I hate this. I thought, looking at the sobbing boy, not much older than me. "Why? Why would you do this?! I thought you were my friend!" He kept his eyes closed, holding a page that I regretted not throwing away. Hair fell over his eyes, black and white bangs now covering half of his face. He was always smiling, but not anymore. Not until I used a tactic called 'befriend and betray.'
That was my first mistake.
On my very first day with them, I had shown up with a sack of food and tools to help my mission. I looked around, scanning for any kind of threat, making sure I wouldn't be caught. That was the rule of my people. I suppose I did feel somewhat guilty for what I was supposed to do, but it was necessary to keep my mother safe from that devil-man who calls himself the king.
I don't remember doing anything to catch the eye of this boy, but I still did. It was... rather strange that I had stood out when I was supposed to fit in.
"Hello! I saw you from the other side of the pavilion! My name is Alexander Castellanos!" He said. He appeared to look like a puppy. The more I looked at his cute, smiling face, the more I feared for the loss of my vision. He was very, very bright. I reminded myself to blink a few times and said, "I am Persefoni Erebos. It's nice to meet you." I couldn't show emotion. He smiled, partially blinding me once again.
"So... you're here on the quest, right? Since you're new, we can stay together!" I felt myself sigh, nodding. Maybe he'd be my first target. Or could be my alibi to keep someone from finding out. Befriend and betray. It was something my people would use often, but unlike them, I didn't like it.
Those that were on the quest called us over, each introducing themselves. Four were from poor families, three were from a noble home. I felt a pang of stinging guilt in my chest until I remembered my sickly mother's face after finding out that the king had poisoned her.
Mother... I will do as Tyrannus asks. And I will save you.
I prayed to Hades that he didn't send Thanatos for her soul. I shook myself out of my thoughts, trying to push down heavy feelings of guilt that threatened to escape through loud, painful sobs.
I walked by Alexander, occasionally nodding to whatever he said. "Did you know? The gods themselves have chosen us to dethrone that behemoth of a king." Alexander spoke, swinging his sword to emphasize the word dethrone. I sighed, knowing that I would have to be careful around this boy.
Just like that, we remained together. Well, mostly. I am still technically female. While most of the boys bathed (I refused to get anywhere near them), I slipped two spoonfuls of Nyx powder into the waterskin filled with wine. This powder placed a sleeping spell on those who ingested it. I needed it to complete the task that Tyrannus asked of me.
"For my mother..." I uttered, convincing myself that what I was doing was necessary. "Persefoni! Come on! It's the girls' turn!" Called a voice. I nodded, knowing no one was actually able to see. I picked up my stuff, making sure I didn't drop anything. If anyone found out, I wasn't sure if I would be able to save myself or my mother.
After my bath, I dressed quickly in a violet chiton, tying my sandals up. I place the bronze dagger in the sheathe at my hip. I checked my reflection in the river, making sure that I didn't look guilty or fearful. I forced a calm smile.
I walked to the clearing and saw everyone sitting around a fire, meat on a spit cooked while they dropped their offerings to the gods into the fire of a bronze brazier. "To the gods!" I heard Alexander say proudly. "To the gods!" We all repeated. One of the girls stood, taking the only waterskin that was filled with wine, and began to serve the boys, running out on the second male's goblet.
She bowed in apologies, turning her head to the other two boys, Alexander and another whose name I didn't know. I assumed that she was going to offer the rest of us the wine from the jugs. Excellent. She would be blamed for the effects of the Nyx powder.
While I plotted my next plan, the scent of cooked meat grew. I looked up in confusion, staring at a piece that was directly in front of my face. "Oh... thank you." I said, taking it. I pulled a large part from my meat, throwing it into the bronze brazier. Lord Hades. Keep my mother alive. I prayed, worried for the safety of my mother.
An incredibly reckless idea made its way into my mind. I knew what I had to do... I didn't like it.
"Persefoni! You wanna hear a story about how we found out we were chosen by the gods?" Alexander asked. I nodded, not really caring but not wanting to seem strange to the others.
Around two hours later, a groan escaped from one of the two boys who had ingested the Nyx powder. I feigned concern. "Are you well?" I asked. Both nodded, though they seemed to be dozing off. Their heads bobbed slightly. Their eyes were barely open. Less than three seconds later, the two collapsed face-first. Every girl let out a cry of surprise while Alexander felt for a pulse. I held my breath. "They've fallen asleep. That's strange... we all had the same thing to eat..." The other boy cried out, seeing a dark liquid escaping both their lips. "Nyx powder! They were poisoned!" He yelled.
With natural talent, I feigned a look of shock, mixing fear into my expression to make it seem realistic. The other girls looked at the one who had served the wine. "You! You filled their cups! You poisoned them!" One stated. "Wait! No!" The accused stated. Within a few minutes, she lay tied to a tree, sobbing, and begging.
Of course, I did feel bad. But I couldn't focus too much on that. I had a mission to complete. However, I still couldn't get over the dread of the final betrayal.