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He thinks I cannot hear him as he creeps through the smoke, sword glistening in his hand. Athena has picked her champion well, for this one is smarter than the others. He stays to the shadows like a snake instead of charging ahead like an angry bull. My snakes tell me his name is Perseus, son of Zeus. A fitting name—I suppose—for a hero. Especially one who will slay the monstrous Medusa.
Death walks beside this mortal man, wings outstretched. It seems my time has finally come. It certainly took them long enough. Hades will be paradise compared to this Hell.
Perseus nears, but I am not quite ready to die. The shadows and stones cloak me as I race through the halls of this temple turned home, the frozen faces of my victims etched with terror. I flee as if I am the one pursued by a monster, which is not far from the truth.
I am afraid of monsters. I always have been. But I know that demons do not wear the skin of beasts. Instead, they lurk beneath human flesh, choosing to hurt those who most need to be helped.
Oh, I know how this legend will be told. I—the wicked seductress turned monster—shall be slain by the god chosen hero, Perseus himself. It is a pity no one will ever know the truth.
No one will talk of Poseidon who violated my very self. Nor Athena, who tore away my life and beauty, twisting it into something other. Something wrong.
No. To most of mankind, I will be the villain of this particular narrative and nothing more. A creature to be feared, not a woman to be pitied.
It scares me to think of how easy it is for man to hate. I did not choose the power forced upon me. I did not choose that night in this temple. I did not choose to fell warriors with a single glance. Mankind does not care. They will hate me nonetheless, afraid of what I could have become. Not now, but before my form was twisted, when I wore a prettier face.
Perseus—clever man—has backed me into a corner. He approaches, gaze on his shield instead of on me.
“I have come to free you.” He says soothingly as if I am a wild animal.
“Good.” I reply, my once sweet voice turned gravely from disuse.
He tells me to close my eyes.
Slowly he moves closer, telling me of life and sky and sea. Talking of the world I have long forgotten. He tells me the story of his childhood, days spent running on the shore and nights beneath the stars. He speaks of his quest to find me and the trials he faced to do so. When I can hear his breath, he begins to whisper of Paradise, of a world free from meddlesome gods.
I can feel him beside me now, his sword whistling through the air. Death flits closer, offering a night kissed hand.
I take it.