Levi had watched their interaction with cautious interest. Everything that he had heard about the Aquarian said that he was cold and aloof.. That was Not the Merman he was watching now.
He was fidgety, talkative, and smiled at Iris often. When she quipped at him, he became flustered. Levi doubted for a moment if he was watching the right Merman, but there was no mistaking it..
Levi could smell Triton's blood within him, so he knew right away who 'Trident' really was, once he got close. The Merfolk were all technically descended from Triton, but Atlas' family was special.
Several fated connections with Undines, Gorgons, and the other kingdoms over the eons had made his own family's connection to Poseidon stronger than the other Merfolk. Making him easy to spot.
Listening to them, Iris seemed more at ease than usual. She acted similarly with Selena and him, but never this relaxed. Even the way that she was talking to him seemed different.. Lighter, somehow. Like her cares were washing away.
The way they effected each other was made even more apparent when Iris burst out in laughter. At first, the Merfolk King gently smiled at her, then he remembered where they were.
Iris' reaction was pretty comical to him, but then they stopped moving when they locked eyes. Levi didn't know how long it seemed to them, but Atlas and Iris stared at each other for a solid four minutes before the Merfolk King jumped back.
'I have No experience with mortal affection, and even I can tell that there's something between them..'
After Iris swam away, Levi didn't move stealthily in any wayas he swam past Atlas. He was just too distracted; staring after the Undine Queen. An unsettlingly gentle smile was on his lips as she cleared the wall.. 'Is..Is he in love with her?!'
Levi didn't understand why, but the thought made his rage flare. Since he'd never had children of his own, Iris had become something akin to one to him. He wanted what was best for her, and a lying Merman that was in love with her wasn't a good idea for a friend.
Atlas was stunned. The Great God Leviathan was known as the God of Wrath to the Aquarians, and not someone to be taken lightly, in any sense of the word. His eyes flared red as his size grew, and a low growl sent an icy shiver up Trident's spine.
"Good Evening, King Atlas.."
This simple greeting brimmed with animosity. The thought to swim away had crossed his mind, but he knew it was pointless. The Leviathan would most certainly catch him anyways.
After a minute of silence, Levi added; "Do you know who and what I am?"
After Atlas nodded in the positive, Levi continued; "And do you know that Queen Iris is a dear friend of mine?"
Atlas swallowed hard; "S-She's mentioned it-"
"Then why would you Ever think that your lie would work?! If not considering me, then what about the Monarch's Summit?! She will recognize you-"
"Pardon me, Great Leviathan, but I did not mean for this deceit to carry on so long. I meant to tell Iris several times, but... I just couldn't find the words."
Levi maintained his glare, but he stopped augmenting his size; "That's because you knew what would happen when you said them. That's why you didn't. Do not try to mince your words with me, boy!"
"Yes.." the pathetic tone that Atlas had replied in irked Levi.
The Merfolk King before him looked like a frightened child trying to put on a brave face. Levi could sense his fear, but he was doing well maintaining a relatively calm exterior. If he couldn't smell it, he wouldn't be able to tell that Atlas was scared.
"Why do you deceive Iris? What do you have to gain from it?" Levi asked, wondering if he would actually be honest.
Sighing in defeat, Atlas replied; "Because I wanted to get to know my future wife.."
Levi was so badly shocked that he'd deflated slightly upon hearing the news. 'Iris did mention a glow when she'd first met him, but I didn't see a-'
His thought was cut short by the realization that Atlas wasn't wearing his Fate's Spindle Necklace. Iris never wore hers because she 'wasn't allowed to go anywhere anyways'.
"Where is your necklace?" Levi asked in a deep voice.
Atlas was internally freaking out, but he remained outwardly calm; "I stopped wearing it because I was afraid she'd remember what it was, and what it meant when it glowed."
Levi stared at Atlas with a scrutinizing glare; "How do I know that you're not lying to me now?"
Atlas sighed deeply; "I Really wish I was.."
"And what were you doing when you met her?"
"...I feel like I shouldn't answer that."
Levi growled low, inspiring Atlas to be truthful; "I was going to kidnap her, and force her to either share her power with me, or at least fix my kingdom. My people are suffering, and I Need her help to fix it."
Curious as to how he reached such a conclusion, Levi asked; "Why do you think that it's something Iris can fix?"
Atlas straightened his back and stared at the Great God Leviathan head on; "There's a current that flows in from the north that helps our crops to grow. Something is either blocking it, or she is.. Either way, I need her help."
"There's been guards posted outside of this palace since before I was king. After I read the report about some giant monster appearing outside of the Queen's quarters, I wanted to investigate myself. I was going to kidnap her, but then I saw my necklace glowing when I saved her.."
Levi eyed the Merfolk King as he very slowly, began to shrink down; "Tell me, King Atlas: did you think that the Undine Queen was responsible for your kingdom's misfortune?"
"Yes. It was one of the reasons I wanted to handle all of this myself. But then I met her, and... It's grown, complicated," Atlas replied with a discomforted expression.
"Do you still believe that she is responsible for your kingdom's plight?"
Atlas shook his head; "No, I don't. I think it must be something else now, although I haven't a clue as to what. The two scouting parties I've sent to investigate haven't returned.."
"What was the criteria of the search?"
"Head north as far as as possible until they reached the Selkie's island. Find where the current stopped, and report back," Atlas answered with a contemplative look.
"There's a slight chance that some of them were caught by the Selkies, but not all of them. Someone would've reported back by now, if any of them had survived. I know my men.."
Levi could clearly see the worry and pain on Atlas' face. He truly cared for his people, which was rare to find in a ruler anywhere one looked. Even Iris seemed to have little interest in her people, but that was a special case.
'She's basically been isolated within the palace since she got here..' Selena tried to get clearance for her to leave while escorted once, but the Council had refused. Claiming that her scheduled trip wasn't for two more months.
Levi didn't understand why she had to be chaperoned, considering how powerful she is. 'Maybe it's strictly due to her title? Monarchs do get threatened constantly. Either that, or the Council just wants to keep her on a tight leash.'
As Levi pondered, Atlas considered the men he'd lost. He had made the chances of their survival perfectly clear, and they had All still volunteered to go. Their families' lives depended upon finding the cause of their plight.
If they didn't, everyone would eventually die. They had all agreed to the conditions, but Atlas still felt responsible for their deaths. The relatively fresh memories of their family's tears stung in a way that Atlas would remember for the rest of his life.
Levi could tell that the Merfolk King took his position and responsibilities very seriously. That was the one point that the rumors had been spot-on about. But he still took issue with how he was handling his 'future wife' situation.
He was about to comment on it, but a cough from near the wall caught their attention. A guard that was on patrol was hacking, putting both Levi and Atlas on edge..
Levi hadn't paid attention to the trident on Atlas' back until he had pulled it out of it's sheath. When he gripped it just right, the golden trident made a light metallic clicking noise as it extended at the both sides to regain it's full size.
Levi's jaw dropped when he realized that the weapon the Merfolk King was holding was Poseidon's Trident!
After Zeus and his siblings had freed the Cyclops and Hecatoncheries from Tartarus, the Cyclops created the Weapons of the Gods for them. Everything from Zeus' Thunderbolt, to Poseidon's Trident.
Their histories said that he gave it to the God Atlas in an attempt to win him over. The history ends after he was punished for siding with the Titans in the war. He was forced to hold the axis between the heavens and earth for all of time, at the edge of the world somewhere.
Many assumed that Poseidon had taken back his trident, but some said that Atlas had passed it to his brother Triton before his punishment was carried out. 'If the stories are true, it would make sense that this Merman Atlas would would have it..'
Curiosity getting the best of Levi, he ignored the passing guard as he asked; "Where did you get that trident?!"