Chapter XIX: Requiescat en Pace

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"Narcissus, so himself forsook, and died to kiss his shadow in the brook." William Shakespeare

"Beauty and sadness always go together. Nature thought beauty too rich to go forth upon the earth without a meet alloy."He watched as Cornelia's ear twitched at the warmth of the world and baritone voice. It was a masculine and familiar voice, that cooed to her from a distant place, far from the world she had created in her mind. Cornelia felt her mind slip back into reality as a steady hand rested on her shoulder. 

She felt her heart soar in recognition of the voice's source, and at the same moment more melancholy than ever. Cornelia could not let him see what she had become. She could not let him see her broken and disheveled soul. "You are too late."

"I believe someone very wise told me there is always a back door," the voice answered. "It was this fiery and beautiful girl I once met on some pretty daring adventures," He paused pushing a strand of her chocolate hair aside, "I do not recognize her now." Cornelia felt him tilt up her chin and he smiled at her, "but despite the monster's best efforts the fire is still there."

The dam behind her eyes crumbled, and now her eyes rushed with waterfalls of despair. Apollo brushed a bit of hair out of her face. "Tears are words the heart cannot say," and he gently kissed her forehead. "You saved my life dearest, Cornelia, allow me to return the favor."

"How can you?" Cornelia asked. "We signed the paperwork, everyone saw us, the marriage is official."

He winked at her his hazel eyes twinkling.  "There's more than one way to skin a weasel, and I happen to be an expert in negating the marital laws."

Cornelia stared at Apollo baffled. 

Apollo reached for Cornelia's hands; she winced in pain as his fingers made contact with her wrists. When Apollo pulled his hands back, he felt a creamy substance on them. He played with it in his fingers then caught sight of the angry welts the removed cosmetics had revealed. Apollo's brow furrowed with concern, and he surreptitiously rubbed her arm. Cornelia assumed it was in reassurance, but Apollo had a burning curiosity in his heart. Fueled by protective fury, he rubbed more and more of the sickly beige substance away from her arm.  Again the milky substance came up on his hands and what was left behind. He continued to expose the purple and green marks that covered her arms, and gods know what else.

"What did they do to you?" He whispered to her. She did not answer him. She simply stared past him almost as if he was not there at all. He grimaced. "Leave it to me Corny." He paused catching sight of Gastonus, who was busy flirting with two beautiful women. He narrowed his eyes as he looked at him to Cornelia. "Just do not ask any questions," Apollo said sternly and left.

___Apollo's Plan___

Cornelia continued to watch the snow outside of her single window, in the island of her mind.  She heard Apollo's voice; but, when she looked around, he was gone. "A lovely illusion of my own," her whisper was directed at a distant memory. She had lost hope not even the hope wraith could come to her now. The band on her finger a constant reminder of her new reality. A reality without adventure, without friends, and worst of all without stories. She could not escape into her tablet or even scrolls now. Gastonus had forbidden it. 'women do not need to fill their heads with knowledge; it distracts from filling their bellies with children.'

Apollo watched Cornelia's frail and distant expressions for another moment. She was like a starved coliseum lion who had been struck too many times by incompetent gladiators. He clutched a small metal object in his hand and strode over to Gastonus. "My man!" he said with a generous slap on his back. Apollo continued to delight in the increasing aggravation his intrusion caused Gastonus. The emotion leaked into the faces of his 'admirers' as well. One hung from each arm as she lasciviously undressed him with her eyes. The other had a single hand slipped under his matrimonial tunic. Sacred institution my ass, you donkey fucker. Apollo eagerly clutched the small invention of Hades' that rested deep in his pockets. He could not wait for Gastonus to suffer, he wished he could be there when Hades' plan came to fruition. 

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