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It is not my intention to sound cocky when I say this, but: I think this is going to work. This being "all of it". My plans, Adras plans, the Fates' plans, Zeus' plans. Not many people feel that way on the dawn of their own death but, what I can I say, I've always been an optimist.

OK, that last point is up for debate, I have probably not been a reliable optimist. Ever.

So, what makes me feel so bold? Well, at current count, there are at least two loopholes that might-potentially-probably-will but-who-knows-for-sure work in my favor.

First, Hades' statement that while one member of the bond lives, the other cannot die. Seems risky to gamble with Adras' life in that way but seems like a more progressive? less tragic? incrementally not as guilt-inducing as...

Option two: Aphrodite's assertion that if one member of the bond dies in martyrdom for the other person, they get an automatic respawn and come back to life. This seems...difficult. Perhaps if Adras had been found not guilty and he threw himself in the path of my soon-to-be arrow then maybe it might have worked, but now we will never know.

The main point that should not be overlooked is the black and white fact that I will do anything to make this work Crawl on hands and knees down to the underworld to pull his soul out of the River Styx, never look upon his face again and only know him as a mysterious nighttime visitor, fight Zeus thunderbolt to thunderbolt. I will completely annihilate anyone and anything that comes between my mission to keep Adras alive. I will ensure that he has a fulfilling, rich life. He deserves it.

This is the driving force that gives me optimism and prevents me from sinking into the pre-death despair. That, and I can't die. I really can't. Sure, I gave away all the power to Adras and exaggerated the toll of its escape on my body, but there are certain universal truths that can't be altered and the truth we're working with here is this: gods cannot die.

Can they mislead and misdirect and lie? Yes.

Have I? Obviously.

You could say I'm banking on option one, which is true. And make no mistake, if it doesn't work, I will rip the universe to shreds.

I mull over these thoughts dully, soothing and self-medicating myself with the "rules". Knowing and understanding and trusting that we're not so much headed to an arena for our deaths but more like death, resurrection, and transfiguration on a grand scale.

Ya girl's going out with a bang.

And lest you think I'm coming across a touch too jovially for a funeral, let me assure you that I am petrified, horrified, simply riddled with anxiety. This could absolutely blow up in my face and turn into...well, a total disaster. Still, a slight whiff of lemon-scented optimism keeps my chin up as we travel in oppressive silence to the arena outside the capital city's boundaries.

Adras and I knock shoulders and elbows as we jostle along in the back of a rumbling, jumping cart. Hades, Ares, and Aphrodite are seated across from us, condemned and to be punished for their own terrible deeds. The three of them huddle together, communicating through annoyed, furtive glances.

Adras is lost to the valley of his thoughts, watching the scenery pass by. His face is held in stone, his heart races but he's calm — at least outwardly. He only seems peppermint-clear and resigned. A deep well of sadness opens up with a yawning gap below the brave facade. It swirls and churns with an intensity he has to continually check. Every so often he huffs and puffs out air, shakes his hands, then goes back to stillness.

"How will you do it?" I ask, looking at my family.

"When you shot me with the arrow, I kind of got sucked into space? I could have gone back to Olympus if I wanted to. I chose not to. I guess something similar will happen here." Ares answers, shrugging and nonchalant.

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