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34 Salvation

 When Orion put his quill to the parchment. It opened up emotions within him that had been locked deep inside his heart. He kept a lot in hid mind when composing the letter to Anna, he didn't want to scare her, and he didn't want her to be too emotional when reading it. He ended it with a description of his undying love for her and how he hoped she would be able to cope without him.

She knew he wouldn't read hers, but she decided to write him back at the end of every year.

*

: It's been five year since i got the news about your passing. I was broken completely. I lost my appetite and I was close to losing my mind. It hurt to know you weren't coming back to me and the angel you left in my womb. I carried him for six months. Don't worry, he's a healthy boy. Ma Lari said it takes six to seven month for a hybrid child to be born.

His cries filled the room and I smiled at him with tears of relief and joy running down my cheeks.

My arms cradled our first child. His nascent eyes opened, and his mouth rooted for milk. Through my exhaustion, i laid gentle kisses on his face, and everyone stopped by with countless gifts. I wished you were there to witness it, hold him and name him with me.

His ears were white furred like yours, however smaller. His little face glowed from a light within, and his miniature fingers grasped mine whenever he knew I needed comfort in the dead silence of night.

He was aware his mother required joy amidst the agony I felt whenever I picture a future with you.

I wish you could see the little troublemaker. I named him rowan because of my love for that name.

He was a whirlwind at day, and a nightmare at night. His cries were sharp like a wounded animal and he only slept for half an hour at a time. He fed, he screamed, he napped, then he fed again. No matter what he did, I couldn't help but love him even more. Now, he makes me want to throw a tantrum. So energetic and wild. I wonder if that's how you were.

I'm not mad at you Orion for your decision. I understand everything now, why you had to do, and who you did it for. You're a hero. I tell our son that every day. Oh, before I forget to add this, Artemis is doing well. She trains hard every day, and I try my best to act like an older sister and fill her with words of encouragement. Four more years before the big tournament. I know you're cheering for her all the way from Walhalla, and I also know you watch over us even though we can't see or touch you. We'll forever love you, Orion. Thank you for everything.

***

An entertainment team had set up a stage in the middle of the market square for performers that wanted to earn a few bronze by wowing the crowd. The cool afternoon was less busy than it was at the break of day because of the annual discount event. People from close towns hurried to the grand market to get a thing or two before they'd be sold out. Towards winter, demands were for woolly clothes and mittens. With the event, whoever was lucky could get limited things for a low cost.

A young girl climbed unto the stage and she shouted "I'M CONTESTANT 99!!!"

The second the announcement was made, the crowd went still. They slowly turned to the direction of the sound and their darkened eyes met with a teen standing on the high platform.

"After almost six years, I've decided to break my silence. This is who I am! Artemis Rivera from the village Morbon!"

The caw of ink stained birds echoed in the silent environment after her name was mentioned.

"I'm here to plead. I need your support! A few more years from now I'll be competing again!"

Dread draped their faces and they started throwing whatever they could get their hands on.

"Please! Just hear me out," She put her hand over her head to shield herself from the objects descending on her.

Soon, someone rushed towards her, and before she knew it, she was pierced with a dagger. She looked at the face of her attacker. She was livid with shock. He pulled out the weapon and jabbed it into her again.

Most people in the crowd fled, while some that hoped for the death of the girl watched her tumble to her demise.

"I couldn't sit back and watch this girl continue to run her mouth, asking for support like we'd start a parade to sol, then come back in caskets. Contestant ninety-nine is dead! The reason for our misery has perished. We don't have the strength to start a rebellion now, and we don't want history to repeat itself. Let the strong complete, and the comedians ought to do what fits them best. This befalls people that doom humanity. I will kill anyone else that does something stupid like what this girl did!!!" After the loud speech, he conveyed the corpse on his shoulder then dashed towards the woods.

Once he'd covered enough distance, he placed Artemis back on her feet, then he heaved deeply and shivered. 'I can't believe I just did that! I can't believe I just did that!!!' He repeated in his head as he placed his hand on the tree for support. He felt queasy, like he was suffering a mini heart attack with butterflies at the pit of his stomach.

"Calm down Sir Sebastian" Artemis slapped his back and the young man jolted "Yes!!!" He exclaimed with quivering lips and eyes fraught with anxiety.

"You did good!" She raised a thumb and flashed a cheeky smile, "You successfully did it without freaking out! You deserve an award" She clapped, and the boy's freckled face went rosy.

"I didn't mess up, right?"

Artemis shook her head. She'd watched him practice his lines in secret, and to be honest, she never thought he'd be able to pull it off. His inner actor took control of him and the plan was a success.

With the little play they'd put on, there was no way the Demigod wouldn't be informed about her passing, and she could practice peacefully without worrying about being watched.

It seemed like things were actually working out for good. She was disappointed that the humans weren't willing to come out of their shells, but she didn't blame them for that decision. Artemis was okay with the little support she had, and with their encouragement, she was sure she'd take the crown. Even with the stupid gender rule put in place, she'd be the demigod that would save humanity.

What lied ahead was a journey to sol. An adventure full of dangerous action, and she was going alone.