The Struggle (Titan 3) - Page 14

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I hadn’t gone in.

I would not go in.

This place was fucking bizarre.

For what the gods have feared has come to pass.

“Hell,” I muttered, lifting my gaze to the starry night. “You out there, Apollo? Eavesdropping? You hear what that nymph had to say?”

There was no answer, but I laughed anyway. “Out with the old and in with the new, eh? Does that mean your time has come?”

Still no answer.

Not that I expected any of the gods to come within a mile of me now.

I sat for a while and a while turned into maybe an hour or three. Tossing back the rest of the Metaxa, a native liquor, I held the glass up and watched as the crystal folded into itself, evaporating into dust with just a mere thought and an even smaller push of aether.

That was new.

Standing, I swayed a little to the right, my foot knocking into an empty bottle of the spicy brandy. The other was only half empty. I swiped that one off the floor and took a deep drink. Who needed glasses anyway?

I started to walk back through the doors and then remembered that walking was for losers. Smirking, I decided I wanted to go to the room I chose, and I felt my body shift—actually, it felt like all the cells in my body were buzzing apart and coming back together.

Strangest damn sensation.

A second later, I was inside the cavernous room my mother used to reserve for special guests. I still hadn’t gone to my mother’s old chambers. If I went to that room, I’d probably set it afire.

I opened my eyes and cursed. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Another priestess was perched on the ornate bench at the foot of the bed, her hands folded primly in her lap. This one was older, probably somewhere in her mid-thirties. Still beautiful. Her hair was pulled back from her face and left hanging down the center of her back.

And holy shit, she wasn’t a blonde.

Fisting the bottle, I raised it to my mouth. “You have about five seconds to leave this room or you won’t be leaving it in one piece.”

The priestess rose slowly, unlocking her fingers. “Please hear me out first.”

I swallowed the fiery liquid. “Four seconds.”

“My name is Karina.”

“Three seconds.”

A small smile appeared. “I am the head priestess of the Temple of the Appointed.”

Basil may have mentioned at some point that the Temple was called that, and I may have immediately disregarded that piece of information. “Two seconds.”

“And you, Seth the Appointed, are a god.”

My lips twisted into a smirk as I raised the bottle once more. “I might’ve been told that a time or five hundred before.”

A perplexed frown pinched her face. “I do not jest, Kýrios. When you awakened, you fulfilled the prophecy decreed by the Delphi oracles many, many moons ago. You are now a god and no longer bound to mortal whims or obligations. You’ve risen above.”

I stared at her, eyes narrowed. There was something different about her. I might have been slightly intoxicated, but there was a humming to her that wasn’t present with the other priestesses.

“You will usher in the new,” she continued, taking a tentative step forward. “But you must learn what it means to be a god.”

“Is that so?” I murmured, walking past her. Finishing off the rest of the brandy, I set the empty bottle on a dresser.

“You may drink and be merry as much as you like,” she advised. “You may indulge in any manner of entertainment you seek, but you must feed.”

Turning, I lifted my arms and leaned back against the dresser. “What is it with you people and the whole feeding shit? This place is like the opposite of AA.”

She inclined her head to the side. “You do not understand. Did Basil not inform you?”

I exhaled raggedly. “He might’ve been talking and I might’ve been drinking.”

Karina took a small step toward me, and she must’ve read something in my expression because she stopped and stiffened. “You can eat as much mortal food as you’d like, but it will not sustain you now. Gods must feed on aether. You must.”

Aggravation filled my tone. “I am not—”

“You are a god,” she said, green eyes flashing. “And if you are a smart god, you will stop lying to yourself.”

My brows shot up. “Did you just say I was stupid?”

“I said no such thing.” She clasped her hands together.

Rubbing my hand across my jaw, I eyed the massive bed. “You need to go.”

“I cannot.”

My head turned to her slowly. Whitish-amber light crackled over my arms, across my bare chest. The room tinted. “You really do not want to test me.”

Her chin lifted as her nostrils flared. Stupid of her, but brave. “I understand.”

“You understand nothing.” My voice pitched low as I took a step toward her. Only a foot away, a knot formed in my gut. The aether inside her sang to me. My head was already dizzy, but now the room seemed to tilt.

“You are confused. You did not expect any of this even though we’ve been watching and waiting. Preparing. This has all been foreseen.”

Waiting? The humming in my core grew, and the empty hole inside me spread.

“And you are in pain.” She lifted her hand, placing it between her breasts. “Here. You are in a lot of pain in your heart. I understand.”

How did she know? Oh, the whole waiting and watching part. Nice.

“But you still must feed.”

The buzzing cleared long enough for me to say, “I can’t do that.” The back of my throat itched and burned. “It makes me . . .”

Makes me . . . crazy. Out of control.

“You are no longer the Apollyon. You are no longer the child of a half-blood and a pure-blood. You are a god,” she said, taking another step forward. She had to tip her head back to meet my stare. She was short—short as Alex, and she wasn’t blonde or tall or full of curves.

I looked at her and I didn’t see Josie.

Her eyes searched mine. “The Apollyon can feed, but was never meant to do so. When pures feed on one another, it is a taboo and dangerous thing, because they were never meant to do so. That is how a daimon can be created, but for the gods . . . For them, they are surrounded by aether in Olympus. They breathe it. For you, a god existing outside of Olympus, you will need to feed.”

I flinched as she placed her hand on my shoulder.

“You must, and then you will understand,” she said, and her voice echoed in my head, drilled down my spine, and . . . and she looked nothing like Josie.

“You must feed,” she urged, reaching down and wrapping her cool fingers around my wrist. She raised my hand and placed my palm against her sternum. “Now.”

The tightening in my gut lashed out. I moved, curling one hand around the nape of the woman’s neck and my palm pressed in. Every part of my body came alive, like the desert during a rare rainstorm.

I did it.

I fed.

Chapter 9


Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Lying on my side, I focused on simply making it through the lingering pain. The burn of feeding had eased, but with every breath I took, pain lanced my ribs and shot across the back of my head.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

I had no idea how much time had passed since Hyperion had brought me here. A day? Longer? Shorter? My empty stomach rumbled. I was hungry, but the mere thought of eating twisted my insides.

Forcing my eyes open, I wearily scanned the dark room. I could see the forms of the other two prisoners. I wasn’t alone. Letting out a shaky breath, I placed my palm against the dirt floor and winced as I pushed myself up into a sitting position. It felt like my ribs were on fire as I scooted back and leaned against the wall. I’d barely moved, but I felt out of breath and disoriented as my vision adjusted to the low light.

I cleared my raw throat and it hurt. “Hello . . . ?”

Each time I was awake, each time I was alone, I called out to the other two. I never got a response. I honestly didn’t expect this time to be any different. But it was.

Something in the shadows stirred. Clothing rustled against the floor. The form slowly, painfully pushed into a sitting position. “Who . . . who are you?”

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Titan Fantasy