A small, warm hand on mine woke me up. I blinked myself awake to see Clotho, the youngest of my Moirai triplets, nearly in tears. When she saw my eyes open, she quickly pulled herself onto the bed and into my sleepy arms, sobbing uncontrollably on me. I sat up, trying to wake myself more while holding my daughter tightly to me, wings unfurling.
“Sweetheart, hush, hush now. What troubles you?”
I assumed it had been a nightmare of some sort, and made a note to speak with Epiales to tell him to leave his sisters alone. Clotho wiped at her tear-stained face, trying to form words through her emotions, and I saw red welts across her arms and wrists. Fury and horror ripped through me, and I cupped her face in my hands, her eyes wide and full of fear.
“Daughter, what has happened?”
“Mama, our rooms – I tried to stop him, but I can’t! Please, Mama, you must help them!”
I rose from my bed swiftly, murder in my heart. I kissed the top of her head and sat her on my bed. “Do not leave this room and do not let anyone in who is not myself. Understood?”
Clotho nodded, her tears ebbing slightly as she curled herself up in the spot I had been asleep. I swept from the room and shut the door behind me, branding it with a crescent moon – none but myself could enter or exit.
Tartarus is magnificent and massive, but I could count the ones who had keys to my abode on one hand. Which meant an unknown had broken into my domain, and for that alone they would pay, but if they were harming my children…
I flew down the corridor at breakneck speed, coming to an abrupt stop outside a gilded door. A ball of twine and a pair of scissors were engraved beautifully upon its face, but it held no pleasure for me at the moment. I pushed down on the handle to their bedroom, but it didn’t budge.
“You play a dangerous game,” I growled at the door, before letting my body turn into vapor and sliding in through the crevices in the door. I was halfway through when a hard energy hit me and caught me off guard, nearly causing me to reform in the middle of the door. I pushed through it, trying to seek a marker of whose power this might be, and finding little. We struggled for a moment until I charged it headlong with a shockwave of Chaos – a little gift for being the firstborn – and I tore into the room, my body returning to me as I took in the scene.
A gaping portal lay across the back half of the Moirai’s bedroom, and I could see the depths of Tartarus in it, pulsing a blood red into the room. The floor, from the lip of the portal, eased its way into carnage – broken mirrors, splintered dressers, tattered tapestries, and rubble from the walls and decor lay scattered about in ruins. And sitting in the middle of my children’s bedroom was Kronos, with Lachesis in one hand and Atropos in the other.
The pits of Tartarus had done nothing for the Titan: his beard and hair were scraggly and graying, streaked with black, the remnants of his youth. His eyes were sunken into his face, prominent nose reminding me of a raven, and I thought of the eagle Prometheus had named Koráki. The grin Kronos gave me sent ill waves through my body, until my children’s eyes found mine.
“Well hello again, Nyx. Fancy seeing you here.”
His voice reminded me of a chainsmoker’s raspy cough, filled with stones and oil, and I wanted nothing more than to rip his throat out.
“Let the girls go, Kronos. I will only ask once.” My wings had stretched wide, my armour from the Titanomachy taking shape over my body.
Kronos raised an eyebrow. “Already putting the armour on, hm? You Primordials were always ready to fight before having a conversation. I see nothing has changed.”
A kopis blinked into my hand as my armour completed itself, and I saw Lachesis shake her head fearfully. Taking a deep breath, I looked Kronos squarely.
“We have nothing to talk about.”
“Are you sure about that? You spoke to Prometheus well enough.”
My gaze hardened on the god of time, and I thought I’d break my teeth with how tightly my jaw was clenched.
“I know what he asked of you, we all do. I also know you told him no, but I find that very hard to believe. Why would Chaos’ eldest not want the Olympian throne? You would be marvelous – all the tribute pouring in for the night, Zeus’ name replaced with your own. Wear the decorated crown of Olympus, and the rest will follow, no? You cannot tell me you don’t want that. If not for you, then for your children.” He moved Lachesis and Atropos slightly, and they whimpered. My blood boiled hotter than the pits.
“I do not want the crown of Zeus. I have no quarrel with any, and none that I am aware of return that sentiment, besides you and your fucking Titans. Yes, I spoke to Prometheus. He is gone, I know not where. We fought long and hard once upon a time, but that is long done – we won, and you were granted the pits for eternity. If you are trying to blackmail me into usurping Zeus, you have learned nothing during the Titanomachy, nor in your time imprisoned.”
The portal behind him shuddered angrily, and I could hear other Titans pounding on the walls, rattling the iron doors Zeus and Hades had created to hold them in. Kronos gave a guttural laugh, jostling the girls once more, and I took a step forward, my kopis tight in my hand.
“Zeus will fall one day, whether that’s from you or someone else. Prometheus was already starting that plan, alongside a few others who know the meaning of familial betrayal.” His voice took a poisonous tone. “You may believe it to be “long done”, but we have not forgotten that it was you who blinded us of any hope of saving ourselves. You who cast the darkness to aid those fucking Olympians, you who let the Titans become wastes of our former glory. You watched us topple with a smile on your face, and I am here to remind you that we are still here.” Kronos looked between my two daughters and got to his feet, a wicked sneer on his face.
“You want me to let them go? As you wish, Firstborn.”
He stepped back and towards the portal, releasing Lachesis and Atropos just as Ophion, in his serpent’s form, jabbed his head through, mouth gaping wide and fangs glistening with poison.
I do not remember lunging for my girls, but I do recall seeing red. When I looked around, my kopis was dug deep into the roof of Ophion’s mouth as he thrashed around in pain, my daughters clinging to my torso. I heard Kronos bellow from somewhere behind me, and I threw my wings out wide, catching him off balance and throwing him across the room.
“Mama, watch out!” Atropos screamed as another Titan pushed through the portal. I recognized Coeus, rage in his face as he tried to snatch Lachesis. A snarl ripped through my throat as she skirted away from the reaching Titan. Keeping one hand on the hilt of my kopis, I conjured an iron black spear and threw it into Coeus’ palm, the sound of his pain making my adrenaline soar.
“Alala!” I shouted the ancient battle cry, and jammed my kopis into the head of Ophion, blood seeping into my armour. Grabbing Atropos and Lachesis with one arm, I wrenched myself from between the snake’s jaws and booted him in the snout, sending him sliding back through the portal amidst his gurgled hissing. Coeus had returned, trying to pull himself through completely, and I caught Kronos charging me from my right. I slid my girls across the floor to safety and met Kronos hand to hand, a thunderous sound cracking through the room.
“You can’t win, Nyx. You are alone,” the Titan spat, and I bared my teeth at him.
“The Night is never alone.”
With a grunting cry, I bent myself at the wrists just as Coeus reached for me, grabbing Kronos instead. The god of time cursed his brethren, giving me a window of opportunity. I stepped back, planting one foot into the ruined floor, and conjured a whirling mass of dark energy before me. Kronos turned to me just as he pulled himself free from Coeus, and fury crossed his face.
Before he could say a word, I sent it careening into him and Coeus. Their howls echoed in the room as they were flung backwards through the portal, and I wasted no time in resealing it with a snap, the pulse of the pits vanishing.
Silence fell over everything, and I stood there, panting, over the spot I had seen Kronos fly through. Blood from Ophion had been dragged across the floor, and I had the vague thought of needing to clean it up, when the smallest whimper reminded me why I was here.
I whirled around and ran to my daughters, pulling them tightly to me as they cried with relief. My armour melted away once more, leaving only Titan blood on me, but they didn’t seem to care.
“Mama, I thought you wouldn’t make it! When Clotho escaped, I hoped -” Atropos said, but I shushed her, my arms and wings encircling them.
“You are safe now, love. You’re safe, I’m here.” I picked them both up and, after kicking their door in, headed back to my room. I could see my crescent on the door had been undisturbed, and I let relief wash over me. “Your sister is waiting for us in my room, we’ll get you three cleaned up, have a mug of tea, and we can talk, alright? You’re safe with me.”
They nodded into my shoulders, but as I opened the door to my room, I knew instantly something was wrong.
Kronos, in full armour, sat on my bed with my little Clotho in his lap, and a knife dug into his throat. Her blood oozed down her chest and his hand, her eyes barely fluttering.
“You didn’t think I’d leave that easy, did you?”
I heard my girls scream, and my wrath echoed through the halls of Tartarus.
And then I woke up.