PART THREE: THE PRINCESS AND THE PROTECTOR
From the day Skip and his family had made a narrow escape from certain death from the wicked agents sent to kill them on the basis of holding steadfast onto their creed, he had been training non-stop to master his new found abilities under the protection of the Sage of the Undine races herself.
Skip had turned to his doppelgangers from ultimate timelines that had shared the collective knowledge and skills they had amassed among themselves. However, Skip noticed that lately, less of his doppelgangers were training him at all and it worried him greatly.
After one particularly grueling training session was completed, Skip asked the doppelganger who had faithfully stuck by his side since the beginning who constantly reminded the earlier that he was smarter, stronger and above all, more handsome than him, what had led to him being ostracized by his other doppelgangers.
His older doppelganger tilted his head to the right slightly before confidently proclaiming, “You finally asked! Well, the reason our other doppelgangers are distancing themselves from you is because of what you are doing to Maris and Princess Iara.”
Skip was taken aback by his older doppelganger’s statement. “What do you mean?” he asked bewildered but even as his doppelganger opened his mouth to speak, Skip already knew what he was going to say…
Ever since he had escaped from their persecutors, Skip had blamed his family’s pain and torture on himself, taking responsibility for the fateful night that had changed their fate forever. Skip had thought that something within himself had caused Della, his ex-fiancee, to change from the faithful woman she once was to the monster who had turned his family in.
Skip had also felt unlovable and thought that no good woman in her right mind would ever fall for him. Maris had sworn allegiance to him and she had already began falling in love with him which was as clear as crystal to anyone who truly knew his Protector.
Skip, however, argued that Maris’s feelings for him were simply as a result of the Protector’s Bond they shared coming into effect rather than the beautiful Sprite Warrior truly falling in love with him for the person that he was or even because she saw something worth loving for.
When he and his family had been led straight to the Sage and introduced to the Queen Sage and her most immediate family by Maris, Skip had not failed to notice how Princess Iara, the beautiful Mermaid- Sprite hybrid had reacted to him. He had been intrigued for the Princess could not seem to take her eyes off him…
Indeed, it was at first a matter of curiosity that had led Skip to initiate flirting with the Princess whenever they were alone. He felt guilty for flirting with her while Maris never left his side but the Princess falling for him had restored his pride and belief that he was worthy of the love of a good woman.
“Skip, do you really think the rest of the ‘Council of Skippers’ would stand for what you are doing to your Protector? You know that Maris really has no choice but to be bound to you. If you choose to pursue chasing after Princess Iara, you would just be stringing Maris along because unlike you, she doesn’t really have a choice in the matter…”
“Skip, you recall that in the past, whenever Charges chose any other mate over their Protectors, it was because they had embraced the darkness because such cruel treatment to your companion for life is nothing short of abnormally twisted…” his older doppelganger explained.
“So the other Skips think that I am some sort of dark caster or something for choosing Princess Iara over Maris?” Skip asked him plainly.
His older doppelganger nodded. “Can you confidently say that you love Princess Iara?”
“It is technically impossible for one to love anyone other than their Protector, right? Besides, Princess Iara really isn’t my type. I mean, she is very beautiful and so kind- hearted and brave too. I admire her in so many ways but… I am not attracted to her in any way…”
“Maris on the other hand, is exactly my type of woman. She is strong, confident, loyal… And most importantly, she turns me on… Princess Iara, well, she uh… she doesn’t really do it for me, to be honest.”
“Then why are you flirting with Princess Iara especially since you know she has fallen for you? Are you truly so sadistic as to hurt two great women like that? To what end do you desire to keep stringing both women along?”
Skip hung his head in shame. “It was because Princess Iara liked me that I started flirting with her… How can I explain it… Skip, I feel so guilty for it but when Princess Iara first laid eyes on me, for her, it was love at first sight and I was intrigued… I mean, how could she love me when I… I didn’t feel worthy, Skip. I felt as if I was the one that turned Della against me and my family…”
His older doppelganger sighed but placed his hands on both of Skip’s shoulders, “Look, I get it. I went through what you did when I was betrayed by my ex-fiancee, but Della made her own choice and it had nothing to do with you, Skip. In her own twisted way, she must have thought that she was protecting you and your family. Her belief system is based on fear- fear that the goddess she serves will hurt the ones she loves, including you. She rationalized that the torture you and your family endured that night was better than whatever torture would await you should the goddess’s wrath against your family be aroused…”
“Have you ever… Did you ever manage to save her?” Skip asked his doppelganger.
The Older Skip shook his head. “I have made my peace with the fact that I couldn’t save her, Skip and that’s okay. Listen, our aim as the good guys is to try and save everyone but as noble a goal as that is, and as much as we do try to achieve that end, we cannot save everyone. There will be those we will find that require saving that we can save but there will always be those we won’t be able to save no matter how hard we try.”
“Skip, you need to learn to forgive yourself for these perceived failures for that is not what they are… No, they are just lessons and they will help you grow to be the hero you were always meant to be. So please, for the love of sea cucumbers, stop flirting with Princess Iara and instead turn all your affections towards the gorgeous woman you are obviously falling in love with instead,”
Skip raised his head and nodded, smiling despite the feeling of guilt heavily weighing upon his heart. He left the training session feeling exhausted and yet partially relieved.
He recalled the words of wisdom imparted to him by his older doppelganger even as he went to apologize to Princess Iara for leading her on before finally apologizing to Maris.
Princess Iara was kinder and more understanding than he felt he deserved, but she did ask for Skip to give her time to recover from her feelings of infatuation by keeping his distance from her. Skip found her condition acceptable and therefore agreed to keep his distance from her to allow her heart to recover.
However, it became increasingly harder for Skip to keep his distance from Iara when the Queen Sage tasked him and Maris with assisting Iara, Marina and some other Mermaids they had rescued from the Lake of Sorrow in their mission to rescue and convert even more ‘lilies’ and ‘pearls’ to their cause…
Skip learned practically of the wise words his older doppelgangers imparted upon him- that he would aim to save as many people as he could but no matter what, he couldn’t save everyone.
Sometimes when he shut his eyes to go to sleep at night, he remembered the names and faces of those he had failed and it haunted him until he realized that his hero’s journey was just beginning.
Weeks later, Skip was called to meet the Queen Sage and she explained that in addition to facilitating safe travels from the Lake of Sorrow to Atlantica, he needed to pay more attention to training with his older doppelgangers. This, she exclaimed, was critical because Skip would soon have to square off against his greatest competitor yet, the very one that gave Melusines like Skip a bad name, the Lady of the Placid Lake herself, Amabel…
TO BE CONTINUED…
Ahoy there mateys! Having a fun plunge into the Lake Guardian’s story? Keep enjoying your journey. Haven’t meant the dashing young lad? Worry not. The links to previous parts are listed before, Enjoy!