I got back my results from the ACT...Looks like I got a 22. I was aiming for a 25, but I guess this will do for now :)
Ayana sat outside, watching the starry night sky and the ocean's blue waves rock back and forth. "You seem down lately…" The entity sneered through Ayana's reflection in the water.
"I wonder…if it was the right thing to do, to leave Talene behind like that," Ayana said aloud.
"Nonsense. It was her decision." Ashura replied. "You shouldn't feel guilty over another person's choices. We still need to find Mayne and Azurelite."
Steve came outside to the deck. "Thought I might find you here, I heard you talking."
"Where else would I go?" she rolled her eyes.
"Hey! Anyways, it's really nice out here, isn't it?" he asked, sitting next to her.
"Not as nice as Pele village," Ayana sighed, leaning on Steve. "Steve…do you think we'll ever find Mayne and Azurelite's history?"
"Sure! If you set your mind to it," he answered, grinning.
Ayana lowered her eyes. "Okay." the boat suddenly hit a foreign object, causing the two to jerk forward, slowly leaning over the water. "What was that?"
"Look! A girl!" Steve yelled, dragging her out of the water. "She must have floated for a long time." The girl's hair and eyes glimmered turquoise, and her fair skin glittered naturally in the moonlight. "What is she…?" Steve asked, mesmerized. The girl's eyes fluttered open and she embraced Steve. Ayana suddenly frowned.
"You're the one who saved me, aren't you?" she rejoiced. "You're a hero, a fine hero indeed."
"Hero?" Ayana asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I only saved you so you wouldn't drown," Steve explained.
"Who are you?" the mysterious girl asked.
"My name is Steve."
"Steve….Steve…young hero Steve…" the girl replied before giggling. "Hero, you MUST come to my island. My people will thank you. Come…"
"Come? He's not going anywhere!" Ayana glared.
"Ah! Hero!" the girl yelped. "I'm so stupid, I forgot! The pirates…they're attacking my island, and they have my sister! Please save her!"
The boat suddenly stopped, causing the others to come out. "The boat stopped? What's going on?" Rosaria asked.
"My hero has more allies! Please help him save my sister from the pirates!" she bowed.
"Huh? Hero? Pirates? Who is this, Steve?" the vampire inquired, extremely baffled.
"Some girl," Steve answered, "Apparently, she wants us to save her sister."
"In the middle of…nowhere?" An island appeared in front of them.
"C'mon guys, if we rescue her sister, she may leave us alone…" Steve whispered.
Ayana folded her arms. "Uh huh…and maybe she'll treat us to a meal, or reward us with treasure!"
"Really?!" Niko and Steve asked excitedly.
"No. Don't you two think this is very suspicious? Or am I the only one who thinks that?"
"C'mon Ayana," Steve pleaded. "You haven't hesitated to help someone in need, so why start now? Or are you jealous?"
"Jealous?! NO! I just have a bad feeling about this, THAT'S ALL." Ayana frowned. Aniu and Rosaria shook their heads.
"Ah, shut up complainin'," Niko grinned. "You probably are jealous, Ayana, and don't want to admit it."
"Ayana, just come along with us," Steve requested. "If there are any pirates, we could use the backup."
"I'll show you some back up alright…" Ayana mumbled. "…Whatever. Let's go girls, they'll need us later on, I'm sure of it."
"Right!" Rosaria and Aniu agreed. As the five wandered on the island, the girls noticed how strange the place was. The island wasn't on the map anywhere! Trails of ice replaced the land; debris, scattered across the water, floated and bobbed occasionally…parts of a ship to be exact…
Aniu asked where they were, mumbling often in curiosity. "I don't know where we are," Ayana answered. "It seems like a ship was destroyed…?"
The five approached four other girls on the main part of the island. Tropical flowers and plants bloomed on the small isle as the inhabitants huddled close to each other, near the entrance of a cave. Ayana and Rosaria, along with Aniu, who scratched her head full of white hair, were all confused and suspicious upon the four girls looked the same-matter of fact-identical to the girl who floated unconscious on the waters. Were they quintuplets? Steve and Niko eagerly approached the group of girls, smiling and assuring their safety. Where were the pirates? The girls looked completely safe. The three girls wondered what the real danger here was…
"Is everyone alright?" Steve asked. "We've come to rescue you all!"
"Oh…my hero, you've come!" one girl squealed.
"You've come to save us," another girl replied. "Thank you very much."
"Come…come…everyone, come with us!" Steve grinned.
"Our last sister is in that cave. Please, save her."
"Alright. Everyone, let's go in that cave!" Steve announced. Ayana had enough. She stepped in front of him, giving him a glare that pierced through his soul.
"Idiot! What are you saying?!" she growled. "Something's very weird here, this place seems off."
"There's someone being held captive. We must hurry and save her!" Steve asserted. "I'm going in there to help her, whether you like it or not."
"But…!" Ayana frowned. Her frown looked much more of a pout than a frown. She helplessly watched Steve and Niko enter the cavern. She, Aniu, and Rosaria entered soon after. The cave was dark and wet, with trickles of water dripping down the rocky walls repeatedly.
A girl stood in the middle of the cave, with her back turned towards the five. Her turquoise hair swayed as she did. The others looked around. What was going on? There were no pirates holding her captive; it seemed as if the girl was just…waiting there. The girl hummed and giggled as she patiently waited, her humming sounded pleasant to Steve and Niko, which also angered Rosaria and somewhat Ayana.
"Hey, are you alright? We've come to save you!" Steve called out. "Your sisters said that you needed help!"
The girl spun around. She too, looked identical to the other females who waited outside. "Oh…! I've been waiting for men like you two for some time. I'm starving, I can't stand it."
Steve, confused, said, "Starving? Well, we have food back at the boat."
"What are you speaking of, my hero? The food…is already here." She opened her mouth and an extra row of razor-sharp teeth emerged as well as fins and gills. The girl's pupils became slit.
"WHAT THE-?!" he and Niko shouted simultaneously. Before the five could turn around and leave the cavern, the other five girls blocked the opening of the cave, the only entrance and exit. They also had razor-sharp teeth, fins, and gills.
"They look so delicious," one girl said.
"I call the muscular one," another said.
"No fair…you can't hoard one meal to yourself…"
The two guys screamed in horror. Ayana grinned slyly. "I told you it was a trap! See, those girls are really sirens!" She unsheathed her sword. "Did you forget? Shiro warned us back at Taifu about siren season."
The six sirens closed in on the five, giggles echoing off the walls. As soon as they got closer, a ring of fire surrounded the group, causing the sirens to back away, hissing.
It was Rosaria, with flames covering her clenched fists. She glared at the enemies, baring her vampire fangs. Aniu's arms were also coated with razor-sharp ice, and instead of glaring, she gave a grin of determination and mischief, beckoning the sirens to come at them.
One siren gave in to Aniu's taunting and it charged towards the yuki-onna, attempting to strike her. Aniu backed up and simple froze the monster solid and shattering the corpse to pieces. Rosaria sent a kick to another siren and it flew into another, which lunged for her. As soon as it did, the siren's torso split open, blood splattering everywhere. The remains of its body hit the ground with a thud. Ayana rose up her bloodstained sword and attacked again, slashing away at another siren.
While the girls were occupied with their battle, Steve couldn't help but watch. He knew that he and Niko would be useless in the fight. As he observed, he heard a faint humming.
"What's that?" He turned around and saw the same girl who first called him a hero back upon the boat. She hummed again and smiled. The humming he heard was…oddly beautiful. Steve found himself walking towards the girl, not knowing what to do afterwards. When he was in the girl's proximity, she fainted, and he caught her in his arms. She looked up at him and blushed.
Steve couldn't hear the others calling for him; all he could think about was this girl who snuggled against him. She wrapped her slender arms around his neck and brought him closer…
"STEVE!" A voice shouted, snapping him from his trance. When he turned around and saw the look on Ayana's face, the girl's teeth sharpened and impaled him, taking a bite out of his jugular.
He screamed in pain as the siren greedily bit into him, feasting upon his flesh. Her dining, however, was cut short as she was pulled off him forcefully and a blade cut through her, severing her head. Steve fell to the ground on his bottom, holding his bleeding neck, as he managed to scoot backwards with his only other free hand. Trembling, he looked up at Ayana and scanned her face.
She gave him a look, a facial expression that was full of hurt, anger, and a bit of betrayal. The look soon vanished as she ran off to help Aniu and Rosaria slay the last siren that threatened him and Niko.
The last siren screeched as it died, impaled with Ayana's sword, and charred to a crisp by Rosaria's fire. Withdrawing her sword, Ayana cleaned off her blade with a random cloth, which made Rosaria cringe in disgust. As Aniu cheered for their victory, the ground began to shake.
"What is it this time?!" Steve heard Niko yell.
"The island is sinking!" Rosaria yelled back. "RUN!"
Niko lifted Steve up easily, throwing an arm over his shoulders as he wrapped his muscular arm around his torso. Steve continued to place pressure on his neck, to stop the bleeding as Niko hoisted him up and ran out the cave. The others followed him.
The five were out of the cave, and they ran along the path they traveled to get there, sliding on the sleek ice frequently. The boat waited patiently, bobbing up and down on the water. Niko and Steve were among the first to hop on the boat. They quickly left the island, and the remnants of the cave vanished, leaving only the trails of ice.
Later that night…
Steve stepped outside and rubbed at his bandaged neck; somehow, Ayana and Rosaria managed to heal him. Ayana was the one who joined him this time, smirking at him. "Why are you up? Aren't you sleepy?" she teased.
"I'm in my thinking mood. I should have listened to you and the other girls, Ayana. Niko and I fell into the sirens' trap. If I were alone, those sirens would have eaten and killed me." He shook his head and frowned, recalling the look on Ayana's face back during the fight in the cave. "I feel so damn stupid."
Ayana sat down beside him. "Don't beat yourself up. The sirens didn't eat you completely, and…I wouldn't let you go alone anyway."
"Don't talk about being alone, Steve. Journeys in life bring inevitable dangers, and having a partner, don't matter if it's either one, or four to five other people, who are willing to help is…" Ayana sighed. "I don't know."
"Ayana, last night, you were kind of talking to yourself, saying that I was special or something like that. I'm a special what? Tell me Ayana," Steve said.
She blushed. "I didn't think you were paying any attention, Steve. Don't mind me and my personal conversations."
"Well…I didn't understand much from what I heard…"
"That's quite alright. I don't even know my own feelings now. I can't find the right words for the feelings I feel, and…I think that's okay for now. I'm starting not to care too much about it."
"…I'll be careful from now on," Steve promised, standing up.
"Look, its morning already," Ayana pointed. The boat sailed upon the ocean, and she could see a thin horizon, clashing with the colors of golden-yellow and pink. "I think I see land."
Steve looked in her direction and saw the same thing. "It IS land! We've reached the east! But the trip seemed kinda quick."
Rosaria, Aniu, and Niko went outside to gasp in awe. More land awaited them.