Curses from the Beginning
Summer was at its peak in 1999 when Lisbeth Collias left the hospital after a rather long shift. She lived alone, as her parents were back in Dublin. Her family had been well off and Lisbeth worked in the psych ward of the local hospital, leaving her little reason to worry about finances. Lisbeth was a kindhearted person, and she most definitely did not deserve what she got.
Apollo had been lurking around the city when Lisbeth caught his eye. Ears, actually. The young lady had been singing as sweet as a nightingale as she headed home, and once Apollo heard her, he instantly felt an attraction. Not lacking confidence, he approached her and chatted gaily, and finally managed to extract a phone number. A few coffee dates occurred, but it wasn't working out, not with Apollo's disappearing act. He was a god after all, one of those who liked having more than one mortal. Nevertheless, he kept coming back.
Lisbeth, at first, had no idea they were in fact gods, but for some reason, she ultimately chose Hades. The god of the Underworld had wooed her by always stopping by the hospital she worked at, bringing jewel trinkets and flowers. Eventually, Lisbeth fell in love with the god's softer side, and things happened which led to her becoming pregnant. Hades had to leave Lisbeth, of course. Lisbeth, who was in fact a clear-sighted mortal, understood and coped with his absence. Occasionally, Hades would still have jewelry and little presents delivered to his lover and unborn child. The jewelry later, would be sold by a starving Minka to a town dealer so she could buy food.
Oh, we didn't forget Apollo. The god of music felt jilted and betrayed, but he distracted himself for a few years by flirting with other women. One day, he was in his sun chariot (in the form of a Maserati as usual), his "
cool hot" black shades on, basically just "chilling", when he looked down and saw Lisbeth holding the hand of a seven-year-old little girl who had her beautiful green eyes. Apollo had forgotten about the woman soon after she chose Hades over him, but everything came back once he realized who the little girl was.
I'd like to say that Apollo was happy for Lisbeth, and he rode off in his sun chariot, going back to flirting with other women. Unfortunately, the only thing that really happened was the last part. He was definitely not happy for Lisbeth. His pride as the most awesome god to ever have lived was at stake here! He couldn't be bested by his Death Breath uncle! No, that wouldn't do. Furious, Apollo teleported right in front of the laughing mother and daughter, summoned his lyre, and began to play it. He called up on really horrible sounding notes, directed at the little Minka, intent on cursing the spawn of Hades. It would probably hit Lisbeth too, but Apollo was more focused on her daughter.
"Oh, he cursed them? With what, speaking limericks forever?" You snicker.
Uh, no. You're underestimating Apollo. He's a god. Gods are vengeful, selfish beings that try to do anything they want. I should stop talking about them like that in case they decide to blast me into dust. Lisbeth jumped in front of her daughter, wrapping her in a hug and clapping her hands over the little girl's ears. Though internally panicking, Lisbeth sternly told her daughter to put her own little hands over Lisbeth's. Little Minka believed it was a game, and obeyed. Minka could still hear the music, but it was just enough to stop the curse from taking full effect. Meanwhile, Lisbeth got the full blast of the curse.
Things got hazy from there. Minka's vision blurred, and her mind felt like it was being slowly scraped by a fingernail. An evil witch's fingernail. Lisbeth, unfortunately, didn't feel the same. Okay, wait for it...Her sanity was torn apart viciously by the savage, shrilly notes of music Apollo's lyre thrummed with. Basically, her mind got turned inside out. Basically, Lisbeth went insane.
It wasn't a pretty sight. Apollo finished playing, and Lisbeth dropped to her knees and began to scream hysterically, tearing her hair out and rolling over the ground like a dog. Minka felt incredibly exhausted, as if her brain had gone swimming for hours in murky acid and passed out in it. Several hours later, some people from their town found Minka passed out on the ground, and Lisbeth still screaming and rolling around like an insane banshee. Well, she wasn't a banshee, but she was insane. Somehow, they dragged the raving woman to her home. Minka was picked up and cared for by a neighbor, but for some unknown reason, she kept getting teleported back to her house. Apollo's curse had also included that mother and daughter would be bound together till one of them died.
Apollo had been so absorbed in conducting the curse that he didn't even realize Lisbeth had shielded her daughter from the worst. It was only when he finished the last note that he realized what had happened, seeing the daughter of Hades passed out and Lisbeth acting like she was insane. And to his horror, she really was. Apollo panicked, drew his bow, and was going to fire his arrow at the unconscious Minka, intending to end her life, when he remembered something. Artemis, his twin sister, was the patron goddess of young women and children. Lisbeth she may not have noticed, but a dead, innocent girl struck dead by an arrow of her own brother certainly would. An angry Artemis was NOT something Apollo wanted to see. Fearfully, he teleported to his sun chariot and rode away.
Minka wasn't shielded completely, as mentioned. Lisbeth had lovingly taken the worst of the curse for her daughter, but some of the first, least deadly notes had gotten through. That sliver of the curse resided in the darkest corners of her innocent mind for years, slowly infecting the rest as well. Someday, Minka would become insane as well.
Remnants of Childhood
The best shrink in town had gone insane and it definitely was not good press. Minka would be occasionally locked out of her house as her mother went on a rampage. The poor girl was frightened, but she eventually realized what had happened to her beloved parent. People tried to take Minka from her mother, fully aware that she was no longer fit to be the guardian. But something kept taking Minka back to her mother's home, back in her now dark bedroom. Gone was her sweet mother who'd tuck her in, walk with her to buy sweet halo-halo in that foreign restaurant downtown, and play with her. Here was the raving lunatic who sometimes even hurt Minka indirectly, with her tantrums and screams, almost always breaking something in the house. More than once had Minka had to crawl to a nearby clinic to get the glass pulled out from her skin, or a black eye to be treated from a stray shoe.
It went on like this for three years, Lisbeth slowly withering away to a mere husk of her former self. Minka was lonely, terrified, and though she didn't know it just yet, slowly succumbing to the insanity those haunting notes had carved into her mind. Somehow, the curse allowed Minka to go to school. A loophole, most likely. Despite the fact that the other students had the perfect opportunity to taunt the young girl, they refrained from doing so. Not even behind Minka's back did they dare whisper about her. The Collias girl was freaky. She could stand there, all quiet, and everyone would forget she was even there until she spoke. Everyone in the small town knew about Lisbeth, and some felt sympathetic towards the poor child. Even in elementary school, Minka's name instilled fear deep into many of the students. None made any attempts to befriend the lonely girl. In their minds, people thought of her as a devil child, bound to her corrupted mortal mother till death. They got the "till death do us part" right, not so much on the others.
Three years later, Lisbeth finally died. Where the heck was Hades all the time? Probably managing the traffic in the Underworld. Lisbeth's spirit would eventually come to the attention of Hades, and Lisbeth sort of skipped the queue to be judged. The judges of the Underworld were about to send Lisbeth to Elysium when Persephone found out about her and demanded that she be put in the Fields of Punishment. After a huge argument with Hades, Lisbeth had to settle for the Fields of Asphodel. Minka found her mother lying dead, and something within her stirred. For a child of Hades, seeing death for the first time...well, for one thing, death usually strengthens them. Minka was seven years old, and for the first time in three years, she felt something powerful. It lasted for a few fleeting moments, turned into a single moment of anger, then depression. Now her mother was gone, she had no one. Her father had disappeared off the face of the earth (he technically did, he was underground.)
Minka was no longer bound to her hometown. In despair, she fled, taking nothing but the clothes on her back with her. The cracks that Apollo's music had inflicted on her sanity had been slowly spreading, and running away deep into the strange wonders of the wilderness as a seven year old is definitely classified as insane. It influenced Minka most when she was being emotional, and thus to the wilderness she went, sobbing.
Saved by the Hunt
Minka was attacked along the way by a drakon. The drakon had been originally attacking the nearby camp of the Hunters of Artemis, but had fled after tasting a mouthful of Celestial bronze arrows. Perhaps it was the Fates pulling the strings again, because the drakon somehow sniffed out Minka, sensing her weakness and lack of weapons. Minka had had almost nothing to eat the past few days, and she was running on pure adrenaline. Due to her age, it was considerably early, though not unusual as she was a child of one of the Big Three. Minka barely survived, seeing as she had practically no idea what she could do, and was saved in the nick of time by Artemis' Hunters. She passed out from exhaustion and hunger nearing the end of the fight, and the Hunters took her back to their camp.
The Hunters deduced that she was a demigod (seeing as monsters didn't really attack mortals), and fed her ambrosia and nectar to speed her recovery. Once she woke, the Hunters did their best to explain to the little girl of everything. Soon afterwards, Artemis returned with the Hunters she'd been with, and those Hunters who had stayed behind filled her in on what had happened. Seeing as she was also the protector of young women and children, Artemis allowed Minka to stay with the Hunters. Artemis, however, refrained from asking the young girl to the Hunt, sensing something different in Minka. The girl had a scary look in her eye - as if she could pick up a dagger and kill without hesitation. The aura she gave off was an almost outworldly chill, as if she was born in the Underworld itself.
Artemis' suspicions were confirmed during a hunt for a particularly vicious boar. Just a normal boar, minus the extra viciousness, nothing magical. Minka was being trained by the Hunters, and thus was one of the girls attacking. Minka fell off her tree, and the boar instinctively charged for her. The Hunters let loose a shower of arrows, but not before a fissure split right in front of Minka's feet, spewing hellfire right through the boar's head. Realizing Minka was in fact a child of the Underworld, Artemis realized she was not meant to become a Hunter. The mad look in her eye wasn't natural - it was from something else. Artemis just didn't know what. All the archer goddess knew was that something was stopping her from asking Minka to the Hunt. After around six years, Minka had grown to become a strong and fast young woman, almost equal to Artemis' best Hunters. Since she wasn't officially a Hunter, Minka retained her godly parent's powers, and they remained untouched (except for that time with the boar) during the time she spent with the Hunters. She was good with a bow, but even more so with her twin hunting knives. Minka had a fighting style similar to Artemis and the Hunters - more emphasis on speed and accuracy than strength.
Six years of staying with the Hunters greatly strengthened Minka, and she had almost completely forgotten the pain of her hard past when a dream came to her, telling her she had a duty elsewhere. Images showed her how she and her mother were cursed, and the infamous Hades demigod temper was reignited towards Apollo. It took Minka some thinking on whether or not to tell Artemis, but she eventually did so, and Artemis realized that the girl's path had been marked a long time ago. Though Apollo was her brother and Artemis wanted so badly to punish him for harming an innocent girl, gods couldn't directly interfere without consequences. The Hunters had grown close with the young girl, and many cried when they were informed of the situation. They wouldn't allow Minka to leave without giving her some equipment, including a magical compact tent, her bow and arrows, and last for the best: a gift from Artemis herself, twin magical hunting knives that could change length through willpower of the wielder. Artemis then took Minka aside, and gave her part of a butterfly wing shaped like the crescent moon, explaining that it symbolized Artemis' protection over her. If any male attempted to take advantage of Minka's maidenhood, Artemis would personally hunt him down as if Minka had been one of her Hunters. Later on, Minka found out that it also symbolized one of the things she needed to break her curse: strength.
The Wisdom of Understanding
The thirteen-year-old followed Artemis' advice and headed for Athens, Ohio. The young demigod came to a few close calls with several monsters along the way, but she managed to get to the place. Due to the obvious name, it evidently had some connection with the Greek world that the Mist so cleverly concealed from the mortals. Minka had begun her research on Greek mythology right after she left the company of the Hunters, searching through libraries and museums and other sorts of places along the way to Ohio. So far, she hadn't found anything on how a curse like hers could be reversed. Once she arrived, Minka had immediately set out to locate every place that could possibly conceal any secrets. Her search eventually led her to a college that coincidentally Athena had been visiting. Minka identified her as a goddess despite her disguise, and Athena asked for her name. Minka introduced herself as a cursed demigod, though she didn't tell Athena who her father was. Athena explained that gods couldn't interfere with mortal affairs, so she sadly could not help, but Minka pleaded for a chance.
Reluctantly, Athena gave her a task that was seemingly impossible: find a certain book in the college with one try. When Minka asked for the title, Athena replied that the title was "something you have, but don't as well." Minka picked up the nearest book that was titled "The Meaning of Life Theories" and handed it to Athena, pointing out that a mortal's life was both their own and at the same time not. Minka continued to point out that a life could be manipulated by the gods, the Fates, and rattled off another number of reasons why the life a person could have had did not happen. Athena signaled her to stop, and asked her if her own life was the reason she knew this. Minka realized Athena knew all along who she was, and answered yes. Athena then questioned her, asking if Apollo's curse had stolen away Minka's life, making it not hers. Minka replied that "only part of it has been stolen", and that she could still take back who she really was meant to be.
Impressed, Athena gifted her another piece of a pendant, this one vaguely shaped like an olive tree. Athena also explained that the pendant symbolized Athena's faith for Minka. This part of the pendant, Minka later found out, was a symbol of the second trait: understanding. The two parts merged together, forming the bottom part of the butterfly, and Minka made a makeshift necklace with string. She later replaced the string with woven Celestial bronze. Following Athena's advice, Minka bought a fragrant bouquet of flowers from a flower shop she passed along the way to L.A.
Flowers of Acceptance and Amnesty
Minka made for Los Angeles which Athena had advised. After a few run-ins with monsters, she got to the entrance of the Underworld, and bribed Charon to let her through. As a child of Hades, she was allowed inside Hades' Palace by the skeletal guards. After navigating through the place, Minka found the throne room. Much to her misfortune, only Persephone was there, Hades off doing something else. The Queen of the Underworld quickly deduced who Minka was and attempted to kill her, but Minka placated the goddess by handing her the flowers. Now, Persephone was Hades' queen. She could have anything she wanted as long as it abided to the rules, but she was touched at the demigod's thought of bringing her flowers. She was so stunned that she asked Minka what she needed. The young demigod answered that she needed acceptance, having figured out where everything was leading to.
Persephone froze in shock, feeling even more confused. Why would this demigod want her acceptance? Noticing Minka's fragmented pendant, Persephone created another fragment from one of the flowers Minka had brought her, leaving the pendant with just one piece missing. In doing this, Persephone accepted Minka's peace offering, telling her that that fragment would symbolize Persephone's quelled wrath, meaning she would no longer attempt to harm the demigod. Persephone then granted her stepdaughter permission to leave, teleporting her out of the Underworld. Later, Minka learned that Persephone's fragment symbolized the third trait: acceptance. Persephone's wing fragment is shaped delicately like a flower.
Revenge by Forgiveness
To Minka's complete surprise, she had been teleported to her old home, which had eroded over the years, hardly recognizable. Half of the house had caved in, and the place was overrun by all kinds of fungi. Nevertheless, Minka felt a sense of foreboding, realizing that this was where her journey started - and it would end here. She climbed the surprisingly intact stairs to her bedroom. The room had just one wall left standing, and part of the floor had crumbled.
While examining her old teddy bear, Minka heard a small creak behind her, and swiftly turned around at the disturbance. A faceless woman stood in front of her, and from Minka's crazy experiences, it was either a monster, or a god. By the way the woman wasn't making any suspicious movements, Minka decided she was a god. Minka asked - no, demanded - to know who the being was, and the surprised being introduced herself as Nemesis, goddess of revenge. Nemesis asked to know what she saw, and the demigod replied that Nemesis was faceless to her. Stunned, the goddess told Minka that she had never found someone so uncapable of pure hate. Minka grimly laughed, telling the goddess that after what happened to her mother, she didn't think she could ever hate someone badly enough to wish them dead. Nemesis realized that Minka's idea of hate was the latter, and inquired about her anger against Apollo. Minka explained that she wanted to be better than "that stupid sun god", which is one of the reasons she never wished him dead. Besides, she wanted to hurt him a lot, and that would require him being alive. Nemesis had realized Minka's choice to not hate was the reason, and her godly powers worked around it. Suddenly, Nemesis was no longer faceless to the young demigod, but now had the face of Lisbeth.
After a long internal struggle, Minka broke down in tears, despite all that she had been through. Her anger, after all, had not only been directed at Apollo, but also at Hades and her mother for leaving her to fend for her own. Hate burst from the pits of her stomach, taking over for several minutes before Minka stopped herself. She remembered Artemis, Athena, and Persephone, giving her enough room to stand and remember why she didn't want to hate anyone. Artemis' hate towards men caused pain towards many. Athena's hate for Arachne caused millennia of pain for her demigod children. Persephone's hate for Hades' affairs caused pain for his demigod children. Every time hate was allowed to rule, pain and suffering and horrible things happened. This was why Minka refused to allow the hate control her. The best thing to do was to forgive.
To Nemesis' shock, Minka stood and screamed that she forgave Apollo...because it was the right thing to do. Her pendant glowed, and Nemesis told the demigod that she had not yet broken the curse, but had stalled it for the time being. Minka's old teddy bear floated towards her, transforming into the final fragment of her butterfly pendant. Minka shakily watched as it merged with the rest of the necklace, listening quietly to Nemesis' explanation. Each fragment symbolized what Minka had needed to overcome the curse: Artemis' fragment for strength, Athena's fragment for understanding, Persephone's fragment for acceptance, and the final fragment from Nemesis - the fragment for ultimate forgiveness. Minka had figured it out by the time she went to the Underworld, but she never knew if she could ever forgive Apollo. Now she did, and Nemesis bade her farewell, telling Minka that very few demigods had ever earned her respect.
Minka needed strength, the first step. A person needed strength to be a better person.
Minka needed understanding, the second step. A person needed to understand themselves before they could understand others.
Minka needed acceptance, the third step. A person needed to accept the past to ultimately move on with both the present and future.
Minka needed forgiveness, the last step. A person needed to forgive to really let go of hate.
A year had passed since she had left Artemis, and only then did Minka realize it was her 14th birthday. It wasn't over. Not yet. She looked up at the twilight sky. She had to meet with the bastard himself.
Curse of the Eclipse
Minka found Apollo and Artemis waiting just outside her old home. At the murderous look on Minka's face, Apollo backed away a bit. Much to both gods' shock, the demigod walked right up to Apollo and gave him a really nice power-slap. Apollo, more frightened and ashamed than anything, just whimpered as Artemis bit back a laugh. Not even a flicker of amusement crossed Minka's face, and she angrily demanded to know why the curse wasn't gone yet. Artemis took over as Apollo sulked on a tree stump, explaining that Apollo had outdone himself with the curse. Apparently, the curse had already spread too much in Minka's mind, and attempts to remove it would be considered direct interference. The Amulet of Willpower was the only thing keeping Minka from completely succumbing to insanity, and Minka admitted that the voices were getting stronger. When Minka suggested that Dionysus could fix her, Artemis again repeated that gods couldn't interfere directly without consequences. A step away from completely blowing up, Minka inquired on what she was supposed to do. Artemis then continued to explain a proposal: Artemis and Apollo both owed the girl. Artemis was pleased to have seen her grown to a strong, independent woman, and since Minka had served under her as well, she was willing to help the demigod. Apollo definitely owed the demigod for cursing her in the first place. After being persuaded (read: blackmailed) by Artemis, he was going to help. As goddess of the moon and god of the sun, they had powers over light. Since Apollo was the one who had cursed her, he still could alter the curse slightly with a few music notes. As long as Minka was fine with it, together, they could change her insanity curse to a blindness curse. She would be able to see at night, but be totally blind during day. Seeing as she had no other choice anyway, Minka agreed.
Apollo plucked some notes from his lyre, and Artemis did her moon goddess thing. As it was twilight, both sun and moon were equal in strength. As dawn broke, Minka found her vision darkening. The curse switch had worked. Apollo warned her that it would only be a matter of time before she turned completely blind, and Artemis warned her that she could not break the curse on her own. Minka would need allies to truly break it. Both gods advised her to get to Camp Half-blood before vanishing.
Half-Blind, Half-Goat, and Half-Blood
The gods weren't as cruel now that Minka had sort of proven herself kind of. Hey, a god could never know when they needed to have pawns. Better to have back-ups. Anyway, in Minka's fourteen years of living, she'd never really encountered a satyr. Apollo and Artemis must have had a facepalm moment when they realized they just asked her to get to Long Island...when she was basically blind for 12 hours straight. And lo, behold! A satyr appeared to her about at noon, the very same day she received the Curse of the Eclipse, as she liked to call it. His name was Calvin, and he kept a lookout during day when Minka was vulnerable. For some reason, Minka felt more comfortable around the guy that the usual males. It was probably because the guy was a satyr, and he was a very amusing person, always telling stories and jokes to the blind Minka to cheer her up during day. Minka also appreciated the fact that the satyr didn't recoil from her, seeing as she was a child of the Underworld.
They got near the entrance of the camp at the dead of the night. Though night did remove Minka's blindness and was Hades' domain, more monsters prowled around freely. Minka and Calvin were attacked by monsters when traveling at night more frequently, though Minka did tend to either scare off or slay them all. Nearing the entrance, the two were ambushed by an entire flock of harpies. Usually after a few of theirs died, harpies would back off. For some reason, this flock was relentless, and though Minka and Calvin did manage to kill most of them, they didn't come out of it unscathed. When the last of the flock did one last dramatic Kamikaze dive on them, Calvin's leg was somehow broken. At the sudden crack followed with a howl of pain, Minka panicked. Like the first and only time she'd ever used her powers as a child of the Underworld, they reacted to Minka's emotions and not because she wanted them to work. She'd never had had any training with her death abilities. Everything came impulsively. At the sudden turn of tides, the remaining harpies attacked Minka head-on. Like the day with the boar, a fissure opened right in front of Minka, spewing hellfire smack into the harpies' faces. Calvin, despite his injury, had found his panpipes from the ground and had managed to play a few disorienting notes. The harpies were stunned for the right amount of seconds, just enough for the exhausted Minka to slice through them with her knives.
The daughter of Hades collapsed, and Calvin had to force feed her ambrosia and nectar to bring her to consciousness. The demigod and satyr then limped to camp, Minka semi-conscious and Calvin with a broken leg.