I truly did go there with the best intentions. I wanted to forgive the past. I was tired. I didn’t want to hunt this pathetic Titan any longer. But when Melisseus stood in front of me, flapping his gums and insulting not only me but the woman I shared a bed with, everything went red. He had no remorse for what he had done all those centuries ago. My malevolent shadows squeezed his throat. Bees began swarming me but bounced off my shadows like bugs hitting a windshield at high speed.
I looked over to see Selene, back against the wall. Her steel-blue eyes stared at us as she reined in her glow. My rage banged around in my head. I couldn’t even hear the words she was screaming. To be honest, I’d almost forgotten she had led me there. “Get out of here,” I snapped at her. “Consider us even.”
My hands wrapped around Melisseus’s throat. My glare cut into him. “You had to be a wise guy. You couldn’t let sleeping dogs lie.”
“You chased and hunted me century after century. I could never stay in one place. I knew no peace.”
I spat in his face. “Why?” The question had haunted me for years. Why did Melisseus kill Zagreus? It wasn’t just the Titan rivalry. This was personal. My love for Atë, and the need to make things balanced in our lives, had clouded my judgment. Now that Melisseus was in front of me, it had all come screaming back. I thought I needed to make amends. I thought I needed to let go of the past, to forgive the heinous crime against my family so Atë and I could have peace. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, telling her to let go of her revenge if I couldn’t very well do it myself. I was a fool to believe I could do so calmly. One thing was for sure, after all these centuries of hunting my enemies, I was tired and in desperate need of a vacation, a real one. But I didn’t have to give up just yet. My grip clamped down on his throat.
Melisseus reached forward, twisting his hand into my clothes, clutching at me. The slow, dying-hum of the bees fell all around us. His face twisted in agony as my shadow’s oozed into him, squeezing his insides. His eyes turned black before rolling into the back of his head.
“Why?” I shouted. The room was quiet as the last of the bees disappeared.
A spluttering gurgle erupted from his throat as he tried to answer. “He…slept…with…my…sister.”
I released my shadows to an eighth of their strength. “What?” I laughed in disbelief. “You killed him because he slept with your sister?” I removed my hand from his throat and backed away. “We are gods. That is what we do.”
“I didn’t like it.” Melisseus’ voice was gravelly, and he rubbed a hand over his throat.
“That’s the most ridiculous, idiotic…” My brow furrowed. The madness inside me bounced off the walls. Zag had died because of a one-night stand? It was preposterous. That was the Greek way. Everyone slept around back then, everyone but me. I had hunted this Titan to the end of the earth, and his reasoning for murdering my best friend was a joke.
Over the centuries, I had built up such elaborate explanations for Zag’s demise. I thought it must have been something good. To risk their own life, it must have been something a Titan would have felt justified in doing. It couldn’t have been just some drunken fight that ended badly, not with the way Zag had been torn to pieces. But I had never imagined it would have been over a one-night stand.
Melisseus bent over, catching his breath. “You two thought you were such hot shit back then.”
“Who didn’t?” His observation stated the obvious. “I still don’t see how you could justify killing Zagreus over a tryst with your sister.”
“You had won the rebellion. I was pissed off. You walked around like you owned the place.” Mel leaned back against the wall, his bee’s dead at his feet.
“We did own the place. You should have been locked up with the rest of the Titans,” I said between clenched teeth.
Melisseus cracked a smile. “It didn’t matter. I was being hunted.”
I snapped out of it, applying the full force of my shadows to make certain he wouldn’t escape. My conscience nagged at me to let him go. I was still struggling with my new revelation to live in peace and let revenge die. If I walked away now, how could I trust that Melisseus wouldn’t stab me in the back the minute I turned away? No, I need to end things, end this fight forever. A cloak of darkness swept through the cavern, bringing in the cold, bitter feel of death knocking on the door.
Melisseus’ eyes bulged in fear. “You know she’s only using you.”
I ignored his desperate cry. I could see it for what it was, a last-ditch effort to distract me.
“Atë is, and always has been, using you. Kronus—” I tightened my invisible grip around his throat.
Melisseus tried to grin, but it was swallowed by darkness. “Kronus knew he would never get by the Primes, especially you, Chaos’ assassin. They needed you distracted. It was quite clever. He sent the hottest thing since original sin itself to distract a god who hadn’t seen any action in a few millennia.”
I shook my head. It wasn’t true. The connection Atë and I had was real. We had the most awkward first date ever, sure, followed by her enemies somehow taking control of me so I would kill her. They had failed. She had come through in the end.
“She’s the Goddess of Ruin. She knows how to lay it on thick when she needs to. You didn’t really think after all those years of being alone that someone actually wanted to be with you, did you?” His words mocked me.
“She helped me. She led me to Hyperion,” I said, remembering the connection we had on the mountain. “She went to Tartarus and atoned for her mistakes. She saved me. She loves me.”
“Face it, Erebus, you’ve been had. She’s played you like a fiddle from day one. Or shall I say, played with your diddle?”
I couldn’t hold back my anger anymore. Black, thick shadows swept through the room. They were hungry, slicing through Melisseus like a butcher knife cutting through a leg of lamb. My shadows encircled his neck, twisting like a cyclone, ready to rip everything from the ground and decimate all that lay in its path. I was sure Melisseus’s screams could be heard miles down the coastline. My shadows ripped into him, shredding his skin from his body piece after piece.
I had gone to a place I hadn’t been in a very long time. Although, if I were honest, I had sensed this was coming. It was hard to deny, after what her enemies had done to me. After they captured me and tried to make me hurt her, something was still off inside my head. I could feel it.
“She told me she loved me.” My actions were almost trance-like. My shadows took over, and darkness washed over me completely. I let myself dive deep into its belly. There was no turning back now. My shadows swept up every last dead bee, swirling them around and around before finally shoving them down Melisseus’s throat, muffling the last of his screams.
Turning my back, I walked towards the exit of the cave, snapping my fingers. My shadows gave one last twist, devastating what was left of Melisseus. His headless corpse dropped like a ton of bricks, or maybe like a ton of dead bees.
My eyes were black, hollow, soulless pits. “That is for Zagreus.”