THIRTEEN OFFERINGS - STORIES OF ITHIRIA

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REMY

My name is Remy Martin—yes, like the Cognac. However, this is not my given name. Once, long before America was discovered, my name was Romulus of Rome. It is strange to be over two thousand years old and have the love of my life compare me to “a lot of broken statues and gladiators.” I try to remind her that they were new when I was born but my love only laughs and returns to her video games. That is how it is in this day and age, so quick to forget the past.

I only wish I could forget it so easily. I have many times witnessed first bloodshed in war—I have been a silent spectator to the rise and fall of nearly every great civilization in the world.

There have been many different tellings of my tale, with many different versions. But this one is mine. When I was known as Romulus, my Brother Remus and I founded the city of Rome. Our origin is complicated: filled with treachery, abandonment, victory, and revenge. With the blood of the god Mars coursing in our veins and the temperaments of wolves, no one could defeat us. No one, that is, but ourselves, thus this tale is not of my birth, but of my death.

Once my brother and I built the magnificent city of Rome, I was elected King. Unfortunately, my brother was not pleased with the decision. He became distant and reclusive. Remus spent his time building a wall around the city, claiming we needed fortification. Though the city was under no threat, he insisted on exerting endless hours and resources to his folly.

Upon completion of his gods-forsaken wall, I challenged his claims that no man could penetrate his barrier and survive. To my utter chagrin, my brother chose to prove the wallʹs effectiveness himself. As I and my court looked on, a newly determined Remus vaulted over the wall; however, before he could set foot on the other side, the god Pluto claimed him. Pluto took him as sacrifice so that no army could overtake our city's wall.

Remus and I had overcome so many odds we thought ourselves immortal. Rumors even circulated that I had somehow murdered my brother. We had the strength and speed of the gods, but as we came to learn, we lacked the gods’ everlasting ability to live.
I was left to rule the empire alone, feeling the weight of my brother’s death profoundly.

A short time later, I formed a group of several men who would act as leaders to my regions and help me rule. However, I knew that one day I too would die. Though the men I had chosen to stand beside were good men, they could be lead astray by viperous men wishing to take their power.


I could not have that.


In fear of my brother’s fate and the impending shuffling off of my own mortal coil, I set out to find the Gates of Tartarus, the very opening to the fearsome underworld. I intended to take up the matter with Pluto himself and secure my own immortality. Without my leadership, Rome would perish.

It took me years to find Pluto. When I did, he turned out to be one of the more reasonable gods. I had expected a fight. Instead, he advised me to live my life and abandon my search for immortality. I have wished many a night I had heeded his words. When Pluto realized I would not be swayed, he grudgingly suggested I pay a visit to Lilith, but to be wary of any gifts she may bestow upon me.

High in the mountains over Rome I found her, living alone in a lavish villa overlooking my metropolis. Lilith had a veil of long blond hair, cunning blue eyes, and a beauty beyond compare. How such a woman so close to my domain had escaped my attention, I did not know. When I asked for the secret of her immortality, she revealed to me an eternity of nights feeding off the life’s blood of my people.

I had returned home to rule, immortality in hand, but the price I paid to claim it was dear. No longer could I see my beautiful city by the light of day. My hunger, ever present drove me to feed on those closest to me. Lilith had warned me not to let myself get hungry, lest I attack the closest source of blood. I had not listened.

One particularly terrible night, I had tempted to hide myself away from my council. I was rabid with hunger and therefore locked myself in my study. I would be able to contain myself there, no one else could get in save for the general of my army and my trusted advisor, Maximus—the one other person who had the key to my study. Several of my advisors had come and gone attempting to draw me from the room, but I would not unlatch the door.

Late that night, at the height of my hungered craze, I remember hearing the door unlatch. I tried to yell a warning but all that came out was a growl. I looked up and saw General Maximus standing in the door. Against my will, I attacked. Before I was overcome by bloodlust, I saw a feminine shadow lingering in the hallway. It was Lilith—she had led the general to me.

I will forever mourn General Maximus, the leader of Rome’s greatest army. He was the closest thing I’d had to a friend since my brother. He deserved a better death.

I was reluctant to accustom myself to such a life of horror and regret. Alas, I was helpless before Lilith’s beguiling beauty and sinister charm; she held a power over me I could not fight. In seeking her, I had traded my freedom for immortality.

I had wanted to live forever, but not like this.

I continued to rule over Rome for many decades, but as Lilith’s influence over me grew, so did her influence over Rome. Under her power, Rome transformed into a brutal, cutthroat society determined to conquer every land within its reach by any means necessary. She was power-hungry: demanding sanguine tribute from the people. When I did not concede, she would descend upon the city and force me to help her bloody my fair streets.

When my maker was not appeased, crimson cries of the proletariat and aristocracy alike echoed through the alleys. She orchestrated wars and drove me to dominate neighboring countries through terrible and atrocious means. The night we took Sabine was horrifying, one which will remain forever etched in my memory. The screams of the men and women haunt me to this day.

Rome could not survive in this manner. Crops dwindled along with the people. Mobs formed. A civil war loomed on the horizon and I would not, could not, allow my beloved Rome to be torn asunder by her own citizenry. I made a desperate decision: one night, in the midst of a terrible thunderstorm, I left Rome.

I slipped from Lilith near dawn and began my long journey, hiding in caves during the day and traveling by night. When I could not find humans on which I might feed, I lived off what animals were near. Each moment was torment as I felt her calling, beckoning me to return.

I sought Pluto, begging to be released from my bond with Lilith. Unfortunately, I was beyond even his help.

My only remaining option, Pluto asserted, was to kill her; but in doing so, I would damage myself terribly. Our blood-bond was all encompassing; I would live, but my soul would be torn asunder. Pluto assured me I would one day heal, but not before passing through centuries of loneliness, anger, and desolation. I knew I would rather live an eternity in pain than continue to be enslaved by Lilith.

I made the long journey back to Rome with the secret to Lilith’s demise. Her wrath was terrible. As punishment, Lilith locked me away until my own hunger drove me mad. She then loosed me on my own army: I demolished an entire battalion before coming to my senses. I was sickened as I looked upon the horror I had wrought upon the people of Rome—my people. I had become a bane to the very home I had created, to the very city I sought to protect.

Lilith had to be stopped.

With loathing, I acted as Lilith’s obedient slave until she was confident in the totality of my submission to her every whim. It was a long year of unspeakable torment to me, but my people were safe from her horrors, and would soon be forever.

One morning while she slept, I forced myself awake, and snuck into her chambers. There, I cut off her head, burned the body, and carried her ashes to the temple of Pluto where I asked for his acceptance of her infernal remains. As her ashes flew up onto the winds, I knew Pluto had heeded my pleas: Lilith was gone. In that moment I crumpled, feeling as though the heart had been ripped from my chest. It was torture beyond anything I had ever experienced. Yet, I was free from her control—I was a free Roman once again. I would have rid the world of her presence a hundred times over, regardless of this wrenching in my chest.

Once I was able, I returned home. There, I vowed never to make another of my kind. Unfortunately, when I reached the city of Rome I found her so changed she was no longer mine. However, knowing she was safe from Lilith, I decided it was time to go my own way.

I ceased to be Romulus of Rome. From then on, I had no name. I wandered the world a shred of my former self, in pain and utter devastation. True to Pluto’s word, my torment lasted centuries.

Then, one day, when I felt as though I had nearly become accustomed to my suffering, the pain subsided and I began to heal. With no goal for the long life ahead of me, I settled in Europe in a land called Britain, before it acquired the Great. It had once been part of my own territories, making it familiar enough to be a comfort and yet different enough that I could exist without constant reminders of my past.

From Britain, I moved to France and settled near a small commune: Point-Remy. I spent many years in this idyllic locale. As the people came to know me, they bestowed upon me the name of their patron saint— Saint Remigius—and affectionately referred to me as Remy. The people and their saint reminded me of the home I once knew in Rome, before the death of my brother, where life was divine and we were loved by our people. I spent nearly a century in Point-Remy, and though I loved my home in France, I eventually had to leave.

I changed cities every few decades, continents on occasion. I even fought in wars when necessary. Mars still favored me in battle and I won every skirmish in which I participated. When I eventually tired of the world and its politics, I settled in the New Americas to sit back and watch the human play unfold around me. There, I adopted the last name of Martin after the distiller of my favorite Cognac, and Remy Martin was born.

Slowly but surely, supernatural beings settled in this new Land of Opportunity and wreaked much havoc, particularly throughout the American South. I helped the supernatural law, the Order, establish rules to keep more fearsome and stubborn supernaturals in line. The Order eventually discovered my history and began referring to me by my given name.

Romulus existed once again.

This time as enforcer instead of king. My former name drives terror into the minds of those who are familiar with my terrible deeds. However, to myself, I remain Remy Martin: a solitary immortal who becomes Romulus only when needed.

In all this time, I had kept my vow never to make another. That was, until Pluto—who is more popularly known now by the name Hades, or simply Death— called upon me for a favor. I have tried to relay this story to my love, but as such a young creature she, unfortunately, has the attention span of a gnat. One day she may listen and she may become frightened of my past. But ultimately, it makes little difference. We are who we are—we are bound to one another, and not even time can sever these bonds.


The brothers were riveted to the dark crystal, their eyes aglow. Having finished his tale, Angus's eyes began to clear. However, instead of turning their normal golden brown, his irises went black.

Strange images danced on the surface of the dense crystal eye. Brief indistinct visions of a dark creature. Then the form abruptly cleared, as did the blackened film from Angusʹs eyes, leaving the brothers in a startled daze. Blinking heavily, they looked to one another in confusion.

Killian cleared his throat and ran a hand through his short grecian mane. “Based on that reaction, I would say the conclusion to your story was rejected, Brother.”

“No, not rejected,” Angus replied. "I would think you’d recognize a warning when you saw one, Killian."

“A warning?” Banon asked, his short blond dreadlocks hanging in his face.

“Something is on its way. The Eye rarely acts on its own. But—”


“But?” Patrick’s voice was tense.


“But,” Angus continued, “It did act of its own accord a few days ago. I’m sure it’s the Fates.”

“And you think they’re trying to tell us something?” Patrick asked.


“Whatever it is, I think I know what’s being said...”

“The Titans?” Banon asked, uncharacteristically stern.


“Yes.” Angus looked out at his brothers through his deep curtain of long dark dreadlocks. ʺIt would explain the disturbances.”

“What do we do?” Patrick asked, looking from one brother to another.

“Nothing.”

“You can’t be serious!” Killian’s palm came down upon the table, startling them all.

“There’s not enough to interpret,” Angus calmly replied. “What can we do against the unknown? All we can do is be at our best and prepare for the worst. I suggest we all get a grip.” He looked pointedly at Killian, then at Patrick. “Let us continue the offerings.”

“He’s right,” Killian replied. “It is the source of our being. We must go on.”

“Agreed,” Patrick seconded.

“Let us continue then,” Angus sighed. ʺBanon, why don’t you offer another?”

“Gladly,” Banon replied, still slightly rattled. ʺI offer another tale of the Navigator’s travels. A tale in which he battles to earn his place amongst his new brethren.” Banon held a small translucent bottle containing several bristly hairs so thick they almost appeared spike-like. “I bring the hairs of a deceitful sea creature whose trickery nearly cost the crew their ship."

Uncorking the bottle, he let the hairs slip from the glass onto the great oak table where they proceeded to pop and sear. The brothers bowed their heads.


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