Chapter Thirty Five
A/N I do not own anything other than my OCs when they make an appearance. Everything else belongs to either Disney or J.K. Rowling.
Gah! So sorry about the delay here folks! In all honesty, I've been distracted by my Descendants fanfics. But I promise you, I'll still be updating this one as well!
Hopefully the next chapter won't take as long to get up! Hope you all enjoy this chapter and let me know what you think! :D
Andrina sighed in relief as they finally reached the center of the Black Lake. Despite being granted their fastest carriage, the journey still took about two weeks—meaning everyone in the center of the lake was now scurrying around to make sure the necessary tasks on their end were done for the Second Task.
Not that Andrina knew that of course. All she saw was what she assumed to be the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the Black Lake.
"Excuse me," she called to a passerby, her arms full to the brim with supplies. "Could you tell me how to get to the Duke?"
The woman didn't answer though, it was almost as if she didn't hear the princess that was how much of a hurry she was in.
"Your highness, follow me," Thomas said in a soft voice, causing Andrina to jump slightly as she had forgotten about her traveling companion. "The Duke resides in the middle of town. Actually, it's the dead center; it was made that way so that anyone who was traveling could have a straight shot to him. Not to mention it prevents the need to remember any twists and turns in the journey."
Andrina nodded and followed Thomas to the Duke's manor. It wasn't as grand as the palace in Atlantica but that made sense in a way. After all, this was the manor of a Duke not a King. For it to be as grand or grander than the palace would almost be an insult, especially considering the Black Lake was one of the smaller outposts of their kingdom.
But at the same time, there was still a regal feel to it. As if to remind those who came that while the Black Lake was a smaller outpost and one forgotten by time and Atlantica, it was still a section of the Sea King's kingdom. It still deserved respect.
Andrina looked around as she heard an unfamiliar voice call to her companion. To her surprise, it was an older woman and yet Thomas seemed to know her judging by his smile upon seeing her.
"What are you doing back here?" The woman asked as she swam over to them, a similar smile on her face.
"I'm here on official Atlantica business, Abigail," Thomas said and Andrina couldn't help but smile slightly as he straightened up as he said it. Almost like a small child showing pride at being trusted with an 'adult' task. Though in a sense he was. After all, he'd been assigned this task by none other than the king of Atlantica. For a new recruit like himself, that was a big deal. "But never mind that, are you alright? You seem rather upset."
Andrina looked over at the older woman and had to agree. Even with her frazzled appearance, which seemed to be almost commonplace among all the citizens they had come across, Abigail seemed to be even more so. In addition to that, her eyes seemed to be shining bright with, on closer inspection, seemed to be unshed tears.
"Abigail, what's wrong?" Thomas asked, his voice lowering to a more gentle tone. "Did something happen with Adrian or William?"
Abigail shook her head, some of her hair flying out of the makeshift bun it'd been put into and falling into her eyes. "No, no, they're both fine. In fact, Adrian's just got back from training. He managed to get leave, thank Neptune."
"Why…why would he get leave if you're all fine?" Thomas asked, looking over at Andrina in confusion.
"Thomas…it's Nina," Abigail said, her voice a near whisper. "She's been in an almost death like sleep ever since she arrived from Atlantica. I was going to check in with the Duke to see if there'd been any progress in finding out her condition."
"Please don't let us keep you," Thomas said though he had to admit, he was amazed that Abigail hadn't yet noticed Andrina. Yet maybe that was a good thing. He remembered his time growing up in the Black Lake…he knew the attitudes toward the royal family and the citizens of Atlantica were not the friendliest.
The only ones the townsfolk were friendly to were those who had been born and raised at the Lake and left for a better life.
"Were…were you wanting an audience with the Duke as well?" Abigail asked, her voice kind yet soft as exhaustion seemed to kick in.
"It can wait," Andrina stated, swimming up to them as Thomas had gently moved Abigail off to the side a bit to afford her some privacy for their conversation. "I'm sorry to intrude but your need is more pressing than ours."
Thomas looked at Andrina in shock, as if not expecting that response. He knew how much she cared for her siblings, every guard did, and the fact that two of them were missing right now…he knew it had to be eating her the way it was eating the rest of the royal family.
Meanwhile Andrina fought to keep in a sigh, feeling Thomas' gaze on her. Yes, she wanted that audience with the Duke. She knew her father would probably be calling soon to make sure they arrived safely and without any problems. However…seeing how worried and frantic Abigail was, she couldn't just take time away from her.
Not when the Duke could possibly have a solution to curing her daughter. Andrina knew that if the position was reversed, and it was her mother who was begging before the Duke to find a cure for her or one of her sisters or Harry…she wouldn't want someone to take up time that could have helped her.
"Are…are you sure?" Abigail asked, her voice soft. "Thomas, you would have traveled all the way from Atlantica—."
"Abigail, you've got more on your plate to worry about," Thomas said, keeping his voice gentle as he looked at the older mermaid. "Your daughter's ill, that counters anything we need to speak to the Duke about."
My father may disagree, Andrina thought as she lightly bit her lip. However, it's safe to assume that Alana and Ariel are fine for now. Abigail knows her daughter is…wait, a death like sleep? That almost sounds like one of the defense mechanisms father mentioned the Trident has. He's taught most of us girls the defense mechanisms when we turned seventeen after all.
"Ms…Ms Abigail?" Andrina spoke up. "I hate to intrude but would you mind if I joined you in meeting with the Duke?"
"Andrina?" Thomas asked, his voice soft as if he didn't want to use her name but it was too late as Abigail's eyes grew wide.
"Please don't," Andrina said quickly, keeping her voice down as to avoid anyone noticing them. Though honestly she did have to wonder how it took the woman this long to put it together that she was a member of the royal family. Thomas was a royal guard after all. Wouldn't it click?
Then again, with her daughter unconscious, it would be fair to say that Abigail's mind was elsewhere and she wasn't thinking about that fact. Not to mention after years of being cut off from the rest of the kingdom, it wasn't likely that someone from the Black Lake would expect to see a royal guard swimming around their waters.
"She's right Abigail," Thomas nodded. "But we should hurry—there's no sense in keeping Lord Black waiting after all."
Not to mention father would be furious if we arrived and didn't immediately let him know we got here safely, Andrina thought as the three of them continued to make their way to Lord Black's.
"Abigail!" Lord Black said, swimming over to her as Abigail, Andrina, and Thomas made their way into his home. "Is everything alright?"
"I…I just wanted to see if there'd been any change in Nina's condition, your grace," Abigail said and Lord Black sighed.
"Nothing that I've been able to see," he said. "We've been researching constantly to see what could have caused—."
"Did she touch the trident in any way?" Andrina asked.
Lord Black looked over at her and Andrina could have sworn that he paled slightly upon seeing her. "The…the trident? Why I'm not sure though I suspect not. I mean the trident is to never leave the side of King Triton after all—."
"Uh huh," Andrina said. "It's just that, from what Ms. Abigail described, it seems like Nina's run afoul of the security measures of the trident. Only those of my father's blood can touch it without being rendered unconscious after all."
"Yes Lord Black," Andrina nodded. "I hope you'll forgive me but my father did ask that I inform him upon my arrival so he knows I've arrived safely."
"Of course, I'll make sure to inform King Triton straight away. But, and I hope you don't mind my asking your highness, but what brings you to our neck of the sea?"
Andrina sighed and straightened up. "I'm sure you've heard that both of my youngest sisters have gone missing?"
"We have heard that yes," Lord Black said and Abigail nodded. "But forgive me, I'm still not understanding why—."
"My father wants to make sure we're leaving no stone unturned with searching for my sisters," Andrina explained. "With how cut off the Black Lake is from the rest of the kingdom, it might have been the perfect place to go. Now, I do need to ask. Have you seen my sisters?"
Lord Black glanced at Abigail and then sighed. "If your highness could follow me?"
"That doesn't answer the question your grace."
"I know your highness. I just…I would like to answer your question away from prying ears."
Andrina looked at Thomas, who shrugged slightly, before looking back at Lord Black and nodded. The group made their way to the room which housed the device in which Lord Black was able to communicate with Ariel and Harry up at Hogwarts.
"Lord Black, isn't our being in this room slightly…illegal?" Andrina asked.
"Well yes but I figured the best way to answer your question your highness would be to show you," Lord Black stated and spoke into the machine. There was a moment's pause before a boy's face appeared.
Andrina stared in shock at the face that she thought she'd never see again. The green eyes she still remembered from her childhood though she didn't remember the odd devices on them.
Harry! It's…it's got to be! Andrina thought as she kept her eyes on him, hungrily staring at her brother's appearance for the first time in years.
"Yes Lord Black?" Harry asked.
"Is Ariel or Alana available to speak, Harry?" Lord Black asked. "I have someone here who'd like to talk to them."
"One second," Harry said and then looked over his shoulder. "Oi! Ariel! You able to take a break from research for a second? Call for you!"
"Coming!" Ariel called back and Andrina couldn't help the small smile that tugged at her lips. Her baby sister was safe. That was all that mattered. But..wait, they weren't in water. How…?
"Ariel, are you human?!" Andrina exclaimed as Ariel came into view.
Ariel's eyes grew wide as she heard Andrina's voice. "A…Andrina? Is that you?"
"Of course it's me! Who did you expect, the Sea Witch?"
"There's a Sea Witch?" Harry asked.
"Well technically she's our Aunt but father banished her after she attempted to take the throne from him after Attina was born," Alana said as she also came into view. She paused as she saw Andrina glaring at her slightly. "I…I see this isn't the best time for a familial history lesson."
"You're damn straight it's not!" Andrina exclaimed, earning a slightly shocked look from those around her but she didn't care. "What are you two doing? Wait…are you guys…no you can't be…don't tell me you're both human!"
"Okay we won't tell you," Ariel said and Andrina resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose. Things just got a whole lot more complicated.