As the Land-rover screamed away down the drive with Atlas and the girls safely inside Elseron found himself stood beside a naked Dante, his human form covered in various cuts and scrapes but if he felt any of them he gave no sign. His yellow flecked eyes were scanning the mansion, hearing and seeing things Elseron couldn't even imagine. Smiling at the bet they'd just made he swung his axe in great loops around his body, loosening the muscles of his arms and back. 'How many my friend?' he asked, knowing that Dante was tracking every one of the foul wolves as they moved through the mansion and its grounds.
'Fifty.' he said after a brief pause. 'So twenty-six kills for the win. That wine's gonna' go down nice after all this!' Dante boasted with a smile as he cracked his neck and rolled his shoulders. Elseron chortled.
'What do I get if I win?' he asked as the first Lycan appeared in the smashed bay doorway, sniffing at its fallen comrade at the top of the steps.
'There's a bar in the city, do a beer like no other. I'll buy you one.' Looking down at him Elseron saw a sharp twinkle of joy behind those deep blue eyes. AS more poured from the mansion like some grotesque disease Elseron started cracking his knuckles.
'Ever get the feeling of De ja’vu my friend?' Dante laughed loudly.
'Yeh...but there's no one I'd rather run into a massacre with than you old man.'
'I feel the same,' nodded Elseron. 'In fact...let’s make this different than last time. Lets take the fight to them.' Looking down at him with a cocked eyebrow Dante's smile broadened.
'Now you're talking!' with a hard slap on the back the two warriors stared at each other before looking over the fountain to the full pack of hunters that stood in front of the mansion. Roaring great battle cries they took off together, jumped into the fountain together, charged across it, midway through Dante shifting into his colossal bear form. Reaching the other side the two jumped from the water and straight into the charging Lycans. In three hundred years of battles, in three centuries of fighting and training, nothing, nothing, compare to this fight. Everything was different. The smells, the sounds, the fighting style. After only a few seconds his axe was bathed in blood. Blocking a bite at his ankle with the butt of his axe he rolled the weapon around his neck. Switching it to his left hand and swinging it down onto the crippled wolf. Slicing the naked girls scalp from the top of her head. Exposing fleshy pink brain matter with a spurt of blood. A Lycan pounced on his left. Leaping through the air with fangs dripping and claws gleaming. Acting almost without thinking he doubled over.
The wolf sailed over his back and smashed into another of its kind that had been trying to flank him. Noting the kill count in his head Elseron rose back up and carried on carving his bloody path through the hairy masses that snarled at him, claws skittering off his armour and axe blade severing limbs from bodies. Two suddenly attacked at once. He cut down the first but the second leapt to avoid his blade. The collision was like nothing he had ever felt before. This wolf was stronger than the others and hit him with all the force of a truck, denting his chest plate making it difficult for him to breathe. Falling to the ground Elseron pushed his forearm into its throat, holding it away as far as he could as it snapped its jaws just inches off his nose. Silvery saliva dripped onto his face as he groped for his axe with his other hand. Pushing down on him the Lycan was growing neared. Pain burst up his ribs as its claws found the join in his two armour plates. Those cold claws dug into his side deeper and deeper, every millimetre sending the Lycan's jaws closer to the kill bight as the pain weakened him.
Vision blurring a sudden picture flashed in front of his eyes. Atlas was sitting in the car, the link to her mind open as Phaedos screamed through the woods towards some unknown location. Then her voice spoke to him and he knew it was her, this was no hallucination. Fight Elseron! I need you! Use the powers you used to bring me back!
It could kill me. He whimpered as more saliva dribbled from the beast’s fleshy tongue.
It won't...I'm guarding you now Elseron. Trust me. Her voice immediately cleared his vision as her powers rushed into his head, his eyes tingled, every hair on his body stood on end, Goosebumps pricked his arms. Roaring a great battle cry he pushed an open hand into the wolfs chest. With a spurt of blood, bone and flesh a hole was blasted clean through it. Cored like an apple the beast let out one last whimper before falling from him. Springing to his feet a Lycan jumped. Holding out a hand the beast suddenly stopped in the air. Looking down as it struggled against his magical grip. With a lazy flick of the wrist the Lycan flew over the entire breadth of the courtyard and crashed clean through the wall of the mansions east wing. Reaching out his axe flew into his hand the runes glowing so bright they seemed to be blinding the Lycan's nearby. Claws swiped as arm. Tearing great scratches into his skin but pain didn't seem to register anymore.
Spinning his axe cut the wolfs head clean off. More came. None touched him now. He felt invincible. His axe glowed like a great magic beacon, responding to Atlas's powers as she pushed them through their link into his mind. The Lycan's seemed to move slower now. He moved from one to the other, eyes glowing, axe dancing from place to place, slicing flesh from bone, dealing righteous death onto those who wished to hurt his Princess. Without really realising it he glanced a look over at Dante, he was revelling in the kill. His fur more red than black now as he dismembered Lycan's as easily as Elseron tore apart bread. They were actually approaching each other, getting nearer and nearer as they butchered those Lycan's foolish enough to try and attack them. Snapping back into his head Elseron found it easier to focus now, he'd been cut and stabbed several times. His blood was flowing down his arms, ribs and legs. Blocking upwards the Lycan's overhand slash was stronger than he anticipated and the block faltered. Dropping enough for one claw to slice down his face. Cutting a great gash down around his right eye.
Roaring as pain suddenly lanced through him Elseron kicked out, smashing the wolf's patella to dust. It dropped and he danced around it, wrapped a hand around its muzzle and yanked hard. Its neck spun one-eighty with a sharp crack. As it dropped he noted the powers in his mind were growing, Only four left now. He thought looking at each of them as they clawed along the floor on all fours. Twirling his axe around his body Elseron smiled, he remembered the first time he and Dante had fought like this. He had been so tired at this point he was close to exhaustion...but this power! Thrusting his axe outwards the Lycans dropped back in fear. Remembering his old Master-of-arms's lessons the wizened old warriors words drifted through the power flooded recess of his mind. Battle Magic was what cost us Atlantis my boy, its powers are too great for even us to use...but there will come a day when one of us will have to defend Atlantis at any cost. So listen closely...
Elseron was glad he'd memorized every rune that old master had put before him now, drawing the great gleaming blue rune with his axe the ancient symbol burned in the air in lines of great blue fire. Dante suddenly bumped into his back as he neared the final stages of the ancient rune. 'Dante,' he said smoothly, his voice undulating with the unharnessed powers of Old Atlantis. 'Get down!' how he knew that six were fighting Dante, he didn't know, he didn't care. The ground rumbled as Dante dropped just as the gleaming blue rune was finished. Swiping his axe through it he felt the tug of its power but moved on, circling around Dante finishing the long swipe in front of Dante. Axe held high. A razor thin line of energy hand been drawn around them by the sacred blade. The semi-circle of energy encased them, crackling slightly as it hung in nothingness. The wolves looked to each in confusion, Elseron smiled and opened his eyes. 'I win.' Clicking his fingers the monomolecular line of ancient magic fired outwards. At first there was silence, then the boom of the great attack blew around them.
The Lycan's were incinerated into nothing but ash as the huge bubble of crackling blue energy expanded around them. It blew out every window of the mansion, up rooted several trees and stripped bare every tree within a three mile radius of the mansion. Silence fell over them. Dante rose to his full ten feet tall and looked around at the mass of corpses that surrounded them, limbs were everywhere, along with guts, bones, heads and blood. Lots and lots of blood. Dante must had thrown one into the fountain because it’s usually pristine blue waters were tainted a deep crimson. Slowly Atlas drew her powers back into her own body, for a brief instant their minds touched but the effort hand been too much for her and she fainted in the front seat. 'Elseron!' shouted Dante slapping him hard across the face. Cracking his eyes open as if from sleep he saw a naked Dante looking at him.
'I'm fine.' said Elseron unsteady. The pain of all his injuries now becoming apparent, it nearly caused him to black out but he shook it off and looked to his friend. 'Twenty-five.' he grinned stupidly, panting hard, holding his bleeding ribs.
'What? You sure?' Dante asked quickly.
'Of course I'm sure, why?'
'Cos' I only killed twenty-four.' A roar cut their conversation in half as a blonde wolf launched between them. Dante got their first, gripping it with a clawed hand and holding it in the air. Choking the life from its body as he held it over his head, striking his trademark pose before roaring and slamming the wolfs head into the ground. With a sickening crunch Elseron raised his arm to shield his face from the spray of blood. 'Looks like we're even old man!' Dante laughed looking to him covered in the Lycan's blood. 'But magic is cheating though!' through the pain Elseron laughed, almost deliriously. Dante joined him. His great booming laughs cascading over the dead bodies like the laugh of the devil himself.
'Says the ten foot tall bear!' Steadily their laughter died away and they stood and stared at each other. 'I need my armour, and I need to deal with Elve...she tried to kill Atlas.'
'How do you?'
'I'll explain later. You start tracking them, I'll catch up with you when I've done here.'
'Hell no old man! You're too injured to fight again if more come. I'll wait for you and keep watch while you deal with everything; we go together or not at all.' In his very blunted, almost insulting way, Dante was being a friend and for that Elseron smiled and bowed to him.
'This won't take long.' he said moving off towards the mansion. Elve bolted awake in the daylight, her shoulder had clotted eventually and stopped bleeding, but now she was kneeling on the grass of her grounds, hands bound behind her back and Elseron stood before her. 'Why Elve! At least tell me that! Why?!' he roared. She just smiled.
'For you Elseron!' she said it so sweetly, so innocently. 'For us.' His heart stopped, tears bulged in his eyes but he refused to let them fall. 'She's standing between us Elseron...don't you see. You could live here with me if it wasn't for her, we could marry like we were supposed to, father children. Be together, love one another!' he wasn't even going to respond to that...she didn't deserve one.
'Your husband’s dead,'
'We couldn't marry if he were alive could we my darling?' she shuffled closer to him on her knees, green eyes sparkling with tears. He stepped away.
'You were the one that hired Gramtag weren't you? The Thetis family had nothing to do with him!'
'Vampires are gullible creatures my love...they believe what they want to believe.'
'Where is he?' he asked coldly.
'I couldn't risk him telling you anymore than he already had.'
'You b*itch! You cruel, heartless, manipulative b*itch Elvernoi!' he boomed making her jump. 'You had to know...you had to know that Fenrir wouldn't come personally, and you had to know he'd have killed you the minute he found out you killed Atlas.'
'You would have saved me Elseron my love! My Shield, my Guardian,' she whimpered looking up at him with a gleaming smile.
'I'm not your Guardian!' he boomed. I'm Atlas's. Her Shield against danger, her sword in the darkness, her Guardian.
'What are you going to do Elseron?' he looked to her, tears brewing more and more now. The removal of his axe from the loop of his belt gave her his answer. 'So this is what it comes to?' not listening to her Elseron closed his eyes and spoke into the axe head as it's handle extended to meet the ground.
'I, Sir Elseron the Stalwart Shield of Atlantis, Lord Commander of the Royal Knights, High General of the Atlantean Guard, owner of the White Tower and personal Guardian of Atlas of Atlantis, Queen of the Ocean City the first of her name,'
'You are willing the sacrifice your love of me for her! And you do love me Elseron I can see it!' she bellowed hysterically.
'By all powers vested in my, do sentence you to death for the crime of high treason and attempted murder of the Queen.'
'You are willing to kill for her Elseron?' that came out nothing but a whisper. Elseron opened his eyes and looked down at the kneeling woman.
'I'd die for her.' Taking his axe in both hands it took just one practiced stroke to remove her head from her shoulders.