Caylis's Necklace: Part Six
Reisna's maniacal laughter echoed from the throne room to the rooms nearby. It was clear to the palace guards that the Drenched had captured the king, but none of them dared try to stop them – not after Alira had knocked out a team of five sent into the throne room with her magic. The Faeries' power, they reckoned, was five times greater than theirs.
"So, Kingy," Reisna chuckled. "This is the part you hand the kingdom over to us. And if you don't... well, let's just say that we have Caylis captive, and sooner or later we'll find Isca. Now, would the King of Fools want anything to happen to them?"
He wasn't going to hand the kingdom over. No way. But hadn't he already caused Isca and Caylis enough pain? What was he supposed to do? And where in the Faerie-forsaken ocean were his guards?! Were they cowards? Or had they simply chosen to take the easy way out after those five had been defeated by Alira? When this was over – if it ever was over – he was going to have to recruit some better guards.
"Hey! You let him loose!"
Kelpbeard looked up at where the familiar voice had come from. Caylis! But Reisna said the sisters had captured her. Was she being deceptive? Well, that was to be expected of someone her type.
Reisna's cold, gray eyes widened in shock the second she turned.
"Caylis?! B-but how in Neopia did you –"
The evil Faerie's question was answered as two more figures entered the room. Nereid and Schala strode in, as well as they could underwater.
Her expression did not stray. The Cybunny lived? But how? Lirita had told Reisna she'd blinded that fluffball. Either her younger sister had turned on her, or... Nereid had found and rescued the fuzzy thorn in her side. And they, together, had released Caylis.
Caylis turned to Schala. The Cybunny saw love in the Aisha's eyes. Aside from the one time Caylis had found her and cried (and Schala reckoned Caylis was just overjoyed she was alive), she had never looked at her that way before.
"You must have some major guts to be able to come back here," Reisna snapped at Nereid. "Your foolish king doesn't trust you anymore. You are a disgrace."
There was no flourish of the pleasure of taunting in Reisna's voice now. Realizing her invasion might go down, she was full of anger.
"Schala," Caylis whispered, "please go find my sister and inform her of what is going on."
"But –" Schala began.
"Nereid and I can take of ourselves. Please?"
Reluctantly, Schala left, hoping Nereid could withstand Reisna's constant ridicule.
It was only after three full searches of the kingdom in its entirety that Schala began to wonder where Isca was. In all the time she had taken swimming around, asking random Neopets and Water Faeries where the Aisha might have gone, she had never once spotted or heard helpful news of Caylis's sister's whereabouts.
It could only mean she had left Maraqua. Why, Schala did not know. But she did know full well that Caylis would not approve of her leaving. And this was happening when she had at last won Caylis's trust. It was clear the Aisha had cared about her from the beginning, but Schala figured she hadn't considered her a true friend until just recently.
Well, it didn't matter. They needed Isca to halt the takeover. She would rather see the Maraquans alive and happy than be on the run in a ruined kingdom with only Caylis – and possibly not even her – to protect her.
The water shone a beautiful sea-green with hints of blue swimming in it, like a painting. But within it no creature was to be seen with the exception of the occasional Catamara.
Looking at the Catamaras, she remembered her own Catamara, MagusOfSaeryn. He was probably still on the Sakura or in Meridell. Wherever he was, so were Mima and Sae. For a split second Schala considered breaking the surface and trying to find them, but she caught herself. She would never be able to forget Caylis, fighting against the Drenched and all their evil. If she left, the Drenched would likely take over. And with their evil and power, who knew what else they were capable of. They would probably stir up whirlpools to sink all the ships, including the one Schala and her family would depart on.
Thinking of the Drenched, a horrible revelation hit Schala: what if Isca had already been captured? If that was so, Schala had to find her before anything happened. She sped further into the unknown.
Something – something big – bumped into her. She turned and had to blink to make sure Lirita hadn't cast some sort of weird spell on her eyes again.
"Isca! There you are!"
"Schala, honey! What are you doing all the way out here?"
"Looking for you! Your sister –"
"I saw you. I saw you leave the city, too. I was about to tap you on the shoulder when you sped away! Come, we must go back."
"Are you out of your mind?! Schala, I told you not to leave the city!" exclaimed Caylis upon their return. "Isca, however did you find her?"
"You never told me not to leave," Schala replied. "Just to find your sister. I could not find her in the city."
"It goes without saying, I should have thought! From now on, don't lay a paw outside of Maraqua! Understand?"
Schala nodded, knowing there would be no reason for her to do so now.
"Caylis, I was on my way to the palace myself when I saw her looking. I saw her leave."
"Caylis, Isca!" Schala cried out. "Look!"
Dangerously close to Kelpbeard's throne, Nereid and Reisna were battling it out. Both were easily dodging the magic of the other at first, but soon Nereid began to noticeably become weaker. She had been using all the power she had to produce something that would weaken Reisna. She barely dodged the next blast Reisna sent at her. And to make matters worse, Alira and Lirita were joining in.
"HEY!" shouted Caylis. Alira turned. At that second Caylis and Isca were both coming at her with spell after spell. Caylis was more powerful than Isca, and soon Isca left to get Kelpbeard and his attendants out of the palace.
Schala saw her chance.
"Lirita!" she yelled. "Over here!"
Giggling maliciously, Lirita made a bolt for Schala, and the Cybunny slid out of the palace door. She made many loops around the palace, making sure to dodge Lirita's magic blasts. She then sped toward the surface. Unfortunately, her left paw was hit.
Her paw was in pain from the blast, but she pressed on. When she did break the surface she was quite surprised she had made it. The slower rate at which she had been swimming had made her an easier target for Lirita.
As the name crossed her mind, Schala found herself staring into the Faerie's evil grey eyes.
Immediately she dived again, this time headed for Isca, and swimming right in front of her. Not seeing the Aisha, Lirita continued to pursue Schala – only to have her wrist gripped tightly by the hand of Caylis's sister.
"You're not going anywhere," Isca said calmly. "You will stay right here."
"Oh, no she will not!"
The dark form of Reisna slowly came into view, as she prepared to fire a blast at Isca. In shock, the Aisha dropped Lirita's hand.
"CAYLIS! NEREID! HELP!" Schala called.
No one seemed to be coming. Were they okay? Wait – why was Reisna out here instead of in the palace fighting Nereid? Had she...?
It was unbearable to think about. Schala raced toward the palace. Caylis and Alira were still at it, but Nereid was sitting on the ground, trying to keep herself upright. Her tail lay still, and she was breathing heavily.
"Nereid!" Schala said, rushing toward her. "Are you alright?"
"Schala, honey, listen," said Nereid in a soft voice. "Even Reisna doesn't have absolute power. Her magic, like mine, will go into remission if it's used too strong for too long. She is the oldest and most powerful of the three sisters, and Alira and Lirita follow her. They will likely see no point in continuing the invasion if Reisna is defeated."
"Will you be okay?!"
"I will be alright, but you must act quickly if you want to stop Reisna."
"Caylis! Come on!"
Schala and Caylis raced out of the palace, closely followed by Alira.
"There!" she shouted, pointing at Reisna, who was throwing powerful magic at Isca. Isca was dodging it, though now that Lirita was joining in, her chances seemed less.
"STAY – AWAY – FROM – MY – SISTER!"
In a flash Caylis was now fighting Reisna, who began to look worried, while Isca grabbed the hands of the surprised Alira and Lirita.
"Maractite shackles!" Isca called. "I need them! Here and now!"
One of the king's attendants swam toward the palace.
Reisna laughed. "You cannot hold me off forever, 'Princess'. I am the most powerful Faerie in the entire ocean! I know magics you would never even dream of! I –"
The king's attendant clasped a Maractite handcuff over Reisna's left wrist. Within seconds her magic blasts flickered and died.
Alira and Lirita rushed forward to help their sister, but two of the guards caught their wrists too.
King Kelpbeard slowly came into view from behind the forest of seaweed where he had been hiding.
"Guards!" he commanded. "Throw them into the dungeons and do not take the shackles off!" Then, looking Reisna in the eye, he scowled. "I'll deal with you later."
There were cheers of joy from everyone in the vicinity as the guards led the three evil Water Faeries away.
"Nereid," the king said. "I am truly sorry that I ever doubted you. I know I have been foolish."
"I forgive you," she replied with a kind smile. "However, I do not wish to stay here. When you threw me out you were the greatest fool of a king I had ever known. I know you are not anymore, but still... my place is not here."
She turned, facing every Neopet gathered there.
"My wish is to travel the oceans and help the lost, misguided, and hurt within or sailing upon the seas, like my dear daughter, Aria."
"Thank you, my dear," Nereid said. "Meeting you reminded me of what I really cared about. I am terribly sorry I lied to you. I was the one who gifted Isca and Caylis, only I had no idea of the calamity it would cause."
"It's okay," Schala said. "I would have done the same under such a threat."
"Oh!" gasped Nereid. "You would doubtlessly like to see your family again, would you not? Come, let us find them!"
Mima sat on the shore of Altador, prodding the shoreline with a stick. She, Saeryena, and the two Petpets had taken an immediate ferry back after their landing. Tears leaked from her eyes. Her poor sister... it had been over three days since she had fallen into the sea. She could almost see her now, swimming and laughing...
...Wait. Now she definitely saw her. Was it a trick of the light? Or was her mind being especially cruel to her?
No. It couldn't be. It just couldn't. She could swear she also saw Isca, Caylis, and a Water Faerie. How was that possible?
Mima gasped. The Cybunny was coming ashore and... it really was her sister after all!
"Schala! Schala! Oh, Schala!"
The Acara ran to her sister and squeezed her tightly.
"You're alive! Oh, I can't believe it! What happened?"
Schala felt Mima's tears run down her back. Some tears of her own started to from.
"Well," she said, letting go of Mima, "it's quite a long story and a very fishy tale. But it starts with this." She held out the necklace. Mima gasped.
"Whoa! Those things are real!"
"And..." Schala gestured toward Caylis. "...her."