"You can't do that! Not unless your necklace reacts to him," Selena wailed.
Iris turned towards Selena with a soft, understanding smile; "I can, per the Heritage Continuum. So long as the Council approves of his character. Considering he's the son of a Senator, I'm sure he's a decent Aquarian.."
Trepidation covered Selena's features as she swam over to Iris while saying; "You don't understand, my Queen.. There's no way that you can beat me. Please, Please reconsider-"
"I can't agree! The High Acolyte will never fight seriously against you!" Senator Arlong brayed.
Iris smirked; "Selena won't have a choice.. I found the Scales of Themis."
Gasps and murmurs erupted from the senators. Themis was known as the Titan Goddess of Divine Law and Order, and Councilor to Zeus. She was one of the Titans that joined the Olympians because she had prophesied their victory.
Her scales were made by the Cyclops, just like Poseidon's trident. They maintained the balance of justice wherever they were. Forcing those around them to bare their truths when asked, and abide by any agreed upon rules or laws.
It was gifted to the Aquarian Kingdoms after the Draconian War, and was meant to be kept within the Monarch's Edifice at all times. The artifact was never meant to leave the building, but was stolen too many generations ago for it's original purpose to be remembered.
Iris watched the Council members with harsh scrutiny. She fought the urge to chuckle when a few of them went sickly-pale, including Arlong. 'They must have some things that they don't want to mention, hehe. Let 'em sweat..'
The scales forced those within it's presence to adhere to the agreed upon rules and laws set forth, no matter how far they traveled afterwards. 'Basically, it magically forces everyone around it to play by the rules. I wish every politician would carry a working keychain version of this in my old world..'
Selena's eyes bulged from her head. She couldn't believe that Iris had found the scales, or that she had planned all of their current situation on her own. 'Was she some kind of strategist in her world?!'
Of course Iris wasn't. When she had been human, Serenity was a straight-A student. She had to be, to maintain her scholarship. Researching was her bread and butter back then, and it doubly paid off now.
While researching the laws, Iris noticed a sudden surge in petty, class-based limitation laws. They were all created by varying senators, and none had the actual authority of the acting Royal family at the time. They were created during the gaps when a princess was orphaned at a young age, and the Council ruled on high.
Iris had wondered why there was such a drastic moral decline in the laws, and found out that the Undines had started taking the Scales of Themis. The Queen at the time didn't trust her Council, and it turned out that she was right not to.
They poisoned her and ruled the kingdom through her young daughter until she came of age. The scales had been lost since then. Iris was in the oldest part of the Royal Records room when she had found it on a hidden shelf behind an old and suspicious-looking tapestry.
Levi didn't come back until the sun was piercing the morning waters. Once Iris had returned from talking with Trident, she'd gotten bored waiting for him. Picking up one book led her to a thought, then another, then another..
Before Iris knew it; she was in the Royal Records room above her bedroom. The section of the palace that was designated for her technically had about four rooms altogether. A parlor, her bedroom, the Records room, and her bathroom.
Digging in to the ancient collection had taken her all night, but she'd found everything that she'd needed..
"Well, Senator? What do ya say? Or we can be rational, and drop all of this nonsense-"
"I accept! Where is the scale?" Arlong asked hastily.
"I still refuse," Selena stared at Iris as she restated her position loudly.
Iris stared at her friend back; "...Can I talk to you for a sec?"
Pulling Selena aside, Iris spoke as quietly as she could manage; "What are you doing?! You're screwing up my plan!"
"You screwed up My plan! What were you thinking?! You can't fight me!" Selena's voice was strained with her exasperation.
"We've been sparring every day since I got my powers, and you said I was good-"
Selena sighed deeply; "Not My-level Good! I'm the Field General for the Undine Army! Did you honestly think I was going all-out against you when I was Training you?! There's no Way you can beat me!"
"...Okay, I admit I'm a little intimidated by you now, but as long as you don't actually go all-out against me, we're good.. right?"
Selena glared at her Queen; "How should I know?! This was all your crazy idea! Why didn't you tell me about it this morning?"
Iris' expression went flat; "And what's this plan of yours that I supposedly messed up?"
Selena shrunk slightly at her words. She was being a hypocrite, and she knew it. However, it didn't stop her from trying to dissuade Iris.
"The Scales of Themis are said to weigh Everything that is agreed upon in good faith, against the actions taken. If you lose, which you Will, the scales will strike you down if you don't follow through with the marriage!"
Iris grinned cheekily; "Then I guess I won't lose then!"
Swimming away from an irate Selena, Iris called to a guard in the hallway. He came in with a covered item, set it down on the long table in front of the gathering senators, bowed, then left.
Going up to the table, Iris uncovered the scales with a touch of flare. It looked like pure gold, and had intricate little symbols carved all over it. A large diamond-looking sat at the top, and an unnatural glow emanated from it.
The senators all murmured amongst themselves, except for Arlong. He stared at it like a child eyeing a cookie jar that they was about to steal from..
Turning his attention to Selena, Arlong called out to her; "What say you, High Acolyte? Will you fight her, or will you ignore the wishes of your Queen and Council?"
Selena looked over at Levi with a pleading expression, but there was nothing he could do. He wasn't even sure if he was already breaking any rules, just by being there. Technically the gods weren't supposed to interfere with the mortals' rule.
Realizing her futility, Selena turned her attention to Senator Arlong. He grinned at her like he'd already won, which only served to piss her off more. Swimming over to be next to Iris, Selena stopped and glared at the conniving Undine before she spoke her piece..
"If I can't refuse, then I want limitations. You can't expect me to use my full capabilities on the Queen. I will use twenty percent of my strength. That should be enough for you to evaluate her."
Arlong snorted; "Shouldn't the Queen of the Undines be more powerful than the High Acolyte?"
Selena wanted to slap the smirk off of his face, but she reframed; "She is still young! To expect her to be on par with me is like expecting sunlight in the Deep!"
Senator Gravi finally swam forward with Levi trailing behind him; "May I suggest forty percent of your strength? The Queen of the Undines should be more than capable of that."
"I will not settle for less than eighty! You've been training her since she was a child! She should be capable-"
One of the other senators set his hands on the table to gain everyone's attention; "I suggest fifty. Half strength for the age and experience gap. That should make the match even."
"She is nearing her first breeding cycle, and as Senator Arlong pointed out: you have been training her nearly her entire life. If Queen Iris wishes to have the Council backing her decisions, then she must prove why our faith should be vested with her.."
Selena openly glared at Senator Kadin while Senator Arlong chimed in; "What say you, Council?!"
The twelve men spent a good twenty-five minutes in deliberation. Two others tried to agree with Arlong, but the majority ruled in favor of Selena using fifty percent of her capabilities. Ready to come to an agreement, everyone gathered around the table.
Iris set her finger on one scale, and Senators Arlong and Kadin lightly placed theirs on the other. Levi asked the terms of the agreement, and Iris stated them clearly and concisely.
"The agreement is that I shall best the High Acolyte Selena in a physical fight, to determine my capabilities. If I lose, I agree to marry the son of Senator Arlong. If I win, Senator Arlong will step down as a senator. Both sides agree to not challenge the outcome, or complain about it. Do all present agree?"
With an unanimous agreement from all, the Scales of Themis began to eerily glow. A surge of power released within the room, surprising the senators. Arlong's face shifted nervously when it'd happened, bringing a knowing smirk to Iris' face.
'Let's see if the idiot kills himself or not..'
With that last thought: Iris and everyone in the Delegation Chamber filed out, and headed for the main courtyard...