I logged onto the Skype feed Olympus set up, and I heard Artemis and Dinlas flirting. Since she was my savior, I felt compelled to warn her about the dangers of hooking up with the God of Domestic Abuse. He didn’t take too kindly to that. As for Art, she wasn’t too pleased about my intervention, so I quickly did my best to remove myself from the situation. When Aphrodite saw them flirting, she had stars in her eyes, and started pushing them together. From my perspective, this was great. What better way to break up a relationship than have a hated mother encourage said relationship? I kept chatting, and Aphrodite promised to take me out for drinks if I would stop talking until they left, and they did leave together. As far as I could tell, Artemis and Dinlas were going to become a couple. Still, it was Olympus, and stranger things had happened.
That’s how I ended up back at Nox, with a single cocktail at the bar. Seeing it again sober, it looked completely different, and I seriously wondered if Nike took Aphrodite and I to this club at all. Everywhere I looked, pulsars and nebulae danced over the concert goers’ faces. Looking up, I couldn’t understand how we were in the middle of London as every one of the stars were visible to the naked eye. If this was technology, I didn’t understand it, and if it was magic, I couldn’t sense it. It was a bewildering sight, but I’d been there for over two hours.
Aphrodite promised to meet me there, so I’d ordered one cocktail, a house special called “Galaxy.” I drank it slowly and nursed the ice water until all the ice melted. The bartender kept asking if I wanted another and I told him, “No, thank you. I’m waiting for a friend.” But Aphrodite wasn’t coming.
It might surprise you to know that I returned to Nox. After my run in with Erebus, I was sure that he’d strangle the life out of me when I came back. Yet, mysteriously, Nyx promised that Erebus wouldn’t be at Nox. I took her tone from the Skype call meant that it was better to not ask, and I’ve had a healthy fear of the Primordials my entire life.
Someone put two glasses in front of me.
It was Nyx. I straightened my back. She poured two shot glasses of Johnny Walker. It was my first drink of freedom. I don’t know if Nyx knew that. She had this sympathetic “I told you so,” look on her face. She slid a glass to me, and held it up for a toast.
“To the love of friendship,” she said with mirth.
“Cute.” But we chinked our glasses and drank.
“Do you know why Aphrodite didn’t show?” I asked.
“She’s on a date with Apollo,” Nyx chuckled. She motioned her head and we both drank.
“Since when did Aphrodite like Apollo?” I asked Nyx.
“Have you had a single conversation with Apollo since you got out?”
I smirked, taking her point to heart.
She poured us another round. “I’m not mad at you – for the fall of the Primordials – you didn’t really do much in that war anyway.”
“Do you miss being in charge?”
She shook her head. “I’m Night. Nothing can take that away from me. How are you still free?”
“I…” I twirled the thick liquid around in the glass, watching it cling to the edge. I hadn’t posted about Delusion at this point, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to tell everyone about it. “Atë made a house. The Gods can’t find it.”
“Atë doesn’t have that kind of power.”
“She doesn’t,” I agreed. “So she recruited the help of others. While I’m there, I’m safe.” I was smiling.
“That sounds like quite the deal.” Nyx took a drink. I saw the realization taint her like the rising sun. “That’s not a deal that would come cheap.”
“No.” I drank. “They’ve yet to collect.”
I rested my eyes on my palm. I was the clouds dancing on the night sky. Thought the wind pushed me, I had nothing to help me keep my surroundings.
Nyx was at my side, helping me to my feet. Some well dressed men came to her side and she dismissed them with a glance. We moved over the dance floor past the people. “What have you gotten yourself into, little titan?”
“I can’t say, they’re listening. Why do I keep getting so drunk here? Do you poison me?”
Nyx chuckled. “You’ve had three shots, Pro, you’re a lightweight.”
“That’s an apt way to describe me.”
We left the outdoor club, but the distinction between inside and out was surreal. I’d been surrounded by stars and drafts, a lost soul in a sea of humans bound for fields. I was leaning against Nyx, and though she was slightly taller than me, she had no trouble supporting my light weight. It was so easy for her that all she had to do was reach out and pick me up. The motion of the alcohol made me sway in her capable palm, the noxious fluid in my stomach threatened to work its way back up my esophagus. With a thumb she stroked my head, or was it the sea of the Milky Way? I calmed. My breathing went still as the sky.
Things were like that in the beginning, more metaphor than form. The poets did their best to tell our tales, and all they came up with were stories of romance, betrayal, heroism, and reproduction. You’ve been trying to understand it all, and your scientists are getting closer. How do you explain quantum theory to a species that still thinks all heavenly bodies move in circles? You dumb things down to their level and hope that they understand the big picture. I imagine that’s what the muses and Gods were thinking when you came up with your origin stories. I’ve been trying to link the two, the ephemeral, confusing memories I’ve had about the early times and your science, and there’s a lot of holes.
As a child, I was forbidden to run on Gaia. I needed to spend my time in Oceanus, safe with my maternal grandmother. Yet I’d always been compelled to spend time with Gaia. She was the mother of all Titans, but we feared her as we feared all Primordials, in a way that is difficult to explain. I suppose our relationship with the Primordials was like your relationship with tornadoes. They are beautiful, and challenge your understanding of reality, but without warning, they can turn and destroy you. The tornado does so without any kind of animosity towards you, it simply does it because that is its way.
Here’s a tale I haven’t heard your poets tell.
As a child, what you might call a baby, I swam out of the waters and touched Gaia. She wasn’t cold or terrifying, She was warm and inviting. I crawled over her and looked up to see the terrifying darkness of eternity. Nyx was there, not as a mortal, or even a human with a body made of stars. No, she was there closer to how you see her. She and Erebus were so close it was like they were one, but where he was the shadows, Nyx was the faint source of light that made those stars alive. She wore her gown of stars and a necklace of celestial matter, and everything moved so slow that I couldn’t tell how fast it went. She looked down at me and seemed to ask Gaia what She should do with me.
Gaia touched my cheek. I felt the heat inside of Her, the living magma of Her core, and the way that She could be still, but always in motion. She pushed the parts of herself I lay on back into the ocean and let me sink into the depths. The heat left me, and I was reunited with the darkness of the water, but I did not shiver. There was a great heat inside of me, a light that illuminated my mind.
My parents were upset with me, furious at me for risking the safety of all Titans to see the Primordials with my own eyes. They forbade me from rising, not even to see Hemera, and I was condemned to the darkest crevices, watched by Menoetius, since Atlas was too important to watch me. Whenever Menoetius was denied a chance to prove himself like the great Atlas, he took his anger out on me.
There’s more to this story, but for now, know that Zeus was not the first to condemn me. I’d known darkness before spending an eon in Tartarus. Erebus watched me then, as he watched all of us, waiting for the slightest sign of our eventual betrayal. I wondered why Nyx was with Him; She was always so peaceful. That was before I’d seen her in battle.
I was on my feet on solid concrete. Nyx was before me, unlocking the door. We were in front of a house. She turned on the lights and I followed her inside. The place was nice, but clearly furnished to entertain mortals. There were certain tells of Erebus’ absence, a bare spot on the wall, space on a bookshelf less full than the rest, and of course, a room full of light. It was an expensive place.
“Why did you tell Erebus you dreamt of Chaos?”
“Because I did.”
“You’ve never even seen Chaos,” she accused.
I sat down. Had I seen Chaos?
Nyx took off her mortal’s pumps and put them among a stack of neat shoes in her closet. She returned and sat on the other side of the black leather L couch. “No one will hear you here, talk.”
I stayed perched on the ledge, trying my best to look like I wasn’t terrifying. “What is this place?”
“A loft. It serves its purpose to make Nyx the mortal believable to the Londoners.” She gave a sigh and rubbed a crick in her neck.
I wanted to ask her about him, if only to know that he wasn’t going to show up and choke the life out of me again.
She looked to me, the stars of her eyes twinkling dim.
“Atë didn’t make Delusion for me,” I told Nyx. “She created the house as a base of operations to take down Zeus.”
Meteors of interest streaked through her divine expression. She turned to face me, giving me her undivided attention. “And how do you feel about Zeus?”
I twisted on the sofa, to square my shoulders to her. I put my hands on my knees and steadied my nerves. There was no going back after this. “I want to overthrow him. Will you help me?”
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