XX - Be Healed

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It's the hardest thing I've ever done — at least in the recent memories of my endless eternities — but I bite back the shock of laughter that bubbles up in my throat at the sight of Adras bowing to me.

I can't tell if its a stroke of genius or idiocy or simply a dare from Xanthos, but the caramel-sweet surprise that bursts forth from the crowd tells me it is smart. With a slight twist to our plans, he maneuvered a moment all about him into showcasing that the goddess directs his path. He will be subservient to her.

A feeling I've never felt — even in my endless eternities — blooms in my chest. A river of gold and sunshine, a tickling, prickling, pink-lemonade sensation. I suspect is the opioid that dictates the movements and decisions of my family. Worship.

It flows through my veins like mulled cider; hot, dense, rich. It makes me woozy and giddy. Starlight and effervescent thunder explode across my vision and I have to fight worship's gravitational weight to remain square on my feet.

Holy fuck.

Is this what it's all about? No wonder the Olympians are always clamoring for more, more, more! No wonder they heard a rumor about a planet with unchecked power and no deity and sent me to claim it for them.

I look down at the bent head before me. I make Adras glow brighter, increasing the gift of moonbeams and starlight. He radiates with an iridescent, pale yellow aura that is as soft as butterfly wings.

"Get up," I command, gently tugging on a curl of his hair, disguising my movement as a palm anointing and blessing his head.

He stands and catches me in a heart-stopping smile, "That went well!"

"Don't celebrate yet, pretty boy. We have a long night ahead of us."

Adras smirks, "Pretty, am I?"

"You're gloating, that's for sure."

He does look somewhat breathtaking, cloaked in light and finely dressed. I reduce his glow until it's a warm, comforting flicker of buttery, proud candlelight. The very image of his voice and his demeanor.

"I'll gloat, and gladly. You can't take your proclamation or your partnership back now. I'm the chosen one." As he moves beside me, a gentle knock from his elbow is the only informality that lightens his jest and betrays our teasing.

I bite back my smile and turn again towards the crowd, "As a sign of the goddess' goodwill, and as a blessing in the name of her chosen steward, Adrastos and I invite all that have gathered here into the temple for the lighting of the shortest night and a ministering of blessings. The elderly, the infirm, and the sick may speak with the priestesses to ensure they are brought to the front of the line."

With a flourish, I raise the stone basin I hold above my head. It will serve as a torch to light our way inside the dark body of the temple. A steady stream of followers already ascends the stairs, their eyes glassy and starstruck.

Adras bows to me yet again and starts the climb. Once we arrive at the topmost step, he dips his bare, human hand into the fire I hold. His arm becomes engulfed in flame. He lights the twin lanterns that flank the temple entrance.

The gasps and squeals of the crowd behind us are the only responses I need. His first display of power is not haphazardly chosen. I wanted people to see him with fire, holding it, controlling it, using it to light the darkness — a reminder of the goddess' first gift to humans.

We lead the crowd into the temple, me at his heels, and he uses his hands to light the lanterns and lamps along the way. Slowly, the temple warms up, the bright, orange light of a thousand flames flickering illuminate it. The statues stand proud and tall, my many marble necks bedecked with garlands that gently wilt in the hot air. The fire burning below their blooms warms their scent and soon the air is singing with perfume.

Eris and the Mortal GodWhere stories live. Discover now