Chapter Ten: Part Three

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What in Mythos does he think he's doing? Phenex huffed in annoyance, leaving one effervescent corridor and turning down another, barely noticing the shift in colours from blue to pale lavender.

Distantly, he could hear Gwen following along behind him, her breath coming as rapidly as her footfalls as she struggled to keep up. Wrapped up in his fury as he was, he scarcely noticed, the sound of his own pulse pounding in his ears nearly drowning out everything else.

It was fortunate they'd left Apollo's quarters when they had. Phenex didn't think he could have stopped himself from committing an act of insubordination if they'd stayed a moment longer. He loved Apollo, he truly did. The third of the gods to take him on as a ward, he had been the one to ensure he'd received the education and guidance he needed, to take up the healing arts that in turn had helped him to control his destructive powers; something made all the more necessary when his emotions might have otherwise resulted in him burning an entire village to the ground. But sometimes, the decisions the god made drove him to madness.

Such as the decision to have him and Forneus train Gwen, for example.

If not for the fact that Apollo had gotten him off the hook with the rest of the High Council after the whole Trikala debacle, he might have actually refused, heedless of whatever consequences awaited him. But since Apollo had gone to such lengths for him—not just so he could retain his status as an operative, but also to prevent Zeus from exacting further punishment—he couldn't very well refuse his adoptive father's orders.

Not that the decision had been Apollo's alone. Phenex would have to be a complete fool to think the High Council hadn't sanctioned it from the get-go. Apollo had simply passed the order along; nothing more, nothing less. No matter his power and influence, he was still only a member of the Third Echelon, and while the position carried a certain amount of weight, it also made him subject to the whims of those higher up on the council ladder.

Still, it didn't make things any easier. Regardless of whatever orders he'd received from the First and Second Echelons, Apollo still had his own way of carrying these things out. And while Phenex didn't want to believe that he was being coerced into working alongside the girl, if the last couple of centuries had taught him anything, it was that Apollo seldom made a decision without first having a reason in place.

Which meant that whatever his decision, he had thought it out very carefully beforehand.

Which also meant he knew exactly how Phenex would react.

Phenex growled low in his throat at the thought, so low that it was doubtful the girl several paces behind could hear him at all. If he wanted to punish me for disobeying a direct order, he should just let Zeus have his way and be done with it!

It wasn't just that Gwen would be elevated to a more active role that had him bothered—a role that was already plenty active, in his opinion—nor was it the fact that he and Forneus would have to help her hone her powers in such a short span of time. That on its own was already a ridiculous notion. Assuming the girl could learn what her other gifts were and have them perfected in the allotted time, without either him or Forneus knowing what those powers might be, how could they be certain they would be of any use?

And in the much more likely event that she was unable to learn how to control her powers before they went after the next artifact, not only would he and Forneus have to go on their usual protective detail and keep watch over her, they would also have to keep an extra close watch over whatever powers she exhibited. For all they knew, her powers might be harmful; to her, and to everyone else around her—them included.

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