Mount Olympus, Two Thousand Years Ago.
I barely slept the night before and I am struggling to settle tonight with the events of the last day replaying in my mind. She’s an actual goddess, we were just married in front of the entire pantheon as equals.
This is the first night of the rest of our lives, no more dreading each day that passes as one closer to when I’ll have to say goodbye, to when her end will come. I could spend an eternity like this, laying with her cuddled in my arms. As I ponder the future, I eventually drift off.
It’s not the pain that wakes me, it’s not even the loss of blood. No, what pulls me from my sleep is the feeling of a feather falling onto the tip of my nose. Scrunching my face, I move slightly to dispel the annoyance without opening my eyes. The slight movement pulls at my back, and blinding pain floods me. My eyes flash open, a scream strangling itself in my throat. The pain is so intense, it’s stolen my voice. We must have been attacked while I slept, and they struck me when I was at my most vulnerable.
Psyche, where’s Psyche? The side of her bed is empty, and with a soundless cry of agony, I force myself to sit up, black flickering over my vision.
See past the pain, Eros, your wife is missing, your soul…you need your soul.
Warm liquid is slipping down my back, and reaching back cautiously, I touch my hand to it, pulling it forward, the gold liquid cooling on my fingertips confirming my suspicion. Ichor. My ichor.
As if the feeling of bone searing agony was not a big enough hint…
When my vision clears I finally take in more of my surroundings, and the rogue feather that awakened or woke me was only one of hundreds, the entire floor is covered in them. I have a sinking feeling in my gut of their source, but it’s such a horrific possibility that I refuse to believe it without more proof.
The blinding pain in my back, the ichor still coursing down my skin, the countless number of feathers littering the scene. Yet, I can’t accept where all these signs are leading to, not without seeing it with my own two eyes.
With shaking hands I reach back again and flinching, I bite back another scream of pain. I lean heavily on the bed, using it as a support to stand. The ichor trickles down my shoulder, little rivulets of gold sliding down my forearm, pooling around my wrist. I try to control my ragged breathing, but the idea of my wife being out there, alone and possibly as injured as I am, gives me the strength necessary to power through. My vision blackens from the pain, but I picture her face, the image allowing me to focus through the agony.
Again, I take in more of my surroundings. I stumble, falling to my knees when I catch sight of the confirmation I’ve been dreading.
My wings. They cut off my wings. The appendages lay limp on the floor in front of me, soaked in ichor from where someone had cut them from my back. Tears fall heedlessly down my face, part from the pain and part from the loss of something as integral to me as my bow and arrows.
Your wife, Eros, mourn this loss later. She needs you now.
The hair on my arms raise, warning me of impending danger. I duck out of the way as the scythe swings towards me, coming a breath from taking my head.
I roll to the side, forcing myself to press on my injured back. Scrambling away from the threat, I snatch up my bow and arrows as I go. The movement allows me the space to fully face my opponent.
Agony more poignant than anything I’ve ever felt before, rips through me. It’s more than physical pain that sinks below my skin, flooding every molecule of me with agony. I can feel my soul rip itself from my chest, lost at the sight before me. The opponent I face, the enemy who has so brutally wounded me, likely scarred me beyond repair, is my wife.
She looms above me, Thanatos’ scythe clutched in her hand, the blade coated with my ichor and feathers. Even with the facts spelled out in front of me, I’m having trouble accepting it. This must be some nightmare, some illusion – anything else than what it clearly is….
My wife betraying me, my very soul attempting to kill me.
Din and Las suddenly appear at my sides, snarling at Psyche, forcing her back several steps. My bloodied fingers funnel into Las’s fur, gripping it to help me to a stand. The tiger swings its massive head back towards me, and for a moment, I think I see a glimmer of pity in the animal’s eyes.
“Princissíka, whatever has happened, we can face it together,” I plead, my fingers reaching out for her. Even with the evidence of her betrayal, I’ll forgive her. I’d forgive her for anything, even this. Because I don’t know how to go on without her….
Psyche’s beautiful face scrunches into a sneer, and she swipes the scythe at my hand, coming close to taking it from me. Din roars at the attack, using his large paw to push away the weapon at the last possible second before it hits.
“Princissíka,” she snaps at me, “I always hated that you called me that. You never expected that anyone could not fall in love with you? The perfect god of love.” She comes closer with the scythe, swiping the weapon at Din and Las, who circle closer to me, protectively. “Well, how do you feel now? Wingless and soon to be headless, at the hands of the only woman you ever loved.”
Each of her words tear at whatever is left of my soul, my heart breaking even further in my chest. I fall to my knees, this time not in pain but in defeat, bowing my head before her.
“Gods, you’re pathetic! You can’t even put up a good fight, can you?”
I don’t even lift my head, barely hear her insult, but Din and Las press even harder against me. I’m past caring at this point, everything in me died at her words. I clearly saw only what I wanted to see, fictitious lingering touches, the way her vibrant eyes shimmered when they looked into mine. All lies. Distantly, I hear her still spewing her hateful words, but I can’t understand them, how can I hear more words about how she played me? How she made the God of Love, previously believed to be impervious to the very emotion, fall under her spell? Every hateful thought makes me even more detached, almost floating unfettered in the void, to the point I would welcome the dark release of death. With my head still bowed, bloodied hands clasping my knees, I wait for the final swing of the scythe, for the comforting blackness of wherever gods go when they die.
The swing never comes.
There’s a moment of lightness, then chill, and I slowly pull my eyes up, finding myself alone on the side of an unknown mountain. Din and Las waiver on their feet, both falling onto their sides with exhaustion.
Had they teleported me here? I hadn’t known they could do that, and it clearly took everything they had to do so. They both ripple, and change into their tiny kitten forms, immediately passing out from exhaustion.
The cold seeps in, and I flinch at my wounds, but I force myself to scoop up both Din and Las, pressing them to my chest. With an unsteady exhale, I begin trudging through the snowbank, leaving everything – including my wife, my brothers, my parents, my family – behind.
The cold from the snow crunching under my feet is biting. Even a god is not fully immune to the elements, and Din and Las are already shivering. Wincing and shouting with pain, I pull my quiver from my back, barely noticing it’s sticky and covered with my blood. I must still be bleeding, I notice absently, my mind still not fully present as it tries to reconcile with what just happened. She never loved me. She took my wings, almost took my head. She took…she took everything.
Eros! Wake up!
I swing my head around the barren landscape at the sudden whispering voice, finding no one. It was so soft and faint but left the feeling of a brush against my face. I must be hallucinating from blood loss. I’m still alone on the side of this icy tundra, no one here but me and my two kittens.
I stuff Din and Las into my quiver, their small bodies sliding easily within, cuddling against each other for warmth. Pressing the quiver against my body, I continue my trek through the snow, feeling the creeping loss of sensation in my feet the farther I go. I need to find somewhere to rest, warm up, to heal – at least, physically. I don’t think I’ll ever heal completely from what just happened.
Wake the fuck up!
There’s that voice again, clearer this time, closer. I glance around again, finding no one. I need to find shelter, I’m clearly losing it. The numbness is climbing up my leg, and my gaze falls to my bare feet, and a drop of ichor falls to the ground, staining the pure blanket of white. My hand goes to my nose, shocked to find it bleeding. When did that happen? It hadn’t been a moment earlier.
Eros! Listen to me!
Still clutching my bow and quiver to my chest, I spin on my numb feet, trying to find the source of the ever louder voice, stumbling as I do and falling into the snowbank. Some part of me doesn’t want to get up, to just lie here, on some unknown mountain, and give up. To let my family forever wonder what happened to me, to just let go.
Wake the fuck up, you asshole!
The voice makes me raise my head from the snow, because I finally recognize it. Dinlas. But he’s not here. I’m alone on this forsaken mountainside, about to die from exposure. My brother is back on Olympus or already sulking back in Tartarus, he was never one to linger around one of our parties.
My head whips to the side suddenly from an invisible blow, and more of the metallic taste of my own blood fills my mouth. When I turn my face forward, my surroundings flicker for an instant.
Instead of the desolate frozen landscape, I’m on top of an industrial building and my brother’s stricken face hovers above mine. Before the picture can solidify enough, it vanishes.
I struggle to my feet, my limbs heavier than normal, almost as if they’re being held down by something. Another invisible force shoves me back to the ground, the snow crunching beneath me. This time the flicker is longer, and I’m able to see more of this other world.
My brother is pinning my arms down, struggling as I fight him, we’re on top of some building somewhere.
“Eros! You son of a bitch, wake up!” Dinlas yells, his voice breaking slightly in concern.
Why is he worried? He’s not even here. No, I’m alone on the mountainside, nothing but my bow and quiver, along with two unconscious kittens. He’s not here. Dinlas vanishes again and I’m back trying to summon the motivation to stand, to move on, after my soul was shredded by the one person I ever loved.
My head whips to the other side again, my cheek stinging and my eyes watering at the sudden strike. Again the world flickers, but instead of disappearing in a flash it solidifies, allowing me to finally take in my actual surroundings.
My brother’s ever lightening eyes are hovering above me as he delivers another punch to my face, attempting to awaken me with brute strength. We’re on the roof of some building, so high up that the air seems thinner. How did we get here? And when?
When I notice him pulling back his fist to punch me again my arm moves on its own accord, snatching his fist in mine before it can land.
“Din?” I murmur, my lips tasting my own blood. “Why are you hitting me?”
His arm relaxes at my questions, all of the tension slipping from his body at my voice. “Eros? Is it really you?”
I roll my eyes at him. “For fuck’s sake. Of course, it’s really me. Who else would it be?”
Dinlas’ face becomes unreadable before he snatches my shoulders in a rough hug. I’m so confused by the moment, that I don’t pull away.
It takes a moment for me to sort through the vividness of the snowy landscape in my mind and the feeling of my brother’s arms clutching me to him. My mind is still trying to reconcile the sudden shift in atmosphere. I lift my heavy arms and wrap them around him, embracing my brother fully for probably the first time in my entire immortal life.
“You’re real?” I murmur, still not releasing Dinlas.
“Yes, I’m real, brother. I’m real,” he mumbles back, his hold on me just as tight as mine.
“As am I,” a new voice sneers. Din and I release each other, to look toward the new voice.
Fuck knuckles, Kronos.
It’s all I manage to think before things go black.