A/N: Sorry that this chapter is embarassingly late - I'm terrible at writing in a timely manner. But it's finally finished! I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did writing.
A bright light filled the cavern and Maya hissed as she was temporarily blinded.
"Ah, Master Maya, there you are!"
Maya shielded her face from the glare as her eyes began to adjust to the light.
"Uh… Mystic Molly?" What, Mystic Mariah didn't come to rub my 'disgrace' in further?
"Yes, that's right. You're three days are up! It's time to go home." She offered her hand to Maya and helped her to stand.
"Wait. Did you say three days? I thought my punishment was four?"
"We elders decided to shorten your punishment."
Maya walked unsteadily out of the cave. Ahhh! Fresh air and freedom — oh how I missed you!
"You have Mystic Pearl to thank," Mystic Molly continued. "It was because of her advocacy that we decided to release you today."
Pearly. Maya smiled wistfully. She probably would make a better master now then I ever could…
As they walked down the narrow forest trail, Mystic Molly took a glance at Maya.
"Oh, Master Maya!" She exclaimed. "What happened to your face?!"
A bath had been prepared for her when they reached the Fey manor. She shrugged off the itchy sack and looked at herself in the mirror. Her nose was bluey-purple and crusty blood ringed her nostrils. Despite not eating for three days she hadn't lost any weight. Maya couldn't bring herself to care.
"Ahhhhh…" she sighed as she lowered herself into the hot bath. Sweet, heavenly warmth. She closed her eyes and sunk further into the water. All her aches and pains from sleeping on cold, hard rock began to ease. Finally I can relax-
"Mystic Maya! Mystic Maya!" Pearl shouted as she flung open the door and barged into the bathroom.
"Hey Pearly," she said as she sat up gingerly. "Heard you helped get me out of there a day early."
Pearl grinned. "I did! I convinced the elders that I'd work twice as hard to make up for the lessons I missed so that you could come back!"
"Aw, you didn't have to do that for me."
"Yes, I did! It's my fault you got in trouble so I had to make it up to you somehow…" Pearl looked down at her feet guiltily.
Maya sighed. "Pearly, I don't blame you for anything, okay?"
"Are you sure…?"
"One hundred per cent!"
"You're so kind, Mystic Maya," Pearl said, brightening. "Oh! The reason I came to see you was because the elders want to speak with you as soon as you're dressed."
Maya groaned and sunk back down into the bath. So much for relaxation.
After shortening her bath time considerably, Maya changed into her channeling robes and headed for the dining hall.
The village elders were all seated round the table much like when they had sentenced her to the Cavern of Tears. Maya shuddered at the feeling of déjà vu.
"Master Maya," Mystic Mildred greeted, "it's so good to have you back."
Yeah, right. "It's good to be back."
"I trust you've learnt your lesson?"
"I have. As the Master, I must act more responsibly and put the needs of the acolytes-in-training before my own."
Mystic Mildred nodded, satisfied with her answer, but a derisive snort came from further down the table.
"Mystic Mariah, you have something to add?" Mystic Mildred asked.
"Notice she mentions nothing about her repulsive gluttony," Mariah replied.
An awkward silence hung in the air until…
Maya flung out her arm and pointed at Mystic Mariah.
Her heart was pounding in her ears and adrenalin was coursing through her body. Wow, now I know why Nick does this every chance he gets!
The elders sat in stunned silence, taken aback by Maya's outburst.
"E-excuse me?" Mariah said. "What was that?!"
"How dare you speak to the Master like that," Maya said, lowering her arm to her hips and puffing out her chest, channeling all the bravado she'd seen Nick exude in court.
"Repulsive gluttony?! There's absolutely no evidence to prove that I've been gluttonous!"
Mystic Mariah looked very uncomfortable as all eyes turned to her. That's right — it's payback time! Mariah opened her mouth to speak.
"Furthermore!" Maya shouted, cutting her off. "I resent your fatphobia. Do you have proof that it hinders my ability to be the Master of Kurain?"
Mystic Mariah was at a loss for words. "Well-I-uh… Your spiritual power! Yes, it hinders your spiritual power." She motioned to the rest of the elders. "See? We're all slim and healthy."
"Hold it!" Maya stamped her foot on the ground for lack of a table to slam. "Now you're just grasping at straws. Have you forgotten my sister? Or how about Sister Bikini up in Hazakurain?" She crossed her arms and smirked. "There's absolutely nothing to suggest that my weight affects my spiritual power!"
A few of the elders had to stifle their laughs. And Mystic Mariah had gone red with embarrassment.
"Mystic Mariah, dear," Mystic Molly spoke up. "Aren't you forgetting that Master Maya has a very healthy appetite?" More stifled laughs.
Maya's smirk grew wider as she could see the elders take her side.
She titled her chin up slightly. "I rest my case."
There was a moment of silence before one of the young acolytes, who had been watching the exchange from the back of the room, began to clap. Slowly, the rest of the acolytes joined in until the whole room was ringing with applause.
Maya was ecstatic. Mystic Mariah slumped in her chair, humiliated and defeated.
Oh yeah. Maya Fey, ace attorney, baby!
Pearl ran up to her and all but jumped into a tight hug. "You were amazing, Mystic Maya!" She exclaimed. "Just like Mr. Nick!"
"Better than Mr. Nick, I reckon." The two giggled loudly as the applause continued.
Once it had died down, Maya addressed the entire room.
"Now, I think I have the perfect way to celebrate my return…
The young acolytes cheered and many of the elders joined in.
It was an unusual choice of meal for Kurain Village, but one everyone enjoyed.
And Mystic Mariah? Well… let's just say she celebrated in the Cavern of Tears.