The Kingdom

The Kingdom : Homecoming – Chapter Six

This is a work of fiction and is not to be sold in any way shape or form. It is simply for my amusement and the challenge of writing these characters in a strange and dangerous world. All the characters are owned by Disney and I do not claim ownership of any of them. Please let me know what you think in the comments below! Without further ado, welcome to The Kingdom.

If you have not read the previous chapters or Season 1, Beginnings, HEAD HERE! 

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Author’s Note:

I know I usually post these things at the bottom but this one is more of an announcement so I thought we’d start off with it.  In the next month I will be getting married AND moving, SOOOO that doesn’t leave a whole lot of extra time.  While I will still be posting on the blog as much as possible, The Kingdom will be taking a break until January.

That being said, this chapter is extra long and extra juicy so savor it and we’ll rejoin our heroes and heroines in the new year!

Chapter Six

Ariel

“People of Atlantica, look around you and realize just how far we’ve come.” The voice of Attina, ruler of Atlantica, rang out over a large crowd of merpeople who floated listening closely in the courtyard of the underwater palace which had once belonged to her father, King Triton. Behind her stood five other mermaids, other daughters of the King, silently pledging their loyalty. Attina was a spectacle of beauty, with the golden crown atop her head and her father’s trident held firmly in her right hand. She wore a necklace with a glimmering orange jewel at its center and two dark orange seashells over her bosom with scales of the same color covering her lower half and making up her tail. She smiled, her emerald eyes glinting in the light shaft which illuminated her from the surface.

“We have fallen far, but that does not mean we do not have much left to fight for,” she exclaimed. “One such individual has seen what lies out there and in doing so, realized the error of her ways, returning home, returning to the greatest nation this world has ever known.”

Murmurs broke out amidst the crowd. Could it be? Had the daughter of King Triton, the forsaken of their people, actually returned?

“When she came to me, she begged to return,” continued Attina. “‘Out there is only pain and suffering,’ she told me. ‘But here is true greatness. Atlantica is home. Atlantica is family.’ How could I turn her away after such a plea?” Attina’s sisters stood behind her, staring straight ahead, as if moving might cause them to fall dead on the spot. “And so it is with great joy that I announce the return of the last daughter of King Triton and Queen Athena. Today we celebrate the dawning of a new age. There is no need to flee Atlantica, for all roads eventually lead back here. And to deliver on that promise, I present, Queen Ariel!”

The crowd erupted in applause as Ariel appeared from within the palace. Her visage had changed, but there was no doubt it was her. Her flowing red hair was much shorter now, and her form was less soft, and more rigid like that of a warrior. Still, her green tail glimmered in the water and her lips were just as red as ever. She gave a small smile and waved to the crowd.

“Welcome back my sister,” said Attina. She turned once more to the crowd. “And welcome all of us to the next era of Atlantica!” The crowd gave a hearty cheer as the royal mermaids gave one more wave before adjourning to the palace, out of sight of the people. As the palace doors closed behind them, the smile on Attina’s face disappeared.

“Good show ladies,” she said, a bit of sarcasm on her breath.

“When will this end, Attina?” asked Ariel. Despite her current situation, she still had quite a bit of fight left in her. Her sisters, on the other hand, appeared defeated, as if they might expire at any moment.

Ariel had no idea how long she had been held captive by her sister. Attina kept them all locked in the palace dungeon; dank cells made of dark stone and dead coral. Days turned to weeks. It was hard to tell when the sun rose and sank. To them, it was a perpetual night, with no end in sight.
“This is not about endings, sister,” snapped Attina. “It’s about beginning. MY beginning to be precise. Now go back to your cell.”

“You cannot continue to treat us this–” started Ariel but Attina quickly raised the trident and a bolt of lightning enveloped Ariel, bringing her to her knees as it singed her body.

“With words like that, you’ll never be reunited with your precious Eric.” She turned to the other sisters. “Take her to her cell, ladies,” said Attina, disgusted. “And see to it that you all find yours as well, lest you all get a taste of Father’s power.”

The other five sisters picked up Ariel and drifted towards the stairs which led towards the dungeons. There was no use fighting. Attina had blackmailed and coerced her way into controlling all the fish races. They were her eyes and ears now. The eels especially had taken a liking to her, and floated around the palace, keeping their crooked eyes open for any signs of trouble. One sting from them would be enough to incapacitate any of the mermaids before they even had the chance to escape.

Attina swam up the stairs to the throne and sat herself in it, planting the trident beside her and contemplating the current state of things. She gave a smile to no one in particular. It was good to be Queen.

***

Ariel sat in her cell, looking out the tiny window which overlooked a foreboding dark blue ocean. No fish swam by. Not ever. It was forbidden. Upon her capture, she had thought that Flounder or Sebastian might come to her aid, but asking her sisters, who were confined to the cells next to hers, she discovered that her best friends had left with her Father not long after her ascension to the surface world.

Once a day, an eel would swim by and give them a tiny portion of food, which was never enough, but at least it helped separate the long hours of nothingness. She tried to communicate more with her sisters, but the eels wouldn’t allow it. This didn’t matter much though. She had received training from Robin Hood after the gauntlet of surviving the jungle, unlike her sisters who had completely lost the will to fight. They were shells of their former selves.

Ariel hadn’t been allowed to leave her cell for days, maybe even weeks, after Attina’s address to the people of Atlantica. The world around her had been silent. That was why the distant voice that echoed ever so slightly through her small cell window made her perk up. Perhaps it was not near at all. Perhaps in the absence of interaction with others, she was hearing things. Either way, she had to be sure. She crept to the window, flapping her tail only slightly so as not to alert the guard eel.

“…Swimming…” a voice echoed through the depths of blue. She couldn’t see a fish, and surely none who knew better would oppose her sister’s order to steer clear of the sea around the prison. “…Swimming…” the voice again.

“Hello?” whispered Ariel into the little window. “Is someone there?”

“Just…” the voice echoed. “Keep…” Ariel’s eyes darted back and forth, trying to find the source. “…Swimming…”

“Hello?!” called Ariel, in a hushed voice. “Please show yourself. I’m trapped here.” She waited, as silence filled her ears.

“Hi there!”

“Gah!”  Ariel pulled back from the window in surprise as a small bright blue fish appeared through it, seemingly out of nowhere.

“Oh, sorry, did I scare you?” asked the fish. “Oh! Am I a scary fish?” The fish was not very scary at all. She had black markings on her sides and yellow on her fins and tail, but her most prominent feature was a goofy smile which seemed incapable of leaving her face.

“N-no,” sputtered Ariel. “You just took me by surprise.”

“Stop that racket!” called a voice from down the hall. One of the guards had heard them.

“Please,” whispered Ariel, placing a finger over her lips. “We have to be quiet.”

“Okay,” said the blue fish, lowering her voice. “Why?”

“Because if the guard hears us, he’ll come down here and that won’t be good for either of us.”

“So it’s like a game?” asked the blue fish.  “Oh oh!  If the guard catches us then we’ll be it!  I’m the best at this game!  Oh!  Pick me!”

“No,” said Ariel. “This is very real. I am imprisoned here. My name is Ariel. My sister, the Queen, has locked my sisters and I down here. We must escape. Can you help us?”

The blue fish looked around and suddenly became very upset. “Oh my gosh! Is this a prison cell? How did I get into prison? Did I do something bad?”

“What?” asked Ariel, confused. “No, you just swam in here, just a moment ago.”

“I did?” asked the fish.

“Yes,” replied Ariel.

“I see.” The fish paused. “And you are?”

Ariel was flabbergasted. “My name is Ariel. I just told you all of this.”

“Oh dear,” said the fish. “I’m so sorry. My name is Dory. I suffer from short term memory loss.” She eyed Ariel for a moment. “And what’s your name?”

Ariel sat back, massaging her temples. “This cannot be happening. I have to get out of here. I have to. It’s the only way to save my people and my husband. And the Stars somehow manage to send me the one fish who can’t remember anything long enough to plan a breakout.”

“A breakout?” asked Dory. “These walls look pretty thick. You’d need something big like a whale to break down these walls.” Dory suddenly became very excited. “Hey, I know a whale!” She suddenly darted out of the window.

“Wait!” called Ariel, going to the window, but Dory had vanished.

Only seconds later, she reappeared. “Where was I going?”

Ariel shook her head in amazement. “Whale?” she offered.

“Whale? Ohh! I know a whale. And I bet he could get you out of there!” She disappeared once more.

With little hope of receiving help from the feeble-minded fish, Ariel sunk into a corner and allowed herself to cry. Perhaps escape, would not be possible for her.

***

Several more days passed before the doors at the end of the hall opened and Attina swam in front of the cell, peering in at Ariel, who was curled up in a corner, shivering.

“My my, sister,” said Attina. You have seen better days.” She smiled wickedly. “I used to be like you. Pathetic. But then, I found this.” She touched the orange jewel in her necklace. “And I saw that I was destined to rule this kingdom.”

“There is a fine line between a ruler, and a tyrant,” said Ariel weakly. “You crossed a line the moment you took mother’s necklace for yourself.”

Attina’s grin faded.

“You thought I didn’t recognize it?” asked Ariel. “You’re a monster.”

“This jewel allows me to see what has been and what has yet to come,” said Attina. “I will be a great ruler and they will remember my name for eons to come.”

“Perhaps you’ve put too much faith in that stone,” smirked Ariel. “After all, mother owned it and look how she wound up. I daresay the future is not absolute.”

From behind Ariel, through the little window, she could just make out a low song, a song she had heard before as she traveled the ocean. “After all,” she said, moving away from the back wall of the cell. “One must leave room for life’s little surprises.”

The song erupted through the cell as Attina covered her ears. The back wall of the cell exploded as the snout of a huge whale drove itself into the dark rock. Dory, crazy as she was, did indeed know a whale. Ariel wasted no time. She swam at full speed out of the hole that was created in the wall and signaled Dory with a wave. “Get my sisters free and help them to safety!” she shouted. “I’ll keep my sister busy!” She swam off as fast as her fin could take her.

“I can do that!” shouted Dory. “But who are you? And who is your sister?” She got no reply, so instead spoke to the whale. “Theeeeey’ve got faaaamiiileeee issuuuuues!”

Attina shook off the dust and rubble, rage spilling over her. There was no way that her sister would get away that easily. She turned to swim out of the prison, but all around her the very walls were imploding in on themselves, preventing her from exiting the prison as Ariel did. Her sisters swam for freedom. A purple tail beat through the water. Alana had escaped. Then a yellow tail appeared in the rubble. Adella was free. Then Aquata, Arista and Andrina. All of them escaped as Attina watched behind falling rock, unable to stop them. No matter. They were of no concern. Ariel was the real prize. She was the one who proved to the people that there was no home for them by Atlantica. Attina reached out with her hand and shot electricity from her fingertips, blowing the rubble out of the way.

Through the falling prison she swam until she reached the exit, flapping her tail and ascending for the main hall and then the throne room. The jewel around her neck felt warm, as if it enjoyed the chaos that was happening all around it.

She eyed the throne, her father’s- no, HER trident sitting beside it. She swam for the golden weapon, but just as she was about to grab hold of it, it shot from its position and zipped through the water, finally landing in Ariel’s outstretched palm.

Attina gasped at the sight of her. Ariel’s expression was cold and calculated. In one arm, she held an unconcious Prince Eric, while with the other, aiming the trident at Attina, its three pointed ends glimmering in the sun coming down a shaft through the water.

“This ends here,” said Ariel. “We are leaving, and you are going to allow our people and our sisters to go free.”

“Wherever you go,” said Attina. “I will find you. I will hunt you. I will destroy everything you love, because you took from me everything I love.”

“Father left!” shouted Ariel. “You can leave too. Go somewhere else. Make a life for yourself.”

Attina smiled. “No. This is my home, and I will defend it to the death.” She charged at Ariel. Suddenly, the trident lit up with a golden glow and shot a ray of energy at Attina. It struck her, slamming into both her throat and the jewel of her necklace. A deafening explosion rocked the room and the palace exploded from within, its spires falling from high above, crumbling in on itself.

The water around them began to churn, spiraling around them like a massive whirlpool. Ariel clung on Eric for dear life as the water took her with it. Attina, caught in the vortex, reached out for Ariel, her face scarred black and her tail scorched from the explosion.

“That trident is mine!” she screamed, clawing at Ariel as the water spun them. Huge pieces of the palace spun in the gigantic vortex, taking everything Ariel had to dodge them as they sped by.

“This trident was never yours!” screamed Ariel. “And neither was this!” She reached out and grabbed onto the necklace, but as soon as she touched the jewel, visions of times long past and times yet to come flashed through her mind.

She saw Ursula and the contract. She saw a strange brown-haired girl on a raft, reaching out to her. She saw her father discovering her collection of human trinkets. She saw herself die and she saw herself reborn. The world spun in her head, just as the whirlpool spun in the water around her. The jewel erupted with orange light and Attina let out a hideous scream as her body, glowing with the same light, exploded in shards of orange glass.

Ariel’s fin glowed and transformed back to legs as they whirlpool whipped them towards the surface of the ocean, and before Ariel could even understand what was happening to her, she and Eric burst out of the water and through the air.

The world was dark as a wild storm beat down heavy rain upon them. The black clouds rolled through the sky as they tumbled through the air, not sure where they would land, and then, with a heavy thud, the movement stopped as their drenched bodies came to rest on a wet wooden surface.

Ariel gasped for breath beside Eric’s body, which might as well have been lifeless for how little it moved. Suddenly he began to cough, water pouring from his mouth. His eyes fluttered open, fixing on Ariel.

“A-Ariel?”

“Eric?” she asked, barely able to show her joy through her exhaustion.

“They just came out of the water!” shouted an accented male voice over them. They looked up to see a plump man staring down at them. He appeared to not have showered for weeks and his teeth looked as though he was born missing over half of them. Around him stood several more men, all with different heights and weights, but all sharing his lack of hygiene. “You ever seen anything like it Captain?”

Ariel suddenly noticed the Captain, a curious man who seemed very proud of the fact that he, and his crew, were pirates. He wore a brown leather vest atop a frilly white shirt and had leather pants and thick boots. His hair, held back by a rag, was knotted and clumped in dreadlocks, some of which were covered in small, multi-colored beads. He twisted up his mouth, which was covered in a goatee, complete with even more beads hanging from his chin hairs.

“Nay Mr. Gibbs,” said the captain. “This be a first for Captain Jack Sparrow.”

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