I don’t shift, only run. Run as fast as I can as I hold the sides of my dress. Run up the winding stairs toward her room as tears begin to fall. I know what I have to do and what I have to give up. He was right, a heartless bitch I’m not. At least not yet. I’d made enemies, so many enemies, and now they are coming for the ones I hold dear.
He would die a mortal death, and I would let him, drachma on his eyes so he would rest in peace. But the day finally came, and I’d held him in my arms as he took his final breaths. I knew we’d made the right decision, but it took everything in me to allow it to be.
My face flashed between the three aspects the mortals used for me. A beautiful young maiden, the face I wore now, and the sharp weathered angles of a crone. My body stayed the same, dressed in light robes that swayed with the building wind, gore streaking the tops of my breasts and exposed stomach. I wore a crown of human bone, chanting as I lifted a snake into the sky.
I was filled with more emotion than I felt comfortable showing, letting the sea churn for me instead. The waves hit the mountainside so hard it kicked spray through the broken windows. “Is there even a Nikolas?” I asked quietly.
I couldn’t let him stay here. While the realm he created was beautiful, it was lonely and cold. I knew what happened to the souls in Propalyia. Eventually, they all flung themselves over the gates, only to be impaled, and returned to their homes. They hated me for it, which was why I kept my distance, why they moaned throughout the forests. Every human desires peace, and there was no peace in Propalyia.
I’d loved it, lost for a time in a world of intangible fantasy and never too deep emotions, until inevitably, I’d craved more. I’d let my guard down, enjoying him way too much, and despite my best efforts, I realized I was falling in love. So naturally, I ruined everything.
I was suddenly frozen in place, unable to speak. I knew I must look crazy to him. A dark, unbreakable dam holding squalls of emotion behind sharp blue eyes and pursed lips. I wondered if he could see the goddess behind the youthful face, feel the ancient power pulsating through me, begging for release.
Yes, I may be on the hunt for Titans older than literal time, but I also need help. Someone I can trust, but also not tell me how terrible my idea is. Besides, I don’t trust Erebus, especially after how weird he has been recently. Secret phone calls and suddenly having to leave? Nope. I need an assistant of my own, and who better than Chuck?
Fortunately, the two natural paths that formed a cross in the forest were already pulling us, the energy palpable, pushing my heartbeat into my throat. I loved Earth, but there was something about the icy grip of the Underworld that called to me, serenading me with its cacophony of wailing souls and the promise of quiet corridors I could get lost in.
Gods, give me strength. I looked down into her eyes and saw a fire there I hadn’t noticed before. A stray strand of hair had come loose and was hanging in her face. I reached up and tucked it behind her ear, letting my hand gently cup her face for a moment before pulling away. “I don’t want to see you get hurt,” I said quietly.
I heard the sound of my heart shattering, taking with it the last glint of hope. I fell to my knees, letting out a howl from the depth of my soul. Selene cradled me in her arms as we rocked back and forth together. Sayeh was lost to me forever.