As her Hunters set up camp, Artemis sat in her tent, deep in thought.
She had lost another Hunter today. Not to battle or assault, thankfully. The girl had been quite happy when she left. Well, bittersweet.
She had loved being a Hunter, but they just couldn't give the girl what she wanted.
A child of her own.
So Artemis nodded and released her of her vows.
It hadn't been the first time, after all, and certainly wouldn't be the last.
But this time, Artemis was curious.
What was it about children that humans wanted? They were ugly things, all wrinkled and pink and helpless. They were dead weight, made messes of themselves, cried all odd hours of the night.
Humans were perfectly capable of raising babies, so a goddess such as herself would obviously be able to as well. But how to go about it.
She had no intent of violating her vows for such an experiment, and stealing a babe from their parents was beneath her. She had no want of a divine child, that would bring far too much attention from the other gods and goddesses. She would never hear the end of it from Apollo and Aphrodite.
Besides, should the child prove to be not worth it, she found the ability to be able to abandon it to mortal parents appealing.
But a purely mortal child was similarly problematic. Without her gift of the Hunt, it would be unable to keep up with her Hunters, but that would be self-defeating. And trying to filch a just-born demigod was, again, beneath her and likely to start a war.
So, a demigod child of her blood alone. That held potential.
Besides, if Athena could have children without breaking her vows, so could she.
First, Artemis sought her own mother, Leto, for advice. Leto was a Titan of motherhood, after all, and unlikely to spill to the others what Artemis was planning.
Next she sought Prometheus, persuading him to teach her how to mould human flesh from clay. That took time, as crafting was not of her spheres of influence, but Artemis was patient.
It took far more attempts than she would have liked to admit -- and certainly wouldn't, to any but her lieutenant Thalia -- but Artemis created the perfect babe of earth. A son, she had decided.
All that was left was to give it -- him -- life.
Palming the celetial bronze knife she had ready, the goddess drew the blade along her arm. Golden ichor dripped freely from the already closing wound, splashing down onto Artemis's child.
Even as she watched, the divine blood seeped into him, and the muddy browns and reds turned to pale skin.
Creamy shades of pink spread over him, and ever so slowly, he began to breathe.
Artemis held her son, gazing down at him, and his eyes fluttered open. Startling blue looked up at her.
"Avery Nightshade," Artemis announced to her empty tent. "That will be your name,"
Avery said nothing, as he was a baby. But he did seem to giggle at her, then settled down to sleep.
...maybe she was starting to understand mortals a bit more.