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The Daughter of War - Chapter 23: Vengeance and Lust

by Leya


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

Chapter 23: Vengeance and Lust

Persephone looked horrible, which was rare. Josephine sat at her bedside, holding the pale goddess’ hand. The Goddess of Spring’s lips were green with shades of yellow, and bloodied stitches ran from her throat, into her surgical gown, and down past her uterus. It was clear, Persephone could no longer bear children. The healer informed Josephine of Persephone’s extent of injury due to the overuse of her power, but Josephine never imagined that they’d bare such saddening news.

The bright overhead lights blinded Persephone as her eyes slowly opened. The healer said it would take thirty minutes for the sleep elixir to leave Persephone’s system, but it’d only been fifteen. Josephine made a shushing sound and gripped her friend’s hand tighter; an assurance that she was never going to leave Persephone’s side. The goddess rustled in the bed, groaning in pain with every movement, no matter how little it was.

“You saved so many people, Persephone,” Josephine whispered, holding back tears. She forced a smile instead, “You should be so proud of yourself.”

“Where’s Hades?” Persephone managed to say, glancing around the room. It hit Josephine that she must be scared. She must feel alone, destined to die here in the Healer’s Den. Josephine was driven not to let that happen.

“He’s not coming,” Josephine said, “He hasn’t come. I’m sorry.”

Josephine was telling the truth. The head Healer, Penelope, made it clear that they’d been trying to reach out to the God of the Underworld, but to no avail. Even Zeus tried, but it seemed that Hades had gone off the radar. Poseidon thought the attack was from Hades due to the timing convenience, but was quickly debunked when Hecate claimed to have been with the God at the time of attack. Nothing made sense, nothing at all.

Persephone’s chocolate eyes dulled at Josephine’s words. The Goddess of Spring didn’t reply, and instead laid back in her bed. She stared aimlessly at the ceiling, shaking her head in disbelief. Josephine decided to change the subject,

“How are you feeling?”

“I feel like shit,” Persephone groaned, pulling at the wires hooked up to her arms. She had no voice; each word came out as a high-pitched squeak from all the tubes that’d been pushed down her throat. Not to mention the two surgeries done on her chest and throat; there was no doubt that her vocal chords had inevitably been damaged from all the procedures.

“Sit back and relax. Stop pulling on these,” Josephine reached for her friend’s trembling other hand and placed it at her side, “you need to push through this. The Healer said that you’re extremely sensitive to infections, so we need to be super careful that we clean everythi—”

“Stop,” Persephone said, her eyes now locked on Josephine’s, “Don’t say ‘we’. This is not ‘we’. This is ‘me’. Now go and finish these Trials.”

“Persephone…” Josephine sighed, “It’s been four days. The Trials are over. Jase won.”

Josephine really didn’t want to tell Persephone that the Trials were over. But she watched Persephone’s face twist into a look of confusion, “What do you mean they’re over?”

“I didn’t wake up in time either… I guess I used a lot of my power to help you survive,” Josephine whispered, her voice shaking, “The Trials ended yesterday. We were one day too late.”

Persephone painfully glanced at Josephine but quicky returned her gaze to the ceiling. She took a minute to contemplate how to exactly to respond, “So Jase won, huh?”

“He came to visit you, you know. He told me not to tell you, but I think it’s worth mentioning,” Josephine revealed. She caught Jase checking up on Persephone just after her surgery. Jase insisted that Josephine kept it a secret, but why would she? If these were the last few days of Persephone’s life…no, she wasn’t going to think negatively.

Persephone didn’t respond to Persephone’s words about Jase, “Thank you for helping me.”

“Thank you for helping me,” Josephine smiled faintly, “Every day of the Trials, you’ve helped me more than you know.”

Persephone’s face tightened and she leaned forward in the bed, finally looking at Josephine with those cold, irritated eyes. The goddess gripped her friend’s hand tighter, “I didn’t know what I was getting into when I asked you to help me in Troy. But, you exceeded every expectation and more. If I don’t make it through this…” her voice trembled, but she held her ground, “…everything I own goes to you. My sword, my knives, my clothes. Okay?”

“No, don’t say that,” Josephine’s eyes finally came to their threshold and tears streamed down her face, “You’ll be fine. Okay? Everything will be fine. I’m going to find whoever did this and kill them myself.”

Persephone flashed a sympathetic smile, “I knew I was going to die this way, Josephine. Remember when I first met you, and I explained that Hades knows how people are going to pass? Well, he told me in bed the night before the Trials. I knew I was going to die in that ballroom.”

Josephine’s eyes widened and her heart became lodged in her throat. Of course, Persephone knew. That’s why she didn’t hesitate to help those people, and it explained why she didn’t stop even when she knew her magic was killing her. Her friend continued, “I was supposed to die, right there and then. But you changed the fates. You saved me, Josephine.”

Was that a bad thing? Now, Persephone would suffer. Persephone knew she was going to die four days ago, she accepted it. Did Josephine stop her from going willfully?

“I’m sorry,” Josephine cried, “I didn’t know. I-I—,”

“Shhh, it’s okay,” Persephone stroked Josephine’s hair, trying to calm her now hysterical friend, “You made me realize that there’s something worth living for. You, Josephine. I’m going to fight. Not because I should, but because I want to. The fact you put your own life in danger, for me… I’ll die sooner or later, but it wont be now. I promise.”

Josephine smiled. She didn’t even think that since Hades was her lover, she’d obviously know of her own death. Hades wouldn’t hide that from her, especially if she’d asked him. She decided that now was the time when she wasn’t going to keep any secrets from Persephone anymore, so she pursed her lips and braced herself for the conversation that came next.

“I-uh… Jase and I kissed,” Josephine started, “in the Underworld. I didn’t want to keep it from you any longer. It was killing me inside. I don’t know how to describe these feelings that I might have for him. I’m hoping you’re not disappointed or mad. Jase has been nothing but good to me. I-I’ve been avoiding him ever since though, I promise.”

Persephone tried to laugh, but the pain overtook her. A light chuckle let out of her lips before she winced and toppled over into the trash bin at her side. Josephine rubbed the top of her friend’s hand with her thumb. When Persephone finished gagging, she finally spoke, “You thought I would be mad? Jase has shown me that he’s changed since we last spoke. He’s… good now. If he makes you happy, go for it.”

Josephine blushed and glanced at her feet, “I’m glad you say that, because I’m going to ask him to help me find whoever did this, starting with your lover.”

“Hades wouldn’t do this. He knew I was going to die that day. He most likely didn’t show up because he didn’t want to see me in pain,” Persephone groaned, “Whoever did this has something against both Zeus and Poseidon. Those were the only two major gods in the ballroom at the time of the attack.”

Josephine thought about it. She didn’t know of anyone other than Medusa who could possibly have bad blood with the two brothers. Although, there were always rebels who went against the rule of Zeus, and may have hired someone to assassinate him. The possibilities were endless.

“I’ll look into it,” Josephine muttered, standing to her feet. She wiped the dried tears off of her face before heading for the door, “I’ll be back to check on you in a day or so. Don’t die on me.”

“Wasn’t planning on it,” Persephone watched her, “Keep me updated.”

“Will do,” Josephine looked at her dying friend a little longer than she normally did when they parted ways. She winked, and disappeared out of the Healers’ Den within seconds.

  ~

Jase sat in the brothel not far from the Grande Hall, celebrating his victory. This was the third—no, fourth—Jase had honestly forgot how many times he’d won the Trials. At this point, they should ban him from joining. He had an unfair advantage being a previous winner. Though, he truly felt intimated by Josephine.

When Jase heard that Josephine and Persephone were injured, he insisted that Penelope allow him to see both of them. She declined, stating that they were better off without distractions as they recover. He finally found a loophole so he could see them after Persephone’s surgery, but found that Josephine was already gone when he arrived.

He spoke to Persephone while she was unconscious, which in his eyes was the best time to talk to the Goddess of Spring. He didn’t need to deal with her yapping and annoyed tone, instead he could pray the Gods for her healing without her insisting that she didn’t need it. Classic Persephone. He got interrupted when Josephine showed up, and did his best to convince her that Persephone shouldn’t know he came. Of course, he knew she would tell Persephone—they were best friends.

Girls danced and twirled around him, Bohdi sitting to his left. Bohdi was his half-blood best friend—courtesy of Hades and some prostitute from Egypt— who lived in the Mortal Lands. When he heard of Jase’s victory, he rushed within a few days to Olympus. They’d been at the brothel for hours, and Jase was starting to get tired. He wanted to go check on Josephine.

He couldn’t get her face out of his head. Those curved cheekbones, that shape. Gods, her shape was heavenly. Jase had meet numerous amounts of Aphrodite’s children in the Underworld, but never considered how naturally beautiful a woman could be. Josephine was different from the others; her face was angelic, and her voice was like a songbird on a windy morning. He missed the feeling of her long, blonde hair on his chest as they kissed; the smooth jus of her lips mixed with the scent of raspberry and snow—

“Jase,” Bohdi nudged him in the ribs, “look at that girl’s rack. I bet she paid a million bucks for those.”

Jase followed his friend’s glance, “Bohdi, that’s a man. The security guard, at that. We should get you back to Grandma’s. You’re shitfaced.”

Jase was used to Bohdi’s drunkenness. He’d also watched the demi-god swallow ten different types of pills and somehow survive.

Bohdi made a face before shaking his head, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m perfectly fine.”

Jase raised to his feet and chuckled, the liquor hitting him too but not as hard. He knew how to handle his alcohol. He teleported them to the Grande Hall, Bohdi landing on Jase’s large bed with a thump.

“Go to sleep, I have someone I need to go see,” Jase threw him a patterned blanket and tossed on a black knit jacket. Bohdi didn’t respond, already passed out and drooling on Jase’s new satin pillowcases before Jase even reached the door. He shook his head, sighed, and adjusted his blazer, pushing the heavy door open with his left hand and locked it behind him. 

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"He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."
— Fredrich Nietzche (Philosopher)