The vast waters of the big blue sea are one of the planet's most magical places. Early evening mists roll in, seemingly from nowhere. Seagulls fly lazily around in a search for food whilst dolphins play, diving in and out of the water one after another. A ship breaks through the fog, rolling through the waves, interrupting the play. The sailors on board sing a hearty shanty as they guide the huge vessel through the uncharted waters.
"Hoist the sail," shouted one.
"Grab that rope," yelled another.
"Isn't this great?" A young girl, no more then twenty, her blue eyes framed by wisps of blonde hair escaping from their loose tie in the sea breeze.
"Um yeah... delightfohh..." A smaller girl, maybe sixteen or seventeen, with her brown hair similarly tied at the back. As she leant over the side for the umpteenth time she was very grateful for that foresight. "Remind me Tara. Why did I agree to come on this trip?"
The older girl walked over to where her young charge was once again leaning over the side of the large boat. "Poor Dawnie," she said, rubbing her back soothingly. "I believe it was something about wanting to be a part of the wide open sea. Your exact words were: 'I'm a big girl, I can handle it.'"
One of the sailors was sorting the day's catch of fish nearby. "King Triton must be in a friendly mood today," he said. "A fine strong wind to ease us on our way."
"King Triton?" asked Tara, her curiosity peaked. "Who's that?"
"Why, he's the ruler of the Merpeople, lassy!" replied the sailor.
"Merpeople?" laughed Dawn. "Right, and on land, werewolves and vampires exist too!"
"Ye can laugh missy, but it's the truth," he said, wrestling with a fish. "Down there in the depths, I tell ya, that's where they live." As he spoke those words, the fish he had been fighting with made a final bid for freedom, landing back in the ocean, relieved.
Down in the depths of the ocean, as far as the eye can see. The various fishes that swim there do so in perfect harmony. Whales, they glide through the ocean, over reeds that are standing up tall, as the Merpeople gather together, in the wondrous concert hall.
"All rise for His Royal Highness, King Triton!"
Trumpets sounded and cheers could be heard all around as King Triton entered the hall in a large shell chariot, pulled along by three royal dolphins.
"And presenting the court composer, Rupert Crustaceous Giles." The seahorse MC smirked slightly as Giles entered in a substantially smaller chariot to a substantially smaller cheer.
"Your Majesty," said Giles upon reaching King Triton's side, "this will be one of the finest concerts you will ever see. Your daughters - well, I dare say they will be spectacular."
"I'm really looking forward to it, Giles," replied the King, "especially my little Willow."
"Yes, well, she does have a most... unique voice," Giles said before heading towards his place at the podium mumbling. "If she'd bothered to turn up for rehearsals we could have done something about it."
Slowly, the lights went down and the music began to start. A spotlight was aimed on the stage as King Triton's daughters made their entrance, each one arising from within an oyster shell, singing their arrival. Soon there was but one shell left, the sisters gathered around it in a choreographed routine.
"And then there is the youngest in her musical debut,"
A hush of anticipation came over the concert hall as the music built. Slowly the shell began to open to reveal... nothing. The shell was completely empty. King Triton rose off of his seat, his face read with anger.
"Come on Xander, hurry up," shouted Willow as she made her way through the water.
"You know I can't keep up when you swim that fast," puffed Xander. "My fins are only small and just where exactly are we... ompf!"
Willow had stopped suddenly and Xander found himself making hard contact with the young mermaid's back.
"There it is," she whispered, pointing to a shadow in the darkness. "Isn't it neat?"
Through the gloom the outline of a shipwreck could be seen on the ocean floor. Slowly Willow started to make her way towards it, a rush of anticipation running through her. Turning around she noticed that Xander wasn't following.
"I'm going inside," she said, "there must be a tonne of human stuff in there. You can stay and keep watch if you like. Just make sure you let me know when the sharks appear!"
As Willow entered the ship through one of the portholes, Xander took his place outside.
"Yeah, You go hunt around the scary ship and I'll stay out here and watch for sharks. I'm all over it, no prob... SHARKS???" Swimming as fast as his fins would carry him Xander headed for the same porthole that Willow had gone through getting stuck in the process.
"Um... Wills? A little help here!" he shouted as he wriggled to try and free himself. "And stop laughing, it's really not that funny."
Once her giggles had subsided, Willow took a firm hold of Xander's fins and pulled until he came flying out with an audible POP. The momentum sent them both rolling backwards and when they finally came to a stop, Willow could not believe her eyes. A shaft of light had fought its way through the darkness and was shining on one of the most beautiful objects she had ever seen.
"What is it?" asked Xander, a confused look on his face.
"I'm not sure," replied Willow, a look of awe spreading over her features. "But have you ever seen anything as amazing in your entire life? I mean look how it shines and its really light and its pointy, and its got 3 prongs... Oh, it's like a, a mini trident. I wonder what the Humans use it for? I bet Spike'll know. I'll take it to him later, along with... this. Wow, Xander, isn't this amazing? ... Xander?"
Looking behind her, Willow saw Xander, seemingly frozen with fear, his eyes fixed in the distance. Following his gaze Willow saw what had her friend so frightened. There, in the dark, making its way ever closer to the ship was a shark.
Grabbing her friend, Willow started to swim for the porthole through which they entered. Her plan was disturbed, though, when the shark managed to get in front of the pair. Quickly changing direction, Willow and Xander headed towards a hole at the far end of the ship. They could hear the shark behind them, crashing his way through the wood as though it was tissue. Willow was the first to clear the ship, quickly making her way out into the ocean. Xander, who upon hearing the shark getting closer had closed his eyes, came barrelling out behind her and swam headfirst into an anchor. Willow saw this and swam back for her friend, who was drifting slowly toward the sea floor dazed. Leaning through the anchor the mermaid managed to catch her companion, and pull back with just seconds to spare. The shark had been gaining momentum and upon seeing his prey went in for the kill. Unfortunately for him, the anchor through which Xander had just been saved was too small and the shark found himself trapped and unable to move.
"Ahh, who's the big bad sharky warky? Come on, who's a big bad sharky warky?"
"Xander!" said Willow exasperated, "don't taunt the shark."
"Why?" he asked as they started to swim away. "He can't get out can he?"
"I don't know if he can get out or not," replied Willow. "But the taunting? Well that's just tacky!"
"Oh," he said as he stopped to look back at the shark. "Do you think...? Hey! Wills, come on. Wait up!" Glancing back at the shark one more time, Xander sighed before turning to follow the form of his friend who had gone on without him.
Up on the surface it was a fine day. The sun was shining and the breeze had been cool enough to make it bearable. Spike was resting in his nest, when all of a sudden some cold water splashed him, causing him to wake up rather abruptly and fall, not so gracefully, onto the small island's sand.
"Spike we need your help," said Willow, "we were searching a sunken ship, which was full of wonderful treasure, but of course we don't know what any of it is, so I thought, 'I know, we'll go and see Spike cause he knows about human stuff.' We nearly didn't make it though, as there was this shark and poor Xander nearly knocked himself out, but then the shark got stuck and we came straight here, so... can you help?"
"Nice to see you too, Red," replied Spike, a somewhat amused smile on his face. "Good to see your vocal cords are still working!"
Xander immediately started laughing but quickly stopped when he saw the look on his best friend's face.
"Can you help us or not Spike?" said Willow, her patience leaving with each passing second.
"Sure love, what'ya got for me then?"
Reaching into her bag, Willow pulled out the 'little trident' and gave it to Spike.
"Wow," he said, "I haven't see one of these in years!"
"What is it?" asked Willow
"This is what the humans call a dinglehopper, pet. They use it to do fancy stuff with their hair."
"Really?" asked Xander, a sceptical expression on his face.
"Too right," said Spike, "Are you doubting me, Guppy?"
"I'm not a Guppy!" grumbled Xander
"Right, you're not a guppy and I'm a singing harpy."
"SINGING?!" cried Willow, shocking both Xander and Spike into silence. "The concert! My father's gonna kill me!"
Hurriedly she gathered her things into her bag, thanking Spike quickly before she dived once more beneath the waves, Xander close behind her.
"Anytime, Red, anytime," said Spike as he climbed back into his nest and settled down once more under the sun's rays to rest.
Meanwhile, in a shadowy part of the ocean, a dark mermaid was watching.
"That's right, Princess, swim home to daddy. Wouldn't want to miss the celebration now would we?! God this sucks. You know I think we'll have to keep a close eye on this one. She could be just what we need to get at Triton." A smile crossed the dark features as another figure entered the room.
"What're you doing?" it asked.
"Finding a way to get us back where we belong," the dark mermaid answered.
"So everything will be good again."
"Five by five."