I pulled the car up to the roadside trailer where Astraeus was taking the mortal’s money under the guise of being a really lucky fortune teller. I couldn’t believe he had gotten away with this for so long, but then again, the mortals weren’t the most intelligent beings on Earth. I looked over at Corey and smiled.

“Stay in the car,” I instructed. “Be ready to haul ass if I run out with shadow bolts following me.”

Corey nodded as he got out of the car and walked to the driver’s side. After I piled out of the car, Corey replaced me in the driver’s seat. I nodded at him, and he nodded at me. I snuck to the nearest window and peeked into the tiny trailer. I caught Astraeus and a small Hispanic man sitting across from one another at a small round table draped with a red cloth. I would have to be careful not to harm the mortal.

I crept to the door and looked back at Corey. I held up three fingers and mouthed three. I put down one finger and mouthed two. I put a second finger down and mouthed one before putting my last finger down and lowering my shoulder. I slammed into the door and knocked it clean off the doorframe.

The force of the impact rocked the tiny trailer. I reached out to steady myself and looked over at the mortal man. “Get out!” I shouted, able to feel my eyes blaze.

The smell of piss permeated the trailer as the man scampered out. I turned to Astraeus and threw a right hook. “Now,” I said as he reeled backward. “Where should we start?”

Astraeus turned his head and spat a glob of golden blood from his mouth. “How about why the fuck you just busted down my door and socked me in the jaw, Apollo.”

I chuckled and leapt forward, knocking Astraeus to the ground. We rolled around as we both fought for control over the other. I finally rolled him onto his back and pinned his arms down with my knees. I raised my fist and brought it crashing down on Astraeus’s face. I followed with another punch from my other hand. 

“Why are you sending people to kill me, Astraeus?” I asked as I looked down into his obsidian eyes. His black hair was spread thin across his forehead and ichor trickled from his nose and mouth.

“What are you talking about?” Astraeus screamed as he struggled to break free from my hold.

I gritted my teeth and raised my fist again. This time, Astraeus snapped his fingers. Before I could come down on his face again, I felt something grab both of my arms. I attempted to break free of whatever was holding me, but its grip was extremely tight.

I looked over at my arm and saw dark tendrils wrapping it tight. Shadow magic. I sank more power into my struggle to be free, but sometimes shadows were more powerful than the sun. The tendrils slammed me backward and wrapped binding my arms and legs. 

I laid there, my breathing heavy as I watched Astraeus slowly stand up. He brushed off his crimson red robe and wiped his face with the back of his hand. He spat a glob of ichor beside my face and walked over to me.

“Now, let’s try this again.” Astraeus smirked down at me, his head slightly cocked. “You think I’m trying to kill you. Why?”

“You didn’t hear about the bombing on my New York Delos?” I asked as I continued to struggle in the grip of the shadows.

He rubbed his chiseled chin and looked up. He looked back down at me and said, “I may have heard a thing or two about it.”

I snarled and gritted my teeth, using all my strength to break free of the shadow tendrils. I was slammed back to the ground with a thud. Maybe I should have done this during the day when there was more sun and fewer shadows. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

“What do you know about it, you sunnuva bitch!” I shouted.

“I just know someone has it out for you,” he said with a shrug and eye roll.

I had finally had enough. I saw the reflection in his eyes as mine flashed a golden yellow. The shadows trembled and snapped. I ripped my arms free and rolled to my feet, grabbing Astraeus by the neck. I lifted him off the ground and slammed him against the wall. 

I pulled my free hand back and punched it into Astraeus’s gut. Between my grip on his throat and the gut-punch Astraeus had just received, breathing was becoming harder and harder for him. I released his throat and he crumpled to the ground at my feet like a rag doll.

“The name Thomas Asterson mean anything to you?” I asked. I couldn’t tell if Astraeus was lying or telling the truth, but something inside of me was leaning toward him being honest. Beating the shit out of him was more to ease my frustrations than not believing him.

“Asterson?” he asked, rubbing his chin once again. He tried to lift himself off the ground, leaning on his arms as his legs remained curled up at his waist. He wiped his brow with the back of his hand. “As in the Asterson clan?”

I quirked an eyebrow. “Asterson clan?”

“They claim to be descendants of Asterion. They look mortal but have the strength of a bull,” Astraeus said. “You are known as the monster slayer. Maybe they’re after you.”

How had I never heard of the Asterson clan before? 

Apollo (Tyler Wittkosfky)
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