I woke up slowly, keeping my eyes closed and tried to roll over, but Luke was lying almost on top of me, his legs tangled in mine. I cracked open one eye and found him watching me. “You’re thinking too loud. It’s keeping me awake,” I groaned.
I placed my hands on the smooth scales of Sayeh’s back and took a deep breath. As I let it out, I tried to call back the stone that ran over her body, but it resisted. I pulled harder, fighting against an unseen force. Her body had been wrapped in the stone for too long, and it didn’t want to let go.
Medusa’s words repeated over in my head mockingly. She had to be joking. Other goddesses interested in me? It didn’t matter, none of it did. There was only one I wanted, and she had made it perfectly clear she was not interested.
The second town car was supposed to enter, but instead, a flashy red sports car pulled up. I was surprised at who was behind the wheel. Medusa stepped out in her gorgon form, snakes writhing around her head. This could be interesting.
The things I did for my family. That made me remember the words burned on Tuttook’s hind leg. Words I’d seen before on an ancient scripture. A truth I’d come to learn since my return to the Pantheon. A truth we’d need to remember to finish our quest successfully.
They still saw the illusion, and I had a feeling no matter how many times they walked across the bridge, they’d end up at the beginning. “You have to trust me. I think this is part of a test. We have to trust each other and have enough faith to get through each challenge.”
I looked into the pool at the reflected moon and caught my face looking back at me. Darkened over and cold, I realized what must change…me. I closed my eyes and exhaled, a cold breath of air rushed out in a cloud. I have a home, a family. They are here with me.
“Oh, but I am. I am you. The real you. What would your precious family say if they saw the real you? Do you think they would still love you? Would they love the Athena we both know you really are? Take a good look! This is who you really are. Who WE are.”
I stepped away from the group and gathered a few large leaves along with a coconut shell filled with moon water. When I returned, Morpheus moved to allow me access to Persephone. I washed the dried blood from her arms and legs, sending her positive energy and stroking her skin with the damp leaves.
I grew until I loomed over the villagers like the mountain behind us, my eyes glowing and seething like its volcanic heart. The shadows roiled around me, their matte darkness contrasting the bright sheen of my obsidian skin. A necklace of pale claws fanned around my neck like violent petals, still tipped with blood.
I strained, seeking the barest shift in the fabric of the Dream that would indicate that she heard me. But nothing moved. So, I said her name again, louder this time, and was rewarded with more stillness. Panic climbed my spine. As it did, the Darkness stirred again, rolling over, muttering words to twist me.
The teeth snapped again, and I raised my foot, giving him a swift kick just below his jaw, connecting with a dull thud against his thick hide. He reeled back on his haunches, grabbing my foot between his front paws.