Caylis's Necklace: Part Five
"Be gone from my sight, traitor!"
Had she been above water, the Faerie's face would be unmistakably full of tears. Nereid, after a slamming interrogation by King Kelpbeard, had been thrown out of the palace, and by extent, the kingdom of Maraqua itself.
She knew why. It was because she had allegedly cursed one of the Aisha sisters she was supposed to grant prophecy. True, she had given one of them nightmares of things she could not prevent, but at least that was better than what would have happened to the sisters otherwise...
Despite that, it was clear she was no longer welcome in the glittering underwater city. As if she cared anymore. She had done the right thing, or the best thing one could do under such circumstances.
Not far from the city she spied a Neopet – a Cybunny, to be precise. It looked as though it couldn't see underwater.
She took a closer look. It wasn't a Maraquan or water pet, but it didn't seem to have any trouble breathing.
Concerned and intrigued, Nereid swam up to the Cybunny.
It was a young girl with wavy light blue hair. She was wearing one of those magic seaweed necklaces that allowed land-dwellers to breathe under the ocean's surface. What made the Faerie worry was the fact that she seemed to have gone blind.
Her Faerie senses told her that this blindness was not natural. It had happened by magical means.
Carefully, she took the Cybunny in her arms and headed for the surface.
As her head broke the water's surface, Schala found she could see a bit more clearly. Looking up into the face of her rescuer, the realization that this was no Neopet dawned on her.
"Thank you... kind Faerie..." she said.
"My name is Nereid," the Faerie said, smiling. "Now, what happened to you? How did you go blind?"
"I was c-captured by the Drenched," Schala stammered. "B-but one of the sisters let me go. That's when everything went all blurry."
She felt the Faerie shudder when the Drenched were mentioned.
"Thanks again. After King Kelpbeard kicked me out, I got lost..." She started to cry. Without a second thought, she threw her arms around the Faerie.
"I was kicked out just now, too," Nereid replied. "But... it wasn't my fault. I was trapped and had no choice."
"W-what are you talking about?"
"Many years ago, the Drenched... ugh... they forced me to do something terrible. They said if I didn't do it, they would fatally poison my daughter, as well as two innocent sisters. I couldn't let that happen."
"Who were the sisters?"
"I'm sure you've heard of them. Their names are Isca and Caylis."
"Nereid... the terrible thing the Drenched made you do... it doesn't have anything to do with Caylis's curse, does it?"
Nereid let out a sigh.
"Oh, not at all," she lied. What would the Cybunny think of her if she told the truth?
"Schala?! Schala, are you in here?"
Caylis had arrived at the Drenched sisters' cave. It was exactly where they'd said Schala would be.
But there was no Cybunny in sight.
Of course! How could she have been foolish enough to believe these traitors? It was obviously a trick. They just wanted Caylis to get into the cave... but why?
Was it something to do with the planned Maraquan invasion? It must be. Somehow, the Faeries must have known she was planning to defend the city. They wanted her out of the way; it was as simple as that.
Suddenly, the three villainous sisters appeared from their hiding places and cornered Caylis!
"Ah... you came as I asked," said Reisna. "Very good, very good. Now tell me," she said with a sneer, "what are King Fishy's defense plans?"
"Defense plans?" snapped Caylis. "What are you –"
"HA!" shouted Alira. She and Lirita giggled.
Caylis clapped her hand to her mouth instantly.
Reisna chuckled, waving her hand. The spell Caylis had been aiming became powerless.
"Thank you very much for that information. How obliging."
The younger sisters grabbed the ropes that had previously bound Schala and began to wind them around Caylis.
If Schala wasn't here... where was she? Was she safe? Caylis shuddered as she remembered what she had said to her at a time that now seemed so long ago.
"You are not leaving this spot until I can find your family and contact them. You are especially not going into the dark waters where countless who-knows-what dwells."
If it hadn't been for her stupidity, thought Caylis, Schala wouldn't be at the mercy of the countless "who-knows what" right now.
"Can you see now, honey?"
Schala shook her head and opened her eyes. Everything seemed a lot clearer.
"Nereid, thank you!" Schala cried out joyfully. "Now, let's get back to Maraqua!"
"No!" Nereid snapped. "Didn't you listen? Neither of us are welcome there anymore!"
"Look, I'm sure the King will take you back if you tell him what you told me!"
"I already did, hun. He thinks..." She began to weep. "He thinks I made the whole thing up!"
"Nereid, this is important! The Drenched sisters have a plan to invade Maraqua, and King Kelpbeard doesn't know a thing about it!"
Instantly, the look on Nereid's face was replaced by one that looked calm and concerned, but was trying to hide a panic.
"Are you sure, honey? Absolutely sure?"
"Caylis had a premonition about it. She saw them returning to Maraqua."
"Wait – you know Caylis? How –"
"I was on a ship, with my sister and guardian, and I fell off. She saved me."
"What did you tell the king to make him so angry at you, if you don't mind my asking?"
"Oh, that... I found out he had ordered Caylis cursed just as I was going to warn him about the Drenched sisters. Then I did something really foolish" – she put her face in her paw – "and I started shouting at him about how could he and he was a really foolish king and I even said... I even said the Drenched sisters might make better rulers than him! Now the whole city is at stake and it's all my fault!"
Nereid took the Cybunny in her arms.
"There, there," she said softly. "Now, if what you say is true, than we must hurry to Maraqua. Do you have your magic necklace?"
Schala held out Caylis's necklace for Nereid to see.
"Good. Then let's go."
Reisna's chuckles echoed through the palace. The evil sisters, it seemed, had taken Caylis's words to heart. Having easily slipped by – or rather, scared – the main gate's guards the last time they had gone into the city to bargain with Caylis, they had managed a similar way of entry into King Kelpbeard's palace.
"Too bad your precious Nereid isn't here to save you!" Lirita giggled.
"You really are quite stupid," said Reisna, smiling. "That land-dwelling Cybunny in the palace was going to tell you we were coming. What did you do?"
King Kelpbeard did not answer. Why had he been, as she had correctly stated, such a foolish king? When she had said that thing about "evil Faeries being better than you" – he didn't even stop to think what she meant. And she hadn't even known about his involvement with Isca's and Caylis's gifts, he assumed, until the latter Aisha had come bursting in demanding how he "charmed" her sister. Because – and he should have seen this before – the girl wasn't even angry with him until the "charm" was mentioned.
It had had nothing to do with trying to oppose him; she was simply defending her friend. It was something King Kelpbeard had realized all too late.
"How pompous," Reisna continued. "Probably too busy playing king to even give her the time of day! How rude of you, Kelpbeard!"
Something snapped in Kelpbeard's head. Playing king?!
"Listen!" he shouted. "I do not 'play king'! Ruling is not a game where you get to live happily ever after in a gorgeous castle! It's a tremendous responsibility! Something you three will never understand!"
"Yeah, you're really responsible, you know that?" Alira snapped. "If you were, you would have PROTECTED AGAINST US!"
"Shut it, Alira!" Reisna scolded. "I think there's something really fishy about that statement you just made – shush!"
She shot a glare at Lirita, who immediately stopped giggling.
Kelpbeard stood up.
"LISTEN, Faeries! I am NOT a foolish king, and I do NOT play games! If you thought you could storm in here and take the throne from me, you thought wrong!"
"Oh, someone called the high and mighty King of the Sea foolish!" laughed Reisna.
"It was that rude, bratty little Cybunny who said it! You didn't give a me a choice! I had to have spells cast on the girls, or you would've destroyed my kingdom! And then Nereid had to go and betray me..."
"Nereid never betrayed you, King Kelpbeard. We gave her a choice, just like we gave to you."
Seeing the look on the King's face, Reisna continued, "Oh, did she tell you that? Poor little dear. You really were a foolish king not to believe her. Now you've lost your most loyal member of court, all because you think you're so much better than anyone else in the sea – or on land!"
Of course. If he was that bad at trusting in the first place, why should he have believed her? He had only brought her to her knees – well, tail. If he couldn't see anyone else would be as protective as he was, and even more so in her case, considering her child was involved!
Realization of who was floating right in front of him made his mind swiftly return to the situation at hand. The Drenched were invading. He had to do something! Was there a sword anywhere?
Whew! He had just noticed a Maractite coat of arms hanging on the wall. In desperation, he swam up to a sword and pulled it out, preparing to take on Reisna and her sisters.
"It's not going to be that easy, King Fool."
With a wave of her hand the sword was shattered.
"Lirita, tie him up."
He tried to reach for the sword from the coat of arms, but it was too late. Alira was already holding his hands behind his back as Lirita bound them.
Despite everything, he knew they were right about one thing: he was selfish, and possibly the most foolish king who had ever lived.
To be continued...