Ch. 35 | The Sorceress Part 2
Annabeth took in her surroundings as she reluctantly trailed behind her friends eagerly following the beautiful woman towards the village. Romans, young and old alike, moved about their settlement and went about their day, yet none spared a glance towards the three newcomers and their guide. Unease wrapped its way through Annabeth's chest as she observed the townspeople progress stiffly and unseeingly, all emotion absent from their faces. A quick glance forward towards her companions confirmed that they were in a similar state, except that they were entirely focused on the woman who was escorting them. The lack of Reyna's typical inquisitions and Clarisse's loud interrogations made Annabeth feel lonely despite being only a few steps behind the other two demigods.
Their host seemed to be the only other person unaffected by the strange behaviors in the village. She flowed with the grace of a mighty feline: a predator, a hunter, and a force to be reckoned with. As Annabeth watched her from behind, the woman peeped back and briefly met her eyes; she almost looked surprised by the demigod's stare, but quickly covered it with a coy smile as she refocused on guiding them forward.
Annabeth sped up until she was walking in-between Reyna and Clarisse. She nudged Clarisse's shoulder, hoping to gain her attention, but the sturdy woman didn't even spare her a glance—although this behavior wasn't particularly uncommon for the moody general, it was a bad sign during such an important quest. A quick poke to Reyna's side also failed to give her a response, and could only lead Annabeth to conclude that she was in deep trouble.
As they continued to walk through the village, Annabeth realized that they were approaching a low, round building that was slightly more impressive and well-kept than the rest of the surrounding community. This must be the house of the local leader, Annabeth thought distantly as the women led them inside of it. As she stepped through the threshold of the structure, Annabeth found herself in a circular room lined shelves stuffed full with jars and jars of variously colored brews. As she stepped forward to peek a closer look at them, she glanced up and noticed that the roof of the building was styled with glass panels connected to pulleys so that they could be slid opened and closed. To help get rid of all of the fumes from these concoctions, Annabeth surmised. She had to admit, the design of this place was smart and efficient.
Taking a closer look at different brews, she saw things that she couldn't help but be grossed out at. What looked disturbingly like a human tongue in some green liquid, alongside what looked like a perfectly preserved chicken in a disconcertingly clear liquid. As she continued to scan the shelves, the contents continued to get weirder and weirder, some of the contents she had never seen in her relatively short life.
Refocusing on the present, Annabeth realized that her friends were no longer beside her. Whipping around from her position near the brimming shelves, Annabeth spotted Reyna and Clarisse on the opposite side of the room, protectively flanking the unusual woman. Their host smiled wickedly at Annabeth.
"Do you finally understand how hopeless your situation is, young demigod?" she asked airily. "Even you friends have abandoned you!"
"What have you done to my friends and the people of this town, you wicked woman?" Annabeth snapped. "You're no mortal common villager."
A high-pitched laugh escaped from the woman's corrupt grin. "How right you are, daughter of Minerva! Mistaking I, Medea, for a mortal, was a foolish mistake to make. And as for these humans? I have done very little to them; I only helped to…persuade them, let's say, to let their true sentiments free. The jealousy that your 'friends' feel towards you has always been there, and only needed a flame to set it ablaze."
"The great Roman gods themselves have schooled me," Annabeth boasted as she unsheathed her white dagger and pointed it towards the sorceress before her, "and unless you wish to unleash their holy wrath, I suggest that you let my companions and I go."
"Oh, how little you know child!" Medea cackled. "I was alive when the great hero Jason was. I am a prodigious potions master, so do not underestimate my strength. And as for you? You are nothing to me, but Gaia would pay a pretty penny for you, and I'm sure that she would give me a special place in her new world with you delivered straight to her doorstep on your hands and knees."
"Your allegiance with Gaia shows your weakness," Annabeth spat. She started to approach enchantress cautiously as a thoughtful expression graced her face. "You may pride yourself of knowing Jason, but it is well known that he abandoned you for being an evil witch." Rage seethed across Medea's face as Annabeth drew closer to her "This village full of mindless followers must be your way compensating for all of the abandonment issues he gave you."
And with Annabeth's words, the infamous sorceress shrieked in fury and raised her arms; on cue, Annabeth's two closest friends, their faces blank, drew their weapons and lunged.
Sorry for the long wait, but writing my thesis has taken over my life. Along with the vast difference in writing style when comparing scientificwriting to a story, I haven't had the time, nor motivation to write this chapter. Regardless, here is a relatively short chapter that was made readable by my beta: AmericanBeautyAmericanPsycho.