My panic room was an excellent place to hide after the debacle at the warehouse. I had grabbed Mano the moment I entered my unit and ducked inside, under the equipment. I don’t know how long I spent down there. Mano just curled up under my chin, his little hands on my cheeks, calming me. But when I got the message from Than about our trip to the Underworld, I blanched. I had forgotten. I let him know I would meet him there and crawled out of my hiding spot.
“Okay, Mano, time passes differently down in the Underworld, so I don’t know how long I’ll be gone,” I told him as I placed my little axolotl back in his tank.
“It’s okay, lady, do what you must. I hope you feel better after this trip,” he replied. I nodded and changed quickly into a sundress and sandals. I needed something to help bring me back to myself. As I closed the door behind me, I put on a smile and a brave face, pretending that everything was alright. To the point that during the trip, I almost got eaten by carnivorous nymphs.
When I finally returned to my suite, I flopped onto my couch, my stomach in my throat again, and found the nearest bucket. Ever since the warehouse, I had been feeling off. I hoped beyond hope it was just the residual feelings of being shot and of having a miscarriage. Oh, Melissa. My little Melissa. No! Not my daughter! I only bore two children. Triton and Rhodes, and they were both safe. I had to shake this feeling, somehow. I had to get back to my mind. Theresa, Trix…she was not me. I rolled off the couch and walked slowly, almost drunkenly, to Mano’s tank, and he crawled out to me.
“How would you like to take a trip?” I nudged him gently.
“Where are we going, lady?” he asked as he walked around my neck.
“To the halls of my father, where I grew up, the Palace of Nereus,” I replied simply.
Mano nodded and settled in. “Should we stop by Lord Dionysos before leaving?” he inquired as we left the suite and locked up. I froze. I had seen Nisos and Poseidon on the trip to the Underworld, and everything seemed fine with both of them. I didn’t want to bother either of them with my problems.
“No, Mano. I will send a text to Nisos and to Mathieu so they don’t worry, but I do not wish to see him.” Not until I could figure out what was happening…or find a test. We entered the elevator, and once in the lobby, I transported us to the coast. We were as far from the GC as possible and as close to my father’s old palace as I could get us. I sent the text to Dion and Mathieu, basically just telling them I was okay and not to look for me, and then paused. I should send one to Selene, too.
Amphitrite: Sel, everyone is saying they’re alright after the Mirrors… I’m not. No matter the face I put on in public, for Dion and P… I am not okay. I think… Sel, I’ve been having very familiar pains in my abdomen, and if I am wrong about this, then something is horribly wrong. I’m returning to the halls of my father. Hopefully, I can find some peace and solitude and answers below. Love you dearly, and miss you, my little moon, Amph
I put my phone in its waterproof bag, hesitating as I walked into the surf, the fear rising in my stomach again. “I am not afraid of the ocean! I am the bloody sea!!” I cried out in frustration, hot tears streaming down my face.
“Amphy?” Mano rarely used my name, and it snapped me out of my pain. “Are you alright, friend?”
“No, Mano, I am not alright. But my fears can’t be spoken in the wind. I will tell you when we arrive at my father’s halls.” I took a defiant step into the water and almost leapt for joy at the sensation. How was I afraid of this? This was my home. I ran, a child running to her mother and dove in, swimming deeply before remembering to bubble Mano. “Sorry, little one.”
“It’s alright, lady, are you going to take your other form?” he asked me softly, and I looked at him curiously. “Your mermaid form? Your true shape?”
The image struck me like a tsunami, and I remembered. I had forgotten things about that life while in the dream. I seemed to be forgetting things about this one. “I’m a mermaid?” I looked back and watched as my legs melted into a long dark blue tail with a wide fin. “Whoa. How did you know?”
“Have you honestly forgotten, lady?” His voice was incredulous, and I nodded. “You are Amphitrite, Goddess of the Sea, Queen of Atlantis. The eldest daughter of Nereus and Doris. This was the form you were born with.”
“I am all that?” Some of it was intrinsic. I knew my name and my father’s name. I knew I had some connection to Poseidon, but that was fading, and I didn’t know why. But to forget this, my true self? That was something big. “I am the queen? Did I have a husband?”
Mano coughed a little as we swam deeper into the Aegean. “Husband, no… You were a consort.”
“A consort, why does that sound like a cast-off? Like some degenerate that wasn’t good enough for marriage?” Oh gods, was I ever good enough? No, I remember having this debate with myself. I am good enough. Good enough to be Queen, good enough to be loved, but by whom? I knew that Dion and I loved each other fiercely. It was his face that brought me out of the dream. And my husband—no, Trix’s husband, looked too much like Poseidon for it to be a coincidence.
“Mano, did Poseidon love me? When we were together?” I asked the axolotl sadly.
“I cannot say, lady, all I know is that when you were stranded in Guam, it was Lord Dionysos who came to you. Every time you have ever been lost, Lord Dionysos was the one who got you through it.” His voice was calm and steady, and it helped me feel that way.
“Thank you, Mano.” As we crested a ridge, I stared ahead to the gleaming lights of the palace. “Home,” I said with a smile. It had been eons since I had returned, and it felt almost weird to swim up to the gates that were home once upon a time. “Hello?” I called out carefully, unsure of who may be around.
“Who goes there?” a deep voice boomed in ancient Greek. I looked at the trident that was levelled at my chest, and Mano quickly ducked behind me.
I lowered my head, held up my hands, and responded in kind. “Amphitrite, eldest daughter of Nereus and Doris.” I knew using Olympian titles would not get me far here.
The guard squinted at me and then looked at Mano, who was peeking around my shoulder. “And what is that?” He pointed at the axolotl.
“This is Mano, my friend and companion.” I straightened up and looked at the guard. “Who are you, and where are my sisters?”
The guard lowered the trident, a pale impression of the one my father had, or Poseidon’s, but lethal nonetheless. He slowly responded, “I am Calix. Four of your sisters accompany your father and mother. Thetis has not been seen in eons, almost as long as you. Nerites is also missing, and the rest of them are scattered, doing their own thing. Most check back in from time to time.”
I nodded as he held out his arm to allow us entry. Mano rested on my shoulder as we swam into the courtroom. So many memories of my childhood flooded back to me, I almost collapsed. I wouldn’t let a stranger see me weak, though. “Thank you, Calix. May I ask a favour?”
“Anything, Lady Amphitrite,” he replied immediately. This was not going to go over well.
“Could you send an emissary to Atlantis and ask for Rommel? He is a dear friend and my representative to the throne when I am away.” I watched his back stiffen and sighed. “Never mind, I will find some way to bring him here.”
“No, my lady. I will go myself if I must. What does he look like?” Calix stated forcefully.
“Is the blood still bad between the house of my father and Atlantis?” I asked carefully as we swam toward my old chambers. I tried not to focus on how apt his name was, handsome indeed. Another wave of nausea rolled through me, and I clenched at my stomach just in time to stop it.
“Lady Amphitrite? I waved him off and straightened. “It is getting better since you and Lord Poseidon returned. But…”
“But what, Calix?” I asked, not really sure I wanted the answer.
“We wish your father had retaken the Trident when Poseidon abandoned his responsibilities. I sighed. If he had, the kingdom might not be in such a disarray as it is.”
My face fell. I was a part of that problem. “I am sorry—”
“No. It is not your fault.” Calix’s tone was defiant and steadfast. “We heard what happened to you, and some of your sisters had been out looking for you, trying to piece you back together.” I looked up at him, shocked.
“I thought, I thought I had been forgotten…abandoned.”
The trident clashed to the ground and Calix knelt before me, his head bowed. “My lady, that could not be further from the truth.” I looked down at him. “When you married,” I winced, “sorry partnered with Poseidon, many of us felt betrayed. You were heir to this throne, if you wanted it, as the eldest. But you chose the Olympians. You chose your heart, and we cannot fault you for that. But we watched as you withered away for a thousand years until you disappeared. When there was no physical trace of you, we thought you might have foamed on purpose.”
“Suicide,” I replied, and Mano shook beside me.
“Truly, lady, you contemplated it?”
I nodded gently. “I did. It was my lowest point when I went to Rome hunting for P. I wasn’t paying attention and was caught by god hunters.” I paused and felt my stomach move again. Could those two be related? The god hunters of ancient Rome and Gerard?
“Lady Amphitrite, are you alright?” Calix asked softly and straightened up, offering me his arm.I took it gratefully and shook my head. “No, Calix. I need Rommel here as soon as possible. I think I may be pregnant.”