A Queen Undone: Unlocking time

The hands were still spinning in lazy, counter-clockwise circles. I looked down at the watch. My eyes glowed in the reflection in the glass, but…nothing. I could feel no power surging through me, no pull into the watch.

Hera was missing. That no one knew where the Queen was, and we just had titans attack made me think the worse. What if they took her? What if they…I shook my head, squeezing my eyes shut. Think positive. We are going to find her. She is okay. I stared down at the watch Thanatos found on the floor. My mind spun as I tried to figure out what it could mean. And the powder, definitely magick. I breathed a sigh of relief as soon as Hekate arrived. She was a smart goddess, and a part of me looked up to her. I lack confidence. And she…well, she could walk into the room and appear to have no fear. I hoped one day I could do the same.

Moxie motioned toward the items we’d found. Hekate circled them, cautious, brow furrowed. She kept clenching and unclenching her hands. I tilted my head for a second, trying to figure out why she was so hesitant when I remembered. She doesn’t have magic. 

Hekate crouched down, tilting her head to the side, looking at the watch from different angles. “Did any of you touch this? Besides Hera?”

I raised my head. “I touched the watch.”

Hekate looked me over, shaking her head. “For future reference, never touch anything you think might have done something bad to someone else. Knives can still cut the next person after murdering someone.”

Looking down at my feet, I nodded. “O-okay.”

Hekate stood up and looked around with a frown, then reached up and pulled an ornate hair stick from a small vase. She touched the watch first, flipping it over and noting the eagle emblazoned on the face. She studied the card and the scattering of powder on the floor, before looking up at us, face tight with concern.

“Did anyone else touch what’s here, Clio?” she asked, craning her head around to look at Thanatos and Moxie.

Thanatos nodded as Moxie said, “I only touched the card. Than handed the objects to both of us.”

“Well, none of you seem to be pubescent, so I suppose it’s safe.” She reached out and picked up the watch first, testing the spring on the face mechanism, frowning at the way the lid flew open. “Well, this was meant as a weapon.” She picked up the card and reread it, mouthing the words as she straightened up. “I need a pocket watch. Wristwatch. Some kind of mortal timepiece. Can someone find me one?”

I unsnapped the watch from around my wrist and handed it to her. “Here.”

“Is this special?” Hekate said, taking it. “Because, if this is what I think it is, I can’t promise it will work afterward.”

I scrunched my nose. “No, I got it when I was working at the dig sites. I didn’t want to rely on a phone when I was in the field.”

“Okay, good.”

Hekate refastened the wrist band as she crouched back down to the floor. She dangled the watch over the powder on the floor, holding the timepiece looped over one finger. A sudden and invisible push levitated the watch upward. Hekate snaked her finger tight around the band to catch it, then lowered it again, holding onto tightly this time. 

As the watch face came closer to the floor, the powder began to vibrate, then pool and divide, shifting into geometric patterns: concentric circles, expanding triangles, squares folding and unfolding as the energy shifted. Hekate stood back up and looked at the watch face, then handed it to Than. 

Than reached out and took it, frowning. “It’s running backwards.”

“Mm-hmm.” Hekate crossed her arms. “Chronos was never captured, was he?”

I looked between them. “He wasn’t…How long has Hera been missing?”

Moxie spoke up, “We believe for a couple of hours, but we can’t be sure.” Than nodded.

“It’s a wonder the whole place hasn’t been smited to the ground,” Hekate mumbled, then turned to face us. 

I frowned for a moment, looking at the watch in Hekate’s hand. If Chronos did take her, then how would we figure out where she has gone? These are the only clues we had, and nothing seemed to point us in the right direction. I continued to chew my bottom lip as the idea hit me.

“You know…I could look back into the past to see what happened.” 

Hekate’s head snapped up. “That’s brilliant, Clio. Yes.”

I held my hand out. “May I have the watch?”

Hekate placed the watch in my hand. The hands were still spinning in lazy, counter-clockwise circles. I looked down at the watch. My eyes glowed in the reflection in the glass, but…nothing. I could feel no power surging through me, no pull into the watch. I must have been drained after receiving my memories back a few days ago. There was also a thin layer of magick blocking my entry into the device. I looked up at them, frowning.

“I c-can’t channel my power,” I mumbled. “The magick is powerful on this as well. It could take me a few days to break into its memory. Would it be okay if I took this with me?”

Moxie glanced at me, her signature eyes unreadable for a moment before she nodded slowly. “This stays between the people in this room. We have the King of the Gods down for the count and the Queen of the Gods missing, we need to contain this as much as possible.” 

Hekate spoke up, her voice crackling with power, “I agree. The throne is defenseless, and almost everyone on Olympus has a claim to it through Daddy dearest. The fewer that know, the better.” Hekate brushed the dust into a vial she pulled from her pocket. “I’ll take this with me to study, work on a possible undoing.” 

I nodded, continuing to look down at the watch. “O-okay.”

Now, after a month of nothing, I found myself staring at the watch once more. I rattled my brain on what I could do to break into the history of the watch. My power was still low after everything I had been through over the past month. Going into my husband’s brain to defeat his nightmare practically drained me. Not to mention the incident with the cult. Being pregnant had some effect on my power as well. I sighed, placing the watch down on my work table. I hit the side of my head.

“Work. Why don’t you work?” I mumbled to myself. 

“You’ve been torturing yourself over that watch for a month, Aren. Don’t strain yourself.” Eros’s voice snapped me from my thoughts. I turned to face him. He was leaning in the doorway, giving me that look.

“There hasn’t been any news about Hera. Clearly, we need this to figure out where she is.” I sighed, rubbing my thumb on the face of the watch. 

He moved to the side of my chair, dropping to his knees. He turned my chair, so I faced him. “I know it’s hard. I pretended not to know she was missing when I got hauled in front of Papu, because you asked me to. Which was super fun and truly tested my abilities of not being able to lie. But you have to remember that you’re pregnant.” He covered my flat stomach with my hand. “It’s not just you now.” 

“I know. I just don’t understand why my brain can’t…get it,” I mumbled.

He rolled his eyes. “Maybe because that big, beautiful, perfect brain is thinking about it the wrong way.” 

“What do you suggest?” I asked him.

He stood behind me, twirling my chair back to face the desk. He wrapped his arms around me, covering my hands over the watch. “Maybe it’s not about your powers being blocked. Maybe it’s about the watch itself. Maybe it’s…out of time. Close your eyes.” 

I closed my eyes, my brows furrowing. “What are you doing?”

He kissed my head. “I’m showing you how to work like a trickster. The watch is blocking your muse of history powers, correct?” 

I nodded, still feeling frustrated that my abilities were not working. “Yes.”

“What about your Goddess of the Soul powers? Chronos is the prime of time. Everything he manipulates, especially something like this, would leave part of his aura behind. Like how Nyxie left part of her essence in the night sky, and Erebus is every shadow, but none of them at the same time. Can you read that?” 

I let out a shaky breath. “I could try, but how would that help me figure out where Hera is?”

He laughed, rubbing his cheek against my hair. “Be patient. I’m trying to help you make a backdoor to the spell locking you out. We can figure the rest out when you get in.” 

I nodded, keeping my eyes closed. Putting the watch in my hand, I felt a hum of my power flow through me to the watch. I wasn’t searching for the memories. No, I was searching for the aura the watch produced. Objects can create the aura from their previous owners. In this case, I was trying to find Chronos’s. The blackness changed to red. Hate and anger flowed through me. It wasn’t much of a surprise, but I felt a click inside my mind.

A surge of power flowed through me. My hands tingled, and I opened my eyes. Everything went black around me. It took a second before the scene appeared in front of me. I was on Zeus and Hera’s floor, and in front of me, I saw the Queen. I let out a shaky breath as she picked up a box. She read the note out loud, and I frowned. Even Gods run out of time. It made me shiver.

I observed as Hera pulled out the watch. She pressed the button on the side, and dust exploded from the watch. The dust made Hera cough, raggedly. She rubbed her eyes, frowning before teleporting to her office. She opened the door, but she didn’t have time to say a word. Slowly, Hera’s body shifted into a younger form. She leaned into the doorway, the transformation complete.  When she opened her eyes, I can tell something is off. By the sounds of it, she doesn’t remember much of her adult life—correction, she doesn’t remember any of it. Aphaid finally turns to look at Hera, speaking to her.

The next thing I know, I watched as Hera hopped on a carpet and flew out the window. I am in shock. Well, we are right about the dust. It turned her into a teenager. The scene dissipates, and time rewinds faster than I can stop it, probably because of the magick. I managed to stop it just at the right time. Atë was with Chronos, and her face was full of disgust as she looked at the watch. I can’t hear what they are saying, mostly because I can feel my own powers weakening from using them too long. This information will be enough. We have a starting point and a possible goddess who might know where the Queen is. 

I pulled myself from the history of the watch, blinking a few times. A bit of gold ichor dripped down my nose, and I wiped it with the back of my hand. I turned to look at Eros.

“Atë…,” I mumbled.

Eros reached forward, wiping more ichor from my nose. “What about her?”

“She might know where Hera is.” I stood from my chair. “I need to tell Father.”

“Then go tell him. I’ll stay here. I’m trying to teach Hedone to paint the nursery, though she seems to think Din and Las are the best methods for getting paint on the walls.” 

I opened my mouth to say something, but I closed it, shaking my head. “I’ll question you about that later.”

Quickly, I kissed his cheek and ran to the elevators. It’s time to tell Father and find Hera.

 

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