The trip there ended up taking three days. Three days of traveling along currents in an intangible body. It was like swimming, but actually being a part of the thriving ocean water. It was so natural and riveting that when the city came into view, the demi-spirit was almost disappointed to be reaching his destination.
The underwater Capital looked different from what the young man had expected. He had thought it would hold the same enchanting allure as the mystical Atlantis his mother had told him so many stories about. But this was not the same city. There were the magnificent buildings of soaring columns and arching domes, all of which seemed to have grown naturally from the coral. Except the great underwater city, the home of the heroic Aquaman and Black Manta menace was particularly special for one thing: magic.
The city that Nereus was approaching held no hint of the mystical power. It was emitting something more solemn, but held tangible puissance. The intimidating essence almost made the spirit-human-hybrid turn back. Almost. He pressed on until he reached the city gates. There was no impenetrable forcefield like that of Atlantis. However, as he swam through the gates, there was a certain resistance against him that made him realize only those who belonged in the Capital were allowed to enter.
From the inside, the city was even more glorious. Everything from the cobble stone streets to the arch ways seemed to be lacquered with silver, reflecting the light that the city created for itself. After spending so much time in the currents as a spirit, Nereus was surprised to find himself in his human form. Here, though, he felt as light as ever, as if he remained an massless entity so that he felt that he was floating rather than walking.
There were subtle differences about this body to the one he wore when running the lighthouse back in Happy Harbor. His ears were slightly pointed like a pixy’s, and his eyes gave him access to sharper lines and clearer dimensions. Nereus’s clothing was different as well. Rather than worn board shorts and a thin tee-shirt accommodated by gasoline stains and holes courteous of moths, his garb matched the style of the civilians around him. His starch white shirt and black pants fit comfortably loose, and the white jacket came straight from a 17th century novel, brass buttons and all. It was very flattering and comfortable, and the uniformity held the authenticity of the ancient city’s heritage.
The palace was easy enough to find, as it was the grandest of the buildings. It towered over the others, but not by much, as if merely reminding the shops and complexes of its superiority without bragging. Nereus paused a moment at the bottom of the bronze steps, taking a breath of cool ocean, and climbed the stairs to the massive open entrance.
The inside was just as grand as the rest of the city. However, as Nereus walked down the golden carpet, he gave no notice to the tapestries of burgundy kelp or the columns decorated with patterns of live, sparkling starfish and barnacles. Even the people huddled in circles of murmurs were beyond his comprehension. His eyes were only for the two spirits sitting on the thrones backed by giant, bleached white sand dollars.
Both were young, immortal as the rest of the spirits in the city, yet there were visible streaks of white in the hair of either. They were dressed in what looked like silk robes, with tassels hanging from the belts around their waists. The king looked familiar, as if Nereus had met him before -though was sure he had never encountered the man. The queen was beautiful, dark brown hair woven in a bun, and a smile on her face as she spoke with the group of men standing before her and her husband. Of course, Nereus was bias because his grandmother sat on the throne with the same appearance and confidence as his mother had.
As Nereus approached the thrones, the men parted, and he found himself standing before the grandparents he had never known. It may have been proper to bow or kneel or address the royal rulers as such, but the young man could only stare.
“Well?” the queen urged after a moment.
“Speak up, boy,” her husband prompted.
“Sir, ma’am,” Nereus finally greeted, dropping to a kneel, “I am Nereus, son of Princess Khepri, descendent of Nereus the Mighty, and-”
“Oh, we know who you are,” the king interrupted. “And do stand, boy.”
“We know everything about you,” the queen elaborated. “We are Queen Cytherea and King Costas of the sea spirits. There is little that can be hidden from us.”
“Then you know why I came?” Nereus asked, feeling even smaller than he had before even as he stood back up.
“Of course!” King Costas chimed with confidence, “You’re eighteenth birthday approaches, and as a hybrid of the water and the earth, the two parts of your spirit grow restless. It wants a definite answer from you: human or spirit. But you know you cannot live as just one. The sea is a part of you, but the land, oh the land is where you grew up. And it is where your love remains.”
“There always does seem to be a girl involved,” Cytherea commented, which allowed a knowing smile to be exchanged between the two rulers as the king took his queen’s hand across the arms of their thrones. “You want to remain as you are. A human who can become a spirit of the sea, and a water dweller who may travel upon the land.”
“So you’ll help me?” Nereus requested eagerly.
“Of course not!” she exclaimed as if it was obvious. His face fell like the pressure before a storm. “You have to choose just one.”
... Are you allowed to publish 2 series at once?