XXXVIII: Dormientes Pulchritudinem

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Lets get Artemis back shall we! :-)

Orion and Apollo rode together in awkward silence. Apollo felt his mouth continue to open in an attempt to strike up a conversation, but Orion's stoic anger kept him silent. Eventually, the silence was too much. Apollo had gone through too much for one grumpy Stellarian to quell him. He had a question pushing to escape his mind he had to know, "why do you want to save her?"

"She is my commander," He answered in a dark tone determined to end the conversation before it began.

"Liar," Apollo grinned in a pathetic attempt at humor, "I should know, lying is my specialty."

"So she told me," Orion clucked at his mount to move faster.

Apollo balked at him and followed, "what is that supposed to mean."

"A good commander is observant, and knows both her allies and her enemies." Orion continued to push his horse as if to get away from Apollo, but in a determined direction like he sensed something Apollo didn't. He was now several paces away, he did not shout nor put an effort into his words but they carried with the deep baritone of his voice, "Artemis is an excellent commander."

Their mounts pushed through through the trees into a clearing. In the center of the clearing of manicured grass, just starting to grow, and carefully placed flowers was a large marble palace. Peacocks roamed the grass freely singing and fanning their tales in an attempt to garner the attention of the less attractive hens. 

It all looked like a Hera hideaway except for one obvious factor. Vines covered in thorns the size of short swords erupted from a window high up in the mansion. The vines wrapped around every entrance, window, and crack of the building sealing it from everyone. 

"Artemis," They both chorused in unison.

"Why is she using her abilities like that if she is trapped, would she not be using it to get out not stay trapped within?" Orion's voice whispered in fear and awe. His concern came from a deep place one that until now had not been willing to be seen by the outside world.

"Unless our friend Hera has figured out a way to activate her races' abilities without activating her."

Apollo's skin tingled and then the green space before them was consumed by an eerie silence. The numerous peafowl ran for cover as the wind stilled. Not even the trees were willing to whisper for fear of being heard. He grabbed Orion and screamed, "get ready!"

Apollo felt his skin vibrate and watched a shadow move about the field. A shadow that bent light and sound to seem invisible but he could sense it. He could feel the creature. Hera had not left her home undefended. Even in this she was murderous in her art of strategy and warfare. The queen of riches she would always be one step ahead of anyone who challenged her. Hera knew exactly who would come for Artemis.  She had chosen a cold, blood hungry, monster that fed on men to defend her prize, "show yourself." Apollo demanded and Orion paled as the creature obeyed his command.

A beautiful woman with the skin of a ghost and hair the color of blood stood before them. She had one metallic leg and her eyes were black. She smiled and spread her scarlet lips revealing teeth the color of polished marble and the fangs of a viper. 

"Hello Eurydice," Apollo strained to force the bravado he needed to face the creature before them. If they felt her fangs it would be over. Those fangs would transform them into monsters, and it would not take very much time.

"Eurydice isss dead," She purred.

Orion pulled out his bow and growled at the creature, "Where is Artemis."

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