Iris looked to Selena with shock; "Wait, What?! You're the strongest warrior of the Undines?!"
Selena flashed a small grin at Iris, but continued to speak to the Council; "Senators, it would not be fair for me to fight the Queen. She has had training, but I am a seasoned veteran with centuries of experience. The scales are tipped too far in my favor for it to be an equal match."
A few of the senators agreed, but Senator Gravi refuted; "That is why it must be you. Her goal is not to win against you. It is to prove her capabilities, and her level of competence with her power. I believe that you are the best judge for that."
"I protest! We should have another Acolyte test the Queen. It is known by everyone how close those two are. The High Acolyte will be biased, and most likely allow the Queen to pass regardless of her qualifications. I demand a replacement!"
Selena glared at the senator; "Are you questioning my honor, sir?"
Arlong glared right back at her; "I question your loyalty! Is it to the Crown, or to the Queen? The two are Not the same-"
Selena broke her cool momentarily; "Blasphemous dribble! The Queen of the Undines Is the Crown!"
"I would have to agree with the High Acolyte.. You know Not of what you speak, Senator, as I have told you before.."
The senators all jumped to their feet upon hearing the voice. It resonated within them, sending a deep chill to their bones. Senator Arlong in particular looked ready to wet himself, which brought a small smirk to Selena's lips.
As they began to glare at Selena and the Queen, Levi called out; "Up here, you fools.."
Looking up at the ceiling, most of the senators gasped, and began backing away towards the walls. All except two: Arlong and Gravi.
Senator Gravi smiled politely as he asked; "I take it that you are the God Leviathan? So the rumor was true.."
Levi barked a sharp laugh before releasing his claws from the ceiling. Bits of whatever it was made of crumbled and fell as he let his weight drop. Twisting in the water as he fell, Levi slammed down onto the ground. He was about a foot larger than a average Undine, so his intimidation factor skyrocketed.
Levi smirked at the gutsy senator before he asked; "And who are you?"
"Senator Ishmael Gravi. It's a pleasure to meet the famous God of Wrath. May I ask why you are here? Are not the Gorgons your devotees?"
Levi's grin widened at the senator's unwavering nerve; "I was sent here to protect the Undine Queen until I am no longer needed. It seems Poseidon has taken a personal interest in her well-being.."
All of the senators gasped and murmured amongst themselves except the same two. Senator Gravi was talking with Levi, but Arlong just glared at Selena and Iris.
'I don't know how she did this, but I Know that seahag set me up! I have to do something or my plans will fail before they can even start!'
Senator Arlong cleared his throat to gain everyone's attention, the spoke in a hard tone; "I am happy that you are here to safeguard our Queen, Great God Leviathan, but this does not concern her safety. We, the Council, need to know whether or not she is capable of self-control."
"Queen Iris holds enough power to literally re-shape our planet. After the destruction to her Own quarters: is it Not asking too much that she prove her worth."
Selena scoffed at Senator Arlong as she replied; "How Dare you! She is the Queen. She has no need to 'prove her worth', to anyone! Least of all, to You."
Arlong's face turned beet-red as his anger hit his tipping point; "She Will answer to the Council!"
"...SHE, would like to speak!" Iris bellowed, cutting through their bickering and surprising even Selena.
Iris hadn't said a word up until that point. She'd been listening to everyone talk about her like she wasn't even in the room, and it was infuriating.
"I would like to add my opinion, since this Whole thing is about me anyway.. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm here to prove what, exactly? That I can handle my powers?"
After several of the senators nodded in the positive, Iris continued; "So if I fight Selena, you'll back off?"
The majority of the senators nodded in the positive, including Senator Gravi. Arlong and a couple others didn't..
"This is only one issue, but there are several more. The main one being the maintaining of the Royal line. Your Fate's Spindle necklace hasn't shown any signs, correct?"
"Ah, no," Iris replied with just the right amount of snark, or so she thought.
Senator Arlong narrowed his eyes at his Queen as he spoke; "Then it is time for the Pooling Ceremony to take place. We will summon every unmated male Undine to the palace, then you will choose from the given."
Iris put her hand to her chin in mock contemplation, the replied; "Yeah, no.. That doesn't work for me."
The fleeting silence lasted but a moment before Senator Arlong erupted; "What?! You can't- the Council is Ordering you to-"
"You see, that right there is my problem. Whomever I decide to marry, or mate, or however you want to put it: is up to Me. Not the Council, and most definitely NOT You."
Arlong swam around the long table that the first ten senators were situated behind. Each looked more shocked than the last about Queen Iris' remarks. She was usually quiet and shy.. Today: she seemed almost fierce to them.
The Iris they knew was more like a statue the majority of the time. When she did speak, it was always firm, but restrained. Like a timid person faking self-confidence, which was how Queen Iris really was.
The Undine before them was like a completely different person...
"So while I appreciate your concern, I can find my own mate, thank you.."
Senator Arlong was so furious that his face was more purple than red; "That is Not your decision to make! The Council-"
"The Council Has no authority over who the Queen marries, so long as 'my chosen suitor is competent and fertile'. That is a direct quote from a law called the 'Heritage Continuum', that your ancestor helped co-author, by the way."
Iris had a devilish grin on her face as she added; "About seven generations back, I think. But if you doubt Your Queen, I can have the reference books in my room brought here.."
Everyone in the room stared at Iris in astonishment, even Levi and Selena. They had no idea that she'd spent the entire night combing through the record and law books..
Iris swam forward with the elegance and confidence that her title dictated; "I understand why you'd be confused about what duties are Actually yours to handle.."
"There's been quite a few addendums added to various documents and laws over the eons giving the Council special authoritative powers under certain circumstances. It was usually on the behalf of Royals who were too young or elderly to handle their workloads."
"The Pooling Ceremony, as you called it, isn't a ceremony at all. It started about four generations ago when my ancestor lost her parents. Her Fate's Spindle hadn't lit up, so she had Requested that the Council Help her sort through suitors.."
Iris chuckled lightly as she added; "Oh, and it was never Meant to be just Undines, either. ALL of the kingdoms were supposed to be included since the necklace doesn't Only react to Undines."
'And, mic drop, bitch! Let's see how he reacts to that!'
Iris' smile touched her eyes as she stared directly at Senator Arlong. He was literally hyperventilating, he was so pissed off. Deciding to put the final nail in his coffin, Iris dealt him the final blow..
"Now, as to my powers: I have no problems with fighting Selena, if that's ok with her."
"What?!" Both Selena and Senator Gravi yelped.
"I don't mind a bit of sparring if you don't.. But since Senator Arlong seems so concerned about my capabilities, I'd like to make a proposal."
Arlong eyed Queen Iris skeptically; "What kind of proposal?"
Her devilish grin never left Iris' face as she spoke; "I take it that you have a son around my age?"
The senator's composure cracked for a second as Iris paused; "Figures.. I assume that's why you wanted to hold the Pooling Ceremony, right? Try and trick me into thinking I was in love, or some kinda crap like that. Well, let's cut through the tedious plot and get straight to it.."
"If I win against Selena, then you have to step down as a Senator. Period. No complaining, no arguments.. And if I lose, I will marry your son without any complaints or arguments."
Arlong was literally making the water around him warmer, he was so irate. His breathing was uneven as he seethed with rage. She'd called him out in front of everyone, and was now dangling what he wanted most in front of him..