The demon fish and evil Nereids circled around me, cautiously, deciding who should attack first. A particularly gaunt one, with more grayish skin than the others launched herself at me. She slashed at my stomach, cutting through the fabric of my swimsuit. My monokini was now a bikini. She tore off the goggles I was wearing and rammed me again, knocking me into the turbulent surf. The pink goggles drifted away into the waves, and I felt a bit guilty. I had borrowed those from a six year old. Now she’d never see them again.
The other Nereids took my moment of lull as an opportunity and then shoved me deeper into the surf, letting the waves knock me around, pulling me farther and farther into the surf.
The waves crashed over me, pounding me into the sand.
The water roared in my ears, mixing with the screeches of the Nereids.
One of the demon fish dogs bit into right calf, sinking its fangs in deep.
I screamed out in pain, the sound only coming out in bubbles. I watched as blood seeped from the wound turning the water red.
The Nereids began to circle again, but this time less excited.
A few of the Nereids looked at me curiously, confused by something. They seemed a little scared.
A few of them fled, taking there ocean hounds with them.
The bravest one, also the biggest, barred her fangs at me and with me helpless still fighting the waves. She swam up with a quick burst and elbowed me in the face.
Everything went black, for a second I could feel my body begin to sink.
I didn’t even notice that during the entire time, I had never stopped for breath.
I never needed to.
I could breathe underwater.
When I woke, I woke up screaming.
Whilst being unconscious my subconscious must have realized how much danger I was in so it decided to wake me up with sound of my own shrieks.
My eyes snapped open and I sat up, my hands first going up to my mouth, bubbles formed when I muttered to myself, so I was exhaling air. But how in the world was I inhaling it.
I looked around, I was still underwater, but the scenery was much different.
I was in a room. It was small and circular, only having a bed and a dresser. It was a huge white four poster bed, the head boards appeared to be made out of white coral and the white silk sheets floated lazily over the bed. The walls were carved from white shell looking like entwining vines, and the floor was made from abalone, the room looked like a gazebo. With open walls except for more tightly woven with carved white shell.
Outside I could see a palace, half moon shaped, myself on one end. I must have been up in a tower because I could see most of the castle from above.
Crazy looking merpeople, fish and various sea monsters weaved peacefully through the spires and courtyards.
“Poseidon’s castle,” I whispered to myself, resulting in a flurry of bubbles.
Not only had my location changed, but my outfit had too.
I was wearing a sheered blue dress, a pearly white breast plate and my hair had been pulled back elaborately, with various pearls and shells entwined with braids.
“Why do they always have to dress me up?” I sighed, “I’m the freaking Barbie doll of the gods.”
I felt my hair, which had tripled in size, pulled a mini crab off the back of my neck, and freaked out when I found starfish sucking on various places on my body.
Tiny sea creatures had made homes for themselves on me, like I was a human coral reef.
A gigantic sea star was sucking on my wounded calf; I screamed at it (resulting in more bubbles) and tried to pry it from my leg.
“I would do that if I were you,” chimed a voice from my right, “You’re not fully healed yet.”
I jumped, slightly rising from the bed, Mea floated in the window/door/balcony entrance.
She swam up to me and hugged me tightly.
“Oh and if you think about what your going to say before you speak, there won’t be so many bubbles. Don’t ask me how that works, I don’t know.”
“What- what in Hades are you doing here?” I asked.
“I’m here to protect you of course,” she replied cheerily, “Who do you think brought you here and fixed you up?”
“Was the hair really necessary?” I asked.
She giggled, “No, but you were out for a while and I got bored. Oh and sorry about the armor, it’s the only think we have here.”
“Not a problem,” I replied, “I prefer armor, especially over dresses,” I picked at the skirt distastefully, “Wait, aren’t you a freshwater mermaid? How can you breathe here?” I asked.
She laughed again, “You ask how I, the mermaid, can breathe here, before you ask why you can,” she shook her head in disbelief, “I’m here working for Poseidon and this necklace,” she said gesturing at a silver chain around her neck, “works as a filtration system, like that ring you’re wearing, it creates a small force field around my body and like yours filters the water into air, mine filters it into freshwater.”
“My ring?” I asked, and then realized I was still wearing the small silver band around my ring finger. I examined it, it glowed lightly, a dim blue surrounding my entire body.
“The ring of Neptune,” said a male voice from the balcony.
I spun around to see Poseidon, in full battle armor, similar to mine but much more elaborate.
He smiled warmly at me, “Welcome to my Palace, Lea.”
“Thanks…”I replied hesitantly.
Normally demigods don’t get direct council with Poseidon, Percy had told me this. I worried what I had done wrong.
“I’m guessing Zeus sent you to collect my part of the Celestial Staff first,” suggested Poseidon.
“Uh yeah,” I replied, my glance flickering to Mea. Not that I didn’t trust her. I just thought that nobody was supposed to know about the staff, but she didn’t look confused at all.
Poseidon noticed my stare, “Mea is my most trusted warrior, there is a reason I’ve sent her to check in on you and Percy so often. She is the only one on my court who knows of the staff, for she took part in its creation.”
“What?” I sputtered, “She’s like seventeen.”
Poseidon chuckled, “and I’m like forty. Don’t let appearances fool you.”
Mea grinned at me reassuringly; there was a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. I’m guessing she didn’t tell many of her suitors this.
“Alright,” I said, pushing back my hair feeling my eyes bulge a little, so one of my friends was over 3000 years old, no big deal. Nico is somewhere around eighty years old.
“I wish Zeus had told me you were coming,” sighed Poseidon, “You could’ve avoided this trip altogether.”
“What do you mean?” I demanded, watching the large starfish slowly relocate himself on my calf.
“You already have the sea portion of the staff,” explained Poseidon, “I gave it to you last year, knowing that this quest would formulate.”
“The ring?” I asked, fiddling with it on my finger. I got the strange urge to take it off, but I knew that would result in me being crushed by the water pressure.
I stopped fiddling with the ring.
“Indeed,” he replied, “If my brother had not been so insolent you could have been saved a trip. Oh well, might as well take advantage of your time here. I need some help.”
“Help with what?” I questioned.
I was answered by an explosion.
“He has arrived,” announced Poseidon, looking worried.
I noticed that some of his hair turned a bit grayer and his wrinkles deepened momentarily.
“Who?” I asked curiously, stepping off the bed shakily. I still wasn’t used to the whole walking underwater thing.
Mea helped me find my balance.
Poseidon led us through the doorway and down a long corridor made from the same beautiful white shell and abalone.
After a lot of walking, (and stumbling over my own feet, in my case) we walked into a large room. It looked like a conference room, with a huge rectangular table. By huge, I mean it was made for people who were at least thirty feet tall. There were large thrones of the same proportions. I felt tiny, once again like a Barbie doll, but this time for a different reason.
“Cover your eyes,” Mea whispered into my ear.
I instantly knew what was going to happen and shielded my eyes with my arm.
The bright light pierced through my mask, but luckily I was not blinded.
When the light faded and my eyes adjusted I saw Poseidon next to me, tripled in size.
He ambled over to the largest throne at the head of the table and sat down, staring at the far doorway expectantly. He looked very wary.
“Come with me,” said Mea, she grabbed my arm and swam us up to a small balcony over looking the table.
Just as I got comfortable other people began to enter, as they did Mea whispered their name into my ear.
First was Amphrite, wearing an outfit similar to mine.
Following her was the rest of Poseidon’s court, a few Nereids, and Triton.
There was also a guy who looked like a very grumpy hobo, Nerius, (I snickered remembering Percy’s evil Santa Claus story), a nice looking fisherman chewing what I thought was tobacco, Glaucus, and a guy who kept on shifting forms I couldn’t exactly pin any one feature on him, expect that he was always male, Proteus.
All of these gods (or whatever they were) sat on the right side of the table, muttering to each other nervously.
I was about to ask Mea what was going on, when there was another explosion, and a brilliant flash of blue light.
Then a new much more sinister looking group marched through the door. First was a rabid looking chick, matching Percy’s description of the evil aquarium lady, Keto and a wiry hair man who walked like a crab. His name was like Porky or something.
Lastly entered two particularly large people, a man and a woman.
The woman had straight green-black hair pulled back into a simple straight ponytail. She had dark sunken eyes, green iris that swirled and churned like deep sea water, her eye brows were arched so dramatically she looked like a carton and her cheekbones were so pronounced that they looked like someone had molded her out of clay with a knife. The man looked quite similar; he was about sixty years old, with equally harsh cheekbones. He wore a lead colored suit with a metallic green skinny tie. He had curly short cut salt and pepper hair and down turned lips as if he had just eaten something really sour. Following him and the woman was a bunch of those crazy Nereids who had attacked me earlier.
“Pontus and Thalassa,” whispered Mea, sounding slightly in awe, “And they’ve brought the Rouges.”
“Pontus like the protengea of the sea, Pontus?” I asked. I knew that when she said Rouges she was referring to the Nereids.
Mea gulped, nodding. She looked terrified.
I started to feel a bit terrified too, all of these really powerful and really important members of the Sea Deity all in one room. Something big was happening.
“Welcome,” boomed Poseidon, “Please sit, you are guests here at the moment.”
“At the moment,” grumbled Pontus bitterly.
Poseidon ignored the bitter comment, “We have come to discuss the terms of an alliance.”
“Indeed,” agreed Pontus, “and I’d rather not dally with standard formal procedure.”
A few of the Rouges hissed at me as they circled the room. Other than Mea and myself they were the only being of normal size, the rest being in giant form.
“Alright,” said Poseidon, “We’ll get straight to it. What are your terms?”
Pontus thought for a minute, muttering with Thalassa.
“We have decided in order to be your allies we want control over the Seven Major oceans unconditionally.”
Everyone on Poseidon’s Court gasped.
“No,” replied Poseidon instantly, “No that is absurd. That’s more that 80% of my kingdom.”
“At least six of the oceans or I will send the signal marching troops on there way here to take the ocean by force,” replied Pontus defiantly.
The room exploded with noise, everybody got to their feet yelling at the opposite side of the table. They shouted death threats and shook their fists at each other.
I looked over at Mea who appeared to be having a panic attack, she was mutter, “Oh no, oh no no no,” and repeatedly running her fingers through her hair.
“Oh shut up, will you?” I yelled at the top of my lungs.
Everybody gasped, stopping the chattering immediately and turning to stare up at me in awe. Even the Rouges stopped what they were doing and dropped their arms dumbly, looking like sea gorillas.
“Excuse me?” shrieked Thalassa.
“Did I stutter?” I replied snarkily.
Thalassa’s mouth dropped open.
She was beginning to remind of Hera, all high and mighty.
“I’ll make you guys a deal,” I said, “Either you can choose to fight the Olympians and get torn to pieces or you can ally with us and I’ll promise to spare you.”
The room vibrated with laughter, Thalassa nearly folded over completely she was cracking up so badly.
I kept my cool, if there was one thing I learned from making deals with the gods; they always act more confident than they are.
I stood on the balcony, Mea staring at me in horror; I smiled pleasantly down at the councils.
“Did you hear that?” wheezed Thalassa, “The little mortal girl just threatened us!”
The Porky guy laughed hesitantly; shifting uncomfortably next to Keto who was crying with laughter.
“Oh you sad, ill informed crustaceans,” I hissed down at them putting on a show, “You don’t know what’s coming do you?”
They stopped laughing immediately, staring up at me; confused.
“Oh that is just,” I paused, “fantastic!”
They began to look scared of me, the way people stare at some drunken guy ranting on the street.
“You have no idea!” I yelled, acting excited, and then I began to laugh maniacally.
They looked at each other uncomfortably, muttering, “What don’t we know?”
“Oh shame it’s a secret,” I said, “Only our allies know the plan.”
Instantly Porky’s hand shot up, “I pledge my allegiance to Poseidon once again.”
Nerius, Proteus and Glaucus, rolled their eyes exasperatedly, muttering to one another, “Always shifting with the power,” one of them said.
Keto stood and said, “I too will ally with you Poseidon, if you promise to release my children into the sea of monsters where they may be contained.”
At first I thought it was kind of weird that this chick was asking to put her kids in monster infested waters, but then I realized her kids are the monsters.
“It will be done,” agreed Poseidon, beginning got grow younger with new strength and hope.
“Traitors,” muttered Thalassa.
“I too, will ally,” offered Pontus, he looked directly at me, “If you agree I will not be harmed in any way and will join the Council of Poseidon with high ranking power.”
“I agree,” Said Poseidon, “But the power must be earned, you must prove yourself loyal when the opportunity arises.”
Pontus nodded, sitting back down.
“You coward!” screamed Thalassa.
Pontus seemed unfazed by her comment.
She screamed and erupted into bubbles, disappearing.
Following their masters lead the Rouges swam out of the room quickly, fleeing.
“Well,” huffed Poseidon,” That went well.”
“Well?” I asked.
Had he not just sent the crazy ocean spirit just transport away in a flurry of bubbles?
“Don’t worry about Thalassa,” Pontus said looking at me, “She’s all talk.”
“Reminds me of someone I know,” I muttered, hoping Hera couldn’t hear me.
Pontus grinned, “Who are you?”
“I’m…” I paused for a second thinking about Zeus’ warning, “Kim. Kimberly Doubt, daughter of Iris. I was here on a trip to deliver a message to Poseidon and I just kind of got caught up in things.”
There was a twinkle of doubt in Pontus eyes, “That’s odd, I don’t sense any divine lineage in you.”
“Well, I um,” I stuttered, “Poseidon made me trade it for the ability to breath underwater. Were going to trade back soon.”
“Mmhm,” agreed Pontus and then sensing my lies he took a last glance at me and walked out of the room.
I looked at Mea, wide eyed. We both kind of stared at each other for a second saying through our expressions, “Thank the gods that’s over.”
I stepped off the balcony and let myself sink to the floor; the council began to drift out. Glaucus, on his way out offered me some weird herb, which I of course denied and he shrugged as if to say, “Your loss, could’ve made you a sea god, but that’s your choice.”
Proteus shook my hand appreciatively on his way out of the room, which felt really strange because his hand was constantly shifting into different shapes and sizes.
After a few minutes Poseidon, Mea and I were once again the only ones in the room.
“Thank you, Lea,” said Poseidon, “you bluff was exactly what we needed.”
“Yeah, no problem,” I replied, “I guess those theaters my mom made me go to back in second grade paid off.”
Poseidon chuckled, “I don’t think I’ve ever met a demigod with as much spunk as you.”
“Gee thanks,” I replied.
I never really liked the word spunk, it reminded me too much of skunk.
“Mea,” said Poseidon, “if you could please escort Lea back to her friend. I have a feeling he’s quite worried.”
“What friend?” I asked confused, “Oh my gods, Nico!” I shouted.
Poseidon chuckled again, Mea joining with him, with her cheery little giggle.
Mea grabbed my hand and a flurry of bubbles engulfed us like it had done with Thalassa.
Suddenly I felt myself rise and the next thing I knew I was breaking the surface of the water, completely soaking wet. I guess I didn’t get all the same benefits as Percy.
My hair had fallen out of the elaborate hairstyle and the armor was gone.
A few on the little sea creatures that had been hanging out in my hair or attached themselves to my skin, jumped of. Abandoning ship, sinking back below the waves. The large starfish detached itself from my calf leaving it perfectly healed. It felt weird was watching the purple guy get pulled around by the tide, I probably should’ve thanked him.
Mea had also disappeared.
I was left, treading water about a hundred feet out from shore in a sheer blue dress.
I swam up onto shore, tripping over the dress, falling into the sand clumsily. It seemed as if as soon I had gotten used to walking through water, I forgot how to walk like a normal person.
A few yards down the shore, Nico stared at me in awe, two completely melted ice cream cones in his hands. The melted desert covered his fingers, his entire forearm was coated in the sticky cream but he didn’t seem to notice. He was clearly freaking out.
The second he saw me, cursing at the sand spitting out sea water, he dropped both of the cones and sprinted towards me.
He flung his arms around me at such a force that he nearly knocked me over.
“Where in Hades were you?” he demanded.
“Swimming,” I replied vaguely.
“For three hours straight?” he asked.
“It was only three hours?”
“Only!” he spat, letting go of his tight grip, “Lea, I had no idea where you went. I wandered around the beach looking for you with ice cream in my hands for the entire time.”
“Sorry,” I replied, “This didn’t really go as planned did it?”
He laughed desperately, resting his forehead on my shoulder, “Not exactly, although we didn’t really have plan in the first place.”
“Touché,” I said, “But I got what we came for so I’d say it was a success.”
“You did?” he asked, pulling back to stare at me questioningly.
“Actually,” I replied, “Turns out I had it all along.”
I flashed the ring at him.
He didn’t even question, we both knew not to say too much out loud for fear someone might here us.
He sighed, “Just as long as you’re alright.”
He hugged me again, “You smell like the ocean.”
“Really?” I asked, rolling my eyes, “I wonder why?”
He pulled away letting go of me, then he noticed what I was wearing.
“You look like a goddess,” he said.
I laughed insecurely, shoving him, “You should have seen me as a goddess.”
“Sorry, I got a bit of ice cream on the back of your dress,” he said referring to the smudges of mint chip on the nape of my back.
“Sorry that I’m soaking wet, and now you are too,” I replied.
“I don’t mind,” he said, and then he grinned at me.
The sun was setting in the distance, dying the sky red, pink and orange.
Nico and I trudged back to where we had tucked our suitcases and I quickly changed into some pajamas. Nico came out of the changing room wearing long pants again, which was actually kind of reliving in a way. It was too weird seeing him in shorts.
We both sat in the warm sand, myself burying my toes to keep them warm as we watched the sun sink below the horizon.
“So,” asked Nico, “Should we head back to camp?”
“In a minute,” I replied, “Were in Hawaii after all, no need to leave so soon.”
“Hmm, yeah,” he replied, “Guess your right.”
“Of course I’m right,” I said, jabbing him lightly in the ribs.
He laughed, “Can’t take a compliment can you?”
He sighed, “So what’s next?”
“I wait for Zeus to call me back to Olympus to reveal the second location. Until then we stay at camp.”
“I’m guessing your going o take part in the sword fighting tournament,” said Nico.
“Definitely,” I replied, “You?”
“I’m not sure,” he replied, “That would mean I’d have to fight you.”
“Is it really a fight if you have no chance of winning?” I taunted.
“Oh now I’m definitely going to do it,” he replied.
“Just you try,” I said and then I leaned against him, closing my eyes.
In a few hours we’d be back at camp, we’d be safe and I wouldn’t have to worry about the quest for a while.
I fell asleep deceiving myself with those thoughts.