Into the Depths: Part Five
After Caylis took a moment to recover, Narcissa gave a fake smile and said gently, “Shall we continue? We have much to tell you.” Leading the way again, the eldest Drenched Sister swam through the ruins until she reached the base of a large underwater mountain. Searching for some unknown sign, the Drenched Sister’s eyes scanned along the side of the mountain until she found it: an overgrown forest of gnarled coral reefs and twisting kelp. Stretching out her long claws, Narcissa pulled apart the streams of kelp like a massive curtain, and motioned for the rest of them to enter. As Caylis passed through the forest entrance, strands of seaweed wrapped around her arms, as if to bar her way. Yelping in surprise, the Aisha child pulled at them until she was free.
Eventually they reached a small clearing within the forest of kelp and coral. In the center of the clearing stood an ancient statue of a Dark Faerie. With her wings raised in near flight, she stood proud and defiant against an unknown assailant, her eyes of stone glaring angrily towards the sky. The ground surrounding it was bare, for not even a single strand of kelp would grow near. Caylis stared up into those blank eyes and felt an awful chill crawl through her spine; she could not comprehend it, but it gave her such an awful sense of dread.
Caylis turned towards the Drenched Sisters to inquire about the glowering Dark Faerie, only to find they had circled around it. Closing their eyes, they bowed their heads low, almost touching the barren ground before the statue. Raising themselves, Narcissa said to Caylis in a somber tone, “Dearest Caylis, this is our Master.”
Caylis gasped in amazement at those words. Still staring up into the statue’s vacuous eyes, she wondered to herself: to be encased in stone and buried in the depths of the ocean, what dark deed had she committed to be given such a punishment?
Pausing for Caylis to regain her composure, the Drenched Sister continued: “Long ago, our Master was a powerful Dark Faerie, who opposed the reign of the Faerie Queen. She believed that only the most powerful faerie should rule over all, and that the Faerie Queen was inferior to herself. Our Master sought out others who, like herself, shared her feelings of discontent and resentment towards the Queen; we were among the few who dared to stand by her side. We had planned to overtake Neopia, saving Faerieland for last; however, our plans were discovered. Our Master was turned to stone, and we were banished to the depths of the seas, never to view our homeland again.”
“That accursed Queen has used a powerful magic that prevents us from leaving this area of the seas; should we even enter the nearby realm of Maraqua, we would instantly turn to stone like our Master before us.”
“But,” Narcissa added, a demonic smile spreading wide across her face, “that magic does not apply to you. One such as yourself, full of the power we have taught you and a heart filled with darkness and rage, could enter the gates of the Maraquan Kingdom and wreak havoc in our stead. We have given you the means of achieving your revenge; in exchange, we shall feed off of the Maraquans’ despair and suffering until we have enough power to destroy the spells that bind us to this underwater wasteland. And soon, we shall finish our Master’s work and overthrow that vile Queen who dares call herself the ruler of all Faeries.”
Stretching out her clawed hand towards Caylis, the Drenched Sister beckoned to her. “This is what we have been preparing you for; join us, and you shall crush your enemies with ease. They shall feel the pain within your heart, and experience the cruelty they have given you firsthand. That darkness that you have been suppressing will become your greatest weapon, if you would only let it.”
The Aisha child clutched her hands to her chest; the time had come to act upon her dark wishes, and yet still she hesitated. Why, she thought to herself, why? After all they had done to her: the whispers behind her back; the stares that wished she did not exist; the way she was made an outcast and treated so horribly; why could she not repay them in kind? Surely they deserved it, so why could she not savor the thought of punishing them?
But making them suffer would set the Drenched Sisters loose upon all of Neopia; was satisfying her personal desire for revenge really worth putting the rest of the world in peril? The dark wishes in her heart, from what seemed so long ago, flickered like a dying fire; it could not burn enough to wish that fate upon innocents, who had nothing to do with this.
Then, an image of her sister flashed in her mind. Isca... could I really harden my heart and hurt my one and only sister, the only one who truly cared for me? If her sister stood against her to protect the citizens of Maraqua, would she have the resolve to strike her down with the rest?
Voice shaking, Caylis replied, “Lady Narcissa, I... I need time to think upon your offer. It is not a decision I wish to make lightly, begging your pardon.” Bowing her head low to the ground, Caylis’ eyes raised up cautiously towards the Drenched Sister, fearful of the repercussions of going against her.
Yet Narcissa’s face did not change to that of a scowl of rage; rather, her face became blank of any emotion or reaction, which made the young Aisha even more uneasy than had she become angry. She simply said, “I... see. This is, or course, your decision to make, and we cannot force you. Take the night to think upon this, and we’ll discuss this in the morning.”
Narcissa then turned away from Caylis and swam through the swaying kelp strands, disappearing through the dark green curtain. Thalassa and Delphyne glanced at each other, and then began to follow. Caylis, unsure of what was going to happen to her, swam by Delphyne’s side cautiously. Raising her eyes towards the Drenched Sister, she scanned for any signal to warn her of impending danger.
But as Delphyne’s eyes were drawn to the wary Aisha child, her eyes held an emotion she was not expecting. Was it... pity? The Water Faerie’s eyes shimmered as the ocean’s surface beneath the moonlight; then, just as a cloud covering the moon, her eyes went dark, and she quickly turned her gaze elsewhere. Caylis dropped her eyes and stared at the sifting ocean sands during the entire journey back to the caves of the Drenched, unsure of what her fate would be.
Swimming wearily into her room, Caylis flopped onto her Coral Bed and clutched her head with her hands, feeling that it might burst if she let go. How she wished for someone to bring her comfort from her worries. Rolling over, she turned towards her Filamen’s cage, reaching her arm over her bed to pet it through the cage. But her hand felt nothing but water. Caylis jolted out of bed and scanned frantically around her grotto, but could not find her petpet friend. In its place she found only a Magenta Coral Lamp, giving her light, but not companionship.
The Aisha pulled aside her seaweed curtain and saw Narcissa patrolling the tunnels. Calling out to her, Caylis cried, “Lady Narcissa, do you know what happened to the Filamen in my room?” Still cautious about her status amongst the Drenched Sisters, the Aisha child made sure to be as respectful as she could.
The Water Faerie stopped suddenly upon hearing Caylis’ voice. Turning towards the Aisha, she replied casually, “Dear Caylis, that petpet only created light when it was awake, so I replaced it with a lamp I found in some wreckage; it’s much better, isn’t it? That Filamen was no longer useful to us, so I got rid of it.” Caylis’ eyes met those of the Drenched Sister; they held not anger, but rather an unrelentingly cold stare. Those eyes pierced her so, that the Aisha was frozen solid with fear. Closing her eyes, Narcissa then nodded goodnight to her and continued her rounds.
Alone once more, Caylis collapsed to the ground; shaking uncontrollably, she covered her tear-stained face with her hands. Her heart became heavy over the loss of her dear little friend. This was no happenstance, but a terrible message meant for the Aisha child, using her Filamen as a means of sending it. Her poor little Filamen, her source of light and solace; how many times had she sought it out when she was lonely or afraid? Now that it could not fulfill its purpose, it was destroyed without any hesitation or remorse. And Caylis feared that if she refused Narcissa’s offer, she would soon follow.
To be continued...