I took a couple weeks to myself after the tulpa incident. Trying to piece back together who and what I am, or was, is…surprisingly not an easy process. Being dismantled like that – I never want to feel that again. I tucked myself into Eventide, assuring Dinlas that I would be alright and that I would take care of myself while there. I needed the night to claim me back, as I once claimed it.
Rebuilding Eventide was physically easy, but mentally and emotionally, I struggled. It was a strange feeling, being able to move solid blocks of marble without breaking a sweat, but breaking down at the sight of claw marks or rogue feathers that I knew I didn’t leave behind – at least, not willingly. What should have taken me a few hours, I dragged out over a week. I was grateful that the fire and destruction had not reached my rooms underground, and that is where I kept myself in between work.
Adrastos, my beautiful and stalwart companion, never left my side. He followed me everywhere I went, grabbing me things as he could, offering that silly pitbull smile when I was sad, and tucking his head over my shoulder when I sat down beside him to cry. He did not judge, he did not scrutinize: he just loved. Adrastos helped me recover, bit by bit, from the inside out. When I lay the final touches on Eventide, he did laps around me in excitement – it was his home as much as mine.
“C’mon, lad,” I said tapping my leg as he bounded up beside me, “let’s take a walk.”
I had refashioned Eventide to a degree. Keeping to the original design, I decided to add stables, a garden, and a few pens. This island was more than big enough for myself and Adrastos, bless his heart. This would be home away from home – beneath the stars, beneath the cloak that I had once lovingly cast upon the skies, now wrapped around me as if returning the favour.
“I bet you’d love company, wouldn’t you?” I said, glancing down at the pitbull. His dark head flashed towards me and he let out a few short barks, tail wagging fiercely and making me chuckle. “Alright, alright. We’ll work on it, okay? Don’t say I don’t take care of you.” He huffed and shook his head, before trotting on ahead of me to sniff out the stables. I leaned against the doors, looking inside at the empty stalls and wondered if I was going soft. Farmer Nykki, Scottish lass that lived in the hills alone with her demon dog – I could hear the rumours in the nearby towns now. I frowned at myself.
“Why would that be soft?” I said aloud, watching Adrastos go from stall to stall. Why would that be soft? It is life, a hobby, something I may enjoy. What was so wrong with that? Did I really need to be like the Triple Wall of Bronze all the time? Gates scattered sparingly, always ready for a fight? The tulpa drifted back to me, and I remembered it was out there somewhere. All the data of the family, just floating within it –
A wet nose pressed into my side, and I looked down to see Adrastos peering up at me. I crouched beside him, scratching behind his ears and down his chest.
“I know, I know. Thank you for being here, boy.”
He licked my cheek and we left the stables, heading to the new garden to plan out what would be going in the ground. Today, I was more than grateful for being able to understand Adrastos, and vice versa. We sorted through numerous options, ruling out things like catnip, aloe vera, tomatoes, and ivy – the last thing I wanted was for him to become sick because I had made a mistake. With my notes down and my list satisfactory, I decided to head inside for a nap. I was tired much more often lately, and I chalked it up to blood loss and the Titans running about. A chill thrilled through me, and I shook it off. I was safe here.
Adrastos wandered off as I entered the temple, leaving me to my own devices. I had replaced everything to the best of my ability within – the paintings, statuettes, tapestries, all pieces of my life on display. I tread softly towards the spot the tulpa had dismantled my statue. I hadn’t replaced it – the only thing left for me to do. I stared at the blank space where my hand had been carved to reach out before, loathing rising in my chest. I swallowed hard and mentally shook myself – I was not the same person as I was before, but I certainly was not whole again.
When I was born, Chaos buried within me a shard of herself – quite literally. I do not know what the purpose was, even now. But when the tulpa left me, it took my shard with it. I can feel the empty hole in my being where it sat before, and I know not what happened to it. It was disturbing and alarming, and I knew I should be looking for it, but I didn’t know where to start. And I could barely start recovering, never mind looking for a piece of me that I may or may not need.
I knelt before the empty pedestal, eyes closed as I hung my head. I had never prayed before: it was always the other way around. But I had never wanted to speak to my mother more than I did at that moment. To have someone older than me, a parent of some kind to help me. So, I called out to her.
“Miteras, you are all and nothing. I am all and nothing. Please, come to your kori in her hour of need.”
Silence hung around me like velvet curtains, when a soft wind floated down my spine. I dared not open my eyes. If…if miteras were there, I did not want to scare her off.
“I…I am lost. I have everything, and yet I am empty. Ruins of stars sit in my stomach, and threaten to immolate me. Night has merged with this modern power, and I was not ready for it. Miteras, I am scared.” I squeezed my eyes tight. “I am afraid and I do not want to be.”
Gentle footsteps circled me, I could hear it. Warmth blossomed in my fingers, stars twinkling in my palms, and I shifted ever so slightly.
“My shard, it was taken. The one piece I had of you, a reminder and a burden, but mine nonetheless. You entrusted me with it, and it was stolen. Forgive me for this – I will get it back, but I don’t know where to start. I don’t even know what it does, only that it filled a…”
The scent of freesia swept over me as it dawned on me.
I opened my eyes, staring down at the stone floor beneath me, trying to steady my breathing, before slowly looking up the pedestal once more. The remnants of my broken body were gone. In its place towered two women, back to back and carved from obsidian. A faint trace of starlight trickled just under the surface, catching the lantern-light. The pedestal was rimmed in opal, with runes carved below it. I edged closed, on my hands and knees, to see jera, algiz, and sowilo, barely readable unless you were looking. I sat back on my heels, my eyes locked on the women’s faces. One was clearly myself, but the other…I had never seen the visage of my mother before, but it could only be her at my back.
I stared at her face for what felt like forever, drinking in this immeasurable gift. When I finally teetered to my feet, knees screaming at me for being on the cold stone for so long, I lay a hand over their clasped digits, and felt a short thrum of energy. I could have cried at the comforting feeling that flooded me. Glancing up one more time, I headed underground to my rooms, hoping sleep would come and claim me quickly.
My dreams were vague and scattered, barely clinging to my memory, until one drifted to me, almost lucidly. I had seen this before…
Silence fell over everything, and I stood there, panting, over the spot I had seen Kronos fly through. Blood from Ophion had been dragged across the floor, and I had the vague thought of needing to clean it up, when the smallest whimper reminded me why I was here.
I whirled around and ran to my daughters, pulling them tightly to me as they cried with relief. My armour melted away once more, leaving only Titan blood on me, but they didn’t seem to care.
“Mama, I thought you wouldn’t make it! When Clotho escaped, I hoped -” Atropos said, but I shushed her, my arms and wings encircling them.
“You are safe now, love. You’re safe, I’m here.” I picked them both up and, after kicking their door in, headed back to my room. I could see my crescent on the door had been undisturbed, and I let relief wash over me. “Your sister is waiting for us in my room, we’ll get you three cleaned up, have a mug of tea, and we can talk, alright? You’re safe with me.”
They nodded into my shoulders, but as I opened the door to my room, I knew instantly something was wrong.
Kronos, in full armour, sat on my bed with my little Clotho in his lap, and a knife dug into her throat. Her blood oozed down her chest and his hand, her eyes barely fluttering.
“You didn’t think I’d leave that easy, did you?”
I heard my girls scream, and my wrath echoed through the halls of Tartarus.
I sat straight up in bed, drenched in a cold sweat, flinging an orb of dark matter towards the voice. A dark head ducked beneath the poorly aimed shot, followed by a snort. When my eyes focused on who sat beside me, acid rose to my throat.
“How did you get in here?”
Kronos twisted his beard musingly, looking as casual as if we were having coffee, instead of being mortal enemies. “The keys, of course. Is that how you greet all your bedside visitors?” He held a hand up as I went to leap at him, and I froze. “Don’t make a scene, Nyx. You’re lucky no one saw you crying to Mother dearest for help. How embarrassing would that be? Anyways, that’s not why I came.”
He crossed a leg and smiled at me. “You being around is an inconvenience for me. And Chronos too, I imagine. Of course, knowing you,” he raised an eyebrow as anger built in my face, “you’re already plotting on how to strangle me. So instead of fighting like beasts, I would like to make an exchange.”
Kronos snapped his fingers, and two portals appeared. In one, the Fates sat together. Glowing chains encircled them tightly, and their eyes snapped to me the moment I saw them. In the other, Eros and Dinlas were wrapped in similar chains as my daughters, though they struggled against their bonds a great deal until they saw me. I couldn’t hear any of them, but I could guess what they were saying.
“Let them go.” The rage in my voice felt like magma in my throat. “Now, Kronos.”
“That’s not really how an exchange works.” He stroked his beard, bouncing his foot. “So let me outline what it is I want. They go free, as long as you disappear.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Disappear?”
The Titan rolled his eyes melodramatically. “Yes Nyx, disappear. Gone, out of the way, poof. You leave Greece, Europe – the Earth. Never to be seen again. And they live. Scout’s honour.”
I glanced at the portals again, gauging the faces that stared at me. They could hear us, that much was clear. The Fates were shaking their heads fiercely, while the twins seemed to be yelling at me. I turned my attention back to Kronos. “I do not trust you.”
“Of course not,” he snorted, and snapped his fingers again, the portals closing in on themselves. “But I don’t care. Either you agree, or you all die. Your decision, Primordial. I, for one, would do it. Who knows what gruesome things would happen to them if you didn’t? And we all know you have enough blood on your hands. Oh, and by the way,” he added, a black smile on his face, “the tulpa says hello.”
My vision went red as I broke his hold and sprang at the Titan. His hands dropped to his lap as my kopis appeared, aiming for his throat just as he threw up his own sword. Sparks flew between them, and he tossed me a nasty grin as he pushed me backwards. A set of armour materialized over Kronos, as my own melted onto my body, and I rushed him again, throwing my pauldroned shoulder into his chest. Kronos grunted as he slammed into the wall behind him, before bringing his helmeted head down onto my nose, breaking it. Blood poured from my nostrils, but I ignored it as he twirled a hand beside us and a portal opened. The scent of Oceanus filled the room, and he rammed me through it.
The ground slammed up to meet me as his portal sealed up behind us, and I barely had time to react as a steel-capped knee found its place in my ribcage. I felt, rather than heard, the cracking sound of bone and what little air I had left in my lungs escaped me. I rolled away from a stomp that was coming for my face, swinging my kopis as I did so and catching flesh. Blood ran down the length of my blade as I pushed to my feet, Kronos standing across from me, taking stance and ignoring his bleeding thigh.
I threw myself at the Titan, our weapons locking once more as my wings beat the air, trying to gain leverage against him. He sneered, his heel slipping on the smooth stone floor from the pressure. A snarl escaped him, and he yanked our swords to the side, rendering me unbalanced. Hot pain followed quickly, and all too familiarly, as black feathers exploded over our heads. He pulled his sword back from my wings wildly, a skeletal grin on his face.
“Remember that, Nyx?” Kronos taunted, as I conjured a push dagger. Wrapping it into my hand, I jabbed it into the side of his neck, his shout of pain giving me a brief moment to push myself backwards away from him. My wings burned as I swept them behind me, but I couldn’t focus on that right now. Sheathing my kopis quickly, I pressed the palms of my hands together, then pulled them apart slowly, as if bound by glue. Between them was a growing, flat black orb that crackled with dark energy. I watched as Kronos yanked the dagger from his chest and as he tossed it aside, I stepped back and threw the orb with all my might at him. He caught it square on, and my flare of victory quickly turned to horror as it careened back towards me. I threw myself to the side as it whipped passed me just as the Titan’s sword swung towards my face. There was no time to grab my kopis, so I crossed my arms over my face, the gauntlets blocking the brunt of the blow and glancing the sword away, but not without his blade taking its dues – long gouges emerged over my arms.
Kronos took a step back, panting heavily as he eyed me. I felt heavy: my limbs, my head, even my wings. I – I was going to lose. For the first time, I was going to lose against a Titan. This place, it was draining me, like a vampire does to its victim. Where were we?
He seemed to sense something similar, a long smile slowly spreading over his face. My legs could barely hold me up, eyes trained on him as he discarded his helmet, and who could blame him? I couldn’t do anything that he wasn’t ready for at this point. He snapped his fingers and my entire body went cold.
Kronos, that twice-fucked, mad Titan, stood before me, a savage grin on his face. A set of chains, forged by Hephaestus unknowingly for the Titan’s use, was wrapped around his hand. And from his hand ran several chains: one to Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, one to Eros, and one to Dinlas.