- "have you come to seek wisdom?" eris' eyes blaze in her skull as she smiles, all bright white teeth and menacing goddess.
your fingers wrap tightly around the torch in your hand. you know better than to show that you are afraid to a goddess who does nothing but feed off of fear and chaos. penny still flutters in your mind, disturbed and frightful of her. she has never encountered a goddess such as this, and it is your duty to make sure that eris does not find a chink in your shared armor.
you do not have to taunt eris with her defeat at the hand of so many heroes, so many determined amazons. you do not need to tell her that order will assume or that unleashing her will on an unsuspecting populace was foolish and failed.
you are wiser than that, more learned than perhaps any other amazon in history now. gods do not play simple little games with mortals; they play chess in their own divine ways that mortals take centuries to unspool, if they are lucky. and if they are not lucky, they never learn the traps.
you are lucky, in a way, that you can spot a trap. and perhaps unlucky that the gods are fully aware that you can spot a trap.
you take a step forward.
eris smiles wider, and you know that she has read your mind or understands what you mean to ask. she does not answer--only winks away before you can say more.
the wind shifts. you feel cold seep into your bones.
- the soil here is stained with blood, smells so dank and poisoned that your eyes water. your arm hurts where the snake sank it's fangs into you so long ago. you fall to your knees, but you do not leave. the tree is there, bark gnarled and dark where your hand touches it. a month ago, you stared into eris' eyes as she retreated in defeat.
here and now, you smell that slice of hell you inhabited for a short time. you taste the ash that your warmonger self had kicked up and deep within yourself, you feel vestiges of her respond to the air around you. you want to stand, to venture deeper. you have to see, you need to see the prison for yourself, want to confirm what you think you know.
miasma gushes toward you. wraps itself around your body. penny begins to panic in your shared space--she's the one who takes control and cups a hand over your nose and mouth. she's the one who has the courage to turn around and run back up away from the miasma and rotten soil.
the sun hits you--your hand pulls away from your mouth.
your legs and knees wobble, and the green grass comes rushing up to your face.
- there are things happening that you cannot put words to, as diana or penny. there are things that are in motion that you cannot see. gods play games with themselves and with mortals. the way eris smiled at you, you do not trust. the way eris retreated after so many defeats, leaves you suspicious, and not calm.
you don't want to put a name to it. you don't want to believe that what you felt in the soil, that the part of you that you had comes to term with stirred deep inside of you.
as penny, as diana, you are not in the habit of lying to yourself or others. you make plans for more heroes to join you--and you also start to prepare yourself for the possibility that what eris did was merely a distraction, a prologue to someone greater than herself.