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18+ Language Violence

The Daughter of War - Chapter 22: They All Fall Down

by Leya


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

Chapter 22: They All Fall Down

The world was ending.

It all happened so quickly; the ceiling fell through in a matter of seconds. Persephone dove over Josephine, the rest of the crowd either rolling into the deep pit that formed in the middle of the now tainted marble floors or cowering in the corners of the room in attempt to hold onto the windowsills. Josephine and Persephone were holding desperately onto the staircase handle that they conveniently happened to be next to. The floor began to slowly turn into a sinkhole, as if the tiles were sand and the wood foundation was the force that sucked everything down. The ones that weren’t so lucky were screaming, begging for help.

The main gods in attendance, Zeus, and Poseidon, conjured their magic—Poseidon’s fingertips drawing water from each and every pipe in the building, creating a waterborne floor right where the hole had been. Zeus helped the injured, reassuring that everything’s going to be okay. There was a force, something strong and divine, that was pulling everyone towards the middle. The world crumbled beneath their feet, opening up an abyss that was too deep for even the divine eye to analyze.

“Hold on!” Persephone yelled over the madness, grabbing onto Josephine’s shaking shoulder to cover herself.

“Do something, Persephone!” Josephine screamed in response; the wind’s pull now causing her to squint her watering emerald eyes.

Persephone hesitated but closed her eyes, her chestnut silken locks falling from the intricate bun that Josephine had spent hours working on for her. Flora spread across the floor, roses bloomed out of the vases that were once sturdied on the circular dining tables, and the windows shattered when cherry blossom branches blasted through the glass, picking up pieces of the ever-growing pit and putting them back together. Other flora dashed and grabbed falling attendees.

Josephine didn’t even notice Persephone’s back was turning blue until her veins and arteries were popping out of her skin—as if it was too much, as if she couldn’t hold her gift for much longer. But there were people dying, children, fathers, mothers. Persephone’s mind went blank, and her face turned to an empty stare.

Josephine grabbed Persephone’s hand and prayed for her magic to help. She felt the energy in her palm transfer to Persephone’s now burning hand, and the flora bloomed even more.

Ash and smoke filled the room, causing Josephine to cough and cover her eyes.

Everything went silent, besides the moans and distant cries of injured attendees. Josephine’s knees struggled to support her feet, and she crumbled down to the floor, Persephone falling  beside her just moments later.

~

Josephine woke to the smell of sanitizer and alcohol. A loud beeping sound was annoying her sensitive ears, so she ripped out the long clear cord and needle that was stabbed into her forearm. Her vision adjusted just in time to see Persephone being wheeled away in a cot, into another room. The healer’s voices sounded faintly in the hallway,

“She’s lucky to even be alive, straining that much of her power. I’ll be surprised if she ever recovers fully from this.”

The other healer’s voice was more sympathetic, “She is the daughter of Demeter, betrothed to Hades. She will be fine. Just give her some time.”

“Okay, but if in three weeks I don’t see some improvement, she’s out of here. We’ll send her to end-of-life care in the Meadows. If it wasn’t for her friend, they’d both be dead right now. I heard she transferred some of her power.”

End of life care?

Josephine sat up, tears forming at the corners of her heavy eyes, “Hello!?”

One of the healer’s popped her head into the doorway; curly black hair tied neatly behind her head in a tight bun. Her face softened when her eyes met Josephine’s, “You’re awake. It’s been days, you know. How are you feeling?”

“Days?” Josephine wiped her eyes, ignoring the rumbling cramp in her stomach.

“Yes, days. Four to be exact.” The healer strode into the empty room, moving to sheets of paper that sat just at Josephine’s bedside. She flipped through them, eventually stopping on Josephine’s file. She repeated, a slight sense of annoyance in her voice, “How are you feeling?”

The Trials. Does this mean she was officially disqualified?

“I feel fine, actually,” Josephine responded, feeling the skin on her legs. She felt like she was only out for a day, max. It really felt like hours, if not minutes, “Where’s Persephone? Why’d you remove her from my room? I-I saw you take her just a few—”

“She’s going into her second surgery today. She strained her power so much that roots started to grow in her ovaries, throat, and brain. It blocked her airways. Her body keeps healing around them, causing even more issues. She should be out shortly.”

“Is she going to be okay?” Josephine asked, a sense of urgency in her voice. She allowed one singular tear to drop down her freezing cheek.

The healer looked up at her and away from the paper. She sighed and pulled a chair over, straddling the back and looking anywhere but into Josephine’s saddened eyes, “I don’t know. I’ve never seen a case like this. I’d be lying if I said she was going to be okay. But we’re going to try our hardest.”

Josephine’s heart dropped to her stomach, “I’d like to see her.”

“When she’s out of surgery, you’re more than welcome to speak to her. She can barely speak, so please keep that in mind. Okay?” The healer stood and check Josephine’s vitals, ignoring the fact that she yanked out the IV.

“Okay,” Josephine barely whispered, leaning back in her bed. She couldn’t cry, she couldn’t find any moisture in her eyes to do so. They only watered. What happened back at the ballroom, she didn’t know. But she was going to find out. Not only for her sake, but for Persephone’s. Persephone put others before herself and went out swinging.

Josephine wasn’t going to let that go to waste. 

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Maybe what most people wanted wasn't immortality and fame, but the reassurance that their existence had meant something. No matter how long... or how brief. Maybe being eternal meant becoming a story worth telling.
— Roshani Chokshi, Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality