Chapter 48: Zoey
We all felt around the walls for a long amount of time. We thought we had gotten every single nook and cranny in the cavern when we discovered a little hidden pathway to a brand new cavern - meaning that we got to feel around the place for a long amount of time too!
It wasn't long before we found part of the cave wall that led to an even bigger and darker space of the place, first introduced by a rather long and frightening coridor. We all were readying our weapons - Ava and Elidi with their knives, Ethan with his sword, Ravi with his own knife and his pouch of light, which I was sure was going to come in handy sooner or later. And then there was me, with my knife and my bow and arrows.
I was rather exicted to use my equipment on shooting stuff other than something I shouldn't have shot at because it wasn't even worth it or anything morphed like that giant chicken. This time, I was actually going to kill real people with my arrows, if that was what it was going to come down to.
We stopped at the end of the coridor when we knew that someone was there, either watching us or readying theirselves for a fight. We knew that this was going to be very difficult - we would all be ready to fight anyway, even if this magical creature or something was 'only going to ask a riddle'. And if that was really what they were just going to do, then we were all going to be ready to offer up the person that will risk their life dying or answering the question right and getting pure bragging rights.
Ethan was at the front of the group at the moment, leading us through the coridor, then holding us all back as he peeked around the corner of the wall.
Me being in the back of the group was eager to see what we were about to face. Then EThan beckoned for me to crawl up along side him. "What?" I whispered, peeking around the corner of the wall myself.
"I don't know whether or not we should shoot anyone now - cause if we should, then you're the person to do it, you've got the bow and arrows. You're the only one that can shoot people from a distance - except Elidi or Ravi with their light, but I'm pretty sure that only works on shadows, and so far, none of those."
I looked around the corner quietly again to see if I could get another look. The room was huge. It was the same appearance as all the others, especially the first room we had been in. There was that weird aquarium feel to it because there was another air bubble wall type thing on the other side of the room. There were a lot more rocks and boulders on the ground and edging out of the ceiling and walls. There weren't that many people in the room - only a few, and I was almost positive that they weren't people.
One was a little girl sitting on a rock carving something with a knife. I made a mental note that yes, they ddi indeed have weapons in case we did end up fighting them. Another person was leaning against the opposite wall, chewing on some wheat, which strongly reminded me of Kenny back in town. The other two people were sitting on the ground, seeming to be playing cards, though at the angle we were it was kind of hard to tell.
There was one other person who I knew for a fact wasn't human. She was swimming outsie of the air bubble, which I then noticed was a little different than the one we had entered in. This one was an air bubble alright, but it looked as though there were a pond inside the cave so hat the person can stay in the water and yet have fresh air at the same time. She kept swimming outside the air bubble, for a long enough time when I was starting to wonder what the heck she was.
That's when I realized the tail.
That girl, that girl with the too-good-too-be-true flowing brown hair, could hold her breath for a while, all because she could in fact breathe underwater, all because she was a freaking mermaid.
"Gaurdian gaurded by an alien who lives underground." I repeated that line of the poem and made the connection. The mermaid was the Gaurdian's gaurdian, she was the one that was going to ask a question, she was the one that would eat one of us if we got that certain question wrong.
And even then, I was betting that girl was a siren too. If it came to it, I was betting that all she needed to do was to sing, and she would have us all under her spell - the bigger the meal for her.
I wasn't going to be able to shoot her. From what I saw, Apollo - Po, whatever - wasn't in this room. We were going to need that mermaid to tell us where he was, unless the other people in this room knew. And somehow I was highly doubting that. And I couldn't shoot the people either - chances were, they were the mermaid's servants, and if she lost a servant, we'd all be screwed.
"I can't shoot anyone." I concluded. "We're just going to all have to walk out and answer the question." I said, slinging my quiver of arrows over my shoulder and held my bow, proud and strong. Ethan told Ravi to pass it on behind them, and everyone soon stood up and tucked all their stuff in their belts, where it was barely visible.
"We can see you...!" We heard someone say in a sing song voice, and we all froze and stiffly walked out of our hiding place. We walked into the open cave, and everyone stopped what they were doing and rose.
That's when we all realized that these 'people' or 'humans' were actually trolls - what we were originally expecting. But not the gaurdian of Po.
"The light you carry," The mermaid said, swimming into the little pool in the cave, "it's very bright. Any one of us could detect it within a milisecond."
Ravi looked at the bag that carried the light. "Really?"
The mermaid smiled a smile I was immediately jealous of. "Well yes, that and all you people's shoes are wet. They squeak an awful lot."
"Thanks," Ava snorted sarcastically. "Next time we try to sneak up on your people we'll be sure to not wear wet shoes. Though I have no idea how that'll be possible, seeing as how we're in a river?" I figured this mermaid was already getting on Ava's nerves.
The mermaid looked confused. "A river? I thought this was the ocean! Kiki, you said this was the ocean! I've not been swimming in my homeland waters this entire time?"
The troll that appeared to be Kiki shrugged. "I was under the impression that it was the ocean mistress, please forive me for misleading you!" She squeaked, obviously terrified, telling me that this mermaid was going to be a real butt if we messed with her in the slightest.
"it's alright Kiki. Just be sure next time!" THe mermaid forgave, and yet shot Kiki a look that said they were having a serious talk later - it even made me want to run. "But we have guests now! Please! Elidi! Ravi! Ethan! Ava! Zoey! Make yourself comfortable. My grotto is always welcoming new people, and I see it led travelers here! But I must ask, what compelled you five to jump into the oce- I mean river?"
We all hesitated to sit down, but we figured it would be best to get on this mermaid's good side before we started atacking her if we actually did need too. Ethan was going to answer, though something told me that that was going to turn out rather bad - so I answered instead, raising my voice over his. "We were just all so thirsty and filthy - we needed a drink and a bath, so we jumped in, and we saw your cavern entrance, and we were compelled to come forth to you."
The mermaid smiled again, making me even more jealous. "Interesting story. Are you still thirsty? We have plenty of water here." She did some special flip of her tail splashing water before us, and a drop of water landed in front of each of us, somehow turning into a goblet of water. We all sipped from the goblets, and all made that "ahh" sound. The water tasted unbelievably good.
Ava, Elidi and I wiped our mouths at the exact same time. Ava stood up from siting on the ground and started to speak. "This isn't what we came for -"
"Marina. Call me Marina." The mermaid smiled again, and this time I just wanted to go straight on up to her and punch her in the face.
"-Marina. We came to get the Gaurdian Apollo back. We are willing to let... the consequences proceed if we get whatever question you ask us wrong. But we demand that you ask the question."
I wanted to do a facepalm right then and there and slap everyone in the room - Ava, you shouldn't just say that we're here to oppose you guys and the rebellion. You just don't do that.
Marina made a face. "I'm not on either of your sides on this rebellion, you five know that right? Being under the sea - oh I love that song! Disney always does fabulous jobs - I never really cared to involve myself in all hat political stuff up above." We all noded, but something told me half of us weren't listening. "I'd be happy to give you the Gaurdian, only you do have to answer a question. And I'd be more than happy to tell you other things as well. Of course, there are other requirements."
"The question. Yes. Okay."
Marina laughed. "Eager, I see."
"We don't exactly have all the time in the world."
Marina huffed. "Fine. The question is only part of the deal."
Ethan looked up from drinking his water from that water made golden goblet. "What's the other part?"
Marina smiled at him, making me want to scream, punch her, and then just kill the girl right there and then. "One of you has to stay."