Child of the Drenched: Return to the Depths - Part Three
Mara and Jacques swam towards the Lair of the Drenched. They didn't need to go inside, as the Drenched sisters swam out to meet them. Instinctively, Jacques' hand went to the Maractite dagger on his belt, but the sisters took no notice of him. The youngest reached them first, pulling Mara into a tight embrace.
"Child, you're home! It's so wonderful to see you again so soon, dearest!" the youngest cried in joy.
The other two reached them and each gave Mara a kiss on the cheek and inquired after her training. As Mara answered them, the middle Drenched sister noticed Jacques and swam round him tauntingly.
"Hmh, brought us a present, dearest? Ooh, it's too bad this one got away, he's even better now," she teased with a malevolent grin.
"Mother!" Mara cried in protest.
"Sister, we made a promise that Child's crewmates were not to be interfered with. Leave him be," the Eldest instructed.
"Oh, what a silly promise, do I have to keep to it?" she teased.
"Mother!" Mara groaned.
"Oh, all right, dearest," the Middle sister swam away from Jacques and took Mara's bandaged hand. "What happened here? You're a very proficient healer; whatever happened must have been strong magic for you not to be able to deal with it."
"It isn't that bad, really. The wound was caused by magic, but I didn't want to heal it until you saw it. I was hoping you would be able to tell me who cast the source spell," Mara explained as she unwrapped the bandage.
The Eldest took her hand and looked at it, hissing with anger. "You were attacked by another sea witch? Who would be audacious enough to attack our daughter? I'll make her rue this day."
"I received that burn trying to heal King Kelpbeard of what I was told was poison. I found out the hard way they were wrong," Mara said.
"Never trust anyone else to get it right, Child. Maraquans are idiots. They couldn't even handle Scarblade without the help of mundane pirates. No offense to your friends, dear. That was pretty impressive for Neopets who can't use magic," the Youngest advised.
The Eldest was chanting something as she was examining the wound. The burn healed as an orb of light appeared and floated above Mara's palm.
"There, follow that and it will lead you to the one who cast the spell. I think you and your friend can handle this. I'm pretty sure I know who cast the spell and she should be no trouble for you, Child. However, I am concerned. She should not have been able to cast something strong enough that you would not be able to undo it, even without knowing the base spell. You know how to summon us if you need us," the Eldest said.
"I don't want to inconvenience you, Mother-" Mara started.
The Eldest took Mara's chin to look her in the eye and said, "You will call us if you have even the slightest doubt in your ability to handle the situation. Is that clear? We are your mothers and there is no such thing as an inconvenience when you are dealing with a dangerous situation."
Mara smiled. "Yes, Mother."
"That's a good girl. Off you go. Best of luck, dearest."
The other two wished her luck and the youngest embraced her again. Mara and Jacques swam off, following the orb. Once they were out of sight of the Lair of the Drenched Mara smiled apologetically at Jacques.
"Sorry about that, but I did offer to let you stay behind because of such behavior," Mara apologized.
"No, don't apologize, Mara. I knew what I was asking for. I'm just glad it wasn't worse. I never thought I'd be there again with them. I'm glad to see that they aren't unkind to you, since you did leave without permission. I was worried for you on that count originally," Jacques replied.
"Oh, were you? No, you shouldn't have been. Yes, my mother, the middle sister, would have been quite angry, and the eldest would have insisted on some punishment, but I don't think they would have been unkind. Mother, the middle sister, worries almost as much as the youngest, which is why she would have been so mad. The punishment would probably have been some great in-depth study of some magic principle or other. I probably would never have been allowed out of the house again, either. My youngest mother convinced them that letting me go was best, though," Mara laughed.
"I still can't believe creatures like them raised you," Jacques said as he shook his head.
Mara just shrugged and they continued swimming after the orb. An hour or so later they arrived at another undersea cave. The orb disappeared into the cave entrance and Jacques was about to follow it when Mara grabbed his arm.
"Never go into a faerie's home uninvited, especially a sea witch's lair. No, she'll bring the fight to us and we'll be ready. Get behind me, I don't want a drawn out fight, I'm going to capture and subdue her so we can get the information as quick as we can."
Jacques did as he was told. Mara closed her eyes and spread her arms wide. The sea witch came charging out of the cave and at them. Her hair was more green than blonde and her eyes red with anger. Suddenly she fell backwards like she encountered a wall. She righted herself and pointed at Mara. A torrent of bubbles jetted towards Mara. Without opening her eyes she rotated her wrists and then clenched her hands. The bubbles turned and shot back at the witch, hitting her. Before she could do anything more Mara brought her hands together and the sea witch screeched and went rigid. She was trapped by the very water around her. Mara opened her eyes, but kept her hands together.
"What did you do to King Kelpbeard?" Mara asked.
The witch just glared at her.
"If you don't answer me, you will suffer the consequences of your decision," Mara warned.
"What can you Maraquans do to me? Your king will be gone and a new ruler will take over. I answer to him."
"Scarblade?" Jacques asked.
The look in her eyes was answer enough.
"Despite my Maractite body I am not a Maraquan, I am simply assisting them. You are messing with the wrong family. You will not be going back to Maraqua to face justice for your actions until after you have given me the counter spell. Make up your mind fast." Mara gave her one final chance.
"Do your worst, little girl," the witch spat.
Mara pulled her hands apart and clutched them into fists. The sea witch's arms moved out to the side and, as Mara turned and started to move, so did the witch. Jacques followed as they swam back to the Drenched's Lair. The sea witch was calm and confident until she saw where they were going. Then she started screaming.
Mara turned the witch over to her mothers and Jacques almost turned sick at the looks of glee on their faces. Mara brought Jacques to her study. She had seen the look on his face. She motioned to a chair and he sat down.
"Are you okay? Do you need anything?" Mara asked, worried.
"No, I'm sorry. I just, bad memories, you know?" Jacques said.
"I know, I don't like this either, but without my mothers' help we can't hope that she'll give it up. They're going to use a potion, but I know they aren't going to make this a pleasant experience either. However, it is late, so it will probably take most of the night to brew that potion. I'm afraid you'll have to stay the night," Mara replied.
There was silence between them, Jacques closed his eyes to shut out the memories of the last time he had spent a night in the Drenched's home. Mara sensed his pain and sat down on the ground next to him, laying her head against his knee.
"I'm sorry, Jacques. I wish I had found you sooner."
Jacques waved his hand dismissively, and then laid it on her head. He changed the subject. "So this is where you grew up, huh? It doesn't look much like a place for a child."
Mara looked around at the rather large apartment. Her bedroom was in the room adjoining the study. The room was large and, except for a few chairs, a desk, and a few bookcases filled with books, empty.
"I wasn't much like other children after I came here. Practicing magic was play for me, and I needed room to do it. I do have a few dolls that my youngest mother gave me. I kept them on my shelf in my bedroom. I guess I didn't know how to play with them, because I never did."
"Did you ever feel that anything was missing?" Jacques asked.
Mara shook her head. "Jacques, Delia was gone the moment I opened my eyes for the first time under the surface. There was nothing to miss. I was Child, daughter of the Drenched. This was my world and I was happy and loved, what more does any child need?"
Jacques looked around at the room. "I still can't picture tiny you sitting around crashing tidal waves into the walls."
"Think smaller, tiny me trying to move pebbles and seashells with the water. I do seem to remember throwing quite the temper tantrum once, though," Mara laughed. "What was your childhood like? Did you practice sailing and pirating?"
"Only in imagination and mostly because I played along with Garin's games. I probably would have become a respectable businessman of some sort if it hadn't been for him," Jacques laughed.
Mara smiled at that."To think that everyone you knew must have been ashamed of you two, ruining yourselves like that. But, if you hadn't, the world would be a darker place."
"And I would never have met you. You would have wound up eternally grounded or Scarblade's favorite minion," Jacques pointed out.
"I'd have been Scarblade's minion, and I would have come to your island and plagued the life out of you. Then I wouldn't have to listen to you being right all the time or teasing me endlessly," Mara teased.
"I thought you liked me," Jacques faked a hurt tone.
"No, being a pirate just sounded like more fun with you guys than with Scarblade's crew. I'm nothing if not self-interested. Perfect pirate material."
"Except for our crew," Jacques pointed out. "We've spent an awful lot of time now assisting people rather than pillaging them."
"Drat. Suppose it is too late to change sides?"
"Yes. You're stuck with us. You said so back on the day you joined."
They both laughed and told stories of their childhood long into the night, managing to successfully forget their troubles.
To be continued...