It was the morning of the Anniversary to the Reign of the Great Sorcerer. Everyone in the kingdom was preparing for the big celebration. Decorations were going up around the streets, lights were strung up around the castle, and thousands of fireworks were loading for the night spectacular. It was planned to be an anniversary greater than all the years before. This celebration was similar to the ways New Years Eve, but it was all for the honor of the former ruler of Magic Kingdom. If not for his wonders and teachings, King Mickey would never had become perhaps the greatest king anyone could know.
The biggest preparation was going on inside the palace where a large party was going to take place. Queen Minnie was helping out with the decorations. Lovely blue ribbons were being hung in the ballroom. Large bouquets of roses were placed everywhere that the whole room smelled of their lovely scent. A large banquet of food was being placed on a long table for the guests. Everything was going great and the celebration was probably going to be one of the best yet to come.
"Yes, that goes there!" Minnie told the caterers. "Be careful now!"
Even though she was Queen, Minnie never mind taking charge of parties. After all, throwing a party for any kind of celebration was one of her favorite things to do.
"Wonderfully done, Minnie," said Clarabelle Cow, the Head of the Household. "Your decorations have always been the best."
"Thank you," Minnie smiled.
"Of course, I think those tables over there could use a few more flowers. Marina!" Clarabelle looked around the room realizing that there was no one around by that name. "Where did she go?"
"Don't worry. I told her she could take a break. She's been arranging flowers all morning."
"Oh, phooey," Daisy Duck, the Lady in Waiting, scoffed. "Knowing her, she might forget the time and start with her exploration daydreams again."
"Oh, cut her a little slack, Daisy," King Mickey said as he approached the ladies. "There's nothing wrong with a little daydreaming for an explorer like her. I'll go look for her and get her back in time."
Marina had snuck her way out of the castle gardens through the back door in the rose walls, carefully walked down the hill, and entered the forest. The sun was warm on her face and her long brown hair shimmered in the golden light that shined through the leaves. Her blue eyes gazed up at the majestic trees. A smile grew upon her face as she breathed in deeply. She was once again in her favorite place to be.
The lovely scent of pine and evergreen filled the air. The old oak trees towered the canopy as though they were the rulers of the forest. Even though they were majestic, many of them seemed to be giggling at Marina, watching her go to her favorite spot. She walked deeper into the woods listening to the birds chirping, the squirrels chattering, and the leaves making music in the wind.
With at least a quarter of a mile walk out into the woods until she finally came to an opening that had a steep downhill drop. Within the opening was an old tool shack and cabin that was abandoned many years after the forest's overseer passed away. The old cabin of the overseer's, however, was collapsed leaving behind a large pile of wood and stone covered with vines, moss, and some wild flowers. Placed on the top of the pile was a small flag of the kingdom Marina placed there years before to claim her discovery of the place. The old tool shack stayed up after Marina discovered it when she was a little girl and she restored it as much as a child could do. It was such a wonderful place to her as she grew up; a perfect spot to go when she felt down, bored, or just wanted to go for a walk. It was once a spot where she and her husband used to spend some time together to just talk and kiss. The two of them were a nice young couple all those years ago. And there was always a few areas of the clearing reminded her a lot of him.
Those were some of the best days of Marina's life. However their marriage lasted for less than a month. Marina had lost her beloved in a part of the conflict that went on in the Terran Empire. She was devastated back when she heard the news. The grief of her loss went on for a few years.
However she never wanted to be sad forever. She realized that he would never want her to be sad for him all the time. With the help of her friends at the palace, Marina's heart was healed and no longer was she depressed as she used to be. More than a decade had gone by since, and Marina kept a stiff upper lip. Her heart may no longer be broken, but she can never forget the happy times she and her husband spent.
She looked up into the sky and prayed, "It's another beautiful day, Robby. Thanks for making it so perfect for the celebration."
She opened the door to the old shack and reached up to a shelf to pull out a three foot long wooden pole and a small spyglass. After she placed the pole into her belt like a sword she came over to the center of the clearing where an oak tree towered the hill. High above her, a rope was tied off from a tree on one side and all the way to another tree on the hill. Right in the center of the rope, dangling from a bungee cord, was a rubber ball the size of a grapefruit. As Marina was heading for the center tree, she tapped on the dangling ball getting an idea of what her new day in the clearing was going to be like. This was going to be a good adventure once again.
At the base of the tree trunk, Marina looked up at the branches and smirked as she spoke to herself, "Personal Explorer's Diary. Marina Seadrift. Day: The Anniversary to the Reign of the Great Sorcerer. Entry Number four forty-five. Weather: Clear. . . and perfect." She paused as she hopped up to grab the lowest branch and pull herself up. Once she was on the branch she continued to climb up while still speaking to herself, "My small island is quiet today. It could be because of the peace this holiday brings. Most likely I have left the pirates far behind me. It's against many odds that they will come back here to find me. Even if they do, let them come. I have a score to settle with Teach."
When she came to the branch that was at least fifteen feet off the ground, she stopped and sat down. She licked her finger to test the wind. She spoke, "Now. . . back to business. Wind velocity. . . approximately. . . 2-4 miles per hour at least to the west. Temperature. . . . mmm. . . at least low 80s. It's a perfect day for them to come out. This might be my lucky day for once. Now for the search. . ." As she spoke, the magic of her imagination changed the tree into the crow's nest of a solar schooner docked at a floating island in the Etherium. The warm temperature of Magic Kingdom changed slowly to the cool of the limitless heaven.
She opened the spyglass and gazed through it to see the stars in the distance seem much closer. She searched a little to the left until she spotted an asteroid slowly rolling in its orbit around the world of Pelsinor. When she spotted a small glow coming from a single spot on the rock, she gasped.
"A new herd! A large one too! It could be one of them!" She closed the glass and placed it in her belt. "Coming down!" She quickly started to climb back down the tree, while in her mind she was climb down the shrouds of her ship. "My exploration might be complete today. I must find Albus Papillion Lunaris immediately." Once her feet were on the ground, she heard the voice of someone she knew only in her head.
"So, we meet again, Madam Seadrift."
Marina didn't turn around right away. She closed her eyes and sighed with anger, "You again?" She breathed in through her nose and smelled a foul stench of body odor and the smoke from lit cannon fuses. After a slight twitch of the smell, she turned to see the evil eyes of an infamous pirate. It was Captain Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach, towering in height and surrounded by the black smoke lifting from the fuses tied to his thick beard making his looks more of a devil than a man.
"You've tracked me down again, Blackbeard," she glared at the pirate, whom in the real world had been dead for over a hundred years now. What Marina was talking to was just the rubber ball on the bungee cord, but not in her child-like imagination that she kept her entire life. She looked around the opening and cracked a smile, "You decided to come alone? I always knew were crazy. I just didn't think you were stupid." She pulled the pole out of her belt and had it transform into a sword in her mind. With a tight grip on the hilt, she slowly approached Blackbeard.
A smile could be seen under his thick smoky beard as he chuckled, "It is you who be foolish to think you can fight me again an' win."
"You never can tell. I might get lucky this once. You are not going to interrupt my exploring again. And believe me. . . once we're done with this. . . maybe I will get that treasure of yours."
"Har. . ." Blackbeard growled and drew out his cutlass. "Only the devil and I know where that treasure be."
"We'll see about that! If Maynard can defeat you, then I can do the same!"
And she jumped at Blackbeard swinging her sword at his neck, but he blocked her with his own blade. Both of them jumped back from each other and circled a few steps. Blackbeard leaped at Marina blade first, but she whacked his sword out of the way, and jumped out of his path. Like a soaring eagle, Blackbeard came around Marina aiming for her back. Marina spun around and blocked him once more. Blackbeard gave everything he had to defeat Marina, but she was in perfect defense.
Of course, outside the imagination, Marina was just whacking the ball on the bungee cord. Every time the ball would come near her, she would knock it back. But in Marina's mind, this seemed like the real thing. Ever since she could remember, she had always made up such fantasies that could possibly happen in her future. All her life she wanted to become a good explorer. She spent most of her days walking through the forest studying the habits of nature and it's creatures. Sometimes she would pretend the forest was a thick jungle of Africa while she is on the search for a lost Pygmy village in the mountains. Even she and her husband would pretend to be sailing the Etherium along side Admiral Nelson or Hawke. It was the kind of adventure she longed for her entire life. An adventure exploring all the natural wonders every galaxy had to offer.
If she ever had the chance to actually sail, there wasn't a doubt she would run into the dangers that lurked in the shadows-- dangers such as pirates. The only thing that held her back was her inability to fight the way she was trained with her real sword unless she was within range of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy.
Right as Marina swung at the ball again, she missed and the bungee cord quickly wrapped around the pole. In Marina's mind, she and Blackbeard had their blades crossed and were forcing their strength upon each other. Blackbeard was a very strong man but his brutal muscle and size wasn't going to stop her. The fumes of the smoke rising from his beard were choking her and bringing tears to her eyes, but this was a fight she had to win.
She spoke with a slight gag, "For the last time, Teach. . . stay out of my way! This expedition is of no concern of yours!"
"Ha har!!" Blackbeard laughed. "You forget you be on pirate territory, Madam. Off the edge of map where there be monsters. . . . like meself."
"Your words don't scare me!"
Marina finally freed her sword and thrust the blade for his heartless chest. He blocked and pushed her back. She swung her sword at him again. Just as she was about attack once more. . . something caught her eye. Someone was entering the clearing at the lower part of the hill. She stopped fighting and stood straight as all of the Etherium around her faded away and changed back into the familiar forest. Her sword changed back into a wooden pole and Blackbeard hazed out like smoke leaving behind just the rubber ball circling her. She looked down upon the figure at the bottom of the hill near the edge of the wood. With it being a fair distance, she couldn't make out who it was. The shape wasn't very familiar. . . but there was something odd about it. Immediately, she took out her glass and looked through it. The figure was spotted. . . and what she saw made her skin crawl and her heart leap to her throat.
This large man was standing at the base of the clearing in a position like he was searching for something, but was frustrated with failure. Marina notice at second glance that this person was not from around, but from the Terran Empire. Without doubt he was an Ursid, with his massive structure, barrel chest, and bulking muscles. The first thing that caught her attention before recognition was not the space faring cloth he wore indicating that he may have been a spacer. It was the right side of his body. Where there was suppose to be an ear, an eye, an arm, and a leg were metal gears, flywheels, and ratchets clicking and whirling with his every move. It was this what made Marina recognize this stranger.
"Captain John Silver. . . the cyborg!" she gasped as she lowered the spyglass. That was when the circling rubber ball finally stopped after it bopped her in the side of the head. "Ow!"
She gasped and covered her mouth from the sudden noise she made, but it was too late. She didn't have to look through the glass to see it, but she knew that John Silver was looking straight at her. The beating of her heart quickened when she noticed a tiny red light shining on her like a laser pointer. Her breath shortened as she nearly expected this brutal pirate to switch his metal claw-like into his arm like a Swiss army knife and bring out a flintlock laser pistol. This is something that he was known for ever since his famous mutiny on the RLS Legacy five years before.
But instead, he just stood there staring up at her.
Marina took a step back wanting to make a run for it, but she was took afraid to make any sudden moves. Just as she was about to take one other step--
She gasped in fear as she zipped around. But it was only Mickey.
"Mick," she clutched her heart.
He walked up to her with a smile, "So, what did you explore this time, Ms. Magellan? Did you go through the Turo Galaxy? Or deep sea dive in the Aquatic Nebula?"
"Mickey! There's a--" Marina turned to point out the cyborg pirate, but. . . there was no one down at the base of the hill.
Mickey was by her side when he looked where she was pointing. When he saw nothing, he asked, "What? What is it?"
"But. . . he was there! He. . ."
"Captain John Silver! He was standing right there a second ago."
"John Silver? The cyborg?" Mickey blinked. "Are you sure? I don't see. . ." He paused to look behind him and saw the rubber ball. He smiled, "Oh, Marina. I see. Were you fighting pirates again?"
"Well. . . yes, but. . ." Marina looked at the ball rocking back and forth. She could nearly see Blackbeard's face on it as he was laughing at her. When it faded away, she thought out loud, "Did I really imagine it?"
"You could have," Mickey answered. "Remember the last time? You were telling us you were under attack by Captain Flint and his crew while you were exploring the Calyan Abyss."
Marina ran her fingers through her hair in confusion. "Yeah, but it seemed so real."
"Marina, no true pirate would have guts enough to come this close to the palace. And alone for that matter. Even a brutal pirate like Captain Silver wouldn't stand a chance against our powers of protection. Might as well have one single pirate ship going up against the entire Terran Navy."
"I guess you're right," she cracked a smile. "I suppose it's a silly thought." She sat down on the grass and sighed, "Oh, sometimes I wish my imagination wasn't so overactive. Look at me. I'm 32-years-old and I still use my imagination like a 5-year-old."
Mickey chuckled and place a hand on her shoulder, "There's nothing wrong with that. You know very well that a good imagination is a wonderful thing. Why, I've taught you that ever since you were. . . well, shorter than me. Besides, without imagination, a true explorer wouldn't dream of what he hopes to discover next." He took a hold of her hand, "And I think it's a good way of you to keep your mind off troubles. You and Robert shared a lot of memories with such games."
Marina looked into his large round eyes and smiled back. As Mickey helped her back up to her feet, he said, "Now let's get going. We've got a lot to do for tonight."
"Yeah, I've gotta finish with the roses," she walked along side him hand in hand.
"And I want you to look your best in the new dress I got you."
As Mickey went on with how he felt the night was going to go, Marina looked behind her to the bottom of the hill. She still saw nothing but grass and trees. All the same, there was something inside her wondering if what she saw was all for real or not.