Warm water rocks against Amphitrite Seadaughter, known to most as Headmistress Tritey. She sweeps her streaky hair away from her face and waits for my questions. We’ve met at a bistro at the foothills of Loihi, a submerged volcano not far from TIDES campus. But far enough, I hope, that she’ll loosen up and share a few secrets.
“You’ve spoken out against the Pacific Ring for a long time,” I say, “well before most of the sea sprite world realized they were a threat.”
Tritey adjusts the recollector bracelet on her arm, her gaze hovering on the lava-wreathed seamount behind me. “Yes. Even then I saw their cruelty. Although I didn’t realize how vicious they’d become.”
I lean forward on my stool. “A change, I think we all agree, that can be attributed to Abaddon’s takeover.”
Tritey’s mouth thins and she darts a sharp look at me before taking a sip of her kelp juice. “That seems clear.” She crosses her knee and smoothes her plain trout-skin skirt.
“It’s almost as if he came from nowhere,” I say. “No one heard of him and then—boom—Abaddon’s the leader of the most powerful undersea crime league.” I try not to look suspicious, but no doubt Tritey picks up on the undercurrent behind my next words. “Rumor has it that he won’t harm you, that he won’t attack TIDES so long as you command the mage school.”
She laughs, but her smile does not extend to her eyes. “Command? I’d hardly say I command TIDES. Guide it, maybe.” She trails off, probably hoping for a new question. But I wait. She removes her bracelet and turns it over in her hands before dropping it to her lap and raising her gaze to mine. “I don’t know.” The faint lines in her brow deepen. “Before he came to power, I thought the Pacific Ring would kill me just to quiet my voice of dissent. But then….” Her eyes grow distant again, tracing a puff of steamy water billowing from the volcano. “But then Abaddon took control. The Ring grew more brutal but they backed off from me.” Her voice breaks but her expression hardens. “What I wouldn’t give to bring them down. The pain they’ve caused…I don’t care what it takes, but someday I’ll make it right.”