“You’re joking, right?” Shiva scoffed.
Kyrain had just told her the most ridiculous story she had ever heard. He actually thought that she was his sister, and that he had their brother trapped in a ring box. Oh it was just too good. The collector had finally lost his ever loving marbles.
If anything he had said were true she would have known of it long before now; that's something you just don’t keep from your daughter. Of course, good daughters don’t cast spells on their parents and turn them, along with all pure blooded gods and goddess, to stone. Oh well, she wasn't perfect. You know, she hadn't had to do anything to the demigods; soon after her parents were turned to stone the demigods had all seemed to disappear off her radar. Not that she kept tabs on them all that much anyway.
“It's true,” Kyrain insisted.
He was rather annoyed that she didn't believe him. It took all the fun out of it, but he would show her and then she would believe him.
Kyrain pulled the box out of his pocket and held it out to her.
“See for yourself,” He said.
Shiva sighed and took the box.
“Showing me the marked soul is supposed to make me believe you?” She asked.
Kyrain mumbled the same incantation he had earlier, and the box grew once more. Again, he made the box transparent so Shiva could see Sin.
Shiva frowned as the marked soul beat his fist off the walls; it was clear how agitated he was. Normally she would have found this display oddly amusing, but right now it just made her groan.
“You were supposed to set him free.”
“Ah, but if I did that then my plan would fail. You see, dear sister, with the help of Anna I'm going to imprison you in that box with our older brother.”
“YOU ARE NOT MY BROTHER!” Shiva screamed. She had finally lost her temper.
“I am your brother; let me show you,” Kyrain hissed.
With that he flew at her, and before she could even blink, he sliced her arm with a small knife he had only just manifested.
Shiva was rooted in place with the shock that was coursing through her. She would send his soul to the deepest corner of the underworld for this. But as she started to regain her composure something odd happened.
Kyrain cut himself as well and now their blood was mingling. Beads of blood dripping from Kyrain's hand onto her wound were weaving a knotted pattern into her blood. This shouldn't be possible, unless Kyrain wasn’t out of his mind and he was telling the truth. She had brothers and no one had ever told her!
Kyrain smiled as Shiva's face went from shock, to disbelief, to acceptance; she knew.
“You've known this whole time!?” She accused him.
If this was true, that they were family, then Kyrain was also telling the truth about his plan for he and Anna to overthrow her.
Shiva took a giant step away from him and felt the heat of her anger swirling all around her. Fine! Knowing they were family changed nothing. She didn't hesitate to get rid of her parents, and she wouldn't hesitate to get rid of him.
“Let Sin out,” she said in a scary but calm voice.
Kyrain shook his head. There was no way he was going to risk letting Sin out. If Sin was free, then that took away all his leverage with Anna.
Shiva pursed her lips. She knew that the spell that had worked on the gods wouldn't work on him. She was just figuring out how she could take care of him when he socked her in the jaw.
Her head snapped back from the power he put behind the hit. Shiva recovered quickly and spun kicking him in the stomach.
“Oomph!” The sound slipped past his lips.
“Didn't your parents teach you never to hit a girl? Oh wait that's right. Your parents did away with your sorry ass and then I did away with them!” Shiva taunted.
Kyrain grabbed her hair and spun her around so he had her in a headlock. He started bashing in her face with his fist.
“Where. Is. Hades?” He asked, emphasizing each word with another punch to her now bloody face.
Shiva spit some of her teeth out and laughed.
“Somewhere you will never find him, or the other gods that I turned to stone.”
Kyrain's fist stopped in mid-swing. He let go of her and shoved her away from him.
“You turned the gods into stone?” He asked incredulous.
Now that her body wasn't taking anymore damage, it began to heal itself.
“Yes. I a mere demigod turned all the ancient gods into stone,” She bragged.
“What of the three Fates?” Kyrain asked quietly. It was those bitches that he most feared. Everything he had read about them when he had been mortal had made him run scared even to think of them.; they controlled the Fates of all - mortal, immortal, god, goddess; it didn't matter.
“They were too ancient to be turned into stone, but they did go dormant. The Fates haven't made themselves known since my spell,” Shiva admitted.
She was not fully healed, and when the fist started swinging again, it was her who threw the first punch. She wasn't done with him yet. He was out to take what she had already taken and that just wouldn't fly. While they couldn't kill each other, they could beat the crap out of each other.
“Who are you?”
“We are the Fates.”
Anna wasn't on the mortal plane, and she wasn't in the underworld. She had no clue where she was now. The room she was in was magnificent. It felt warm and safe, but at the same time she got the feeling that it was an illusion.
Earthly treasures surrounded her. The floor was made of pure gold; sapphire gems were pressed into the gold. The pillars were made of white gold, and rubies were cut and placed in them in an eccentric design that made them look like rose buds. Emerald slivers cascaded down from the entire ruby rose heads. There was no ceiling in this room and yet the pillars stayed locked in place. The furniture was made of material like fine silks, and other fine fabric.
Anna stared hard at a door that looked like it was a standing pond; the more she focused on it, the more life she saw within it. Fish of all origins swam around in the sparkling water, frogs hopped on lily pads, and dragonflies flew about. It was the most impressive thing she ever seen.
Reluctantly, she returned her focus to the three women in front of her. Their faces was covered in black veils and their bodies were in long black robes. But she knew they were the women she had heard of from stories about the Fates
“Why am I here?” Anna asked them.
As they spoke, their voices blended as one voice.
“You are here because it's time for you to know. It's time for you to know who and what you are. You are Eurydice, savior of all gods, punisher to Shiva, and destined for greatness.”
“I think you have me confused with someone else. I am Anna Darling. How can I be Eurydice when she died a long long time ago? I know the story, so don’t think you guys can’t pull one over on me,” Anna told them.
“That is where you are wrong; Anna never existed. You are Eurydice; you will always be Eurydice,” They said.
“If I’m Eurydice, then why do I not remember anything about myself? Why is it that all I can remember is the life lived as Anna?” She asked, sarcastically.
“At one time, you knew who you were. You knew your mission. You knew. Then a terrible thing happened and you no longer knew.”
“How did I forget? What terrible thing happened? Stop speaking in tongues and just tell me.”
“The spell was cast that caused you to falter. It stole your memories, and imprisoned the gods. Remember your mission Anna. Do not waver. Leave the one you think you love behind. He will be your undoing. He is not who you are destined to be with.”
“Sin? You’re talking about Sin! How? How will he be my undoing?”
“Remember your mission. Leave the man or live in a world of darkness,” they said.
Anna was getting frustrated. She couldn't leave Sin. They had to be mistaken. Without him, her world was dark and bleak.
“About this mission, how am I supposed to do what needs to be done when I am only immortal? If I am to face Shiva I will lose; she is a demigod,” Anna said.
“You have been given a gift. It is in you, it will come to you when you need it.”
The Fates and the room were fading fast.
“No! Don't go! You have to tell me my mission. How do I save him?”
“In time you will be faced with a choice. You have been warned, Eurydice and your decision will either lead to greatness, or to....” The Fates faded away completely.
Anna's eyes snapped open. All she could see was darkness. She must have dosed off, but yet she didn't feel like she had been dreaming. It had felt so real like she had actually been in that magnificent room with the Fates. But it was more than that, she got the feeling she had actually been there before and not just in a dream.
“You’re awake finally,” A voice said.
Anna didn't bother to comment. The hood was lifted from her head and she was staring into the face of a young woman. The woman had shoulder length straight black hair, swirling pink eyes, and looked like an exotic princess. Anna's lack of immediate response didn't sway the woman's social ineptness any.
“I've been waiting for so long to get you in my clutches,” she said with glee.
“And you are?” Anna asked.
Now that the hood had been removed Anna could see she was sitting in the middle of a field. There was no greenery around; the ground was hard and brown. Her back felt stiff and she was tied to what felt like a tree trunk.
“Forgive me for my lack of manners. I'm Cindy. I was Kyrain's lover...before you came along, that is,” Cindy said. She was squatting down so she was eye level with Anna. Her fingers reached out and twirled a strand of Anna's honey blonde hair around a long bony finger. She gave it a yank then let it fall back into place. When Cindy stood, Anna saw a gateway standing a few feet behind the woman.
“I see. Well, if it makes a difference, you can have him. I want nothing to do with him. How about you let me go and then we can get you reunited with Kyrain?” Anna said sweetly.
She was trying to keep Cindy focused on talking, so she wouldn't notice the slight twitch in Anna's muscles as she tried to move her hands up and down against the bark of the tree, in hopes of loosening the ropes binding her hands held behind her back.
Cindy scoffed,” He won't have me until I can get you out of the way. I know you have noticed the gateway behind me. Do you know where it leads?”
“No, but I suppose you’re going to tell me anyway?” Anna said with an attitude.
“It's called the doorway of lost souls. Once you step foot through that gateway, your soul will cease to exist; you will never ever be able to come back. That is your fate, Anna; you’re going to walk through that gateway.” Cindy's voice shook with excitement.
At this point, Anna didn't care if Cindy caught her trying to escape, she just wanted to get the heck away from this crazy lady. With quick hard thrusts, Anna moved her wrist up and down, over and over again. If Cindy noticed, she didn't let on that she had. Anna would have to keep her talking.
“Do you honestly think that if you get rid of me, Kyrain will want you back? You’re an ex for a reason. And clearly you went way past obsession and straight into insanity territory,” Anna said.
While it wasn't wise to taunt the enemy, it appeared to be working because Cindy's face screwed up into the deepest scowl Anna had ever seen.
Cindy was so peeved; she had to turn around to collect herself. In that brief time, Anna heard a soft whisper in her ear.
“I can get you out of here,” it said.
Anna tried to get her head to lean back but it wasn't working. She couldn't get her head to lean back far enough that she could see who was talking to her.
“Do you want to be free?” the tiny voice asked.
“Yes,” Anna said the word just below a whisper.
She couldn't see what was going on behind her, but within seconds she could feel the ropes slacken just enough so she could wiggle her hands free.
Anna shimmied herself up, wiggling the rest of her body out from the rope; she was free.
Anna took her eyes off of Cindy to thank whoever had freed her, but there was no one there to thank.
While Cindy was still distracted, Anna crept up behind her, but before she could lay even a finger on her, the psychotic immortal, spun around. Cindy’s swirling pink eyes widen and then it was on. She grabbed Anna's arm and was pulling her towards the gate. Anna tried to dig her feet into the ground, but Cindy was much stronger.
“Let. Me. Go.” Anna said breathlessly.
Cindy had managed to drag Anna to the entrance of the gateway. She gave a wicked smile and pushed, but no matter how hard she pushed, Anna didn't go through the gateway. In fact, Cindy wasn't able to move Anna one inch further.
“What the-” Cindy's words was cut short when she saw Anna's body emitting a golden light. It was the most beautiful and the most horrific sight Cindy had ever witnessed. Anna's sky blue eyes fluttered shut, and when she opened them, Cindy was lost in Anna’s deep ocean blue eyes that stared calmly back.
Anna had completely transformed. Her once pale skin now looked like the sun had kissed it, and her honey blonde hair had become pure white and sparkled like diamonds in the sun. The sheer power that surrounded Anna made Cindy quiver in fear and respect.
“You will pay for what has been done!” The words Anna spoke wrapped around Cindy like a vice.
“F-f-forgive m-me,” Cindy begged.
“Forgiveness is overrated. You will walk through the gateway that you wished to see me go through,” Anna said.
Cindy's body was being compelled forward. She tried to command her feet to stop, but they betrayed her. Anna stepped aside at the same moment Cindy walked through the gateway, where her body was ripped apart and her soul sucked into the black void. The soul would never be able to recycle again. It was forever lost in the gateway.
As Anna had watched this all happening to Cindy, her only emotion was revenge. In her own moment of desperation, when she had felt the light swell up in her so much that she couldn’t contain it, she then realized her dream had been real. And just when that realization dawned on her, the women she had seen in her dream appeared before her.
“Well done,” they spoke.
“I can't save them- the gods,” Anna said.
The Fates stayed silent. They sensed Anna had more to say.
“I won't save them; not if it means I can't save Sin. And how will he be my undoing? And what is my mission?” Anna boldly announced.
When the three Fates spoke this time, it was in their own separate voices.
“In time you shall see. Choose right and you will never have to see. Deep down you will know the answer, even if your mind cannot accept it. Your mission has always been the same. Time has come and gone, but the mission always remains until completed. Only then, will you be with the one you are destined to be with.”
Anna ground her teeth in frustration. The Fates were making her wish there was a brick wall nearby that she could bang her head off of. They made no sense to her, and they refused to speak in full sentences. How were the gods ever able to interpret them? If they had as much trouble as Anna was having now, then she guessed they took whatever the Fates had said and twisted it to fit their needs. If they couldn't flat out tell her, then maybe they would show her. It was worth a shot.
“Could you show me what I need to know?” Anna asked.
“That is not our way. When you need it most, then the information will present itself to you. Whether you take after Athena and become one with wisdom, is a fate you must choose. Our paths will cross once more,” The Fates said in unison.
Anna didn't get a chance to question them any further, for in an eye’s blink they had disappeared once more. She had no doubt that she would be seeing them again, since she was unable to figure out her mission. She had a sneaking suspicion that it involved setting the gods free. If so, she would go with her original course of action; she would save her boyfriend.
Orphie had expected a long slumber, but instead he awakened with a jolt. Inside the statue it was no longer dark, but gradually was getting lighter and lighter. Strangely enough, Orphie didn't have to shield his eyes; This was a familiar light; one he had seen somewhere. It then dawned on him that the light was growing within him and shining outward. The more the light increased, the more he began to remember things he had forgotten. When the light reached its full potential, the statue couldn't hold him in anymore, and cracked into a million pieces setting Orpheus free with all his memories intact.
However, with Orpheus’ freedom came one disappointment that he was still a cat! Alas, that would change because he now knew who his true love was.
Anna’s gift was now to its full potential and she was able to make it back to the outskirts of the hive without becoming a victim this time. The peripheries looked even more disastrous than before, she observed. Bodies were strewn across the abandoned streets and smoke was rolling out of some of the broken-down houses.
Anna figured this involved Sira, and a wave of sadness came over her, realizing Sira must be dead. She had to be, for there was no way Sira could have made it out of such an ambush alive.
As much as Anna wanted to search for Sira's body, she knew that it wouldn't be possible. Not only was their over one thousand bodies on the ground, she was also running out of time to get to Sin. And if the truth be known, it might be too late all ready. But Anna refused to believe that. She convinced herself to go on and weaved around the bodies in her path.
The hive was a good little hike from the outskirts, but she had no choice but to trek it. It appeared it was a no-teleporting zone, at least for her.
The city was bustling with beings, and she saw many different types wandering about where she went. The buildings were all grand and impressively built. To her, it looked like a mini New York City with a twist of the old caste system.
While the buildings were grand, they were nothing compared to the castle that stood in the center of the city. It was at least four stories high, and the width literally took up the center of the city. The buildings she had admired, looked as if they were built sometime after the castle, since they surrounded it perfectly.
There was no moat or drawbridge, indicating it was not stuck in the Stone Age. Instead, this castle was open and any being could walk right up to it. It was odd to have it so unprotected, but Anna figured it was just a stroke of luck for her and it was about time she got some of that.
No one in the city paid her any mind, and they walked around like puppets. Anna could only guess these citizens were the slaves Sira had talked about.
Anna walked swiftly but also with caution up to the castle. There her feet left the stone roads of the city and stepped onto a smooth, velvet, black runner. The black fabric ran in a single line from the castle's entrance all the way to the street she had just come from. Stepping onto the fabric, something activated, and Anna's feet became stuck to the carpet as it moved at a slow luxurious pace and eventually deposited her at a set of double wide doors that required her opening them if she wanted to enter the castle.
The lack of security had Anna on alert. She had expected guards Sira had spoken of, but there weren't any. She pushed on the doors and they opened wide enough for her to slip her body inside. She felt like she had died and went to heaven because of the castle’s décor she now took in.
Grand chandeliers hung from the ceilings. It was an open floor plan design with a set of winding stairs off to her right. She looked down the hall and saw a huge pool. To the left of her was a majestic kitchen filled with many workers. Anna walked over to the winding stairs, placed her hand on the railing and began to ascend. She had a feeling Sin would be on one of the floors the stairs led to. He would not be on this level, it would be too easy to find him.
Anna bypassed searching the second and third levels. She believed them to be empty, not because of anything she had seen or heard, it was just a feeling she had. When she reached the fourth level she was astounded to find she would have to step onto a platform. The platform was crystal clear and she could see all the floors below her when she looked down. The sight made her feel a little queasy.
She waited and waited for the platform to do something, but nothing happened. Anna tried tapping her foot around to feel for a switch but she didn't find one. Next, she tried jumping up and down, but the platform only shook a bit, making her feel incredibly ignorant for jumping up and down on a glass platform.
“Try imagining where you want to be,” a voice said.
It was that same voice that had talked to her when she had been tied up to the tree trunk. She looked all around, up and down, but she didn't see anyone.
“Where are you? Show yourself!” Anna commanded.
“As you wish.”
Something gray and so ugly it was adorable appeared on the floor of the platform next to her feet. It wasn't any taller than her ankle and it looked like a miniature sized gargoyle. Its skin was scaly and gray, it had pointed ears, big dark eyes, a tiny tail, and stood on all four legs; it had talons that looked razor sharp and a pair of tiny wings on its back. But it was the big eyes that drew Anna in.
“You’re sooo cute!” Anna cooed.
The gargoyle’s mouth dropped open and revealed rows of tiny pointed teeth.
“I beg your pardon!” it said in indignation.
Anna gave the gargoyle an apologetic smile. She had offended it.
“Sorry. You just surprised me. I wasn't expecting to see a gargoyle of such...” She trailed off. Anything she would have said after that would have only offended it more.
The gargoyle puffed up its chest.
“Such what? Small? Tiny? Devilishly handsome? Oh, forget it. I know I'm small. My name is Lurex. But you may call me Rex for short. No need to introduce yourself; I know who you are. You are, after all, the most wanted being in the underworld,” Rex said, clearly in awe of her.
Anna tried not to laugh at the irony of meeting a gargoyle called Rex. She choked the laughter down and gave Rex a small bow.
“A pleasure to meet you, Rex. I must thank you for saving me back there with that psychopath woman. As for being most wanted, well, that is a long story. Not that I’m complaining or anything but why are you following me?” Anna asked him.
Rex flew up so he was eye level with Anna. He debated how much he should tell her. It was obvious she didn't know all of who she really was, even if he did. It sucked that he was under specific instructions not to tell her the whole story.
From the changes in her appearance, it was clear she knew half the story. He guessed the Fates had only told her what she needed to know at the time she needed it and not everything she would need to know in order to complete her mission. While he struggled to come up with a half truthful answer, he had an example pop in his mind. It was cheesy but it would work.
“Do you remember the story of Hercules?” He asked.
“You know how he was given Pegasus?”
Again Anna nodded.
“I'm your Pegasus; only I'm more than a companion, I am also your protector, your conscious, and your guide through your mission,” Rex explained.
It was Anna's turn for her jaw to drop. Out of all the creatures she could have received, it had to have been a cute little gargoyle. Yea, the Fates had to have a really bad sense of humor. Oh well, she would just have to take what she could get. Perhaps Rex was more ferocious than he looked.
“You said I should think about where I want to be?” she asked him, getting back to the task at hand.
She gave it a try and envisioned herself standing next to Sin. She pictured every detail of him in her mind and then she cleared her mind of every thought that didn't consist of her and Rex standing next to Sin. Her guess was, if she didn't include the gargoyle than he wouldn't be there where she was envisioning. If nothing else, she definitely welcomed his company right now.
She kept that picture in her mind and then the platform dropped. Her heart leaped into her throat and her stomach threatened to empty its contents, though she hadn't had a single thing put into it in weeks. Without her mortal body, she had no need to feed. Not even off of Kyrain.
The sudden drop of the platform startled Rex. He clung to Anna's upper arm and buried his stone face into her warm neck until the platform stopped moving. Some protector he was turning out to be. It was no wonder the other gargoyles laughed at him. And here he always thought it was because of his size. If they knew how much of a wimpy gargoyle he really was, then they would never let him forget it.
Anna was holding onto Rex just as tightly as he was holding onto her. She really didn't need to experience falling from a great height again. The last time was still very fresh in her mind.
Just as it looked like they might become a splattered mess on the floor, a hole opened on the bottom floor and the platform drifted down somewhere below the castle, softly landing on a lower floor.
“You can let go of me now...” Anna gently said to Rex.
Rex lifted his head from Anna's neck and looked around. The platform had taken them to some underground tunnel. He could see many doors, and many paths.
“Where are we?” He asked.
Anna stepped off the platform. She shifted the gargoyle enough that she could hold him to her chest. It was surprising how little he weighed, considering he was made out of stone.
The paths and doors didn't do much for her confidence in finding Sin. For once she wished she could catch a break in her searching for his whereabouts. How awesome it would have been if the platform had placed her right in the same room as Sin? Alas, that just wasn't how her luck was running.
“Don't know.” Anna heard a faint sound bouncing off the walls. ”Do you hear that?”
Rex cocked his head. He concentrated on the sounds and honed in on the direction the voices were coming from. It sounded like they were coming from the path just to the left of them.
“Yea, follow the path here on the left. I think that's where it's coming from,” Rex told her.
She kept a loose hold on Rex and took the path off to her left. The tunnel they chose wasn't too dark. A small amount of light flickered around them from a few lit torches, spaced far apart; therefore, not much light. Rex ended up wiggling out of her arms and flew beside her as she walked down the tunnel. It was a disappointment when they found it led to dead end.
“Now what?” she asked with a sigh.
Rex didn't answer her; he was listening for the voices. After a moment, he picked up the faint sound of them again. The voices were coming from behind the wall right in front of them. He studied the wall but no lever or any way to open it.
“Try pushing on the wall. I can't see a lever to move it, but I know there's a way,” He said to Anna.
Anna placed her hands firmly on the cool smooth surface. She pushed with all her strength, but the wall wouldn’t budge. She moved her fingers over the wall and felt something that engraved in it.
“I need more light. It feels like there is writing here,” Anna said.
“So, create light,” Rex said.
Anna turned to look at him revealing her exasperation; he had thrown out the suggestion like she should know how to actually create light. Up to a few hours ago she hadn't known about any abilities she might possess. Now, her guardian munchkin wanted her to display another ability- one she wasn't aware she had.
Rex looked back at her with patience. “You can do it. Dig deep within yourself,” he instructed.
She turned her attention back to the wall. Warmth filled her, and then her hands began to glow. The glow was just enough to light wall and let her see a series of letters; a code, she guessed, to make the wall move. The warmth ceased as did the light that had came with it.
“Damn,” she muttered.
“Don't be discouraged. You will get the hang of it,” Rex said cheerfully.
“Umm thanks...but I was talking about having to figure out the code to move the wall,” she said.
“Ah. Let me give it a try,” he said.
Anna stepped back and waved her arm to him as if saying, “knock your self out.”
Rex didn't require as much light as Anna for him to see, his senses being sharper than hers. In fact, more light would have only hindered him. He looked at the code. Where Anna had seen a series of letters and assumed it was a code, he saw the same letters but saw that some stood out more than others, and concluded that those had been used more frequently. He smiled to himself and stepped back.
“I know the letters that have been used, but not the order they go,” he told her.
“What are they?” She asked him.
“I-K-R-E-S,” he said.
“You know what it stands for then?” he asked.
She nodded. How could she not? Those letters, or more specifically, what they stood for, were the reason she had been tossed out of the underworld before her training was officially over.
“Sierk,” she answered softly.
And that is?”
“Sierk was Shiva's lover, her concubine, and while she had many that was the only one she really cared about. Unfortunately, he didn't care all that much about her. He died, and it was my fault. You see, Sierk was a mortal man that had Shiva plucked from the mortal realm and imprisoned with her. She kept him young and alive; in return, he made her feel young and alive. After my judgment and then my assignment, I was allowed some time to adjust to being dead. In that time I became close with Sierk, and we ended up sleeping together. Shiva found out about it and she killed him. Since I was all ready dead, she tossed me out of the underworld. I was told never to come back,” Anna told him. She left out the parts of how Shiva had tortured her and her soul book before they were tossed out.
“Yet, here you are,” Rex observed.
“Yes. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the man I love.”
“A man you think you love...” Rex said.
Anna gave Rex a odd look. He knew something he wasn't saying. The Fates had hinted the same words in the dream she had had, and it had made her curious to know what more they knew. If Anna was to trust in the words of the Fates, then she understood that Sin wouldn't bring her any good. According to them, or what she got from them anyway, was that if she chose to be with Sin, then she would be choosing to live in darkness. Of course, that could be taken many ways. Sin was the son of the very woman who had ruled beside the king of the underworld. Maybe the fates had been implying that if she stayed with Sin then she and he would rule the underworld?
“A man I know I love. Unless you know something I do not?” Anna challenged.
Rex cleared his throat. As much as he would love to tell her what he knew, she wasn't ready to hear it. His knowledge would be best served if he kept it to himself until such a time she would be willing to listen.
“You should try the code; see if it works,” he said, ignoring her challenge.
Anna turned back to the keypad engraved in the wall. There would be time to make Rex talk after they saved Sin. For now, she let the unanswered challenge slide and punched in the code. She was right; the code was Sierk. The wall silently moved aside. Anna looked back at a smiling Rex and together they walked through the opening.
What the hell is going on out there? Sin frantically thought. He was being tossed side to side, up and down, and all inside this box. He had long given up trying to hold onto thin air. How he wasn't all bruised and broken was beyond him, but all the movement was pissing him off to no end.
It was one thing being ignored and forgotten and quite another to be tossed around like a rag doll. Since the box was sound proof, he wasn't even able to hear what was happening outside and causing the shaking of his little prison. He hoped though, that it would soon stop. A man could only take so much of bouncing off walls before he would lose his marbles.
“Give it up!” Shiva growled. Her nails were dug deep into the back of Kyrain's neck.
“Ha. You are the one who will be giving up!” Kyrain arrogantly said. He shrugged the pain he was feeling off. Her hair was wrapped around his fist and he had her head tilted back as far as it would go.
“Never. I'm the ruler of this realm, and I will always be the ruler!” she exclaimed.
Shiva kicked her knee up and drove it into Kyrain's crotch. He sucked in a breath and released her. His knees hit the floor and he was holding himself.
“That was a low blow, bitch,” he grunted in pain.
Shiva shrugged. All was fair in blood and war. He was currently at her mercy, and while she could have taken full advantage of his present state, she chose to reach into his pocket and pull out the box that contained their older brother.
“Open it or die,” she ordered Kyrain.
Kyrain was still on the ground. He waited a full minute for a wave of pain to pass before he spoke.
“You want him free? He is more dangerous to you than I, little sister,” Kyrain warned her.
Shiva shifted her weight to one leg. The box was enclosed in her hand and she could fee the energy pulsing off of it. She wouldn't tell Kyrain her reasons for wanting the box open; she wanted to be able to control who entered it and who left it.
As soon as Kyrain told her how to open it, she planned to trap him in it. Both her brothers would then be out of the way and she would only have Anna to worry about. When she would get through with Anna, all would be back to normal and she wouldn't have to worry about anyone trying to take the underworld from her. She had done too much to become the ruler of the underworld only to have someone else take it from her. It just wouldn't fly.
I said open it,” Shiva hissed.
Kyrain moved one hand away from his crotch and waved it towards the box. He wasn't so stupid to let her know the words to open the box, so he said them in his mind; they were just as effective. Shiva dropped the box and the lid snapped open.
Sin had only a brief moment of relief as the box became still. But then his body was twisted as he was pulled from the box. He found himself normal size once more.
The first thing he saw upon his release was Kyrain on the floor holding his balls. He took a step towards Kyrain, when a silky smooth voice stopped him.
“I've heard so much about you, brother.”
Sin spun around to see a stunning woman. Her green eyes studied him and she had a half smile. From the state of her face, and the bruises and cuts all over her body, it was clear to him that she was the reason he had been tossed around inside the box. His sister and her brother must have been fighting. There was nothing like a little sibling rivalry to make things interesting. It just might be possible that he could use their mutual dislike for one other to his advantage.
“Shiva,” he acknowledged her.
Her smile broadened. It was clear Sin had a grudge against their brother. She was sure she could pit them against each other, then all she would have to do is sit back and watch. One of them was bound to over power the other. If she was lucky, it would be Sin who over powered Kyrain, and then she could talk him into ruling by her side. She was sure he would make a fine companion. Maybe he would even share her reasoning for locking the gods away; Kyrain obviously didn't. It was critical that the gods would not be set free; they would tear her apart for what she had done to them.
“It's a shame that your life was cut so short, Sin, and that you never got the chance to be judged,” Shiva said with insincere pity.
“Indeed,” Sin agreed.
“You could extract your revenge and I wouldn't say anything about it. I would let you beat the shit out him to your heart’s content, and then we could lock him away for all eternity. A punishment worse than death,” She said sweetly.
Sin had to hand it to her. She kept her facial features schooled so he wasn't able to read her emotions. He believed her for the most part, but he wasn't so trusting that he would believe she would just let him walk free.
“In return for?” Sin asked. He hated the whole beating around the bush thing. It was time to cut to the chase.
Shiva shrugged. While she enjoyed word play, Sin was right, beating around the bush wasn't going to get her anywhere. He was obviously a no bull crap kind of guy.
“In return for your services. I want you to rule by my side. Every queen needs her king. I'm not asking for much, just your loyalty to me,” Shiva said.
Sin didn't get a chance to answer her; Kyrain was back on his feet.
“He will no more join you than he would me. We should work together to get rid of him and then we can work out our differences. What do you say?” Kyrain asked.
“I do believe you are right. After you, brother,” Shiva said.
Sin inwardly groaned. The situation had been turned around on him and things were not looking good. Before, he had had no reason to go against his sister, now he did. Oh well, he would just have to take them both on. His adrenaline kicked in at the same time he began to transform into his demon body.
“What is that!?” she asked out loud.
“He's part demon!” Kyrain said. It had just dawned on him- Sin wasn't a demigod like him and Shiva; he was part demon. And Sin's markings were very familiar to Kyrain.
“Sira!” Kyrain gasped.
“What?” Shiva asked, confused, her eyes trained on the fully formed demon in front of her.
“The demon, he is related to Sira,” Kyrain said.
Sin laughed. The sound was cold and calculating.
“I'm her nephew,” Sin said.
Kyrain silently cursed. That was why Sira hadn't done more damage to Sin. From the moment she had seen the photograph of him, she had known.
After Kyrain did away with these pesky siblings, he and Sira would have a very long chat; one that would include her being punished. Or, perhaps he would skip the punishments and just out right kill her.
“Demon or no demon, we are still going to rip you apart!” Shiva stated.
Sin braced himself for their attack and wasn't disappointed when they both came at him. He kicked off the ground, flipping easily over them. He took the next millisecond, while they processed what had just happened, and figured out his next best form of attack.
Kyrain was the first to recover. He spun around and charged at Sin. Their arms locked around each other and both stood their ground. Shiva turned and smiled.
Orpheus sprinted out of the maze and crossed over to the outskirts of the hive. The bodies around him made his heart plunge. As fast as he could he searched over a good hundred or so bodies until he came to one that was familiar. It was still breathing-but only just.
“Sira!” Orpheus exclaimed. He couldn't have been any happier to see the damn demon than he was at that moment.
Sira groaned. Her whole body hurt and she wished death would just take her all ready. She opened one swollen eye to see who had called her name. As the black fur came into focus, Sira's groan turned into a sound of disgust. Out of all the beings in the underworld that could be with her in her time of death, it had to be the freaking cat she despised.
“What are you doing here, Orphie?” Sira weakly asked.
For a moment he was confused, but it didn't last long. Orphie was the name he had went by before he knew who he really was. The statue had done a number on him. While it was true he had first been enslaved to the statue when he failed to answer the riddle correctly, the rest of the story he had told them was false, minus the part about needing to find his true love in order to be set free. But there were many ways one could be free. He was now free from the statue, but he wasn't free from the curse. He wasn't free from the one woman he loved, a woman who in a round about way had cost him everything.
“Never mind that. Where is Anna?” Orpheus asked.
“Anna?” Sira sounded confused.
“Yes. Anna. You do remember her right?” Orpheus asked anxiously.
“She got away. I told her to run...I didn't think she would do it. I didn't think she would leave me to die alone,” Sira sadly said.
“I'm sure she didn't leave you alone out of spite. She left to save your nephew,” Orpheus said, defending Anna.
When Sira smiled, blood trickled from the corner of her mouth. Orpheus wouldn't have long before the demon would fade away.
“She ran. I don't know what happened to her. She was headed to the center of the hive though. That is where we thought Sin would be,” Sira whispered. Her voice took on a dreamy quality and her eyes were starting to close.
“You’re dying,” Orpheus said, his voice cracking in emotion.
He didn't really care about the demon himself, but he figured someone did. His heart went out to the ones she was leaving behind. He knew the pain of loosing someone you loved and it was a hole that could never be filled. However he was lucky that in his case it could and would be filled very soon.
The pain Sira had been feeling was now gone. Her body was numb. She felt cold but peaceful. It sucked that she wouldn't be able to make up for lost time with her nephew, and that the mischief demons would have to find a new leader. Yet, Sira didn't regret anything. She was going out with a bang. She had fought the assassin demons and had taken hundreds of them with her. How she had done it was a mystery she would never solve, but she knew she had fought with all the honor and courage she possessed.
“I don't care that she left me. My death will not be in vain, if she saves my nephew. Make sure that she does.”
It was the last thing Sira would ever say, for the darkness sunk its teeth into her and she was forever gone. Without a soul, it wasn’t possible for her to be reborn. While she had lived she had lived without fear of karma and reincarnation. She had known that death for her would be final. It was a fate she had accepted long ago, and one she had taught her clan to accept. Her time was up and she embraced her death with open arms.
Orpheus bowed his head to her. Death was something he did not handle well. With her eyes closed he was able to pretend that she was resting. He would honor her dying wish as much as he could. However if it came between saving Anna or saving Sira's nephew he would always choose Anna.
He didn't need to take a moment to figure out how to get to the center of the hive, he already knew the way. He had, after all, been there once before.
The wall went back into place once Anna and Rex had stepped through. It would have been too much to ask for, for Sin to be on this other side of the wall. No. Instead, Anna and Rex were facing more tunnels, three to be exact.
“Seriously!?” Anna complained.
Rex shook his head. He was about to say he didn't know, when they both heard the voice. It was much louder and clearer this time.
“Demon or no demon. We are still going to rip you apart!”
Anna gasped. She had a pretty good idea whose voice that belonged to, and from the sound of things, Sin was in deep trouble.
“Which tunnel did it come from?” She asked.
“Umm...” Rex wasn't too sure, but he took the best guess he could manage. “I think it was coming from that tunnel there that runs straight.”
“You think? You mean to tell me you don't really know? Oh my god! Isn't that what you are here for, To guide me!?” Anna harshly said.
Rex lowered his ears. She had hurt his feelings.
“I'm sorry,” he said softly.
Anna looked over and sighed. She hadn't meant to make him feel bad. She pulled him to her chest and hugged him.
“It's not your fault. I shouldn't have gone off on you like that,” she said.
Her apology only made Rex burst into tears. Big crocodile tears slid down his stone cheeks and soaked her shoulder. Who knew such a little creature could produce such big tears.
“N-n-no o-o-one h-has e-ever a-a-apologized to m-me b-before,” Rex sniffled.
Anna awkwardly patted his back trying to calm him down. She had never seen anything like the display Rex was exhibiting, unless....Curses! The Fates hadn't sent her an adult guardian. Oh that was so rich. Yea, those three bitches definitely had a cruel sense of humor. She recounted every action the gargoyle had done in the short time they had been together. If it was anything to go by, then her gargoyle was probably in his early teens. He was no more than a child to her. Great... One more being to look after, she thought, because now there was no way that she wouldn't protect him. She had a soft spot for kids.
“Shhh, you’re okay. Pull it together,” she gently told him.
“S-sorry,” Rex said.
As he calmed down and his tears dried up, he was left with small hiccups. His body jumped up and down with each hiccup, and since he was flying, it made it appear as if he had been drinking.
Anna took the lead and chose the tunnel straight in front of them like Rex had suggested. He trailed behind her until his hiccups made flying nearly impossible.
“Can you give me a piggy back ride?” he asked.
“Hop on,” Anna said.
Rex broke into a grin and jumped on her back. He wrapped his arms around her neck and nestled his face into her white hair.
With the added weight of the goyle, Anna was forced to slow her pace down. It wasn't long before she started to hear soft snores. The corner of her mouth slightly turned up. Her poor goyle had exhausted himself. She wondered if he had any family. She didn't think so, but she would be sure to ask him later. If she survived what she was about to head into, anyway.
Orpheus came upon the castle. It looked the same as it had when he had first seen it many years ago. It was funny how destiny had a way of coming back around. If you didn't get things right the first time, it made sure to give you a second shot at it. He really didn't want to push it a third time.
The front door to the castle was slightly cracked open just enough that he could squeeze through. Since he already knew where he was headed, he didn't waste time searching the castle. He sprinted up the winding stairs, all the way to the fourth floor, and stepped onto the platform where he imagined Anna. In his mind she looked exactly like she had when he had last seen her, before the statue had called him back. Orpheus pictured his current appearance standing next to her. He even pictured the underground tunnels in which she would be.
The platform took the hint and dropped. Even though he had been expecting the sudden drop, it didn't stop his body from reacting to the plunge. Neither did it stop his eyes from bulging out of their sockets when the platform sped down towards the first floor.
The hole opened up, just like he had remembered, and the platform softly landed on the ground of the underground tunnels.
He jumped off the platform as quick as his short furry legs would let him. Anna's scent filled his nostrils but he didn’t only smell hers; he could smell the scent of at least three other people.
Orpheus followed Anna's scent and came to a dead end where he punched in the code he had used the last time he was here. It didn't work. After trying three more times with no success, he was ready to turn around and find a new route. Wait! (He could have punched himself in the face). All he had to do was smell each individual letter until he found the ones Anna had punched in.
He tried them in a variety of ways until he finally got the right order. The wall moved aside and he slipped through the small opening, the wall quietly shutting behind him.
Orpheus continued to track Anna's scent. A voice he was hearing was only making him push himself more and he felt he was running out of time. He feared Anna might have already reached the others.
Anna stopped dead in her tracks. The scene before her was both comical and disastrous on so many levels. Sin was in his demon form and he had Kyrain pinned to the floor. Kyrain was twisting every which way to break free of his brother, and Shiva was leaning against a wall with a bemused look on her face.
“Talk about a can of whoop ass being busted open!” Anna exclaimed.
Sin twisted his head around and did a double take.
“Who the hell are you?” he asked.
Anna frowned, but then remembered she didn't look the same as she had when he had last seen her.
“It's me baby,” she said.
He took in her long white hair, her tan skin, and her deep blue eyes. If it weren’t for her voice being the same, he would have called her out.
“Anna!” Sin breathed.
She nodded and grinned. He smiled back but he was grunting from the strain of trying to keep Kyrain contained.
“What is that ugly thing on your back?” Shiva asked.
The gargoyle was still snoring heavily. Anna shifted enough so she could gently remove Rex from his perch. She softly sat him down and turned to Shiva.
“He is not ugly; he is my Rex,” Anna said.
Shiva laughed evilly.
“You once took something that was mine. Perhaps I will return the favor now,” Shiva said.
Anna stood her ground, positioning herself in front of Rex. No one was going to take her goyle away from her. In the short time that she had known the little creature, she had become quite fond of him... She would do everything in her power to keep him from ending up with the likes of Shiva.
“Over my dead body,” Anna said.
“Ha ha, sweetie, you’re already dead. Perhaps you should think of a new metaphor. Hmm?” Shiva taunted.
Anna growled low in her throat. Her body became tense and she felt that warm tingly sensation again. She threw her hands out in front of her and against her will a golden light shot from her hand.
Shiva didn't see the light coming and it hit her in the center of her stomach. She glanced down and tried not to freak out. She could literally see straight threw herself.
“You bitch!” Shiva screeched.
Anna was too stunned to reply. Her head kept snapping back and forth between her hands, and the giant hole in Shiva's stomach. She bent down slightly and could see Kyrain and Sin rolling around on the ground behind Shiva.
“Guess a two piece bathing suite is out of the question now huh?” Anna saucily said.
“I'm going to rip your freaking head off and then we shall see if you'll be able to run that smart ass mouth of yours again,” Shiva growled in fury.
Anna didn't wait for Shiva to come at her. Her feet kicked off the ground and she soared through the air towards Shiva.
Shiva had anticipated Anna's move and sent a fireball hurtling towards her head. Ripping off Anna’s head would be wonderful, but frying her brains would work too. Unfortunately Anna dodged her fireball and Shiva was knocked backwards.
Orpheus followed the voices until he came upon the war zone. He was rather confused when he saw Kyrain and another guy fighting on the ground. They rolled around like pigs and fists were flying everywhere. Off to his right he saw Anna and Shiva having it out as well. From where he was standing it appeared that Anna was winning. While Shiva was getting some licks in, it was mainly Anna that was doing the damage. Anna had a few scrapes, but Shiva's face looked like it had been pulverized.
A loud snoring sound drew his attention. He glanced down at the ground. A little ways off from where Anna and Shiva were brawling was the cutest and ugliest creature he had ever seen. It was sleeping peacefully through all the noise, unaware of all the action going on around it.
He snapped his attention back to the foursome that was acting like a bunch of children; there were better ways of handling things than beating each other to a pulp.
H knew from experience that everyone in the room-minus the creature sleeping-was equally matched. Demigods were not easily killed unless one knew the secret and if anyone of them did know the secret to killing one, he seriously doubted fists would still be flying. He himself didn't know how to kill a demigod.
“ENOUGH!” Orpheus shouted.
All four of them stopped fighting and turned to look at him. Anna was the first to recover.
Orpheus gave her a huge grin. He wanted to run up to her, and kiss her but that would have been impossible at the moment for two reasons; the major one being he was still a cat, and the second being she was straddling Shiva's back and was half choking the queen of the underworld with her arms locked around the ruler’s neck.
He opened his mouth but then abruptly shut it when a force so powerful that it could only mean one thing, entered the room. The powerful force sent Kyrain, Sin, Shiva, and Anna hurtling against a wall.
No one spoke for a long moment. They all stared at the three hooded women who stood in the center of the room.
“The time has come for all to know what each has hidden. Speak now and fight later. An unbalance has started to show in the worlds of all. Fix it or we will,” the Fates spoke. Just as suddenly as they had come, they left.
“Unbalance? What did they mean?” Shiva asked in awe.
“Stone! You turned the gods into stone! Obviously there is bound to be some kind of unbalance created by your actions!” Kyrain looked like he wanted to murder Shiva.
“They always speak with such dramatic flare...” Anna said.
“What the hell did they mean when they said fix it or we will? Sounded like a threat to me,” Sin said observantly.