Silver and Gold

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  • Published: 3 Apr 2017
  • Updated: 11 Apr 2017
  • Status: Complete
[Entry for Strange the Dreamer competition - Option One] Artemis and Apollo are brother and sister - two halves of a whole. Artemis has always been the wild one, the dreamer, the adventurer. But her brother has been torn away from her by a vengeful mortal angry with the gods. The sun has gone down on earth and the world is plunged into darkness as Artemis rallies together the greatest hunters the world has ever seen to save her brother, the only person who ever truly understands her. But time is running out, and in a month's time Apollo will die, taking he rest of the world down with him.

(Cover by NamesFromGraves)

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6. HELL

The journey to hell is shorter than most would assume, but that made it no less wearisome. The chariot trundled to a stop just a few hours after we left Arcadia, rolling over dead grass and stopping in front of wrought iron gates, twisted and gnarled into shapes like the face of Tartarus himself, built from the blood of a thousand dead warriors. Beyond the gates, a river roared across the land, the deep, dark waters ravaging the landscape and eating away at the banks.

"Welcome to hell."

Beside me, Otrera gasped, taking one step, two steps, three steps backwards, a scream beginning to rip from her throat, clawing at the air. "Otrera?" Cyrene's voice was panicked, frantic as a rushing sea. "Otrera, what's wro-"

Cyrene shrieked then, a wild, terrible screech that tore apart the world with its terror and awfulness, as she fell to the ground with a guttural cry, dragging Atalanta down with her, shrieking and screaming and screeching and sobbing until there was nothing left to do but lie there while I stood, watching them, frozen in place like a fool. A figure stepped forward from behind the gates, dressed in draping grey robes, black eyes sunken into his face like obsidian stones. No light was reflected in those deep and treacherous eyes - nothing but the fading glimmer of a hope lost long ago.

"I am sorry about your friends," the figure said, voice raspy. "I have shown them all they have lost to me, and I am afraid they have not taken it well. I've done only what must be done, my lady."

"Stop it," I hissed, numb. "Let them go."

"You must all four be shown the way to hell. But you, my lady, you have no one lost to death, not yet." Not yet, not yet. Words I've always hated, for a multitude of reasons. Not yet. "But I can show you one thing, if you'd like."W

"Show me what?" Even as I spoke, as my voice trembled, that feeling of a dreadful kind of hope settled in the pits of my stomach.

"Your brother, as he is now."

A tear pricked at the corner of my eye. "Please."

He snarled an ugly, crooked grin, and the scene before me shimmered and changed, as my bow and arrows clattered to the ground.

 

My brother lay across the floor, his clothes torn and tattered so that I could see the scars running along his back, slicing into his skin like dried up rivers. His golden eyes were devoid of warmth, his cheeks pale and heavily shadowed, lips cracked and pale pink. Apollo's hair hung in ratty, dirty curls, framing his once picture perfect features.

"Apollo," I whispered, voice hoarse and shaky. "Oh, gods, Apollo!" I rushed to him but he was still too far away, always too far away. He lifted his eyes to meet mine, and his smile was broken, shattered into a thousand pieces of dying suns and falling stars.

"Artemis," he croaked, in a voice that was barely audible to me anymore. "Artemis, is that you?"

"Of course it's me, Apollo," I replied with my silliest laugh that he'd always told me he loved.

"Artemis, I can't see you properly. You're all... Far away, blurry."

"I'm right here, Apollo, always just right here." His eyes were dark, caught up in a flurry of fire and grief and a madness even dear old Dionysus couldn't cure him of. "Apollo, listen to me."

"Artemis..." he croaked. "I don't have long left, Artemis. I'm burning myself up just trying to speak to you. Artemis... It's python, the woman, it's python. I don't know where I am but.. It's python. You have to..." He coughed and spluttered, collapsing onto the floor in a heap. "Where it began... De-"

"Los." Delos. Where we were born, where I tumble into the world bathed in shadow, where he bounded leaping into the light. "Okay, Apollo, I will. I'll save you Apollo, I promise, I swear upon the -"

"No!" he croaked, reaching a hand out to me - still far away, too far away. "Save yourself."

"Apollo, you're my brother."

He shook his head. "Save... Yourself."

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