Chapter XXIV.I: Battle of the Retarius

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A special thank you to @Grimwall for rating the S.S. Olympus as a 1st place in science fiction in the @ThePenguinAwards. It is such an honor to have been a participant and a judge (for the fantasy category), and to be selected as '1st' with so many other much more prestigious authors in the same category meant a lot!

...Of Course the Pirates of the Caribbean Theme song. . . #SPOILER . . .

"Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?"--Maximus Meridius Roman Gladiator

Cornelia's head swam incoherently with the twists and turns of the last two days. Her whole life was at risk, and things she had thought she now knew were nullified. Zeus was a shapeshifter. What did that even mean? Her mind flashed with fear. That means that he could be anyone at any time, and she would never know. Realization struck her as she realized the shadowy figure with lightning was not Hades it had been Zeus. That Zeus' lightning had mixed with Poseidon's water and that was the catastrophic current that had taken out all of the ship's systems. Not only that but Zeus had been responsible for the death of Hades' family. Her mind continued to rage and churn with questions. Yet each time a thought would swell it would end up in the same terrifying question. "What chance do we have?" She whispered to her reflection.

Poseidon looked up at her, "We have an army, of misfits, and he has only himself and his crazy wife." She looked at him unassured and held up a poster. It was one she had found on her way back to their sleeping rooms late in the evening after the banquet. It was the reason there were dark circles under her eyes and all hope had drained from her system. It was an election advertisement. Zeus was running for a seat in the Senate. "In a few weeks, he very well could have the Roman Legionnaires on his side. What then Poseidon, what do we have against a real army?"

"We do not allow him two more weeks," Apollo spoke sternly as he stared out the window unphased by the small flakes of snow that landed on his Tunic. He slowly shifted his gaze to Cornelia and his eyes flashed with a sea of untold emotions. "I hate shapeshifters."

A chorus of trumpets erupted, and their battle cry echoed through the stone walls of the Coliseum. Cornelia's heart was pounding. This was it. Then she heard the rushing of water, almost like there was an underground tsunami. It sounded like it was pouring all around her, yet the hallways were dry. Her eyes wildly scanned the room. Again there was nothing, except her eyes, caught Poseidon's expression, he looked like he was a kid on Saturnalia. A broad grin stretched across his face and his hands rubbed eagerly together.

A small an nearly invisible attendant grabbed Cornelia's hand. "Persephone please follow me. Your stage entrance is this way." Other bedraggled slaves led each of the party members away. When Cornelia took one last look she saw Apollo mouth 'go, Cornelia,' and pump his fist into the air. Despite his energy, Cornelia had a sinking feeling that this particular game would be unlike anything she had ever seen.

She clutched tightly to her trident and, in her opinion, useless net. Her emerald green leather war skirt the metal beads clanked together in a death march as she took her place below the arena. She could hear heavy chanting and the rhythmic pounding of feet through the thick stone walls.

Slaves scurried all around her carrying the wounded and aid supplies. The fighters had not been permitted to see the other battles but the gruesome aftermath of the muscular men from last nights banquet skipped her heart into a frenzy. Some of the men were in pieces, literal pieces. What chance do I have? The question was playing on repeat in the depths of her mind.

They were supposed to have found Hercules by now but apparently, Zeus was holding him close to the chest. She was not supposed to have gotten this far. She felt the platform beneath her jerk and begin to rise. Slaves heaved at the heavy ropes that controlled the platform and lifted her into the view of the thousands of bloodthirsty spectators.

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