On our way back to my room, I held a plate of sandwich that Hades had just given me.
“I’m goddess of springtime,” I said to Hades, “while you’re god of the dead. How nice.”
“Why are you so sarcastic?”
“Cause’ I don’t think we’re supposed to get along.” What a lie.
I shook my head, thinking how to answer when there was a loud bang coming from in front of us. My room door was kicked open and Calliope stumbled out, looking horrified and desperate. I ran up to her while shouting “what’s wrong?”
I grabbed her arms and she slammed against me. “She’s gone…she’s gone.”
“Who’s gone?” I asked, confused.
“Selene.” Calliope’s eyes were shining with tears. “She was with me, and then—then she disappeared.” Then she pulled me with her into our room, where there was a slack of baby-blue cloths lying on the floor. “Please help me, Perse.”
I was going to ask “gone where?” when Hades appeared beside us. “You can’t help with anything if she’s faded from this world,” he said.
“What?” I stared at him. Calliope raised her head to look at him in astonishment.
“She’s meant to die,” he continued calmly. “Haven’t you noticed? She was getting thinner and thinner everyday. How could her tiny body withstand her weight?” He looked at me and a series of images flashed across my mind: Selene sitting on the floor, barely smiling at Calliope’s jokes, holding a mug with shaking hands; her eyes and eyelids were bloodshot, and her skin clung to her cheekbone; she looked more like a skeleton with every passing second.
I cringed from those images. Was this just before she…died? I wondered.
“How can you say that?” Calliope cried. “You don’t even KNOW!”
Hades glanced at her with great woe. “Trust me, I know all about it.” A pause. “I wonder who should succeed her place…?”
Then the hallway was filled with silver light. We all looked toward the entrance, from where a figure walked. She was holding a bow that seemed to glow with its own radiance, and when she had come near enough, I could finally see who she was—Artemis, the twin sister of Apollo.
“I, Artemis,” she spoke, the sound ringing across the hall and so loud that many people opened their doors to see what was going on, “am goddess of the hunt, the wild, the maidenhood, and the successor of Selene, goddess of moon.”
(featured image: Untitled, by 张勃云Boyun Zhang)