“Ouch,” Yeri hissed, jerking her arm back and giving Joohyun a petulant glare.
“Sorry, Yeri,” Joohyun looked down at the angry acid burn on Yeri’s arm, genuinely confused. “I don’t know why the ambrosia I gave you didn’t work…”
“It’s Chimera acid,” Seungwan supplied. The Chimera’s dessicated body disintegrated not long after the battle ended. She had taken someone’s femur and was now poking the pile of yellow dust where the Chimera had once stood. Wisps of green smoke still emanated from the monster’s remains, and when Seungwan pulled the bone back it smoked ominously. She grimaced. “It’s so corrosive that normally-used treatments don’t have an effect on it.”
Everyone turned around as one to look at her, as if she’d suddenly gone and sprouted an extra head. Seungwan blinked. “…And how exactly did I know that?”
“Must be one of your newfound abilities,” Seulgi suggested, pointing up to the moonlight that was still shining into the cavern. “Artemis is a huntress; she’d have to have in-depth knowledge of her prey.”
“So I’m a walking monster dictionary now, great.” Seungwan tilted her head, considering this information. “Why couldn’t I get a useful power like Joohyun’s earth moving or Sooyoung’s berserker rage?”
“Looks like you’re stuck healing it normally,” Joohyun turned back to Yeri with an apologetic expression. “Anyone have any bandages?”
“Yeah, I got some in my backpack,” Seungwan slung her bag over her shoulder and rooted through its contents until she pulled out a roll of bandages with a triumphant grin. “Come here, I’ll fix you up.”
She grabbed Yeri gently by her uninjured wrist and pulled her close so she could take a proper look at the wound. Seulgi was glad they had someone with a lot of healing experience with them, especially since it seemed like she hadn’t inherited a propensity for healing magic from her father. Hell, Seulgi still didn’t quite know what she had inherited from him ability-wise. She wasn’t as proficient in healing as Seungwan, nor was she as good a shot.
“Whoa,” Yeri’s comment caused everyone to immediately hone in on their youngest member.
As soon as Seungwan’s fingertips grazed the injured area of Yeri’s arm a solitary ray of moonlight danced over her fingers and seemed to sink into Yeri’s skin. The wound shimmered and began to knit itself closed until all that remained was a thin white scar.
“Lunar healing,” Joohyun stated, looking at Seungwan with respect. “A rare blessing, according to the Hunters of Artemis. As long as Seungwan has access to rays of moonlight she’ll be able to heal injuries.”
“Maybe you should rethink your previous statement, Seungwan. Artemis kind of rocks,” Sooyoung said.
The five of them backtracked to the chamber they had slept in previously to take a rest and prepare themselves for another day of traversing the Labyrinth. They weren’t able to relax for long however, as their respite was interrupted by a booming voice.
“There you are, little demigods,” a deep masculine voice echoed throughout the chamber. The Greek Fire torches lining the walls winked out one by one until everyone was surrounded in darkness. “For a group that’s already almost died twice you’re quite resilient.”
The torches began to re-light themselves and as the chamber was cast in a green glow they noticed they were no longer alone.
“Thanatos,” Joohyun’s voice was cold, her eyes locked onto every single movement the god of Death made as he stepped closer to them. “What are you doing down here?”
Seulgi stared at the man standing before them. Honestly she thought the god of death would wear something a little more…death-like, not a perfectly-fitted white suit. Four inky black wings protruded from his back, and he fixed them with a gaze that filled them with dread, freezing them in their tracks. What struck her the most was the god’s skin, though it was black like his wings there appeared to be something shifting underneath, as though his entire physical form was made up of human souls.
“You are a remarkably difficult girl to find,” Thanatos frowned at Joohyun. “Though I suspect the Labyrinth has something to do with that.”
“Let me guess, my father sent you to try and stop this quest again,” Joohyun stepped closer to the god, putting herself in-between him and the rest of the girls.
Thanatos’ empty black eyes flashed red as though he resented Joohyun’s remark. “More like checking in. Lord Hades may have dominion over the Underworld but even one as great as him cannot exert dominance over another god.”
He looked them over, eyes raking from one person to the next. Seulgi figured his judgement would be none too kind based on the poorly-concealed scoff of contempt that came out of his mouth. “And it seems my intuition was correct.”
Seulgi found herself bristling at his remark. They’d just slain a Chimera, how dare he talk as though that deed didn’t mean anything? Beside her, Seungwan and Sooyoung glowered at Thanatos – but with ripped jeans, dented armor and monster dust in their hair Seulgi doubted any of them looked like heroes.
“You’re doing this quest with your eyes closed,” Thanatos hissed, twirling his scythe around impatiently. Joohyun clenched her fists and he smirked, leaning in close as if he was daring her to do something as stupid as strike a god. “Your father would be disappointed, Joohyun.”
“As if you could do better,” Joohyun said through gritted teeth. “Oh wait, you can’t because the gods are prevented from interfering.”
Thanatos backed up with a frown. “The world will not wait for you to stumble your way to Persephone, daughter of Hades. War is coming. Olympus has its hands full with your father shirking his duties.”
“Joohyun-unnie is trying, okay?” Yeri said softly, turning to fix Thanatos with a defiant expression.
“She’s not trying hard enough!” he snarled, the wings on his back flapping in agitation. He slammed his scythe on the ground and the earth trembled underneath their feet.
“I don’t think you get just how serious the situation is. While the five of you walk merrily along in this godsforsaken hell maze the Underworld is in absolute chaos. I alone possess neither the power nor the authority to fix the problem. Hades is the warden in charge of souls after their passing, not I. The gods are preparing for war if he does not resume his position.”
Seulgi’s mind flashed back to the nightmare she had before embarking on this quest with Seungwan. The blood, the cacophony of war…Was Thanatos saying that her vision would become reality if they didn’t succeed?
“You can’t expect five teenagers to solve all of this in a day or two,” Sooyoung said indignantly, her anger beginning to get the better of her. Her eyes began to flash erratically. “Even if you can’t directly interfere you should at least be able to let us know where Persephone is being held.”
Thanatos fell silent. He glared at Sooyoung, his red gaze bright enough to rival hers. For a moment Seulgi wondered if the daughter of Ares had gone too far with her statement. Just as quickly as it appeared however, the angry glow faded and Thanatos regarded them with an empty cold gaze that reminded Seulgi briefly of Joohyun when they had first met. “Wherever she is, she is being shrouded from divine view. The magic being used is ancient, much like that of this Labryinth. Impenetrable. Dangerous. We are unable to track her.”
“And unlike you, demigods are dispensable,” Seulgi said slowly. “If we fail, this task is just going to fall on another unfortunate group until Persephone is either found or war breaks out among the gods.” Her stomach sank as she thought about the potential implications of this adventure.
“Exactly,” was his response, as if he expected them to be okay with blatantly being used as cannon fodder. Joohyun had said that the gods didn’t care about their children, but to hear it from a god himself made it that much harder to swallow.
Thanatos’ outline began to shimmer and fade away. “And also unlike me, the five of you hold the lives of countless people in your hands. I suggest you do not fail.”
Seulgi looked over at Joohyun. Shadowy tendrils danced along the shorter girl’s pale skin and she held her head high in defiance as Thanatos disappeared. And it might have been a trick of the light from the flickering torches but Seulgi thought she’d never looked so broken.
Their encounter with Thanatos made Joohyun even more determined.
With Procyon leading the way Joohyun drove them through the Labryinth’s endless tunnels with an almost manic gleam in her eyes. She wouldn’t even