the calling stoneMature

Chapter Twenty-Eight
Atlas, by rhetoric
Word Count: 1,224 

She felt strange, standing in her room with the calling stone cold in her palm, alone.  The small of her back pressed against the old wooden dresser behind her, her reflection danced against the black background, flickering shades of burgundy and the pale white of her skin and hair.  Beyond the window it was early evening, just dark enough that the stars were beginning to litter the navy blue sky.  Atlas felt as if she were holding a burning ice cube in her hand.

She wondered, briefly, if she were making a mistake.  The realization that it would be a fatal mistake loomed before her but she brushed it aside – determined not to be frightened away from action.  Elseron was busy, she told herself, what else was she to do?

It was true, she thought to herself, that she had felt a fleeting moment of gratitude that the vampire would need the cover of night – and that this time happened to coincide with Elseron’s first training session with his new guard.  She wanted to see the vampire again for a number of reasons; he had information that she had deemed it of vital importance to be in the bearing of, and she wondered of the affects of his presence on her.

She hadn’t felt the surge of psychokinetic energy within her since her last encounter with the vampire.  She rationalized that it had to be coincidence – she was of the royal bloodline, psychokinetic energy was simply part of the deal; but she couldn’t help but wonder: was the vampire merely coincidence or key?

She wondered if he would have difficulty finding her this time, but doubted it.

She lifted her palm upward, the stone in the center; placed atop her lifelines like an out-of-place onyx mountain set upon ancient, dry river beds.  It gleamed beneath the dim light of the room, the light refracting and shifting – moving like liquid gold over the depthless black of the stone mountain.

She thought then, in the still quiet of the dark night, Gramtag, and felt the name as if it were pulled from her by icy fingers toward the stone.  She caught her breath and time seemed to slow; she was held in a sort of semi-aware limbo – able to observe her state and calmly assess the sensation of something being taken from her so gently but with so much force.  She blinked and the time lock shattered.

Gramtag was before her and his looming, shadowed presence stirred a deep tremor of fear within her.  She ignored it.

“Gramtag,” she said, as if the name hadn’t just been sucked from her very consciousness a mere instant before.  “We have things we should discuss, you and I.”  She gestured graciously to one of the recliners beside the fireplace.  She hadn’t lit a fire, assuming it would make him uneasy.

Gramtag said nothing but swept his way across the distance from the window to the seat, settling in with motions that were too graceful for a man, too light and lithe.

“Who sent you to kill me, Gramtag?”  She said her words as if they were hot sparks on her tongue; violently, as if pushing them from her body to save herself the destruction and fury they brought.  She did not know where this new darkness came from; she did not recognize the foreign seed burrowing into her mind.

Gramtag lifted black eyes to meet her gaze and he frowned.  “I am not at liberty to give you such information.”

“Then you may leave because our business is done.”  She set the stone on the dresser behind her as if she were finished with it, too.

“I’m afraid that isn’t how this works,” he said, his tone simultaneously ominous and soothing, as he rose from the recliner.  His long limbs moved slowly, achingly slowly, as if he had never had to rush for anything. 

Already, she felt the need to call for her Guardian but she choked it back.  She would do this on her own, she told herself.  She knew the power was inside of her to handle the situation – she just had to find it.  “I am unfamiliar with a lack of control, Gramtag; I don’t imagine I’ll be making myself familiar any time soon.”  She pushed the words out calmly, despite how fractured and untrue they were.

It was the hardest thing she had done in her entire life, meeting his eyes, but she did it anyway.  She held her ground beneath the awful, glowering, terrifying stare.  Her insides shook with a startling persistence; she tried to disguise it.

“You do not want to become difficult with me, Atlas of Atlantis,” his voice was conflicting – almost a purr but too deep and foreboding, but not quite a growl.  “It has never been to the benefit of anyone to do so.”

She straightened her shoulders and returned the heated gaze, “I am already battling much greater, more petrifying threats than you, vampire,” she said, the venom in her voice apparent.  She even believed her own words.  “Now sit down, and tell me who sent you.”

She felt a ring of regality in her words that took her by surprise.

She must have hit a nerve, she thought, as he roared – his voice echoing off the walls of her chambers, “I do not take orders!”

Atlas did not know how she knew when her bloodlines roared to life; it may have been the cold wave of resilience that swept through her, or the steel that infused her posture, or the gust of air that entered her body, not as a breath, but as a breeze.  She did not know; she knew only that when she opened her mouth, everything changed.

She was not yelling, but the power behind her voice needed no volume.  She lifted her left hand to the sky and swung it downward.  It felt as if all the air in the room were at her command; it rushed behind the motion of her hand with desperate hunger to be nearer to her.

“I said sit.”

Her hand stopped moving, the gesture completed with her hand extended out to him, fingers straight and rigid; the air continued forward in a burst.

She watched, awestruck at the events unfolding before her, as the invisible tidal wave of wind slammed into Gramtag’s chest and sent him reeling – all the long, lean, lithe muscles hurtling backwards into the chair he’d just been in.  His spine hit the chair back and both went tumbling until they collided messily with the fireplace.

She let her hand fall to her side, casually.  Her expression stoic and un-phased, she said, “Now tell me who sent you to kill me, Gramtag, and I will assist you in your search for your brother.”

Her chamber door exploded inward without warning; splinters of wood raining sideways across the room.  She wasn’t certain who looked at the doorway first, she or Gramtag.

Phaedos stood in the shadowed door frame; all muscle and fury and intimidation – his eyes burning with the clean blue fire of Atlantis.

Atlas did not know if Gramtag actually knew who he was seeing, or if it was merely instinct that reconciled the decision for him – but he stood up, brushing off his clothes absentmindedly, and said, “I will tell you who hired me.”





The End

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