OK, guys, move over and let the china painting goddess step in:
CHAPTER 8: ARIEL RETURNS
How to get the conch! Hmmmmmm. There HAD to be a way.....If she could only......
" I need a HUGE favor from you..."
" What's that, mon cher ...?"
" I...er...eh, need you to distract Eric..."
"Distract Eric? Why, whatever for?"
" Oh, I just, uh....oh,...will you do it?"
Belle gave Ariel a long look. "well....I suppose...if it will help a friend!"
" Oh thanks, Belle! youre the best! Here he comes now..."
Eric waved when he spotted the two girls.Belle glided over and took his arm.
"Eric, I've been wanting to see the gardens for the longest time.... Would you mind if....." and with that, she led the unsuspecting prince out the door, pausing just long enough to wink over her shoulder at Ariel.
As soon as they were gone, Ariel glanced around quickly to make sure she was alone, snatched the conch from the glass case and raced down the stone path to the sea...
She paused for a second at the top of the sea wall and then dove.
The warm waters carressed her, welcoming her back and she felt an instant of relief......then, an instant of panic! She struggled for a breath and couldnt catch one. Frantically, she flailed toward the surface and in her wild thrashing, her hand brushed the crystal amulet that Litora had placed around her neck. Her fingers closed quickly around it and she yanked it free and dropped it to the sea bottom. She inhaled.......the sweetest, most glorious breath of sea water she had ever taken!
She rested till her heartbeat slowed and was relieved to see that herfins had returned. She struggled out of her wet, heavy clothes and, clutching the conch close to her, she swam rapidly for Atlantica....
STRANGE! It was quiet! ...Too quiet!
There was none of the usual buzz of activity at the city gates.
Ariel thought" Thats weird! Ah well, everybody's probably at the palace getting ready for the concert."
She swam through the gates and down street after deserted street. She began to shiver.
"Whats going on here? Hello?....Anybody there?...Hello?"
She thought she was shouting but fear choked her voice back to a raspy whisper. The closer she got to the palace, the spookier it got and it was even worse in the palace itself....every hallway she passed was as silent as a ghost....every room oddly vacant.....
Now she was shaking uncontrollably....
"Hel-lo?...Where is everyone?..."
Suddenly, the huge gilded doors of the main hall flew open and a voice she barely recognized shouted: "Come in, dear! We've been waiting for you!"
Ariel's fingers closed around the conch as she swam slowly through the doors. Her eyes frantically swept the room and stopped on a familiar figure lying unconscious on the floor.
"DADDY!" Ariel raced toward him . before she could get there, a hand caught her tiny wrist in a cruelly wrenching grip.
" JUST A MINUTE,PRIN-CESS!"
"OW! Youre hurting me!" Ariel turned to look square into the eyes of.......herself! Herself, that is, with a vicious snarl and ugly yellow eyes...
Litora's triumphant laugh echoed through the hall.
"SO! you fell for it, eh?? You're even dumber than I gave you credit for! I cant BELIEVE you bought that 'magic conch shell' bit!...OH MAN! Even I thought I was going overboard on THAT one!"
" But then why did you send me up to the surface if it was a lie?"
" TO GET YOU OUT OF THE WAY, IDIOT CHILD!!!...With your ole dad,er,eh..shall we say'out of commission", and your ridiculous sisters and that blowfish and that overstuffed crab out searching for poor missing little Ariel, it was a simple matter to cast my spell over the rest of the kingdom!"
" Look, sweets! Its nothing personal....Your daddy and I have had this 'thing' brewing for a long, long time...ever since he dumped me for that red-headed little wimp he married....."
"DON'T TALK THAT WAY ABOUT MY MOTHER!!"
"Oh!...So...reee!" Litora smiled a little evil smile."I forgot you were related!....Anyway........I should have been queen of the sea.... not that brainless, simpering .......well, it took a few years but see? I've rectified the situation. So.....now........YOU will kneel before me..."
Ariel gritted her teeth. "NEVER!"
Litora clutched the trident and it began to glow. Ariel's fingers tightened around the conch as she frantically looked around her.
She saw.....merfolk! Hundreds of merfolk! She swam quickly toward them.
" Oh, Gabriel!Am I glad to see you! You have to help me!"
Gabriel didnt respond and when Ariel looked up at him, his eyes were blank with a sickly yellow glow. Ariel shrank back in horror.
"NO!" She looked into another friendly face: "Marina?"
Litora laughed."They cant help you! They belong to ME now!"
"W-what are you going to do?"
"Well, I plan to start a little side business selling cultured pearls tended by mer-slave labor...and,ah,...maybe sell a couple of 'em to this guy on the ssurface who wants to put 'em on display....P.T. Barney or something like that...."
"YOU CANT DO THAT!" screamed Ariel.
Litora just smiled.
" But first, I have to get rid of a bothersome lit-tle pest....OK boys, take her outta here and drop her into the Cave of Darkness..."
Jontu shook his head and a little spark of life came back into his eyes."But...n-nobody ever survived in there...."
"THAT'S the idea, fish-BRAIN! TAKE HER AWAY!"
Ariel clutched the conch even tighter. If only the story WERE true! .....If this WERE a magic conch.......What was this? No, her imagination must be playing tricks on her....Surely the conch wasnt getting hotter in her hand. She glanced down to see it glowing brightly. She held it up for Litora to see.
As Ariel held it high, a swirling curl of smoke rose out of the shell. It churned and danced until it had formed itself into the shape of a beautiful mermaid.
Litora's jaw dropped and the apparition pointed an accusing finger at her.
Its voice bristled with anger.
" You doubted this counch could work magic??"
"B-but..." sputtered Litora," I=I tried eberything I could....and...zip...zilch...nada!"
" Thats because magic only works for the pure of heart!"
Then the apparition turned to Ariel and whispered in a soft carressing voice that was the sweetest music Ariel had ever heard.
"Quickly, child...take the trident!"
Ariel reached for the trident.
"Dont be afraid! Litora cant hurt you."
Litora grabbed at the trident but her muscles had turned as useless as sea jelly and she was unable to stop Ariel.
"Now, wave the trident over your merfolk and all shall be as it was...."
Ariel did ....and the merfolk slowly began to shake the spell out of their eyes.Then they began to get angry. They looked at Litora.
"Lets GET her! Yeah! RIP her limb from limb!...NAW! Lets throw HER inthe cave like she was gonna do to Princess Ariel!"
The apparition spoke again....softly...but the power of her words stopped the merfolk in their tracks.
"WAIT! Revenge is NOT the answer!...Litora is powerless now! She should be made to live a long, long life within sight of Atlantica where she will be reminded forever of what she tried to destroy and what she can NEVER have..."
The merfolk grabbed Litora and carried her out of the palace to the outskirts of Atlantica.
Ariel stared at the apparition. There was something familiar and comforting about her.
"All is as it was, my child!"
Ariel smiled...but then she spotted Triton and Ulysses still unconscious on the floor.
" DADDY! ..Oh, Daddy!"
She swam over to him. "wake UP, Daddy! PLEASE!"
"Put the shell in his hand, child."
Ariel did as she was told. What was that? Did she see a flutter of eyelid?
Triton sat up and rubbed his head.
"Its a LONG story, Daddy."
Triton looked down at the shell in his hand and at the smoky apparition. His eyes misted.
"Ariella!....Ariella, my darling!"
"Triton! My love!"
" I am fine, dearest!I know you still miss me and I miss you and the girls terribly...but really...Im fine! .................I can SEE you, you know!"
"What? HOW can this BE?"
"I'm with you everywhere you go.....and I tuck the girls in with a kiss every night......and ...YOU..." She looked at Ariel, who was staring with her mouth wide open,"....you, my dearest..most precious one! I have a SPECIAL kiss for you every night!....You certainly have grown into a wonderful, spirited woman..."
"Ariel,"Triton said, taking her hand gently, " Ariel...you never got to know her...but...precious....this is your......"
"MOTHER!" cried Ariel with tears streaming down her cheeks. "Oh Mother, you dont know how much I wanted to be able to talk to you!"
"Darling, I've always been right here." She touched Ariel gently." You can talk to me and..Ill answer!...Just listen with your heart!"
She kissed Ariel on the cheek. It felt like angels' wings. Then she kissed Triton.
He sighed." I miss you terribly, Ariella!"
" I know, Triton...but one day, we'll be together again forever. Take care of my babies."
"You KNOW i will."
Ariella carressed Triton's cheek and touched Ariel's face and then the apparition dissolved...........
Tears streamed dowm Ariel's face.
Triton gently put his arm around her shoulder.
"Your mother is a beautiful woman. You remind me SO much of her .......I love you, dearest!"
"I love you too, daddy!"
It took several hours, but Ariel finally recited the entire story of her adventure to Triton.
"Ariel! How many TIMES have I warned you about going up to the surface???"
"But daddy....everybody I met there was wonderful and there are SO many exciting things to see and there was one hu....". She paused and blushed.
"What is it, Ariel?"
" There was one ...WHAT...Ariel?"
".....er,, um...eh, well...there was a ...um....a human who was veryhandsomeandkindandtreatedmelikeaprincessand...I-I-I..." she rambled quickly.
"ARIEL!" bellowed Triton."DONT TELL ME YOUVE GOT A CRUSH ON A HUMAN!!!"
"Heh heh...er..eh....NOT exactly, daddy!"
" What do you mean, NOT exactly?"
" Well, I.....I think I love him,daddy!"
" NO! ARIEL! You KNOW what I told you about humans! How they exploit the sea and eat fish and..."
"...but Daddy ........."
But Triton already had his hand on his trident. He waved it over Ariel's head "Magic trident, erase these memories from the child's head. ... Give her back her love of the sea ................. oh, .. and let her keep her memories of her Mother...."
He waved the trident.
" ..... but Daddy, I ........... What were we talking about?"
Triton put down the trident. "The concert."
" We were?.....Oh yeah! OF COURSE! THE CONCERT!"
Triton smiled. "Honey, did I tell you that I invited an old friend of mine to sing at the concert? His name is Ulysses..."
Ariel's eyes widened till Triton swore he could see the entire ocean in them.
" Youre KIDDING!!! ULYSSES???? THE Ulysses???Oh my GOSH!!!....I better find Sebastian! I need to run over my songs!!!....ULYSSES!!At OUR concert!!!"
Ariel squealed with delight and swam for the door.She stopped suddenly and turned to Triton.
" I really miss Mother."
" I do too, sweetness! I do TOO!"
writer's note: I really wanted to "yuck " this up...and I know that Jeff especially was looking forward to a little bit of lunacy in my section...but the previous writings really touched me ...and i was forced to play it straight! (maybe the NEXT story can be the tale of a tag team wrestling match between Ariel and jasmine and the Genie and Hercules.....BUt I had to end this one with a sappy, romantic sigh...."(Did get in a Barney reference for ys, tho, jeffer, ole bud!) :-D
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Shad Z. Daly
This page last modified Thu, Mar 9, 2000.
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