Ch 1- Under the Sea
As usual, Ariel was late. Sebastian, her crustacean teacher, knew that she was probably off wondering some new shipwreck, but she was supposed to be practicing for the upcoming concert that her father was holding to celebrate his seven wonderful (and talented) daughters. King Triton was not a merman to be messed, ruler of the sea and all, and Sebastian did not need to feel his wrath (again) to know what would happen if Ariel missed the concert, again.
Ariel was off as Sebastian thought, exploring an abandoned shipwreck. She was quickly growing bored because her bag was full of human things that she needed to take to Scuttle to see what they were; she was waiting for her friend Cephan, who was still digging around in the endless sea of human stuff. "Cephan, are you ready to leave yet? Sebastian is going to kill me if I'm late for my lesson, again."
"Just a minute, Ariel, I'm almost done." Was the reply as she saw his tail flip over his head as he dove for another treasure item. "Aha! Found it."
Ariel rolled her eyes, Cephan said that about every piece of human stuff he found, everything was an "aha!" moment. "C'mon, Cephan. Today would be awesome and not the next wave cycle."
Cephan put his hand up in front of him, "Ok, ok, don't get your scales in a twist." He said, swimming ahead of her, holding his bag of items.
"Are you going to be able to carry all of that, Cephan?" Ariel inquired, pointing to his bugling bag of human items.
"I'm a merman, Ariel, not a guppy."
"Hey! I heard that." Said a yellow and blue fish, swimming besides Ariel.
"Oh Flounder, you know he didn't mean you." Ariel giggled. Flounder was her best friend, besides Cephan, from years ago. He was always a little scared to do things, but he was getting braver every day.
Flounder huffed and swam further ahead of the duo. "Ariel, you're father is going to kill you if you don't get to that concert tonight on time." Flounder was more worried about how Ariel's father was going to react then the crab that was in charge of the whole recital.
"I won't be late, and if Sebastian threatens to tell him, I'll just have to tell Daddy about the time I caught Sebastian reading sheet music he had found in the Museum."
"I thought Sebastian didn't like human stuff?" Flounder asked.
"It's music, Sebastian loves another with a music note attached to it." Cephan replied, laughing. "Ariel, are you coming, you're slower than kelp!" He teased. Cephan had been one of her best friends for as long as she could remember. They had done almost everything together and in tide school, they had been told that they would make the cutes couple and should marry one day. As much as Ariel loved Cephan, he was like the brother she never had in her sea full of sisters. She couldn't see Cephan in that husband role for her, she wanted someone else, a human. She had heard stories from her parents when she was little about people who walked the earth above the sea and she hoped that maybe one day she would be able to visit the surface and maybe find a human, who could love her? It was wishful thinking.
Arianna walked along the shore line, lost in her own thoughts when she heard, "Arianna!"
She turned around to see her brother a couple feet behind her, running towards her, trying to catch his breath in the process. She laughed as he approached. "Eric, what are you doing out here? Did mom let you free for an hour before you're supposed to go back to writing out ball invitations and practicing the latest waltz?" she teased, as he finally approached her.
Eric laughed as he swept her in a hug. "No, silly girl, mom wanted me to come looking for you." Eric was her older brother, but only by two years. He was twenty one and was supposed to get married this year to make sure that he qualified for the crown when his father passed away, but that would be awhile because their father was as fit as a fiddle. Arianna always had though it was unfair for him to be forced to marry someone before he even went to university, but since he was heir to the throne, it was duty before heart.
"Arianna? Paging Arianna?" he laughed, tapping her on the shoulder. She laughed as well.
"I'm fine, sorry. I was just thinking about how unfair it was that you were being forced to marry before you even went to University." She replied.
"It's ok, Arianna. I understand why I have to do it and I don't mind all that much, they don't exactly have a course on how to raise a kingdom at University, do they?" She laughed again and nodded.
"That is true. Well, I'm glad you're ok with it, cause I certainly would not. Me getting married even at my age is supposedly the thing now, I don't think I could do it, even if it was my duty. You're a lot more patient than I am. You said mom was waiting for me? Where?".
"Yes, she's waiting in the ballroom, and she's not alone." Arianna groaned, if her mom was in the ballroom than she knew that it was something containing her future…again.
Ariel arrived at the rehearsal hall only to hear the final notes of the finale. "Perfect timing." Cephan whispered to her as Sebastian swam up.
"Where have you been, young lady?" Sebastian asked.
"Oh, you know…" Ariel replied. "Just around…"
"Ariel, dis' is your second to last rehearsal before da' concert. Miss da' next one and I'll have ta' tell your father."
"Aw Sebastian, don't tell her father." Flounder cut in, swimming up next to Ariel.
"Don't you tell me who I can and can't tell." Sebastian said, "She was late to practice and her father wanted me to tell him if she was late."
"You don't want me to tell him about the time I caught you in the Museum, do you Sebastian?" Ariel grinned as Sebastian paled. Sebastian had spent way too much time in the Museum and King Triton had been looking for him, sent Ariel to find him and she found him with every piece of sheet music that was in the Museum, spread out and being examined closely by the crab.
Sebastian sighed, "Go warm up and I'll tell your father I gave you private lessons for today." Ariel beamed and swam off.
Cephan took off after her as she went to put her bag away. "Well, that went well." He teased, as she reached her room.
She pushed him as hard as she could and swam away, trying to out-swim him. Within seconds he caught up with her and grabbed her. She squealed and tried to wriggle out of his grasp. "I don't think so." He replied, his voice sounding different to her. He started tickling her and she couldn't stop laughing. "Cephan." She said, coming out breathless. "Stop." She tried to say but he was still tickling her. He stopped long enough just to let her catch her breath and continued once she thought he was done. "Ahh!" she squealed again.
"Ariel!"A voice boomed behind them.
Cephan immediately ceased tickling her. "Yes, Daddy?" she replied, looking up at her father. King Triton was someone you didn't mess with, whether you were family or not. He was rarely in a bad moon, but when he was, you didn't want to be in the same ocean as he. And if you were on land, there was a huge storm like no other, just because he was mad.
"I'd like to speak to you," he said, 'alone." He added, looking at Cephan. It's not that King Triton didn't like the boy, he just thought that Ariel needed to start looking for a potential mate and he did and didn't approve of her friend Cephan, as said mate.
"See you later, King T." Cephan said, turning to swim off. Cephan, was at least a boy he could handle and when he was around no other merman bothered Ariel, but like every other father, he wanted Ariel to find someone. Anyone else who would have called him King T would have been sent to the end of the sea for calling him anything other than King Triton or Your majesty. The King had a small hope that Ariel would marry Cephan, he would be glad if she found anyone, honestly. Ariel was just like her mother, Athena and had more passion to go exploring then find someone to be with.
Arianna found her mother standing in the middle of the ballroom, deep in conversation with the person who stood next to her. Arianna internally groaned. Lovely, mother has gone and found me another suitor. When will she realize that half of the people that come to give me an offer are stuck up dukes or people who are marrying me only for my title..She sighed as she reached her mother and the man next to her.
Being respectful, she curtsied to her mother, who was mother but first of all queen, and then to the man besides the Queen, whoever he maybe.
Her mother curtsied back to her, as was courteous. "Arianna, I would like you to meet Lord Dauntor." Her mother said, gesturing towards the lord standing next to her. Arianna curtsied again, only because she was supposed to appear as polite. "It's a pleasure, to meet you, Lord Dauntor." She said, politely. Despite the fact that I've said that to at least fifteen other lords, a few Dukes and even a king, so don't think you'll be The One, she thought bitterly, on the outside keeping her smiling composure. Her mother had been presenting her with suitors for a solid year now and it was getting old fast, along with the age of the suitors; she didn't like a single one.
Lord Dauntor bowed back. He took her hand, kissed it, "The pleasure is all mine." Arianna blushed by the gesture and the warm feeling she felt where he had kissed her hand. Arianna couldn't help but notice he was about the same age as Eric."
She dared to ask him a question, "If you don't mind my asking, Lord Dauntor, how old are, my Lord."
"I don't mind at all, I'm three and twenty." He replied.
At least he was younger than the rest of the suitors her mother had presented her. "Oh, that's good to hear. Everyone else my mother had presented to me had been twice or thrice my age." She said, instantly regretting that for the look on her mother's face. "I mean…"
He laughed at her expression, "No offence taken." He replied, calming her mother. "I'm glad you approve of my age. My father has done the same with me, except every woman he's presented me with is young enough to be a sister to me, the last girl was barely twelve." He explained.
At least she wasn't the only one with the crazy and persistent parents. She laughed and instantly blushed. He wasn't so bad after all, maybe after the marriage, she could get used to him and maybe even fall for him. Her mother coughed. "I have a couple errands to attend to." Her mother stated, "I'll see you two for dinner later, you are staying for dinner, Lord Dauntor, are you not?" she inquired.
"Of course, Your Majesty." He replied, with a short bow to both mother and daughter, and then her mother left, leaving her alone with Lord Dauntor.
Well, I guess there is a first with everything, Arianna thought. Her mother had never left her with a suitor before, in some counties it was considered improper, but she guessed her mother knew what she was doing. Maybe her mother actually liked Lord Dauntor, who knew?
"Are you okay?" Lord Daunto asked, catching her off guard.
She nodded. "I'm fine, sorry. Just thinking, my Lord. I wasn't ignoring you on purpose, I promise." She smiled.
"I'm glad." He teased. "And here I thought you wanted nothing to do with me, let alone meet me. Her Majesty told me about the other suitors who you've seen and the outcome of those meetings." He smiled.
"Oh, my Lord, I don't think you have much to worry about." She replied, still on guard.
"Please call me Phillip," He asked, gently.
Again, she was caught off-guard. "Oh, um, ok, Phillip." She replied, the name rolling off her tongue very naturally. "You're the first to actually ask me to call them by their first name."
"Really? How far have the other suitors got?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Ha, um, as far as standing next to my mother before I turn and run in the other direction." She laughed.
"Wow, I feel honored." He replied, making her blush again.
"It's no problem at all really. Like I said, you're the only one whose been closest to me in age. The youngest suitor I've had before you was thirty."
"Thirty? What was your mother thinking?" he asked, appaled.
"I don't know. I don't think she was, was the problem." She replied.
"Well, that's no fun. Speaking of fun, what does one do to pass the time around here?" He asked.
"I love walking on the beach, I know it sounds cliché and all, but it gives me somewhere outside of the castle and gather my thoughts together. And I normally run out there after I meet suitor number ten thousand." She replied.
"Would you care to join me then, as long as I'm not intruding?" he asked, offering her his arm.
She nodded, and took his arm, hesitantly. Well, what did she have to lose, besides another pointless suitor, if worse came to worse, she let him lead the way to the beach
Finally, Ariel thought after enduring two hours of private lessons with Sebastian. Like in regular rehearsals, he was equally tough but this time if you messed up you couldn't pass it on to the person beside you, it was all your fault. She took her sheet music to her room and then went in search of Flounder and Cephan; when she couldn't find them , she asked both of their families but none could recall seeing them after she had gone to her rehearsal.
Since she couldn't find them, she decided that she would take her things that she found and put them in her grotto until she had some time to go to the surface and talk to Scuttle. She swam to her secret entrance and pushing the rock aside, she swam into her serenity. It was the only place she could go to think or be alone from Cephan, Flounder and her father…except for today…
"Surprise!" Flounder and Cephan yelled, surrounding her and throwing kelpfetti in the air.
Ariel beamed. "What are you two doing in here? What's the occasion?" she asked.
Flounder and Cephan looked at each other, "You mean you don't know what today is?" Flounder asked. She shook her head.
"It's your birthday, silly fish!" Cephan exclaimed, pulling a present from behind his back.
Ariel had been so caught up with rehearsals and finding human things that she had totally forgotten that today was her seventeenth birthday! How could she forget her own birthday? But both her sisters and he father had seen her that day, and she had seen them multiple times, maybe they had forgotten as well…
She hugged both of her friends, tears forming in her eyes. "Thank you, so much, both of you, You are the bestest friends any mermaid could have. What would I do without you two?" she laughed.
"Open your present." Flounder said, hinting at the gift that Cephan was still holding. She opened it carefully and un-wrapped her gift. A locket floated out of the box as Ariel looked at it. She opened it up and in it was a picture the three of them had taken when there was a faire the week before.
Ariel hugged them again as Cephan helped her put the locket around her neck. "Let's head back to the palace and see what the rest of my sisters are up to." They locked arms and Flounder's fin and swam back to Atlantica.
"So, I never asked, where are you from exactly?" Arianna asked Phillip. She'd never quite get over his name. It suited him very well and she was beginning to warm up to him.
"My father is the Duke of Cornwalth but I grew up in Grendorsea." He replied.
"I have friends in Cornwalth." she mused.
"Would I know them, perhaps?" He asked.
"No I went to a boarding school up in North Cornwalth and they were there as well, commoners as the nobles would say. Nobles, like everyone knew, were not supposed to be seen with commoners. Arianna had attended the boarding school of Secretia and had meet a couple of girls who she had a lot in common with. The girls were very easy to get along with and Arianna missed them dearly when they all had to leave. They were nothing like the people that her mother wanted her to associate with; the stuck up snobs of the rich nobles, she was growing quite bored of them.
"I made a couple friends up there as well, the people up there are much easier to get along with then in Grendorsea. My dad never wants me to associate myself with them thought, he thinks it would be improper.
"Friends from school?" She asked him.
"No, unfortunately not, children of the servants." He replied.
"We at least have a few things in common." She said, stopping to watch as the sun was setting for the day.
"Beautiful, huh?" He said.
She nodded before looking back to him, she blushed when she noticed he was looking at her.
"I was talking about the sunset." She stammered.
"I wasn't." He replied.
It was getting colder, so she unconsciously stood closer to him. "I wonder what it would be like.." she said, out loud.
"Wonder what?" he asked.
"What it would be like to live under the sea instead of on land?" She mused. "What it must be like to those who live beneath the waves and not have to worry about kingdoms and titles and, and diseases."
He smiled as she talked. "What do you mean those who live beneath it?"
"You've never heard the tales or old sea stories?" Arianna asked Phillip.
"Well, I've heard that mermaids live under the sea, in some city called Atlantica." She replied.
"I've never heard that story." He said, gripping her arm and her closer to him. He felt her shiver, whether it was the cold or something else, he could only guess.
"A bunch of sailors say that under the sea is a whole kingdom of mer-people, all ruled by the just King Triton. No one quite believes them, but me and my brother them. I don't know why, it doesn't sound fake though."
"Eric, I presume?" He said.
"Indeed. He is supposed to be married by the end of this year, who knows if he'll find the right girl or not? I want him to be happy and I don't think he will be if he's forced to marry some random girl, I want him to find someone special that'll love him for who he is, not his title."
"Have you found that someone special yet?" he said, pulling her closer to him.
"I'm not sure yet, he could be out there somewhere, maybe under the sea?" She teased.
He leaned down to whisper in her ear, "How about right here in front of you?" He said, before leaning down to kiss her.