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Demon Season

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“I won’t let you kill her. Stay away from her.”

Bow and arrow in hand, Artemis stood in front of her sister’s bound body, keeping Ares, Poseidon, Hades and the rest away from Athena. The gods faced off in Olympus’ Great Hall, deemed the safest place to keep the possessed goddess now that the dungeons were destroyed.

“Move away, Artemis,” Ares said once more. “You can’t stop this from happening.”

“You move one inch towards her, you try to harm one hair on her head, and I’ll put so many arrows in you, you’ll be picking them out for a millennia,” she said, while ignoring the constant babbling of the possessed goddess behind her. Athena was pleading, cajoling, begging, threatening and trying to bribe Artemis into releasing her.

As a huntress, Artemis understood that Athena… or rather Dahok, was acting like a cornered animal, trying both to persuade or threaten his way out of a difficult position. She was trying to keep her sister safe, but knew she wasn’t listening to Athena speak, but Dahok, trying to use Athena’s voice against her, using all his usual tricks in order to get free.

“Sis… please… help me. Set me free. I’m so tired. So tired. Weak… take me home, please? You can’t let them kill me. You’re my sister. You have to protect me! I’ve always protected you. Save me. Damn it, Artemis, save me.”

“Shut up!” Artemis screamed, turning around to glare at Athena. “You evil bastard, shut up! I know you’re not her. I’m going to kill you with my bare hands as soon as I get you out of her.”

Hoping to catch Artemis while she was distracted, Ares moved forward quickly, reaching out to grab onto his half-sister’s forearm. His retreat was swift, a hand clutched to his face where Artemis had cut him with the tip of an arrow.

Her bow and arrow were quickly replaced by a crossbow, aimed directly at Joxer’s head.

“Nice, isn’t it?” She asked Ares, pulling in her crossbow to indicate the metal tipped arrow, not losing her aim at Joxer. “Hephaestus made them specially for me, his special brand of god resistant metal tipping each arrow. If I can cut you with one of them, imagine what would happen if this happened to go through your pretty, little boyfriend’s head.”

The warning was clear, the message received. Hades and Poseidon moved backwards instantly, waiting apprehensively to see what would their nephew do to the goddess so clearly threatening Joxer.

“That’s it! Kill the little bastard. He isn’t a real god anyway. A worthless mortal. A mongrel. A throw away. He isn’t worthy to walk amongst the clouds, Artemis. Not like you and me, Sis. We’re the heirs of Olympus, natural born daughters of All Mighty Zeus! The wanna be doesn’t deserve this honor. He’s a paramour, nothing else! Kill him! Kill the unworthy ones!”

Poseidon grabbed onto Ares before he could throw himself at Dahok, Hades forcing the dagger that had suddenly appeared in his nephew’s hand away.

Joxer used the distraction that had moved the crossbow off of him to crouch at Athena’s side. The demon inside her rippled just underneath her skin, looking like it was going to rip right out of her. Athena writhed in her bonds, twisting and turning, fighting to move away from the young god next to her. Her wail of pain echoed through the hall when Joxer reached out to touch her shoulder to still the frantic movements.

The world tilted twice for Joxer in as many seconds, the brief, dizzying contact with Athena was followed by Artemis flinging him away from her sister, throwing him on the floor and holding a dagger to his throat.

“Ahhhhhh! Artemis, it hurts! He hurt me! Kill him, Artemis! He hurt me! Kill him! Kill him!” Dahok keened.

“Are you going to just throw it away?” Joxer asked Artemis, holding his head up and away from the dagger in her hand.

“Throw what away?” she asked, confused at the non sequitor.

“Your blood innocence.”

Artemis laughed at him. “I’m a huntress, the Amazon Goddess, I have no blood innocence left.”

“You do. That’s why it’s so adamant that you kill me. It’s not about me… not entirely. It’s about losing your blood innocence in his name, to please him. You’re a huntress, right. But you’d never taken the life of a god.” Lowering his head to look directly in Artemis’ eyes as she slowly lowered the dagger, he continued. “Maybe because I’m the easiest target as a god. You killing a mortal is of no consequence, you’re a god, your blood innocence resides in that. He needs that sacrifice, that’s what he did to Gabrielle. He’s stuck in Athena’s body and needs it to break free,” Joxer said, pointing at Athena.

Her face and body looked disfigured as the demonic figure of Dahok pushed out, not able to break her godly body.

Screaming in horror, Artemis scrambled ungracefully towards her sister. When she tenderly touched the red, swollen skin of Athena’s face, Dahok began to shriek again, this time in true pain. Her abused body trashed, twisting away from Artemis’ loving touch.

“Hold her.”

Following Joxer’s softly spoken command, Artemis struggled to keep Athena in what looked like a bone crushing hug.

“He’s killing her… that’s why I’m here, to make he doesn’t,” Hades whispered in Artemis ear.

She looked up startled; she hadn’t notice her uncle move.

“I’m not here to kill her. I’m here to keep her alive. I’m here to give you the time you need.”

Confusion clouded Artemis face. “For what?”

Glancing at Ares, who was now holding a shaky Joxer up, at his brother, at Athena and finally back at Artemis, Hades shrugged.

“Only you can answer that.”

“Just close your eyes, Artemis… Your friendship will guide you,” Joxer said, oblivious to the glance that occurred between Hades and Poseidon at these words.

Not knowing why, but trusting Joxer’s guiding words, Artemis followed his orders. Turning her attention on her sister, on the friendship they’d shared for centuries, Artemis focused.

The dual scream from both goddesses echoed through Olympus, blinding white energy burst from their bodies, throwing all four gods back, each into a different wall, unconscious.