Here's another one-shot, this time based around Thalia.
Beware ..it's rated T for a reason ;)
Disclaimer: the usual.
AU and slight OOC, considering the AU.
Thalia Grace, a name which even now struck fear into the hearts of many and the brief flutter of hope in others. A name that was uttered, whispered on the lips of monsters and mortals alike.
The right hand of Artemis, the lieutenant of the hunters. Immortal. Impossible to kill.
Titles, masks, disguises. Lies.
The world had changed.
Monsters had become a part of everyday life, mortals were armed with celestial bronze, the clear-sighted among them had become prophets of a new world order. Annabeth and Percy were long dead, now together in Elysium, at peace.
It wasn't fair.
They were heroes, worshipped in their own right…revered among the demigods, loved by the gods.
And here she was, chained to the mortal world. Bound in an immortal shell, her soul trapped and unable to move on.
It wasn't fair.
It is not death or pain that is to be dreaded, but the fear of pain or death. - Epictetus
The blade trembled in her hand as it shook from the enormity of what it was about to do.
Could the hand obey the master… even if it meant its own demise?
Her eyes flicked around her surroundings, checking for observers. Or was she hoping someone was there to stop her?
Rain cascaded down her face as she raised her head to the heavens. Searching – in vain- for the constellation in which she could find comfort. But they all represent death; they all existed as a memoriam to those that have died by an immortals hand. Except one, and it is the one she cannot find.
She plunged the knife towards her chest.
Her hand stops, hovering - the blade caressing her t-shirt like a lost lover. Yearning to meet with the skin, to taste the warm blood -but finding it cannot. She screamed into the cold night, furious that she simply can't kill herself. She had killed hundreds, the hand had been only too willing then…But now…now it refuses to.
Thalia dropped the knife onto the rain sodden ground and clenched her fists. She strikes out at the forest floor again and again and again whilst yelling and screaming at her own uselessness. She was worthless.
It was a feeling she despised, a feeling which tainted her body and mind with its plaguing presence. She continues in her violent exhibition, ignoring the throbbing of her knuckles as the skin splits from the rhythmic pounding. Eventually exhaustion and fatigue overcome her and she collapses face first into the cold mud. The rain mingling with the tears that were flowing down her face. She stays there for several moments, her hair matted with damp soil, her clothes drenched, her body shivering – not from the cold but from her limbs which are tensed beneath her.
She grinds her teeth and tightens her fists- her nails bite into the palm of her hand and form crimson crescent moons.
Briefly she wonders whether she has finally gone mad.
She cries out at the world and at herself, it is a cry of someone who has nothing to lose, a cry of raw emotion. Thalia is baring her soul to the world, and it is clear her soul is dying. Her heart can no longer bare the years of repressed memories it had stocked and buried.
The lieutenant grasps at her head with clawed hands, pulling at the cold, heavy circlet. It drops to the ground, next to the blade. They represent two decisions, two paths her life can take.
She does not deserve the choice. She does not deserve the title of lieutenant… she had decided that much a long time ago.
Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once – William Shakespeare
There is the hot, moist, putrid breath of a minotaur as it roared in her face. She laughed- it was all a game to her then- and thrust her sword into the abdomen of the beast. It dropped to the ground, its maw dripping with saliva. She swings her sword for the final blow, a blow to the head. At the contact the minotaur explodes in an avalanche of golden dust and she points her sword to the heavens.
"For Artemis!" She yelled, her voice laced in joviality.
She had thought herself invincible, she thought this even as one near fatal wound is healed by a daughter of Apollo. She was stupid and foolish, she saw this now.
Too many times she had watched him freefall, his face covered in sweat and dirt from their fight. Her breathing laboured from the intensity of the battle.
His expression shocked that she made the move which ended his life….should have ended his life. If only.
No…she looked in those eyes and she only saw compassion in them. Compassion and understanding.
You did what was necessary.
Her heart ripped out of her chest and stamped on. Crushed. Smashed into the ground. Lifeless.
She watched his body for as long as she was able, watched as it crashed against the rocks repeatedly as if reaping punishment upon itself. Watched as it plummeted towards its pending doom.
There was one question that Thalia kept asking herself; when had her life turned into a nightmare?
She brushed her lieutenant's circlet with tentative pale fingers, scarred from countless battles. Each faded mark represented a moment in time, a gasp of pain, a mistake. She had made many. Her mind travels to the heat of a thousand battles. The clash of swords against shields, swords against armour. Swords against flesh. The stream of red blood or gold. She had seen it all. Felt it all.
The hurt, the pain… everything.
Everything. But now..now she has distanced herself from that pain, those deadly emotions.
Or so she had thought.
Her hand clasped over her heart, the bitter wind lashing at her face like a thousand whips. Each blow only nourishing the pain she feels. …that she needs to feel to purge her body of this guilt. Her short black hair is blown into a halo around her head. Lightning and thunder dual overhead, filling the air with their ferocious snarls. Was this her father's way to halt what she was about to do? She doubted it…he no longer cared for her.
The gods had become less cautious, who knew how many of her siblings had come and gone over the years. She was no longer the daughter of Zeus, but a daughter of Zeus.
Time was supposed to heal any injury, or at least that's what she had been told. Her wounds were still open and deep, oozing with the worry and guilt of her actions.
She was so certain she could forget about him. How wrong she had been.
Aphrodite was mocking her. Tugging her strings, manipulating her with whispered words in her ear. The puppeteer, the master of her life.
Her cruelty knew no bounds.
But she was Thalia Grace, she was not supposed to feel those supposedly alien feelings. She was supposed to remain untouched by their cruel, unforgiving grasp. Emotion was not needed, it was dispensable. The only love she felt was the love for her companions, her friends, her sisters.
She was not heartless, no matter what the wicked rumours or the vicious lies said. Her eyes stung from the hot tears she held back, her vision partially obscured, blurred.
Should anybody see her like this? She does not care. She had stopped that foolish, shallow errand a long time ago. Of caring what people thought.
She could never be Zoe Nightshade, she could never fill the abyss which her absence created, she could never be good enough. Ever. She was one who everybody admired. Not Thalia..never Thalia. She had tried to ignore their confused glances, their looks of disappointment, of grief- their resentment. She still remembers their expressions as she arrived into the camp-gods she could practically hear their unvoiced questions;
Where is Zoe?
Who is she?
Where is Zoe?
Who is she?
She was Thalia Grace; the friend, the leader, the hunter, a daughter of Zeus, the feared.
There is one thing she desires; freedom from this nightmare.
I cannot kill myself, she pondered one night whilst twirling her blade in her fingers. So I will do what is necessary.
She did the unthinkable. The worst crime imaginable among the hunters, the one crime that cannot simply be forgiven. She had to force the goddess' hand, for she could not force her own.
It was necessary.
As she held the cold steel above her head-expression cold, mind filled with determination, she tells herself this.
As she plunges the knife into her fleshy prey, she knows this. Her quarry's eyes wrench open, and scan Thalia's face. Confusion.
The whispered confirmation of her killer sends a chill down Thalia's spine.
A sob escapes her lips, and she shoves the blade deeper.
The hunter's body heaves as her last breath rushes out of her lungs. The body lifeless and limp in her bloodied hands.
Thalia grabs the hunter's head and presses the now damp hair to her own.
"I'm sorry." She moaned into her ear, an apology the young hunter would never hear.
As the lieutenant looked into the lifeless windows, glazed over…absent of life, no longer seeing the land of the living but that of the dead, the first ebbs of remorse and regret rush to greet her. She shoves them away.
Even as she is dragged to her destination, her hands bound, unruly tears flowing down her face, she feels that her actions were necessary.
Even when she meets the gaze of her lady (for she will always be her lady) and answers her questions despondently, calmly…she knows that it was the only way.
Her calm demeanour is a mask of her own design, as her emotions fight furiously for control of her body. She will not let them.
Even as she hears her punishment, Thalia maintains her façade. She does not care.
But meeting the eyes of her sisters….her ex-sisters she does and her body is racked with the guilt of her actions. When her punishment is given, the tears of her sisters now binding with her own, she no longer cares of her own survival.
For she deserves it.
An eye for an eye. A life for a life.
It is vain for the coward to flee; death follows close behind; it is only by defying it that the brave escape- Voltaire
Part of her wished to obtain Elysium, to be with Luke forever (this she deemed was out of selfishness and greed) , another part believes she will be sent to Tartarus- a price she was all too willing to pay.
But Thalia wanted to be in the Asphodel fields…. So she could finally forget. Forget about her life, forget about him. Simply forget. To bathe in the river of Lethe, wash away all memory of her heinous sins that were devouring her soul.
She spreads her arms wide, welcoming the blow which seemed forever in arriving. She could wait forever…she had waited for an eternity.
Thalia watches the solemn silver eyes as their owner loads her bow, her movements slow, eternal (for she has forever…it is a curse, a curse she can never be free from). Her eyes plead with her to make it quick, so she can be with him. She hears the twang of a taut bow string, knowing that the projectile will never miss…there is the taint of inevitability now- as if she is living off of borrowed time. Or had she always been living off borrowed time?
She could imagine Atropos twirling her life thread between her fingers, waiting with baited breath for the moment that they had been denied for far too long. Lachesis' greedy glare, her arrogance… it was she who tormented her with this long life. Clotho, indifferent for it is she who merely spins her thread. She who created it and knows that its end must come eventually. The arrow closes in, and Atropos is reaching for her shears.
Thalia imagines this in the infinite moment before her life is cut away from her, that moment of decision and verdict. Punishment and retribution.
When the blow arrives, she gasps. The warmth of her own blood, which should by now be dust resting in a coffin, spreads across her shirt. She had evaded death for too long…
This is her thought as her limbs go numb, frozen, dead. She coughs, splutters as her blood rushes up her throat, blocking her airways.
Her dulled eyes (they had lost their life, that spark of vitality) meet her executioner's, those celestial silver orbs, and she sobs. There is only one thing that passes between them...a mutual apology.
She who is bound by her own rules, the oaths she had taken, she was born bound in chains.
And she the mistake which should never have occurred, an accident. Born into a world of hatred, violence and bound by her decisions, by the prophecy, then by responsibility.
Thalia looked down at the glistening, silver arrow which protruded from her chest and closes her eyes, embracing the darkness which seemed ready to engulf her. She no longer feels anything.
Atropos has cut her string, the frayed ends are now tumbling towards their own demise. They will never meet again, their fragile partnership has ceased.
Thalia can feel herself falling into the black pit, into the void, into the darkness. She welcomes it.
I am coming Luke… finally.
Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist – Epicurus
Very depressing...sorry about that.
This will definately be re-written...not that happy with it in its current form.
Thanks for all who voted for "A Painful Memory" for the Veritas Award