The cool breeze blows my midnight-black hair over my cheeks, and I shift the grey hood further up over my head. I do not want to be recognized here, so I blend myself in with the crowd. The moon shines down on me and I allow it to bless me with its light.
I stride forward through the crowd and notice the poverty on their faces. The Gods have decided to punish them, and frankly, I can see why. They live in sin, killing for their own benefit and raising up while others perish. I am sure not all these people are bad, but they suffer too at the cost of others. A little boy cries as his mother sits dead beside him, no longer able to keep on living. She looks sickly, her eyes showing the true absence of life. Her skin is now a burnt yellow shade like the sand at her feet; lips blue after her kiss with Death.
Even though she is dead, her body still clings to her child. Her bloated hand is clasped around her son's, and he does not seem bothered by her touch. I can tell it comforts him. I move forward and kneel in front of him, shifting my silver bow and arrows over my shoulder.
"Where is your father?"
The boy's mouth trembles in fear, but when his eyes lock with mine, his expression changes. I have him entranced with the silver of my eyes, the moon reflecting off them. His pupils dilate, and his mouth parts open as if in awe. The tears stop, and he gently drops his mother's hand in her lap. I wipe his face with my fingers and give him a small smile.
"Do you have anyone to look after you?"
The boy shakes his head, "I have no one."
"Well, we will have to change that, won't we?" I pat his head and offer him my hand. I do not care that he was holding his mother's hand earlier, as I have touched much worse in my days. Death has been in my hand, myself a tool I willingly inflict on those worthy of my bow. I have struck down men twice my size with my silver arrows.
I do not miss my target.
The boy nods and takes my hand, standing up with me. But he stops and turns to stare at his mother.
"You can say goodbye," I let go of his hand and gently nudge him towards her. He hugs her head to his chest, whispering sweet nothings to her.
"I love you," he says, kissing her cheek.
I take the boy's hand and lead him to one of the religious centres nearby. I stare at the Artemis shrine and sigh. There is a statue of a nude woman with a bow and arrow aimed downwards to the ground. She is not actively on the prowl to kill but waiting for the right moment to raise her weapon. Her eyebrows are furrowed, but her mouth is in a permanent smirk. She appears too confident, too superior for her own good. It is not a pleasant representation of what she stands for.
"Hello, is anyone there?" I call out, knocking on the door to the shrine. The smell of flowers flows throughout the area, and we are surrounded by exotic plants and vibrant shrubbery. The multiple flame posts allow the area to be seen even at night, and the glow of the moon casts its thanks for such a beautiful display.
The door opens and a man wearing a brown toga appears. He holds a torch and it lights up his face. He is a bit old, possibly in his late fifties.
"Why have you come here so late, woman?"
"This boy needs shelter. Can you take him in? I am sure he could be of some use for the shrine," I smile and pat the boy's head like a pet. He leans into my touch, and I bite back a sigh.
"We do not need a child. What use would he be here?"
I groan inwardly. I guess this was going to take a lot more effort for me.
I close my eyes briefly and soak in the moon's ray. It seeps into my skin, flowing through the muscle and into the bone. It is everywhere in my body.
The power I feel is extraordinary.
"I am sure you need him. He will help you with the shrine and you will treat him like kin," the words slip from my mouth effortlessly. The power in those words has the man entranced, just as the boy had been previously. My eyes glow silver, and the man cannot look away. The boy does not notice any disturbance, watching the man with hope.
"Yes, of course he can stay! Son, are you hungry? Come, feast and eat like a king!" The grin on his face is palpable.
The boy, unsure if he should leave without me, turns and watches my expression. I nod and rub his cheek with my thumb.
"You will be treated well. I promise," I ensure.
The door is closed, and I stand outside for a minute, soaking up the light of the moon. I turn and continue doing what I had been before finding the child in need. My focus is on finding a new servant. My last one, bless her soul, died in my arms. I hadn't been planning on getting another one, but...I miss the connection with another being. I could have taken in the child, but I want him to live a normal life. It is not my place to take his current future away from him. At least now the child will have shelter and someone to look after him.
I make my way to the black market, our market. The one meant for people of my calibre. It resides within a maze of alleyways, all marked with the symbols not seen with normal eyes. I see the red markings on the walls, and torches lighting the way.
I can hear chaos of the market nearby. Even though it is late at night, it is still buzzing with activity. I see the guards at the entrance, and they nod as I come through. Shoppers of all sorts gather here, and I am not surprised to see elves and titans alike picking through items on tables. They too like the mystery of consumption. Finding artifacts from different cultures and those blessed with magical properties. Anyone would be tempted here. A man at a stall beckons me over, yelling that his shop is one of the best. I shake my head and avoid eye contact with him. I do not want to be recognized, and I am sure it would be the talk of the town that I am here.
I see the slave building and push through the crowd, almost stepping on a forest sprite's foot. They hiss at me and show their teeth. I smile at them, holding up my hands. They raise their chin at me and wave me away. I almost laugh at this. If they knew who I was, they would be bowing at my feet and swearing their loyalty.
The slave building is enormous, coveted by a large bell tower that rings whenever a new batch of slaves arrive. A man sits at a marble stone table and his smile is big when he greets me.
"Hello, miss, are you looking for a prime species tonight?"
I hold back my disgust. I do not condone slavery, but this was her dying wish.
To save someone like her.
"I wish to purchase a servant."
"Yes, right this way," he leads me to a room filled with multiple people. They are not slaves but like me. They are looking to buy. They wait patiently in chairs that are placed in front of a large stage.
"We are about to have a showing, so you are lucky to have arrived at this time. Please, take a seat and the event will start shortly."
I do as I'm told and sit beside a creature that resembles a slug of some sort. His or her face is slimy, and their eyes are attached to two antennas that point outward from their face. The eyes turn in my direction and their mouth opens, "hello."
I nod back in reply and turn away from them, widening my eyes.
The same man from earlier walks up onto the stage, an excited smile on his face. He bows a few times and then hints with his head to someone poking theirs from behind the stage curtain.
"Welcome all! You are lucky folk! We have a select few for the showing today, all with special abilities. You will be impressed with the selection, I'm sure. Please keep to the auction rules and enjoy your time here tonight!" The person behind the curtain pokes their head back and says the goods are ready for the showing.
The salesman looks down in his hands at a piece of paper. He lifts his head back up and shouts, "This is for insecticide category..."
It seems like forever, and none of the slaves have caught my eye. I sigh and lean back in my chair. Suddenly, the man raises his hand excitedly.
"Folks, we have something especially exotic for you tonight. I'd like to introduce you to the most expensive product we have," he waves his hand for the figure to come out, and everyone seems to sit on the edge of their seats. Even I am.
A tall, cloaked figure is pushed from behind the curtain. It stumbles but does not fall. The salesman frowns and laughs nervously. He reaches up on his tippy toes and throws the cloak off the person.
The room goes silent. Even I am at a loss for words.
Standing there is a creature believed to be extinct.
But not the Goblin that humans describe. This creature is rather beautiful. He has long black hair braided at his back. His skin has a green tinge, but it is faint. Like olives. His ears resemble an elf's, but his features vastly differ from them. I notice his eyes the most. They are a vibrant amber and reflect the lighting in the room. I cannot look away from him, and I'm sure most of the people in the room don't either.
The Goblin's dark eyebrows furrow in anger, and he hisses in contempt at the salesman. He thrashes against the chains holding his wrists and ankles together. He is subdued, and rightfully so. Goblins had been known to be violent creatures, a kill now and think later species. They were used to fight in the previous war of worlds but became so volatile that my father had no choice but to exterminate them. My father, Zeus, was the man responsible for their downfall.
I stare at the being nervously.
His eyes move about the room, a murderous look in them. When they land on me, I cannot look away. And he does not either. We are entranced with the exchange of amber and silver. It takes a moment for me to regain my composure.
I want this man as my servant.
Even if my father is linked to the demise of his kind, I want—no, need, this one to be my new servant.
Multiple hands raise and shouts ensue about the price. It increases every second, and the being shakes his head in disgust.
He says something, yet I do not understand. It is an ancient language; one we have forgotten. I wish I knew what he said.
"Going once, twice,"
"Wait!" I yell, and the salesman stops. I stand and shout my price.
More voices respond, the price going higher and higher until I fear that I will not win this round.
But I keep going. I do not care what price. He is worth every penny and many more.
I can feel my heart thud erratically in my chest and palms sweat at my sides. My hood falls back, and my black hair flows freely. I will be noticed soon. But at this point, I don't care.
I need to win. This creature needs me. He cannot go to one of these fools. They would show him off like an animal at a zoo. They already are.
I raise my voice and bid, and a man nearest to me groans. My price is too much for those around the room.
"Sold to the silver-eyed beauty in the third row!"
I can feel my cheeks twinge with a smile.
Karma gives back for good deeds.
I almost run to the paying centre, my robe nearly catching at my silver sandals. The salesman meets me there, and I sign the papers for my new servant. When the man sees my name written down, he pales dramatically.
"I'm going by Selene these days, but yes, I am Artemis."
"You could have asked, and I would have let you choose anyone you wanted, miss," he bows his head out of respect. I shrug and follow him down a hallway. When I walk in, the Goblin is being held down onto the floor by multiple men.
"Are you sure you want this one?" The salesman eyes me with worry.
"Do you think I cannot handle him?" I raise an eyebrow.
"N-No, I mean, yes I believe you are entirely capable. But his behaviour does not represent us. It is just him. I fear you will look down on our establishment once you take him home," sweat drips down his forehead and over his eyebrows.
The Goblin moves his head to the side and stares at me, and I feel my pulse quicken. Those eyes of his...
I can tell he could hurt me if he tried.
And he probably wants to.
I will have to be careful around him.
"He is a tough one, got me good on the nose," one of the men hisses, wiping away blood on his lips.
"Unhand him," I say, moving towards my new servant. The men look at each other warily, and then back at me. I give them an annoyed look, and they nervously let go of the man. He sits up, his hands and ankles still bound by chains. They are ancient protection, specifically meant to subdue Goblins. I am shocked and impressed they were able to find such a thing.
He stares at me, as if daring me to touch him. I know if I do, I am forcing my trust on him. And if I don't, it shows him I mean him no harm. But I do not know what to do in this situation. Goblins are unpredictable creatures. He could take me not touching him as a sign of weakness. Or I could inflict my dominance over him with the flick of my wrist.
I know this choice will affect our relationship in the future.
"Can you understand my language?" I ask him. He stays silent, but I can see a hint of acknowledgment in his eyes.
I nod to myself and then look at the other males in the room. "You may leave us."
"But miss..." the salesman interrupts, but I stop him.
"I am fine. Please leave."
Their footsteps are reluctant, but they do as they are told. I am their superior of course. I sit down beside him, so that we are at equal level. I want him to know this. To see me as his equal, but with boundaries. I am his master, but I will treat him like any other. He looks away from me and stares out at the window, the sun now rising.
We stay in silence. I wait for him to speak first, to at least acknowledge my presence. It takes a few minutes before he turns to me and shows me his teeth. They are sharp, like the wolves I govern. I swallow, knowing he could pierce my flesh like a knife through butter with just his teeth. But then I remember who I am, and just who gave me life.
I am a princess of Olympus.
"You do not scare me," I say. He stares at me and I'm once again entranced by his amber eyes.
"And why is that?"
I raise my eyebrows, shocked that he answered me.
"Because I have freed you. No one bites the hand that feeds them."
"You are going to set me free?" The look in his eyes breaks my heart. I can feel my composure crumble, and I fight the urge to turn away from him.
He makes a noise of disgust. "Then you should fear me."
I want to tell him that it should be the other way around, but I refrain from doing so. I need to watch what I say around him. I need to gain his trust, not destroy any possibility of gaining common ground with him.
"I promise, you will be safe," I say. I watch his eyes carefully, and he flinches as my hand raises towards him. He starts to back away, but my reflexes are quick enough to stop him.
The chains around his ankles fall to the floor with a clank. He shudders, an excited hiss flowing from his lips. My hands are glowing silver, a power I was born with. The chain was easily snapped in half by the power I pushed into it. He looks at me and quickly stands, rushing to the window as if to jump; yet my voice stops him.
"If you run, imagine the consequences. Your species is extinct. You will be hunted and used for breeding purposes. You might be an exotic piece for a demented individual with a fetish. With me, you will become part of my family," I walk to him and lift my head. He is tremendously tall, and my neck aches while looking at his face.
"You will be my servant, loyal to me only."
"Your family are your servants?" He gives me a look of distaste. I am not on his good side right now at all. The situation is not going as I expected.
"I treat my servants how I would want to be treated. No one will touch you as long as you belong to me."
"You're just like the others," he glares at me, "I am just product to you."
"You are wrong," I tell him, reaching up to touch his face. He shudders, and I notice that he backs away from me. I had done so without thinking. My hand drops to my side and I move away from him, giving him his needed space.
"Look at me," I pull out a silver dagger from under my robe. He backs away, but I point the dagger towards my left hand. "I will make a blood oath right now if that is what you wish."
He watches in amazement as I slice the skin, a soft cry leaving my lips.
"I, Selene, make a pledge to always protect my new servant and treat him with respect. He will never go without while in my care."
The blood drips down my arm, but I do not mind it. It will heal shortly. He stares at me, and then slowly nods. A blood oath is a sacred act done for ceremonial displays. If the oath is destroyed, then a curse will strike the individual and influence them for life. It may just be a myth, but many abide by the rules just in case. Curses are not things to mess with. But then again, I should be fine. My true name is Artemis, not Selene; but he doesn't need to know that.
"You are not too bright, Selene," he shakes his head. "I have not spoken any oath; I can kill you much easier now."
"You wish to kill me?"
He stares at me for a moment, then down at the chain on the floor and the one around his wrists. The sun glows against his face and he looks almost ethereal. I watch him contemplate as I grab a handkerchief from my robe. The fabric soaks most of he blood, but not all. I drop it on the floor and continue watching him.
He seems to have decided. "If I serve you for some time, will you set me free?"
I frown, not sure if I should promise such a thing. The glow in his amber eyes matches the sun beams coming from the open window. If I accept, I will have to find another servant once again. Goblins are technically immortal like my kind. They can be killed, but they can live naturally for thousands of years. He could be with me for a long time, unlike my previous servant. I wonder how long he would be with me then?
"Of course. But only on my terms." I say this truthfully, but with a lie. I will set him free one day, but it will be a very, very long time from now. But he doesn't have to know that. He holds his chained wrists out to me, and when my hand touches the metal, it drops to the floor.
"Let's go then, shall we?" I extend my hand to his, and it takes him awhile before he allows me to touch him. His hand is warm, and somewhat sweaty. The moment our skin touches, I teleport us to my home..