Yellow and orange bloomed across my vision, wisping at the blues of the morning sky. The diamond blue water spanned the horizon past the marbling stone archways; warm air shimmied up my white sarong. Blonde hair swam across my torso when I turned toward a man.
“Markandeya, what are you doing here?”
Bright cobalt eyes and scruffy dark hair and skin, this god dressed like a warrior, but he mimicked his twin brother without needed to. He stepped forward abruptly, a single step, wanting to reach for me.
“We’re in trouble.”
“You and I?” I step diagonal to him, seeming to get closer but keeping an equal distance between us.
“No. Us. All of us. All of Atlantis.” Markandeya turned with me, and I must have misread what his eyes showed me. Not a shard of kindness lived in him or his twin.
“So why come to me with this news? Why not Crehon?”
“Because, Meleia, if I perish, I’d rather have your voice in my ears.”
I laughed. “Me? The little play thing you love to call on to help send people to your realm?”
“I’ve only ever asked for you to do what you were made to do. People’s choices only allow them so much freedom. You have final say on their fates.” Markandeya stepped closer again, and I worked to resist the charm. Something of the true terror inside him lured me in.
“And what do you ask of me now?”
His gaze caught the way I moved around him, his chest expanding against his breastplate. “To stop Phea from destroying us.”
I shook my head. The ocean called to me, and I would soon sink into it with the rest of my family. “Nothing can be done.”
Markandeya invaded my space before I took a new breath. “You’ve already sacrificed us to this fate?”
Wobbling, the strong masculine scent of him intoxicating. “Fate may be my responsibility amongst our people, but I do not control the cosmos. I have no say what happens to our pantheon. If we perish, we will return—as many times as necessary.”
Fingers finally finding the back of my arm, touch warmer than I’d imagined. Kinder. His mouth brushed my ear, rough hair on his face prickling my cheek. “Then I hope in one of those lives, you won’t find me so repulsive.”
The shift of air captured our scents, and Markandeya disappeared.
My throne room shifted over the harbour.
Destiny singing our destruction as a lullaby from its depths.