• Kiran Esvaran

Mystery of the Deep

Chapter 1


“Where are we going?” asked Turquoise, an epaulette shark, for the millionth time.

“School.” Fin, a parrotfish, had answered for the hundredth time.

Turquoise had asked “Where are we going?” for the whole swim to school. She’d been all over going to school since they first heard about it a week ago. Fin did not want to go to school at all. He did not want to learn how to hunt or escape predators, or what seaweeds were edible or not. He just wanted to stay in the safety of his sea cave, where no tiger sharks can eat him.

A humongous coral cave full of vibrant weeds shot up from the sandy seabed. Fin could tell that was the school. Turquoise flicked her slender tail then dashed into the cave. Fin slowly swished his tail, hoping to never get there.

An electric catfish swam up to Fin and nudged him, giving him a shock. Fin knew it was Zap, his best friend.

“Hi Fin. Race you!” Zap exclaimed. Fin dashed through the reef, his gills huffing and puffing.

Finally he arrived in his classroom. A large sea turtle Fin knew was the teacher floated into the front of the room.

“Hello!” She said, “Tell me your name, and three things about you.”

Turquoise’s fin shot up straight away.

“Yes,” the teacher said, pointing to Turquoise.

“My name is Turquoise, and I love to eat purple seaweed,” Turquoise said, looking at her yellow, black-spotted skin. “And my favorite color is turquoise, like my name, and I am Fin’s adopted sister.” Turquoise pointed to Fin. Fin trembled with fear. He wanted to avoid attention. Why did Turquoise point to him?

“It must be interesting having a parrotfish as a brother, considering that you are an epaulette shark.” the teacher said to Turquoise. “Fin, do you want to try next?” Fin froze, petrified. Attention was the last thing he wanted.

“No.” Fin finally said.

The teacher pointed to a sea otter who Fin knew as “The Singing Otter”.

“The Singing Otter” sang to the tune of Fishy Had A Little Crab (Mary Had A Little Lamb). “Hi, My name is...” RUMBLE! BANG! Zap rolled his eyes, then raised his whiskers, startled by the loud sound.

A terrified expression spread across Fin’s face. What was that?

BANG! A hole cracked open in the school wall. Numerous anglerfish glowered menacingly at the students. One flung a spear toward the teacher, then another. Turquoise flung herself in between the teacher and the spears, trying to block them, but she tumbled to the ground, her two dorsal fins swishing side to side. Fin looked at his sister and gasped. Is she crazy? Fin thought.

He could never be that brave, he was hiding under his desk while his friends were fighting to protect him.

Zap shot a bolt of electricity towards the anglerfishes. One stiffened, as if he’d been frozen by liquid nitrogen, then fell into a heap of fish parts, luminous lighting bolts flashing out of him.

Another anglerfish with malicious eyes charged towards Zap. Turquoise barreled into the anglerfish and whacked him in the face. Zap bit another's fin, making him let out an ear-piercing shriek.

Fin glanced around. Him, Turquoise and Zap were the only students still in the classroom.

“Fin, bite him!” Zap and Turquoise yelled in unison. Only then Fin saw it. A humongous anglerfish was charging toward him, teeth bared. Turquoise wriggled through anglerfishes, dodging fins and teeth. She lunged at Fin’s attacker and bit him. He fell to the ground, screaming in agony.

“Are you all right?” Turquoise asked Fin.

“Yes.” Fin replied, still shaken from the attack.

“Let’s escape, before they return.” Zap said pensively.

“We have to find out why they attacked us and who they are.” Turquoise said, her tail wriggling.

Fin was starting to get really anxious. Even bubbly Turquoise was acting nervous and worried.

“No, we don't.” Fin said.

“I’m with Turquoise.” Zap said.

“I hate this idea.” Fin stated.

“You don’t,” Turquoise said. “You just think you do. Besides, others need help. Don't you want to help them?”

“I’d rather stay safe,” Fin objected.

“Let's go.” Zap said, “We better find out. Soon.”

Scary missions are not my thing, Fin thought. Why do I have to go on one? Couldn't someone braver go? Well, Zap is my best friend and Turquoise is kind and encouraging.

Fin snapped out of his thoughts. He had to be brave, to try to be brave. They swam for a while, searching for clues.

“Look! tail marks!” Turquoise pointed to a trail of tail marks.

“We have to follow them.” Zap suggested.

“No, we don’t!” I flared. “If we die there, it’s your fault.”

“We won't die. We might even find something cool there, like cute crabhoppers or yummy food, or even rainbow seaweed!” Turquoise said.

“Where does rainbow seaweed even grow?” Fin objected.

“My imagination.” Turquoise shot back.

“Let’s just follow them.” Zap said, rolling his eyes at Turquoise.

They darted along the fin prints. Well, Zap and Turquoise darted, Fin lagged behind, stopping to rest every few swims.

Eventually the tracks led to a hole surrounded by violet seaweeds. Fin really didn't want to go down there, even though that might be the hiding place of the anglerfishes.

“I know what you're thinking and it’s really stupid.” Fin said

“That we have to go down there? Because we do.” Zap shot back.

“No, we don’t!” Fin objected

“I’m with Zap.” Turquoise agreed.

“I have to go in there.” Zap suggested.

“No you don't! No one does!” Fin flared.

It was too late. Zap dashed into the hole. A few minutes later, he called, “It’s safe.”

Turquoise dashed in next and yelled, “I feel like I'm falling! Definitely falling! Like the water just vanished! I see Zap! I’m at the bottom now!”

Fin did not want to go in. Maybe he should just swim away, or go back home to safety.

Turquoise yelled, “What’s taking you so long? Fin! Come down! It’s safe!”

Fin finally swam down. Suddenly, he felt the water under him vanish, creating a whirlpool that sucked him all the way down onto the seafloor.

Where are we? Thought Fin.

A peculiar coral grew from the ground. Its luminescent stripes shone like a moonlit diamond, brighter than the brightest gold.

“Wow,” Turquoise said.

“Whoa,” Zap said.

Fin said, “Um, that thing looks like it’s gonna swallow us.”



Chapter 2


The coral did look like it was about to swallow them. It glowed eerily, as if it was trying to lure someone into its mouth.

Suddenly, a rip current swirled violently around the three creatures. They all thrashed wildly, trying to break free. The next thing Fin knew, he was in the wrath of the coral’s tentacles. He struggled and thrashed, but it was no help. He saw Zap shocking the tentacle grabbing him, and Turquoise trying to wriggle out and bite the one grabbing her.

Then Fin remembered their words during the battle from earlier. “Fin! Bite him!” reverberated around his head.

Fin leaned down, only to bite the tentacle. It let go of Fin for a moment, letting go of Turquoise too.

Zap. Fin thought. Biting the coral was scary enough. Saving someone was a whole different thing. Luckily, Turquoise dashed toward Zap, dodging tentacles. She bit the tentacle, freeing Zap.

SSSHHLLLUUUUURRRRP! A violent maelstrom thrashed and swirled, sucking the three creatures toward the coral’s teeth. A bristly tongue shot from its mouth, Fin, Zap, and Turquoise now stuck to it.

“Someone! Do something really gross!” Turquoise suggested.

“How can we gross coral out?” Zap rolled his eyes.

“Isn't this already gross?” Fin asked.

“Just an idea.” Turquoise said.

Zap shocked the tongue, giving Fin a small shock that reverberated through his body. The tongue threw them onto the sand, managing to regurgitate a once-shimmering ruby. The ruby was covered in globby goo, but patches of glittering red shone through.

Zap gave Fin a fin-five (high-five) that shocked Fin from head to tail.

Turquoise hugged Fin, pushing him onto the seabed.

“You saved us!” she said.

“You can get off me now.” Fin said. She wasn't heavy- epaulette sharks were skinny creatures. But Fin hated hugs. Especially from girls.

He shook his fins. Turquoise and Zap were dashing towards the ruby.

“Wait!” Fin called. “We don’t know if it’s safe to touch!”

He saw an inscription on the ruby that read:


%^*&(#%*) ?????*_$%??? %^&*$$@@#%?%$??%#!_??*(_%__???^*)$#@!%%^^%$!

(Ask this ruby any questions you want to. )


Turquoise and Zap must have read the inscription, for they started to ask the ruby questions.

“How are we gonna stop those anglerfish that just wrecked our school?” Zap asked.

“You need to find more enchanted crystals like me.” The ruby said in an angelic voice.

“Why did they attack our school?” Turquoise asked.

“There is a sapphire in the middle of the school, and the anglerfish want it, but didn't get it.” The ruby said.

“Is the sapphire enchanted?” Zap asked.

“Why else would they want it?” Turquoise answered before the ruby could.

“Good point.” Zap said.

“Come on! Let’s go find the other gems!” Turquoise said, excited.

“Let’s find the one in the school.” Fin said. “It’s the only place where we won’t get killed.”

“Stop worrying, Fin.” Turquoise said, not in her usual excited tone. “But, well, we could, but,”

“The hole’s closed.” Zap finished.

Fin looked up. The hole was closed.

How did that happen? Fin thought.

“Why did it close?” Zap asked the ruby.

“Sorry, I am forbidden to tell you that.” the ruby said.

“What!” said Zap.

“Why did we have to go in here in the first place? You know we're gonna die soon!” Fin said.

“No. we’re. not.” Turquoise said.

“Come on. Let's keep exploring.” Zap said.

“Wait! I have a theory!” Turquoise added.

Zap rolled his eyes.”Ugh. Fine, tell us.”

“I need more evidence.” Turquoise said. “Maybe I’ll find more down the hole! What are we waiting for? Let’s go!”

“Where are we gonna store the ruby?” Zap asked.

Fin realized he was still wearing his backpack, but he didn't want to store a potentially dangerous object in there. He knew what Turquoise and Zap were thinking.

“Ugh, fine.” Fin said. “We’ll keep it in my backpack.”

Turquoise and Zap dashed ahead, while Fin lagged behind, getting spooked by every small noise.

“It’s probably just crabhoppers.” Turquoise reassured him. “Besides, they’re adorable!”

Soon, the indigo water turned pitch-black. Fin saw a huge silhouette loom under the sandy seabed.

“I sense something,” Turquoise said, in an unusually serious tone. “Kind of like a heart beating.”

“I sense it too.” Zap said, his whiskers raising.

“Sense what?” Fin asked. “How?”

“Electroreception.” Zap and Turquoise said in unison.

The sand shifted, then rose. Two silvery wings emerged from the seabed.

“Yikes.” Fin said.

“Uh oh,” Zap said.

“Eek.” Turquoise said.

A monstrous stingray lurked in the sand, ready to devour the three creatures.


Chapter 3


Fin closed his eyes and got ready to die.

“Swim!” Turquoise screamed.

The three creatures dashed for their lives. Zap shot an illuminating lighting bolt at the monster. It swung its venomous tail at Fin, Turquoise biting it to save him.

“Thanks.” Fin huffed to Turquoise.

“You’re welcome.” She panted back.

A viridian gleam shimmered in the corner of Fin’s eye. Another gem! Fin did not want to risk the stingray’s venomous tail, but he had to be brave, didn't he?

He dashed toward the emerald, reconsidering trying to be brave. But his tail wasn't agreeing with him- it kept going onward. Fin knew he had to do it- Turquoise had also spotted it, but crimson blood dripped out of her tail.

He reached his fins out to nab the emerald. Suddenly, the stingray’s tail swung, nearly stabbing Fin in the heart. Luckily, Turquoise grabbed the tail barb, pulled it out, and jabbed it in the stingray’s eye.

“Now he really hates us.” Turquoise observed, then hissed, “Swim for your life, Fin!”

Only then Fin saw it- the stingray was charging for him. Fin closed his eyes, death would sort this out.



Chapter 4


Fin knew the stingray would eat him, or stab him. But all he heard was an electric shock and tail whack. He opened his eyes. The stingray growled.

“Great. Now he hates us even more.” Zap said. Bloody gashes covered him from head to tail.

“Remind me why we went here in the first place?” Fin said.

“Got the gem!” Turquoise said.

“What!” Zap said.

Fin was super confused, how did she get the gem? He remembered hearing a tail whack. She must have whacked the gem onto the seabed. Zap had never used a tail whack in battle.

Fin had never solved a mystery before Zap did. His smart, quiet, friend always put the clues together while Fin was worrying about something.

Fin saw the stingray vanish into the seafloor, never to be seen again. He then took a quick glance at the gem, oddly, another inscription read on the emerald.

It read in eel latin:

isthay emgay sihay a oonstonemay hattay illway ivegay ouyay oonmay agicmay.

(This gem is a moonstone that will give you Moon Magic.)


Fin knew Turquoise had read it too, after she said, “Moon magic sounds SO COOL, like if we had superpowers! Saving the world would be SO MUCH easier. Like if we could just give everybody superstrength! But though we won't do that. I can’t believe we know nothing about moon magic when it sounds SO AWESOME. The ruby must know about it! Fin, please can I have the ruby? Pretty please?”

Fin passed her the ruby.

“What’s moon magic?” She asked, more calmly.

“A form of magic where you can shoot moon dust, moon rays, moon webs, and more! But use it only when you are in the worst danger possible.” The ruby answered.

“Whoa,” Zap and Turquoise said, one after the other.

Fin just realized something, it was night. It was hard to tell in the eerie black water, but his internal clock sensed it.

“Let’s find a sleeping place,” Fin yawned.

The three creatures found a safe looking kelp bed. Fin was the last to drift off to sleep, since he was scanning for danger. Too tired to realize, he started dreaming...


*******

Turquoise glanced up, finding a kaleidoscopic rainbow that loomed overhead. This was a perfect dream. Crabhoppers crawled on the seafloor. Gentle waves lapped on the glittering sand.

She wanted to try climbing up on the beach and seeing the land. Most epaulette sharks were only allowed to do that when they were ten, and Turquoise was nine, which was almost ten. Besides, this was a dream, and you could do whatever you want in a dream. She wriggled onto the beach and a seagull swooped down to meet her.

Scraggly pine trees and tropical banana trees grew on cliffs, while towering, fan leaved, palm trees loomed above Turquoise.

“Awrk?” the seagull said. “You’re not from here.”

“I come from the sea,” Turquoise said. “What’s your name? What’s it like on land? Are there still schools? What are the creatures like? It must be so cool, living out of water. I can’t believe I’m meeting you!”

“Awrk?” the seagull said again. “Most sea creatures that look like you don't care about the land.”

“But I do.” Turquoise said.

“Bye!” the seagull said. This was the first time he didn't say “Awrk”. “I’m going fishing.”

“So soon?” Turquoise asked, “I have so many questions for you!” He didn't seem to have any questions for her.

The seagull squawked and dashed up into the sky. His pearlescent white feathers glistened in the sunlight, shimmering like sunlight sparkling on the scintillating water.

“AHHHHHH!” Turquoise snapped out of her dream when Fin started screaming his head off.

“Help! Monsters! They're gonna eat me! Why did we go on this mission!” Fin screeched.

“No, silly.” Turquoise said. “It’s probably just one of those crazy dreams you have every night. Everything’s okay.”

“Then how do you explain that?” Fin pointed to a pair of luminous eyes swimming in their direction.

“Okay, you’re right.” Turquoise trembled. She’d never felt this worried before. Maybe these were the anglerfish.

Uh oh, Turquoise thought. I need to protect Zap and Fin.

“Zap! Wake up!” Turquoise yelled.

“Let me guess, Fin’s screaming his head off because of ‘oh so scary’ seaweed?” Zap rolled his eyes.

“IT’S REAL DANGER, ZAP! ASK FIN! THERE IS NO TIME TO TALK AND WE NEED TO FIGHT IT OR RUN AWAY AND I REALLY NEED TO STOP TALKING,” Turquoise shouted.

“If Fin says it’s dangerous, it’s probably completely harmless,” Zap said. Turquoise noticed that Zap’s cuts were starting to heal.

“There’s no time to joke, Zap!” Turquoise flared.

“Ummmm, you’re right.” Zap gulped. Turquoise had never seen him this worried either. He seemed more nervous than Fin’s usual worrying.

The glowing-eyed creature was only a few meters away. Whatever it was, Turquoise needed to act fast.



Chapter 5


Turquoise had to stop the glowing-eyed creature. Zap was badly injured and Fin was covered in fear. She realized that it was a pack of murderous looking wolf eels.

Uh oh. She thought.

Their malevolent eyes glared maliciously at Turquoise. She narrowed her kinder eyes back. Suddenly, the pack leader dashed towards Zap, Turquoise trying to stop him. She bit the leader, his menacing face glaring at her. CRACKLE! A shriek of agony screeched out of his mouth, after Zap gave him a jolting shock of electricity.

“Zap! You’re all right!” Turquoise said gleefully.

“Could have never been better.” Zap said sarcastically.

Fin cowered under a kelp bed, and Turquoise was pretty sure he was hoping that his pine-green scales would camouflage with the sea-green weeds.

A vicious looking wolf eel, with jagged scars across his body, charged at Fin, teeth bared. Turquoise bit his tail, his scars turning white. He lunged at her neck, pushing her to the seabed. Her last thought was, I can’t believe I failed my friends.

Zap lunged at Turquoise’s attacker, his fins crackling with electricity. CRACKLE! The attacker’s scales jolted with lighting. He lunged at Zap, baring his menacing fangs.

Great. Zap thought. His body ached from head to tail. The next thing he knew was that he was on the seafloor with Turquoise hugging him.

“You saved us!” She said.

“Ugh, get off me.” Zap said.

Now Zap thought he was dreaming because he saw Fin, of all creatures, fighting off a full-grown wolf eel.

Fin bit the wolf eel with his razor-sharp jaws. He knew he had to be brave, he couldn't just cower under a coral bed like he did when he was nervous for the first eight years of his life, even though he felt absolutely terrified. His shimmering scales glittered with paralyzing fear.

Zap and Turquoise rushed up to him and Turquoise said, “We’re here to help!” then she barreled into the wolf eel, biting him. Angered, he bit Turquoise’s left fin, leaving a gory scratch.

“I’ll be fine.” Turquoise said.

“You don’t look fine,” Zap pointed out.

Zap shocked wolf eel after wolf eel, until they were all unconscious. All except the pack leader.

Fin froze with fear. The pack leader could probably kill him in an instant. Should he go back and hide under a kelp bed? Maybe. He dashed toward the safety of the kelp, but his tail wasn't agreeing with him. It turned around toward the battlefield. He decided to just fight them head on.

Fin bit the pack leader, leaving a blood-spattered, crimson gash, with seemingly rotting edges. Enraged, he charged at Fin.

Fin closed his eyes. Death would sort this out.


Chapter 6


Fin waited for death to come for him. His eyes blinked open. A bloody heap that looked to be the pack leader, lay charred with crackling electricity on the seabed. A piece of paper lay next to it, its edges torn.

Fin picked the paper up, it read, written in blood:


From the anglerfish to the wolf eels, make sure the electric catfish and the epaulette shark that attacked us this morning are dead by the evening. If not, the seaweed will kill them. If the seaweed fails to kill them, you will be punished.

Signed, Darkfin


Yikes. Fin thought. What seaweed was going to kill them? And then he remembered the fight, why didn't he use the moonstone in his backpack? Maybe he was too scared to use it, or he knew Zap or Turquoise had a better chance of using it. His head was bubbling with questions and ideas instead of worries. And who was Darkfin? It had to be the leader of the anglerfish, who else would have such a menacing name?

It was now dawn, as Fin’s internal clock told him. He felt like collapsing into a pile of fish scales.

“Fin, what’s that piece of paper? Is it interesting? Is it a clue?” Turquoise asked joyfully, then flinched, glancing at the bloody writing.

She started reading it out loud, “From the anglerfish to the wolf eels, make sure the electric catfish and the epaulette shark that attacked us this morning are dead by the evening.” She started. “If not, the seaweed will kill them. If the seaweed fails to kill them, you will be punished. Signed, Darkfin. Yikes. Eek. Freaky!” She continued. “What seaweed? It could be a whole new species!” She said, then added in a darker tone. “Hopefully it’s not thorn kelp.”

“What are you two even talking about?” Zap asked.

“Read this.” Fin gulped.

Zap read the message,it then flinched, his whiskers raising. What did it mean that “the seaweed will kill us”? He thought. Seaweed wasn't usually deadly, poisonous maybe, but never killer. Unless it was thorn kelp being mentioned in the note. Thorn kelp injected you with venom then swallowed you whole.

Fin and Turquoise need help, Zap thought. I've got to warn them.

“Fin! Turquoise!” Zap shouted. “Thorn kelp!”

“WHAT! AHHHHHHHH!” Fin shrieked.

“Not here, but the note says we have to swim through thorn kelp.” Zap said.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Please can we go home? You knew this was a suicide mission!” Fin screamed even louder, tears in his eyes.

Turquoise flinched at the idea of thorn kelp. Then Zap realized that he was extremely tired. The others seemed to be too. They found a kelp bed and fell asleep.

That morning, Zap dreamed of darkness and shadows, and a strange wormlike creature with Zap, Turquoise, and a screaming and crying Fin inside.

Zap remembered how Turquoise said earlier that she had a theory, was it about the creature? Was the hole a creature?

They all woke up and swam for a few more minutes, reaching the thorn kelp bed. The viridian and lilac weeds grew out of the seabed, their malevolent looking thorns a blood-spattered charcoal.

Suddenly, a raging current rushed out from behind, pulling the three creatures into a sunken field of death grass. An adjacent kelp frond snagged Zap’s fin, injecting venom. Turquoise and Fin weren't doing so well either. Turquoise lashed her tail back and forth, while Fin bit the weeds while crying (both methods are useless against thorn kelp, especially the crying one).

Zap needed to save them, but he was ensnared too, and the kelp wrapped tighter around him every breath he took. He tried giving the kelp an electric shock. Surely that would work. Suddenly, the enraged kelp flung Zap through the water over to Fin and Turquoise.

That was convenient. Zap thought. No time to joke, Zap.

“Zap! You're free!” Turquoise said gleefully. Fin kept crying.

Zap shocked the weed strangling Fin. The weed let Fin go. Then he did the same with Turquoise. The same thing happened. Suddenly, the kelp fronds uprooted themselves, doing what seemed to be glaring at the three creatures.

Chapter 7


Turquoise couldn't believe that seaweed could uproot itself. But it was happening in front of her very eyes. She wasn't sure whether to be amazed or nervous.

The seaweed suddenly barreled through the water. Fin dashed faster than his tail could propel him. Zap’s fins crackled with lightning, ready to strike. Turquoise zoomed as fast as Fin, her tail creating bubbles that filled the water. Then, Zap shot a lightning bolt at the uprooted seaweeds, then bolted as fast as a sailfish.

The seaweeds were catching up. The shoal of seaweed weaved through crevices and corals, moving as if they were one creature. Turquoise wriggled around a rock, suddenly hearing a familiar scream.

“My fin is stuck!” Fin screeched. The seaweeds were only a few meters behind. Turquoise dashed over to Fin. She gently touched the rock with her dorsal fin. Sticky white threads stuck to her and the rock, securing her.

That must be what trapped Fin. Turquoise thought. No time to think.

Turquoise sliced the threads off Fin’s fin and her dorsal fin with an adjacent rock she could just reach for. They dashed towards Zap and caught up, but the deadly shoal of seaweeds loomed behind them. Turquoise looked down and saw a reef canyon, full of vibrant corals flashing flamboyant colors.

“There!” She pointed, and zoomed down into the canyon. She looked behind and saw Fin and Zap following. Unfortunately, the seaweeds were darting towards them, their thorns even more malicious looking. Turquoise had to protect her friends.

******

The underwater canyon got closer and closer as Fin descended into it. He was just a few swims away to safety. Turquoise and Zap had stayed back to fight. Zap electric shocked a group of weeds, while Turquoise barreled into the shoal of thorn kelp, tail wacking and biting seaweed fronds.

Fin realized that he subconsciously swam into a coral cave, safe. Away from danger, like he always wanted to be. But he couldn't leave his friends to be attacked by swimming kelp.

Should I stay safe, or help? Fin pondered.

Help was the best and riskiest thing to do. Fin darted out of the sea cave and joined to help fight. He tail whacked seaweeds in what seemed to be their faces and bit kelp fronds in half.

Turquoise and Zap froze in midwater, with an awestruck look on their faces. Fin had defeated half of the thorn kelp shoal. Fin had ripped a weed in half. Fin had whacked numerous kelp fronds. Fin couldn't believe that he did this.

An expression like worry spread on the seaweeds’ “faces”. They gave up, and dashed into the deep. They were scared of Fin, of all creatures.

“You saved us!” Turquoise said joyfully, twining her slender tail around Fin’s, then hugging him.

Fin shook his fins and tail. Turquoise had a habit of hugging, like Fin’s screaming and freaking out habit. They had to continue their mission.

Fin, Turquoise and Zap swam into the canyon, maneuvering around sharp corals.

The waters changed from a deep indigo to a crystal-clear azure. Kaleidoscopic corals jutted out of the deep gray stone. Vibrant sea fans spread their branches. The crystalline waters alone were gorgeous.

After a while, they came across a pool of lime-green acid in front of them. A faint rumbling hit Fin’s ears. Turquoise tilted her head.

“This proves my theory!” Turquoise said. “We’re in a giant worm!”

“WE GOT EATEN! AHHHHHHHHHHH! I knew we should have gone back!” Fin shrieked.

“Says the fish who fought thorn kelp.” Zap mused.

Fin was trying to be brave, but sometimes he couldn't help screaming. It was like an instinct to him, one that he was born with.

Turquoise got a bit of the acid on her fin and licked it.

“Tastes like puke!” She said with a revolted, but at the same time, excited, face.

“Yuck.” Zap rolled his eyes.

RUMBLE!

“I think we're being digested, SWIM FOR YOUR LIVES!” Fin shrieked.

The three creatures dashed deeper into the valley.

NOT DEEPER INTO THE CREATURE! Fin thought.

After a while of dashing, Fin, Zap and Turquoise came across a huge fortress full of anglerfish.



Chapter 8


The anglerfish fortress loomed above the three creatures. Fin noticed that menacing spikes and stinging fire corals hung across the outer walls. He wondered if they were defenses or for scaring fish off. Whatever the reason, it couldn't be friendly.

We need to spy. Zap thought. He knew it would be hard to get past the anglerfish, especially if they had some form of magic or CCTV cameras. Then he remembered the ruby’s instructions, “Only use the moonstone in extreme danger.” Would they be in extreme danger when fighting the anglerfish? Well, they had to have backup, and a form of battle magic. Besides, he’d have to face this Darkfin guy.

I don't have to face him alone. Zap thought, looking at his friends.

“How should we get in?” Turquoise whispered.

“The safest way.” Fin whispered back.

“I thought you were the one who saved us all,” Zap started. “Well, I was probably dreaming.”

“Hey!” Fin whisper-objected.

“We do have a few options,” Zap continued.

“Like sneaking in, disguising ourselves, and just barging in.” Turquoise added.

“No way will we barge in! We’ll just get killed! You know that!” Fin whisper-screamed.

“I was joking!” Turquoise said.

“Okay, then sneak, or disguise.” Zap suggested.


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*** Dear reader, you get to choose what happens next. If you think sneak is safer, keep reading this chapter, if you think disguise is safer, skip ahead to Chapter 9. ***

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“I think sneak is safer.” Turquoise suggested, then drooped. “Disguises would be fun though.”

“I’m with Turquoise,” Fin said.

“Me too.” Zap said.

Zap glanced around, finding a small entrance away from the main one.

Aha. He thought. They swam stealthily up to the crevice. Turquoise went in first, wriggling her snakelike body. Zap went next, then Fin. Zap glanced up. A CCTV camera was whirling around, looking for enemies. Zap knew they either had to use the moonstone, getting spotted would be great danger, or switch to disguises, but they couldn't switch, they had already come this far.


******


Turquoise and Zap asked Fin for the moonstone, one after the other. Fin passed it to them.

How do we make this work? Turquoise thought. Then, an idea struck her like a lightning bolt. Zap could use his lightning bolt to shock the moonstone, maybe that would create moon-lightning.

“Zap! Shock it!” She whispered.

Zap shot an explosive lightning bolt at the moonstone. An even brighter, amethyst thunderbolt shot out of the moonstone, destroying the CCTV camera, then burst into a brilliant explosion of moondust.

Wow, Turquoise thought, then realized a magical explosion would just alert the whole fortress. Fin was cowering away from the bright light.

Suddenly, Turquoise heard tail swishes coming their way. Guards were here.

I need to protect Fin. Turquoise thought. She lashed her tail back and forth, getting ready to fight.

Two humongous anglerfish towered over Turquoise, glowering. Turquoise jumped at the larger guard, tail whacking him in the face. She knew Fin was trying to be brave when he bit the other guard. Enraged, the guards threw Fin across the water, if he were no more than a tiny crabhopper.

Then, the guards charged at Zap, teeth bared. Turquoise rushed to protect him, she bit the guard’s headlight, leaving a blood-spattered gash.

Zap grabbed the moonstone and created a brilliant burst of moon-lightning that knocked the guards unconscious.

“Phew.” Fin said.

They snuck deeper into the fortress, looking for clues about Darkfin. Turquoise saw a stone tablet engraved on the wall reading: Darkfin is unbeatable! Darkfin is invincible! Darkfin will kill all enemies! All hail darkfin!

******


Zap wondered if Darkfin was really that dangerous. He was sure to be dangerous, but no one was ever invincible. Maybe that tablet actually meant keep out!

They dodged deadly traps, and kaleidoscopic seeming fire corals, eventually leading to a throne room shimmering with *darkstones*, with an extra malevolent, scarred anglerfish inside that had a murderous glare and a malicious smile. That had to be Darkfin.

*Darkstones are a kind of stone that store dark magic.*

“We need to spy.” Zap said.

Fin and Turquoise nodded. They waited to find another anglerfish waltz into the room.

“I’ve got bad news!” he said.

“What is it?” Darkfin growled.

“Two guards are unconscious.” the other anglerfish said.

“It's your fault!” Darkfin growled. He lunged at the other anglerfish, his malevolently sharp teeth slicing the other anglerfish’s neck, leaving a puddle of crimson blood. Zap actually felt sorry for him.

Zap glanced around, finding a trapdoor. Maybe there were some secret books down there. Zap knew spying wasn't going to give them any more information than what they already had.

Zap pointed to the door at the same time as Turquoise glanced at the door.

“Do we have to go in there?” Fin shuddered.

“It would be way less dangerous than the time you fought thorn kelp.” Turquoise said.

The three creatures stealthily made their way to the trapdoor. Zap reached his fin out and opened the door with a CREEEAAAAAK!

“Can I go in?” Turquoise asked.

“Yes, it’s safe.” Zap said.

Turquoise dashed in, as the water seemed to slip away under her fins. She fell

down

down

down

down

down.

Then finally, she hit the floor and the water returned. A glorious collection of books, filled aquamarine painted shelves that lined the humongous room. Zap was right, there was a library here.

“It's safe!” Turquoise called.

Fin and Zap came tearing into the secret library.

“Zap forced me to come.” Fin grumbled.

“Wow!” Turquoise said, excited. “There are SO MANY books! I just wanna read them all! SO COOL! I can’t believe I’m here!”

Turquoise browsed the shelves until she found a book titled Darkfin’s Plans. She opened to a random page that read in a strange, pixelated handwriting that must have been Darkfin’s himself:

Plans:

1.Get the Sapphire Of Stars.

2. Use it to harness star magic.

3. Use it to get me in power.

4. Retake the world anglerfish once ruled.


Turquoise was deep in thought. The Sapphire Of Stars must be the gem in our school. Why is it in our school, of all places? I can’t believe the anglerfish once ruled the world. I wonder if they were good rulers when they ruled the world? . What’s star magic? Sounds just as cool as Moon Magic.

She showed Zap and Fin Darkfin’s malevolent plans.

“Yeesh.” Said Fin.

“We need to get the gem before Darkfin does.” Zap stated, matter of fact.

“And we need help.” Turquoise added.

“How are we gonna get out of the creature? Mine out? Do something else stupid?” Zap mused.

“Nope.” Turquoise said, being literal this time. “Tickles!”

Turquoise, Fin and Zap found an exit out of the library and back into the creature’s insides. They tickled them until a great flood of stomach acid sloshed into the three creatures, carrying them to an open mouth.

“We’re safe.” Fin huffed.

“Back in the gorgeous world.” Zap said sarcastically.

Turquoise drooped. She still thought Sunshine Reef (Where Fin, Zap, and Turquoise live. Sorry the author didn't mention this earlier) was a vibrant, vivid, reef. But the anglerfish attack had turned their school into a ruin.

“Let’s find help!” Turquoise said.

“Don’t tell me we’re getting an army of jellyfish.” Zap said.

“Hey!” Said a jellyfish passing by. “Just because we lack eyes, bones, a brain, and a heart, doesn't mean we’re useless!”

Zap rolled his eyes.

“Don't you roll your eyes at me!” The jellyfish shouted. “Pick on someone your own size!”

“Ummm, you’re bigger than me.” Zap pointed out.

“I know. So pick on someone your own size!” The jellyfish said.

“I know exactly who can help us.” Turquoise said. “Aqua.”

“You mean ‘the singing otter’?” Zap mused. “Isn't she the definition of idiot help?”

“She’s my friend.” Turquoise said. “And she can actually be pretty smart. Besides, she’s super good at music stuff, it sounds AMAZING.”

“Fine.” Zap and Fin said in unison. Turquoise had noticed earlier that Fin had started to overcome his fears.

They found a coral cave decorated with tube sponge flutes and brain coral drums.

“Hhhhheeeeeeelllllllllloooooooo! Aqua sang.

“Hi!” Turquoise said.


******

Fin thought that the “Tthe Ssinging Ootter’s” house was ridiculous. He knew Zap thought it was a preposterous eyesore, looking at those rainbow musical instruments. But Aqua was one of the few survivors of the attack, and Fin saw her flee the school.

“Wooooouuuuuuuld you like some teeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaa? Or snaaaaaaaaaaaaaackkkks?” Aqua sang.

“Noooooo thaaaaaank youuuuuuuuu.” Turquoise sang back.

Turquoise and Aqua hugged, while Fin and Zap rolled their eyes at each other.

Fin, Zap and Turquoise told Aqua about everything that happened.

“I can sing and play all sorts of instruments! But I can’t fight.” Aqua said, not singing anymore. “Maybe my pen pal can help!”

“What pen pal?” Turquoise asked. “Is he from the land? It would be AWESOME if he was!”

“It’s a she.” Aqua said. “But she does live on the land.”

Fin knew Turquoise was going to explode with joy.

“WOW! Why didn't you tell me earlier?” Turquoise said joyfully.

Aqua said, “You would have exploded with happiness if you heard she was a dragon, but.”


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*Continue to Chapter 10.*

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Chapter 9


“Disguise would be way safer.” Fin said.

“Agreed.” Turquoise and Zap said in unison.

Viridian seaweeds and flamboyant corals shot up from the seabed. Zap knew those would make great disguises. Turquoise attached a frond of seaweed with a bulb coral tied on the end to her head. In Zap’s opinion, she looked like an epaulette shark-anglerfish hybrid, but Zap probably looked like a hybrid too. Zap did the same thing as Turquoise and so did Fin. It was impossible to tell that they were an electric catfish, epaulette shark, and parrotfish.

This would be a perfect way to spy. It was kind of humiliating, wearing these disguises, but it would have to do, Zap thought.

They swam up to the main entrance of the fortress.

“Hello?” an anglerfish said. “Give me a report of those three annoying creatures, I haven't got anything from the wolf eels since Darkfin sent them to kill those pests.”

Spill the beans! Zap thought. They needed to know more about Darkfin.

“They're dead.” Zap answered.

“I’ll go tell the others.” the anglerfish said. “WHY aren't the wolf eels back yet?!”

“They, um… needed to… uhhhhh, investigate more?” Turquoise stammered. Zap had never seen the bubbly epaulette shark stammer, normally she was all joyful about everything.

“Don’t lie to me, friend. I’m Darkfin’s cousin if you’re stupid.” the anglerfish growled.

“I, I’m not.” Turquoise said.

“Good.” the anglerfish growled.

The anglerfish let the three fish into the fortress. Zap saw a stone tablet engraved on the wall reading: Darkfin is unbeatable! Darkfin is invincible! Darkfin will kill all enemies! All hail darkfin!

Zap wondered if Darkfin was really that dangerous. He was sure to be dangerous, but no one was ever invincible. Maybe that tablet actually meant keep out!

They dodged deadly traps, and kaleidoscopic seeming fire corals, eventually leading to a throne room shimmering with *darkstones*, with an extra malevolent, scarred anglerfish inside that had a murderous glare and a malicious smile. That had to be Darkfin.

*Darkstones are a kind of stone that store dark magic.*

“We need to spy.” Zap said.

Fin and Turquoise nodded. They waited to find another anglerfish waltz into the room.

“We’ve got new members!” he shouted.

“Really.” Darkfin growled. “They’d be a lot more useful than you.”

“Yup, they will.” the other anglerfish said. “Did you say ‘more useful than me’? Besides, they need training.”

“We need more members NOW!” Darkfin hissed. “No time for USELESS TRAINING!”

He lunged at the other anglerfish, his malevolently sharp teeth slicing the other anglerfish’s neck, leaving a puddle of crimson blood. Zap actually felt sorry for him.

Zap glanced around, finding a trapdoor. Maybe there were some secret books down there. Zap knew spying wasn't going to give them any more information than what they already had.

Zap pointed to the door at the same time as Turquoise glanced at the door.

“Do we have to go in there?” Fin shuddered.

“It would be way less dangerous than the time you fought thorn kelp.” Turquoise said.

The three creatures stealthily made their way to the trapdoor. Zap reached his fin out and opened the door with a CREEEAAAAAK!

“Can I go in?” Turquoise asked.

“Yes, it’s safe.” Zap said.

Turquoise dashed in, as the water seemed to slip away under her fins. She fell

down

down

down

down

down.

Then finally, she hit the floor and the water returned. A glorious collection of books, filled aquamarine painted shelves that lined the humongous room. Zap was right, There was a library here.

“It's safe!” Turquoise called.

Fin and Zap came tearing into the secret library.

“Zap forced me to come.” Fin grumbled.

“Wow!” Turquoise said, excited. “There are SO MANY books! I just wanna read them all! SO COOL! I can’t believe I’m here!”

Turquoise browsed the shelves until she found a book titled “Darkfin’s Plans”. She opened to a random page that read in a strange pixelated handwriting that must have been Darkfin’s himself:

Plans:

1.Get the Sapphire Of Stars.

2. Use it to harness star magic.

3. Use it to get me in power.

4. Retake the world anglerfish once ruled.


Turquoise was deep in thought. The Sapphire Of Stars must be the gem in our school. Why is it in our school, of all places? I can’t believe the anglerfish once ruled the world. I wonder if they were good rulers when they ruled the world? . What’s star magic? Sounds just as cool as Moon Magic.

She showed Zap and Fin Darkfin’s malevolent plans.

“Yeesh.” Said Fin.

“We need to get the gem before Darkfin does.” Zap stated matter of factly.

“And we need help.” Turquoise added.

“How are we gonna get out of the creature? Mine out? Do something else stupid?” Zap mused.

“Nope.” Turquoise said, being literal this time. “Tickles!”

Turquoise, Fin and Zap found an exit out of the library and back into the creature’s insides. They tickled them until a great flood of stomach acid sloshed into the three creatures, carrying them to an open mouth.

“We’re safe.” Fin huffed.

“Back in the gorgeous world.” Zap said sarcastically.

Turquoise drooped. She still thought Sunshine Reef (Where Fin, Zap, and Turquoise live. Sorry the author didn't mention this earlier) was a vibrant, vivid, reef. But the anglerfish attack had turned their school into a ruin.

“Let’s find help!” Turquoise said.

“Don’t tell me we’re getting an army of jellyfish.” Zap said.

“Hey!” Said a jellyfish passing by. “Just because we lack eyes, bones, a brain, and a heart, doesn't mean we’re useless!”

Zap rolled his eyes.

“Don't you roll your eyes at me!” The jellyfish shouted. “Pick on someone your own size!”

“Ummm, you’re bigger than me.” Zap pointed out.

“I know. So pick on someone your own size!” The jellyfish said.

“I know exactly who can help us.” Turquoise said. “Aqua.”

“You mean the singing otter?” Zap mused. “Isn't she the definition of idiot help?”

“She’s my friend.” Turquoise said. “And she can actually be pretty smart. She’s super good at music stuff, it sounds AMAZING.”

“Fine.” Zap and Fin said in unison. Turquoise had noticed earlier that Fin had started to overcome his fears.

They found a coral cave decorated with tube sponge flutes and brain coral drums.

“Hhhhheeeeeeelllllllllloooooooo! Aqua sang.

“Hi!” Turquoise said.

Fin thought that the “Tthe Ssinging Ootter’s” house was ridiculous. He knew Zap thought it was a preposterous eyesore, looking at those rainbow musical instruments. But Aqua was one of the few survivors of the attack, and Fin saw her flee the school.

“Wooooouuuuuuuld you like some teeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaa? Or snaaaaaaaaaaaaaackkkks?” Aqua sang.

“Noooooo thaaaaaank youuuuuuuuu.” Turquoise sang back.

Turquoise and Aqua hugged, while Fin and Zap rolled their eyes at each other.

Fin, Zap, and Turquoise told Aqua about everything that happened.

“I can sing and play all sorts of instruments! But I can’t fight.” Aqua said, not singing anymore. “Maybe my pen pal can help!”

“What pen pal?” Turquoise asked. “Is he from the land? It would be AWESOME if he was!”

“It’s a she.” Aqua said. “But she does live on the land.”

Fin knew Turquoise was going to explode with joy.

“WOW! Why didn't you tell me earlier?” Turquoise said joyfully.

Aqua said, “You would have exploded with happiness if you heard she was a dragon, but.”

Chapter 10


“Wait, what?” Zap said.

This can’t be true. Dragons will kill us and swallow us whole. Well, at least sea dragons will. Maybe land dragons are nice. Maybe they’re vegetarians. Fin thought.

Turquoise was more excited than excited can be. Fin saw her fins blush to a yellowish pink instead of sunflower-yellow like they normally were.

“Can we meet her?” Turquoise bounced up and down.

“Suuuuuuuurrre!” Aqua sang.

Fin, Zap, Aqua, and Turquoise, swam over to a beach with shimmering sand that glittered like a million gems in the sunlight, and crystalline water that harboured iridescent corals with colours brighter than the most vibrant rainbow. It was clearer than the water at Sunshine Reef, a place with aquamarine water as clear as seaglass.

“Now we wait.” Aqua said.

Turquoise swam joyfully around for the next 10 minutes. Fin thought this was a bad idea. The dragons could just eat them.

Finally, a dragon flew down from the sky. She was an iridescent sea-green, like the stories said, but she had six bug-like wings instead of the two or four wings depicted in drawings. Also, she seemed smaller than the comparison drawings depicted. Maybe she was part dragonfly.

“Hi Aqua!” the dragon said. “What’s your name?”

“I’m, Ummm, F, F, Uhhh, Fin.” Fin said.

“I’m Turquoise!” Turquoise said.

“I’m Zap,” Zap said.

“I’m Skyla,” the dragon said.

“Thhhhheyyyy neeeeed youuuuur heeeeeeeelp!” Aqua sang.

“With what?” Skyla asked.

“Anglerfish are trying to take over the ocean.” Zap said.

“Yikes.” Skyla said. “I’m not the best fighter, but I can gather an army.”

Fin shuddered. Skyla seemed friendly, but most dragons probably weren't.

They told Skyla everything, then she went to get an army of dragons. Fin thought a bunch of snarling monsters would flock down to the beach, but the 3 dragons she brought looked friendly. Strangely, they all had bug-like wings. They had to be extra-rare bug dragons. Turquoise must have figured that out too, as she jumped up and down, eventually jumping so high, she landed in a nearby rock pool.

“Is this enough? No one else believes me.” Skyla said.

Fin thought this was more than enough. Talking to creatures that could swallow him whole was perfectly terrifying.

Fin, Turquoise, Zap, Aqua, Skyla, and the three other dragons whose names were Cloudburner, Shadow, and Oscar, dove underwater.


******


A gargantuan army of malicious anglerfish swam up to the school. Shadow wasn't sure he wanted to be on this mission anymore. He believed Skyla’s story, but upon hearing it made him want to hide in his cave, safe from all danger. Just looking at the anglerfish made a wave of paralyzing fear spread across his wings.

But Shadow was a dragon. Dragons were the strongest animals in the world.

But Shadow, he couldn't fight the anglerfish.

The anglerfish had already started attacking the school. They were going to destroy it, then find the Sapphire Of Stars. Darkfin needed that gem to rule the world. But he saw those pesky creatures coming to stop him, along with four dragons.


To be continued...

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