Author Topic: The Quests  (Read 1893 times)

Brenton OConnor

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The Quests
« on: February 09, 2014, 11:37:17 AM »
[size=9]((Originally posted by Eris))[/size]

Even with all the sweet promises of a good massage and roll in the hay, once back at her apartment, reality was a bitch. Brenton was broken in a few spots and Eris was completely wiped out. So much much so, she was out cold as soon as her head hit the pillow. She'd stay in a semi-comatose state for three days. Unresponsive. The only proof she lived was the slow rise and fall of her chest and warmth of her skin.

Brenton wouldn't be alone though. When were they ever truly alone? After a few short hours, the front door would open with the use of an illicitly gained key card. The 'intruder' could be heard rustling with paper bags, shoving things in the fridge, whistling and pressing buttons on the microwave which would soon fill the apartment with the smell of Chinese food. Sweet and sour chicken to be precise.

Hope Brent wasn't naked since Eros rarely bothered to announce his presence. An armful of orange roses entered the bedroom before he did, whistling up a storm as if nothing was amiss. "These are for the lovely lady. Her favorite you know. Help her feel better. I also have some dinner in there for you..she won't be needing any yet you see..but, when she does, I stocked the place with all her favorites." Placing the flowers in a huge vase by the bed before taking a look at the patient. "Tsk, tsk, tsk..who'd have thought the Queen of Calamity could be put out of commission. Well, aside from when she believed you'd want nothing to do with her..you know, after finding how who she really was." Flopping in a chair by the window, shaking his head with a fond smirk on his face. "Ah, yes...that girl wanted nothing to do with anybody. Poor dear. Ate a whole gallon of rocky road ice cream with a few bottles of Jim Beam. I wouldn't think that combination went together; but.." Shrugging. "Not saying that to her. She was a grouch. Would have killed anything that moved. Even me! Now look at her..so tiny and fragile." Was he irritating the boyfriend? Probably. Just Cupid's way of showing he cared. "How're you doing? Anything broken? Need it fixed?"

The third wheel would only have to be endured for an hour or so before getting called back to Olympus. Wasn't suppose to be visiting her in the first place. Seems he rarely listened to the Big Man's rules. "Don't leave her alone." The warning was one of the few times Eros came across as serious. Dead serious. "Eris is vulnerable right now. Until her body mends, she's totally defenseless. If you have to leave, call out for me and I'll take over guard duty."
_________________________________

By the time Eros returned to Olympus, Zeus was in the meeting hall with his wife for a heated discussion in how to handle their 'little problem'. As usual, he and Hera were on opposite sides of the fence.

"The man has to go! She can't become the happy housewife and ignore her duties any longer. He's a nuisance, like squirrels or pigeons, and this relationship has to stop. Eris belongs here. Period." Rattling the floor with the power of his fist slamming against the throne arm.

Hera sat at his side, seemingly bored and more than a little amused by his incessant rantings of late. "Oh poo. You're just mad he saved her and she didn't die. Thus, you're contract still stands. Besides, she's never ignored a request, even while on this little adventure. I think you're worried she's found an equal. If any children occur from this pairing, you fear how powerful they will be." Eyeing her nails. Was time for a manicure. "Personally, I'd enjoy the pitter patter of little feet."

"EQUAL!" There was not a single soul in the vicinity who dare so much as breathe when Zeus lost his temper. He was losing it now. "There is no equal to us! He's a human.." Snarling out the last word in disgust. "The man is in no way deserving of the right to lay hands on one of my children, much less procreate with her."

"Technically, she's not your child..Eris is your creation. Big difference, love. And, from what I hear, he may not be fully human. I mean, the man has bested demons twice in defense of her. I don't think a mere human could do so barehanded." Bored with this argument, Hera rose to give her grumpy hubby a kiss on the cheek. "Why not test him? See if he's worthy? Three challenges should be a good indication of his ability and love for her..yes? Like the good old days. Put him through his paces. In the end, he gets the girl or you get rid of him."

He had to think on that a bit. Hated to admit his wife was right. She'd just given him the best way to kill off the pest. "As usual, you are the voice of reason and opportunity. I shall put this boy through his paces. If he fails...well, let's just say I won't have to worry about his interference again and.."

"and if he doesn't, you are never to try to do harm to him or interfere with their relationship again. The test starts when she awakens. That is my rule. If you break it, a few month as a jackass will seem like a heavenly vacation compared to what I will do to you. Do you have that in writing, Eros?" Yep, Hera was always prepared. The Messenger was also a great record keeper and around when needed for such a time as this.

"That I do, my lovely lady. He'll not be worming out of this one." The document was sealed with a wax stamp and magically dispersed to the archives for safe storage.
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

Brenton OConnor

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2014, 11:37:47 AM »
The boyfriend was, in fact, slightly annoyed, but only because this other man decidedly knew much more about Eris than he did. Having someone figuratively slap you in the face with the fact that you didn't quite know how to take care of the woman you loved as she lay, comatose, on her bed wasn't exactly what Brenton had wanted to hear right about then but, surprisingly, he swallowed that pill with grace.

He gave a few grunts for responses as Cupid rambled on, although he listened intently, tucking away tips and facts here in there for later use. When he was asked if he needed fixing, he simply waved a hand. Even though he looked worse for wear, he wasn?t entirely broken. He could fix himself, eventually, but that would mean heading back to his own place. But after Eros? determined warning, he decided that it would wait. Eris was much more important, after all, than a few broken ribs.

He was good at playing watchdog, having learned from the best of the best. Every now and then he?d check on her, touching her forehead and cheeks, feeling for that lingering warmth and the push of hot air as she breathed. He only left her side to get something to eat, and only once for more than three minutes to take a scalding hot shower. Otherwise, he remained slumped in an armchair nearby, watching and waiting.
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

Brenton OConnor

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2014, 11:38:59 AM »
[size=9]((Originally posted by Eris))[/size]

Brenton shouldn't let any of the nosy biddies get to him too much. They'd known Eris for more years than most people could count. Despite that, she preferred his presence more than that of her so called 'family'. Had she been awake, Mr. Cupid would have been plucked, stuffed in the oven and baked to a crisp for the intrusion. He would not be the only intruder today.

Just after dusk of the third night, the entire apartment would fall into darkness. So pitch black was the room, eyes would not even begin to adjust to the change. Heavy footfalls fell hard against the tile floor, softening as they traversed onto the carpeted bedroom. "Brenton, you've been summoned to Olympus by Zeus, himself. I need you to return with me now or risk her death." The man behind the voice did not believe Eris chosen would be so foolish as to jump at the first threat of her harm. With no knowledge of who was doing to talking or why the request was even made, t'would be quite foolish to do so. Still, more people than not did just that. Running right to their deaths. He'd wait just the same.

If, as the dark stranger assumed, Brenton refused, the lights would come on and he'd find the massive form of Ares standing there decked out in black leather pants, boots and vest which allowed the massive, rippling of muscles to be seen. His hair was jet black, just like Eris..those eyes were obsidian as night, just like Eris and he could be quite menacing when pushed..just like Eris. She may seem more fragile, especially now; but, the two were of the same parents and same creative juices. Neither was particularly fond of how Zeus treated them as his own personal pawns. Explained why Brenton would get an offer which might be hard to refuse.

"That shouldn't be happening." pointing to the comatose Eris. "I can help undo it. But, you're going to have to trust me and go along with the big guy's dastardly plan for you. Three quests..all deadly. He plans to skewer you, scorch you or have one of his special beasties digest you..so Persephone tells me." Rolling his shoulders. "Girl doesn't make it a habit to lie. Can't promise you won't turn into another Atlas stuck forever in limbo either. Zeus' contract with Hera says if you win, there will be smooth sailing for a good long while. You lose..well, you won't be around to worry over it, let's just say that." Giving Brenton a moment to digest what he's learned thus far.

"Eris will be taken to Hades and under Hephaestus protection. She'll be safe there. Here are the rules. Each challenge you win draws strength back to her. Each challenge you lose brings her closer to death. You can bring no weapons into Olympus." Getting a very familiar, devilish smile on his lips. "You'll arrive in her temple. Move the bed, flip back the rug and rap three times on the eagle medallion beneath. The floor will open, inside you will find a signet ring, a shield, a cloak and a purple vial. All gifts from those who would see you defeat Zeus. You will understand their use in time." Extending his hand. "My sister has deemed you worthy of her affection. Makes you the same as a brother to me. I swear on my own life to stand by you and protect you when I can. When you are ready, place the ring on your finger. Your journey will begin."

If he was trusting enough of Ares to follow those directions, the instant the ring was in place, Brenton would find himself in Eris bedchambers within her temple. As Ares said, she would be moved to Hades. When the items were found, he could gather them and head out of the temple where a crowd awaited anxiously for the challenge to begin. No question they were all assessing the abilities of this mere mortal man. Placing a few bets on how long he'd survive the trials as well.

"This." Pausing for effect. "This is what Eris deems worthy." The booming voice of Zeus rang out, silencing the crowd. Clucking his tongue in disgust. "Please, my youngest, infant daughter could rip you in half. You have one chance to tuck your tail and run back home to Mommy while you can. If not, you won't survive the night. Human or not, I won't give any mercy to someone who's been a pain in my *** for far too long."
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

Brenton OConnor

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2014, 11:39:33 AM »
Brenton listened to the God of War carefully, all the while remaining seated, staring up at him. It wasn?t until he gave him a moment to think that he looked to Eris, tucked warmly into her bed by his hand, oblivious to the rest of the world. He didn?t like the thought of leaving her - Eros had warned him not to leave her alone. But Ares didn?t seem like the type of man, or god, that would want Eris put into harm?s way. Despite his lack of being mortal, Ares had an air of honesty about him, and maybe even compassion for the star-crossed lovers.

It took a little while but, eventually, Brenton agreed to the terms. ?You?re sure she?ll be safe there?? he asked of Ares as he stood. He didn?t know much about the worlds of the gods, and little more of their patrons, but he figured it couldn?t hurt asking, just to make sure. Again, he looked to the slumbering demi-goddess. ?I?m the one that put her in this state,? he said, mostly to himself. He wanted to move over to her, to brush her hair away from her face. He stayed put.

?I?ll do whatever it takes,? he said, looking back to her brother. It was only then that he wished he had taken the time to go back to his apartment, to fix his broken bones.

But there was no time for that. For the second time in his lifetime, the Irishman was standing on the crest of Olympus. He didn?t hesitate in finding the stash Ares spoke of and as he threw the cloak over his shoulders he couldn?t help but feel like Perseus in that movie he had seen once, 'Clash of the Titans'. With the vial tucked into a pocket and the signet ring on his finger, an odd mirror to the other one he always wore, he felt more and more like a gladiator as he slipped his arm into the shield strap.

Stepping out into the view of the crowd, he didn?t lower his head in fear or shame. ?I wouldn?t ask mercy from someone like you,? he responded loudly, enough so that all gathered could hear. His grip tightened on the handle of the shield, his jaw setting firm. ?Let?s get this started.?
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

Brenton OConnor

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2014, 11:42:59 AM »
[size=9]((Originally posted by Eris))[/size]

Brenton would soon learn there were several branches within the great family of Olympus. Some stood firm with Zeus, others..those consider of 'darker' spirits, lay their allegiance more towards Ares. Lastly, like Cupid boy, some preferred the precarious line right smack in the middle of the road. Trying not to sway too far left or too far right for too long. Trusting anyone fully could be a fool's game. But what side Brenton chose to stay on would all be up to him and how well he could wade through the waters of treachery and deceit.

"I swear on her life and your own, that she will be safe." Didn't that land like an anchor over their heads? "But my bet is on you, kid." Clicking his tongue while moving towards his sister. "Funny, she usually snores when asleep. Ever notice that?" A light smile coming to his lips while a gentle thumb brushed some hair from her face as he leaned over that all too peaceful form. Heph will protect her. Zeus, even on his strongest surge of testosterone, will not set foot in the Iron God's lair. For too many souls will try to drag him to hell where he condemned them." Lowering to whisper into her ear. "..aah, sister..what a tangled web, yes? Have you up and back to normal in no time old girl" Laughing on the way back up. "She'll bitch slap me for that later."

As to his comment of fault, Ares could only shake his head. "You are as much to blame for this as the sun is for the snow. Perhaps connected, but in no way at fault." Laying a firm hand to Brenton's shoulder. "You make her happy. Happiness balances out Chaos. Much like a scale leaning too much on one side, the whole thing gets out of whack..so to, does she. Oh sure, she plays up the dark side for all it's worth simply for the fun; but, tis only the light side that keeps the equilibrium in check. I've seen her go full on because of Zeus' deranged commands. Hell man..she can be a portal to hell." Heading back to Ares, pulling the sheet completely over her head. "..or heaven hmmm?" Casting a cheeky grin. "Many a man wants to know the kind of heaven; but, she shares it only with you."

?I?ll do whatever it takes."

"Would you die for her? Ask yourself that before you go."

The God of War already knew what his answer would be. The fun was about to begin.

Zeus and his hoard awaited. If the God was surprised by Brenton's defiant demeanor, it did not show. Only the sour glare managed to wrinkle it's way across his brow. The mortal did look like a warrior. Pissing the great one off even further. For those types often proved to be real pains in the ***.

"I wouldn't give mercy to someone like one," was his booming retort.

"When you piss your pants, I will hang them from the highest peak that all may know."

The little piss ant's challenge managed to draw some approving grunts from one side of the arena to indicate where Brenton's cheering section lay.

"Did you kiss your mother goodbye? I don't expect you'll be seeing her again..nor Eris. Be sure it's worth it. You know what she's doing right now?" Waving his hand in the air where the reflection of a mirror appeared. Lo and behold, there was Eris in the buff astride a buff young man like a cowboy rides a horse. From the sounds of it, they were having a wonderful time. Cat calls and laughter filled the air from the growing fans assembling. "Go home while you can. Get a nice woman to fill your seed and be happy. My daughter has clearly forgotten you already. But, if you're truly that stupid. Head for the Mount." Pointing to the tallest peak in mountain range. Your first challenge somewhere along the path. See if you can survive."

With the tap of his staff against the marble floor, Brenton would find himself free falling as the temperature plummets. He'd land knee deep in snow, staring up at a frozen rock mountain with steep boulders and cliffs which vanish high into the sky. Frigid winds could blow him off at any time and any thing could leap out to challenge him before he even reached the first true test.
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

Brenton OConnor

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2014, 11:43:17 AM »
He had learned during his first visit to the gods? mountain that you couldn?t always trust what you saw - and Brenton took that well-learned lesson to heart as he watched the display of Eris romping with some young, muscled man. Sure, his teeth gritted and his jaw clenched, but he didn?t let it sink in as truth. Again, he knew he couldn?t always trust what he saw, especially when it came to this array of gods. Zeus was, most definitely, no exception.

He didn?t reply to any of the major god?s comments - it would have been exactly what he wanted and Brenton was steadfast in giving him as little of that as possible. He glanced to his evident ?cheering side? and gave a single-stroke nod, the sternness in his face akin to a warrior king determined to win any and all of the oncoming battles, no matter the cost. The prize was worth everything to him, even if it meant his death. His family wouldn?t appreciate it, and his thoughts slipped briefly to them, but he also knew that they would understand - if one doesn?t fight for love, what is truly there to fight for?

Looking back to the God King, he clenched his shield, feeling the bite of the signet ring at the base of his knuckle. It made him wish again that he had been given time to visit his apartment, to mend himself as best as he could instead of striding off toward whatever twisted fate Zeus had in store for him with more than a few cracked ribs and whatever else might ail him. But he would endure. It was what he always did.

It took him a moment to realize that he was falling but, once he did, he braced himself for the inevitable landing. Landing with a grunt and a thud in the knee-deep snow, he took the time as he straightened to look around, gathering his surroundings and thoughts before turning his attention to the highest peek of the towering mountain. Steeling himself, he began the long trek, shield tight in one hand while the other wished desperately that it hand a blade hilt within it.
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

Brenton OConnor

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2014, 11:44:01 AM »
[size=9]((Originally posted by Eris))[/size]

By the time Brenton was sent to the mountain, Eris was awake in the depths of Hades and fit to be tied. "Are you *** kidding me? That mountain is dangerous enough without Zeus in control of it!"

"Now, now, now.." Hephaestus help up both hands in his own defense. "Your boy, he's strong..he's smart, he's got your brother's assistance. So long as Brenton figures out which gifts to use as which time, everything should be fine. You want to know if he's worthy, right?"

"He's already proven himself worthy to me!"[/b] Ready to strangle somebody. Anybody! It was not fair to keep her trapped in here while there were Gods up there systematically trying to kill the one person she cared about in the universe.

Heff took a couple of steps back, shook his head and poured two glasses of wine. "The challenge was accepted, Eris. Brenton chose to go by putting on that ring. He's doing this for you. By interfering, you'll break the contract Hera so skillfully weaved together to allow the two of you a chance to be together with no further interference." Sipping his drink. "You can't help him. But.." Arching a brow. "Others are planning to. Trust in us."

Her lips pursed. Wanting to argue further; but, holding back. Instead, she'd ask for one favor. "He was injured defending me before we were thrown in this..this..challenge." Having to spit out the word. "That's not a fair way to start a quest. Heal him. If he has to face all these dangers, he should be at full capacity."

"I'll send word to Ares. It will be done."

_____

As Brenton neared the top of the mountain, the ferocity of the wind howled all around him as if trying to shove him from the icy edge. Nothing by the elements challenged his progress. About 80 feet from the peek, a cave appeared offering shelter from the raging storm. Inside, it was calm, quiet and oddly warm. Seems he'd get a break to gather his strength.

As time passed, there'd come the sound of something dragging along the stone floors, scrapping against the walls..the methodical clicking of steps at a heavy, even pace. The closer the sounds became, the warmer the cave. It appears the 'hottest' prediction was about to come true.

The great beast paused, sniffed at the air then inhaled. Was the exhale Brenton should be ready for. Quest number one had began and it was a scorcher.
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

Brenton OConnor

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2014, 11:44:58 AM »
He had dealt with harsh weather before - not all of Ireland was sunny and green, let alone the other dozen places the O?Connor family had taken temporary root before Rhydin, and even that wasn?t a fair exception. But even with the mountain and the snow and the whiplash wind, his cracked ribs were the worst of it. He flexed one fist, willing himself feel the hum of the Celtic ring on his right index finger and failing. It made him wish he had talked to Eris about it, had told her the details of the ring. But it hadn?t come up, not yet. So many other things swallowed up their time, had made the point of it mute. Still, it made him feel a pang of guilt. He decided that the very first chance he got, he would share that secret with her.

But without that raven-haired beauty by his side at that very moment, he trudged on, pushing through the waist-deep trenches of heavy snow, onward and upward toward that mocking mountain peek.

It was too far. Without some sort of shelter, a chance to escape the cold and add warmth to his bones, he would freeze before getting even halfway to the top. He had been wishing for a reprieve when the cave appeared, causing hesitation and suspicion to rise high in his blood. But he couldn?t resist it, or rather he couldn?t risk waiting to find another, and so he pushed on, entering the small cave and moving toward the back.

The shield fell, hitting the floor before the man himself could. The strange warmth in the air hadn?t rightly been noticed, just gratefully absorbed. He allowed himself to close his eyes, resting his head back against the jagged stone.

An unknown amount of time was lost before his eyes flew back open. There had been a sound, some sort of dragging or scraping. Lifting his head, he looked toward the mouth of the cave and then back through the deeper darkness. He slowly stood, clenching tight at the grip of his shield - and just in time too. Drawing the shield up, he braced it with both hands and bared his teeth, hoping that his trust in the God of War had been well-placed.
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2014, 11:46:22 AM »
[size=9]((Originally posted by Eris))[/size]

Ares didn't make it a habit to lie unless there was something in it for him. In this case, if he lied and sister found out, the boy would be toast over and over and over again. No one holds a grudge like Eris. When the dragon let loose it's hot, molten breath, the shield's decorative outer layer was scorched but held firm. Brenton's side was fully protected.  The dragon would continue to advance, huffing and puffing, clawing at the rock floor. All he wanted was for the intruder to leave.  Once the invader was back out into the cold, it would coil up near the mouth of the cave, eyeing the tiny man until he was out of sight.  

"Test one complete.." Hephaestus murmured to Eris who sat as prickly as a porcupine. "You worry for naught. He has what he needs to best Zeus' pets."

"Wrong! He needs me!" Her voice echoing throughout the underworld realm as she paced the floor like a caged lioness.

The grizzly god just laughed. "You think so much or yourself? Or so little or Brenton?  What's next for him? Oh yes..the Kraken eats him."

"What?"

"Just kidding. I believe he's about to leave a mountain for a labyrinth.   The Minotaur is waiting."

Sure enough, the signet ring on Brenton's hand would warm and glow. Just like that, the frigid temps would give way to a falling sensation as winter gave way to warmth and darkness. He'd arrive surrounded by a vast array of stone, each leading down another winding path. Some would be dead ends. Other's just another path to a path with no real end in sight.  As her brother had promised, Brenton would healed of all his wounds before this battle. Agility and speed would be important. The mighty creature may look slow and lumbering; but, it was faster than one could believe.

In the meantime, Eris was putting a few details together. "You know, Heff..I didn't agree to this contract.  Therefore, I don't believe I'm bound to it.  Zeus and Hera are the signers..." Twirling a lock of black hair oh so innocently. "Aren't they?  I mean, did Brenton put his name on it? Did he agree? How can we be bound to that which we knew nothing of?"

Heff was busy pounding out a new blade until his might arm stopped midair.  "Huh. That so? CUPID!!!"

"Yes, oh great, burly, stinky one.." Always quick to serve, the messenger appeared.

"Eris just pointed out that neither she nor Brenton signed any contract on this little shindig we got going on. Therefore, there's really no stipulations in place to force Eris to be here or ban her from helping Brenton.  I figure he still goes through with this so there will be a winner and loser of this little competition between Zeus and Hera.  A little assistance can not be denied.."

Cupid flipped through the scroll, scrutinizing the terms, shaking his head at times, nodding at others. "It seems Eris would be free to offer some encouragement without endangering the contract.  However, I would strongly suggest the help not be too obvious.  Lest they cry foul."

Eris went straight to the scrying bowl to locate Brenton. "Good, he has the cloak on."  Her hand hovered atop his image in the water's reflection. "Brenton..they're watching your every move. Don't let them know you hear me. Turn the cloak inside out and you will be invisible. Walk softly through the maze. The Minotaur..Crux..lives in it's walls. Try to avoid him. Know that I'm with you."
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2014, 11:46:58 AM »
You know, he had never bargained on any of this. The gods and goddesses, the magic and the fantastical power, Mount Olympus and its myriad mythological locations and creatures. He had just been a good ol' boy from Ireland (well, 'good' being a term used lightly) who had come to Rhydin to help his family. He hadn't been completely naive to the magical, even when living back on Earth, and therefor he had been prepared to deal with the strangeness of the city, as wide and varied as it all was. But since meeting Eris, he had been exposed to trials and challenges and things beyond his wildest imagination.

And he wouldn't trade any of it for the world.

Once the wyrm was dealt with, having backed Brenton out of the cave via the insistent push of fiery breath against the hefted shield, he was once again falling through vast nothingness until he came thudding against a solid stone floor. He wasn't in a hurry to rush anywhere, slowly straightening to give himself time to absorb his surroundings. It wasn't until he heard Eris' voice that his head jerked, but at her suggestion to appear calm, he forced himself to relax.

"Are you alright?" he murmured under his breath. Even here, she was always his first priority. He gave himself a few minutes, listening to her instructions, before he moved to one of the walls, lowering the shield to the floor so that he could use both hands to remove the cloak, swirling it through the air before resting it, reversed, back on his shoulders. Retrieving the shield, he looked first down to his right and then his left. With no sign either way which lead to the exit (or which the Minotaur favored to inhabit), the Irishman turned for his right and started the long trek through twisting, winding paths.
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2014, 03:22:22 PM »
[size=9]((Originally posted by Eris))[/size]

Was she alright?  Couldn't help but answer honestly. "No. You're there and I'm here, why would I be alright?  What of you?"  It was impossible to mask the worry. Still, they now had a bit of an advantage. "Remember, Zeus can see everything you do. I have a plan to fix that. Until then, don't let him know you can hear me."

Since Cupid had figured out they could not break rules if they did not agree to them, Brenton and Eris were pretty well free to sabotage any plans Zeus could devise.  "Walk as quietly as possible. Minos has a good nose though.  He can sniff you out. Once he does, let yourself be seen. I'd prefer you not kill him; but, if he charges do what you must do. However, if you can sing, he'll go right to sleep. Can you sing, Irishman?" The question was an honest one for her own curiosity.

All they could do next was wait. Challenge two now lay in Brenton's hands.  

"He'll be fine, lass..don't worry your little head too much."

She was pacing a hole in his floor. "How can I not worry?  Look who he's going up against?"

"A liar, a cheater and a power hungry psychopath.  Is that new in his world?  Besides, he's strong, smart and he's got all of us cheering him on.  Zeus may think he's the top banana; but, every time he's gone up against you or us, we've outsmarted him.  Don't sell us short.  Have faith."

"Faith?  You tell ME to have faith? Faith in who? Zeus is the top god around here."  

He had to laugh."Again, he only thinks he is.  Have faith in  yourself.  That's who Brenton believes in. What's the last challenge? Oh yes, death."

"What?" ..that did not sound good at all.

Cupid popped back in for this one. Plopping himself down on Heff's couch as if he owned the place. "Has to be death. For what better proof of one's love than to die to save the other's life. What do you think the vial is for?"
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

Brenton OConnor

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2014, 03:22:44 PM »
His brow furrowed as he listened to the demigoddess on the other end of their mental link, but luckily for him he had already been looking serious so the few new crinkles on his face wouldn't likely give anything away. Could he sing? It was a question he hadn't been expecting. It did, however, cause a curl to form at one corner of his mouth. If there was one thing that Irishman could do other than sculpt stone, love his woman and play the pipes, it was sing. His mother had been been true to her Irish blood in making sure of that.

He gave a nod to answer Eris, blending it into a turn of his head to look behind him so that no other peeping gods could tell the difference. He stepped carefully, and as quietly as his feet would let him, but he knew that it would only take so long for the lurking creature to sniff him out. His grip on the shield tightened, his other empty hand flexing down by his side. He didn't know where it would come from, creeping or charging, so he was only left with the choice of trying to find his way out of the winding maze as carefully as was possible. He'd try his hardest not to kill, but he kept Eris' pardon close to his heart, just in case.

It was minutes, an hour, before anything happened and with no hint of the end of the maze in sight. The cloak had done its job, keeping him hidden, but just as they all knew, Brenton's scent was enough to get him tailed. There was a distinct crushing of rubble from behind him and the Irishman froze. Turning slowly, his body tensed as he caught his first glimpse of the labyrinth beast, towering tall and covered head to toe in brownish fur that coated bulging muscles. It was hard to willing let down the hood of the cloak but he managed it, much to the displeasure of the creature. As it snorted, glaring its beady black eyes his way, Brenton stirred up the image of the dark-haired goddess in his mind and started singing - an old Gaelic tune from back home. Even as the minotaur began to stumble, the melodic song coaxing him into sleep, the Irishman remained cautious, backpedaling slowly until he could barely hear the heavy breathing of the sleeping beast before turning the corner. He couldn't help but smile when it turned out to be the last before the exit of the maze.

"What's next?" he murmured under a heavy sigh. Glancing behind him, just to be sure, he moved out of the impossible labyrinth and on toward the next quest, never having a hope at guessing what it could possibly be.
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

Brenton OConnor

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2014, 03:24:24 PM »
[size=9]((Originally posted by Eris))[/size]

Eris held her breath as Brenton made his way through the maze. Just like any challenge, it could all go so right or so very, very wrong.  The moment Minos found him, every one of the Gods in Hades fell quiet as well. The creature was a fickle beast. If he favored someone, they would leave untouched. If not, those horns would rip man, woman or beast to shreds.

As Brenton began to sing, there was still not a single sound to be heard. The next few minutes would be the determining factor. She'd never heard his voice in song before. So it would be natural for her to listen so intently to the sweet tones he held. Upon looking around, Eros, Ares and Hephaestus were just as spellbound. Eros even fell asleep..as did Minos.

 'Well done, Warrior.  I am jealous you have never serenaded me. Promise you will translate it for me when the last challenge is done.'  

Eros had to lay down one rule for what was to happen next. "You can not tell him what is to fillow."

"I thought the contract did not include us."

"It doesn't; but, the results must be made without interference so they will not be questioned. Trust me..this test he must do alone.  Wish him good luck and tell him goodbye.  No more." Jotting down a few things on his scroll. "I must go."


Was it wrong not to tell Brenton about the last quest?  Eris was torn. "But.." and in a flash he was gone. She looked to Heff and he looked away. Ares did the same. "He has to die?"

"No.." Was all her brother would reveal.

"Very well.." reaching out to Brenton again. "The last challenge I can not see. Put on the ring and we'll find out. Know that I love you."

When he put on the ring, she was found herself falling as well. Both would end up back in the great hall of Olympus.  Both would find themselves chained to a stake, bound by hands and feet. Both surrounded by stacks of wood at their feet. Zeus and all of the other Olympians were staring them down.  Some, like Artemis, were grinning ear to ear. Eager for what was to come. Others, such as Heff and even Ares, were visibly angry by the events taking place.

"He's done much better than I thought. Still..makes no difference." Zeus walked in a circle around them. A lit torch in hand.

"Life is a fickle thing. Birth is the easiest part. Death..well, no one wants to die." Hovering that torch precariously close to Brenton's face. "You have family, yes?  Sisters..brothers?  Cozy little life. Responsibilities. You protect them don't you? Bet they'd be lost without you."

Eris knew very well where this was going. Her fingers gripped tight on the ropes that bound both hands. She tried to speak..to tell Brenton whatever happens, it's OK; but, her voice had been silenced. Even the mental link was now broken.

"My goddess has no such needs. Should this body die, she will live again. Rejoin us..resume her duties.  Of course, any memories of you will be erased; but, she'll live the long, happy eternity meant for her. YOU, however, have no such longevity..do you? I light that pyre, your skin will fry..pain like you've never know..you burn to a crisp."  Making a spectacle of waving the torch between them both.  "I'll send your cremated remains to your sweet sisters in a shoe box."

"This is your last challenge, O'Connor.  Whom will you sacrifice? Yourself or Eris?  Where does your loyalty lie? With your own flesh and blood family or the woman who's bed you warm now and again? You have ten seconds to choose."

"1....2..."
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

Brenton OConnor

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2014, 03:25:06 PM »
He had never liked the unknown. It was vast and empty and blind to the eye. Anything and everything could exist there or, on the same token, nothing at all. It was a mystery, one that could only be discovered by moving forward. That's what Brenton did, what he always did: moved forward. While he had never liked the unknown, that didn't mean that he had avoided facing it. Time and time again, he and his siblings had been moved from place to place, from country to country, and now, from world to world. But each time he had held a stoic face in the blasting winds of the unknown, one of many pillars of the O'Connor family.

Family. As he stood there, bound to a stake with a giant pyre piled beneath his feet, his thoughts went to his family back in Rhydin. What were they doing? Had they noticed that he was gone? Was Kingsley alright? Which one of them was playing leader this time? Unsaid words rolled around on his tongue and he found that he didn't like the taste of them.

Zeus became the center of his attention somewhere along the tread of his spiteful words. He stared at him, the mortal stabbing invisible daggers into the god's flesh, and his jaw rippled with the pressure of which his teeth were clenched. He made sense, as much as the Irishman didn't want to admit it. His family needed him, and he only had this one mortal life to live. Eris, however, had this life and so many more. She would live forever, was a goddess in her own right who had a part to play and he knew that, deep down, she enjoyed it.

He looked down and bore holes into the ground. He could feel the heavy weight of the other gods' gazes upon him, could feel the mixture of ecstatic glee and begrudging distaste hanging in the air. So many thoughts, endless emotions, swam in the empty pool of his stomach. But then, once the countdown began, a slow grin began to take its place on his face.

"The thing you don't know about me, Zeus," he started, cutting off the god's count just before '10', "is that there's plenty." He looked up, finding the torch-wielding deity. "As much as you know and as vast as your knowledge is, it's still stunted when it comes to the common man. You think we're all the same, that the same spine is in all of us. But you're wrong." He looked to Eris, standing like he was, tied to a stake and awaiting whatever fate was before her. His choice. It was all his choice.

"My family is another thing you don't understand." He spoke to the god even while he stared at Eris, his dark-haired beauty of a woman. How he wished he could touch that hair right then. His fingers closed in aching response. "What we believe in, how we work." There was so, so much he could say, so many things that he could go into, explain. But he didn't. To him, this pitiful excuse for a god wasn't worth it, didn't deserve his time nor breath. But Eris did.

"You, on the other hand," he looked back to Zues. "You'd burn your own daughter, your own creation, just to prove a point. You turn on and backstab anyone who displeases you, whoever goes against your will. What does that make you? What kind of a family do you have?" His arms flexed, instinctively. His ire was his fuel. "If letting her live keeps her away from you, that's what I choose. In a heartbeat."

"There is one thing you should know, though." He lifted his chin, looked directly at the deity so that he could clearly see his grin. "I'd do anything for family, and I plan on making Eris a part of mine." Eris had once told a lie to give them an edge, to stick a barb. So why couldn't he? Because it was certainly a lie... wasn't it? Honestly, with his face looking that way and that set of his eyes, it was extremely hard to tell.

"So burn me, Zeus!" he cried out, taunting the god. The choice had been made, the stones thrown. "And know that no matter what you do, I will always love her. I will always fight for her. And I will gladly die for her."
"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun." -Gabriel Byrne

Eris

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Re: The Quests
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2014, 10:54:12 AM »
Whatever decision Brenton made, he had to know she would not hate him for it. There was no way to tell him it was OK. Go ahead and live the life he was meant to live.  Let her go. He could return to his family. Eris would be fine. As Zeus said,she'd  likely be none the wiser to his existence after being toasted. There was always the chance she'd be made to suffer with memories and knowing Brenton would move on.

This wasn't fair.  None of it was.  The lies, deceit and never ending interference where none was to be. Each time Zeus threatened to set one of them alight, Eris grew more agitated, fighting harder against the bindings.  She could tell  it wasn't just her voice which was taken away; but, her powers as well.  Only temporarily, for he could not hold her for long. Her brother's own agitation was growing as well.  She could feel it. They often fed off each others auras.

In a silent plea, her darkening eyes fell on Brenton, begging him not to do this.  Let me go. Somehow she knew he would not.  Brenton was her chivalrous knight. He would stand in defense of her until the bitter end. He would see her free.

In the blink of an eye, Brenton's pyre was lit. Zeus released the binding spell on Eris in order to have the satisfaction of hearing her scream. Big mistake.
 
"I'll be damned.." muttered Heff under his breathe as the flames licked higher on it's victims feet. "He chose her."

Eros grinned. "Yep..he's about to hurt like a son of a bitch for it too unless we get to moving. Cupie, is the quest complete?"

The messenger skimmed the paperwork and gave an affirming nod.  "Yep.  Passed with flying colors. Good to go, Heff. We should make a quick escape as you know what's about to hit the fan.  You feel that crackling in the air?   She's going nuclear."

Heff's callused hand waved towards Brenton, instantly sending him into the bowels of Hades. No one would notice he was gone as a facsimile of Brenton would be seen in his place. The poor human's condition unknown until the other three men joined him seconds later.

"Zeus is in for a world of hurt if she thinks Brenton is dead. Lets let her teach the old boy a lesson he won't soon forget." Hess joked with an evil sense of satisfaction. "Hurry, Eros, give him the potion. Will  take time for any wounds to heal; but, he won't be dying on our watch."

They were right. Eris believed the one person she cherished most was taken from her. The chains flew off, lightning slammed down from the sky with every step she took. The Olympians knew to run for cover.  But those who had reveled in Brenton's suffering found they could not escape the hall.  As their fear mounted, her power grew. Even Zeus was snared in her web of anger.

_____
[Originally posted by Brenton]

The choice had been an easy one to make. It had shown his true colors, right down to the core, but that didn't matter to him so long as Eris was safe. The bad boy had a good streak running straight through him, like a beam of light shining through a crack in dark armor. He still had his toughness and all of the other qualities that had him a little rough around the edges, but Zeus had pushed him to the point where all of those darker attributes had be suppressed and the better side of him had pushed through.

In all honesty, even with the flames licking at his legs, he wouldn't have changed his mind for the world.

Looking to where Eris stood, bound to her own pyre and watching him begin to burn, he could think of no other woman that he would have wanted to die for. Tilting back his head until it rested against his funeral stake, he closed his eyes. Memories of him and Eris together - the touch of her skin, the scent of her hair, the feel of her lips - flooded his mind as the fire begin to rise.

But then, there was silence - no stadium full of gods and demi-gods, no crackling of flames - and he found that he was no longer bound, his hands were free. Opening his eyes, Brenton looked around. Where was him? What had happened? And, more importantly, where the hell was Eris?
"Be the type of woman that  when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says "Oh Crap, she's up!"