“Amph?” I splutter, as Eros helps me to my feet – help which I do not need, thank you very much!
The Little God leans in close. He smells of lavender and warm salty air (well, we all do know that Apollo is up there, blazing down like he does.)
“Want me to shoot her for you, Uncle?”
“Do I want – what? No!” I glower at him. “Of course I don’t want you to shoot one of your damned arrows at Amphitrite! Now get out of here.”
Eros glares – at least I think that’s what he’s doing (he’s got quite the baby-face for a god. His glare needs some work.). “You’re welcome!”
I shrug, turning to Amphitrite. She seems not to know me. Perhaps she’s lost her mind or something; perhaps it’s the cold or the ice, or the trapped-by-my-daughter for several thousand years…
“Or perhaps it’s YOU!” She arches an impeccable brow and stares me down. So she might have lost a thousand years or so but not, apparently, the ability to read my mind. Sometimes a lover can know you just a little too well…
The only goddess ever to get away with this (except for my sisters). “I’ve only been gone a while and look what you’ve done! Gods, Poseidon, what have you become? Hurricanes? Whirlpools? This is not the god to whom I swore fealty.”
“Amph, if you’ll let me explain -”
“Oh, I don’t think so.” She raises herself up by her arms and glares back at me. “And what are my Mer doing in the Arctic?” She looks over the bow, smiling beatifically at our children.
One of them has courage enough to open her lips and sing to her Queen. Amph stops, listening closely. She’s a brave Mer. Amph’s reactions are as unpredictable as the tides and as impermanent as all waters. Not unlike my own.
Eros and Eurrus cover their ears. Even in Merspeak, this song is not a pleasant melody. A mortal’s eardrums would likely bleed. I wince a little. Yes, I can take it, but the song is about Amph. The loss of her; the finding of her – and the reason why we are all now gathered in this ice-cold sea. The reason is me. My mistakes, my past, my ghosts have put the ones I love most at risk. Staring down at the waves, I watch the ocean turn from blue to grey. Rain starts to fall, sleeting over the deck. Eros swears quietly under his breath.
“Your child did this to me?” My consort’s voice is low and no longer angry.
“I’m sorry, Amph.” Her anger I can handle. Her tears? Her sadness and pain? My heart thuds against my breast. I can feel Eros staring. It’s a low day when I cannot meet the eyes of the Love God. I shift in place, feeling like sharkshit.
I barely have the courage to meet her gaze; those eyes, colder than frozen sea ice and blurry with tears. Gods! This is not the reunion I’d planned. I thought she’d run away. That she didn’t want to be my Queen. I never thought she’d been taken; that someone had actually hurt her. Waves start to swell. My ship shifts beneath us all. Eros leans over the starboard bow, looking a little green. He smiles. The Mer smile back. It’s tempting to tip him over the side, but I digress…
“There’s something else.” I speak only to her now. This is too important. It’s why I’m here. Why I came to find her. I only hope it will be enough.
“Ssssh, sweetheart,” I murmur, painfully aware of the stares from the rest of my nephews and niece as well as all my Mer. “Can you not hear it, love?”
Amph tilts her head, turning towards the sounds of music on the wind. Slowly, the winds reform until I am flanked by both Eurrus and Notus.
“My Pearl,” she whispers, tears freeze into tiny amethysts, sliding slowly down her cheeks. Diamond and indigo gems pool around her tail fins.
“Our Pearl,” I remind her. “How was it lost?”
The look that crosses the sea goddess’s face is too dangerous for words. “I did not lose it, Lord.” She turns back to me. “It was stolen. I was stolen.”
Clearly, Old Ted lied. There is no torment harsh enough in Tartarus for such a wretch. A mortal in the service of monsters deserves everything he gets.
I have him, brother. He will regret the day he crossed the gods.
Hmmm… I’m pretty sure he already does.
“So, you and the mortal sailor?” I turn back to Amphitrite. The look in her eyes is none too warm.
“Ted took you?” Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know the truth. I know it, but I do not want to hear it.
“We were taken,” Amphitrite insists. “Taken and frozen and I did not touch that creature Ted. No mortal man has ever been able to hold me. No MAN has ever been able to touch me, Lord.” She pauses, swallows and glares gemstone shards again. “Except you!” She says this quietly and her voice is shards of ice.
“The Lamia took you both?” My rage unfurls now. “If she harmed that Pearl, I’ll –”
“She harmed ME, Poseidon!” Amphitrite shot back. “Or do I not matter anymore at all?” With a last glance at me that would whiten my beard if it weren’t already there, she chin-ups on the bow rail and somersaults into the sea.
Shading her eyes, she blows kisses upward. “Thank you, Apollo, Eros. Lovely Artemis above my moonlit sea.” Turning to the winds, she holds out her arms. A ruffle through my hair and I am, it seems, deserted for beauty and righteous outrage.
“If you don’t mind, Uncle, we ought to be going.” Apollo speaks for the other gods. “My sister must rest and Eos will be here soon. I will return at the proper time.”
I watch the Mer swimming in Amphitrite’s wake. “I thank you all.”
“No one needs to tell me twice. It’s too damn cold here. Love is not supposed to feel like this!” With a cackle and a pop, the wingless Eros is gone.
Love is not supposed to feel like this!
I hate it when the kid is right. I am alone again. Alone in the dark at the top of the world. I’ve been alone for at least a thousand years and it has rarely troubled me – until now. Until those words of ice. Until that look upon the face of the goddess I love, her tears turning to gems by my feet.
I need a drink. A drink, and some clarity. Grabbing a barrel of merbeer under each arm, I dive over the side and let myself drift, following nothing but the tides and the currents. These are my waters, and they always take me where I want to go.
I drift for hours, days. Possibly weeks. Until I can barely lift my arms and my mertail droops. I barely notice the changes from light to dark as either Apollo or Artemis wheel overhead. I am deeply under, dark beneath the ocean’s clasp and I will not surface. Not yet, not now. Maybe not ever…but this is foolish. Being heartsore is no excuse, and I have too many souls in my keeping. Besides, I cannot die; I cannot give up. Immortality offers a sort of strangely determined desperation.
Gasping, I heave myself ashore and glance around. Where in Hades am I?
The bare stone mountains beneath my feet offer a clue. I grin and laugh grimly. The end of the world is not nearly as far away as you mortals think.
“Greetings, Olympian. What brings you to my wilderness?”
That booming voice could belong to no one else. The last of the Titans, and only one of my far-too-deadly Uncles. Sometimes, even the old gods need wisdom from older ones, and once again my oceans know what I need.
“I have beer,” I say by way of greeting. “How are you, Atlas?”
His thunderous laughter shakes the mountains beneath my feet. “You always had better manners than your brothers.” He rattles his Etna-forged chain and groans at the weight of the spheres on his shoulders. “I don’t suppose you’ve come to -?”
I shake my head. “It is not within my power,” and I am truly sorry. Like Lamia, Atlas cannot help what he is. He did not choose to side with the Titans in the war against Olympus, any more than Lamia chose to be a monster. My brother is unlikely to agree, nor will he be thrilled I’m here. It’s no secret us gods can be cruel, but the Fates are worse than us all.
Lightning strikes the sea over a far horizon.
Bite me, Z.
I smash the barrel head to fill two stone goblets left by his pillars.
“What are we drinking to, nephew?”
I shrug, feeling some of the heaviness lift. “My stupidity, Uncle.”
“Ah then, lad, you’ll need the other barrel.”