I'm a little too tired to choose more cards for the next prompt, so I'll do it tomorrow morning. But here is the second part to my Little Mermaid story! Hope you enjoy.
Aria spent many years in that Foggy Bog. She was sad, of course, about being banished and never being able to see her father and sisters again, but as she got used to life in the swamp, she didn't mind it so much. She made a new family out of all the swamp animals that eventually became her friends. Not just the frogs, but also the turtles and the lizards, the dragonflies and the herons, and the beavers and the otters.
So really, the Little Mermaid couldn't complain about being lonely. Still, she missed being with her own merfolk kind, and sometimes she even missed being with Prince Derrik. Aria tried not to think about him too much, though, since she knew she could never see him again either, or risk getting caught and eaten by sharks out in the big ocean. She made herself as happy as she could, getting by on swamp fish, crayfish and shrimp, and using her sweet singing voice to entertain all her Foggy Bog friends.
One day, as Aria explored the extensive swampland's murky, muddy waters, she came across a most curious sight. Stuck between two old mangrove trees was a strange, large, copper-colored metal... thing. It seemed as huge as a sailing ship, and had long metal planes on each end that were like wings on a bird. The Little Mermaid had never seen an airplane before, so she swam over to investigate.
The plane was covered in moss, vines and rust. It was hard to get much from her vantage point below, especially with all the mist sitting on the water's surface, but Aria guessed that this incredible metal bird had been stuck up there for many, many years. She wondered how it had gotten all the way up there. Could it be possible that it had actually flown into the trees?
Just then, she heard a most peculiar sound, echoing hauntingly all around the bog.
OHHHHH OHHHHH OHHHHH!
Was it her friends, the frogs or the herons? No. Was it the dragonflies or a nasty swarm of mosquitoes? No. Was it just wind blowing through the swamp? No. It was something else entirely. It was the sad, distant moans of a poor, unfortunate soul.
Out of the pearly, swirly mists, Aria saw a ghostly figure materialize from behind one of the trees, nearby where the plane was found and stuck. He seemed to be walking on the water, his head in his hands, sobbing and crying out "ohhhhh ohhhhh ohhhhh!"
Saddened at the sight of the specter, the Little Mermaid swam up to the ghost and asked him why he was crying. At first, he was a more than a little surprised to see her. He hadn't encountered another soul in a very long time, and he had certainly never seen a creature like her before, half woman and half fish. He stopped crying and started to tell her all about what happened before he had died and become a ghost, lost in the Foggy Bog.
In life, the swamp ghost's name had been Captain Henry Harlow, and he used to be the pilot of that stuck airplane, the Boeing Flying Fortress. The plane had run out of fuel, and Captain Harlow had been forced to make a crash landing. Miraculously, he had survived. He was stuck up there for a few days, shouting for someone, anyone to help him every hour or two while he lived off the few food supplies on the aircraft. Eventually Henry was rescued by a young woman paddling in a canoe named Lacuna, who heard his cries for help. She lived in a faraway swamp village, and had seen his plane flying above them and been curious about it. It had taken a couple days to convince her family to let her borrow a canoe and check it out. Lacuna took Henry back to her village, and on the way they fell in love with each other.
They developed a strong, loving relationship with each other, and after a year or two Henry and Lacuna decided to get married. Her family didn't approve of Henry Harlow, since he was an outsider, but Lacuna didn't care.
Her family frequently sent Lacuna out in the swamp to hunt more fish and shrimp. Since she didn't have any brothers, she was often called upon to hunt for her family in her father's advanced age. After returning from such a trip, a few short weeks before the wedding was to take place, Lacuna fell mysteriously ill, and slowly died before Henry's eyes.
The captain couldn't understand how his beloved bride-to-be, beautiful, strong, and healthy not so long ago, had turned so pale, weak and feverish. He had held her in his arms, and she promised that she would always love him as she gasped her dying breath.
In grieving over his lost love, Henry became a little touched in the head. He couldn't eat, he couldn't sleep, he couldn't let go of the memory of her and be happy without his beautiful Lacuna. He blamed her family for sending her out into the swamp, and somehow he got the idea that Lacuna's spirit might still be out there, somewhere in the Foggy Bog. She hadn't seemed quite the same to him when she had returned and gotten sick.
Poor Harlow became crazy, obsessed with the idea, until finally he took Lacuna's canoe and went out into the swamp to look for her. He searched for days and days, weeks and weeks. He died searching for her, but that didn't stop Captain Harlow. He became a ghost and continued to search for her, crying and moaning and calling out her name in vain.
Not too long ago, Henry the ghost had come upon his old crashed Boeing, where he and Lacuna had first met. It brought back fond memories of her and cleared his ghostly head. He realized that he had been upset and terribly wrong, that Lacuna's spirit must still be at the grave where he had buried her with her family.
He would have gone back to her village, but he didn't know his way there. He tried many times to venture out into the swamp, but he was always afraid he would take the wrong path, and kept returning to haunt the plane, despairing that he would never be reunited with the maiden he loved.
After Aria heard all of the ghost's sad tale, she decided that she would help Henry and return him to Lacuna's grave. After all, two heads were better than one.
And many heads were even better! The Little Mermaid called and sang out to the frogs, the turtles, the lizards, the dragonflies, the herons, the beavers and the otters. All her friends came to her, and she asked if they could do her a kindness and help her and her ghostly companion find the human village. Every animal agreed to help them out, and hopped, crawled, buzzed and flew out in every swampy direction in search of Lacuna's swampy home.
While they waited for the swamp creatures to return, Henry asked the Little Mermaid how she had come to find herself in this Foggy Bog. She said it was a long story, but he replied that they had plenty of time. So Aria told the ghost how she used to be a mermaid princess with a tail the pattern of a Royal Angelfish, not plain sea-green as it was now, and how her hair had been black as the bottom of the sea, not red as blood. She told him how she had fallen in love with a human prince, and had traded her beautiful voice for legs. She told him how her father had gotten upset with her and banished her forever, how her sisters had taken her to live in these swamplands, and had remained there ever since.
It wasn't long after she had finished her own story before a white crane flew down to them and told Aria and Henry that she had found Lacuna's village, that they should follow her. So they did.
It didn't take very long for them to arrive at the village. A flying crane, a swimming mermaid, and an eager ghost make much faster time than a human possibly could, slowly paddling a canoe through the murky, muddy, misty waters. When Henry found Lacuna's family's home, which had been long abandoned, the Little Mermaid watched as he rushed to his bride's grave, crying out to her, telling her that he had at long last returned for her, saying that he had never stopped loving her.
Suddenly a magical beam of light came down from the sky, and the misty form of Lacuna's spirit appeared before their eyes. The ghost of Captain Harlow was overjoyed, and he rushed over to her side and they embraced, spinning and floating on up to heaven. Aria smiled and was happy, heart-warmed to see love prevail, even for a pair of ghosts.
Henry didn't forget about her, though. He told Aria's story to Lacuna, and the two of them came back down and brought a gift for the Little Mermaid. It was a yellow silken rug, woven with blue stripes, her old princess colors. They said it was a magic flying carpet, and it would take her wherever she wanted in the world, so she could find her prince.
Aria was so happy, and started to thank them, but then realized that Prince Derrik probably wouldn't know it was her. After all, she was a mermaid, and had red hair, so he'd never be able to recognize her. But the ghosts took care of that. They gave her human legs and turned her hair dark and wavy again. So Aria got on her flying carpet and wished for it to take her to the prince, and with a whoosh she was off in the air, leaving the Foggy Bog far behind.
She flew on the carpet for days and days until finally, out in the middle of the ocean, she saw a large ship not unlike the one Derrik had been sailing when they had first met. Lo and behold, there was the prince! He had never stopped searching for her after she had left him, because he loved her.
Aria sang a sweet, joyous song to him, announcing her return. Derrik saw her flying towards him, and couldn't believe his eyes or his ears. Who would have thought that the mute girl he had befriended long ago was the same person who possessed the enchanting voice he had fallen in love with.
As they turned the ship around back to his kingdom, Aria told Derrik the entire story and the truth, that she was really a mermaid princess, that she had been banished to live in the swamp by her angry father, and that she had been helped by ghosts. It was a wholly unbelievable tale, but what more proof did Derrik need than the fact that she was there?
So in the end, Aria learned that when you help out someone, your good deed returns to you multiplied. She and the prince got married, and as would be expected, the two of them lived happily ever after.