23. My people, My blood

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Athena tensed up as she heard the shout echo through the field. She looked again to see a very scared Scarlett in Romanov's vice like grip, a pained expression painted on her face.

Her father, who was closer to Scarlett than either Ryder or Athena, took a few steps towards his daughter, anger clouding his judgement. Ryder saw his movements and quickly faced him.

"Cyrus, Stop!" his voice boomed across the field, hearing which he immediately stopped as if in trance.

"Ryder, my daughter. I swear to the Heavens above that I will kill you if anything happens to her." he screamed from the other side of the field, the want to disobey clear and the helplessness evident on his face. The soldiers around them looked between them in hesitation as they heard the threat thrown at their leader, but none moved even a muscle

Ryder ignored his brother's threat. He only looked at the General and said, "You want me, you can have me. But let the girl go, Ilineal. She has no part in all this."

"We will give her after we chain you up. You were given a choice to join us, but you refused. It is time you paid the price for your insolence."

"I am a man of my word, so I will surrender, but give the girl back first."

'NO.' Athena shouted through their link. 'You are not going to give yourself up.'

'I have no other choice, Athena. I would rather die than let my only niece be butchered. And you will be fine. I am sure of it.'

'No...'

Ryder cut off their link and started walking towards Ilineal. "Let. Her. Go."

"No." Athena whispered to herself as she felt her hold on the reins of her beast loosen. She struggled for control for a few more moments, during which Ryder inched closer to the enemy.

Its a trap, Ryder. They won't let her go. She thought weakly as she stopped fighting her beast and let let it take over, feeling her claws and fangs growing.

A roar reverberated through the field and everyone froze in their tracks. Athena heard the roar as well, but realized with awe that it was she that made the sound. And before she knew what was happening, she found herself running through the crowd, everyone and everything around her a blur.

She saw fear in the faces of all the people, but even more so on those who had to face her. She heard Ilineal shout to the soldiers to stop her, but they were slow. Very slow. She cut through their ranks, bodies falling behind her one after another as she ripped their guts out or slashed their throats with her claws and her sword.

Before he could take a step towards the nearest horse, Athena was in front of the general, pulling him closer to her by his collar, her nails ripping through the material and meeting her skin as she stuck her sword into the ground.

"Romanov, I release you..." he began chanting.

She moved her hand towards his neck and began inserting her nails into his flesh until he stopped talking and began shaking.

"Romanov, I command you to take care of that child . And close her eyes. Your oath still holds." Athena rumbled as she looked at Ilineal.

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