I stomped into the blizzard-ravaged city. He really has grown up, hasn’t he? I thought, calming down and struggling to lock away my inner petulant child. I strolled down the main street of the city Dolus currently called home. The snow plows had begun their work clearing the snow I had created. I looked in the shops and cafes, wondering what had drawn him here. Why had he stayed? What had made him change?
“Boys!” Khione steps between us. “What’s the matter with you? The first time the three of us have been together in centuries and all you can do is trade insults and push each other’s buttons? Haven’t you got anything else to say?”
“Have you ever run a city?” I demand, my hackles up. “Do you know what it’s like having everyone sniping at you? Plotting against you?” I suck in a breath. I don’t want to show her weakness, but I can’t help it. “This is the easiest thing I’ve ever done.”
As I shook their hands, I deflated, falling to the plateau of malaise, contentedness, and displeasure. My emotions flattened and then slipped away. The loss, while still there, no longer ached. There was no pain, just a hollow emptiness in my chest.
They produced a mirror and beckoned me to look. Reluctantly, I peered into its depths. The mirror showed me my son dying, again and again and again. I was on my knees, begging them to stop, to just take the pain away or let me jump. I was nothing and no one to anyone.
“Oh. My mom set her on fire. She rose from literal smoke and ashes and then crawled to Skiron, who then gifted the charcoal lady his powers, and when they came out of the swirling snow tornado, she was all healed and had wings. I’m calling it phoenixing.”
Storm-grey clouds appeared above him, warping into long arms that scooped up Skiron and Khione. They disappeared as the clouds twisted into a small tornado. The roar of the storm and the rush of wind down the tunnel of the cave kept me from hearing anything.
Because I hadn’t learned to control my own powers back then, now I couldn’t control either of ours. I was still a failure. A disappointment. The wild child who played with tricksters and thieves instead of learning to lead.
The harpy’s shrieks pierced our minds, and the echo bounced around in our heads. I hate fighting with anything that addles my senses, and I’d had enough of that recently. I shook my head and pushed on.
I tried to rise but crumpled. The blisters burst where the flames had touched, the air stinging the open wounds. My charred, dry skin was taut, pulling against itself, flaking off. I pushed through the physical pain. It was something I had lived through for years, tormented by the monster I had been. I tried again. The tears were tiny ice pellets, cutting my skin as I rose.
She landed in front of him, her talons scratching the walls as she neared him, the keys dancing in front of her feathered chest. She reached for one and made the unlocking motion. Skiron’s face twisted in agony, and his hair greyed as she drained him.
I felt my rage wane as her eyes widened, and her lips formed an O. Snow swirled around us as I fell into my grief, holding my side, my cold aura pushing outwards to cover us both in a layer of frost. Her hand lowered, hanging limp at her side. I broke down, the sobs escaping even as I tried to hold them back.
I nearly stumbled over my feet. A yak? A yak’s smell was nauseating, and they were excruciatingly slow. I could blizzard my way up the mountain in mere minutes. I thought about protesting, but the light in Aspen’s eyes stopped me, and I swore I saw Artemis smirk.
“You’re going to be fine, Kia. You’re as strong as she is and just as powerful, even if you don’t believe it. Together, you’re going to find Skiron and set everything back to normal. Hopefully, he can fix these crazy weather patterns across the globe.”