MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 14
The Whim knocked the wind from Cleo’s lungs. She staggered backward, onto the bed where her suitcase lay open, strewn with clothes. Her heartbeat throbbed in her ears as she watched its golden words explode from her forehead into the morning sunlight:
The child has been taken.
Cleo stared at the word “taken.” It seemed incomprehensible, as though it was scrawled in a foreign language. She pressed one hand over her heart, trying to understand.
The Whim dissipated and the golden words became small dots of dust gathering together and spreading apart, forming a new image: a boy surrounded by dark figures, chained to an hourglass.
It didn’t make sense. Cleo moved from her bedroom to her office in a dream state. She opened the Scroll and readied her desk with shaking hands, then perched on the edge of her antique chair.
The Whim’s details arrived swiftly.
An attempt to kidnap the Muse Warrior resulted in the capture of her brother, Troy DellaLuna, by minions of the Underworld. The Muse Warrior escaped unharmed. She did not surrender the leaf.
“No no no…” Cleo whispered as she the quill dipped itself into the black ink and recorded the Whim in the Scroll. “It can’t be true…”
With great effort, she called the messenger, who arrived in a hazy cloud of sulfuric fumes.
“I’ve come from Pozzuoli.” Mercury removed the cap from his head. He was still dressed in the ill-fitting security guard uniform, having just left Eden at the amphitheater in Pozzuoli. “Cleo, my gravest apologies…”
“I appreciate your kindness.” Cleo swallowed her emotion and slipped the parchment off the laurel branches. She turned to Mercury, her face flushed, heart racing.
“I am aware that Fate cannot be outrun,” she began, a tear sliding down the side of her face, “but how could you have left them, Mercury?” Her voice broke. “I trusted you.”
Mercury held the cap with both hands in front of his body. “I never left them, Cleo,” he said, his deep voice somber, “but there is only so much I can do when it comes to destiny. These are the lessons of Achilles, Oedipus… One’s fate is sealed at birth, and no one can disrupt its power. This you know.” He motioned to the Scroll.
“But this... kidnapping…” Cleo took her reading glasses off and they dangled from the chain around her neck. “It’s not written in the Scroll. The prophecy was explicit: the Muse Warrior, my granddaughter, shall journey to the Sibyl’s cave and use what the Darkness seeks to determine the fate of Olympus…” She labored to steady her voice. “But my grandson—”
“The Hero?” Mercury asked, eyebrows arched. Cleo lowered her eyes as he continued, “His destiny is to protect the Muse Warrior. This was written in the Scroll, was it not?”
Heart heavy, Cleo nodded.
Mercury crossed the room and put a hand on Cleo’s shoulder. “Your sadness is understandable, Cleo, but Troy is fulfilling his destiny. As the Hero, he would not have acted otherwise. No matter the situation, he would have protected Eden.”
He held out his palm and the Scroll lifted away from the desk, hovering in front of his face. When the words had absorbed into Messenger’s head, he gave the Scroll back to Cleo.
“I shall take this record to the Gods,” he said with a gracious bow. “And I will see you in Naples.”
The wings of his golden shoes flapped like the wings of a hummingbird. The room shuddered once more and he was gone.