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OUT OF TIME - Part 2

OUT OF TIME - Part 2 by Rick Haynes

The blue above quickly disappeared as a swirling mass of grey flecked clouds surged across a black sky. A flash of intense whiteness turned the dark briefly to daylight before the shadows quickly returned. Celena cowered to the earth as the three sisters chanted loudly. Their singing seemed pointless, yet when they ceased only a gentle breeze remained.

“Tell me again what I must do.” Celena shook as she spoke.

“Come with me child and I’ll show you something to ease your fear.” Hera held out her hand and as Celena made contact the thrill of ecstatic power surged through her body.

“What was that?”

“Your new beginning.”

Time stopped. Quiet prevailed. Energy unfolded.

Hera led the way towards a large cave. Stacked against the cold stone was an array of weapons. With confidence growing like a recently fledged bird, Celena picked up a long silver dagger. The blade shone like a new moon, blue, cold and deadly.

“A good choice, my child. Let me strap it to your waist.” Hera took a step backwards. “Your confidence is growing. The blade is sharp but you need another weapon to succeed. Follow me.”

Without hesitation, Celena followed Hera. She briefly wondered where her two sisters had gone but the thought quickly vanished. Her purpose was to kill the dragon and live. Nothing else mattered. Being afraid never crossed her mind now.

Pulling back a spider-infested cover, Hera pointed towards a large chest underneath. “Open it,” she commanded.

As lifting the lid proved difficult for Celena, Hera helped. Inside lay an old bow and a sheaf of arrows in a dusty bag.

“Pick it up, feel the weight,” Hera whispered to Celena.

Celena picked up the weapon. Immediately, the bow seemed to be an extension of her arm. She notched an arrow and loosed without thinking. It sliced through a metal shield and buried its head in the wall of the cave.

“Now you are ready to kill the dragon. Strap the bow to your back and keep the arrows in the bag. Only you and I can see what you carry. No longer are you a terrified child for you are now a fearless warrior. Remember, if the dragon flies over the hedge he dies and if the beast stays low, you will kill it with one single shot. Are you ready, child?”

“Yes!” Her roar echoed off every wall.

“Then follow me.”

Celena blinked several times as she emerged from the cave. Her cautious walk had vanished. Instead, she walked tall, her back stiff, her face full of determination as she neared the maze.

Hestia and Demeter are sitting astride two giant eagles. They wave as she passes urging her to victory. The old, the young, the wounded and the crippled are now ringing the maze in their thousands.

Without any thought or fear, Celena climbs. Atop the lush greenery, she can see faraway volcanos spewing ash and rivers full of molten lava. She hears a fanfare of trumpets and Hades returns.

“I see a spark in your eye, Celena, and a bow in your hand. No doubt my sisters have defied me but who am I to judge you?” Hades waves for silence before shouting to those watching. “Now, let us proceed with the fun.”

As the noise erupts all around her, Celena briefly holds her hands over her ears. She sees the three sisters nearby. All three are waving. She looks around. The dragon is flying to the south, circling, coming closer. Her hands shake. She notches an arrow to her bow. The dragon flies overhead. She fires.

The arrow misses. She hears cackling laughter nearby.

“The dragon flew over the hedge, you’ve tricked me,” she screams.

“Naturally,” the ugly sisters laugh as one. “Our lovely brother, would never forgive us if we didn’t obey his commands, would you, Hades?”

“No!” The sound carried to the distant mountains and all the Underworld trembled.

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