“Oh damn, I missed.”
Thanatos climbed back to his feet and turned to face the three Godlings who were bold enough to interrupt his fun. “Well, well, well…look who we have here, an abomination, a nobody, and a half breed. To what do we owe the pleasure?” Despite the rage he felt at being interrupted, his tone was one of welcome. As if he was pleased to see them. While they had cut his celebration short, he would show these miscreants the error of daring to try and stop his plans. He would have them screaming before the night was through.
Drake glared at the insult to him and his friends but went on like he hadn’t heard anything, though he could see Aislinn flipping the ancient god off out of the corner of his right eye, and James moved his arrow to aim directly at Thanatos. “You know why we’re here Than. Release Diana and fix what you’ve done to the Underworld. Now.”
“And if we say no?”
The lightning that had settled to a slightly more gentle current, jumped back to what it had been, dancing up and down Aislinn’s right arm. “Oh please, do. I’ve been dying to take a crack at you since you bastards kidnapped Diana.”
“Well then, who are we to disappoint?” Hypnos had once again snuck up behind Aislinn, though this time she had been expecting it. She spun around hoping to catch Hypnos in the temple with a lightning enhanced back fist. The nimble god ducked the fist by dropping into a crouch, the wind from Aislinn’s fist as it passed over head ruffled the god’s hair. He swung his left leg around in a sweep kick, Aislinn hopped over it and danced back, drawing her twin swords as she did, channelling lightning into the blades. The sound of the crackling echoed throughout the garden. They grinned at each other as they squared off, both looking forward to releasing some pent up rage and frustration.
James quickly added another arrow to his bow and shot them both towards Moros forcing him to step away from Diana, the arrows whistled as they flew through the air. He continued to shoot as he moved, causing Moros to move farther and farther away from the unconscious girl. He would have succeeded in creating a clear path to Diana if Moros hadn’t decided to create a Door and reappear behind James, grabbing at his quiver.
James tried pulling away and was instead pulled off balance and he fell to a knee. Not being a fighter he did the only thing he could think of in such a position, he grabbed Moros’ closest leg – his left – and heaved, pulling the taller man off balance as well. Moros fell to the ground with a thud and a groan, having cracked the back of his head on what had once been the cement patio of the Bessborough’s back garden. He raised himself up on his elbows and glared at the young Godling, who just gave a nervous grin and scrambled back to his feet, trying to distance himself from the now irate god of Doom, and get room to fire off some more arrows. He made a mental promise to himself that if he lived through this he would get Aislinn to show him a few knife tricks.
Drake and Thanatos stared at each other both waiting for the other to move first. Drake sword was held out in front of him in a two handed grip. Thanatos held a scythe loosely in a similar grip, the curved blade up above his head. His right hand on the shaft at shoulder height while his left was closer to his waist, the perfect position to quickly sweep the blade down and up slicing an enemy in two. The air seemed to vibrate with tension from the animosity that the two gods had for one another.
Drake and Thanatos’ attention was pulled away from their staring contest by Hypnos yelping in pain and cursing at a cackling Aislinn.
Drake took advantage of the distraction and glanced over to see how James was doing against Moros, and saw the two playing some deformed game of tag. Every time James managed to clear a path to Diana, Moros would jump into a Door and would appear behind James and make a grab at him. James had gotten used to this by know and learned to dodge the gods grasping hands.
Drake was quickly brought back to his own battle when he heard the sound of the scythe, the blade singing as it slashed through the air. He ducked, loosing a chunk of hair, and thrust his own blade forward, aiming for Thanatos’ stomach.
Thanatos brought the shaft of his scythe down, crashing it against Drake’s blade, so instead of impaling him, it dug a trench into the ground between his legs. Instead of wasting time pulling his blade free of the earth, Drake took one hand off the hilt and threw a handful of blue fire into the much older gods face, forcing him backwards. The younger god pulled his sword free and swung it diagonally, from hip to shoulder. He only managed to slice open Thanatos’ cloak, not even coming close to slicing the flesh.
Drake was momentarily stunned when Thanatos abruptly changed tactics, and rammed his shoulder into his stomach, and then bringing his knee up, landing a solid hit to his jaw. It was Drakes turn to stumble backwards; one hand holding his bruising jaw, blood seeped out of his mouth from a chunk he had taken out of his cheek.
The young god realized that this was going nowhere and started thinking fast. The only thing that he could think of was something so stupid and guaranteed not to work that he had to do it. But before he could put his plan into action Thanatos called to his brother, “Moros, grab the girl.”
Moros nodded, though he looked sceptical, and stepped through another portal, appearing next to the still unconscious Diana. He hauled the teen up by the ropes that bound her arms to her side; her head lolled forward, her chin to her chest.
James lowered his bow, pointing the arrow he had nocked at the ground, Hypnos and Aislinn stopped fighting and glared over at Thanatos.
“Than, what are you doing? You said we weren’t going to hurt her!” Hypnos stalked away from Aislinn and over towards his twin, frustration written plainly on his face.
“Calm down, brother. Have I hurt her? No, I’m only using her to make our dear cousins surrender.”
Aislinn look of anger was replaced by one of confusion when she looked from Thanatos over at Hypnos. ‘It seems that Hypnos didn’t agree with kidnapping Diana in the first place…either that or he changed his mind later. But why would he do that?’ Aislinn shook herself from her internal musings and turned her attention back to Drake and Thanatos who had gone back to their staring contest.
“Let her go now, Thanatos!”
“And what if I don’t, little Prince?”
Drake racked his brain for something, anything to get them out of this situation, or at least save Diana, but the only thing he could come up with was the plan he had thought of earlier. “I’ll kick your ass is what.”
“And risk hurting your friend? I don’t think so.”
Drake smirked mockingly at him. “Scared to face me Than? You’re scared I’ll win so you have to hide behind a little mortal girl? I thought you were made of stronger stuff than that, cousin.”
Drake smirked superiorly, though inside he was dancing that his plan was going so well so far. “You heard me, you’re afraid of me.” One thing that Drake knew about the older gods – any god actually – was that they were all very proud, and would never turn down a challenge.
Thanatos’ eyes narrowed as he glared at the young god, if he had bothered to look at either Aislinn or James he would have seen that they thought what Drake was doing was stupid. Luckily for Drake he didn’t, he just continued to glare at the young Prince of the Dead. “Fine, I’ll take your challenge, boy. If you win we’ll give you the girl and come along quietly…but if I win. If I win you can never return to Olympus or the Underworld, ever again. You will live amongst mortals for the rest of your life. Do we have a deal?”
Drake and the others knew that that wasn’t a fair exchange, James stayed quiet about it but Aislinn had no problems expressing her opinion. “Don’t do it Drake! We’ll get Diana back another way. She wouldn’t want you to do this.”
“No! Damn it Drake, you’re an idiot if you accept those terms.”
Drake glanced over his shoulder at his friend willing her to understand his plan then turned back to fix Thanatos with a confident smile. “I accept your terms Thanatos.”
Aislinn hadn’t understood Drake’s silent communication, “Argh! You stupid, moronic, self-inflated, immortal blowhard!” Aislinn threw up her hands, swords still in them, and stalked away from her immortal friend.
“I’ll be fine Nike,”
She whirled on him in a fury, her green eyes blazing, and lightning dancing up from the tip of the bronze blades all the way to her elbows. “No you won’t! Thanatos has centuries of experience on you. He’s fought in wars we’ve only even read of in history texts. You are going to fucking lose! And even if by some miracle you seem to be winning he will cheat! He is an Old god and they always, always, cheat!”
He grabbed her arm and pulled her to the side, hopefully to where their older cousins couldn’t hear them. Once he figured they were far enough he turned his back to face Aislinn so no one could see what they were saying to one another. “I know they’ll cheat Nike, I am not an idiot no matter how much I might act like it sometimes. I’m counting on Thanatos cheating. I’m also counting on Hypnos not opposing us when we make a grab for Diana. Please just trust me, and only jump in after Than starts cheating, okay?”
Aislinn looked at him hard for a few moments before nodding once. “All right Drake, just do well enough that he’s forced to cheat, you got that.”
He smirked as his head tilted to the side, “Yes ma’am.”
Thanatos’ mocking voice rang at them from across the garden, “Are you done saying your good-bye’s Princeling. I assure you that I have no intentions of killing you. I have every desire to see that you live so that I may enjoy your embarrassment.”
Drake grinned as he and Aislinn rejoined the group. “You seem confident, cousin. Be careful.”
“Thank you for the warning. Now shall we begin?”
The two gods walked away from their respective allies to the center of the courtyard. Drake moved so he wouldn’t hurt his friends and Thanatos so that he could wield his preferred weapon unimpeded. They turned to face the other sizing each other up and mentally preparing for the upcoming fight. They just looked at each other for a few moments, the tension and animosity between the two gods almost visible in the air between them.
Lightning struck off in the distance and the two gods moved. Thanatos jumped back through a Door that had appeared behind him, reappearing next to Drake, his Scythe already half way through a swing that would slice the young god in half. Drake dropped into a low crouch, making it look like he was sitting on a very low stool, and swung his sword at Thanatos’ feet in an attempt to cut off the god’s legs at the ankles.
Thanatos dodged the sweep, seeming more like he was floating than jumping, and brought his Scythe down in an overhand slash, the bronze blade slicing the much younger god from shoulder to hip.
At least that’s what would have happened had Drake not rolled backwards, plants shooting up from where his feet had been to wrap around the Death gods weapon, holding it in place. Drake capitalized on his advantage, violently. Throwing a ball of hellfire and calling up skeleton arms to hold Thanatos in place, so the nimble god couldn’t dodge the flames.
Thanatos cried out in pain as the right sleeve of his shirt caught fire. It burned up to the elbow before he finally managed to put out the flames. A tattoo of an inverted torch was revealed on the underside of his wrist. The skeletal hands tore at his arms, legs and whatever else they could reach as the god struggled free, abandoning his scythe for a moment. Once he was free of the hands and the vines, and far enough away that they couldn’t grab him again, Thanatos held out his hand in the direction of his weapon. The scythe flashed and disappeared from where it was trapped and reappeared in Thanatos’s outstretched hand.
Thanatos sneered at his fellow god, who was still crouching, his sword held out to the side in one hand while his other touched the ground, to help him keep his balance. “Nice try little prince, but now it’s my turn.”
Another Door appeared next to Than and he put his hand through it, as if he was reaching for something. Drake thought he was maybe reaching for another weapon, and as such was taken completely by surprise when a Door opened behind him and he felt a fingers curl around the material of his clothing and armour cloak.
Drake’s eyes widened in realization as he was pulled roughly through the Door and tossed on the ground in front of the older god. Thanatos drove his foot onto Drake’s chest hard, cracking a few ribs in the process. Drake screamed pain as the foot smashed into his chest breaking several ribs and forcing the air from his lungs.
He turned his head to see James holding Aislinn back from running to help him, something for which he was grateful. He didn’t need help, not just yet anyway. He screamed again when, in his inattention, Thanatos had managed to gain more leverage, which meant more pressure on Drake’s chest. Two more ribs joined the four that were already broken
He glared up at his much older cousin, before moving his gaze to take in the surrounding area. His sword lay forgotten a few feet away as the young god tried to shove Thanatos’ foot off his chest. After a few moments of observation Drake realized that he had Thanatos in the perfect position to win the fight, or at least tip the hand in his favour. He quickly kicked off his shoes and dug his bare feet as far into the hardened earth as he could, while at the same time trying to keep Than’s foot where it was.
Thanatos continued to put more and more pressure on his foot hoping that Drake will loose his grip so that he would be able to collapse his ribcage. While it wouldn’t kill him it would still hurt like a bitch. Since all his attention was on causing the young god beneath him as much pain as possible, Thanatos didn’t realize the danger he was in.
With his feet in contact with the ground Drake could better control the surrounding area. Everything in the Underworld bent to the will of only two people; Hades and Drake. Before Thanatos could even blink the ground exploded as roots flew out of the ground to knock the older god backwards, throwing him a few feet away where he landed in a cloud of dust and curses. Just as he got his hands and feet underneath him to push himself upright, Thanatos found his hands and feet buried in rock and trapped by roots, holding him fast to the ground.
Thanatos looked up and glared at the heavily breathing Drake, who was using his retrieved sword to help push himself to his feet; his other hand was stretched out towards the elder. With out taking his eyes of the other god Drake said, “Well Thanatos, it looks like you’ve lost. Hold to our deal and tell your brother to release Diana, now!” The stone that was holding Thanatos to the ground tightened to the point of pain. Drake wasn’t usually violent or cruel, but to be himself would only put Diana in more danger than she already was, he had to be ruthless.
Thanatos was seething; he didn’t understand how this upstart of a child-god could even come close to defeating him. He was fairly sure that he could break free of his stone restraints but doubted that he had the time. Thanatos’ mind raced as he tried to think of an escape plan. As he was looking around, trying to find a way out of his predicament he noticed a closing Door near where Moros had been standing. Once he saw another opening behind the young god he started to grin.
Aislinn was the first to notice the Door rapidly opening behind Drake. She quickly shrugged out from under James’ hand, and switched the grip on her sword so she was holding more like a spear shouted, “Drake move!”
Drake – who had been trying to figure out why Thanatos was grinning when he had just lost – looked over at Aislinn and was surprised to see one her swords flying at him, bits of lightning still sparking off of it, with her not far behind. Without bothering to wonder why he had a sword flying at him he dropped into a crouch and pushed off to his left, moving closer to Diana and Hypnos, ignoring the searing agony of his broken ribs.
He rolled on his shoulder and came to his feet, taking in the chaos. Aislinn had locked swords with Moros and was trying to keep Thanatos from interfering as much as possible, tossing the odd bolt at him. James was firing off arrow after arrow at Hypnos – who dodged them like they were moving at a snails pace – and moving closer and closer with each shot, forcing the God of Sleep to move farther away from Diana. Though, to be honest, he didn’t seem to be trying very hard to keep her.
Drake glanced back towards the fight between Aislinn, Moros, and Thanatos just in time to dodge a slice that would have separated his arm from the rest of his body. He danced backwards, away from Thanatos’ scythe and chanced a quick look back over at Aislinn.
She was holding her own but just barely, her small size and quick reflexes were keeping her out of range of Moros’ longer reach and greater skill. Right up until she took her eyes off her opponent to make sure her best friend was alright. That’s when Moros closed the gap and back-handed her across the jaw. The hilt of his sword clenched in his fist, adding weight to the blow.
Drake blocked a downward strike from Thanatos’ scythe and locked weapons with the other, biting back a cry of pain as the move put pressure on his ribcage.
“It looks like you’re losing, Little Prince.”
“Only ‘cause you cheat, you coward.”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk, is that any way to speak to your elders.”
Drake’s answer was to push against Than’s scythe, breaking their deadlock, and slash his sword across his body in a cut that would have bisected Thanatos at the waist. Only for the elder god to jump up and over the slice, flipping over to land behind Drake, looking to, literally, stab him in the back.
Drake though had other ideas, and decided to put his plan into action. He looked over to where Aislinn was and saw her rolling to her feet, dodging a kick from Moros in the process. “Nike, it’s time to go!”
“Right,” she sheathed her swords while gathering lightning to both arms. Once she had as much gathered as she could safely handle she pointed her hands at both Moros and Thanatos and let loose. The two gods dove away from the blast, pushing them farther away from Diana and James. Hypnos, while not far away didn’t make a move to stop them as Drake created a Door of his own. Aislinn and James carried Diana through and Drake followed quickly after, the portal swirling closed behind him.