Anaísthita of an immortal is akin to a supercomputer for the mortals. A supercomputer lodged somewhere in the deeper parts of the brain. For the first time in a millennium, I saw the inside of my subconscious. I have, on several occasions, used my antler headpiece to enter into a mortal’s mind to retrieve their thoughts and, at times, even to plant them. But, never had I accessed my own subconscious.

“Ready for a ride, Huntress?” I heard Ananke’s voice. She was unaware of the fact that I could see her. 

“What do you want?” I growled. Ananke gave an evil satiated laugh.

“Your pride is your vice, Huntress,” she said as she explored the chamber we were in. “As of this moment, you’re my prisoner, not an Olympian. Start behaving accordingly!” 

Every fiber of my being wanted to get up and punch her in the face. Unfortunately, the odds were against me, so I bit my tongue. I needed to hold onto every ounce of patience I could find, or else, fighting back would not be an option. 

“What is this? Some kind of a lobby? Who arranges the chambers in their subconscious in chronological order?” she mocked me, eyeing the millions of rows that housed memories from my immortal life. She was taunting me, clearly with the intent to cause misery, but I was determined to not give her the satisfaction of witnessing it. 

The chambers of my anaísthita were entirely organic, but to the unaccustomed eye, it would be a labyrinth. Yet like the life that had traveled through it, it was sentient in its own right, and any physical attack within these chambers would be of grave consequence. Accessing one’s subconscious is a strenuous exercise for all parties involved. For that reason, Ananke would be forced to take breaks and leave to the physical plane at specific intervals. I’d have to plan my exit strategy during those times to safeguard my thoughts from reaching her. Until then, the only option I had was to go along with her plans. At some point, I should be able to distract her enough to grab my headpiece back.

“Let’s take a look at some of the other chambers. I am particularly interested in those that are tucked away,” she said with a wide grin. I stumbled, dragging my feet to the first few rows. “Move it! I don’t have all day,” she shoved me onward. I realized she was talking about the strain of being in another’s subconscious. Unlike Moxie, Ananke is no Orb that can co-exist in a single body. She also did not possess the power or the knowledge to displace me entirely from my subconscious. It is almost impossible to accommodate more than one psyche at a time; an untrained immortal could perhaps endure it for a few hours at the most. 

I touched the door to the first row of the chambers, and we were instantly transported to an island. It was my first ever memory. Ananke and I watched the scene unfold before us.

She approached the biggest tree on the island, a gentle smile graced her lips despite her growing discomfort. The pleasant wind was music to her ears, she was finally going to see her children. She touched the tree, tracing old drawings that she made on that tree long ago. She climbed onto a sturdy branch and waited, a little push, and here she was, her daughter! 

“Artemis!” she whispered in the baby’s ears. A sharp bolt of pain told her that it was time to deliver the twin, but Hera’s curse prevented her. 

“Artemis…I need your help,” she wailed. Artemis helped her mother for the next nine days before Apollo was born.

“Mother…,” I said, reaching out to touch her. Seeing her there, I realized that I had not seen or spoken to her since my return to Olympus. Ananke sighed and grabbed me by my hair, jerking me back from the chamber. She grumbled and dragged me along a few rows.

“I am not interested in your sloppy mushy memories. I prefer the juicier ones,” Ananke said, gritting her teeth. “Now, take me to an interesting one!” 

I touched the door to another chamber; this time, we were transported to the dense forests of ancient Olympus. I drew in a sharp breath as realization dawned on me about this particular memory. Ananke smirked at my discomfort, “Finally, something stimulating.” 

She notched an arrow and pulled its strings back. He whispered in her ears, “I bet you can’t hit the target from this distance.” She aimed for the large block of stone miles ahead floating in the ocean. In one swift motion, she released the arrow, letting it pierce the air as it hurtled towards her unsuspecting target. The arrow plunged into the quarry. A second later, she hears a dreadful cry, one that pierced into the depths of her soul. She sprinted towards the target she was proud to have hit a moment ago. Orion lays motionless on the shore. She fell to her knees, embracing his lifeless body, tears streaming down her face. Apollo came forth to comfort her. “This was for the best, sister.”

“No…Orion,” I whispered at the agony of having to relive the moment. Ananke giggled, enjoying every second of my misery. 

“Bah! The fool…he deserved it for falling in love with you.” Ananke’s statement hit me like a deep gash on an old scar. I winced from the pain, unable to go on. 

“Next!” she said, rolling her eyes at me. This time she picked a random date. The scene changed to Chicago from the year 1949. I bowed my head with remorse as I realized what I was about to relive this time.

“But, Huntress…I thought…you said…” he stuttered. 

“I am so sorry if I have misled you, Thanatos. That was not my intention. I am afraid I cannot accept this. If I did, I would be dishonoring your affections and that of another.” 

She watched as he closed his hands into a fist to hide the ring. His normally calm demeanor replaced by a myriad of expressions, each more excruciating than the last. She opened her mouth to comfort him, but before she could react, he dissipated into a cloud of thick black smoke and vanished not to be seen for a long, long time. 

A flash of anger at having to relive painful memories protected me from the oncoming assault of emotions. My eyes burned from tears unshed. Ananke was scratching at all of my old scars and making my heart bleed. She made me go through a millennium of memories, one after another, scene by scene. The pain felt like gasoline in my guts needing no more than a spark to set it ablaze. My insides died slowly in the toxicity. The fire burnt me out, and I sank to my knees, unable to relive another awful episode of my life.   

Ananke eyed me and howled clapping her hands like a child, “This is such fun!” She pulled me up on to my feet and grabbed me by my shoulders, “You are making this too easy!” She shook her head and flung me into a corner. I dropped onto the floor like a lifeless mass exhausted from the ordeal.

Ananke sat in front of me, twirling one of my arrows in her hands, she said, “As fun as this was, you’ve had lots of time to get over it, let’s pick a more recent episode. I heard there was a new ritual in the woods of Olympus National Park! How about you show me what that was like?”

I did not have the energy to go through another painful memory, let alone the most grievous one of my immortal life, so I ignored her.

The difficult emotions, I saw them like a river flowing by me. I sat there upon the grass, and onward they kept flowing past me, ferociously, without remorse as they twisted and swirled. In a few days the water would be calm again and so will I. There was nothing to be done about the  emotions now, just to stay calm, and everything would be okay again

Artemis (Rashmi Menon)
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