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Odysseus’ Bow – Chapter 2 preview

Tamara and James prepared for the worst. They were going to head to the Caucuses and seek an audience with Pythia. Tamara was uneasy, she had felt guilty about Kameron for two years, and now she was headed back to the area where they had destroyed the Black Magus’ stronghold. Tamara knew that it would take very little to draw the Magus back there, he wanted her dead.
The trip to the Oracle was fraught with dangers, it was one place that they would have to actually travel to, no magic could be used to appear there, not even by the means that Ihk Bin had taught Tamara. It would be a journey filled with dangers and difficulties. Pythia was located at the top of a mountain, deep within the Caucuses and the only approach was by climbing the hill and proceeding with caution. There were no trails, no roads, and no stairs to get to her.
The group of sorcerers traveled by horseback to the base of the rocky slope. From there they took their gear, climbing ropes, and began the ascent up the mountainside. It would take them two days to make the eight thousand foot climb. The way was treacherous, narrow ledges, sharp rocks, and sliding footholds had to be traversed to reach the summit. Once there it would take an additional three hundred foot vertical climb to get to the temple.
When Apollo chose the location, he made sure that only the most devout and determined could reach the Oracle and hear from her. Pythia and her descendants had been here for almost two thousand years, and the visitors had been few. Pythia and the priestesses still spoke ancient Greek and had never heard English before. Fortunately, James McKenzie had accompanied the group, he spoke ancient Greek fluently and would serve as the interpreter for Tamara.
The ascent began at dawn. Tamara, James, Sebastian, Caladan, and two of their apprentices were preparing their gear for the climb up when Apollo and Poseidon appeared at the foot of the ascent and took counsel with Tamara. Apollo told her to be very wary, there were several guardians on Mount Cabados, and they were unusually nasty. On the path to the top, were four trials that must be passed to gain entrance to the temple at the top. The first test was the question of the Sphinx, then they would face the trial of the Nemedian Lion, followed by the Harpies, and finally, they would meet the Stygian Witches. Once they passed the tests, they would then complete the ascent to the temple and see Pythia, the Oracle.
Tamara was dumbfounded. These trials were straight out of a storybook, she looked puzzled, and Poseidon told her that all of the myths that she heard of were real and that during this quest, she and her compatriots would be facing the Gorgons as well. Medusa was still alive? How could that be? Perseus had taken her head thousands of years earlier and then killed the Kraken with it. How she wondered could Medusa still be alive? James told her that even though Perseus had done that, Medusa was a titan, after all, making her immortal, and therefore, once Perseus had destroyed the Kraken, Medusa’s head had been reunited with her body.
Medusa and the other Titans had been part of the Guardians at one time but were cast down with the Fallen for unbelief. They had wreaked havoc for centuries until they were defeated by the Guardians and placed in Tartarus, within the realm of Hades. Hades informed them that Medusa had escaped along with eleven of the other Titans and was free hunting for the Bow. Pythia should be able to show them the right direction to go. With The Magus on the loose, everyone was in danger.
The climb started once the two Guardians left, being armed with the knowledge of what to expect helped, but the journey would be arduous at best. The tests were placed strategically, and failing to pass one would mean certain death. The first test, the Sphinx, would be the easiest of the four to overcome. Oedipus had answered the riddle and caused the original Sphinx to kill herself, this was one of her descendants.
Apollo also told Tamara that this sphinx wouldn’t kill herself if she answered the riddle, her question changed regularly. He had assured himself that the way to the Oracle would always be guarded. Sebastian had been very quiet, James noticed the silence and made a mental note to himself to keep an eye on him. Something was amiss; Caladan also was quiet, but his silence was different, Caladan was not comfortable free climbing the rock face, Sebastian was plotting.
They knew little of Sebastian’s past. When they had met him, he was a sorcerer on his own, a secret member of the Watchers, and had built his own Vault of Knowledge. Caladan had to be convinced to join forces with them in the beginning and then seemed to become an integral part of the group over the five years. He had married a null named Helen, whose father was a Watcher. Now they had two boys, who kept Helen from joining Sebastian on missions, but she was still a valuable part of the group, she couldn’t use magic, but she could detect it.


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