Chapter III: Kore

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"Spring is about to spring. Persephone is coming back and the ice is groaning, about to break with exquisite and deafening roar. It's a time for madness; a time for our fangs to come down and our eyes to glaze over so that the beast in us can sing with unmitigated joy. Oh yes, ecstasy, I welcome thee!"--Christopher Stevens

Hades groaned and pointed to the girl. "Apollo, can you deal with this situation."

"What made you turn soft?" He asked as he trudged over to Cornelia's prone body.

"That girl saved the child," Hercules' matter of fact tone belied the fact that at the moment he was working heaving the smoldering chimera over his shoulder.

"So what? Any mother would." He chastised as he kneeled next to her inspecting the wound. He took little note of the small white flower that was pressed against the boy's chest by her hand.

"It was not her child," Artemis whispered inspecting the Chimera.

"Pity she had to be put down. Zeus will not appreciate the loss of inventory." Hercules spoke with a soft voice in a fruitless attempt to ease Artemis' suffering.

"You know its not about that." She whispered and touched her forehead to the lion's forehead, "She did not deserve this."

"Frak, Zeus and his 'inventory!'" Hades scoffed in a vain attempt to make Artemis smile. Humor had never his strong point. He was unable to peel his eyes away from the brunette whose skin had paled from blood loss. Concern spread over his features as he took into account the dark circles around her eyes and bruises on her skin.

Apollo pointed at her arm, "These are not Chimera, these came from a human hand."

"What do you think she is?" Hercules inquired.

"Who cares." Hades scoffed and forced his eyes away from the girl. He glared at Apollo, "She's an idiot girl who tried to face down that thing," his finger targeted the chimera, "with a scroll and a rock!"

The voices pounded Cornelia's brain with a tiny hammer. In her distant awareness, she could feel someone pressing on her leg. "She's lost a lot of blood we need to take her back."

"What of the boy?" Hades spoke with a softness that the other two were not familiar with.

"I will take him," a new female voice proclaimed. "I know his mother."

"Hera? Is his mother one of your patients?" It was Apollo's voice this time.

"One of many yes." Cornelia felt the warmth in the woman's voice, "she just conceived he will have a baby sister very soon." Cornelia felt the boy's body peeled from her arms, she opened her eyes in protest. Her vision was filled with hazel eyes, sun-kissed skin, and bronzed hair. He smiled at her.

"Good morning little amazon how are you feeling?" His voice soothed her and she smiled at him. Cornelia tried to sit up but the darkness took her again and the voices faded into the distance of her mind. "We have to take her back."

"We cannot, that is against protocol." Artemis insisted.

"To hell with your protocol Artemis!" Apollo shouted.

"She will see too much," Hercules cautioned.

"She already has," Hades groaned as he slumped her over his shoulder, "come on we have already lost enough daylight." He was careful to avoid her bandaged leg. Cornelia moaned in his arms. Hades rolled his eyes. "Stulta stupera mean." His voice harsh but his eyes held a gentle light.

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