XXXVI - Light as a feather, taut as a tether

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"Hades? You mean the ghastly looking one?" Cyrus asks.

"Ghastly, sexy, brooding; take your pick. Dark hair, heavy brow. Lord of the Underworld, God of the dead." I answer not unlike a sleazy seventies game show host, waggling my eyebrows with Marxian flamboyance, a reference that goes unnoticed on this not-Earth.

Adras clears his throat at the word "sexy". I ignore it, but Cyrus' eyes scan quickly between the two of us.

"He has quarters in the northern towers. All of your siblings are there." Cyrus provides helpfully, the unasked second question is stoppered on his mustachioed lips but hangs dense and tawdry in the room like a Happy Birthday banner. Do you want to see him without the others?

I nod, "If I could meet with him privately...or at least without Ares and Aphrodite knowing, that is...that would be best." 

"Very well." Cyrus stands and leaves the room. Soon I hear him chatting with the guards in a lowered voice. 

I don't move from my spot in the center of the room. I don't take my eyes off of the gaping doorway that Cyrus has just passed through. My feet meld with the soft fibers of the rug beneath me. The veranda stretches out to my left, Adras sits on the bed to my right. I stand between their twin anchors; pulled between the easy escape of warm, yielding night air and the heavy, bone-weary expectation and need that heaves around Adras with dense tidal waves. 

"Do you want to come with me?" I ask Adras over my shoulder. The words fall like lead drops, knocking out a solemn tune as they drip onto the carpet with muffled plops.

The air crinkles with the furrow of his brow. The wind pulses with the rapid flap of his eyelashes. A self-conscious, startled chuckle dies in his throat. 

"You didn't think I'd ask." I turn to face him, calling his bluff.

Adras' eyes flit away from my face and down towards his feet, crossed at the ankles and gently swinging against the bed. "I don't know the rules of the game we're in."

I shake my head and bite my lip, "So far it looks like no one else does, either. That may put us at an advantage after all."

A wry smile and a scoff, "I think I'll stay back. I don't think I could stomach another family reunion..."

You and me both, buddy.

"...Especially when I only make everyone resent me."

"No one resents you." I challenge.

"Ares does. One thousand percent he resents and hates me. I can feel it stabbing into my chest when we're in the same room. Sharp daggers thrown from his blue eyes right here." Adras rubs his sternum, frowning with recent remembrance of the pain.


Adras only nods. 

"I can't feel them at all. I have no way of knowing what they're feeling or what they're thinking." I look at Adras through narrowed eyes, "Maybe it would be better if you come. You could give me a read on Hades..."

"I don't want to, Eris." He admits with tired defeat. "It will only slow you down. Go. Have your conversation alone."

It's a strange, subtle command that rings with a note of resonant finality. I catch myself before I balk at it, tempering annoyance and hurt before it can claim a foothold in my feelings. It's out of place — or would have been before if it didn't fit right in with the other changes I've seen in him. He made the earth tremble. He spoke with the language of the gods. He can taste and scent my family when I cannot. I haven't had time to consider the situation, but it seems as if Adras is only growing in his powers. 

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