Chapter XXVII: Beauty or a Beast

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Apollo's skin tingled with the familiar vibrations of the woman who stole his heart. He watched as Cornelia stepped through the barrier on the S.S. Inferis. Hercules was not far behind, a woman with skin the color of death, in his arms.

Apollo felt fear course through his veins as a sinking feeling stung his heart. Medusa was out there. With that thing. He did not fear for her body; her kind was immune to its stare, but for her mind.

Medusa was powerful and intelligent. She had survived on her own without anyone's help; but in this, he feared she might be facing something even she could not withstand. He followed her into the deep and wild foliage of the forest. The untamed branches scraped at his flesh, and his feet stumbled on the rocky ground. He did not care that blood leaked from his skin. He pushed forward.

No amount of pain could hold him from the arms of his beloved. Especially not now. He froze mid stepped and then let loose a stream of effortlessly creative curses. "The fracking glasses!" His tantrum frightened birds from the trees around him, followed by another stream of epithets. He has given away the glasses, that kept him safe, to Cornelia.

He checked his pockets for another much more rudimentary solution. A dagger, recently polished, it served the same -- albeit less convenient purpose. He could not go back into the ship. He did not have the time nor was he interested in sharing that she was nearby. It was at her behest that no one knew she was around. She was slow to trust and even slower to cooperate.

"I can handle this myself." He had kept her participation in the coup against Zeus, close to the chest for a long time. She was his secret weapon. Long before he had found Cornelia or even Hades, he had found her. She had revealed everything Zeus had done and what had really happened to the S.S. Inferis. She was there. She had seen it all. In fact, to no fault of her own, she was the reason that it all happened.

With her cunning and her abilities she was his secret weapon, and as time progressed and they continued to plan she had become his beloved. Many nights he had secreted off into the woods by Pompeii and Rome. She was never far behind them. Always hiding in the shadows. She protected them.

Apollo thought back to the night he had saved Cornelia. Medusa had sung her way through the wedding banquet as they stole away into the night. Her song had paralyzed anyone who had even the vein inclination to follow them.

Apollo felt the sadness of her melody through the breath of the forest. He took a deep breath fighting back his own trepidation. He had to continue, he had to help her.

As he progressed further he could feel the effect of her melody as it stiffened. The intricacy of her voice caused him both pleasure and pain. No other called to his heart like she did. Her unique beauty and untamed nature was the only one in the universe that was akin to his own. He began to feel her fear.

Today would be her most arduous battle yet to come. There were no swords in this battle as it was all in her mind. Her kind had never had a positive relationship with the basilisk. A primitive creature that was both sacred and their sign of evil. To her people, it was the reincarnation of the devil and a representation of their primitive selves. It was the symbol of death. The basilisk was one creature their religion cautioned against. The one thing that each and every gorgon feared. It was for them the symbol of their primitive selves. It was a side of themselves they had given up for sentience and in that trade, they lost their potency. Their ancestor, the basilisk, could kill its prey with a simple glare. She could only paralyze.

As if in answer to his fears he felt her song soar to an alarming crescendo. Her normal gentle notes had transformed into a rough and agonizing staccato. He felt sweat bead on his forehead and dampen his shirt. Not all of her songs paralyzed him or even hurt him. Her songs were the embodiment of her emotions. As some species have facial expressions her kind had the power of song.

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