It wasn’t real. You mean the whole thing wasn’t real? The thought swirled in my head as my brother carried me home. All the feelings I had from before rushed at me as we flew. “Jacob, I’m so sorry.” I could see his face. I could see his blood draining from his body as I held him. “It’s my fault,” I said, covering my eyes. Breathing was difficult as tears spilled down my cheeks. I could feel my brother’s hold on me tightening. My anxiety was rising, and Zelus could feel it.
“Shhhh, Ni, I got you, little one,” he tried to comfort me. My eyes flickered as I remembered what had happened in that other place where Jacob was.
Zelus and Teddy rushed me home as the others stayed behind to assist the remaining few and see to Lord Zeus.
Upon arriving at our flats, Zelus placed me on my bed. “It’s gonna be alright now, Ni. You’re home now. What happened?” he said as he headed to my bathroom to get some bandages and the supplies needed to clean up the scratches from the glass when the mirror shattered.
“It’s my fault,” I mumbled. Teddy sat at the edge of my bed, watching and listening to my ramblings.
Zelus returned. “Now, Nike, you’re safe. There is no fault,” he said to me. “Ni? Nike, hey come on, lil sista.” Zelus waved his hand in front of my face.
I shook my head and opened my eyes. Zelus was offering me a drink of water. I took the glass and polished it off. Seeing the worried look on my son’s face, I reached for his hand as I handed the glass back to Zelus.
“I’m alright, you two. Stop worrying.”
“Are you sure, Mom?” Teddy asked.
“Good, Nike, I’m glad you’re okay, but your face and hands are a bit nicked up,” Zel said.
I looked down at my hands, seeing a bit of ichor seeping through the bandages he was applying. “How’d this happen?” I was puzzled.
“That’s what we were hoping you could tell us. We found you on the floor of the warehouse with the others,” Zel continued, applying more bandages to my hands and forearm.
“The others? Were they hurt, too?”
“Don’t know. All I cared about was finding you.”
“Mom?” whispered Teddy.
Looking at my son’s worried face, I squeezed his hand and opened my arms for him to curl up into me. He crawled across my bed into my arms. “Shhh, now, my sweet, I’m alright, see? I’m here with you.” I wrapped my arms around him to soothe his tears.
“Mom?” he whispered. “I thought I lost you. We couldn’t get in. Even Uncle K couldn’t beat the door down hard enough. None of us could pop in either,” he said between his sobs.
“Ni, can you tell us what happened?”
“Why couldn’t you get in?” I asked, looking at Zelus.
“Felt like a spell. Bia said it felt like everyone disappeared.”
“What? Hekate was there with us. No one’s magic is that strong. How long were we in there?”
“Like two or three hours.”
“Two or three hours? That can’t be right.” I leaned my head back on the headboard and closed my eyes, trying to make sense of what had happened. At least two weeks, probably closer to a month, had passed in that other place. I tried to see how this could have been possible.
“Nike, why don’t you rest? Kratos and Bia should be back soon, then you can tell us all what happened, okay?”
I looked at my brother, knowing how he is when I was hurt, I reached for his hand. “Zel, I’m alright.”
“I figured you just wanted to get out of patrol tonight,” he tried to joke. But I knew him. He’d looked scared when I’d opened my eyes back at the warehouse.
I rubbed my face and sighed heavily. “That was so real.”
“What was so real?”
“It was as if I lived another life.”
“What do you remember?” A voice came from the doorway. It was Kratos. He and Bia had returned.
“He is fine.”
“Fine, is not the word I would use,” Bia said to us telepathically.
“Is he hurt?” I tried to stand and move toward them, but I was off-balance and fell over.
“Whoa, there, little one, you don’t have your land legs,” Zelus said as he caught me and helped me back onto my bed.
“No, he’s not hurt, just stunned like the rest of you.”
“What’s happening to us?” I whispered.
“That’s what we were hoping you could tell us.”
“We lost contact with everyone in the room once the chanting started,” Bia replied.
“Then there were these lights,” Zelus recalled.
“A bright bluish glow came through the black drapery, but we still couldn’t see inside. I landed and pounded on the door, but it wouldn’t budge,” Kratos added.
“Wait, not even with your level of power? You couldn’t get in?”
“No. I tried the walls, the windows,” Kratos replied.
“I called Zelus to come right away,” Bia said. “Nike, what happened there?”
I sat crossed-legged on my bed as the other two entered and stood closer to me. Teddy and Zelus were on the bed next to me, listening attentively. I could sense my sister in my mind.
I nodded and she nodded back in understanding. Bia sent the pictures to our brothers so they could see what happened based on my memory.
I spoke of what happened so Teddy would know what happened to me. I shared how the party was like most gatherings until the chanting started and the mirrors glowed. Fresh memories flooded my mind, and I told them about him. The one I loved, or she loved, I didn’t know. I explained the passion between us and how it made me feel.
“I felt like I was there but I was also merely watching. The connection between them…” my thoughts drifted to Jacob touching my hand, kissing my fingers. I looked down at them.
“Them who, Mother?”
“The person in the dream,” I said as I looked at Teddy.
“So you’re saying you were dreaming?” Kratos asked.
“No, it all was real.”
“But how, Ni? You never left the room.”
“I don’t know. I can’t…” I strained to remember
Kratos observed my confusion. “That’s enough for now, Nike. Why don’t you rest? We can talk about it further in the morning.” He crossed to the bed and kissed me on the forehead. He looked into my eyes and said, “You will be alright. We are all together, remember that.” I nodded as a tear slid down my cheek. He gently wiped it away. “Nike, we won’t let anything happen to you. We promised, remember?”
I lowered my head into his hand, feeling safe. “Can’t rest. It’s my night to patrol the city.”
“It’s alright. Zelus will do it. Don’t you worry about that.”
“Sure I will cause who needs a night off? It’s never a dull moment around here,” Zelus said as he squeezed my hand.
“Nike, you rest,” Bia said telepathically.
I nodded and rolled my shoulders to get comfortable on my bed. Zelus had cleaned up the bandages and was heading back to the bathroom. “I’m taking the kid with me. It’s about time he stretched his wings.” Zelus said.
“Really?” Teddy screeched. “But will that be alright, Mom?” He looked at me.
I smiled at my son’s excitement. “Yes, dear one. You may go. As long as you promise to fly close to Zelus and never fly toward the sun.”
“I promise and besides, my wings aren’t made of wax. They’re real.”
“I know sweetheart, it’s a family joke.” I looked at my brother. “Zel, you better keep a close eye on him!” I commanded.
Zelus bowed as he returned from the bathroom. “As you wish.”
My eyes widened, and my face went white with fear. Bia saw my reaction and looked around, hoping to see or hear what had frightened me. “Nike, what is it?” she probed.
My mind raced with words and various conversations. Bia tried to sift through by telling me to calm down, to slow my thoughts. They were racing a mile a minute, faster than any mortal brain could handle. Bia shook me. “Nike!” she shouted.
I settled down, and my breathing returned to normal. Bia wrapped her arms around me, gently rocking back and forth. The boys all wanted to know what happened, but Bia waved them away. They left the room, but Bia remained with me until I fell asleep.
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