Dear {tear stain},

It is with a heavy heart that I return the Crown of Atlantis to you. I cannot remain the queen they need while my heart remains here on the surface with Nymphaeum. I know it’s not a decision you want to hear/read, but it has weighed on me heavily since your return. The ultimatum you gave at my gala, though, and then the trip into the mirror and our journey into the Underworld, were the last pieces of my puzzle. I do not blame you, nor do I hold any hatred or contempt for you. Part of my heart will always be yours, but this is something I need to do for myself. I have spent too many eons doing what was expected of me, what everyone else wanted for me, that I lost sight of what I wanted for myself. And my dear, that isn’t something you can give me. Not anymore. And I’m ok with that. 

No, this does not have anything to do with Dion, and if it did, he has in no way influenced my decision. If anything, he has been supportive of whatever decision I came to. I’ve been looking for that kind of trust my entire life. There are things I need to figure out, people I need to see and help, and I can’t do that while wearing the crown, not without dragging Atlantis into the issues I may end up creating. 

Please know, should you ever need my services in defense of Atlantis, I will come to your aid. I hope you find some way to be happy, someone to be happy with. Don’t do it for your throne, do it for yourself, please. I ask only two things: 1) May I keep the Jewel of the Sea? I will understand if you say no and wish to give it to your new love or consort. But it is a reminder of all the good times we had, and I would very much like to keep it. 2) There is a black pearl in the treasury that was once my mother’s. How it ended up in Atlantis, I don’t know, but as my one item, I would like to take that. Please send it back with Rommel before he leaves Atlantis. That much you owe me since you offered it during the gala, and I never cashed.

Take care of yourself, please, follow your heart, and be happy.


Amphitrite, eldest daughter of Nereus, former Queen of Atlantis

I finished reading the letter and heard a collective sigh surround me. “Well, how does it sound?” Rommel, Calix, and Mano just stared at me.

“My lady—” Rommel started, but I cut him off with a look. “Amphitrite, why do you need to give up the crown? You were a wonderful queen.” Mano nuzzled into my neck.

“I was, yes. I no longer am. I can’t remain committed to Nymphaeum, to educating humanity about the importance of the oceans, and figuring out who Cressida is if I am bouncing between here and the throne,” I replied softly. It was a decision I had subconsciously made months ago after we all took the trip to the Underworld. I needed to figure out what happened with those nymphs, how they got so separated from the rest of us, and just what my father did when he exiled them. 

“But, princess—” I shuddered as Calix immediately referred to me as the daughter of the king once more, “My apologies, I can’t call you by your name. I promised your father eons ago.” That piqued my interest. Did Nereus know ‌I would return one day to his court? I’d have to ask him over the dinner we all kept putting off. “You’re just trading in the throne for something else to occupy your time.”

I nodded slowly. “Possibly, yes. But I’m hoping this little quest won’t be as long and taxing as the trip to the Trench was almost two years ago.” I suppressed a shudder at the reminder of what had happened. Thankfully, that story had a happy ending, or rather a happy beginning, but it still hurt to remember how vulnerable I’d been. 

“They aren’t worth it,” Calix growled. I stared at him. That was not the Calix I had gotten to know over the last few months bouncing between Nereus’s palace and my other home. 

“They are sea nymphs. Whether or not they lost their way, they are kin, and I will not abandon them again,” I replied, authority ringing through my voice.

Rommel’s hand rested on my arm, and I looked at him. “To be fair, Amphitrite, you didn’t abandon them the first time. Your mother and father exiled them before you were born.”

“I abandoned them when Thanatos guided us away from their enclave in the Underworld. I could have stayed, tried to reason with them, and gotten to know them better.”

“Cressida would have eaten you for dinner!” Calix shouted. He was always a very cautious merman, and even more protective of me than Rommel was, so this anger surprised me. 

“What’s wrong, Calix?” I asked gently, taking his hands in mine.

“Nothing.” He tried half-heartedly to pull his hands free, but I held them fast. “What do they really matter? Bringing them back won’t heal any old wounds, nor will it solidify your place as your father’s heir.”

“First,” I felt Rommel’s eyes on me, and I knew I had to choose my words carefully. “I’m not planning on taking the old throne. I just gave one up, and I do not need another. Second, everyone is worth redeeming. This is not something I’m just going to dive into. I need to do some research, talk to people who were there, and figure out exactly what they had done to earn exile. But first, I plan on taking a long vacation, a proper one. Not a forced vacation like when I was stranded in Guam, or even the whirlwind one Dion and I went on last year during Dionysia.”

I chuckled at their surprised expressions. I let go of Calix’s hands, and my crown appeared in my hands.

“Rommel, please deliver this and the letter to him. If you can not reach him, you may leave it with Triton if you absolutely must.” 

Rommel took the crown carefully and folded the letter up before kissing my forehead.

“This is the bravest thing I’ve ever seen you do.” He sighed wistfully.

“Really, Leandros?” I chuckled, using the name he originally introduced himself to me as, and he laughed in return. “Just hurry back. If you are planning on staying here, I should call Alessa and have the apartment remodelled.”

“No, I think I’ll find somewhere in town to stay, close, but not under the watchful eyes of the rest of the gods.” He said quickly before leaving.

“You plan on continuing this folly, Lady Amphitrite?” It was better than princess, I suppose. 

“Yes, Calix, I do. I can’t explain why, but I know in my soul that I need to be the one to build this bridge,” I replied, sitting down on my couch. Mano skirted around me happily while I created little bubbles for him to chase. 

“But you’re not rushing into it.” I shook my head. “You’re taking a vacation?”

“Yes, Calix… what of it?” There had to be something more.

“Take Dionysos with you,” he replied abruptly.

I sighed and looked at him carefully. “I was planning on asking him, but I won’t force him to come with me. I’m a grown woman, a goddess of the sea, born in the age of the Titans. I can handle myself.”

“Like you did in Rome?” I stood up and slapped him, harder than I should have, but that was uncalled for.

“In Rome, I was preoccupied with finding him… I’m not looking for him anymore or anyone else. My focus on this trip will be entirely on me and enjoying myself. I want to see more of the world,” I growled out. 

“Amphitrite!” I stared up into his cold blue eyes. “You cannot pretend like you are a fighter. You’re not, so stop behaving like you are always in control!”

“That isn’t what this is, Calix!” 

“Then what is it?”

“I need time. I need to not be me for a while. Not a queen, not a princess. Not a business owner or lover. I just need to be Amphitrite, a woman who wants to see the world. That’s it. You, Rommel, Dion, you’re all welcome to join me, but I’ll be travelling like a normal person, flying or sailing to the locations I wish to visit, staying at local hotels, and enjoying their cuisine. I want to be a tourist. I want to be anonymous for a while. Can’t you understand that?”

He shook his head lightly. “Only a little, my princess. You’ve always been someone, especially to other people. You are so much like your father. It’s a surprise you haven’t killed each other yet.” I looked at him carefully. “Nevermind, please make sure you ask Dionysos to accompany you. If he decides not to, let me know, and I will join you. Whether you want to admit it or not, you do need protection.”

I sighed, that was probably going to be the best compromise we could come up with, and I nodded. “I’ll ask, I promise. But before I do any of this, I need to talk with Mathieu and inform him of my plans.”

“That would be a good idea. He really dislikes it when you disappear on him,” Calix quipped, a little of his old humour back in his voice.

“Hey, I don’t do it to him often!”

“Often enough that he worries, my lady,” Mano interjected. Calix and I burst out laughing, and he joined me for a glass of wine before heading into town to find local accommodations for him and Rommel. 

I pulled my phone out and began looking at all the places I wanted to visit, the cost of booking flights, and hotels. I got so lost in the travel details that I barely noticed I fell asleep on the couch.

Amphitrite (Natalie Bartley)
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