Chapter 1: Act I
"Save your breath child, the gods have forgotten you"
They didn't sing hymns about her, nor tell heroic stories of her tragic life. All that was left of her legacy was rotting bones deep in hard-packed earth, and faded memories that they tried their hardest to forget. For who would want to remember the smell of burnt flesh, screams that could rip apart ice, and anger that could drown you. No, they had forgotten her, she was sure of it. Little did they know, she was still alive. Her old heart was beating in a tired chest. Not dead just yet. She had become one with the monsters that she resided with, and suddenly evil didn't seem like such a deep cut anymore.
They had broken her, torn apart her soul, and put the jagged pieces back together again, forging a monster out of broken promises and wrath so deep it was maddening. Humanity, snapping as easily as a matchstick.
Her namesake was a princess, known for her beauty, rescued by a hero before she could be devoured. However, she was no damsel, and the sun had long ago forsaken her. She would climb her own way up from hell, even if she had to do it with the bones of the fallen.
Andromeda Vautour would drown the entire world before she would be forgotten.
Chapter 2: I
It had been over a hundred years since Andromeda’s skin had been caressed by the sun’s golden rays. It felt worse than the Araes’ claws, taunting her with the light when she was forever cursed to be shrouded in darkness. They had shackled her wrists and ankles with stygian iron. By this point, she was used to being treated like the animal she was. She kneeled in front of Porphyrion’s throne, a prized sheep displayed right before the slaughter.
Her knees dug into the cracked stone, and her shoulders strained from the uncomfortable position she had been in for so long. The giants had gotten used to her silence, seeing her kneel as if she was dead, looking like a wraith that had seen the point of a sword a few too many times. Sickly pale skin clung to hollowed cheeks, scared with various cuts. Long raven hair fell in tangles down her back, something so beautiful now fell limp. Long legs and arms showed clear signs of well-worn muscles, hidden behind ghastly scars and nasty bruises.
Once sea-green eyes now looked more poisonous than anything, muddy and diluted. No, Andromeda wasn’t the naïve girl she once was. A hundred years down in Tartarus would do that to someone. She had been chained for so long, skin constantly chaffing until there was nothing left but dried scabs. Nails filed into points, all the better to rip someone apart with. Her swords were just out of reach, taunting her from the tangles of Enceladus’s mangy locks.
The ground pulsed underneath her, beating like synchronized drums in a funeral march. She knew they were getting closer, the naïve demigods who thought the world would magically fall at their feet. Content with the powers they were gifted, never fully understanding what it meant to face their true superiors. Because in reality, that’s what the giants were. They had been fighting for thousands of years, basking in the putrid air and dim lighting of the abyss. Any being would act monstrously after that.
They called him Perseus Jackson. It's ironic if you asked her. She had heard whispers about him from the monsters she had once loathed. Oh, how they despised him. The kid who had conquered monsters even Heracles failed to best. A master with a sword, a snarky attitude, and infatuated with a daughter of Athena. She could almost hear the ghosts laughing around her.
Annabeth Chase was her name. A true daughter of wisdom. Without her, Perseus would never have made it past twelve. Andromeda could respect her for that. For someone who preached of wit, she sure did lead herself blindly with her heart. However, they all had their moments. Loyal to her lover until the very end. Oh, how her heart ached to hear that story. The poets would surely write something marvelous about them.
The pounding got louder, screaming to be let out of their cage of earth. She smelled them in the wind, the scent of the sea almost making her dried-up eyes cry. He smelled like home, something that she had missed with all of her withered heart.
They were in the crowd of monsters now, pathetically trying to disguise themselves. It was all coming together so nicely, a perfect plan for utter destruction. The giants had formed a loose circle, their newest prizes displayed in massive fists.
Andromeda had yet to look up. Maybe she was scared of what she would find.
When she finally raised her head, she was greeted with a sight that made her want to scream. They were mirrors into a past life, an innocence that was still present even after so much suffering. A boy- no, young man- who looked so much like the god who had sired him. Almost a spitting image of Alabaster and Henry. She could see it in the pallor of his skin, the build of his body. The messy hair that sat atop his head looked so much like that of her brothers’ it hurt to look at. Finally, bright green eyes met dull ones, and everything seemed to stop.
Perseus seemed stricken looking at what resembled an older female version of himself right after he stumbled out of Tartarus. It had gained Annabeth’s attention, who looked towards the sight of the chained woman. Andromeda’s eyes met Annabeth’s, and she wanted to rip that blonde hair right out of her skull.
They were too alike, her and Fay. The same blonde hair, and stormy grey eyes. She knew the puzzle pieces were fitting themselves in the masterpiece of a brain she had, trying to figure out the mystery of the chained female.
She looked away, listening to what the giant king had to say. As he went on, Andromeda couldn’t help but roll her eyes under her curtain of hair. He really thought they would come just the two of them? How would they have gotten through the barriers? The only way they could have gotten to the acropolis undetected was Kekrops’ domain. In that case, they would have needed someone good with words. Not Athena’s spawn and something told her that the son of Poseidon wouldn’t have been any better. What had she heard about a daughter of Aphrodite that was good with words? Ah, yes, that had to be it.
She sniffed the air, searching discreetly amongst the crowd for the third member of the demigod’s party. There it was, the faint scent of intoxicating perfume drifting in the air, although it smelled almost sickly. She scrunched her nose, remembering the way that some children of the love goddess would smell that way if they had not accepted their mother for who she was.
The son of Poseidon tried summoning water. Pathetic. Couldn’t he feel it? The water that surrounded everything?
“Don’t you feel it, Andromeda? The moisture in the air, the sweat on your palms and the back of your neck, the water that flowed through every living being’s veins.”
Yes, even now she felt it. It felt like sickly power, a poisoned dagger handed to her on a silver platter. Virtuous demigods were the worst of them all. Conceited enough that they thought they could live and still be good. Little did they know that they wouldn’t live long if they were stuck on being the hero.
Thoon’s voice rumbled throughout the acropolis, an earthly baritone that resonated through the minds of the surrounding. His stringy arms dragged his cleaver against the earth, caressing it as one did a lover.
Ah, yes, that is why she was here. Her blood was supposed to water the ancient stones, tainting it with her power to raise the earth mother. Little did they know, her blood was no longer mixed with golden ichor, but veins forged from the Acheron, pumping with smoldering flames of the Phlegethon. She was long past being blessed. A fallen angel basking in hellfire encased in the hardest of ice. She had met the devil and become his champion for that was the only way to survive. Little did the giants know that her blood spilled would be nothing more than another scar to add to a patchwork of sadistic artwork already painted on her skin.
Andromeda watched impassively as the daughter of Aphrodite came out of hiding, cutting through Thoon’s arm with such a lack of skill or precision it almost made her wince.
“Someone’s skill with a weapon speaks louder than how sharp that weapon is. They could have the world in their palm, but if they did not know how to wield it then it would be of no use.”
Still, the girl forged forward. She had to be insane, or desperate, or maybe both. She flung her blades wildly, using her acid-dipped voice to confuse the monsters. In the moments when her face screwed up in concentration, her multi-colored eyes shining with determination, all Andromeda saw was a ghost.
A mere shell of a boy that shone so bright. A boy that loved his family with every torn fiber of his being. A boy that, if he was here right now, would not hesitate to rush forward to protect his sister. So very brave.
That is when Andromeda made her choice. She felt the skin wrapped around her bones, connected to ligaments lined with veins. Red blood pumped through her body, forcing a monster to live another day. She reached out to her surroundings, feeling the ichor in the bodies of immortals, the pounding hearts of the demigods. She felt the sweat and perspiration in the air. Tiny water droplets floating in a state of existence, never to be seen. They were her birthright, her gift. She sensed Thoon’s blood seep into old rock, golden and pure as a newborn.
She willed it to come to her, rushing around her arms before flowing over her shackles like snakes made of broken sun. It stretched, solidifying over dark metal. Willing to get colder, harder, denser. Blood may keep someone alive, but it obeyed her.
She dug her feet into the ground, lifting herself up until running forward. The chains snapped taught, bringing with it a resounding boom that echoed, bringing everyone’s attention to her. Their eyes wide, they could only watch as she rammed forward again, chains covered in golden ribbon shattering like glass. It impaled some monsters on impact, showering golden dust into the wind like daylight stars.
Andromeda smiled wickedly, cracking her neck before walking forward. She was the champion of hell, and no servant of it would scare her.
The exhilarating feeling of so many lives in her hand. Where to go first? To the blonde, well-toned with criticizing eyes, or maybe to the son of the sea, who could fight with a sword as easily as some walk. No, she would have to go rescue the other one. The one who held her sword like it was her enemy, not a friend. She looked like a baby trying to talk for the first time, so unsure for what the next step is.
Andromeda picked up a piece of her now shattered chains, flipping in her hand until she found a good grip.
“A real warrior doesn’t need a blade to kill. Some would call it monstrous; I would call it strength.”
“Who is going to be first to die?”
Chapter 3: II
"Who is going to be the first to die?"
Annabeth tried her hardest not to recoil at the sound of her voice. It sounded as if daggers had learned to sing. Equally sharp and melodic intertwining like a twisted dance. In all her years facing monsters, she doesn't think she has seen anything as terrifying as the strange woman. Radiating power, she looked as though she could easily snap her neck, or find a way to poison her lunch without leaving any trace behind.
She reminded Annabeth of Luke, who had looked as though the world had scorned him, and raise hellfire in return. Scars littered both of their bodies, and yet still they held so much beauty in their strength. Even more disturbing, was her uncanny resemblance to Percy. Maybe it was hidden by her matted hair or dirt-splattered skin, but nothing could hide the look in their eyes that told of more horrors than words ever could.
The way she held herself resembled that of a goddess. Maybe Artemis or Nemesis. Taunting fate to come and try to catch them. Constantly balancing the scales between divinity and madness. So powerful it was hard not to cower under her intense stare. This girl, whoever she was, had bested the devil, she was sure of it.
Annabeth watched as she leaped forward, pushing Piper to the ground before attacking everything in her sight. It was truly a sight. Toned arms twisted along with her body, a carefully perfected dance that looked lethal. A piece of metal, barely a weapon, was soon coated in monster dust before the giants even had proper time to react. Before she realized what was happening, she was before her, cutting Periboia's Achilles tendon, forcing her to release Annabeth from her grip. Unfortunately, she felt one of her sharp nails scraped against her arm, causing a steady stream of blood to drip down to the thirsty earth. She had fed the earth, ending up helping the earth mother. After everything. Annabeth wanted to cry. She had done everything right, sacrificed everything, been to hell and back, given up her life and most likely her future, and still, she had failed in the end.
Her prayers had been forgotten. Maybe the gods were busy, or maybe that had no power at all. Annabeth could only watch as the mystery girl seemed to choke to giantess on nothing except her will. She was frozen by the obscene sight. What disturbed her even more, was the dull look in those eerie green eyes, showing absolutely nothing. It brought her back to a time in Tartarus when Percy was so close to choking Achlys on her poison. Then too he displayed nothing but utter calm, like that is what he was meant to do, fulfilling a prophecy that had already been sung.
Was Annabeth witnessing the future or the past?
"My daughter!" King Porphyrion leveled his spear and charged.
But Percy had other ideas.
Enceladus had dropped him... Probably out of shock at seeing one of his brethren choke on their blood, or maybe it was the piece of stygian iron sticking out of his left eye.
Percy had no weapon on him. His sword must have not returned to him just yet. Nevertheless, he charged at the giant king as he ran towards the green-eyed girl. He grabbed the tip of his spear, forcing it down into the ground. Annabeth thought she would throw up when she saw one of the spiked sticking out from the opposite end of Percy's hand. It forced the giant to be flipped over, cracking the ground underneath his body.
She felt the tension leave her body when Percy's hand engulfed her own, and Piper had managed to get up and stand by their side. Things would have to work out, and if not, then Annabeth would travel to Olympus herself and hold the Fates at knifepoint until they weaved a different future.
Piper was trying to remain strong, but Annabeth could tell that the strange woman terrified her. How could she not? She stood there, pacing before the monsters and giants with a scrutinizing gaze. She held nothing in her hands, and yet she radiated power. No one dared move. No words were needed, all anyone had to do was look over to where Perioboia lay choking on her ichor, which was starting to pool out of her lips, as teary eyes tried to plead for a last chance at life.
Annabeth suddenly felt very small. She would have died if it wasn't for this stranger. Luck was a currency that she seemed to never run out of, but what would happen when one day she would reach out to grasp it, but she would be left with nothing?
Percy tried to reach for one of the swords in Enceladus's hair, only for the girl to whip around and pierce him with her steely gaze. Two sets of green eyes held each other's gaze, waiting for one to finally relent. She cocked her head to the side, inviting him to go for it. Annabeth almost wanted Percy to stop, there was something in the twitch of her lips that made her think that he had just chosen the wrong answer.
She remembered one of the lessons her mother, Athena, had taught her a while back. She was in one of the gardens on Olympus, sketching designs for the new renovations. They were her best ones yet, highlighting the traditional aspects of Greek architecture while still being functional and modern enough for everyday use. She hadn't heard Athena walk up behind her, or her peering over her shoulder. Annabeth had suddenly felt the papers being ripped out of her hands, causing her to look up in shock.
There her mother was, looking at the building plans like they were vermin in her kitchen. She felt like crying. Weeks of work went into those, and they were suddenly being crushed by godly hands.
Annabeth remembered what Athena had told her that day, down to every pause in her speech. She had said they were awful, and not fit for Olympians. She had snapped her fingers until volumes of books appearing in front of her, Athena then telling her to read for some knowledge on architecture, as it seemed she was lacking in that department. What had she called it again?
Oh, yes, tough love.
It looked like this girl had the same thought process, as she did not make any move to stop Porphyrion from backhanding Percy like a pesky fly into a column with a sickening crack. She didn't even wince when his limp body sunk to the floor.
Porhyrion rose. "These demigods cannot kill us! They do not have the help of the gods. Remember who you are!"
The giants tried closing in. A dozen spears were pointed at Piper's chest.
Annabeth struggled to her feet, pain lancing through her body like a hot spike. She retrieved Periboia's hunting knife, be she could barely stand upright, much less fight. Each time a drop of her blood hit the ground it bubbled, turning from red to gold.
Percy tried to stand, but he was dazed, He wouldn't be able to defend himself.
The alien women stood separate from them. She looked like someone straight out of a warzone and psych ward combined. Caked dirt and dried blood covered her skin along with a tapestry of scars. However, she still stood strong, defined muscles preparing for a fight, strangely unaffected by the dire circumstances.
Without turning back, she addressed the three of them. "Get up, stand tall. These are merely beings standing in your path to victory. Will you let them spill even more of your blood after fighting for so long?"
Annabeth was stunned at the words, not moving.
"Get up! Fight godammit!" Her voice resonated through the acropolis, echoing over and over again, fight, fight, fight.
"Perseus", Percy startled at the stranger's use of his full name. "You will fight with me or you will die here and now, little boy. You could die a hero, or you can try to live long enough to see yourself as the villain. It's up to you."
And with that, she charged.
Percy got up, uncapping Riptide, with a new fire lit in his eyes. Annabeth had never seen him like this before. He looked like a true warrior at that moment, all power and no soul to stop him from ripping apart the flesh of monsters. Amid the chaos, Annabeth found herself smiling. This is where she was born to be, fighting and strategizing wars down to the last second. This is why, as everything went to hell, the remainder of the seven appeared, officially bringing this war into its final act.
Chapter 4: III
Nico thought he had been through a lot in his short time as a demigod. He had lost his one non-immortal relative, survived the labyrinth, and mastered his rule of ghosts and other underworld creatures. He had even survived Tartarus, a seemingly never-ending pit of bloodthirsty creatures who would not hesitate to eat you alive.
He remembered being captured by the giants, mutilated and torn apart both physically and mentally. Nico never thought he would be so scared again. They had dragged him to a large structure, eerily reminiscent of the colosseum. Large black pillars loomed over the dense forest surrounding it. Armed with monsters at every possible way in or out, it looked like a well-built fortress in the middle of hell. He had once thought his father’s palace was scary, but compared to this it was like a Disney land castle.
They pushed him through the gates, passing leftover bones and carcasses from gods-knows what. The stench of blood filled his nose, mixed with the scent of sweat. Roaring echoed through cavernous halls, and all Nico wanted to do was dig his heels into the ground and run for the hills. But he didn’t. No, he kept on walking with his head held up high like he wasn’t marching to his funeral.
However, instead of leading into the space where all the noise was coming from, they took him down a set of strangely narrow stairs for a giant, getting steeper the farther they traveled. Nico could hear the distant drip of liquid and heavy breathing that sounded as though it was right next to his ear. None of his captors bothered speaking to him before throwing him into a cell, locking the door behind them.
Nico started pacing back and forth across the length of his cell, trying to think of any way out. He wasn’t able to shadow travel anymore, the pit somehow counteracting his ability. They had taken away his sword, which was his only weapon. He was naturally a stringier type, not someone who could best a person, nevertheless a giant with just his fists. Raising the dead didn’t work here either, he had already tried.
“Stop your pacing, you’re giving me a headache.”
Nico stopped. He slowly turned around. There, lying in the cell next to him, was a girl from the looks of it, sprawled out on the dirty floor, looking at the dark ceiling like it was a gateway to bliss. How had he missed her before? He took his time examining her body. It was the body of a warrior, much like that of Athena or Artemis when he had seen them.
He felt himself blushing when he realized that she was wearing nothing more than a pair of ragged pants, and a piece of cloth fastened around her breasts. There was nothing sensual or erotic about the image before him, but rather a feeling that he was intruding on a private moment. Someone seemingly so strong wasn’t supposed to look so vulnerable in front of others.
“Who are you?” It came out as a whisper when Nico wanted it to seem like a command. She didn’t bother turning to face him.
“No one of importance. I should be the one asking questions though, what is a son of Hades doing down here? Or is it Pluto? No, it must be Hades, children of Pluto are so much more pretentious.”
Nico didn’t know if he should feel offended. What did she know about children of the underworld? There was something in the tone of her voice that made her seem infinitely wiser than her appearance would suggest. The lilt of her voice reminded him of the hunter Zoë, who seemed so out of place in a modern world.
“Are you even real? Or is this something my mind conjured up to try and keep me saner?”
She cackled, finally looking over to him, sweeping her eyes across his figure. She quirked her lips upwards, a ghost of a sly grin that seemed oddly familiar. “Oh, I’m real, little prince, and so are you. I have learned a while ago to decipher my hallucinations from the reality of this retched place.”
A while ago.
“How long have you been here? Are you a demigod?” He crowded closer to their shared set of bars, kneeling to remain at eye level with her. He couldn’t decipher anything from her blank gaze. He felt as though she was gazing through him, a window into a past life. It was a similar expression some of the dead wore in the fields of punishment. An endless acceptance of eternal misery and pain.
“I think I have lost track.” Nico’s breath caught in his throat. “I am a demigod, or was. Can one even talk about themselves in the present tense when they have been dead to the world for so long?”
He felt like crying. How was it that he could feel the pain of her very existence? He reached out and grasped onto the only thread of humanity left in this place, holding it for dear life.
“My name is Nico Di Angelo.” It was too formal, all wrong. His throat closed up, what if he did something wrong? He had never been good at things like this before. Of all things to be worried about in Tartarus. She didn’t take her dull eyes off of him, slowly opening her mouth, as if debating whether or not to say anything in return.
“Andromeda Vautour.” The name sounded so foreign and yet right on her tongue. It seemed as if she had to contemplate to remember her name at all, and yet looking at here, there seemed like there was no other name that would fit her nearly as well.
This is how the next few days went. Stilted conversation laced with obscure details about her life, but Nico would never push too far. He knew what it was like to have a past needing to be forgotten. So, they carefully danced around the subject.
Sporadically a monster would come and take Andromeda away, coming back hours later covered in monster dust and new cuts and bruises. He never asked her what they had her to do. She never offered up the information. It was a strange relationship, something not quite friendship, and yet just as powerful. One day or night, it was hard to tell when it was constantly dark, he had asked her what she missed most about the world above.
She had paused, thinking for quite some time, before opening her mouth to respond. “I am positive anyone I had ever cared for in my past life is now dead. My ties to the world above are completely severed. No one remembers me now, my memory died with them.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “However, I do miss the sun. It was so very bright. And water,” She let out a throaty chuckle at that, “Oh, I miss real water so much.”
They didn’t speak for the rest of the night, and Nico pretended not to see tears trace their way down her grimy cheeks before hastily being wiped away.
A few hours before they ended up dragging Nico away, she had initiated a conversation between them for the first time. “Thank you,” she had said, “for keeping me company, little prince.” He had done nothing except nod, not having the courage to look into her eyes, for he feared he might start crying. Andromeda wouldn’t have like that very much; he was sure of it.
So, when the giants had taken him out of his cell, he had not looked back at her. She had said it was the perfect plan. “Let the enemy take you where you need to go. You will have your security straight out of hell.”
He had wanted her to come with him. Nico didn’t want to leave her, someone who didn’t pity him or fear him. He couldn’t remember the last time he had met someone like that. She had said no, of course, for the giants would not take her with them. It wasn’t her time, she said.
“I am sure we will meet again, if not in life, then in death.”
The ghost had started appearing when he had been placed in the bronze jar. It would plague his dreams, whispering to him about the girl he had abandoned. She called herself Aster. Dark raven locks intricately braided down her back, pale skin that shone like moonlight. Long limbs would stretch as she walked, examining him for all she was worth. Dark eyes boring into his very soul. She didn’t speak much, but when she did her words came out like a deathly melody, a faint French accent lilting her words just enough to seem like poetry.
Nico could tell right away that she was another daughter of Hades. She had more control over her ghostly form than the others, and even he wasn’t blind enough to miss the similarities in appearance between the two. She wouldn’t comfort him, but rather weave him tales out of the mist, showing him a tragic tale of the past.
She hasn’t gone away when he had been set free by the heroic demigods that he could never seem to be. She had even kept him company on the Greek warship, walking next to him as if it was completely normal to have a ghost companion.
He had called to her one night when the rest of the crew was asleep. She didn’t acknowledge him, but he knew she was listening.
“Why are you here helping me? You are guiding me to the house of our father, but why?”
She had kept on staring at the stars, reminiscing, he thought.
“I am cursed,” she replied, “To wander the earth unseen. It is my eternal punishment. Me helping you is simply a way to get back at her, no offense.”
“I don’t think that is important. You have more pressing matters to deal with, including your identity crisis.”
Nico froze up, not expecting the conversation to take such a turn. But, when he looked at Aster’s expression, it held no malice, only understanding. She looked so serene at that moment, so at peace. It was a wonder that this was her punishment, and he could only wonder what the gods were trying to punish her for, and what they were keeping her from.
“It’s ok, Nico. It is. It’s ok to love, to feel. Gods know it’s more painful not to.” He had to fight back the tears threatening to spill from his eyes. “People so often think of us children of Hades as heartless, when we feel so much stronger than the rest. How could we not, when love is so closely intertwined with death” He had to look away at this, he knew it all too well.
Nico felt something cold slide over his palm. He looked to see Aster’s hand resting on top of his, barely grazing his olive skin. Even though she was only a ghost, the intention meant so much.
So, as he sat in a limo driven by a zombie, he couldn’t help but look back at Aster sitting in the backseat, right in between the oblivious passengers. He saw her smile, the first real smile he had ever seen her wear. It suited her, making her skin glow brighter, and her heavy eyes seem a little lighter. Nico knew what this meant.
Andromeda was back
For the next three minutes, life was great for Piper. So much happened at once that only an ADHD demigod could have kept track.
Jason fell on King Porphyrion with such force that the giant crumpled to his knees-blasted with lighting and stabbed in the neck with a golden gladius.
Frank unleashed a hail of arrows, driving back the giants nearest to Percy.
The strange woman let out a sharp whistle, piercing through the chaos like a bullet. A gust of wind blasted through the acropolis, and a symphony of howls pierced the air. A mess of fur and claws seemed to move all at once, colliding with the nearest monster, cremating them before they had any chance to defend themselves.
If Piper wasn’t paying closer attention, she would have missed the crazed grin that seemed to fit her features so well.
Greek fire roared around the Parthenon, filling the air with ashes, Leo’s Texan lilt booming from the Argo II.
Piper charged into the chaos, and for the first time since becoming aware of her demigod status, she felt at peace. A sense of purpose filled her up. She would conquer her monsters here and now, or she would die trying. She got lost in a sea of blood and arrows, lusting for more. Through it all, she saw her. A goddess on the battlefield, or maybe a demon. Wild locks twisted around her, caressing hardened skin. She didn’t even have to lift a finger, her wolved was doing all the work for her. They ripped apart any enemy in their path, letting the stranger walk through the Acropolis like she was going for a leisurely afternoon walk.
As the sun reflected off of her face, she seemed to glow, and Piper thought that she had never seen someone look so beautiful.
In her confusion, Piper failed to notice the gemini arriving at the battle, led by Kekrops himself. Piper was back-to-back with Jason, so close that she could feel the warmth radiating off of him, static electricity that made her skin tingle. Before any of the seven could react, that strange warrior flew into action, terrifying wolves staying behind as their master went to work. Piper would probably piss herself if she was on the receiving end of that bloody grin.
By the time she blinked, the girl had stolen one of the gemini’s swords, killing them with their own blade. She kept on going, slashing and dancing until all that was left in her wake were piles of dust. Beautiful ashes that would be blown away on the wind with their memory. The wolves stayed back, circling the group of demigods in a way that was hard to tell if they were prey or predator.
Percy had retrieved Riptide, and even though he was bleeding from his nose, he wasted no time in trying to ward monsters off from their small group. However, their element of surprise was fading, and the monsters were starting to regroup and get ballsy by trying to approach them. If there was any hope that the wolves were on their side, it was now crushed. They merely watched impassively as monsters charged at them trying to sink their teeth into the demigod’s flesh.
Frank had run out of arrows. He changed into a rhinoceros and leaped into battle, but as fast as he could knock down the giants, they got up again. Their wounds seemed to be healing faster.
Annabeth lost the group against Periboia. Hazel was knocked out of her saddle at sixty miles an hour. Jason summoned another lightning strike, but this time Porphyrion simply deflected it off of his spear.
The giants were bigger, stronger, and more numerous. They couldn’t be killed without the help of the gods. And they didn’t seem to be tiring.
The only one who seemed to be having any luck with the enemy was the ragged woman. She slashed and cut and struck with so much purpose that one would think that she was a dancer, not a hero. Even the giants seemed to be hesitant around her, acting like skittish dogs that had been told off by a feisty cat. When one approached, she merely made them stop and turn around before ever reaching her.
Even so, Piper could tell that she was tiring. From the looks of it, she was severely malnourished, her ribs protruding from her stomach, and bones popping her own beneath porcelain skin. Her pallor was sickly, and it looked as though she could have been a ghost.
She realized that the woman was giving them an opening to regroup, and so the six demigods were forced into a defensive ring.
Another volley of Earthborn rocks hit the Argo II. This time Leo couldn’t return fire fast enough. Rows of oars were sheared off, causing the ship to shudder and tilt precariously.
Raven-girl cursed in Greek, trying to intercept Enceladus’s spear. She was too late. It pierced the ship’s hull, and a distant explosion could be heard. Black smoke billowed out, sweeping across the sky like a plague.
“Leo!” Jason cried.
Porphyrion laughed. “You demigods have learned nothing. There are no gods to aid you. We need only one more thing from you to make our victory complete.”
“You forget giant,” the woman started, “that I need no gods to kill. I can complete that task perfectly well myself. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again.” She ended with a snarl, only pausing when she saw Porhpyrion look expectantly at Percy.
Piper watched in horror as a trickle of blood slowly gathered at the base of his chin, dropping down to the sullied ground. The girl yelled; a giant grabbed her before she could move.
It hit the ground in what seemed like slow motion, and for once Piper’s voice failed her. She didn’t miss the awful look the woman sent her, as if she knew that she could have stopped the world from destruction.
It sizzled against the stone, melting into the earth a rich golden color.
The blood of Olympus watered the ancient stones.
The Acropolis groaned and shifted as the Earth Mother woke.
Sorry, this chapter was pretty boring. Next chapter we will be going back to Andromeda's pov!
Chapter 6: V
At this moment, Andromeda remembered what it was like to be afraid. No, not afraid of a battle, but afraid of its outcome. She remembered all those years ago, what it was like fighting by her friends’ side.
“Do you think this is where we finally get to die?” Callista asked, grinning with bloodied teeth under tear-stained cheeks. She had raised her sword with a calm finality, the metal reflecting the light off of the rain pouring down from the heavens.
“Do you want it to be?”
“I don’t really know anymore. Victory has never seemed so far away.”
“I don’t want you to die” Andromeda replied, looking lazily over to Callista. They exchanged a long glance.
“Then I won’t.”
They both looked back over to the battle raging in front of them. Callista set her jaw, Andromeda reached for her blades.
“I can’t leave them alone, Callista. I’m all they have left.”
“And what about Apollo?”
“What about him?” Callista snorted.
“You know what, Andromeda, don’t play dumb with me.”
“I don’t think I have enough room in my heart for him anymore. He had taken what was left of it and stomped all over it. I had to rebuild myself out of bronze one nail at a time. But…”
“But…” Callista replied while a wry smile.
“But… I can’t help but be drawn to tragedy.”
“You’re such a great parental role model.”
Just then an explosion shook the battlefield while neighboring trees and grasses went up in blue flames. They witnessed as demigods were thrown into the air like bloody fireworks, the fire ripping them apart like ragdolls. Screams echoed, and prayers to the gods were uttered.
Andromeda and Callista’s boots squelched against the muddy ground. They passed burnt corpses, reaching out their hands for help. When the rain hit the flames, it steamed, creating a layer of fog that hung close to the earth.
“We’re going to hell, aren’t we?”
“Callie, we are already in hell. There is nowhere else to go.”
They trudged across the plain, bickering along the way like they weren’t stepping over childrens’ burnt and bloodied bodies. Maybe it was easier to just pretend like they weren’t there. It would have been easy for Callista to jump into one of the flames, burning herself in what some would call sweet revenge.
The rest of the army was waiting for them over the next hill. They stood there, on their horses, in complete silence. They watched as the two warriors approached.
Andromeda raised her hands, and the ground rumbled. She smirked.
“A whole legion against the two of us? Don’t you think that it’s a little unfair? We can give you the chance to call some of your friends if you want.”
“Don’t be mean to them Andy,” Callista pouted, “These Romans are so noble, they won’t admit defeat until their heads are severed from their bodies. Even then, I bet your ghosts will be so annoying.”
“We could probably ask Aster to deal with them,” She replied with a placid expression.
“She was really annoyed though after that last time, though.” Her eyebrows met in the middle of her forehead.
The enemy legion started shifting uncomfortably, their faces slowly getting redder with anger or humiliation, it was hard to tell which.
The first roman charged down the hill. He didn’t even have time to utter a war cry. The earth shifted below him, until two pieces of rock slid up on either side of his body, trapping his head in between the peaks.
He bared his teeth. Andromeda laughed. She threw her head back, closing her eyes as raindrops traced her lips.
“Are you ready to die, Roman?”
She didn’t give him a chance to try and answer. The tips of the rocks kissed, and with a sickening squelch, the soldier’s head was separated from his body, rolling down the hill until it landed at the girls’ feet.
The rest of the army charged.
None of them survived.
It was so much easier than to kill because Andromeda had something to kill for. But as she looked around at the younger group of demigods, it finally hit her that she was truly alone now. She was trying to mend pieces that were crushed to splinters. Impossible to even touch without getting cut.
She had gotten where she is not by luck, but by skill, and Andromeda would rather go back to hell than roll over for the enemy now. Because in truth, it would take a monster to kill another monster. Maybe that’s why Ares and she had always gotten along.
However, this younger brood was not used to fighting without luck on their side. Spoiled Bastards. She witnessed their hands trembling, trying to clasp their weapons in a semblance of strength. So Roman-like. Greeks might have been overlooked on the battlefield, but they were brutal. Not marching in perfect lines, but sneaking up on their enemy during the display of grandeur.
She was standing on the Acropolis until she wasn’t.
Andromeda felt herself getting swallowed by shadow, drowning in darkness. She didn’t try to fight it. She knew who was on the other side.
Hades stood in front of her in the endless pit of shadow, adorned in midnight battle armor. He had barely changed over the years. Olive skin with pronounced cheekbones covered in a dark beard. Tall but sturdily built, with eyes that could cut stone.
Andromeda stepped forward, assessing the godlike one would do an equally dangerous wolf. A small smile curved his lips upward.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. You don’t want to get smile lines.”
“You haven’t changed at all, have you, Andromeda Vautour?” His voice was too much like his.
“I don’t know,” she started, “I think I’ve changed a lot in the past hundred years. Really grown up now. I moved out of my home, took up a new residence in hell, and even did some free labor!” Andromeda’s eyes got wide at the end, buzzing with fake excitement.
“Don’t blame me, child, I kept my side of the bargain.”
“Ah yes, the least you could do, may I remind you.” It now looked like he was having a seizure.
“You still cannot hold me accountable for my child’s actions? I do not control their decisions.” He snarled, losing his mask of neutrality.
Andromeda took another step forward. “But where were you, when he prayed at your alter every night? Where were you,” she stuck her finger out at him, “When he ruined my life and killed my family?”
She never got to hear his answer. At that moment she was brought back to reality, where time had seemed not to have changed.
Andromeda saw the sky turn to stars, and Olympus kiss the earth with power. She did not feel relief. All she felt was rage. Angry at the gods for not coming when her family needed them. No, they only came when it was convenient. Their blood was not as disposable as hers.
She could see Olympus from here. Whispers of past danced and parties and kisses. So many memories seemed to be forgotten over time.
She spun across the marble floor, skirts shifting around her like feathers. Long fingers drifted across her waist, holding her hips against his. Hot breath trailed across her neck, counting the beats in the music.
That was then, so long ago, but the music still bounced around in her mind. It was all his fault.
As the army of gods flew down in their shiny chariots, she noticed Hades and his whole party riding into battle, their chariot erupting from the ground in the most dignified manner possible.
However, Andromeda could care less about this battle. Her war was already lost, this was just the after-party. She would let these demigods fight this war, maybe the gods would even be helpful for once.
The giants weren’t her problem. She would just watch things play out. If a few of the big guys choked on their own saliva, who was to say it wasn’t just an accident? Seriously, maybe they just choked.
No one noticed her slip away, nor did they care to realize that giants were falling without anyone actually cutting them down, making it easier for a god to finish them off. Andromeda was no hero, but she refused to lose again.
Honestly, the battle was a little disappointing. She rolled her eyes. Her friends would be so ashamed of what they died for. Now Ares, he just looked like he was having so much fun. Too bad the shape-shifting kid seemed terrified of him.
Athena was too practical to make things interesting. She and her little daughter didn’t even kill their giant, just let it get crushed by scaffolding. Hades and his new spawn were working wonders on the giants, but the god of the underworld was never really one for theatrics. That was more of Thanatos’s job, and he was probably off moping somewhere.
Andromeda sighed wistfully. Who would have thought that the end of the world would be so boring? Poseidon and Perseus were working on the twins. No wonder this generation was so bad when their role models were gods who wore terribly patterned shirts.
The only one who really seemed to be struggling was Aphrodite’s girl. She was attempting to fight with her sword against the giantess Periboia, failing miserably. She simply was not skilled or strong enough to fend against her. She did not take any of the opportunities presented to her but instead aimed for the obvious jabs that even the most basic swordsman could defend against.
Aphrodite was of no help, which Andromeda found quite odd. She knew from personal experience that the goddess could have ended the fight as soon as it started with just a single word.
Andromeda grits her teeth. What was she waiting for? She got her answer in the form of a piercing glance from the very same goddess. There she was, lounging on her cloud in the middle of a battle, staring at Andromeda like they were sharing some inside joke.
Come on, I won’t let you run away. This just got interesting.
The melodic voice rang throughout her head, echoing like church bells.
She saw as Perioboia’s blade raised, and knew that the girl would not be able to dodge this time. When would she get a break?
Andromeda removed herself from her hiding place, sprinting towards the child of love. For the second time that day, she pushed the girl out of the way, preventing her death. Instead, she extended her arms, grasping the giantess’s blade with only her hands. The pain did not register with her, even as she felt metal meet bone.
She willed her blood to obey her, forcing her arms forward even though they screamed in protest. The blade was pushed backward, making Andromeda smirk with satisfaction.
It was a slow death for her, a series of jabs and attacks until Periboia fell to the ground. That was not enough.
Andromeda stalked forward until she was standing directly next to her chest.
“I’ve always thought the third time was overrated, didn’t you?”
Before she could try to retaliate, Andromeda had taken control of her body. She felt the pulsing of her veins, the pounding of her heart. She did not waste any time in fixing her concentration on the muscles of her chest, opening them up before her. With a series of sickening cracks, the giantess’s ribs protruded from her chest, muscles, and tissue hanging off of them like bloody banners.
Her mouth opened in a silent scream, bloody tears trickling down her face. With the inside of her chest now exposed, Andromeda reached forward, digging her hand into warm flesh, until coming in contact with a fast-beating heart.
It gave her a rush just to think about how she held life in the palm of her hand. Seafoam frothed out of her mouth, which was the only signal Andromeda needed before she ripped the heart out of her chest.
The Acropolis was silent. Not a single sound was uttered except the slow drip of blood not tracing its way down Andromeda’s arm.
The demigods and gods stood silently observing, all with various levels of shock and horror.
Ares was the first to react. He bounded forward, a crazed grin plastering his rugged features. He wrapped his arms around Andromeda, making her arms fall limp. The heart in her hand dropped to the ground, rolling across the stones until landing at the son of Hephaestus’s feet. She didn’t pay attention to the sound of vomiting coming from him.
All she could focus on were the muscled arms wrapped around her, not comforting but familiar. The smell of iron hung around the two of them like a shroud, separating them from the rest of humanity. Death followed her in the same way it followed the war, they might as well be the same thing.
“I knew you would make it.” She resisted the urge to laugh at the sound of his low drawl, “you were too much of a bitch to die.” As that she let out a low chuckle, quiet enough that only Ares could hear it. He pulled away, holding her at arm’s length, examining every part of her.
“You look like shit. Fucking stink like it too.”
“You know, you should really stop talking to yourself sometime. I’m starting to get concerned.”
The demigods seemed to hold a collective breath, as the gods all looked ready to be sick. Instead, Ares let out a barking laugh, slapping Andromeda on the back before pushing her to return to the others.
As she stood in front of them, she gathered up any remaining will she had left in her.
“You don’t think you gods could have gotten rid of me that easily, did you?”
Chapter 7: VI
“You don’t think you gods could have gotten rid of me that easily, did you?”
Her smile was as sharp as her nails.
“Oh,” she chuckled, “don’t tell me that you have all forgotten me?”
The demigods watched the exchange like an exciting game of tennis.
No one spoke. The only thing the mortals seemed to be focusing on was the gold, painted over Andromeda’s body, so very bright.
Footsteps echoed over stone, and before anyone could register what was happening, a different god was standing before Andromeda.
His hair was spun from gold, skin from pale silk. Eyes, such a vibrant kaleidoscope of blues it made her dizzy. Calloused hands touched her cheek so gently, she thought she might have imagined it. A hundred years, and yet she had nothing to say to him.
“Please, don’t leave me. They always leave.”
“Andromeda?” Her heart clenched as his melodic voice whispered her name on the wind. In response she locked her jaw, tilting her head up to meet his gaze. A silent challenge.
He dropped to his knees in front of her.
Arms snaked their way around her waist, holding her there like she was merely a shadow that would dissolve once the sun finally set.
His face was pressed against her stomach, tickling it with his blonde locks. He whispered her name over and over again like a plea, “Andromeda, Andromeda, Andromeda….”
All she could do was look towards the sky, wishing that she could enjoy the gaze of the sun without getting burnt.
She reached down and tugged his strands of hair hard, trying not to focus on their smooth texture. She forced his head back, making him see her snarl.
“Get up,” she said through gritted teeth. They stared at one another, ignoring the nervous glances from their audience.
“Without you. I survived on my own. So, get up.”
Apollo got to his feet.
Andromeda stood tall by herself.
“Can someone please catch me up? Since when was there another goddess?” She scowled and Perseus.
“I am no goddess, Perseus Jackson. I don’t think anyone would want to put up with me for eternity.”
“Then who-” The son of Zeus started, before getting interrupted by Poseidon.
“Percy, she’s your sister”
“But my mom didn’t have any other kids besides me?” Andromeda rolled her eyes, almost seeing the question mark above his head.
The daughter of wisdom slapped the back of his head with so much vigor, she thought the girl must have enjoyed it. Percy winced in pain, shooting the girl a look the resembled that of a confused sea lion. She whispered to him frantically, and Andromeda could see the gears in his brain turning until his eyes widened and shot to her. He didn’t look any more excited about it than she did. He scrunched his nose. She looked away.
“He is not my brother,” she whispered into heavy air, “they are dead. Which, at this moment, is irrelevant.” She looked towards Zeus, showing no sign of fear or hesitation.
“We will discuss this later, Ms. Vautour.”
“Most definitely, Zeus.”
His lips turned downwards, eyes losing any remaining warmth they had in them. Ozone crackled in the air, and Andromeda could see sparks flying around him, so close to losing his calm.
“What I do not need right now, is more troublesome women. I already have my wife to deal with, I shouldn’t have to deal with Apollo’s whore too.”
There were yells of outrage coming from multiple parties, but before any of them could act, a knife was being held at his throat. The golden blade glinted in the sun, looking too pretty to be a weapon of war.
Apollo angled the blade towards his father’s jugular, not daring to spill blood just yet. He had his arms wrapped around Zeus, holding him fast as the sun god held murder in his gaze. There was a dangerous smile carved onto his angelic face, sharp as the blade he was holding.
Long gone was the god of sunny smiles and relaxed posture. This was the god who burned his victims. The god who had become the patron of Rome, idolized for his ferocity throughout history.
“You don’t get to talk to her like that”
Andromeda wished she could go back to a time where the memory of Apollo’s devotion wasn’t so close.
Zeus only grunted in response, blasting him back with a clap of thunder, until there was a circular ring of ash in the middle of the Parthenon. Apollo stood in the middle, covered in dust, smiling crazedly.
“Isn’t that all she was though, son? You moved on so quickly.” He growled in response, slinging his bow off of is shoulder and notching a golden-tipped arrow straight between Zeus’s eyes.
“Oh, shut up,” Artemis stated, “she doesn’t need you to battle over her honor. She is plenty capable to defend herself if she so wished.” Both Athena and Ares nodded in return. All Andromeda could think was why now? Why not when she needed him. It was just twisting her mind to see Apollo try to defend her when it was already too late to even attempt to repair what had already been lost.
She zoned out when the talk returned to the current war. Andromeda could still hear the steady heartbeat of the earth beneath her feet, a sure sign that the earth mother had risen. It was so easy to place the blame on Hera, an easy scapegoat for all the gods to latch onto. After all, she made it easy to hate her. She was always the villain when after what she had gone through, it would be hard to see any other outcome for her.
An obsession with perfection. With keeping her family whole. It was a curse as much as it was a blessing, to be queen. Empty hallways that would forever be silent. After all, dedication could often get confused with obsession, which could often be mistaken as love. Such a twisted cycle the queen of the heavens was forced to repeat.
Andromeda could sympathize with the goddess. Knowing that the person you were in love with was warming other people’s beds was enough to cause a heart to shatter.
She was brought back to the present when the focus returned to Apollo once more.
“My son, come here.” The words were so heart-achingly familiar.
Long limbs curled in on themselves, trying to hide their bareness. Displayed were scars that even immortality took time to heal. Andromeda traced her fingers down his back, where white scars lay in the shapes of lightning strikes.
Apollo looked terrified- mortal even, which wide doe-eyes that heavily contrasted with his earlier rage. She couldn’t blame him really, it was only in his nature to be scared of such a man, some just learn to hide it better than others.
The three fates began circling him, wide smiles etched on wrinkled faces. One turned to Andromeda, staring at her for a moment before hobbling over to stand directly under her shrewd gaze.
“She is back!” One started
“The princess of oceans,” another began,
“The queen of blood,” the third tacked on,
“The sun’s lover,” they started in unison,
“The only survivor of the tragedy,”
“All alone now, we’re afraid. Unfortunately, your string has yet to be cut. We can’t wait to get knitting again. Such a beautiful tapestry. We almost used up all of our red thread.” They ended, focusing again on the blonde god.
“And what about you, god of light? Destined to love but never gain, your arms always empty, and your heart never fully mended. So very broken, still so young but so very old. Yet another mistake? What shall we weave for your future? How much red shall we weave into your story?”
“You heard them, son. You have once again let your vanity overrule any sense you had. You let flattery consume you.” He shook his head in mock disappointment. “You neglected your duties, and encourage your descendant Octavian to go down a dark path, in turn starting a prophecy that might still destroy us all. So, tell me, son, do you think you deserve any mercy?”
“Enough!” Zeus boomed. “We will deal with you both later. For now, you will wait on Olympus when time is on our side.”
“We might as well be waiting forever then,” Andromeda whispered to herself, obviously being heard by most of the audience. Zeus sent her a glare, she responded by making a rude gesture with her hands.
He snapped his fingers, and before Andromeda could utter another word, she felt her body dissolve into nothingness, and the world around her faded into black.
Olympus really hadn’t changed that much over the years. Yes, Andromeda could see the signs of modernization creep in on the ancient structures, and architecture more reminiscent of American culture than European, but Olympians were creatures of habit, so she found herself walking down familiar paths to old temples—wolves following in her wake.
Minor gods and goddesses seemed to shrink away when she passed, whispering to each other about the woman who seemed closer to being a ghost than flesh. Unfortunately for her, her wolves weren’t the only thing following her around.
Apollo thought he was being stealthy. Andromeda thought that it was impossible for someone so bright to ever fully disappear. His presence demanded attention even to those without sight. She could feel his eyes on her every time the sun seemed to glint, or its rays hit her at a certain angle. She felt as though his warm touch was consuming her. She wished it would stop.
Andromeda finally reached her destination. The pillars of her father’s temple loomed over her, covering her figure with reflections from non-existent water. However, instead of walking up marble steps, she followed the structure around to the back. There she entered a magnificent garden. Planted by Demeter herself, it bloomed in the most luscious colors. Vibrant shades too beautiful to ever exist in the mortal world, lined paths of cobblestone, circling around grand fountains spouting sparkling water.
She didn’t pay much attention to any of this. Andromeda walked until she reached a secluded part of the garden, so overgrown and under cared for, that one would think it didn’t belong in such a grand place. She knelt in front of two stones engraved in Greek. She traced her fingers over them, wanting to memorize each groove set in stone.
“Hi,” she started trying not to choke up,
“It’s been a while,” there were not more warm rays from the sun, as he couldn’t enter her father’s territory without permission.
“I miss you both so much. I’m sorry I couldn’t visit sooner, I got caught up in a little bit of trouble.” She smiled to herself, an inside joke that nobody else was in on.
“I hope I can make you both proud. I promised you both I would look after him. I’m afraid I couldn’t for a little bit,” she swallowed, “but he’s safe. He looks so much like both of you,” her throat constricted, “he acts like you too.” She rested the side of her head against the cool rock. “I don’t really know what to do now. My whole life has been centered around war, but this one is not mine. I’m tired, I’m really just so tired,” tears traced their way down hollow cheeks. “And I miss all of you, and I’ve been fighting for so long, and I don’t know if I can do it anymore.”
She stayed there until the sun kissed the horizon, and rays of violet and pink started stretching across a star-spangled sky. Andromeda listened to the trickle of fountains, the winds whispering through flower beds. Resting her head against the graves of those lost. Remembering, never forgetting.
She summoned water to clean the gravestones of dirt accumulated over the centuries. She cleaned up weeds and fallen branches that had obscured them from view. The couple deserved to rest somewhere breathtakingly beautiful.
“Even death would never keep me away from you. I would just claw my way out and drag my bones to your side. I made a promise, remember?”
“I remember. I remember everything, asshole.”
Eventually, she stood up from her vigil, making her way out of the temple grounds. Her father had not attempted to visit her, not that she wanted him to.
Two of her wolves stayed dutifully at her sides, letting Andromeda run her hands through their long-mismatched fur. The third had gone off somewhere, no doubt exploring after so many years away.
They're waiting for her was Aphrodite. Andromeda looked away. Familiar blue eyes stared at her, shaped by golden hair. She was him, but not. For Apollo would never look at her like that, like an animal to dissect, or a painting to examine. They hadn’t said a word to each other as Aphrodite lead her to her own large residence.
Inside, she disappeared for a second before returning with large towels in her delicate hands. She ushered the young woman into a large bathing chamber, more closely resembling a pool than a bathtub. She left the towels on a chaise and left without another word. The goddess of love understood the need for privacy in moments such as these.
Andromeda switched down slowly, taking her time in revealing her skin. She slid down her pants, showing stick-like legs under layers of dirt and grime. She undid the old wrappings around her breasts, revealing her body fully for the first time in a century. She slid off her underwear before finally diving into the pool.
Steam rose around her, keeping the edges of the room from view. Andromeda kept her head underwater, smiling at the sensation of being in her natural element once again. She felt the energy returning to her and senses the hum of water throughout her body.
She took her time, doing slow laps through hot water, feeling the smoothness of her strokes. Slowly the dust and sweat washed away from her skin before she took some unscented soap and scrubbed off the remainder. It was lethargic, washing her body for the first time in so long. Feeling years of servitude wash away in a matter of minutes.
Soon, sickly skin was revealed, with it too many scars to count. The trailed along her body, telling a story more sickening than words ever could. She traced her hands over them, feeling every bump and groove, and remembered the stories that came with them.
His lips trailed down her legs, kissing every cut or scar on her body. He took his time in caressing them, worshipping her imperfection.
Andromeda got out of the bath, sliding on the clothes that appeared at some time during her dip. Simple and practical, just the way she liked it. She noticed that although fashion in the 21st century seemed to have changed, Aphrodite had left clothes similar to her old ones. Deep navy pants, stretchable but still durable, and a plain white undershirt just a little too big for her. Thin material draped over her arms, loose sleeves billowing out before tightening at her wrists. Tall black boots, worn but still clean. She wondered if the love goddess had just raided her old closet.
Soon after she had finished getting dressed, Aphrodite had decided that her alone time had ended. She barged open the doors with such dramatics and grace, Andromeda had to blink many times to convince herself she wasn’t dreaming. She draped herself over the doorframe in an extravagant pink robe, fur sleeves and all. It dragged across the floor, large sleeves making her slim figure all the more noticeable. It didn’t come as a surprise that she wasn’t wearing anything underneath the sheer gown.
Her hair was pinned up in a large bun, loose golden strands curling around her face. Red lips curled into a mischievous smile, obviously approving of Andromeda’s little cleanup. Her eyes appraised her figure before snapping up to her hair, clucking in disapproval. With a snap of her fingers, she found herself sitting in front of a vanity, affronted by her own reflection. Hollow eyes glared back at her. She had to touch her own face to make sure it was the same one. She didn’t look like how she remembered. Her skin might not have had wrinkles, but her eyes told of many years of hardship.
Another face appeared above hers, so much for vibrant and full.
“You have nothing to be ashamed of darling. You fought, and you survived.”
“I hate them, my eyes. They were the only thing I shared with them.”
“Give it time, they’ll come back, I promise.”
“Time is the one thing I don’t think I have, ‘Dite.” The old nickname slid off her tongue before she could help it, and she saw the goddess smile. Not one of her sultry smiles that she would use to enchant men, but a real, wide one, that seemed to make stars sigh.
Soon, she started on her hair. Taming the wild mess it had gotten into.
“Do you ever think about him?”
“Every day Andromeda, every day.”
“Good. He deserves to be remembered.”
Silence encompassed them, neither one willing to break the sudden tension filling the room. Andromeda could still not bear to look at her for too long.
“Apollo hasn’t looked at me directly in over a hundred years, you know.” Fingers brushed through raven locks, before finding a reasonable length to start cutting. “You are the same in that regard. Many can’t stand to see love staring back at them through someone else’s body.
“It was never love between us.” Hands clenched at her sides, nails digging into palms.
“We both know that isn’t true darling.” She gave the young woman a sad smile, before brushing her hair over her shoulders. The tangles and knots were now gone, replaced by gentle waves that reached just below her breast.
“It won’t last for long, but I appreciate your effort in trying to tame this seaweed nest.” Andromeda chuckled. Her hair would start sticking up in random directions soon enough.
“Sometimes the best things are fleeting. It doesn’t make them any less beautiful.”
Not long after the two had sat down to eat a rather extravagant display of fruits, tea cakes, and Aphrodite’s famed pink tea, a clap of thunder echoed through Olympus. The goddess of beauty set down her half-eaten strawberry, not leaving even one spare seed behind in pearly white teeth.
“Shall we? Zeus might get angry if you’re late to your own trial.”
“What’s the point? I already know the outcome.” Andromeda looked up towards the fresco-painted sealing, “don’t you see it? The sword hanging over my neck?”
Just a quick note- Aphrodite looks the way she does because that is what Andromeda finds attractive, so she looks like Apollo. Later on, we will see her from different people's points of view, and she will look different. Just wanted to clarify!
Chapter 9: VIII
Andromeda’s boots clunked on grand marble steps, clearly meant for full-sized Olympians. Her head was held high, and any remaining warmth in her eyes that had appeared in her time with Aphrodite had now washed away. Her face now resembled a prowling lioness stalking her prey. Aphrodite had disappeared somewhere along the way, gone to join the other gods in the throne room to await her entrance. The wolves remained by her sides, all three now reunited. Their fur glinted off of the moon’s gaze, making it glow in the darkness.
The doors opened on their own accord, swinging outwards to reveal the grand inside of the center of the god’s power. Torches burnt along the walls, casting shadows over the expanse of flooring. In a large semicircle sat all different kinds of thrones, adorned with the power of their master.
To the sides of the room, in the shadows, sat rows upon rows of demigods, spectators to this trial. She could spot the famed seven sitting near the front, curious gazes informing her of their intent. Murmurs erupted when she stepped into the light, following her in echoes as she made her way into the middle of the god’s focused gaze.
“Andromeda Cadence Vautour, daughter of Poseidon, you are here for your trial.” Zeus’s voice echoed, and for once no one tried to interrupt him. “Throughout your lifetime, you have been guilty of many crimes, including blatant disregard for the ancient rules, attacking and killing fellow half-bloods, torturing and mutilating humans, waging war against your Roman counterparts, failing to obey the wishes of the gods, failing to come to half-blood aid when you were called, leaving the estate without permission, faking your death, somehow ending up in Tartarus, and conspiring with monsters.”
No one spoke until a hysterical laugh bubbled out of Andromeda’s lips. It was not a sweet thing, but rather malicious, driving daggers into hearts with every octave her voice rose. She clutched her stomach as it kept getting louder until she looked Zeus straight in the eye. He tried his hardest not to recoil.
“I was four when the war began. Over the course of my time in your care, I have lost everything. My family, my friends, my home, my life!” Her wolves watched their master with deadly accuracy, counting her every twitch and movement.
“And yet you have the audacity, to sit there on your throne and try to blame me for the crimes you gave me no choice but to commit! I have killed, maimed, tortured, in the name of you, I have given up my childhood, my happiness, for you. I have wanted to die for so long, and yet I stayed alive because of you.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “I have spent over a hundred years down in a pit not able to die. I have spent a hundred years, without sunlight, proper food, water, shower, home, in hell!”
“That does bring up an interesting question though,” Athena started, “how did you survive for so long? You are only half-god, after all.”
“I had the blood of a god in me,” she started.
“Your father’s blood was not enough to keep you alive for that long without aging,” Athena responded.
“Not that god, I’m afraid.” Andromeda could swear Aphrodite started munching on a bowl of popcorn.
All the gods turned accusingly to Apollo, who had tilted his head in such a confusing way, she couldn’t help but feel a pang of pity. In contrast, Zeus looked ready to strangle his son.
“You gave her your blood!” He roared, as the temperature in the room dropped, and her ears popped.
Suddenly, out of the shadows, a form appeared. He strode into the throne room with his shoulders back, shadows dancing around him like a veil. By his side was someone that Andromeda thought she would never see again. Nico Di Angelo stood in front of her, healthier than he was in Tartarus, some of the colors had returned to his face. A stygian iron blade hung at his side, one hand resting firmly on the hilt. Unlike the other demigods, he was smart enough not to bring his guard down.
When their eyes met, a million things went left unsaid. A mutual understanding of two lonely souls who had found comfort in the other’s presence in the depths of hell. She noticed the small twitch of his lips, and she offered a small nod of her head in return. Nico looked to his side, staring at something only he could see. She wondered who it was.
“I’m afraid brother, that you are sadly mistaken.” Hades’s voice drifted through the room, bounding deep and steady. Andromeda’s heart sped up, he couldn’t do this, not now, not ever.
“You promised me Hades!”
“And I fulfilled my promise, but seeing at you’re are back from your trip in one piece, I see no reason to keep housing those little brats.” She could see the gears in everyone’s heads turning, trying to figure out what she and the god of death were talking about. Unfortunately, they weren’t left waiting long.
Darkness gathered once again, and before Andromeda could move, three small figures appeared. A pin could drop at that moment, and it would echo throughout the world.
Chapter 10: IX
Apollo thought that he had successfully closed his heart off to anyone and everyone. It took time, but a hundred years later, he was sure that nobody could penetrate the layers of anguish that festered under his skin. Yes, he had his fun, satisfying carnal needs in a business-like way. He saw his children sometimes, all blonde hair and sunny smiles, but staring into a mirror when you despised yourself was never fun.
He almost lost it when the son of Poseidon appeared. The first time he saw him was on a snowy mountain outside a military boarding school. There he was, young and scared, but when he looked into sea-green eyes all he could see was her. He looked away.
Of course, Artemis notices. She discretely places a hand on his back, anchoring him before he did anything he would later regret. She watched with warry eyes as the god recited terrible poetry, for his gift of speech was only meant for her ears.
He tried to stay away; he did. But he couldn’t help but hold onto any scraps he could. He helped her younger brother, the one she never got to meet. He offered bright smiles and dark prophecies and disappeared soon after.
When the second Titan War came, he threw himself into hunting down monsters. If his mind lingered too long, he would remember another war, where the gods had offered no help. He might have been immortal, but no matter how many times he washed his hands, he couldn’t get rid of the bloodstains that seemed to follow him.
As the gods arrived at a battle-torn Olympus, all he could focus on was messy green hair kneeling next to a still figure.
“Heal him… Please.”
“I’m so sorry, Andromeda.”
He plastered on his best smile, forcing the tension to release from his shoulders. Later when the demigods were rewarded, Apollo couldn’t help but feel burning hate towards his father. He had forbidden them from talking about the past and tried to make up for past failures with fresh blood, fully noticing that this generation was just a lesser version of the last.
When he heard the prayers of his Roman descendent, he knew it was not a good idea to give in. Yet… Part of him wanted his immortal family to suffer. He craved golden blood, for the remainder of his heart had been torn to shreds, leaving only a monster gilded in gold in its wake.
Apollo had excepted his fate, whatever that might have been, from his father once it was clear that Olympus would win the second Giant War. That was until he saw a broken figure rip out the heart of a giant.
Dark hair matted to a sickly pale forehead was brushed out of her face. He was met with the eyes he had dreamed about for so long.
He had thrown himself down at her feet, grasping her, afraid that she would leave him again if he let go for even a second. When she spoke, Apollo had to do everything in his power to stop himself from grabbing her hand and running away from the life that had killed her.
Yet before he could move, darkness had swallowed him, placing him back on Olympus. He had turned into the winds, drifting on the breeze as to watch her walk around her old stomping ground. Wherever the sun landed, his eyes watched her. Until she walked into her father’s domain, he had followed her every movement.
He saw that she favored her left leg slightly more than her right, and how her eyes seemed to squint under his brightness. He stayed for as long as he could until he cast himself across the sky in shades of purples and pinks.
Apollo had given himself some time to compose himself before he was summoned to the throne room, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. Andromeda was back after so long, and a piece of his blackened heart yearned for her. Any walls that he had previously built had cracked under her presence, bringing him back into a time where it was a different group of demigods that were fighting for the world.
She had walked into the throne room with as much grace as he remembered her possessing, clad in clothes that seemed painstakingly familiar. He could tell the other gods remembered too, for he saw their faces look stricken for a moment before returning to their aloof expressions.
When she spoke, ice pierce through his heart, and cold enveloped his body until he was sure that the sun was not meant to shine where she stood. Her voice boomed even higher than Zeus’s, causing the eyes of everyone in the room to stay fixed on her. As she yelled at the king, he saw how her jaw flexed, and her eyes simmered with rage.
Her hair was freshly cut, allowing him to fully see her face. It had lost any remaining fat, outlining her sharp cheekbones as arched eyebrows. Full lips sneered, and he was glad they were not faced towards him.
Apollo, for all of his abilities in foretelling the future, did not expect Hades to appear with his young son by his side. His eyes narrowed when Andromeda and the god spoke in riddles. An old feeling rose in his chest, feeling like claws digging into the skin, and a devil whispering into his ear to stop anyone from even looking in her direction. He dug his nails into his pants, steeling himself from doing something rash. Artemis stole a glance in his direction, silently warning him to stay out of it.
The last thing he thought would happen did, when three other small figures appeared in the throne room. Any remaining breath in his lunges had now left him.
Two of them looked exactly like her. Familiar raven hair, small bodies that seemed to be just waking up from a nap. Rubbing their eyes blearily. One of them was slightly taller than the other two but bared a striking resemblance. The shortest looked around after yawning loudly, focusing his bright blue eyes on Andromeda. They lit up, a familiar smile stretching over chubby cheeks.
The three young boys darted across the room, oblivious to the eyes watching them. They crashed into Andromeda’s lithe body, clutching her not unlike Apollo did earlier that same day. Instead of pushing them away, she wrapped them in her arms, not sparing a glance to the surrounding watchers. The older boy left the embrace first, looking around the room with eyes much too old for him.
It was startling to see the intensity in them. One, an electric blue. The other, a bright green. Black hair fell in front of his face, which portrayed no emotion at the sheer power of the gods. The younger to stayed by Andromeda’s side, as she finally met Apollo’s eyes.
At that moment he knew. The younger two’s eyes, their smiles, their posture, so obviously twins, they had to be his. The older one… No, the timeline did not add up. Before any god could speak, Andromeda opened her mouth.
“Seeing as Hades just couldn’t stay out of godly drama, not that he ever could,” He gave her a sharp glare at that, which she readily ignored. “I might as well as introduce them.”
She took a deep breath, reaching towards the older boy’s hand, before continuing.
“This is Theodore Durand. Son of Theodosia Swann, daughter of Zeus, and son of Alabaster Durand, son of Poseidon.” There were outraged cries, the demigods looking around and checking their ears to check if they had heard wrong. Meanwhile, the gods were sitting in shock, not daring to believe that there had been even one rock left unturned in the mission to eradicate any memory of their failed generation. Andromeda forged on.
“These two,” she placed a hand on each of the two younger boy’s heads. “Are Dorian and Azrael Vautour.” She locked eyes with Apollo.
“Who’s their father?” Ares asked, although they all already knew the answer. There was only ever him, and the resemblance was uncanny.
She scoffed, “I never lied, just omitted part of the truth.”
“That’s still lying!” He narrowed his eyes at her, knuckles straining to hit something. She narrowed her eyes right back.
“It doesn’t count.” She pulled the two boys behind her, grabbing Theodore’s hand too as if silently claiming them as hers and only hers.
“Enough, you two,” Hera spoke for the first time that night. Her crown glinted as she raised her head, pinning Andromeda with her heavy gaze.
“Well, you see, when two horny people decide to take off their clothes—”
“That’s not what I meant.” She sighed.
“Why don’t I just show you then. It will be educational for you all. Maybe shed some light on how I survived after all these years.” Her smile became barbed once more, and before anyone could stop her, she snapped her fingers, as the mist started enveloping the room.
For the second time that day, he was enveloped in darkness.
Loud footsteps could be heard descending from the dark staircase. A little girl came bounding down, tripping over her own feet, knees slamming into hard wood. Chubby hands reached out, trying to lighten her impact, but still ended up face-planting into the floor.
A light laugh came from the hallways, causing the little girl to look up. There a young woman stood, adorned in a simple lavender dress that draped over her slim figure. Chocolate brown curls tickled the little girl’s nose, as the woman lifted her up into her arms.
“Andy, my dear, what did I tell you about walking like a lady?” She started teasingly, a wide smile revealing slightly crooked teeth.
“But momma, I’m not a lady yet, so I shouldn’t have to walk like one.” The girl pouted, staring at her mother with big green eyes.
“It’s never too early to start.” She sang, eliciting a shriek from her daughter. She wiggled out of her arms, fleeing through the large house, hearing her mother’s laughter tinkle behind her.
“Andromeda, go change before dinner.” The smell of stew wafted throughout the dusty manner, causing the young girl’s stomach to rumble.
“Yes, momma,” she sighed, tracking mug up the stairs with every step she took.
She came down a few minutes later, walking down the stairs with precision. Today her mother was wearing a light green dress with white flowers embroidered into the bodice. Her hair was up in a tight bun, which did nothing to hide the circles beneath her honey eyes.
“There’s a war going on now, darling. Men who have too much power then they know what to do with fighting for land to feed their egos.”
“Why are you sad about it, momma?”
She stopped playing the piano. She traced the jaw of her daughter who was sitting next to her on the bench.
“Some of your momma’s family are still in France.”
“Is that why you check the paper each morning?” She ruffled Andromeda’s hair in response.
“Then why don’t they just come here? We have plenty of empty bedrooms and extra toys that they can play with. They can ride any of the horses, although they might not talk to them like they talk to me. Did you know they call me princess?” A toothy grin appeared on her face, gone just as fast when she saw her mother’s expression.
“Andromeda, I doubt they would come even if they could.”
“Because they are angry at me, for having you. For falling in love with your father.”
No more words were said between them, and Andromeda’s mother went back to playing the piano.
Without saying anything, Andromeda crawled into her mother’s lap, wrapping tiny arms around her neck. She stuffed her face into her neck, inhaling the scent of gardenias as the body beneath her shook with silent sobs.
She had heard a scream in the middle of the night. Andromeda lit the candle by her bedside with trembling fingers, lifting it up before sliding out from underneath a fluffy duvet. Even at six years old, she understood the concept of danger. Her nightgown just swept the floor, causing a slight rustle to sound whenever she made a step.
She placed one bare foot in front of the other, praying that none of the stairs creak. Wax dripped onto her fingers, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. Sounds of distress echoed out from the living room, followed by a loud thumping. Whimpers followed, and Andromeda just wanted to go back to bed and pretend this was all a bad dream.
She made her way down the hall, candlelight only stretching shadows further. What she saw at the end of the hall made her want to rip her eyes out of their sockets. There her mother lay, still in her day dress, with a man leaning over her. She could only see the back of his head, covered in flaming red hair. At first, she thought that his hair had fallen onto her mother’s chest. But hair didn’t keep spreading, nor did it seem to increase every time the man brought a sharp blade to her stomach. Over, and over, and over.
Andromeda didn’t remember dropping the candle, but soon the carpet had gone up in flame, burning the soles of her feet. Then the curtains caught, by this point drawing the man’s attention from her mother. His face was covered in a blank white mask splattered in red. Her momma’s blood.
Honey eyes met green, the latter pleading silently. She didn’t remember screaming, but her sore throat, later on, would remind her that it had happened. She didn’t remember running out of the house and onto cobblestone streets in nothing but a nightgown. Nor did she remember grabbing a horse, but she could recall the smell of ash coming from her childhood home, and the sight of fire stretching towards the heavens.
There was nowhere to go. She had lived with momma on an island called Nantucket since she was in her momma’s belly. They had no friends, no family. Andromeda clung to her horse; tiny hands fisted in their long main. She draped her body over its back, feeling welcoming warmth seep through tired bones.
She felt the horse’s muscles move beneath her body, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. No tears dripped from her eyes, just a cold, vacant look filling them up.
“I’m supposed to do something aren’t I?” She whispered to cold air. She watched as her breath turned into smoke before her eyes.
“What am I supposed to be doing again? I have to be hopeful by dinner or else momma will be angry. She never liked me exploring too far, said the villagers didn’t like us because they thought she was- what was the word? Oh, a whore.” The horse kept on cantering.
The sound of waves filled her ears. Where were they? She raised her head slightly, just to see the beach stretch in front of them. A man stood in front of her. A long black beard and gentle sea-green eyes. The outfit of a sailor adorned his muscled figure, and well-toned arms reached out to grasp Andromeda. He slowly removed her from the horse’s back, cradling her. She shivered but didn’t make a sound.
He walked back into the waves, none of the cold seeping in. Andromeda too was protected, as no water could ever do anything to her but heal. He watched as she drifted off, eyes slowly closing. Before she did, she opened her mouth, carefully examining the man holding her before deciding to speak.
“Momma isn’t going to be cooking dinner anymore, is she?”
He was her father he told her. Poseidon, the god of all seas and earthquakes. He told her to call him Papa. She called him father instead. He told her that she would be brought somewhere safe, where no more bad men would hurt her. She wanted to go home. She wanted to be back in the dusty house, with her horses and overgrown flower garden. She wanted her momma to laugh and play the piano. But it was all in ashes now.
He called her Andromeda. Momma had only called her that when she was being really serious, otherwise she called her Andy. She said that Andromeda was too big of a name for a small girl. Father had told her about the estate. A place for demigods to be safe. He said she had two brothers there. He said that she would be happy.
They were in England now, an island, a lot like her old home. Momma had always said it was not a good place to be in a time like this. Father didn’t seem to care all that much about what was good and not good. He offered her candy on their trip. She said that momma never let her have candy, and she wasn’t about to start now.
He offered to carry her over grassy hills, she declined. Her small legs ached with strain as tall grasses swayed around them. She tripped and had fallen numerous times, each time Poseidon offered her a hand to help her up. Each time she refused. She got up over and over again, covered in mud and scraped knees, and yet she kept on walking.
Soon they came to the peek, able to observe the valley below them. At first, young eyes stopped at the grand building that sprawled over the land. It reminded her of those castles in France that momma used to say that she lived in. A huge stable, outdoor arena, and other establishments the six-year-old couldn’t name.
She tugged at Poseidon’s pant leg, trying to get his attention.
“Can I hold your hand?” He offered it without a word, just twinkling eyes that seemed to have the beginning signs of smile lines. Her small hand slid into his large calloused one, as they continued their trek to the half-blood estate.
He called himself Chiron. He was a centaur he told her, speaking in a voice that reminded her of a teacher. Kind, yet strict. He told her to call him Sir. She called him Ronny instead. Her father and the horse-man talked quietly around the corner, and she could hear the anxious clomping of his hooves on marble flooring. She took the time given to her to look around.
White marble floors adorned the large entryway, causing even the slightest noise to echo. A winding staircase lead up to more than one floor, a grand banister that any other day, Andromeda would be begging to slide down. There was much to see from her point near the front door, and it seemed that in all directions, there were frescoed ceilings lined with golden molding, and flowers draped over vases, growing before her very eyes.
The quiet sounds of violin echoed through the halls, coming from one of the closed rooms. She could faintly hear the sound of laughter and conversation, a squealing and then giggles. Poseidon stepped back to greet her, giving her a gentle smile.
“I will have to go now, Andromeda.” She didn’t show any sign of acknowledgment. He continued anyway. “I will see you soon. Be good for me, okay?” And with that he was gone on a sea breeze, drifting through the air before disappearing entirely.
However, she wasn’t left alone for long. Soon Chiron came back with two boys at his heels. Both had the same dark hair as her and the same green eyes. However, one’s face was rounder, still holding some baby fat in their cheeks. The other stood tall, smirking mischievously at her.
“Miss Vautour, meet your two brothers, introduce yourselves.” He gave them a hard look as if he had been training them for a long time, and this was their time to perform.
The older one stuck out his hand first. Andromeda noticed the new callouses on his fingertips and the light scars that grazed his knuckles. “Alabaster Durand, but you can call be Bash, and you must be little Andromeda.” He smiled kindly at her, engulfing her hand in his warm one. She didn’t bother smiling back.
Alabaster forged on, not seeming at all discouraged by her lack of response. “And this,” he pushed the shorter one forward, making him stumble slightly on socked feet. “Is Henry Farrow. We’re only half-siblings, although everybody thinks we’re twins. But actually, I’m a full two years older than him, almost to the day,” he puffed out his chest, as if proud to be the oldest. “See, I’m ten and Henry is only eight.” He ruffled his hair affectionately. Andromeda’s heart ached. “But that would make you the baby! I’ve always wanted a little sister you know. You’re only six, right?” She only nodded.
“I barely remember being six,” he put on a thoughtful expression, jutting his lower lip out a bit. “But you definitely will, since it’s the age when you met us!”
Without looking back at Chiron, he grabbed Henry and Andromeda with each of his hands, dragging them along. “Now, there’s a lot to see, so we better get started. You’re going to love it here; I just know it. But there are a few things to remember- first, never, and I mean ever, anger Ms. Scoll. She might look light she’s on her deathbed, but that cane that she carries around can do more than just support her crooked back. Second, if you’re going to sneak out, do it well, we don’t half-ass things around here. Third, take training seriously, or else you’ll find yourself without an arm. Poor Brianna has had hers gotten reattached three times by now. Fourth, stay away from Zeus spawn, and whatever they say, earthquakes are so much more dangerous than lightning storms. And lastly, don’t be stuck up. We have enough people around here with sticks up their asses, and I’ll be damned if I let my sister become one of them.”
“Also, you should try the blueberry muffins, they are incredible.” Andromeda barely heard Henry’s whisper, but the bright blush that adorned his face gave him away.
“Oh, that’s right! Just don’t eat any of them that randomly appear on your plate. Those Hermes parasites probably did something to them. Julius was stuck in the bathroom for a whole day after he made the mistake of eating a scone on his pillow.” She couldn’t help but let out a small giggle at that. Alabaster looked back triumphant as if getting her to laugh only a little bit was a greater accomplishment than any battle.
“Andy.” Both boys looked back towards her confused. “Call me Andy.”
Just a quick note- So we are actually getting into the story! I am so excited to start writing this! It starts in the year 1914, where Andromeda is four years old. This is also the year when WWI officially began. Any mention of war will be referring to this, however, the godly and demigod's part in the war will be a little bit different. I have no interest in conforming to real historical events. I am not a history expert, so this story will have some historical inaccuracies, and I will be using my imagination for some things.
Chapter 12: XI
It was a slow adjustment for Andromeda. Bash bounced through the estate, showing her every nook and cranny. He showed her the separate wing for each god, where their children resided. The large dining hall, classrooms, music rooms, indoor swimming pool, gym, training arenas, stables, and greenhouse. They had not ventured outside, as Alabaster grumbled about Zeus throwing one of his temper tantrums.
“He’s just angry Dad gets all the good ones, while he’s stuck with those stuck-up brats.”
He then went on to complain about someone that Andromeda got to know as the ‘Pompous lighting girl, who didn’t know when to stop zapping people while they were eating, making innocent victims choke on their food, eventually spitting it across the room, until landing on Chiron’s face.’ Henry silently leaned over to her during their brother’s rant, whispering, “You know, he barely talks that much about anything besides maybe swords.” She graced him with a small smile, which he then returned. Alabaster hadn’t even noticed they had stopped listening.
She had dinner in her room that night, which was much bigger than her one at home. Much like the rest of the castle, it was French-styled, with frescoes and intricate moldings. However, the room reminded her of the ocean—of home. The walls were covered in a shade of Columbia blue, looking like a stormy sea. The moldings were done in white, resembling sea foam, while the paintings on her ceiling looked like constellations that one would stare at on open waters. The bed was way too large for her small body, plush with pillows and blankets, all various shades of blues, greens, and whites.
And when in the middle of the night, when she woke up screaming, imagining red staining her sheets, Alabaster had barged into her room. She didn’t know when, but she felt his warm body wrap around her small one, wrapping her back and forth as she continued to cry out.
“Just breath, Andy. Can you do that for me, just breathe, ok?” She tried breathing with him, bringing a big lungful of air in, before letting it out of her lips once more. Over and over again, until she could see light start to peek through drawn curtains. Still, he held her. The sister he had known for less than a day, whispering affirmations into her ear, until she finally started to doze off once more. He got up, pulling the covers over her body once again.
“We all have demons, little Andromeda. Some just hide them better than others.”
The days started passing faster and faster. After the first night, Alabaster had taken into staying in her room with her, a bad habit, Agnes called it, for people who find themselves too attached often wind up dead faster than the others. The other demigods were such a joy. The first time she had gone into the dining hall, she had refused to hold either of her brother’s hands. Momma always said to never be dependent on a man for safety or protection, so that is exactly what she did. Her six-year-old body had marched into the room, long hair and big sad eyes. They had wrangled her into an emerald green dress earlier that day, saying that it was required for all females at the estate.
The others looked at her as if she was prey, a wild animal to hunt down. A tall boy with a strong jaw stood up, knuckles clenching on the stone tabletop.
“She looks like a Roman!” Murmurs erupted, “So stiff,”
“Like a nail!” another chimed in,
“Or a twig! So easy to snap.” Laughs echoed throughout the hall. Andromeda looked him straight into the boy’s deep brown eyes. “Why don’t I snap you. Then we’ll see which one’s the twig here.”
Silence. Henry and Alabaster stiffened beside her; they must have been upset with her. That was until she heard the chuckles coming from them until Bash doubled over with booming laughter. He ruffled her hair, messing up the bad job she had done earlier at trying to tame it.
“I think that was the most I’ve heard you speak so far; don’t you think so Henry?”
“Yeah, definitely the most. Who would have thought you had it in you.”
From then on, everyone seemed to be waiting with bated breath to see what she would turn out to be. No one dared say anything or step in her general vicinity when Bash was near, although she couldn’t seem to figure out why everyone was so scared of a boy, who just the other day tried to fit as many string beans into his nostrils as possible. Even Henry, whose sweet and shy nature made him seem more like a fluffy bunny than a rabid beast, other children would stare at him wide-eyed and slack-jawed, before slowly backing away.
The second day, they had taken her to one of the indoor training grounds, dragging the tall boy who had criticized her earlier along with them. Thick eyebrows had drawn together, as a nasty sneer marred his face, doing nothing for the long scars that were already lining it. He grumbled the entire way, something about ‘little entitled brats, who just because their dad was some bigshot, couldn’t order the small guys around’. Still, he didn’t resist as Alabaster pointed towards a back room, making the boy unlock it.
“Marlo,” he sang, “would you be a nice fellow and leave me the keys? I promise I won’t raid all the weapons this time.”
“No, no fucking way Durand. The last time I loaned you the key, I found needles in my pillow for weeks. Nope, I’m staying right here thank you very much.” His Austrian accent was filled with mirth, and it was a wonder that he backed away at all, going to take a nap on one of the high benches lining the room. Bash made a show of pouting before beckoning for Andy to follow him inside.
Metal. Rows and rows of metal weapons, all honed to fine points, the slightest cut being able to make the blood flow. Swords, daggers, bows, guns, spears, whips, and other blades that she couldn’t identify. They glinted even in the dim light, beckoning to her. Andromeda couldn’t help when small hands reached outwards, begging to feel the cold metal against the soft palm. Before she could move, Henry grabbed her hand. His voice might have been quiet, but his words were more powerful than volume could ever convey.
“You can never go back, Andromeda. This is it. You pick up one of these blades and you become a killer.” His eyes held no mercy, no warmth. The eyes of a young warrior, warning someone before their consciousness became heavy.
“I have nothing to go back to.” With that, Henry released her wrist, beckoning her forward, letting her pick her weapon. Her eyes grazed the isles as her brothers watched from the entrance. Her eyes fell on a heavy blade, too large to be wieldable without a struggle for her small build. She examined it with keen eyes, before trying to lift it off its pedestal. With great difficulty, she managed to keep it from crashing to the floor.
Andromeda examined the hilt, wrapped in black leather, it was simple yet elegantly complemented the silver of the blade. On closer examination, she notices a small chink in the base, so when she slid her finger across it, a click sounded, and the blade separated into two thin ones. Thin as ice, but so sharp she was sure it could cut through heads with ease.
“These are mine.” A smile spread across her face. She thought back to the book of Greek Bash had left for her to read in her free time. He had said it was their history, their birthright. She would name these blades in Greek, it was her right, after all.
“Kalós and Pónos, kindness and pain.”
Her family took no mercy on her. At first, she couldn’t even pick up her blades without a struggle due to her small arms, so they took it upon themselves to build up muscle on bone. Soon, other demigods took to watching the children of Poseidon train. Alabaster had attached weights to her arms and legs, instructing her to run around the entire parameter of the estate without taking a break. The first day she took off she started right when the sun was cresting over the horizon, casting a light glow over the dewy grass. It was five minutes before sweat dripped down her forward, and her slight chest was heaving for air.
The second day was not much better. The third, at ten minutes she had collapsed from exhaustion, letting her legs rest from the strain. She looked up towards the sky, watching birds fly past and clouds drift aimlessly.
“Are you giving up already? I would think better of the girl who was so rash in front of everyone.” Andromeda could barely lift her head, just to see ahead of messy brown hair tied back. Arms crossed over her chest; Agnes looked like she was staring down at an especially ugly rat. Unlike most of the other young girls, she was wearing trousers stolen from one of her siblings, as they were a few sizes too big, only being held up by a thick belt. The daughter of Ares didn’t offer up a hand, but continued forward, seemingly ignoring the other girl.
Andromeda scrambled to her feet, slipping over muddy ground trying to catch up to the other girl. No words were spoken between them, but they continued at a steady pace, Agnes slowing down for Andy’s benefit. Her knees buckled underneath her, cold seeping into her bare knees.
“I can’t,” she gritted out,
“I said, get up!”
Agnes reached down, locking her hands in the collar of Andromeda’s wet dress. Chocolate eyes stared into green ones. She reached down, wrangling the rings which were her swords off of her fingers.
“You see these, coward? Huh? Well, I’m going to take the liberty of burning them if you don’t get up right now and keep on running. Some of us don’t get a second chance, so you better take yours and give it everything you got.”
So, she did. Andromeda ran along, reaching about a fourth of the way before the world slowly shifted, and black spots danced in her vision. She didn’t remember fainting, nor did she remember being carried to the hospital wing. However, when she woke up, she felt the cool metal around both of her middle fingers.
From then on, Agnes took it upon herself to be in charge of Andromeda’s physical training. Alabaster and Henry would be gone most of the time, coming back tired and stinking of smoke and dirt. She never asked where they went, and they didn’t offer up the information. She wasn’t blind though to the lessening numbers of demigods at each table, or the many ones coming back missing various limbs or pieces of their mind. Healers could only do so much to fix one’s consciousness, after all.
Some days, Henry would take her out to the ocean far beneath the rocky ledge of the estate lands. The two of them would climb slowly, mostly for Andromeda’s benefit, until they heard the sound of crashing waves. In the beginning, he told her to try and feel the push and pull of the water, its movement, the tide. He explained to her the science behind liquid and spirituality. She took it all in like a sponge, hanging on his every word.
“Don’t you feel it, Andromeda? The moisture in the air, the sweat on your palms and the back of your neck, the water that flowed through every living being’s veins.”
It felt like power, to be aware of the water surrounding her. She nodded her head, smiling slowly.
“Good, now I want you to fill your palms with water from the air.”
She looked back at him like he was crazy, Henry chuckling lightly.
“Don’t worry, it’s supposed to be hard, little Andy.”
“I’m only two years younger than you!” She whined.
“Mhm, sadly you’re not an adult here until you complete your right of passage.”
“And what would that be?”
He held a sad smile on his face, “What else, besides surviving your first battle. And to do that,” he guided her hands together, “you need to be able to use all the weapons at your disposal.”
They worked for hours until the stars shone brightly in the sky, and Andromeda saw the twinkling lights coming from the estate far above. She had managed to fill her palms with water, not believing her own eyes when she saw the particles of liquid in the air draw together until dropping like rain into her hands. Henry smiled at her with approval, ruffling her hair lightly.
He stood up, cracking his back before reaching his hand down, drawing Andromeda to her feet.
“Do you want me to show you something, Andy?”
Before she could process what was going on, he lifted her bridal style, before sprinting towards the water. She squealed pounding at his chest while laughter bubbled out of her lips. However, instead of crashing into the salty water, she felt Henry jump, before landing on a hard surface once again. She looked down, only to see him sprinting over water, each step making a slight ripple on the dark waves.
“I’ll teach you how to do this soon Andy, it’s quite fun, even more so to see Bash fall when he loses concentration whenever I mention Theodosia.”
“The one and only.”
Henry stopped once they got from a good distance from the shore, and the waves were reduced to a glassy surface. He twirled and spun, delicate steps waltzing over water. Andromeda laughed, looked up to the dark sky, watching as constellations spun faster and faster around them. He threw her up into the air before catching her once again, grabbing her hands in his and spinning her around until her legs flew out.
That night they got back to the estate far too late, dinner having already been cleared, and candles snuffed out. They crept through the hallways, giggling along the way. Bursting into Andromeda’s room only to see Alabaster sitting in her vanity chair, arms crossed and eyebrows raised, looking like a scolding parent.
“You know, being the responsible one doesn’t suit me that much.”
“Then you just shouldn’t try.”
“Now, now, little Henry. I’m just upset that you didn’t think to bring me along! You left me here to handle Chiron, and that old bastard was pissed, let me tell you.” He pointed a long finger out towards them, “I even got cleaning duty for the next week! All because I’m the oldest, and apparently should be setting an example for the young and impressionable.” His face was pink by this point, and she could make out the sound of a water pipe bursting in her bathroom.
“Why should you get punished for me learning how to not get killed? That just sounds irresponsible of Chiron. Isn’t that his whole job? I would just hate to complain to father later, but I feel like it’s our responsibility to let the gods know that our mentor isn’t doing his job. What about you, Bash, Henry?” Identical smirks lit up their faces, previous disagreements forgotten.
Alabaster and Henry were supposed to leave. She had seen them with small bags over their shoulders, and weapons carefully concealed. Smiles didn’t adorn their faces, but rather placid expressions that didn’t fit their young skin.
Andromeda stood in front of the drive while she watched them and their companions fly off pegasuses painted in shades of brown. She wrapped her arms around her body, staring at the puffs of breath escaping her nose. Fog curled around her feet, dancing across her arms. Neither of them offered a loving goodbye. A slight nod, a ghost of a smile.
Chiron guided her back inside, grasping her shoulder with firm hands. When she looked back, all she saw were small dots in the distance, fading into the morning mist.
It was two weeks before Andromeda had managed to sprint around the entire estate with weights tied to her arms and legs. She fell when the front-drive came into view, but she never reached the ground. Two arms held her up, and for the first time, she saw Agnes smile. It was barely there, and it couldn’t be called charming, but prideful.
“I’m assuming this is the part where you learn how to use those two blades you carry around like stars on your fingertips?”
“Alabaster isn’t here.”
“Of course, he isn’t, dimwit, he’s out winning a war, that lucky bastard. So, I guess I’ll just have to do unless you want me to get Marlo to kick your scrawny ass?”
Andromeda shook her head, supporting her weight.
“Keep on the weights, ok?”
Agnes took out her sword which was always strapped to her back, the thick metal a dark bronze color that was the same shade as her eyes.
“You start with the one blade, and then move to use the both of them, yeah?” She didn’t wait for an answer, but rather lunged forward, barely giving Andromeda enough time to draw one of her blades and try to parry her strike. It didn’t work. Agnes easily slammed the blade out of her hand.
Again, again, and again, they went, until she could successfully dodge and parry a simple strike before Agnes moved onto another one. They worked right there in the front of the estate until Andromeda was dripping with sweat, and even then, the daughter of war continued, slashing down with her blade, until Andromeda’s reached up to meet it with a loud screech. Agnes’s eyes glinted.
“Good, now I want you to take off the weights.” She did, making her tired limbs feel like feathers. She didn’t get much time to appreciate the feeling though, as Agnes wasted no time in striking towards her. They went on and on, Andromeda’s reactions now faster, until they would go back and forth a few times until her sword would end up on the ground, and a blade was pointed at her throat.
“We’re done for today. Do yourself a favor and get some pants, I would hate to see you on a battlefield in a frilly dress.”
“They won’t let me.”
“So? That means you have to listen to them?”
“I guess not.”
Agnes started walking away before Andromeda reached out and grasped her arm.
“I want to go again, Agnes.”
“It’s Einar to you, and I said no.” She shook her arm off, walking away with her blade swung over her back once more.
The next day Andromeda could barely lift her spoon towards her mouth, but that didn’t stop her eyes to light up when she saw Alabaster walking through the doors of the dining hall. He must have just gotten home, his back slouched and deep purple bags underneath his eyes. Henry followed closely behind, not looking at better. A nasty cut stretched over his nose, lines of blood trailing down his cheeks like tears.
No one else followed them.
As far as Andromeda knew, a small group was sent out to carry out a large surprise attack on a Roman camp. Five had left four days ago. She looked around, hoping to see the other three walk in. She didn’t know them personally, but they were supposedly some of the strongest. A son of Zeus, a son of Athena, and a daughter of Nemesis.
Alabaster and Henry walked past her, not sparing her a glance. Her smile slowly melted off her face. They went to the Zeus table first, dropping a silver ribbon down. It was snatched quickly away by a young girl, long hair obscuring Andromeda’s view of her full reaction. Other siblings gathered around, whispering to one another. No sobs sounded, and no tears were shed. It was strange, the silence. The only sounds were the loud steps of her brothers, making their way to the Athena table. A tall girl took the journal in Henry’s hand, looking deathly pale. A small boy curled into her side, looking up with watery eyes up to her brother. No disdain or blame was there, just pain so deep Andromeda felt it like an arrow piercing her heart.
Nemesis didn’t have a table, nor did her daughter leave any belongings. There were whispers that she was too paranoid to ever leave any evidence behind. She had been taught by a daughter of Hecate a spell that after her death, any belonging she ever had would burst into flame along with her body. Her memory would slowly fade from the minds that knew her, to the points where they wouldn’t even remember her name.
The sons of Poseidon walked out of the hall, leaving silent agony in their wake. Later that night they had gathered around a large bonfire, orange flames roaring into the cold night. Chiron stood solemnly, speaking empty words before making way for a son of Hades, who would be doing the funeral rights. He spoke lowly in ancient Greek, whispering hymns into the wind, while he spread silk shrouds over the fire. The smell of burning flesh drifted through the winds, so familiar, Andromeda thought.
This was their fate, scattered ashes in the wind, before the audience drifted away, a slow tide that would never return. All that remained were those that refused to let go, loved ones who would rather dance with the dead than suffer from the living. They would all burn in the end, but Andromeda intended to not leave any bones behind when she did.
She walked down long hallways, guided only by moonlight through long windows. Instead of turning to her door on the left, she reached for the handle on the right. Pushing it open, she was greeted with darkness. The sound of a struggle echoed behind a closed door, dim light shining through. Hurrying through, she barged into the room. Red. Why was there always so much red?
Hysterical sobbing coming from a broken boy curled up on dark tiles, arms tightly wrapped around knees, dagger held loosely in his hand. Henry stood over him, trying – no – begging, for him to just look at him.
“I can’t!” His voice cracked, sore from evident previous cries.
“Just look at me, please?”
“I can’t, I can’t, I can’t” Alabaster chanted like a plea, “The smell Henry, the smell. I can’t get the smell out of my nose, and everything is so broken, and skin just won’t stay skin—”
“Bash, you just have to wash the blood off, ok? You’re safe now, no one will hurt you.”
“Alabaster?” Andromeda’s voice sounded so small, her hand trembling on the doorknob. Two sets of ocean eyes snapped to her. Alabaster lunged, pinning her to the floor, knife dipped in crimson held at her neck. His eyes were wild, no recognition present.
“Bash it’s me.” Henry attempted to drag Alabaster off of her. Finally, his eyes went wide, and his bottom lip started to tremble.
“I said out!”
Andromeda was quickly pushed out of the room, the door slamming in her face. From outside she could hear the sound of someone retching, hysterical laughter sounding after.
“Did you know, Henry, that brains are grey?”
That night Andromeda didn’t get any sleep.
The ribbon remained tied to her wrist. Frayed at the edges, dulling in color, but the knot remained tight to the point of suffocating. Grey clouds obscured the sun from view, spitting rain in small bursts that did no more than provide slight discomfort. The winds blew through the grasses, sad spirits mourning the loss of another child of the sky. Theodosia lay there, surrounded by nature’s misery. Her tears were swept up in the rain until it was impossible to tell if it was her crying or the sky.
Her eyes blurred until the sky was the earth and the earth was the heavens. Oh, what she would give for the dead to be able to say goodbye. But alas, the dead were dead, and the living were left alone to suffer.
Until suddenly, the rain stopped around her. She could see the droplets fall from the sky, and yet they didn’t touch her. They froze in the air, and nature seemed to hold its breath.
“It would be a shame to catch a cold”
Her voice was so young, yet still so very powerful.
Theodosia lifted her head.
The daughter of the sea stood there; an invisible shield wrapped around her—around both of them. It serves as a protective bubble from the outside world, a small space of solace where they would not be heard. She watches as the girl lifted her pointed finger, directing it in her vicinity. Without warning the water droplets in her hair, skin and clothes lifted off, drifting into the air around her.
Theodosia couldn’t breathe. It happened quickly, and yet she saw it in the air. Little bubbles of water floating around them, dancing through the air.
“Henry can make shapes with water, little animals, or people that look as though they are alive. I’m still quite behind on all of this.”
Andromeda Vautour’s voice held no emotion, simply stating a fact. The water drifted out into the rain until Thea couldn’t see them anymore. The two girls looked at each other, two opposite sides of the world, and yet their eyes were so similar. Only three years separated them, for immortals that were nothing. Andromeda didn’t offer her hand; Theodosia didn’t make a move to get up on her own.
The younger girl sighed, running newly-blistered fingertips over her rings.
“This,” she waved around, “will stay up for maybe fifteen minutes without me in it.”
The daughter of Zeus continued to stare.
“No one will hear out either, and the rain is too heavy now to see you from the estate.”
She didn’t realize that it had started pouring.
“I’ll leave you here, do whatever you want.”
She left then, as quickly as she came, the water falling off her, and yet she never got wet.
Once she couldn’t see her anymore, Theodosia let her head fall against the now dry grass. A sob ripped through her throat. A choaked thing, a groan that came from the very veins that pumped her painfully red blood throughout her body. She curled into a ball on her side, clutching her stomach before letting out a scream. Her vocal cords hurt, everything hurt. The pain inside her skull was throbbing, terrible cries echoed inside her head. All she could see was the fire on which her brother’s body was burned.
The sounds of thunder pounded against her skull. It felt good to let the power inside her finally be let out. And as she cried, the sky cried with her. As she raged, the clouds opened up to let claps of thunder and flashed of lightning through.
She wasn’t that close with him. He was pretentious and arrogant and full of himself. However, she learned everything she knew from him. He gave Theodosia her first sword, taught her how to wield the winds and storms. He didn’t look anything like her. Neat blonde hair and a painfully weak jaw. Thin eyebrows and pale eyes. But she could still see the way those same eyes were blank, each looking too far apart.
They had not let her see the body before, she had snuck in anyway. A dark room in the back of the medical wing, under a white sheet. His face no longer had a rosy hue to it, but rather a deathly pale. A long split down the center of his face, splitting it in two. She had seen… oh gods, what she had seen.
Is that the fate they were all destined to suffer? Torn apart until you were impossible to put back together again?
She sat against her hardback desk in a dark room. Maps, pages from books, diagrams, and pictures covered the walls. Whispers flitted around, acting like little nits batting around Theodosia’s head. She spotted Andromeda sitting near the front, the chairs on either side of her still noticeably absent. She couldn’t help but feel a dark sense of satisfaction coming from their obvious struggle. Why should they both get to live when her brother could not?
Nobody was paying attention to Ms. Scoll up at the front. There were rumors that she had died sometime during the 1600s, but the gods kept her around as they had no one else to take up the job of wrangling a bunch of demigod children with attention disorders into submission. Her wrinkled mouth moved with precision, weaving dreadful stories with her droning voice.
“They weave fates out of thread, your soul is simply a tapestry that evolves with time. There is no escaping fate, children.”
Silence followed her, the only sound coming from the obvious thunk, thunk, of a cane, increasingly getting closer to Thea’s desk. She did not raise her head to look at the woman she knew was now standing over her.
“Can you tell me, Ms. Swann, what happens when the fates decide that it is someone’s time to die?”
They all knew the answer, but no one dared voice it as two powerful wills went head-to-head in a battle of pure stubbornness.
“Do not make me repeat myself, Ms. Swann.”
Still, she did not lift her head. A weathered hand shot out, grasping Theodosia’s chin, twisting it up to look into hooded eyes.
“Maybe, a more prudent lesson for today would be to teach you all to pick and choose your battles.” She didn’t take her eyes off of the young daughter of Zeus. “There will come moments in your life when you choose when to fight. Some of you might be under the notion that being a hero is what I am here to teach you. True heroism died out when Rome did. Or maybe it didn’t even exist in the first place, as it is hard to believe when you witness gallant men doing such horrible things.”
Her eyes go murky, reminiscing on past lives.
“It is more important to stay alive. Keep your mouth shut when it serves you, fight only as a means of survival. These are the skill that will help you make it past nineteen before your thread is cut.”
Theodosia woke up to warm breath flitting over her cheek. She thought it was nice until her brain caught up with her body, and she realized that she slept alone.
Opening her stormy eyes, she saw ahead of messy black hair leaning over her, obscuring the bright green eyes she knew he had from view.
“What are you doing in my room, Alabaster?”
“Has anyone ever told you, that you speak much older than you are supposed to?”
“Well has anyone told you that it is impolite to sneak into other people’s rooms, especially those who have knives under their pillow?”
His hand bunched up her silk covers, tensing, decreasing the space he was taking up. When Theodosia looked down, she noticed the white bandages wrapped up to his elbows. They were new, freshly applied.
“Don’t you dare apologize, belle lame, you don’t deserve to be able to give an apology.”
“I wasn’t going to.”
Only then did he look up.
“I just need—I just need to stay. Please?”
“We all handle our grief differently, Alabaster. Neither of us was close to him, but still, we grieve. It all seems backward, doesn’t it? We are doing nothing more than trying to survive, and yet we are the ones suffering. Maybe some of us even like the suffering part,” She looked down once again towards the bandages that adorned the boy’s arms. “I don’t know if I take particular joy in it. But right now, all I can do is try and survive, and to do that I need to hate you, understand? I do not have enough space inside of myself to love. I don’t think I even know what it is like to love. To hold you Alabaster, would be to drown me. We are too young to talk this way, and yet we are. Belle lame, all we can do is try and survive. I have dried my tears already, and so should you.”
She turned around, facing tall windows that showed a clear blue sky. By the time she turned back around, Alabaster was gone. Theodosia clutched the ribbon on her wrist tighter, making sure the knot was secure.
*Belle lame - Beautiful blade