I felt the blight that was the tulpa pull from my body, tearing like Velcro from a waterlogged backing, and I thought I’d vomit from the sensation. I collapsed to my knees as it released me, heaving breaths as I tried to steady my wildly beating heart and trembling limbs from being possessed. Never in all my years have I been utterly terrified of myself like that; to see without being in control of my body, my own body. The tulpa had so casually entered me, so easily tore down Eventide and compromised the entire family, and with the Titans loose…
And now? Now, where were we?
“Get up, Lady Nox.”
The tulpa’s voice was like nails on a chalkboard, and I coughed and hacked my way into a standing position, barely. I was littered with countless injuries, minor for the most part. As I straightened up, my breathing became easier, and I shot him a savage glare, barely a hazy outline to me now.
“It is strange to not inhabit a body in this realm. You recognize our location, correct?”
My head spun as I focused on the environment. White columns and beautifully paved pathways surrounded us. Well-tended gardens sprawled around gushing fountains. Gold and smoky pink hues cast itself across the landscaping, the rays of the sun sinking as slowly as my heart. We were in Olympus. The Olympus. My attention refocused on the tulpa, it’s glitchy outline making it hard to see.
“Y-You should not be here, monster.”
A harsh choking sound rang out as it laughed. “We are not the monster, Primordial.” It took several steps towards me, and I noticed I was already in full immortal form as I stumbled backwards.
“Get away from me. And get out of here!”
Why was I so empty? I should feel something, the Void, the shard of Chaos, my own strength at least, but…
“We saw your thoughts, read your memories. You are not the woman you claim to be, the goddess you strive to show off.” Its outline seemed to get a little firmer, and I could see the coding that ran through its arms and chest. It noticed my attention and it flexed an appendage, stopping for a moment to look between us. “How unfortunate. You seem to have taken some of us as well.”
I glanced down at my arms and saw the slow blue glow of the tulpa beneath my skin, rippling in binary and coding. I looked up at it, horrified. “What have you done to me?” I whispered, looking back down and curling my hand into a loose fist. It pulsed once at my motions.
“Nothing that cannot be fixed.”
The tulpa moved towards me, shoving me back into a column with inhuman speed, its arm cross-barred over my throat and bruising me. What was happening to me?! I should be able to fight this!
“You are angry.”
I could almost taste its accusation, and I fought to push it off me. “How astute of you, I wonder why,” I hissed through clenched teeth.
“You wanted them dead. All of them.”
I froze, eyes wide for a moment. “No. No, you know nothing, monster.”
“You call us monster, but it was you who wanted them dead. You wanted to see them torn limb from limb, and you would do it yourself. To bathe in the blood of the Titans, the firstborn of Chaos, saviour of the Olympians.”
I swallowed hard, refusing to rise to the bait. “They deserved it, for what they were trying to do to the Olympians. This world would not exist if they had won.”
“You killed innocents.” It leered at me, and I felt the first twinge of fear. Fear? “You murdered a young man because he was trying to drug his boyfriend, and you thought you would save him. He cried for weeks, therapy for years because of what you did to him.”
I redoubled my efforts in prying its arm off my throat and collarbone, feet scrabbling against the stone below me, but nothing moved it. “He was going to die if he took that dose!”
The tulpa ignored me. “A plane of tourists, lost in the realm of Lord Poseidon because they were in your way when you were crossing the night skies. The little girl who sees monsters in the shadows; she is thirty-two years old. Her therapist wants to commit her, but she doesn’t know that it was you in the corner of her room when she was only six years old. The old woman that died of a heart attack because you carelessly left a portal open to Tartarus, and she saw the hellscape that it is. The senior home outing, putting half of them to eternal rest because you couldn’t stand to see them withering away. You slaughtered mortals in the path of your war against the Titans, and you cared not – all in the name of saving them? Pathetic. And what about your jealous fits?”
My wings had materialized and were stretched out on either side of the column, beating the air to try and get away from this demon. I didn’t want to hear it, none of it!
“Married the god of shadows, discarded for a nap. Only wanted when you are needed, to clear skies and make stars dance, to scratch an itch for the God of Hate and Jealousy. You want a place to belong. You have no parents, no connection to your siblings. Your children are off on their own, they have no need for you. You are antiquated, Nox. And you have been since Olympus gained its ground.”
The tulpa ground its forearm into me, and I hissed, digging my nails into its arm, but all I succeeded in doing was making it laugh at me. It leaned in closer, and I could almost make out a face now, the hollows where eyes should be, as dark as the Void.
“You’re terrified that Eros is just using you as a bandaid for his own problems. He doesn’t tell you about Psyche, because he doesn’t want your help. He knows you could solve it all, but why? Why when he could just use you instead? So much more fun when the God of Love is stringing along a Primordial, right?”
I felt tears pricking my eyes now, and I shook my head frantically. “No, Eros isn’t like that, I know he isn’t -”
“The God of Hate and Jealousy, stalwart warrior and steely heart. He doesn’t care for you. No, he likes to look at the other goddesses, so much more to his taste. You are a plaything, and he’ll leave you behind just as Erebus did. All the adventures, all the triumphs, useless and a waste of time, just like -”
“Stop!!” I screeched, choking on my voice. Tears ran down my face now, and my wings barely moved, my body heavy with shame, grief, rage. “He’s not like that, none of them are, stop it -”
The tulpa’s face was just barely touching mine. “Hestia? She wants her satyrs to run you out of Scotland, you don’t deserve to have a place like Eventide. Artemis thinks you’re just a bitchy old woman who cannot live in the modern era. Zeus and Hera know you’re going to usurp them. They all watch you from afar, waiting for the knife in the dark so they can cast you out. They watch you, even now. Suspect number one, with the Titans suddenly free and running wild, looking to burn it all to the ground. You will not have friends, nor allies. You. Are. Alone.”
Anguished resentment boiled over, and I pulled my legs up to the tulpa’s chest and kicked as hard as I could, sending it reeling backwards. My kopis flashed to my hands and I lunged at the monster, aiming for its heart as I screamed. It sidestepped me, and as I stumbled past it, a white-hot pain shot through my left shoulder and down my spine, into my hip. A strangled cry left me, and I fell to my knees to see my left-wing hanging at an odd angle from my back, where the pain was shooting from.
“We cannot stay in this realm much longer, no thanks to your childish heart.”
The tulpa picked up my kopis from beneath my fingers, and I saw the shadow of it twirling behind me.
“We will leave you with a reminder of what lies inside your heart, Lady Nox.”
Excruciating pain erupted in my shoulder, and a sobbing cry ripped through my throat. I doubled over, eyes blind against whatever was happening. Something soft fell across my hands. I could barely see what it was, swiping my eyes and feeling something smeared across my face. Confused, I peered at my fingers to see my blood, shimmering gold, oozing from my head to my hand, and just beyond my hand was a smattering of black feathers with gold tips.
The harsh ring of metal on stone before my face as I sank to my chest shook me, but it was the following thud that made me vomit.
My wing. The tulpa had cut off my wing.
I blacked out.