Aleksandra sighed deep within her soul. No sound escaped her, yet she felt the release all the way to her toes regardless. Immediately, the tension crawled back up her spine. She didn’t know how much longer she could hold off the need to go topside. If she could wait another week, her one-hundred-forty-seventh year would be gone, and she would be safe for another seven years. She could do this, she had to do this. It was just an urge, a need, a craving––it could be mastered. Aleksandra had mastered it before. Many times.
“My Queen, where are you going?” The low timbre of Shemane’s voice flowed around Aleksandra as the particular pitch brokered a true response.
Shemane was the only real warrior they had in this corner of their civilization, and she was also Aleksandra's best friend. As the Queen, Aleksandra was affronted at the General's tone of question. However, Shemane was Aleksandra's friend, so Aleksandra took a deep breath, settling her nerves before allowing the confrontation to begin, understanding the central truth to the demand––Shemane cared enough to be worried. Shemane had stepped up as Aleksandra's General to protect as her on that fateful day so many centuries ago. Slowly, Aleksandra turned to see the woman who was her counselor in every way.
Shemane's skin was flawless, her skin darkened and shimmered in the daylight currents of their ancient city, with a beauty Aleksandra truly envied. Shemane had strength, her curves and muscle were all woman, but they were honed by hundreds of years in battle, the likes of which their kind should never have seen. Shemane had every right to be concerned. The battles were getting worse––not only more violent, but more frequent as well.
“Shemane, we all have to take our turns on the walls. We can’t continue to subject the women to stand guard the way they have been. It goes against their nature. Additionally, I must stop relying on you to take my place, much less do it all as you so often have tried; you are not a one woman army.”
“We’ve had help,” Shemane countered.
Yes, they had. The amazing creatures surrounding them had come to their aid time and time again. Their beautiful, ancient city was covered with powerful anemone, poisonous to those who intruded upon their peace, yet no harm came to the women they protected. The dolphins and others who were loyal to the Atlanteans, always came to their side when called upon, and they had been called more and more often.
“We have, but such is not the answer. We all must take our turn. I am no different,” Aleksandra stated.
“You are very different. You’re the Queen, Aleksandra. We can’t risk you being attacked.”
“Shemane, I can’t ask the women to go against their nature, if I am not willing to do the same. I wish I could stop things from getting worse. It was different for my mother.”
“Your mother had your father, and if you had a mate, then it would be different for you as well; but you don't.”
“We’ve been over this Shemane," Aleksandra closed the space between them. The cool marble somehow absorbed her temper as her bare feet padded silently along until she was standing inches away from her General, councilor, and friend. Aleksandra allowed her tone to drop in octaves, letting her General know she would not be fought on this again. "I can’t risk becoming a Siren. I won't. If I call for my mate one more time, and he does not come, I may be lost forever. It has been over four hundred cycles.” Her voice sounded dead even to her own ears; matter of fact, and devoid of promise.
Aleksandra knew she wouldn’t be able to hold on through another empty calling. Even though the urge to go topside and sing for her mate was mounting like a volcano––so volatile she was afraid she would nearly erupt with it––she refused. She simply couldn’t. If she were lost, and became a Siren, like countless others before her, her entire people would be scattered like sea ash. When one turned and went down the dead path, they caused destruction, tipping the scales of the ecosystem in the wrong direction. However, if she were lost, the Queen of Atlantis, the rest of her people were doomed as well, no matter their own paths, and with them, the world.
Trying to feel something other than the hopelessness swimming in her veins, she scrunched her toes, feeling the wet sand as it collected under her feet. Someone cleaned their floors daily, if not several times a day, but the sand always found her, swirling and settling underneath her feet. The power which had been passed down to her would always pull the elements of the waters to her. Power...yes, her power.
Only she held the power to hold them all together, only she held the age old connection between all Atlanteans. Only she held the key to the ancient scrolls Rianna and Eryn were scouring over, in hopes of finding the solution. Trying to find where the pieces to the original stone tablets had been hidden. She choked the bitterness and anger down like bile, refusing to give in to the unproductive emotions. As Queen, there were certain things she had no choice in, and letting her emotions rule her was one of those things.
“I’m going, Shemane.”
Aleksandra pushed up off of the floor effortlessly and called her legs to be covered; the tissue and muscle that made up the clothing she wore, enveloped her long legs and sand-free feet; allowing her to swim away from her best friend. She would look for answers in the waters; the only place she found true comfort. Aleksandra simply wanted to lose her concerns in the calm beautiful clear of the deep, deep Aegean Sea. Shemane sounded a call, and the notes floated from behind Aleksandra, vibrating along her body as they made their way to their intended target; to those around and in front of Aleksandra. The very specific call, striking the cord inside all Atlanteans on guard telling them the Queen was ready to make her rounds, and for them to make ready as well. Shemane’s calls were just like her skin, deep and shimmery.
Each Atlantean's voice was unique to them, and them alone. There were thousands of women the world over who were able to identify each other by the mere tone and pitch of their vocal chords. Clicks, wheezes, rasps, and chatter allowed them to communicate with the other creatures of the water, and of course, each other over vast distances under the water. However, none were like Aleksandra. Being Queen meant, in her bloodline came the ability to be heard the world over when necessary. Her call could be heard by any and every water creature under her command. No other Atlantean could manage such a feat.
The Atlantean language was one which had been given to them in the beginning of time, and like all languages, theirs had evolved over several millennia into a more modern version of what it had been. They had incorporated other languages, other sounds, and words until Aleksandra was certain if her mother were alive today, she would hate it. Smiling at the realization, she shook her head.
Her mother would be appalled to say the least. A traditionalist from the very beginning; while her mother had been alive, she had tried to somehow find a way to forbid everyone from speaking in any way different from their original tongue. Aleksandra's father, of course, continuously stopped her, and brought reality to her outlook. Few people knew her father had been the soft one, he had been the one who told Aleksandra stories late at night, stole her away from her studies to go off on adventures topside, and taught her about dreams and how to live them. Of course holding her father up to the light in such a way made her mother look harsh in comparison; but that wasn't true either. Her mother was stern, and believed in principles; right versus wrong. It had been just over three hundred years, yet still Aleksandra could hear her mother's voice. Her mother had been a magnificent Queen, and had trained Aleksandra to be, in her mother's words "a better Queen than she".
Sometimes, Aleksandra wondered if she truly was "The Queen" her people needed her to be. She had allowed her sweet and lovely female Atlanteans to become warriors against any and all of her deepest instincts. She had let them take watch, let them do the work of men, simply to keep them alive. It didn't sound like much really, one could do anything one was required to do when it came to survival. However, her people, true born Atlanteans, were not created for war or fighting, they were created for preservation and balance. The men, their mates, were made for the violence the deep waters were known for. Their mates were created to be protectors. Yet, she had no mate. Most of them didn't. The men were few and far between the world over; and they were cherished. Her mate, should she find him, would be cherished even more than the rest. For, in time of war or danger to the great waters of Earth, he would take over ruling The Atlanteans. The King would lead their people to victory against the Sirens or whoever would be the water's largest adversary world-wide, allowing the women to help and work their own brand of magic during those needful times.
Long ago Aleksandra sent out a decree to have at least one man at every clan. However, she refused to have a mated couple in Atlantis. To do so would simply make things...unbearable for her.
Continuing to swim the ancient walls of their once glorious city, the currents shifted and the smells of the coral in bloom teased her. The weather was changing again, as was common in the deep, yet there was something else which came with the enticing fragrance. Some hint of warning, some tinge of something which should not be. It was not here yet, whatever it was. She would know, all of the deep would know, and they would be singing out a warning loud enough for the most deaf of creatures to hear. It was their way.
Slowing down, she allowed herself to drift amongst the warmth of the current; to simply feel the sun. It was common, and she reveled in the beauty of it.
Before her mind even registered what was happening, her heart began to sing. Hers was a soft song of hope and home, of life the way it used to be. Aleksandra could not help but to continue to let her soul bleed into the warm water as it moved over and around her body, taking her care and her pain away. Her voice was a powerful one, just as her mother's had been, as the Queen it wasn't simply necessary, it was a gift, yet even in power her voice was light, filled with her father's laughter and the light of a thousand children. God in Heaven knew her heart's desire before she ever even landed in His hand; so it was the song he gave her. The longing and loss of things she had yet to experience, of things she had yet to have. However, she somehow found hope.
A powerful wave rolled over her, had she not been so strong, it would have sent her sprawling. Stopping her song abruptly, she felt the water as it moved counter-constructive to the way of the deep. It took barely a look to see the sun's rays dropping in front and around her. Fear pierced her with icy claws as realization dawned on her at how very close to the surface she had actually been. The source of the reverting waves soon revealed itself when she spied the bottom of a bobbing ship not quite a mile away. Instantly her limbs felt as though they were each anchors, pulling her down toward the sea floor, yet she fought against the paralysis threatening her.
Had she actually gone to the surface, what would become of her next? Hysteria tried to overcome her, but Aleksandra simply refused. The questions in her mind would have to wait, as something was in distress.
The typical bobbing of the ship began to pull and sway in the midst of a creature's struggles, making the water violent as the waves struck her in the face, yet she could make out a shape. With one powerful stroke, she moved through the water as though the different currents were sea spider webs set up to divide portions of a cave; but even they wouldn't be able to stop Aleksandra. As soft as her tone was, her back was just as strong, and nothing would be in harms way in her Queendom. She simply refused to allow it.