As I moved through the streets, humming softly to myself, I saw on the Aegean Sea several warships. I recognized the Greek, Russian, and American flags. I let out a soft sigh, remembering a war that broke my heart. I had been visiting another goddess when the Persians attacked.
The sky flashed red as the sun rose over Thrace, drums and horns blaring, waking the town from its slumber. I let out a soft groan as I lifted my head from the shoulder that I had fallen asleep on. Why, oh why, did I let Adrestia talk me into staying the night and drinking? I’ll never understand.
Adrestia, on the other hand, snapped to attention at the sound of the horns, the sound of war igniting a fire in her veins. She leaped to her feet, grabbing her sword and armor.
I was more than a little slow from sleep, rolling with the power of the other goddess’s leap. I found my face resting on the floor, dirt smudging my face. “Adrestia…really?” I mumbled into the wall.
“Sorry. Force of habit.” Adrestia rushed to my side, helping me back to my feet. “We’ve got trouble.”
“That we do. Go rally the city’s forces. I’ll be back with my armor and weapons. There are too many families here to let the Persians take them as slaves,” I advised.
Buckling her armor into place, Tia nodded. Once her sword was strapped to her back, she grabbed my shoulder and looked me straight in the eye. “Be careful. No dying out there.”
I smiled at my friend and clasped Tia’s other shoulder. “I would say the same about you. Don’t be like Apollo out there, got it?”
Adrestia gave a toothy grin. “Wouldn’t dream of it.” Those were her last words as she dashed out onto the streets of Thrace.
With a slight twist, I disappeared and reappeared in an old stone hut with open windows and no door. I slipped into dark leather armor and shot my hands out, watching as my daggers flew from the bed. They landed in my hands, and I turned to leave, tucking the blades into their sheaths.
I appeared next to the Goddess of Revolt. “What’s the stitch?” Outside the city, the sound of elephants trumpeting could be heard.
“We have planned for an attack on the city, but we have to get to battle stations. Preferably before the—” As Adrestia turned the corner, we were greeted by three men. Their faces and heads were covered by black clothing, and each held an ornate scimitar in their hand. “Too late.”
“Women? The formidable Thracians are sending their mothers out to fight?” one of the men taunted.
I glanced at my friend. “They don’t look very immortal. Shall we teach them what it means to be truly immortal?” I asked as I flicked my hand out, a dagger flying at the man’s throat. The blade slid across my opponent’s throat, severing the artery. His blood sprayed over the men next to him.
“Thought you’d never ask.” With a war cry that could only be rivaled by the roar of a lion, Adrestia drew her sword from its sheath and ran, charging at one of the other two soldiers. The man took a defensive stance with his scimitar, only to have the fragile weapon sliced in half by Adrestia’s broadsword. His body soon followed suit and crumpled to the ground in two asymmetrical halves.
I followed the other goddess, stepping between Tia and the third Persian immortal. My remaining dagger parried the scimitar, catching it upon the hilt. “Do pay attention to your backside,” I said before head-butting the attacker. “I’d hate to see it harmed.”
“Grab the other one that’s still mostly intact,” Adrestia ordered, grabbing the soldier with the cutthroat. She dragged him into the closest empty building by his feet until she was out of sight from any more crusaders.
“I didn’t think you were a necro, isn’t that more Hades’ thing?” I asked, head-butting the man before sinking the dagger into his stomach. My other hand called the second dagger back, catching it by the hilt, the blade resting behind my forearm.
“No, dear. That’s Orpheus.” Adrestia grinned at our banter as she started stripping the dead man of his robes. She wrapped them around her armored body, doing her best to recreate the folds of their uniform. A quick twist of the turban and the Goddess of the Revolt could easily pass for a Persian soldier.
I glanced around and saw a dead slave with a chain attached to his neck. I quickly popped the lock and then put the collar on, handing Adrestia the free end. “Straight to Xerxes then?”
“Cut off the head, and the rest descend to chaos.” Adrestia took the end of the leash and nodded, signaling she was ready.
“Don’t enjoy this too much,” I said as I removed the top of my armor, leaving my chest exposed. I quickly dipped my fingers into the deadman’s blood before smearing it across my average-sized bosom. “Alright, let’s go.”
“And I thought Phobos and Deimos were bloodthirsty,” Adrestia jested with a grin.
“We gotta sell the story,” I said before flicking the remaining blood onto Adrestia’s armor.
“So we do.” With a tug of the chain and a bend at the waist, Adrestia hefted me onto her shoulder. Satisfied with our charade, Adrestia strutted out of the hut while I started to beat on her ass with my fists, struggling a little.
The first test came once we hit the thoroughfare of Thrace. About three dozen other Persian soldiers were running around, doing their best to wreak havoc. They destroyed fruit and good stands, slaying men who fought them, and taking whatever treasures they found, whether it was gold, jewels, or women.
Not a single soldier even gave us a second look as we strode down the main street toward the gates of Thrace. As we walked, my play struggle lessened, and by the time we were out, I had gone limp. “How in the world is your ass this firm? I can’t get that lift you have…” I let my voice trail off.
Adrestia didn’t respond to the compliment other than to simply state, “When your father is the God of War and uses you as an example to the other soldiers, it doesn’t make you exempt from dropping and giving him twenty.”
“Maybe I should join you. I do get a lot of food shoved in my face,” I said before glancing around the other woman’s waist. “Oh, that’s one of his generals coming.”
Adrestia straightened her back as she looked at the man I had just pointed out. “Just act like you know where you’re going and that you belong here,” she mumbled under her breath.
“You there!” the general called as Adrestia passed by.
She stopped in her tracks and turned about to face the general, dropping her voice as low as it could go. “Yes, sir?”
“Where are you taking this slave?” the general demanded.
“To King Xerxes, sir! Surely the Goddess of the Hearth is more than a worthy slave for our king.”
“One of the filthy Greek Goddesses? She is just a mortal. Bring her to my tent, eunuch,” the general said, turning to lead the way.
“Yes, sir!” Adrestia responded to the order without hesitation, but now she would have to improvise. As they walked through the camp, Adrestia gently tapped my hip, where my daggers were strapped to my body. A subtle message that she could only hope I understood. Thankfully, I had already planned on it.
“Let me go!” I screamed and twisted off Adrestia’s shoulder, landing with a thud into horse manure. I wrapped my free hand around the chain, flicking it out, aiming to wrap it around the general’s neck. He saw it coming and quickly snapped his chest back, the metal passing mere centimeters from his nose. Damn, that was a missed shot.
“Silence, you disgusting whore!” Adrestia shouted as her hand struck my face with pulled force.
“Harder, Mommy,” I quipped, giving her a pleading look from the ground.
Adrestia froze at the quip, completely dumbfounded by the word choice. For a brief moment, the Goddess of the Revolt forgot herself and the ruse she was trying to create with her friend for the sake of Thrace.
I slowly rose, smiling at Adrestia. “Grandmothers hit harder than you. Do you call that a strike? Dude, that’s a love tap. What are you? A girl?” I taunted, trying to show spirit for the general to buy the ruse.
“I said silence!” Adrestia ignored my comments, opting to grab me by the neck instead of striking again. Adrestia applied the smallest amount of pressure on the side of my neck. Not enough to cut off blood flow, but enough to warn and signal what the next part of the charade was.
As I felt her hand wrap around my neck, confusion arose in me. I closed my eyes as Adrestia’s finger flexed. This was nothing like when one of them had done it to me in the past. I nodded slightly, showing that I was ready for the next step. I dropped my hands limply, allowing my palms to hide the hilts of my blades.
Adrestia let out a quiet sigh, and I could tell that she regretted what she was being forced to say and do. But we had a job to do. We could talk about it later..
“Fucking whore,” Adrestia sighed loud enough for the general to hear as she hoisted me back onto her shoulder. The smell of horse refuse wafted around us as we continued on.
The general nodded his approval as he held the flap to his tent up for us to enter. “Thracian women are always so feisty. I approve of your choice. Tie her to the center and remove the rest of her armor,” the general said as he started to remove his outer robes.
“Yes, general.” Adrestia took Hestia to the center pole that kept the tent aloft, setting her down to lean against the foundation. Now came the hard part of the charade. Adrestia paused and looked down at me. I could see her reluctance to remove my armor.
I stared at Adrestia and carefully pulled my dagger from my waistband. My friend stood still, save for the shaking of her hands that signaled that she just couldn’t be a part of me experiencing this nightmare again. I nodded my understanding and acted. With a savage furry, my hand snapped out, the dagger moving faster than mortal eyes could follow. One second it was in my hand, and the next, it was sunk into the general’s forehead.
I rose from the ground, magical flames burning the blood from my skin, my chest heaving with raw fury. “Fuck you,” I snarled and spat on the general. “Shall we wipe them all out?” I said.
With a sigh of relief, Adrestia ripped off the cloth wrapped around her head and tore off the robes of her disguise. “I’m sorry.”
I wrapped my arms around my friend. “You did nothing I didn’t ask for. I gave you my permission.” I kissed Adrestia’s cheek. “There is nothing at all to forgive. I knew that the mortal fool couldn’t touch me because you would rip his arms off and feed them to him through his sphincter.”
Adrestia held onto me a moment longer than was deemed acceptable. “Nothing is going to happen to you today. Not while I have anything to say about it.”
“Then we are in perfect harmony. Nothing will happen to you either. They have broken the homes of those under my protection. My wrath is beyond what even I understand,” I snarled, flames crawling over my arms.
I shook my head, taking myself out of the memory. That was such a long time ago. The pain the mortals inflicted on each other broke my heart that day. So many homes were shattered by the greed of one man who wanted to rule over others for the sake of being their king. It’s a story that repeated itself so many times.
Maybe Zeus was right, and it was time for us to show ourselves again, prove that we exist and that there was a better way to do things. There are ways to resolve disagreements without bloodshed. Being that some of my fellow Olympian’s sole existence was war or had wrapped their identity so tightly around such acts, it might not be possible. But, it was still a worthy goal.