked, wondering if she had meant the ship itself.
"If you don't know then I'm certainly not telling," Mara smiled playfully and stuck her tongue out at him before turning back to the map.
Jacques sulked for a second, but when she didn't notice, he turned his attention back to the map. It wasn't really the time for such foolishness.
"Do we have time to go back to Maraqua to get help storming the place? However, if we do that, we'll likely lose the element of surprise. The element of surprise might be the only thing that will get us through if Scarblade has control of the area," Mara asked.
"We'll just swim up to the place and scope it out. If we can't just sneak in, I'll create a distraction and you'll blast through and free the faerie. I'm sure once she is loose she can help us take on whatever forces that will be remaining," Jacques said.
"Are you out of your mind! Two against Scarblade's entire crew. Even if you succeeded in getting me through, you still wouldn't be able to hold out against all those pirates long enough on your own. Something would happen to you before I free the faerie. That's madness!" Mara cried.
"Mara, you know my plan is the only one that has a chance of working," Jacques replied. "We'll lose the upper hand by going back for help, and Kelpbeard is fast running out of time."
Mara frowned. She might be able to hold them off, but Jacques might not be able to free Amalithia, let alone swim fast enough to reach her even if Mara gave him the opening. He was right about going in right away being their only hope, but she didn't feel right leaving him to fight whatever could be guarding Amalithia's home. They said no more and the rest of the flight passed in silence.
To be continued...