05 | the end of a hero
Medea had apologised. Using her womanly charms, she had let him think that he had won their argument. That she had overreacted, like a heartbroken woman. Oh, how she had fallen to his arms. Listened to his sweet words as he tried to convince her that he would give her the best life as he could from afar. She had fallen into his arms and embraced him like she had when she was a naïve girl. That his idea was cleverer than any she could have come up with. She had gotten onto her knees, begged Jason for him to let her sons grow up in the palace, alongside the sons Glauce would provide him with. It had worked. He had promised to take the sentence off their sons.
She had allowed Mermeros and Pheres to leave with their father for the ceremony. Thessalus, she'd requested, stay with her in her time of need. Or so she'd claimed.
If only she could have watched the princess in her new, gorgeous gown.
If only Thessalus were still alive to see what his mother had done.
As his new wife walked towards him, Jason couldn't help but let a smile slip on his face. The palace was a beautiful sight; decorations lined the walls and pillars, while musicians played melodious music. It wasn't anything near Orpheus' smooth voice, but it was good enough for a royal wedding.
He had been surprised with Medea's apology. Even more so by the gift she'd given her sons to give to his bride. Jason assumed it was to gain forgiveness. Maybe even to try and persuade Creon to let her stay in the city. Creon, however, wouldn't be moved. He didn't trust the sorceress. His sons were different though; they were completely innocent.
At first, the little princess had been in a mood that his sons had joined them. She had even tried to turn away the gift, scowling and throwing a tantrum. Jason had soon soothed her mood with a few words, and once Glauce had finally looked at the dress... she had fallen in love with it instantly. It fit her perfectly, clinging to her small frame in all the right places. Over her light brunette hair, she placed a gold coronet containing jewels from the furthest corners of the land.
Gliding down the aisle, she was a sight. Almost as beautiful as Aphrodite. She would produce Jason many beautiful, strong children, a thing he was sure of.
But positive thoughts were soon struck from his mind.
Suddenly, she stumbled to her knees. The coronet somehow managed to stay on her curled hair. Jason, shocked, couldn't move from his position. One of Glauce's hand-maidens cried out, shouting a prayer hoping that they hadn't angered the gods. At first glance, it had seemed that they had done something to upset one of the many gods. Once white froth spluttered from her lips, her eyes turning upwards – only the whites showing – and blood draining from her pale skin, Jason knew it wasn't the gods. Moments later, she thumped to the ground.
All was silent; spectators silenced by fear.
Until the princess let out a blood-curdling scream. The coronet let out a stream of bright fire. The princess' hands tried to pull the fire-covered coronet from her head but it would not budge. As she pulled, twisted and tried to remove the accessory, the flames burned brighter, fiercer. Glauce's hands then tried to rip the thin material of the dress. A rancid, putrid smell of flesh burning filled the palace. Ugly boils started to appear on the young princess' flawless skin.
Still, nobody moved.
Eventually, after what felt like hours, she fell limp from exhaustion mixed with agony.
Rushing footsteps, echoing the silent palace, were heard. The sight of Creon frantically trying to reach his disfigured daughter pulled at Jason's heart. Tears streamed down the poor man's face, as he threw himself onto his daughter's lifeless body.
"What god has ruined my child so cruelly?" He cried out. The king let out a loud wail, full of anguish, before he finally pulled away. Or at least, he tried to. As his arms tried to pull away, the dress refused to let go. Struggling, the king tried to pry himself away. His own screams, of pain rather than sadness, filled the palace. The crowd of Corinthians looked horrified, hands held to their mouths. Knowing what was to happen, the king gave up and joined his daughter in death.
"It was Medea's wretched sons!" Someone cried out. "They gave her the dress, they helped their wicked mother kill our king and his daughter!"
Angry shouts and cries filled the room. Across the room, Jason watched as his two sons looked at the crowd. Fear evident in their small eyes. He watched as their mouths opened and closed, their words lost to stream of angry citizens. Standing, petrified, he couldn't help as the mob descended upon his children.
Their terrified screams would haunt him, until Hades had claimed him.
The horror and rage that suddenly came at him was directed at one person only.
Anger spurred him on. His mind focusing on one thing only. The wretched woman who had torn his life away. She claimed he had stolen her away from her family. Yet, she had come on her own free will. He had never asked for the woman's help. He had just asked Aphrodite for her guidance to help reclaim his throne and she had sent it in the form of a young, beautiful girl. But a beast – no, a monster – lay beneath her skin. He should have sensed it, when she tricked Pelias' poor daughters into murdering their own father. Or when she'd boarded his treasured Argo.
But he had been blinded, so blinded.
Walking into his old home, filled with taunting memories, he was struck still as he saw the sight in front of him. Blood. Lots of blood. Amidst the crimson decorating the wall and marbled floors was his eldest son, Thessalus, covered. The memory of Medea, slashing her own brother's throat attacked him. At least his son was still intact. She hadn't butchered his body, like she had her own sibling.
"Medea!" He shouted, fury boiling his bloods. Storming through the hall and out the back, he found her staring at the holy sun. Their family had claimed that Helios was their grandfather. They had descended from a son of a titan. He was doubtful it was true. What god would bore a monster, and allow it to live? "You heartless wench! You lead your own sons to their slaughter!"
"I gave life to them. I will cut their life-cord." Dread filled him. This was not the young girl he had met. Not the girl who loved him. Medea's head turned slightly, the side of her face showing. She had not even washed the blood off; and it had dried, flakes cracking from her dark skin.
"You are not the Moirai, Medea. You are a mortal woman!" Madness had overtaken her. Just like it had to her ridiculous father. "Do you not have a heart, for the children you raised? At least when Ino murdered her children, she had the decency to join them in the afterlife!"
"I killed my children? Oh, Jason. You are sorely mistaken. It was because of you, and your treacherous ways that our children no longer walk amongst the living." He dared not to go near the madwoman. "It is because of you that the poor princess suffered."
Finally, Medea turned. Before him stood one of the Erinyes – not the woman he married. Not the woman he once loved. Not the woman he shipped across an ocean. No. That girl was lost. The creature in front of her needed to be killed, before anyone else suffered under her mad schemes.
"I should have left you with the rest of the savages!" Jason screamed. "You are a living curse! A traitor to your father, to Colchis! You have not been in sound mind since you stepped aboard the Argo! You murdered your brother, and now you have murdered my sons and my bride because of jealousy?"
A bitter cackle left Medea. "You were mistaken, if you thought I would let you lie with another woman, live a pleasant life and laugh at me!"
"You are a murderer!"
"Call me what you will, Jason." Her voice was so cold, goosebumps raised themselves on Jason's skin. "Call me Scylla, Empusa, whatever wretched name you decide. I have managed to exact the punishment you deserve."
"And you don't feel the pain of losing all of your children?"
"That pain is worth it, to take away all of your happiness."
A growl left Jason. He wanted to hurt Medea a thousand times over. She deserved to be locked in Tartarus, forever more. But she seemed unbreakable; a crazed woman taken over jealousy.
"Just because I chose to wed another?"
"You ruined me, Jason." The sky darkened, as if Medea's mood affected the heavens. "You took me from my homeland, you chose to wed me, to put your seed in my belly and then to discard me? As if I am merely a possession that is no longer needed?" Jason went to speak again, but Medea cut him off. As if she knew what he was about to ask for. "You will not bury your sons, I will have the honour in doing that, to make sure nobody violates their graves. And while I will ordain a feast and sacrifice, every summer, to take away the guilt of this awful murder, you will get the death you deserve. An unheroic death, just for the man who is pretends to play hero. The timber of your beloved Argo will shatter your head, and you will bleed out. You will not die in battle, you will not die fighting a mythical creature. You will die alone. Just like you have condemned yourself to be in life."
"Let me bury my children!" Jason couldn't bear the thought of Medea touching them. Couldn't bear the thought of her murderous hands placing them to rest. "Medea, please. I deserve at least that." He ignored the chilling prediction of his death. She was a sorceress, not an oracle. She couldn't see any of that. Jason was a hero, and his death would be a hero's death.
"Don't waste your breath begging." Medea gave him a smile, before stepping backwards.
"Gods!" Jason cried up to the heavens, where Zeus and the other gods sat, watching upon the mortal men. "I call you to witness this vile, wretched creature who has killed my sons. Who refuses to let me touch them one last time, to perform their funerals! How could you have let this mad sorceress give life to my sons, and then steal them away?" No answer came. White, hot rage filled him. "Curse you all!"
With a scowl on his face, he went to attack Medea with his bare hands. She had taken away his sons, who would have continued to add to his family's glory. She had taken away his bride, and any potential sons. And lastly, she had ruined his reputation. Glauce, Creon and his uncle's deaths would follow him like a plague.
But she wasn't there.
In Medea's place, was a puddle of blood. In the blood, it looked like sand from the goddess Psmathe. Fear gripped him, and he ran inside to Thessalus. Except his son's body wasn't there; in its place was more of the sand.
Pulling at his hair, Jason let out a loud wail. He wept for all the lives who had been ruined. He wept for the sons he had lost. For his sons who could have ruled Corinth.
And he wept for the naïve little boy, who had excitedly married a goddess of death in disguise.