Coughing loudly as his feet finally touched earth Elseron gripped hard onto Atlas's elbow, he hated teleportation. I was a beastly form of transportation that always had effects on Atlanteans, some had temporary blindness, others vomited, he had the strong sensation of drowning that always left him gasping for air. This place...it was so alien. Our kind doesn’t belong here. He thought staring at the people that passed them. None even gave him or the Queen a second glance but each one seemed as bizarre to him as anything his imagination could create, they all looked the same, but they weren't...they were all different. Tall glass structures pierced the ground they walked on and stretched up the azure blue sky as huge white clouds floated above their heads, the glass shining in the strong sunlight from the legendary ball of fire that he had only heard stories about as a child. Atlas began to walk through the crowds shaking his hand from her shoulder. 'Sorry my Princess.' he said releasing his cast iron grip.
If she heard him she made no move respond, she just kept her eyes straight ahead, her face a strange mask of marble. 'Princess?' he asked following her, his hand dropping to the temporarily shortened handle of his pole-axe. She kept walking, her strides small and stuttering. 'Atlas!' he cried as she fell back. Catching her under the armpits he took her into his arms, she was pale and clammy. Then the thought hit him. You fool Elseron! She's never teleported above surface before! Muttering to herself she wrestled with him. 'Be calm my Little Princess you're safe with me.' It was only half a lie, he would protect her with his life, but they were anything but safe. Her amber eyes looked at him as she smiled a weak helpless little smile, then she fainted. I need to get her somewhere safe for the night. Picking her up in his arms he cradled her as tightly as he dared, looking up and down the street for anywhere they could hide out for a day until she was recovered.
'Atlantean.' whispered a voice through the throng of people. Spinning his eyes met a small man in a set of dark robes with wrinkled pale skin and watery brown eyes staring up at him with his hands clasped together in front of him tightly. 'I am a servant of the Gatekeeper, I am to take you to another follower of the sunken city.' he whispered.
'I need more than your words little man.' Elseron said harshly, this wasn't Atlantis. He couldn't trust anyone out here. With a sharp flick of his arm the small monk flashed the skin of his right wrist, even for such a brief moment the blue shifting colours of the Atlantean tattoo stood out so prominently against his flesh there was no other thing it could be.
'I am her Majesty’s loyal servant, now if you please.' he said turning on his heel before striding through the throngs of humanoids, still dubious Elseron shifted Atlas's weight in his arms before following him a safe distance away. Eyes darting for any sign of an enemy Elseron studied each face of the humanoids that passed. Men, women, children some with certain powers, others with none. Each species smelt differently but one overpowered them all, the strong pungent aroma of humans. It staggered him that they were once like them, they were nothing, weak as children who built their civilisations on the bones of great species, they walked in complete ignorance to the dozens of other humanoids and half-breeds that surrounded them. Maybe ignorance really is bliss.
As Elseron followed the tiny monk he noticed the buildings becoming less and less grand, more and more decrepit with every step they took. The monk seemed undeterred with their dark and increasingly hostile environment, ignoring the long glances from the packs of humans that stood beneath glowing signs with their hoods raised. Elseron stared each one of them down and kept his ears sharp as they passed them for any hint they were about to attack them from behind. Soon women walked along the side of the roads, flashing flesh and legs at any man that passed, Thank the spirits Atlas doesn't have to see this. he thought as a woman walked towards him smiling with lust and greed behind her electric blue eyes, ignoring her Elseron followed the monk as he took small shuffling steps deeper and deeper into the cities underbelly. Suddenly the monk turned down into a small staircase where a homeless human slept beside the door, his hair a tangled mess of black knots, his short breaths stinking of alcohol.
A small metal box appeared from the wall aside the metal door and the monk quickly keyed in a series of long numbers and strange symbols before the door slide open with a clean whoosh. 'Come.' said the monk entering the gleaming metal room. As he stepped into the tiny room beside the monk Elseron found his grip on the unconscious Princess tightening, the door slid shut before the whole thing shook and began to sink into the earth. Before he had chance to ask where they were going the room jumped to a halt before the door slid a third time revealing a lavishly dressed Aqua. The man was just smaller than Elseron with the traditional blue tinge to his skin that all his kind had, along with the gills on his neck and behind his ears.
'Oh mother ocean smiles upon me today! An Atlantean and his Queen in my humble abode.' the Aqua said ostentatiously with a flourish of his arms. 'Please come in, come in.' Striding steadily into the underground structure Elseron found he was in a large living area filled with chairs and a cooking area where another, female, Aqua stood wearing a just as outlandish outfit as the male. 'My name my friend is Finneous Gabriel McMillion,' bowing unnecessarily low his greeny brown locks of hair fell around his angular face. 'Welcome.' with a large grin the Aqua straightened his back waiting for a response. When none came his smile faltered for just a moment before widening even more than before. 'This is my wife Caliope, we are but humble servants of the Gatekeeper, but alas he has not graced us with guests for many years so we thought ourselves rejected.' again he paused but Elseron just stared into his pale green eyes, Finneous faltered under the hard gaze. 'This is a safe house for other humanoids that have no place to spend the night. Your queen is of course given our own personal living quarters and you will have the room next door.'
'Thank you.' Elseron said simply but the word brought a huge white toothed grin to the Aqua's face.
'Anything for the Queen and her loyal Guardian. We have turned down every patron the past three days since the Queens announcement so we are the only ones here along with two of our dearest friends who I trust with my life, they are quiet and will not trouble you I am sure. My darling bride was resentfull of my actions to turn down our patrons but I thought it best for the Queen...although such an act took a great cut from our revenue.' Staring at the Aqua again Elseron let a small spark of his anger into his face. 'Let me show you the Queens room so she may rest more comfortably,' he said quickly heading off down a corridor adjoined to the living room. The corridor was a bright polished white with thirty-two metal doors lining the walls, when he reached the door at the very end he twisted the knob and stepped inside. This one was wooden with a large bed covered in a duvet of red silk with carved Oakwood bedposts, a dresser with a large mirror sat against one wall and a wing backed arm chair sat contently in the corner. 'I hope this is to the Queens liking.' smiled Finneous as Elseron gently laid Atlas onto the bed, her forehead was still spattered with sweat and her skin was clammy. 'Your room...'
'I will stay with the Queen at all times.' Elseron said looking around the room. He could feel Finneous's face fall before returning to his plastered smile.
'Where will you sleep?'
'That is not your concern, your kindness is appreciated.' Elseron gave the Aqua one last look before his smile fell slightly as he recognised the dismissal, as he passed the threshold between door and corridor Elseron began walking around the room, checking for anything out of the ordinary.
'Sir Elseron there is just the small matter of payment; such acts of altruism exist not in this cruel world and...' Elseron shut the door in his face, locking it with a sharp click. A steady silence grew in the large wooden room, the only noise his beating heart and the Queens slow steady breathing. For nearly twenty minutes he checked the room for listening devices, bombs, weapons, anything that could be used to hurt the Queen in anyway. But there was nothing. Content for the moment his pulled his beloved pole-axe from the loop on his belt, the small handle doubling then tripling in size as the retractable metal expanded at his touch. The gleaming steel head was inscribed with the liquid blue runes of ancient Atlantis before the decent; the weapon was a gift from King Atlas when he was named Royal Commander of the Knights of Atlantis. Made from Atlantean steel it was as bright as sunlight and never rusted or lost its edge. Pulling the chair beside the Queen in her bed Elseron settled his massive bulk into it, resting his pole-axe against his shoulder its familiar weight in his hands made him feel safe. With this in his hand. Nothing would harm Atlas. He would make sure of it.