WHAT TO DO NEXT
As the fireworks were going on, Mickey stood out in the viewing area with Minnie and all of the guests of the party. Everyone gazed up to the to the colorful explosions lighting the sky. Some sang along with the music and many of the couples were holding each other so romantically.
The finale was coming close when Minnie held Mickey's hand. He looked at her as she cooed, "Oh, Mickey. I'm worried about all this. What if the Nightmares gather Leota and all the others? What's gonna happen?"
"I dunno yet, Minnie," he put his arm around her. "But don't talk about it around here. Let's wait until ever'body's gone. Then I'll go and talk to Silver to see what he knows about all this."
"Be careful, Mickey," she nuzzled against his shoulder. "I too want to believe the rumors they've been saying about him saving that boy's life since he already saved Marina. It's just that. . . I'm worried about this whole matter. In fact. . . I'm scared. What if he really is elite with the Nightmares?"
"Don't be scared," he smiled. "I'll take care of everything. I'll find out what's going on."
The firework show ended and was followed by a loud applaud throughout the Magic Kingdom. As all of the guests were leaving the castle, Mickey and Minnie personally said good-night to them. It took a while for the palace to be clear, but afterwards, all the broom servants sweeping up the confetti, ribbons, and everything else left on the floors.
With the coast clear, Mickey made his way down the stairs to the lowest section of the castle. Once he entered the dungeon, two guards stood at attention and saluted to him.
"As you were, gentlemen," he nodded once.
"Your Majesty," Ward approached him. He stopped and saluted, "Sire."
"Has the prisoner said anything, Captain?" Mickey asked.
"Not a thing, Sir. He first tried some friendly chatting with us at the door of his cell. After I told him his right to remain silent, he just. . . remained silent. Not a word or movement."
Mickey walked over to the steel cell door and peeked through the small window slot. He saw Silver resting at his cot with his back against the wall, his hands behind his head, and his tri-corn over his eyes.
When the window was closed, Ward said, "I've checked in on him several times, Sir. He's been like that ever since I told him to be silent."
"Strange," Mickey rubbed his chin. "If he was elite with Nightmares, he would be saying things out loud, like giving out orders. The Class Three Nightmares that showed up at Merlin's place were the kind that can't do anything unless they are given order."
"I take it that the Nightmares did what they came for?" Silver's voice echoed in the cell.
Mickey and Ward looked at the steel door listening.
Silver added, "I guess this means that me trip was wasted."
Mickey looked at Ward and gestured him to open the cell. Ward took out the keys and unlocked the door. Mickey stepped inside finding Silver sitting up with his hat off. He stood and bowed to him.
"Good to see you again, Your Majesty."
"Captain Silver, I believe I owe you an apology. It's quite obvious that you really don't have anything to do with the Nightmares if you were here the whole time. Everyone knows that Class Three Nightmares need to have someone controlling them. What they did was something planned by a higher class who had to be present with them. So, I apologize for the misunderstanding." He stepped aside, "You're free to go."
"You are too kind, Your Majesty," Silver stood straight. "And may I offer me own apology. Tis a shame of what went on."
"I thank you, Captain Silver. Of course, they wanted Merlin alive. It's not just his life I'm worried about. If the Nightmares continue this with all of the others like Merlin, there's no telling what's going to happen next."
"Ah, so there are others they be going after?" Silver asked. "Lucky I was tipped about coming here to stop them. Otherwise, you wouldn't know 'bout this."
Mickey nodded, "I thank you again for warning us. For this I owe you gratitude. I'll have you escorted to a guest room. I'm offering you to stay in our hospitality for the night. . . or for as long as you wish. I shall even offer you all the supplies needed for your ship when you decide to leave."
"I can't thank you enough times, Your Majesty."
"On one condition. . ."
Mickey looked straight into Silver's eyes, "I need information from you. Who told you about the Nightmares being here?"
"A simple question with a simple answer, Sire," Silver answered. "A few days ago I was takin' down the pirate ship, the Dark Skull, for the governor of the Mantid Colonies. We capture them, and the captain of the ship turned out to be a former shipmate of me own, Captain Fuego. But after the capture of the ship, Fuego tricked us. He turned out to be elite with the Nightmares, but me men managed defeat his devilish little minions. In his dying breath he mentioned somet'ing about the Nightmares having a plan of their own starting out in this world of yours, Your Majesty. After receiving payment from the Mantid governor and returnin' to our base, I decided that it was time for me to really take some matter into me hands. I took off on the Argentum tracking the Nightmare here, but couldn't find them. So I came to you. The rest, you know. Perhaps if I came here a bit sooner, we could've avoided this whole matter of happenin's and your wizard friend would be safe in the wall of your castle."
"I see," Mickey nodded once more, "We all owe you a lot. Is there anything else I can do for you? An award? You may name your price and I'll pay it."
"Your hospitality an' kindness be enough for me, Your Majesty. Tis money I'd ask for if I didn't come alone."
"Then perhaps it'll be too much to ask for you to sign a document for me," Mickey smiled. "For your good doing, I would be proud enough to make you a privateer of my kingdom."
"Ah, you are as kind as they 'ave always told me," Silver bowed. "I would be honored to serve under you."
"Good. We'll settle this in the morning." Mickey glanced over his shoulder, "Guards."
"Sir?" the two guards saluted.
"Escort Captain Silver to the guest room in the north wing. And treat him with respect, please. He is a guest among us now."
"Until tomorrow, Captain Silver."
"G'night, Your Majesty."
As soon as Silver was led out of the dungeon, Ward stopped Mickey from leaving, "If I may have a word with you, Your Majesty."
"What is it, Ward?"
"Sire, are you sure you're doing the right thing? There's still something about him I don't trust."
The two of them walked side by side up the stone spiral stairs as Mickey answered, "I understand. I know it was a big step for me to take, but I really think that it could be the right thing to do. Perhaps with him becoming a privateer for me would really improve his ways and lead him to be pardoned by Queen Illysa."
"I hope you are right, Sir," Ward sighed. "But what are you planning to do for Sir Merlin?"
Mickey lost his smile, "I don't know. If it were up to me, I'd set out and search for him before they do anything else. But right now. . . we have to do a bit of research. Madam Leota gave us the same clue my old Master gave me many years ago. There's gotta be something about it in some of the books I have of Nightmares. If it's not there. . . then I guess I'll have to. . ."
"Sir?" Ward waited for Mickey to continue when he paused.
"We'll just have to see," Mickey marched forward. "Ward, Leota told us that the Nightmares are all gone now that they have Merlin. All the same, I want you and your men to scout the kingdom and keep an eye out just in case."
"And whatever you do, don't let anyone else know about this."
Later that night, Marina was out on her balcony in her night gown watching the kingdom go to sleep. One by one the lights in all the houses were going out, but every rooftop was still visible from the bits of light coming from the stars above. The last train of the night was making its way across the town, preparing to reach the bridge that would cross over the bay and lead to the city of Duckburg. A few cars drove through the suburban areas and up the cul-de-sacs and some boats were sailing up the river to reach the homes on the beaches.
Marina opened her spyglass and peered out to the harbor. All of the ships there were the few she was familiar with. They were the ones that usually went back and forth from the kingdom to Duckburg. A few others were some light ships that went from one world to another on fair trade. Some of them she recognized, but there wasn't a single ship that looked like it would belong to a pirate like Silver.
She paused to look on the bay with her own eyes thinking of a possibility of where Silver's ship may be. She looked through the spyglass again toward the neighboring bay. Once more, there was no ship at anchorage. She look again with her own sight and looked a little higher off the horizon. Knowing that his ship would be a light ship, then it would probably be up in the clouds with furled sails. It took a while for her to see anything through the dark. She looked back through the glass and slowly scanned the sky from left to right.
She glanced over her shoulder finding Minnie approaching her in her night robe.
"Hello, Minnie," she smiled before she continued to look through the spyglass. "I was just trying to find Silver's ship. It's nowhere in the bay, so it might be in the sky."
"Any luck?" Minnie came to her side.
Marina silently kept looking across the sky a short while more until she came to a sudden stop. She stared at one place a few seconds more and pointed, "There."
"May I see?" Minnie held her hand out to her.
Marina passed her the glass and kept pointing, "It's about a mile and a half above the bay. It's hidden in a thick cloud. He must have one of those fog machines they use for camouflage these days, but you can barely see a bit of a sail furled up."
Minnie looked through the lens at where Marina was pointing. She found the cloud and saw a dark shadow hiding in its thickness. She smiled, "Yes, I see it. How very clever of him to hide it like that. I never would've guessed it was there." She lowered the glass, "Maybe by tomorrow, he'll have it brought down to the bay."
"What?" Marina asked. "He's not leaving now?"
Minnie shook her head, "No. Mickey offered him the guest room in the north wing for as long as he wishes."
"Hmph," Marina crossed her arms. "Make sure to remind Clarabelle to count all the silverware while he's here."
"Now, don't be rude, Marina," Minnie frowned. "Don't forget that Captain Silver saved you in the library. And if it wasn't for him, then we wouldn't have saved Madam Leota. We may have lost Merlin to the Nightmares, but if you guys weren't there, they would've gotten to both of them."
"Don't remind me, please," Marina walked back into her room. "I still feel like it's mostly my fault. If Donald and I could've just stop bickering at the cottage, we wouldn't have left Mickey to guard them alone." She sat down at the bench of her piano and faced the keys. She slowly played a few notes with one hand while saying, "I just feel so guilty."
"Don't be," Minnie came back to her side. "Mickey's doing some research in the library as we speak. We'll get to the bottom of this right away and see how we can help Merlin." She sat down next to her on the bench and held her hand, "Now don't be so down. I'm sure things will be okay."
Marina gave her a half smile in return, "I hope so." She lifted her other hand to the keys and continued the song with both hands. After only a few bars, she looked up toward her dresser. Next to the mirror was her wedding picture with Robert. Seeing how happy she was in the picture with him made her think of her conversation with Leota. She stopped playing and asked, "Minnie. . . am I happy?"
"Hmm?" Minnie tilted her head.
"I mean. . . do you think I'll ever be as happy as I was when. . . when Robbie was around?"
"What brought this up?" asked Minnie.
Marina explained, "Well. . . you might not believe it, but Robbie's spirit spoke to Madam Leota and she told me what he was saying."
"Really?" Minnie blinked in surprise. "What she tell you?"
"She said that he will talk to me face to face through her after I complete his request to be happy." She stood up and walked over to the dresser. When she sat down, she reached over and pick up her favorite trinket, her holographic locket. She opened it and pressed one of the small arrow buttons. The locket started playing the song played at her wedding while the mirrors and lasers made the shape of a younger Marina and Robert waltzing to the song "Just Like We Dreamed It". The two tiny figures danced in circles smiling happily for the fact that they were now starting a new life together.
"It's was just a life that didn't last very long," Marina thought.
Minnie approached her and gently placed a hand on her back, "You two were the happiest I've ever known other than Mickey and myself on our wedding day. There are times when I wish that we could bring him back so you can be happy like that again." She sat down next to her, "We wanted to do everything to keep you from crying after. . . after the bad news."
Marina managed to smile at her, "You have no idea how grateful I am to all of you. You all did everything over the years to make me smile. It's like you took me out of the darkness of mourning."
Minnie smiled back, "We hated to see you so sad all the time. Your smile means so much to all of us."
The locket clicked shut in Marina's grasp, "Yes, but Robbie says to Leota that it's just not enough. He wants me to be happy again. What do you think can do so?"
Minnie put her arm around her shoulder, "Well, so much time has passed since. . ." She gently took the locket from Marina's palm and opened it back up. She pressed the arrow button and stopped at a holograph of Marina and Robert sharing their wedding kiss. She whispered, "Maybe he's telling that it's time for you to move on and start a new life."
"You think so?" Marina asked.
"If he wants you to be happy again," she nodded. "That could be it." She pressed the button a few times more and stopped at a holograph of a teenage Marina dancing by herself like a jewelry box princess and changed to the song "The World of Color". She added on, "After all, no one like you should be alone forever. I know that Robbie meant a lot to you, but the way he was. . . he would want you to move on and be happy. Leota said so herself. I too want you to be happy like you were before. Just look at you back then."
Marina watched the old holograph of her dancing. She remembered how cheerful she was back in the day. She felt that it would be nice to be smiling the way she always use to. She took back the locket and asked, "Do you really think that I'll meet someone else?"
"Of course I do. There's no doubt that there will be someone somewhere who will make you laugh, cry tears of joy, and feel ever so safe when in his arms."
Marina sighed lovingly, "How I love the thought of that. I guess you're right, Minnie. It was hard to say good-bye back then, but. . . I guess it really is time to move on. If that's what you guys and. . . what Robbie wants. Then I guess I'll try."
"That's my girl," Minnie gave her a tiny peck on the cheek. "Now, you get to bed. Sleep your troubles away."
Marina closed the locket, "Yes, Minnie." She kissed her back on the cheek, "Good night."
Hours have passed through the night. The only sign of life in the castle were the two lamps in the library. Mickey was still reading in about the Nightmares at his desk with Pluto sound asleep at his feet. His eyes were so droopy with dark circles, but he kept a pot of coffee nearby taking a sip at every turn of a page.
As soon as the grandfather clock in the corner struck three, Mickey's face plopped upon the book. His hand nearly spilled the last bit of coffee as he drifted into deep sleep. It was in a few seconds when he started having a dream.
He was standing alone in the middle of somewhere in the Etherium. He looked down at his feet as they felt like they were standing upon a glass floor. Below him was nothing but the empty space of the endless abyss. His little heart was beating fast as one would when they dream of falling. He looked around him hoping that he would see if he was there for a reason. All he saw was the countless amount of stars. However, as he looked at them, he spotted a few of them starting to shine even brighter in different colors.
When he counted up to ten of the brighter starlights, they all started to move together above his head. They spun around faster and faster until they all looked like one single bright light. As this light shined and kept spinning, down below Mickey grew a dark hole. The light grew wider and the dark hole was following. When he realized that this hole was like a shadow to the light above him, Mickey's eye was caught by ten more lights around him that were shining brightly through the stars. Each of the new lights shined with great powers as though they were trying to make the shadow shrink. It seemed to be working at first. The shadow quivered as it got smaller, but the one light above Mickey was losing its glow.
It was a matter of seconds when the one light disappeared. The shadow below gained more power from it and suddenly grew faster than before. It spun around and began to take the form of a black hole. The incredible gravity began to suck in everything around it. The Etherium was growing darker and darker as everything within it was disappearing. It didn't take long for the ten lights around Mickey to lose their power. One by one the lights grew dim and were sucked into the black hole.
When the last light was gone, the Etherium kept getting swallowed up in the darkness. Mickey then felt his feet were now standing on nothing. He tried to make a run for it hoping to fly up to the last bit of light that was getting smaller. As he was getting closer, he could hear the sound of an evil woman's laugh behind him within the black hole. When the laugh was accompanied by many other laughs of dark evil, Mickey looked over his shoulder to the hole.
A light of hellish fire could be seen deep in the void. Like an explosion far below him, the fires grew larger. Mickey tried his hardest to fly away from it. He could almost reach for the edge of the darkness to the last bit of the Etherium, but before he could touch his freedom, it was too late. An enormous black arm of sharp claws reached up from the flames and grabbed Mickey by the foot. He screamed in fear as he was being pulled down to the pit of Hell. His voice reverberated within the darkness that it made everything around him shatter like fragile glass.
He jumped up out of his sleep panting in fear. He looked around him finding that it was all just a dream. He placed a hand on his chest and sighed, "Oh boy. . . a dream. Phew. And what a dream."
He looked over his shoulder and saw Minnie coming up to him with a worried look in her eyes. She came to his side and held his hand on the desk when he asked, "Minnie, what are you doing up?"
"I woke up finding an empty space where my husband is suppose to be," she answered. "Mickey, come to bed. It's after three in the morning. You've been doing research all night. Look at yourself. You look exhausted."
He rubbed the sleepiness out of his eyes, "I can't help it, Minnie. I really need to figure this out. And to make things worse. . ." he paused to massage his forehead, "I think the Nightmares are soon to get stronger in time. I just had a terrible dream. . . but. . . I don't quite understand it. It could've been a vision."
"What did you dream?" she asked.
"I. . . I'm not sure," he answered.
Minnie looked at the book he was reading, "What did you find out in here?"
"Not much that's new. This book mainly has just the basic things about Nightmares. Where they come from, what they're made of, and stuff like that. But. . . I have a feeling that the most important thing to know is that they are planning to take all of the ones that are like Merlin and Leota."
"Maybe the answer lies with them."
Mickey looked up and frowned, "I guess you're right. There's only one thing to do. I'll have to go and see Master Yen Sid about all of this. There's no doubt that the Nightmares will be going after him."
"But you're the only one who knows where he is now," said Minnie. "And what about the others of such power. You'll have to hunt them down yourself and that'll take too long. . . even for you. Mickey, you can't do all of this on your own."
He leaned chin on his fist, "Gosh, you've got a point there. And what's more, if the Nightmares are getting stronger and hunting them down. . . there's a chance that they'll be from world to world killing innocent people to gain such power and finding those like Yen Sid. I can't be there for them all and--" He blinked when he had an idea. He snapped his fingers, "Of course! Hot dog! That's it. Donald and Goofy can help out. While I go to some worlds on the way to Master's place, they can go to the others and protect them. No doubt that they might meet with some of the others of great powers." He closed the book and jumped out of his seat, "And I'll even let Marina join them. She'll want to go anyways. She wants to travel to other worlds more than anything else."
"Marina?!" Minnie gasped. "Mickey, are you sure. She may be good with the sword, but she still can't bring her sword out if she's not near one of you guys."
"Then she'll just stay with them and they'll be a team," Mickey carried the book as he prepared to walk out of the library. Minnie stayed by his side as he went on, "After all, teamwork is what's most important in a situation like this. Besides, sometimes three heads can be better than two. Which reminds me, I need to see Professor. We need to get to this right away. We might have to leave tomorrow evening. I'll head over to Duckburg and get to the HMS Minnie for my travels. Oh, I'll have to get one of my other ships for Donald, Goofy, and Marina. Perhaps the HMS Minnie II? Nah, they'll need lots of speed for this one. Maybe I can get Lord Seadrift to send one to-- Nah. We need one right away." He stopped and hit himself in the forehead, "Oh! Of course! Silver!"
"Silver?!" Minnie's jaw dropped. She lowered her brow, "Mickey! How much coffee did you drink before I came in here?"
"You don't have to worry about a thing with him. I'm making him a privateer in the morning. He told me everything worth making him work under me. He's trustworthy. Oh, there's so much to do. I've gotta wake the professor and see if he has anything that will help us out, get Silver to sign a document to make him an official privateer, make some credentials for him and the others so they can travel into certain places."
He went on with the plans for the morning as Minnie sighed to herself, "Oh, I just hope this'll work."