Chapter Thirty-Nine
Atlas, by rhetoric
Word Count: 1,170

Atlas put a silver clip in her hair to pull it off one side of her face, her long, wide curls falling down her shoulder to swish against her lower spine; aside from freshening up and changing her clothes, it was all she did.  As she turned to leave, she caught a glimpse of a strange hue to the, otherwise, white-ish silver curls, but it was gone when she looked again.  She walked from her private bathroom down the hallway to one of the smaller guest rooms; she had been informed of their uninvited guest fewer than five minutes before.

She had been out of commission for too long, they had too much to do.  There was no more time for rest.  Her strides were short but quick.

Elseron closed the door behind him as he followed her into the stripped room, clasping his hands at his back to stand properly at attention.  The walls were empty, and almost all the furniture had been taken out; all except one chair.  The night sky beyond the window was starting to glow a little brighter with the early morning light of pre-dawn and the entire sky was shifting into a dirty, bleak denim-blue.

Atlas knew she looked tired; she had seen the shadows of restless sleep beneath her murky gold eyes, the fatigued lines of worry upon her forehead.  She looked older.   The woman struggled against her binds, but it was useless, and she seemed to understand that; each time she struggled, she tangled more of her long brown hair in the ropes.  Her icy blue eyes reminded Atlas of Elseron’s.  She did not seem to be afraid of the coming sunrise.  Atlas frowned at her captive and sighed, as if the sight of her brought more pain to her than it possibly could to the woman.

“Who are you?”  Her tone was relaxed, if a little exhausted.  She kept her eyes on the window, her expression business-like.

With a bitter scowl at the strangely-bruised guard in the corner, the woman turned back to Atlas and snapped, “Didn’t your guards tell you?”

“Of course they have,” Atlas responded easily, “But I want you to tell me.”

"Why don't you explain why you mercilessly murdered so many first?"

From behind her, Atlas could hear the short but clear chortle of laughter that came from her Guardian; she had to force down a smile herself.  Mercilessly murder?  The poor woman was deluded.  Elseron began to move around the room, his steps slow and cautious; stalking nothing in particular though his iceberg eyes never left Melody.

Atlas lifted carefully stoic eyes to the meet the woman’s accusing glare; she hadn't intended on meeting her gaze, in case it was necessary to kill her, but Atlas could not bring herself to keep that distance.  She was not a coward, she told herself, she certainly would not behave like one.  “Oh, Melody,” she said, shaking her head as if she were disappointed, “You know as well as I do that Fenrir - the backstabbing, egomaniacal son of a bit*h that he is - was lying to you.  Let’s not draw this out longer than we must, I have things to attend.”

At first, Melody’s eyes simply went wide with mild shock at Atlas’ bluntness, but soon the words tumbled from her lips.  "But, he said," she paused, gathering herself with a single, deliberate breath, "I had come here with the intention of discovering and revealing your location for Fenrir, but I fear I may have been fighting for the wrong side. All I want is to rid this world of evil."

Elseron stopped his movement directly across from Atlas and slipped his posture back into attention.  He stood beside the window as if he expected something to come bursting through it any second, and he intended on halting it immediately.  Perhaps he did, thought  Atlas, and allowed herself only one quick glance up to him.  His expression was blank, and she thought it was that which sent a ripple of concern through her.

“Noble,” said Atlas, returning her attention back to the vampire, “for an assassin.”  She drove her point home with a gracious gesture toward the guard, as if dismissively reminding Melody that violence begets violence – good intentions or otherwise.  “What do you intend to do, now?”  Her words, and the tone which she used to voice them, were a challenge.

"What I should have been focused on all along: controlling these vampiric senses and finding the one responsible for turning me."  The blue eyes were stern but alive with the determination behind her words.

Atlas couldn’t be certain what it was that told her to trust the woman; she’d been putting her faith in a lot of nameless things as of late and it was beginning to occur to her that she wasn’t giving the choices second thoughts.  She nodded at Melody and made motions to leave the room, she took the long path by going around the chair - taking care to walk deliberately close to Elseron while the girl could not see them.

She paused her steps before him, looking into the clean blue eyes of the only man she trusted with her life; and for good reason, she’d come to recognize with more and more frequency.  “She is not to be released until Gramtag arrives and gives me his opinion.”  She did not know why she wanted to keep her second command between the two of them, why she could not say the words in front of the woman, but she was certain she wanted no one else to hear it.  She told herself it was so the woman did not realize the loyalty between them, but she could not be sure that was really it.  Willing herself to control her inheritance, she thought, forcefully and loudly, 'Leave her with someone you trust and meet me in my quarters.'

He blinked, but it was the flinch in his eyes that told her he'd heard her, and loud and clear, at that; he nodded and said, “Yes, Princess.”

She moved across the room to the doorway.  Her fingertips had just reached the doorknob when, from behind her, Atlas heard, “Wait!  Tell me who you really are.”

Politely, Atlas turned around to let her honey gaze meet the girl’s brilliant blue.  “Melody, you could not possibly understand me when you don’t even understand yourself.  I am Queen Atlas, ruler of Atlantis – and I am here to save my people.  Why are you here, Melody?  Because a blood-soaked man cried wolf on my Guardian?  Because my Guardian chose to defend me rather than spare the lives of beasts too reckless and senseless to know when to flee?”  She shook her head sadly, and said, “I am Queen Atlas, Melody, and I’m soon to be one of the few surviving members of my species if I do not get what I need soon.”

With that, Atlas left the room.

The End

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