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The Argive: Gates Of Hades, Chapter III – Achilles’ Decision

After his conversation with his father Poseidon, Achilles have to decide if he trully wants to help the Gods of Olympus. If he is going to pull that deed off, he is going to need the help of his friends. But also, he will seek the help of the one who can see the events that will happen in the future, right into the depths of Delphi

Achilles Talks to The Squad

“Who is with me?” asked Achilles, after telling his team about the mission his father gave him. Nobody moved.

“So, if I get that right” said Dienekes, with a sarcastic look on his face. “Your dear old daddy wants us to risk our necks, so the Gods will continue to live in this nice villa, up on the mountain of Olympus”.

“Hey, show some respect! You are talking about the Gods!” shouted Nikolaos, standing up from his seat.

“With due all respect, Nikolaos, I don’t give a damn about my father thinks or about what he wants. The situation, Dienekes, it’s above Gods and Titans. It’s not just another ruling matter. It’s about the fate of the world” explained Achilles.

“Still” said Dienekes, continuing to argue. “I don’t see the reason to save it”.

“Because we are the idiots who live in it” said Thalestres. “Sometimes I truly think that the only think you know how to use, is this shiny sword of yours”.

“Give the call and I will show you what else I can use…” said Dienekes laughing, causing his brother and Nikolaos follow in laughter. Achilles with a wave of his hand made them stop.

“How about to stop talking about bullshit?”

“Sorry, Achilles, she started it” replied Dienekes. “And I am sorry if my experience taught me something different. The thing that life taught me is, that no matter who rules, or who wants to rule, mind your own business, adapt and survive”.

“I’m with my brother on this” said Aristides, breaking his silence, until this moment.

“Listen all of you. Do not think that I do not know what I am asking here», said Achilles. “It is not an easy task”.

“Well, it is one way ticket to Hades” interrupted Dienekes

“Let me finish, please!” Achilles shouted. “I know that we are not sent against a king or an emperor, like Phillip or Darius. We are sent against a man driven by a God, who gives to him all the power of the Underworld in his hands. But it is our duty. We vowed to protect. We knew about the risks when we joined the Brotherhood. This time would eventually come”.

“You said that we are going against a God” said Dienekes. “You may be a demi-God, Achilles, but you guys and me… Look at us! We are just ordinary people. Maybe some of you gifted with blessings and other stuff, but still. How are we supposed to win the armies of the Undead, or the Colchids, or any of the hideous creatures of the Underworld, that Hades hides in his realm? How are we supposed to beat that?”

“Together” said Nikolaos.

“We are going to lose…”

“Then we are going to do that together, too” Achilles replied. “Listen, if my father thought that we could not pull this off, then he would not come here”. Silence spread among the team. Nobody moved. Then Dienekes stood.

“Well, I have nothing else to do so… Someone has to take care of your godly ass out there”.

“I will come, too” said Nikolaos and stood. Every member of the team followed. All stood… Except from Anthea.

“Well? Will you come?” said Dienekes.

“How could I not?” said Anthea, with her eyes pinned on Achilles. “This team needs some brains after all?”

Achilles looked at them and smiled.

“I am happy to have you guys. Now go and get ready. But be careful, no one must notice our moves”. And looking strictly at Nikolaos, he added. “You will tell nobody, not even the elders. Understood?”

“What will you do?” asked Nikolaos.

“I am going to the Pythia” he said and his face darkened.

Strange New Habits

Never before Achilles did something, without the High Priest or the Elders know about it. But now it was a necessity. Whether he liked it or not, it was a request coming from a God. He opened the door of the Temple. It was night outside. Nobody was there, except two priests. guarding the place. Nobody had seen Pythia face to face, except the Macedonian king Philip and Alexander. They had not exactly good memories from that place. He had heard that, her body was dead for many years, but Apollo cursed her with immortality in her dying body. A gruesome fate. But his mind was made up.

He spotted the two priests and pulled his hood in his head. He would not harm them, but still he was not going to let them identify him. Silently, he sneaked up to his first target. He was holding a cloth in his hand, with some kind of hypnotic liquid on it. With great velocity, he approached him from the back and with the one hand covered the priest’s eyes and with the other, covered his nose with the cloth. Seconds later, he was lying unconscious on the floor.

“Good…” said Achilles to himself. “One more to go”.

Before even ending his phrase, a fireball, hit him in his back. The second priest had found him. He recovered quickly from the hit. He stood and drew his swords.

“Please, do not make me do this” he said to the priest, changing his voice, so he could not be compromised. Instead of an answer, the priest started throwing fire to him. Because of his agility and charisma was able to dodge the attacks.

“I had enough!” shouted the priest and he summoned firebolts. Achilles was stunned and some of the bolts hit him, with the result of his clothes getting on fire. He immediately stood up. In some distance, there were a small pool with water, for the pilgrims’ purification ceremonies. He summoned it and used it to quench the fire from his cloths.

“Impossible…” said the priest looking at Achilles. With terror, he realized that his hood had dropped.

“Why son?” the priest asked, with his voice almost cracking.

“Look, I can explain…” he started, but an arrow was shot, right to the priests’ neck. The priest fell, in a pool of his own blood and urine.

“What the hell…?” he shouted and looked at the position of the archer. Anthea was on the entry of the Temple, with her bow in hand.

“WHY?” he shouted at her.

“He recognized you, he would jeopardize the whole mission! Why just a thank you to be so hard to say?” she said back to him.

“He was a priest, for the Gods! Are you crazy?” he started shouting at her.

“Shut up and be quiet! You will be heard” she said, lowering her voice. “Listen, I will deal with the body, and you just go to your Pythia. Alright?”.

Achilles just nodded and took a look at the old man, lying dead at his feet.

“So be it. I am sorry” he whispered and went down to the dungeon. In its depths, imprisoned, was the Pythia

Achilles and the Pythia

Smokes were raising from the cracks of the floor. As Achilles was going deeper and deeper into Pythia’s dungeon, the scarier it was. Shadows in the walls, voices from spirits, voices from dead people. He was scared from all of these. He would become the one of the very few people who saw Pythia. After a long walk down to the crypts, he finally arrived. In front of him it was a huge, metal door. He made a move to open it. By the time he touched the door, it opened, with a loud sound. He looked into the chamber, but he could not see anything but smoke. He started walking in. There were snakes hissing, all over the place.

“Gods, it is like the Underworld…” he thought to himself.

“This is not a place for the living nor the dead” a loud voice of a woman said to him. Achilles, tried to locate the source of the voice, but he couldn’t, because her voice was all over the place.

The Dungeon of Pythia is indeed like the Underworld…

“This place is a place fit for the Gods. Only they can enter” the voice was heard again, this time from his left. He turned to his left, drawing his sword.

“Who are you?” he shouted. Someone, with great speed attacked him from his back, sending him to the ground.

“The real question is…” the voice said again. “Who are you?”. Then someone jumped on him. He could not see the human figure, but he managed only to see some claws. Achilles tried to fight back, but this little creature on top of him had extreme strength, as it seemed. He was pinned in the ground. He sensed a claw, on his torso, ripping his cloth and his skin beneath. Blood poured from the wound. The figure, with its glitchy hand , took from the blood and tasted it.

“Achilles, son of Poseidon…” the voice said again. “Forgive my insolence”. The figure let him free. Achilles stood, sheathing his sword.

“I am here for the Pythia” he said.

“Are you now?” the voice asked, sarcastically. Then the figure in front of him clapped its fingers. Fire came out of torches all over the room. In his surprised, Achilles found himself encountered with a little girl. She didn’t have ordinary hands, but claws, her body was covered in dirt and blood and she had no eye balls.

“Well, that was unexpected” he said to her.

“Do not be a fool of yourself, son of Poseidon. I am Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi”. Achilles, looked at her, stunned.

“Do not let this form of me fool you. In reality, I am a thousand years old. I am here from the time, my master Apollo put me here”. She came close to him again. “Give me your hand”. Without any question, Achilles gave it to her. She pulled out a dagger and cut his flesh. The poured blood of Achilles was collected in a small cup. Achilles only made a painful grimace.

“Hmmm… You are tough», said the Pythia.

“If only, this was the first time I hear it” he said smiling to himself. Pythia did not answer to that, but he was sure that she made a small smile at the tip of her lips. She them took the cup, and went up to some stairs, leading to the altar, in front of a throne. Pythia sat on the throne. She cut herself in the wrist and put the blood into the same cup. Achilles was about to stop her.

“Do not be afraid, son of Poseidon. I cannot die. No matter how hard I do harm on this body, I cannot be set free. That is my curse”. For a split second, Achilles saw something like grief taking shape on her face. But Pythia immediately stopped it. She mixed the bloods together; she poured some magical powder and starting saying some psalms. As she was saying those words, the ground started shaking and more smoke started coming up from the cracks on the ground. The snakes started to come closer to the throne of Pythia and wrap themselves around Pythia’s feet hands, feet and neck.

Then she took three sips from the cup with the mixed blood and the rest of it, with a rapid move, she spilled it on the altar. By doing that, light came out of her eyes and with a deep voice, not like the one he heard before.

“When death is encountered, with death must be fought. But when the battles are over, then the bless, is a curse”. Then the earthquake and the smoke and the snakes, all stopped and disappeared. The Pythia stopped pouring light out of her eyes and went back to her natural form. Achilles was about to ask about the riddle. But Pythia stopped him.

“I cannot say nothing more to you, son of Poseidon. My master forbids to explain the riddles. You must go now”. Achilles looked disappointed. He turned to leave the chamber.

“You must go to the river Styx, young one. That’s all I can say”. Achilles looked with unease the Pythia. “Go now, son of Poseidon. Go and save us all from the games of fate”.

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