I spent the night with Miteras in her apartment, catching up for all the time we had lost. When it was time to leave, we bid each other goodbye, promising to visit more often. I teleported from Paris and landed in my temple with a pop.
Iphigenia rushed forward to greet me. “My Lady, you’re back!”
I hugged her briefly and proceeded to Sayeh’s cave. When asked if there were any improvements to her condition, Phi looked down and shook her head, “No changes.” I took a deep breath, trying to hide my pain and stayed by my beloved dragon’s side, watching her sleep.
Selene came by later that evening to visit Sayeh, and she brought food. Over dinner, we talked about her training with Ares, my visit to Miteras in Paris, Sayeh, and my plan to ask for Hekate’s help.
“Do you want me to come with you, Arty?” she asked, holding my hand. I felt comfortable in her presence. Something about her felt like…like she was my harbor! Every time she held my hand, I relaxed and did not want to let her go. Yet, I refused to let my heart hope. The last time I had allowed myself that luxury, it did not go too well.
I shook my head. “No, Sel. This is something I need to do on my own,” I answered.
She simply nodded. After dinner, Sel agreed to stay by Sayeh so that I could catch a few hours of sleep. I didn’t want to leave them, but both my body and mind needed the rest. I wished her a goodnight and slept in my temple.
I woke up to the smell of coffee and croissants. I knew this was Selene’s doing. There was a warmth about her that made me smile. She was always compassionate, it came to her effortlessly, and that was only one of her qualities.
I stopped by my apartment on the fiftieth floor to change into a fresh pair of clothes. Opting for simple black slacks with a beige top instead of my usual jumpsuit, I made my way to the lobby. Kara had called to inform me that Hekate was at the GC Lounge.
I found Hekate inside standing by the counter, a glass of whiskey in her hand, relishing her solitude. Her dark eyes looked withdrawn. I knew what the Titan Ostasus had tried to do and of her losses, but I hadn’t realized the depth of her suffering until I saw her. She gave me a slight nod as I approached her.
“Kate, how are you?” The question almost felt redundant.
She raised her glass in a mock toast. “Fucking perfect.”
On an impulse, I rushed forward to hug her. She gave me what can only be described as a ghost hug before writhing out of my arms.
“I am so sorry, Kate. I know you are hurting, and I feel horrible coming here now. But…,” I turned away from her unable to complete my sentence.
“It’s Sayeh, isn’t it?” she asked.
I nodded, looking down, feeling almost selfish for asking her to help to save Sayeh when Ayen and Stéri were lost to her. Kate walked towards the decanter to refill her glass and poured herself three fingers worth. I reached for the coffee pot to put on a fresh brew.
The dark liquid started to sputter into the pot while I waited for Kate’s answer.
“I wish I could help you, Arty,” she said as she swirled the whiskey in her glass, “but, I don’t know if I can, not anymore!” In one swipe, she drowned her drink.
“I know you can! There must be some way to save her. Something you can tell me? Anything!” I pleaded. She walked away from the counter and sat on the couch. I followed her.
Exhaling sharply, she asked, “Do you remember the last moments before Sayeh lost her heartfire?”
I nodded, as flashes of that dreadful scene flooded into my mind. “That’s something I will never forget!”
“Can you describe it for me?”
In as much detail as I could, I described how Ourea hurled the mountain at Sayeh and how she knocked me out of the way, how she used the last of her heartfire to burn the vines to save Selene and me. A teardrop glistened in the corner of my eye as I finished. Hekate sat quietly, observing the anguish of Sayeh’s loss on my face.
“I always loved Sayeh, and after losing Ayen and Stéri, that’s an agony I never want you to experience. I cannot make the heartfire for Sayeh, Arty. But I can show you the path towards it.”
“What do I need to do?” I asked, suddenly feeling more hopeful than I had been, coming into the lounge.
Hekate raised her hand to stop my questions. She closed her eyes and whispered in a trance, “Nothing can touch that fire. Not darkness. Not Death. When the vessel of the body cannot hold it, it can only return to the source.”
“The source? Where can I find the source? This means that there’s a way to save her!”
“There’s always a way. But her body needs to be kept safe, kept warm. It’s not like when the mind breaks free from its tether. Loss of the heartfire actually causes the body to cool like a corpse. Is there someone that can care for her? Until you can save her for saving you?” Hekate asked.
“Yes! I am going to speak with Medusa next. She may be able to help Sayeh retain her heat. I am not sure how she will accomplish that, but I am hopeful.”
“She’ll be well-tended then. You will need to keep her in that state until you find the heartfire,” Hekate said. I nodded in agreement.
She kept her arms on my shoulders and looked deep into my eyes. “There is an island, long thought lost, and in the center of that island is a mountain. That mountain is the end of the spindle around which the fire of this world was spun from the void.” I listened quietly, clinging onto every word she said.
“The heart of fire in that mountain is where you must go. But you will first need to go to the far side of the island, to a cave that can only be reached when the tide is low. Inside that cave are the discarded shells of the ancient sea creatures that grew immune to the fire in the mountain. You must retrieve one of the nautilus shells to carry her fire back out of the mountain,” she said.
I nodded, every now and then making mental notes on where I needed to go and what I needed to do. Hekate took my hands in hers and squeezed them.
“Do not take this lightly, Huntress. The cave is dangerous and well-guarded. And the sea is jealous of the treasures there. So, a test of water, then of fire you must face for your beloved Sayeh. Are you willing to make the journey?”
I smiled slightly, “It’s about Sayeh’s life, Kate. Nothing about that is light! And I will go into the void itself if I have to for her!”