The GuardianMature

 Elseron stood in his lavishly furnished suite in the palace staring out over of the glassless window over his precious city, the sandstone buildings glowing with ethereal orange light from the wall that had stood defiant against the oceans oppressive power for well over a thousand years. Atlas my Little Princess...are you sure this is safe? Are you sure the wall is failing? The shifting amber light seemed as strong in colour as it always had done, but Atlas was sure the Monk of the Wall was dying. How she knew he couldn't say, only members of the Royal Court even knew the name of this sacred monk that had given his life in protection of his city. Maybe they checked on him every decade or so...or maybe some other powers are behind their way of communication.

'Sir?' asked a strong voice through the thick wooden door. 'Sir a Artisan is here to see you.'

'Send him in Jory.' said the old knight quickly throwing on a rough spun leather tunic to hide his scarred chest. With a long creak the door swung inwards as Artisan Master Calson strode into the room, Jory stood at the door in his gleaming silver armour, pole-axe in hand resting against his broad shoulders.

'Sir Elseron, a pleasure.' bowed the ancient craftsman as Jory pulled the door shut behind him. For a man of his age Calson walked well, only the slightest hint of a hump on his back and the smallest limp impeding his otherwise flawless gate. What gave his age away, like Elseron, was his hair. Silver as the armour of the Knights of Atlantis that seemed to gleam in the light of his fireplace, wearing robes of purple silk embroiled with gold thread Calson looked every bit the Artisan people said he was, with his long gleaming beard stretching down to his waist line and dark golden eyes he had a grandfatherly face, a face you could trust.

'Artisan Master the pleasure is mine,' Elseron said with a smile. 'May I offer you some drink? Tea perhaps?'

'Kind of you to offer Sir but I am afraid I must decline, my Artisanary has many orders and my underlings need constant guidance.' Calson pulled a polished mahogany box from his leather satchel.

'A Master's work is never done.' said Elseron moving towards him, the old man laughed softly flashing teeth of pearly white.

'You speak truth Sir, I assume much like the work of yourself.' Smiling Elseron nodded before he let his eyes drift to the box. 'Forgive me I almost forgot why I was here old friend! Here is your order sir,' passing him the box Elseron took it eagerly the wood as soft as silk beneath his calloused hands and fingers. 'I hope it will be to your liking.' Smiled Calson with the smallest touch of worry behind his eloquent voice. Opening the lid Elseron gasped. The clock was perfect. A crystal construction of such beauty it almost made tears come to his eyes, its golden face enamelled with a sun and moon, its hands ticking smoothly across the platinum numbers, the whole thing sitting in padded folds of red silk. The clock's mechanisms were shrouded within the clear cut crystal moving flawlessly, perfectly, like tiny heartbeats.

'Artisan Master you have outdone yourself!' A knight new little of art, but he knew this was beautiful.

'I made it myself sir, from the finest crystal and metals at my disposal.' Bowed Calson with a huge grin.

'Thank you sir, I will make sure all know your name for making something so perfect. Do not let me keep you Artisan Master, I have duties myself to perform.'

'Sir Elseron.' bowed the old man.

'Speak to Jory about payment for this clock, and you have my never ending gratitude.' bowing a final time Elseron left his apartments, Jory bolting upright as soon as the door opened. 'Jory see Calson gets paid from my personal bank, and have someone escort him back to his Artisanary.'

'Sir!' Jory nodded. Leaving the dimly lit corridor Elseron walked through the stunning marble corridors of the palace, statues of former kings and queens staring down at him with marble eyes as he passed with the clock beneath his arm. The light pouring in through glassless windows, flags with the Royal Families crest fluttering in the strong breeze like huge purple dragons tails. Before he knew it he reached the Royal apartments, knocking on the marble door loudly he stood with his hand behind his back and head held high. Nothing. Staring around the door he knocked again. Silence. A great feeling of dread pushed itself between his ribs into his heart, twisting the cold blade painfully. Pushing the door open he strode in quickly. 'My Queen?' staring round the living room he found it empty, everything in its place. 'My Queen?' running into the bedroom he found that empty too. About to call the alarm he glanced a look out the window to see Atlas stood at the edge of her courtyard looking out over the city, her hands folded across her chest.

Breathing a long sigh of relief Elseron let his muscles relax. Thank the spirits. He thought staring out at his new queen. Her long hair fluttering in the strong breeze, tattoos seeming to appear and disappear as she moved, but now she stood still as stone. Face hard with thought. Walking out into the wall-less courtyard the small stream ran through it from the roof of the palace before rolling off the side becoming a tiny waterfall. 'My Queen?' he said softly.

'So many things have changed Elseron,' she whispered staring over the hundreds of buildings that made Atlantis. 'My father's dead, I am Queen and the wall is failing.' She turned to look at him, her face a mask of pain and suffering. Her liquid amber eyes found his pale blue and held there. 'Amongst all this change, please do not change what you call me Elseron, I need some familiarity.' Oh you poor child.

'Princess.' she said with a small smile. She smiled back before returning her gaze to the wall.

'It's my job to rule job to ensure this city is safe, I know why you are here Elseron, but my mind cannot be changed. Others cannot go in my place, I know it will be dangerous, it may even kill me, but I will not be known as the ruler who lost her city to the ocean! I won't.' she looked back and he saw the conviction in her face. The face he loved like his own flesh and blood, the face he'd protected as she grew from tiny baby he could hold in one hand to the glorious beautiful woman that now stood before him.

'I know my Que...Princess.' He paused stepping closer to her. 'This is why I am coming with you.'

'You are most certainly not!' she said harshly.

'So be it. But I do have several decades of rest and relaxation rotors still yet to claim...I think a trip to the surface worlds will be a perfect holiday.' He smiled as she scowled at him. 'My Little Princess,' he whispered, the words softened her face as he knew they would. 'You are my only thing close to a family, to a daughter. My entire life has been dedicated to the protection of Atlantis, the latter half to the protection of you. If you think I will let you go to the outer-worlds by yourself then you are delusional. Order me to stay here or not, put me under armed guard or lock me in the tallest tower with the Nameless Monk...I will escape. And I will find you my Princess.' She stared at him, her amber eyes piercing into his very soul.

'But the Royal Knights...'

'Jory has been my squire for close to fifty years. He is young, strong and a good judge of character. He will be a fitting leader until our return.' a frigid silence crept between them until Atlas laughed dryly.

'Oh Sir Elseron, the Stalwart Shield of guardian.' she smiled.

'Always and forever.' he said passing her the box. 'No matter what else is happening my Princess, it is still your birthday.' brow furrowed she took the box and opened it, her eyes widened as she looked over the Centurial Clock. A tradition in Atlantis to give a clock to someone on their hundredth birthday.

'''s...' before he could react she flung herself around him. Her arms around his neck, her head pressed against his chest. 'Thank you.' she whispered.

'You’re Princess.' he said hugging the woman he had helped raise.

The End

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