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The Daughter of War - Chapter 21: Resistance

by Ley


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

Chapter 21: Resistance

Josephine and Persephone stood beside each other at the commencement of the fourth Trial. The number of participants was visibly lower—only Josephine, Persephone, Jase, and a few other Champion’s remained. When they started, there were over a thousand competitors, and within the past few weeks it slowly decayed to around fifteen. Instead of being in the Arena, they stood on the beach of Siren’s Cove, surrounded by Mer, humans, and Gods alike.

Zeus sat at his podium which rested a few yards behind them, “Welcome to the Fourth Trial!” His voice seemed cheerful, but Josephine couldn’t help but realize that the God was looking straight at her. He asked Josephine to drop out of the competition, which obviously she didn’t do. Thankfully, if Medusa held up her end of the bargain, she’d be able to retrieve the sword from the Mer and return it to Poseidon—in exchange for her freedom after the Trials… before Zeus gets a chance to scold her.

Josephine had some guesses on what this particular Trial would entail since they stood in front of Siren infested waters. She glanced at Persephone, who was intently listening to Zeus along with all the other competitors. A feeling of guilt hit her, as she forgot about what happened in the Underworld with Jase. She knew that she’d have to tell Persephone eventually.

Speaking of the devil…Jase was standing just a couple people away, mingling with one of the daughters of Athena. Josephine scowled at him, watching as he ran a strong veiny hand through his black ruffled hair. What a prick.

Zeus continued his welcoming speech, “This is one of my favorite Trials. Trial number four is the Trial of instincts—how well can you keep yourself from temptation? Can the contestants resist the urge to follow the Sirens deep into the depths of Poseidon’s unforgiving sea? We’ll find out!”

Josephine shivered. The onlookers exploded into a million chants. Persephone shifted her footing.

“Listen closely,” Zeus said, the crowd calming from the eruption of cheers, “Each contestant will need to stay underwater for three minutes. While there, they will encounter Sirens. Whoever comes back up before the three minutes are up, continues to the second to last Trial. Contestants, you are prohibited from hurting or killing the Sirens. They are a protected species here on Olympus. Please, and thank you. You all may enter the water.”

Josephine stepped forward with Persephone and the others, her painted toes just barely touching the spreading waves. Persephone grabbed Josephine by the hand in attempt to calm them both. Josephine didn’t dare look in Jase’s direction. She didn’t need a distraction—this Trial seemed difficult enough as it was. If they couldn’t kill or hurt the Sirens, how were they going to survive? Theseus didn’t prepare her for this.

Persephone dove in first, a long-nailed hand grabbing the Goddess’ arm and pulling her under. Josephine watched in horror before she forced herself to dive in next.

A freezing grip wrapped around her wrist, and she was pulled down as well—the muffled and waterlogged screams of the other contestants vibrating throughout the depths. She was being pulled deeper, and deeper until little air pockets escaped from her lips. Nothing could prepare her for what she saw next: a long, serpent-like tail, which shifted in darkness of the water. It moved around her, slithering past her face. She started to hear the most beautiful and melancholic song she’d ever heard, and her eyes closed.

She wasn’t sure how many minutes she’d already been underwater, but it seemed like eternity. The song continued to get louder, but she didn’t dare open her eyes. She had to fight against it—fight against sleep and temptation. Her ears started to ache from the pressure, and she was running out of oxygen fast. No ounce of power rippled through her; the water neutralized the fire that burned in her core.

She kicked her feet in attempt to rise to the surface, but the song held her as if it was an animal tranquilizer. As if she was no longer in control of her own body. As if she was a puppet, being controlled by the melodies.

Josephine didn’t give up. She kept kicking and kicking, her ankles and thighs growing weaker with each movement of her legs against the current. She pushed through very temptation, every desire that she knew was being implanted in her brain. By the time she reached the surface she was more than tired.

She swam back to the beach, ignoring the cheers and chants from the stands as she coughed and rolled onto the sand. Snot and saltwater escaped from her nose as a familiar hand helped her to her feet. Her eyes opened to Jase’s smile beaming in her face, “Second place. Not bad.”

Josephine pushed him away from her and wiped the sand off her now soaking wet combat clothes. Jase scoffed in response and backed away.

They were the only two that seemed to have made it through the Trial…so far. Josephine wasn’t sure how many minutes or seconds were left on the clock, but she hoped that Persephone wasn’t currently being eaten alive by the monsters below the depths. If anyone was going to make it, though, it’d be Persephone. Josephine watched in fear and anxiety as other competitors popped their heads out of the water and butterfly stroked to the shore.

“Twenty seconds,” Zeus reminded, his head leaning on the side of his pedestal. He looked rather impatient and unimpressed.

Finally, Persephone’s hand reached up to grab air. A wave pushed her closer to the shore, and the goddess rolled onto the sand within a matter of seconds. Josephine rushed to her, finding Persephone’s face purple from lack of oxygen. She had a disgusted and terrified look on her face as if she’d seen a ghost.

Josephine lifted her friend up and pushed lightly on her stomach to get some of the seawater out of Persephone’s system. The goddess coughed and coughed, the color in her face slowly returning with every breath she took.

“You okay?” Josephine asked as Persephone stood and rested her upper body on her knees.

“I’m okay,” Persephone responded, but Josephine wasn’t sure if the Goddess was speaking to her. It seemed more like Persephone was telling herself that she was okay. Josephine would ask Persephone later about what she’d experienced down there. For now, Josephine needed to focus on looking for the Mer that Medusa promised she’d send with the relic. Zeus would mingle with others for about an hour after the Trial, leaving her with an ample amount of time to sneak away and meet with her delivery person. The real question haunted her: will Medusa live up to her bargain?

“I’ll meet you back at the Hall?” Josephine asked, ignoring the blank stares from Jase across the beach.

“Of course,” Persephone studied her friend, “are you not coming back with me?”

“Not now,” Josephine sighed, acting as if she had a whole list of errands that she needed to run. Which, now that she thought about it—didn’t sound like such a practical lie. She was in soaking wet clothing, and Persephone knew that she would never step out in public looking like that. Out of the corner of her eye, Josephine noticed that Zeus was busy walking and talking with one of the commonfolk, leaving the contestants to linger amongst themselves. Some contestants had already started to head back to the Hall—some crying from the loss of their lost friends, others smiling in victory and ready to face the next Trial. The Siren Trial was the shortest Trial of them all. Josephine knew that this was just the light that fueled the fire, and there’d be more coming. More betrayal, more death, more everything.

~

The Mer dropped off the Trident as promised. The relic was large, but light in weight at the same time. Josephine could tell that the handle was made of pure gold, which accentuate the carving and imprints that were scribbled into the intricate leather grip. She felt wrong for even holding it; to have that much power in one object was frightening to her—and she wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible.

They’d made the switch when the Mer woman met her on the west side of Siren’s Cove. Josephine was waiting, perched on a large rock as the endless waves crashed beneath her resting feet. The last thing she expected was an elderly woman to approach her, holding a sheathed object on her slightly arched back. The Mer woman dropped the relic at Josephine’s feet and dove into the water, disappearing with merely a splash.

~

“Hand me that,” Persephone nudged Josephine in the ribs, reaching for the croissant that she’d had been devouring.

“No, it’s mine,” Josephine growled through a mouth full of bread, “Get your own.”

“Stop being like that.”

“No.”

“Ugh,” Persephone groaned and sat back in her chair, observing the dancing civilians and divine entities around them. The annual Trial Feast was tonight, and Josephine begged Persephone to come with her in hopes that they’d see Poseidon.

Josephine told Persephone about her excursion to Medusa’s Exile, as well as her visit to Zeus’ Throne Room when they were getting ready in Josephine’s dorm. Persephone turned around when Josephine first mentioned it, angrier that she didn’t speak of it sooner than anything. Josephine, of course, apologized. She left out her interaction with Jase in the Underworld. She decided that it wasn’t the night for drama. Josephine did mention, though, how she didn’t plan to hold up her end of the bargain with Medusa. There was no way she could help the Gorgon escape, unless she somehow convinced Poseidon to let her go free. Her plan tonight was to find the Sea God, return the relic after the feast, and beg him to help her out of this mess with Zeus.

She’d also never seen Josephine so happy—so willing—to get dressed up. It was a rare occasion that the Goddess decided to look so elegant, despite her rare beauty and high cheekbones. She was dressed in an all-black lace gown that hugged her hips in all the right places, and her curly brown hair was tied up in a modest bun to show off her chiseled collarbone. Josephine chose the complete opposite look from her friend, and instead dressed in a flowy green cocktail dress that showed a shit ton of leg. A silver diamond encrusted band wrapped around her right thigh, and her hair was braided into three separate strands that landed just above her waist.

There was a scarce amount of contestants that actually showed, including the daughters of Athena and the son’s of Apollo. They all stayed in their respective tables, eyeing other contestants as they walked by in hopes of scaring them off. Josephine and Persephone stayed hidden; sat at a secluded table in the upper corner of the ballroom.

“Josephine, look,” Persephone nodded her head towards the door. In walked in the Sea God, dressed in a light blue tuxedo—his long black hair tied back behind his head. Josephine never noticed how tall he really was, as the first time she’d seen him he was sitting in his seat in Zeus’ Throne Room.

His date was a local sea nymph by the name of Everly. She was beautiful, with light blue skin and eyes that resembled the seafoam found in her date’s oceans. Everly was a known suitor in Olympus—having had affairs with multiple Gods like Josephine’s father and Dionysus. It seemed like this month; she’d taken interest in Poseidon. Poseidon headed straight for the bar, leaving his date to mingle with some of her friends that she’d found in the crowd of dancers.

“It’s time,” Josephine murmured, grabbing her friend’s hand as they strode towards the Sea God.

They barely made it to the bar before the ceiling caved in, and starlight struck the middle of the ballroom like lightning. 


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Wed May 15, 2024 11:50 pm
goodolnoah wrote a review...



Hello again! ~ Writing Commentary

A freezing grip wrapped around her wrist, and she was pulled down as well—the muffled and waterlogged screams of the other contestants vibrating throughout the depths. She was being pulled deeper, and deeper until little air pockets escaped from her lips. Nothing could prepare her for what she saw next: a long, serpent-like tail, which shifted in darkness of the water. It moved around her, slithering past her face. She started to hear the most beautiful and melancholic song she’d ever heard, and her eyes closed.


Wow…this description is one of my favorites so far. There is something very suffocating about the thought of being willingly dragged underwater, all while watching other contestants suffer the same fate. The writing here and continuing on with the trial is quick and pace-by-pace, adding to the suspense and shock of the scene.

She’d also never seen Josephine so happy—so willing—to get dressed up. It was a rare occasion that the Goddess decided to look so elegant, despite her rare beauty and high cheekbones. She was dressed in an all-black lace gown that hugged her hips in all the right places, and her curly brown hair was tied up in a modest bun to show off her chiseled collarbone.


The description of Josephine here is also particularly gripping. Of course, your descriptions of clothing always are, but I feel this connects to her feelings of happiness. Her git-up and the entire scene here feel like a chance to escape from the chaos that she’d been suffering recently.

Love and…Trials ~ Story Commentary

“This is one of my favorite Trials. Trial number four is the Trial of instincts—how well can you keep yourself from temptation? Can the contestants resist the urge to follow the Sirens deep into the depths of Poseidon’s unforgiving sea? We’ll find out!”


Cool! I feel like this adds to the particular theming of the recent events. Every character has struggled with temptation recently. Josephine with…oh god where to start? She’s especially been dealing with Jase, though, clearly the same for Jase. Persephone feels a bit similar, too, dealing with the temptation of both Olympus and the Underworld and Hades.

Gone like lightning ~ Closer

They barely made it to the bar before the ceiling caved in, and starlight struck the middle of the ballroom like lightning.


What…The hell?

I will say…This is one of my favorite chapters from you thus far. It has a really good mix of action and relaxation! There is joyful character drama and interaction, great descriptions, and a shocking (lol) cliffhanger!




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Fri Feb 23, 2024 4:15 pm
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RavenAkuma wrote a review...



Hello (Again), My Friend!

It's me, Raven, and I'd like to review 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 four, and yay, Josephine got through! Despite this trial's much shorter duration, you really captured the stress and the danger level of it, and the moment of relief as Josephine and her friends(?) pull through. The shift toward the celebration felt natural and showed some banter for us to enjoy, before that shocking cliffhanger. Let's get into the details though.

Where The Dagger Points...

Just a few things I could remark on! Just recommendations free to take or leave, of course.

Thankfully, if Medusa held up her end of the bargain, she’d be able to retrieve the sword from the Mer and return it to Poseidon—


I was a bit confused by this moment, as this line references a sword for the relic, but then the Mer drops off a trident.

She’d also never seen Josephine so happy—so willing—to get dressed up. It was a rare occasion that the Goddess decided to look so elegant,


I think you meant "Persephone" here, rather than Josephine. And as a more personal recommendation, I feel that even though there is a lot of modernized dialogue in this book, the description of Josephine's dress showing a "shit ton" of leg could have been a little more refined and specific, perhaps describing a "slit in the skirt running to the top of her thigh" or something (that aside, love the designs you created here, they both sound so pretty and elegant! ~)

Of course, I am not a professional, so please always take my advice with a grain of salt.

Why The Grin Widened...

The first thing I noticed that I felt was captured really well was the current state of Josephine's friendships. You did a great job at showing the awkwardness and tension between her and Jase, while also showing that she's just a little more distant than usual with Persephone.

And of course, I have to talk about the fourth trial! Like I said, despite the short duration, the moment was captured very well and reflected a lot of tension and high stakes.

As if she was no longer in control of her own body. As if she was a puppet, being controlled by the melodies.


No ounce of power rippled through her; the water neutralized the fire that burned in her core.


These lines really stuck out, at least I thought so. The comparison of melodies rendering her into a puppet immediately added to the impact of the moment, and the note of water neutralizing that "fire" within her worked on a both literal and figurative level; this trial was not only threatening to diminish her determination, but alluded to the idea that she couldn't use her powers to get out of this predicament. Awesome addition to the description.

“Hand me that,” Persephone nudged Josephine in the ribs, reaching for the croissant that she’d had been devouring.

“No, it’s mine,” Josephine growled through a mouth full of bread, “Get your own.”


The banter here was a humorous way to open the celebration; despite Josephine keeping more to herself, and feeling some kind of way about her relationships, she can still have fun with Persephone.

And like I said, I LOVE the looks you described for Josephine and Persephone, big props for character design ~

Our Mad Thoughts...

Overall, this was a great chapter with a lot to it; capturing the excitement of the fourth trial, completing Medusa's deal (which I'm pleasantly surprised she kept), and giving us a moment of fun and recuperation before yet another shocking and mysterious cliffhanger. Nicely done! :)

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fun fact i hear my evil twin once wrote a story about a hacker who used the name fyshi33k bc there are 33k-ish species of fish and she liked phishing so fyshi-33k made sense but then she got super embarrassed when someone forced her to explain
— VyperShadow