Watching the Oaken's personal guard as they fumbled through the training formations he had taught them Elseron felt a deep feeling of dread settle in the pit of his stomach, the three knights he had trained, Sir Maxwell, Orion and Dagos where fine...but these...these...people were useless. They had no stance, a centre of gravity so high Elseron was sure he could push them on the shoulders they'd fall over, hardly any discipline and each one was barely strong enough to hold a pole-axe at waist height for any longer than a minute. Spirits help me. He thought watching Dagos and Orion help teach their men the ways of Atlantis. So many years on the surface without any trouble has made them sloppy. Back in Atlantis the Royal Guard were like the Outer-worlds 'police', they enforced the law as well as protected the Royal family when the need required, but protection of the royals was left mostly to the Royal Knights. Back in Atlantis, if he had a choice...these men and women wouldn't even pass basic training.
'Be thankful my friend,' whispered Dante beside him with his arms folded across his huge muscled chest.
'For what?' croaked Elseron rubbing his eyes with his finger and thumb.
'That they know which end of the axe goes in the enemy.' He had to laugh. If he didn't laugh he would probably cry. As he looked back at the blue clad guard struggling with the weight of their axes a great wave of energy swept over him with so much force and power it made him stagger forwards slightly, as if a great ave had just broken across his back. 'Elseron are you alright?'
'Did you feel that?' he asked breathless.
'Feel what?' He could feel it even know, pinpoint it even, the source of energy that was causing the very fabric of the planet to bend to its will. Atlas! Without another word he turned from the huge ballroom that had became their makeshift gym and ran through the house, dodging maids and food carts, paintings and sculptures until he rounded the corner that took him into the west wing. Something solid and immovable crashed into him, fighting to keep balance he jumped back to see Phaedos in the middle of the corridor.
'Elseron, thank goodness I was just coming to get you...' Pushing him aside Elseron thought of nothing but Atlas, she was using her powers, it was too soon, she could...picking up the pace his feet felt like they were barely touching the polished marble floor. One last corner. Rounding it at speed he lost his balance and crashed into the wall sending an old master's painting off its hook and crashing to the floor. Looking down the corridor Elseron saw the fine mahogany door to Atlas's apartments in nothing but splinters, the two brass hooks hanging feebly on bent screws. Atlas's powers pushed him back, nausea crushed his stomach and his eyes itched but he pushed on into the doorway. Atlas stood by her bed. Amber eyes glowing with the ethereal light of the mages, tattoos shining like miniature beacons. A lean figure in black stood across from her. Now everything made sense. Gramtag! Drawing his axe Gramtag swiftly ran around the room, through the doorway to flank him. Expecting it Elseron spun and threw his arm out into nothingness; it had barely been there a second before it gripped around the Vampire's icy cold throat.
'You're too predictable dark dweller!' spat Elseron tightening his grip around the dead man’s throat.
'ENOUGH!' in over a hundred years, Elseron had never, ever. Heard Atlas shout like that. It wasn't overly loud, but it was just the sheer power and confidence behind the order that made him turn to look at her. That's all it took for the dark dweller to break free of his grip and fire towards the open window.
'I think I've over stayed my welcome, if you ever need me again, you know what to do.' he said to Atlas. His face a calm ivory mask without any hint of emotion. His dark eyes looked to Elseron, a cold indifference behind them. He blinked. And Gramtag was gone. Left alone in the middle of the chaos Elseron stared at Atlas as her powers slowly retracted back into her body, charging over to her he began scanning her body.
'My Princess are you alright? What happened?' he asked quickly spinning her in his hands to get a better look at her back.
'Els I'm fine! Stop fretting!' she said pushing his hands off her.
'Fretting is what I do when I find an Assassin in your presence my Princess.' he said looking around the room. Almost everything was out of place, paintings hung at odd angles, chairs were knocked over and the white roses on her bedside table were almost completely void of petals.
'My Queen are you...' said Phaedos as he entered the room with Dante close behind him.
'YOU!' bellowed Elseron rocketing towards the half breed. Wrapping his hands around his neck he lifted him into the air and pinned him against the wall. 'I let you protect her and you let an assassin get so close! She could have been killed!'
'Sir Elseron!' said Atlas coldly as Phaedos attempted to prize his hands from around his neck. 'Sir Elseron I am your Queen and I command you to release my guard! Immediately!' Now that...was new. Fighting with his urge to snap the half breeds neck and obey his Queen Elseron quickly dropped Phaedos and shot across the room, knowing that if he stayed close to him for too long he'd want to kill him. Phaedos was left coughing and spluttering into the fine Persian rug as air poured back into his lungs and colour back into his face. 'Dante please take Mr Elias to the staff nurse,' with a proud nod Dante helped Phaedos to his feet before helping him out the room. Elseron watched them go and waited until they left his sight before speaking.
'I did not give you leave to speak,' her voice was a shard of ice to his ears, so cold, so unfamiliar, so...not Atlas. Elseron stood with his back straight and looked her dead in the eyes. 'Elseron you are the head of my guard, my army, my Guardian! I cannot have you attacking other members of my guard.'
'My Princess I...'
'I'm not finished!' Oh like that is it. He thought as he clamped his mouth shut. 'If you had the foresight to ask me what had happened instead of assuming the worst this whole incident could have been avoided.'
'Permission to speak freely...my Queen.' he said crisply. She looked at him quickly before dipping her chin slightly in a nod. 'I very rarely have time to ask questions when an Assassin who has tried to kill you once is stood in the same room as you!'
'Gramtag is part of this team, and I called him here!' Oh my Princess...what are you doing?
'What! Princess are you mad!' he said flabbergasted that she would do such a reckless thing without him being there. 'He could have slit your throat.'
'He didn't. And Phaedos was right outside, I could have called at any moment and he would have helped me. In fact he did try.' she said coldly. 'He was the one that broke the door, I sent him away.' This just keeps getting worse.
'Atlas...my Princess please listen to me,'
'Elseron I cannot live behind your shield my entire life, I must learn to stand and act on my own! I have my father’s powers now. I can defend myself.'
'My Princess these powers are as likely to do as much harm as good at such an early stage! You could have collapsed the whole wing!'
'I know my own mind Elseron! Better than you I think!' she said harshly. Staring at her Elseron felt tears sting his eyes, he didn't recognise this woman, this reckless youth that had replaced his Princess.
'My Princess these powers can affect your mind, I know it may feel like you have control over them but trust me...'
'Elseron I know the limits of my powers and I am slightly offended that you think I would be so reckless with them!'
'And I have seen the effects when these powers go wrong! They nearly killed you when they first appeared, my Princess I am only trying to protect you.' he said feebly.
'Elseron I am not a little girl anymore! I am the Queen of Atlantis! I don't need your protection every hour of everyday anymore, I can take care of myself.' two things burst into his chest. Anger. And pain. A great bottomless wellspring of pain.
'As you have so eloquently proved here. My Princess do you remember what I told you before we left Atlantis?' she stared at him, her face a mask. But he could see a glimmer of pain behind those amber eyes...such beautiful eyes. 'That still applies. I am always going to protect you my Princess. Your powers have given you a false shield of confidence which is why you are saying the things you are, be careful my Princess. Be very careful. Because the powers you are playing with...Gods are not meant to have such powers. And the one person I cannot protect you from is yourself...' A silence grew in the wrecked room, slowly sadness and pain ran into her face before she said in a shaky voice.
'You can return to your duties now Sir Elseron.' before turning her back on him and staring out the window.