Secret of Andalantis

by Fizzy Orange

Chapter 4

Ditzy watched in silence as Charybdis began to carefully remove Sea Lion’s makeshift bandage, using her fins, mouth and surprisingly prehensile tail all at once.

“Can I help you with anything?” she finally asked.

“Yes, bring me the blue jar, as well as one of the big pale blue seaweed leaf, from the bag over there,” said Charybdis, pointing to a seaweed bag hanging in the corner, “then I’ll need you to hold him down while I clean up his wounds, I don’t want him flinching too much.”

Ditzy quickly located the jar in question, a hoof-sized pot apparently carved from blue stone with a seashell used as a makeshift cork, as well as the bandage, apparently the same type of plant used by Sea Lion.

“These are very good at absorbing blood and accelerate healing. If you’re ever wounded out in the kelp forests, look for it to stem any bleeding,” explained Charybdis while Ditzy got into position.

Charybdis opened the pot and used her tail to pick up a type of green salve from it, applying it to the wounds of the seapony male. As predicted he started to flinch from the touch, though Ditzy didn’t know if it was from the salve stinging or simply the pain of being touched.

“Is he going to be okay?” asked the concerned pegasus.

“His wounds are superficial, they’ll take time to heal but they’re not dangerous. He’s mostly exhausted, probably having swam for a long time to escape pursuit,” answered the seapony leader.

Ditzy was relieved but she still frowned. “What’s going here? You talked about a war? What are those kaosharks things and the merponies attacking you?”

Charybdis sighed loudly as she finished bandaging Sea Lion’s tail.

“Kaosharks are abominations, a strange fusion between sharks and all sorts of animals, both of the sea and dry land. As I said earlier, their nature is a mystery, as is their motivation in this conflict, but I do know they are dangerous brutes who work for the merponies,” she began, placing her jar back in its original bag. “I can’t provide answer on these creatures but I can tell you about our current predicament, if you have the time.”

Ditzy gave the seapony a sympathic look and nodded.

"It all began roughly a hundred years ago, when my great grandmother was roughly my age. Back then the merponies and us seaponies lived in villages near one another. It wasn’t a perfect peace, but everypony was generally left alone. My great-grandmother was something of an archeologist, obsessed with finding our ancestral home of Andalantis, and one day she had a breakthrough: she found the ruins of a trading outpost used when Andalantis still traded with you dry ponies. In the ruins she found a map, an incomplete one mind you, but still an exciting discovery. The map showed the locations of other trading outposts from the perspective of the dry ponies.

“The map itself lacked the location of Andalantis, back during its glory days or otherwise, but it showed that such maps could have survived to our day and that a more complete map might be found at one of the other outpots.

“The merponies accused us of wanting to keep Andalantis for ourselves, they wanted us to give them the tablet. Discussions didn’t go quite that well, from what I know, and soon seaponies began to go missing, presumably taken out by the merponies. When my great grandmother and some elders managed to organize a parlay with the merponies, they were instead met by one of them leading a squad of kaosharks.

“Half the party didn’t make it back to the village. Soon afterward the village was attacked, and the tablet taken. Seaponies aren’t warriors, and faced by an army of kaosharks there was nothing to do but flee, and scatter, leaving the ravaged village behind. Luckily a copy of the tablet had been made, as a possible peace offering to the merponies.

“A foolish seapony managed to whip some of the survivors into a frenzy and lead them on an attack of the merpony village. None of them were seen again. After that, settling down became next to impossible as the kaosharks and their merponies handlers hounded us to every corner of the sea, scattering our already dwindling population to the four currents. Still today we are mostly nomads, hiding until the kaosharks find us and then run away. Sometimes we meet survivors from other bands, like Sea Cucumber, and sometimes we find the remains of a camp, like we did here.

After my great grandmother’s passing, my grandfather and mother kept up her mission. My family has been exploring the various trading outposts since then, hoping to find Andalantis.”

While Charybdis had told her story she had finished dressing the minor cuts and wounds found around Sea Lion’s body.

“I assume you didn’t find it then,” said Ditzy, her ears drooping.

“None of the outposts had a map of the sea floor that showed where Andalantis used to stand, without that information it’s not possible to figure out where it is now…” began Charybdis, searching in another one of her bags, “However, I did recently found some really interesting artifacts!”

The seapony began to pull out a few items, motly pieces of painted pottery, a few metal tools, hairpins, and what looked like a doorknob. She then produced a larger object and showed it to Ditzy, who was slightly confused for a second before her eyes grew in size and she gasped. The item was a large bronze colored metal square, roughly a foot wide on each side. At its center was carved a circle and on that circle were lines and tiny points in various patterns. In one part of the circle, somewhat more crudely than the rest, somepony had carved three concentric circles.

“I know what this is! It’s a star chart!” she said.

“A star chart?”

Ditzy nodded. “Yes! It’s a way to navigate when out at sea or far from civilization, you use the stars to guide you. And this here, I’ve seen it in the brochure for the Cayo El Bayo museum, it’s the pony symbol for Andalantis!”

Charybdis stared silently at Ditzy, her eyes the size of dinner plates and her jaw hanging open. After a few seconds she managed to get over her shock.

“Can you read this map? Please Miss Doo, it would mean so much if you could lead us to Andalantis!” said the seapony, taking hold of Ditzy’s front hoof with her fins.

Ditzy looked down sadly. “I’m sorry, I can’t. Star charts get changed whenever Princess Luna reorganizes the heavens and moves the constellations around. There’s supposed to be a trick to using old charts but I don’t know what it is.”

The two stayed silent for a moment.

“Well you might not know, but maybe you could find someone who can?” suggested a hopeful Charybdis.

“Of course! My friend Trixie is Princess Luna’s personal student, maybe she can! All we have to do is find her.”

The seapony leader nodded. “Yes, I’ll assemble a group to escort you and go find your friends. They’re probably looking for you by now and I wouldn’t want them to run into the merponies.”

The trio of unicorn had followed the excitable merpony for about fifteen minutes by now, by Trixie’s estimate, and they had changed course almost 20 times by now. Whatever path they were following, it was purposedly complex, and the merpony was obviously following secret markers only she could spot. Trixie had tried to keep her eyes opened for a repeating pattern on the rock faces and various seaweed formations they had passed but so far nothing really seemed to stand out. Wherever they were going, somepony didn’t want others to remember how to find it.

A familiar white shape swam up next to Trixie and spoke in ushered tone, “You don’t really trust this little fish do you?” she asked.

Trixie shurged as best she could while following Rock Beauty,“I don’t know, she seems genuinely happy to see us and get to know us.”

“And that whole story about their enemies working with monsters to hunt them down?” asked the other unicorn.

Trixie raised a confused eyebrow, “Is it really that hard to believe? Exotic creatures can look pretty monstrous if you don’t know them.”

“I guess you do have a point there, but try not to make them think of our magic too much, it might come in handy to surprise somepony by suddenly moving objects with our telekinesis. I find that if you don’t remind them of it, most non-magical races will often forget about a unicorn’s potential because prisoners of their own race can’t pull the same tricks we can. Griffons rarely have magic-proof prisons for example.”

Trixie balked at the implication, “Miss Rarity... did… what…how…”

The unicorn in question chuckled, “Oh don’t get too flustered Miss Trixie, I didn’t mean to imply I had been incarcerated in the griffin kingdoms. Don’t be silly! What would a fashion designer such as moi be doing in such a dreary place?”

“I’m starting to think you read too many spy novels, Miss Rarity,” commented Trixie. “But I guess I’ll keep my horn to myself for now, if only so you don’t bug me with your paranoia.”

The white mare gave her a sly smile and swam off to have a somewhat similar conversation with their minty green companion. Lyra was just as trusting of Rock Beauty as Trixie, but similarly agreed to keep her spell casting to a minimum while in the company of the merpony.

Not soon afterward they dove toward the sandy seafloor and began to slalom between rocks, then go through a curtain of kelp before stopping in front of a rock face. The rock face was littered with barnacles, oysters, bright sea anemones, and the floor around it was home to half a dozen pony sized clams. Rock Beauty looked around, making sure the coast was clear, before she used her hooves to move one of the giant clams, revealing a tunnel in the rock face.

“This way, this way, my friends, discoveries awaits,” she said as though she was about to burst into song.

Trixie was thankful that it was not the case. Once the three unicorns entered the tunnel Rock Beauty hid the entrance again before resuming to lead her friends. The tunnel was lined with a type of bioluminescent algae that gave everything a creepy green glow. It was still fairly dark but it was enough to navigate the tunnel the short way through to a distant shaft of sunlight.

It didn’t take long for the quartet to emerge into a large room, a room that turned out to be the hold of a sunken ship, the rock they had traversed was breaking through a significant portion of the hull and floor. The whole ship seemed to be listing towards them. Above them was a hole in the hatch that used to cover the way into the hold, and it was through that hole that sunlight came into the old vessel.

“Wow, this is so cool!” commented Lyra, looking around the wooden room.

“Yeah, we were pretty lucky to find this big ship, the tunnel was a pretty nice bonus since it means nopony can tell we live in here,” explained Rock Beauty with a big smile.

Something caught the eye of the purple-maned unicorn and she moved in to investigate, finding a partially corroded silvery plaque lying in the silt on the floor. With her hooves she carefully cleaned up the plate.

“This ship was the HMLS Comet, apparently, and she was christened around 150 years ago,” she commented.

“Are you sure it’s safe?” asked Lyra, eyeing the nearby support beam.

“Oh yeah, we’ve been here a month and the place barely creaks. It’s stuck between two large rocks that support and also protect it from water currents. It’s also pretty hard to spot from the wrong angle, especially now that we took down the old masts.”

“Her,” interrupted the pony that had found the nameplate, “you normally refer to a ship in the feminine.”

Rock Beauty smiled, “I didn’t know that! Nifty!”

“So where are the rest of your friend then?” asked Trixie.

“Just over there, give me a second to get them ready,” explained Rock Beauty, swimming over to a door miraculously still attached to its hinges at one end of the room.

“Hey everypony! I’m back and I got a surprise!” she called, disappearing through the opening after opening the door.

“You know darling, she could be setting up an ambush for us.”

Trixie shook her head, “Don’t be so dramatic Rarity.”

The other mare looked at Trixie with a dubious air,

“Of course I’m serious,” said an irritated Rock Beauty, poking her head back into the room, “Come in, and prove to my friends I’m not lying!”

Lyra beamed a big smile and eagerly swam ahead, while her two companions rushed to follow her. They emerged into another part of the boat, this one also featuring a rock face breaking through one of the hull, although on the opposite side from the previous room, it had a large crevice in which material had been stockpiled. The room was partially lit by sun filtering through cracks in the ship’s structure and by clusters of the same luminescent algae they had encountered in the tunnel. The room featured a series of hammock hanging between supporting columns, but most importantly it also featured a group of gaping and staring merponies. Trixie quickly counted eight, nine if you included their guide. They had obviously not expected their friend to bring back a trio of unicorns. Lyra floated there with a big smile, staring with fascination at a species she had thought long extinct, but before she could say anything a blue form swam before her, spreading her forehooves wide open.

“Greatings brave merponies! The Great and Powerful Trixie is here to dazzle you with tale of the dryworld! Come one, come all and have all your questions about this strange world answered!” she declared, furthered stunning the amassed merponies.

“I will forego the kettle and pot analogy, for the moment, as it is no time to start slinging accusation at one another, Great and Overdramatic Trixie,” whispered the white unicorn next to her.

Luckily the green one decided to go for a more personable approach. “Hi! My name’s Lyra, and this is my friend Trixie and this is Rarity. It’s nice to meet you all.”

“See? I told you I wasn’t kidding! Isn’t this amazing!” declared Rock Beauty. “Let’s do the introductions properly! These two are the siblings Triggerfish and Angelfish,” she began, pointing to a black male and a yellow female.

“Just Angel is fine too,” said the mare in a soft voice, blushing slightly.

“This is Damsel, Three-stripe Damsel,” continued Rock Beauty, pointing to a pale blue female wearing a seashell necklace.

“Charmed,” she simply said, flicking her paler blue mane that featured three black stripes.

“Stargazer, Halibut and Dusky Jack,” the grey merpony continued, pointing to a white male, an orange female and a violet male.

All three of them waved back with a small smile.

“And those two are Fire Squid and Peppermint Shrimp, or Minty for short,” finished Rock Beauty, indicating a bright red male with a spikey mane and a really small and mousy-looking pale green female.

“This is pretty darn cool, I didn’t believe Rocky here when she said you guys could breathe water like us, but there you are!” said Dusky Jack, getting closer.

“They used magic!” pointed out his grey compatriot, extanding a hoof toward Lyra.

“Radical! Do you know any other magic?” he asked the minty green unicorn before a white form blocked his field of vision.

“Yes magic is quite impressive but let’s not forget the real reason we are here.”

Trixie nodded in approval, “We lost one of our friends. Her name is Ditzy and she’s a grey pegasus.”

“Pegasus? That’s the ones with the weird fins that swim in the sky right?” asked Triggerfish.

“They’re called wings, and you use them to fly,” corrected his sister.

Trixie was about to ask if any of these guys had seen Ditzy when a new voice came down from the ceiling. It was another female voice, one that sounder older and carried authority.

“What’s going on down there?”

Trixie looked up to find that the ceiling had a hole, leading to what the unicorn suspected had been the captain’s cabin on the ship. In the hole the head of another merpony appear. This one was a deep dark blue in color and her short-cropped mane was a brilliant shade of yellow that really contrasted with her darker coat. Her red eyes widened at the sight of the three newcomers in her home.

“One of you better come up here and explain to me what’s going on before I start hoofing out blames at random!” said the blue merpony, retreating from the hole.

Rock Beauty let out a sigh and floated up to the hole in the ceiling.

Lyra was the first to ask the question. “Who’s that?”

“That’s Scylla, she’s our leader,” explained Dusky Jack, “She’s really strict about security. Plus she’s always cranky if you interrupt her naptime. Don’t worry though, she’s actually really nice once you get passed the abrasiveness.”

There was a tense minute spent in uncomfortable, as nopony on either side really knew what to say, even Trixie. The three unicorns shared a description of Ditzy, but sadly none of the merpony had seen her. Finally Scylla reappeared and beckoned the trio to enter her parlor.

The room was indeed the former captain’s cabin. A large overturned desk lay in the corner; the space under had been filled with beddings made of kelp, while the drawer space had been used to store various bags of material. A large antique globe of the world had been jammed into one of the three large windows at the back of the cabin, preventing anything from entering or exiting through it, while the other two were barricaded with what remained of the captain’s bed. Any other artifact in the room had been pushed off to one corner, having been judged of little value. Trixie couldn’t help but notice that the captain’s sword, still in its scabbard, was prominently sticking from the pile of junk, ready for use. This room, being closer to the outside world, was entirely lit by sunlight, some of the beams of light were refracted by the few crystals left on an old chandelier barely hanging from the ceiling, creating colored spots all over the room.

From upclose Scylla looked somewhat taller, yet stockier than Rock Beauty, and she certainly looked older. Her hard gaze reminded Trixie of nothing else but a strict schoolteacher she had had back in Neigh-Orleans, and considering that groups of fishes were called referred to as a ‘school’, Trixie figured the image might not be too far off for the leader of this little band. Still, seeing her, floating there, with hooves crossed over her barrel and red eyes staring dagger at the three of them was a tad unnerving.

“You’ve really put me on the spot here, Rock Beauty. How am I supposed to react when you bring strangers in our secret hideout like this?”

“Com’on Scylla, they’re not seaponies, they’re unicorns,” pleaded Rock Beauty.

“How do we know unicorns haven’t struck an alliance with the seaponies?” snapped Scylla, “Now you’ve robbed me, and the rest of our group, the chance to decide if we wanted to show these stranger our precious home or not. Need I remind you finding a secluded hiding spot is not easy?”

Scylla sighed and looked back to Trixie and her friends. “My foolish little pony tells me you lost a friend, if it is true then it is a tragedy and I’ll do what I can to help.”

“We’re not asking for much, just to know if one of you saw her,” began Trixie, before explaining to Scylla how they had come to this area for simple pleasure and how their friend Ditzy had simply gone missing after swimming off.

“I found them following her trail at the edge of what we think is seapony territory, while on patrol,” provided Rock Beauty.

“This could be a problem, your friend could be in the clutches of the seaponies, probably being manipulated into helping them! Or worse!” commented Scylla, swimming to take a look through one of the opening of the back wall. “She could very well be trying to spot us from the sky right now, and I still have a scout out and about.”

Scylla was putting up a brave front but Trixie could tell that underneath the hard exterior laid the heart of a worried mother. Now that she thought of it, it had turned out to be similar with that strict schoolteacher from her childhood too, and Princess Luna.

Lyra put a hoof to her face. “This whole mess is my fault! Why did I have to cast that spell? To think I even talked about Andalantis earlier today, and now I got Ditzy stuck in the middle of its century old war!”

“You…you know something about Andalantis?” asked the merpony leader, whipping her head back to look at Lyra.

“Well, mostly legends, like about it’s fall and it’s disappearance,” replied the unicorn, “The stuff your people told our people at least.”

Scylla seemed to deflate slightly, “Oh. For second there I let myself hope you knew where it was… if we could find Andalantis, we could finally be safe from our enemies,” she said.

“Speaking of war, what’s with those seapony guys? And what’s this we hear about monsters?” asked Trixie.

“They sounded quite… outlandish,” added Trixie’s white tagalong.

“The kaosharks are no joke,” said the blue merpony, with a soft grumble, “they took away too many of my friends, too many of my family… they are real believe me. If you want I can tell you the story of our current conflict, and what misery the kaosharks brought to us…”

The three unicorns nodded, in almost perfect unison. Scylla took a deep breath and casted a glance at one of her bags, seeing a precious memento no one else could.

It all began, roughly a hundred years ago when my great grandmother was younger than I am now. Back then we had a proper home, a village with large houses where we lived with our full families. While we never really saw eye to eye since the Great War, we had managed to gain a truce of sort with the seaponies. Small conflicts would arise here and there from time to time, but they would tend to be solved in harmless fair competition rather than out and out war.

All that changed when my great grandmother, something of an archeologist, stumbled upon old ruins from the era of Andalantis and a certain artefact…

The merpony’s story was interrupted when a new shape bolted out of the hole in the floor. This merpony was a pale, almost white, green, with a much darker green mane that flowed like seaweed behind her as she quickly began to swim around her leader.

“Scylla! Scylla! Scylla! It’s terrible! Terrible I say, very very very bad! Just plain terrible! The seaponies Scylla, the seaponies, I saw one with some kaosharks while on patrol! It’s bad, they did something really bad!” she began to ramble, obviously in a panic.

“Lute! Calm down!” ordered Scylla. “We have company.”

The one addressed as Lute stopped dead in her track and her blue eyes locked on to the trio of stranger before nearly leaping out of her skull as she gasped in shock.

“More dry ponies!”

“More?!” everypony in the room asked at once.

“Oh yeah, I saw a seapony with two kaosharks totally capture another one earlier today,” explained Lute. “They knocked her out with a rock and dragged her out to their sinister hideout. Though that one didn’t have a seashell stuck on her forehead, she had big weird fins,”.

“Ditzy!” Gasped Lyra and Trixie.