OoOOoOo! It's pretty and gasp longer! Well, get ready cuz the next one is LONGER! Anyways, read on.

4: Tricks of the Trade

"Go." The word was a harsh whisper that grated on the girl's throat, but she didn't care. She needed to be alone with the pain, the pain that she knew would plague her for the rest of her life. Whatever had happened, she had been scarred, invisibly branded by raw power that screeched inside of her for release that she couldn't give. She didn't mind it, really, but the primal urge to use it was there. She wanted to dive into the ocean and hunt, to strike out and kill, and her conscience would never let her body do that. That didn't stop it from trying, however. Decidedly unaware of her friends' presence, she pulled herself back up and lay on the bunk again, vainly struggling to sleep. She must have been convincing because the door shut softly behind them and Emily heard fervent whispers. She stood and crept to the door, leaning against it gently and pressing her ear to the crack.

"We have to tell her now. What if whatever the Sorceress did is killing her!" Adriane was indignant; Emily could hear it in her voice.

"No," Kara whispered, "we'll just scare her. Besides, if she knows she was turned into a mermaid she may want to try it out and get stuck in that form. Who knows if she can even get back without falling unconscious?"

"More than likely she'll be able to restrain the magic with practice so that she won't change every time she hits water. For now, though, we should keep her on land." Ozzie sounded incredibly calm for the current situation. Am I really part mermaid now? Emily wondered. She pressed closer, pushing the door open a bit to hear the conversation better.

"You can't keep it from her forever," Marlin added quietly. "Sooner or later she'll have to use the power. Out of nowhere she'll just flop to the ground with a tail and fins."

"And what happens if you're on Earth when it happens?" Zach continued Marlin's thought. "You said not many people believed in magic there. Won't they want to study her like the Sorceress studied the mistwolves?"

"We aren't telling her and that's final. Besides, can any of you really describe what happened?" Silence.

"You could try," Emily murmured unconsciously. She colored in embarrassment and looked down as Adriane pulled to door open.

"You shouldn't be out of bed yet, Em. What if that happens again?" Adriane gestured to the blanket on the floor. Emily's temper flared, but she cooled it with the rapid realization that they didn't know what she did.

"It always will," she informed them solemnly. "Marlin's right. The magic wants freedom, even if it has to rip me apart to get it. It was the one flaw of the Dark Sorceress' plan." Emily looked down again, this time in fatigue as the full weight of the revelation sunk in.

"Let's get you onshore," Kara said soothingly. "I'm sure we'll figure something out. In the meantime, we all need a good night's sleep on dry land."

"I'm not going to be treated like an invalid," Emily insisted sharply, her eyes flicking across all of their faces. Kara returned the glare and stomped off. Adriane and Zack turned just as swiftly, but they glanced back at Emily with small smiles.

Be well, healer, Lyra nuzzled her hand, soon followed by Dreamer with the same tidings. She watched them go.

"We aren't trying to," Marlin sighed heavily. "We're just worried." Emily's eyes softened and she caught the boy's eyes.

"Don't be," she murmured, gently brushing his cheek. She then looked down and slipped past him to exit the boat.


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