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18+ Language Violence

Daughter of War - Chapter 13: The Third Trial

by Ley


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and violence.

Chapter 13: The Third Trial

The morning went as usual, with Theseus filling in Josephine on the next Trial and it’s requirements, sparring, and eating a lunch so massive that it made everyone’s stomach hurt afterwards. The one thing that Josephine kept thinking about the whole time was: what about Hermes? Surely, by now, he’d be seeking revenge. Maybe he’d already gone to Zeus, pleaded his case, and ratted out the girls for conspiracy. Nobody was talking about the god, so Josephine hoped that he either returned to his palace—scared of her power—or he fled and chose to give up his spot as Game Master. Either way, Josephine was about to find out soon enough.

She hadn’t spoken to Persephone either. Jase asked her to bring up a potential alliance to the Goddess of Spring, so she wandered the corridors of the Grande Hall in search for her counterpart. People were bustling through the hallways, shoving, and pushing in preparation for the third Trial. There were only a select few of them left, so the stage was getting grander and grander. Groundskeepers carried large decorations—from cranberry garland to gold accents to the arena. Josephine finally found Persephone sitting by a large tree in the courtyard, book in hand as she contently read.

Josephine approached her and sat down, “What are we reading?”

Persephone didn’t look up, “This is just a historical bible about the Trials. I’m trying to get as much leverage as I can. You should be doing the same, you know.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Persephone glanced at her and sighed, “Tell me. What did he need you for?”

Josephine’s eyes met hers, “He wants an alliance. He told me he’s not like that anymore. I think we should give him a chance.”

Her friend slammed the book shut and turned to her, “Listen to me, Josephine. Jase Vitalis cannot be trusted. Ever. He will always be like…that.”

“Did you know that he has two gifts?”

“What?”

“Two gifts. He has two, Persephone. Don’t you think it’d be wise to ally with him?” Josephine asked.

“Did he tell you that? Did he demonstrate his gifts?” Persephone questioned.

“No… He didn’t demonstrate his gifts. But I believe him.”

“Ugh,” Persephone sat back against the tree and crossed her arms in disgust, “I hate him, Josephine. I don’t like the sound of this.”

“Well, as you know, we need to group up today. Unless you want to partner with a random—who may or may not be helpful—I would recommend we take the help.”

“We don’t need help,” Persephone spat, “You have the gift of fire.”

“And I’m not using it unless I absolutely have to.”

Persephone groaned and slapped a hand over her face, “Fine. We ally with him. But only for this Trial.”

Josephine allowed a smile to form on her face, “Okay. Good. Now, tell me about this book.”

~

The arena was packed with more people than the second Trial. The crowd were ants, piled into each other, chanting something Josephine was unable to decipher. They waited and waited for Hermes to show—but to no avail. They were left without a Game Master.

A broad man, with gray hair and protruding muscles stepped into his place. He stood at the speech altar, his crown shifted slightly to the left and his gold iron accents shining amongst the poor townspeople.

“It seems Hermes is rather…busy,” The man said, his voice traveled miles yonder as if he was a microphone himself. He sounded powerful, almighty…ancient.

“I am Zeus, your king. I have the pleasure today of explaining the Third Trial. I am rather excited for this one.”

The crowd went silent as Zeus introduced himself. Josephine had never seen him—as he was mythologically known to be secretive and diabolical in his ways of ruling. Ares wasn’t fond of Zeus, therefore never spoke of or about him. Everyone else in the arena seemed to feel the same way, their eyes locked intensely on the great God of Thunder. Josephine stood alongside Persephone and Jase, who had glared at each other when they grouped up inside the tunnel—the entryway to the arena.

Zeus continued, “This Trial may be real, it may be not. The point of this Trial is to test the contestants on their logical skills—can they differentiate the difference between an illusion and reality? Can they group up and keep each other from going practically insane? —”

The crowd oohed and awed. Josephine stiffened. Jase must’ve noticed because he brushed his hand against hers, causing Persephone to fake gag and turn her attention back to the speech.

“— This Arena, to the Champions, will not look like an Arena. Instead, the image will morph into what they consider to be their worst nightmares, all combined and destined to destroy their intellect and test their competence.”

Persephone cursed under her breath.

The arena morphed into an ash meadow, the blues and whites in the sky changed into a dark endless pit of fire and blood, and the air suddenly smelled like sulfur and rancid meat. Josephine gagged and covered her mouth, the other Champions around her gasping. This was hell.

The image of Zeus was blurry, and his voice was muffled through a boundary which somewhat replicated the energy she sensed in the Forbidden Slopes. Something like a force-field.

The Trial must have already started. The picture morphed again, this time Zeus was no longer visible, and the meadow surrounded them, leaving all of the Champions alone in a place that looked disturbingly similar to island of Medusa’s Exile.

Jase stepped in front of the two girls as the other Champions dispersed into their own groups and took off into oblivion, “From what Zeus said, I’m pretty sure we need to keep our minds straight. Remember, everything is an illusion. He’s going to try and break us. We can’t let that happen, okay?”

Josephine nodded and Persephone rolled her eyes, “I know that, asshole. We need to find shelter, somewhere to stay while all of this happens.”

“While all of what happens?” Josephine asked. She wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this Trial, but just by the way Persephone and Jase reacted, she could already tell this was going to be a horrible experience. Why would they even need to hide?

Jase grabbed Josephine by the wrist and led both girls into the trees, the smell of sulfur engulfing them as if they were in an erupting volcano. The air was hot and humid—the perfect mixture for a hurricane—and the trees swayed ever so slightly as the wind made howling sounds. They spotted another team in the distance, close enough to make out facial features. Josephine recognized them as the sons of Zeus. One of them stepped towards them, sword drawn, and Persephone turned to Jase with a sigh, “Did you bring a weapon?”

Jase’s eyes flickered to Josephine and then back to the boy stalking towards them, “Yes. And no.”

“What does that mean, smart ass?” Persephone countered.

“Just trust me. Gods, you’re unbelievable.”

“Don’t talk to—”

“Hello, Jase,” The boy smirked, his brothers forming a triangle around him, “Who are these… lovely specimens?”

“Ew, puke,” Persephone frowned, returning to her place next to Josephine. Josephine simply eyed the boy; his blue eyes were almost inviting, and she could feel the lust for power radiating off him.

A large roar sounded in the distance, followed by muffled screams and lightning.

Jase ignored his question and rolled his eyes, “Hello, Brodie. Malakai, Justyn. I wish I could say it’s a pleasure seeing you three again, but I’d be lying if I did.”

Brodie and his brothers laughed. The one with the chestnut brown hair, Justyn, didn’t take his eyes off of Josephine, his smirk growing with every word Jase said. She started to feel uneasy. Another roar sounded except this time it sounded relatively close to them. Jase turned his head towards the noise but didn’t let down his guard.

Brodie shrugged and twirled his sword between his fingers, pursing his lips, “Blah, blah, blah. We claimed this territory, Vitalis. Back off.”

“Gladly,” Jase started backing away, but Brodie was too quick. The son of Zeus sliced Jase in the arm, causing him to wince. His eyes glowed a light green as he stepped back towards the young god. Blood fell from his arm, the crimson red hitting the piles of ash beneath his boots.

Josephine stiffened even more, and she could feel Persephone’s energy shift. Her friend’s face was full of pure concentration, her hands balled in small, loose fists at her side. For hating Jase, she seemed to be rather pissed off. Jase made the first move, lunging for Brodie with one solid leap. Magic sprung from his fingertips as he attacked, but Brodie dodged every swing with ease.

Justyn walked towards Josephine, slowly, as Persephone handled Malakai. She could see the Goddess out of the corner of her eye dancing to the rhythm of combat: her strong suit—and these minor gods were an easy match for the Goddess of Spring. Vines grabbed and nipped at his ankles; multi-dimensional flora emerged from the ground, and the skies now smelled of roses and poppyseed. Josephine, though, kept her eyes locked with Justyn’s.

She thought about her options: she was a fast runner. She could most likely outrun him easily, but where would she end up? Not to mention if she loses her group, she’d probably be a goner. She could also choose to fight, which sounded like the better option, being as Justyn was younger than her and looked like he had less experience. He is the son of Zeus, though—so Josephine didn’t feel comfortable underestimating him. Lastly, she was tempted to conjure her magic, but what toll would that take? From the sound of the roars and sounds in this dimension, she needed all the power and energy she could savor. Who knew what their next obstacle would be.

She made a choice.

Justyn edged her with his eyes, tempting her to attack first. He didn’t speak, not once, over the commotion of his brothers fighting, and instead nodded his head in battle initiation. Josephine nodded back respectively, getting in stance.

She ran for him, tackling him into the ash. He stilled and then hooked his left arm around her neck, flipping her over and tossing her into a nearby tree. Her spine hit the trunk with a crack and she screamed in pain. She rolled over onto her stomach and pushed herself back up. Sparks flickered at her fingertips, and she could feel her body warming up—but she ignored the feeling and faced Jeremy once again. The god never broke his smile.

He rushed her, and she dodged. Josephine took her only chance and held her forearm up against his neck, the circulation scarce around his head which caused his lips to turn a slight hint of purple. He coughed, grabbing at her skin. She didn’t let go until she felt his body go limp. She noticed Persephone and Jase staring at her—their eyes full of excitement.

“A daughter of Ares, she is indeed,” Jase purred, his eyes caressing her.

“Gross,” Persephone snapped.

Josephine wiped herself off and tried not to blush, “What was that sound, by the way?”

“A hellhound,” The Goddess of Spring replied, “Cerberus, to be exact.”

Josephine forgot that Persephone lived in the Underworld. Of course, she knew every single monster that originated there, or belonged to Hades. The hellhounds, for example. Most people’s nightmares consist of hell and the Underworld, so for this Trial, Persephone may be their greatest weapon.

Jase looked in the direction of the growling, “Do you think you could tame him?”

“Yes. I can tame the real Cerberus, but this is an illusion. It may not take to me.”

Jase nodded and led the girls back into the meadow. He placed his hand to the floor and knelt on one knee.

“What are you doing?” Josephine asked.

“Feeling,” he responded, a concentrated look on his face, “Now shh.”

Josephine smirked and obeyed. A few seconds passed before he got to his feet, “He’s close. Less than a mile. Let’s head east.”

Towards him? Are you mad?” Josephine questioned, watching as he strode towards the trees

He turned to them, “This place will make us mad if we don’t face it. Let’s go.”


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Tue May 07, 2024 12:38 am
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goodolnoah wrote a review...



Hello again! ~ Writing Commentary

Jase grabbed Josephine by the wrist and led both girls into the trees, the smell of sulfur engulfing them as if they were in an erupting volcano. The air was hot and humid—the perfect mixture for a hurricane—and the trees swayed ever so slightly as the wind made howling sounds.


We are sent right into the action with this impressive description of the inside of a volcano. The way you begin to describe the smell of sulfur, to the feel of the air, finally ending with a description of the area is a good way to keep the reader hooked!

Vines grabbed and nipped at his ankles; multi-dimensional flora emerged from the ground, and the skies now smelled of roses and poppyseed. Josephine, though, kept her eyes locked with Justyn’s.


I also like the description of Persephone’s combat here! Combining the combat with the smells erupting into the air adds to the dynamacy of the prose here!

He rushed her, and she dodged. Josephine took her only chance and held her forearm up against his neck, the circulation scarce around his head which caused his lips to turn a slight hint of purple. He coughed, grabbing at her skin. She didn’t let go until she felt his body go limp. She noticed Persephone and Jase staring at her—their eyes full of excitement.


Josephine’s newfound tenacity here is scary. I like that it seems like she’s gained some confidence since the run-in with Hermes along with the support her comrades seem to offer. I love how the violence never overstays it’s welcome, it makes it much more impactful that way when blood flows or bones crack, we know things are getting serious.

Lightning and Death ~ Closer

I will also tack on that Zeus’ introduction was intriguing here, though I feel we will see him more in the future. He has a mysterious aura about him, and the passage about him being “secretive and diabolical” is interesting because most depictions of Zeus are usually right in the thick of things.

I wonder what Cerberus holds…He’s one of my favorite mythical creatures!




Ley says...


Thank you! :D



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Sat Mar 02, 2024 11:00 pm
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Spearmint wrote a review...



Hello, friend!!
This review is brought to you by review team Potato!

Get ready... Get set...
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Keep Your Eyes Peeled - My Reactions

The one thing that Josephine kept thinking about the whole time was: what about Hermes?

YES that's what I'm wondering too!

Nobody was talking about the god, so Josephine hoped that he either returned to his palace—scared of her power—or he fled and chose to give up his spot as Game Master.

Hm well if nobody's talking about him, I doubt he gave up his spot as Game Master (since that would be news for sure). It seems like he's keeping things quiet on purpose... Can he use knowledge of Josephine's power against her? Like threaten to reveal it and portray Josephine as a threat to Zeus so he'll get rid of her? 0-0

“No… He didn’t demonstrate his gifts. But I believe him.”

Josieee whyyyyy you've barely met him. How can you blindly believe him about something that important?? :[ (I mean, I bet he isn't lying, because what fun would that be? xD But on principle, it's good to be skeptical sometimes...)

Persephone groaned and slapped a hand over her face, “Fine. We ally with him. But only for this Trial.”

I suspect it won't only be for this Trial. :P

“It seems Hermes is rather…busy,”

O.O Did Hermes just disappear? Does Zeus know the reason? Does anyone else know about Josephine fighting him??

The point of this Trial is to test the contestants on their logical skills—can they differentiate the difference between an illusion and reality? Can they group up and keep each other from going practically insane?

WOAHH that's such a cool Trial! :D I'm even more excited for this one than the combat trials.

Jase must’ve noticed because he brushed his hand against hers, causing Persephone to fake gag and turn her attention back to the speech.

Yes Persephone! XD Hopefully she keeps Josephine from going too fast and possibly making a mistake.

She made a choice.

The intensity is ramping up !! Love this slight pause before Josephine's action starts-- it perfectly increases the anticipation.

Most people’s nightmares consist of hell and the Underworld, so for this Trial, Persephone may be their greatest weapon.

Oooooh love this. It's so fun when characters have secret weapons =P

He turned to them, “This place will make us mad if we don’t face it. Let’s go.”

Oh interesting! I see Jase's logic, though. Still not sure whether I like him, but at least he knows his Trial stuff.

It's The Tot That Counts - Some Advice
The picture morphed again, this time Zeus was no longer visible, and the meadow surrounded them, leaving all of the Champions alone in a place that looked disturbingly similar to island of Medusa’s Exile.

Here, I'd love it if you explained a bit about what the island of Medusa's Exile is! In general, I feel like it's nice if authors explain things, even just a little bit, after they drop unknown places or terms in front of readers. :] Or, if it's not important and is just for a bit of mythology or character, perhaps just an adjective before "island" would work to explain why Josephine thinks the two locations are similar.

The son of Zeus sliced Jase in the arm, causing him to wince. His eyes glowed a light green as he stepped back towards the young god. Blood fell from his arm, the crimson red hitting the piles of ash beneath his boots.

Here, it was a bit unclear who "His eyes" and the "he" in "he stepped" are referring to: the son of Zeus or Jase? They're both young gods, so that doesn't really help differentiate them. xD I mean, I can assume it's Jase, since the next sentence mentions blood, but wouldn't he be stepping forwards if he's moving towards the son of Zeus? Unless you mean "back" as in "again"... Then that makes sense. Let me know if this is too nitpicky >.>
Also, the image of crimson blood hitting gray-black ash is super cool. :]

Magic sprung from his fingertips as he attacked, but Brodie dodged every swing with ease.

I want to know what the magic looks like!! The "swing" implies the magic is shaped like a sword, maybe?

Sparks flickered at her fingertips, and she could feel her body warming up—but she ignored the feeling and faced Jeremy once again.

Love the combat scene, but looks like Justyn changed his name to Jeremy halfway through-

Annd that's about it for suggestions. xD

That's Absolutely Mashing - My Favorites
The concept of the third trial is super fun, especially with it being in a group! Collaboration and new characters definitely spice up stories. I wasn't disappointed either in terms of the sniping between Persephone and Jase, haha. And Persephone's quips like "Ew, puke" are fab.

I also love how you make sure each chapter ends with a clear direction. Like in the last chapter, it was getting Persephone healed. In this chapter, it's the three characters going towards Cerberus. You take the reader on a ride without confusing them as to where the ride is going! Makes it a believable, enjoyable read. :D

Time Fries When You're Having Fun - Final Words
I hope Cerberus is a good boy. >.> Can't wait to read the next part! =P

Chip, chip, hooray!! Thank you for taking the time to write and post this, and I hope this review is of some use to you!

I'll see you tater! I hope you have a magnificent day (or night) wherever you are!




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Sat Feb 10, 2024 4:04 pm
RavenAkuma wrote a review...



Hello Again, My Friend!

It's me, Raven, and I'm reviewing the next chapter in this great story using my Familiar method! Let's dive in, shall we? Heh heh heh...

What The Black Eyes See...

Trial number three, the perfect way to return some action to the story, and it didn't disappoint! Even in a contained setting, and the knowledge that most of what they're seeing is an illusion, there was still a feeling of urgency and tension, and the way Josephine and Persephone worked with Jase was fascinating to observe. I'm also curious as to where Hermes is, given his absence, and if some repercussions are coming for Josephine and Persephone. Let's get into the details though...

Where The Dagger Points...

I have nothing to say as far as recommendations; you made yet another chapter that I just can't complain about! However, there was one moment that I think may have been a typo, or a relic of an earlier version of this chapter perhaps. While Josephine was well into the fight with Justyn.

—but she ignored the feeling and faced Jeremy once again.


I think you meant she faced *Justyn* once again. Not to be negative about it; this actually made me laugh a bit, because I've made this blunder so many times myself, as I changed names or their spelling over a dozen rewrites of stories. I don't know if that's what happened here exactly, that's just what it reminded me of. Very relateable either way lol.

Otherwise, all good!

Why The Grin Widened...

I always have trouble with this section because I want to point to like a dozen different moments, haha.

Firstly, yet again, you nailed your descriptions, and the sensory details of this chapter were especially great. You really captured the shift from a crowded, excitable arena to a volcanic wasteland. The overwhelming smell of sulfur and ash, then mentioning the smell of roses and poppy as Persephone begins using her magic, really captures the moment and the essence of her character.

The way you introduced Zeus was brilliant. You can really get a feeling of his power as a ruling god; a strong and natural leader, without the need for constantly bolstering him, and still showing how he is not safe from criticism. You even have him show a bit of feeling as he mentions excitement -that seems minor I'm sure, but it was nice, because I feel like too many writers are too afraid of emotions being linked to weakness, so with powerful characters, they just make them a little...flat. Anyway, first impressions were great, so well done there!

The fight was well-written, how you weave details of Persephone and Jase's respective fights into the picture so we know what's going on in the background, while Josephine shows us her strength, as well as how focused and calculated she is in combat. I also liked this detail:

Sparks flickered at her fingertips, and she could feel her body warming up -


It really shows how strong and prevalent Josephine's power will be, now that it's been uncorked -and maybe, despite her planning, it could even manifest without her calling on it. It definitely seems to respond to danger and intense combat scenarios. Intriguing, a bit worrying, but very fitting for the daughter of war.

Our Mad Thoughts...

Great chapter, no complaints, 10/10! Nicely done! :)

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Ley says...


I'm glad you enjoyed it! :DD And yes, it was definitely a typo-- i have no clue who Jeremy is LOL Thank you for pointing that out!




Moo.
— Cow