"Your Majesty." The princess curtsied, and Percy found himself intrigued, he hadn't been informed that today would be any different from any other day that wouldn't warrent him. "I am Princess Annabeth of Athens."
"Your Highness." Percy slightly bowed his head. "I was... Unaware that you would be coming. What brings you to Altantis?"
"Well, my mother is preparing for war." Princess Annabeth said. "She wishes to go to war with you." Ah, Percy thought. That would explain it. "But I wish for peace... As do my people. So I spoke to my mother, and this is our one chance to avoid this war that has been building up."
"I have no wish for war either." Percy was well-versed in what the people of Altantis wished for, and his views mirrored them. "I wish nothing for my people but peace and prosperity. Have you any ideas what would make your mother call of the war?"
"She wants to rule your city." She said. "And she wishes for your head. But she will not harm me."
"Are you suggesting that we hold you hostage?" Percy's eyes rose in surprise.
"I am willing to stay in Altantis for however long it takes my mother to call off this foolish war." She stood straight, and Percy's shoulders fell.
"And how will you convince her to do that?" He asked, seeing where her plan would fall apart. "True, she would not dare attack while you are here, but should she figure out your plan - as I am sure she will, her or one of her advisors - she will lie to get you to leave and attack once your back is turned."
"Then I will remain in Altantis for the rest of my life." She said, unfazzed. "Or until my mother dies."
"As much as I wish to avert war, Princess, I have no wish for you to live it a city so unlike the one that you are used to." He said. "My people have the aid of the Ocean. If we must, we will flood the city and leave nothing left for your mother."
"And where will your people go?" She asked.
"Unlike the Athenians, the Ocean is something we can survive and breath in." He said, and he looked behind her. "Princess, the only idea you have proposed is one which I cannot take. Have you no backup plans?"
"I- I hear you have sons." Annabeth said. "I- In the name of peace, I will marry one of them."
"I will have to speak with them." He said a grin of hope forming on his face. "Though the youngest might not be opposed to the idea, though I fear for their lives around your mother."
"If the son who wishes to marry me is as wise as you, oh king, then he will win her respect." She curtsied again. "May the king live forever."
"One final question." He said. "Where is the rest of your royal procession? If you were truely here with the permission of your mother, you would be well guarded."
"I..." She said. "Your Magesty-"
"But it is no matter." He looked at her, and she saw a ray of kindness that was stamped out of most kings and queens. "Take her to the guest rooms and provide her with all that she needs. We will inform her mother of this meeting, and should she request her daughter back, I will comply, unless the princess explicitly request to stay."
"Queen Athena will not be pleased, sire." The scribe beside him said. "Are you sure-"
"Do you question the king?" Percy asked. "I have given an order, and it is to be followed. Guards, ensure that my people are ready for an evacutation at any moment."
"Of course your Majesty." The soldiers bowed and he waved them off, eyes following Princess Annabeth as she left the room.
"You would marry her?" Triton asked, astonished.
"I would prefer for the city to remain in one piece, without Athenian troops controling it." Percy said. "And I would not force the Princess to stay. You know as well as I that she would escape, after a time, and her mother would bring her forces down upon our city.
"So you would give up your own freedom?" Poseidon asked. "Percy, this is foolishness!"
"So is keeping her hostage, or destroying the city and fleeing elsewhere." Percy said. "She arrived without a royal procession, but what if she truly has her mothers permission? What if she is here to learn of our strengths and weaknesses?"
"And if that is the case, would you marry her?" Poseidon asked.
"Better I than anyone else." Percy pointed out. "She would retain some of her freedom, and while the marriage would be loveless, we would be legally allied to Athens. Under those circumstances, her mother would be practically unable to attack Altantis."
"Isn't there another option?" Theseus asked. "I would not have my brother married futily."
"None that I can think of." Percy replied. "She wishes for our city, or our father's head, neither of which I can allow her to have."
"Annabeth is her daughter." Triton pointed out. "She could still have the city. She would be your queen. If her mother ruled through her-"
"I am the youngest." Percy reminded them. "All of you would have to die, and I have already sworn that I will protect all of you however I can."
"Another thing." Poseidon said. "How do you know you and the princess are correct in your assumption that Athena will not attack while she remains here?" Percy's face darkened.
"We don't." He admitted. "But I am willing to try anything to keep the city." He turned to the guards. "How long until we get a reply message from Athens?"
"Another day or so, milord." The guard said without turning his head. Percy nodded and turned to his family.
"I have nine brothers, all of whom are in the line of sucession before me." He said. "And my sisters also have the right to rule, should they chose it. It is neigh impossible for me to become King of Altantis." With that, he turned and left the room.
When Percy awoke the next morning, he found himself tied up facing soldiers who were most definately not Altantean. He groaned, and tried to sit up, but failed spectacularly. The soldiers laughed and then spoke.
"Your Highness's, he's up!" Percy surpressed a groan when the soldiers moved and the sun hit his eyes. He knew his brothers would be searching for him, as would his father. Hopefully his father had the good sense to wait to learn what had happened.
"Good." A cold voice said, and Annabeth appeared in Percy's view. He raised his eyebrows, and tried to move. "As I told you, I have no wish for war. This is the most perferable solution.
"You should remove the gag from his mouth, daughter." Percy recognized Athena's voice from his attempted diplomacy the last time they had spoken, but she had refused to listen to reason. Annabeth removed the gag, and Percy spoke.
"What's this about?" He asked in a kingly voice that echoed off the Athenians' armor.
"As I said, she wants your head." Annabeth said. "And your city, which we're currently surrounding. We think that if they witness your death, our takeover will be smooth."
"You're forgetting something." Percy said, stretching his gills. "We would rather destroy our city than watch anyone else take it."
"Why do you think you're here?" Annabeth hissed. "If you don't stop it, we kill your heirs." Percy snickered, but confusion appeared on her face. "What?"
"You've been made a fool of." Percy said. "Every member of the royal family can flood the city, and if it is flooded, then there is a good reason. No member of the royal family can stop it."
"Can't, or wont?" Athena asked dangerously.
"Won't." Percy said. "By the way, I think we've been spotted." He beckoned with his head towards the wall of Altantis. Triton appeared on top of the wall, his face pale. He spun around and said something to the guards.
"What do you want?" He yelled at Athena.
"Your kings head!" Athena replied. "Which I'm about to get, and then your city!" Triton paused before fixing his gaze on Percy.
"Tell them!" He yelled. "It's not worth your life!" Percy looked away, keeping his mouth firmly shut. "Tell them, that's an order!" Percy flinched, and Athena turned to him, eyes sparkling dangerously.
"Tell us what?" She asked. "And, given that you're the king, how can the Crown Prince order you around?" Percy glared at his brother, then obeyed the order.
"I am not the true king." He admitted. "Merely his body double." Athena's eyes widened in surprise before anger appeared and she hauled him to his feet.
"You have made a fool of me!" She snapped, grabbing her knife. At the same time Annabeth surged forward, reaching for her weapon.
"You lied to me!" She accused. Percy glanced at her.
"No." He said. "I never said I was the king."
"How long have you been pretending to be him?" Athena demanded, moving her knife towards his throat. "How long have we been tricked?" Percy didn't respond, thinking.
In reality, he had become his father's body double - at his request - when he had reached the age that he was old enough that he could fool people into thinking he was his father. His first trip out of Alantis posing as his father was when he had reached sixteen.
He was now twenty eight, with around two hundred vists with foreign ambassadors under his belt. Idly he registered a commotion on top of the wall - faintly hearing people telling someone to get back - and his eyes snapped to the wall and saw-
"Percy!" Poseidon yelled as he appeared on the wall, and Athena looked up, eyes wide, before turning her gaze back to Percy.
"The king's youngest son." She hissed. "I should've known, given the rumors I've heard. But I've never put stock in rumors." The tip of the knife pressed against his throat, and Percy blinked calmly.
"You've heard of me?" He asked, his voice not betraying any of his emotions.
"Yes, my people spoke of an unholy magic that made Poseidon's youngest look and sound exactly like him." She said, knife digging deeper, drawing blood. "It appears they are true. I may not have the city, but I will have your head!"