The last few weeks at Nymphaeum had been tumultuous. Rhodes had been around to help set things up and hire the staff, and then she buggered off. Which was fine, I didn’t want to keep her from her family any longer. Mathieu, the man she hired as my General Manager, was more than capable. He was a star. He had helped me set up the control room on-site and ensure only the two of us had access. He had created a VIP list that included my family, although they wouldn’t necessarily get free rooms or get pushed to the front. Some of my family had already begun visiting.
“Amphitrite, you don’t need to come in anymore. Between your panic room at the GC and me, we’ve got everything covered,” Mathieu argued with me one morning. As it was, my position at Nymphaeum was that of the figurehead, the mascot as you would, the nymph of Nymphaeum.
I looked at him, a storm brewing within. It wasn’t the first time we’d had this conversation, but I felt it would be the last. “Mathieu…Nymphaeum is my resort. My family and I built this place from the ground up. I’ll come and go as I choose.”
Despite the words he said, Mathieu was always courteous. “I know Amphitrite, but you don’t need to. You will always be our boss, our goddess, and I know the patrons would love to meet the inspiration behind the place. But the day-to-day…you have other things you need to handle right now.”
I glared at him as we walked out to the beach. The turquoise dress I had on today blew around my legs as the breeze kicked up. I muttered a curse under my breath and sighed. Mathieu was the only person I had told about the storm brewing in my mind. He knew of the dreams that had kept me awake and curled up in a shaking ball on the control centre floor. It was one of the most secure and expensive rooms in the resort. “I can’t, not now.”
“If not now, then when? My lady.” He only got this formal when he was trying to convince me of something. “You need to confront this, sooner rather than later. If you don’t, you may destroy everything you’ve worked so hard to build.” My jaw dropped. Had I worried him this much? Was my storm getting this bad that he feared for the resort and everyone’s safety?
“Alright, you win. I’ll head home and deal with things there. Gods only know it’s been a spell since I’ve been there,” I replied, defeated. Mathieu looked at me expectantly, and I stared back. “What, right now?” I asked incredulously.
“We’re already here.” He pointed at the ocean. I sighed, passed my phone to him, and walked into the surf.
I turned and looked back at him. “You had better take care of my resort. I expect it to be here in the same condition as I’m leaving it. You won’t be able to reach me if there’s a problem, so call Rhodes, and she’ll be able to contact me. But please, just keep yourself, the staff, and the guests safe.” I looked up at the horizon and saw storm clouds brewing, and I knew I was bringing them here. “I will be back, Mathieu.” He blew me a kiss, and I dove below the waves, my form changing to the lithe mermaid of my youth. A large, broad tail and pectoral fins helped propel me faster and keep my balance as I swam into the oncoming storm.
When I awoke from the sea foam, I hadn’t known just how much time had passed, and I should have returned home immediately. I realized that mistake now, and I hoped I could rectify it. Sighing, I knew I should call Poseidon and let him know that I was returning. Pulling the pendant, the Jewel of the Seas, up to my lips, I whispered his name into it. If he were able, he’d hear it. I waited, I called again, no answer. It didn’t worry me too much. He had a lot on his plate, but I hoped that he was safe. It was odd, this sensation within. Surrounded by the ocean and being in my pure form had me reminiscing about days gone by and the love we shared. I worried that maybe we threw it away.
I couldn’t erase millennia of feelings, and I didn’t want to. I also couldn’t deny this…attraction I was feeling, and not to Poseidon. I hadn’t planned on it, but I found myself thinking about it more and more as the days wore on. Sinking into his arms as we danced, the taste of wine on his lips from his feather-soft kiss. I shook my head, clearing my thoughts, and realized I was closer to Atlantis than I had thought. There was a mer patrol nearby, and I waved one over, a guard I recognized named Rommel.
“My Queen!” he exclaimed and dipped into a low bow, the patrol behind him mimicking the action. Somehow I didn’t like it as much as I used to.
“Rise, Rommel, it’s fine.” The mer patrol stood back up and looked at me curiously. “Could one of you swim ahead and let Poseidon know that I’m on my way home? Please?” A young mer, one I didn’t recognize, snapped to attention and swam off.
“My Queen,” Rommel started, I nodded in his direction, and he continued, “what happened to you? After Lord Poseidon left, you disappeared.” Memories bounced through my mind, each tripping over the other like a babbling brook to get to the forefront. I swam away from the patrol, holding my head and shaking, trying to get a hold of the thoughts.
“I don’t know, Rommel, I don’t remember.” My voice, which was usually crystal clear underwater now, was garbled and broken. “I, you need to stay back.” The storm which had been brewing, broke violently. My arms were stretched out, I threw all the water away from me, and everyone in its path was blown backward. As though a geyser had gone off nearby, the sudden pressure change in the water surrounding me sent some of the mer reeling. I watched as their bodies shook with the effort of fighting the change. One mer in the patrol levelled a spear at me, but Rommel placed a hand in front of him and glided forward.
“Lady Amphitrite, calm…the storm is passing. You’re safe.” His words, which once soothed me, especially when uttered from Poseidon’s lips, only made me angrier. And that was when I realized I was angry. At myself, at Poseidon, at Atlantis…I was mad at everyone. At the mortals for destroying my seas and forgetting the gods had existed, that I had existed. They would rue the day. Rommel’s eyes grew wide with fear. “Everyone, get out of here. Tell the king his lady is in distress. I fear he may be the only one to bring her out of this.”
Rommel’s words weren’t registering with me. I’d gone black, blacker than I could ever remember. How had one simple question raised such a storm in such a short time? I was vaguely aware of the patrol leaving. I turned and swam away, down deep, as far as I dared. I needed to get away from them. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t hurt anyone else. I was vaguely aware of some coral reefs, and I swam faster. One of the last healthy reefs in the ocean, I feared destroying it.
Again, I lost track of how far and fast I was swimming. I just knew I had to get away. I would leave the GC, Atlantis, Nymphaeum…nowhere was safe. I had felt this storm pushing at my consciousness for the last few weeks. It hadn’t abated since my return…and I didn’t think it ever would.
My sense of time and space disappeared. The ocean around me swirled dark and angry. I couldn’t imagine what the surface looked like. I needed to pull myself deeper. Only then could everyone I loved be safe from this maelstrom.
I felt cold, a cold I had only ever felt once before. I stopped, my eyes flaring wide open. In front of me lay the vast, black abyss of the Mariana Trench. I didn’t know what brought me here before I wanted to be, but the seeping black, the ocean’s deep heart, had long been a source of my fear. One of my memories pushed through, and I dropped. The weight of the memory pulled me down, and it was all I could do to grab the edge of the shelf before falling into the abyss.