Random Title: Vanish At The Ocean
Timer: 45 minutes
She was a pretty little thing, with the flowing disposition of a seaweed strip. Her skin was as bright and brimming with life as the pearls decorating her wrists and neck. Jewels in which Sibylla herself had given her. It was more of a public act than of any genuine intent. Now, however, Sibylla despised them. The golden little girl soared through the waters, playing with her necklace with an unattractive habit.
It was not hard for Sibylla to cope with her disappearance.
Each strand of slimy tentacle-like hair floated lazily around the Queen of the Reef as her underlings filled her in on the news. Lisbet, her husband’s pride and joy, had vanished into the depths of the ocean. Those under Sibylla’s rule were distraught with grief unnatural to the cold queen. She, of course, feigned her expected part, but whenever alone in their Coral Palace her face would relax into indifference.
It was night, and the Queen was dressed for the evening–deep green robes of scales and seaweed swayed behind her, giving her still form some life. She could not find any rest in her chambers–the King was still mourning the abrupt loss of his daughter. Sibylla looked through the carved window and out onto her kingdom, bored. How long would this dreadfulness continue?
Something caught her eye.
Glimmering, pale, and floating peacefully through the dark waters. It glimmered like no fish ever could, nor any ocean-kin. Through the three lenses protecting the Queen’s opal eyes, she made the form out: A pearl bracelet.
Sibylla’s flaccid expression broke into genuine shock. Her finned hands clasped the edge of window, claws picking at the burnt orange coral. No, surely it couldn’t be.
Though a hefty specimen, the multiple tentacles beneath Sibylla propelled her form into the water easily. With the grace of a hard-earned Queen, she floated cautiously to the glimmering ring of pearls. It nestled into her scaled hand with the obedience of a summon. Her claws picked at it, eyes reflecting its luminescence. The thread holding it together was gold.
An image of the young girl’s hair flickered before her, accompanied by a bright laugh, Oh Sibylla, they’re lovely.
The Queen’s expression soured at the memory. Her sharp eyes looked upwards, then to her glorious new home behind her. A home secured after years of struggle, one that never quite felt as welcoming to her as it did to the golden-finned child. The pearls rolled between the thick finned fingers as it had through those soft delicate ones.
Sibylla’s gills flared outwards, the frown on her pale face deepening. It would be more peaceful without the singing little creature. The urge to investigate further was waning, and soon the Queen was propelling herself to the dim-lit castle before her.
A soft cry echoed through the waters. At once Sibylla knew it to be the King. Sobbing, babbling, whimpering. She bared her fangs in displeasure. What if he never moved on? Stuck in a place of grief like the coral rooted into the sands?
She hissed, causing a cloud of bubbles to engulf her face. With trained poise, the Queen twisted her tendrils and swam upwards–in the direction of the falling pearls.
Hovering in the black waters like a fool, her clouded eyes searched for a golden reward. If the brat would silence this husband of hers, it might have been worth the minimal effort.
A dark form floated in the distance.
It was not any kin of the ocean. More limbs than the child and her father, but not as many as the Queen, either. The silhouette was deformed, with a swollen head and large boil hanging to the side of it. Though she could not see details, she knew it to be disgusting.
The black beast noticed her as she had it. The Queen splayed her limbs out, baring her pointed teeth–daring the creature to challenge her.
Rather than returning the challenge, it unleashed a strange noise, a choked growl, before darting away into the night under the cover of a bubble cloud.
Sibylla retreated back into her chamber, gills flaring. For the first time in years, the Queen had felt fear. What was that monster? And had it been the one to drop the bracelet?
She didn’t notice her husband’s cries that night, only the soft clinking of the pearls beneath her nails.
The next morning was as active as when the princess’s disappearance had been announced. “Visitor” “Stranger” “Newcommer” were tossed around like pebbles. The King had yet to emerge to the public, too overwhelmed to keep composure in front of subjects. The Queen, however, was not as weak.
Draped in black gowns, she regally entered her throne room with forced familiarity. Her expression was cold at the news from the squid-child floating before her. “My Queen, a stranger has arrived, and has requested entrance.”
“What does he want?”
“I… no one knows.” The yellow, veiled eyes of the gray child looked at her with a strange fear the Queen had never seen before. Fear of the unknown. Sibylla spoke slowly, asking a question never necessary before: “What type of creature is he?”
The slits in the center of the servant-child’s eyes narrowed, “I… Don’t know.”
Sharp fins hidden along the Queen’s arms stood straight, providing an added discomfort. Her pause was long.
“Bring him in.”
The Queen, seated on her throne, looked impressive, with a cold and absolute aura of control that submitted all those around her. Her tentacles were clutched around the large chair, however, in an attempt to steel herself against what she feared to approach.
When it arrived, her clasp on the carved fixtures caused them to crack. If a Mer was cut in two, then had his fins replaced with fixtures similiar to its arms–that was the only way the Queen could explain it to herself. He was clothed in a thick, brown material that did not sway with the water. A contraption was attached to its face, covering it in a clear shell. A length of string attached the mask to a bulge on his back. It was not a part of his body, but a seemingly added fixture. It produced a soft whirring that sounded much like a dull growl.
“Your majesty,” the stranger greeted, before extending into a deep bow. Sibylla hoped she hid her discomfort well. He spoke quickly, “My name is Pip O’ Capricia, and I am not of your world.”
“I can see that,” she responded sharply, “What do you want, visitor?”
A smile brimmed through his mask, “You don’t seem to be very curious as to what I mean.”
“Nor do I care,” the blue-and-green tendrils on her head flared out, “What do you want?”
“Surely you must be as intrigued by me as I am about your people.”
“State your business now, or–” Sibylla’s tongue was paralyzed. There, beneath the folds of the stranger’s bizarre attire, a string of pearls shimmered. Even the fabrics of her gown stayed in place.
“Well, your highness,” the man responded, black eyes fixated upon the stunned Queen, “I consider myself a collector.”
To be continued!