The smell of the food market in Greece is horrible. Sweaty people gather, waiting to make their bids on the animals. I am spending my time here to record how these food markets work. Things change over time, and it is important to document the old methods of how life worked. It is vital that those in the future know what worked and what didn’t.
Closing my book, I tuck my writing utensil behind my ear. I think I have gotten everything I need from this. I look up at the stage and feel my eyes widen. The next animal is a little piglet, and my heart instantly melts. I have a weakness for animals, and I know that this little one doesn’t stand a chance with a bunch of hungry mortals.
I raise my hand. “Five drachmas.”
“Six drachmas.” A man says behind me, and I turn to look at them. My brow furrows as I observe the man. Well…not a man, the Primordial of Darkness, Erebus. Shadows are practically drawn to him. His dark hair is swept to the side as his fathomless eyes look over me curiously. He gives me a smile, and I roll my eyes before looking at the bidder.
“Eleven,” Erebus calls out.
I press my lips together, frustrated. “Thirty.”
“It’s an outrageous price for a miniature pig, but I’m famished. Fifty.”
The people in the market start to murmur. Why is he doing this? I turn to look at him, narrowing my eyes. I don’t care if he is more powerful than me. I am not going to let this poor pig be eaten.
“Sixty-one.” My final offer.
Erebus chuckles. “One hundred.”
My jaw drops, and I look back at him. Jerk! I can’t believe this. Why would he be buying a pig for a hundred drachmas? I look back at the auctioneer, shaking my head.
“Going once… going twice… sold to the man in the back,” the auctioneer announces.
I huff in frustration, gripping my satchel before storming off. I hear footsteps running behind me, but I don’t stop.
“Why are you so mad?” Erebus laughs, catching up to me.
I stop walking, whirling around to face him. “You seriously outbid me just to rub it in my face!”
Erebus stops walking for a second, the piglet squealing in his grasp. “Well, I’m hungry.” He continues walking again. “You know, I hear they can be quite tasty smoked. Care to join me?”
I raise my hand to smack him across the face, but I quickly drop it. Don’t piss off a Primordial. “How about you give me the pig, and I will make you something else to eat?”
He laughs, holding the pig out to me. “You drive a hard bargain.”
“Wait…you are really going to give me the pig…for dinner?” I ask him, blinking in surprise.
“Yes, well, no. Do with it what you want as long as you’re making me dinner,” he says.
I smile brightly, looking down at the pig and kissing it on the head. “Well, I will be keeping her as a pet. Thank you, Erebus.”
Erebus raises a brow in surprise. “You know who I am?”
I squint at him. Is he serious right now? Does he not feel another immortal presence? “Are you serious?”
He puffs his chest. “Well, I guess I kinda am a big deal.”
I laugh loudly, rolling my eyes. “Uh-huh. Keep thinking that.”
Erebus looks down at me, raising a brow. “I’m sorry, you’ll have to forgive me. I didn’t get your name?”
I tilt my head, blinking a few times. “I’m going to let you figure that one out.”
He stops walking, his smile disappearing as he looks down at me. “If you know who I am, you know I don’t like being played with. I don’t do guessing games.”
I gulp. “C-Clio. Muse of H-history.”
“A muse,” Erebus says, his lips twitching. “Hmm…I have never consorted with a muse before.”
He continues to walk, and I follow after him. “Y-You usually don’t hang a-around up here. Why are you here t-today?”
Erebus eyes me suspiciously. “And how would you know what I do during the hours of the day?”
I shrug. “I am the M-Muse of History. I know th-things.”
“You know things, do you?” he asks, pursing his lips. “I like history. I especially enjoy it when historians screw up facts.”
I snort. “They tend to do that a lot. After all, history is told by—”
I feel Erebus’s eyes on me, and I go silent. “People assume things about my wife and me. But not everything you hear around these streets, or from mortal lips, can be noted as history.”
“Y-yes. That I know, that’s why I l-look into their eyes,” I whisper, tilting my head.
“You look into their eyes? Hmmm…” He ponders. “Well, I wouldn’t want you to look into mine. My past is not for the faint of heart.”
“I-I mean…I’ve seen a lot of things, Erebus. I-It can’t be that horrible,” I stutter.
“I’m not the Primordial of Darkness and Shadows because I hand out unicorns and rainbows.” Erebus snorts.
I chew my bottom lip. “Well, n-no. I suppose y-you’re right.”
Erebus raises a brow. “To answer your question, if you must know, I was looking for someone.”
“Who?” I ask curiously.
Erebus leans in close, his voice lowering to a whisper. “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
My entire body tenses, the hairs on the back of my neck standing. “Y-You w-wouldn’t.”
Erebus looks me up and down, his eyes turning into stone-cold, dark pits. He twists a ring on his finger. “Maybe I found who I was looking for.”
I gulp. “I-I’ve done n-nothing wrong.”
He stays silent for another minute, my heart stopping in my chest. A smirk pulls at his lips, and he places a hand on my shoulder. “Well, I wouldn’t want to spoil our dinner with murder. You can relax. It wasn’t you.”
My face turns red, and I smack his shoulder. “You scared me!”
“You are quite entertaining, Muse Clio.” He laughs loudly.
“Am not!” I pout.
He turns to face me with a big smile. He pats the top of my pig’s head. “So since I can’t convince you to smoke this little oinker. What’s on the menu for dinner?”
I place a finger on my lip, thinking for a moment. “Well, what do you like?”
“Salt-cured pork.” He chuckles. “But, I’ll settle for lamb.”
I scrunch my nose, disliking the thought. “Okay, lamb it is.”
He raises a brow. “Would you prefer something else?”
I bite my lip, looking up at him. “Well, I do enjoy fish.”
“You are the hostess,” Erebus says. “Do you normally invite Primordials home for dinner?”
I giggle, shaking my head. “No, I think I’d give my mother a heart attack.”
“Well, fish it is.” Erebus laughs. Leaning towards the pig, he speaks to it. “You’ve been saved. Between you and me, Clio. I was never going to eat her.”
I give him a small smile. “You weren’t?”
“No. I could see how much you wanted her, and I always like a good competition. Better for me to spend my money than for you to spend yours.”
I tilt my head, confused by his kindness. “You’re nicer than the rumours.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” he says, his smile fading. “I have a reputation to keep.”
I tense again, nodding. “I’ll s-see you later?”
He nods. “I would appreciate it if you kept our meeting private.”
I nod, zipping my lips and throwing away the key.