"Am I done yet, or are you Literally waiting for me to pass out before you'll call it a night?!" Iris yelled as her frustration overtook her.
Trying and failing to keep calm himself, Levi replied; "You can stop once you've made the water swirl! You Have the power to do so, you simply lack concentration.. Focus like I showed you, and the power will-"
"I swear, Levi, if you say 'flow like a current', one more time, I'll stuff you and turn you into a plushie!" Iris nearly screamed in her anger.
"I don't know what that is!" the Great God Leviathan hollered back while throwing his arms up into the air, utterly exasperated with her.
Iris and Levi were getting into yet another argument over her inability to summon her powers when Selena came out into the courtyard. She carried a tray of bubble bites in her hands, and had an exhausted expression on her face. After she set the tray down on a two-person table set that was to the side of the door, Selena admonished the two for their lack of volume control.
"Didn't you Just have a run-in with a spy a week ago? Why are you two Screaming about her powers in the Courtyard?! Quiet Down, and come eat your late night snack," Selena had spoken low, but harshly at them.
Both the Queen and the God averted their eyes at her sharp rebuke. They were being more than just childish; they were being reckless. If the wrong guard, let alone a spy, had heard their conversation.. The council would be all over them.
At Selena's behest, the two took a break to cool off, then attempted to discuss the subject rationally. Levi was going on about the same thing, over and over again. Comparing the flow of her powers to the flow of the ocean currents. She knew exactly how oceans generally worked, but it wasn't helping.
Her body was different, but 'Iris' still felt like Serenity inside. She didn't feel powerful or special in any kind of way. If anything, she felt even more helpless now then when she was a human. Serenity was just.. herself.
When she explained her thoughts, Selena was the first to comment; "Maybe that's your problem. You still refer to yourself as Serenity.. Maybe there's a part of you that is still actively rejecting being Iris?"
As the Queen processed her friend's input, another thought occurred to Levi; "Have you considered the possibility that you might never go home?"
Serenity's heart sank; "What?! You said it was possible if I complete my quest, or whatever kinda guru crap you said?! Why wouldn't I be able to go home?!"
Levi took a deep breath before speaking as calmly as possible; "What if you fail? You may save the Aquarians, but what if you mess up one of the Labors? That's what I had called your 'quest' before, by the way.."
"Or," Levi continued after eating a bubble bite; "You could Really fail by dying.. You do eventually have to face the Charybdis, and who knows what else along the way."
The bare truth was like a slap in the face to her. Serenity understood from the beginning what her role was, but the consequences hadn't come up since. She had died once already, and didn't want to relive the experience.
As she sat staring off while mindlessly eating, Levi and Selena exchanged worried looks. They weren't convinced that the gravity of the situation had sunk in..
Iris wasn't just meant to defeat the Charybdis. The Aquarian Candidate was supposed to save the Aquarian races from themselves as well. When the Queen asked what they meant, Levi flashed an annoyed expression.
"Haven't you been paying attention to your reading? The Pact of the Graeae? The history of the Draconian War? What have you been reading this-"
Selena's cheeks flushed as she lightly coughed to interrupt; "Umm.. That's my fault, actually. I've been giving her etiquette and religious texts lately because of her upcoming meeting with the council. I can't cover for her anymore now that everyone knows that she's well again."
Selena twisted her hands together nervously; "She should have some idea about the Graeae Pact by now, but I don't think any of those books covers the Draconian War in any definitive way. Just a quick reference here or there."
Levi went to comment, but a pounding knock sounded from inside Iris' room. The three got up and filed into the room to see whom was visiting at such a late hour. Opening it, a guard stood straight as a board as he addressed the High Acolyte; "Senator Arlong would like to see you. I'm here to escort you to his office."
Selena openly scoffed, which the guard found amusing, but didn't show it. That was his jerk boss, after all. It was alright for her to insult him, but the guard couldn't without fear of repercussions. Senator Arlong was known for his intolerance of any kind of negative comment about his character.
Selena flashed a charming smile, then asked him to wait a moment while she informed the Queen. The guard nodded his understanding, then stepped away to wait right outside. As soon as she closed the heavy door, Selena began to panic.
"Arlong wants to see me! I bet he found out about your powers somehow," Selena's voice turned sarcastic; "I wonder HOW.."
Both Levi and Iris turned away, avoiding her harsh gaze. They knew she was talking about their frequent screaming matches lately. It wasn't something they'd done on purpose, but they were to blame all the same.
Feeling bad for causing trouble, Levi offered to go with her. She protested the idea, saying that it would only spark Arlong's anger further.
Levi was a God, but he wasn't a Graeae. The Gorgons worshipped him, while the Undines worshipped those whom had gifted them with power. The council would heed the Leviathan's presence and input, but would still resent the Queen for it..
After a few minutes of bickering back and forth, Iris finally stepped in, and firmly 'suggested' that Selena take him with her. She also told Levi Not to come out unless Selena was in trouble. As another knock came from the door to hurry them along, Iris shoved them towards, and out the door.
Iris exhaled deeply out of relief as she quickly turned about, grabbed the majority of the remaining bubble bites, then headed for her courtyard. She waited until the guard had swam past on the wall, then she swam hard to make it over.. Just in time to see the her glowing, little blue fish friends.
They'd not only gotten used to seeing her, but lingered longer and longer now that Iris had started feeding them. They were even starting to act like dogs, in a sense. She was slowly teaching them directional tricks, and they were catching on quickly.
She'd make a motion with her hands or arms, and they'd make the shape, or move in the directed pattern. Iris was absorbed in the moment, so she didn't notice any eyes on her..
"Don't you know that you're not supposed to feed wildlife?" A familiar voice called out to her in a low tone, so as not to carry and be heard by others.
Iris grinned at who she assumed was Trident, waved off her little friends, then swam over to join him. As she approached, a strange butterfly feeling filled her stomach as she got a better look at him.
There was only a minuscule amount of light coming from the palace, but it was enough to see his features. His jawline was strong, but not overly prominent. His cheekbones were defined, giving him a stern look, but also a very attractive one.
Nicely tanned skin paired with his long, braided white hair, and muscular body made him look like a finely chiseled statue. 'Pretty damn fine for a fish-man..' The thought came and gone with no consent.
She couldn't make out his eye color, but Iris assumed that it didn't matter. He was physically attractive either way, so his eye color didn't matter much to her. 'Gods, help.. This one is trouble.'
Iris ignored his joke with a smile and said; "I'm happy I got to see you again.. I'm actually having a rough day, so.."
Concern filled his features; "Why? Are you ok?"
"Umm, yes and no.. Can I ask you a question? It's kinda personal though," Iris fidgeted as she asked.
Atlas eyed her suspiciously; "How personal?"
Iris twisted her hands together out of nervousness; "Promise you won't say anything to anyone?"
The Merfolk King smirked; "I swear that whatever you tell me, stays between us. ...I think I'd get in a bit more trouble than you would if anyone found out about us, your highness."
Iris didn't like how her traitorous heart had thumped in her chest whenever he said the word 'us', like they were an item.. Before her head could run away with her heart, Iris asked; "Have you ever had to force yourself to become someone or something that wasn't you? Like, to the point of becoming a completely different person?"