“Fucking Erebus and that bloody favour,” I spat as I paced in the lab office. I knew he would call on it eventually, but Melisseus? Bloody hell! I haven’t spoken to him in eons. Why the hell would he want to see me? What could I possibly tell him that would convince him this wasn’t a trap?
Artemis was busy enough with the ONP and the needs of Silver Bow, plus her pending hunt on the horizon. I couldn’t involve her with this mess. As it was, I could barely keep up with the lab and the agency. I understood the stress she was under.
I wracked my brain trying to think of something of his I have that he might wish to collect. In my caves, I had amassed quite a collection of items belonging to other Titans. I had found them after the war and kept them out of mortal hands.
“Hey, Luna?” Helios popped his head into the office, a stricken look creasing his face. “Mind toning down the seething? You are making it hard for me to focus out here. What is troubling you?”
I waved him in. He closed the door behind him, sitting on the corner of my desk, crossing his arms as he watched me pace. “Talk to me, Luna. What is causing you unrest?”
I glared at him a bit harder than he deserved, immediately finding my calm as I caught the look on his face. “My apologies, Sol. I am not cross with you. You should not bear the brunt of my irritation.”
“Do not worry, Luna. I am aware your frustration is not with me. I do wish you would tell me. Perhaps I could help.”
“I do not see how. I mean no ill thoughts. However, you have not been around. I fear you would not have a solution for me in this case.”
“Try me,” he said simply, his gaze steady and set.
Rolling my eyes in exasperation, I stopped pacing and spoke in a calm tone. “In order to receive Erebus’s aid to retrieve Eos, I traded a favor with him. He has called to collect.”
“Okay,” he nodded in a simple reply, waiting for me to continue.
“He has been hunting Melisseus for so long the Titan doesn’t trust him, and for a good reason. Erebus has decided his grudge is behind him and wants to confront Melisseus to tell him so. He wants Melisseus to be free from the chase and fear but cannot get to him to tell him so.”
“And Erebus has asked you to find Melisseus for him and meet you there for the exchange?”
Sighing deeply, I tilted my head in affirmation. “The problem is, even I have not spoken to Melisseus in a long time. I cannot fathom how to get him to meet me. I was trying to remember if I had anything of his, but I cannot recall.”
“Then go to your cave and look. Something may spawn a memory. But pacing here is doing no one any good.”
“I suppose that would be prudent. I got so used to doing things alone. I still forget I am not and have others I can turn to for advice. Thank you for listening, Sol.”
He pushed off the desk and crossed the room, pulling me into a strong hug. “I understand. I am here now, and I plan to be for the rest of our days. Now, off you go. Check your storehouse and see if you have something of his. You know where to find me if you need me.” He kissed the top of my head and strode out of the office.
I threw on my shoulder bag and headed down to ONP to retrieve my chariot. In Turkey, I entered my cave through its secret entrance and made my way back to the alcove that held my accumulation. Illuminating the room with my glow, I sorted through the assembled items, looking for anything that might work.
The sword of Peleus gleamed as I picked up an article of clothing, furrowing my brow. “Why the hell do I have a shirt?” I was filled with bemusement when I realized I had the shirt of Nessus in my hands. I quickly set it aside, careful not to touch the poisoned blood. My eyes fell on a long dowel protruding from a vase, and I nearly gasped aloud. Smiling widely, I pull it out, peeled cobwebs off the end, and rushed back out to my steeds.
Taking off again, I began my scan for Melisseus. Hours and thousands of miles passed before I felt him, or what I hoped was him. What in Tartarus was he doing in New Zealand? I circled a few times to confirm it was him, then texted Erebus, and landed in a clearing near Mount Ngauruhoe. “Melisseus! I know you can feel me. It is Selene! I mean you no harm. I found something of yours and thought you would like it returned to you.”
Moments passed with no reply. I called again, “Melisseus. I have your honey dipper. Your original honey drizzler from before the war.” I stood calmly, enjoying the view as I felt his indecision ebb and flow. Walking slowly back to my chariot, I pulled the polished wood out, holding it in the air as I returned to the peak where I had been moments before. “I bring you no lies, no reason to distrust me, Melisseus.”
A darkened figure with circles under his eyes and disheveled hair approached from around a crest. As he finally spoke, his voice was rough with lack of sleep and the wear of disuse, “You’ve had that…all this time?”
I nodded. “I found it about ten centuries ago. Since the war, I have been collecting things belonging to the gods, Titans, and Primes to keep them safe from the mortals.”
Melisseus advanced warily, his eyes shifting in caution. Holding the ball of intricately turned wood in my hand, I stretched the wand towards him. He placed his hand cautiously upon it and quickly snatched it from my light grip.
“See, no harm. Only the return of an item to its rightful owner.” His shoulders visibly slumped in relief as he gazed between me and the scepter.
He motioned for me to follow him and led me to the cavern he had been hiding in. Glowing slightly to brighten the darkened space he called home, he offered me a drink. Feeling honoured the Titan of Milk and Honey would offer me some of his mead, I took the cup with a soft smile and drank it down, puffing out a quiet moan of satisfaction.
A few goblets later, the two of us were laughing and reminiscing when the hollow darkened. “You!” Melisseus snarled as Erebus stepped inside the cave. “Selene! You tricked me. How could you?” he snapped.
I raised my hands defensively. “Just listen, Melisseus. Please.” I glared at Erebus, brightening the cavern a bit more to counter Erebus’s shadows. “Damnit, Erebus, draw them in, will you!?”
“My apologies, Selene,” he spoke calmly and apologetically as he reigned in his shadows, allowing the sunlight in. “She’s right, Melisseus. I am not hunting you. I only wish to speak.”
“Thank you, Erebus. Now please, Melisseus, just listen to what he has to say.”
Erebus took a step forward, hands raised to prove he wasn’t there to hurt him. “It’s been a long time. I’ve got to say, out of all the demons, immortals, and mortals alike, you have been the hardest to capture.” A slight smirk crept across his face, impressed by the centuries-long chase.
I looked between them, reading the men before me. Melisseus wasn’t buying it. His body hummed with anger and resentment. “Erebus, stop.” I didn’t move, hoping the Prime would not set the Titan off by continuing forward.
“You know, at first, all I could think about was your death. Not just how I would do it, but how long I would drag it out, which limbs I would sever, what tools I would use.” Erebus looked up at the ceiling in thoughtful recollection. “I plotted for so long, it was the only thing that drove me. I was so angry that nothing else mattered. It didn’t matter that I was alienating my friends and family. All I wanted was your head on a spit.”
Melisseus rubbed his hands together, contemplating Erebus’s words silently.
“But as time passed, my agenda changed. It wasn’t until recently I realized I no longer wanted you dead. Maybe it’s true that time heals old wounds. I’m tired, and I’m done hunting you.”
Melisseus laughed. “You’re going to give up, just like that?”
Erebus’s shadows darkened the room once more. He turned his head from side-to-side, cracking his neck. “I have to move on. If I don’t, this revenge will eat me whole…if it hasn’t already.” Erebus turned his back so Melisseus could no longer read him. “My old way of life is behind me now. I have new meaning.”
A snort came from Melisseus. “You mean that tramp you’ve taken as a lover?”
Erebus spun on his heels and closed the gap between the two of them. “You will not speak of Atë in such a manner.”
“So, after all these years, Erebus, Prime of Darkness and Shadows, has gone soft. If I knew it was so easy to get your guard down, I would have sent someone in to please you a hell of a lot sooner.”
Erebus’s shadows circled Melisseus, squeezing in on him, but Melisseus was ready. Bees appeared as if from nowhere, filling the cavern instantly. The sound was nearly overwhelming as they swarmed around Erebus.
“Gentlemen! Please!” My shouts fell on deaf ears as I backed up against the wall. “Damnit! This is exactly what I was afraid of!” I muttered as all hell began to crash down around me.