The Conch family wasn't always royal. Some of Christina's earliest memories were in a small fishing hut. That's right, King Conch used to be a fisherman. So, Christina was around the ocean for most of her young life. She loved the ocean with every inch of her being and cared more about it than she did certain people.
The ocean had never been cruel to her. The ocean had never hurt her. And most importantly, the ocean was gave meaning to life. Christina never had to worry about her role in society when she was with the ocean. She never had to worry about what she would do that day. She loved the ocean.
So, as she grew older, she started painting it. People would often ask if she could draw anything else. She couldn't. Besides, the ocean was so interesting. She knew how to draw the different moods of the ocean. That made it very interesting. She had paintings of fierce waves, cresting white at the top with destruction in their wings. She had paintings of a calm ocean, waves lapping at the beach with no apparent hurry.
As much as she loved the ocean, she still respected it. She knew that she could die in the ocean. She knew that if she wondered too deep into it that she would not return from the kingdom of coral and fish.
So she was careful when she painted.
At first, she wouldn't even leave the beach. Her parents got painting after painting of the view outside their house. But she started to find different angles that made the ocean look breathtaking. One night she went out and found that there was some kind of bacteria in the water that made it glow. She spent hours painting the blues, greens, and purples that she saw.
But today was different.
Today the ocean was angry. It was furious. Christina stood, looking out to the horizon, sea spray kissing her face. She was still young. Still small. But the ocean made her feel unstoppable. Today she began a treacherous climb on one of the cliff faces that erupted out of the sand next to her house.
The wind ripped at her body. Her stiff fingers found purchase on the rippled surface of the stone. Her bag of art supplies almost came loose off her shoulders. A shock went through her as she realized that if she fell, she would die. The ocean would kill her.
The ocean bowed to nobody.
Her teeth chattered from the chill, and she shivered, almost losing her grasp on the rock. The climb took everything out of her, and a little more, but she made it to the top of the cliff. She set up her easel and stool. She set out her oil paints and pastels. And she began to paint.
The ocean was magnificent today.
The bacteria in the water made it glow in the storm. It looked ethereal. So Christina's painting looked magical.
This happened all happened as a young girl dropped some coins into a well.
The furious wind tore at anything it could touch, including the canvas. Christina fought against it, tears rising in her eyes. Finally, the wind succeeded at its desire. It pulled Christina from the cliff.
As Christina fell, she didn't realize what had happened at first. I'm falling. I'm going to die. Her breath did not come, and she feared for an instant that she had already died. The wind robbed her of air, though her lungs screamed in pain. At last. The moment of impact.
It never came.
Christina opened her eyes to see the ocean rising on either side of her. Cradling her. Holding her as though she was a small child. She saw a golden light come from the sky and hit her in the head. She could hear voices now.
"Oh, no. How could we hurt something that has loved us so beautifully." The voice sounded rich and female, cold and lonely, and warmer than broth. It was soft and felt soothing. Christina found herself back on the beach in front of her house with the finished painting.
"Be careful where you tread, Little One."
Christina looked around her to see where this voice was coming from. It was the ocean. The ocean cared for her. The ocean loved her back. Christina felt a small bubble of warmth expand in her chest, despite the biting, salty air. It was her ocean. And she was its human.
Several years passed, and Christina was back by the water. She was seventeen now. In a few months she would ascend to the throne. Fear paralyzed her. It wasn't noticable to onlookers, but she felt it. So she returned to her haven.
The ocean was always happy to listen to her, and even offered solutions when it could. This consisted of sending up shells, crabs, and other interesting things. Christina knew that the ocean couldn't help her write up a report, or give a speech, but this helped.
The ocean's small gestures told her that she would still have a place, even if it wasn't queen. So, when she loved someone very much, she took them to meet the ocean. It had happened before, one of the boys from town.
He laughed in her face.
But after that, she realized that it would take a lot to make her love someone. So when it happened, she felt shocked. She'd had more than her fair share of crushes, but that was all it was. This was something different. It was one of her guards. Officer Nautalis. Her personal guard since she needed one. Christina suspected that Officer Nautalis wouldn't be a part of her life for much longer. Her coronation would be soon, and she would have a platoon of guards to do her bidding, but she didn't want them. She wanted Officer Nautalis.
Christina paused at that thought. She had been looking over a report about the Voyagers, when it hit her. Her mother had been pushing her to find a husband to be her prince consort, but she didn't want one. She wanted Officer Nautalis.
She knew more about Officer Nautalis than she did about her brother, and she knew a lot about him. Christina peeked at the door where Officer Nautalis was standing. Officer Nautalis had been there when no one else had when one of the Voyagers had broken Christinas' arm.
So, she decided to take Officer Nautalis to meet the ocean.
Christina met Officer Nautalis' eyes. They'd made eye contact a while ago. "Do you want to go for an adventure real quick? I promise we'll be back before you know it. Please?"
Officer Nautalis smiled a little and gave her a short nod. "If that's what you want to do, Princess. Let's go."
After a couple minutes of walking, the two of them were at Christina's old house. Christina breathed in deep, sucking in as much ocean air as she could. Officer Nautalis stood behind her, looking on but not participating.
"Don't you just love the ocean? I mean, it's really beautiful, you can get fish from it, and it loves people." Christina looked over at Officer Nautalis who was standing a healthy distance away. She had picked a spot on the beach, and Christina had left her.
"Princess? What are you doing?" She asked. Christina smiled and skipped back over to her.
"You've gotta meet the ocean, c'mere. Pretty please."
Officer Nautalis allowed herself to walk to where the waves were gently lapping at the shore. The waves rose a little when she came over, and Christina could feel a certain hostility between the two of them. "What happened?"
"Well, Little One, she is a spirit of fire." The ocean had only spoken to Christina a couple of times, but it had always been important. Christina glanced over at Officer Nautalis, who was looking into the horizon.
"It's nothing. I just don't have very fond memories of the ocean. That's all. What are we doing here?" She asked, looking up. Christina smiled softly. Officer Nautalis had the prettiest eyes. People often said that brown eyes were boring, but Christina thought they were lovely.
"This is my ocean. I love it very much. And..." Christina couldn't finish. So she finished lamely, "I wanted to show you."
"It's very beautiful."
"Yes. Yes it is." But Christina wasn't looking at the ocean anymore.
"Well, we'd better get back up to the castle." Officer Nautalis turned to go, but Christina heard the voice again.
"Be careful, Little One. That one needs a certain kind of love. Give it to her."