A cacophony of noises thrummed inside me, starting faintly and escalating over the course of what felt like ages – maybe eons. I couldn’t open my eyes, I couldn’t move my body, but I felt so very wrong. Or was it everything around me that felt wrong?
I couldn’t concentrate on anything; it felt easier to let things become a mess of memories and sounds. Wait, there were sounds now? I couldn’t pick them apart, and it was a strange symphony of music and eerie white noise. It felt familiar, haunting, but I didn’t like it. I wanted to run and hide, but it pulled me closer towards it.
“Nyx? Nyx, can you hear…”
A voice, coming from somewhere out there in the ether. Was that my name? Nyx? I did not want it. That name had brought me unspeakable grief and anger. I did not want it! I turned my head away from where it felt like it was coming from, and it faded. But movement brought pain, and it shredded itself down my spine. Hot tears melted over what I believed to be my face, and I barely pushed it away, making it unreal again.
I was suspended, but by who or what, I did not know. A vacuum of space, perhaps, in the wasteland of emptiness that I belonged in. Let Chaos return to claim me once more, let someone else take the mantle of Night, I did not want it anymore. The tulpa was right; all I had done was cause harm, to both mortals and immortals. Eternal sleep or peaceful dreams. Had I caused both or none? Was it eternal sleep if you were sent screaming to Charon? My son, the Ferryman, did he know it was I who sent them there? I was expendable, and certainly not fit for the powers that I wield.
I wrenched the thought away from me again, like a physical object, and another bolt of searing pain erupted through me. I wanted to scream in rage and frustration but my voice had left me too, just as I had forsaken much of everything else. Karma is a bitch, and she was having her way with me. Served me right.
“Matera? Matera, wake up!”
The sounds were back now, splashed against the sky or whatever was holding me here. I didn’t want them to call me back; I deserved nothing and no one.
And then my eyes opened, and I was blinded again.
“Demeter, get Apollo, now. Nyx is awake.” Hekate’s voice I would recognize anywhere, but why was she here?
“Nyx?! Nyx, can you hear us?”
Someone was squeezing my hand tightly, and I wanted to rip it from their grasp, but I didn’t have the energy. The room swam into view, and a gaggle of immortals pressed around me. Hera and Hekate stood near the door, watching me intently, Hera’s eyes straying to the doorway more than once. Hestia and Connor were hovering near the foot of my bed, while Thanatos and Nemesis were crouched on my left, Eros and Dinlas to my right. Demeter and Apollo came into the room suddenly, Urania following close behind.
“She is, but please don’t shout,” Hera murmured, crossing her arms over her chest tightly.
“Nyxie, what in the six levels of Tartarus happened?” Eros hoarsely whispered. I stared at him blankly. I couldn’t bring myself to speak.
“We saw you enter the Complex,” Hera started, glancing at Hestia. “And Hestia’s floor -”
“Is in ruins,” she finished, eyes angry and worried. Connor’s hand was on her shoulder, and I didn’t want to contemplate if he was holding her there or getting ready to lunge himself. “Nothing was left, smashed completely.”
“Matera, what happened? Who did this?” Nemesis took my hand and pressed it to her chest. I wanted to brush the hair from her face that had fallen there, but then I remembered that I was a monster. I snatched my hand back, hissing, and she backed up with a startled look. “Matera…?”
“Nyx, we can’t help you if you don’t talk to us,” Demeter said, her soft voice carrying through the room. But what if I didn’t want help?
“Amorcito,” Dinlas murmured, his hand resting on my hip. “What happened?”
I paused a moment, staring at him before I sat up abruptly. Apollo sidestepped smoothly between me and the others, laying a firm, but gentle hand on my shoulder.
“You are in no condition to be doing anything right now, Nyx. Why don’t you just sit back and -”
My wings came forth and flared, and I screeched in pain as only one flexed out. The stump on my left side cracked and I could feel the blood running down my back again. The gasps of horror and shock flooded the room, and my shame built a throne upon it.
“You don’t tell me what to do, Sun God,” I spat between hisses of pain. “I don’t want any pity or care, I should never have come here – ”
Rays of sunlight started to melt through the windows and I looked outside to try and gauge where I was. Olympus. The immortal location, not in Greece. I was still here, but how did they find me? It mattered not. I went to pull myself off the bed, and my arms pulsed a deadly neon blue. My thoughts were dragged back to the tulpa, choking me as it spat those words in my face, and an impossible set of emotions aroused themselves in me. With only brute strength, I pushed past Apollo and my children, only to come face to face with Hekate, who had moved into the doorway.
“You need medical attention, Nyx.”
I stared at the Witch Queen, conflicted. “I don’t need anything from anyone, Hekate. I have done enough damage.”
“Nothing that isn’t replaceable, Nyx. And we can assist in getting Eventide restored as well,” she started, but I cut her off.
“No. I do not deserve the Pantheon or its gifts. I’m leaving. Please move.”
Hekate’s body shifted subtly. “You’re not going anywhere, Nyx. We need to know what happened.”
“I don’t want to fight with you, Hekate.” I was starting to shake from the adrenaline coming back, and the pain in my shoulder blade that was my missing wing. I could feel the blood running down to my waist now. “Move.”
Hekate looked me dead in the eye, hardly blinking, and we stood that way for a moment, before she moved and let me power through, down the hall, and I was gone. I could hear their voices as I moved away from them.
“Why didn’t you stop her, Kate? Where’s she going to go!”
“I’m going after her -”
“Something has clearly happened to her that has shaken her to the core. If we press, we drive her away. If you want to follow her, stay out of view.”
So they wanted to tail me. Good luck catching the Night. I went to transform into my mist, but the pain overwhelmed me and I staggered against the wall with a hard thud. Cursing Chaos and everything under the bloody sun, I hobbled my way outside to the darkening Olympus and started across the landscape towards the entrance of the Underworld. I’d stay there, and sort myself out. I had no idea where I was going to go. Home wasn’t an option since the Titans had decimated it, but I couldn’t be here. I was a poison, seeping into the lives of the Olympians. There was no place for that.
I could feel my children first, Thanatos and Nemesis trailing far behind me, but they were there. I would know that energy anywhere in the world. It made me angry, that they who cared so little about me, would now want to interfere in my life. I gave them life, they could do as they pleased. I didn’t care anymore. My heart tugged to the left, almost physically in my chest, and I felt the presence of the twins. I did not dare look their way. I wanted to see no one, and vice versa.
“Nyxie, you can’t run from this. We need to know what happened, who did this to you?”
I ignored Eros, pressing towards the dark gates I could see ahead. Just a few more feet and I’d be home.
“Amorcito, if you were possessed, it’s not your fault -” I could hear Dinlas speak, but I shook my head, too angry to say anything now. They had no idea, and I was not about to enlighten them.
“Amorcito…” he repeated again and I cut him off at once.
“Dinlas, stop,” I barked at him, “I don’t need your excuses. You don’t understand anything about this.” He drew back, then glanced worriedly at Eros as I turned away from them.
“Mother, please – what did we do that has you so turned away from us?”
I stood before one of the gates to the Underworld, and turned to see the four of them behind me, a wealth of emotion washing off them. I leaned against the gates with my shoulder, refusing to meet their gazes.
“It was not you, Thanatos. It was me. I existed.”
And I shouldered my way back into hell.