Monday, February 15, 2010

Chapter Seventy-Two

Under the sea.

"Witch!" bellows the King of the Sea. He points his trident at her cave and a white-hot bolt of power crashes into the coral. The water turns cloudy and bitter.

"What have you done to my people?" he screams.

Nighttime and darkness bleed into the water. The Sea Witch arrives.

"What do you want, old man?" she spits, and casts an angry look at her home. “I’ve only ever given them their own greedy little wishes.”

"Don't play games with me, Witch," roars the King, and he turns to face her.

She’s never seen the King of the Sea in all his fury, and his presence, his power, forces her to recoil. She thought they'd had an unspoken agreement - she could prey on the fools that came for her magicks, and he would leave her in peace... in return for some matters left unspoken.

But clearly, the agreement has ended.

The King of the Sea still bleeds. Patches of his white beard are stained a brownish red. He's been attacked by something. Not sharks. Barracudas?

The Sea Witch realizes he’s still waiting for an answer, and she feels the first tricklings of fear. There’s something in the King’s eye that brings to mind tsunamis, waterspouts, and death.

"I don't know what you're talking about, Your Majesty. I'm just a simple woman! I would never send anything to attack..."

"Lies!" he screams, and unleashes another bolt in her direction. The Witch sprays more ink and propels herself away.

"No, I swear it!" she cries, all the more frightened because she is innocent, and has no idea what sort of malevolence has come to the Seventh Sea and dared attack its king.

Frantically, she tries to think of any spells that might save her, but she is a specialist in trickery and deception, not raw power. Nothing alive under the ocean can match the King’s trident.

He swims toward her, the golden prongs stained with blood. "Your oath means nothing, Witch!"

She shrinks deeper into the inky shadows of the water, and the voice that begs is quite unlike her usual milky purr. “Please...”

"You've killed my people," he snarls, and he stabs at her with the Trident. Although she raises her powerful, flabby arms to protect her face, she is cut through.

"You've killed my kingdom!" he screams, and stabs again.

"You've... killed... me."

The Sea Witch doesn't answer.

The King of the Sea stares at her for a long time. The water clears of ink and blood and coral. His breathing calms. The rage in his eyes fades into an uncaring, vacant gaze, and his brow unfurrows, free from the pain and suffering of his people.

And then he drifts, slowly, toward the shredded corpse of the Sea Witch, and he eats.