|Book Two: The Three Gifts
Author: Athena Of The Greeks PM
This the the sequel to Beauty In Itself. The story picks up three weeks after Ariston has Disappeared. Mera fears the worst and soon she sets out on a desperate journey to find the god she loves and rescue him from the clutches of the Nameless One.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Romance - Chapters: 21 - Words: 398,223 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 01-22-13 - Published: 10-17-11 - id: 2962043
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: Isn't it funny that most of my author's notes are filled with me apologizing for taking so long to finish a chapter? lol I did what I could on this one, and I hope you find it worthy of the story.
Mera's point of view
I felt like I was floating, I could not comprehend the place I was in. It felt like somewhere in between life and death, darkness and light, coldness and warmth. It was a place where everything and yet nothing seemed to exist at the same time.
Everything around me was a daze of colors and shapes that seemed to constantly change, one imagine floating to another, and another, then another. In one moment I saw Ariston staring out at the sky, in the next I saw Jason at a table writing, then I saw an image of Cronus holding me in bed. It was odd, my mind was filled with all these images and sounds I could not fully comprehend, because as soon as I focused on one, it changed.
Then suddenly, I was not alone anymore. I could feel his soul, the storm within the ichor that makes him up. He stood behind me, I could feel him, I would know his essence anywhere. I was no longer alone, I was whole again and we were one once again. A warm hand caressed my shoulder and tears filled my eyes at his touch, knowing that feeling that raced through me and made my heart pound. I did not dare turn around for fear he would disappear. Everything continued to swirl around me in this place, but he stayed with me. Neither of us spoke as I laid my hand upon his own which still caressed my shoulder. I felt his body against mine from behind then, his hand going to caress my hip.
That wonderful hand on my shoulder slid softly down my arm, leaving a mixture of fire and peace in its wake as I leaned back against his strong shoulder, he felt too good to be true but I dared not doubt this. His hand, which was trailing down my arm, reached my own, caressing it softly before intertwining our fingers. I held onto his hand for dear life as my heart raced.
His lips found my neck and my eyes slid shut at the feeling that surged through he and I like a tempest as the peace of the moment gave way to our desire. He still held my hand, and as he wrapped that arm around my waist, my arm went with his, refusing to let go of that sacred hand. It felt like a lifetime since he had touched me like this, since he touched me at all, since I felt him within my soul.
His hand found the clasp on the sheer silk dress I was wearing, and once it was unlatched, the silk fell from my body, and his hands caressed my smooth skin. A moan came from my lips at the same time as a deep one sounded from his.
Look at me, I need to see your face my Mera, He whispered into my mind and tears of joy filled my eyes.
I felt his hands on my shoulders as he turned me around, my eyes met the cinnamon skin on his chest, that chest I know so well. My heart was filled with a sweet ache at the sight, a relief at having him with me again. I was still afraid to look up into his eyes, for fear I would not see the face I longed for. He gently caressed my cheek and then tilted my head up, more tears ran from my eyes as I looked into those liquid sky blue irises of his.
"Ariston." I whispered the exclamation and his crooked smile grew. He was here with me.
"Mera." He said softly and I could not for the life of me explained how good it sounded to hear my name on his lips. His voice was so sacred to me, a treasure that I feared I might never hear again.
Ariston shook his beautiful head in wonder as a few tears escaped his eyes. For so long there has been so much I have wanted to say to him, so many things I wanted to tell him, but now that he was here in my arms, none of it mattered anymore. I hesitantly raised my hand and placed it upon his cheek to caress his tears away, still hardly believing that he was right here with me. His skin was so smooth and warm, still hard as granite, still glowing golden, only now we were the same temperature.
"Are you really here?" I asked him.
"I think I am." He said. It was all too much to hope for.
"Please kiss me then." I begged him with a smile.
His smile grew and just like that his lips were on mine and I was home, I was whole again. The power in our kiss, that fiery storm that surged through us both was overwhelming, heating us both up with an absurdly, heavenly flame. We were both completely lost in that kiss, knowing we would never be able to find our way back from it and never wanting to be found. We wanted nothing more than to stay lost together, lost in each other forever.
Our first kiss led into many more passionate ones and somehow I found myself on a bed of silks with Ariston's perfect body on top of mine. He kissed my body as I clutched onto him, enjoying every moment of this insanely perfect passion while desiring more, hungering for all of him. When his lips made their way back to mine, our forms connected and with that, it began.
I was lost in the pleasure he was bringing me, lost in the sounds we were making, lost in his wild sky blue eyes that I had missed so much. Nothing else mattered in this moment, nothing else existed, only our interlocked bodies moving together, driving passion and ecstasy through us both and spurring us onwards to heaven.
For countless hours we continued on like this, moving and rolling around as we saw fit and sharing in each others ecstasies though our minds and souls. He leaned down to kiss my neck as such sounds left my lips. My eyelids fluttered closed, then suddenly, something changed though the passion continued. When I opened my eyes, it was no longer Ariston watching me, it was Cronus with his bright pale green, lust/love filled eyes. It was Cronus making love to me, my mind did not question this, I just held him closer and begged him to continue with our passions.
On and on we went, rolling around on that bed, taking our turns bringing each other to heights we had yet to reach. Our body's fit together perfectly, our souls merged in perfect synchronicity, and everything was perfect, everything was passion and love.
Many more hours of passion, tenderness and bliss went on. He kissed my lips deeply, our tongues moving together, our eyes closed. Then, in that moment, things changed again. When the deep kiss ended and my eyes opened, the eyes I saw were not sky blue, nor were they bright pale green. They were pale blue and lost in ecstasy and love. It was Jason making love to me now and no part of me wanted him to stop, it felt too good, oh so good.
I tangled my fingers in his hair and pulled his lips back to my own, needing to taste him again as his body moved into mine. I saw inside his mind and his every thought was filled with me, filled with his love and need for me. I felt him within my soul, felt how our souls fit together, linked, bound to each other. Seeing into his soul, I saw nothing but his beauty, his love for me and all the wonder and good that he is.
"Jason." I moaned his name.
"Lyra." He moaned back, going to kiss my neck with incredible passion and skill while his hands were busy with the rest of my body.
"Please do not stop!" I got out in a gasp.
It could have been hours or days or months we were intertwined for, time had no meaning, time simply did not exist. My lover kept shifting between Ariston, Jason and Cronus. I was close to reaching that place again, only this place my body and soul reached for was different from the others, this was the one at the end. I was so lost in those endless last moments that it seemed as if the three of those gods has melded together, the face and body constantly shifting so quickly and never settling into only one of them.
But after that last moment came, that moment when we both let go, the body that laid motionless and exhausted on top of me belonged to Ariston. We held each other, both lost in wonder and love, in peace and joy. Ariston placed a kiss on my cheek before whispering into my ear.
"It is alright to love them, you have my love and my blessing." Ariston whispered. "Trust yourself, follow your heart and soul wherever they made lead you." He looked into my eyes and we kissed, a soft, long kiss. "I love you my Mera."
And with that, covered in sweat and quivering ever so slightly, I woke in the middle of the night next to Cronus. I felt weak and exhausted, as if I really had been in that place, that dream, for weeks or even months making love to the three gods I love. But with that exhaustion, there was also a deep, beautiful peace and weightlessness.
I laid there, staring at the ceiling of Cronus' bedroom, lost in thoughts of the dream I had. It was not just a dream, Ariston was truly there in that place with me. Which means that Cronus and Jason were there as well, I realized.
"Mera." Came Cronus's voice, he sounded as exhausted as I was.
I turned my head and looked into his eyes. In the silence that followed, I knew for certain.
"You were there." I stated and he nodded.
"I was there." He told me with wonder in his eyes.
"The Moirae?" I asked, assuming they had brought us all together in that dream.
"It could be, but I do not think so." He said.
"What then?" I asked him.
"I think it was you." He told me, I was too exhausted to be truly shocked. "You pulled the three of us into your dream, or your subconscious did at least." I looked up at the ceiling, thinking on that dream.
"Ariston told me I had his blessing to be with 'them,' which could only mean you and Jason." I told him, my mind too tired to fully think on such things. "How does he know about Jason?" I asked with a yawn.
Cronus was silent, even in my tired state I knew what that meant. Cronus will never tell a lie, so instead he stays silent. He knows something, one of those things he cannot tell me.
"You need some ambrosia." Cronus said. "You look as worn out as I am." I chuckled a bit, barely able to keep my eyes open. I felt Cronus' hand slide underneath my head and lift my lips to a cup. "Drink my love."
I did was I was told and drank the cool ambrosia, it was sweet and delicious, filling my body with warmth and comfort. I drained the whole cup, then Cronus laid my head down again. I watched him as he drank a cup of Ambrosia himself. I turned the other way, my weariness overcoming me.
"Come here my love." I said to Cronus and a moment later felt him curl up behind me, his arm wrapping around my waist. "I love you Cronus." I whispered.
"I love you my dear Mera." He said, kissing my cheek.
I let my eyes drift close fell into a dreamless sleep.
Hades' point of view
I walked through an Elysian forest my kingdom, wondering once again how the Nameless One escaped Asphodel. It made no sense, no one has ever been able to escape my kingdom. There were the rare few who made it out of Tartarus or Asphodel, but Styx would never allow them to cross her river. So how had he done it?
"I knew I would find you here." I smiled at the warm voice and turned around to see the beautiful brown haired goddess, her sky blue eyes as entrancing as ever. All these years, and the effect she has upon me has not dimmed. If anything, my love for her grows stronger as the moments pass and with them the centuries.
My beloved goddess wore tan riding breeches with tall black leather riding boots, which were trimmed with leather the same color as her eyes. Her shirt was pure white and long sleeved with buttons down the front, some of those top buttons were undone, giving the shirt a low V-neck that tastefully exposed some of her full bosom. The shirt fit her perfect, slim hourglass figure loosely, flatteringly so. Her face was as bewitchingly beauteous as ever and those beautiful brown curls were loosely pulled behind her head.
"Ennina." I sighed her name and she walked up to me, encasing me in her embrace as I held her close, breathing in her scent as her soft cheek rested against my own. She is such a comfort to me.
"How are you Hades?" She asked as she held me, her hand softly running through my black hair.
"Do you not already know?" I asked her and she laughed a bit and kissed my cheek before pulling back to look into my eyes, her arms still wrapped around my neck.
"And my sister?" She asked.
"Persephone is well," I told her. "She misses you."
"I will have to stop by and see her then." She told me, gazing into my eyes and amazing me again with how deeply she loves me. "I thought I would say hello to you both before I head off to my grandmothers. How are our sons?"
"They are well also." I told her. "You have no idea how much I have missed you." I leaned down as Ennina leaned up, bringing our lips together, bringing our souls to life. How just the brushing of lips can make my knees weak and make my soul melt into her own has always astounded me. "How long can you stay?" I asked her.
"Not long." She told me, her eyes looking into mine, putting me under her spell. "Oh Hades." She whispered then kissed me again, the power of that kiss left us both in wonder.
Ennina and I were together long before Persephone was ever born. We shared our souls with each other long ago, binding us together. Both she and Persephone are my soul mates. Persephone knew from when we were first together that I will always love Ennina and always welcome her company when she can visit, and she has never had a problem with that. Persephone is the selfless kind, someone who gets happiness by seeing others happy. I am blessed to have her as a wife, I treasure her as much as I do Ennina.
Obviously, I cannot be with Ennina all of the time, she has her duties and her husbands, but we both treasure the few visit she can spare and those precious nights she shares my bed, our bed. I held Ennina close when we ceased our kissing, my hand caressing her scared one that touched my chest.
"How are you?" I asked her.
"I am staying strong." She told me. "Things are quite a mess up there."
"You can always come here to me." I told her, she smiled and nodded, running her fingers through my black hair as she looked at the strands.
"I know." She said softly, then seemed to remember something. "Zeus and I are getting married."
"If you are going to marry him, then you must marry me as well." I told her.
I had asked her many times to be my wife, she always tells me the timing is not right. But if she intended on marrying my brother, I was not about to let her get away without a fight. I have wanted to marry this incredible goddess for a very, very long time.
"Good gods," She said softly. "Eight husbands?" I laughed and her smile was blinding. I know how much it means to her to hear me laugh, I was once a very sullen creature, never smiling or laughing much, but she changed that.
"It is only fair." I told her. "You know how long I have waited to marry you."
"If I wasn't a bigamist before." She said and I laughed out loud.
"Would that be a yes?" I asked her. I knew she could feel how much I wanted this, and I knew she wanted it as well. But she smiled and looked away from my eyes to collect her thoughts for a moment before meeting my eyes again.
"You know I would not be able to spend every moment with you." She said softly. "It would not be fair to you, to have a wife you barely get to see. My duties alone keep me extremely occupied these days, along with my search for our missing. I do not want to hurt you, you deserve better than that, you deserve Persephone, a wonderful goddess who can totally devote herself and her time to you." I caressed her cheek.
"My beautiful love," I said to her softly. "I would not take you from your duties and those you love, not for my kingdom. I love you, you know how deeply that truth runs within my soul. I have loved you for so long, it is difficult to know how I got through the day before you came into my existence. Yes, I love Persephone just as deeply, you know I would die without her, but I need you as well. I want you to be my wife, I want to know that a part of you belongs to me."
"You have a piece of my soul, and no small piece at that." She said so softly. "You truly want to marry me, knowing that with the way things are in the world, you may only be able to be with me a few times a month if that?"
"With every grain of my being, with all that I am, with all my love for you the answer is yes." I pronounced before suddenly sinking to one knee before her, holding her hands in my own as I looked up into her eyes. "I understand how little we would be able to see each other, but you must know that every moment I am with you is worth however long I must go without your company. I would wait a century just to spend a moment with you, just to kiss your lips once. I want you as my wife, I want you for every moment you are able to give yourself to me, and I have my treasured Persephone for the times I will be without you. You know how happy she makes me, and so you do not need to worry about me as you do."
Ennina had tears in her eyes by this time, so deeply was she moved by my words. She knew I meant all of it, that I would do anything for her.
"So, you beautiful, radiant goddess, I must once again ask you to be my wife and pray the answer will be yes." My voice was soft.
The moment that passed waiting for her response was one of the longest in my existence. How could any man, mortal or immortal not fall in love with this woman? I wondered to myself, realizing just how many men had fallen in love with her over the course of her incredible and oft times difficult existence. She is the kind of woman men cannot help falling in love with. Everything this goddess has been through has made me even more protective of her, and it touches me to know that even though I am a very powerful and feared god and the king of the Underworld, Ennina is still as protective of me as I am of her.
And so I waited on bended knee for her answer. It would not matter if she said no, I would be disappointed, but it would change nothing between us. But it would mean everything if she were to say yes and agree to be my bride. Ennina took a deep breath before her beautiful, crooked smile widened and a few tears escaped her eyes.
"Hades," She said softly. "I would be honored to become your wife."
I stayed there, looking upon her in wonder. Ennina laughed and pulled me to my feet, placing her hands on my cheeks. I still could not look away from her eyes, wondering if this moment could be real.
"Are you going to kiss me or what?" Ennina asked as a few more tears of joy escaped her eyes.
I tangled my fingers into her curls, wrapped my arm around her waist, brought her warm body against mine and kissed her with everything I had in me, with all my joy, all my longing for this moment, all the celebration within me. I kissed her like we were the last beings left in this world.
"Come to bed." I whispered to her, she sighed.
"There is not time." She said. "I must get to my grandmothers house and it is three days ride."
"Please," I begged her, kissing her lips again. "Do you meant to torment me to death with what I must wait to have?"
"I would not want to do that." She said and leaned up to kiss me.
Our kisses became more passionate, more intense as we began undressing each other in those woods. She pushed me back against a tree, looking into my eyes as her hands found the hem of my shirt and brought it over my head quickly. She leaned up, pressing her bare body against mine as she licked then bit my bottom lip, driving me to madness as a groan left my lips. My tongue plunged into her sweet mouth as her hands ran down my chest teasingly, before going sliding her fingers back up my chest, leaving trails of fire in their wake as they went up my neck, then down my shoulders, her nails softly scratching my immortal flesh.
Her lips left mine, the tip of her nose trailing down my neck as I leaned back against the tree as her hot breath washed across my neck, her hands exploring body which was well known to her. Our minds were one, I saw through her eyes, felt her emotions, experiencing her overwhelming desire for me, and her enjoyment as she teased me. I felt the smile on her lips, my lips curled to match that glorious smile.
Finally, I could not take anymore of her teasing. My hand found her chin and tilted her head up so that my mouth could passionately descend upon hers as a soft moan left her lips. So many centuries it has been since I first tasted her kiss, and yet it is still as intimate, still as intense, still as mindboggling. I lifted her up into my arms and this time she was against the tree. I could feel how the bark felt against her bare back, though it could never mar her flawless skin, as I felt those curves she possesses, the soft skin on her thighs wrapped around me, every part of her I thoroughly explored, watching and enjoying the pleasure I brought her.
All immortal women may have perfect bodies, but Ennina was something else entirely, she is… otherworldly. I had had other lovers before her, but with the exception of Persephone, I have never felt anything even close to when I touch her skin, taste her kiss, feel her hands caressing me. It is all too much to take, she is too much to take. Not many men would be able to handle a woman such as her, I prided myself on being one of the few who could.
I paused before going any further, just to savor the moment and the feeling of her warm, perfect body wrapped around me, her eyes dazed with desire for the passions we were about to share, her arms, one slung around my neck and the other around my back. I traced the shape of her jaw before running my fingers down her neck and to other perfect parts of her body.
"Who is tormenting who now?" She whispered, her voice deeper with desire. Her hand slid into my hair, grabbing hold and bringing my lips down upon hers. I was helpless, I had no power left within me to wait a moment longer to have her…
We laid in the soft Elysian grass face to face under the shade of the trees, holding each other close.
"You are so beautiful." I told her softly and her soft smile grew. It was not as if she had not heard the words countless times before, and not only from my own lips. There were just times I could not help telling her once again how extraordinary she is.
"As are you, my love." She told me, making my smile grow as I kissed her lips tenderly.
"It will be 'husband' soon." I told her and she laughed, a sound filled with airy delight, filled with the joy that enveloped us.
"And I will be your wife, along with my dear sister." Ennina said. Her crooked smile was breathtaking, blinding. Her hand rested on my chest.
"I love you." I told her, in my opinion, no one can say those three words enough.
"I love you my Hades." She told me and kissed my lips softly.
I remembered something then. I sat up and looked at the naked beauty that laid down before me as she turned and laid on her back. Her brown curls, tinged with gold, made a halo around her head. Her tan skin glowed with that divine golden hew and her sky blue eyes put Earths sky to shame. I placed my hand lovingly on her hip, gently caressing where my hand laid.
"I have something for you." I told her.
I focused and a moment later, the small ebony box was in my hand. Ennina looked at it in wonder as she raised herself up onto her elbow. I opened it up and showed her the ring inside, her breath caught at the sight.
"What is that?" She asked, though she clearly already knew the answer. Her eyes were glued to the ring.
"Something I had made for you a long time ago." I told her, I took the ring out and took her left hand into my own.
I looked down on the beautiful engagement ring Cronus had given her long ago. The rich pink diamond sparkled and the blue gold of the casting climbed up the sides of the gem in perfect little vines. I let go of that hand and instead picked up her right hand, deciding that could use some decoration.
I took the ring out of the box and slid it onto her middle finger. I held her hand as I admired the way the ring looked. This diamond was unique, just like my Ennina. When my miners found the stone a century ago in the mines, they brought it straight to me, and I knew it was meant for her.
It was a rather large oval diamond. The rare thing was the color. The center of the diamond was pure black, but as it reached the edges, the color slowly changed into a rich blue, and around the very edge of the blue and black diamond was a band of the same blue as Ennina's eyes.
Once the stone had been cut to my specifications, I looked over a few designs Hephaestus drew up and chose the casting I liked best. The casting was as extraordinary as the diamond itself. On either side of the diamond, was likeness of an owl with its wings fully unfurled, curving back around the priceless stone. The owls were made out of the purest gold, which was also mined from my realm, and the eyes were made out of sky blue diamonds with little black centers. No detail was spared, each feather on the owls had been skillfully depicted. The band itself was made out of gold, woven to look like vines. It was perfect, seeing as how much nature means to Ennina.
The ring looked even more beautiful now that it adorned Ennina's elegant hand. I looked away from the stone and to my betrothed. My smile grew, seeing the wonder on her face and feeling within her how much this ring meant to her. I did not speak and neither did she, but after a time she looked up into my eyes as she sat up. I still held the hand that now showcased my ring, Ennina placed her free hand on my cheek and kissed me.
"Is the ring to your liking?" I asked her. I already knew she adored it, but I still wanted to hear it from her lips. I had missed her voice.
"It is extraordinary." She told me. "I love it, though not nearly as much as I love you."
"I can accept that." I told her and she laughed and looked back at the ring.
I felt a thought come to her and she began laughing again. Then she took a deep breath and shook her head as she looked into my eyes.
"What is it?" I asked her.
"If I wear this, then my fingers will soon be filled." Ennina said. "I am sure that all of my husbands will want to give me rings as well."
"You do not need to wear it." I told her, she shook her head.
"Not for the world would I take this off." She told me, then sighed. "I do need to be going though." I nodded.
We both rose to our feet and began picking up our clothing which was strewed about and began dressing piece by piece. Ennina had to jump onto a tree limb thirty feet up to get her shirt from where I had tossed it in the outrageous heat on the moment. When she landed, she was about to slip the shirt on when I plucked it from her grasp. She looked up at me as I stood before her.
"Allow me." I told her.
I slid the white silk onto her perfect body, buttoning up the buttons, but leaving a few undone, just as she had it before. Her hands came to rest on my chest as she gazed up into my eyes.
"Give Persephone my love, and tell her I am sorry I was not able to visit her." Ennina requested.
"I will tell her that is my fault." I said and her smile grew. "How soon can I marry you?" I asked her, her sweet laughter rang out.
"How soon would you like to marry me?" She asked.
"Right now." I told her. "I do not need a huge ceremony, I just want to know that you are mine."
"My dear Hades," She said. "I have been yours for a very long time." I kissed her lips.
"So what do you say?" I asked her. "A quick exchange of vows before you go?"
"I wish I could." She told me. "But I would rather wait until I return. And our wedding is a momentous occasion, we should have a beautiful ceremony."
"As you wish." I told her. "I want to marry you as soon as possible."
"I will keep that in mind." She told me. "We can speak more on the matter when I return." I nodded.
We kissed a few more times and said I love you before she disappeared in golden light. I could not stop smiling as I made my way back to my palace while feeling like I was walking on a cloud. I knew the first person I wanted to tell about this. I began running and ran through the open doors and into my palace.
"Persephone!" I yelled my wife's name as I stood in the entrance hall. Only moments later my beautiful wife came running down the stairs, her red silk gown trailing after her. She was obviously curious about my outburst and the joy she felt within my soul. "Come here you beautiful goddess!"
I met her at the foot of the stairs, took my beautiful wife into my arms and kissed her while spinning around. When our lips parted she looked at me, her eyes dazed but clearly curious.
"Did I miss something?" Persephone asked me, clearly wondering why I was smiling like this, why such euphoria filled me.
"Ennina came to visit," I told her, my smile still in place. "She is going to marry Zeus. When I found that out, I once again asked her to become my wife." Persephone's face lit up like mine was, a look of wonder on her face.
"She said yes?" Persephone was nearly as excited as I was. All I could do was nod while still smiling like an idiot. We kissed again in celebration.
"I am so happy for you both my husband." She told me, such joy in her soul. "So very happy." I caressed her cheek as I looked into her stunning green eyes.
As much as I love Ennina, I would not be able to live without Persephone, she is my light. I am thankful to live in a culture that would not make me choose between them, I do not know how the mortals stand it. I have seen their lives at judgment, felt their heartache at having to choose between the two they love. I pitied them, but I knew that Ennina was hard at work to help change that, to teach them how such a marriage can work between three or more people. The truth that I have learned is that it is different for everyone. Why the mortals seem to think it has to be 'either or' is beyond me when you can have both of the people you love.
That being said, there are immortals who hold to monogamy. I am thankful that Persephone and Ennina are not among them, it would kill me to have to choose between them.
"How is it I am blessed with two, incredible, brilliant, beautiful wives?" I asked my darling Persephone.
"Luck, I suppose." She said. "Although, you are quite handsome and brilliant yourself."
"I love you Persephone." I proclaimed.
"I love you Hades." She proclaimed before I kissed her again.
I swooped down and picked her up into my arms as I carried her to our bedroom while kissing her lips with all the excitement and passion flowing within me. She giggled in between kisses. I was still riding this high, this thrill, and I intended to enjoy it as fully as possible...
Ennina's point of view
The journey to the land my grandmother Chaos created for herself was not a simple task. One could not simply teleport into her home, the place is even more protected than my home and the Underworld combined. I would have to ride there, continuously for three days and nights. If you stop at any time during the journey, you will become hopelessly lost in the in between of her realm. Not to mention that you had to enter at just the right spot or else you would just be riding into the Atlantic.
I teleported to a small piece of land near what is known as the Bermuda triangle. I summoned my black stallion Ichorous, his name means Divine Blood in my language.
"Hello old friend." I greeted him and placed a kiss on his cheek before swinging onto his back.
I squeezed with my legs and off we went, galloping at a hair whipping pace that no racehorse could hope to match. We traveled for three days and nights without rest through a swamp-like place, until at last we reached the gates to Chaos' land which, along with wall, towered an impressive four hundred feet above us. Their height and beauty easily put the walls of Troy to shame. They were made out of solid white marble with vines glittering in a rainbow of sparkling colors throughout. The gate itself was made of solid adamantine, the white metal with that lovely blue hue, with images embossed upon it showing the glory of the gods, all of our greatest feats. I was proud that some of my own doings as well as my husbands' and children's were upon that glorious gate.
Two guards stood watch at attention, their adamantine weapons gleaming in the sunlight. I have always admired their weapons, they are long shafts like spears with a triple tip but at the base of the long staff was a spiked ball. They are quite lethal.
"Who comes?" They asked in unison.
"Ennina of the Olympians." I introduced myself.
"What is your purpose here?" They asked.
"I have questions for my grandmother, questions only she may be able to answer." I told them.
"You may pass." They said and with that the gate swung open.
The sight beyond those gates never fails to amaze me. Green lands stretch out as far and wide as my immortal eyes were able to see, with peaks and valleys, lakes and waterfalls and a river of sparkling water snaking around her lands, feeding the lakes and springs. Nature was rich and alive here, many creatures that have been lost to time and some that never existed anywhere else except here roamed the hills of my grandmothers land. But the most stunning sight was miles ahead of me, beyond those gates where a large twenty-story complex of pure white glowing marble stood proudly in the center of this paradise. Green vines climbed up to the fourth story blooming flowers as water ran in fountains out of the marble, falling into pools below that were made out of mother of pearl.
I squeezed Ichorous' sides gently and we went into a gallop towards my grandmother's home. I took in the sights of nature for the five-minute ride. As we closed in on the palace, I could easily see my mother's mother standing on the top of the grand white marble steps leading to the entrance of her home. Her long brown wavy hair was braided with strands of gold in it, the braid fell over her right shoulder. Her flawless skin was tan and her gray blue eyes shone with power and fondness. She looks so much like my mother, the same graceful, beautiful face, the same elegant jaw, high cheekbones and full lips. I have always been her favorite grandchild, especially since my mother has always said that I take after Chaos in my looks and personality. Not to mention I am nearly as powerful as she is. I slid off of my horse and curtsied before her.
"Grandmother." I greeted her.
"Ennina my dear." Chaos greeted me and I rose as she decided the stairs. "You look tired."
"It was a long ride." I said as we embraced each other.
"Come inside, I will have dinner prepared." She said as she placed her hand on my back to lead me towards her home as my horse wondered off to get some food and rest. I rode him bareback, so there was no tack to remove.
After I freshened up and changed into a proper gown of rich red silk, I met my grandmother in the outdoor dining room where a feast was prepared for us. I sat across from her as we filled out plates, I was famished.
"I do hope my visit does not inconvenience you." I said to my grandmother as we ate.
"Not at all my dear." She told me with a kind smile, my mothers smile. "Though I am curious as to the reason of this visit. Somehow I do not think this is a social call." I was sure she already knew the answer, but she is the kind of goddess who allows people to speak for themselves.
"You are right on that account." I told her. "My dreams brought me here, there are many answers I seek."
"I know the answers you seek." She told me. "Why don't you get some rest tonight, tomorrow I will tell you what you have come to discover."
"My thanks." I said to her and continued eating.
"How are your husbands?" She asked.
"They are well." I said. "And I am soon to marry my father, and Hades as well."
"Congratulations." She said. "It is about time."
"That is what everyone seems to say." I told her, my smile widening as I thought of Hades and Zeus. "I must agree though, it is more than time that I made them my husbands."
"I am glad to see that Mera is so happy with Cronus." She said. Chaos of course can see anything anywhere, but she would not always share that information since it could change the course of events.
"So am I." I told her. "I see a long and rich relationship between the two of them."
"As do I." She said.
I awoke in the white marble bedroom. Everything was white, from the sheets, to the comforter, to the furniture, to the floors, ceiling and walls. It was elegant and graceful, my grandmother likes the clean look. I bathed in the adjoining bathroom, which was adorned with mother of pearl and more pure white engraved marble.
After bathing, I found a dress was laid out for me on the white comforter of the newly made bed. I slipped it on and buttoned up the side. I looked into the mirror and brushed my hair out. The white dress was stunning. The straps were made of woven silk to resemble vines with little white flowers with white diamonds at their centers. The bodice and skirt was made of a delicate lace with buttons up one side. It was elegant and fit my body just the way I like my clothing to.
I admired my engagement ring from Hades. Thinking of him made those blossoms of love grow within my soul until it became an endless field filled with sunshine, beauty and love. I laughed lightly in delight at the weightless feeling flowing within me. I laughed again, knowing that what I told Hades was true, that now each of my husbands are going to want to give me a ring. I would not mind though, they have great taste and I would be honored for them to be resented through those rings.
I looked at my blue eyes in the mirror, the glowing golden blush that colored my face. My smile grew and I shook my head. There is nothing more wonderful than love, in all its forms. It is beauteous.
I took a long ribbon of lace and wrapped it around the length of my hair before pinning my brown curls up in a soft bun. I slipped on the white lace flats and went out in search of my horse. I walked through the halls of my grandmothers home, wondering at the beauty of the carved pure white marble. There were columns and crown molding and amazing designs cut into the stone.
After a wonderful walk through the stunning palace, I made my way outside. The nature in this place took my breath away. The flowers, the gardens, the waterfalls, the hills and mountains and rivers and sparkling lakes. This place truly is a paradise, I have always loved visiting here.
I called for Ichorous and heard him whinny miles away, then take off, his feet pounding the ground. A few minutes later I saw him galloping out of the trees and I walked down the steps. He stopped and reared up, standing on his hind legs and pawing at the air with his front ones. I laughed, loving his spirit. He landed as I walked up to him. He trotted towards me and stopped when we met. I stroked his face, his cheek and kissed between his eyes and his soft muzzle.
He nodded his head, happy at the attention. It is sad that most people do not understand that you do not need to break a horse's spirit to make him rideable. You need to work with the horse, not against him. Make the horse comfortable with you, get the horse to trust you. No, I would never dream of breaking his powerful spirit, we are too much alike and I honor and respect him for that.
Many battles I have ridden into on his back. He is fearless and courageous, much like myself. We are warriors, fighting for the good of gods and mortals alike. I gave him another kiss then told him he could go back and enjoy the island.
I went back into the white palace in search of my grandmother and found her in her weaving room. It was a large white room with huge windows that were open to the soft warm breeze of the day. My grandmother turned her gray blue eyes to me and smiled warmly while her hands continued her work on the elegant loom.
"Would you care to join me?" She asked.
"Yes, thank you." I said and sat down at a loom next to her.
I set up the white threads and began on my work. I have always found it incredibly relaxing to weave, to focus on the intricate work I was doing and forget about all else. As mythology says, I did introduce weaving to the mortals many thousands of years ago. They used to wear animal skins, but when their numbers once again grew vast, they needed another way to clothe themselves and so I reintroduced this method to the mortals. As much as I enjoyed this work, I needed to ask about the coming threat to gods and men. I still did not know what could be so powerful that it would unite my family with the Nameless One.
"Grandmother?" I said as I worked.
"I know what you wish to know." She said. "They are called the Forgotten Ones."
"They exist?" I asked.
Of course, every story is based in some kind of truth. The story of the Forgotten Ones was a bedtime story, one of those used to frighten little immortals into being good. Of course I would never do that to my own children, I taught them to do the right thing because it was right, not because they were afraid of the repercussions of doing something wrong.
"Their race has been locked away for so long that there are few, if any immortal who know of their existence." Chaos told me as we worked.
"Where do they come from, what are they?" I asked.
"They are a race that sired the Nameless One." She told me. "Your grandfather was not always so evil, he was tricked by a being called Zenophian into sharing his immortal body. This being bound with his soul and corrupted his mind, making him into the evil you now know him as. Zenophian himself is of the Forgotten Race, he was the only one who was not captured, but at the time he was too weak to be of any real harm. But when Zeus' father welcomed that evil into his soul, Zenophian was given all the power he could ever want."
I had stopped weaving by this point. Chaos' words troubled me greatly. I thought back to my nightmares, the blood, the screams, the destruction, the evil.
"Will the Forgotten Ones be freed?" I asked in a low voice.
"Yes." Chaos told me.
I took a deep breath and did what I could to take this all in stride. I did not know if I could fight this, not on my own at least. I felt my grandmother's hand upon my shoulder and I looked up into her eyes. They looked so much older than mine, though she appears to be the same age as myself, around twenty-five or thirty.
"There is always hope." She told me with a smile that gave me the strength I needed.
"And Mera will die?" I asked her.
"If she continues along this path, then yes, she will." She told me, her smile still in place. "But we should know best of all that death is not the end. Do you remember what I told you when you were a girl?" She asked.
"Worthy souls are always saved." I said, quoting her words to me then, and she nodded but said nothing further on the subject.
"You know where they are? Ariston and the others?" I asked her.
"I do." She said simply. "But giving you that information would prevent necessary events from taking place."
"I understand." I told her. By this time in my life, for thousands of years I have understood this truth. "May I ask you another question?"
"You may." She said.
"Who is Mera? Really?" I asked her.
It was more than clear that Mera, just like Pandora, is something more. The fact that her Chimera not only pledged himself to her, but blessed her with his fire was evidence enough, but there was so much more, little things I have noticed. Such as how she was able to sense our kind before she shared her soul with Ariston, and began sharing his abilities. There is something ancient about her soul, something unique within her eyes, and the power of her light will be unprecedented when she uses it.
Mera is rare, being a Descendant of the Twelve Olympian's and Pandora herself, but she is something more than that. Try as I have, I cannot figure out who or what she is, but I had hoped my grandmother would tell me.
"She is someone sacred, a treasure from long ago." Chaos told me. "Her return to the gods has been long awaited, and not only by the Nameless One. With time you will learn more on this, but I will not be the one to reveal who she is to you. Mera must discover that on her own."
Mera's point of view
I reclined out in the sun as I drew images from my dreams. More had come, each one desperately intense, though a few of them with Jason seemed more like memories. But it was not only about making love, there were other images I saw as well.
Diokles laid at my side, his head resting on his paws as I ran a hand through his soft golden mane. I began a new drawing, one of candid shots of Ariston, Cronus and Jason side by side by side. They all looked so handsome.
It is amazing how different I feel since sharing my soul with Cronus and being blessed with Diokles sacred fire. I felt like a brand new being. I felt strong, like I could face anything, and brave enough to dare to follow my heart and see where things will go with Jason. Not to mention this warmth that flows within my soul and throughout my whole body. Diokles has stayed by me night and day, the only time he wonders off is when things become intimate between Cronus and I, or when he wants to hunt.
I love how connected to the Earth I am through Cronus now. I can feel the life in every blade of grass, in every tree, in every leaf. I could feel the vibrant energy that connected everything in nature. It was an exquisite feeling.
I smiled when I felt Cronus' essence behind me, heard his bare feet in the soft, springy grass. I kept drawing, watching out of the corner of my eye as Cronus set a platter of fresh fruits beside me. Cronus sat down behind me, I felt him but did not stop sketching as my smile grew. He ran his hands through my hair, gently pulling it into a ponytail. He rolled the hair that was in his hand and placed it over my shoulder as his lips found the skin at my neck. My hand faltered at the feeling of those kisses as his hands ran down my arms. A sigh mixed with a moan left my lips as my head lulled back and my hand went into his straight black hair.
"Cronus." I moaned his name and felt him smile as he placed a single sweet kiss on my cheek.
He wrapped his arm around my waist and lowered my head to lay on his lap so I could look up into his smiling bright pale green eyes. He continued stroking my hair as he looked at me. He feels like the Earth, his essence is so rich and wonder and also bright and I felt a part of that within me, along with a deep connection to the Earth and everything that grows on it.
"I love how connected to the earth I feel." I said as I looked into his eyes.
"That is because a part of my soul resides within you now." He told me.
"Do you feel some of my soul within you?" I asked him.
"It feels like a piece of the sun and sparks of the storm are glowing within me." He said in wonder. "I feel... complete now." Tears came into her eyes, tears of joy.
"I never expected to love you like this." I told him.
"Nor I you." He said softly, running his fingers through my golden blond hair that was now ever so slightly tinged with orange and looked into my eyes that now held the same glow as my Chimera's. "May I?" He asked, nodding towards my sketchpad.
"Of course." I said with a smile that would not leave my lips. I handed the sketchpad to him. He looked at the sketch of the three of them.
"This is what you want, to have the three of us?" Cronus said. It felt as if he had given up on trying to keep me from Jason. I nodded.
"I do want that," I told him. "More than I can say, and far more than I should."
"Mera, you do realize that since you and I are soul mates, we are meant to be together?" He said with a smile. "Which means that it is not wrong to want what you want, it is destined." I kissed his palm then just held his hand.
"I love you." I told him.
"I love you." He said and looked at the drawing again before handing it back to me.
"You captured Ariston and I well." He said.
"But I botched Jason?" I asked him jokingly.
"That was not what I meant." He told me. Even though he had given up on keeping me from Jason, he still did not relish the idea.
"Why do you hate him?" I asked.
"Because of what he has done." He told me. "He has done terrible things. I never liked the man."
"You know him?" I asked, surprised. Cronus nodded.
"Not well, but well enough." He told me, his eyes were far away.
"He is a good man," I told Cronus. "Everyone has made mistakes, and I can see in his eyes how much he wants to fix whatever he has done." Cronus looked deep into my eyes.
"You believe that?" He asked softly. I felt two things within him. First of all that he was truly curious, and second that he trusted my judgment.
"Yes, I do believe that." I told him. "He does not want things to be as they are in his life, he is not happy." It made me ache for Jason, I hated the thought of him not being happy. I looked up into Cronus' eyes again. "My love, I understand that there are some things you cannot tell me, I just do not want there to be secrets between us. Secrets are never good for a relationship."
"Other peoples secrets that they have entrusted me with are not mine to tell." Cronus told me. "So how about this? Even though I cannot always tell you about other people, I promise to never keep any of my own secrets from you, to always be honest about myself. Would that work?" I smiled and nodded.
"I can agree to that." I told him. "And I promise you the same."
Cronus and I lounged in the sun for hours more and ate that perfect fruit that Cronus picked for us. I continued to sketch and Cronus watched me, posing for a few sketches while he was at it. In the afternoon light, a look of concentration came over Cronus' face, his eyes became distant.
"My son Alexander needs me." Cronus told me and I sat up next to him. "I will be back later."
"My love, do you have a phone here I can use?" I asked him. "I want to call Margret."
His hand glowed and a moment later an exquisite cell phone was there. I took it from his hand and smiled. He kissed my lips.
"I love you." He said.
"I love you." I told him and he teleported away.
I looked down at Diokles. His emerald scales looked beautiful in the sunlight, his golden mane and the golden fur that covered his majestic face glistened. I looked down to the phone in my hand and dialed Margret's number, hoping she had not changed it since I last talked to her months ago.
"Hello?" She answered.
"Hello Margret." I said.
"Mera!" She exclaimed. "Are you alright? I have been trying to get in touch with you for months! I must have left a hundred voicemails and as many emails for you. I have been worried out of my mind."
"I am so sorry for that." I apologized. "I have not turned on my phone or my computer in the past few months."
"Are you alright?" She asked. I sighed.
"... A lot has been going on." I told her.
"How is Ariston?" She asked, I closed my eyes at the name and took a deep breath.
"He is..." I did not know if I could say it out loud.
"Mera, what's happened?" She asked.
"He was kidnapped three months ago." I told her and heard her gasp. "I have been searching for him, and his family is helping me as well. We have not found him yet, but I know that he is alive." There was a silence on the other end of the line as Margret absorbed this.
"Was there a ransom? Did his kidnappers leave any note, anything indicating what they want?" She asked.
"No, nothing like that." I told her.
Deep down I had always known what they wanted, the Nameless One wanted me, dead. I wondered for a moment if I turned myself over to him, if he would let Ariston go. If I had to die, I wanted my death to mean something, and what greater meaning could there be then saving the god I love? But Cronus would never allow me to do that and I knew it would kill Ariston as well, so for the moment, it was not an option.
"Mera, my parents can help." Margret told me, I had almost forgotten she was on the phone.
"Thank you for the offer, but there is no way they can help with this. It is far too dangerous for them to get mixed up in." I told her. Her parents are good people, security conscious, but good people.
"Mera, trust me, my parents can help." She told me again, there was a meaning behind her words that I did not understand. Like she was trying to spell something out with those words.
"I will keep that in mind," I promised her. "But I would much rather keep you and your family out of this. Ariston comes from a... powerful family. We can handle this."
"I can only imagine what you are going through." She said. "You should have called. I am getting on a flight to Greece now."
"No," I told her. "I am not in Greece."
"Tell me where you are and I'll fly out." She said at once with determination in her voice. "I am not going to leave you alone with all of this."
That made me smile, but this was too dangerous to involve her, no matter how much I missed her company. I did not want her association with me to put her in danger.
"I am not alone anymore." I assured her. "There are so many around me that I love."
"Are you sure?" She asked.
"Yes." I told her. "I miss you, and I will visit you when I can. But now is not the best time for you to visit."
"Alright." She said.
"How is Jack?" I asked her.
"He is doing great, he got a scholarship to Harvard and so he is over the moon!" She told me. "We are getting a place of our own in Cambridge after we graduate next month."
"That is wonderful, I am so happy for you both." I told her.
It was just then that I felt a sadness from Cronus. I was worried at once. The last time I felt a sadness from someone I love, Ariston left to find his sister. I was on my feet at once.
"Margret, I have to go." I told her. "I will call when I can."
"Please do. I love you." She said.
"I love you too." I told her and hung up.
Cronus, what happened? I thought to him.
In the next moment he appeared before me and I ran into his arms, he held me close.
"What happened?" I asked him. "Is Kallisto alright?"
"She and Aaron are okay." He told me. "You might want to sit down." Cronus guided me to a stone bench and sat down next to me with his arm wrapped around me. "Helen Rogers was killed in a raid last night." He said.
"The leader of my unit?" I asked him.
"Yes." He said. "She died saving John from a Shadow. He is blaming himself of course." A mixture of shock and grief came over me. Yet at the same time, it was hard to believe.
I had not known Helen well, but she taught me so very much. She was kind, only strict when she had to be, and a great leader. She helped me to become the warrior I am, to bring out my true self. She was a good woman, she did not deserve to die like that.
"My unit?" I asked him.
"They are all alive, though grieving." He told me.
"When is the wake?" I asked him.
"This afternoon." He said. "Her pyre will burn tonight."
"It seems it is time we leave your island." I said to him.
"I know." He said. I looked into his eyes and laid my head on his shoulder as we held onto each other.
"I still need you," I told him. "I do not want leaving this place to be an end to what we have."
"I do not want that either. I want you my love, I always will." He said. It was a relief to know that I was not going to lose him.
Cronus and I ate one last meal in his home together and then left for Olympus with Diokles. The great hall where Helen's body was, was empty. Helen laid on a finely carved wooden bier in the center of the room. She was dressed in a pale purple silk gown, her hands folded. I walked up to get a closer look. Her pale blond hair flowed over her shoulders. Her eyelids were closed, but I remembered her dark gray eyes, they were the color of a storm about to strike. She was a great woman, powerful and beautiful. I respected her greatly. Cronus came to stand beside me, taking my hand and holding it tightly as he felt the sadness flow through me.
"How old was she?" I asked him, not taking my eyes off of her face.
"Twenty-seven." He told me.
"Did she have any family?" I asked.
"Her parents died when she was a girl and she has no siblings." He told me. "She had a husband, Fredric Mason, who was taken by the Shadows three years ago, and they have a daughter Beth who is five years old."
I had no idea about Helen's life, all she had lost. That while she was training all of us, she had a little girl waiting at home, one she had to raise on her own since her husband was taken.
"What will happen to her daughter?" I asked Cronus, still looking at Helen.
"Fredric has a sister Veronica who is going to take the girl in." Cronus told me. "She is close with Beth, she used to watch her while Helen trained her unit." I held onto Cronus' hand tighter and let a few tears fall. "Come here."
I wrapped my arms around Cronus and buried my face in his chest, he held me tight. Feeling his soul and having him hold me close brought me more comfort than I could say.
"Mera." Aaron's voice came from behind me.
Cronus let go of me and I turned around to see Aaron standing there with the rest of my unit. Each of them had a look of deep sorrow upon their faces. Helen meant a lot to all of us, she was our friend as well as our leader. I walked over to Aaron and hugged him tight.
Next I gave a hug to Hanna, she is a Descendant of Artemis. Her soft brown eyes were water and her black hair was still short, her delicate features marred by sadness.
Christopher was next, a Descendant of Zeus. He seemed to be staying strong for those around him. He had Zeus' sky blue eyes and looked like a younger version of the king of the gods.
Once I let go of Christopher, I wrapped my arms around his girlfriend Daliea, a Descendant of Dionysus. Her golden blond hair, heart-shaped face and fair skin were still beautiful even in this time of morning. And the beauty mark below her left eye made her look like an old fashioned movie star.
Omea, a Descendant of Ares, was the next one I embraced. Her beautiful brown skin was a stunning contrast to her sky blue eyes. Her black hair was braided back. She was one of the strong ones in our group, she did not cry.
I went to Aphrodite's Descendant Lilly and held her close. She had her ancestors golden blond curls, but a stronger face and soft crystal clear blue eyes. I held her for a few moments before going to give a hug to John. I saw that Cronus was right, he did blame himself.
"Helen would not want you to blame yourself." I told John as I looked into his sky blue eyes. He looked so much like Aaron except for a stronger jaw and sky blue eyes. "If you are going to blame anyone, blame me. I should have been there, instead I was lost in a selfish happiness."
"You're not to blame for this." John told me and I held him again for a long time. I went to the others of my unit after him.
I gave a hug to our new member Elaina, a Descendant of Zeus. Her red hair and dark blue eyes were stunning with her pale skin. I may not have known Elaina well, but she loved Helen as we all did and she did not refuse what comfort I could give.
Roger, the 6'4 Descendant of Ares who was built like a god leaned down to give me a hug. He had sky blue eyes and his ancestor's brown curls. Paula was the last of my unit to give a hug to. She is a Descendant of Demeter. She has the goddess's wheat colored hair, spring green eyes and mostly her face.
"Is that?" Elaina asked, looking at Diokles.
"My Chimera, his name is Diokles." I told them. They were all interested in him, but that interest took a back burner to what had happened last night.
"Why don't you come hang with us?" Roger offered.
"I would love to." I told him then looked back to Cronus.
"I am going to visit my wives." Cronus told me. "I will see you at the wake." Call me if you need me, he added in.
"See you then." I said to him. I love you, I thought to him and his smile grew.
I love you my darling Mera, he replied and teleported out.
I followed my friends to a sitting room with more than enough couches for us. Christopher sat next to Daliea holding her hand. I sat in between Aaron and Paula. Diokles laid at my feet, his proud head held high.
"I am sorry I have been away for so long." I apologized to them. "I am sorry I was not here last night." I did feel guilty for not being there. I knew there is a chance she could still be alive if I was not off with Cronus.
"You are not to blame for this," Roger stated. "The Nameless One is."
"He was there?" I asked in shock.
"No, but they are all his minions." Roger said.
"It still does not seem real." Daliea said as she wiped away her tears. "We were just having lunch with her yesterday." Christopher rubbed her back.
"These things tend to happen suddenly in our world." Omea said with a sigh.
"Did she suffer?" I asked.
"No." Hanna told me. "It was quick. Kallisto took care of the immortal who struck the blow." I nodded.
"Do we know who is going to take her place as captain?" I asked them.
"We spoke to commander Alexander about that." Christopher began, looking to me. "As it turns out, we have the right to choose our next leader if we want. We have all spoken about this, and we hoped that you would lead us."
"Me?" I asked in shock.
"You are more skilled than any of us could hope to be." John told me.
"And we trust you." Omea added.
"Helen would have wanted it this way." Christopher said. "She respected you and trusted your abilities."
"If anyone should lead us, it's you." Aaron told me. "I realize you are going through a lot, and we will understand if you turn it down, but you are our first choice."
I was still in a bit of shock, thinking over all this could mean, but the answer was obvious and I did not have to think twice.
"It would be an honor." I told them and they all smiled to me. Tears came to my eyes and I took a deep breath as I looked around at my unit. "I am so sorry I was not there."
"We do not blame you." Dalia told me. It was just then that Kallisto arrived.
"Mother." Kallisto greeted, her eyes lighting up.
I got to my feet and we crossed the room to each other and embraced. I could not have said how much I missed her, we held onto each other for a while.
"I have missed you, daughter." I told her, kissing her cheek.
"I have missed you as well, mother." She told me, kissing my cheek then pulling back to look me over. "You look wonderful. So healthy and strong."
"I feel better." I told her. "May I speak to you privately?"
"Of course." She said.
We walked out of the hall and out to one of the gardens of Olympus. Diokles walked at my side. Everything was in full bloom, the pinks and blues and yellows and purples of those flowers, and the green of the vines was an amazing sight.
"Something unexpected has happened." I told her.
"How so?" She asked, I took a deep breath.
"Cronus and I, we," I began, hoping she would not be upset. "We shared our souls. It seems we are also soul mates." Kallisto was silent for a time as she took this in.
"What does this mean for you and my father?" She asked, I was thankful that she was not angry.
"I will never leave Ariston." I swore to her. "I love your father more than life itself. I love Cronus… but I will not to anything that will hurt your father." She nodded and was silent for a while more before speaking again.
"Are you going to marry Cronus then?" She asked.
"Perhaps." I told her with a bit of a smile. "But only if Ariston is truly okay with that. I had a dream of him a few nights ago, he told me to follow my heart, where ever it will lead me."
"Then do so." Kallisto told me with a smile. My smile lessened as I glanced away, taking another deep breath. "Is there more?" I nodded.
"It seems… that Cronus may not be the only other man I am in love with." I told her, she needed to hear the truth from me.
"Who?" She asked.
"Jason Gray." I told her.
"Him?" She asked in surprise. "How?"
"It turns out that in a past life, Jason and I were lovers." I told her.
"And you still love him?" She asked.
"I think I do." I told her. "All the times I saw him before, I would not let myself truly feel anything for him. But that does not mean the feelings were not there to be felt. I am not completely certain what exactly I feel for him, but I want to find out." I looked at her, into her sky blue eyes. Her brows were knitted together as she tried to work through this. "Jason is the reason I left with Cronus and stayed these past three weeks on his and Ennina's island. Jason kissed me at Aaron's party and I was not ready for it, or for how it would feel. I keep getting these flashes, and now more memories are coming back, memories of when I was deeply in love with him."
"Why are you telling me all of this?" Kallisto asked, there was some upset in her eyes now.
"Because I wanted you to hear it from me. I never want there to be any lies between us." I told her. "I love you like my own, and I do not want you to hate me for feeling something I have no control over."
Kallisto was silent for a while more as we walked through the garden. I stayed silent as well, giving her time with her own thoughts. I could not blame her for being upset with me. Her father is missing and I am off falling in love with two other men, I would hate me as well if I were her.
"You have every right to be upset with me." I told her, I could not stand the silence anymore. "Just know that I never wanted any of this to happen. I did not want to fall in love with Cronus or with Jason." I took a deep breath before saying my next words. "Kallisto, if you ask me to, I will end things before they truly being with Jason, and I will leave Cronus."
That stopped her in her tracks. I stopped next to her as we faced each other.
"Why would you do that?" She asked. I had tears in my eyes.
"Because no matter how deeply I love them, and how much it would hurt to lose them, you and your father mean more to me." I told her, my throat was beginning to constrict. "All you have to do is say the word, tell me you do not want me to be with them, and I will end it. I will not stay with Cronus or be with Jason if it hurts Ariston, and especially not if it hurts you. You are my daughter and your father will be my husband. That is what matters." Kallisto's own eyes began to tear up as she wrapped her arms around me. I held her as we both allowed our tears to flow.
"Mother," She said softly through her tears. "I cannot hate you for loving someone. Love is one of those things not even the gods truly have power over. I know you have no control over what you feel. I love my father, you know that, but I love you as well and I want you to have what makes you happy. If my father is okay with it, then so am I."
"Thank you." I said to her and we clung onto each other.
After spending some more time with my unit, I left with Kallisto and Aaron to get ready. Tianna came to help me, it was nice to see the nymph again. I wore a dress of black velvet with a burgundy sash. It had a high neckline and a slight swoop in the back that was very modest. Tonight was not a night to be sexy. I wore drop earrings, the large rubies were the same deep, dark red as my sash.
Tianna pinned up my golden wavy hair with jeweled pins with those same rubies as my earrings, only they were not as large. To finish the look, since I am a lady with royal Ichor within me, a simple headpiece made of onyx and a few diamonds was placed upon my head and pinned into place.
"Thank you, Tianna." I thanked her when she was finished.
"You are welcome my lady Mera." She said bowing her head. The nymph teleported away in a rose colored light.
I met Kallisto and Aaron in their living room. Aaron wore a black suit with a black tie and a white dress shirt, Kallisto was fixing his tie when I entered. Their eyes met before they looked to me, giving a soft smile which I returned. Kallisto wore a long black silk gown of a modest cut, though the dress hugged her curves beautifully. Her platinum blond curls flowed around her except where parts were pulled back, and upon her head was a headpiece of red gold with no gems.
Kallisto took Aaron's hand, then held her other hand out for my own. I walked up to her and placed my hand in hers, placing my free hand on Diokles head. We arrived in the great hall and gathered in the line to give our condolences to Helen's daughter Beth and sister-in-law Veronica. Diokles stayed at my side as we made our way towards them.
As we got closer, it was heartbreaking to see Beth. The little five year old was held by her aunt, her little head resting on her shoulder as tears ran down her little face. Beth was absolutely beautiful, the picture of youth even with the sadness on her face. She had her mothers stormy gray eyes and elegant face, but with brown hair. As we got closer, I saw Beth perk up a bit as she caught sight of Diokles.
"I am Mera Vandenberg, Descendant of the Twelve and of Pandora." I introduced myself to Beth and Veronica when I stood before them. "I was in Helen's unit for a few months, she was amazing and an incredible leader and teacher."
"She spoke of you often." Veronica told me with a sad smile. "She said you were her best student and our hope for the future."
"Is that a Chimera?" Beth asked, her eyes had not left him since she first saw him.
"Yes, his name is Diokles." I told her, running a hand through his mane.
"Can I pet him?" She asked. After asking Diokles and his agreeing I looked back to Beth with a smile.
"Of course." I told her.
The little girl hopped out of her aunts arms and slowly approached Diokles, he bowed his head in greeting then carefully licked the tears from her face. She giggled, I looked up at Veronica and she mouthed a 'thank you' to me, I could see the gratitude in her eyes to see Beth smiling. I nodded with a soft smile. I watched Beth as she pet Diokles, he nuzzled into her belly and she giggled.
"Beth, others are waiting honey." Veronica said softly. Beth went back to her aunt, who picked her up. I looked into her stormy eyes that were not quite as sad now. It is amazing the effect animals have.
"Your mother was a very brave woman." I told the Beth, she nodded.
"I know," She said. "Mommy was the best." I felt tears in my eyes as I smiled and nodded.
"Yes she was." I told her and walked away with Diokles.
Thank you Diokles, Beth needed that, I thanked him.
I know, he replied.
I met up with Cronus and greeted Ennina and the rest of the Twelve, along with a few other gods I knew. I spoke with them until it was time for the procession to begin.
Aaron, Christopher, John and Roger carried her bier through the marble streets of Olympus, up towards her pyre. Behind the bier Beth walked next to her aunt, followed by Zeus and Hera and the rest of the Twelve and their spouses side by side. Cronus and Ennina asked me to walk with them, so I walked on one side of Cronus and Ennina walked on his other right behind Zeus and Hera. I was glad to be next to Cronus.
Behind the Twelve and their spouses were all of Helen's friends and hundreds if not thousands others also followed. Each of us in the procession held a large white candle in the night, the flames softly flickering as we slowly made our way up the hill to her pyre.
We arrived at the appointed place, a huge meadow surrounded by columns standing in a large circle. The bier was placed on top of the pyre. Veronica stood before the gathered people and made a speech for her sister-in-law.
"I remember when I met Helen years before began dating my brother Fredric." Veronica began while Beth stood at her side, holding her hand. "We both joined the army at the same time, both with these bad 90s haircuts we thought looked so cool. Fredric, who joined the army and came to live on Olympus at the same time I did, was in love with Helen the moment he laid eyes on her. Helen was a free spirit and a complete feminist whose only focus was on training, not dating. I kept trying to set them up, knowing how perfect they would be for each other, but Helen kept telling me how she did not need a man." Veronica laughed then with tears in her eyes at a memory.
"To think back on the things my brother went through just to get her attention will always make me laugh." She went on. "It took five years of him trying to impress Helen and my pushing her to just go on one date with him for her to finally give in. But that one date was enough. It was only a few months later that my brother got down on one knee and popped the question, Helen said yes and they were married the next day since neither of them wanted a huge ceremony. Less than a year later Beth came along and made their lives complete.
"Helen was an incredibly strong woman." Veronica continued as Beth looked up at her aunt. "Even after my brother was taken, she stayed strong and raised their daughter on her own. I moved in a few years ago so that she could continue her work as captain of the Alpha, Omega, Sigma, Delta, Rho unit. Yet still, she never gave up hope that Fredric would come home, and I will carry that conviction on for their daughter Beth. He will return to us someday and until then, I will take care of this beautiful child." She looked down at Beth with tears in her eyes and smiled. Beth smiled back to her. "May my sister reside in Elysium."
"May she reside in Elysium." We all echoed and Veronica picked Beth up and walked away. I took a deep breath and stepped forward, turning towards the gathered gods, immortals and Descendants.
"I am Mera Vandenberg, Descendant of the Twelve and Pandora." I introduced myself, fully aware that all eyes were on me. "Helen was my teacher, and my friend. She helped me to become the warrior I am, teaching me how to hone my skills. But she also taught me of the mindset of a warrior, of when and why to fight. Her death is a great loss and she will be greatly missed. But as I stand here before you all, I swear to you all that Helen's death will not be in vain. For her, I will win this war, I will fight until my last breath and even after that to end the tyranny of the Shadows and their master." I took a deep breath. "May she reside in Elysium."
"May she reside in Elysium." Everyone echoed. I nodded to them then turned towards Helen's pyre, bowing once in respect. I placed my hands to my heart, then held them out to her. It was an ancient gesture of love.
I walked back over to Cronus, both he and Ennina gave me an approving nod. Cronus took my hand and I held onto his tightly as some others made speeches in Helen's honor. A string quartet began playing a sad song as prince Dionysus went up with the torch and lit the pyre. He asked to do this since Helen was his Descendant.
We all stood there and watched the pyre burn, cries could be heard from the onlookers. My own tears blurred the enormous fire, those flames that licked upwards towards the heavens looked like a watercolor. My breathing was shallow and fast, it was hard to breath. Cronus let go of my hand, only to wrap that arm around my shoulders and hold me close to him. I rested my head on his shoulder as I said goodbye to Helen Rogers.
I walked around speaking to some of the attendants once the fires had turned to embers. Many had already begun walking home. Cronus kept his arm around me, but I told him he should be with his wife and so he left me to my conversations. I stood before what was left of the pyre, my thoughts lost in sorrow.
"Mera?" Came an unfamiliar voice behind me.
I turned around to see a god with brown hair and vibrant green eyes. He looked at me as though he were looking at a ghost as he stood perfectly still.
"Yes?" I said.
"My gods, you do look like her." He said softly. He must have known Pandora, I realized at once.
"That is what everyone tells me." I said.
"The resemblance is uncanny." He said, shaking his head.
"I do not believe we have met before." I said to him, wondering who he is. He shook his head softly and walked up to stand a few feet away from me.
"No, we have not." He said. I found that he had a soft kind of voice, almost whispery. "I have wanted to meet you for some time though. I am Epimetheus."
"Pandora's husband." I knew at once. He nodded.
"That I am." He told me. "Or was." I could not believe I was meeting him, there were so many things I wanted to ask.
"What was she like?" I asked him. Many of the gods who knew Pandora had told me about her, but I wanted to hear it from him.
"She was… amazing." He said, and I saw the sadness within his soul. "She had this habit of biting her lip, and the most amazing smile, it was blinding. She… I do not know how to put her into words, she was too good to be described by anything I could come up with."
"So you really think she is dead?" I asked him.
"Yes," he said. "I know Pandora, she would have come back by now. She would not have left her children alone, she would not have left me alone if she was alive."
As I looked into his saddened eyes, I remembered that not only is his wife dead, he lost his two daughters, Alexis and Reina, to the Shadows as well. Reina was murdered by the Shadows when her mother disappeared. Epimetheus had returned home one day to find Reina laying on the floor barely alive. He tried to save her, but she ended up dying in his arms. Alexis, their eldest, fought against the Shadows for three hundred years before she too was killed by them. Unlike Pandora, her daughters were not immune to the Shadows.
"I am sorry for all that you have lost." I told him.
"As am I." He said.
"Husband?" Came a sweet voice behind him.
"Jasmina." Epimetheus said with a smile as a raven-haired beauty walked up to his side, wrapping her arm through his, her gray eyes looking at me. "My dear, this is my granddaughter Mera Vandenberg. Mera, this is my wife Jasmina."
"It is an honor to meet you Mera." Jasmina said with a kind smile. "It was about time someone rallied the gods against that maniac."
"I agree," I told her. "It is an honor to meet you as well."
"We must be going." Epimetheus said, looking into my eyes. "I hope you find your Ariston soon."
"As do I." I told him and watched them walk away.
I felt Cronus and spotted him walking up to me. I wrapped my arms around him and held him close, I needed to feel his comfort after this night of sadness. I felt within him that he loved me, that he loved holding me in his arms, but there was something else he needed tonight, someone else. I looked into his eyes.
"I was hoping to spend the night with Ennina now that she is home, if that is alright with you." Cronus told me.
"Cronus, you do not need my permission to spend the night with your wife." I told him with a smile.
"I realize that." He told me with that smile of his. "Will you be alright tonight?"
"I will be fine." I told him. But I did not want to be alone tonight, there was something I needed to do. "Actually, I was wondering if you would take me to Earth? I need to see Jason."
"Any place in particular?" He asked after a moment.
"The Sahara." I told him.
"The desert?" He asked in surprise.
"It is private, and I have always wanted to see it." I told him, he nodded.
"Please take Diokles with you, it will give me some peace of mind." Cronus begged.
"Of course." I told him he sighed in relief and kissed my lips.
I placed my hand on Diokles head and Cronus teleported us, his whole body becoming glowing golden light and wrapping around me. We were in the dark when we arrived. I was lost in Cronus' eyes for a time, and when I let go of him and looked at my surroundings I was amazed. We stood in the night on top of a large dune, the sand sloped and rose all around us, as far as the eye could see.
The sky was extraordinary, countless stars shined in the blanket of night, clusters of them everywhere. I heard it said that there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on every beach in the world, and looking up at the sky tonight, I could believe it. And to make the night that much more beautiful and perfect, a crescent moon hung in the heavens, a sliver of that silver orb. It felt like this night was created just for me and I could not help wondering what would transpire underneath these stars on this night.
"Let me at least light you a fire to keep you warm." Cronus said and I smiled to him.
"You forget, I have Diokles' fire within me now." I told him. "I am not cold." His emotions ran through me and I walked back over to him and took him into my arms. "What troubles you?"
"What you might do with him tonight." He told me. "I do not want him near you, I do not want his hands on your skin."
"I do not want this to torment you so." I told him, placing my cheek next to his.
"And I do not want to complicate things for you." He said softly.
"He will not hurt me." I told him.
"You have taken the seed though?" He asked.
"Ennina gave me one the night you and I made love for the first time." I told him. "Other wise I am sure I would be carrying your child by now." He smiled at that, I knew he liked that thought, my carrying his child. "I do not know that I am going to sleep with him, I just want to talk with him." He nodded. "Please try and find some peace in this."
"I will do what I can." He told me. "I will go."
"I love you." I told him and Cronus kissed me deeply all of the sudden, knocking me breathless and making my knees give out. I was gasping for air when the long kiss ended.
"I love you Mera." He told me. "Keep your jade bracelet on." I nodded. He placed one more soft kiss on my lips and then teleported away, leaving me alone in the desert.
I stood there, looking out at my surroundings, but their beauty was lost on me in that moment. I did what I could to collect myself. My thoughts went to Jason then, to all the passionate thoughts and dreams I have had of him. I had no idea what the night would bring, but I had to see him again. I looked down at Diokles.
I need to be alone with Jason, I thought to Diokles. I will tell you if I have need of you.
As you command my queen, he said to me, bowing his head.
Why do you call me a queen? I asked him.
With time, you will know why, he replied and ran off into the night. I watched him for a time before taking a deep breath. I could not wait a moment more to see him.
"Jason." I called out into the night. "If you can hear me, I changed my mind, I want to see you."
A moment later he appeared in his pale gold light in front of me and my heart stopped. We stood there ten feet from each other in silence, taking the other in. He must have been in bed, for he only wore black sleeping pants. He was shirtless, I could not help admiring the perfect, sculpted muscles that adorned his chest and arms and shoulders. A desire ran through me as I took in his beauty before looking up into his pale blue eyes. His beauty took me by surprise, I do not think I fully appreciated how handsome he is until now, until I thought I might never see him again.
His black curls stood an inch tall though they were shorter on the sides. His lips were the perfect size, not thin yet not overly think. His pale skin that covered his body was truly beautiful. One thing was clear in that moment, I truly was in love with him.
"Jason." I whispered his name.
I was so drawn to him that the distance between us became physically painful, so I did the only thing I could do. I let my feet propel me forward as I rushed into his arms, we held onto each other tight. His skin was no longer the same temperature as my own, it was just slightly cooler but felt so incredibly wonderful. I kissed his shoulder and then his cheek, then just held him again.
"Oh Mera." He sighed as he buried his face in my hair, there was so much emotion in his voice. He held me as tightly as I held him, clutching to him as tears ran down my cheeks. Tears for our reunion and Helen's loss. "It is alright, I am here my love." Jason said and I could not stop crying as the tears became more about joy than loss.
We stood there for an eternity as we embraced, I was amazed at how thankful I was to be in his arms, how much I truly needed to be in his presence, how deeply I had missed him. After a long time, we slowly pulled back to look into each other's eyes. He caressed my cheek, then ran his fingers through my hair, my body was already tingling at his touch.
"You look different." Jason said softly some time later, his breath on my lips caused me to shiver.
"Do I?" I asked him, he nodded softly. Somewhere in my mind I realized why that was. "A Chimera pledged himself to me and blessed me with his fire." Jason's smile grew.
"Good." He said to me.
"Jason?" I said, my voice soft.
"Yes Mera?" He replied.
"Kiss me." I told him and in the next moment his lips were on mine.
An eternity passed within that kiss, an endless otherworldly feeling ran through me, yet it was over all too soon for my liking. My hands rested on his chest, feeling it rise and fall under my fingers with those rapid breaths. I looked up into his eyes and knew that everything would be alright, everything would work out.
Now that I was in his arms, in his presence, it was not just a sexual hunger that filled me. There was a peace, a calming effect and I knew that what I needed most of all tonight was just to be with him.
"I am sorry it took me so long to call for you," I said, my voice still soft and breathless. "I wanted to see you right after I read you letter… I was just not ready."
"I was worried it did not reach you." He told me. "Where were you? I searched this world over, twice, but could not find you."
"I was with Cronus, on his and Ennina's island." I told Jason. He took a deep breath, but it seemed like he was prepared for this answer.
"So you two are lovers now?" Jason asked me softly and I nodded.
"It is a bit more than that though." I told him, he should know the truth. "We shared our souls." Surprise came into his eyes before he simply nodded. "Are you upset?"
"I am standing here with you, touching you, looking into your eyes and listening to your voice. How could I be upset?" He asked, a smile coming over his beautiful face. "I feared you were not going to change your mind on this, that I was never going to see you again."
"I am sorry." I told him again.
"Come here." He said. Jason sunk down onto the sand and I sat next to him, looking into his pale blue eyes that glowed softly in the night as he wrapped his arm around my waist. "I dreamed of you, you know. It was so real, so intense, I could have sworn you were there with me."
"I was." I told him. "Cronus thinks I brought you and him and Ariston into my dreams because I love you three so much." His eyes lit up when I mentioned that.
"About that kiss on the balcony," He began. "There are things I need to tell you," I smiled and shook my head.
"There is no need, Cronus already told me." I told him. A look of shock came over his features.
"What, exactly, did Cronus tell you?" Jason asked slowly.
"That we were lovers in a past life." I told him and saw something between relief and regret in his eyes. "He also said that you are dangerous."
"I am," He told me in all honesty. "But not to you. I would not for this world or any other harm you." He glanced away for the briefest of moments before adding in under his breath. "Intentionally." We were quite for a time.
"Will you tell me about us? How we used to be in that life?" I asked him, a smile spread across his face as he nodded and looked into my eyes in wonder. "My name was Lyra?" I asked him.
"Yes." He told me, such warmth in his voice and eyes. "Lyra of Ithaca."
"How did we meet?" I asked him, so excited to finally be getting some information on this.
"In the Underworld." He told me. "You were Persephone's handmaiden and friend."
"Well that makes sense." I told him, understanding then why I felt so close to the queen of the Underworld. But I still had to wonder what she felt guilty for.
"I was far from the purest of souls," Jason went on, clearly lost in the memory he was telling me of. "You knew who I was, you knew everything I had done, and yet when I first looked into your eyes, I saw nothing but genuine compassion in your gaze.
"I was no fool, I knew I did not deserve you, I tried to fight the feelings brought on by the meeting of our eyes, but there was nothing I could do. With that one look, you consumed me, you became everything to me. I did not think I would ever see you again after our first meeting, but a month later, you came to visit me and I knew by the look in your eyes that you felt what I felt, a wondrous feeling that I was not worthy of.
"I tried to tell you that I was no good for you, that no possible good could come from something happening between us, that I was damaged goods, a soiled soul that was not worth your time, but you would not hear it. You told me I was wrong, you told me what you felt for me, and how you saw my soul." Jason caressed my hand as he spoke, never taking his eyes off of mine. "You said that you could not live without me in your life and begged me to not fight what was between us. Looking into your eyes, I knew what would happen if I kissed you, that there would be no coming back from that. With one kiss, I would hand my soul over to you to save or destroy all that I was. And as selfish as it was, I wanted you, I needed you, I loved you.
"That was when I could not hold back any longer, when I took you into my arms and brought our lips together for an earth-shattering kiss that left us both needing so much more. And just as I suspected, everything I had been crumbled around me in that one passionate kiss. With one kiss you cleansed my soul of every ache. You made me whole, and gave me something I never knew was missing within me. It was as if you had been holding a part of my soul all along and I had been holding a part of yours, and in that exchange, we were both made whole.
"We made love that night, all night through. Then I held you in my arms, knowing that I had fallen for you and that there was no turning back for us. I felt how much you loved me, even as unworthy as I was of a soul such as yours, you loved me. I asked you 'Why are you here with me?' and you replied, 'Because this is where I want to be.'"
I was touched, realizing that we spoken those same words to each other the night he kissed me on the balcony, only I was asking the question. I had tears in my eyes, everything within me told me that every word he spoke of our past was the truth. I wanted to tell him how beautiful his words and our story was, tell him how much it meant to me, tell him that he was not an 'unworthy, soiled soul' in my eyes, that I still loved him, but I could not find my voice. Jason's eyes gazed adoringly into mine as he shook his head in wonder.
"What I feel for you is beyond the power of my will." Jason told me softly, his hand coming up to caress my cheek as such a smile came over his face. "You were the only person I could not push away, the only one who would never give up on me. I pray that has not changed." Jason's pale blue eyes were so expressive and pleading. I placed my hand on top of his own.
"I do not know what I can offer you." I told him. "You know I love Ariston, and now Cronus is a part of my life as well. I do not know how this would work between us, all I know is that I need to know you again. I need you in my life and I still love you." His face broke into a breathtaking smile as he nodded.
"I will not ask you to leave those you love," He promised. "I want you to be happy, and I see what being away from Ariston does to you." I nodded, lost in his eyes but missing Ariston. "You will have him back." He promised.
"I know." I told him. "I just pray it will not be much longer." He wrapped his arms around me and I snuggled into his arms, resting my head on his shoulder.
Jason leaned back and laid down in the sand with me laying on his chest. I felt so at home, so at peace here in his arms. I loved him and there was nothing I could do about that. Trying not to love him is futile.
"I love you Mera." Jason whispered as he caressed my back. "You do not know how long I have searched for you."
"But why were we parted in the first place?" I asked him, looking up into his eyes.
"As I said before, I was far from the purest of souls," Jason began. "And when you made our intentions known, the gods feared for you. They did not want a soul as pure as yours in the hands of someone like me."
"What intentions?" I asked him.
"We were going to be reincarnated together," He told me. "I was going to give up my power and immortality to be with you. We were going to marry and have a family in our next life together, and the life after that, and the life after that."
"I agreed to marry you?" I asked him, it was not so hard to believe, I did promise him forever so long ago. Jason laughed.
"Agreed?" He asked with a wide smile. "It was your idea." His smile faded then as a deep sadness came over his face. "After you were reborn, the gods kept an eye on your soul, and each time I found you, they took you away from me again. Your soul returned to the Underworld after each death where you were reborn once again. I had all but given up all hope of finding you again, when I saw you three years ago. I knew I had to be smarter with how I went about things, so I bided my time, waiting for the right moment to appear to you."
"How much of my life did you see?" I asked him.
"I watched you whenever I could," He said. "Aaron did not worry me, I never saw the relationship going far between you two. I saw how it came to an end, I was planning on revealing myself to you soon and asking you to come away with me. What I did not expect was for Ariston to show up and sweep you off your feet. I saw the way you looked at him, and the way he adored you."
"That could not have been easy." I said. "You watching me with him."
"For quite a while I wanted to kill him." The honesty in his voice worried me. I had no idea how powerful Jason was after all. Jason noticed how my face had gone pale and smiled in apology. "Do not worry, I no longer feel that way. I understand now that hurting him hurts you, and that I will not do."
I found myself staring at him, there was something about the way Jason spoke about Ariston. It made my eyebrows knit together, trying to put my finger on what it was. I felt like there was a secret between us, something he was not telling me, and I hated that feeling. Jason was silent as he looked away from my eyes.
"What are you not telling me?" I asked him.
"There is a lot I am not telling you." He admitted, I could not stand the hurt in his voice, it made me forget about everything else.
I placed my hand on his cheek, turned his head towards me and kissed his lips. It was odd that his skin was now just barely cooler than my own, yet his kiss felt like fire. We both became carried away as our kisses continued and became more passionate, his body turned towards mine and my leg wrapped itself around his waist, our bodies flush to one another's. As our insanely passionate kisses continued, his hand ran down my torso, feeling the curves of my body. His hands felt too good, my heart was pounding in my chest as an electricity ran throughout my body.
His lips traveled down my neck as I moaned and pulled him closer. This passion running through me was too much to take, like my body had heated up to such a temperature it felt like molten lava. That fire burned through my veins as his masterful kisses and touches went on, bringing me to the point of madness and beyond. I could not stand for this to stop.
His hand traveled down my leg that was wrapped around his waist and underneath my skirt, traveling up the outside of my bare leg and making me gasp at the contact of his hand on my skin. He clutched onto my thigh, holding my body closer to his as his lips moved up and down my neck, over every inch of the skin there as he kissed every place he could reach.
"Jason." I moaned his name as my hand ran over his bare back. "Please do not stop."
"Lyra." He moaned in a deep voice. I found I liked it when he called me Lyra.
He rolled on top of me, trying to get my clothing out of the way as his lips returned to my own, our tongues moving against one another's, battling as I tried to find the string on his pants to free him. My arms and legs were wrapped around him, there was no turning back from this and everything within me begged him to continue. He clearly had no intention of stopping. Then, without warning, he stopped kissing me. I opened my eyes and looked at him.
"Why are you stopping?" I asked him. "I do not want you to stop."
"We cannot do this tonight." He said.
"Why not?" I asked him. "I love you Jason, I want you." He smiled as I told him that I love him.
"You still love me?" He asked softly.
"Yes, I cannot seem to stop." I told him. He kissed me but pulled away again before things got too intense though his body still laid on top of my own. My body ached for him, he clearly knew that, but he would not make love to me.
"If we do this now, and afterwards you decide you do not want me in your life, it will be the death of me." He told me. "I want you, every inch of you, right here, right now, but I cannot do this if it means losing you."
"I cannot make you any promises yet, all I can give you is right now." I told him.
"I know." He said softly. "And I am certain that I will regret not enjoying this wonderful opportunity for the rest of my days." He shook his head, caressing my cheek as he smiled softly. "The first time I kissed you in this life, I did not see you again for three weeks, all the while I feared that I might have driven you away for good because I could not wait. So I hope you can understand how I feel about making love to you for the first time again." He shook his head and took a deep breath. "I cannot lose you." He whispered.
I nodded and placed my hand on his cheek, leaning up to kiss his lips softly. I was ready for this, but it was clear that he needed to wait until he was sure he was not going to lose me.
"I do not think I could live without you anymore." I told him. "And so, if it is what you want, we can wait to make love." He nodded.
"I love you." He told me and we kissed once more. He laid his head down on my chest and I ran my hand through his hair as we held each other, my eyes searching the heavens.
"So, what have I missed?" I asked him.
"Since when?" He asked.
"Since I last saw you." I said. "I worry about you, I worry that you are not happy. I can feel that something is bothering you." He took a deep breath and it was awhile before he answered me.
"I have made such a mess of things." He said softly. "It seems like every time I think I have done something good, it turns out I was wrong. I must be doomed to harm everyone I love."
"What could make you say that?" I asked him.
"I have a daughter," He told me. "She is nineteen. A few years ago she fell in love with a mortal boy around her age. She wanted to be with him, but I forbade it. I had already found a husband for her, one I thought would be truly kind and loving, a good immortal who would take care of her as I could not.
"With some convincing from me, my daughter left the boy she loved and returned home to married the man I had chosen." Jason continued, I heard dark emotions filling his voice, upset and hurt, regret and guilt. "They have been married for eight months now. But it was not until just over a week ago that I discovered that the man I entrusted my daughter to, a man I called my friend, had been violent towards her every time he is drunk.
"She is safe now," Jason went on. "I took her away from her husband and have been keeping her with me in my chambers. But now that she is free of him, I fear she will go back to him. Even if she does not know it yet, she loves him. I tried to kill him when I found out what he had done to my daughter, but she stopped me asked me to give her his life. I could not deny her, but every time I look at him, I want to rip him to pieces and it takes every shred of self control within me not to kill him." He was nearly shaking with rage as he told me this story, but no part of me was afraid, I only worried for him.
"I should have known, I should have seen the signs. I should have done something to stop him before." Jason said. I held him close and kissed his hair, trying to soothe him.
"You did not know." I told him.
"But that does not excuse what has happened." He said. "She is my daughter. I should have seen how unhappy she is, but she did not even trust me enough to come to me with her problem. That is my own fault. In missing you, I became a different man. I could not get over the agony inside of me, believing that I would never hold you in my arms again. It destroyed me, but that is no excuse for being so unobservant as to miss what was happening.
"Now I find myself thinking of all the times I shared wine with my daughters husband, all the times he drank with his friends and I watched him stumble back to my daughters room, oblivious to what he was about to do. I could have stopped him, I could have protected her if I were only saw what was going on." I heard how deeply this devastated him, how betrayed and outraged he was by his daughters husband, how much he blamed himself. "This guilt is all too much to take, and when I am not with you it overwhelms me." He said.
"Now you are making me feel guilty." I told him.
I felt guilty for everything I had unknowing put him through, for all the years he waited for me, for when he thought he had lost me. I did not understand before, how could I understand how much I mean to him when I could not even remember him?
"No, please do not." He begged, raising himself up to look down into my eyes. "You have nothing to feel guilty for. My actions and sins are my own, not yours, and it would kill me if you ever blamed yourself for the things I have done." It seemed there was a deeper meaning behind his words, one I did not yet understand. I nodded, not knowing what to say.
"I am sorry you have been so alone." I told him, my hand going up to caressed his cheek.
My thoughts went to everything I have been through in losing Ariston. How I would go from depression to rage, how I was a completely different woman, how I felt like I had no reason left to live. If Jason loves me as much as I love Ariston, which I can no longer doubt, then it broke my heart to realize what he has been through and how much he has hurt. How much I have unintentionally hurt him.
"I am so sorry." I said again, my voice thick. I was barely able to get a word out around the lump in my throat. Jason took me into his arms at once and held me close as he rolled to his side so that we were cheek to cheek.
"I do not blame you, I am not upset with you." Jason assured me, kissing my cheek. I nodded and continued to clutch onto him as fresh tears flowed.
"Tell me what I can do to make this up to you." I said to Jason, looking into his eyes as he caressed my tears away.
"I do not want you to be with me out of pity, or because you feel like you owe me something." Jason told me. "I only want you with me if it is what you want." I leaned in and kissed him, then when our lips parted I kissed his cheek before looking into his eyes.
"There is still so much I am working through," I told him. "I cannot promise you forever just yet. And when I have Ariston back, if he wants me to himself, I will not refuse him." Jason nodded, not at all worried about that. "There is so much I want to know about you. I want to learn everything about you, again." His smile faltered a bit as he glanced away from my eyes.
"I am afraid you are not going to like everything there is to know." He said softly. "I worry greatly as to your reaction when you discover more of myself and the things I have done." I placed my hand on his cheek so that he would meet my eyes.
"I see you for who you are even if you do not." I told him, not liking the pain in his eyes. "You are a good man." He laughed and shook his head.
"Only you would say that." He said, gently caressing my cheek. "You have not changed." He looked down at my necklace.
"I see you are wearing Ariston ring." Jason noted, I smiled and nodded as my fingers went to stroke it tenderly. I had Cronus slide the ring onto the chain of the Rose Diamond. I would have just worn it, but it was too big for my fingers.
"Thank you for this." I told him, my soul filled with such gratitude. "You truly saw him?" Jason nodded with a smile.
"I did." He said.
"How did he look?" I asked.
"He misses you, that much is clear." Jason told me. "But he is being well cared for. The word is that the Nameless One is keeping him as a kind of pet."
"A pet?" I asked, the idea was absurd. Ariston is a god, he is no ones pet. Jason shrugged. A longing came into my soul as I looked at Ariston's ring, one so deep, so intense, I did not know if I would be able to exist another moment without Ariston in my arms. "Gods, I miss him."
"You will have him back soon." Jason promised and I nodded.
I awoke to the hot desert sun shining down on my skin as I laid in Jason's arms. I did not move or make a sound at first, I just wanted to stay here a bit longer with him. I placed a kiss on his shoulder before looking up into his pale blue eyes. He ran his hand through my hair, putting it behind my shoulder. Nothing had happened the night before, we went no further than kissing and some touching. We talked for most of the night, then we laid in each others arms, looking up at the stars and when I looked back to his face, he was sound asleep in the night. I had smiled and curled up in his arms, closing my eyes as sleep overcame me. I leaned down and kissed his lips softly a few times.
"I am glad to have you back." I told him and his smile grew. He looked so handsome in the desert sun.
"And I you, more than you know." He said. "I hope you know how much you mean to me."
"I think I have some idea." I told him, my smile growing. We kissed again and again and then just held each other close as we laid in the sand.
"I need to be going." I told him, missing him already.
"I know." He told me. After a time, he got up and helped me to my feet. He still held my hands as he looked into my eyes. "Please tell me this will not be the last time I see you." He begged.
"It will not be." I promised with a smile. "I suppose that means you are going to start randomly showing up when I am alone again?"
"Would you like me to?" He asked and I nodded.
"I must admit that I have missed your company." I told him. He kissed me once more, a long deep kiss. We were both out of breath when our lips parted. "You should go unless you would like to see Cronus." Jason nodded and kissed me again as he held me close.
"I love you Mera." He whispered with such conviction in his low voice.
"I love you Jason." I told him and we kissed once more before he disappeared in pale gold light.
I stood there in the sun for a while, letting my mind wonder through everything that happened last night. I smiled and let out a breathless sigh.
"Cronus." I called his name.
A few minutes later he appeared with relief in his eyes when he looked upon me. He quickly closed the space between us and took me into his arms. I could feel within him how grateful he was that I was safe.
"See, I am still alive." I told him.
"That is not funny." He told me, but there was a smile when he looked into my eyes. "Now what?" Cronus asked. "Do you want to return to Olympus or head to Colorado Springs?"
"Colorado." I told him as Diokles came running up to stand at my side. "Now the real work begins. I will train my unit every day while I once again focus my efforts on searching. I will find Ariston." I told Cronus and he nodded with a smile.
"Yes you will." He told me and my smile grew.
Author's Note: So there is chapter 11! I would love to hear your thoughts on it as always my wonderful readers;)