Silver Swirl's Mew
written by Princess Silver Swirl
It was a picturesque scene: Silver Swirl, the unicorn princess of Friendship Gardens, was perched on a swing. Melisande the Mew clung to the unicorn's horn, and Jade the dragon sat on the branch from which the swing hung. Princesses Twinkle Star and Morning Glory were sprawled on the soft moss nearby.
"I've been so bored lately," complained Morning Glory.
"Yes, ever since Silver Swirl's pen pal left there haven't been any stallions for you to flirt with," Twinkle Star snickered. Silver Swirl grinned, recalling her own clever plots to make Morning Glory leave Sandstone (the aforementioned stallion) alone.
"I don't flirt," protested Morning Glory. Everyone else started laughing.
"And a fish would never dream of swimming," was Jade's remark.
"Okay, so I sort of follow stallions around. But it isn't flirting; it's just looking for the right one. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince," she finished serenely.
"Sorry to break it to you, Morn, but there are precious few princes around here, literal or figurative," stated Silver Swirl wisely as she swung by.
"That's what everyone says, but I still believe!" Morning Glory proclaimed. "Someday I'll find someone perfect for me, and everything will just be... perfect."
"Redundancy alert," muttered Jade.
Silver Swirl shook her head. "Things like that just don't happen to real ponies in the real world," she insisted.
"Since when were you such a cynic?" questioned Twinkle Star, amused. "Anyway, I've heard plenty of stories of real-life ponies living happily ever after."
"Just because they live in the real world doesn't mean they're real ponies," countered Silver Swirl mysteriously.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Morning Glory raised one eyebrow, an ability that Silver Swirl always envied.
"Well," explained the unicorn, "I have a theory that some ponies live in the real world, but they aren't real ponies. They come from stories or something, and they live their lives the way they would in those stories. So when you see some ponies whose lives seem extraordinarily like a fairy tale, you can tell that they're not real ponies at all. And that way you don't have to be jealous of them," she smiled.
"But how do I know that I'm a real pony then?" Morning Glory protested, looking more confused than ever. "Any of us could be one of your... unreal ponies, and never know it!"
Silver Swirl shrugged. The swing, by now, had slowed down so that it was barely swaying. "There's always that chance, but it's probably not a good thing to pin one's hopes on."
"And that's Silver Swirl's Theory of the Day," intoned Twinkle Star in an "announcer" voice. Melisande sighed, letting her head droop.
"Something wrong?" Silver Swirl inquired, ruffling the Mew's ears (no mean feat since Melisande was on Silver Swirl's head).
"This talking of love, it makes me sad," the little Pokémon acknowledged. Her long tail swung back and forth to an unheard rhythm.
"Sorry," apologized Morning Glory, but she was too curious to drop the topic. "Did you have... someone?"
"Perhaps," replied Melisande with a smile that was too cheerful to be real. Silver Swirl decided to change the subject.
"Did you hear that Dazzle Glow got permission to do a fireworks display in one of the big meadows in Dream Valley tonight? The Bushwoolies have volunteered to make sure everything stays safe."
"Sounds like fun," observed Twinkle Star. "I have a drum lesson in Dream Valley today, so I can stay for the fireworks afterwards."
"Do you two want to go?" Silver Swirl asked Jade and Melisande.
"Sure," agreed Jade. "It will probably be ridiculous and annoying, but I'll go anyway– it'll be fun to make snide remarks about it."
Melisande grinned and shook her head. "You are only happy when you can say that others are being stupid," she observed.
"You are only happy when you can criticize me," retorted Jade.
Melisande gave an angelic smile. "That makes me bad?"
"Settle down, you two," Silver Swirl sighed. "Listening to you argue can be fun for a while, but it gets tedious after a few hours."
"Since when were you the center of the universe?" snapped Jade.
Silver Swirl looked at the dragon, maintaining admirable composure. Normally Jade would never speak so angrily in a casual conversation; if she did, she was surely quite upset. "Sorry, I was only trying to help keep the peace. I know I'm egocentric sometimes, and I'm working on it." Now it was Jade and Melisande's turn to be surprised; Silver Swirl was not known for her patience or humility.
"Okay, we'll stop arguing if it's that important," responded Jade grudgingly. "But Melisande started it!"
Twinkle Star laughed. "I wish you'd help teach my Pokémon to speak English, Melisande; I'd love for other ponies to hear the great things that they say."
"I am happy to help them learn if any are interested," replied Melisande. "Do any of them say that they want to learn?"
"Hmm," Twinkle Star considered. "I think Raichu once mentioned that it would be fun, and Dewgong's very smart– he could probably pick it up easily. Sandshrew is very talkative, so she would probably like to learn it."
"You and Silver Swirl sound like you have a lot of fun with your Pokémon," acknowledged Morning Glory.
"It's more like they have fun with us," Silver Swirl laughed. "Is that your way of saying that you're considering getting some of your own?"
"Yes, actually," Morning Glory admitted. "I rather like those Kadabra and Paras."
"No reason to look ashamed of it– I think it would be great for you to get a Pokémon companion," enthused Twinkle Star. "Paras and Kadabra aren't too hard to find, either."
Morning Glory smiled and reached out to stroke Melisande, who had floated down from Silver Swirl's head. "I'll think about it– I'd have to do some research first to see if it would work out." Silver Swirl grinned to herself. In a relatively short time, Pokémon had come to share the hearts and homes of many citizens of Ponyland.
Twinkle Star began to absent-mindedly pound on the forest floor as if it were a drum. Once the pink pegasus had established a beat, Silver Swirl began to sing softly.
"I asked the moon,
Can you show me the wisdom found in a midnight sky?
For I think I will need it on one of these dark, cold nights.
I asked the moon,
And I looked for an answer
But the moon said nothing,
So I turned away.
"I asked the sun,
Can you show me the gladness found in a noonday sky?
For I think I will need it on one of these long, hot days.
I asked the sun,
And I looked for an answer
But the sun said nothing,
So I turned away."
"Nice song," commented Twinkle Star.
"Nice drumming," Silver Swirl replied with a grin.
"I asked the moon..." Melisande warbled, trying to beat the tree trunk with her tail as she sang.
"I don't think the composer would appreciate you rewriting the melody," Jade told the Mew. "The song goes, 'I asked the moon...' "
"No, you're wrong! It goes the way I sang it!" insisted Melisande.
Morning Glory shook her head contemplatively. "I think Melisande's right."
"No," Silver Swirl corrected, "Jade was right." The little dragon smiled smugly and was abruptly thrown into the air by an unseen psychic attack. "Melisande!" Silver Swirl's voice was sharp. "You know the rule– attacks are not to be used on friends!" She looked at the Mew, whose head was hung in shame. "But I don't think I'll have the strength of character to stop you next time Jade gloats like that."
"There won't be a next time," Jade announced. "Taunting you isn't worth getting blasted. Really, though, you need to develop a thicker skin. If a little smirk makes you that angry, think what a snide remark could do."
"I will work on it," Melisande agreed. Silver Swirl shook her head. Thank goodness Jade didn't hold grudges.
"Hey, Silver Swirl, why didn't you find out you were a princess until you were twelve?" queried Twinkle Star.
"That's a random question," Morning Glory interjected, but she listened just as attentively for the reply.
"Eh," Silver Swirl shrugged. "My family lives on the outskirts of Friendship Gardens, and they haven't been there for that long, so I suppose they didn't know about the tinsel-hair rule."
"How did Queen Sun Sparkle find out then?" Morning Glory asked.
Silver Swirl giggled. "She saw my class picture," the unicorn explained. "And you know the rest; Lady Moonshine knocked at the door, asking to see Silver Swirl Filigree."
"Your last name is Filigree?" Melisande repeated.
"No, it's Smith," Jade replied sarcastically. "You don't talk much about your past, do you Swirly?"
Silver Swirl shuddered. "Never call me Swirly. I can deal with Silv, but not Swirly. You're right, I don't talk much about it. I wouldn't want to give you nightmares," she quipped. "No, seriously, there's not much to tell. My past was quite boring."
"Hmm..." Jade closed her eyes, and then shook her head. "I can't picture you having a boring life. If it wasn't interesting, you'd do something to change that."
"Oh yes, I certainly did some exciting things." Silver Swirl tilted her head back with a pensive smile. "Like the time I refused to let the teacher confiscate my toy dog. But all in all, my life was very average. I was quite happy to move to the castle, especially because there were some nasty ponies in my class at school. They had a tendency to call me Iron Swirl."
"Iron Swirl... that's a good one," Jade considered.
"Don't even think about it," warned Silver Swirl. Twinkle Star glanced at her watch.
"Oh gosh, it's almost time for my drum lesson. I'll see you at the fireworks!" The winged princess glided upwards and was soon out of sight. Silver Swirl gazed at the sky for a moment, and then looked back at her surroundings.
Morning Glory stretched and yawned. "Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I weren't a princess," the earth pony confided.
"Me too," Silver Swirl agreed. "I would have had to go to college, and get a job, and a home of my own... I don't think I would've liked it."
Morning Glory laughed. "We do have rather a convenient life, don't we?"
"A little too convenient, I think," commented Melisande. "Even the royal Mew have to... never mind." The Mew blushed.
"Royal Mew?" the two princesses queried simultaneously.
Jade snorted. "You two sound like parrots– you should go visit Mimic." The dragon blew a strand of hair out of her face, evidently very pleased with herself.
"I don't think Jade sleeps at night," Silver Swirl addressed Morning Glory and Melisande. "She just lies there thinking of sarcastic remarks for every occasion."
"However did you guess?" Jade questioned facetiously.
"I have my sources," Silver Swirl uttered with an air of mystery.
"Royal spies," added Melisande.
" 'Lo, she is one of this conspiracy!' " quoted Jade.
"Hmm... I never knew Shakespeare induced paranoia in dragons..." Silver Swirl mused. Jade flicked her tail at the unicorn. "It would appear to quicken the temper as well... not that it was needed."
"I'd better be going– Sugar Belle and I are going to look for antiques," explained Morning Glory. "I might come see those fireworks later." Silver Swirl waved at the other princess who trotted off toward the main area of Friendship Gardens.
"I guess we should head for the field if we want good seats for the fireworks," Silver Swirl suggested. Her two small companions nodded assent.
* * *
"Help me spread the blanket?" Silver Swirl requested. Jade and Melisande each took hold of a corner, leaving the unicorn with the remaining two. Together, they arranged the big picnic blanket over the grass and settled themselves on it.
"Fireworks!" cheered Melisande.
"What? They started?" Jade quickly looked around.
"No. Just excited," replied Melisande.
Jade rolled her eyes. "No more false alarms, okay? I'm going to take a nap." Suiting her actions to her words, the little dragon curled up and closed her eyes. Quietly, so as not to disturb Jade's rest, Silver Swirl presented Melisande with an apple.
"Hi, Silver Swirl!" Fizzy greeted.
"Shh," warned Silver Swirl, gesturing at the sleeping Jade.
"Oh, sorry." Fizzy looked abashed, and lowered her voice. "Aren't these fireworks going to be great? I haven't seen fireworks in a while; I hope I won't be as scared of the noise as I was last time. It's just so loud, and unexpected, that I always get spooked." Although the Twinkle-Eyed unicorn had started out speaking softly, her voice had crescendoed back to its original volume by the end of her monologue.
"Want an apple?" Silver Swirl offered.
Fizzy took the fruit, which mercifully quieted her. "Oh, there's Posey– got to go! Bye!" She dashed away.
"That just goes to show how important we are," quipped Silver Swirl. Melisande laughed, a little mewing sound. "Oh, look, here comes Twinkle Star. Twinkle Star, over here!" Silver Swirl waved at the pegasus, who gracefully landed next to the blanket. "How was your drum lesson?"
"Great. Pretty Beat's a really good teacher." The sky had begun to darken, and there was a sense of excitement in the air. "I can't wait to see the fireworks!"
"Ditto," Silver Swirl concurred.
"Where?" Twinkle Star looked around.
"Not the Pokémon!" laughed Silver Swirl.
"I know, I was just joking."
"Sure you were," Melisande agreed sardonically.
"Do you suppose Jade is contagious?" Twinkle Star asked Silver Swirl.
The unicorn shrugged. "You never know." Suddenly, a burst of colored light exploded into the air– the first firework. Melisande awakened Jade as two more sparklers rose into the heavens. Purple, green, red, blue, and golden white, the fireworks lit up the velvety sky, accompanying themselves with loud bangs that spooked several baby ponies and Fizzy. The ponies gazed, enchanted, at the colorful spectacle.
At that time, a small pale something began to fall near Silver Swirl. Thinking at first that it was a spark, the unicorn shied away as it landed. It was not, however, an ember. Melisande was the first to recognize it, and she glided swiftly towards what they could now see was a Mew. Clearly exhausted, the other Mew looked up at Melisande, who tried to support the stranger's head. The mysterious Pokémon looked like it was about to speak, but then its eyes closed. Silver Swirl checked its pulse.
"It's okay, just sleeping," she reported. Twinkle Star and Jade moved over to examine the creature. Silver Swirl turned to Melisande, who was holding the other Mew's limp paw. "Do you know this Mew?"
Melisande gazed at the stranger, a mixture of emotions playing across her little face. "His name is Edward," she whispered.
* * *
"Are you sure he's all right?" Melisande questioned anxiously.
"He's fine," Silver Swirl sighed. Ever since she, Jade, and Melisande had returned to Friendship Castle, Melisande had been hovering (literally) over Edward, who was reposing in comfort on Silver Swirl's pillow. Silver Swirl understood her friend's concern, but it was beginning to get annoying. Jade apparently felt the same way.
"Melisande, cut it out. Silver Swirl was nice enough to forgo the fireworks for this Edward of yours, who we don't even know anything about, so the least you could do is stop being annoying."
"Sorry." Melisande went back to staring at the sleeping Edward.
"Who is he, anyway? Do you know how and why he got here?"
"Edward is my... friend." Melisande's face went crimson. An evil smile spread over Jade's face. The dragon opened her mouth, but Silver Swirl sent her a warning glare. It was all very well for Jade to tease Melisande, but right now the Mew didn't seem to be able to put up with it.
Silver Swirl idly picked at the remains of the dinner she'd transported to her tower. Waiting for a sleeping Mew to awaken was rather boring, although it was clear that this Edward was important to Melisande. Sighing, Silver Swirl wondered how long Edward would sleep. What if he continued to slumber for days? Would Melisande refuse to leave his side? Fortunately for Silver Swirl, Edward chose this moment to open his eyes. He looked around, puzzled, until he spotted Melisande.
"Melisande?" he croaked in Mew-speech.
"Edward! How did you get here?" Melisande replied in the same language.
Edward took several deep breaths, tried to raise his head from the pillow, and failed. "Came here... to ask you... to come home. We're not... angry... we miss you." Edward, still fatigued, closed his eyes again. "Please come home." Jade and Silver Swirl looked at Melisande.
"Home? What's he talking about?" Jade inquired.
Melisande sighed. "Well, most Mew live in a network of caves in a mountain deep below the sea."
"I didn't know there were mountains deep below the sea," Jade remarked.
"There are; the tops of them are known as islands," informed Silver Swirl.
"Anyway," Melisande was plainly aggravated at having her story interrupted, "that's where most Mew live. We have a very beautiful civilization, rich in culture and history, and we are ruled by the Emperor and Empress of the Mew."
"Sounds nice," Silver Swirl commented.
"It is," Melisande replied. "In fact, it's so nice that very few Mew choose to leave it. It's a long trip all the way through the ocean, and scary. There are giant squid, you know." Jade shuddered; she was afraid of giant sea creatures although she would never admit it.
"However," the Mew continued, "the Mew Empire does have a way of seeing what's going on in the outside world. It's our greatest treasure, an orb made of paper-thin moonstone. When we look into this orb, we can see miniature scenes of life above the ocean."
"And you lived in this empire?" Jade wanted to know.
Melisande nodded. "I lived there for most of my life, happy and innocent. Then came my fall from grace." Silver Swirl raised her eyebrows; she hadn't known that Melisande could be so dramatic. "I was wandering around the caverns when I saw it, the resting place of the Pearl of Pearls– that's what we call the moonstone sphere." The pragmatic explanation lessened the suspense of her tale. "I'd never gotten to see it up close before, and it was incredibly exquisite. It looked so cool and smooth, sitting there on its blue velvet cushion. Impulsively, I drifted over to it and picked it up."
Silver Swirl, Jade, and Edward stared, riveted by the story.
"To this day I can remember exactly what it felt like. I just floated there for a moment, holding the gem, until I heard a noise behind me. It was only another Mew who had come to check on the Pearl of Pearls, but it startled me. I dropped the most precious treasure in the Mew Empire, dropped it onto the stone floor where it shattered into a million tiny shards."
Silver Swirl and Jade winced. "So what happened then?" Silver Swirl urged.
Melisande sighed. "Well, there were consequences– nobody was pleased to have their greatest treasure broken. Normally, the punishment would be banishment for life." The eyes of her audience widened, except for Edward's, which had closed. "I got lucky, though, or so everyone claimed. There's a way to grow a new Pearl of Pearls, although it takes a long time, so I hadn't broken anything irreplaceable. Also," Melisande looked down at the floor, "the Empress is my second cousin once removed, and she sort of intervened on my behalf."
"So what was your punishment?" questioned Jade.
"Exile for six months," Melisande replied shortly. "Everyone said it was a very merciful sentence, but I disagreed. I just didn't believe that I should be punished for an accident. I was rather angry..." Melisande blushed "...and I said that I would never come back to the Empire, no matter how much time had gone by." She closed her eyes as well, though she didn't seem nearly as tired as Edward. "I've kept my word."
"How long ago was this?" Silver Swirl enquired.
"A month or so before Dazzle Glow gave me to you," answered the Mew.
"And you," the unicorn gestured to Edward, "want her to come back?" It was a rhetorical question, but it helped Silver Swirl to feel more like she was in control of the situation.
Edward nodded. "Please, Melisande. Your parents and the Empress have been worrying. I think they'll apologize, if that's what you want."
Melisande frowned. "Serves them right for banishing me for an accident."
"Haven't you proved your point? You've been gone for more than a year; everyone misses you." Edward swallowed and his pale face went slightly pinker. "I missed you."
Melisande looked away hastily, but Silver Swirl could tell that the little Mew's face had turned almost red. "I've missed you too, Edward. A lot." Jade sniggered and both Mew glared at her. "This isn't funny, Jade," said Melisande through clenched teeth. Silver Swirl had never heard her friend sound so venomous.
"So will you come home?" Edward beseeched. Melisande shifted uncomfortably. Silver Swirl, Jade, and Edward all had their eyes fixed on their Mew friend.
"I don't know," she responded slowly. Edward looked like he was about to say something, but Melisande silenced him by holding up her paw. "You don't understand, Edward. This is my home now."
"You're happy here?" Edward asked incredulously.
Jade scowled at him. "Does this place look like a dungeon to you? Do Silver Swirl and I seem like evil monsters?" Edward mumbled an apology more out of fear than true regret.
"It's nice here in Friendship Gardens," Melisande explained. "There are all kinds of interesting things to do, and the castle is quite comfortable. There are lots of other Pokémon here, you know, even some other Mew. You wouldn't believe some of the things I've seen and done and learned."
"But your home, your family..." protested Edward.
"I've lived here for more than a year; it feels as much like home as the caves did. Silver Swirl and Jade are the best friends I could ever ask for– except for you, of course– they're like sisters to me." Edward looked skeptical at the thought of such a family. "I really think that I like life better here." Despite the gravity of the situation, Silver Swirl had trouble stifling a laugh at the look on Edward's face.
"I thought, though, that..." Edward lowered his voice until it was barely audible. "I thought that we were planning to, well, someday..."
Melisande's feline countenance remained carefully blank, but her voice lost its usual warmth. "Did you, really? You certainly weren't in a hurry then– you were perfectly willing to manage without me for six months." She waved her tail in a gesture of silence before the other Mew could speak. "Besides, life here is so much more full and exciting. I don't know if I'd be satisfied with the Empire if I went back."
"So you won't come home?" asked Edward quietly.
"Oh, I don't know!" Melisande threw her paws into the air in a gesture of helplessness. "I don't know what to do. Will you let me sleep on it?"
"Of course. It's your choice." The bitter edge in his voice was barely detectable.
Silver Swirl watched the two Mew's dialogue, feeling as if she and Jade had been forgotten. "Um." The six eyes of the other creatures in the room turned to look at the unicorn. "It's getting late," Silver Swirl elaborated. "If any of us plan to sleep tonight, we'd better, uh, go to bed..."
"Of all the awkward statements you've made," Jade remarked conversationally, "that is the most awkward I've heard yet."
"Jade, I have an assignment for you– go to the nearest dictionary and look up "tact". If you've ever heard of the word, it's obviously been forgotten." Jade's eyes widened at the uncharacteristically sharp retort. Silver Swirl immediately regretted her words, although she doubted that they hurt thick-skinned Jade. "Edward, you're welcome to stay here for the night."
"Thank you; I appreciate your generosity," Edward voiced.
"No problem. I have an extra cushion that should be your size." Having something to do helped Silver Swirl to keep her mind off of the situation at hand. "Here." Edward gratefully nestled into the spare pillow, while Jade and Melisande snuggled into their respective cushions.
Silver Swirl performed their nighttime ritual, dimming the lights and opening the curtains so that the moonlight could shine through the window. After scrambling into her own bed and tucking the covers snugly around herself, she whispered "Good night."
"Good night," echoed Jade.
"Good night," repeated Melisande ("For the last time?" wondered Silver Swirl). Edward said nothing; he was already asleep.
* * *
Silver Swirl didn't really expect to be able to get to sleep, and her intuition proved correct. After tossing and turning for a while, she decided to use a technique that always helped her– listing her thoughts.
"Fact one: Ever since that big fight with my parents, I've made this tower and Jade and Melisande my whole world to try to keep from getting hurt."
"Fact two: I believed that, within this little world, I was sheltered from losing anyone else."
"Fact three: There's a good chance that Melisande will leave, and the structure of my world will be altered."
"Fact four: I'm really not in the mood for facts; I just wish that Edward had stayed in his precious Empire!" Silver Swirl shot a scowl across the room at the sleeping Edward, knowing that she was being unreasonable. Of course Melisande had the right to go back home; of course Edward had the right to seek out his old friend/sweetheart. It seemed, though, that Silver Swirl was getting the short end of the deal.
Melisande was a relatively new addition to Silver Swirl's life, but she was such a good friend that the unicorn could not imagine life without her. What Melisande had said was true: the Mew, the dragon and the unicorn were like sisters. The idea of Melisande leaving was very close to Silver Swirl's deepest fear: that Silver Swirl herself would someday have to leave her tower and her surrogate family and start a life on her own.
Silver Swirl shivered, a few tears leaking from her eyes. She had seldom felt so very alone.
* * *
"Good morning," Jade chirped in her usual eager-to-torment-sleepy-Silver Swirl voice.
"Ugh." Silver Swirl, who had finally got to sleep at five o'clock in the morning, tried to pull the covers back over her head. "Lemme sleep... go away..."
Jade's voice grew sterner. "It's important; Melisande wants to talk to you."
Silver Swirl groaned, trying not to seem anxious. Careful to move slowly, the unicorn sat up to face Melisande, who was sitting on her pillow looking nervous. "Good morning, Melisande."
Melisande looked as tired as Silver Swirl felt. The unicorn grinned and smoothed the Mew's untidy fur. " 'Morning Silver Swirl. I've decided."
Silver Swirl's stomach suddenly tightened. "And what did you decide?" she asked quietly. Jade and Edward seemed to be in as much suspense as Silver Swirl. Melisande took a deep breath.
"I... I want to inform my family in the Empire of my choice; and I'd like you and Jade and Edward, of course, to come with me."
Jade's jaw dropped. "So you're not going to tell us now? That's not fair!" Everyone laughed, relieving a little bit of the tension.
"It's going to be hard enough telling it once; I'm not going to tell it two times to two sets of people."
"That does sound fair," Silver Swirl admitted reluctantly. "How do you want us to get to the Empire? I don't think I could wink there since I've never seen it– I might make a mistake and land us all at the bottom of the ocean among the giant squid."
Jade gulped, then laughed. "Giant squid, eh? That would be something to see!"
"Don't worry, no squid," Melisande grinned. (Jade muttered something about not being worried in the first place.) "I planned to get us there the old-fashioned way."
"Which is...?" The excitement of a trip alleviated the anxiety further; Silver Swirl was almost able to forget that Melisande might leave.
"You'll see." The Mew winked at Edward, who had been looking gloomy. He winked back rather half-heartedly.
"All right, let me brush my teeth and comb my mane and then we can go see this empire of yours." Despite her attempted laid-back attitude, Silver Swirl found herself getting ready very quickly. Indeed, it was barely three minutes before she was all prepared.
"Hair clips?" Jade teased.
Silver Swirl touched the pink star ornaments self-consciously. "Well, I ought to look nice when I visit– I'm representing all of Friendship Gardens," she defended herself.
Jade rolled her eyes. "The Mew will get quite an interesting impression," she commented.
Silver Swirl frowned imperiously. "You know that I'm perfectly capable of playing the majestic princess if such is called for," the unicorn reproved.
"Please, Silver Swirl, I'd like to get this over with. Could you wink us to the beach now?" Melisande appealed.
"Sorry," replied Silver Swirl somewhat sheepishly. She beckoned the others to draw closer to her, then closed her eyes and winked the group away.
* * *
"Okay," Jade announced in a businesslike fashion. "We're at the beach. Now what happens? Do we have to swim?"
"Not quite," Melisande giggled, her usual high spirits having apparently returned. "C'mon Edward, let's show them some Mew powers." The two Mew floated toward the ocean, followed by the other creatures. "Stand close together," Melisande instructed. She nodded at Edward, whereupon both Pokémon assumed expressions of concentration. A moment later, the small party was enclosed in a huge bubble.
"Just like in the Pokémon movie!" Silver Swirl's voice was barely lower than a squeal.
"Oh, that dinky bubble was nothing compared to what I can do," Melisande scoffed smugly. Jade snorted, and was shocked when the small blast of air pushed the walls of the bubble outward. "Careful," warned Melisande. "It wouldn't be a pretty picture if you burst the bubble underwater." Jade's eyes widened.
Edward seemed a good deal happier now that he was in his own sphere, so to speak. "Come on, let's get this bubble moving," he voiced cheerily. Melisande flicked her tail and the bubble started moving toward the open ocean. Silver Swirl grinned for a moment before remembering what lay at the end of the trip.
"You can sit down if you want to; the trip takes a while," remarked Melisande. Silver Swirl eased herself to the rounded floor of the bubble, subconsciously breathing a sigh of relief when it didn't pop. She then busied herself with examining the scenery; the bubble had now submerged itself and was going steadily deeper into the ocean.
"Oh look! Fish!" Silver Swirl gestured wildly at a school of silvery fish gliding hurriedly away from the bubble.
"Wow, fish. I never thought I'd see such amazing legendary creatures," drawled Jade.
"Well, I never thought I'd see them from the inside of a bubble-shaped submarine," Silver Swirl countered. "Even mundane things can be exciting if they're seen from a new perspective."
"What is it with you and perspective?" Jade demanded. "Besides, you sound like you're quoting from a textbook."
"That's just because the things I say are so well thought-out," the unicorn explained complacently.
"No, it's because they're such platitudes," scoffed the dragon. "Go write one of those books of inspirational sayings."
"Maybe I will, and it'll become a bestseller, and I'll be famous. We'll see who has the last laugh then!"
"Don't worry– I'd laugh plenty if you wrote a best-selling book."
"I think you're just trying to undermine my self-esteem because you're jealous of me," Silver Swirl hypothesized.
"And how would that explain my mockery of every other creature I come across? Am I jealous of them, too?" Jade's face wore its usual expression of scorn.
"Who knows? Your mind is a warped and enigmatic thing."
"Should we try to stop them?" Edward whispered to Melisande.
"They're always like this," Melisande explained. "When you combine Jade's sarcasm with Silver Swirl's refusal to lose an argument..." The little Mew shrugged and gestured toward the two antagonists. "At least it helps to pass the time."
"At least I don't behave the way you do when Jade says something nasty. I seem to recall someone using a psychic attack yesterday..." Silver Swirl's voice trailed off as she looked past Melisande, viewing something terrifying.
"Oh fine, I surrender. I'm just as guilty as the two of you." Melisande stared curiously at Silver Swirl. "What's wrong?"
"Behind you," the unicorn managed to rasp.
Jade, Melisande and Edward turned simultaneously. "It's some kind of giant fish," stuttered Melisande. Jade, who would normally have commented on the pointlessness of such a remark, sat in terrified silence.
Silver Swirl gulped. "Can you steer the bubble away from it?" she questioned.
"I'll try," Edward volunteered. He frowned in concentration and the bubble veered away from the monster. Melisande joined him, and their conveyance picked up speed. Behind them, the giant fish watched in interest but didn't move.
"Maybe someone should keep a lookout," suggested Jade nervously. "How about Silver Swirl?"
"Thanks for volunteering me," the unicorn in question grumbled. She pivoted on the smooth surface of the bubble, ending up facing backwards. "The fish is just standing– err, floating– there. Still floating... oh, it's looking at us... it's opening its mouth! Oh, never mind, it was just eating some little fish. Now it's looking away from us..."
"We don't need a running commentary!" Jade snapped.
"Well, you can't have your cake and eat it too!" retorted Silver Swirl.
Melisande sighed. "I should've taken the time to eat breakfast." Silver Swirl laughed helplessly at the lame joke. It could be the last joke! screamed the unicorn's mind. This could be the last talk, the last ride, the last adventure, the world could fall apart, and here that Mew was, laughing!
"Melisande?" Silver Swirl's voice grew quieter.
"Remember the time Baby Surprise thought you were a regular cat and tried to keep you as a pet?"
"How could I forget?" The Mew made a face. "That horrible cat food..."
"But you won first prize at the Friendship Gardens Pokémon Storytelling Competition with it," Jade reminded.
"And the time you got us lost in that hot air balloon?" Silver Swirl persisted.
"I seem to recall that a certain unicorn let me fall asleep!"
Silver Swirl, what are you doing? Jade hissed into the princess' mind.
"But the craziest thing was the time you decided to try curling my mane." Silver Swirl shook her head solemnly as Melisande giggled. "Not a pretty memory... where did you get that book about hair-styling?"
"Morning Glory left it very conveniently in the kitchen. I just flipped through it, and curling sounded like such fun." There was unmistakable mischief in that smile. "It didn't look that bad."
Jade snorted. "Silver Swirl is never exactly stunning when she first wakes up, but that hairdo was a work of genius– evil genius, that is."
"Sounds like you've been doing some crazy things," Edward commented.
"You haven't heard the half of it," Jade assured him. "I think it's Silver Swirl's fault– she has some sort of aura of insanity that affects everyone around her."
Silver Swirl beamed at the dragon. "Why, that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me," she pronounced in a falsetto voice.
"Don't insult my ability to insult," glowered Jade, pouting.
"No, really, I love the idea of having an aura. Even an insane aura– and don't go on about how that's the only kind I'll ever have." The unicorn sighed and leaned against the wall of the bubble.
Jade looked at Silver Swirl, something akin to admiration in her face. "Hey, you think up some remarks even nastier than mine– rather a pity you never use them."
Silver Swirl was surprised; Jade was rarely this nice to her. "Well, I wouldn't want to usurp your position as Queen of Sarcasm," she asserted flippantly. Perhaps Jade was realizing that, if Melisande left, the dragon and the unicorn would have only each other for company.
"Oh, don't worry– that throne is mine for good," grinned Jade.
"Hey, aren't those the mountains up ahead?" Edward questioned. Everyone turned to look.
"Yes, we're almost there," Melisande reported. "Wow, it feels so strange to see them again! Home at last!" Her little face beamed.
Edward smiled too. "They'll be so happy to see you."
"Mm-hmm," Melisande agreed. Then she sighed.
Silver Swirl looked at Jade, but the little dragon's face was as serenely sour as always. Perhaps, Silver Swirl thought, I'm the only one who's upset by Melisande leaving. The unicorn frowned. How could that be? Jade and Melisande were possibly closer to each other than they were to Silver Swirl.
"We're nearing the entrance!" Edward exclaimed.
"Will we have to stay inside the bubble the whole time?" queried Silver Swirl.
Edward shook his head. "We use our powers to make the caves watertight. Mira the Great thought that one up." As Silver Swirl nodded, the bubble whooshed through the mouth of a cave and popped.
"Welcome to the Empire," Melisande announced.
* * *
The cave was long and narrow with many passages, somewhat like a hallway. As soon as the small group recovered from their unceremonious landing on the stone floor, they began to look around. Silver Swirl noticed that her surroundings were lit by some kind of materiel– coral or fungus?– on the walls. The rounded ceiling was carved with a pattern that resembled stars. There were several paintings on the walls, alleviating the solemn grayness of the chamber.
"Pretty," remarked Jade, her voice echoing.
"Oh! The acoustics are terrific!" Silver Swirl began to sing loudly. The notes of the song reverberated softly.
"Stop! I can't take more than one Silver Swirl-voice," Jade complained.
Melisande laughed. "Ah, the mighty Jade has a weakness," she teased. "You should remember that, Silver Swirl. It could prove useful."
"I can think of a dozen ways to utilize it already," Silver Swirl smirked.
"Don't smirk, Silver Swirl; it looks horrible. Only certain creatures can get away with smirking." Jade demonstrated.
"Hard to tell if it looks nice on you, Jade– I always thought that was just the way your face was shaped," Silver Swirl joked.
"That was harsh," commented Edward.
"Hey, I'm the only one who's supposed to make harsh remarks!" Jade complained. Everyone laughed, and the sound echoed back to them.
"All right, enough fun. It's time to go meet the rulers and my relatives," Melisande declared. She floated towards one of the openings.
"I think I would have preferred more fun," muttered Silver Swirl, but nobody heard her.
Melisande swished through the corridor, followed by Edward. The others hurried to catch up, barely noticing the bright murals on the walls. Silver Swirl felt a plethora of butterflies awaken within her stomach.