CoA/N: A result of DK's muses not leaving her alone, and my muses not letting me sleep until we made this work for the story. Hopefully our hard work will result in more reveiws and more people enjoying the story. Anyway hope ya'll like. -Rei
Nikias was smiling as he marched the red and black demon, the woman and the child to the Ephors. This was his chance to make off with the flaxen haired siren, he doubted that the iced eyed giant would put up much of a fight; after all she seemed to be the property of the emerald eyed one. She had turned to him and made her demands, and the children looked like him. Each sporting reddish-blond hair and light green eyes. All he had to do was while the Ephors were deciding the fate of the demon, for he had to be one; no man or god ever hid their countenance for any reason, was sneak out of the coliseum with her and head back to him dwelling. The child was of little importance to him, she could stay with the demon for all he cared.
The little girl was lagging behind, her eyes wide as she looked around the market place. He growled and started towards her, but the demon intercepted him; words that he didn't understand spewing rapidly from under the leather shield on his face. He motioned to the girl then pointed back to the demon, saying slowly to pick her up. After all if the emerald eyed one understood then this one had to understand as well, right? He must have for he swung the little one up, settling her on his hip and the woman fussed over her. He didn't need to know their tongue to know that the little girl was being scolded. She hid her head in the demon's mane and wrapped her arms around his muscular neck. He heard soft soothing sounds come from him; well he supposed they were soothing anyways.
He eyed the woman as she ran her hand over the little girls head then rested her hand on the crook of the demons' arm. For his part he had his head inclined towards her and would nod or shake his head every so often. 'Maybe she belongs to both.' Nikias thought as he watched the interaction. The two continued to talk and Nikias found himself growing more and more aggravated. His temper reached the boiling point and he moved to separate the two, but the demon's growl put a stop to that idea. He found himself flinching once again as the mismatched icy gaze bore holes in him. With a grimace he demanded that they cease talking. The demon tilted his head to the side and Nikias swore he seen his own death in their depths.
They rounded a corner, taking them out of the main byway of the city and towards the older end. The coliseum that housed the Ephors was almost as large as the palace of the king. It's stately columns rising up from the dusty street, offering shade and cool place to sit as a person waited to be seen. In fact, as they drew nearer, Nikias seen several other people lining the stone steps waiting to present their cases to the Ephors. There were Demeterius and Alphad glaring at each other from opposite sides of the steps. Their land dispute was well known through out the city and finally the Ephors had decided to step in and take control before it ended in blood shed. Not that Nikias minded, it meant that there would be less Helots running around; something that he was comfortable with.
In all honesty Nikias was tired with the predictability of crypteia year after year. The Helots rarely gave a good fight anymore; it was as they too were taught since birth that they were to be the prey of the Spartans. The young and old men no longer fought with the heat, with the need for survival. It seemed to Nikias that they just laid down in the streets and begged for their deaths. He wanted new and challenging prey, something that would put his strength and cunning to the ultimate test. He cast his eyes back over the giant, gauging the man's strength. He would be a worthy competitor, he was strong and his large frame boasted of raw power, 'a worthy competitor indeed.'
Even though Glen was talking to Sara he was keeping an eye on the small man that was leading them to god knows where. When he seen him approach Gracie with his spear lowered he growled, not knowing how to tell the man to back off. However that didn't stop him from showering him with a few choice words as he picked his niece up and held her close. He knew that Sara was worried about Chassie and Mark, but Glen had the feeling that the main one they had to worry about was the little weasel looking one that had led them off.
He caught him looking at him and tilted his head; something that he learned frightened others when his hair fell to the side, shielding the normal colored eye. It worked; the man shivered again and faced the structure that had seemingly risen out of nowhere. Glen saw the mass of people milling around the stone steps and tightened his hold on Gracie, and pulled Sara to him. Knowing that Mark would personally send the hounds of hell after him if he let anything happen to either one of them, Kane glared at all that came near. As they started up the steps a young dark brown haired man charged at his slightly older medium brown haired counterpart, and tackled him to the ground.
He watched passively as their leader jumped in and tried to separate the two, snickering to himself when he couldn't do it. The fight was escalating. And the one he had mentally dubbed Jericho was heading towards them. Worried that either Gracie or Sara could get hurt, he handed Gracie to Sara and picked up both combatants by the neck. The two men halted what they were doing and turned to stare at Glen, their eyes wide as they took in his mask and mismatched eyes. The little man that had led them there glared up at him, his irritation at being out done obvious on his face. He motioned for Glen to drop the two fighters and with a shrug he did.
Glen then headed back over to Sara and Gracie, taking the little girl back from Sara. "What's going on Glen?" Sara asked quietly as the little man started to berate the two involved in the scuffle, or at least it sounded like he was berating them to Glen. "I don't know." He then turned his attention back to the three in front of them, watching quietly as their leader struck both men with the back of his hand. Obviously 'Jericho' carried some weight in the community for both men bowed their heads and were mumbling something to him. With a satisfied smirk he walked back over to them and Glen sneered under his mask at the swagger that the little man had.
It kind of reminded him of Vince's power walk, and the sneer momentarily morphed into a smirk. The little man pointed to them and then to the top of the stairs, then mimed walking up them. "Sara, I think this clown wants up to go up the stairs." Glen said darkly as the little man's pantomimes became more hurried and the look on his face turned into one of impatience. "Really Glen? I though he was running in place to amuse us." She sniped back, a wry grin on her face as Glen growled playfully at her. "Woman..." He started. "Now, now you know only Mark gets away with that." She growled back. "But he's not here is he?"
Meanwhile, Bion and Eugenios escorted their' guest to the royal houses. They were greeted with wide eyed stares, and a little more suspicion than they were used to. They dealt with it with the Spartan stoicism demanded of them. However their' larger than life companion, and petite load in his arms didn't seem in the least bit fazed, nor impressed, or amazed by their' new surroundings. In fact the seemingly 'little girl' was keeping up a stream of chatter, while watching their' surrounding at the same time. Her protector was nowhere as vocal, only grunting answers every so often.
Glancing at the giant, Eugenios couldn't help but be reminded of the temple paintings of the river Styx in the temple of Hades from his youth. Charon, ferryman of the river of the dead had always been painted with red hair. And the portrait of damned souls painted across this creature's arms almost made the young Spartan shutter. If he had shown up wearing the fabled black robes, glaring with his unnaturally green gaze, Eugenios had no doubt every person in the market would have fallen to their' knees.
'But what would that make the others?' He thought, trying to distract himself from the disturbing conclusion he had come to. The children of Nyx were many and if the other ice eyed giant was indeed 'Charon's' brother than it would be hard to identify him. Somehow Eugenios doubted that the brunet was Epiphron, god of shrewdness, and thoughtfulness. He was far too feral for that. Momus was more likely, but again Eugenios doubted it. The god of blame, though fierce of tongue, was not known for fierceness in visage. The next option that popped into his head chilled the dark Spartan to no end, Thanatos.
Quickly Eugenios turned his thoughts to the three females that had arrived with the two brothers. Now they were harder to place. What manner of creature would mate with the Ferrier of the river Styx? For the child-like being 'Charon' was carrying in his arms was most assuredly his offspring. The likeness was too close for any doubts. "Son of Chryses, son of Pylades what brings you two here?" Eugenios was called out of his thoughts by his lord king's voice. Automatically he bowed, as did Bion. 'Charon' however remained erect staring the man who was to judge him right in the eye. What none of them knew was that three goddesses watched from their' heavenly repose, guiding Eugenios's thoughts.
"Neme, I thought you said that there would be no more meddling after bringing those giants in." Astraea admonished as she looked into the thoughts of the one named Eugenios. "He thinks them to be Charon and Thanatos." She said frowning and looking around as if just saying their names would make them appear. "Dear sister, that's the point." Nemesis said as she placed yet another thought into Eugenios' head. Bia sat a few feet away watching as the tall red headed warrior stood straight in the presence of the king. With a slight grin she made it appear to the mortals as if he was wearing robes then when they blinked the robes were gone.
The immediate indrawn breath from them was priceless and Bia's grin turned into laughter, drawing the other two goddesses attention to her. "What have you done Bia?" Astraea demanded as she walked over and peered down into the mortal realm. "Nothing." She said innocently, too innocently. She loved to taunt the minds of the mortals; it was what made her happy. And a happy Bia was a Bia that wasn't looking for revenge or blood debts to collect on. "Sisters, listen. There is a method to my madness." Nemesis said as she stood.
"And what is that?" Astraea said, rounding on the goddess. "If the other mortals believe that those we brought in are indeed one of us, then they will tread lightly around them. You know well what happens to captured women and children Astraea." "Aye I do, but what of the other gods and goddesses? Especially those that you are trying to portray them as? They will take exception to it and us, just as the mortals are subject to their fury."
The virgin goddess wanted to not only save her skin, but the skins of her sisters. The gods weren't known for their kindness when crossed. Thanatos and the Charon might be fellow children of Nyx but they were ones that no one dared to cross. Their punishments were quick and brutal, leaving the victim staring at the sky with soulless eyes and a cooling body. Even Ate, the goddess of foolish acts knew better than to anger them, and that was saying something for no one was out of bounds when it came to her.
Astraea started to pace, sometimes it was a burden being the sister to Bia and Nemesis. But with out Justice; Violence and Retribution would run rampant and innocents would be doomed without hope. She sighed as Bia and Nemesis put their heads together and started to plot their next move. She kneeled back down and watched as the one adorned in black and red kept a close eye on the females at his side. Temptation was too great and she used her power and made the mask flicker and disappear so she could see his face. A blush rushed up to the roots of her hair and she turned away, wondering why such a fine specimen would want to hide from the world.
"Awe, Astra has seen something that burns her virgin eyes." Bia taunted as she noticed the red flush on her sisters face. "But what could it be? Hmm." Bia abandoned Nemesis and wandered over to where Astraea was sitting, peering down in the part of the mortal realm that she had been watching. "Has our sister finally found a beloved?" Nemesis asked mischievously "No." Astraea defended, the blush getting deeper. "Well if you seen nothing, then it must be impure thoughts going through your head. And impure thoughts come from interesting visuals. But what could that visual be?" Bia asked as she tapped her chin.
"All I see are the three that went with Nikias. It couldn't be the one with the hidden face, although his body sure does invoke some impure thoughts in my mind." Astraea kept her eyes glued on the mortals below so as not to give herself away. "Or maybe it's Nikias himself. By Spartan standards he's fair to look upon; his body hasn't yet started to go to pot." "Bia leave Astraea be." Nemesis said turning her attention back to the mortals.
Glen switched Gracie to his other hip as he and Sara were standing at the top of the stairs looking around when 'Jericho' came back with five other, worn and elderly men. Each seemed to be either hunched over, or limping. "Looks like they'll croak at any moment," Sara said softly as they drew nearer. Glen snorted but never took his eyes off of 'Jericho', the smile on his face was unnerving and he had the feeling that his patience, or rather lack thereof, was about to be tested. 'Jericho' pointed to Sara and two other small men, whom Glen decided to call 'Edge' and 'Christian', came up and grabbed her arms and began to haul her away. Glen growled and stepped forwards, but more men came streaming out from behind the five elders and surrounded him, forcing away from 'Jericho' 'Edge' and 'Christian'.
"Gwen?...Mommy!" Gracie screamed as she buried her head in Glen's hair. The elders walked over to where Sara was being restrained and started to run their hands up her legs and over arms, almost like they were inspecting a prime piece of livestock. Glen cradled the little girl as Sara struggled against her captors, growling as 'Jericho' made his way over to Kane and Gracie. The little man walked around Glen and studied him with a predatory gleam in his eyes. Then without warning he reached and snatched Gracie away and handed her to one of the other men. That was what pushed Glen over the edge, no one touched his niece and lived to tell the tale.
He launched himself at 'Jericho' tackling him to the ground and hitting him a flurry of hard rights. He forgot the others as he pummeled the little bastard, his anger at being thrust into an unknown place and his family being split up then manhandled was too great for him to accept with a calm head. 'Jericho' tried to block his shots but was too slow from the ones that had connected to do much. Blood poured from his nose and mouth and bubbled at the corners as he yelled to the others. Glen didn't hear him because he was so focused on hurting him and probably would have killed the man if he hadn't of been knocked unconscious by one of the other men.
Sara watched on in horror as the numbers game put her brother-in-law out of commission. Gracie was screaming and clawing at the man that held her and one of her nails caught the young man on the face, causing him to drop her to the ground. Gracie ran to her mother and clung to her legs, crying. With a roar that would have done her husband proud she yanked her arms free and scooped Gracie up then hurried over to where Glen lay face down on the marble flooring. She set Gracie down and knelt down by Glen, shaking him slightly. She was worried that the blow to the back of his head by the butt of one the other men's sword had done some permanent damage.
After all, he took hard hits all the time, and no matter how machine like he was one of these times Glen wasn't going be getting back up. Satisfied that he was going to be ok, he was moving slowly at least, she turned and glared at the group of people. The little one that had lead them there was far off worse than Kane. And Sara comforted herself with that fact, as she growled, placing herself between the rest of their' attackers, Glen and Gracie. The sickening smile on their faces made her uneasy and a second later everything went black. The last thing she heard was Gracie scream followed by a bellowing howl from Glen.
Down on the Styx Thanatos was pacing the bank while he waited for Charon to finish his last voyage for the day. His foul mood was attributed to mere mortals' masquerading around the upper world making people think that they were them. Charon might not be that worried about it, but damnation he had worked hard to cultivate an image that left people quaking at the mere mention of his name. He was death damn it! None other than those that he was sent after were ever to see him, and then he was to be the last thing they seen as Charon took them across the river to their everlasting hell. The only thing that he had to admit was that the mortals that were portraying them were at least menacing in nature.
He even wagered that Charon would be pleased at the one that had assumed his identity. The man has paintings of death and suffering up and down his arms, almost as if he captured his victims' last expression and immortalized them on his body. Thanatos flexed his black wings in impatience as the bow of Charon's boat came into view, Charon himself using his long pole to push the souls of the damned back into the lake as he glided effortlessly through them. The pained screams of those eternally damned were music to Thanatos' ears and a wicked smile adorned his face.
"Brother, a smile on the face of yours, is cause for concern. What puts you in such a humor this eve?" Charon asked as he came ashore, ramming his pole into the soft earth of the bank. "I was merely enjoying the music of the evening. But we have other things to talk about dear older brother." Thanatos said, his smile morphing back to a frown as he recalled why he sought out his calm as the grave sibling. "And what would that be?" Charon himself was leery of Thanatos' fiery nature. Even their' nephew, the all powerful Zeus knew better than to try his temper. "We are being made fools of!" Thanatos yelled, his wings extending themselves and making him seem much more imposing. "By whom?" Charon's' curiosity was aroused, none that he knew, be them mortal or god, would dare cross them. "Two mortals, in Sparta."
"Come now brother, the Spartans aren't completely lacking in brains to do that. Just our name has many of them bowing and shielding their eyes. It makes no sense." "These men aren't from Sparta. They are giants, well toned and aggressive. The one bearing your name, brother has pictures of dying and dead souls on his arms, his long red hair and green eyes are of impossible hue among the Spartan people." Thanatos walked past Cerberus, patting the large dog's flanks absentmindedly.
Charon eyed the animal warily, amused that his brother had befriended the large beast when none but Hades himself could get close. "What about the one that's parading around as you?" Rage mixed with equal parts of lust flashed across Thanatos' beautifully pale visage. "He is large man, adorned in red and black with a shield of leather across his face, the color of his eyes are stunning, one blue as the night sky, the other frosty as fallen snow. And as if that wasn't enough, they are brothers as well." "Then I guess that we just have to show these mortals what they're dealing with, won't we." Charon said with a feral grin.
He had been confined to the underworld for as long as he could remember. To him the upper air was the stuff of legends. But it must be so, for every day he was bringing souls across his sister's accursed realm to his nephew's domain and heard their pleas to be returned to their world and their loved ones. "Now whose smile is cause for concern?" Thanatos quipped, his wings ruffling as one of Cerberus's head reached over and licked them. "Something that would have Bia smiling with blood lust." Their' terribly innocent sister was one of Charon's few companions.
And they would spend years together on the river Styx, indulging in idol conversations about the art of death. "Your fondness for her is beyond me brother, everyone knows that women are a weakness and we don't have room for weakness down here." It was only from centuries of dealing with the dead that Charon didn't roll his eyes. Most gods were naïve even with eternity in existence. And despite what others might think, Thanatos was one of those gods who were still a child at heart. "Brother not having a weakness is a weakness. You would do well to remember that." The brothers lapsed into silence, each one mulling over ideas as to what to do to the two foolish mortals. However neither one knew that the very goddess that they had been discussing was involved at all.