Clay awoke screaming Sapphira’s name. He choked off his scream and tried to take in his surroundings. He was still locked in the room at the Bahaman outpost. Sitting up, he rubbed his hands over his face, then grimaced and looked down at his left side. The wound broke open again and was bleeding freely. He lifted his shirt and placed a hand over the wound, then concentrated. It took several agonizing minutes before the skin stretched across the gap and began to knit itself together. His mind was so preoccupied with so many things, it made concentrating difficult. The blood loss from the lithodid damage was also taking its toll on Clay’s body. Without wanting to, his mind wondered back to the dream he had. His Sapphira was drugging herself to forget. To forget what they could have had and could have been to one another.
He cursed as blood coated his hand. He couldn’t concentrate long enough to finish his healing. A part of him was elated that she still cared for him so deeply after all of this time, but he also felt angry with her for risking her health. She could be poisoning herself. No wonder she can’t remember anything.
A sound at the door broke into his thoughts and his eyes quickly scanned the room to see if there was anything in there he could use to help him escape. His bed was an oval-shaped living coral with a rare species of jellyfish that served as a mattress. The two lived in a symbiotic relationship, each serving the needs of the other. The jellyfish, called a Stomolophus meleagris, provided the coral with food and moisture and the coral in turn gave food – in the form of its waste – and protection. The rest of the room was bare. The entire structure was made from bedrock.
The door opened to admit two Syrens. Their yellow eyes bore into him and hatred swamped his senses. He could barely tell if the hatred came from him or them. He tried to shield himself, but the hatred batted it away. They flanked him, but didn’t touch.
“Good morning,” he said conversationally. “Do I need to stand, or are we going to watch a movie together like this?”
The Syren to his right hissed at him and he shrugged. “You know, you really need to work on your communication skills,” he said with a disappointed sigh.
The Syren on his left backhanded him and he jerked back from the blow. Warmth flowed from his bottom lip and he put the back of his hand to his chin. It came away red with his blood. “Ok,” he slurred through his torn lip, “message received.”
“No, you haven’t really understood the message,” said a third Syren who came in through the door, “otherwise, you would remain silent and wait.”
Clay looked up at the Syren who entered and recognized him instantly. “Demiclasias,” he growled and spat blood at the Syren’s feet.
A sneer curled the split upper lip of the Syren before him. “I’ll have more than that from you before we are done.”
Slowly, Clay stood between the Syren’s flanking him and towered a good five inches over Demiclasias. “Before we are done,” he said in a silk-over-steel voice, “I will have equal amounts of blood from you.”
“Only if you can save yourself and your queen,” the Syren growled back. “And you are too weak for either.”
Clay stiffened. What did this creature plan to do with Sapphira? Did he have her too? How much should he cooperate to keep her from harm?
“Did you know,” Demiclasias began confidently, “that when Atlanteans are cast out they weaken? The Elixir of Life fails them and their gifts fade away.”
Clay thought about his difficulty healing and wondered if the problem extended to his concealment and shielding as well.
“It’s the outer world that does it,” Demiclasias continued. “So full of pollutants that is saps Atlanteans of their health and everything impinging on that health. It makes the humans weak, too, but they don’t know it. They’ll be very easy to defeat and control.”
A black brow lifted. Clay’s entire expression conveyed skepticism with an edge of dark humor. “I see you have developed some grand goals since your banishment. Does this mean you have given up on taking over Atlantis?”
“No, the world is my goal once I have made Atlantis my staging area,” Demiclasias said nonchalantly.
Clay laughed, causing a scowl to form on Demiclasias’ scaled face. “I’m surprised you would find humor in world domination,” he snarled
Clay grinned and shrugged. “No, I find humor in your strategy. If you wanted to rule the world, why would you pick the most difficult target first?”
Demiclasias snapped his sharp teeth and bared them in a fierce grin. “Atlantis would be easy to take.”
“You may outnumber Atlanteans, but you could never get past its shielding,” Clay said with a shrug. “And, if you managed to, the Elite guard and the Queen’s Select will easily defeat you. The Queen’s Select alone carry enough firepower to wipe your kind off the face of the earth.”
“Where is your Queen?” Demiclasias demanded suddenly.
The sudden change in subject nearly confused Clay into responding, but he caught himself. He schooled his features into contempt while he tried to determine how best to find out Demiclasias’ plan for her and if he may already have her and was just tormenting him with the questions. “She is still your Queen too, despite your banishment. It was her decree that banished you and it is her decree that continues to keep you banished.”
Demiclasias snarled and took two quick steps forward to strike at Clay, but one of the flanking Syrens stopped the killing blow, shaking his head while also looking dismayed at his action against his leader.
“We need him,” his protector growled.
Demiclasias struggled visibly with his anger, nearly turning it on his own officer. Clay recognized the weakness and inwardly smiled. He flexed, then rolled his shoulders back, repositioned his feet for a more stable stance that also gave him the ability to move in any direction and not lose balance, then smiled smugly at Demiclasias.
Scowling and growling in his throat, Demiclasias lifted his gaze to Clay and demanded, “Where is your Queen?”
Clay shrugged. “Ruling Atlantis, where else?”
“She is not there!” Demiclasias said. “I’ve looked!”
A snort came from Clay and he shook his head. “I’ve been outcast for fifty years. How should I know where she is?”
This stymied Demiclasias, whose jaw nearly dropped in his astonishment at the answer. “No, she had to have found you. It has been nearly a year.”
This nearly shattered Clay’s control. He wanted to shake the serpent until his teeth rattled out of his head. What did this creature do a year ago that made him believe Sapphira would look for him? Clay heard rumors before he was cast out that Demiclasias was increasing his power. Now Clay wondered if that meant his ranks or his mental abilities.
“You sent out a warning song when the lithodid took you,” Demiclasias added. “To whom?”
“It was a general call for help and a warning to others that a lithodid attacked,” Clay said. “I have been in touch with other outcasts and their descendants,” he added as a reminder.
Demiclasias began to pace, his features pinched in concentration. Clay watched him warily. He stopped pacing suddenly and looked at his flanking officers. “Bring him,” he commanded. “He must be moved today. I’ll have a plan for drawing her out of hiding by the time we arrive.”
The two guards gripped his arms and forced him out of the room. Clay desperately needed to get a message to the Elite Guard, but he knew his every move and song will be monitored. He hoped Merron kept Sapphira well away from this mess. Maybe she would be better off without a memory and living in the United State for a few more years. The Prexy practically ran things in Atlantis nowadays and time ran differently there. It’ll only be a couple of months to the Atlantean people.Please take note that this is my own work from my own imagination. All characters are purely fictional and any resemblance in any way to anyone is merely coincidental. Any copying and redistribution of this material will also fall within copyright infringement.