Story Time (Ariel Theodore)

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Story Time (Ariel Theodore)
Date of Cutscene: 10 June 2017
Location: Sunset Dream Beach
Synopsis: Ariel spends some much needed time with her family now that they have been reunited. But they all know it will not last in this moment of calm before the storm.
Thanks to: All of you.
Cast of Characters: Ariel Theodore
Tinyplot: Darkly Dreaming

Mood Music: https://youtu.be/p9rfSANB2jg


There was still work to be done. Things were still fraying. But even in the middle of a dire forming crisis, there has to be some time set aside for a reunited family to just... Be together.


With Amalthea free from the Nightmare Prince's hold, the darkened dream forest was slowly beginning to come back to life. Slivers of light starting to shine through the strangling canopy, the unwelcoming chill replaced over time with a quiet but less overtly menacing feeling of lonely foreboding.


Though the small stretch of beach was perpetually cast in the same sunset under which the unicorn and mermaid had first met, the waters were no longer dark; fish slowly returning to the crystal clear inlet, still providing a small and bright place of refuge amid the slowly receding but still present gloaming darkness of the Nightmare encircling on all sides but one.


For one, Ariel was happy to see the fish again, spending far too long splashing in the shallows as they circled her legs like a school of affection starved cats. Almost the whole night was wasted chasing them around the deeps. Now all the dream needed, to help her return to a sense of normalcy, were the butterflies. They were no doubt still slumbering in their cocoons, held in a cold stasis by the darkness all around them. But the night was not truly wasted.


Much as she had wanted to spend time with the elder unicorn, there was very little chance to actually do so. In spite of her injuries and weakness, Amalthea had left once again into the wilds of the multiple and many dreams beyond the small and lonely woods, in search of other remaining Dream Defenders willing to fight and come out of hiding. But not tonight. Tonight she had returned, and Ariel had made the decision to 'conveniently' wander off and play while giving her mothers time to spend together alone. When she finally did surface, spitting a small stream of salty water like a fountain, there was no surprise when she heard her name called, to return to the shore.


"Coming!"


They were still together, waiting for her, on their favorite rock perch. Though the unicorn's head was no longer on her mermaid's lap, as it had been when Ariel had left. And there was an air of tense silence between the two.


"... Mom? Mom?"


"Sit, child, we've something important to discuss."


The elder unicorn's gravel-road rough voice held a weight that made the younger hesitate. Bare toes scuffed at the sand before she swished her tail aside and plopped down, topaz eyes flicking from one parent to the other. Though they should have all been happy, Ariel could not shake the dread feeling of a child that had been naughty and was now being sat down for it. Amalthea's thin smile dispelled that in a heartbeat.


"What? I go away for a little while, and you're afraid to sit with your weary old mother for a story?"


It was a joke, understated of course, but not lost on present company; an equally tight-lipped smile slowly breaking free upon the mermaid's normally cool expression.


"Once upon a time there was a little unicorn..." Amalthea began, as soon as Ariel shifted close enough to rest her cheek on her mother's knee. "When a disaster struck her home, her mother acted rashly... Sending her alone to a wide world beyond everything she knew, in hopes of ensuring her safety. There wasn't a minute that went by in which her mother did not think of her, even when swallowed up by a dark beast as black as the night."


Topaz eyes closed as Ariel's breath slowed, truly getting to relax for the first time in a long time in this brief and fleeting, but perfect moment.


"It was a scary new world, but the little unicorn managed to make many friends. Friends that looked after her and friends she grew to love. But that dark beast still seeks to spread its influence, threatening even now to spill out into that new world she loves so much..."


Though the story took a turn for the worse, Ariel peeked up in silence at the first touch of fingers sliding through silver hair.


"Her mother did everything in her power, once she had been saved from the jaws of the blackest night, but... Well this just isn't my story to finish, Ariel. Your mother and I've used up the most of our strength. And we can't help any more than what little we already have. You, and those you care about, will have to be the writers from here on out- as you all have already been for so long, and put an end to it. This peace? Here and now is short lived. And it won't amount to a damned thing if that Nightmare Prince is allowed to continue... He's going to take this fight to the waking world, where we don't have the power to do anything."


Ariel's eyes squeezed shut as she clung to a leg, drawing a slow and steeling breath. She knew it was true; much as she wanted to remain on the eternally sunset beach, playing with the fish and getting to spend time with her mothers once again. "But I don't know how." She says at length. "I'm not strong, I can't fight like you can or like Seishi and Kokoro. I'm not a good planner like Kunzite, I can't control darkness like Norie or even support anyone as well as Rashmi and Tyrfing, or-..."


A tap on the tip of her horn saw her silent, eyes crossing to the finger gently beeping her again. "Enough of that." The Sea-witch said, cool and imperious. And there was silence for an almost painful stretch before the old knight spoke again.


"The happy ending can't come in the middle of the story, Ariel, you know that. Your friends all have their strengths and each one is very strong. I shouldn't have to tell you, child, that there's a vast difference between being weak, and being gentle." Once more Ariel's eyes closed with a small sigh as fingers brushed a cheek. "But." Amalthea began again. "For the troubling days to come, your mother and I can give you one last gift."


It was curiosity that made Ariel peek an eye open again, finally falling onto what stood resting just beyond her mothers as they shifted aside just enough for her to see it. Something bright and gleaming with promise of hope...