Kellan was startled from his wood-seeking by a rustling in the lush, green growth of what had become to him an extremely mysterious island. He dropped the dry limbs, spun around, and unsheathed the knife perfectly concealed in his boot. To Kellan's great relief, his brown, fierce eyes met the silvery calm of his newest comrad.
He restored the dagger to its place. "Iyan, Zamon," greeted Kellan in the tongue of the ancient natives of the land.
"Hello to you, too!" Zamon chuckled as he picked up a few of the dropped branches. "I was just on myway to your camp."
Kellan smiled. "Good. I need a refresher on how to say 'bored'."
They began the short journey towards home. The leaves twinkled in the slight breeze and streams of unfocused light.
Zamon squinted his silver eyes at Kellan when he opened his mouth to speak. "Zamon, it has been three months since the submarine was sucked into your island's current or whatever. We have learned your ways and you know ours. Do you not believe we are ready to visit the city?"
He frowned slightly, and his eyebrows furrowed in deep thought. "No, it is not the right time."
The camp, or home, was very primitive. Two small shelters were created with large foliage and sections of tree bark. A campfire burned dimly inside a ring of small boulders. Beside one leaf hut was a pile of foreign fruit, obviously sorted by a woman because of the neatness and colors coordinated. One tree had tally marks carved into it, counting the days of being on the lonely island.
Out of the hut on the right, blue fruit in hand, stepped a tall and muscular man with dark, curling hair and piercing eyes.
"Hey, Jacob. Where are the other two?" asked Kellan.
"And where the hell have you been? Elle is just about to die over in the other hut."
For the second time that day, Kellan dropped the bundle of sticks. He nearly dove into the shelter in his anxiety. Kellan fell to his knees on the dirt-swept floor. "Oh, God. Elle!"
Elle's head of long and wavy, brunette hair rested in the lap of a young man holding a damp piece of cloth to her head. She was curvy but soft in appearance. The boy, Phoenix, seemed very much like a pole and was well-built. His hair was short and richly chocolate brown. Phoenix's eyes were hazel, and though they weren't now, it was apparent they were smiling eyes.
Relief rushed over Phoenix at the sight of Kellan and Zamon. "I think Elle is taken over with a severe case of pnemonia. I hate to say it, but she needs a doctor. Now."
Simultaneously, Phoenix and Kellan looked in hope at Zamon.
He slowly shook his head. "Lan, no."
Suddenly, Elle began shaking with a fit of coughing. Jacob came into the shelter at the sound of Elle's distress. Everyone watchedher with wide eyes - except Kellan. His normally observing eyes were squeezed shut. Beads of tears were at the corners.
In seconds, Kellan was fiercely holding his knife to Zamon's throat. "Sorry, friend, but you are going to do just one more favor for us."
Zamon's eyes looked heavenward and muttered a prayer.
The outsiders and their tour guide trekked through the seemingly perpetual jungle. Phoenix was given the job of keeping Zamon moving with the knife. Kellan's arms were heavy with the burden of Elle, but he told her he was willing to do anything for her.
The vegetation was thick and foreign. Tiny birds swooped and sang over their aching heads. Humidity hung like a blanket on the air. Reptiles scurried up the towering trees.
Just when Jacob was about to formulate another complaint, the trees dramatically thinned out. "Amazing," he breathed.
A shining, sky-scraping, silver pair of gate doors stopped them in their tracks. Beyond it was a whole new world.
Zamon smiled in spite of the situation. "Welcome to Atlantis."