ReunitedA friendly hand waved to Althea as she walked through her street from an older man that was friends with her grandparents. She waved back to him and was back on her way. She was now in a pair of riding pants and a tight, tucked in, white, button up shirt with only her ring, small diamond earrings, and riding boots as accessories. Her black curls were pulled back into a tight ponytail at the back of her head as she fiddled with a short curl that did not stay back and fell into her face. It only took a few minutes to reach the gold gates she needed to get to. A guard she did not know well called up for a raise of the gate and she came in before it shut again. She saw Cletus to the right of the castle and walked over to him. He was taking a brake and sat by himself on the stonewall that was around the royal garden. He smiled to her as she sat next to him and rested her head on his shoulder. “Is the prince and his sister awake?” She asked him and he sighed.
“Yes and they have been fighting all morning for some reason. Finally they were ordered to their rooms and have been there for hours. I’m afraid that Prince Elius now thinks we can’t even control the royal children,” He said with a sigh and then turned to Althea, “Could you try to help?” He asked and she nodded. They stood then and went inside to see Prince Elius talking to Epirus in the hallway. “Epirus!” Cletus called and both the men looked up to Althea and Cletus.
“There is a very strong gift from Hemera today,” Althea commented and then slightly smiled, “It also seems there is a curse from Enyo brought upon the royal children.”
Epirus sighed, “Can you help?” He asked Althea as she felt the piercing glance of the Prince.
“I can try.” She offered and Epirus nodded. He led the group to Prince Catreus’s room and Althea knocked on his door.
“Who’s there?” Catreus demanded with tears lingering in his voice. Althea got closer to the door and tried to open it, but it was locked.
“Catreus, it is Althea,” She sighed lightly, “could you open the door so I can talk with you?”
“Who is with you?” Catreus asked her and she sighed. Althea knew he could tell that there were three others with his blessing of Aether.
“Prince Elius, Soldier Cletus, and Soldier Epirus have escorted me here. Are they allowed to come in with me?”
“No. Only you can enter.” He retorted and she turned to Cletus who sighed with a nod. When she touched the door again it was unlocked so she slid in. She shut the door behind her and went into the dark room. Catreus sat on his bed with a pillow against his chest, his knees pulled to the pillow, and his arms wrapped around himself to make a small ball. Althea sat down in front of him and he kept his eyes from hers as she noticed there were smudges of dirt on his nose.
“What happened between you and Cilia?” She asked with no beating around the bush.
“Well today we were in the garden and I threw a pebble at Cilia while she was checking for weeds. She laughed about it and said to stop but was kidding so when she bent down again I threw another pebble. She laughed again as she told me to stop and so I thought we were both having fun and kept throwing them at her, but out of nowhere she screamed at me and I ran off. I went to dad and complained about her yelling at me and when I left his room I saw her standing there with a basket in her hands. She quickly came over to me and dumped a pile of dirt on me and laughed. I chased after her and my dad got mad so he told us to go to our rooms. Then dad got even madder because he thought that Prince Elius would think we were bad children and yelled at me.” He whispered and Althea stood up. Catreus followed her with his eyes as she went to his bathroom and came back with a damp hand towel. She gently washed the dirt from his nose and then looked to him.
“Are you crying because of what Cilia did or about your father yelling at you or about Prince Elius thinking you were misbehaved?” Althea asked kindly and he finally looked to her eyes, which gave her a slight sense of hope.
“Cilia and I have never fought before. I’m scared she hates me now.” He whispered and Althea sighed sadly. She hugged him with his legs and the pillow pushing against her.
“I’m sure she doesn’t hate you, Catreus. Don’t worry yourself about that,” Althea stood and put her hand out to him, “But everyone is worried about you, so why don’t you come out with me to make them feel better?” She asked and he stared to her hand. He hesitated for a moment but finally took her hand. She pulled him off the bed and he came to her. They stayed there as he hugged her for a few minutes and then slowly left his room. Cletus smiled to Althea with relief and gratitude. A maid took the young boy of only 8 to his father so he could apologize as Althea started to Cilia’s room. When she got there she knocked on the door and there was silence.
“What?” Cilia demanded with anger.
“It’s me, Cilia.” Althea said quietly and then came into the room. She shut the door behind her back and then went over to Cilia who was sprawled out on her bed. She looked up to Althea as she sat at Cilia’s side, “I just talked to Catreus.”
“And I hope you hit him!” She spat and it shocked Althea. Cilia had never been this mad over something so small and Althea became raged slightly.
“Cilia, he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong…”
“He was hitting me with rocks! How is that right?”
Cilia sat up and frowned to Althea, “He’s just being a brother, Cilia. He thinks that…” Althea started to argue but Cilia became angry also.
“You don’t know what it’s like to have a brother so don’t even talk, Althea!” Cilia yelled and without hesitation Althea stood in defense.
“Your brother is all proper and brave! He has barely spent any of his life as your true brother! You don’t know what it’s like to have a stupid brother that only does things to hurt you!” Cilia yelled and without a single thought Althea’s hand slapped across Cilia’s face with power behind it. Althea did not even feel sorry as her friend’s face started to become red because of the tears dripping down her face.
“Don’t you dare talk about my brother like that!” Althea yelled and then threw open the door. She turned back to the angry Cilia, “Just because you are a princess does not mean I will stand around and let you talk about my precious brother like he is just some guy your father controls!” She slammed the door and stormed down the hall and the staircase, but was slowed down slightly when Prince Elius, Cletus, and Epirus looked up to her but she still stormed towards them. Seeing tears coming from such a strong woman captivated them all.
“What happened?” Cletus asked with sincerity. Althea walked to him and pointed her finger at him.
“Get your Princess in check! I’m done with her!” Althea yelled and they were all shocked. She went past them and stormed out to the practicing field. She went to the shooting range and picked up the chosen weapon of Artemis. She pulled back the string, adjusted the arrow, and let go. With the arrow left some of her anger.
The three men came outside and watched her shoot two arrows after the first. Prince Elius started to walk over to Althea but Cletus put his arm in front of the Prince. He looked to Cletus with confusion to see Cletus was watching Althea, “When she gets like this it is best to let her calm down before talking to her. If you don’t you may become a human target even if you are a Prince. Right now anything is a target to her.”
“Does this happen often?” Prince Elius asked the other two men who shook their heads.
“The last time it happened was when her brother left three years ago and that was only the second time we had seen it,” Epirus replied and then sighed, “We should go check on the Princess. Althea will be at this for at least an hour or so.”
Cletus nodded and they started back inside but turned back to the Prince who was not following them, “Are you coming?” Cletus asked and the Prince shook is head.
“I will stay here.” He replied and with a shrug the other two men left. The Prince sat down on the steps that led from the side door of the castle and to the shooting rage as Althea stood.
Althea shot the target made of a bale of hay until there were no more arrows to shoot. She then threw the bow at the target and the hay bail fell over. Althea sat in the grass after that and looked at her brother’s ring. Tears had finally stopped by then and she realized she was being observed. She looked up to the eyes of Prince Elius who then walked over to her, “If you are trying to figure out my blessing, you are wasting your time.” She informed him and he sat down in the grass by her.
“No, I was just going to see how far your anger would take you,” He replied, “I never expected you the kill the hay bail with your bow.”
“I kept imagining it was Cilia’s head.” She admitted and the Prince nodded since he had already figured that much.
“You really should not share that, Lady Althea. It is a crime to threaten a royal person.”
Althea smirked to him, “I slapped her. If I was going to be arrested today it would have already happened.”
There was a silence for a moment, “What did Princess Cilia say to make you so mad?”
Althea sighed, “She said things that were rude towards my brother and I couldn’t take it. She said that I didn’t even know him enough to know what it was like to have an annoying brother, which sent me through the roof,” Althea pulled her knees up, rested her elbows on her thighs, and put her hands on her forehead, “I hit her,” She whispered, “I hit my best friend. Could I have been crueler to her?” Althea sighed once more and looked to her brother’s ring again, “Arles would never hit Cilia. It is against his beliefs.”
“Arles? Don’t you mean Ares?” The Prince asked and Althea slightly smiled to him.
“Do you know what goddess I am named after?”
He nodded, “Athena of course.”
“Athena is the sister of Ares as I am the sister of my brother. We were both named after the gods because of our bond.” She replied and he thought he had asked a very stupid question and understood why she had smiled.
“Ah,” He replied as he tried to get over his buffoonery. They sat for a while and just listened to the wind around them. Althea’s gaze was attracted to running footsteps and she turned to see Cletus running towards them with a look of horror on his face, which made something in Althea ache. She stood and so did the prince as Cletus came to Althea.
“Althea,” He gasped for breath and then went on, “There is a woman here and she demands to see you. She is waiting with Epirus because she seems frantic.”
“Show me to her.” She requested and then ran behind Cletus with the prince behind her. They went to the front porch of the castle to see Epirus sitting next to a girl with her head on her lap while she cried. Althea went near her and the girl’s head shot up to see who was there.
“Oh blissful stars!” The girl cried as she looked to Althea.
“Miss Belus? What is wrong?” Althea asked with a nervousness creeping into her voice.
“They’re dead! They’re dead!” Miss Belus cried as her head went back to her lap but Althea quickly pulled the girl to her feet. Something stung in Althea’s heart.
“Who’s dead, Miss Belus?”
She burst into a crying fit and was having trouble breathing. When she finally gained control of her breathing she looked to Althea, “Your grandparents,” She whispered and Althea froze. She let go of Miss Belus and Belus fell to the ground with more tears, “A man robbed your store and killed both of them!”
Althea’s legs felt like they had been shot off. She collapsed to the ground and just sat there as she tried to process what Miss Belus had just said. The words just seemed to not add up to anything but babble. A spark seemed to flare in the back of her mind and immediately she understood. She understood quite well. She was an orphan. Arles was an orphan. “No,” Whispered Althea as she shot to her feet. She turned to the closed gold gate and then shot a look to Cletus. “Open the gate.” She whispered in a plea and he quickly called for the gate to open. When it did Althea sprinted off. As she ran all she could see was the ground in front of her. The houses and shops she usually past seemed to have disappeared and so did her hearing. All she could think of was one word, no. It whirled around her like a bug until she reached her home. She sprinted up the creaky stairs and threw open her grandparent’s door. Three policemen turned to her as she saw two gray sheets on top of bumpy figures on the old bed. She just froze in the doorway as one of the policemen walked to her slowly. He set his hand on her shoulder. She saw him move to do so, but she could not feel the touch.
“Althea, I’m sorry,” Whispered the familiar voice. The policeman was the one that had a home three down from hers. He had three young children and a wife that had been very kind to her grandparents, “the robber took their lives with two shots of a gun. They are with Thanatos by now.” Her hand was moved but she could not feel the movement, she only saw it. She saw herself standing next to the policeman like she was standing across the room from her own body. Tears were running down her face as her jaw stayed clenched. The policeman looked behind her. Althea saw Epirus gently rub her arm as the policeman recognized him, “Sir Epirus, could you help her with her belongings and then bring her to the palace. Until her brother comes back she will have to be put under the care of the royal family.” The policeman then walked away and Althea blinked. She felt the touch of Epirus’s hand on her arm as he slowly led her away. She was now back in herself and could feel the wetness of tears on her face. Epirus led her to her room and shut the door behind them. He brought her to her bed and sat her down. He gave her a look of sadness and then started packing up her stuff. He kept looking over to her as he worked but she did not move. Once he had packed all of her clothes into a bag he came to her side and sat down. He wrapped his arms around her and she felt his warmth. Without telling her body to do anything her arms went around Epirus and her head lay on his chest. He pulled her closer to him and she cried more as he stroked her hair.
“Althea,” He whispered sadly, “Please talk to me.”
She paused for a second but then opened her mouth, “They are gone.” She whispered the obvious and he pulled her even tighter to him.
“I know and I’m so sorry,” He replied, “But I know Phyche will take their gentle souls to a good place.”
He sighed sadly, “We need to go, Althea. I have your clothes packed so we need to leave. We can come back for the rest of the stuff later.”
“Okay.” She whispered and he let go of her. They slowly left the house to see a crowd forming outside. Epirus pushed through the crowd and brought Althea to his horse. He got on and then pulled her up. She sat on her side with her left shoulder against his chest and her bag by her heart. His right arm wrapped around her to support her on the horse as they started off. When they got back to the castle the gate opened without their asking. Epirus let go of Althea as she was gently taken down to Cletus who just hugged her like a best friend would at a time like this as Epirus gave his horse to a maid. The three of them walked to the castle’s front door with Cletus’s arm around her waist and Epirus’s hand around hers. The door was shut behind them and they went to a sitting area near the dining room. Althea was sat on a couch as the two men sat at each side of her. Cletus left for a moment and she laid her head on Epirus’s left shoulder. He pulled her tightly to him as she realized she had stopped crying. The king came in with Catreus, Cilia, and Prince Elius with him.
“Althea.” The king whispered in an apologetic way even though he had done nothing wrong.
“When will Arles be here? He has been told the news?” Althea asked as she looked to her ring once more.
“I just sent word to him. He will be here by tomorrow morning,” The king replied with kindness towards her, “He wants you to wait for him here with us.”
“That is what the Policeman said also,” Althea looked up to the king and was glad she could not cry any more, “How did he take it?”
“He was upset but was more concerned about you than anything else. He does not want you to leave us until he arrives.”
“Alright, thank you,” She whispered as the gaze of everyone went to her. She didn’t want to be here. She wanted to leave, but not go too far, “My King, I can now give Prince Catreus his lessons on shooting.”
“You don’t have to…”
She stood and Epirus followed, “Sir, I need to do something other than sit and regret. I did enough regretting five years ago at the loss of my parents and I don’t want to waste my time feeling sorry for myself,” She looked to her feet only, “My grandparents would not want me to cry over their death more than I have. I know they would want me to get out there and train.”
“As you wish, Althea.” The king said and Catreus walked over to her. He hugged her waist and she set her hand on his head. He took her hand in his and they walked outside. She brought the boy to the hay bail she had destroyed and they pulled the arrows out of it. She picked up her bow and then went to a small shed to the side that held the Prince’s bow. She got it and then went back to the boy who was putting the arrows in a pile. He stood next to it and Althea handed him the bow.
“Show me the way you hold the arrow and bow.” She requested and he nodded. Catreus picked up an arrow and positioned it with his bow. He stood in a ready position to shoot as Althea walked around him. She could tell he was holding it wrong but wanted him to figure it out, “Go ahead and shoot.” She said and he let go of the arrow. It did not even make it to the new hay bail he was shooting at and he was disappointed in himself, “Hold up your bow again, just like you did.” She said and he pulled back the string. She knelt behind him and put her hands over his. She moved his fingers that held the feather end of the arrow and moved his other hand down on the neck slightly. She stood again and examined him. “Shoot again.” She said and he did so. The arrow hit the second marked area only a few inches from the eye of the hay he was aiming for. She smiled to him and he felt good, “You were holding the neck too high and were bending the feathers,” She went back behind him and set her hands over his. She moved his whole upper body up a few degrees and then examined him from the other side. She used two fingers to tap the bottom of his chin and he lifted it slightly, “You are a Prince, Catreus. You must always have your head high and strong. Now shoot with all your power.” She said and he nodded to her. He focused on the eye and let go of the arrow. It pierced the hay right in the middle of the eye and he immediately jumped in the air with a yell of victory.
“I did it!” He yelled and seemed to glow with delight. He then ran over to his father that stood to the side and watched with Prince Elius. “Dad! Did you see me? Did you see my shot? It was perfect!”
The king laughed and nodded to his son, “You were magnificent my boy. If you keep training with Althea you will be a great shooter in no time.”
“I hope so!” Catreus replied, but Althea turned away from the happy group then. She walked over to the hay bail and pulled out the arrow. She brought it back to where it had been to see Cilia looking at her. That surprised Althea.
“Could you help me?” Cilia asked in a whisper and Althea stood there. She did not know how to respond. She wanted to tell Cilia to go away, but knew she shouldn’t. She decided to agree with a nod.
“Draw your arrow.” Althea replied and Cilia quickly picked up Althea’s bow that Cilia shared with Althea. Cilia set up an arrow and looked to Althea for approval. Althea walked around Cilia like she had with Catreus and then went behind Cilia. Althea set her hands over Cilia’s and tightened the grip of Cilia’s fingers on the feathers of the arrow. Althea moved to the other side of Cilia and tapped her elbow that was controlling the arrow hand. Cilia moved her elbow up slightly and Althea just looked at her. The position still seemed wrong, but she was having a hard time figuring out how to fix it. She then realized what to do. She gently pushed the bow and arrow closer to Cilia’s chest. Althea back up and looked at Cilia again, “Shoot.” Althea ordered and Cilia did not hesitate. She let go of the arrow and it went right into the eye of the hay bail. Cilia smiled back to Althea, but were not given a smile back. Althea handed Cilia another arrow with no smile, “Now shoot that arrow into the one you just shot.”
“That’s impossible!” Cilia argued and Althea put her hands out to Cilia.
“Give it to me.” She demanded and Cilia did so. Althea took the bow and arrow from Cilia and set up the arrow in the bow and shot. Her arrow pierced the back end of Cilia’s arrow. Cilia’s arrow split down the middle and stayed there with Althea’s arrow. Cilia frowned to Althea.
“That was just a stroke of luck. You can’t do it again.” Cilia protested and Althea quickly picked up another arrow. Within seconds Althea split her past arrow in half with the new one. She turned to Cilia who was frozen with her mouth open. Althea handed the bow back to Cilia with no smile.
“Don’t stop until you split my arrow in half. That’s an order.” Althea said with no emotion other than anger. Without even looking back to Cilia, Althea walked close to the three men and sat down in the grass. Althea turned when she heard a door close to see the King and Prince Catreus had gone inside, but Prince Elius was walking over to Althea. He sat next to her and looked into her swollen eyes, as he said nothing for a moment.
“I’m sorry to hear about your grandparents,” Elius said sadly to Althea, “But, if you don’t mind my asking, what did you mean by you lost your parents?”
“They were killed in an attack where I used to live.”
“Where is that?”
“Selia, in the capitol. We were all in a store when a guy came in with a large knife. He started stabbing everyone in sight as we tried to hide. Luckily we were towards the back of the store when he came. My parents told Arles and I to hide in a small place behind a stack of boxes. They said they would come get us when this was over and we couldn’t leave until they came to get us. Before they left they kissed us both and made us promise to be quiet. Arles and I were as quiet as we could be and after a while the screaming of people stopped, but we stayed put. A policeman found us a few hours later and when we refused to leave he was concerned. He asked why not and Arles told him what our parents had requested us to do. The policeman’s face seemed to lose color after that as he informed us that we were the only two who survived and that our parents had died.”
“Yes.” Althea replied with a sigh but was diverted to Epirus as he came over to them. She realized Cilia was still shooting and Althea felt in power.
“Althea the king said you should rest. Your brother will now be coming before scheduled and the king thinks you should rest before he arrives tonight.” Epirus said and Althea nodded.
“If Cilia is still shooting after an hour, tell her to stop.” Althea said and Epirus nodded. She walked away and went inside to see the king. He led her to a guest room where the maids had already put her stuff. She was left there in the dark room after that and decided to lie down. She lay on her side, pulled a pillow to her chest and fell asleep with new tears running down her face. The rest of the house worried about how she really was. They all knew she was trying to act strong but she was really in horrible shape.
A knock sounded at Althea’s door so she got up and answered it. Cletus looked at her sadly, “You should come outside. Your brother will be arriving soon.”
“Alright,” She whispered with a voice wrecked by her crying earlier. She followed Cletus outside to see Epirus and Prince Elius sitting on the front steps of the castle. They both looked up to Althea and Cletus when they arrive and Althea decided to sit next to the prince while Cletus sat to her other side. They sat in the silence until it was broken by a holler from a man at the gate a mile from them. When it raised three men on horses appeared and the middle one’s eyes seemed to dart straight to Althea. She stood and felt tears pouring down her face as she watched. He made his horse sprint towards her and then stop a foot away. The tall man hopped off of his horse and squeezed Althea in his arms. She buried her face in his chest and pulled herself so close to him that it was painful for both of them, but neither cared. Arles kissed her head and smoothed out Althea’s hair with tenderness and care. He whispered beautiful words of hope to her and she could feel the hole in her heart closing at a rapid rate. She could not control her tears as she felt his warm grasp that seemed to protect her from the horrible truth of reality; he was her true Uranus, her protector.
“Althea, my lovely Althea,” He whispered and she finally looked up to him. His hair of Erebus was slightly messed up, his eyes of brown still captivated her even with tears swelling in them, and his gentle voice took away her pain, “I pray to Zeus that you will never have to be taken from me again. I can not stand it,” He brushed the tears from her face with his gentle fingers all covered with rings except for one, which sparked her memory. She quickly let go of her brother and he was confused as she took his right hand and pulled the ring off of her hand. She slid it onto him and smiled sadly to him.
“I have been keeping it safe for you. It has not left my hand for the past three years.” She assured him and he smiled as he bent his head down slightly. He slipped a gold chain over his head and put it over hers. He gently set the pendent of the necklace on her chest.
“Your necklace has not left me since last time.” He assured and they hugged again. Everything horrible in the world seemed to disappear for just a moment for Althea and she thanked Zeus for Arles again.