“The chains linked me to the bar, I could break them… but why would I?”
Today was one of the hardest days of my life. Lycaon’s funeral. I had shifted to drakon form and very carefully picked up his bier with my back talons. People had argued with me, but I said I would take him, it was my magic that both created the bier and kept him safe, I would be the one to deliver him to Stonehenge. Gabriel accompanied me on the flight, I hadn’t even asked him to. The flight was easy, for the most part, I stuck to thermals and jet streams to carry me, reserving my effort for keeping the magic intact, and then the landing.
When I felt Stonehenge approaching, I began my descent slowly, paying attention to where I needed to go. Merlin was already there and was guiding me down, so I knew where to place the bier. Once Lycaon was safely on the ground, Gabriel landed, but I flew away for a few moments to compose myself. I couldn’t afford to be a wreck today. I shifted back as I landed, my long black chiton forming over me, and I walked over to Lycaon, the golden shard above my heart a constant reminder of what I’d lost. “This and the denarii are the only things I have of yours, these and the small scars on my back, Lycaon.” I let a tear stream down my cheek as the memory of how we first met floated through my head.
I began my dance, slow to the music as always, aimed at no one in particular, and the tavern owner smiled at me knowingly. I knew that I was his biggest draw, pale blonde hair, amber eyes… I looked like an exotic beauty from the north; slim, lithe, and nimble. I could glide, leap and twist better than any of the other women there, who sold themselves. But, I was just a dancer. The tavern owner liked to think he owned me, but I wanted to be there. I wanted to degrade myself, where no one knew my face or my name. Medea was still well known in those parts, although I had mostly faded into myth. So, I chose another name. One no one would connect to the old me, because she was forgotten.
“Chal… you have a request!” he shouted over the raucous music and I waved at him, my chains clinking to the beat. I looked over at where he was pointing and smiled. Old men were easily the best targets. While they were handsy, they definitely tipped the best. I turned my attention to the old man, and as I was making my way over to him, my lithe body walking seductively to the music, someone walked in. Normally, I wouldn’t pay attention to it, but he had this…air about him. Even though he was wrapped in traveller’s gear, I could sense a regality about him and that scent. Alpha male, he knew he was king of the hill and wouldn’t let anyone forget it. That sent my heart racing. Our eyes locked, and I couldn’t help as mine flashed from the golden amber they normally were to a bright purple. I blinked and turned away, my next customer waiting for me.
The night ended, the tavern closed, and I retreated to a table in the back corner. I didn’t see anyone around, and a tankard of whiskey appeared in my hands. It was an original recipe, and by original I mean it was given to me by a relative of my grandfather, Helios when the relative visited Hekate, Circe, and I years ago. Drinking it slowly, I relished the burn it gave me, the peace that it brought me. When I drank it, the madness would come, and I could forget who I was and what I’d done. A gruff voice sounded behind me. “That was quite the dance you gave…” I looked over, my skimpy dancing outfit all I wore. He was fishing for my name, so I gave it.
“Chalkiope,” I replied quickly, “you’re not from around here.” I got up quickly and filled a large tankard for him to drink from.
“Neither are you, I’ve never seen dance moves like that before.” His voice sent chills down my spine and there was a desire to submit to him, though where it came from I didn’t know. “How long have you been working here?” He asked, leaning forward.
“Only a couple of years.” I had found this place by accident as I was making my way up to Rome from Sicily. Nestled beneath Vesuvius, Pompeii was delightful, a den of sin in the old days. “I decided Rome would be nice to check out and had been slowly making my way there. But this place… well, it seemed too good to be true.” He looked at me, bright eyes burning into me, and I smiled carefully. “I used to dance, for the competitions… and now, I dance for me. By the way,” I took a long drink from my cup, “you haven’t told me your name yet.”
The man let out a laugh, well it sounded more like a bark, and he leaned back smiling with ease. “No, I haven’t. You can call me Cerseus Cayn.” The name definitely came from the Hellenic world, as mine did, but I could tell that it wasn’t from the mainland, or even the Cyclades. It was also fake. I didn’t care. This strange, beautiful man had me surrendering under his gaze, and I had to shake myself out of it. The last time a man held me in a trance I’d… well, the history books and plays got it right. I’m not going into that here.
I took another long drink and emptied my cup. “How about a dance, for the strange traveller from afar? Then you can find a room, and a lady or two, and carry on your way in the morning.”
I stood up and leapt easily on the bar. Cerseus just stared at me. “Do you not have a room here?” That grit in his voice, oh it gave me shivers. I began to stomp my feet to a beat, I didn’t need music, it was in my soul.
“No, I just dance, tied to this bar until I work off the debt I accrued.” My hips swung deliciously in time with the music of my feet, and my hands picked up the tempo. It felt good, dancing for him. Like my life was intrinsically wrapped with his, although I knew once this night was over I would never see him again. I debated on giving in to my baser instincts, but the voice in my head said not to. Don’t get attached, Medea, he chided, there is something I don’t trust about him. My second form, my soul-bond, the Colchian Drakon, was ever-present, keeping me from harm. His guidance had kept me out of a lot of life-or-death situations over the last few hundred years. I smiled an acknowledgment and moved closer to Cerseus, my body magnetized to his. I yearned for him, I needed to feel his touch, I wanted to know his taste. And sometimes, I didn’t listen to the drakon. This was one of those times.
I danced towards Cerseus, the man who was consuming my every thought in such a short period of time and I reached out, pulling him to a standing position. I felt him regard me oddly and yet, he still came. My body was liquid against his, moving and grinding, yet never quite touching. My hands longed to run across his face and it was killing me not to pull him into a kiss to defy the gods, but still, I refrained. I let a little magic out, enough to make it seem like the bar didn’t exist, and I danced.
When morning came and I roused from my sleep to get ready for the next day, my heart sank a moment when Cerseus wasn’t there, but I knew that would be the case and I put him out of my mind for good, never thinking I’d see him again. I decided to continue on with my journey to Rome, and when the chains binding me fell to the ground startling the owner, I smiled darkly. I ran my hands through my hair changing it back to brown and walked out, my normal clothes reforming over my body.
The tears fell down my face, as I recounted our tale to the crowd. Once done, I stepped back, trying not to crumple to the ground, and sure enough, when I felt myself starting to fall a hand rested on my back, steady and sure. I looked over to see Gabriel standing beside me, keeping me upright, the feeling of sadness radiating through our bond broke my heart all over again. We stood there, him holding me, as Merlin finished the funeral and I broke for the last time over my lost love.