In an explosion of cards and smoke, I appear in a dingy alleyway. I breathe deep and smell the salty sea air, the orange trees nearby, and the gyro sizzling from a nearby vendor.
Ahhh, home after a thousand years.
I scan the Athens skyline and locate the God Complex. “Why in the name of Zeus’ butthole did he make it look like a giant…”
I stop myself as someone rounds the corner. I see a haggard beggar with dirty brown robes and a cart full of mismatched items. He is absorbed in thought as he pushes his rickety cart closer and closer to me with his eyes pointing straight at the ground. He seems to be scanning the cobblestones for more rubbish to add to his collection. I try to tuck behind a pile of trash, grimacing as the goop brushes up against my silk suit.
I should tip his scales ever so slightly so that he doesn’t notice me. I wave my hand slightly, and as I finish the motion, the figure’s head snaps and faces my direction. Instead of a face, there is instead a writhing mass of tentacles and teeth. I stifle a gasp and hold my breath tightly.
“Loooorrrrrdddd Caeruusssss…” The voice that comes out of the mess of teeth is thick with the smell of seawater, and bits of kelp flew out of its mouth as it speaks. “My massster requiresss your aiiiid.”
Ten seconds in Athens, and already I have a target on my back. “Sorry, but I’m afraid I have more pressing issues that require my attention. Monster blood, angry father, and I’m sure more than a few panties have hit the floor at my return. My adoring fans await!” I leap up and brush the disgusting ooze off my suit, trying to squeeze past the bad hentai cosplay in the alleyway. As I get face to tentacles with it, its body expands and fills the entire alley. Muck and seaweed drip all over me.
“Thisss isss not a requesssst. Masssster Charybdisss isss not patient.”
Charybdis? So I can cross him off the list of suspects. “If you had led with that information, then all of this,” I gesture to my now thoroughly ruined suit, “could have been avoided. I am pleased to know that my name still carries weight around this part of the world.”
“Indeed,” the writhing mass responds as its body returns to a normal size. It smears a long tentacle across the wall and opens a portal. “Ssstep insssside.”
I frown for a moment before breaking into a large smile. “Sorry, Davy Jones, but I don’t walk through strange portals at the behest of a servant of an ancient monster, that may or may not exist. Just give me the address and I can…” Before I can finish my thought, an immense force sucks me through the portal. I land face first on cold, hard cement. The air around me reeks of rotting fish, and the floor is wet with a few centimeters of brackish water. The most curious thing of all, is the shuddering mound of flesh and tentacles before me.
Maybe that is how Charybdis creates his weird fleshy servants.
“Or perhaps you know far less than you imagine, young manipulator of Fate. Or perhaps you have forgotten that you are rarely the smartest immortal in the room. You have spent many centuries among the mortals, maybe that has dulled your mind.” A voice, deep and foreboding, echoes throughout the room.
I place my hands against the ground and press up. I look around for the source of the voice, but all that sits before me is the shuddering mound. Something is nagging at the back of my mind. Wait. Did that voice respond to what I was thinking?
“Who’s there?” I cry out. “Look, I have urgent matters to attend to, and unless your master wants to speak to me in person, I will be forced to make a mess of this place.” I reach my hand into my pocket as if I’m going to draw some weapon that isn’t there.
“Is that so, little one? Well, best not test your awesome powers.” The mound of rot unfurls, each tentacle writhing and pulsing as it stretches out. A countless number of them spread about the room and curl against the walls and corners. The purple center has two massive orange eyes, with pinpoint pupils. Its mouth is an endless maw of razor-sharp teeth, and its eyes lock straight onto me. “You speak lots, yet say little. I have summoned you here because you have been inquiring about Ichor. Your questions raised eyebrows and sent ripples out that reached even our ears.”
As I come to a stand, I see Charybdis in all his glory. “Oh, Great Old One,” I say mockingly, “what knowledge can your ancient wisdom bestow?” I bow deeply while snickering. “So do you have anything usable, or can I make like a deuce and drop on out of here?”
If Charybdis had a face, it would be full of exasperation. “Do you treat everything as a joke? Are you capable of taking anything seriously?”
I open my mouth to make a witty retort before thinking better of it and promptly shut it.
“Finally, a wise choice. It seems that you are capable of making them. Now, my understanding is that you have narrowed it down. I’m here to take you the rest of the way. My consort, Scylla, was kidnapped a few weeks ago by some…less than savory folk. I cannot leave my lair at this time to do this myself. Thus, the task now falls to you, as there are few other immortals I trust.”
It was my turn to raise my eyebrows. “I’m sorry, what’s that now? You have known about this for weeks, left me in the dark about it until I arrive at your doorstep, and now task me to fix your problem for you? Go. Fuck. Yourself. What in the name of Tartarus is stopping you from doing this on your own? It’s your consort. You should be the one going to rescue her.”
The great orange globes stare blankly at me as if I have been speaking in tongues. Charybdis shifts from his location, all the appendages moving in unison to haul his massive body around the room. As he moves, I see a large hole underneath him that leads deep into the building’s depths. “Come, look at the picture as a whole, rather than just pieces of the puzzle.”
I cautiously approach and look down into the demon hole. An endless mass of transparent, spotted egg sacks line the basement walls and floor below, each one filled with a different horror. “They have your eyes, Charybdis. I’m sure you’ll make for an abysmal father.”
I feel a tentacle wrap itself around my leg before being quickly hoisted into the air. Charybdis dangles me upside down in front of him. I can see my reflection in those bright orange orbs shoved into his wiggling mass of a face. “You have no idea the weight this situation carries, or the far-reaching implications that could trouble your own family in time. Think of it this way, Caerus. An immortal being of immense power, taken from the most secure place for her, without a trace.” He drops me suddenly, and I crumple as I hit the floor. “I cannot leave the lair while the children are developing, and I need my consort to care for them soon after birth. You see the dilemma that this poses.”
I once again push myself off the wet ground and feebly try to brush the gunk off my thoroughly ruined attire. “None of this matters to me or my ilk. Why bring me into this? And while we’re on the topic of weight that things carry, how did you find me so quickly? I wasn’t in the city long enough to even get fresh bread and olive oil, let alone stir up any trouble.”
Charybdis moves as if to grab me again, but instead, he awkwardly crosses his largest tentacles as if he is trying to imitate a disappointed father. He would fit in perfectly at Olympus. “As you probably know, the Titans were set loose recently. Their return harkens a reawakening of many things that you and I would rather stay dead. It has also garnered the attention of powerful beings and directed their eyes upon us. Even those we would like to never admit played a role in our lives.”
I shove my hand into my inner jacket pocket and feel the coin inside. It is cool to the touch, but I run my fingers over it a few times just to make sure.
Charybdis growls out a low laugh. “Yes, even she has taken notice. I would hold on to that coin tightly, unfortunate one. She may already be in Greece. You can be certain that she has more than a few things to say to you. She is looking for you, so I sent out some of my more eager minions to prowl the streets and pick you up before she could. In exchange for keeping you out of hot water, you will go find Scylla and bring her back to me. When you return, I may have more news for you.”
“Helpful, just like all the other ancient immortals. Not vague, and certainly not unhelpful or condescending.” I prepare to teleport out. “Is there anything else you can think of? Literally, anything I can actually use?”
“You mean aside from the identity of your quarry?” If a giant amalgamation of terrifying sea creatures could look smug, Charybdis is doing so in this moment. “The people who have Scylla, you’ve met them before. You spent quite some time around them from what I heard.”
He can’t mean…
“Oh, but I do, Caerus. The Phantoms have her.”