I fell to my knees, the clang of metal on stone as my battered armour hit the ground. I let my breastplate melt away, wings hanging limp beside me, just as beaten up as the rest of me. Blood ran in rivulets down my hands and shoulders, and I could feel the slow drip down my temple from my hair, but I couldn’t care. Not when everything I held dear was dangling by a thread.
“Finally got you to calm the fuck down. Is that what it takes, Nyxie? The ones you love in chains? I should have done this sooner.”
I wanted to rip the grin off Kronos’ face and feed it to Cerberus. Instead I spit a gob of blood out and, conjuring my dory to lean on, I pulled myself into standing, my wings barely balancing me.
“Let them go.”
“Or what, Prime? Are you gonna lock me up again in that shithole?” He uttered a guttural laugh; it made my hair stand on end. “You can barely stand. How we ever lost to you is beyond me. Look at you!” He gestured to my shattered armour, and I realized one of my wings was bent at an odd angle. Funny, I couldn’t feel it at the moment. “Chaos would be ashamed to see you now.”
“You would know nothing of Chaos. I am my own goddess. Unlike you,” I hissed, “a slave to the dreams of others. Not beneath committing patricide. My miteras may not be here, but I’d never betray my family.”
His voice grated against my ears, smatterings of rubble falling from the ceiling as he yanked on the chains, jerking the five of them backwards on their knees. My daughters flinched in fear, but Eros and Dinlas exchanged grim looks before glancing at me, and I knew exactly what they were thinking. And it was a hard no. Kronos took a step forward, leering at me before separating the chains between his hands – the Fates in one, and the sons of Ares and Aphrodite in the other.
“You’re in no position to be making jabs, Night. I hold all the cards.” He rattled the chains once more, and I felt sick. “Who would the great Prime save, I wonder. Her daughters,” he shook their chains, “or her lover and her best friend?” He yanked on their chains, and I saw Eros silently snarl at Kronos.
Kronos licked his teeth, leaning over the Fates. Clotho looked up at him, terror and defiance in her eyes. “Come now, it can’t be that hard? Every immortal has killed a child at some point. You can’t have a clean record forever.” He ran a hand up Lachesis’ spine, gripping the back of her neck tightly, and she let out a trembling whimper.
“Leave them alone!”
Kronos smiled. “Oh, then… ?” He moved between Eros and Dinlas, grabbing Dinlas by the throat. I watched in horror as the Titan lifted him off his feet and held him close to his own face, leering at me. “Perhaps lover boy would give himself up for your children, hm? Guardian of Lamark, he who razed his own people. What’s a couple kids?”
Dinlas spit in Kronos’ face. The Titan growled and sucker punched him in the ribs, and I heard a resounding crack as bone fractured. A wounded cry spilt from Dinlas, and I lurched forward, tears welling.
He dropped Dinlas to the ground, who fell to his side, a steady stream of curses issuing from him, as Kronos planted an armoured boot into Eros’ back, surprising him and sending him face first into the stone. A bloody crack chilled my very soul, and Eros yelled as his nose was broken. Kronos pulled him up roughly, and patted his cheek.
“A little red for Cupid! Suits him, right?”
“What do you want?!” I screamed at him, tears falling now. Anger burned me like Hestia’s fires, but what could I do in my state?
Kronos lost the smile on his face. “A life for lives.” He gestured to my little family. “You took away everything from us. I can do the same. Unless, you trade them for yours.”
My beautiful daughters, Lachesis, Atropos, Clotho – they watched me with pain and fear. The one line of fate they had never divined was mine, and now I held the threads. Eros had sunk next to Dinlas, looking him over anxiously, but unable to do anything. He glanced up at me and shook his head imperceptibly just as Dinlas looked at me briefly. He had lost his dark eyes so long ago. I had watched them ease into a brilliant blue that reminded me of lagoons and hidden castles as he let go of all the anger he had harboured for so long. It was like watching the fog lift over the fields of Elysium, and I could wake up to them every day. And now…
“What’s it going to be, Night? I don’t have all eternity.”
Eros kept shaking his head, while Dinlas was struggling to sit up. My girls wrapped their arms around each other, shaking uncontrollably. The answer was very clear, but no one was going to like me for it.
I let go of my dory, letting it clatter to the ground. I started shrugging off the leftover armour that still clung to me, too tired to take it off with my power.
“Don’t you dare, Nyxie. You think I can look after Dinlas all by myself? Someone has to be here to help me.”
I couldn’t face him. I already missed his humour, the way he would play off his feelings with bad jokes. My pauldrons fell beside my dory, followed by my greaves, Kronos watching me carefully.
“Nyxie, listen to me, you can’t do this!” Eros’ voice tore at my resolve, but I couldn’t bear to lose any of them.
“Mum, what are you doing?” Clotho’s voice shook, but I knew she’d be the first one to say something. My brave little weaver. “Mum, you’re not leaving, are you?”
Kronos was practically dancing with glee as I stumbled towards him, his victory at hand.
His voice was a murmur, but I would recognize it anywhere. I let myself look over, finally, to where my boys were. Eros’ eyes were wide with terror, but Dinlas had the same look on his face as he did when we first kissed.
“Take care of them,” I whispered, and I fell towards Kronos.
He dropped the chains immediately, arms open to catch me as if in an embrace, when a dark light blinded the room and something pierced right through me. I heard screams from my daughters, and Eros’ unintelligible howl, but I felt Dinlas’ pain.
Kronos leaned into my ear, and I saw a jagged piece of black between us – my Chaos shard. He had my Chaos shard.
“We’re even, Night.”
He yanked the fragment back and tossed it on me as I collapsed, the world spinning. Who knew dying was so dizzying? I thought I saw constellations enter my vision, and sounds began to fade. I closed my eyes, a tear falling down my cheek. They were safe.