I tried to pull away from his touch, but not with much effort. I looked up to catch his eyes and showed him the battle. He pulled me into his warm embrace and held me for a while. I didn’t cry, but his warmth filled me, and I felt more whole than I had in centuries. When I pulled out of his arms, we were both glowing slightly.
Reacting to the flame’s loss, several geysers burst open at once, raising the temperature within to melting point. Thunder and rumbling reverberated off the walls. Cracks grew across the bridge and the ceiling as liquid earth simmered and roiled around us.
I heard the sound of my heart shattering, taking with it the last glint of hope. I fell to my knees, letting out a howl from the depth of my soul. Selene cradled me in her arms as we rocked back and forth together. Sayeh was lost to me forever.
I turned to leave as a cool breeze blew through the cave with a haunting howl, sending a violent shudder through me. The curse. The curse is now mine to bear, I thought as I made my way back up and out of the cavern.
Quietly, I walked through the graveyard and looked at the old and crumbling headstones. Leave it to the pirates to have the most interesting names. Honestly, I was surprised that there weren’t any Seymore-Butts…oh, wait, nevermind. There it is.
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.
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.”