Aridela straightened and pulled herself free. “You won’t rest until you’ve destroyed me,” she said. When Selene started to speak, Aridela cut her off. “Say nothing more. I’ve heard all I want to hear from all of you.” She turned her back on Selene and stepped closer to the men, who had drawn their knives and were circling each other warily. “Can you not see?” She lifted her arms in supplication. “You are opposites, yet you are nothing without the other. Menoetius, you are the skin that covers the heart of the apple, the heart that is your brother. You are the spear of lightning after his roar of thunder. You are the ocean battering his cliffs.” She shivered yet felt hot, as though fire was igniting her blood. The Goddess burned within, speaking through her.
Menoetius glanced at her. Chrysaleon kept his attention focused on his rival.
Thunder growled again, followed by lightning that branched across the heavens. “Light and dark,” she whispered. “Joined yet separated— for what purpose? I don’t know.”
Menoetius’s strike was blurringly swift. A chunk of Chrysaleon’s hair floated to the ground and lay like a pool of spilled golden twine.
On the rocky mainland, a king’s power resided in his hair. Aridela stared at it, remembering her tutor’s bored voice. When coming of age, boys dedicate their first beards to Poseidon and pray for courage in battle. The warriors of the mainland believe their strength, their potency, their very invincibility, has its source in their hair. Only common soldiers shear their hair, so it won’t interfere with their eyesight or give their enemies something to grab.
This was the worst of omens.
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