Ch. 5: A new friend

 (Cover art by MimiNicolette)

"Are you alright?"

My eyes fluttered open. I was back on the beach surrounded by my mother, my sister, and King Marin.

I groaned. "What happened?" I asked as I sat up.

"You flew into the ocean and almost drowned, princess," King Marin said to me. "Thank goodness my son was able to pull you out of the water before you perished."

"You were down there for practically five whole minutes!" my mother said shakily. "The King searched for you but he couldn't find you! What were you doing down there? I thought you died!"

"Huh?" I was so confused. What were they talking about?

"Remain calm, your majesty," King Marin said to my mother. "Your daughter just had a near-death experience, so she may be feeling a little light-headed."

My sister jumped in front of me and got straight to the point. "How are you not dead?" She tends to not have a filter when it is needed the most.

"I have no idea," I smiled and laughed a bit.

My mother moved my sister to the side as she put a hand on my shoulder. "Don't ever do that again, alright? My poor heart can't take the thought of losing one of my girls." She wrapped her arms around me in a hug. After a while, she let go. "How are you feeling, sweetie?"

"I feel-"

Suddenly it all came rushing back to me. I remembered sinking to the bottom of the reef. I remembered feeling the techno music embrace my soul like one of my mother's warm hugs, and the beat drop that made me feel so alive. I remembered it being the best feeling I had ever felt.

I smiled wider. "I feel great!" I shouted as I jumped onto my feet. "You should have seen it, mother! There were so many colors! And lights! It was so beautiful down there, mom! And the music! Oh, don't even get me started on the music. The beat was constant; I thought it would never stop! There were barely any lyrics, but who says a song needs lyrics in order for it to be considered real music. It was such a unique experience!"

King Marin's eyes shone like stars. "So, did you like it?" he asked happily.

"I loved it!" I started hopping around with my arms outstretched over my head. I was so happy! I finally got to experience a different kind of music. Who would have thought that techno would've been the first type I heard, besides rock, of course.

"I'm so happy I could fly!" I said as I looked towards the sky.

That was when I noticed the blue glowing bands around my wrists. I brought my arms down to inspect them further. There was one on each arm, starting where my wrist connected to my hand and then extending to about one inch down towards my forearm. They sort of looked like thick, clunky bracelets.

"Hey mom, what are these?" I asked.

"I honestly don't know, sweetie," she replied. "They were there when the prince pulled you out of the water. We'll have to wrap something around your wrists in order to hide them from your father. Who knows what'll happen if he sees you with those."

I tried to take them off, but it didn't work. It was like they were fused into my skin and were now a permanent part of me. I dug my fingernail into my wrist directly above one of them and tried to peal it off like a sticker, but someone quickly grabbed my arm and stopped me from doing so.

"Hey! What are you-"

"Don't do that. You'll hurt yourself."

It was him, the boy who saved me. I was speechless. For a moment, I didn't know who was more beautiful, him or the king.

"I see you've finally gotten to meet my son properly," King Marin laughed as he made his way over to us. "Titus, this is Princess Roxanne of the Hard Rock trolls. Princess, this is my son, Prince Titus of the techno trolls."

I nodded in response. Well I was partially right about one thing. His skin was a deep shade of blue. But now that I could actually see the rest of him instead of just his arms, I couldn't help but appreciated the way he looked.

Along with the blue skin, he had light blue hair that swayed every time he moved his head. He also had yellow eyes along with a few red, yellow, and orange pixels that were around his eyes and near the bottom of his tail. And, just like all of the other techno trolls, he had a beating, pink pixelated heart on his chest. I knew it was rude to stare at others, but I couldn't help it. He was just so-

"Pretty," I mumbled under my breath. Titus raised an eyebrow at me.

"I'm sorry, what did you say? I can't hear-"

I couldn't control myself. I lunged forward and gave him the biggest hug I ever could. "Thank you," I whispered. I could feel him slowly lift his arms up and around me to return my hug. "It's no problem, really," he said. "You were kind of dying."

"Roxy," my mother shouted from the piranha bus. "It's time to go home. Let's go!"

"Your mother has probably already told you this, but you truly are a very special little girl," King Marin said as he smiled. "I have a feeling you are going to do big things someday." He rustled my hair and started to head back into the ocean. "Come on, Titus. Our people are waiting for us." And with that, he dove back into the water.

Prince Titus turned to me and smiled. "Looks like that's my cue to go back home," he said as also headed towards the waters' edge. "See you later, friend!" Then, he too dove back into the water.

Friend? The word echoed in my head as I walked back to the bus. He called me his friend. A smile slowly started to creep onto my face as I hopped into our vehicle and sat down.

I turned to my sister. "Did you hear that?" I asked her with the goofiest grin on my face.

"Yes, I did. Now buckle up. We're going home." Katie replied.

"Wait!" I jumped back out of the bus and made a run for the waters' edge. "Titus!" I shouted at the water.

I saw his head poke out of the water. "Yes?"

"I forgot to sing you my song!" I replied excitedly.

"Noooo! Not the song!" I could hear Katie scream from our vehicle. "I've already heard it three times today!"

"Be quiet, sister," I shouted back at her. "You can listen to it one more time."

Katie groaned as she leaned back in her seat and plugged her ears.

I ignored her gesture and proceeding to sing the same song I sang to the other tribe leaders before we left:

Oh we'll meet again
Don't know where, don't know when
Oh I know we'll meet again some sunny day

Titus smiled. "You have a lovely voice, " he said.

"Thank you!"

He waved goodbye as he dove back under the water. I could feel the beat thumping under my feet again as I ran back to my family.

"Alright, let's go home," I said as I hopped back into my seat.

"Yeah, I think I've had enough fun for one day," my mother sighed.

I couldn't stop smiling the whole way home. This whole trip was the start of a new chapter in my life, and I even made a friend! Prince Titus. What a name, right?

Although I felt like my life was only going to get better from here, something deep down in my heart was telling me that this was only the calm before the storm, and that something terrible was heading our way.

I ignored this feeling, but I really wish I had listened to it. Because unfortunately, it was right.

(For those of you who may have thought that the mysterious navy blue techno troll was Trollex, I am sorry I disappointed you. He will be in this story, just not yet. :))