As the glowing fish slowly started to break off and rejoin their school, the Merman holding the trident watched the Undine's Queen with growing interest. She didn't seem like the same shy and fearful girl he'd met a few months ago during negotiations.
When the fish swam away, a look of sadness covered her beautiful face as she started to swim back towards the palace. He was about to ambush her when she stopped. The Queen looked to the palace walls, then turned back to the open ocean.
"Screw it!" was all that King Atlas heard from the female Undine before she swam off in the opposite direction from the palace.
The plan was to kidnap the Queen and force her to tell him how she controlled the currents. During their meeting, she'd refused to divulge any information on the subject. Claiming that the Undines were the only ones capable of handling such power and responsibility.
'Who the Hell is she to decide it all herself?! The currents should sustain themselves! I see how prosperous the Undines are, but the other kingdoms struggle.. If diplomacy won't work, then I'll force the answers out of her!'
As Atlas followed her from a decent distance, he began to truly wonder exactly what kind of person the Undine Queen was. She stopped every few feet to look at something. From the way she was reacting, you'd think she was Never allowed to leave the Undine Palace...
Iris moved from a small kelp forest, to an oversized sea grass bed as she swam up an incline. The farther she got from the palace, the more marine life she saw. She beamed as she investigated the little sea urchins, crabs, lobsters, and various fish that crossed her path.
The majority of the Aquarian Kingdoms sat on top of a continent-sized, raised chunk of land. The majority of it was in the Sunlight Zone, but it did stretch further down the further south one went. The Sirens and the Gorgons ruled those areas because the pressure was required for their species.
The Undine's Palace was right at the boarder of the Selkies' Kingdom. Since they were neutral, the Undines never felt threatened by the proximity, but that didn't mean that there was never conflict. As Atlas watched the Undine Queen, he kept an eye out for anything or anyone suspicious.. Aside from himself.
The Merfolk King was still determined to kidnap her, but the way she was acting made it seem like this was her first time out of the palace. 'Was she that sheltered? She's acting like a child experiencing the world for the first time. Did they really Never let her leave the palace?!'
The longer Atlas watched her, the more pity he felt for the Undine Queen. She clearly hadn't been let out much; if at all. Everything she was 'Ohh'-ing over was basic, everyday marine life. 'If these amaze her, I wonder what she'd do if she saw a dolphin or something like that..'
As Iris swan up to about the thirty-five meter range from the surface, an enormous coral reef came into her view. She literally squeaked with joy before swimming over as fast as she could. Atlas was actually a bit surprised by how fast she swam.
The Undines were known to be fast, but he was shocked to see that the sheltered Queen before him had it in her. She picked up a seashell that had an irate snail in it, then watched a little family of clownfish swimming in and out of a sea anemone. It reminded her of one of her favorite movies back home..
Sadness suddenly covered her features as her enthusiasm drained away. 'Matt.. I hope he's alive.. I don't know what I'll do if he isn't -Oh my gosh! If I do make it home, and he is alive: I have to explain why I kissed him!'
'That, that should be e-easy enough.. We were Drowning for crying out loud! He knows that I've never kissed anyone before. I think that he'll brush it off if I act like it's not a big deal.. right? I don't want to lose him-No!'
Iris flailed around in the water where she stood with a pained expression on her face. 'I Can't go back to unrequited puppy love! I Love Matt for everything he is; the good and bad.. I need to tell him as soon as I can! ...If I can...'
The Queen was back to downtrodden as her spastic motions stopped. Atlas was watching her from behind an outcrop of rocks with utter confusion on his face. She had more mood swings in the five minutes he'd been watching her than he did in an entire month. It was shocking.. and hilarious.
When Atlas had met her before, the Queen had seemed so stiff and shy that he doubted she had much of a personality, let alone an opinion. She was intelligent enough to understand the joint-law proposal he'd made, but claimed she couldn't make any decisions without her Council's approval.
When he'd questioned why the Undine Queen would need approval to run her own kingdom, she'd said that, "No one person should Ever hold complete power", to him!
'She holds all the power, but dares to lecture Me on Autocracy?! I'm no Dictator, but She practically is!'
The small spell the Queen had Atlas in was gone now. His anger at her sanctimonious attitude was back, reminding him of his original purpose. As he snuck closer, Atlas realized that she was now mumbling. He couldn't quite make it out, so he moved as close as he felt comfortable with, and listened.
"Why didn't I tell him.. I'm so Stupid! I now I may never see him again.. Who am I kidding? He's probably dead.. No one could've survived that.."
It was right then he realized she was sniffling, which meant crying. Atlas was at a loss.. 'She lost a loved one, hm? I know that feeling.. I've lost everything I ever cared about when I lost her..' A familiar pain seeped into his heart as the Mermaid King sat and listened to the sobs of the Undine Queen in a kind of unspoken camaraderie.
After about twenty minutes, the Queen sat up and said to no one; "Guess I should head back.. Levi and Selena are probably going crazy looking for me, hehe."
The evil little laugh at the end brought a genuine smile to Atlas' face. 'So she does have feelings and a personality.. Then why? Why can't she empathize with my people?! Maybe she's been so ridiculously sheltered that now it's to the point of indifference? Has she even seen what a suffering being looks like? Probably not..'
Right as the Merfolk King started to get an idea of the real Queen of the Undines, a shadow passed overhead in the blink of an eye. He noticed it, but from the looks of her demeanor, the Undine Queen didn't. Two shadows flitted across the ocean floor as he slowly pulled back into the shadows to watch..
Iris had no idea that she was being circled from above until something fast swam passed her side. She whipped her head around, but didn't see anything. Her heart began to hammer away in her chest as the hairs on the back of her neck stood straight up.
Feeling panicked, Iris tried to take off, but something large swam directly in front of her. It moved so fast that all she saw was a blur as it tried to cut her off. As she started to breath erratically, a rush of water hit her back, indicating that something was right behind her.
Slowly turning around, Iris was met with two large, round black eyes. The largest seal she'd ever seen was directly in front of her. It's nose wiggled at her like it was smelling her, which Iris found strange. It got down-right freaky when the thing spoke.
"What do we have here? An Undine trespassing in Selkie territory? Tsk, tsk, tsk.. Didn't anyone tell you?"
As Iris stared at the now-obvious Selkie with fear, she asked in a soft voice; "T-Tell me what?"
The Selkie smiled; "Most seals are Carnivores!"
As soon as the final word left his mouth, the seal lunged at Iris. She screamed and dodged, but the other one was right next to her. It snapped it's mouth at her several times as it growled, causing Iris to lose her balance to avoid it. With her tail so close anyways, she smacked the Selkie as hard as she could before trying to take off again.
As the one barked in pain, the other came down from above and slammed her down into the sand. A bunch of it kicked up; going into her eyes and mouth. As she tried to get away from the cloud, the Selkie that hit her got ahold of her tail. She cried out in pain, but felt the beast release her after a metal noise, then a weird, squishing-thud sound.
As the sand settled, Iris still couldn't really see anything. She rubbed at her eyes a few more times, but still couldn't fully make out the shape in front of her. All she knew was that the outline suggested male, and that prettiest blue light was coming from him...