Turning the corner, they realised they were just in time to witness the birth of one of the many children Nyx had. Erebus, a much younger Erebus, sat beside her, holding her hand as she pushed. He whispered something in her ear and she laughed.
“What did you say to her?” Arty asked.
“I asked her if she wanted to go for tagenias after,” he smiled.
The two of them stayed to witness the birth of Nemesis. Even after Nyx chose to have children on her own Erebus loved all of her children as if they were his own. She was his Goddess, his one true love, and it didn’t matter to him that the children weren’t blood related.
They continued travelling on foot throughout Olympus until they reached an old familiar house. It looked as though it had been abandoned decades before. Arty walked in without knocking. “Do you remember this place?”
Erebus wandered throughout the house, opening closet doors and finally settling in the main bedroom.
“Yes, now I do,” he smiled. “This was the house Nyx and I lived in after everyone went their separate ways. We spent a lot of days in this room.” He snickered. “It was the first time since all the kids had left home that we had any quality time with one another.” Erebus walked back into the now dingy kitchen. “It wasn’t much, but we liked it. I used to make her breakfast in bed and we would listen to the neighbours next door arguing. We’d laugh, promising each other we’d never get like that.”
Arty hung back, watching while Erebus walked through memory lane.
“Why did you bring me here?” He looked pained.
“So you could see how much has happened over time. So you can remember what young love is,” Artemis smiled.
Turning his back to her, he walked towards the front door to leave. “I don’t need to remember.” Sayeh was waiting for Artemis just outside. Erebus turned to face Arty. “I’m done with the stroll through memory lane.”
Artemis touched his arm. “You must stay and bear witness to these past memories. I am truly sorry, Erebus, but we are not finished here.”
Without warning, the two of them were scooped up by Sayeh. They flew across the city and over the mountains, where more memories from previous millenia’s flooded Erebus’ mind. Hunts in the wild, late night flying excursions in the night sky, even mortal like ski trips. Primordials didn’t celebrate mortal holidays, at least not in the same way, but one Christmas Erebus couldn’t help himself. He had showered Nyx and all the children with so many gifts they had to buy another house just so they could store them all. With all those happy memories, he had always been so loyal and loving, and he wasn’t sure how things had changed.
Arty and Erebus landed in a foreign country, outside what appeared to be the local watering hole. Drunks alike scattered along the street, possibly a red light district.
“Why would we come here?” Erebus gave Arty a funny look.
The two of them walked into the bar, the inside was even worse than the outside. It was not a place Erebus would normally step into. Half-dressed women walked around serving drinks, while other clientele did questionable things in the corner. The look on Erebus’ face changed as he saw a slightly younger version of himself across the bar from them.
“I came here with Dionysus. He was in a rut, if I recall.”
Artemis shook her head. “Things must be a little foggy for you. Here, let me clear it up for you.” Arty waved her hands in front of them as if she were clearing away the fog. A more tired, ragged looking and inebriated Erebus was sitting at the bar. A bottle three quarters empty sat in front of him. At first, his slurred speech was hard to make out, but Arty waved her hands in the air again and almost magically his speech became audible and clear. He was rambling on and on to the bartender.
“I work my ass off; is it too much to ask for a little me time? I’ve devoted myself to her millenia after millenia. I know she was the first born and a lot is expected of her, but why does she have to lump me in with the rest of the Gods? I thought I was different. She takes all the credit, you know. Is it too much to ask to maybe share the power and glory once in awhile?”
Dionysus walked in at that point, slapping the tired Erebus on the back. “Hey E, what’s up?” Dion eyed the bottle on the counter.
“Hey-O! It’s my brother from another mother. Dion, Dion, Dion, you know…I love you, man.”
Erebus turned to Arty, pulling on her arm. “Okay, we don’t have to stay and watch this.”
“As I have told you before, I have no control over where we are taken. Each of these events carries a message for you, and you need to stay and watch, otherwise you will never learn from them.” Erebus fidgeted uncomfortably while Arty crossed her arms not moving from her spot in the bar. They looked back over to the past version of Erebus.
“E, I think maybe you’ve had enough tonight.” Dion said, turning to the bartender as he pushed the bottle away from Erebus.
“Nonsense!” Erebus grabbed the remains of the bottle and downed it on the spot. “I am fine, F.I.N.E.”
“Well, if you’re so determined, I might as well keep you company.” Dionysus pulled up a bar stool next to him and asked for a glass of bourbon and a shot of tequila for himself. “What’s gotten you so down?” Dion looked around at their surroundings. “This isn’t the kind of place you normally frequent.”
The older Erebus felt Arty glance at him as if indicating the magical hidden message was about to be blurted out by the slightly younger, more tired version of himself.
“You know, Dion, sometimes a God just wants a break. I wanted a little fun, is that too much to ask? No, I think not!” He raised his fist in the air triumphantly. “Nyx has gotten her panties in a bunch.”
Dion snorted. “When doesn’t she?”
Erebus carried on, ignoring Dionysus’ remark. “I forgot her birthday,” he chuckled to himself, “Can you believe it? After all these years, I just plum forgot. I’ve been busy, more so than usual…I know that. I may not be around as often as I should, but when you have fifty oddsome kids who are constantly begging for attention, you can only take so much. So I’ve neglected a few and…maybe her from time to time, I’ve just been so busy.”
Dion shifted in his seat. “When was the last time you and Nyxie went out? Just the two of you.”
E stared blankly ahead. “You know, it’s been awhile. I can’t remember.”
“Well, there’s your problem, E! You need some quality time with one another. Capture that romance again,” Dion urged.
“I’m just so tired of it all, Dion. I just want a break.”
The older Erebus watched as the evening unravelled in front of him with hardly any recollection of what had transpired a few years before. Embarrassed by his own selfishness, he started begging Artemis, “Please, I get it. I was a lousy husband and father. Nyx already told me. Can we go now?”
“Just one last stop.”
When they finally landed, Erebus wasn’t sure which year he was looking at. It was summer, Nyx was sitting in a field with a picnic basket, and she was alone. She looked upset, a cellphone in her lap. He wanted to go to her, put his arms around her, and apologize for being an ass. But it would make no difference; she wasn’t really there. This was the past and they were no longer together. It had been awhile since he sat in her presence, and he missed it. So he sat and watched her for what seemed like hours. The longer they sat, the angier she grew. Finally she picked up the phone, dialing a number, his phone number. Then he realised what day this was. Even though the message she had left for him was months ago, to watch this unravel in front of him was excruciating.
“You jerk! This is how you treat me after all these years? IT’S OVER!”
He watched as Nyx flew away, leaving everything behind, including him.