THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER
"Singing rehearsal.. ugh, how boring! If only something would happen..." Ariel thought, as she swam to the choral room. Her prayer was answered, in the form of a bright glowing ball which bobbed a few feet (or tails) in front of her, as if beckoning her.
"I wonder..." Ariel muttered as she approached the object curiously. Suddenly the ball sped away, out of the palace's confines and away from the kingdom. Acting on impulse, as she so often did, the young mermaid followed the glowing ball into a dark cave, far away from her father's palace. As soon as she was inside the cave, the ball disappeared and a huge boulder shifted, blocking the entrance. Ariel spun around and pushed the boulder, but her efforts proved futile. There was no turning back and the only way to go was further into the cave. Ariel slowly advanced down the dark tunnel and soon came to a large opening, filled with shelves of scrolls, containers and potions.
"I was wondering when you get here."
Ariel turned around quickly, startled. As if this cavern wasn't enough, the apparent owner was even more amazing. Before Ariel was another mermaid, nearly exactly like her, except her hair and eyes werebrown and appeared ten years her senior, and with a very similar voice.There was a brief pause, as Ariel gazed upon a near mirror image of herself.
"Who.. are you?" Ariel finally asked, after a moment of silence.
This brought a look of consternation on the other mermaid's face. "You mean... he never told you? Well, that certainly is interesting..."
She glanced at Ariel who still wore a face of confusion.
"Oh. Let me introduce myself. I'm Litora. My friends call me Lit, that is if I had any friends. Enough about me, you're probably wondering why I brought you here."
Ariel still looked confused.
"Okay," Litora said slowly, "I'll go slowly this time. My name is Litora... you know, your long lost sister."
"What?" Ariel spat out. "That's..."
Litora put a finger to Ariel's lips, hushing her. "Impossible? Because you've heard of me before?"
"Actually, I was about to say that's impossible because your name doesn't start with 'A'."
"Oh. That. Well, you know, it was fashionable to give kids names starting with 'L' when I was born."
"But how can this be?"
"Well, it started out when I was about your age. Like you, I had this insatiable urge to learn about the humans and their world. And yes, I've been watching you, Ariel. You'd be amazed at the things I've seen. No, wait, you wouldn't, since you were the one doing them. Anyway, where was I? Right... it started out as a very small thing. You know, collecting human stuff, looking at them from a distance... but I wanted more. I wanted to be where the people are, I wanted to see them dancing, up where they walk, up where they run, up where they stay all day in the sun... so I started to become a little more adventurous."
"It's an adjective, Ariel. It means..."
"I know what it means!"
"Right. Adventurous, in this case, being going up to human ships, talking to the humans themselves and falling in love with one of them."
Ariel was shocked.
"Talking to them? Falling in love with them? That's... but that's..."
"Stupid? I didn't think so. But obviously Daddy did. He and I had a big fight and I ran off. Forever. As for the human, well... I never did see him again." Litora paused at this recollection, then her eyes lit up again. "And that's where you come in, dear Ariel!"
"That's right, you! You see, I know you. You're spirited, independent, curious- an adventurer, an explorer. Not afraid to take risks. Like me!"
"Litora, what are you..."
"Getting at it?"
"Yes. And can you..."
"Stop interrupting my sentences."
"Anyway, where are you getting at then?"
"I was really in love with this human, Ariel. He was handsome, rich, royalty... anyway, I gave him something. Something very special."
"What was it?"
"The Super Special, Absolutely Fantastic, Very Magical and Powerful Sea Conch of King Triton, which was kept in the Palace. Needless to say, everyone simply called it the Conch. It was a truly beautiful object, and a treasure to our people.
"I've never heard of it."
"Well, there was this royal cover-up. It would look pretty bad on dear Daddy if this thing became public. Anyway, I gave the Conch to this human, thinking he would return the love I felt for him, but... he went away, and that was that."
"So what's so..."
"I think that Daddy would forgive me if I could return the Conch to him. Tell me, Ariel, have you ever wanted to be a human?" Litora grinned, as Ariel's face lit up.
"Well, of course!"
"I can do that. Just a little magical trick I've picked up and you can be human. Walking around, doing human things."
Ariel couldn't believe Litora's offer. "What's the catch?"
"Catch? There's no catch. After all, we're sisters. Here's my plan: I make you human. You go to this human's place - he has this palace by the shore, you can't miss it- pick up the Conch, come back, while taking in some sights along the way. Think of it as an excursion."
"Why can't you go there?"
"Ariel, I'm absolutely sick of humans after that experience. I can't bear to be around them again. You, on the other hand, can't get enough of them."
"But I have to go this concert..."
"Oh, don't worry about that. I've got another magical trick for that. We'll swap bodies."
"I said we'll swap bodies. You get mine, I get yours. I go to the concert in your place, while you get to visit the humans. It's a win-win situation, Ariel. Once you return with the Conch and give it to me, we'll change bodies again, I'll give the Conch to Daddy, he'll forgive me, I'll live as a normal princess again. And you'll have had the experience of being a human for a few days."
Ariel didn't need any further convincing. The mere prospect of being human sent her heart racing.
"I'll do it!" she agreed.
"Great. Now, hold still."
Litora whipped out a small piece of coral and waved it around. Suddenly, Ariel found herself in a different body, a bit taller than her own.
"Bang. We're done. Wasn't that convenient?"
Ariel nodded, still amazed.
"I got to admit," Litora said, "You've got great hair. Or should I say I've got great hair? Just kidding." She handed Ariel a necklace with a small crystal attached to it.
"Okay, Ariel, when you reach the surface, put the necklace on. As long as you have the necklace on, you'll be human. Got it?"
Ariel nodded once again. "Good. Let's get moving then, little sister." Ariel swam to the surface, while Litora headed for the kingdom.
PART OF YOUR WORLD
"Where is dat girl?" Sebastian wondered. Ariel was late. Again.
"You mean me?" Sebastian span around to see Ariel leaning again the entranceway.
"Where have you been? You're an hour late!" the crab shouted angrily. Ariel's sisters looked at her, unimpressed by their young sister's behaviour.
"Boy, is she going to get it now," Arista commented.
Ariel floated in casually and took her place, next to the guest of honour, Ulysses. Ulysses glanced at her.
"What's your problem, buddy?" Ariel snorted, a comment which brought gasps of shock from her sisters and Sebastian.
"Um... no problem, Ariel, no problem at all," Ulysses replied,confused by this young mermaid's sudden change in attitude.
"Good," Ariel said.
"What's got into you, Ariel?" Aquata asked.
"Me? Nothing. Geez, this rehearsal thing's a bore. I'm outta here."
Ariel swam away, leaving behind a confused seahorse, six shocked mermaids and one very angry crab.
Belle walked down the shore alone. It was her daily stroll, a chance to get away from the commotion of the town. Belle stopped when she came across a woman about her age, with large blue eyes and long brown hair, with no clothes, struggling to stand up properly. Belle rushed to the woman's aid.
"Here, let me help," Belle said.
Belle took the woman back to her little house outside town and gave her some clothes and food.
"So... do you have a name? Mine's Belle."
"Ariel," the stranger replied, looking around Belle's home,fascinated by the many objects on her shelves.
"Ariel. Hmm... I've never seen or heard of an Ariel around here before."
"I'm... new in town."
"Were you shipwrecked?"
"Um... yes," Ariel lied, while thinking, "No, actually I'm a mermaid princess from the depths of the sea. Not that you would believe me of course."
"So, Ariel, do you have any plans on what you're going to do? Any family or friends to go to?"
"I'm looking for... a conch."
"Some sort of special conch."
Belle's expression of confusion turned into one of understanding.
"You mean the Conch, which is open for public display at Prince Eric's palace."
"Yes, that's it! I need to um.. see it."
"Well, we can go there tomorrow morning, if you want. I'll ask my father to mind my bookstore." Belle got up to make some tea. "You know, we could..." Belle turned around, to see Ariel busy flipping through the pages of one of her books. Belle smiled at her visitor, who was absolutely enthralled by the book.
"You like reading as well?"
Ariel lifted her head slightly. "Excuse me? Oh... the book. Well, um... it's very interesting."
Belle sipped her tea and offered a cup to Ariel, who looked at the tea with equal fascination, and followed Belle's lead by sipping it.
"You can't read?" Belle inquired. Ariel nodded in response.
"That's a pity. Would you like me to teach you?"
Ariel nodded again, and the two spent the rest of the afternoon reading a book, by Hans Christian Andersen.
"Ariel? My daughter? An attitude problem?" King Triton couldn't believe what Ulysses was saying.
"Ask Sebastian if you want. Or your other daughters. She seemed fine when I was talking to her before, but when she came late for rehearsal, she was... um... different to say the least."
Triton sat in his throne and sighed. "I'll have a word with her."
"Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Triton, but..."
"Yes, it's alright." He put his hand on Ulysses in a friendly gesture.
"You're a good friend, Ulysses. Thank you for bringing this to my attention."
Ulysses bowed his head and left the throne room. Triton sighed again, alone.
"Daddy?" Ariel waltzed into the room.
Triton gave Ariel a firm glance. "Ariel, what do you...."
"Ah, give it a rest."
"I beg your pardon?" Triton exclaimed.
"Triton, you old fool. Long time no see." 'Ariel' moved right in front of the sea king, gazing directly into his eyes.
Triton gasped. "You..."
"So you remember me. I'm touched. Truly touched," 'Ariel' remarked sarcastically.
"Where is my daughter? What have you done with her?" Triton demanded.
"She's... hmm... let's just say she's somewhere you'll never find her."
Triton rose from his throne and brandished his glowing trident. "Give her back or..."
'Ariel' interrupted, "You're in position to be making demands, Triton! Ariel's mine. And besides," 'Ariel' swam around Triton and gave him a hug, "You wouldn't want to harm me. Your beloved daughter. Or at least her body."
"What do you want?"
'Ariel' swam away, back into a confrontational position. "Nothing much... except your kingdom!"
Suddenly, bolts of blue energy leapt from the young mermaid's fingertips, enveloping the king, who released his hold on his trident and fell to the floor. 'Ariel' picked up the trident, which now glowed in her hands.
"Oooh... cool. Ursula, eat your heart out!"
"Triton, about your daughter..." Ulysses said as he swam into the room. His face went pale with horror as he saw 'Ariel', holding the royal trident, over her father's limp form.
"Poseidon's ghost!" he exclaimed. 'Ariel' turned around and pointed the trident at the seahorse, frying him with lightning energy.
"Gee, thanks, Mr. Seahorse. Now I've got someone to pin the blame on. And when Ariel returns with the Conch, I will truly be unstoppable!"
She tried to laugh evilly, but gagged and coughed. "Ugh. I wonder how Ursula does this."
Ariel shifted in her bed uneasily. Something felt wrong. She didn't know what it was, but something was bothering her. "Maybe I'm not used to being human yet," she answered herself and got up, changed out of her pink night-gown into a dress. "I suppose a little evening walk wouldn't hurt." She peered into Belle's room, the occupant of which had fallen asleep with a book lying on her face. Ariel giggled quietly at this sight and went outside, careful to close the door behind her.
Here she was. A mermaid. Walking down the street. Down a human street. As a human. She could scarcely believe it even after a whole day. She made a promise to herself to thank Litora when she got back. Ariel continued to walk down the town's streets, alone, with the moonlight as her only company.
Eric always made a habit of getting out of the palace and visiting the people of his kingdom, getting a feel for who they were and how they lived. He wanted to see life from their point of view, so that he might be able to understand and rule over them better. So, he strolled down the streets of the town alone. There wasn't much to see at this time of night, but he had always visited the town during the day, and wanted to change that, to see the many aspects of the kingdom, not just a few. Not only did these night-time strolls give him a perspective on what his kingdom was truly like, but also an opportunity to clear his thoughts. Especially those concerning about finding that special someone who would fill the void in his life, which seemed to have everything except that.
"Well... who knows what will happen?" he thought, as he turned the corner.
"Who knows what will happen?" Ariel asked herself, as she turned the corner and bumped into a very attractive young man. Ariel and Eric both fell backwards.
"Oops, I'm sorry," they both said, and then paused, looking at each other.
"He's so handsome," Ariel thought to herself.
"She's so beautiful," Eric thought to himself. "Although I prefer redheads."
Eric got up and helped Ariel to her feet. They paused again.
"My name's Eric," the young prince said.
"Ariel," replied the young woman.
"Are you... new here?" Eric knew most of the townsfolk and was quite friendly with many of them.
"Um, yes, I'm new around here."
Eric and Ariel continued their walk down the streets, the moon looking down at the two from above, and witnessed their growing friendship, as they talked, laughed and told each other stories.
Ariel finally returned to Belle's house, in an elated state and fell asleep immediately.
"I can't believe it," Arista said, as the seven daughters of Triton looked down at their comatose father. "Why would Ulysses and Daddy be fighting?"
"I don't know either," Ariel replied. "I just swam in and found both of them lying on the floor, after that they had some sort of argument. I rushed to Daddy's side and he gave me the trident, probably wanting me to take it and the responsibility of ruling the kingdom, before he slipped away."
"He slipped away into a coma? That sounds a bit fishy to me," Alana said.
They all groaned automatically at the poor joke.
"Why did he give you the trident?" Adrina asked.
"Because I was the only one there. And he probably thought I could handle it. So if you'll excuse me, I have a sea kingdom to run." Ariel swam away, carrying the trident.
Ariel woke up, hopped out of bed, got dressed and went into the kitchen. Belle already had breakfast ready for her and was reading a book while eating a croissant.
Ariel looked at the spoon on the table and picked it up, turning it around.
"It's a spoon, Ariel," Belle explained. Ariel still looked confused. "You eat with it." Belle demonstrated how and wondered, "Where does this person come from? Someplace without spoons?"
After a leisurely meal, Belle took Ariel to the palace to see the Conch, which was housed in the public display areas. Ariel was truly fascinated by everything she saw in the palace's public museum. Her eyes fell upon a knight's helmet.
"I have one of those!" she exclaimed.
"A helmet?" Belle asked, puzzled.
"Yes! In my... um... where I come from."
Belle decided not to push the point any further. She found Ariel to be unusually secretive about her past. Ariel ran off, like a child in a candy store, eager to discover and taste new things.
"Why do I bother?" Belle asked herself, and began to read the plaque beneath the helmet's display case.
The Conch sat in a glass display case, in a small room, unprotected and forgotten. The more popular and important displays were in the main chamber. The Conch seemed to beckon Ariel, as she moved closer. She looked around, and began to lift the glass case.
"Ariel!" Ariel quickly put the case down, turned around and was met by a smiling Prince Eric looking at her.
"Eric!" she exclaimed, "What are you.. um... doing here? Not that it's not nice to see you again. It really is..."
"I was just looking around and here I find you! What a coincidence!"
"Yes, what a coincidence!" Ariel replied, as she thought, "Great. I can't steal the Conch with him around. Maybe if I..."
"Eric, can you tell me about this Conch?"
"The Conch? Oh, yeah, sure. That stupid thing's been in my family for ages. Really unimportant. Just here for sentimental value, I guess."
Ariel gave him a look of confusion. "You mean, it wasn't given to you?"
"Not that I recall."
"Not by a mermaid?"
"Mermaid? Where did you get something like that? What would I be doing with a mermaid?"
"I don't know. You're talking to one now," Ariel muttered under her breath.
"Just wondering." Ariel was also wondering if Litora had been telling the truth. Could she be lying? It didn't seem possible. After all, Litora seemed like a sister to her and gave her this marvellous opportunity to be a human, while getting her out of that boring concert. No, Litora couldn't be lying. Could she?
"Oh," Eric replied lamely.
Then maybe Eric was lying. Sure, he was handsome and seemed like a great guy. But then again, Litora must have thought that too while falling in love with him. Then he betrayed her by going away, taking the Conch with him. Litora, who has done so much for Ariel, must have been really upset by that. And didn't Daddy always say that humans weren't to be trusted? "Need to get the Conch somehow," Ariel thought to herself. "Need a plan..." Something inside in her head clicked, providing the young woman with instant inspiration.
"Eric...." she said, in a seductive voice.
"Yes, Ariel?" he replied to the woman who was slowly moving closer to him.
"You like me, don't you?"
"Well, I like you," she half whispered. "Very much so."
Eric gulped, as Ariel placed her hands on his chest and pressed her body against his.
"You have something I want. Something I want very badly. And you don't want to disappoint me, do you?"
"I thought so," Ariel continued, as she caressed his body. "Because I don't want to disappoint you. I love you so much."
Eric looked at her directly when she said this. "You do?" he asked excitedly.
"Yes, I do love you. Do you love me?" she asked, in a more innocent voice.
"Yes, I do!" Eric exclaimed. Ariel, despite the fact that she wasn't a redhead, seemed to be the right one for him.
"Well, there's something I really need."
Just as Ariel was about to say, "The Conch," Belle walked in. "Ariel, where are you? Let's go now." Belle stopped suddenly as she saw Ariel and Eric in a loving embrace. "Um... sorry. Wrong room."
Ariel sighed. "There goes the mood. Thanks, Belle," she thought and gave Eric a quick kiss, before leaving with Belle.
"So... did you see the Conch? Or were you busy with something else?" Belle asked with a smile on her face, as she and Ariel tidied the books in Belle's store. Ariel gave her a stern look, and turned away.
Belle simply chuckled. The idea of her new friend and the prince getting together? How long until every person in town knows about this one? A day? An hour? Belle laughed again.
"I don't see what's so funny about it," Ariel remarked. "The Conch," she thought. "How do I get the Conch? And Eric... well, he's certainly... attractive, but Litora is depending on me so badly. Without the Conch, she won't be able to come back and live like a normal merperson."
"It's not funny, it's just... interesting, that's all," Belle stated.
"Belle, do you have any relatives?"
"Just my father. My mother died a while back."
"Oh. I'm sorry to hear that. Mine did too."
Belle gave her a sympathetic look. "It seems some divine creator doesn't let people like us have mothers."
"Why do you ask?"
"Nothing much. It's just that... I need to help a sister of mine. She really needs me to do something, but I don't know how."
"You'll figure out something. Where did I put that book with the green cover..." Belle turned away and went into the backroom, leaving Ariel to contemplate her situation alone. "The Conch, the Conch...."
Writer's note: I thought we needed a sense of direction, and here it is. There are stacks of homages throughout my piece. Litora is derived from the Latin neuter noun, 'litus, litoris, n.' The Conch is a magical object, and originates from Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Best of all, I got Belle into it! Okay, it's a slightly adapted Belle (I originally wanted Meg, but thought that Belle was more plausible), but if you can have film directors, why not fellow Disney heroines? Belle and Ariel.... incidentally, Ariel will somehow have to lose her memories about being a human. I've already got a few more ideas on how to do this, but thought it might be wise to let others play around with the story. Natalie, sorry for zapping Ulysses.
To Read Part 7, Click Here
To Return to Part 5, Click Here
To Return Home, Click Here
Shad Z. Daly
This page last modified Thu, Mar 9, 2000.
"Ariel," "The Little Mermaid" and all characters and distinctive likenesses thereof, including the images on this web site, are copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. ("DISNEY"). This page is neither sponsored nor endorsed by DISNEY, nor do any views or opinions expressed on this web site represent the views or opinions of DISNEY. The author of this website is not an employee of DISNEY.