In the course of life, it’s funny to see just how badly things can backfire. Even the best plans, laid by a careful and meticulous hand, can suddenly turn into something it was not meant to be. Such was the case that landed a group of unusual characters in a very unusual place. The blame, it turns out, fell upon one these strange people. A certain Sea Witch hell-bent on revenge to be exact…
It happened on an ordinary day, as most of these things do; a perfectly normal day that would have passed through time and through memory if not for the single peculiarity that took place. There were no royal festivals in Atlantica, no trans-oceanic dignitaries visiting. The palace guards and servants went about their rounds as usual with a casual air. In his royal office sat King Triton, looking over reports on housing in the kingdom. Most everything was in order. In fact it was everything the King could do to keep his eyes open.
Sebastian, in his own chambers, was scribbling on a piece of parchment. He worked at a leisurely place, stopping on occasion to hum a few bars then immediately turn back to the page. He was working on his latest soon-to-be masterpiece. Even now as he worked, inspiration had not struck. The waves above had not opened up in a miraculous epiphany of music. He simply wrote, weighing notes against rhythms and tempos, grateful that his inner ear had not quit on him yet.
Somewhere along the kelp fields lounged Flounder, allowing himself to be rocked by the gentle tide. He sighed in content at the lazy afternoon, watching the sun play wave-like patterns on the sand below with half-lidded eyes. The fish spent many a day like this now that his best friend was on land. And while he missed Ariel dearly, at times he couldn’t help but feel relieved that his days exploring dangerous shipwrecks were behind him.
Up, above both sea and land, flew a certain seagull more commonly known as Scuttle. The winds that day were nice, present but not so strong as to blow him about in his flight. Not much had changed for the quirky bird, aside from no longer answering the questions of a certain mermaid pertaining to the human world…
As for the aforementioned princess, Ariel sat on the shore of her new home, barefoot, and letting the waves lap over her feet. It had been nearly three years since she had first explored the upper world and still she became joyful at the thought of having legs. Ariel giggled as she watched Eric and his dog Max playing in the foamy wake, and outright laughed when the latter pounced and toppled the former into the water. It had been weeks since they could find the time to play around like this. Normally they would be dealing with their duties around the castle with Grimsby, the ever present adviser on their case about something. If it wasn’t the Prince’s posture, it was one of Ariel’s more persistent quirks. Thinking back on Grim, as Eric liked to call him, she sighed. She honestly liked the man, though she tested his patience on a regular basis.
Eric, now soaked through, sat up and splashed at his mischievous dog. A laugh caught his ear and he turned towards the red head on the shore. He smirked and called to her, “Think that’s funny, do you?”
As he stumbled closer to shore, the Prince’s foot landed on a particularly slick stone imbedded in the sand. He toppled over once more just as a wave came crashing down. Ariel’s laughs doubled as he stood and attempted to wipe the salt water from his eyes. Eric sputtered and made the rest of his way to the amused girl. Without a word, he bent over and scooped her up.
“Eric!” she protested and kicked, the mirth not having left her voice just yet, “Put me down!”
Eric half smirked and said, “As you wish,” then dropped her into the shallows. She landed with a short squeal and a splash. Now it was Eric’s turn to laugh.
The former mermaid sat up and coughed, “You are supposed to be a gentleman,” she took on Grimsby’s accent, “and proper gentlemen don’t go throwing their wives into the ocean.”
Eric calmed, “Well you of all people should know that I’m more a sailor than a ‘proper gentleman’.” Ariel attempted to stand. When she couldn’t quite get her bearings, the prince grabbed her hand and helped to stabilize her.
Once her balance was regained she looked up at Eric… and tackled him into the surf. Before he could react, she smiled and said, “And you of all people should know I’m more a mermaid than a proper lady.”
Just like that, the two were on another round of splashes and laughter with Max barking and romping about them. There was no happier couple than the two that played in the surf of that secluded little cove. They carried on, glad to be away from the world and watchful eyes of Grimsby. How were they to know that someone was indeed watching?
Somewhere in the gloomiest depths of the ocean three pairs of eyes watched the two humans and the furry creature through the means of a magical bubble. After a moment, an evil grin painted itself on the face of the middle figure.
“Yes, enjoy yourself while you can, princess,” the speaker was none other than the sea witch, Ursula. With one last glance at the couple, she waved her hand and the image in the bubble changed. Now Sebastian appeared still scribbling at his sheet music. Again the image switched to that of Flounder, then to Scuttle, then once more to King Triton. Ursula glowered at the image of her archenemy. It was because of him, because of all of them, that she had been forced into hiding for the last few years. But she was a patient witch and put her time to good use. Her first order of business, once she had regained some strength, had been to bring back her only companions, Flotsam and Jetsam. Once that was accomplished, she set to work on her current scheme.
For months she had waited, gathering supplies and biding her time until this moment. With a final glare at the King, she dissolved the bubble and opened her cauldron all the way. In it was a potion that had been brewing for six long weeks, and on that very day it was ready. The witch looked over at the two eels, “The time has arrived. Fetch me the final ingredients, with caution my pets.”
“Yes, Ursula,” Flotsam replied and he and his twin swam off to retrieve what their mistress had requested.
The last components were kept locked away in a special compartment so as not to become contaminated. They were both the most crucial to the spell and the most difficult to acquire, which only led to their value. Unfortunately for the eels, they were kept sealed in a chest with a lock fashioned out of a shark’s tooth. After a small struggle with the lock and lid, they managed to open the chest just enough to reach inside. There lay six bags at the bottom of the chest, each filled with one small object. Three held nothing more than a single strand of hair each, one red, one black, and one white. Another held a discarded crab’s shell shed long ago. The fifth held a white feather and the last contained a single yellow scale.
Once opened, the eels each scooped up the bags and turned to swim back to the witch. They weren’t able to swim an inch, however, before the heavy lid tipped forward and closed on both of their tails. Flotsam and Jetsam hissed in pain and dropped the bags in the process. Having heard the disturbance, the Sea Witch turned towards the injured henchmen.
“Quickly, you fools,” she hissed but all the same used a tentacle to lift the lid. The henchmen slid forward and reclaimed the fallen ingredients, ignoring the slight stinging in their tails.
Upon arriving at the cauldron, they passed the small bags to Ursula, who proceeded to toss them in without a second glance.
In her haste, the Sea Witch failed to catch three rather minor, yet rather important details. Had she realized what she had just done, the events that followed would not have taken place. Perhaps she would have halted the spell if she saw the tiny specks of blood that stained the corners of two of the bags. Maybe, if she had taken a second look, she would have seen the strand of gray hair that clung to the edge of yet another. These mistakes however, went unobserved by the anxious witch and her eels. And so, after a chant that caused the cauldron to glow and the waving of hands, the spell was cast. A mighty current swept through the lair, spinning faster with each passing moment. Ursula stared at her work with a malicious glimmer in her eye. She began to cackle, so sure that at last she would exact her revenge. The spell’s effects began to intensify to a troubling level. The witch didn’t notice in her state of blinding euphoria. It continued to build until most of the lair was barely visible and the eels had to swim a bit to the side in order remain stationary. While their mistress didn’t realize it, it soon became obvious to them that something wasn’t quite right.
In fact, something was very, very wrong.
A moment later, their suspicions were proven correct as all three in the room fell unconscious.