The key is a shade of deep-sea blue. An A is etched in the top, surrounded by seaweed. But it’s the things that are invisible to the mortal eye that make me want to snatch it from his palm. Golden runes, spells of old, even older than me, are etched into it, visible only to a God of the Sea.
It wasn’t a lie or an evasion. Mathieu and I had put so much time and effort into this event. Now that it was happening and progressing along, I seemed to be lost in it. Dion reached over, sensing my discomfort. He patted my leg and squeezed it softly. I smiled at him. Tonight was taking forever.
I have never been a good man to her. I should have been there for her more, but there were things I needed to do that took me centuries to figure out. The guilt gnaws at me. I only hope she can forgive me for my absence. Even if she cannot forgive, at least I can apologize.
I snorted derisively. “Even when we were never technically married? If it ever comes to that, we’ll have that conversation then. But no, I’m not ready to give up the throne. I wasn’t 2,000 years ago, but I couldn’t physically return.”
Frowning, I try to rub the strange sensation out of my chest as I get up from my bed. The cracks in the walls are still there from when I lost control, but something is out of place. I tilt my head, noticing a folded note on my desk. Picking it up with a shaky hand, I scan over the words.
Look at me. I’ve turned into a sappy romantic bitch. “Love me, or I’ll die.” Ugh, I can’t even look at myself right now. And yet, it’s how I feel. Like Dionysos is my future, and I can’t shake it. I don’t want to shake it.
“The only thing I can control is myself,” I whisper once more. My words continue on, bouncing around me and pinging off the cave walls. The words come quicker, rolling over each other. Sound travels faster and more efficiently through water, and here in the depths, an echo can last a lifetime.
As my last bit of essence became one with the sea around me, I felt power reaching out from the golden net, almost like it knew someone was escaping. It rippled, and in that ripple, a pulse of magic was sent out, disrupting my transition. I lost my sense of self, and the tenuous binding that held the parts of my being together shattered.
Why Rome? Why did I head to Rome, and why didn’t I return? The question was vexing me, and I turned from the figures haunting me as I tried to suss it out. I don’t think they liked it too much that I wasn’t paying attention to them, and the figures started to circle me, chanting that I wasn’t worthy, I wasn’t good enough, I was barely a goddess.
All this lurked down here? How could I not know? I’m the ruler of the deep, and I’m dumbstruck by the creatures before me. I have felt their lives pass through the trident, but I could never see them, they were not immortal. Even the Trident has limits.
A shimmer of unease settles in my stomach. Triton loves Atlantis, and it loves him. He must have tried to take control when Trix left and failed. Atlantis knows it’s rulers. The throne will only recognize Trix or I, without us, the Jewel of Atlantis withers. Triton was forced to watch as the home he loved fell into disrepair. Atlantis isn’t like Olympus or the Underworld. It’s alive.
Sighing heavily, I tighten my grip on the staff and lift the prongs into the air. Spinning the Trident, I slam the points into the ground of my bedroom. In the same motion, I drop to one knee and press my forehead to the side of the golden artifact. I reach out to the sea monster’s soul, and the glow descends into the earth, slipping through the prongs and sending the creature to its next destination.
My feet catch up to me, and I step onto the stone walkway. I have always preferred walking rather than swimming on castle grounds. Something about swimming through one’s home almost made it seem like work.