T H I R T Y - T H R E E
The hand that wrapped around my throat unlatched the tie that was around my neck, momentarily distracting me from Serenity’s forlorn howling.
“Stop moving” the voice hissed at me “The more you move, the longer it’s going to take to get rid of the blood enchantment.”
“What do you mean blood enchantment?” I hissed “It doesn’t work unless you’re...”
“Blessed by a God.” The small mousy man finished before showing me his wrist “Yeah I know.”
A small indiscernible lightening bolt stood out against his pale skin. If I didn’t know what I was looking for, I would have mistaken it for a birthmark.
Another Howl sounded that crushed my heart and I looked over to see my Princess has shifted back into her Wolf.
With one last howl, I watched her run out of this retched town.
The man released me from my constraints and when he made a move to back away, I grabbed him by the arms and threw him into my chair, quickly restraining him like I was restrained.
He winced when I tightened the restraints tighter than they were on me.
“Who are you?” I barked at him “And why does my girlfriend think that I’m dead?”
“Nyctimus” he said “And because to her, you are dead.”
“Zeus’ enchantment gave me the power of illusions after what my father... did to me... all those years ago. It was his way to protect me in case something like that happened again.”
I looked at him in a moment of confusion before something clicked in my head.
“You’re Lycaon’s son? The one he fed to Zeus” I swore “I should have know Arcadia sounded familiar.”
“You couldn’t have known” Nyctimus said softly “The people of Arcadia were so ashamed to call Lycaon their King that they made sure every piece of history involving him was erased.”
“But I’m different, my parents taught me about this” I shook my head “Why are you working with the man that killed, cooked, and fed you to someone?”
“He’s my father” he said softly “I don’t know anyone else down here besides him.”
“So you rather work for a monster than be alone?” I asked “You rather do his bidding like and evil minion?”
“You...just don’t understand” he looked down at his hands “You wouldn’t understand.”
“You’re right, I wouldn’t understand” I said in frustration “But make me understand one thing. What does the blood enchantment have to do with me? What does any of this have to do with us?”
“When Lycaon knocked the girl out, he made me drop some of my blood in-” he stopped and whimpered when we saw my thunderous expression “in...her...head wound.”
“And what did that do?” I grabbed his face “Why does she think I’m dead?”
“Because that’s what I wanted her to think” he said softly “I dropped some of my blood into your wound too. Lycaon wanted me to do it. He said she would tell us where the key was located.”
“What key?!” I snarled “This is the second time that this damn key was mentioned!”
“It’s the key to our Salvation” he said softly “The one thing to get us out of here.”
“There’s no way to get out of the Underworld.” I snorted “It’s virtually impossible.”
“Yes, there is” he said softly “It’s not impossible, not without the key.”
“I am the son of Hades” I pointed towards myself “I would know if there was a key out of this place.”
“No, you wouldn’t” he said softly “Have you asked yourself, why your parents sent you on this mission?”
I narrowed my eyes “How do you know about that?”
“He told us.”
“Who told you?”
He shook his head “I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?”
“He was a shadow that appeared in our bar one day” he said “No face. No name. Just a shadow with a note.”
“Do you have the note?”
He shook his head “After we read it, it burst into flames.”
“Okay, one thing at a time” I pinched the bridge of my nose “Back to the Blood Enchantment, when does it wear off?”
“When the blood leaves her system” he said “In about a day? Maybe a day and a half?”
“So until then, she can’t see that I’m alive?”
He shook his head “She’ll still think you were chopped up into tiny pieces and served to her during dinner.”
My eyes widened “You sick bastard.”
“I didn’t want to do it!” he cried out “But when I told Lycaon that I didn’t want to do it, he sliced my wrist open and did it himself.”
“And you still want to stay with him?” I asked “You still think he has redeeming factors?”
He shrunk in on himself “He...said it was an accident. That I was born for the sole purpose of...helping him and our people.”
“I was the last son of Lycaon, the ‘Mistake’ that should have never happened” He looked away “My mother was the last wife of Lycaon and different from the others. She was kinder, younger, and more empathetic towards her people.”
“Lycaon saw that as a weakness, therefore in turn, he ended up resenting her. It didn’t help that his other wives were whispering manipulative words in his ear to fire up his already lethal temper” His eyes darted away from mine “During our Lycaea festival, Arcadia’s celebration to honor Zeus, Lycaon gave the order. I was served to Zeus while my mother was fed her to the people she loved so much.”
I was silent, processing the horrible and heartbreaking words he just said.
“I’m sorry” I said finally.
“It was a very long time ago” he whispered, sniffling “And besides, I was given a second chance.”
“Exactly” I said as I untied him, “You were given a second chance. A chance you could use to better yourself and create a legacy for your mother, not Lycaon.”
He looked up at me sharply “What?”
I squatted down to his eye level “Instead of making Lycaon’s legacy richer and giving him power, you should be making a legacy for the woman who would do anything for her people. For the woman who loved you more than anything.”
“I was six when I lost her” There were tears in his eyes as he spoke “I don’t know how to do justice for her memory.”
I gave him a small smile “Yes, you do.”
I stood “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find my Princess.”
“You’re letting me go?” He asked “You’re not mad at me?”
“Quite pissed actually” I admitted “But my love for her outweighs my need to discipline you.”
I gathered both Serenity and my items before making my way towards the direction I last saw my girl run to.