I could see that parts of the house were still standing. Reena’s quarters were untouched because they stood separately from the main house. The more formal living areas were still mostly standing, except for a few cracks and burn marks on the walls. Finally my foot touched the drive and I ran all the way up to Reena’s door and began pounding! “Reena! Reena are you here?”
I went around back to the swimming pond, since it was early evening, she might be relaxing in the waters. “Reena are you out there?” I yelled as i rounded the bend. Already I could see the silvery light of the moon reflecting on the still water.
My heart sank.
“Reena?” I called out loudly, hoping she would hear.
“Pandora, is that really you?” came the voice from behind me.
“REENA! You’re here! She was right, you really are alive! Gods I thought you were dead!” I ran to her and embraced her tightly. Oh how wonderful to see my Reena again. My friend. My sister. My only family.
“Pandora, where have you been? Who was right? Who told you I was alive?”
I told her all about what had transpired since I had opened the box. I told her everything about the massacre in the market, about running in the woods, about feeding on animals, about killing those ladies in the clearing and discovering that I could make others like myself. Then I remembered.
“Oh yes. James, Truth come over here. This is Reena who I’ve been telling you so much about.”
“Aw Truth? What a cute kitty!” Truth rubbed against Reena’s ankles.
“No she’s not, but she’s feisty!”
Reena picked up Truth and cuddled with her,“you’re right, she’s not cute. But she is friendly. And who is James?”
“He was in the marketplace and I found him yesterday in the city, feeding on someone in an alleyway.”
“P-Pleasure to meet you, Reena. P-Pandora has told me wonderful things about you. I’ve been very excited to meet such a wonderful teacher. I’ve only ever heard of t-teachers like you in the p-palaces. How did you come to work here?”
Reena smiled. “That is a story for another time. I’m so glad to meet you.
“Pandora, when I woke and you were gone, I thought you had disintegrated in the explosion. The box was gone and so were you and Lord Epimetheus, Oh Pandora it was so awful to see him like that.
“I think I was out for a couple of days because the smoke was almost gone and the house smelled of rotted meat. I went to town to see if maybe anyone had seen you there. I still hoped. I looked for days, but nobody had seen you and I just knew you were gone. I ate normally, and it tasted far more amazing than food had ever tasted, but the hunger just wouldn’t ever go away. Then it happened to me too. The smell took over and I killed a man. It was only one, nothing like what happened to you, but it scared me.
“I was outside the city when it happened and I was just about to head home because the fragrance was overwhelming me and I wasn’t sure what I’d do. It was such a strange sensation. Then a man rounded the corner. I looked him in the eyes and asked him about you and suddenly his face went blank. He just stared at me. His heart was beating quickly and the smell got stronger and I just couldn’t resist anymore. I took him. I took every last drop.
“When I came to myself, I dropped the man and looked around to see that nobody had seen what I’d done. Nobody was around yet.I tasted blood in my mouth, so I felt around with my tongue to see if I had any wounds. That’s when I found the fangs. I played my tongue around them for a moment, wondering where they had come from. It was strange to find something there that I hadn’t known was there, but it was interesting too. I was fascinated by them.
“Anyhow, I looked back down at the man before me. He was pale and his eyes were still open. He looked just like those people from the market had been described. His dark skin had turned nearly white. It was then that I realized it must have been you in the market, and how terrible for you, nearly a babe yourself, to have inadvertently killed so many.
“I didn’t blame you for running away and I hoped you’d return to me, but I didn’t think you would. You were so sensitive and loving from the day you came to us. I knew you hadn’t taken it well.
“Anyhow, I wanted to hide what I’d done, so I took the man into the woods and hid him there. I went back into town to see again that nobody had noticed the man missing or that I had taken him into the woods. I thought to tell them that he’d been drunk and needed help getting home, but nobody was around when I returned.
“I began the journey back home only to run into Apollo just on the outskirts of the city. What an annoying man, and to think he was named after the Sun God! Someone needs to teach him who his namesake is!”
“Y-you mean, you know the Wizard, Apollo? Is h-he really annoying?”
“Yes, that’s who she means. So what happened with Apollo?”
“Oh you know how he is. He told me how inevitable it was that we’d be together and asked if I wanted to return to his bed with him.
“I told him I had no interest in joining the masses who’d graced his bed. Of course he pretended the comment hurt. I told him I really must be going and I headed back this way.”
“Reena, if we can turn others, maybe we should check to be sure the man you killed is really dead. Do you think you could find where you put him again?”
“Sure. I remember exactly where he is. We’ll go check tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow night. James here has a tough time in daylight.”
“He does? How so?”
“We’re not sure why, but it makes him very weak and he can only tolerate it for very short times.”
“Fascinating. Okay tomorrow night we’ll go check on the man. Tonight, we rest, get to know James, and try to decide how to find those ladies from the clearing in the woods.”
We settled in to Reena’s quarters for the night. Truth curled up in my lap and rested her head on Reena’s knee. Reena had set a fire in the fireplace and we all talked for a while.
James was actually only 12. He had been at the marketplace with his mother, shopping for dinner. His mother was dead, and his father had been off on a journey. He didn’t know when his father would return and he worried what his father would do when he found his wife and were dead. They didn’t have any other family and his father had been a very devoted husband and father.
It made my heart-sick to think of what I had done to him and his family. I supposed now there was nothing I could do about it, but I still hated that I had caused all this pain. Yes, the gods created me to be cunning and beautiful, deceitful and persuasive, but they also gave me a heart. I didn’t like all the gifts I was given, Reena had taught me that lying wasn’t always a good thing, and I believed her.
This left me with a dilemma, of course. How could I help James? How could I help his father, and all those others whose lives I had affected? I was thinking on these things when I realized James was talking to me.
“Wha? Oh sorry, I was thinking about the past few weeks. What were you saying?”
“I was asking if I could stay with you two. I don’t think I can go back to my father. I’d love to, but he’s going to think I’m dead and I can’t explain to him how I can’t go out in daylight anymore or even how I survived.
“Reena, what do you think?”
“I had been thinking there was no other choice. He’s right, he really can’t go back to his father. It would be too difficult to explain. He must remain with us.”
“James, welcome to the family!” Reena and I both leaned forward to embrace him. It really was the only choice. I’m glad Reena agreed.
We’d talked well into the night and still hadn’t discussed how to find those ladies from the clearing. I had to think of a way to find them. “Reena, do you feel anything different now that we are around?”
“Like a humming or vibrating in your chest, maybe?”
“No, I can’t say that I do.”
“Honestly, I don’t feel it from you either, only from James. Maybe it’s because he carries my blood. I felt it in the clearing too, when I found those ladies. It was much stronger there, and a bit different. I’m not sure how to explain it. Really I wasn’t paying much attention. I was too horrified to think much about anything other than getting out of there.”
“It makes sense though. There are a lot of new abilities you have now that you’ve changed, maybe this is another one you haven’t quite discovered yet. You can feel the vampires you have created.”
“True. I guess I should go back to the clearing and start from there. See if I can sense anything. Check neighboring villages and such.”
“Let’s head there after we check on the man I left out in the woods. I believe I need to feed again too while we are in the city.”
“D-Dawn is coming. I think can f-feel it.”
“Hmm, fascinating. It appears that his sun sensitivity is due to his change, but if that’s the case, why aren’t we affected?”
“There are so many things we don’t know yet. I guess we will find out eventually. Let’s find a place for James to rest.”
Reena and I didn’t really need to sleep, but we did rest for a couple of hours. We woke up about three hours after James had fallen asleep and started to clean up the main house a bit more. Reena had already done a lot of work and, apparently, she had finished burning my Epi. I was sorry I hadn’t done something more for him, but I couldn’t look back now. We had too many things to do and too many things to learn.
We were just getting into the bedroom area where the explosion had started when a man, Epimetheus’s keeper of books, arrived. He yelled for Epi, but I answered instead. “I’m sorry, sir, but Epimetheus is dead. He didn’t survive the explosion.”
“You–you killed a Titan? I didn’t think it was possible, though I’d had my suspicions after I saw the house a few days ago. Nobody had answered then and nobody has heard from Epimetheus since. I really hoped I’d find him today. Now I shall have to report to Prometheus that you have killed his brother. He will not be happy about this.”
“Killed—I killed Epimetheus? I suppose I did, but he was trying to save me. I didn’t know it would kill him. I really had no intention of hurting anyone, I just wanted to see what was in that cursed box that Hermes? gifted me with. He ran to save me, but the box exploded and took him with it.”
“You mean to tell me that the box exploded in your hands and killed Epimetheus and yet, here you stand, completely unscathed?”
“Dear sir, that is exactly what happened, I saw it with my own eyes. Epimetheus threw himself on the box just as Pandora opened it.”
“So, let me get this straight, madam. The ‘box’ to which you are referring, exploded right next to you, Pandora, and close enough that you, Reena, witnessed it, yet the Titan god is dead and the human and the god-child stand here today?”
“I suppose it does sound unbelievable when you say it like that, but yes sir, that is what has happened here,” said Reena.
“I have to go, I must report this to Prometheus at once! He will not be happy to hear that you have killed his brother,” the man said as he ambled off. I heard him mumbling as he left, “killed a Titan by accident. No way Prometheus will ever believe that. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes when he finds out about all this.”
“Pandora, he’s right. What will Prometheus do with us once he knows we killed his brother. We can’t fight a Titan!”
“Reena, we can’t panic. We have other things we need to worry about right now. Prometheus will just have to believe me. There is no other option.”
“You’re right. Prometheus knows that gifts from the gods can be unpredictable, and he had warned Epimetheus about accepting gifts from Zeus. I just hope he doesn’t think you are the gift that Zeus sent to kill him.”
“Let’s just find the others and see what we can do about and for them and we’ll talk to Prometheus afterwards.”
As soon as the sun set, we, the unlikely trio of vampires left, with a scraggly cat trailing just behind us. This time, due to the time constraints of daylight hours for James, we kept a faster pace. Often I would carry Truth so we could run at full speed. It only took two and a half hours to make it to the city. Reena then led the way from there. Then man was where she had left him, thankfully, although a bit worse for the wear. Apparently he’d been dinner for a few creatures over the past few days. Still, we were relieved to find him still there and not turned into one of us. Next we had to find the ladies that I definitely did turn.
Reena carried Truth this time, and we made it to the clearing in only a couple of hours with me leading the way. James couldn’t hold the pace much longer, so he was glad we arrived when we did. The clearing was empty now. I kicked a stone and swore. “Now what?”
Athena appeared just then. James and Reena jumped and fell prostrate before her. I bowed as well, but this time I wasn’t as shocked as the first time.
“You can feel all the ones you have turned, you simply must quiet your mind and seek them out. It may take you a while to discover them all and distinguish them, until you have found them and until you know how many there are, but you can do this. But that is not why I’m here.
“I’m here because you have more than one enemy now. And more will come. You must be prepared to battle. Find what allies you can. Prepare quickly. Time is short.” She vanished as quickly as she had come.
“Oh dear, Pandora do you know who that was?”
“Of course I know, I’ve seen her before. More than once.”
“You have? Oh yes, I suppose when you were created, but when else?”
“I didn’t tell you? She was the one who had told me you were alive. Well, she didn’t tell me directly, but she told me there were two mothers. That could only have been you, I thought. It helped me come back to my senses and to come and find you. I’m not sure what I would have done had she not shown up when she did.”
“James, are you okay?”
I patted James on the head and Truth meowed loudly, rubbing on his ankles. Apparently she was not pleased she had been dropped and no longer wanted Reena to carry her. “Yes James, that was Athena. She seems to have taken a liking to me, and Zeus has allowed her to help me out since Epimetheus didn’t survive the explosion. Apparently that had been his goal all along…to kill my Titan.”
“Oh Pandora. Pandora, I didn’t realize. I’m so sorry. How awful for you,” Reena said.
I waved her off. Now wasn’t the time to dwell on things we couldn’t change. “I need a moment here. I’m going to try to quiet my mind like she said. Maybe I can hone in on the others.”
Reena and James gave me some space, stepping out of the circle there. Yes, the pillars were set in a circle. I stood in the middle and tried to quiet my mind. Tried to connect with that humming within me and maybe sense the others.
After a few moments I felt three separate, distinguishable hums, other than James. There were more, but those were the only ones I could differentiate as yet. I focused on those. They seemed too all be to the north, two were not far from where we now stood. I decided to head in that direction to see what I could find. Maybe, just maybe, the ones I found would know where to find and how to direct me to the rest. I had to try.
“I feel some to the north of here. Let’s head that way and see what we can find.” The troops rallied and followed me at a normal, er more human? pace. Truth pranced happily beside me.