The exaltation of war
“And you’re sure we will find her here?”
Apate asked, looking out onto the southern palace. Soon they would be within it’s walls, securing the key to their freedom. Dolos rolled his eyes.
“Have you not been listening? She could be anywhere in the southern province. We are here to make sure the titans are contained. We can’t have them interfering while the Pseudologoi and Keres scour the forests.”
Apate crossed her arms, she didn’t appreciate being talked down to.
“That sounds like too many assumptions to me.”
“Do you not trust my intuition?”
“We can’t trust your loyalty. Why stop there?”
Nemesis said, breathing heavily and leaning against a nearby tree. Transporting four passengers from the forge had taken their toll.
“Mother! Father! Stop fighting! You’re tearing this family apart!”
Momus exclaimed, pressing the back of her hand to her forehead. A multitude of rings adorned her fingers. Each band was silver and studded with precious stones. Before leaving the forge, Momus had refused to attend the home of a titan without the proper attire. She wore a white chiton held in place with silver pins and a matching belt that glinted in the moonlight. She had taken the opportunity to re-apply her make-up and her jaw was clean shaven.
“Quiet. We don’t know what security Krios could have stationed in the forest.”
Dolos was already tiring of Momus’ attitude. Momus pouted behind her mask, which she had crudely painted white.
“Someone had to stop the bickering. It was giving me a headache.”
She muttered. Oizys leaned an elbow on her sister’s shoulder, not breaking her gaze on the palace.
“I would have expected them to have more defences than a wall.”
“This is where the element of surprise is key. They know we’re coming because of those infernal brothers, but not when. If you follow my instructions we will be able to search in peace. Although if Moros and Geras don’t hurry up we might miss our opportunity.”
Dolos said. He looked up to the moon rising in the east, the night was still young. A slow breeze blew through the forest. There were no clouds in the sky, the stars glittering like crystals. With the recent storms, they were lucky to have a quiet night to make their move. Geras descended through the canopy of the trees. Unlike the others he had to be carried to the hillside in a hammock of linen carried by a pair of pseudologoi. He had insisted on making the trip himself.
“Finally, you should have come with the rest of us.”
Dolos muttered, the irritation clear in his tone.
“I am never wasteful, especially with time. I knew Moros would keep you waiting.”
Geras huffed. He had been forced to leave organising the Keres search to Moros, they only answered to him. He had gloated about it but Dolos made him take Lyssa for good measure, her moods irritated him. Dolos tapped his foot nervously. He didn’t like waiting, idle time opened the opportunity for something to go wrong. The moon continued its slow crawl across the sky. It was directly above them by the time Moros materialised with Lyssa in tow.
“Thank you so much for carrying me brother”
She said, smiling sweetly as she gathered her red shawl around her shoulders. Moros pulled his arm from her grip and didn’t reply. From the look on his face her sweet side hadn’t been around for long.
“What took you so long? Are they in position?”
Dolos asked. Moros raised a hand dismissively.
“Yes. Now what?”
To keep his authority over the other daimones, Dolos had kept the finer details of his plans to himself. He couldn’t risk one of them taking the initiative, not when their position was so delicate.
“Within the complex there are four main buildings, one for Krios and each of his sons. It’s most likely she will be kept in the main palace but we can’t rule anything out.”
Dolos turned to Nemesis.
“You will take Apate and I to Pallas’ residence. Moros will take Momus and Oizys to Astraois’ tower. The layout can’t be too different from the tower in the eastern province so you should be faster. Moros, you will then go to the home Perses shares with Asteria. It’s a large dome you won’t miss it. Once finished in each of the outer residences we will scour the forest and the central…”
“Daimones at the palace.”
Dolos froze when he heard a low whisper behind the group. A small woman emerged from the trees behind them. Her lips moved with unspoken secrets and her small copper wings fluttered like a hummingbird. Her large cherub eyes shone like bronze as she repeated her new mantra, each repetition becoming louder. Dolos recognised the power of the goddess of fame, Pheme.
“Grab her! Before she gets to the palace!”
Dolos commanded, covering his ears. Pheme’s outcry paralysed the daimones, none could move as her repetitions turned into an earsplitting screech. Apate attempted to grab Pheme as she sped past, away from the hill side and towards the palace.
“Should I be surprised your plans have failed again?”
Apate threw a fistful of copper feathers to the ground. Dolos set his jaw, watching as the stars flared above the southern palace. Five small figures danced into the sky above the residence, the air rippling around them and expanding across the sky over the complex. As the ripple travelled down, four winged figures flew from the wall encircling the palace. Dolos’ expression soured as their view of the palace disappeared behind the swirling winds, dappled with multi-coloured starlight, forming a protective dome. Outside the winds a legion of Aletheia came out of the forest and fanned out across the perimeter. Any chance of discretion in their search was gone.
“I’m flattered they would go to so much trouble to keep us out.”
“It might keep out inferiors like you. I will return to the forge once I have found her.”
Moros held his chin up in superiority.
“Wait, you can’t…”
Moros held his hand up to silence Dolos. His figure already starting to meld into the shadows around him.
“I’ve had enough of your petty inputs. Your plan has failed so success now falls to me.”
The darkness wavered and writhed around him. Suddenly, the air around him rippled and Moros was thrown through the air. His back hit the tree with a large thud before he landed face down among the leaves. Dolos stood over him with a satisfied look on his face.
“While you were sealed away I was here on the surface for years. If you listened to my ‘petty inputs’ you would know the residents of the southern palace would be able to keep any of us out.”
Moros tried to keep his composure as he stood up, brushing down his chiton. Despite his brother’s murderous gaze, Dolos couldn’t help himself but continue.
“What you felt was the gravitational barrier holding the winds in place. You and Nemesis can’t dematerialise past it any more than the rest of us can walk through the wind.”
“We came out here for nothing!”
Lyssa punched a nearby tree in uncontrollable rage. A flock of spooked birds flew from the tree, squawking loudly. Dolos relished his position, they rest of them were at a loss where he knew a solution.
“If it weren’t for my cunning it would be.”
Dolos walked slowly towards Lyssa, the madness shrinking in her eyes.
She asked sweetly. Lyssa let Dolos take her hand and guide her to the edge of the hillside.
“I know how your power works. It is going to be the key to getting us inside”
Dolos whispered, his head hovering over her shoulder. She tensed as he held her arms up and slid his hands down to her wrists. Lyssa’s shawl slid off her shoulders to the ground, revealing the red blotches on her skin. Thick patches of red scale dotted Lyssa’s arms, chest, and neck. Dolos raised her arms wide in a rough motion, causing some of the scale to crack and bleed.
“We exist to spread our own aspect of chaos. Some of us after much practice can learn to implant it inside others. It grows in them, consumes them. That is what feeds us.”
“Tell me how”
Lyssa said, the hairs on her neck standing on end. She hadn’t had the chance to exercise her abilities before.
“Close your eyes, feel your power. Let it bubble to the surface and set it free”
Lyssa closed her eyes. Her breathing quickened in anticipation. The rage and madness roiled within her relentlessly, to have that relief of letting it out, made her quiver on the inside. The patches of scale started to form a white crust. As she exhaled the flakes lifted from her skin and spiralled through the air. Lyssa could feel the breeze enveloping the flakes as they drifted toward the palace, seeking out a victim. Like moths to flame, they latched onto the Aletheia guarding the perimeter. On contact, Lyssa felt their minds and invaded them. Lyssa took their thoughts and scrambled them, she distorted and twisted their commands to protect. A blissful smile played on her lips as she severed their sanity. Dolos looked down on the palace. The angelic guards were clutching their heads in a desperate attempt to fight her influence. Some had drawn their swords and were hacking at the air around them.
“Now you have them. Give them your command”
Dolos whispered, cradling Lyssa. She sagged into his arms, lost in her reverie. Lyssa could only think of one command she wanted to give.
Kill the titans.
Without hesitation, the maddened Aletheia darted into the dome. In moments the whirlwind collapsed on itself, leaving the palace exposed. Dolos blew a low whistle that carried through the forest. The Keres and Pseudologoi erupted from the trees and descended on the southern palace like a wave. The titan’s formation scattered like dandelion seeds in the spring, the stars shining above them like suns. Nemesis reached out a hand to Apate.
Apate nodded and the two women linked arms, vanishing into the darkness. Moros grabbed Oizys and Momus by the shoulder. Momus batted Moros’ hand off.
“Careful you’ll wrinkle my chiton”
Momus complained, patting out the fabric.
Moros grabbed her shoulder again and the three were gone. Dolos lowered Lyssa, who was now asleep, to the ground. He remembered the first time he had reached his powers into another. The experience had exhausted him too. He sat on the grass and watched the result of his cunning unfold below. The daimones were waging war and he was their general, it was more fitting he observe than take part.
“You had better cover their retreat”
Dolos didn’t break his focus on the palace but he could feel the disdain of Geras’ gaze on him. The Pseudologoi carrying his hammock flew from the hillside, fading into the shadows. Dolos, the sibling that was tolerated, was the very one who had given the Daimones their opportunity for freedom. They would owe him, he would show them what he was worth. All would be decided tonight.
Astraea held the azure chiton under her chin. Which colour would look better in front of the king? She frowned at her reflection in the small circular mirror and tossed the garment back into the large chest. As soon as she had returned from the palace, Astraea had the chests of her finest clothes brought up. The trip to the High king’s residence would only take a day’s flight but she needed to look the part for her meeting. She was choosing between a pair of belts when a man came up the stairs.
“Your Grace, Lady Eos has sent me to bring you to Master Perses’ residence for protection.”
“I am aware the defences are up. Go to mother and tell her not to worry. The daimones will see they can’t get into the palace. The way will be clear in the morning.”
“But she was very insistent that you join her with the others who will be vulnerable.”
Astraea put her hands on her hips, the belts still in her hand.
“I will not be kept inside with the children. There is nothing to be concerned with.”
“With all due respect, I am busy. I have no time for Mother’s worries.”
Astraea waved the mortal away. He stayed where he was, looking up at the sky. Astraea tried to occupy herself by sorting through her belongings for decent jewelry.
“Won’t Mother be expecting you?”
Astraea said, trying to give him a hint to leave.
“Considering her mood when I left I don’t think I want to come back alone.”
He said. She hesitated while picking out a silver circlet studded with sapphires. The awareness of the mortals still gave her pause. It made her think of Callidora and her grandfathers plans, fuelling her urgency to see the king.
“I imagine she will be incandescent if you don’t return at all.”
“The Lady won’t recognise me.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure; my mother’s memory is impeccable when it comes to etiquette.”
The man shook his head.
“Lady Eos doesn’t respect us as you do.”
Astraea looked to the man, the faded colours of the stars reflected in his light blonde hair.
“I am your custodian.”
“Pacorus tells us you’re on our side. He says that we are helping eachother. Titans and mortals.”
He gestured to the swirling dome above them.
“Pacorus told you that?”
“He says we must protect eachother. We saw you arguing for us at the meeting.”
“It is my duty. Does Pacorus lead you?”
“He is the first among us. We trust him to know what to do.”
“First to see the world. When one of us becomes aware he helps us adjust and tells us of our purpose here.”
Astraea didn’t know such awareness had spread, but such an extensive network could have its uses.
“You never told me your name.”
The man bowed.
“I am Lethos, custodian.”
“Lethos. Is there a woman among you named Callidora? Hazel eyes, dark hair. She may have been brought to the palace in secret.”
“I don’t know anyone by that name. Sorry.”
“Are you sure? Pacorus may have-”
Astraea froze, there was something wrong in the air. Behind Lethos, she could see the Aletheia flying through the winds. Their swords raised, she knew they weren’t an ally. She put a hand to her mouth in shock as they targeted the Anemoi, breaking their formation and collapsing the dome of winds. The stars above shone like dawning suns as everything around her was bathed in iridescent light.
“Save yourself Lethos.”
She whispered. His eyes were wide with fear as he watched the same horizon. With the winds gone, the Keres invaded the sky of her home. She had heard of the creatures before, grotesque daimones of violence and death. When war was announced, Astraea imagined she would be afraid. She thought facing such darkness would make her balk. She watched her family go forward to meet the enemy and shook with anticipation. Astraea had never thought of herself connected to the heavens like her brothers, she never showed the aptitude for it. But as the technicolour light dappled the palace she had never felt so alive. It drowned out her fear, it silenced her doubt. The call of the stars and power of her birthright began to sing in her veins. She ran to her bed and pulled out the sword she had hidden under it.
“I won’t repeat myself Lethos. Go. Now.”
The mortal nodded slightly and backed slowly to the stairs, unable to tear his eyes away from the approaching horror. Astraea turned to the edge of her room and leapt into the air, the stars urging her on. Her sword would tear their scaled flesh, it would drink black ichor.
She was a titaness and the grand-daughter of Krios and Eurybia, master’s of the largest dynasty in all the provinces. Protected by all the power the heavens could muster, she would help purge their home of the Daimones.
There was an eerie calm when we landed in the meadow.
“The others should be back by now”
I said as Eosphoros lowered me down onto the grass.
“Maybe they’re still gathering wood in the forest?”
I shook my head.
“They always know to return to the shelters before nightfall…”
Eosphoros raised an eyebrow.
“…the storms are more dangerous at night”
I added. I couldn’t tell him about the attack, especially now these other creatures were after me. Eosphoros lingered back as I ran to the elm.
“I didn’t realise how much the storms affected you all”
He said, looking at the churned mud. With all the wind and rain, it didn’t take long for the flowers and grasses to succumb to the weather.
“Do the storms not reach the palace?”
I asked as I looked into one of the shelters. We had dug four trenches that ringed the base of my elm. Thick branches, of different woods and sizes, were arranged upright against the walls to stop the mud falling in. More branches were wedged between the walls to act as a roof to protect against the rain. I checked each shelter in turn and all of them were empty. Eosphoros followed me looking down at the shelters.
“They do but...not like this.”
“I guess marble is sturdier than grass.”
“I was only stating a fact. You don’t have to apologise.”
I said, crawling into the last trench. I didn’t mean for it to sound like a barb, but it was what it was. The titans had their homes and we had ours.
“We really have to get back now.”
Eosphoros said, bending down to look inside.
“Can we wait just a little while? I don’t want those…. Those…”
“They’re called Keres”
“Keres. I don’t want to leave without the mortals being aware of the danger.”
“I told you, Daimones don’t attack mortals.”
“They’ve never been interested. The Keres act on instinct. They won’t attack unless instructed too.”
“But they attacked me.”
“Isn’t that more reason to leave? You might draw them straight here.”
I paused. I hadn’t considered that. The pulsing of lights over Eosphoros’ shoulder caught my eye.
“Are you doing that?”
I asked, pointing behind him. When Eosphoros turned, his fists clenched. I knew whatever this was, it wasn’t a good omen. I ducked out of the shelter and pulled myself up beside him.
He whispered. In a clearer view, the stars above us shone light towards the horizon. The multicoloured lights were a beautiful sight, but something about them made the hairs on my neck stand on end.
“Nothing. We have to go. Now.”
The urgency in his voice unsettled me.
I didn’t get to finish my question. A cold talon grabbed me by my arms and held them above my head against the elm. I didn’t have to see it to know the Keres had found us. The familiar sound of grinding teeth and smell of rancid meat on its breath. Neither were worse than the creatures face. Her leathery skin was pitted with wrinkles and scars. A womans face snarled at me from behind strands of lank, dark hair. Paralysed by fear, all I could do was dig my fingers into the tree bark. I wished that it would be quick and there would be no pain.
In the moonlight I looked down to the shelter behind her. The empty space held visions of the mortals, huddled in fear. I couldn’t give up. I couldn’t let the tyranny of these monsters keep my people in despair. I planted my feet firmly on the ground and screamed at the Keres. As she leaned forward, I brought my head back and struck her as hard as I could.
She let go of arms and recoiled back with a surprised hiss. I clutched my forehead, I didn’t think it would hurt so much. Before she could come at me again I pulled one of the branches from the roof of a shelter and drove it through her chest. Her limp body dropped to ground, dripping black ichor into the trench beneath her.
Eosphoros called from one of the trenches, that now had its roof caved in. Another Keres was on top of him trying to claw at him. He struggled against her to keep the talons and teeth away, one hand holding her talons up and the other gripping her bottom jaw.
I drove the spear down into the back of her skull. The creature shuddered and sagged. Eosphoros pushed her body off him and wiped the ichor from his face.
He said as he took the hand I offered him.
“We have to go. You’re endangering the mortals by bringing them here.”
I nodded. He smelled of sweat and the ichor was sticky on my skin as he pulled me close. A scream rang out across the meadow. My stomach sank.
I whispered. I recognised that voice. Xyanthe burst through the trees, dragging Macar with her. His arm was across her shoulders, weighing her down. The Keres darted from the tree line and gained on them with blinding speed. Without a second thought I ran towards them. But as the creature brought her talons back, I knew I wouldn’t make it in time.
I screamed. Just as the Keres brought her talon down, Macar threw himself behind Xyanthe. I heard the sickening tearing of flesh when the talon hit its mark. The force of it threw the two of them to the floor. Xyanthe crouched over Macar.
“You can’t have him! Stay back!”
She screamed, the sheer desperation in her voice stunned me. Xyanthe had never talked like that before. She tenderly cupped his face with her hand before standing up and facing the approaching Keres.
I shouted again, throwing the spear to her. I could see the intensity and fierce determination in her eyes when she turned and caught the weapon. Without hesitation, she stabbed at the creature and managed to pierce her wing. The Keres screeched in pain and fell to the ground, where Xyanthe finished it off with another stab through her chest. She was still stabbing the creature when I got to her.
“Xyanthe that’s enough. It’s dead.”
I said putting a hand on her shoulder. Her face was streaked with ichor and angry tears.
“They attacked him. We were in the forest and they just came out of nowhere. They pushed me aside and they cam for him. I couldn’t let them take him. I couldn’t…”
I held Xyanthe close.
“It’s alright. I know…”
I was interrupted when Macar coughed. Xyanthe immediately broke from my hug and went ot his side.
“He’s alive. Quick, help me get him to a shelter.”
I paused, I wasn’t used to being ordered. Macar cried out in pain as Xyanthe attempted to lift him onto his feet
“I can do it.”
Eosphoros said as he approached us, levitating Macars body from the ground.
Xyanthe walked next to Macar all the way back to the elm. Eosphoros lowered his body at the entrance to one of the shelters.
“You carry him in. I’m going to make sure there aren’t any more Keres in the meadow.”
Xyanthe and I each took an arm and dragged Macar inside. He only moaned with the pain, he was losing conciousness. When we had him sat up against the wall, Xyanthe took my hand.
I squeezed her fingers. I was just happy she was talking to me again.
“I-its alright. I shouldn’t have been keeping things from you. I promise when tonight is over I will explain everything.”
Xyanthe shook her head.
“No, you don’t understand. I get it now.”
“When they attacked Macar I thought we would die and…and something just clicked. I see everything now Callidora. I feel everything.”
I could feel the conviction in her speech, all of her detachment was gone. I looked to her with a stunned silence.
“I don’t understand everything but I know now that I wasn’t ready to hear it. Thank you for everything, even when I couldn’t appreciate it.”
For the first time, I didn’t feel the alone. I couldn’t stop the tears.
“Well say something.”
She said. I pulled Xyanthe into a close hug.
“Go join Eosphoros outside. There are other mortals we have to protect.”
“Got it. By the way is he the mystery guy?”
My involuntary grin answered her question.
“You’re going to have to tell all about that too. See you outside.”
Xyanthe and I smiled. She crawled from the shelter. I brushed Macar’s hair from his face.
“Why did you have to do that?”
Macar grabbed my arm, his eyes wide open and full of shame.
“Because there is something I have to atone for.”
“What? Don’t worry about it now. You need to rest.”
“P-Please I have to say something. If this is where I die I want someone to know.”
“What are you talking about?”
I asked. Macar’s breathing was ragged and there was a slight wince with every exhale.
“I’ve only been acting like the other mortals.”
“Remember when we first met? When you asked me what triggered my emotions? I lied. The first time I felt anything was after I saw that man.”
“He… He had this wide grin a-and the thought of him now makes my skin crawl. I saw him attack that mortal who died.”
I saw his eyes the same cycle of guilt I had felt since the funeral.
“I knew this would happen. I wanted to tell. But the longer I kept it secret, the harder it became. I met Xyanthe and I never expected her to mean so much to me. I didn’t want Xyanthe to think less of me.”
“It’s alright. This isn’t your fault.”
“But I knew others would come. When I came back I didn’t know who to tell and by the time I met you. I didn’t want xyanthe to think less of me. I thought if I acted long enough it would all go away. I thought they wouldn’t come back.”
He was wet from all the ichor and blood. His hold on my arm was weakening.
“That’s why you took the talon for her. That’s why the Keres targeted you.”
He nodded, his eyes starting to droop.
“My cowerdice put her in danger. Please tell Xyanthe how much she means to me. I-I’m sorry. I should have said something but he scared me. I didn’t want to accept that such things existed. I wanted to help that man but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t stop the darkness and it haunts me.”
“You can tell Xyanthe all of this yourself.”
Macar slumped backwards and released his grip on my arm. I put my ear to his chest. He was still breathing. We just had to hope he lasted until the morning.
“Callidora. We need you out here.”
Eosphoros called from outside. I kissed Macar on the forehead.
“Don’t die on us. Xyanthe will want to hear all of this from you.”
I said, before leaving the shelter.
“What is it?”
“We have company.”
Eosphoros pointed to the sky, coming towards the meadow were the Keres and their angelic commanders.
“Some Alethiea are still on our side but I don’t know what to do.”
“You have to go Eosphoros.”
I said. He shook his head.
“We face this together.”
Mortals were running from the forest towards the elm. The Aletheia who were still on our side fought off the Keres chasing them. Xyanthe handed me a spear. I watched as more Keres fell from the sky like gulls diving for fish. The air hummed as Eosphoros levitated himself up. Xyanthe and I raised our spears, if they wanted the mortals these monsters were going to get a fight.
Nemesis kicked a golden platter aside as the battle raged above. The clash of talons and swords echoed around the ruins of the square amphitheatre. The pulsing starlight caused the shadows to dance around the pillars.
“This world’s decadence makes me sick. The stench of all this undeserved fortune will stick to me for weeks.”
“Well, the sooner we find her, the sooner you can get out of here”
Apate pulled aside a set of dark blue curtain’s, torn to rags. The square amphitheatre wasn’t the first location they had searched. After looking through Pallas’ residence without success, and almost being caught by the Alethia in the forest, Nemesis had decided that Dolos was wrong.
“She’s not here. The Keres are getting slaughtered and before long we’re going to be discovered. I’m not risking capture for Dolos’ plans.”
Nemesis crossed her arms and sat down on the mangled remains of a silver gilded chaise. Apate rolled her eyes.
“I’m not having this debate again. I know my twin. He’s self-involved, traitorous and...”
“…Infuriatingly right all the time.”
“You actually trust him?”
Nemesis raised an eyebrow.
“I’m not a fool. I trust the mind not the man. It’s just as important to him that this works.”
Apate said as she heaved the twisted remains of a table from the centre of the room. She cocked her head to one side, examining the constellation design that spanned the floor.
“Do you think they would have hidden her in a secret chamber of some kind? Thanks to Pheme, the titans had time to prepare.”
“How are we supposed to figure out the entrance to room we don’t know exists?”
“Puzzling out deceptions is what I was made for. She must be here somewhere.”
Apate knelt down and tapped some of the stars in the design, hoping to press a button or pressure plate. But the floor stayed as it was. Nemesis took an apple from an overturned platter and took a bite, leaning back on the chaise.
“Themis dragged me around these residences countless times. If there were any hidden rooms I didn’t get to see them.”
“They wouldn’t show it to you if there was one.”
“If the king had something we wanted, do you think he would discreetly hide it away? No. He would taunt us with it. She’s probably hidden in plain sight. I bet she’s among those mortals he loves so much”
“I don’t think he would involve them. He wouldn’t risk a mortal being caught in the crossfire.”
“It’s strange to think that monster has any boundaries.”
Nemesis mused, taking another bite of the apple and wrinkling her nose. Apate continued to probe the floor but to no avail.
“We didn’t consider hidden passages before. I think we may have to search Pallas’ residence again.”
Nemesis rolled her eyes and tossed the core of the apple away.
“You’re wasting your time. They are not going to keep something so precious in the middle of a war zone. We’re lucky they haven’t just killed her by now.”
“They wouldn’t risk it.”
“How can you be so sure?”
Apate huffed and shuffled next to the chaise.
“If Dolos thinks she’s alive, I’m inclined to believe him.”
Apate looked up at the sky where the stars exploded with colour like fireworks, framed by the outline of the pillars. A dark shadow of a Keres or Aletheia would dart across the scene like shooting stars.
“Why are you so supportive of him? That weasel twin of your’s is half the Daimone you are.”
Apate brought her knees under her chin.
“Don’t be so sure, Nemesis.”
“You saved us.”
“Everything comes at a price, you understand that more than anyone”
“Granted, you couldn’t help all of us. But I will always be indebted to you for your kindness.”
Apate shook her head.
“You don’t understand, it wasn’t kindness.”
Nemesis leaned forward with her elbows on her knees.
“When Cronus took power, freedom wasn’t cheap. The only way I could save you all was to give him the means to imprison the rest of our siblings.”
“You told him about the rivers in the underworld?”
“I convinced him that some of you were essential to the fabric of the over-world. In exchange for tolerating you all I told him that a fifth river, a foreign river, in the underworld would keep our siblings contained.”
“I assume those of us left here weren’t chosen at random?”
“I’m sorry, sister, I wish I could tell you that it was sentimentality that guided me. The Daimones I saved were the ones who would be the most useful.”
Nemesis rested her chin on her hands, looking ahead with a hard stare. Apate knew her sister didn’t take betrayal lightly. Apate avoided staring, looking to the cracked pillars and the mangled furnishings that were strewn across the floor. She could imagine this was once a peaceful place. The heavy curtains blocking out the world, leaving only the view of heavens above.
“So, What about our other siblings?”
“We can help them. Everyone couldn’t be saved but I helped all of us here so that one day we would release our siblings back into the world.”
“I don’t like it, Apate. But I see the logic in it.”
“Thank you, sister…”
“But promise me. At the first opportunity we get our siblings out of their prison. The world needs balance and the titans have had their time for too long.”
“I promise. The safety of our kind has always been my priority.”
Nemesis wiped the fruit juices from her chin and stood.
“Come on. We may as well continue the search until we run out of time.”
Nemesis extended her hand. Apate smiled and took it.
“I’m glad you understand.”
“Despite your motivations, you still saved us. but once our siblings are free I consider the debt repaid.”
Apate knew from Nemesis’ tone that she was a long way from forgiveness. They dematerialised from the amphitheatre without another word.