I didn’t expect anyone to show up so fast for Clio, but the footsteps I heard upstairs told me otherwise. The energy that radiated through the floorboards above also proved that not only had someone come for her, but it was a god nonetheless. The God of Love, if my memory serves. Now, now, what would Eros be doing here?
It didn’t matter. If my little imps were correct, I had a time frame to beat, and this took up too much time already. I stretched my arms out. I walked towards the middle of the basement as my eyes lit up. I forced more energy out of me to send upward. If I could cause delusion to seep through the floorboards, it would give the illusion that no one was downstairs. He, like any other, could sense another godly presence, and hopefully I hadn’t exerted myself too much earlier with Dinlas.
I heard the god murmuring to the little furred creature the muse usually kept with her, and then his footsteps retreating. As soon as I felt he was gone, I dropped my ruse, letting out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. If I didn’t have to fight any more gods today, it would be great. I still needed to get into the Underworld and past the hundred-handed Hecatonchire giants.
Sighing, I turned back to my little prisoner. Clio’s eyes widened as I moved closer. She backed away from the front of the cage I had her locked in as I walked toward it. Her heart was like a wild drum as I got closer. I grabbed one of the chairs, dragging it across the floor. I sat in front of her.
I grinned slowly, one eyebrow arching. “Interesting. The God of Love. Now why would he be looking for you? Are you guys close?”
I enunciated the last part, so she knew exactly what I meant. I saw her gulp as her eyes shot up at my question. She frowned, but said nothing.
“Speechless?” I shrugged. “It’s okay. You’ll talk; they always do…or scream. Your decision.”
She swallowed once more, gathering her words. “W-what do you want, Ate?”
A slow smirk crossed my face at her question.
“What do I want? It’s always the same question.”
I glanced upwards, frowning for a moment as if lost in thought, before responding “Maybe a retirement plan. A puppy. A house on a hill, overlooking the ocean.”
Her eyes narrowed at me for a second, as if trying to decipher my sarcasm.
“You’re lying,” she stumbled.
“Of course, I’m lying. What am I…mortal? Those are childlike dreams. What I want is much bigger.”
I stood, growing weary of this little conversation. I walked over to a nearby table that held a stack of books. I picked one up and flipped through the pages.
“W-when you say bigger, what do you mean?”
I heard her voice behind me. She was closer to the bars now, clearly interested or putting up a front.
I stopped, tossing the book on the floor behind me. Facing her, I said, “I’m talking cosmic, little muse.”
She squared her shoulders the best she could as she straightened.
“You won’t get away with whatever you’re trying. My family will stop you.”
The word cut into my chest like a steel blade. Long-dead memories tried to surface, but I quickly buried them under the mountain of anguish and hate I had inside. The expression on my face must have turned cold, because she started to back away from the cage door.
I moved fast, slamming my hands against the side of the door of the cage, hard enough to shake it.
“Family? Your family? They will be ash by the time I’m through with them. Your buildings, your statues, everything will be gone. And no one will remember you.”
“Why?” Her voice cracked. “I don’t understand what we did.”
I grinned, biting my lower lip. “Wanna see? That is your power, right? Seeing the past. Want to see my dirty little secret?”
Her eyes searched mine briefly before looking down. When she returned her gaze to me, her eyes held a soft glow, almost the same color as mine.
“What do you want me to see?” she asked.
I leaned closer, my face almost flush to the cage, my voice full of venom. “I want you to see what he made you forget. So when I tear Olympus down to its roots, you can tell everyone that it’s because of him that their world burns.”
She didn’t say anything else. Her eyes fully lit up. She came closer to me, the shine of her eyes giving my head a slight tickle as she stared. It lasted mere seconds, but felt longer. One side of her nose started to bleed, a trickle of gold blood running down. Her eyes returned to normal, dulling as her hands suddenly cupped her mouth. Her eyes filled with tears, and she started to sob.
I pushed away from the cage as she cried. I turned away. I knew that sound. It was the same sound I made the first few years after my fall before it eventually just went away. I knew without a doubt she saw everything.
I reached the table once more and hopped up, swinging my feet idly as she continued.
“You can stop the waterworks now; they mean nothing to me.”
Her eyes met mine again, her voice cracking again. “But why would he do that to you?’
I shrugged my shoulders, smirking. “Let’s just say I may or may not have used my lovely skills against him.”
She sniffled. “Still. So many years alone and isolated; you must have been so lonely. So sad.”
“Those are mortal emotions, little muse, and I am not mortal.”
She started to say something else, but the sound of leather wings entered the room. One of the imps—I really need to name these bastards—landed on the table beside me, folding its wings behind its back. He looked from Clio back to me and rubbed his clawed hands together.
“Time. Master says it’s time. The heads of one sleep. The heads of the other will help us.”
Sighing, I hopped off the table. The imp fluttered near me.
“Looks like I have another date, dear one. I’m taking a little trip to the Underworld, and I’ve got a cell full of Titans just dying to be released.”
She leaned forward, grabbing on the bars suddenly.
“Wait, what!?” she said.
My cold, deadly smile returned.
“What can I say, Clio? It’s going to be one hell of a reunion.”
I turned to leave just as the imp at my side shrieked once more.
“The eyes of the muse see too much. Cannot leave. Master says—”
“Shut up with the fucking master thing,” I snapped, shooing him with my hand as he shrieked again. “I get it.”
I let out a frustrated breath as I looked at Clio. I chewed the inside of my lip.
“He does have a point. You’ve seen too much.”
She backed up once more at my words. “What do you mean?”
My answer came with a smile as it was my eyes that lit up this time. Black inky smoke rolled off of me towards the floor and near her feet. Looking down, she gasped. She tried to kick it off while holding her breath, but soon inhaled. The moment she did, she collapsed, lost in the dream realm I sent her.
“Night, night, little muse.”
I turned from the cage. The imp laughed as he flew close to me once more.
“So they’re ready?” I asked as we headed upstairs. We reached the top and entered the main room.
“Yes, yes. We go now,” he answered.
“One more thing first.”
I stopped in the middle of the room, focusing as I tried to remember what I needed for my next task. Taking a deep breath, I willed myself to change once more. I envisioned the outfit I needed, but most of all, his features. After I finished, I opened my eyes.
The imp hissed, “I don’t like.”
“Of course you don’t,” I responded, my voice several octaves deeper.
I turned to the long mirror Clio had in the back to check my work. What greeted me wasn’t my normal form, oh, no. My five-foot six height was now closer to six-five, curves replaced with muscles and hard lines. No longer wavy hair, but a close taper fade with a full, closely-trimmed beard and steel-blue eyes. I licked my thumb, fixing one eyebrow, as I smirked. Perfect.
“Prefer other form.”
I heard the imp croak. I snickered, the sound more manly now as I turned. “Can’t sneak into the Underworld properly without the one who rules it now, can we?”
“Yes, yes,” he squawked, flying in circles once more.
“Now,” I clapped my hands together. “Olympus isn’t going to ruin itself.”