Sink Or Swim
Princess Fernypoo watched her blue Acara swim toy paddle and splash around her luxurious bubble bath. The sight of it made her sick. She stood and donned her regal bath robe.
"Andrew!" Princess Fernypoo yelled. The servant promptly appeared outside her bathroom door and called in, "Yes, Princess?"
Fernypoo whipped the door open and demanded, "What day is it today?"
"Well, Princess, it's the 25th day of the month of Relaxing," he answered.
"Good. That means there's nothing important coming up. Schedule me a massage for this afternoon and have the cook prepare me a Fancy Faerie Float." She dismissed Andrew with a nod of her head, but he continued to stand there, clutching his hands nervously.
"But Princess, there is something important coming up. The Acara Aquatic Festival is in just three days! You're supposed to accompany your father to the parade held in Maraqua," Andrew stammered.
"Bah! And be seen with those hideous seaweed-covered creatures? No thanks!" Princess Fernypoo let out a throaty chuckle.
"At the very least your father expects you to travel to the beach on Mystery Island where most of the festival's celebrators will be congregated. You must keep up appearances," Andrew said. "Plus, you can show off your new swim suit when you participate in the annual swimming contest," he added with a smile, hoping to level off the feisty Acara's temper.
"WHAT!?" she snapped. "I will do no such thing! It will be a cold day in Moltara City before I take part in a swimming competition! That is final. Now get out, and do as you're told, Andrew!"
The Draik shuffled out of the room, gently shutting the door behind him without any further words. When he was gone, the Acara reached under the mattress of her bed until her paws found what she was looking for. With a slight tug, out it came – a book called Learn To Swim. Fernypoo had purchased the book several years ago in a vain attempt to learn how to swim but had essentially given up in order to pursue a career as a Cheat! player.
"Well, I suppose I have no choice now but to learn to swim. I know dad will force me to go to Mystery Island whether I like it or not," the Acara sighed. No one knew that she couldn't swim. It was quite embarrassing to her, and when she was younger she had always made up excuses about not wanting to get wet or proclaiming swimming as lame in order to avoid getting in the water.
Resignedly the Acara flopped down on her bed, opened the book to page one, and began to read.
* * *
"Princess Fernypoo?" Andrew called through the closed door. When he didn't hear a response, he quietly turned the knob and cracked the door open. He saw that the princess was sprawled out on her bed fast asleep with an open book lying across her face. He quietly entered the room and sat the tray carrying the princess's requested Fancy Faerie Float down on the nightstand. Puzzled to see Princess Fernypoo anywhere near a book, he turned his head and read the covered, letting out a stifled gasp.
The princess awakened, fumbling around to remove the book from her face. When she saw the Draik standing over her, she shot straight up and exclaimed, "What are you doing in my room without my permission? I told you to always knock!"
Andrew could practically see her veins popping out of her forehead. He backed away a few steps and said, "I did knock, Princess. When you didn't respond I thought I would just leave the float you requested earlier in here on your table. But when I saw that you had fallen asleep while reading my curiosity got the better of me, I suppose." He paused before continuing, "Princess, do you not know how to swim?"
"Of course I know how to swim, you imbecile! What kind of peasant wouldn't know how to swim?" The Acara hoped her anger would convince the old Draik she was telling the truth.
"But I've never seen you reading before, and come to think of it, I never have seen you in the water, whether it be a pool, the lake, or the ocean." Andrew narrowed his eyes. "You don't know how to swim, do you, Princess?"
Princess Fernypoo sat with her mouth agape, too bewildered to come up with a response. Her silence and earlier defensiveness was all the answer that Andrew needed. He walked around the bed and opened her trunk, rifling around in it as he talked. "Well, better get started then, hadn't we? Don't want you to look like a fool when you go to Mystery Island in a few days, now do we? Go ahead and get changed."
The Draik found what he was searching for and stood up. The Acara saw that he held in his hands a pair of Acara Swim Fins and an Acara Swim Mask. "And just what do you think you're doing?"
"Well, I'm going to teach you to swim, of course. Come down to the pool when you've changed into your swim suit," replied Andrew before he walked out without waiting for a response.
* * *
Fifteen minutes later, Princess Fernypoo appeared alongside the pool, looking warily at the water. Andrew got out of the beach chair he had been resting in and appraised the Acara's attire. "Alright, we're going to start out slow and take it easy, but by the time the festival rolls around, you'll be swimming like a Koi. We'll even start in the shallow end," Andrew said as he waded into the pool.
Princess Fernypoo remained standing firm outside the pool with her arms crossed and her sunglasses shielding her panicked eyes. "What if I drown? What makes you such a good swimmer that you can save me?" the Acara huffed.
Andrew stared at her blankly before climbing out of the pool and tossing a lifesaver at her. Princess Fernypoo fumbled to catch it. "I promise you won't drown," Andrew said.
"Fine, but you better not tell anyone about this. I mean it. If I hear anyone mention anything about me receiving swimming lessons from you, you'll be fired so fast you'll think you've been turned into a Fire Yooyu at the Altador Cup," Princess Fernypoo snapped before gently climbing into the pool, one step at a time.
* * *
Andrew and Princess Fernypoo practiced swimming in secret for several hours a day for the next two days. During that time a lot of threats were issued to the Draik from the princess each time she failed to float and thought she might drown in the water that was only three feet deep. Andrew pushed the princess relentlessly, making her practice until she got each lesson right. Though at first she was very reluctant, Fernypoo had gradually begun to let her fear of the water go and could now paddle around in the shallow end without any floatation devices.
Now that it was the night before the festival, Andrew and the princess were getting a few last-minute practice sessions in.
"Alright, tonight we have to foray into the deep end. You've been doing really well, and I'm confident that you are an adequate enough swimmer for this next step," Andrew called as he effortlessly glided across the pool.
Princess Fernypoo swallowed the lump in her throat, shut her eyes, and forced herself to follow the Draik. She continued paddling blindly – too scared to keep her eyes open – until she felt her nose ram into a wall. Confused, she opened her eyes and saw that she had made it all the way across the deep end unassisted.
"Ha! I knew I could do it! I've been this great swimmer all along. I just now decided to reveal my talents," the Acara gloated, allowing her immodesty to shine through. Andrew rolled his eyes.
* * *
The next day, Princess Fernypoo made it through the swimming contest at the beach on Mystery Island without any problems. She actually even came in the top fifty of the five hundred or so Acaras that had participated. Of course, her new swim suit was the envy of everyone there, and Princess Fernypoo strutted about the beach like she owned it, even though she didn't (her father did).
When she returned home to the mansion, Dora the Flotsam cook called out to her as she strolled through the kitchen, "How was the swimming contest?"
"It was alright. I was one of the top contestants of course," Princess Fernypoo replied nonchalantly as she gazed at her nails.
Upon hearing this encounter, Andrew stopped the princess in the hallway. Since the festival had gone so well, he was hoping that the princess would offer her gratitude to him for preventing her from making a fool of herself. "So, it looks like maybe you could stand to learn a few more things from me since I taught you to swim so well," Andrew remarked with a laugh.
The expression on the Acara's face quickly changed to one of superiority as she scoffed. "Don't be silly. I did all the work in learning how to swim. What could an old Draik like you possibly teach me?" Princess Fernypoo rolled her eyes as she pushed past Andrew. "Get me a Jelly Bean Pizza to my room pronto! And don't forget to schedule my daily massage. Just because I was gone for the festival today doesn't mean you get to lounge around and take the day off!"
"Yes, Princess," Andrew replied with a sigh.