I looked at the chamber that housed my memory of the ritual. The one memory that Ananke was so eager to witness. She knew it was a difficult one and that I would try to resist. I tried not to look directly at Ananke. I was hoping she would soon need to exit my subconscious to rejuvenate. However, unlike me, she showed no signs of fatigue. I realized that to enervate her, I had to draw the energy out from her and direct it to me. The only way I could do that was to make her expend energy on her rage. I got up and, without speaking, touched the door to the chamber that led to my memories of that night.
We landed in the woods of Olympus National Park on a bright full moon night. The scene unfolded in front of us…
Artemis flew in on Sayeh, landing near a clearing where she had agreed to meet Hekate. She thanked Hekate for the ritual and watched silently as Apollo teleported into the clearing. The twins talked and hugged each other, promising to love one another no matter what happened that night. A moment later, Eros walked in with Clio holding onto him, as did Nyx and Dinlas. The spectators, each one came in support for the lady of the hour, who had an impossible choice to make that evening. With bated breath, Artemis waited for the one she loved to walk in.
Behold, Urania arrived with the winter snow billowing around her skirt. Her dilemma was evident in the crease of her lovely brow and the slight down-curve of her full lips. But her eyes, her eyes showed her soul. They were a deep pool of restless gold and an ocean of silvery grief. Her eyes scanned the area with determination, in search of someone. When her eyes met his, she smiled. She continued to look with the same determination until she found Artemis’ eyes, and she smiled again.
Hekate stepped forward and led them into position, asking the twins to clasp their hands together. Artemis found her right hand gripped in Apollo’s left. Her left hand placed on his drubbing heart while his right was on hers.
“Hand bound by hand, and heart bound to heart, do you agree to be bound, hand and heart by the decision made tonight?” echoed Hekate’s voice from a distance.
I drew in a sharp breath, knowing what was about to unfurl. Ananke eyed me, looking for signs of weakness. I bit my lip and stared into the abyss with an impassive expression.
Green smoke slithered from Hekate’s lips, swirling around Artemis and Apollo’s clasped wrists, binding them. She then drew a curved silver blade from her belt and pulled a clear stone, the size of a large egg, carved with spirals from her pocket. She called for Urania’s attention, asking her to step forward, “Urania, are you here of your own free will?”
“Yes,” was the answer.
“The twins are about to shed blood for you to discover your truth. Will you offer it fully?” The answer, yet again, was a quick Yes!
Artemis sighed a breath of relief, as does her twin. They looked at each other, fully aware that one of them was about to break the heart of the other.
“All I offer you is knowledge. The choice will still remain once all is known,” Hekate said as she touched the blade to Apollo’s thumb, drawing forth a single golden drop of blood. The drop fell onto the stone, spiraling in glowing whorls like sunlight on water, golden and bright.
“Your turn, Artemis. Your hand,” Hekate said, repeating the movement, drawing a single drop of quicksilver blood from her thumb. It dripped onto the stone, running a bright river against her brother’s blood, gold and silver twining and untwining. The twins watched intently as Hekate brought the stone to her lips and whispered, “Nyktos,” and like a shattered lantern, the stone went dark, swallowed into the void shunting the sun and the moon.
Nausea swirled unrestrained in my empty stomach. My head swam with half-formed regrets. My heart felt as if my blood had become tar as it struggled to keep a steady beat. Ananke sensed my growing apprehension and moved closer to me. She was too engrossed in the ritual to turn and look at me. I used the opportunity to steal her spindle from her belt. Ananke’s spindle was also the source of her powers; without it, she was an easy target even for my broken self. I focused on keeping a straight-faced expression. I could see that it was beginning to irk Ananke that I was not giving her the satisfaction she craved. Inside, I was dying a thousand deaths, but outside, I was as calm as the eye of a storm.
Hekate held the stone close to her as she called out to Urania once again, “Hold out your hand, Urania. This stone is as dark as the truth you are hiding from your mind. Your heart knows what it wants. Open your heart as you open your hand, hold the stone. Let it answer you. When your truth speaks, the stone will glow.”
Urania took a deep breath and stepped forward, accepting the dark stone in her hands.
“It will shine with the light you crave, the one you long for. Golden Sun,” Hekate said, looking at Apollo, “Or Silver Moon,” she said, smiling at Artemis.
Artemis observed the myriad of emotions going through Urania’s face, willing her heart to choose. The stone brightened, wavering between gold, then silver, and back and forth again and again. Artemis felt her own heart pulsating at an incredible speed anticipating the outcome of the ritual.
At this point, I wanted to scream, yell at Ananke to stop, cry out that I could not take it anymore. I am sure Ananke would’ve relished every second of my agonizing appeal. Yet, I held onto the broken pieces of my heart that felt like a glove of ice encased in a frozen prison. Silvery droplets of tears stung and burned the rim of my eyes. I blinked them back, refusing it an outlet so that it would not give the Primordial the satisfaction of my misery.
“The ritual must’ve cut you bad, you are too quiet during this episode,” Ananke taunted. I remained quiet. She exhaled and groaned at my lack of enthusiasm in her game.
The stone in Urania’s hands shifted towards gold, pulsing before lightning crackled over the surface of the stone, dragging it back toward brightening, blinding silver. Urania’s crinkled brows relaxed, and her lips rose in an upward curve, forming a slight smile, she seemed to be at peace.
“You are in the center now. Choose, Urania. Now,” Hekate’s voice boomed.
Artemis watched as the stone in Urania’s palm turned warm, glowing gold and bright as a newborn sun, and Urania said the words out loud that her heart wanted Apollo. She turned to look at Artemis, “I am so sorry, Arty!” The words crashed into Artemis’ heart, shattering it into a million pieces. She wondered if she would ever be able to put it back together, or if she will ever love again.
Ananke watched eagerly, as though she could hear the sound of my heart breaking. The fury that had consumed me since that day at the woods burned inside of me and detonated as hot as Sayeh’s heart fire. I screeched as I plunged Ananke’s spindle into her ribs, using my rage for energy. She wailed and keeled over onto the floor, caught off-guard by my sudden vicious attack.
Ananke recovered quickly enough to fight back. She blocked my next blow using her Sais that was tucked into her cloak. She charged at me with a mighty cry, Sais in hand. In one fluid motion, I struck her Sais with the spindle and dodged her knock. She swiveled in my direction, trying to knock the spindle off my hands, only to have her Sais meet the spindle in a resounding clang. Our fight was beginning to look like a choreographed dance of destruction; it was time to end this misery and return home. With a renewed vigor, I slashed across her neck back and forth, using the edge of her spindle until she dropped her Sais, clutched her throat, and fell sideways. I grabbed my antler headpiece and donned it as Ananke fell.
With the headpiece, I took control of my subconscious and traveled out of it with a broken Ananke in tow. I didn’t stop to tend to my mortal body when I reached the surface. I kept going in my immortal form all the way until I reached Tartarus and dumped Ananke in Tartarus Correctional Facility. I nodded to Charon and Uncle Hades before teleporting back to fetch my mortal body.