1: Friendships Collapse
*WARNING - M-RATED CONTENT IS WITHIN THIS CHAPTER. WARNING WILL BE GIVEN*
An arrow landed in the centre of a make-shift target.
The full moon hung high in the star filled sky, giving the dense forest a faint, silvery glow.
Another arrow soured through the air, splitting it in half.
"I think that I won that one, Artemis." A man grinned, turning to the girl next to him.
He had a tall, muscular frame. His skin was the colour of wheat toast. His hair seemed to be undercut, which was swept into spikes on top. He looked handsome.
He wore a black exomis, which was a short chiton fastened on the left shoulder. A hunting knife was strapped to his side. He held a black bow in his left hand, his right hand reached over to his shoulder to his back, where he pulled out another arrow.
His eyes, however, ruined the image. At first glance, they would have been easily mistakes for a pair of high-tech, futuristic goggles. But, they were in fact bronze mechanical eyes embedded into his sockets. Focusing rings spun and clicked as he turned to his companion.
She, on the other hand, was drop dead gorgeous. She wore a simple knee-length chiton, tied with a cord at her waist. Her silky auburn hair was cut so it was roughly shoulder length. Her eyes were another story; they were strikingly beautiful silver.
"No, I win, Orion!" Artemis complained, a similar smile gracing her lips.
"Draw then?" Orion said, his smile faulting slightly.
"Fine!" Artemis' smile dropped slightly as well, hoping that her companion would just give in and admit that she won, even though it was a tie.
The pair of them was on a small hunting trip. Artemis, the goddess of hunting, the moon, childbirth and wild animals, had left her hunters at their own camp far away from her, while she went on a small expedition with her best friend. Her first male friend.
Orion, on the other hand, only had a few ideas running through his mind. It was how to get the goddess wrapped even more around his little finger.
She was head over heels for him. And it was all because of his hunting skills.
But he didn't care. He wasn't interested in her. His main interest was her being friends with him, but they continuously changed.
Artemis grabbed another arrow from her quiver, and raised her bow, taking aim at the target.
She released her two fingers, and the silver arrow tore through Orion's arrow.
The giant son of Poseidon smiled again.
"Alright then. How about a small bet?" Orion's smile grew, showing his yellowing teeth off to the goddess.
Artemis' silver eyes twinkled with light at that comment. "I'm listening."
"The loser owed the winner something, as long as it is within reason." Orion suggested, and Artemis nodded.
"Sure. Ten arrows. A hundred metres." Artemis agreed, and they both raised their bows, an arrow lodged in the string.
Two targets appeared in the distance. Arrows flew through the air, bull's-eye after bull's-eye.
Both ran up to their targets to see who had won.
Orion cursed under his breath. He had just missed one bull's-eye, off by a mere inch. Artemis had split most of hers, and as expected - all were in the bull's-eye.
Artemis grinned, and fist pumped into the air.
"Yes!" She cheered, dancing around the small clearing. "I win, you lose!"
Orion scowled. He hated losing. And no goddess was going to be a better hunter without being punished. Especially jeer at him.
Before Artemis could blink, Orion had punched her in the sternum, and she fell down, struggling to breathe. Pulling out his hunting knife, Orion cut off the girl's chiton, exposing her naked body to the bitter night.
"What are you -?" Artemis was silenced by some of her clothes being bound around her mouth, like a gag. Her wrists and ankles were tied together, and an unspeakable crime happened.
The moon began to lose its shine; tears were brimming around the moon goddess' vibrant silver eyes.
Orion stood up and dusted himself off. "Nobody goes unpunished, Artemis. Not even you." Orion sneered, and redressed himself. Artemis just continued to lay there, shame swallowing her up.
She felt violated. Everything she had ever stood for had been destroyed by that one male. Her maidenhood had been ripped out of her.
Her form began to flicker slightly, the goddess feeling the majority of her power leave her. The moon slowly faded, the silver light in her eyes slowly diminishing.
The giant picked up his weaponry before running away, all emotion leaving his mind.
A golden flash appears in the distance.
"Artemis!" A distant voice called out.
Apollo, Artemis thought. Gods, she had never been so relieved to hear her brother's voice. She opened her mouth to call him, but no sound came out.
"Holy mother of Zeus!" Her brother exclaimed, and light footsteps ran over to her.
The goddess' vision began to blur around the edges.
Apollo was crouched over her, pale. His sandy blonde hair was sticking up all over the place, like he had just woken up. His eyes were filled with worry.
He looked around, and whipped out his hunting knife, cutting his older sister's bindings off of her.
"Hold on sis," Apollo assured her, pulling Artemis into a small hug.
They vanished in a flash of gold, reappearing before a small cottage.
Apollo knocked on the door. A grown man opened up the door. He had long, blonde hair and icy blue eyes, like Apollo.
"Father," The man said curtly, "Why is Aunt Artemis in your arms?"
"She was raped, Asclepius." Was Apollo's simple answer, and his son ushered them into the cottage.
"Put her down there." The demigod pointed to a hammock in the corner of the place.
Asclepius grabbed a bunch of herbs from his cupboards, looking around for any remedies already made.
He saw Artemis' form flicker slightly as she laid there, her eyes half closed.
"Father," The demigod complained, "You forgot to mention that she was fading!"
"Wait..." Apollo held up his hands, whirling around on his son. "WHAT?!"
"She has no tie left. A lot of her power was taken from her because of her maidenhood being stolen by some man." Asclepius explained.
"I know when someone is fading, son, but I just didn't... You know... Expect her to fade when she has like... Uh... Eighty hunters? Yeah, eighty." Apollo looked thoughtful, before turning to his sister. He grasped her hand and rubbed circles in on the back of her palm.
"When will we know though?" The sun god asked.
"Soon. A few days at least." His son replied, using a mallet to crush some herbs up.
The Blood of the Moon
"Well, sleeping beauty finally awakes."
Artemis opened up her eyes. She looked around, seeing a bright light blinding her vision. Two men with curly blonde hair looked over her.
Apollo and Asclepius.
"You okay, sis?" Apollo asked, and Artemis nodded weakly.
"Water," She croaked, her throat parched.
The healer ran away to get a small cup of water. His father helped the weak goddess sit up as he placed the beaker to the goddess' chapped, pink lips.
"Thank you..." She muttered, and Apollo held back a tear. She was still fading.
"Artemis..." Apollo spoke as calm as a brother could in that situation. "Who did this to you?"
Artemis felt torn. The only man she had ever trusted had just committed a heinous crime against her. He deserved a fate worse than death.
"Orion..." Her words were not followed by silence.
Asclepius ran into the kitchen as his father was on the verge of exploding.
"WHAT?!" Apollo roared, and prepared himself to enter his godly form.
"Just... Let him go... I'll deal with him." Artemis whispered, grabbing her brother's arm.
"You better kill him, Arty," Apollo warned. "Or I will. And it won't be pretty."
Artemis' arm dropped, and she felt a bit queasy.
There was a strange presence in her abdomen.
She didn't recognise it at all. It felt familiar to her though.
"How long was I out?" She asked her brother, dreading the answer.
"About three days. How come...?" Apollo arched an eyebrow, lowering himself to her level.
Artemis' eyes widened. It was impossible. She closed her eyes, and looked deep within her. She could see a small zygote. It was microscopic, but she could still see it.
Artemis gasped her eyes wide open.
"What is it?" Apollo asked.
"I'm... Pregnant..." Artemis said weakly, sweat running down her brow. She couldn't possible keep it. It might turn out to be like Orion - male or female.
Apollo's ocean blue eyes widened at that hearing that. His breath hitched. He didn't know wherever to be somewhat happy for his sister or use it as yet another excuse to kill the son of Poseidon in the most painful method imaginable.
"Artemis... Will you keep it?" The sun god asked.
Artemis had a small smile. No, she would raise her child. If it was male, she would raise him to never break a girl's heart, and to be loyal unlike her pig of a father, cousins and brothers. If it was female, she would raise her to protect every young child, like her, and follow in her footsteps.
"Yes," Artemis answered, "I will raise my child right. Once grown, I will become a hero greater than any other..." Artemis' smile grew slightly. "But I will need to kill Orion first, before he can rape another maiden."
Apollo's ears perked up at that. He was itching to slay the sea spawn. Even though Poseidon is his favourite uncle, because he guided their mother - Leto - to the island of Delos to give birth to her twins, Orion was not going to have a lighter punishment. He would put Orion's head on a pike, torturing him to death.
Apollo placed his hand on his sisters', rubbing circles on the back of it. "Then we kill him. No man rapes my sister and escapes punishment."
Artemis nodded, weakly sitting up.
Asclepius walked back into the room, a small smile on his lips. "Good news, Aunt Artemis. You are no longer fading. Now, would you two care for some soup before leaving?"
Artemis nodded weakly. "That would be nice."
The Blood of the Moon
Artemis looked around the forest, anxious. Her hunters were going to react badly to the news that she bore. Especially when they hear that Orion was the father of the child currently developing in her womb.
The goddess placed a hand over her stomach once more, and tried sensing the developing egg. She could feel a small pulse of energy, bringing a small smile to her red lips. Artemis wanted her child to live a long, healthy, peaceful life - but knew she couldn't. Monsters would attack her child constantly because it would be her first - meaning that it will have a strong scent.
Smoke raised high into the air, above the canopy of the forest. Silver tents were dotted around a small clearing in the woods. A number of twenty or so girls walked around the campsite, all with a quiver of bows on their back and a bow hanging over their shoulders.
Artemis entered the campsite, and all eyes turned to her.
As she passed the hunters, they would bow their head, saying "milady". The goddess couldn't help but think of what was going to occur when she tells the hunters the new. Well, everything bad.
She lifted the flap of her tent and walked in, sighing as she sat down in her cot. Quicksilver-like sweat slid down her rosy cheeks.
Artemis placed a hand on her stomach. It was better to come clean now than leave it until later.
The moon goddess strode out of her tent. "Hunters! Gather around!" She barked as she walked over to the camp fire. Girls in silver chitons ran over to their mistress, some hopping out of trees while others dusting themselves off from play fighting.
"What is it, milady?" A hunter, Kallisto, asked - who was Artemis' current lieutenant.
"I come bearing some... Disturbing news..." Artemis said, her voice cracking slightly as negative thoughts swirled through her mind.
Heads perked up at this, all ears alert for what their mistress had to say.
"Orion... If he comes near... Kill him at first sight..." Artemis suddenly found her feet very interesting. "Orion... He raped me..."
All Hell broke loose. Hunters were cursing, while others went and grabbed their bows, ready to call a manhunt.
"I am also pregnant." Artemis added, and all eyes turned back to her, all of the hunters frozen in time. "I am also keeping the child. Orion will die... But by my hand in the future. I cannot bring myself to cause harm to my future son or daughter."
Kallisto's eyes narrowed. "Milady, this child may be just like Orion! A rapist!" She interjected.
"No they won't." Artemis snapped, her silver eyes glowing dangerously. "My child will be a hero greater than that of Perseus, son of Zeus! They will be like us - strong and independent!"
The huntress nodded in understanding. She couldn't change her mistress' mind, everyone knew that. But, they were also confident that Artemis would raise her child right.
"Then we want to help." A small smile graced Kallisto's lips. The other hunters around her each nodded their heads, all eager to help their mistress with the raising of her child.
The Blood of the Moon
Minutes turned into hours. Hours turned into days. Days turned into weeks, and then turned into months.
Four months had passed, and a small baby bump was forming on the lower abdomen of Artemis.
The embryo was slowly growing into a baby, forming all of the features of a Human.
Some odd feeling told her that it would be more than a mere demigod. Orion was a son of Poseidon and Euryale, daughter of King Minos of Crete, from what the goddess remembered. It may be a full-blooded god, from all what Artemis knew.
The moon goddess touched her baby bump and closed her eyes. A smile graced her lips as she saw her child in its final stages in developing. She could see that it was slowly becoming a male.
"Milady?" Artemis opened her eyes and removed her hand from the skin above her womb.
Kallisto stood there, a grim look on her face. "What is it?" Artemis asked. Anger was hinted in her tone. She didn't know why, but the pregnancy was taking as long as one did with a regular mortal woman.
"We have a problem." Kallisto began, "Apollo is here with grim news."
Artemis stood, grunting as her joints clicked. She and her lieutenant walked over to the sun god.
"What news do you bring, Apollo?" Artemis asked.
"Well, I have been keeping many tabs on the mortal world for a while." Apollo begun. "And it seems that Orion has raped a maiden up in Asia Minor. In your temple, to be precise."
Artemis' silver eyes widened. No wonder she felt strange a few days. And stranger than her pregnancy.
"Where is he now?" The goddess asked. She was dying to torture her ex-friend to a fate worse than death, and then send him to an eternity in oblivion.
"I am not sure. But, I have heard whispers that he has gone insane. Gaea is also growing weary of him. She may kill him... I am not all too sure." The sun god answered. He was itching to rip the son of Poseidon apart. Poseidon was awesome - but Orion was every negative flaw of every male.
Orion was conniving, sly, sadistic and intelligent: Everything to know how to piss of anyone; Especially Artemis and Apollo.
But what Apollo didn't mention, was that Orion had also gone on a killing spree of a lot of creatures: From bears and deer to bumblebees and other little critters. He even gutted a worm before shredding it apart.
Artemis turned to her hunters and barked out a few orders. "Pack up! We have a lead on our man-hunt!" Her attention then turned back to her twin brother, Apollo.
"When was the crime committed?" She inquired.
"A few nights ago. So I suggest you hurry. I'm even willing to take you all there via my sun chariot." Apollo offered.
"And how do you plan to do that?" The moon goddess arched her eyebrow, challenging the sun god.
"It's not too hard. To make things easier, we could just flash over to there. I doubt the Hunters could all come, however..." Apollo's voice wavered slightly, doubting that even any member of the Hunt could join him and Artemis.
"Milady." A hunter came running over to Artemis and Apollo. "Father." She greeted the two. "We have finished packing. When do we leave?"
The huntress had light freckles on her nose, and had long, curly ginger hair. Her build, however, was fairly big and beefy. Her eyes were an icy, calculating blue; being on the receiving end of a glare from those eyes would possibly be as bad as meeting eyes with Medusa. In other words, the result wouldn't be good.
"Phoebe." Apollo gave her a small, weak smile. He loved all of his children, even though he had quite a few. He was glad that she was alive and well.
"Phoebe, could you tell all of the Hunters to gather around? We need to travel quickly." The impregnated goddess requested.
"Sure thing, Lady Artemis." Phoebe ran off to fulfil her mistress' demand.
Artemis winced slightly and held her swollen womb. There was a small discomfort, like the baby had shifted slightly.
Her hand glowed and she closed her eyes. She smiled. A small, baby boy was starting to form. She could just make out his tiny, chubby fingers forming gradually, along with his chunky legs that oddly reminded her of chicken drum-sticks that Aunt Hestia would make on the odd occasion.
The only ones who knew about Artemis being pregnant were Apollo, Asclepius, Hestia and possibly Hera and Aphrodite. Gaea would also have some knowledge of her rape. And would hopefully help her by ending Orion.
"Are you alright, Artemis?" Apollo asked.
The goddess snapped open her eyes and nodded, removing her hand from her abdomen. She was somewhat disappointed that there wasn't a daughter. But that wouldn't stop her from giving her son the same amount of affection.
"Yes... Just thinking. I should have gone after Orion all of those months ago. Maybe I could have prevented all of these atrocities committed by that wretched male." Artemis couldn't help but feel a sense of guilt bubble up inside of her.
"Don't blame yourself, sis. You were severely weakened by the events. It would have been stupid to charge Orion that soon, because he could have harmed the baby severely." Apollo argued, lifting his sister's chin up so they met eyes.
Artemis pulled her brother into a soft hug, showing their brother and sister relationship. He may annoy her beyond belief sometimes (she once wanted to throw herself into Tartarus to escape her little brother's annoying antics) but he was her brother - and brothers live to annoy their sisters - older or younger.
"Thank you, little brother." Artemis smiled, pulling back from the embrace.
"No problem. Wait, I'm the older one!" He complained, and Artemis gave a small chuckle.
"In your wildest dreams, Apollo."
The Hunters then came along.
"We are ready to go, Milady." Kallisto announced.
"Hold hands, and hold on tight. Apollo is helping us get to Asia Minor and joining us on this hunt for Orion." All eyes flashed at the mention of the rapist, bastard son of Poseidon.
"Close your eyes!" Apollo warned, and all of them vanished in a bright flash of silver and gold.