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Apollo's Soldiers
by Margo Fallis
Chapter 27

     “Get your foot out of my mouth,” Sandy mumbled, pushing Murray off. “I don’t know where your shoes have been.”

     Murray rolled to the side. “I’ll take my foot out of your mouth when Duncan takes his fist out of my ear. Are you trying to deafen me, Duncan?”

     “Knock it off and keep quiet. We’ve landed on a boat and we’re sailing up a canal of some sort. All the crewmen are down at the rail preparing the boat for docking. If they find us we’ll be labeled stowaways and tossed in jail. At least that is how it goes in most places.” Leith stood and brushed fish scales from his pants. “It’s a fishing boat.”

     “I can smell it,” Fraser said. “Well?”

     “Well what?” Leith glanced at his friend.

     “Well, are we in Atlantis?”

     “How would I know? I’ve never been to Atlantis before, Fraser.”

     “We’re in Atlantis. Look at the rings of land and water. In the center is that mountain with Poseidon’s Temple on top. It’s covered with gold. Oh my gosh! We’re in Atlantis! It’s real.” Paisley ran to the other side of the boat. “We’re in the canal that comes from the sea to the main city.” She sniffed the air. “You smell fish. I smell honeysuckle and gardenia.”

     The lads stood next to Paisley and leaned over the edge to gaze at the canal below. “Smells like fish to me,” Sandy said. Behind them stood an outer wall, encircling the rings and beyond that was the sea. The wall was covered with bronze that glistened in the sunlight. The boat sailed past the first strip of land, its sails blowing in the sea breeze. Houses crammed together showed flower gardens of vivid colors. The leaves of the trees sparkled like emeralds. The boat moved closer to the dock and then came to a stop.

     “Has anyone besides me noticed that this canal is enclosed in some sort of see-through stuff, like glass? It reminds me of going to the aquarium and walking through the inside of the shark tank.” Sandy tipped his head back.

     “Hmm. That’s different. We need to get off this boat before we’re caught,” Leith said.

     “Do you want us to jump into the water and swim over?” Murray gulped. “It’s a long way down.”

     “No, don’t jump. There’s a rope. When the crew isn’t watching, we can slide down to the dock.

     “Is that your plan?” A voice called from behind them. “What are you doing stowing away on my fishing boat?”

     “We’re not. We, uh, just came on board. We were curious,” Sandy said.

     “Your curiosity has earned you the right to work. I’ll pay you, but I have some work that needs done. I want you to deliver some fish for me. It’s either that or I will throw you in the hold with the crabs and other sea creatures that are left behind.” The man burst out laughing. “My name is Catt. Who are you?”

     Paisley whispered to Leith. “How come we can understand what he’s saying? He’s speaking Atlantean, isn’t he? He can understand us too.”

     “The golden arrow is allowing it. Abaris told me it would help once we arrived here.” Leith took the man’s hand. “I’m Leith. This is Paisley, Sandy, Fraser, Duncan and Murray.”

     “Odd names for Atlanteans,” Catt said.

     “This is Atlantis then. Is the city named Atlantis?” Fraser stepped on a dead fish that squeezed out all over his shoe. He scraped it on a piece of wood.

     “No. This is Atlas, the capital of Atlantis. Where did you say you’re from?” Catt scratched his stubby chin.

     “We’re from here, but we’re from another part of the island. We’re visiting friends,” Fraser said.

     “Go down the plank and wait for me. I’m the Captain. If one of the other crew had caught you, you’d be swimming right now. Be grateful.” Catt’s aqua eyes glistened against his suntanned skin. Light brown hair stayed hidden under an orange cap. “Stay out of the way. It’s a busy dock. I’ll be there shortly.”

     They moved down the wooden plank onto the dock where they were able to have a better view of the boat. “I’ve never seen boats that looked like all these. What an unusual style. Did you see all their eyes? They are either that aqua color or violet. All of the people have light hair too,” Paisley said.

     “Only a girl would notice that,” Sandy scoffed.

     “The boat has markings on it that must be Atlantean. I can’t read it, so the golden arrow only helps us speak, not read the native language. That’s all right. The people here must be rich. This boat is covered in gold stuff.” Fraser touched one of the planks.

     Catt came down the ramp and stopped in front of them. “My men are unloading now. You are each to carry a crate of fish up to the temple mount. Once you reach the gate, tell the gatekeeper that Catt sent you.”

     “Are you a rich fisherman?” Duncan glanced at the crates. “Will we be able to carry those? They look heavy.”

     “The wood is light. I’m not a rich fisherman. I’m Captain Catt, of Poseidon’s Fishing Fleet. All my catch goes directly to the temple mount.”    

“Is Poseidon there?” Murray gawked at the shiny temple in the middle of the hill.

     “You act like you’re from another planet. Poseidon has been gone for millennia. His descendants eventually mingled with humans.” Catt put his hands on his hips.

“Speaking of other planets, is it true that the original Atlanteans were aliens from outer space?” Fraser kicked a stray crab off his foot.

“I’ve heard the rumors of that too, but we honor Poseidon, not aliens. Our king, Mason, is pure human, though Poseidon’s blood runs through his body. He sits up there on the great Poseidon’s throne, enslaving the citizens of Atlas. I fear the king has angered him and the other mighty rulers that once lived here and ruled this great island.” Catt’s face twisted in anger. “We have to give our choicest fish to the king and his queen, Illiana. We are allowed to sell the leftovers at the Fish market. If there is anything extra, we are allowed to keep it for our families,” Catt said.

     “What about the crabs and other sea creatures you threatened to throw us into? Who eats that stuff?” Sandy watched a brilliant green sea bird flying around. “What sort of bird is that?”

     “You ask too many questions. The king, queen, and the two young princes, Apollis, and Poseenos, don’t care for the taste of crabs and orinks. We sell most of them at the Fish market. My wife detests orinks, but my three-year-old daughter, Hanala, loves them and so do I, so I take some home for the two of us.” Catt’s eyes lit up when he spoke of his daughter. “Enough talk. Get the crates up to the gates before the fish start to spoil. When you are finished, come back and I’ll pay you.”

     They picked up the crates and headed through the docks, ducking and moving from side to side to avoid being trampled by the crowds of workers.

     “This canal goes straight to the gates. I’m sure we’ll have to cross this bridge and then some others. These crates are going to be heavy by the time we get there. Have you noticed there are no flies and what sort of birds are those flying around? They’re not seagulls.” Murray nearly tripped on a stone. “Not cobblestones again. They’re everywhere, even thousands of years before we’re born.”

     “I’ve never seen that sort of bird. It’s rather pretty. Most sea birds in Scotland are white or black, but the ones around here are blue and pink and green.” Paisley watched a yellow feather fall from the sky. She picked it up. “And yellow.”

     “This bridge has a funny name, Ifushi Bridge. Hey, how did I know that?” Fraser put his hand to his mouth. “I can read Atlantean now. I guess we had to be here a while before it kicked in. Keep hold of that golden arrow, Leith.”

     “Maybe it works better the closer we get to the Temple Mount. Have you thought of that?” Duncan ran onto the bridge.

     “That might be true. What if their central power unit is under the temple or in that hill?”

     “You’ve been watching too much television, Murray,” Sandy said.

     “He might be right, you know. Don’t make fun of him. I can’t see any source of power. There are no power lines, yet they run their machines. Down at the dock, the pulley worked to lift the crates off the ship. There were no men around tugging at it.” Paisley stepped onto the bridge. “I didn’t see any wires or electrical cables.”

     “Time will tell, won’t it?” Sandy ran ahead of Fraser. “Race you across.”

     Fraser and Sandy were the only two who ran. The others took their time as they crossed over the first ring of sea water. The bridge was made of the same marble as most of the buildings, except it had its own unique design. Patchwork colors of red, black and white alternated in tiles across the bridge. The railings and posts were made of red and black marble with a white top holding them together. Each post was carved with intricate shapes and patterns of sea life and the ancient gods that once lived here. The mount stood in the center with an oblong plain reaching to the mountains behind. The canal began at the southern entrance and headed straight north to the temple.

“This ring of water is enclosed in the glass dome tunnel stuff too,” Murray said. “All the water ways are. I wonder why.”

     “The ring of land looks like it’s mostly houses. They’ve all got flower gardens. My mum would kill for flowers like that. Look at the size of the hibiscus! The roses aren’t much smaller.” Leith took a deep breath. “The outer ring is more for businesses and industry. There is no pollution at all. More flowers. By the looks of it, they keep their naval vessels in the first ring of water.” Leith stood on his tiptoes to see better.

     “If you tell me the naval ships have flowers on deck, I’ll punch you.” Murray winked at his friend.

“They have a name for every ring of land and water. That first ring of water inside the main wall is called Ismanel Way. It starts out wide nearer the temple and each circle becomes narrower. What an interesting set up,” Paisley said. “The ring of land where they have all the businesses is called Orloni. This ring of land that has all the houses is called Meloni.”

When they reached the second bridge, they stopped for a few minutes and put their crates of fish down. “Whew! This is getting heavy.” Leith wiped his brow.

“This big canal that comes from the sea is called the Uverlu Canal. It is 300 feet wide and 100 feet deep. Thank goodness Catt didn’t toss us in. That’s a long way to swim.” Murray kept reading the signs on the bridges. “This bridge is called the Ewlanis Bridge and it goes over the Eriphius Way. Weird names.”

“Let’s get going. I want to get this fish delivered so we can get paid and find food and shelter for the evening,” Leith said.

         They carried the crates over the Aberon Bridge and the last ring of water, the Andoras Way. The entrance to the temple mount was heavily guarded. They dropped the six crates near one of the guard’s feet and stepped back.

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