Going back and reading this, I realize how odd this is in the Portraits collection. It's a prologue and a side story, not only to Sweet Miseria but to Chaos Reunition as well. It's one of my favorite things I've written also. It didn't fit with Portraits. Those were snippets, flashes for the Viola and the Pack and group surrounding her.

This was meant to show a bigger picture.

So I'm making it it's own separate piece, like it should be. If you've read it, you may want to read again. There's more than a bit of foreshadowing.


0

Not every story has a singular beginning. Some begin in the distant past and some just yesterday. Paths twist and turn around each like strands in a spider web, connected and intricate and intertwined. And then…

One snaps.

This is the story of the beginning of the story.

1

Humankind is a fickle thing with fickle memories so easily changed. They can't remember what they had for breakfast, much less what happened eons ago. So it's no wonder that the things that once happened are now proclaimed as myths, legends, tales to tell in the dark.

Every myth has an origin and it tends to be true.

The Greek gods and goddesses were once called the Olympians for they weren't the only deities out there. No, there were many back then, all with their own origins. Magic was so potent then, alive and crackling and able to shape idea into flesh without much effort. Human's belief only made it more powerful.

The Olympians were of the few who decided to stay on Earth, rather than take to their own realm. Some, like the Aesir, balked at the idea of living amongst the mortals were served as nothing more than food to them.

But they knew better. The closer they were, the more powerful. And mankind did prove entertaining.

Of the Olympians, were the plentiful children of Nyx, goddess of the night. And of these children, were the ones that would later be known as the Originals, creators of the kind known as the Hiddens.

Like I said, all stories have a beginning.

Thanatos stared out into the dying sun, magic brushing against his skin and tingling in his fingertips as he awakened fully. He always seemed to catch the sun at the end of her passing when he so long to see her creation. But that was not the way of things. He was not a creator of life, but a passenger of death. He was the balance, whether he liked it or not.

"Something disturbs you, brother?" Somnus asked, coming up beside him. Twins, the two of them. Long raven black hair, dark as the night they were of, and bright blue eyes like the stars. Death and Sleep; quite the pair.

"Have you heard the rumors?" Thanatos asked quietly.

"Which ones? There are so many," his brother chuckles softly, fingers dancing in the blackness of his robe.

The death god turns away from the sun and stares into the cool air, thoughts overflowing from his head through his mouth, "The ones of sister. Of her recent-"

"Yes, those I have heard." Somnus glanced around, not out of suspicion but this isn't something for wandering ears to hear, "Ker has always been dangerous but even more so when there is any moderate amount of peace. And now that she's been cast away by Ares, it's almost to be expected."

"She means to give away our essence, our power, for what? Play? Boredom?" Thanatos huffed, "It will get her sent to the underworld. Sister is toiling with things that must not come to pass."

Somnus nodded, "Then stop her."

A dry chuckle left his brother's throat, "In what way? Ker does not listen to reason and it is not as if I can kill her. That is not amongst my talents. Another way must be found."

"No other way," a small voice called from down the steps.

The twins turned, mirrors of each other, and blinked same eyes at the tiny figure standing at the bottom of the steps leading to the Great Hall. Half blue, half yellow eyes blinked at them as tiny feet carried the small girl to them.

"Sister Morta," Thanatos greeted, staring down at the tiny goddess.

Morta smiled, eyes wide and excited and black/blonde hair sticking in every direction. Half created, half birthed little Morta. Always warning those that death and pain was coming but never stopping it, living in that place between waking and sleep. Never quite whole Morta.

But she was gifted by the Fates and that endeared her to those that were not so…pleased by the death gods, especially Thanatos. Poor hated Thanatos. It was no matter. He did not need their love or acceptance…

Dancing in her spot, the little goddess blinked up at them with a smile on her lips. "That which will happen must happen as that is what will become," she sang, "Important and mad and necessary. Cannot be stopped, but can be changed. Change your fabric, change your makings, change change change change."

"We have to let this happen?" Somnus asked with a furrowed brow.

"Not let. Mmmmuuuuust," Morta emphasized.

"It is not right. Ker has no idea what will become. Mortals are not meant to have that kind of power," Thanatos growled, "Monsters."

With light steps, the death goddess reached up and squished Thanatos' face in her hands, "Oh dear Thany, merciless Thany, hated Thany, if only you knew." A quick kiss on his cheek with a loud pop and she disappeared, shimmering out into the half-plane that was her domain.

"Mad girl," the twins whispered into the night air.

Mad, but truthful.

Always truthful Morta.

"What do we do?" the god of sleep asked.

Shaking his head, Thanatos shut his eyes, "Wait. Do what we exist to do. Guide those to death. Guide those to sleep. Ensure the balance. And when Ker makes her move, we will gather the others. But nothing until then." Walking away, ebony robe nothing but smoke and night billowing in the wind, Thanatos ran over the words of his sister in his head.

"If we do this, if we help her, they'll despise us!" Somnus spoke after him.

He laughed bitterly, "Brother, they already hate me. Misery loves company, I suppose."

And he set out to the doomed, feeling as though he were one himself.

They began to wait…

2

Marie knew that being a musician wasn't exactly going to provide a nice, stable life. Even more so when you sing Jazz. But it was still a tad depressing when night after night, you're only audience were elderly couples and the occasional young lovers trying to go out for a nice, "fancy" dinner.

She was background noise, sadly.

This wasn't the life she had thought she would have when she left home. Sure, Lubbock was better than small, extremely small, town Charlotte, but it was lonely and money was hard. Marie had wanted to strike out on her own, be independent and show her family that as long as she was doing what she loved, things were alright.

But it just didn't work like that. She loved singing. Loved it to death. Yet the bills her piling up and it was feeling more like a chore each day. Follow your dreams, everyone had said. Life is a lot harder than that.

Nineteen years old and the whole world sitting on her shoulders.

Her mother had warned her. Things are different outside of Charlotte where you were raised with the entire town and everyone worked for the school or the oil fields. Find a nice boy, she said. Become a teacher, start a family. Live a nice, quiet life.

Marie didn't want that. She wanted to sing, prove them wrong. The small town wasn't for her. The youngest of six kids and determined to go farther than any of them. Maybe that had been the problem. She had jumped the nest too far up and now she was falling.

She was just waiting to hit the ground.

"Um, hi."

Swiveling in her seat at the bar, Marie tucked a dark brown curl behind her ear and blinked at the man who had suddenly appeared next to her.

"Oh, hello," she replied back nervously. People never came up to her. Occasionally, an older couple would compliment a song or give a tip, but never when she was at the bar. This was where she came to decompress and prepared to drag herself back up to the stage for the next set.

Yet, here this guy was.

The man gave her a little smile, a small twitch of the lips on an otherwise serious face. Staring down at his feet, hands shoved in his pockets, he looked at her under a fan of dark lashes.

Marie decided he was nice looking very quickly, even if he wasn't her usual type. This was surprising mainly because she wasn't someone to take to a stranger so quickly (usually she waited until they said more than two words) and she had never been particularly interested in other people, or boys in general. She liked him instantly though. Very odd.

A bit older than her (she could tell that much), he was pale, but with the brightest blue eyes she had ever seen. Like a glacier in the middle of the Arctic. His long black hair was tied at the nape of his neck, some of it spilling over his face and hiding one eye. It was so dark, ink-like and soft. He held himself a bit in on himself, leather jacket swallowing his body and black shirt and jeans hiding his form in the dark of the bar.

But his smile lit him up and he didn't seem like a serial killer.

"I, uh, wanted to tell you that you were great up there. Really. You have a gorgeous voice," the man stuttered softly, rubbing the back of his neck.

"Thank you. That's very sweet," Marie smiled. Well, at least someone was listening, "I'm Marie. It's nice to meet you…"

"Oh," he jumped offering his hand, "uh, Randal. I'm Randal, Huntington. That's…my last name…" He ended awkwardly.

She fought a laugh, shaking his hand gently. A trill went through her, sharp and unexpected like touching a live wire. Her body tingled and the world seemed more alive than she had ever experienced it in that one second. And then he drew his hand away and it was gone, only a faint echo flowing through her blood.

Chewing her bottom lip, Marie cleared her throat, "Would…you like to sit down and join me?"

Randal, for a split second, seemed to relax. He straightened up, no longer hunched over and sputtering. He seemed more confident and like a different person. Smiling, he nodded, "I'd like that very much."

Marie grinned. Maybe today wasn't so bad after all.

3

Grey eyes peeked over the edge of the door panel, staring out the window of the truck as empty fields passed quickly by. Cheek pressed against the plastic of the panel, the vehicle rumbled against the small boy's head as its wheels bumped along the way. They'd been driving for what seemed like forever and Texas had lost any sense of interest after the first couple of hours. Two days was far too long and he was tired of traveling.

It was all the same anyways. One place was just like the other, no matter what the destination was. Same people, same routine. No matter how much they said this would be different, he didn't have high hopes. There was no escaping family, after all.

"Jack, sweetie, are you hungry? I have some snacks up here," his mother's voice drifted back over the roar of the engine.

Blinking, Jack turned to look at the front, Mom's eyes meeting his through the visor's mirror. "No," he replied quietly.

"No what, Jack?" his father's voice bit through the noise.

He didn't turn to look at him, knowing the exact look the man would be sending his way, deciding instead to go back to gazing at the world outside, "No, ma'am. I'm not hungry."

"Are you su-"

"Quit pestering the boy, Anya, he's fine." Dad barked.

His mother didn't say anything, only continuing to look at him worriedly in the mirror.

Jack was an unusual boy. Extremely serious for only ten years old and far too aware of the world. He didn't play, only spent all his time with his father at the military base and reading. Anya had tried to get him into sports, music, anything that would break him out of his shell but it never worked. Of course, her husband didn't help. Saying he would make a fine little soldier one day, following orders to a T and never causing trouble.

But maybe she wanted him to cause trouble. Anything to make him a bit happier.

She sighed. Hopefully this move would be good for all of them. The final one. No more going from state to state, settling in then packing back up. Sure, she may have enjoyed it when her and Hank were younger and didn't have children, but now there was always a constant worry about how the boys were coping and if it was too much for them.

They could finally settle in and have a proper home. Anya didn't even mind that it wasn't a big city. Jack and Leon both needed stability and that's what they were getting.

A large yawn caught her attention and she peaked around her headrest to look at the backseat. Jack was resting his head on his palm, staring endlessly outside while Leon stretched and yawn, having woken up from his nap. The seven year old had passed out for most of the journey, switching from reading his comic books to messing around with his Rubik cube. Thankfully it had kept him largely entertained.

"How long until we get there?" Leon groaned, squishing both his cheeks with his hands.

"Soon, honey. In about half an hour. Then we'll be home," she smiled. He let out another large groan and leaned back dramatically, messy dark, dark brown hair (it was slowly turning black the older he got) sticking in every direction. Anya shook her head.

Leon was a curious little boy. While Jack was quiet and serious, her little boy was all about emotion. Laughing and yelling and dramatics all around. But the moving had made it hard for him to get along with others and people rarely got to see that side to him. He was terribly shy around strangers. They'd moved at least once for every year of his life and she feared that he had learned not to get attached.

A new start. She had to keep reminding herself.

Lubbock, Texas was a medium sized town that was slowly growing. They'd recently built a military base a few miles outside of the town's borders and that's where Hank was relocated to serve as one of the heads of operations. He wasn't allowed to tell her what it was they were doing, but Anya knew he took the opportunity extremely seriously.

She would be staying home and looking after the house and the kids. Hank had originally wanted the boys homeschooled, but she had managed to sway him into letting them go to public school to interact with the other kids. He'd been hard pressed about it originally and then gave in.

They needed normal.

The fields outside the truck slowly gave way to highways and buildings then houses. Turning onto the highway, the kids pressed their noses against the glass to watch as the town flew pass them. Even Jack had perked up a bit.

"Welcome home, guys," Anya laughed, relaxing.

Leon's slate grey eyes ticked this way and that, taking in the different stores and houses. Sure, there weren't a lot of trees and it was a bit flatter than the other places they had lived but it was cool to think that they were going to stay here. He could make friends and bring them over to his house (his own room too! How cool was that?) and maybe they could even get a pet!

"Jack, look!" Leon reached over and poked his older brother, pointing out his window at the large park they were passing with a lake and a huge playground, "Do you see?"

Jack raised himself up a bit to look out the opposite window then sat back down, aware of his father glancing at him in the rearview mirror, "Yep."

"Isn't it cool?!"

He shrugged, "Sure."

Leon pouted, not satisfied with Jack's lackluster reply, and reached over, punching him square in the arm. The boy flinched and sent a glare at his younger brother, "Stop being a brat."

"Stop being a mopey head!" Another punch.

"Stop it!"

"Both of you, enough," Hank's deep, steel voice yelled from the front seat. The boys settled, Leon sticking his tongue out while Jack only glared out the window.

"Alright, we're here," Anya announced as they pulled up a large, circular driveway. The truck, moving trailer attached to the back, came to an abrupt stop and the engine was killed. They all tumbled out, the boys wrestling with their seatbelts and rushing out to look at the giant house.

The Mitchell family wasn't exactly struggling for money. Anya herself came from quite a bit of it and Hank's quick climb of the ranks in the military no doubt helped, even if his family also had a good foundation. But this was their first house they bought completely and they didn't skimp on the luxuries.

Two stories tall, six bedrooms, and over six thousand square feet. Definitely not a cheap little house.

If they were going to be in Lubbock permanently, Hank wanted to make sure they wanted for nothing.

"Wow! This is our's?!" Leon laughed, running up to it.

"All our's. Go ahead," Hank nodded, handing the keys over to Anya. She gave him a bright smile and took Leon's hand, going to unlock the door.

Jack stayed in his spot, staring with wide eyes up at the large house.

"What do you think, Jack?" his father asked, setting a large hand on the boy's shoulder.

"It's…nice," he mumbled.

Hank stared down at his older son, spine straightening, "You'll like your room. It's in the back on its own. Lots of room and privacy, so no one can disturb you. Understand?"

Jack stiffened. Yes, he understood. Not quite the fresh start his mother wanted after all, "I'll still be going to the base with you then?"

His father chuckled, a deep rumble that did nothing for him, and stepped away, "Of course. There's still much to be learned, Jack, and you've come so far. We're in a new town. Lots of opportunities."

Clenching his teeth, Jack blinked and stared down at his clenched fists, "Right. Lots of opportunities."

"Jack!" Anya called from the doorway, "Don't you want to see your room?"

With a sideways look at his father, the boy hesitantly took off towards his mom. He could hear Leon laughing somewhere in the house and the sound birds singing outside. But for him, it was all the same.

There's no escape from family.

4

The scratching of the pen filled the room, the silence a fluttering thing all around him. The single candle light was all that guided him, the rest having burnt out long ago. The electricity hardly worked this far down into his sanctuary, where you couldn't tell if it was night or day. But he could feel it, the burning rise of the sun and the slow sinking as its opposite replaced it.

He'd fought the sun for the second time in a row, a test or experiment if you will.

Edward was growing more powerful. But not in the way he should. Instead of the slow, gradual claim it had hit him like a wave, drowning him under the pressure of it all and making him realize how little control he truly had. Something was wrong…or very right. Either way, it was suspicious and he didn't want to risk an accident until some sort of conclusion could be found.

He spent the days writing, documenting anything new that he couldn't do before or side effects he was feeling. His hunger had risen, yet decreased at the same time. The craving for nourishment would hit him hard as if he was a newborn, but Edward was able to drink less to sustain it.

And the healing, while he couldn't test, he could feel it had grown. It tingled in his fingertips, begging to be used.

Why? Why had it developed so suddenly?

The scribbling started to slow, quill tip dragging painfully. A dot of blood splashed onto the page below him and he wiped the backside of his hand along his nose. The red smear on his pale skin looked unnaturally bright. The sun was calling him, begging him to sleep. Under the call came another, a different voice but familiar all the same.

Edward's eyes grew heavy and the world shifted.

"Oh pretty, something worries you greatly for you to fight so," a tinkling voice echoed in his mind. He relaxed, falling safely into the hazy in-between. Here he was safe.

"Something has changed. I have changed. My own power presses against my skin like I am no more than a novice, attempting to hold it back. I have never felt this type of development and I fear something is wrong," Edward replied, attempting to find balance in the half plane. It was a struggle for it had been so long since he had been there. The grain of the desk was beneath his fingertips at the same time that he knew he had no form here.

This was his master's realm.

Laughter surrounded him like a warm wind, "Yes, yes. Change. Much change, important change. For you, for me, for all of us. It is beginning and the fabric of who we are shifts to adjust."

"What is beginning?" He frowned while not frowning at all.

"The beginning! Be patient, pretty. Wait, wait, wait and you shall see. Important, very important the roles we play."

The sun pulled his essence down like a weight and he could feel himself leaving the plane, "Lady, wait for what?"

Her laughter was the only answer and the sun claimed him.

Edward went to sleep.

5

When asked where he was when his wife first went into labor, Randal would always answer that he was stuck with a broken down car across town, desperately trying to hitchhike to the local hospital where Marie was being admitted.

The truth wasn't quite that simple.

He wasn't even in the same realm as her when the contractions started.

"I asked that you never contact me in this manner. What is it you want?" he asked, voice like thunder and silk. Gone was the disguise he had donned for the past few years. His cloak draped off him like the night, eyes bright glaciers and hair made of shadows.

Thanatos had little patience for being disobeyed.

Killan didn't flinch, spine straight and stare hard, "A ripple hit just now. It was hard enough that many of the council felt it."

The death god frowned, looking into the abyss that surrounded them, "What's the damage?"

"A few rogues, shifter and Vampire, went loose. We're cleaning up the mess, but it was difficult. Permission to find the source-"

"No," Thanatos cut him off, "I know the source."

Beginning to pull his aura back into himself and leave the realm, Killan's now pensive voice stopped him, "Master?"

He sighed, human attire back into place and aura reigned in. The world swirled as if it were smoke, reality coming back with every second. Taking a look back at his head of security and servant, Randal gave a small smile, "My daughter is being born. Goodbye, Killan. Do not contact me with this matter again."

The hospital surrounded him, the sharp tang of chemicals and sickness on his tongue while the touch of death and life ghosted along his skin. Life used to burn his skin, but that changed long ago when they changed their nature. Now it merely tingled as if he sat next to a blaze in the middle of winter.

The labor had been hard. Marie was strong, but he feared the worst. He always did. After so many failed attempts through his long centuries, Randal fully expected to be consoling a sobbing wife who didn't understand.

Instead he stood like a statue, staring out the window into the sunlight.

His daughter had lived. For the first time ever, a girl had survived more than the birth. It was a miracle as well as a curse. How much longer would she live? How many seconds, hours, days, years?

Reaching up, he rubbed his eyes, exhaustion hitting him. Thanatos had wanted a normal, human life and he had achieved that. But that did not make it easier. He had a wife, and now, daughter to protect. And he understood the burden the humans lived with.

A soft knock interrupted his thoughts and he turned as a smiling nurse entered the room, small cart following her. He wiped any last essence of his true self and gave her a hesitant smile, hunching a tad bit and fidgeting in his spot.

Marie stayed asleep, hair sprawled along her pillow and blankets tucked under her chin.

"I thought now would be a good time to get acquainted with the little one while Mom takes a rest," the nurse, Bethany, whispered. Inside the cart, little arms squirmed in a bundle of blankets. Randal craned his head over without moving, peaking at the small mass making noises.

The death god was nervous. It was new. There was only one other time he could remember within the past few ages that he had felt this level of nerves and it was when he had first approached Marie that night in the Jazz club.

He had a daughter.

Taking a deep breath, Randal made his way to the cart as Nurse Bethany lifted the babe up. She showed him how to hold his arms and support the head before transferring her over. He frowned, unsure of how he was holding her, but the nurse only laughed.

"I'll leave you alone with her. Let us know if you need anything," she whispered, shutting the door behind her.

Randal stayed frozen in his spot, staring at the door as if he could run out right there. But a soft coo drew his attention and he blinked blue eyes at the baby girl in his arms.

She was tiny, smaller than most babes. Skin tinted the slightest hue of pink and yellow. Complications, the nurses had said; she fought to come out. Kicking and screaming into the world. He almost smirked. A fighter.

Trailing a long finger along her cheek, she reached up and grabbed his finger. His skin tingled at the heat emitting from her and he frowned.

Yes, this most definitely had been the source of the ripple. Randal could feel it as if he were holding a ball of pure energy. It crackled and sizzle at his aura, alive and wild and powerful. Unlike anything he had felt.

"That's enough now, Little One," the father breathed out, drawing his own aura. Something recognized him and in a blink, her power disappeared to a barely noticeable level.

He smiled, trailing his fingers through her dark, thick hair, "You are something else. I wish I could welcome you to this world and promise to always keep you safe, but I cannot start your life with a lie. There are things out there that are terrible. People will try to hurt you and the path you choose may not always be the right one. Life is hard. But I will never abandon you. I will never give up on you.

"I need you to be very brave. You may not understand. Not now or tomorrow, or even in a few years. But one day, you will. You are a fighter. I can see that as clearly as I see you now," Randal kissed her forehead, baby fingers reaching up to try and tug his inky hair.

"The world has been waiting for you, Viola. Welcome, my love."

6

No matter how hard she scrubbed, the blood wouldn't come out.

Thick tears rolled down her face as her hands turned red and raw. But the blood wouldn't come out of the fabric. Another sob broke from her and she rested her wet face against her shoulder as the steam from the water surrounded her and filled the room.

She hadn't meant for it to happen. Oh goddess, she hadn't meant for this.

But she could hear their voices screaming through the door, hear the beat of their bats against the wood and the sound of glass breaking as they threw rocks. She had only wanted them to leave!

Why? What had she done to deserve everything? They had already robbed her of everything. They had broken her long ago. With words, they had destroyed her confidence. With their threats, they had destroyed her safety. With their fists, they had destroyed her body. And with their mouths and tongues, they had destroyed her spirit. What more did they wish to take when they had claimed everything that was not theirs?

But they had come back for more. Simply because of how she was born.

She was born a Witch, a Hidden. It wasn't her fault.

Back to scrubbing, she tried to get the blood off her clothes. She had only defended herself. They had wanted her life….she had taken theirs instead.

Her foot shifted and slid, the weight making her lose balance and send her tumbling. Arms and elbows cracked against the counter and she cried as her body collapsed onto the tile floor. Blood covered her and she screamed, the thick liquid coating her.

She sobbed into the floor.

One moment they were rushing in after her and the next they were frozen in place, blood seeping out of their mouths and eyes as they choked on their own organs. Power had flooded her in that moment and she had been terrified, staring at their slowly draining bodies. She'd killed them. All of them.

And at the same time, she had never felt so wonderful. She'd come alive in that moment.

Fingers clawing the bloodied floor, her head rolled to the side, red from crying and the filth covering the tile. And for a second she blinked.

The face reflected back in the pool surrounding her was not her own.

She moved her head this way and that, the woman following her same movements. Each blink, each turn, each twitch of the face. But her brown hair was pure red, blending in with the color of the blood and her face was scarred, as if burned.

With another blink, the reflection grinned, sharpened fangs gleaming white.

And she knew. This had been what had been behind it all. What had helped her to kill them? It slithered invisible hands along her skin and whispered in her head.

No longer was she terrified. She smiled, mirroring the face in the blood, and knew what was to come. Fear would not claim her any more. She would take back her life, her body and spirit and all that they had stolen. And it would help her make them pay. For she was deserving of that gift.

Tera smiled once more and watched as the blood rose, circling her hand.

A new dawn was coming.

7

They all felt the moment it happened.

A stirring ran through the blood of the Olympians and they knew something had changed, whether for the better or the worst.

And Thanatos knew the source.

Leaving the soul he was escorting on the bank of the river Styx for the Charon to deal with, the death god sank into the half realm, feeling out for his sister's location. Finding it, he found it was like touching molten metal, painful and searing through his blood. Something was wrong.

He ripped himself out of the realm, groaning in pain and letting his magic wrap around himself as the smoke of his cloak shrouded him. Shrieks of pain echoed off the walls of the dark cave he found himself in, water sliding off the rocks and pooling on the ground. His brothers and sisters were close, coming to investigate just as he had.

No torches hung, but a large pile of wood was lit aflame in the corner, casting long shadows of the figures so by.

Another scream set off.

"Sister!" Thanatos yelled, pulling himself straight and stepping forward.

"Thaaaanatos, how lovely of you to join?" her voice slithered, crawling along the walls like a snake.

"Enough play, Ker. What have you done?" He growled in rage.

The goddess of violence and death pulled herself off the wall where she was hidden, her Keres spirits in half forms around her, half connected and partially formed. She wore the darkness like a veil, as death gods were subject to do, ink hair in matted curls around her face and pale sheet white skin spattered with blood.

Her blue eyes glowed in the dark, manic with red ringed around the iris. Her teeth had sharpened and were colored with the blood that covered her, "Shall you see my pretties, Thanatos? Oh you'll love them. I picked them off the battlefield, ripped to shreds and in so much pain. Such little pretties."

Thanatos' hand shot out, grabbing Ker by the collar of her cloak and yanking her forward, "You despicable-"

"Brother Thanatos," Somnus called, having pulled himself out of the half realm, Morta and their other younger brother, Morpheus, at his side.

Clenching his fist, Thanatos growled and threw Ker away, power pressing around his skin, "What did you do to them?"

She cackled, the Keres echoing eerily before sinking into her, tattoos forming along her skin to form their symbols. Olympians and humans despised Thanatos, but he always believed that if there was one that should be hated, it should be Ker. She reveled in the pain of others, following battles closely with her Keres and drawing power from the humans being torn apart in wars. And when there was peace, she ensured the violence herself.

The human poets once described a Pandora's Box (false, but entertaining), saying the box, once opened, unleashed all the evils of the world including disease and hate…but the truth was it was all Ker. She was born with the rest of them and the world was damned from that moment on.

"A piece of me, they all have. The nectar from which we live is theirs as well…but they crave something more," Ker laughed, "Oh sweet, sweet blood. They are my chaos bringers, my children, my being." Her laughter bounced around them.

"She found a way," Somnus whispered at his twin's side, "By Olympus, she found a way."

Thanatos frowned, staring at the dark corner where the writhing mass of bodies groaned in pain. A new kind. Not human or deity; made, not birthed. She broke the law of creation and it rippled like a gaping wound that they could all feel.

Morpheus joined the twins, long white hair stark against darkness of the cave and black eyes endless like pits, "We could destroy them. Be gone with them and no one will have to know."

"Everyone already knows," Somnus corrected him, "She has done what never should have been-"

Thanatos looked down, feeling a sharp tug at the elbow of his robe. Tiny Morta blinked up, the light of the fire hiding her face in shadows. She tugged again, an impatient look on her face.

Hesitantly and a bit unsure, the death god kneeled beside her as she stood on tip toes to whisper into his ear. Ker stayed on the ground, giggling manically, while the gods of sleep and dreams watched on in confusion.

His face morphed from hesitant confusion to cold anger. Standing, he stared down at the tiny goddess with a dark understanding. She smiled and frowned, as if unsure of what emotion she should be conveying, but still blinked large discolored eyes up at him.

Growling, Thanatos bore his teeth and looked over at Ker writhing on the ground in triumph.

"What is it? What has been said?" Morpheus asked steely, unsure of his sisters.

Thantos swallowed heavily, staring back at the tiny goddess next to him. She nodded before skipping over to the masses of screaming body. Somnus made a move to stop her but his twin reached out and grabbed his arm, "No."

"She should not be around those things!"

"No," the death god repeated thickly, "Must happen."

Somnus stared at him in disbelief, "You cannot be serious."

His fingers dropped from his brother, staring out into the darkness where Morta had disappeared, "I wish I could say I was."

"What did she say?" Morpheus interrupted, pushing between the twins.

"The path has been started. We must forge the rest of the way. Change your makings," Thanatos looked away.

The answer lay between them heavily.

Morpheus snarled, "We cannot!"

"If she says as much, it has to be done!" Somnus snapped.

Chuckling darkly, the dream god paced, the pounding of his footsteps like a drum against the background of screams and maniacal laughter, "This is utter madness. We will never be forgiven of this. You want us to create those monsters?! To give a part of us away?!"

"Yes."

Thanatos closed his eyes, truth settling in his bones, "Yes, that is exactly what must be done. Because Morta has never failed us. It must happen. However, we can control what we create. Ker is born of madness so she creates madness. We pick those that are susceptible to our nature and turn those. Give a part of ourselves and ensure that what we create can be controlled. Morta says we must make this new kind so we will."

"Are you sure about this, brother?" his twin whispered, clasping his shoulder, "We do not know what will happen for some of us."

For him. For those of death. Ker had created madness born of death, who was not to say that the same would not happen to him.

But Thanatos nodded solemnly.

Gazing at his siblings, listening to the insanity spilling from Ker's mouth, he disappeared into his realm to seek out his chosen.

May Olympus help the world they were about to create.

And the Hiddens were born.

8

Different starts, different paths.

Time passes, the clocks turn, and it begins.

Another kind grows and spread, in the darkness, in the daylight, but still hidden until the right time comes closer. They wait for the day that they will no longer be the Hiddens.

The deities fall or rise to become something else. Some disappear from existence, no longer fed on humankind's belief. Others survive, becoming something more. And then there are the handful that change. Deities but not.

Originals, living on through their creations.

They learn. They survive and watch their creations grow stronger, their gifts passed on. And then one day, they all sink back into the shadows. No one knows why. Yet.

A young man is changed, given a gift, and receives immortality. Soon enough, someone special discovers him. He is different and special, she sees that. And so she teaches him. He'll be very important, after all. She sees that and so it must be.

Young boys grow. The youngest does not go the path his father wants him to follow. He lives a normal, if not a bit of a lonely life. His older brother is his best friend, but he remains oblivious to the secrets he keeps and the strange work of his father. And his older brother, he stays the path, growing stronger every day. He learns like a good boy should, fighting the evils in the shadows, does what his father tells him to. He impresses everyone with his skills. Soon, he is not a young boy at all. He is a man. He is a Hunter.

Voices whisper in the dark and a young witch grows stronger. She gathers followers and allies; all that wish to see her goal achieved. The face in the mirror grins as the clock ticks ever closer.

A little, impossible girl survives a day. And then another day, and then a week, month, year, years. She survives. Every day is a new miracle and the tide begins to turn. Thanatos relaxes as another miracle is born. He thinks that things have changed.

And then one day, the little impossible girl meets the young soldier. The Hiddens come into the light. The young witch finally begins to set her plans in motion. And the immortal young man becomes trapped.

The clock ticks.

9

In the woods, a little boy is found clawed and bloodied by a man, who is older than he seems. The boy survives. The boy becomes a man. And the man becomes a king.

The final piece is set.

It begins.


So.

Have you figured out who the players are yet?