"Are you okay?" I asked, my voice coming out in a cry. His face immediatly looked pained, and I felt the same way at once.
"I'm so sorry." His eyes shut slowly. "I'm so, so sorry. This is all my fault." Unfortunately I had feeling back in my body, but this only made me recognize how badly I hurt. I was positive my skin was now black and blue. My skull ached from Courtney pulling me by my hair, and I was sore from the position I had been forced into for the past few minutes. But the most pain came from inside of me, where I felt guilty.
"No, Ben, it's not your fault at all. I shouldn't have made you come back. I should have gone by myself." The sound he made was heartbreaking. He was making a sincere effort to laugh, but it just came out as a whimper.
"Do you honestly think I would have let you do this by yourself?" I smiled, but the motion stretched my skin and it snapped back into a tight line.
"Ben, why can't I move? It hurts to smile!"
"That's what happened to me the day I jumped in that saltwater pool to save you that one day. The salt dries up our skin as soon as we hit heat. That's why you're supposed to stay hydrated, so this doesn't happen. They purposely have light shining on us so we dry quicker. It's a convenient way of torture." He paused for a second. "I should probably tell you, that saltwater pool? It's not for a marine biology class."
"What's it for then?" But before he could answer someone grabbed my hair again, pulling it back with such an unnatural force I was sure it would fall out.
"Courtney!" I shouted against the burning in my throat. It yearned for water.
"Guess again," a familiar voice chimed behind me. Though it hurt, I turned my head around to see who it was.
"Marissa?" I asked, astonished. It was her, but she looked 15 years older. Her hair was longer and still black, but her facial features were much more refined. Her cheekbones were full and framed her tan face, her lips cherry red and her eyes the color of the night sky with blood red specks all around. Someone else approached behind her with skin the color of chocolate, shining dark brown eyes and a sick grin.
"Kayla," I stated. Courtney came up behind her, and I saw for the first time that she looked exactly like the other two, 15 years older. I said nothing now, just winced at Marissa stood up, holding my hair with her foot instead of her hand.
All of a sudden their appearances changed and the three of them were old women, complete with wrinkles and a hump on their backs, but their eyes didn't change. The next moment they looked how they always had at school, but in "casual" clothes instead of their school uniforms. By "casual" I mean miniskirts and t-shirts cut off at their midriffs. I glared at them in disgust. I wished they would put back on the old granny clothes.
"What are you doing?" Ben asked heatedly from the ground. "You can't keep changing like that. It must be gradual or you'll overextend yourselves!"
"You might think that, but that is only because you're lower forms than us. We are faster, stronger, smarter and overall better than you, and we intend to prove that by taking over your little 'kingdom'," she said, toying with the word kingdom. Ben and I both growled and her face changed from confident to sickened.
"You two are the worst excuse for Waterpeople I've ever encountered." Now I knew I hadn't been at this for long, but I was trying my hardest to accept who I truly was. But Ben was stronger and more expreienced than I was, and for her to say that to him was just wrong.
"You are so barbaric, you can't even control your emotions let alone your Talents," she continued. "And you think you know what love is. Ha! You two don't love each other. " He head snapped down to me and I met her eyes. "Jenn, dear," she added with a sweet voice, "can't you see he's simply playing you? Pretending to love you so he can get close to you? There is only one thing he wants. And that is power. And without his Princess, he can't have that power. I should know, I've been with Benny for years," she drawled out the word years. Her eyes were sparkling black, the red swirling around in a spiral,
"Stop! Jenn, don't fall for it. She's hypnotizing you!" I heard Ben's faint voice as I gazed into Marissa's eyes, the coal color casting shadows all around me. It was her and me now, everyone else was gone. I lifted my hand to her and she smirked.
"No! Stop! Let her go!" I heard a small voice, but it was falling away. A new voice replaced his, one that told me to come with them. Marissa took my hand and helped me to my feet, and in an instant I could move without pain. Her eyes still locked with mine, we began to walk to the back of the cave.