Tea Leaves and Opal Necklaces

Centaur

Match Six: Centaur:

Gilbert was the one who called for “that” measure. The other countries didn’t have time to argue about this.

“Is it really that bad?” Antonio asked on the other line when the Prussian man called him up.

“Yes!” Gilbert shouted. “West is to feel the effects!” The color drained from the Spanish man’s face.

“You can’t mean…?” he began to ask.

“Yes! Since we don’t have Greece’s mother, we have to get Greece to do it himself!”

“But can he do it?”

“He’s going to have to learn how or else we’re all screwed!”

“Okay, I’ll get Turkey to talk to him.”

“Thank you!”


On Sunday, Sadık pounded on Heracles’ door.

“Yo, Greek bastard! Get out here this instant!” he shouted. “This is serious!” He beat on the wood until the door opened. The Greek man stared at him with narrowed eyes.

“What do you want?” he asked. Sadık folded his arms across his chest and snorted.

“Antonio sent me over here to talk to you about it,” he said.

“About what?” Heracles asked. The Turkish man threw up his hands in the air.

“You know… that measure!”

Heracles’ jaw dropped. He slowly shook his head. “No…”

“Gilbert was the one who said it.”

“But it took mother days to summon and master the Great Beast. Even then, it wore her out. She slept for close to a year after the Woman in Red was sealed away into the Land of the Dead. Even I don’t have enough strength to do it all again. If I tried to summon the Great Beast, it would kill me.”

“So?! We will all die if you don’t do something! I wouldn’t be over here if Kiku wasn’t getting worse!” Sadık noted the Greek’s man shocked expression on his face.

“Yeah, that’s right,” he said. “Sena wouldn’t let me see him today. But I did find him in the back yard. Kiku’s in real bad shape. He didn’t look like he had been eating or sleeping for weeks. I don’t like you, but please at least do it for Kiku!”

Heracles’ stomach dropped. His mother was right in that Yao shouldn’t have locked the Woman in Red in his territory. Now, his dear friend was paying the price as she was escaping into the living world again. The Turkish man gritted his teeth as he tapped his foot.

“So what’s it going to be, Heracles?” he asked. The Greek man lowered his head.

“Give me five days to get started,” he said at last.

“Five days?!” Sadık shouted. “Are you kidding me?!”

“You want me to save Kiku, yes?” Heracles asked. The Turkish man puffed up his cheeks and frowned.

“Yes,” he groaned.

“Then five days for me to learn how to summon the Great Beast,” the Greek man said. “No less.”

“But why so long?”

“It took my mother years to learn the summoning spell. I will try to the learn that exact one in a short amount of time. But I have to have no distractions or interferes. Do you understand me?”

“I’ll leave you to it.”

“Thank you.” Heracles closed the door behind him.


-300 Years Ago-

His mother’s door remained closed. Day after day, a young Heracles waited and wondered if she would be okay. At times, Ancient Rome would have to chase him away and get him to live like a normal child.

“It is not good for a little boy like yourself to sit around, worrying,” he said.

“But…” Little Heracles said. Ancient Rome smiled and patted him on the head.

“Your mother is going to be fine,” he insisted. “In fact…” he reached into his leather pouch that he had on his hip and pulled out a small silver key.

“You can help her by keeping this safe,” the Roman man said. The little boy looked at him with big eyes.

“What is it?” he asked.

“It’s something very precious to your mother,” Ancient Rome said. “Keep it with at all times and you will make your mother very happy.”

-Present Day-

Heracles got Cyprus to help him over the next five days. His adopted brother looked at him uneasy at first.

“Are you really going to summon the Great Beast?” he asked. “You couldn’t die if something goes wrong.”

“I have to do it or else we will all die because of her,” Heracles said. “And I’m going to need you to help.”

“What do you need me to do?”

“Keep me awake. I need to study the spells for five days.”

Cyprus backed up with his jaw to the floor. “Five days?! Can your body even handle that?!”

“That’s why I have you here with me. You have to make sure I don’t fall asleep and keep me focused. Can you do that?”

“Uh… well…”

“Can you do that?!”

Cyprus jumped into standing up straight. “Yes, I can!”

“Good,” Heracles said. “Follow me to the shed.” His younger adopted brother gave him an odd look.

“Why?” he asked.

“Mother has her books locked inside,” the Greek man said. He reached under his shirt and pulled out the small silver key.

“And I believe Rome gave me the key to help us stop the Woman in Red this rime,” Heracles said.


Five days later, Sadık returned. He knocked on the door.

“That bastard better have come up with something good,” he muttered under his breath. “I will kill him if he doesn’t!” But when the door opened, the Turkish man covered his mouth, gasping.

“What the-?!” he asked. Heracles’ eyes looked so hollow and dead. The bags under his eyes looked like bagged up-weights. His rival had never seen such red eyes before. Heracles could barely stand up by the way he held onto the doorframe. The Greek man looked up at Sadık.

“Oh, it’s you,” he said. That poor man sounded so dead inside.

“Are you okay?” Sadık asked. “Do you have it ready?”

“Yes,” Heracles said. Th Greek collapsed, his grip slipping from the doorframe.

“Heracles?” the Turkish man asked. “Heracles?”


Several hours went by. Sadık sat with Heracles as he slept on the couch. The Turkish man turned to Cyprus who walked into the living room.

“He stayed up for five days and nights,” the younger man said. “No breaks and he wouldn’t eat or drink anything. I had to hit him on the back and shoulders to keep him awake during his studies.” Sadık covered his agape mouth.

“You’re kidding,” he said. Cyprus shook his head.

“He had to have all of his focus for this spell to work,” he said. “Mother went through the same thing when she summoned the Great Beast.” Sadık turned to Heracles out cold on the couch.

“Is… he going to be okay?” he asked.

“Oh yes,” the younger man said. “He just needs plenty of sleep. I do have a favor to ask of you, though.”

“What?” Sadık asked.

“Please stay by his side, at least he wakes up,” Cyprus pleaded. Until normal circumstances, the Turkish man would all but laugh at such a request. Instead, he snorted.

“Fine, whatever,” he muttered.

“Thank you,” the younger man said. Sadık rolled his eyes.

“I’m only doing this for Kiku,” he muttered under his breath.


The next night, Heracles slowly opened his eyes and lifted his head. Sadık put up his hand in a wave.

“Yo,” he said in a low voice. The Greek man blinked at first.

“Huh?” he asked. “What are you doing here?”

“Cyprus asked me to stay by you while you slept,” Sadık muttered. Heracles gave him a puzzled look.

“What?” the Turkish man snapped.

“How long was I out?” the Greek man asked.

“A day.”

“And you sat there, watching over me?”

Sadık snorted and looked away. “Not by choice! You better now?”

“Yeah.” Heracles sat up on the couch. “And now I’m going to need your help with the ritual.” The Turkish man’s attention spiked.

“What all do you need?” he asked. The Greek man reached into his pocket.

“I managed to write down everything before you came over yesterday,” he said. “This is everything that I will need for the summoning.” Sadık took the folded-up piece of paper and read over it.

“I can’t read this,” he said.

“Cyprus will go with you,” the Greek man said. “He has the same list. He wrote it down himself.” In that moment, his younger brother walked into the living room.

“Oh good,” Heracles said. “I was about to call you. You and Sadık have to go down to Old Lady Salome’s shop and get everything that I need for the summoning ritual.” Cyprus looked at him with big eyes.

“Why there?!” he asked. “That old lady freaks me out!”

“We have no choice,” the Greek man told him. “She’s the only one that has what we need.”

“Can’t you get the things off the internet?” Cyprus asked.

“It has to be done tonight,” Heracles said. “Just before sunrise. Please don’t argue with me anymore. We do not have time. If you don’t want to end up dead in the Woman in Red’s storm, get moving now!” Sadık put his hand onto Cyprus’ shoulder and pulled him along.

“Thank you,” the Greek man said as they walked out of the door. He drew in a deep breath and walked out to the back courtyard.


-Midnight-

Heracles sat on a stone bench when he heard the back door slide open. He turned to find Sadık and Cyprus holding stuffed bags in their arms.

“Did you get everything?” the Greek man asked.

“Yes!” the other two men said.

“Good, good,” Heracles said. “Bring everything here.” Sadık and Cyprus walked over to the Greek man.

“Stop!” he commanded them. They froze with their eyes locked on him.

“Right,” Heracles said. “Hand me the candles.” The men reach into the bags. Sadık had blue candles and Cyprus had the white ones. The Greek set up each candle at the different points of the circle he drew with ash and brick dust.

“The myrrh?” Heracles asked. His rival reached inside and handed him the incense sticks.

“I didn’t know how many you wanted,” he said.

“This is fine,” the Greek man said. He set the sticks upward into ground outside of the circle. Heracles took out a red pen and started drawing ancient Greek symbols on his body. He reached into his cloak and pulled out a book of matches. Sadık and Cyprus watched as the Greek man lit up the candles and incense. Heracles stepped back from the circle.

“Cyprus, did you bring Mother’s book?” he asked in a low tone.

“Yes,” his younger brother said.

“Hand it to me,” Heracles commanded. “The book is on the bench near the door.” Cyprus turned and walked up the hill. He came back with the book to his chest. The younger man handed it over to the Greek man. Heracles opened his mother’s powerful book to the summoning spell. He closed his eyes and began to chant. As he spoke, heavy winds picked up around all three men. Sadık’s eyes shifted left and right under his mask.

“What’s happening?” he whispered.

“Shhh!” Cyprus whispered back. Heracles found himself sinking deeper into the spell as he chanted. The flames of the candles heightened despite the heavy winds. His whole body became still as his eyes ripped open. Heracles opened his mouth, but no sound came out.

“Heracles?” Sadık asked. The Greek man collapsed back and his body began trembling as if having a seizure.

“Heracles!” Sadık shouted. He rushed forward, but Cyprus pushed him back.

“Don’t!” he said.

“But…”

“If you break his focus now, his soul could end up in the Underworld.”

“So what can we do?”

“Wait it out. The spell is almost over.” Both men looked down at the trembling man on the ground. By three in morning, Heracles sat up from his trance. He turned to see Sadık, frowning with his arms folded across his chest. The Greek man tilted his head.

“What happened?” he asked.

“Nothing, you bastard!” the Turkish man snapped. Heracles turned to the empty circle. He shook his head as his jaw dropped.

“No…” he murmured. “That can’t be right. I did everything Mother had in her book just the way it was written!”

“Did you translate something wrong?” Sadık asked. “Did you?!”

“Of course not!” the Greek man yelled. “I can read my Mother’s language just fine!”

“Well then, try it again!” the Turkish man yelled. “Keep trying until you get it!” Heracles had just opened his mouth when the men heard a low groaning noise. They turned to see a man with a long brown ponytail standing in the middle of the circle, rubbing his forehead. Wait, back up. More accurately, from the head to the torso was human, but the rest of his body was a horse’s torso, legs, and tail. His coat matched his long hair. Heracles stood up with his jaw dropped to the ground.

“That was a bad trip,” the horse man muttered to himself. Sensing that someone was watching him, he lifted his head and spotted Heracles and Sadık staring at him with big eyes. The horse man narrowed his eyes.

“Okay, which one of you summoned me?” he asked. He looked at the Turkish man before turning his attention to the Greek one.

“It was you, wasn’t it?” he asked.

“Yes!” Heracles said in one breath. The horse man stepped forward and leaned in close, studying the Greek man’s face.

“You look familiar,” he said. “Have I seen you from somewhere before?”

“My Mother summoned you before to defeat the Woman in Red thousands of years ago,” the Greek man said. “It was a nightmarish time for us all.” The horse man, or rather, centaur, backed up, covering his mouth.

“You mean Ancient Greece?” he asked. “You’re her son?! You’re that little kid who hid behind her toga as she commanded in the final battle?! That Ancient Greece?!”

“Yes,” Heracles said.

“Wow,” the centaur mouthed. “I didn’t think her son would try and summon me with a complex ritual. And judging by that, that means she’s back, isn’t she?”

“Yes!” Heracles and Sadık shouted together. The centaur rubbed his forehead again.

“Oh shit,” he muttered. “Well, this is turning into quite a mess.” He looked up at Heracles.

“Can you see my reigns?” the centaur asked. The Greek man looked down the Great Beast’s torso.

“Barely, but yes,” he said.

“That’s a start,” the Great Beast said. “Can you grab them?” Heracles reached out for the invisible reigns. But when his fingers got close, he drew back his hand.

“Ow!” the Greek man shouted. He sucked on his fingers.

“What’s wrong?” Sadık asked.

“Too hot,” Heracles said. The centaur shook his head and sighed.

“You’re not quite as strong in your magic as your mother,” he said. “Then again, it took her years to learn how to summon and control me.”

“But can’t you help us?” the Greek man asked.

“Of course!” the Great Beast said. “Since you went through the trouble. You do need to work on your training some more, though. But first, I need some mead. Care to help me out?”

“Uh… sure…” Heracles said.

“Excellent,” the centaur said. He followed the men into the house.

“What’s your name, by the way?” Sadık asked.

“Never really had one,” the Great Beast said. “Ancient Greece gave me a name long ago, but it’s lost on me now.” He turned to Heracles.

“Perhaps you could give me one,” the centaur offered. The Greek man tilted his head as he looked at the Great Beast.

“Hm…” he said. “We just met and I don’t have anything for you yet.” The centaur laughed as he smacked Heracles in the back.

“No matter!” he boomed. “I’m sure you’ll come up with something all in due time!” The Great Beast walked up to the glass door and walked into the house. Sadık leaned over to Heracles.

“Well, your summoning spell worked,” he whispered.

“Yes,” the Greek man said. “But now I have to learn how to control him just like Mother did.”

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