“Don’t look so down,” Gail said. “You wanted to make a Titan vulnerable long enough for one of the Gods to swoop in and bring them down. And that’s what we did.”
Inés was silent. True, they’d managed to leave Crius vulnerable long enough for Athena to come in and deal with him, but at what cost?
Of those who had gone to battle, the majority weren’t returning. In a sense, Inés was lucky. Her group had mostly survived. All save Matthew, of course.
She glanced at Lynde. Was Hades’ daughter, her cousin, mad at her for the plan? Could she even defend herself if Lynde was mad at her?
Lynde looked directly at her. “t’s not your fault, Inés,” she said. “We all agreed to the plan. Matthew included. we knew it would be dangerous. We just didn’t know how much of a difference there would be between us and a titan.”
“I knew,” Gail said. “But no one listened when I suggested we pull back.”
“Here’s where we part,” Lynde said. “I’m returning to what’s left of my team.” She turned away. “Oh, and Inés. Be wary of that woman.” Inés knew even without the name who she was talking about. “She’ll surely come after you and you’re rejection won’t mean anything to her. I can’t do anything to help. I did make that vow to her. Unless she comes after me or Lina, I can’t interfere with anything she does.”
Inés kept walking with Gail.
“An ominous message,” Gail stated. “You know, I think she really would fight alongside you if her promise didn’t prevent her.”
“Lynde is a good person,” Inés said. “She’s probably worried about what my sister will do.”
“She’s the stupidly heroic type,” Gail corrected. “I suspect you two are alike in that regard. Always sticking your noses into matters that don’t even concern you just because ‘it’s the right thing to do.'” Gail sighed. “Your types don’t tend to survive long. Sooner or later, you get into something too difficult and fall.”
“Possibly,” Inés said. “But don’t you think it’s better to make a difference for as long as you can than it is to just stand idly by while dreadful things happen?”
“I think,” Gail said. “That it’s best to find and hold on to your own happiness and leave the affairs of strangers and acquaintances to them.” Gail looked over her shoulder at Inés. “Just so you know, you’re an acquaintance. Your sister may not frighten me, but I also have no reason to fight her. It’s not worth the effort.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Inés said.
They returned to the barracks to find Sylvie wrapping Serena’s arm while Lilac watched.
“What happened?” Inés demanded.
“Echidna’s children attacked,” Sylvie answered. “Or what was left of them, any way. We managed to drive them off, but Serena fell off of Dusk during the battle and landed on her arm.”
“Broken?” Inés asked, kneeling down to look.
“Sprained,” Sylvie answered. “We weren’t up that high when it happened. Did Matthew go back with Lynde or did he not make it?”
“Died,” Inés sighed. “Lynde tried to carry him to safety, but they were too slow with him weighing her down. So, he sacrificed himself so that she could get away.”
“I see,” Sylvie said.
The next morning, Athena herself arrived at their barracks. She looked over to them.
“The battle is over,” she announced. “The titans are once more confined to Tartarus. those of you who survived will be sent back from whence you came.”
“Finally!” Lilac declared.
“I can transport myself,” Gail stated, vanishing.
Athena turned to her priestesses. “I’m delighted to see that my mortal followers have made it this far.” She put a hand on Serena’s injured arm. A pulse of light passed from Athena’s hands into the arm.
Serena practically tore the wrapping off. “It doesn’t hurt.”
Athena nodded. “I’ll personally send you three and your noble pegasi to Drahaven so that you might complete your task. However, it will not be simple.” She turned to Inés. “You know that she’s going to go after you?”
Inés nodded. “She’s made that clear.”
“What you may not know,” Athena continued. “Is that I can’t directly interfere. In all of Olympus, only your father has the right and he won’t. I fear you stand little chance alone.”
“I’ll help!” Serena volunteered.
“As long as we’re on a pilgrimage together we do need to look out for one another,” Sylvie agreed.
“We’ll fight together and make you proud,” Inés said. “Even if you can’t help us.”
“Don’t be silly,” Athena said. “I said I couldn’t directly interfere. I do, however, have some tricks up my sleeve. Wait at the coast after scaling the mountain barrier when you leave Drahaven. Face her there.” Athena waved her arm and the three priestesses found themselves in a strange void with their pegasi, surrounded by mist.
Athena’s voice followed them. “Remember, wait at the coast. That’s where they will come.”