“Tell Perseus he’s a pussy,” Stheno yelled, disembowelling another one of his men. His partner just stood there in terror, looking through his mirrored shield.
Stheno moved in closer to him, her snakes writhing on her head. She raised her sword at him, the tip dripping blood. “I said-”
The soldier just bolted off and ran, not looking back.
Stheno threw her arms in the air. “Dammit, I had another good one-liner. Now the moment is gone,” she said, panting from the exertion of killing all these mortals.
“Who are you talking to,” her daemons said in breathy whispers.
“Nobody,” Stheno shrugged. “To the poets who will recite this battle, I guess.”
“Nobody is listening,” her daemons said. “You are simply ill of mind.” “Malakia,” another of her daemons hissed.
Stheno gritted her teeth. “I fucking hate you guys,” she said, and lopped off the head of a fallen soldier.
“Feeling better?” her daemons taunted.
“No!” Stheno kicked one of the careless ones who got turned to stone by her gaze. He toppled down the stairs and shattered into a million, very satisfying pieces.
“Are you feeling better now?” her daemons asked again.
“Still a no. Not until I kill that fucker Perseus,” she said, spitting on the floor after she said his name.
She slithered upstairs, using her serpentine lower-half of her body to push through the barricades. It was a valiant effort by Perseus’ men, but the coward was hiding behind his army instead of just facing her like a man.
“It’s a good think Evryali refused to come with,” Stheno said, looking for a good piece of bronze.
“It didn’t seem like that when you were screaming in her face,” her daemons said.
“Well, yeah. I was angry. But now I’m glad I don’t have to take care of her too. Doing this alone is far better,” Stheno said, and found a good spear tip she could use. She then jammed it inside the barricade and pushed it to the side, making a lever.
“You’re doing it wrong,” her daemons said.
“Shuddup!” she grunted as she pushed on. The spear snapped and without any pushback, she fell on her face. “Ow!”
“Told’ya,” her daemons said.
“I hate you guys,” Stheno said, rubbing her face. Then she simply screamed at the top of her lungs and slashed at the barricade until it splintered, deteriorating into rubble. With a few good punches and elbows, she got through.
“That was inefficient,” her daemons noted.
“It got the job done.”
Stheno went inside the inner palisade of the palace. The place looked abandoned recently, which it kinda was. Mortals tended to flee in terror when a Gorgon was coming for vengeance. Well, they should.
Stheno checked a few of the corners for traps and archers before going in. She may be angry, pissed off out of her mind and seeing red right now, but she wasn’t a vlaka. She had fought enough battles to know that the mortals could come up with ingenious tactics and traps when they worked together.
She wasn’t going to fail her sister. Not again.
She moved further in, avoiding the piles of grain and the bales of hay. A donkey sniffed at her, still tied up, left to die. Stheno averted her petrifying gaze and forced her snakes to look away. There was no need for the beast of burden to get turned to stone. It was just a loyal animal, breaking its back day and night, providing for the mortals.
Medusa would have wanted her to spare it, so she did.
Stheno took a path that kept her out of sight of the donkey and found a double door. She put her hands on her waist, looked up and appreciated it. “Now this… This is proper fortification, not like the pieces of timber from before.”
“Great. You admire their door. How are you gonna get through it,” her daemons asked.
Stheno scratched her head, making her snakes unhappy. They hissed and snapped their jaws at her hand. “I don’t know, actually. Perhaps there’s a key somewhere?”
“By the gods, you’re such a vlaka,” her daemons said, insulting her. “Is wielding a sword all you know in this immortal life of yours?”
“I dunno,” she mocked. “Is bothering me all you know in this immortal life of yours,” she mimicked their whispy voices.
“The door is still shut,” her daemons said helpfully.
“Gee, thanks. I hadn’t noticed the ENORMOUS DOUBLE DOORS IN FRONT OF ME!” she screamed, punching it. It rattled in its hinges. “Hey, maybe there’s a secret knock?” Stheno tried out a couple of popular tunes. Knock knock. Nope. Knock-knock-tap. Nope.
“I seriously doubt-”
“Shut. Up.” Stheno rested her forehead on the door, sighing deeply. “Why is this so hard? I just wanted to go in there and kill Perseus. That’s it. I didn’t really wanna kill anyone else. But the coward keeps sending people at me!”
“There’s no one here,” her daemons noted.
“I know that! I’m just giving a dramatic moment of introspection for the bards. Sheesh, now the mood is gone. Moving on. What do I have?”
“A donkey,” her daemons said.
“Yeah, I know. But what else?”
“A donkey. And some hay.”
“Yes, yes, you said that. But what could I use to bring the door down?” she hummed, tapping her chin. Her snakes writhed on her head.
“I got it! All by myself!” Stheno yelped, punching the air. Then she carried a ball of hay onto the side of the door. Then she went back and brought a mirrored shield from one of the fallen soldiers. She held it up and approached the donkey. “Here, donkey donkey. Here. Stay calm,” she said, petting it.
It sniffed and licked her hand.
“Ew. Okay now, I’m gonna tie you at one of the hinges, and I’ll need you to just do your thing and pull, okay?”
The donkey sneezed in her direction.
“I’m gonna take this as a yes.” Stheno tied up the donkey’s rope into the door hinge and then set the ball of hay in front of it. “Come on, donkey, move.”
“It doesn’t seem to be hungry,” her daemons said.
“What? Nonsense. Look at this tasty hay. Look,” she ate some and chewed it. “Ptchoo. Ew, that’s earthy. But you like it, don’t you? Don’t you? Come on, donkey, come for the fucking hay, I ain’t got all day. I got Perseus to kill. He killed my sister, yes? He decapitated her, that fucker. And now I’m gonna decapitate him, yes? Now go and eat that hay!”
The donkey didn’t move.
“I’m gonna petrify you,” Stheno said, looking at the donkey’s reflection through the mirror shield.
The donkey snorted.
“Okay, that’s it.” Stheno went around the back side and pinched the ass’s ass with her sword. It kicked wildly and ran away, tearing off the hinges in a big crunch.
“That wasn’t very efficient, either,” her daemons said.
Stheno said, “You think?” and then straightened herself from her being thrown across the room and into the hay, snake tail up and head down on the dirt. She then pulled the hinges and the door came crashing down with an extremely loud THWACK.
A bunch of terrified mortals were behind the door. They wielded swords and spears and knives.
Stheno grinned, showing her pointy teeth. “Finally,” she said, and charged them head on.
“You will not get your revenge,” her daemons said.
She cleaved through five mortals. “Why in Hades not?”
“Because it always has been that way,” her daemons said.
She hacked a man in two halves. “Says who?”
“Says the poets. And the scribes. And the men who write those myths,” her daemons said simply.
She took arrows on the back. “Argh! And who are they to judge?”
“They sway like a twig under the wants of the crowds,” her daemons said.
She lost two snakes from her head, she screamed in pain and petrified two mortals. “Are you telling me he survives? That filthy killer survives?”
“Yes,” her daemons said laconically.
She kept on killing in a whirlwind of blades, but kept silent. Her daemons never gave such a short answer. They always had more things to say, being creatures of intellect and knowledge.
“Stheno?” her daemons asked, a tinge of worry in their voices.
“What? I’m busy killing these mortals.”
“Why are you carrying on?” her daemons asked.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s pointless, fate foretold, set in stone, all that skata. I heard you,” she waved them away, then flung a spear and skewered two mortals at the same time.
“This is illogical,” her daemons said.
“You guys don’t have a sister, do you?” she hissed, blocking three incoming swords with a swipe of her tail.
“No, we do not,” her daemons said.
“Well, if you did, you’d understand why I have to do this, no matter what fate says,” Stheno panted, taking in more hits. She had wide gashes all over her body now and bled from a dozen places.
“We understand,” her daemons said.
Stheno hissed the next words, “No, I seriously doubt that.” She killed the last two men, they had been huge and it took her a few seconds more to slay them.
And then there was Perseus. He gulped, looking at her through his mirrored shield.
“That’s the shield you used to behead my sister,” she said, pointing her sword at him. It had dents on the blade, and blood from a dozen different men was still gleaming all over it, dripping in thick lines at the floor.
“I-Uh, no,” the coward stuttered.
Stheno spat blood on the dirt. “How can a coward like you be considered a hero?”
“I-uh… I have my ways,” Perseus said and donned a cap. The cap of Hades.
“No!” Stheno shouted at raised her hand to stop him.
It was too late. Perseus vanished.
“No… I was so close…” Stheno whimpered, her tired shoulders slumping. Her snake heads died severed on the floor. She just noticed her tail was slashed at the tip. And she snapped two arrows embedded in her back.
“We told you, Stheno,” her daemons said. “This is how the story goes.”