In the Water

Prompt: she stood on the end of the pier, took a deep breath, and jumped into the freezing ocean. She was going to get answers, no matter what it took. Written 6 February 2021 (character inspired by Disney’s Ursula)

It was a gray and oppressive sky that hung over her as she walked up the pier, unhurried. To the passing eye, there was nothing extraordinary about her. Her usually pale hair was darkened by the mist around her, her travel clothes unremarkable. She was, in fact, so easy to overlook that no one even noticed as she leapt off the pier and into the freezing water below.

She dove straight down for far longer than any human could withstand. As the weak light of the surface faded, her body changed. Her legs fused together into a slick black eel’s tail, her hair darkened to match, and her pupils expanded to encase her eyes. She inhaled deeply and made her way past the reef and into the kelp forest beyond. She made no sound as she entered, and did not pause when she heard the drums she could recognize from any corner of the ocean.

The vibrations of the instrument could be felt nearly a hundred miles away, and she followed their sound for a long while, under the kelp forest and into a dark tunnel, whose shadow seemed to reach out for her.

When the tunnel opened up, it revealed what could only be called a laboratory. Her laboratory. Yet someone else was here, sounding her drum until he saw her.

“Land witch.” he greeted. “Spellweaver. I require something from you.”

“You break into my home and sound my drum,” she snarled. “And now you make demands? My magic has a price for those who seek it. You know this.”

If she was an eel, he was a shark, pale gray and strong, made for tearing things apart with his teeth. He was at least twice her size and, she noted, far less flexible. It was clear he saw her as no threat, and was not pleased at her aggressiveness.

“I am not here to exchange pleasantries. I am here for a spell.”

Her veins crackled with magic. “I am not here for you. You will wait, and when the time comes, you will pay a fair price.” she snapped, turning her back to him as she examined her stores.

He fumed at the perceived slight. “I do not wait, witch. And I do not pay. I take.”

She whipped around as he charged her, raised her hands and clenched them into fists. He stopped short, bubbles gurgling from his open mouth. “Do you feel that? That is air in your lungs. I breathe that as well as I breathe the water around us. I can make you do the same. I can rip your tail in half and make you less than human. I can close your gills forever.” she stated calmly. “And I can assure you, you will not make it to the surface from this far down. Now,” she released her hold, and he struggled to expel the air inside him. “You will wait, or you will leave.”

He backed his way to the corner, arms crossed. He said nothing as she returned to her work. Silently, she cursed him for his interruption. Once he left, news of her return would spread, and slow her search. She felt his eyes following her as she prepared the tracking spell. She sang a high trill, then closed the magic in a glass jar to steep. Unhurriedly, she turned back to him. “Now.” she said. “What can I do for you?”

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