A Modern Greek Myth, 3
While Azalee recovers from her stabbing, the High Priestess continues to lord over her. Azalee begins to feel her situation is hopeless once the Mother of Mykonos declares her mistrust of the Blistered child. With few allies, she makes desperate moves to gain some sense of control.
In Athens, Joel and the others come to the dreaded realization that Joel is also a chosen mortal by a very unlikely and malicious god. Joel will have to sacrifice his beliefs to reach Azalee—and even that may not be enough.
As their fates intertwine, trust is tenuous, promises are broken, and blood is spilled. Azalee and Joel can succumb to the gods’ twisted games...or challenge the fates.
14+ due to violence and adult situations
“Relax,” said Cleo, her smile widening. “We’ll leave the door open. But this”—she gestured at Deimos’s thick stubble—“can’t stay anymore. It looks hideous.”
Covering his mouth to muffle a laugh, Joel couldn’t help but take amusement from the horrified expression on Deimos’s face.
Defensively, Deimos said, “I’ve decided I like it.”
Cleo wrinkled her nose. “It’s hideous, and I’ve decided it’s coming off.”
“It’s my face!”
“Yeah, but you only have to wear it. I have to look at it.”
Deimos sneered—at least, Joel assumed he did. The golden fur around his mouth was beginning to make it difficult to tell. “Perhaps you should find something more attractive to look at.”
Cleo huffed, placing her hands on her hips. “I’m trying, but that thing isn’t cooperating very well.”
“Look, little girl—”
“No, you look,” she shouted. Joel flinched at the sudden sharp rise in her pitch. “Unless you’re in your thirties, you have no business looking like a scruffy old mountain man in the middle of the city. Just because we’re fighting a war doesn’t mean you get to look like a barbarian.” She pointed to the men’s bathroom, her nostrils flaring. “Now get in there before I break the razor open and cut your potentially pretty face with it!”
Deimos raised an eyebrow. “Potentially?”
Cleo glared at him, jabbing her finger insistently at the bathroom.
After a tense moment, Deimos sighed. “I shall return in a moment, baby brother.”
“A moment,” Cleo muttered as she trailed behind him. “All that rabbit fur plastered on his stupid face, it’s gonna take at least half an hour…”
Uncertain whether to be confused, amused, or irate, Joel shook his head and looked back to Emilia. “So, uh…”
Emilia smiled pleasantly. “Please close the door. I should like to get dressed in the new garments Niribelle so graciously acquired.”
“Yeah. Sure.” Joel fumbled with the handle. “Uh, have fun.”
After he shut the door, a strange buzzing sounded from the bathroom, quickly followed by a loud thud. “Fiery furies, what black magic is that?” exclaimed Deimos.
Cleo’s groan echoed from the tiny bathroom. “Oh, my God, it’s an electric razor. Sit down!”
Joel paused to grab the clothes Niribelle had bought for him, sliding a pair of jeans over his—what were these infernal tiny pants called? Boxers?
He wandered to the window, sliding the curtain open and welcoming Apollo’s sunlight into his face. He touched the scabbed lobe of his left ear, recalling the quartz earring he’d pilfered from his mother to help him travel by night. It seemed like ages ago.
Knowing everything I know now, was it all worth it?
Considering Niribelle’s increasingly secretive nature, he wasn’t certain. Something else was going on, but she remained tight-lipped about whatever was bothering her.
Plus, he had a lot on his own plate. He needed to rescue Azalee from her imprisonment on the island of Mykonos. Not to mention his promise to save Cleo’s sister from the snare of the death god, Thanatos. Then there was the impending war among the gods.
Finally, the fact Joel would have to cast aside his desired philosophy of pacifism if he wanted to save Azalee from her impending fate.
Over the past couple weeks, Emilia had filled in a lot of holes, starting when Joel and Azalee had separated on the Mykonos ship and ending when Emilia—and Cleo—had passed through a gemstone apparition to join him near Athens. Joel knew Azalee was in a place called Mykonos Manor and that she was expected to wed and conceive a child with the so-called Son of Mykonos, Theseus.
Joel had met the man, once. He’d had Joel stabbed.
His hand reflexively went to his side. The wound was mostly healed, but still ached now and then.
The weight of his burdens pressed upon him. He had much to do, and time was short. Joel had to get to the island of Mykonos, but he still had to find a way to save Cleo’s twin sister.
He’d promised both of them. He couldn’t break those promises.
He rested his head against the cool glass, heaving a sigh. Yet here I am, once again, in over my head. And Deimos expects me to … what, exactly? Lead everyone?
The very idea was hilarious. Or would have been, if Joel had the energy to laugh.
He closed his eyes, taking inventory of his injuries. Though his side and ear were largely healed, as was the shallow stab wound to his shoulder Deimos had so lovingly gifted him weeks earlier, the slice down his back still scabbed and bled occasionally. Emilia had bandaged him the night before, and he would need a change before they left. His hand trailed back, finding where the cloth turned rigid beneath dried blood.
His feet ached from weeks of walking. His head throbbed under the weight of his internal pressures. His heart constricted at the thought of Azalee—and worse, not knowing what happened to her.
She was his destiny. He’d spent too much of their initial journey together wandering from his fated path. Over and over, it had come to haunt him.
He didn’t want to stray from the path that led to her anymore. He’d fallen for her, hard. She wasn’t beautiful in the conventional sense he’d grown up with, but Azalee was much more: feisty, determined, and headstrong. All of those things, and yet unbelievably understanding and caring. She’d fought for Niribelle after Niribelle had betrayed her. She’d found a way to reach him through unconventional means, even when they were miles apart.
He loved her.