When I left the Underworld, Helios was with Persephone and Hades. His heart was broken with the memory of his sister’s screams of betrayal. Betrayal I committed towards both of them. With my heart heavy, I made my way to Artemis’ apartment to shower and change. She let me in as I knocked, unaware of the day I’d had. I pulled out my traditional, white gown from my garment bag and stripped slowly while the water heated in the shower. I stepped in, and as the heat hit me, the stress of the day caught up, and I broke down.
After what seemed like mere moments, Artemis knocked at the door, “Selene? You’ve been in there for quite a while. Are you okay?” She called from the other side of the door.
“Uh, yes, Artemis. I’ll be out in a few minutes,” I replied, turning off the water. I stepped out and quickly dried off, only now realizing how long I had taken. I slipped into my gown and curled my hair into ringlets, pinning the long strands to the side. Grabbing my garment bag, now filled with my work attire, and my leather sandals from the floor, I walked out to Artemis’ living room. Just as I was coming out, she was returning to her living quarters with an envelope in her hand. Breaking the wax seal, she glimpsed me in my gown and her eyes widened.
“Sel? What’s going on?”
I draped my bag on the arm of her couch and sat down to put on the sandals. “Just read. It will be clear soon.”
She nodded, trusting me, and opened the letter from her father. I watched her face. The realization of what had happened dawned on her as she read the invite.
“An Oath Ceremony? For Helios?” she asked as she looked up, meeting my tear-filled eyes.
I nodded at her as a single tear ran down my face.
Her expression filled with concern and confusion. “But why are you sad, Sel? Isn’t this good news?”
“Because, Arty, I had to trade Eos for Helios’s freedom. A Titan for a Titan. I betrayed her.” I lost my control again and buried my face in my hands.
Kneeling in front of me, she wrapped me in her arms. “Oh, Sel!” she cried out.
I pulled back from her, not wanting to leave her warmth and comfort, but knew my time was up. “I–I have to go. I’ll see you soon?”
She nodded and stood, extending her hand to help me up. I reached for her, more for comfort than aid, and pushed to my feet. She handed me a tissue as she walked me out.
“I’ll see you there, Sel, and I’ll be here after if you want me to be,” she said, reassuring me as she waited for me to go.
I made my way up the mountain, to the old temple, and into the throne room. Lost in thought and nerves from the unexpected. The climb seemed to take little effort, and I arrived early. At the head of the room sat the King’s thrones with a small table to the side for Lady Styx to record the oath. The center of the room was empty, the open space marked by a large square of inlaid gold on the floor, its points bound by a circle of black stone. The place Helios and I would stand, clearly marked. I slipped into the front seat, awaiting Helios’ arrival. Others began filtering in, filling in around me.
The kings entered, Zeus in the center, flanked by his brothers. Persephone slipped out the back door. Moments later, Zeus bid the door open, allowing the entry of Helios.
I felt him before I saw him. Helios came up the aisle and met me as he reached the front. I glimpsed Persephone and Artemis entering, but my focus was on Helios as we approached the thrones.
We stepped before the Kings in unison, as our connection returned. Zeus raised his hand, gesturing for us to stop on the edge of the black circle of stone. Looking at Helios’ calm exterior, you would not know the inner turmoil he felt. He rolled his index finger and thumb together, seeming to turn an invisible thread between them. Luna, he said simply, as we stopped before the kings. Sol, I replied as we focused on Zeus’ words.
“It is now time to sanctify this gathering. It would be cordial and gracious for all in attendance to stand silent. Helios, Titan by birth, has spent time in prison for crimes against Olympus. Who now wishes to make his oath and promise of his fealty and allegiance to the rules by which Olympus is ruled. What say you, Helios, to show all who have gathered here that you display true and honest remorse for trespasses?”
Helios glanced at me, and I smiled reassuringly at him in an attempt to calm him. He straightened and stood at attention, respectfully turning from Zeus to Hades to Poseidon, nodding to each in acknowledgment.
“I, Helios, Titan of the Sun, son of Hyperon and Theia do solemnly swear my fealty and blood oath to King Zeus,” he said as he nodded at him, “King Hades,” he nodded towards him, “and King Poseidon.” Helios gave a final nod towards him before returning his gaze to the center.
The room became tense as Styx shook her head. Wrong answer. Helios’ heart sank as he visibly flinched, dragging my heart with his. What do they want from me? He asked me.
Response, Sol, not your oath…yet. I replied as he took a deep, centering breath.
“Helios, what are your feelings on your previous deeds?” King Hades asked, clarifying the question.
Helios glanced between King Hades and King Zeus before he responded, “I have had millennia to think about that, your majesties. I feel remorse for the pain I caused to you and your family.” He took a deep breath through his nose and continued. “I believe I chose poorly and made rash decisions that cost everyone greatly.” He glanced at King Poseidon, then back to King Zeus. “I am filled with guilt and remorse for the actions I took and the side I chose in the war against you.” His guilt and remorse flowing between us like a wash of fire and smoke, he swallowed hard before he looked up at Zeus, finishing, “I only wish to show you, my King, that I have learned and desire to serve you.”
“Very Well. Then let us seal this in stone,” Zeus replied.
Helios and I stepped forward in unison as Zeus raised his hand. The air shimmered above the golden square on the floor, then fell into darkness. A nothingness that coalesced into a 9-foot tall obelisk of black marble heavily shot through with veins of clear crystal. On each face was an indented circle, deeply carved with distinct reliefs on each side. On one side, the ring bore the gilded shape of an eagle stooping in flight, falling through silver clouds. On the next, the relief of a golden fish, leaping from a silvered wave glinted in the low light. On the third face, within the circle, was a carving of an intricately knotted serpent, its scales picked out in gold, eyes and fangs of silver. The final side, the one facing Helios and I, the circle was empty, save for the simple indentation of a hand. By the shape of it, the left hand, the one closest to the heart. Hades and Poseidon stepped in close.
Helios’ heart raced, quickening mine. I took a deep cleansing breath, and my calm reached out to him, blanketing him in the reassurance that he wasn’t alone.
“Helios, you will place your hand on the stone, and speak your oath, again,” Zeus spoke with clear authority, the command ringing throughout the silent chamber.
Helios placed his hand on the cold stone as instructed, ready to speak his oath again. The moment he touched the dark marble, a wave of power rolled through the room like the toll of a bell, dark and low. Every line of crystal in the black marble glowed with blinding light, the veins appearing like lightning trapped in stone. Startled, Helios tried to pull his hand away and found it anchored there. He panicked for a moment, unable to move, held by the power within the stone. He felt suddenly trapped and deceived before realizing this was a part of the binding. With resignation and steadfastness, every fiber of his being rang true as he spoke loud and clear, no doubt or hesitation in him.
“I, Helios, Titan of the Sun, son of Hyperon and Theia do solemnly swear my fealty and blood oath to King Zeus, King Hades, and King Poseidon.” As Helios spoke, the stone beneath his hand hummed, pulsating softly, amplifying his words to the far reaches of the Three Realms.
Poseidon approached the stone, the fish symbol flared silver beneath his hand, and the deep crash of waves added to the sound of the storm, building and deafening.
Hades approached the oath stone. The rumble of Gaia, the cracking of rock, and the sound of an earthquake resonated throughout the room as the serpent symbol flared black beneath Hades’ hand. The silence of the dead swept away all other sounds, leaving the room in an unnatural hush.
Zeus approached the stone. The eagle symbol flared gold beneath Zeus’ hand, and the sound of thunder rolled through the room.
The moment the words of Helios’ oath completely left his lips, a flash of fear and extreme pain ripped through us both. The smell of burning flesh wafted through the room as Helios screamed. I wanted to join him. The pain was excruciating, binding him with the Kings, and I felt it all with him. I blinked hard, flexing my hands open and closed. Helios’ left forearm smoked as the sigils of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades were burned into his arm. Helios’ oath was sealed into his flesh as Poseidon dropped his hand.
The brands blazed up again, with an unrelenting fire. They sunk beneath the surface of his flesh, deeper, disappearing from his skin but still glowing within his arm as the oath settled to his bones. Hades dropped his hand.
Helios screamed in anguish as the power flowed through the stone. I breathed deep, trying to share the pain with him so he could remain focused and calm. A single vein of crystal turned gold with ichor as Helios’ blood oath poured into the stone, settling there for all time as Zeus dropped his hand.
Helios was released, suddenly and hard. He staggered back, staring at his unmarked flesh, rubbing it as the pain receded. His eyes lifted to the black obelisk as it vanished from sight, no longer needed. Helios is bound – Above, Below, and Between. Flesh, Blood, and Bone – forever.
The pain now gone, he cradled his arm against himself defensively, rolling his fingers again on his free hand.
“The ritual is done, with Styx herself to bear witness and document its record. Helios, you are hereby granted release from the bounds of criminality. You are now bound to Olympus,” Zeus proclaimed for all to hear as Helios nodded in acknowledgment of his king.
Hades holds Helios’ gaze in return, “Your time in Tartarus is ended as long as your oath holds.”
Poseidon spoke for the first time, “You are welcome in the waters of this realm, no curse nor creature shall punish you.” He stamped his trident into the ground, echoing the chamber, and stepped back onto the dais.
Helios bowed his head in acknowledgment to King Hades and King Poseidon.
Hades turned with Poseidon to look at Zeus.
I placed a hand on Helios’ back to support him physically as I shared my pride and love with him in waves.
Zeus raised a hand to quiet the room one last time. “You are now a returned member of this family. Do not make this event a mistake.” Zeus turned to regard his brothers, signaling the ceremony was at an official end.
Helios and I swallowed hard at the word family and nodded in acknowledgment and understanding of those words above all others.
Poseidon bade goodbye to his brothers, stepped back, and teleported away. Hades nodded curtly to all present and disappeared. The room erupted so abruptly that I barely noticed Zeus slip out the back. Helios and I were quickly surrounded and became overwhelmed with the noise and questions.
After centuries in isolation, the cacophony of noises was too much. Helios drew his hands to his ears to muffle them, but there were too many. I tried to help him filter and introduced him to the ones sending him supporting gestures. The crowd began to thin, and only Eris and Nike remained.
Nike stepped up and tapped Helios on the shoulder. He jumped as he wasn’t expecting anyone to come up behind him. The golden-winged goddess smiled warmly, and Helios relaxed.
“Styx’s youngest, right?” he asked her. She nodded and placed a golden feather pendant in his hand.
“Today, you won a great Victory. When you look upon this, you will remember,” Nike said to him, beaming.
With the kindness of the goddess, the familiar warmth I remembered within Helios began to return. I looked between them, “Would you like me to show you around, Sol?” I asked as he took the pendent from Nike with a warm smile, his glow filling the chamber.
“Thank you, my Lady,” Helios replied.
“Aha, now that’s more like it!!” Nike replied to Helios’ returning glow and warmth.
“Eris? Nike? Would you like to tour the GC with us?” I asked them.
“I would adore it, sweet Moon,” Eris replied with a wink.
I held my arm out to Nike, and Helios held his out to Eris. “Shall we then?” Helios and I asked in unison.
“Sure, but I have to be on patrol soon…well, maybe Olympus will be fine without me for a few hours.” She shrugged, “But just call me Nike. Okay, Helios?”
Eris took Helios’ arm. “You know, after all the ruckus here tonight? I think we are gonna get along just fine. So…lead away…Sweet Sun.”
“Nike?” Helios asked. “Just a walk? Is that not still patrolling?” Turning his head, Helios smiled at Eris, “And you are Eris? Correct?”
“For right now? Oh, yeah…” Eris grinned at Helios.
The four of us walked out together, showing Helios around the compound and his new home.