The roof was just as cold and as desolate as the last time he had been up here, except of course this time Elseron wasn't trying to kill Pilot. What the hell was I thinking? I'm the Lord Commander of the Royal Knights and I was scrapping like a child. Sighing Elseron looked over the city, it was a beautiful sight at night. The street lights glowing in the darkness, the moon and stars being reflected in the high glass buildings that sat a few miles to the north. Their inky silhouettes blotting out the stars that winked down at them from unknowable reaches of space. Standing in the centre of the roof with Atlas's gift in hand he ran the strange fabric through his fingers, She's trying to protect me...when it should be the other way around! Everything about this Encante trip now set his instincts on edge, so much could go wrong, so much left to chance! But he could do nothing, he'd voiced his opinion and she had dismissed them. All he could do know was be a good servant and respect and follow the rules of his Queen. But he didn't have to like it.
'Sir Elseron,' the soft voice was as gentle as falling snow. Turning he realised Eden was stood in front of him, already wearing her Royal Gown that Arisa had created. I should thank her for those. He thought staring at the beautiful royal blue dress with the sharp interlocking patterns of Atlantean art running along the hem of the dress in just a slightly darker shade of blue. Staring at those glistening golden eyes he felt his heart melt, having one person that looked like her was one thing...but two. 'I am not disturbing you am I?'
'Never your Majesty,' he said placing his hands firmly behind his back and straightening his spine to stand at his full height. Her eyes danced over him as a soft smile touched her lips.
'You look exactly how I imagined you,' the words seemed to be said more to herself than him, so he remained silent. 'You looked deep in thought, is something troubling the Stalwart Shield?' stepping a few paces towards him she mimicked his stance and placed her hands delicately behind her back.
'Not at all, I was simply going over the plan for Encante in my head.' he lied.
'You do not agree with me replacing my sister,' it was a statement not a question. He tried to keep his face neutral as he probed through his mind looking for any consciousness that was not his own, but there was nothing. 'That is understandable, you have no idea how I will act or how the King will react to seeing me.' She smiled at him before shooting a quick glance across the city.
'You're very observant your Majesty.'
'Please, call me Eden.' he nodded to her with a small smile; hers grew as she looked to him. 'I have so many questions...' she dropped her air of formality with those words, her golden eyes becoming sad and distant.
'I know...as do I...but...ask and I will do my best to answer them.' a taught silence fell over the roof before she asked,
'How long did you spend looking for me?'
'Six years.' Had it really been that long? 'Two in Atlantis, four in the outer world.'
'This planet is slightly larger than Atlantis is it not?' she laughed slightly, Elseron just smiled. 'I see it only fair that you ask me a question now.'
'What do you remember?' placing his hands more comfortably at his side’s the pair began to walk around the roof in a large circle.
'Of my childhood? Only snatches of pictures...smells...sounds. Clanking,' her eyes squinted as she struggled to remember such a long time ago. 'Like the sound of steel hitting steel...a man as tall as a mountain throwing me up into the air and catching me again, he was smiling.'
'King Atlas.' Elseron smiled.
'What was he like?' Eden asked looking up to him, her umber brown locks falling in front of her face briefly before she pushed them back into place with an elegant flick of her hand.
'He was a fine King, strong but fair. A good judge of character and one of the finest swordsmen I've ever seen, before you were taken he was very trustful and always quick to laugh. After however...' he paused, unsure of how to continue. 'But losing a daughter does that to a man.' her eyes narrowed and she looked like she was about to say something but instead turned her head to look over the street.
'What else do you remember?'
'A deep booming...the smell of fresh honey bread...and you.' she looked to him then.
'Me?' the shocked outburst sounded more stunned than he would have liked.
'You.' she repeated with a laugh. 'You had a scruffy brown beard and shorter hair.'
'I only saw you...maybe twice!'
'Well you clearly leave a good impression.' she smiled. 'How did you get your name? The Stalwart Shield.' sighing Elseron ran a hand through his hair.
'It was a time shortly after you were taken. A rival member of the Royal family claimed he had a better right to the throne than King Atlas. His army stormed the palace, the Royals and what was left of the Royal Guard barricaded themselves into the great hall. I remained outside in the courtyard.'
'You fought them off alone!' she gasped.
'I had help from archers from the palace walls. But yes I was the only soldier on the ground.'
'How...' she paused, staring at him with wide eyes. 'Such a thing cannot be possible! One man against an army.'
'One word can change a book forever, one sword strike can rewrite history, why not one man save a palace?' she laughed with a small shake of her head.
'Now I know why Pilot respects you so much.' she said it so nonchalantly, so easily. What? 'Don't look so surprised Elseron.' she said not even looking at him.
'Pilot and I...'
'Don't see eye to eye. Of course you don't, you are fire and ice. Two sides of the same coin, one side can never look both ways.' stopping she wrapped her arms around herself. 'Pilot respects you more than almost any other Elseron; you are the only one that can challenge him in combat. To Pilot such a thing is everything. Not to sound like I am bragging but my husband is extremely powerful, fights became boring and trivial, when you are perfect at something that thing soon becomes very mundane. Until you came along, it is unheard of for someone to be his equal with a blade. Because of that simple fact Elseron Pilot has great admiration of you. Of course he will never admit such things, not even to me. But it's true. A wife can always tell.' she smiled at him, sparkling teeth glinting in the moonlight.
'I...I don't really know what to say.'
'I think that just shows how much respect you have for him as well...' with a large final grin she bowed her head and glided elegantly past him.
'How did you two find each other?' he asked watching her as she went. Hearing the question she stopped and glanced up at the starlit sky briefly, as if remembering something, before turning to him with another beautiful smile.
'He pulled me back from a very dark place.' bowing her head again she turned in a flurry of blue silk, and left.
'You were at the whore’s mansion! How many are there with the girl queen?' Fenrir asked as he strode past the snivelling wolf that had his hands and feet chained to the wall, pinning him against the rough stone brick.
'I don't know my lord...' he said deliriously. Answer me boy or by the Gods I will eat your heart from your chest!
'Then guess.' hissed the Black Wolf into the boys ear. Blood poured down his bare chest from where Fenrir had been doing his work, it was making him hungry! And the longer this boy gave him nothing the more and more appetising he was looking.
'There was the bear...and the Guardian...and a blonde man...and women.'
'Women? One was the vampire girl that came here! Who was the other?'
'I didn't see her face...the old man carried her under a cloak...she was a vampire...tiny...she was...tiny.'
'How tiny?' asked Erik for the first time since the interrogation had began. Looking back at him the silver haired man was staring intently at the boy.
'Something you wish to tell me Erik?' asked Fenrir. For a brief instant Erik was silent.
'I knew a vampire. A lifetime ago, she...'
'Sir please...let me down my lord...please...' snarling Fenrir clawed his hand and pierced the boys torso. Immediately coughing up blood as his rummaged around the hot fleshy organs, finally finding what he was looking for Fenrir gripped hold of the boys spine, blood running down his arm as the useless pup began twitching and kicking uselessly as his nerves were being cut off.
'You were saying Erik.' smiled Fenrir.
'She was bitten as a child. She remained the size and strength of a twelve year old girl.' the stoic warrior said without any emotion.
'And you know her how?'
'We grew up together in Canada.' something in his face made Fenrir's inner animal snarl.
'Now is not a good time to lie to me Erik...' staring at him the ancient Lycan's face didn't change. Forever the professional soldier.
'We...we fell in love as children. When I found out she was a vampire I ran away, that night I was turned and to get acceptance into the Blood Claws I had to kill someone. I chose her.'
'And you're telling me that you were beaten by a twelve year old dark dweller?' said Fenrir laughing sadistically.
'Yes.' Erik said looking to the twitching pup. Smiling Fenrir yanked hard. A good foot on a half of spine ripped from the boys chest, spilling organs onto the floor and leaving the flaccid rod of bone and sinew in his bloodied hand.
'Erik...wolves do not mate with corpses. We devour them.' walking past the ancient wolf back to his study Fenrir placed the length of spine in his rough wrinkled hands. 'Find them Erik...quickly. Or it will be your own spine you'll be holding.'
The data-slate that the lowly private carried in his sweating hands was possibly the most important of his life, Omega level encryption. That was beyond top secret. As his polished boots hit the floor the lights over his head flared into life and as he moved off the weight sensitive floor sensors they would go off, it was hard to find your way through this place when you could only see a metre at a time. But he knew. Barging through the door the long table that stretched out before him was filled with other data-slates and holograms. The shadowed Generals all turned to him as one. Gulping the private steeled his nerve and strode confidently to the very head of the table. The man that waited for him had no name, only a codename, Zeus. And when he took the data-slate and opened it, the private felt the whole momentum of power shift. 'Ladies and Gentlemen,' said Zeus strongly. Shadowed face staring out at his subordinates. 'The Atlantean Queen is in our realm...' whispers burst out all across the table but were soon silenced as Zeus raised a hand. 'They carry with them the secrets to defeating our enemies forever...have every special task force in the country lease with one another...I want her in our custody. We are nearly there Ladies and Gentlemen!'