Queen's Council

Whilst much of the old ruins of Atlantis was left to the reclamation of the ocean and the surrounding marine life, the area around the old Atlantian temple and palace remained well cared for and clean. Since the start of the uprising and the stunning victory of the Mermaid Queen’s forces in capturing the city, the sharks and mermaids had adopted a similar strategy, even going so far as to repair and fortify the palace and immediate surrounds against reprisal attacks from the Atlantians, re-grouping out amongst the expanse of the seven seas.

Inside the palace, the Queen had taken up residence inside the royal quarters, once the abode of the Atlantian King himself, the half Human, half Atlantian who spent as much time amongst the surface dwellers as he did his Atlantian kin. He was not in the city at the time of the Mermaid Queen’s assault and had not been seen nor heard from in several years. Within the suite of rooms occupied now by the Mermaid Queen was a large council chamber, richly decorated and able to seat in comfort the Queen, her Council, and their closest advisors.

Standing behind a beautifully crafted and magically preserved timber desk, carved with exquisite craftsmanship from the timbers of the British discovery sloop HMS Intrepid, a sister ship to the famed HMS Resolute in the 1850’s, the Mermaid Queen cast her fiery gaze around the council chamber, acknowledging each of the Shark Chief’s in attendance along with their chosen advisors.
“Thank you for responding so quickly to my summons, friends” she spoke in a quiet voice that nonetheless cut through the other chatter amongst the Council members and re-directed all attention to the Queen as the room fell silent.

“Whilst I would rather have called you here for a celebration, we all know that this war against the Atlantians is far from over and this victory here, whilst significant and morale sapping for the enemy, is but a small one in the grand scheme of the work still to be achieved.”
Leaning against one wall of the council chamber, just to the right of the Mermaid Queen, Blue Siren spared a glance at her Monarch as she spoke, recognizing a tone of both anger and concern, bordering on fear in her voice. A slight frown of concern crossed her otherwise flawless features as she turned her gaze back to the assembled council members and beyond, always alert for any danger to her liege and lifelong friend, as the Queen continued to address the Council.

“In addition to that ongoing work, we have another problem, that has recently come to my attention,” she leaned forward slightly over the impressive and sturdy desk, her hands grasping the edges of it firmly. “Many of the Atlantians fled the city once they realized it would fall to our assault and this was to be expected, however, we have learned that they captured and took with them a sympathizer to our cause, one who provided us key intelligence to ensure our assault was a success,” she continued, as her hand clenched the desk tightly causing a significant crack to form in the six inch thick surface despite its magical treatments.

A cacophony of noise filled the chamber at the Queen’s statement as many in the room, as highly placed as any in the Queen’s forces, save for the Blue Siren herself, had been unaware that an Atlantian had turned traitor to their own kind to aid their cause. Only Larkus, the Goblin Shark Chief sat unmoved at the news, a slight crease of concern to his features the only outward sign of his reaction. Whilst there was no attendant with him at this meeting, with Pool shark Redfordo still out on assignment, one of his other closest advisors was Master Assassin Greku, of the Order of the Skull, and therefore, such clandestine activities were always known to him. The abduction of their informer, however, was news to him, as he began to work through the potential consequences in his mind.

A few moments passed, before Nammu sent out a soft mental command for order that gently touched each mind in the room. Removing her hands from the sturdy desk, she brushed away small pieces of the heavy oak from her palms as she regathered her own composure as well while the room quietened once more in response to her request.

“Whilst this was unexpected, I feel a great sense of personal responsibility for this Atlantian and I would like to attempt a rescue,” she began earnestly as many in the room nodded fervent agreement. “However, our forces are already stretched, both in retaining what we have taken and in protecting our other bases and secluded grottos from Atlantian retaliation. The Atlantians have been stung, certainly, but they are regrouping, and this war will not be over quickly.”

Coming around the table, Nammu moved to float in the midst of the gathered Council, slowly turning to regard each of them with a heartfelt and grateful expression.

“I’ve asked a lot of you all, and I am mindful of the cost and sacrifices,” she began, as her golden hair flared about her in response to the strong emotions, she was both feeling and projecting. “I know and feel the risks of what I am about to ask even more keenly, for I am going to ask some of our very best and bravest to risk their lives to save the life of one of our enemies.”

Silence met her statement as all in the room watched and listened with rapt attention, with only a small amount of shuffling or fidgeting occurring as the implications of her statement sank in amongst Sharks that had grown increasingly salty at the depredations of the Atlantians over the centuries.

“As I said, this will be something I ask only, regardless of the authority you have each invested in me as your Shark Queen,” she continued, understanding the reluctance for such an undertaking and in some ways, agreeing with it. Turning abruptly, she faced Ziero, the Bull Shark Chief and his most trusted advisor Shark Nado squarely and lifted her chin, expecting resistance or even outright rebellion from the two hot-tempered Bull Sharks.

“Nado, I would ‘ask’ you to hand pick a team of five others to accompany you, and one of my most capable warriors, Sylvella on this mission to rescue our Atlantian informer,” she requested, placing emphasis on the word ‘ask’ and not bothering to hide the desperation from her voice.

The two Bull Sharks glanced at one another briefly, the moment enough to exchange an unspoken communication between them as Nado answered his Queen while Chief Ziero just watched on with a flat expression.

“Sure, I can do that,” Nado responded briefly, using one fin to scratch a red-looking scar that ran under an eye patch over his right eye socket. “I know a few sharks that would be up for that kind of challenge, but I’ll need the leave of their Chiefs for them to come with me.”

“Does anyone here object to one of their Sharks accompanying Nado on this mission?” Nammu asked, spinning a tight circle slowly to silently repeat the question with her gaze. When no objection was forthcoming, Nammu turned back to the Bull Sharks.

“Thank you Nado and Chief Ziero for your consent as well.”
“Who is the informer, and do we know where they were taken?”

Chief Ziero asked with shrewd insight, suspecting there was still elements to this that Nammu had not revealed.

“Her name is Kako, and…” whatever else Nammu had been about to say was drowned out in an immediate uproar around the room that caused Blue Siren to tense visibly at the side of the room, her magical golden dagger appearing almost instantly in her hand and riming with an ice blue frost from her innate magic as she readied to lunge forward to her Queen’s defense.
For her part, Queen Nammu appeared unfazed and certainly unsurprised by the uproar while Chief Ziero and Nado just shook their heads and chuckled. Holding her hands up and turning to gesture for quiet from all around her, Nammu eventually regained control of the meeting, but not without great difficulty and not a small amount of emotion dampening magic as well.
“Of course, I know who she is,” Nammu responded to one of the many, and the most forcefully asked question during the uproar. “Her family history is not the point of this. She is in danger as they know she helped us. I fear she will be executed if we fail in rescuing her.”
“And, securing her safety would provide a valuable negotiating edge should the King of Atlantis ever return,” came a softly spoken addendum from the Goblin Chief Larkus.
The statement hung in the water for a long moment before Queen Nammu nodded once in agreement.
“Yes, that also crossed my mind,” she replied flatly.
“Well, now to the where?” Asked Chief Ziero with a wry grin to his Goblin Shark counterpart across the room. “I assume you have an idea of this Larkus from your spies and informants?”
Looking to Nammu with a raised eyebrow, Larkus responded after she nodded once with a soft sigh.
“The most likely place would be their strongest and most remote prison, hidden deep within a narrow crevice at the bottom of Loch Ness.”
“A land-bound, freshwater lake?’ queried Ziero quietly as Nado nodded beside him.
“Fresh water? Mostly yes,” Larkus replied. “But not as land-bound as most think. There are submerged tunnels that pass under Inverness, the land seal settlement and some of these lead to the Loch, so access can be gained via the North Sea.”
“Sounds risky to say the least,” Ziero replied while Larkus just nodded once in silent agreement.
“Well,” Nado spoke up after a long period of silence within the council chamber. “I’d better go get the team ready,” he stated flatly as he swam to the rooms exit and out of sight down the corridor.
Chief Ziero watched him go and turned back to face Nammu with an inscrutable expression.
“If this doesn’t work…” his voice trailed off, leaving the consequences of failure unspoken.
“It has to work,” Nammu replied in a small voice, feeling the weight of this nigh-impossible mission upon her shoulders and conscience.
To the side of the room, Blue Siren slowly slid the golden dagger back into a sheath at her hip and relaxed taunt muscles that had been ready to spring into action should her Queen had been threatened.