There’s a flash, and I’m looking into the face of one of my clay men. The grey features glare at me, perfectly created eyebrows dipping over unseeing eyes. Its grip around my neck tightens, but I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. Why is my own creation turning on me?
His magic brought it to life, giving it an internal red glow that grew stronger, forcing it to shudder out a single beat. Then he dropped it into my gaping chest. It immediately attached, as if grateful to be reunited with its goddess.
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.
Revenge and vengeance fed from themselves, one act creating the need for more. In the hands of mortals and gods alike, it was a neverending cycle of destruction and despair. It was only by my touch that balance and justice were achieved through revenge. And only because I wrought it so, only because I thought and knew the price, only because I controlled my power.
He smirked and tilted his head like he was trying to make a decision, so I threw a pillow at him, aiming for his head. His hand shot out, catching it before it could hit him. “You’re no fun.” He really was, and we both knew it.
I stood petrified, afraid to move. A part of me had gone quiet and still, frozen and in shock at the breadth of this violation. In needing to create distance from the horror of the nightmares, I had become prey. I had become a victim. I wanted to scream my denial but was not sure I would be able to stop if I started.