“Eris, I’m only going to say this one more time. Get out of my way!” Artemis commanded with a shove. She tried to get around Eris, but Eris was too quick even for the Huntress.
“Glad that was the last time,” Eris grinned as she continued to block the corridor. “You can pass if you take me with you, and I’ll say that over and over again.”
“This has nothing to do with you,” said Artemis. “Stay out of it.”
“Nothing ever has anything to do with me,” Eris complained. “If I only went where I was wanted, I’d never go anywhere. I want to see Dad, too. Take me with you.”
“Trust me, you want to be as far away from the throne room as possible,” said Artemis.
“Is this about the girl you got pregnant?” asked Eris. “I’ve never had a baby,” she pondered. Thank the Fates, I thought. “Maybe I should have one. It would follow me and play with me and I’d teach it to be just like me,” she giggled with delight. “We could make so much chaos together! Can you make me pregnant?”
“Ew! Eris, I’m your sister. Do you understand that?” Artemis had just enough presence of mind to not look Eris in the eye while giving this admonition.
Eris wouldn’t have that. She grabbed Artemis’ face and locked eyes with her. “Mom and Dad made me together, on purpose,” she screamed. “You’re not my real family!” Artemis didn’t move or speak. I knew she couldn’t. She probably couldn’t even hear what Eris was saying. She was lost in Eris’ storm of chaos, blind to connection, deaf to logic, out of touch with order of any kind. Eris disappeared with her. Taking a guess at their destination, I teleported to a side entrance of the throne room.
I’d guessed correctly. To my surprise, Apollo was there, too, seated on his throne. As was Aphrodite. And Ares. Oh, right. It was unofficial morning check-in time. All of the Twelve except Athena were there, as well as several courtiers. It was possible that Artemis hadn’t realized this in her blind fury, but I couldn’t imagine Eris had been unaware of this opportunity. While Artemis and Eris had everyone’s attention at the center of the ring of thrones, I slinked behind Athena’s empty throne in hopes of remaining unnoticed.
Eris released Artemis from her stare. She’d been distracted by a new victim. “Hey, Aphrodite,” Eris said, “where’s your boyfriend?” Artemis stood by in dazed, disoriented silence.
“I don’t have boyfriends,” said Aphrodite. “I have lovers.”
“Ooooo,” Eris stood corrected. “Then where’s your lover?”
“Which one?” Aphrodite asked.
“The one you were with last night. The one I saw with you in the forest by Mom’s pasture. He took you hunting, or tried. You didn’t like it. You were afraid of big game. You were right to be afraid. There shouldn’t be any big game in those woods, but I spotted you, so a bear or a lion or a boar would have if it were there. Such a pretty chiton you wore! White silk with flowers and leaves embroidered in so many colors, anyone could’ve spotted you. I’ll bet the chiton’s still in the woods where you left it. He was wonderful. Even better with you than my brother ever was.”
“You followed us into the woods?” Aphrodite replied. She was cool on the surface, but fear was evident to the discerning eye.
“No, I was already there,” said Eris. “I wanted to poke the bear, but the bear was gone. Mom, why didn’t you let me keep the bear? She was fun.”
“If I’d known you liked her, I would have considered it,” Hera apologized.
“Can you bring her back?” asked Eris. “I’ll feed her and play with her and everything.”
“I’m sorry, sweetie; Artemis killed her last night,” said Hera. “You’ll have to find something else to play with.”
“Was anyone not in our forest last night?” Zeus laughed. He stopped laughing as an arrow grazed the side of his lips. He caught the shaft of the arrow in his fingertips. A lock of white hair from his beard fell to the ground.
“Shut! Up!” Artemis shouted to the room at large, though she was facing Zeus.
“I wasn’t in any forest,” said Ares. “Who was it?” he demanded of Aphrodite.
“I’m a free woman,” said Aphrodite. “I don’t owe you a report.”
“I summoned you last night and you said you weren’t in the mood.” The rusty gears in Ares’ cavernous cranium were jerking to a start. “I can’t believe I fell for that! I mean, you?”
“I’m sure you spent the night suffering in solitude since I wasn’t available,” Aphrodite shot back.
“You were available, alright, just not to me. Who was it?”
“It was me.”
All eyes turned to Apollo.
I felt a tumult of emotions to which Eris’ storm seemed preferable. I didn’t know which felt worse, the thought of Apollo with Aphrodite or the certainty that he was, in fact, lying to protect Adonis. “I was with Aphrodite last night,” Apollo claimed. “Like she said, she’s a free woman. I’m a free man. I didn’t see the harm. It’s been my understanding that you and she aren’t exclusive. Has that changed?”
“It certainly hasn’t,” said Aphrodite. “And you know what?” she said to Ares. “He was better than you.”
“You slept with Aphrodite?” Artemis demanded, fully diverted from her quest by this new crisis. “Have you gone completely insane?”
“It’s my life and my decision,” said Apollo. “If you want to lecture me about it, you can come home with me and discuss it in private. If you don’t want to do that, let’s drop it.” My guess was that he wanted her to pick the former and leave the throne room before Zeus remembered she’d just shot him in the face.
Artemis sighed and slung her bow over her shoulder. “Alright,” she said. “Let’s get to Parnassus as soon as you’re ready.”
“Artemis,” said Zeus. “Before you go, I want an apology.”
“I want a father who doesn’t rape my friends in my body,” said Artemis. “I guess neither one of us is getting what we want today.”
The room stopped breathing.
Apollo rushed to his sister’s side. “Let’s go home,” he urged.
“Artemis,” Hera ordered, “apologize right now.”
“Okay. I’m sorry you were dumb enough to marry a known serial rapist,” said Artemis.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Zeus. “I haven’t raped anyone, especially not in my own daughter’s body.”
Artemis shot a volley of arrows at Zeus. He caught one in each hand, but a third penetrated his throat. “DO NOT LIE TO ME!” Artemis shouted. “You know exactly what you did, though I would believe that you don’t remember her name or what she looked like or anything about her besides what she felt like against your body. MY BODY!” A fourth arrow stuck in Zeus’ throne between his thighs.
“Please, let’s go,” Apollo begged her.
Zeus pulled the arrow out of his throat. “Princess, as lovely as your form is, why would I use that one when there are so many others?”
“Because you’re a sick perverted bastard,” Artemis raged.
“Am I?” Zeus mulled. “It seems you’re the one entertaining fantasies of your father seducing your ‘friend’ in your body. All these ages of celibacy can’t be good for your psyche. Psyche,” he thoughtfully repeated the word to himself. “Psyche!” he summoned.
The winged goddess appeared, hovering above the center of the throne room. “You summoned me, my lord?” she curtsied in midair.
“Your domain is the healing of the soul – the mind, will, and emotions – as Asclepius’ domain is the healing of the body, yes?” Zeus put forth. I could see Apollo trying not to show his anger and fear at the mention of his son Asclepius, whom Zeus had first executed for creating a cure for death and then resurrected to cover up the cure’s existence.
“It is,” Psyche answered.
“My daughter’s soul is clearly unwell,” said Zeus. “I hereby commit her to your care and governance until she is restored to sanity, even if it takes the rest of eternity.”
“What?” Artemis cried.
“It’s okay,” Psyche assured her. “The therapies I’ve been developing are all very humane and non-invasive. I think Eris will really benefit from treatment and so, consequently, will we all.”
“I’m not crazy, Artemis is,” said Eris.
“No one’s calling you crazy,” Psyche gently fluttered toward Eris.
“I did mean Artemis,” said Zeus. “There’s nothing wrong with Eris. Psyche, I give you full custody of Artemis for as long as her affliction continues. Artemis, I relieve you of your duties. You’ll spend your days at Psyche’s disposal. You will leave your quarters only with supervision, and you will receive guests only as Psyche deems appropriate. At the moment, you can return with her to your quarters peacefully or by force. It’s your choice.” Artemis had her hand on her bow. Her legs were tensed, ready to bolt.
“Artemis, it’ll be fine,” said Psyche. “I know you’re not crazy. I do think I could help you, though. I could help a lot of you,” she threw a quick glance at Apollo, “but no one ever listens to me.” Artemis relaxed her stance a bit. I started to feel relaxed, too, though I didn’t know why. I decided it must be fatigue.
“No one listens to me either,” Eris grumbled.
“Eris, be quiet,” said Hera.
“And Hebe always gets to hold Dad’s cup!” Eris continued. “Just because she’s the oldest. Dad never lets me hold the cup. I can hold a stupid cup.”
“He let you hold it that one time, and you shattered it,” said Hera. “On purpose.”
“It was prettier that way.”
“Ares, make yourself useful and watch your sister,” Hera said tersely.
“Sis, wanna play army?” Ares offered. “I’ve got a village to raid on the outskirts of Thrace.”
“Can I blow stuff up?” Eris rubbed her hands together.
“All you want.”
Ares dismounted his throne and took Eris’ hand. But before they teleported, he glared at Aphrodite and said, “We’re not done.”
Apollo said quietly to Artemis, “I know this is excessive, but I think it would be best to comply for now.”
“I think so, too,” Artemis nodded in placid assent. “Psyche, let’s go. The sooner we get started, the sooner we can get this over with.”
“That’s the idea,” Psyche said. Still flying so that she was a little taller than Artemis, Psyche reached for Artemis’ hand with a cheerful smile. However, I noticed that Psyche’s temples were throbbing and her nostrils were flaring ever so slightly. Her capillary veins were swollen and blue. She gasped, breaking her composure. Artemis’ calm broke as well, panic in its place, and she sprang toward the corridor.
Before Apollo had time to run to her, the room was overwhelmed by a flash of light and a roar of thunder. A bolt of electricity so white it was almost blue shot across the room and hit Artemis’ back right in the quiver. She collapsed on her side. Apollo didn’t move. Artemis’ body twitched for a second and then lay paralyzed. “It did happen,” she gasped, her lungs and vocal chords barely responsive. “Whatever you say,” she struggled, “whatever you do to me, it’s still the truth. You know what you did to her. To all of them.”
Zeus fired another bolt at her. This second shot paralyzed her completely. I could see Apollo struggling with himself, wanting to run to her but not wanting to risk making things worse. Hera surveyed the scene with a completely blank expression. “Psyche,” Zeus ordered, “teleport Artemis to her quarters if you’re able to. If not, carry her.”
“Yes, my lord,” Psyche nodded in fearful assent. She landed beside Artemis, took her limp hand, and teleported away with her.
“Hermes, tell Selene she’s to take over the night shift,” said Zeus. “The rest of you are dismissed. Go about your business.”
I shrank further behind Athena’s throne and kept an eye on Apollo. I didn’t want to leave until I was sure he wouldn’t put himself in danger. Aphrodite approached him. So did Demeter.
“Thank you,” Aphrodite said softly, her countenance full of genuine gratitude and relief. “For what you said to Ares. You knew, didn’t you?”
“I do now,” said Apollo, brave resignation in his.
“Perhaps the two of you would like to join Persephone and me for brunch?” Demeter offered, her gravity matching that of her prospective guests. “My grandson will, of course, be with us.”
“We may as well,” Apollo accepted. The three of them left together.
Whatever. Sleep is for mortals.
I teleported a little way outside the Helicon Museum, guessing the others would go inside right away. I didn’t want to call attention to the fact that I’d followed them from the throne room.
When I got to the banquet hall, I saw that Calliope had joined the party. Seriously? Apollo had summoned Calliope but not me? Okay. “Thalia, join us,” Calliope offered when she saw me. “I invited her; I hope you don’t mind,” she told the others. I took a seat next to her.
Adonis, seated across from me between Apollo and Aphrodite, seemed rather unsure of himself. He was so different around the two of them separately that he didn’t know who to be when they were together.
“We need to be more careful,” Aphrodite was telling him. “You don’t know how lucky you are that Eris and Ares are dumber than a pair of posts.”
“You’re adorable when you worry about me, you know that?” Mandonis brushed a lock of golden hair away from Aphrodite’s cheekbone. Persephone watched them like a hawk, but whatever she was thinking, she kept it to herself. “You should have seen her last night,” he said to the rest of us, his eyes carefully avoiding Apollo. “She just wanted us to stalk squirrels and bunnies because a wild cat or a boar might kill me.”
“She was right,” said Persephone.
“They weren’t in danger,” said Calliope. “As far as I know, there isn’t any big game in that forest. Artemis lets her hounds loose there every so often to keep the small animals’ numbers in check, but they never attack people unless they’re ordered to.”
“Apparently the forest isn’t completely free of big game,” said Apollo. “Hera said Artemis shot a bear in the woods before you two got there. I wanted to talk to Artemis about that, among other things, but it’ll have to wait.”
“If you’re so worried, why don’t you join us next time?” Femdonis tempted Apollo.
“I don’t like hunting,” said Apollo. I was pretty sure he’d missed the point.
“Well, join us anyway, and we’ll just skip the pretext of hunting,” said Slutface. I was right.
“Are you honestly suggesting that the three of us…?” Apollo finally picked up on the proposition. Good grief, I could practically see the roots of his hair blushing.
“No, he isn’t,” said Persephone.
“Yes, I was,” said Adonis.
“I don’t do that,” said Apollo.
“I wouldn’t either,” said Aphrodite.
“Since when?” I spoke for myself and everyone else in the room. “Are threesomes too tame for you now?”
“I don’t want to share, okay?” she said. “It’s not a big deal. Don’t make it one.”
“Darling, you of all people know it’s possible to love more than one person at the same time,” Mandonis laughed. He graced Aphrodite’s forehead with a kiss that danced on the line between affection and condescension.
“A proper ménage is me and two men who are into me, not me and two men who are into each other,” Aphrodite turned away in indignation.
“People, that’s my son and I’m right here,” said Persephone.
“Yes, we already have far more information than we need,” said Demeter. “But the point is, Ares eventually will, too. Aphrodite, I’m not going to ask you and Adonis to stop seeing each other, but I think it would be best for all of us if you don’t refuse Ares for him again.”
“No,” said Aphrodite. “I wanted to be with Adonis last night and I didn’t want to be with Ares. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve turned him down.”
“But weren’t all the other times just to make him jealous?” Calliope recalled. “It always worked. Well, except that time a couple summers ago,” she smiled to herself.
“Hey, are you still into Ares?” Aphrodite perked up. “He still thinks you’re hot. You could distract him for me.”
“No thank you, I’ve moved on,” said Calliope.
“Are you sure?” Aphrodite encouraged. “Even if you’re not that into him, he makes pretty babies. Maybe it’s time you had another one.”
“No,” Calliope, Apollo, and I said together.
“Thalia, do you like Ares?” Aphrodite offered.
“Huh?” I was too stunned to think of a coherent response.
“Oh, come on, the guy is a walking orgasm!” Aphrodite despaired. “I should have a bidding war on my hands!”
“Sorry,” I found my tongue, “but even if it were someone, you know, remotely interesting, sleeping with your sister’s ex is the epitome of not cool.”
“I suppose in the interest of protecting my grandson, I could consider-”
“Ew! Mom! Seriously?”
“I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I think Aphrodite was right in the first place,” I said.
“Good, you’ll take him,” Aphrodite said with delight. “I’ll give you plenty of tips. He really likes it when-”
“No! No, no, no. I meant you were right when you said you were a free woman and none of this was Ares’ business,” I clarified. “If you’d rather be with another guy, just let Ares suck it up and deal with it like the rest of the male population. Adonis is only going to be here for another couple of months or so anyway, right?”
“Actually,” said Adonis, not quite sure which version of himself he was at the moment, “I’ve been thinking of staying here when Mom goes back to the Underworld.”
“Absolutely not!” said Persephone. “What are you going to do? Keep the whole Museum yourself? Live on Olympus and be Zeus’ ‘cupbearer’ in exchange for room and board?”
“He wouldn’t need his own quarters. He could stay in mine,” said Aphrodite.
“We have plenty of room on Parnassus,” Apollo put in his bid.
“No we don’t,” Calliope and I said in unison.
“By the Equinox, I’ll be a year old,” Adonis reasoned. “That’s the same age the Muses were when they left Hades.”
“That was different,” said Persephone. “There were nine of them. You’d be alone. And besides, Mnemosyne had been grooming them for a role in Zeus’ realm since they were conceived. You are the Prince of Hades. You were raised for the Underworld.”
“You were raised for Zeus’ court,” said Adonis. “That didn’t mean you were born for it.”
“As much as I want to be selfish and tell you to stay,” said Apollo, “it would probably be best for you if you go home when Persephone does, at least for this year. Six months should give Ares time to cool down or, if you’re lucky, forget the whole thing.”
“Do we have to talk about this right now?” Femdonis sighed.
“No,” said Apollo, “but when you’re ready to make that decision, I hope you will talk to me about it.”
“But you’re right. It doesn’t have to happen today,” Aphrodite said to Adonis. “Please, let’s just have whatever fun we can today.”
“Of course,” Mandonis said as he caressed her. “And if it means that much to you, we’ll meet here tonight, or somewhere besides Olympus.”
“Bitch, you are not defiling my son in my house,” said Persephone.
“It’s actually my house,” I reminded her. “And I don’t know if you’ve been listening, but the kid ain’t exactly driven snow.”
“Thalia!” Apollo disapproved.
“Oh, spare me,” I said, fatigue having eroded most of my already limited self-censoring ability. “You’re just jealous that you weren’t the one to make the tracks.”
“That was out of line,” Apollo warned, not as Governor of the Muses, but as a friend whose buttons I was pushing a little too well.
“Whatever,” I said. “I’m going home to get some sleep. I was gone all night, which you probably didn’t notice, helping your sister, whose existence you’ve apparently forgotten along with everyone else’s, save her friend from Hera, who got the last laugh anyway now that Artemis has been committed, which you don’t really seem to care about.”
“Could that sentence have been any less coherent?” Apollo blinked.
“I’m going home,” I recapped. “Anyone who wakes me will resent their immortality.”
I teleported straight to my room. Apollo materialized with me.
“You could knock,” I complained.
“I wanted to make sure you were okay,” he said.
“Since when do you care?”
“I did see you at the throne room this morning,” he said. “You did the right thing by staying out of the way.”
“Glad you approve,” I said.
“Did I hear you right?” he asked. “That you were with Artemis last night?”
“Yeah,” I said. “It’s a long story.”
“I think I can guess.” He proceeded to piece together the night’s events based on Artemis’ tirade, Hera’s insinuations, and Urania’s sunrise announcement that a new constellation in the shape of a bear had appeared in the northern sky. Almost the whole story, that is. Apparently he hadn’t noticed Athena’s absence, because he neither guessed at nor asked for an explanation for it. Athena didn’t factor into his conjecture at all. He guessed correctly that Artemis had kept me with her so Hera wouldn’t know I’d seen what I had. He guessed incorrectly that I’d followed Artemis to the throne room against her bidding out of morbid curiosity.
“Pretty much,” I said when he’d finished his extrapolation. “Are you going to try to check on Artemis?”
“Later; this afternoon,” he said. “I’m afraid if I go now, it’ll attract unwanted attention. Besides, I think if I see her before the paralysis wears off, it’ll just agitate her. I hope Psyche has enough sense to give her plenty of time to rest before she starts any treatments.”
“No kidding,” I said.
“You should rest, too,” said Apollo. “Get to bed. Take the day off.”
“That was the plan,” I reminded him. “Apollo?”
“I’m sorry about Adonis and Aphrodite.” Just like every other time I’d expressed sympathies of that nature to him after having seen the tragedy coming a mile away, I was surprised at how very much I meant it.
“He’s young,” Apollo repeated the old refrain. “Inexperienced. Confused. I was only a little younger than him when I started realizing I was attracted to men as well as women. I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want Ares to be right,” he said with a grim chuckle. “Mostly, though, I didn’t want to believe I was anything like my father.”
“You’re not,” I said. “And you know you’re not like Adonis, either, right? As far as I know, you never tried to ease your confusion by toying with a man who cared about you and sleeping with a woman who doesn’t care about anyone behind that man’s back.”
“You shouldn’t be so hard on Adonis,” said Apollo. “He’s not deliberately toying with me. He just needs some guidance. And if he keeps taunting Ares, a lot of protection. Which is why I am going to keep spending time with him.”
I groaned. “You do understand that he wants Aphrodite, don’t you?”
“I understand that he wants to believe he wants Aphrodite, and that he wants to be thought of as a man she would want,” said Apollo. “I don’t know how much of that is genuine attraction. He might not like women at all.”
I stared at Apollo, trying to think of some clever, eloquent, point-making, sense-inducing response. All I came up with in the end was, “Okay.”
“Don’t worry about me,” he laughed. “I know what I’m doing.”
“You always do. Anyway, I’m going to get some sleep and hope my dreams don’t render the nap completely useless.”
Apollo looked confused and uncomfortable for a few seconds, like there was something he wanted to say but wasn’t sure what, how, or why. “Sleep well,” he said at last.
“I will as soon as you’re gone.”
He left and closed the door behind him. I took my hair down, snapped off my makeup, changed into my most comfortable nightgown, and collapsed on my bed for some much-needed sleep.
But Fate had other ideas. “Okay,” I addressed the audience that triangulated me, their white robes shining in the darkness of their tower. “You win. Everything in the first set of tests was a fluke. You three can do whatever you want to wreck everyone’s lives, and I can’t do a damn thing to stop you. Can I go home now?”
“Have you decided to withdraw your blessing, then?” asked Atropos.
“I don’t see any reason to,” I said. “If it was powerless in the first place, withdrawing it shouldn’t have any effect.”
“I suppose we could give her a little bit more information,” Clotho determined. “It will be interesting to observe how it affects her choice.”
Clotho spun a slender silken thread of gold, silver, and crystalline filaments. Lachesis drew it out and held a small part of it, just a few inches, against her measuring rod. Atropos poised her shears over the mark Lachesis indicated.
“Adonis’ fate,” Lachesis presented. “This short thread will be woven with so many others. Aphrodite’s. Persephone’s. Apollo’s.”
“What does Apollo have to do with this?” I demanded.
“I said we would reveal a little, not all,” said Clotho. “What you need to know is how Artemis’ fate pertains to Adonis’.”
The spotlight that bore down on me moved to the dark wall and revealed the Fates’ tapestry. The image in focus was of Adonis, lifeless, blood flowing out of his bare chest like water from a spring. As graphic as the image was, though, it couldn’t match the horror of one beside it: the pain and anguish in Apollo’s face as he knelt over the body of yet another dead lover. Aphrodite knelt, too; her tears mingling with Adonis’ blood. And Persephone was there, distraught and enraged.
“Artemis is going to kill him,” I surmised.
“She may or she may not,” said Atropos. “We will leave that choice to you, provided you have the power to affect it.”
My mind was as silent as my voice as I stared at the tapestry and listened to Atropos expound.
“If you withdraw your blessing, Artemis will surely bring this scene to pass,” she said. The circle of light on the tapestry shifted to the side, showing Artemis the Huntress, bow in hand and quiver in place, surveying her kill with cold hatred. “If you can maintain and effect your blessing, she will take a different course.” The image of Artemis disappeared from the tapestry, and the spotlight returned to me.
I was still silent. So many thoughts were tumbling around in my mind. One prominent thought that I wasn’t the least bit proud of but just couldn’t get rid of was that, ultimately, Adonis’ death could be for the best. He did have feelings for Apollo. That much was obvious. But it was just as obvious that he had no intention of being the kind of lover that Apollo needed and deserved. If Apollo couldn’t see that now, he never would. Death was the only thing that ever really let Apollo get over his faithless lovers.
But what about the others? Aphrodite was easy. She’d cry for a day or two and enjoy the romance of her sorrow as much as she’d enjoyed the illicit thrill of the affair while it lasted. What about Persephone? My friend? Could I make a choice that I knew might lead to the death of her only son? Could I risk putting her through the same thing Calliope had endured when Orpheus was murdered? Or would it be the same thing? Persephone had never wanted children. Aphrodite had practically forced Adonis on her when he was born. Although Persephone was clearly attached to Adonis, she didn’t seem to enjoy being a mother at all. Every time I saw her and Adonis together, all she did was yell at him and stress about him. Maybe she’d be better off with the memory of a son than with the reality of a son.
But what about Artemis? Withdrawing my blessing would lead to this fate. What this could possibly have to do with her and Athena was beyond my comprehension. Maybe that wasn’t the point, though. My blessing had been that Athena and Artemis would live happily ever after. I hadn’t specified that this happy life would include them being a real couple. What if Artemis truly didn’t share Athena’s feelings and never would? What if getting Athena’s feelings out in the open was the first step to destroying the fantasy so they could both find a happy but ultimately separate reality? Of course, none of this answered my original question: what did any of this have to do with Adonis’ death? I reasoned that Artemis killing Adonis could incite retribution from Persephone, Hades, and/or Aphrodite, and create a rift between her and Apollo. Any of those possibilities could start a course for endless tragedy.
But if I let her kill Adonis, then Adonis would be dead.
“When do I have to decide?” I asked.
“What do you think?” Clotho carelessly addressed her sisters.
“We may as well let her take some time,” said Atropos.
“The Pythian Games are approaching,” said Lachesis. “Let us make that the deadline. For old time’s sake. You have until the closing ceremony to withdraw your blessing.”
“If you do,” said Atropos, “this test will be your last. We will conclude the experiment and determine your hypothesis incorrect once and for all.”
“About that; can we please keep in mind that technically it wasn’t my hypothesis?” I reminded her.
“Of course,” said Clotho. “It was Apollo’s, was it not?”
Clotho’s words took my mind back to that night in Pegasus’ stable when Apollo had first made this “hypothesis”. I remembered the scent of straw and horse hair. I remembered the way the summer night air felt on my skin. And I remembered what had me awake and agitated at that hour in the first place: Aphrodite’s threat that Apollo and I might find true love in the next week, but not with each other. I was as disinclined in the present to acknowledge how much I’d hated that thought as I had been in the past. But the memory was still there.
“I’ll think about it.”
ATTENDING PHYSICIAN: Aglaea
This is the first confirmed case I have witnessed of a full-blooded god or goddess struck with one of Zeus’ lightning bolts. Information gained from the cadavers of human and demigod victims of such assaults that I have studied has been invaluable.
Patient was completely paralyzed, including her internal organs, for three hours immediately following the assault. Heart, lung, and speech functions resumed with some difficulty, though the patient’s limbs were still immobile for another hour. Patient expressed belief that the paralysis lasted so long because she was struck twice. I did not pursue her reasoning, as my first priority was keeping the patient calm. Potions supplied by me and a calming spell supplied by Psyche, the attending psychologist, aided in this goal.
Patient reported having experienced severe pain during the paralysis stage. Psyche, an empath, confirmed this. My tests indicate that the pain was largely the effect of physical damage, though I detected some spirit damage as well. Spirit damage is out of my domain, as a multitude of hypotheses regarding
Hephaestus‘ leg continually remind me. As patient has residual spirit damage from an unknown childhood injury, I have some concerns about the cumulative effect.
I have prescribed a number of potions to relieve pain and anxiety. Patient’s body will heal itself in time. I have scheduled a follow-up appointment for two weeks from today so I can assess the effect of cumulative spirit damage. Hopefully, personal matters will neither prevent nor impede this research.