Captain Dusk didn’t like sailing on the night of the full moon, even when it was obscured by clouds, because it made the dark sharks relentless. They pulled against their restraints, making the boat rock unreasonably across the calm sea; but it was the night for the princesses to meet, and who was he to say no to Her Darkness?
The Dark Princess loomed at the front of the boat, sending out tendrils of excitement, while her nursemaid, Grimnoir, sat beside her knitting shadows. The sea of light was living up to its name, and deep within the water, a rainbow of colored lights sparkled as the dancing denizens celebrated the hidden full moon.
Dusk wanted to warn the Dark Princess to stop leaning so far over the side of the boat, afraid that the water lights would hurt her, but it wasn’t his place to tell a princess what to do, and as much as he had respect for Her Darkness, he was more afraid of Grimnoir and her gloomy looks if he overstepped his bounds.
“Stop here,” Grimnoir said. She set aside her knitting and pulled a box of matches from her holdall.
With difficulty, he called the dark sharks to halt, and dropped the anchor. Beads of oily sweat rolled down his forehead at the thought of what Grimnoir was about to do next. He shrank against the bow, hoping to distance himself as much as possible from the old nursemaid. Grimnoir shooed the Dark Princess away from the stern before striking a match and lighting a lantern, which she proceeded to hang with great caution from a long pole that fastened to the stern. Grimnoir hustled the Dark Princess to retreat further, pushing her towards Captain Dusk, and the dark sharks grew agitated underneath the boat, making it roll, and sending the lantern swinging in wild arcs. The three shadow people huddled together outside its parabola.
“Why did you have to light that nasty thing?” the Dark Princess whined.
“To let the Sea Princess know we have arrived for the play date,” Grimnoir said.
Captain Dusk cinched the dark sharks chains tight and scattered gloom worms into the water, turning it inky midnight. He hoped the Sea Princess would be a no show. He could taste that the wind would change, and he wanted to be safely back in port before the cloud cover revealed the moon and stars.
“Here she comes,” Grimnoir said.
The Dark Princess rushed to the side of the boat. Captain Dusk suppressed a groan and scattered more gloom worms to distract the dark sharks from the visitor. A bright aquamarine diffused the water at the front of the boat as an orb rushed towards the surface. The light grew brighter, until Captain Dusk had to look away, and with a soft splash the Sea Princess emerged from the water. She was small for royalty, only about the same size as Captain Dusk’s boat, with a roundish head covered in gently waving pink fronds, a short yellow dress and lots of long sapphire tentacles. The skin of her face was rubbery and translucent, and she seemed to glow from within, turning her flesh white where the light was brightest and fading through baby, to sky, to cerulean and then ending in midnight blue at the tips of her tentacles.
“Hello,” the Sea Princess said, and Captain Dusk thought her voice sounded like waves lapping against the shore. She curtsied in a tangle of tentacles and wafted a fresh salty scent towards the boat.
“I am the Dark Princess, but you may call me Your Darkness,” the Dark Princess said.
Captain Dusk shook his head. He loved and feared his princess in equal measure, but he wondered if she would be more popular if she were less haughty.
“I’m Cetacea,” the Sea Princess said.
Grimnoir took out her knitting and started to cast off. Captain Dusk was surprised that she could be so calm when there was so much light around. Other sea creatures were now swimming up through the water to join their princess, and all the colours were making him light headed. Grimnoir didn’t seem to be so effected. She was slowly running the thick strands of darkness through her fingers. Captain Dusk thought it was strange, because it looked like she’d made a net.
“So, do you want to be friends?” the Dark Princess said.
The Sea Princess twirled one of her fronds with a tentacle. “I suppose,” she said.
Grimnoir held the net out to the Dark Princess and, with one deft motion, the Dark Princess cast the net over the Sea Princess, capturing her and dimming her light. Captain Dusk rose up with a cry, but one look from Grimnoir sent him slithering back onto the bottom of the boat. The Dark Princess, rustling excitedly, gathered up the strands of the net and started reeling the Sea Princess onto the boat.
“I can’t carry her, the dark sharks won’t stand for it,” Captain Dusk said. He was disappointed how weak his voice sounded.
The Sea Princess made a funny noise, like a drop of water dripping into a big, echoing cave, and the light grew stronger around the boat. Captain Dusk dared to peer over the side and saw that the sea creatures had grown agitated and were swimming towards them. Fastest of all was a huge orb of light, with undulating blue fronds and rapidly swimming green tentacles.
“It’s the Sea Queen,” Captain Dusk said, scuttling back from the side of the boat and starting to raise the anchor.
“You must fly, My Darkness,” Grimnoir said. Captain Dusk saw her place something on the back of the Dark Princess, and then the Dark Princess seemed to grow and spread out. She engulfed the Sea Princess, and rose into the air, a long streak of shadow.
The Sea Queen burst from the ocean, her tentacles whirling so madly that they whipped up a wind that blew the clouds from in front of the full moon. Captain Dusk saw the Dark Princess streak towards land and the castle, a line of utter darkness against the moonlight sky, and then he looked down at his own inky body and saw that he was beginning to grey at the edges.
“Return my daughter immediately, or this will mean war between our kingdoms,” the Sea Queen said, her blue fronds a tangle around her head, her green tentacles reaching out towards the boat.
“Help,” Captain Dusk shouted.
Grimnoir ignored him. He saw steely resolve on her face. She reached into her bag and withdrew a drum, which she started to beat slowly and rhythmically.
“Forget,” the drum said.
The Sea Queen’s tentacles relaxed and hung quietly below her, moving gently in time with the drum beat. Her fronds settled down around her great round head. The light dimmed within her and a dreamy smile slowly appeared on her face.
“Forget,” the drum said.
As the light faded from the Sea Queen, so did her colours. Her green skin grew grey, her blue fronds black. The colourful sparkles from the sea creatures below the water became tiny points of light in charcoal waves, until the lights winked out, leaving only inky darkness.
“Forget,” the drum said.
The Sea Queen shook her head, and Captain Dusk saw an expression of great loss cross her face before she slid slowly under the dark waves.
Clouds gathered and once more covered the full moon. The dark sharks nudged their noses above the waves, eager to go on a journey. Captain Dusk yawned and stretched, feeling as refreshed as if he had slept in a cave for a month. Her Dark Highness’ old nursemaid, Grimnoir, was sitting in the boat, putting something round back into the big old holdall she always carried with her. Captain Dusk didn’t like the old woman. She scared him.
“Time to go back, I think,” Grimnoir said.
“Nice night for a boat ride,” Captain Dusk said, as he commanded the dark sharks homeward, and their ebony fins slid smooth and swift through the grey water, back to port.
I hope you enjoyed the story. I wrote it for my niece, based on a picture that she drew.
Here is the picture:
Wishing all my friends a very Happy Easter! Thank you for reading, liking, commenting and being in my life. I am very grateful for you all.