Three Sisters Are We: Part Two – Daphne
The bites on my legs. On my chest. His feverish tongue… Ugh, those vampires! The memories from our time on that pirate ship had seized my focus, an essential quality at a horrible time like this. The storm hadn’t ended. I could no longer tell if it had become any worse. All of this journey was a nightmare. The lightning flashed. The knife gleaned. No, I told myself. That’s over now. When the nausea settled in I couldn’t tell the past from the present. Suddenly, the ocean seemed to clamor at my sadness. And before I knew it, its chill stabbed through my body. It was then I realized that I was surrounded by water, and I was floating into the blackness of the seas below me. I tried to swim. My legs and arms flailed heavily in the murky blue. Then I began to pray. It was not my intention, mind you. My father taught us well. Prayer was forbidden. To hear it spoken would arouse the Monarch and his drones. At the very worst, father would have been cross with me. I learned to despise the sensation, as if I tasted something foul, like excrement. It was brash, I know. But, that was how I learned to become the reputable daughter father wanted me to be.
But none of that mattered now. Anyone, anything, could have intervened. It was unnatural to not believe that some magic would succeed.
And so I prayed: “Mah dee le lah for meht…” The chant resonated in my head. It was so multitudinous that it became omnipresent, an universal sound I had no choice but to listen, to acknowledge. I closed my eyes and let the black settle upon me.
When I came to, my eyes were blinded by white light. Paradise. The Forbidden Place. “Am I really here?” I asked.
“What are you talking about?” Olivia replied, tearful. “We thought you drowned.”
Adele and Olivia’s faces came into focus. I sat up. While my head was swimming, the ocean had calmed down. “What happened to me?” I asked.
“You fell in,” Adele said. She was still crying into what remained of her dress. “I thought you were dead. But then you… you just seemed to…”
“Bob up from the depths,” Olivia said. “As if something had pushed you up.”
The sun was as unbearable as the rain, and yet I wished for the latter then. Our bodies fried; our brains cooked. Out on the raft, the invisible boundaries of the sky and ocean were incredibly absent. Adele sat up. She weakly pointed to what was a long jagged strip in the distance. “Do you think this might be the Horace Islands?” She asked, her voice hoarse and broken.
I shook my head. “It’s the Islands of Horace,” I said. Our main destination. You see, we were at a proper age to pursue education at the highest level. The Islands of Horace was world renowned for its brilliant academia. So many of the very best minds are alumni of the institution, including our father. We had been groomed for that special day, when we boarded The Wingless Man and set sail for the Southern Oceans. Father had always shown me pictures of The Islands. The pang in my stomach worsened. I knew this was not it. We were approaching a foreign place. Looking into Adele’s disappointed face, I merely told her that I wasn’t sure. “Daddy showed us the islands to us on a map. There was a string of them,” I told her.
Olivia snorted. “I don’t see any other islands around here,” she said.
Adele stared at the land for a long time before she spoke. “But, do you think that perhaps we can’t see them from where we are.”
I replied with a doubtful look.
“Then where are we?” She asked.
As we caught a better view of the land up close, we marveled at the large mountains, peppered with grass shimmering green-gold underneath the sun.
The ocean wave threw our dinghy towards a barrier of large, angular rocks. Our small boat, which had managed to withstand the ocean up until now, shattered upon impact. Grunting, I wrapped my hand around the sharp, jagged edges and tried to pull myself up from the wreckage. I could hear my sisters grunting and crying behind me, but I pretended as if it was just the ocean waves crashing up on shore. Their sorrow was one I could not bear, that I could not tolerate. I climbed over the rocks and the sandy barrier until I was finally on dry land. We had crashed in a valley in between two large mountains. The entire valley was as green as the mountaintops. Never had I seen a place so lush. Then, I noticed a small shack in the distance. My bloody feet picked up their pace then. Olivia was not far behind. Adele barely caught up.
We were only a few feet away when a trembling figure emerged from the small shack. It was a girl. Young. Frightened. But, not in the way we were. Not ocean-torn, not starved and tormented with a thirst that made the throat burn. She hopped off the misshapen front steps. Olivia and I exchanged inquisitive looks. We could tell this was no ordinary land, although ordinary was a diamond with many dark facets.
Our distrust of this unusual creature, her elfin details becoming finer as we drew near, was outdone by our distress. Shrugging off our first impressions, we ran up to the young maiden, shouting and waving our weak arms in the air. At the sight of us she was understandably startled; but once we got much closer, her disturbed dark eyes pierced through us like a needle, and quickly she sprinted up the steps and back into the house. She peeked out from the window, her little slender fingers gripped over its dirt-laden sill.
“Please, girl,” I said. “Please help us!”