19 Greece (4): Awakening and misunderstandings.

POV: Chiron

The "monster" wasn't a monster... Frankly, I didn't even know why I was surprised; after all, in a way, it was expected.

A young girl cursed by the gods for some reason that escaped me; this wasn't the first time it happened, and to my sadness, it probably wouldn't be the last.

At least these three would have better endings than other mortals who somehow ended up on the wrong side of the gods. After all, Lord Hunter was someone whom, despite not knowing the limits, and perhaps never knowing, was someone the gods feared.

To say the least, because the way Lord Hunter and Lady Doll simply walked through Athens without being stopped and now interfering in a matter directly involving one of the Olympians, I could even say that the gods feared him...

As heretical as the thought might be, something told me it was correct. The gods were not just cautious of Lord Hunter, but truly afraid of him.

That was as frightening as it was, in a way, comforting. After all, Lord Hunter seemed to be someone who wasn't easily offended and was, I hesitated to think, kind.

With Lady Doll, that was certain. Lord Hunter treated her as something more than precious, but it seemed that such kindness was also extended to other beings...

I glanced briefly at the three young ones lying on the ground.

... albeit to a lesser degree.

"Any orders for me, Lord Hunter?" I asked as I disembarked from the boat.

Lady Doll had descended moments before, assisted by Lord Hunter.

"None, Chiron." Lord Hunter's voice was restrained, not even sounding like he had just emerged from a battle that destroyed a large part of Shapeless Isle, sinking another part.

It wasn't a surprise; after all, I knew he was powerful, but I was still surprised by the way he acted in battle.

There were no mistakes, wasted movements, or any kind of "grace." Every move by Lord Hunter was extremely effective. The fight only lasted as long as it did because he wanted it to, because he willed it.

As contrary as it was, this lack of "grace" was what made the battle more awe-inspiring and beautiful; it was like watching an apex predator hunt, something so far above its prey that the "fight" couldn't even be considered one.

Hunter... I still hadn't figured out if that name was indeed a name, or a nickname, or even his profession... But it didn't matter, whatever it was, it was the surest thing I knew about the man.

"I assume Mr. and Mrs. Doll will stay here?" I asked, letting my thoughts out.

Lord Hunter seemed to have developed a certain interest in the "monster," or in this case, the young Medusa. From what I understood, he wanted to help her, or at least point a way for her to start walking.

"Correct." The response was a single word.

"Should I call some people to build a house? Or something else?" Shapeless Isle was in pieces, almost sinking into the sea, and had nothing but stone, pillars, and statues. All three destroyed by the battle.

From what I had seen of Lord Hunter, I doubted very much that the island would sink, but the place was still inhospitable. I couldn't do anything about the lack of nature and animals, but I had some contacts to build whatever Lord Hunter desired.

Lord Hunter looked at me for a moment before shaking his head slightly in refusal.

"It won't be necessary, Chiron. Still, I appreciate the offer." As he said these words, Lord Hunter turned, looking at the island. "As you guessed, Doll and I will stay here for some time, and you?" Lord Hunter asked.

"Me?" I asked, realizing he was asking if I would stay here...

Technically, my job was to act as a guide, so I should stay close to Lord Hunter and Lady Doll in case they needed my services, and it wasn't specified how long I would need to do that either...

Did I just get an extended vacation and didn't realize?...

"I'll stay as long as necessary to help you, Lord Hunter." As much as Lord Hunter might ask me a thing or two, that was much better than being sent in all directions by the gods without any explanation.

Lord Hunter nodded, without turning, accepting my answer, and then waved his hand.

At first, I thought it was an illusion, but when the green grass touched my hooves, I realized the change in the environment was real.

Whether it was the delicate grass that grew on the rocks, ignoring whether it could or not, the trees, even the three houses in the distance, everything was real, even though it seemed to have come out of a dream...

The more I discovered about what Lord Hunter seemed to be capable of, the more questions I had.

"The rightmost house is yours." Lord Hunter pointed. "I created it with the thought that it could accommodate you in your true form, so it shouldn't be uncomfortable." Can I cry now? Kneel in gratitude?

I did neither. It would be very rude of me and unprofessional, so I thanked him with a bow.

"I appreciate your generosity, Lord Hunter."

Lord Hunter nodded, accepting my thanks, and walked over to the unconscious young ones on the ground.

"Help me put these three in their house, the one on the left; Doll and I will take the middle one." Before Lord Hunter could finish his sentence, I was by his side.

I lifted the two younger sisters, carrying them easily. They were very light; I would scold them if they were my students.

To my surprise, Lord Hunter didn't carry Medusa in his arms, as any other man would in this situation, but threw her over his shoulder, carrying her like a sack of wheat, and walked calmly to the house he had designated for the three.

Why couldn't Lord Zeus act like this?... I would have so many fewer problems. Can I get a lifelong job here?

I sighed, pushing those thoughts away, and wasted no time in following Lord Hunter.

 ~ Fate/The Hunter and His Doll ~

POV: Medusa

Waking up was... Calm, refreshing.

For the first time since I was cursed, I didn't feel the urge to kill, drink blood, and eat human flesh.

For the first time in a long while, I felt at peace...

"What happened?" I brought my hand to my forehead, sitting on the edge of a... Bed? There was no bed in...

It hit me like a punch, quick and strong; all the memories of what had happened rushed back to me in an instant.

I got up as fast as I could, feeling my body strangely weak from whatever the man... Hunter, had done to me.

I didn't care about the strange design of the house or the furniture, much less about the door when I opened it, searching, running until I could sense my sisters.

The feeling was weak, as if, like everything else, it too was sealed, but not completely. An act of kindness, perhaps? Or a flaw? I couldn't tell, but it didn't matter.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I opened the door to the room where I felt my sisters and saw them lying on the bed, embraced and peacefully sleeping.

"You're okay..." Hunter had spared them... He spared me...

I had to restrain myself from smiling, the joy of being free, of something finally going right, filling my chest.

I had to hold back tears, the sadness and regret of knowing that nothing was free, and I didn't know the price I would have to pay for this help.

I sat at the edge of my sisters' bed, watching them sleep peacefully for several minutes, and would have stayed many more if I didn't need to get up to seek answers.

I brushed their hair lightly, making them grunt and shake their faces while sleeping. This made me smile, so I stood up.

No matter the price I have to pay, as long as I can be with my sisters and keep the smiles on their faces, I'll accept whatever it is.

Still, I admit my steps were hesitant, not just because of the fear of going to meet Hunter, but also because I took my time admiring the house I was in.

It didn't look like any of the houses I had been in; I didn't remember any place with this architecture, it was... Different, but not in a bad way.

The floor was the first thing I noticed, it was wooden, smooth to the touch, not that the marble of the temples I lived in wasn't smooth, but I didn't know wood could have such a finish too.

The walls didn't seem to be made of marble either, but another type of stone I didn't recognize, painted in a soft shade of lilac and purple, which reminded me a lot of the hair, both of my sisters and mine.

Was this painting done with that in mind? How long had I been asleep?...

The furniture was also made of wood, but a darker wood, along with the rugs that occupied the floor in various places and the fireplace in the central room, which I took more time looking at; the place seemed inviting.

It really felt like a home, and not a place to sleep, a temple of worship, where my sisters and I used to stay.

It was different, but not bad... Anything but bad.

I observed the inside of the house for a few more minutes, running the tips of my fingers lightly over the furniture and walls, before going outside.

To say that I was surprised by the grass and trees would be a lie, especially when I saw the ocean in the distance, the same ocean I saw every day when I woke up since I was thrown into Shapeless Isle.

I recognized the beach, the corals too... Was this the place where I had been living for the past few months?

No matter how much I looked at the surroundings, seeing so much life where only cold stone existed was surprising. Were my sisters and I sleeping for years, or had something changed on the island?

A god. A small voice in my mind whispered before I silenced it.

No matter, still, I would do whatever it took.

Finding the other two was easy; of the three houses that had been created on the island, none of them was far from where I had woken up.

The other two had a similar appearance to the one my sisters were sleeping in right now, but had various small details different that I didn't pay much attention to, focusing on the target of my troubled thoughts.

Hunter was sitting with another person, a woman, tall, whom I didn't know the name of, both sitting on a small cloth, eating what seemed to be some snacks they took from a basket.

From afar, I noticed briefly, I could see a centaur fishing, Chiron, on a small dock that, along with the changes on the island, wasn't there before.

"I see you've awakened." I turned my face quickly to the voice that spoke, the woman. "Come, sit, eat something, you must be hungry." She patted the space next to her.

I hesitated, looking at Hunter next to the woman, but he didn't even glance in my direction, more focused on eating in silence, looking at the sea.

I sat quietly on the cloth, not where the woman had indicated but a bit further away. Neither of them seemed to react to it.

"Hungry?" The woman asked.

I denied, shaking my head, but my body betrayed me, my stomach making a slight noise as if complaining about being empty.

I must be cursed... Ah! Yes...

"Here, eat a little." The woman placed a small plate in front of me with some snacks. I ignored my cheeks that should be red and thanked her.

"Thank you, Lady..." I didn't know her name; I hope she doesn't get annoyed by that, she seems kind.

"Doll, you can call me Doll, Medusa." I didn't react; she knowing my name was obvious, many knew the "monster."

I noticed as she handed me the plate that her hands didn't seem human but rather like those of a puppet. Was she literally a doll?...

I hesitated to eat, looking at the two; Hunter still seemed indifferent to my presence, just waving politely when I looked at him, and Doll seemed to wait, to see my reaction to the food.

I wasn't a stranger to eating with someone watching; several times the faithful fed us with fruits, but being watched eating while a being that could destroy me was next to me made things more tense...

The first bite I took almost made me throw my manners away; this snack must be the best thing I've eaten in my entire life!

"I'm glad you like it." Doll smiled, in a calm but happy way. "I'm still learning, so if something seems strange, let me know to improve the recipe."

Lady Hestia? Doll didn't have a divine aura, but I wouldn't be surprised if she were Lady Hestia.

"It's excellent." I praised, speaking only the truth.

Doll smiled but didn't speak, returning to eating in silence, just like Hunter. How could she eat? I didn't ask, and I ate in silence too.

Even though I should be feeling tense and stressed in the situation, the silence wasn't bad; in fact, it was welcoming...

"Why?" I couldn't help but ask. "Why did you help me?" I looked directly into Hunter's eyes. They were blue, something that relieved me.

Those yellow eyes... How, how could he still remain sane was something I wanted to know.

"You remind me of someone I knew in the past." He replied, as before, in battle, I noticed that his voice was emotionless but very polite. "That, and you asked for my help."

Why did I ask for help? I could understand if it were just for a strange nostalgia, but why did I ask for help?...

"You seem surprised." Hunter stated.

"It can't be just that..." I didn't raise my voice, but I let it be as serious as I could... My throat felt tight...

"If you're looking for an additional reason, it doesn't exist." Hunter asserted again. "I'm not after your body, as you might think, much less those of your sisters; I just helped you because you asked for help."

Why were my eyes cloudy?...

"You were a beast, but still restrained yourself when your sisters seemed in danger, suppressed your madness, and tried to save them, even if it condemned you." His voice was calm in a way, not emotionless this time.

"I can't help those who don't want to be helped, and I won't help beasts, beings that succumbed to madness, be they men, women, humans, or monsters..." I wanted to be a monster... I didn't want... I never wanted to be...

"So, as I said, don't worry; you're not a monster, much less a beast, and you asked for help, wanted to be helped." Then I will help you...

This ending wasn't said, and if it was, I couldn't hear it, as I ended up losing the battle against the tears that threatened to come out.

I didn't want to show such a pathetic side, even more than my monstrous transformation, but when Doll's gentle arms embraced me, I couldn't help but cry.

I cried, like I had never cried before, not in silence, as I always did not to worry my sisters, but I screamed, throwing my grievances out.

I cried tears of sadness, joy, I just cried, Doll hugged me all this time, and I felt bad for wetting her clothes...

I stopped crying at some point, but I didn't know when, and only raised my face when I heard a third, masculine voice.

I thought it was Chiron, but the words shouted by the voice gave me certainty that it wasn't the centaur.

"COME, MONSTER! AND MEET YOUR END BY MY SWORD!" The man shouted.

Great... Why can't these supposed heroes give me a day of...

"USING DAMSELS AS HOSTAGES, YOU ABOMINABLE CREATURE! ON TOP OF THAT, MAKING THEM CRY! YOU WRETCHED BEING!"

... Peace?... Wait, what?!.

Who was the man talking about?... And why did Hunter's eyes seem to gleam with amusement?...

[...]---[...]

Regarding the chapter, something more tranquil, the next ones should pick up the pace a bit... Misunderstandings happen, right?...

Good night, everyone, and happy reading!

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