Chapter 16: Siren’s Cove
Shortly after her encounter with Zeus, Josephine escaped to Siren’s Cove. It was the only overseen place that was deemed safe to travel to. Well, partially safe. Siren’s Cove is called Siren’s Cove for a reason. Some fishermen say as they approached the ports of Olympus, they heard the melodies of a million angels—and that was the cause of their crew’s death. Some believed, some didn’t, but even after years of hearing that old wise tale she still ventured there. Siren’s were known to be a type of sea nymph, created by Josephine’s mother—Aphrodite. Her mother is technically a sea nymph herself, having been born by seafoam.
So, even if Josephine did come across a Siren, she was sure they wouldn’t want anything to do with her; mostly because of her bloodline but also because they prefer the taste of men. Sirens enjoyed nothing more than to feast on a wealthy man’s flesh and steal their riches.
The beach was composed of black sand and precious gemstones. Amethyst and yellow calcite scattered the shore of the coastline, as the soft, soothing waves hit the perimeter. Josephine made herself comfortable and sat down close to the water.
She had a lot to think about. Zeus had requested that she come train with his offspring and quit the Trials. Not only would her parents disown her if she betrayed them and praised another god, but they’d subsequently never speak to her again. The smart thing to do would be to tell Persephone, but Josephine needed to do something on her own. She could mention it, sure, but she wouldn’t ask for help.
Josephine knew she didn’t want to quit the Trials. She made it to the fourth Trial, which barely anybody ever got to—alive. She had much more potential than she’d originally thought, so why would she stop now, especially if she actually had a chance to win this thing? And by the way Zeus was speaking to her, it sounded like now she was more of a threat than a target.
One particular thought couldn’t erase from her mind. The way the god looked at her—with envy. Zeus was hiding something, and Josephine wanted to figure out what it was. If she were to win the Trials, maybe it could be a way out of serving him for the rest of eternity. Of course, Josephine knew what she had signed up for, but it was a death mission for her. She wanted to test herself, and so far, she was passing with an A+.
“I thought I’d find you here.”
Josephine glanced behind her to find Jase standing there with his hands in his pockets. Gods, he was stunning, “What are you doing here?”
He struggled and took a seat next to her, playing in the sand with his index finger, “I come here too. When I need to think. And since I already imagine you’re just like me, I thought maybe you’d come here as well.”
Josephine studied him and then turned her attention back to the waves, a seagull circling overhead in search of its dinner. It nipped at the crashing currents and came out victorious just before it flew away graciously. Speaking of dinner, Josephine’s stomach was growling. She hadn’t eaten since breakfast. She hugged her knees.
“And I thought I was the only one who enjoyed peace of mind in this gods-forsaken city,” Josephine muttered.
Jase let out a light chuckle and smiled, “We are the future, aren’t we?”
“I guess we are.”
A few moments of silence went by. They just sat together, staring out into the crystal blue abyss that was the Mediterranean Sea. Josephine was about to ask Jase about his intentions, again, when a loud splash sounded from the waves. The sun was barely visible from beyond the horizon, leaving only the slightest amount of color left in the sky. Josephine was unable to decipher what exactly she saw, but she was easily able to pinpoint the location it came from. She had hoped it was a shark, or maybe a large school of fish, but something was telling her otherwise.
It was mating season for sea life, especially marine organisms that were big enough to cause that loud of a splash. Most sea animals travel north towards Tortuga this time of year. Jase seemed to think the same thing because he stood up abruptly and pointed into the water, “There. A Siren.”
“Huh?” Josephine followed his movements and focused her eyesight on the direction in which he’d pointed. It made sense, what he was implying, because Sirens are most known to hunt at night. They were safe on the shore… hopefully.
There was still enough light for Josephine to make out the shape of a woman’s face peeking from the shallows. Her eyes were pinpointed on Jase, ready to lure him to her. Josephine hesitated but grabbed Jase’s hand in attempt to draw his attention from the beautiful serpent lurking just feet from them, “Let’s get out of here. I’ve had enough action for one day.”
Jase nodded and began to follow her back towards the Hall. He turned around one last time before disappearing from the beach—the Siren didn’t move, and continued to stare at him like he was a prize yet to be won.
Josephine woke with a backache and a large pimple on her forehead. She dragged herself out of bed and cleaned herself up in the bathroom, spending about thirty minutes dealing with the monstrosity on her temple. She resorted to liquid foundation. There was no Trial today, so the outfit she chose was charming yet comfortable. A long, floral dress shaped her hips perfectly—and the sandaled flats hugged her feet modestly. Usually, she would wear her hair in a long tight braid, but today she felt like changing it up. She let her hair fall naturally below her breasts and refrained from teasing it.
Today, she planned on telling Persephone about Zeus’ request. She assumed that Zeus would summon her back to the Throne Room for further conversation—maybe even to end her participation in the Trials. She was keen to seek out her friend as soon as possible. As she walked through the empty corridors and large common room, she couldn’t help but to think of the intimate moment that her and Jase shared at Siren’s Cove. It left her slightly believing that he may be more like her than she originally thought, and she smiled as she strode hallway to hallway towards Persephone’s suite.
Her smile slowly disappeared when she reached Persephone’s room. The door was wide open, with no guards in sight. There were no sounds besides the chirping morning birds outside, and her window was wide open. Signs of distress were scattered across the room—from Persephone’s nightgown being thrown on the floor, and blood seeping through her mattress.
Josephine’s heart dropped. She had to catch herself from falling, so she held onto the doorframe and placed a hand to her heart.
She rushed out of the room and into the hallway, searching for anybody, anyone, she could find. Her heart pounded through her chest, and her fingertips boiled at the thought of her friend in danger, in pain. Persephone could hold herself; someone must’ve planned this. Josephine’s immediate accusation went to Hermes.
I should’ve killed you when I had the chance.
Josephine found a guard stationed at the entrance to the library, “You have to help,” she begged, “Please. The Goddess Persephone has been kidnapped. Notify Zeus and Hades, NOW!”
This man probably thought she was insane. Then it hit her.
Zeus and Persephone were interrupted yesterday because Hades had an important message for him. The same day Persephone disappears. She could’ve got taken early in the morning, but if Hades could sense Persephone’s distress with the Cyclops, then why couldn’t he sense her distress with whoever took her? Unless… he was the one that took her or had some involvement with it.
“Miss, I’m not sure what you—”
“Never mind, you’re useless,” Josephine spat and sprinted away from him. She ran and ran until she reached the large, golden doors that were the entrance to Zeus’ quarters. Josephine didn’t knock before she pushed through the doors, finding herself in the middle of an important meeting between gods.
Demeter sat at a throne next to Zeus, and next to the Goddess of Harvest was Poseidon. They seemed to be in deep conversation before she burst in the room, being as they turned to her in surprise and mistrust.
Josephine cleared her throat, “Sir, I need a word with you. Urgently. It’s about Persephone.”
Demeter’s eyes sharpened and she turned to Josephine, a worried yet triumphant look in the goddess’s eyes. She was much older than Josephine imagined—yet she was obnoxiously beautiful. Her black, curly hair was braided elegantly at her side, complimented by gold and jade accents, “What is it, child? If it involves my offspring, I should also be summoned.”
Josephine knew just then what Persephone had meant when she said her mother was arrogant, “With all due respect, Goddess Demeter, I think that Zeus may be of more help at the moment.”
She studied Josephine for a second, her brown eyes searching Josephine’s brain for any speck of information she could get, “Very well.”
Poseidon chuckled. He looked just like Jase, his eyes a deep gray followed by obsidian hair and porcelain skin. Zeus finally spoke, “What is it, Josephine? We are in the middle of a very important meeting.”
“Sir, Persephone is missing. She was captured from her slumber either late last night or early this morning. There were signs of struggle in her dorm. I would like a word with you in private, if possible.”
“You are not in rank to be discussing demands from me, child,” Zeus reprimanded. His voice radiated across the room, causing Poseidon to lose his smirk.
Josephine pleaded, “Please, sir. I wouldn’t ask this of you if it wasn’t important to me. If you wish to have me as your—”
“Okay, okay,” Zeus said, standing. He must be keeping her a secret… for now, “I will be back in a few moments.”
Demeter simply sighed, “I’m sorry, but I think I may have more pressing matters to attend to. If my daughter is missing, I must ask around. But keep this in mind, Josephine,” she directed her eyes to Josephine, “Persephone does this. She acts up. Its unlike her to not disobey or cause a scene, actually. So, take this stunt with a grain of salt.”
Josephine disagreed but nodded to appease the goddess. The last thing she needed was to have problems with another main deity, especially now that the Goddess of Harvest knew her name. Poseidon didn’t move from his chair, nor speak, and instead studied Josephine. He was just as mysterious and just as hard to read as his son.
Zeus led her outside his quarters and into the study, where he turned to her, “Who do you suppose took her?”
That was a rather blunt question, as if Zeus wasn’t surprised that Persephone was gone. Josephine didn’t know whether to interrogate the god but based on his defensive attitude towards her a few seconds ago, she wasn’t tempted to try. Instead, she asked for another favor.
“I wouldn’t ask for your help if I didn’t truly need it. I’m going to tell you this, and I’m going to trust you that you wont hold any of this against Persephone nor myself.”
The god furrowed his brow and leaned against the wall, crossing his arms, “I’m listening.”