Posts Tagged ‘Atlantica’

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 13

March 26, 2022

Belle and Adam stepped outside and found the Enchantress out on the terrace, looking off into the distance. They walked up but kept their distance. The Enchantress was a powerful fairy who had already shown incredible power to curse dozens of people at once. Adam kept his breathing calm even though this woman caused so many emotions to rise up inside of him. For a moment he felt The Beast rising up inside but Belle took hold of his hand and that evaporated. The Enchantress turned around slowly, a slight smile on her face.

“You don’t have to worry,” The Enchantress said. “I won’t bite.” She spread her hands out as if they were harmless.

“What about curses?” Belle asked.

“How about a non-aggression pact?” The Enchantress asked. “A truce of sorts.”

“A little nervous seeing me again?” Adam asked.

“I’m not afraid of you or her,” The Enchantress said. “And if you brought the furry guy out again, I could just poof out of here in heartbeat.”

“So you’re afraid of The Beast,” Adam said.

“Who wouldn’t be?” The Enchantress asked with a smirk.

“Me,” Belle said. “Part of why the curse was broken, remember?”

“You make a good point,” The Enchantress said with a shrug. 

“Speaking of curses,” Adam said. “Why do I change back and forth now?”

“Well, I suppose The Beast will always be with you as long as you need him,” The Enchantress said. “A defense mechanism of sorts.”

“Will it ever go away?” Adam asked. “I thought it was supposed to go away.”

“I never said that,” The Enchantress said. “I said that if you don’t find love before the last petal fell, you would remain The Beast forever. You broke the curse so you can change back and forth instead of being stuck in one firm. You’re welcome.”

“Thanks?” Adam said but was obviously not convinced.

“It’s more than fine, Adam,” Belle said. “You said you’re learning to control it.”

The Enchantress nodded. “Anyway, I came here to help and not for a confrontation,” She said. “The past can’t be changed. We can only move on. I was in an incredibly bad place when I cursed you if it matters.” 

“And my whole staff,” Adam said. “None of whom deserved it.”

“I apologize,” The Enchantress said. “It’s why I decided to come here to help in the first place. I felt guilty and decided to try and make it up to you. You’re welcome.”

“So you’ve helped,” Belle said. “You can go now.”

“Not even done yet,” The Enchantress said. “Ursula the Sea Witch is dead. The Dragon Maleficent has been slain. Yzma and Mother Gothel are off the board. There is still one player left to be revealed. This witch set all of this in motion and she has to be stopped.”

“What does that have to do with us?” Belle asked. “I think we’ve been through enough. Twice”

The Enchantress sighed. “I know but we need a group of heroes to finish this,” she said. “It’s so easy for us magical types to underestimate true hearts. Claws and teeth wouldn’t hurt either. A couple of your friends in there could be helpful and there’s another cluster of lost heroes in the desert.”

“The desert?” Belle asked. “What does that mean?”

“I could fill you in but it might be easier to show you,” The Enchantress said. “Then I can brief the other heroes as well.”

“Let’s go back inside,” Belle said. “We need to run this by Ariel and the others”

“Yeah, I’m done making decisions for others,” Adam said. “I’m not completely sold on going after another threat either.”

“Well, you’re free to go home but I thought the brand new you was less selfish,” The Enchantress said. “You could really help remove evil from the multiverse. Many worlds would be safer if you just lend a hand one more time.”

“And you would be free to wander and cause mischief again,” Belle said. “Is that the real reason?”

The Enchantress shrugged. “I never claimed to be completely altruistic,” she said. “I do have a conscience, though, and the two of you have been tugging on it for quite some time. I feel like this is a win-win situation. I clear my conscience by doing a good deed and you get me out of your lives for good.”

“That last part actually does sound good, Adam,” Belle said, turning to her husband.

“It really does,” Adam said. “I guess I could lend a hand or maybe a paw before we get back home and figure the rest of our lives out.”

“Alright,” Belle said. “We’re in. Let’s go talk to everybody else.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Hawaii Pt. 12

March 12, 2022

“What is going on, Adam?” Belle asked. “You were in your beastly form again a moment ago?” She was already checking him all over for any grievous damage. He was kind of doing the same with her. When they were both satisfied, they embraced again and kissed. When they needed to catch their breath, they spoke again.

“Belle,” Adam said. “I don’t know why but I cannot lie about it. I have been changing my form back and forth without explanation. I am slowly getting a handle on it.” His blue eyes were so serious but Belle could not help but smile and laugh a bit.

“You know that I will accept you in any form you happen to be in,” she said. “History has proven that. However, I will say that The Enchantress is on the other side of that portal. We can ask her.”

Adam’s face went dark but it was not his usual anger that rose up. It was shame instead. “Is she?” he asked softly.

“Darling,” Belle said softly. “I know you think back to those days with guilt but her punishment was far more severe than you deserved. We are not our past. In fact, she helped me find you again. She can’t be all bad.”

Adam sighed. “Then maybe it is time she and I talked again,” he said. “I will try to be civil.”

Belle laughed again. “You don’t have to promise that for my sake,” she said. “I certainly haven’t been civil to her. We can try to be civil together.”

Adam smiled. “Deal,” he said. “but what now?”

“Come back with me to the kingdom of Atlantica and we and some new friends will figure out how we can find our way home from there.”

Adam looked over at Moana, Maui, and Flynn Rider. “What about these heroes?” he asked. “They are as lost as we are.” He looked at Yzma’s unconscious form. “And this villain, we can’t just leave her here to cause more trouble.”

“Bring them along,” Belle said. “We should bring anybody who does not belong here so that they can be returned to their homes. The villain will face judgment somehow. I’m sure Ariel has dungeons of some sort.” She turned to the other three. “You will come along with us, right? We can get you back home.”

“Sounds great!” Maui said before getting elbowed by Moana for being too familiar. “We would be grateful.” He corrected himself slightly.

Moana smiled big. “Thank you,” she said. “We really would appreciate getting back home and your offer of hospitality in the meantime.”

“I don’t really know how I got here,” Flynn said. “It has been no picnic, let me tell you. That lady skeleton on the floor over there talked my ears off. Mostly about that wand. I’ve definitely had better times while tied up. That came out wrong. Hmm. Yes, let’s get out of here as soon as possible.”

Moana was reminded to go and pick up the magic wand. As she was standing back up she remembered something.

“Oh! Wait. Let me radio Lilo and Stitch.” she said. “They’ll think the worst happened if we just disappeared on them.”

“Radio?” Belle asked curiously.

Moana nodded and pulled out a little black box from her satchel. She clicked a button and there was a burst of a hissing sound.

“Lilo,” Moana said into the box. “Are you there?”

“Oh, it’s magic,” Belle said with some satisfaction.

“Technology, my dear,” Adam said softly. “It’s a kind of magic here.”

“Curious,” Belle said.

“Lilo here!” Lilo practically shouted on the other end of the line. “All of the animals turned back into people! Are you all OK?”

“We’re fine, Lilo,” Moana said. The young girl’s exuberance really did remind her of herself at that age. “Everything seems to be resolved and so we’re going. If we don’t leave now, we might miss out on our chance to go back home.”

There was a brief silence. “Will we ever see you again?” Lilo asked.

“I don’t know,” Moana said with as much kindness as she could express. “but maybe. I’d like to visit again if it’s possible.”

“Okay,” Lilo said. “Just remember that wherever you go you are Ohana now and Ohana means family.”

Moana smiled and tried not to tear up. She even thought she saw Maui get a little emotional. “Thank you,” she said. “We will miss you. Take care of yourself, your sister, and Stitch, of course.”

“Bye bye!” Stitch’s voice came from the walkie-talkie.

“Bye Stitch,” Moana said. “be good.” She turned the device off and took a deep breath. She set the walkie-talkie down on a rock and they moved once again toward the portal. Maui reached down and picked up Yzma as they want and carried her over his shoulder. They stepped through and then they stood in the library.

“Welcome to Atlantica,” Ariel said. “I am Princess Ariel and this is my home. Please make yourself comfortable. You are our guests.”

“Thank you,” Moana said. “I’m Princess Moana of Motunui.”

“The name’s Maui,” he said. “Demigod. No big deal.”

“Prince Eugene,” Flynn said. “from Corona but most people call me Flynn Rider.”

“And you must be Prince Adam of France,” Ariel said. “I’ve heard about you. All good things, I promise.

Belle looked around and did not see the Enchantress. “She didn’t leave did she?”

“Just the room,” Tiana said. “You should have seen her face when she saw Adam.”

Both Belle and Adam smirked at that.

“Let’s go find her,” Adam said.

“Let’s,” Belle said with a smile.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 12

February 26, 2022

The Enchantress had gone right to work checking over the ritual site that Belle and Ariel had put together. She made little noises of approval and disapproval as she worked. She gestured with her hands and adjusted things magically, moving candles and chalk lines with pure willpower. Belle felt her temper rising with each sound that the woman made and eventually stepped out of the library to cool down. A little while later, Tiana found her sipping wine in another corner of the palace. Belle looked up as Tiana approached.

“How are you doing?” Tiana asked, sitting down opposite Belle. “Your nerves getting settled?”

Belle sighed and shrugged. “Just being near her drives me crazy,” she said. “thinking of what she did to my husband. I don’t trust her. I can’t trust her.”

“You don’t have to trust her after your experiences,” Tiana said. “I don’t trust her. I know Aurora doesn’t trust her and you can’t pull anything with Esmerelda around. I think Ariel wants to trust her.”

“Ariel has a good heart,” Belle said. “I’m glad that Aurora is around to protect her.”

“Me too,” Tiana said. “As much as I’m ready to get home, I’m glad for the people I’ve met. Yourself included.”

“Oh. I’m not always the best person,” Belle said with a dismissive gesture. “Sometimes I care about books more than people. I know it’s made me judgemental.”

“You are not your past,” Tiana said. “One thing that I have learned is that people can change if they dig down deep. It sounds like you’ve figured some stuff out. You just need to keep doing that work. We all have work to do.”

“Do you think the Enchantress could change?” Belle asked.

“It’s a happy thought,” Tiana said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Esmerelda poked her head into the room with a smile. “She’s done,” she said. “Are you ready to come back to the library?”

Belle nodded and stood up and Tiana followed her and Esmerelda back to the library. The Enchantress was front and center as if she was holding court. She was all smiles as she had been since she appeared. It was hard to trust somebody who was nothing but smiles. It was like she was a performer, always on stage.

“I’m actually very impressed with your work,” The Enchantress said. “You were pretty close to achieving a stable portal between worlds. Few mortals would be capable of that. I can only count on two hands the people with that power. Of course, what you made would have torn you apart if you got too close to it. It’s safe now.”

“Sure,” Belle said with plenty of doubt in her voice. “What do we do now?”

“First, I activate it,” the Enchantress said.

She walked slowly over to the edge of the room, glancing at Aurora’s sword for a moment as she moved. Seeing that glance made Belle smile just a little. The Enchantress focused on the center of the room and a portal formed with a rushing sound. It was a swirling maelstrom of energy.

“That looks like it will tear us apart,” Ariel said. “What did you do wrong?”

“Such trust issues,” the Enchantress said with a laugh.

“I’ve had my fill of witches,” Ariel said. “Prove to me that my trust hasn’t been misplaced.”

“Look, you just need to focus on a person, place, or thing with your whole heart and the portal will take you there,” The Enchantress said. “Try it and see. I’ll stand over here and not interfere.”

Belle stepped up to the portal and she could feel a slight tingle as she got close to its energy. She closed her eyes. She thought, of course, about Adam. She thought of the fights they had, him saving her from the wolves, standing up to him, the little kindnesses that had broken the dam and let the love flow. She thought about his smiling face. Both of his smiling faces. She found herself smiling and she noticed the rushing sound had gone away. She opened her eyes and there was Adam but he was back in Beast form. He was standing with a brunette man, a beautiful woman, and a hulk of a man with so many tattoos.

Suddenly, Adam looked at her and his Beast form turned human yet again like it had that day on the castle battlements.

“Belle?” he asked softly.

Belle lept through the portal and into his arms.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 11

November 13, 2021

Belle turned to her host, Ariel, her eyes wide. “We can’t listen to her, she’s a vindictive fairy,” she said. She turned to Aurora. “Can we arrest her?”

“Fairy?” Aurora asked. “I was practically raised by fairies. They’re not all bad.” Yet she eyed The Enchantress warily, fingers just touching the hilt of her sword. She had known three wonderful fairies but also one truly horrible one. She was not so naive to trust this stranger right away.

“She cursed my husband!” Belle said. Adam, Lumiere, and Mrs. Potts had told her a lot about the night that this strange woman had transformed everybody in the castle. Her curse had almost reached maturity which would have kept everybody from regaining their human forms. It seemed overly cruel to Belle.

“People can change,” Tiana said. She thought of her own husband and her own personal journey.

“I can at least be a gracious host,” Ariel said. “Welcome to my castle, Enchantress. Can I get you anything?” She gave her best smile, trying to do what she thought Eric or her father would do. She had had such little time to train in the etiquette of human royal life and had been in battle so long that it was hard to remember when things had been normal.

“A spot of tea would be nice,” The Enchantress said. “Thank you.”

“I’ll go make some real quick,” Tiana said. She kind of wanted to get out of that room. Tensions were high and she was pretty sure that Belle had not blinked since The Enchantress had appeared. She walked toward the kitchens.

“Please, have a seat,” Ariel said, gesturing toward a chair. She sat down herself and looked at Belle who begrudgingly sat down as well.

“See?” The Enchantress said with a smile. “If your husband had been this kind, things would have been much easier.” Belle tensed at that. “A joke, my dear.”

“I’m not laughing,” Belle said crossly, folding her arms over her chest.

“The truth is, I have owed your husband and his servants an apology for quite some time,” The Enchantress said. “That curse was probably a bit much. I was looking for somebody to punish and I unleashed on the first person to anger me. If that also harmed you by extension, I apologize.”

Belle blinked in surprise. She was not sure what to say to that.

“Please excuse me for cutting to the chase,” Ariel said. “What is your intention in coming here? We’re sort of in the middle of a crisis at the moment.”

“Yes. I saw you slay the Sea Witch. Well, I came to offer my assistance,” The Enchantress said. “I could feel magical turmoil through the planes. Worlds that were once separate are now connected. The citizens of those worlds have been shuffled like so many cards.”

“We suspected as much,” Belle said. “Although, I suppose that confirmation of that theory is appreciated.” She offered that last statement reluctantly. She was still on her guard and appreciated that Aurora had not relaxed either.

“How can you help us?” Ariel asked. “We managed to open a portal through our own research. We were on the verge of reuniting with our loved ones.”

The Enchantress shrugged. “You have done well on your own, I must admit,” she said. “However, without a guide with power, it will be like groping around in the dark. I am a minor power. I can improve your travel options a thousandfold.”

Tiana brought in the tea with some beignets she had whipped up. Ariel gestured for her to sit and she did. Ariel trusted Tiana not only to cook but as an ally who knew a lot about logistics.

“What do you get in return?” Belle asked.

The Enchantress waived the question away with a laugh. “I’m not asking for anything,” She said. “I’m not the type to ask for first-born children. In truth, you have done me a great favor already in killing Ursula. The possibility that you might take out more rivals has me very willing to offer my assistance.”

“Rivals?” Ariel asked, a little taken aback. “Ursula was your rival? A rival in what?”

“She was a minor rival,” The Enchantress said dismissively. “Anybody who wields magic on her level or above has the potential to cause trouble for me. I would not oppose those who use magic sparingly or benevolently but Ursula and her new allies are unpredictable. If they got hungry enough for power, they could try and steal mine. I can’t have that. I already know that their little coven has imprisoned several of my kind. I will not let that stand.”

“Do you think we can trust her?” Ariel asked the room but looked pointedly at Belle.

“I think it’s worth a shot,” Tiana said.

“We’re kind of at her mercy,” Aurora said. “We’ve already seen how powerful she is compared to us.”

Belle sighed. “Aurora has a point,” she said. “and I actually trust her this time.” She had a hunch that The Enchantress was telling the truth. It was the same feeling that led her to befriend The Beast who had become her husband.

“I guess we’re accepting your help,” Ariel said. “Let’s get down to it. Our friends and loved ones are still out there.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 9

June 26, 2021

Belle and Ariel had made an attempt at the ritual after lunch the next day with some favorable results. They had painstakingly designed the ritual and had ended up creating a portal the size of a teacup. They went back to the drawing board and made corrections and revisions and then two days later they were ready to try again. Ariel was busy deciding who was going to make the jump through the portal. Belle had begged off, claiming that she was a researcher and not a fighter. Aurora and Esmerelda eagerly stepped up to volunteer and Tiana insisted on coming as well. Belle and Ariel arranged things for the ritual again and got everything ready.

It was at that point that there was a commotion from the guards at the gate. Aurora came running and reported that a raven-haired woman was approaching with a huge crowd of people. Something about the description irked Ariel and she went to the wall to see for herself. Aurora and Belle followed her with Belle being very nervous about this sudden turn of events. They climbed to the top of the wall and Ariel froze before turning to Belle.

“Go and protect the ritual site,” Ariel said. “Please stay safe. If things go wrong here, I’ll send you a signal and you should try to escape through the portal with anybody else you can grab.”

“What’s the signal?” Belle asked, turning a bit pale.

“Oh, you’ll know it,” Ariel said. “Now go. Grab Tiana and bring her with you.”

Belle ran off back toward the library and the ritual site. Aurora turned to Ariel, trusting her completely.

“What’s going on?” Aurora asked, peering down at the crowd gathering at the gates.

“That’s Ursula,” Ariel said, pointing at the dark-haired beauty in the center of the crowd. “She took that form once before. She called herself Vanessa then. It didn’t fool me then and it doesn’t fool me now.”

“How do you want to play this?” Aurora asked. There was no second-guessing, just two women who trusted each other.

“We open up the gates,” Ariel said. “I’m tired of hiding. It’s time to fight.”

“And if that means that we don’t make the portal?” Aurora asked, again without judgment.

“Then hopefully Belle and Tiana find help and bring it back here,” Ariel said. “In the meantime, we throw open the gates and go to war. Remember that all the others are just puppets.”

“So we cut the strings,” Aurora said, already heading toward the ladder to climb back down. As she went, she started to spread the word to remind people not to kill anybody. Of course, everybody already knew that but it was helpful to be reminded right before the heat of battle.

Ariel headed to stand at the gate and took a deep breath before motioning for it to be opened. She hoped she was making the right choice. As the gates creaked open, there was “Vanessa” standing front and center.

“Nobody’s fooled, Ursula,” Ariel called out and drew her sword. “It’s time we ended this. For good this time.”

Ursula laughed and somehow her deep, husky voice came out of that lithe body. “This is just a more convenient form on land, child,” she said. “I’m not caught up on appearances. I’m into power.”

“You always were,” Ariel said. “I’m here to take the power back.”

“I’m here to bring you back into the sea in chains,” Ursula said. “Then I can take both of your thrones.”

“You won’t return to the sea again,” Ariel said calmly but with great determination. “You’ll fall right here. Right now.”

Again that deep, rolling laughter. “Bring your best, child,” Ursula said softly.

At that point, chaos erupted as both sides clashed together in battle. Ursula produced a sword from somewhere and she and Ariel started to fight. Their fight was fiercer than anything going on around them. Ariel had learned a lot of fighting from Eric and Ursula was obviously just as skilled. Arrows rained down from the wall, finding their targets and shooting to maim and not kill. The whole time, Ariel and Ursula were deadlocked.

Ursula surprised Ariel by transforming her sword into Triton’s trident. Ursula swung the magical item at Ariel and hit her hard, sending her sprawling to the ground. Ursula pointed the trident at Ariel and it crackled with energy. She had the redhead dead to rights. Ariel was suddenly enveloped in smoke and she felt herself get pulled to safety by Esmerelda just as a beam of energy hit the spot where Ariel had been. Aurora leaped forward and brought her heavy sword against Ursula’s trident and sent it clattering to the ground.

Ursula let out a cry of rage and transformed into her normal form, reaching out with her tentacles. Ursula managed to grab hold of Aurora and Esmerelda and two other soldiers with her tentacles. She reached out for Ariel but Ariel barely dodged the sea witch’s grasp. Ariel dove for the trident and grabbed it, rolled to her knees, and pointed it at Ursula. There was a moment of realization on Ursula’s face before Ariel sent a beam of energy through Ursula’s torso. The sea witch went limp and bled out on the stones outside of the gate. Ursula’s army went equally as limp and fell to the ground.

Aurora went to pick Ariel up. “We have to get to the ritual site,” Ariel said. “I’m tired of this. I’m tired of waiting.”

“I agree,” Aurora said. “What should we do with Ursula?”

“Burn the body,” Ariel said and started walking back toward the castle.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 8

May 29, 2021

Belle pointed excitedly at a page in the book she had been reading. “Come and look at this, Ariel,” she said. “It’s like Milo said from one of his interviews. There are all sorts of things in here about Hades.” It had been days but the two women had continued to study with the support of Milo and the Professor. Tiana had brought meals directly to the library eventually. It had been a long road but finally, there was a glimmer of hope in the book sitting on the table in front of Belle.

“Hades?” Ariel asked, walking over to look at the page Belle was pointing at. “The God of the Underworld that a few of our guests mentioned terrorizing that place called Greece?”

“Exactly,” Belle said. “I actually remember reading about him back in my world as well. He presides over all of those who have passed away. It’s his job to keep them forever.” She had read every book in her village and every book in the library that Adam had gifted her. So many fantastic tales that felt much less fantastic now.

“It seems he let Ursula slip by on his watch,” Ariel said. “and whoever Ursula is working with as well.” They knew at least one of her cohorts. Maleficent, the fairy that had tormented Aurora. There were probably others. Not to mention the new tricks that Ursula had picked up, like that hideous shadow she had tortured Sebastian with.

Belle pointed at the page. “I think they could have done it with this,” she said. “The Ring of Hades. It can open up the gates of the Underworld. After that, they would just need to walk back to the land of the living. I think.”

“It seems like a good enough theory to me,” Ariel said. “If we can zero in on that ring, maybe we can find whoever is responsible for all of this.”

“That makes sense,” Belle said. “We’re not going to get much farther in this siege that Ursula has the castle under. Right?”

“Right,” Ariel said. “Our forces are tired and outmatched. We need a new path.”

“So we invoke the ring and we go wherever it leads us,” Belle said. “The problem is that I have no idea how to do that. I’ve been reading about magic but I have no talent for it myself.”

“I’ve practiced some,” Ariel said. “I studied under my father and I researched Ursula’s things when she was dead. I wanted to make sure I was ready if it ever happened again. The magic I learned is the only thing keeping this castle fortified against Ursula’s magic and the Unfortunate clamoring at the gates.”

“I’m thankful that you learned then,” Belle said. “Magic was nothing but trouble in my world but I suppose if the Enchantress had used her power more positively and less spitefully, we would have been better off.”

“Who is the Enchantress?” Ariel asked, curiosity shining in those big blue eyes.

“Oh!” Belle said with some surprise. “I got a little lost for a moment. The Enchantress was a woman who cursed my husband before I met him. I never met her but she had to be very powerful.” She had transformed an entire household with a single curse, she must have been impressive.

“I wish she was on our side,” Ariel said. “We could use her right about now.”

“I’m more than confident relying on you,” Belle said. “No more wild cards. Please.”

“I guess I can’t disagree with you there,” Ariel said. “So, maybe I can conjure up some sort of path or gateway out of here.”

“Using the ring as a focus maybe,” Belle said. “and we can get to the heart of the matter before things go any further.”

“We’ll assemble a group in case we actually manage to succeed in leaving this world,” Ariel said. “Aurora and Esmerelda will suffice, I think.”

“Agreed,” Belle said. “I’m not much for fighting and those two seem to be much better in a physical fight.”

“Then we’ll make an attempt tomorrow after lunch,” Ariel said. “In the meantime, we need to design the ritual and get the research completed.”

“You had me at research,” Belle said. “I’m at your service.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 7

November 14, 2020

Belle was absolutely in love with the library when she walked into it again. It reminded her of her library back in Adam’s castle a bit. That made a lot of sense seeing as how they were both royal libraries. Still, it was always stunning to walk into a huge room filled to the brim with books. It had a very particular smell and feel to it that you never saw anywhere else. Although she was still lost, she still had a giddy feeling deep inside. She could not wait to start absorbing all of the text, all of the stories contained in that room. This was a whole new world to Belle. There had to be stories here that she had never heard before. She wondered for a moment if she could take some of these books back to her world. Would she even get back to her world?

“Can I help you?” a redhead stood up from the book she was reading and put her hands on her hip. She blew a stray strand of hair out of her face. “Oh! You must be the new researcher.”

“Yes, my name is Belle,” she said. “It’s nice to meet you.” She held out her hand and Ariel took it graciously although a little awkward as if she did not really know a lot of protocol. Belle only knew how to act in a palace based on the books she had read and some instruction from Cogsworth.

“Thank you for lending a helping hand,” the woman said. “My name is Ariel.” Ariel’s blue eyes shone brightly as she displayed a winning smile. She acted like such a statement was no big deal.

“Oh!” Belle exclaimed. “This is your castle.” She had remembered Aurora saying the name Ariel the night before even though a lot of that was a blur.

“Mine and Prince Eric’s but right now it belongs to all of the refugees until we beat Ursula again,” she said. “but you’re here to help with that.” Ariel was definitely excited although Belle could tell that she had not really slept well in a while if at all.

“Ursula?” Belle asked. “Aurora mentioned her name but I still have only a few thoughts about what’s going on.”

“Ursula is a sea witch,” Ariel said. “She and I both come from under the sea and she tried to trick me and take over my father’s kingdom but we beat her in the end. She was supposed to be dead but now she’s back. I confirmed it last night.”

“How did you confirm it?” Belle asked. “If I understand correctly she’s under water, right?”

“My father’s spell allows me to turn back into a mermaid when I touch the water if I choose it,” Ariel said. “I snuck down and did some spying last night. I also brought back a prisoner.” As soon as she said this, a crab scuttled from behind a stack of books.

“It is definitely Ursula,” the crab said in a thick accent. “I was up close and personal with her horrible face. I thought she would eat me.”

“Belle, meet Sebastian and Sebastian meet Belle,” Ariel said. “Sebastian is my father’s most trusted advisor. Belle is a princess.”

“Your highness,” Sebastian said with a little bow which caused Belle to blush. “A pleasure to meet you. Forgive my hiding, the last time I was in this palace, it did not go well. I’m feeling a little exposed.”

“Nobody is going to try and eat you, Sebastian,” Ariel said with a little giggle. “Tiana has been informed that you are off the menu. In fact the castle has stopped serving seafood altogether.”

“Thank you, your highness,” Sebastian said as he scuttled off.

“So we’re dealing with somebody coming back to life,” Belle said. “It obviously has to be magic and I don’t think it was Ursula who cast the spell. I wasn’t really there but I have to assume that it wasn’t an ally to Ursula because she would have called on them to fight you during the first coup.”

“Is there anybody from your world that could pull off a resurrection?” Ariel asked. “It sounds like it would be a crazy big spell.” This was an understatement, Belle believed.

“Not that I know of,” Belle said. “but there are so many different worlds represented here, one of them might know something.”

“That’s very smart!” Ariel said with enthusiasm. “We’ll have to question the likely prospects. That may be a task for Milo to tackle.”

“So we’ll tackle the books and the others will handle the interviews,” Belle said. “It’s a plan.”

“I like this new direction,” Ariel said. “but we still need to find a way to counter Ursula’s mind control magic. Maybe the professor will have some luck on that. Let’s dig in?”

“Please,” Belle said. “Reading will help me find some balance here.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 6

August 29, 2020

The kitchen had calmed down by the time that Esmeralda dropped her off at the kitchen although it showed every sign of the work that had gone into the meal. Esmeralda had impulsively handed Belle a tarot card before they parted. Belle was studying it as she ate her late breakfast ravenously. She felt a bit like Adam in the way she was shoveling food into her mouth. The card was labeled as The Hermit. She had no idea what it meant but the art was pretty. She supposed Adam had been a bit of a hermit before they met, though. In a way, she had been a hermit when she buried herself in her books and shied away from people. The card depicted a supposedly wise old man with a lantern. He looked solemn and maybe a bit lonely.

“She gave me one of those too,” Tiana said as she walked up, wiping her hands on her apron.

Belle quickly chewed and swallowed quickly, just barely avoiding choking. “Oh?” she managed to get out.

Tiana pulled a card from the waistband of her dress and held it up. The card said The Chariot at the bottom and depicted a long-haired man being carried on a litter. Adam had long ago given up most of his royal trappings and it looked absolutely extravagant. It looked much more lively than Belle’s Hermit.

“Any idea what it means?” Belle asked. “I’ve never read about the tarot.”

“I have no idea,” Tiana said. “I knew a man who traficked in such magicks and it turned me off of learning anything about it. I don’t think this is really the same thing. Esmeralda is a nice woman, I am sure it does not mean anything bad.”

“Sure,” Belle said. “I’ll have to look it up when I have a chance. When this is all over.”

“Tell me before we return to our worlds,” Tiana said with a smirk.

“You could just ask Esmeralda,” Belle said. “We could both do that, actually.”

“There’s fun in the mystery,” Tiana said. “The journey is just as worth it as the destination even if it is hard.”

“That’s true,” Belle said. “Most of my life I sat around waiting for change but it didn’t happen until I made it happen.”

“You’re my kind of woman, Belle,” Tiana said. “I think we might have a lot in common.” Belle was starting to realize that this was probably true. Though their personalities were different, they might have gone through similar adventures.”

Belle smiled. “Did your fiance magically transform leading you through a chaotic adventure where you learned a lot about yourself?” she asked.

Tiana laughed and tucked her card away. “Actually, he did,” Tiana said. “He and I both transformed into frogs and got lost in the swamp.”

Belle was intrigued. “My fiance was cursed and transformed into a raging beast,” she said. “He changed back to human, though.” The events still felt fresh in her mind. The fear, the curiosity, and the love were still all mixed together. She and Adam were just starting to really connect now that the chaos had stopped. Of course, the chaos had started again.

“With true love’s kiss?” Tiana asked. Belle was surprised. Was true love’s kiss a common thing? It was something to weigh in her upcoming studies, she supposed. She wondered if the research should go beyond books. Books were always a good place to start but there seemed to be a lot of magical experience connected to everyone involved in this crisis.

“More or less,” Belle said as she blushed. “Oh and all of his servants had been transformed into furniture.”

“Alright, you got me beat there,” Tiana said. “That is absolutely wild. We’ll have to compare notes at some point.” Belle was amazed at how easily Tiana could talk to other people. Belle was still working on that aspect of her life. She and Adam were both working on it in different ways.

“I get the feeling that this place is full of people with interesting stories,” Belle said. “I wish I had more time but I need to be in the library to study how to beat this thing.”

“Good luck on that,” Tiana said. “As much as I like cooking for all of this royalty and fine folk, I miss my husband, my mother, and my home.”

“I miss my husband and my father,” Belle said. “We’re still figuring home out. We’re still figuring a lot of things out.”

“So are we but we were settling in. Again, I tell you good luck,” Tiana said. “I won’t keep you here. It looks like you enjoyed your breakfast, though.”

“It was so good,” Belle said. “I hate to rush off.” She pocketed her tarot card quickly.

“We all have our jobs to do,” Tiana said. “You’ll prove your worth when you help solve this thing.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 4

June 20, 2020

The palace under the sea had changed recently. It had grown darker and strange new, toxic plants had started to sprout up everywhere. Fissures had opened up all over that flooded the area with hotter, sulfurous water which helped the plants grow. There were a lot fewer citizens in the kingdom. Many of the fish and other creatures had fled, getting as much distance as possible from the gathering darkness under the waves. The merpeople who were left drifted about rather listlessly as if their very will had been drained from them. Periodically, teams of them would swim to the surface where they would sprout legs for some evil purpose.

In a little cage in the throne room was a crab who still had life in his eyes but not much. As Ursula, the Sea Witch swam close to the cage, Sebastian the crab trembled. He could not escape and he knew that Ursula kept him prisoner to spite the King and Ariel. His eyes briefly flicked toward Triton’s trident leaning against the throne and knew that with it, Ursula would not be opposed.

“Sad little crab,” Ursula said in a mocking tone before chuckling. “You could go free in an instant.”

Sebastian looked defiantly through the bars. “There is a catch,” he said. “You always have a catch.”

Ursula shrugged. “I admit that I almost strictly believe in the concept of quid pro quo,” Ursula said. “Tit for tat, little crab. I love to make a deal.” She grinned, knowing that the crab knew well the deal that the witch had given Princess Ariel and the trouble that had followed. He also knew something of the other ‘poor unfortunate souls’ that had fallen for Ursula’s tricks.

“Whatever you want, you are not getting it,” Sebastian said. “Do what you will.”

“Oh Sebastian,” Ursula said and the sound of his name made the crab shiver. “All I want is for you to spill all of Triton’s secrets.”

“I know nothing,” Sebastian said. “I am simply the palace composer.”

“Nonsense,” Ursula said. “You’re selling yourself short. I know that you have been an adviser to the King and a close confidant with Princess Ariel.”

“I know no secrets, witch,” Sebastian said. “Leave me alone.”

“Maybe I should do to you what I did to Triton and his other daughters,” Ursula said, bringing her smirking face very close to the cage.

Sebastian’s eyes went wide. “W-what did you do to them?” he asked with the tiniest bit of a stutter.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Ursula said and laughed. “You’ll find out soon enough. For now, I should introduce you to my new friend.”

Ursula swam over to the throne and took hold of a strange jar with a writhing shadow within it. Sebastian looked on with both fear and curiosity. The shadow was new to him.

“Have I told you yet how I won this time?” Ursula asked. “I finally beat Triton and it is because of my new friend here. I was gifted this shadowy fellow by a visitor to this world. The visitor said they had found it in the far off land of ‘New Orleans’ wherever that is. It lets me expand my magic so deliciously. With my magic, the shadow, and the trident, I am unbeatable. It is only a matter of time before the surface world is mine. They will kneel before me or they will drown.”

“You’re evil,” Sebastian said. “Ariel will stop you.” He was loyal to his core to the King and he had grown to love Triton’s daughters, and especially Ariel as if they were his own family.

“She can try,” Ursula said with another laugh. “I have allies from beyond and I have sent her beloved to another realm. She’s all but done.”

“That girl never gives up,” Sebastian said. “She beat you once. She will beat you again.”

Ursula shrugged. “Enough talk,” she said. “You bore me, little crab. I will let you play with my shadow and then we’ll see how much you’ll sing for me.”

Ursula slowly unscrewed the jar and the shadow slithered out as if it were her own black ink. It circled the cage as Sebastian struggled with the bars fruitlessly. Its approach was maddeningly slow and Sebastian could see that it was inevitable. He tried to brace himself as it drew closer.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 3

May 23, 2020

Aurora and Belle turned a corner and Aurora pushed open some double doors. “This is the Library,” she said. “Are you sure you don’t want to get some rest first?” Aurora knew that at some point, Belle’s journey from her world would eventually hit her and hard. Still, she knew that everyone had to deal with the transition in their own way.

Belle walked forward without seeming to hear Aurora at all. Her eyes were wide and her smile made them shine bright. Here was something that Belle understood. Back in her hometown she practically lived in the library. Then, in Beast’s castle, when she saw the library she had finally seemed to find her footing. She felt some of her anxiety and tiredness melt off of her like snow on a steep roof. She was so focused on the books that she did not even register that there was a young man sitting at a large table with many books in front of them. Aurora gave Belle some time before she spoke again.

“Belle, I would like to introduce you to part of our team for uh, what did you call it?” She asked of a tall thin man with spectacles and short but floppy hair.

“Research,” Milo said without looking up from his book and scribblings and then looked up and realized that the princesses were standing there.

“Right! Research!” Aurora said. “This is our ‘research’ team. Belle, may I introduce to you to Mister Milo Thatch. Mr. Thatch, I would introduce to you, Princess Belle.”

“Just Belle is fine,” Belle said. “I’m barely a princess. I promise.”

“You can call me Milo,” he said. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m actually technically a king, so there’s that.”

Belle made another mental note at that. The number of members of royalty from many different worlds was climbing quickly. Ariel, Aurora, Tiana, Milo, and herself made five which seemed to be a lot. She wondered again if royalty itself was part of the magic or if that was a faulty theory.

“Really?” Aurora asked, startled. “I had no idea. I’m sorry, Milo.”

“I don’t really like to advertise it,” Milo said. “Especially with Queen Kida elsewhere.”

“We all seem to be separated from our loved ones,” Aurora said.

“At least we’re lost together,” Belle said. “I can’t imagine being washed up on strange shore and I was all alone.”

Aurora and Milo enthusiastically agreed. A much older man came walking out of the stacks, with a comically bushy mustache and a funny-looking helmet. He was also looking a little lost but optimistic. Belle guessed at a glance that his lost expression may have nothing to do with their situation. He had the look of an academic. Belle knew that she had worn this expression many times back in her village.

“Oh I’m sorry,” the man said. “I was a bit lost in the stacks. Reminds me of my years in university.”

“Belle, this is Professor Porter,” Aurora said. “Professor Porter, this is Belle.”

“A professor!” Belle said. “I always wanted to go to university but my father couldn’t afford it.”

“Well,” Professor Porter said. “We could use another set of learned eyes.”

“That was my idea,” Aurora said. “As soon as Belle started talking about how much she loved reading. Maybe she could join you?”

“Like the professor said, I think that’s a great idea,” Milo said. “We’d be glad to have you.” He pulled up a chair to the table for her. She sat down gratefully.

“Thank you,” Belle said. “My head is spinning and I have to do something. I feel better with a book in my hand.” She reached out to clutch one to her chest.

“Well, we have plenty of those, my dear,” Professor Porter said. “We have many soldiers here but few scholars. We’ll figure this out yet!”

“There is one more member of the research team,” Aurora said. “but Queen Ariel is finally getting some sleep. You’ll meet her in the morning if you can drag yourself out of bed in time.”

“I’ll try,” Belle said. “Honestly I might sleep for a week.”

“It’s a lot,” Aurora said nodding. “I have to go check in with patrol but I’ll have Tiana or one of her workers show you to your room when they bring your food. You should rest, library or no.”

“I’m starting to agree with you,” Belle said with a yawn. “I suppose the problem won’t go away tonight.”


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