XXXV: Lucerna in Tenebris

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Come a little closer-Cage the Elephant from the playlist of  

Cornelia hesitated before the mouth of the cave. It's darkened maw was the chilling and tangible embodiment of the doomsday they were about to face. This moment was the one all roads had lead to. This strange and delicate alliance held the fate of her people in their extra-terrestrial hands, as well as the lives of those aliens she had come to love. 

 Her heart tore itself apart with each trembling step forward. Each tread was harder to take than the last. She watched the magma running down the walls of the cavern. Their ominous molten light and unbearable heat acted as a metaphorical hourglass. Her sister was not far from here tending to her mother, unaware of the eruption that could take place. Here they were within the core of the petulant mountain, protected only by the creations of monsters from other worlds. All while they were preparing for battle. The ordinarily peaceful mountain smelled of sulfur and quaked with every smoke filled breath. The only hope she had that the townspeople were aware of their incoming doom was the small boats that seemed to be coming from Pompeii they would circle  the island  then went home, "Hades?"

"Yes?" He spoke to her softly just as his foot crossed the threshold of the cave. He halted and closed his eyes, clearly dreading her next and inevitable question. 

"I need to warn them," Hades looked back at the city, and his eyes scanned the hillside where he knew her sister's house resided and nodded.

"Keep them safe," He paused, but before you go, I cannot leave you and your family unarmed. Not with what is about to happen. It is not just natural disasters that we have to worry about; please stay long enough for me to fully equipped you and your family for both possibilities?" If she had learned nothing in the last year, it was that there was wisdom in preparation and study. Their survival depended on it.

The next thing that Cornelia saw, would have surprised her a year ago, but when three enormous eyes the size of wine barrels in separate faces stared at them from the depths of the cave. She winced in sympathetic pain as she caught sight of the scars and fresh burns that riddled their bodies. The deformities did not stop there. Each of the three grotesque looking creatures was missing various appendages. Some had custom versions of the missing fingers, arms, and legs in elegant metal castings. She shuddered at the amount of pain each injury must have caused them, Even in the vast universe of space working a smithy was still dangerous.

"Oy, 'oo are you an' why are ya 'ere?" The leader of the three men spoke.

Hades took the lead, despite his show of confidence Cornelia could see the anxiety in his eyes. She was not sure if it was from their predicament or facing three grotesque looking men four times his size, but either way, he was doing an excellent job purporting himself as the authority in the room.

The world did not make sense to her anymore. Her enemies were her allies, and her friends could be her enemies, yet in all of it, the man before her had been unwavering. He was unafraid of his true self and cared little for the opinion of others, and in that unfailing confidence, he had grown. He had his principles, her eyes twinkled in silent amusement, and his quirks. Regardless of where they were going and what the fate of tomorrow would be she would not change a thing. Each terrifying adventure brought her closer to the same inner strength and confidence. Each moment of terror, hatred, and sorrow made her the person she is now. In the short span of a year, she had become a better Cornelia, so much so that she was not sure she would even recognize that ignorant and petulant girl that ran into the woods from a marriage that almost killed her.

The voices near her droned on as she lost herself in her reverie. There was so much more to life than anyone in her world ever could understand. Women were more than just the babies they made, and men were more than their fortune. A pauper could be a saint, a scientist could be a king, and a naive human girl could become a hero.

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