The next morning, Lillian woke up feeling as if she had been run over by a horse. She had only gotten a few hours of sleep and at that point, she was only running off of coffee and spite. Alexander was the same, except he was always running off of coffee and spite.
The door had been unlocked when Alexander tried to open it in the early hours of the morning, so he crept back to his own room with the intention of grabbing every book about monsters he had and obsessing over them until the sun rose. The door made a loud clicking noise when he shut it, waking Lillian from whatever dreams she was having. Probably something to do with dragons.
"Alex," She whisper-shouted in the direction of the door, "We need to talk!"
There was no reply.
Lillian woke up to find that lessons for the day had been cancelled for a reason the servants would not tell her while looking her in the eye. On such a sunny day, the twins' teachers would usually bring them out to the courtyard to carry the lessons out in the sun. But today, since lessons had been cancelled, Lillian sat alone in her room, staring down at the town that seemed to stretch out for miles in every direction. The town she would rule someday. She had barely ever been allowed down there, but she had yearned to go back since seeing all the beautiful shops and cafes the first time.
Lillian thought of all that she had learned the day before. She closed her eyes and flopped backwards onto her bed, thinking of Alexander's response to her objection to them doing absolutely nothing.
"I don't see the problem," He had snapped at breakfast that morning, "Eris has escaped from whatever hellhole our father trapped her in, and is probably going to kill the first person she sees. Kratos is going to stop that from happening. What is the problem?" Lillian had simply stared at him until he rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to his bacon. Prick.
Lillian was pulled from her thoughts by a sharp rap on the door.
"Lillian!" Alexander's voice called out from the other side of the door, "Open the door!" Lillian scowled. He better be here to apologize, She thought to herself. She stomped over to her door and yanked it forcefully open. Alexander practically fell through the doorway. He was clutching a large book titled Creatures of the night.
"What do you want?" Lillian snarled. Alexander raised his hands in mock surrender.
"Would you calm the hell down?" He mocked. He showed her a page of the book that had been folded down. "Look. I think I've found something." On the page there was a picture of a young girl, no more than than ten or eleven years old. She would have looked like a regular girl, pretty even, but her skin... her skin was as pale as marble. Her eyes were as black as the night sky and seemed to be staring at them from the page. Lillian looked away.
"Look what is says beneath the picture," Alexander said, seeming not to notice his sister's discomfort, "'The Empousa has shown itself only twice in all of history, and has been a topic of debate for many centuries. Both times it has been seen, it has given no early warning of it's arrival. As far as experts can tell, the Empousa is-'"
Lillian stared at him. "Is what?" She demanded. Alexander shrugged.
"That is all it says. The rest of the page has been torn off."
"And all of this is relevant why, exactly?"
Alexander scowled at her. "Because of the picture. You know the locket father has around his neck? Well, inside it is a painting of a baby girl. Father left the locket on his bed once, and I was able to look inside. But what bothered me about the girl was her skin. It was way too pale. It was horrifying. I never mentioned it to anyone because I didn't think it was important."
Lilian narrowed her eyes. "What are you saying?"
"I think... I think it might have been Eris."
Deep in the forest, far, far away, Kratos' heart was pounding in his chest. He leaned against a tree, trying desperately to slow his breathing. There was a slight rustling sound from behind him. Kratos froze. he reached for the dagger strapped to his thigh, and tried to pull it as quietly as he could from it's sheath. He winced as the dagger made a small chink sound as he pulled it free. Even the slightest movement could give away his location, and with that animal so close, he couldn't risk it.
When the king had approached him days ago, he had said only five words: "She's gone. Hunt her down." Kratos had immediately known what the king had meant. At first he had felt anger. Anger at the king, for not having Eris killed, at Eris for escaping, at the universe for being so cruel. Now he felt only fear.
About an hour ago, Kratos' companion, General Fastus, had disappeared from their camp. Ten minutes later, Kratos' other companion, a skilled huntress by the name of Vena, had gone too.
Then the monster had gone after Kratos.
It had sprung out at him from behind a tree, taking him by surprise. It had lashed out at him with lethally sharp claws, cutting through the sleeve of his jacket and slashing open his arm. Kratos had been able to wound but not kill the beast by driving his dagger into it's leg, allowing him to escape. But the animal was still alive, and was really pissed off.
Kratos took a deep breath. Gripping his dagger firmly in his uninjured hand, he sprung out from behind the tree.
There was nothing there.
Kratos spun around just in time. The beast was running at him, and just as it was about to pounce, he extended his arm, throwing the dagger, wobbling a bit but true, straight into the beast's heart. It fell to the ground with a dull thud. Kratos breathed a sigh of relief. He went to retrieve the dagger, and was cleaning the blood off of it when he heard a voice from behind him that chilled him to his core.
"You look just like your father."
Eris. Her voice was harsh and ugly, but strangely soft.
"I wonder if you'll scream like him, too."