Loveline didn't need to be told to keep their power on the downlow. She didn't trust them either. Ariana was a bit of a blabbermouth though. But Love did feel a bit awkward being complimented like that by Elyssa, knowing what she was referring to. Especially considering she did end up transforming toward the end of the fight, so perhaps that praise wasn't as warranted...
"Oh, you might even find one to call your own in the outside world. Running into them is kinda random, so it might well happen to you." Loveline told Euryale. Give her a reason not to try stealing theirs aside from a deterrent.
"Getting ahead by guile and charisma... He sounds pretty competent. If he's weaker than you two and we don't have to split up the group, he should go down no problem... Unless he prepared traps or he can manipulate us." Love said, cautiously. Yui didn't seem worried though. "Hehehe, I guess we'll be counting on you to knock him senseless before he can try to pull something then," Love told her.
“I knew that, I just didn’t say it right.” Ariana pouted and blushed, taking another swig of her drink. She felt lightheaded and silly, so she rested her head on Love’s shoulder. Let them handle the strategy talk. “Well he probably expects us to try to board, so let’s use Ariana and the stone beam to sink them! She can drop anchors on them and we’ll turn parts of the hull into rock! She’ll sink like a stone!” Kasumi mimed a ship sinking with a few bubbling noises for emphasis. “I can do the anchors.” Ariana nodded but didn’t move otherwise. “Heck yeah! We’ve got this! More booze!” Kasumi was mostly red, and she nearly fell over the table when she waved her cup for a refill.
Stheno nearly bent her glass in half when Yui wanted to claim being ‘Queen of the Pirates’. Elyssa could see the gorgon close her eyes and take a deep breath to avoid flipping into rage.
“...I wouldn’t be so bold, human.” Stheno tried to warn Yui. Meanwhile, Euryale’s eyes sparkled when Loveline suggested she may find a gem.
“Me?! Ehehe...I am SO going to look for one of those!” She chirped happily.
Elyssa smirked at Kasumi’s drunken state, wobbling a little herself. “Tha’s a fine plan, Kasumi! But maybe we can improve it a little later. It’s really nice being here with you all!” Elyssa said happily, raising her glass.
However, something didn’t feel right. The atmosphere felt...tense. Elyssa was only able to spin around when the room began to erupt. Several hidden smoke bombs exploded under the tables and immediately enveloped the dining hall in darkness.
“What is the meaning of this?!” Stheno growled, standing up from her seat.
Love bolted up just as fast, covering her face with one hand and reaching for Ariana with the other. An ambush? She didn't want to speak, not knowing if the black smoke was more than a cover, but she knew she should stick close to Riri in this situation.
“Oh crudders!” Ariana would have fallen over if Love didn’t catch her. “Gem time!” She called, retrieving her stone from her pocket.
“I can’t see anything!” Kasumi called out, putting a hand on her sword but not drawing it. She couldn’t risk swinging blindly, she might hit her friends!
The team’s surprise was met with two blasts of light that came from the opposite end of the room, one hitting Stheno and the other Yui. Both immediately froze, collapsing onto the floor below.
“They got the turrets in here!” Elyssa called, but it was futile when two small pairs of hands crept up behind Loveline and Ariana, using a dagger to cut Love’s gem free and grabbing Ariana’s from her hand, taking off with them into the smoke. Love grabbed for the hands with a clawed hand of her own, while Ariana turned and threw wild punches into the dark.
The attacks only grabbed air, as two more blasts rocked the room. Euryale was next, followed by Kasumi. Elyssa sprinted into the smoke and rolled to kick the turrets away, but was met with a large decayed hand that grabbed her leg and hoisted her upward. She couldn’t see who it was through the smoke, but two undead arms grabbed her own, blocking her attempt at shooting him with a grappling hook.
“Everyone, get out!” Elyssa yelled toward the others. But both Ariana and Loveline would find themselves housed up by their arms and bound by many crew members, locking in place like a colony of ants.
“I’m not leaving- ah! Ahhh!” Ariana wiggled, but she could barely move, trapped tight. Love struggled just the same and got nowhere fast. She knew she could shapeshift her body, get free and then… what? If she had her gem, it would've been obvious. But now she didn't stand a chance.
Soon the smoke cleared, revealing the person holding Elyssa’s leg.
“...Strider.” Elyssa spat. But the person holding her was none other than the captain that sailed them to the Lotus...Silverbeard.”
“So you figured it out, lass? What tipped yer off?” The undead captain asked, grinning. “It was your phrase ‘smartest man on the seven seas’. Nobody else seems to refer to Strider that way, and why would that be? Could this genius possibly have an ego? But I guess that raises the question...why was a pirate lord in prison with Circe?” She asked.
Strider laughed at the question. “Yer think I wasn’t there willingly?! My scouts saw some strange new arrivals at the rancid beach, and set sail for my prison. So I wanted to see what these drifters could do.” His smile then turned to the others.
“I watched all yer battles from my ship. The strongest is obviously that one.” He pointed toward Yui. “I had nothing to defeat her or the gorgons, so I snuck in these two turrets when ye were fighting the Lords.” He then turned to Loveline and Ariana.
“I also saw you two use those rocks before transforming. So I had to remove them, yer understand.” He tipped his hat when an undead crew member handed him the stones. He then turned to Kasumi.
“This magic of yours was tricky...but your rebellious spirit showed you had no self control. So I let the liquor do the work for me. And you…” Strider looked at the upside-down Elyssa. “You just needed to be overpowered. So yes, you may call me the smartest...man...on the seven seas.” Strider spat.
Elyssa rolled her eyes. “Most smart people don’t need to say they’re smart, ya know?” She said casually. Strider rolled his rotten eye and dropped Elyssa’s leg, swiftly dogpiled by the undead crew. “Well I think this is a win fer me, aye? But I won’t be the one dealing with you...oh no. I’ll just say goodbye, adventurers.” He laughed haughtily as he disappeared up the stairs.
After several minutes, another set of footsteps descended down. Elyssa took one look at the boots to know who it was. “Hellooooooooo! I was told there’d be rats on board.” Circe chirped, gliding around the room and inspecting the crew. The gorgon crew had been slowly subdued before the ambush, leaving them on the floor as well. The few remaining undead members of Strider’s crew looked on at the sorceress.
“Don’t worry, your idiot boss made a deal with me. I get these thieving rats, and you all can leave these waters alive. Aren’t I just a generous witch?” Circe asked, getting swift nods. She swayed forward and tipped the frozen Yui’s chin up.
“This one I will have fun dealing with...as you all will soon find out.” Circe then stepped toward Elyssa and clacked her feet in front of the adventurer.
“I am only going to ask this once...where...is...my...stuff?!” Circe demanded. Elyssa shrugged her shoulders. “Uh, my pocket?” She said casually. Circe dove her hand into Elyssa’s pocket and pulled out the small bag that held the miniature animal dolls.
“Finally! What the HECK is wrong with you all?! All those jewels and you take my passion project?!” She asked incredulously. Elyssa blinked in surprise. “Wait, you made those? There isn’t like, a magic thing to do with them?”
Circe rolled her eyes. “I like carving animals out of wood, ok? Ever had a hobby that didn’t involve diving in front of a cannon? Honestly.” Circe pocketed the wooden animals and took a breath to calm herself.
“Bring them to my ship...we’re going back to Aeaea.”
The ship was out of place in this world of gunpowder and 1700s frigates. Low and long, it was shaped like a classic Greek trireme, prow rising up into the figure of a beautiful woman with large, compassionate eyes that seemed to look back in love at the man commanding from the helm. Starring just as keenly was the woman clinging to his arm. She was an odd sight moreso than even the ship. Her frilly dress was soaked with seawater around the edges, her pale skin marked with vicious sunburns. She clearly did not belong on the waves. But there was pride and power in her golden eyes, and the strange devices and pouches around her waist confirmed that there was might in this strange girl.
“Alright, we have reports of a strong wind to the east! Keep an eye out for any of those patrol ships! This thing’s clearly not as tall as most ships in this gods-forsaken land!” A dashing man with neat black hair called forth. He wore a small leafy golden circlet on top of his head, and a set of silver scale armor that was thickly layered. He held onto the girl who was clinging to his arm confidently.
“We will not rest until that fleece is in my hands! Forward, Argonauts!” Jason declared, pointing his sword forward confidently.
A tall woman leaned over the side of the boat, shielding her eyes from the beating sun. She was looking ahead, into the distance where sea and sky met. Her eyes were a verdant green, just like her bangs. The rest of her unkempt hair, golden like sunbathed wheat, fluttered in the sea breeze. Her lean body, wrapped in a modest yet light sleeveless tunic, seemed wound up like a spring after the days they'd spent out on the sea. Atalanta had gotten her sea legs by now, but little chance to use them. Despite the size of the ship, the crew was numerous and the waves often big enough to rock it. She couldn't wait for solid land, a chance to stretch, a chance to prowl and stalk the wildlife and hunt some fresh meat.
"How much longer do you reckon, Jason? Medea? Before the new moon, I hope. I'm starting to get homesick out here," Atalanta said.
When she was called to, Medea woke from her daydreaming to turn back and look. The crew was getting restless. It was to be expected, unfortunately. They had been at sea for a long time, and everybody here was a person of action. Even Medea, used to confinement in her father’s household, was beginning to get bored. She pulled the scroll she had shown Jason from her dress’ apron and unfolded it to a map. “The golden fleece is here, on Aeacea. My aunt Circe rules the island, so we have to be careful.” She carefully fixed her gaze on Hercules when she said that. “I am going to approach my aunt and ask her for refuge. Don’t accept any food or wine from her until I say so. Once I have her trust, we can search the island for the golden fleece.” She curled her map back up and put it away to defend it from the ocean air.
Hearing another oar snap, Jason looked over and motioned his hands toward the sea. "It's as the lovely Medea said, we are nearing the island! Once we get the fleece, I will finally become king of Thessaly!" Jason said confidently. He hated having to chase trinkets like these, but he deserved that throne more than anyone. Just as they could spot the island, the crew could also see a large wooden ship coming toward them, bearing the flag of Circe's crew.
"I knew there would be patrols. Leave the talking to me." Jason stood at the front of the ship and waved toward the other ship. The robe-wearing human stared down at him with a crossbow drawn.
"This area is property of Lord Circe! If you don't turn your tiny boat around now, we will sink it for you." He barked. Jason held out his arms toward Medea.
"Wait! As you can see, we have a special passenger on board. Circe's niece, Medea." He motioned to the mage on board. The pirate looked on in confusion.
"Niece? Boss didn't say anything about her family..." He said with suspicion. They did look somewhat related though. After a moment of silence, he returned to the railing.
"We'll escort you to the island, but you three stay put in your ship! If the boss believes your story, she can direct you from there!" He called over. Jason waved them on. "A thousand thank yous, sir!"
The boat was escorted to the island's shores, where one of the pirates disembarked and ran into the large temple-like house that loomed over the tiny island. The outside was white marble, held up by columns that gave way to a large courtyard with immaculately trimmed hedges sculped into shapes of animals. Not 5 minutes later, a familiar black-dressed woman came walking out onto the shore.
"Medea Medea Medea...it's been so long!" She held out her hands for Medea to step into a hug, away from the ship and the three Argonauts within. She squinted at the trio, especially the two men on board. "I have heard of you..." She motioned a finger toward Hercules. "But not you." Her eyes fell upon Jason, whose eye twitched in anger.
"So what do I owe this...1/4 lovely visit? Why are you all here?" Circe asked suspiciously. Jason looked back at the other two, hoping they wouldn't outright say their mission, and Medea gave them a good enough cover story.
"Well of course you would know of the mighty Hercules! only a fool living under a rock would not know of my deeds"-He said as he set his hand on Jason's shoulder and made a reverence towards Circe.
"However, and like I said at the beginning of this journey, I believe there is no man more suited to the task of being our captain than Jason! so please, lady Circe, be so kind as to lend your ear to this man, for I am sure he will make every second of your time worth it"
Hercules gave Jason a pat on his back so he would walk forward while he non chalantly made his way to the back in order to examine the courtyard, laughing loudly and boisterously as always.
The man had done his part, he left all the talking to the captain. After all, It was precisely for this kind of situations that he ceded the role to him.
When Hercules entered the courtyard, he would notice a strange array of animals milling around the grass. One particularly large one was a small bipedal marsupial not seen in Greece. "Oh? what is this little creature? it is most interesting! almost like an upright rat!"- He commented as the creature kicked him on the shin, clearly bothered by the adjetive used.
"And it's got some fight in it! HA HA HA HA!"-He said as he blew on the marsupial, sending it flying back into a bush. "Hopefully Circe keeps some more appetizing animals in here instead of rats"
“Thessaly…” Medea whispered, an echo of Jason. She was terrified of it still. She was already so far from home, and that was another culture entirely. But if she had Jason with her, she could face it. She nervously stood up for Circe’s crewman, showing off the golden eyes she had in common with her aunt. It worked well enough, and they were swiftly led to the island. As anxious as she was, she broke out into a wide grin when she saw her aunt. “Aunt Circeeeeee!” She jumped down from the ship to hug the witch, finding comfort in familiarity. Circe had introduced her to magic and set her on the path to become the woman she was.
“I’m so glad to see you! We had nowhere else to go!” Everything she was about to say was, effectively, true, but she still felt guilt for her deception. “This is Jason. He came to my father’s kingdom to seek the golden fleece, and my father, well you know how Aeetes could get… I thought he was being too unreasonable, and when I talked to Jason, I fell in love. We had to elope, and Absyrtus… I killed him, Circe. I killed my brother to stop him from catching us. Jason would have been put to death otherwise. We need shelter while we rest, and I need to atone.” Medea still felt the blood of her brother on his hands, soaking into her while she chopped him into bits just to force her father to stop and collect each and every one of them. “Please, Circe. We need you.”
“Ook ook ook.” A little brown monkey chattered in the trees. The monkey kept leaning forwards, trying to grab the branch above her with her tail. She seemed to be testing it, like it was an entirely new limb. She managed to wrap it around, but as soon as she put her weight on it she plummeted to the ground. Undeterred, she ran right back up the tree to try again. She happily called, making sure the duck nearby knew she was alright. On the far side of the clearing, a lizard was making no such efforts to stand out. She was quite a dignified-looking little creature, tough black scales and red rings around her eyes making her look like a tiny dragon. However, she showed no signs of this supposed dignity. She skulked under a rock, hiding from the other animals in the courtyard.
Atalanta stretched and took off her sandals for a bit to feel the soft grass on her bare feet. She let the others do the talking, only giggling lightly at Circe's mockery of Jason, engrosing herself in the wild nature of the island. The smells and sounds were getting her excited and she noticed some creatures she never saw before in Greece. The one shuffling around Hercules was one such animal.
"What is that?" She pointed at it when Medea ended pitching her story. "Where did all of these animals come from?"
Nearby, a duck leisurely floated upon a pond, quaking worriedly when the monkey fell, but just shaking its head and going back to relaxed paddling when the monkey ook-ooked out a reassuring sound.
Hercules’s titanic hand hitting his shoulder nearly made Jason wobble. So this was the strength of a demigod?! Circe didn’t take her eyes off Hercules as he casually strolled into her courtyard and began to interact with one of her recent pets. Letting out a sigh, she turned to Medea and listened to her story.
“I see, I see…” She mused. Circe was clearly interested in this development. “So you killed Absyrtus so you could be with this man…” Circe shot a glare at Jason, who stood confidently against it. “You say you seek the golden fleece though.” The witch wondered what purpose this could have. The fleece was a valuable item that was only fit for royalty. An evil smile spread across Circe’s face when she began to see what was going on here.
“That’s awful, Medea! Come on inside, we can talk about your atonement a little later. Feel free to use anything inside, what’s mine is yours.” She led Medea toward the door, stopping when she heard Atalanta questioning the animals.
“They’re my personal pets, gathered from all corners of the world. That one your...friend has so rudely attacked is a Wallaby. One of my newest pets, in fact.” Circe replied. She led them into the mansion, showing off the impressive amount of art along the walls, and intricately carved wooden animal figurines lined neatly along the windowsill. As the door closed, a small golden ferret leaped off a branch and attempted to grab onto Atalante's skirt, making its way into her pocket.
Jason looked at these figurines and chuckled. “Owning a zoo and filling your house with these? Are they gifts from your suitors?” He asked. Circe flashed him a glare, but turned back into a casual smile. “As a matter of fact, I carved each of those myself. Far easier if you have an animal to use for reference.” Circe answered. “Uuuuugh, I actually carved a few more, but some dirty pirates stole them! Kept them for themselves as they dumped valuable jewels into the sea to distract me! Honestly, they’re just my hobby!” Circe complained.
Jason’s eyes widened at the misstep, but quickly recovered. “Well, they look beautiful as you, lady Circe. As Medea has so kindly informed you, we are after the golden fleece. Can you tell us where it is?” He asked, slightly impatient.
Circe grinned and showed them the long wooden dining room table, already set for a large party and hosting a plate with slices of lamb meat and various other side dishes, including pita bread. The witch took her ornate dark wood seat at the head of the table and crossed her legs, leaning her head on top of her fingers confidently.
“So insistent. Do you not appreciate my hospitality?” Circe asked in offense. Jason cleared his throat and took a seat. “Of course not, lady Circe. We have ventured far, and having the fleece in our sights is enticing!” He answered. The witch was proving more hostile than he would have thought.
“Hmmmmm?” Circe hummed, rocking her head back and forth. “I suppose I have to help my niece in her hour of need. The fleece you seek is due west, located on top of the stone spire.” Circe flicked her hands and summoned a green projection on the table of the tower. “The ram likes to hang out at the top, so it shouldn’t be too hard a challenge.”
Jason’s eyes twinkled. “So it’s just on top of the t-” “Beeeeeeeeeesides the giant serpent who guards the tower, that is.” Circe interrupted, grinning wide as Jason’s face fell.
“You see, you aren’t the first ones who have come here seeking the fleece. And I like to be out at sea. So to protect it, I acquired a large serpent to look after it. You can call it...Odysseus.” Her tone became darker as she spat the name.
Jason soon beamed with confidence once more. “Then we have our final challenge, Argonauts! Are you ready to perform one more labor, Hercules? One more race up a tower, Atalanta?” His eyes then fell to Medea as he leaned over and grabbed her shoulders. “One more trial of love?” He leaned over and kissed Medea, an audible groan coming from Circe.
Medea picked at her food and let Jason talk. She should have been happy to get back to Circe’s cooking after weeks at sea, but her stomach was churning. There was too much anxiety to keep down. Then Circe seemed to invite them to take the fleece… if they could. “We already handled a serpent in Colchis! I’ll prepare some fire-proofing ointments!” She happily accepted the kiss. “Do you really mean we can have it, Aunt Circe? How could I possibly repay you for all this!?” Medea teared up. While the ferret was attempting to hitch a ride, the monkey was simply taking interest from a distance. Golden Fleece? And it was nearby? That sounded fun, and it seemed important enough that everybody here wanted it. Maybe they could figure out how to fix this with that? The monkey called out to the others when it dropped from the tree and began to scurry west.
"Aye, sounds like a deed at the stature of the mighty Hercules!"-He replied as he downed the mug of whatever spirit he was drinking and set it on the table as he reached for more of the lamb set at the middle of the table.
"So, Lady Circe, this serpent of yours, is there anything more you would like to tell us about it? Surely it's not just some crudely oversized beast if you have decided to give it such an important task!"-he continued speaking his mind out
"It is my experience in dealing with these kind of creatures that they always have a weakness of some sort, even if the Nemean Lion's weakness was nothing but my might"
Atalanta could feel her hair stand on end upon hearing what they had to go through. She didn't like snakes. They were too smooth, their pointy heads radiated evil, and the venom from their pointed fangs was deadly.
"I would not fight a giant serpent were it not necessary for our mission, but it seems we must. I am good at slaying large beasts so the advantage is with us." She strapped her bow over her shoulder and her quiver to her side. Swallowing her fear, she followed the leader up the mountain. She felt something tugging on her robe right before they set off and saw it was one of Circe's critters. Amused by its bravery and charmed by its cuteness, she decided to let it nest in her pocket. "You want to come with, little one? Alright, so be it. I think I shall name you... Orion, after my goddess's beloved. Now, let us be off."
Trailing behind them was another companion. The duck saw the Argonauts setting off toward somewhere so she started flying after them, careful not to stick out too much. She saw the bow and arrows the girl was carrying and was worried what would happen if they suddenly grew hungry.
"Of course, as long as you can make it past my guardian snake!" Circe answered Medea. Her expression then darkened slightly. "Of course, I advise you don't help this...man, Medea...but I won't stop you." She twirled a metal fork in her hands. She then turned to Hercules. "Perhaps it has a weakness, perhaps not. Would it really be fair of me to give you such information, demigod?" She asked, smirking at the god among men.
Hercules shook his head and ignored Circe after that, sighing profusely as he reached for yet another piece of lamb. She now had a sense of fairness? Crazy witch, she clearly wanted everyone dead. Maybe after dealing with the snake, he would put the creature’s head on a spike and hang it right outside her door.
Jason silently clicked his tongue at the coyness, but knew it wasn't wise to challenge such a powerful sorceress. He turned to Medea once more. "That would be amazing, Medea! Let's slay this beast and claim my rightful honor at last!" The thought of finally being finished with this asinine quest was tantalizing.
Circe let out a sigh and waved them off as they all filed out of the room. "Be careful out there, Medea. You're only going to find pain with that man." She warned, waving to her niece as she filed out. Turning to a block of wood next to the table, Circe teleported an intricate carving knife into her hand and continued to shave it into another animal. Medea frowned at her aunt’s advice and nervously stepped outside to avoid further conversation.
Outside, the ferret seemed to pause when it was named by Atalanta, but snapped out of it. When the stepped onto sand, the ferret jumped out of Atalanta's pocket and waved its tiny paws to get their attention. "Hm?" Jason asked, staring at the creature.
"What's going on, little Orion?" Atalanta asked, curious.
The ferret began to scurry across the sand, making lines that soon formed into letters. It leaped to the side to start each new letter, doing as best it could to make the letters legible.
“I Human…” Jason read. After more scurrying, he finished when the ferret collapsed into the sand in exhaustion. “Help?”
“By the Gods!”-Hercules replied
“This Island is full of rats”-He added as he walked past Elyssa’s message. He turned to Jason, who had stopped to read the message.
“Must be the work of that woman, aye? We have no time to be fooled by her machinations, Jason”
“If Circe transformed them, they’re enemies.” Medea said, but there was an uncertainly there. “The ointments I gave you coming here… they prevented her from polymorphing you if we angered her. Just in case.”
Jason looked down at the tired creature, who was waving its paws and head ‘no’. He too had reservations about if someone Circe considers an enemy truly is...but they weren’t here on a rescue mission.
“What do you think, Atalanta? You are the one who seems to have adopted this rat.” He asked, looking at the archer.
Atalanta had been staring at the message since the ferret wrote it was human, gears clicking in her head until… "Kyaaa, you're human!? And you cling to me like so! You pervert! Artemis will never forgive me after that!"
The ferret frittered back and forth for a second, then stopped. It leaped to a new plot in the sand and ran in a circle, then down, completing with a tiny line in the middle of the downward line. It pointed to the symbol, then to herself.
Atalanta looked at it. The symbol of Venus! "Oh… So you're a girl. Alright then," She breathed a sigh of relief. "Then I won't need to use you as a practice target. I suppose I won't mind you traveling with me again then. But, what is it you mean by help? Do you want us to break your curse or can you help us?"
The ferret seemed to sigh in relief when Atalanta calmed down. She made a smashing motion in her hands, then pushed them outward and stood up on 2 legs to imitate growing larger. The ferret then pointed to Medea.
“Circe made these people animals for a reason…” Medea said with an uncertain waver in her voice. “She would probably be quite upset if I reversed that.”
Jason stepped forward and looked down at the ferret. “Well then, human girl. Give me one good reason I should ask the powerful Medea to reverse your fate.” He demanded with an arrogant smirk.
The ferret pondered this for a moment. Then leaped into another plot of sand and wrote a singular word.
“Lie…?” Jason asked quizzically, looking at the ferret, who was pointing toward Circe’s opulent house. “Circe told us a lie, you say?” He asked with interest.
"Circe's words do reek of manipulations and half-truths. And you claim you can lead us on the right path?" Atalanta asked.
The ferret crossed its arms confidently in front of its chest and nodded. Jason couldn’t help but laugh at the display.
“The girl’s got confidence, I’ll give her that! Alright Medea, do you mind setting her free? If you’re lying to us…” His expression darkened. “There is no escape from this island, girl.” He threatened, then backed up to let Medea work her magic.
“Fine… but just this one until she can prove she’s trustworthy.” Medea grabbed her mortar and threw in various ingredients. Essence of wormroot, leaves of krakenweed, and a single many-color berry. She thoroughly ground the mixture into a thick paste before offering it to Elyssa to eat.
The ferret leaped at the paste and stuck its head in, eating a mouthful and swallowing it. The effect was almost instant: the ferret’s body glowed a bright yellow and elongated back into a human form, Elyssa kneeling for a second before getting back up and adjusting her hat.
“Phew...thank you, miss Medea!” Elyssa tipped her hat to the witch, then looked at the others. “Now, what I was talking about. We’ve been on here a little longer you know, and know that Circe may have misled you all. You see...that sheep can fly. And Medea keeps it both in that tower...and locked in her little field inside the basement. I don’t know which it’s in right now...but wouldn’t it be better if we hit both at once?” She asked, looking to Jason.
“So what, you want us to deal with the serpent while you break into her house? Why should I believe you won’t just grab a ship and run off?” Jason asked. Elyssa pointed to a nearby duck.
“Because five of my friends also got turned into animals. So how about a trade? I help you by attacking that site with you four, and you turn my friends back as well?” Elyssa asked.
Jason folded his arms and thought about this. “...who is the strongest among your group?” Jason asked, Elyssa immediately pointing to the wallaby that had followed them. “She’s a martial arts master. Why?”
Jason grinned and pointed. “Then I propose a trade. Your friend helps us with the serpent, and we’ll have Atalanta join you in sneaking in. How about it, girl?”
“Elyssa. Elyssa Miyata, greatest adventurer to walk this earth!” She said beaming, then nodding her head. “Sounds good to me though! We’ll meet over there afterwards!” She pointed toward a massive darkwood ship in the distance, the Black Lotus.
Looking at Medea, Jason nodded. “Well, would you mind freeing that one too, my love?” He asked the witch.
“Well… alright.” Medea sighed. “I guess we’re already betraying Circe…” She mixed up more of her concoction and offered it to Yui. Yui turned back as well, she clenched her fists angrily
“I swear everyone is going to pay!”
Hercules slightly laughed at the sight of the Kodokan fighter
“Pff, THIS is your best warrior?”
Yui’s Ki flared and the ground beneath her slightly shattered.
“Ah, yes, I remember you as well. You were making fun of me some minutes ago. Let’s both do our best, shall we?”-She extended her hand out to the Demi-God. Hercules, right as he held her hand tensed up, his face frowning slightly
“That’s...a mighty grip, Aye, she will be of help”- He said as he pulled out of the handshake.
Jason looked at the scene with confusion. This girl had strength that the mighty Hercules would find noteworthy? “Well, warrior. I’m sure you’ve heard of me, but I’m Jason. This is my lovely other half Medea, that’s the archer only rivaled by Icarus himself, Atalanta, and your new friend is none other than Hercules himself. I’m sure you’ve heard of him.” He explained.
Yui raised a brow at the introductions, so they were actual Greek heroes? She really hadn’t read much of that, but anyone has at least heard of Hercules.She looked up at the muscular man and smiled
“I see...no wonder you seem so proud of yourself, reminds me of someone back home, Pleased to meet you all anyway, I am Yui Shimatsu, hope we will all get along”-She replied to Jason.
Suddenly, Yui would feel herself get pulled into someone’s embrace. Elyssa yanked the martial artist into a hug. “Yui! Sooooo glad you’re back! Phew, running on that sand was tiring.” She laughed, and pulled away.
“Ok, Atalanta and I are going back to Circe’s house. Are you fine staying with these three until we all meet up again?” The team leader asked.
“Leave it to me! And be careful not to get turned again. Next time we see Circe, we’ll make her pay!”-Yui extended her fist to bump it with Elyssa before each went their way.
The team made their way up the hill, happening upon a large stone tower around 5 stories high. Jason confidently stepped forward...and stopped when the ground began to rumble. “Here’s Odysseus…” He grumbled, drawing his sword and shield.
On cue, a massive brown serpent with a triangular face slithered over the cliffside, coiling itself around the tower. It glared down at them with a menacing set of yellow eyes. Letting out a hiss, the creature twisted its body and attempted to swipe them with its spiny tail, attempting to knock them into the sea behind them.
Before the groups split up, Medea grabbed Elyssa by the arm. “Please, just try to avoid Circe. Don’t make things any worse than they already are.” She half-whispered before breaking away. There was a pit deep in their stomach as the groups went their separate ways. She chanted spells to soothe herself, but it was only on the surface of her mind. These tiny cantrips couldn’t draw her thoughts away from the fact she was betraying her family again. As the tower came into view, she changed over to spells that required her full concentration and finally stilled her mind.
“Survival. Shark sense. Heroic strength. Owl sight. Eagle sight. Fury. Gate opening. Walls of Troy.” Magic flowed from her into the people around her, layers of spells weaving nets of defense and enhancement across their bodies. They would only last a few minutes, but that should be enough to make it through this fight. There was something odd though. They seemed a little weak, like When the serpent showed its face, she cast a spell upon herself. “Levitation!” She hovered off the ground, just above the sweep of the tail. She went back down the slope, further away from the tower. None of her spells was dedicated to direct combat. There was no reason to risk herself. As she went backwards, a monkey went forwards. “Eh?” She followed it with her eyes, realizing this little creature had been within the range of her spells, siphoning off some of the power she was granting to her allies. “Oooook!” It screamed, jumping to land on the spiny tail. Its small body could fit without being impaled, and it tried to cling there and run up to the tower. “...do you know that monkey?” Circe asked Yui.
Hercules lowered his stance and covered the front part of his body with his nemean mantle as he took the force of the attack head on. The strike colided against the demigod's shoulder, making a thunderous sound. The son of Zeus was pushed a few meters back but eventually stopped the attack.
"GO!"-Hercules roared and Yui hopped on Hercules' shoulder, landing gracefully on the creature. Without wasting a second, the Kodokan fighter ran alongside the body of the creature and aimed for a powerful strike to the head, looking to disorient the creature. "Huh? It's Riri! I mean uh, Ariana. We need her human form back! she will be of help!"- Yui replied as she took flight, moving away from the serpent back to Hercules' side.
"Looks like those muscles of yours aren't just for show. of course, the magic spells clearly are helping you out"-She told the Demigod.
"I am just warming up, little one. This is but a fraction of my might!"-Hercules clung onto the snake's tail and pulled, fully intending to swing around the monster and toss it in the air. His muscles tightened and the ground beneath him shook as if in fear.
Medea's potion cleansed whatever magic Circe placed on little Orion, er, Elyssa. Phew, she really was a girl, not just a lying pervert! The friend Elyssa wanted fixed was a girl as well, a fairly small girl too, but Hercules's reaction when they shook hands made it clear she was strong.
"If our numbers have grown like this and Hercules judges you're capable, then I cannot complain. Then me and Ori- Elyssa will go to the witch's stronghold and make sure she was truthful with us."
The two walked away while the others started their fight. "Have you been inside the house before? Do you know what's in store for us?" ----- The other group started fighting the serpent. Medea used some magics to enhance the party, though she also included someone else accidentally. Ariana, still a monkey though an empowered one, attacked the snake quite bravely. Somewhere above them, an exasperated quack sounded. She wasn't going to leave her girlfriend to an unfortunate fate however, so she flew at the snake's head to distract it with webbed foot kicks and heavy beating of her wings aimed around the eyes.
Yui's strike to the serpent's head, mixed with Medea's enhancements, caused the beast to reel back in pain. Hercules's might managed to lift half the titan snake off the ground, but the head dove forward and wrapped around the spire to prevent itself from being tossed upward. The duck assaulting its face would be snapped at by its massive head, attempting to swallow the creature whole.
Jason looked on with astonishment at Hercules holding a portion of the snake. "The stories do not lie, Hercules. Though our new friend is quite impressive too...who would have guessed." Jason shrugged his shoulders. How was someone this powerful not a pirate lord? Taking off toward the tower, Jason uses the enhanced skills he got from Medea to run up the stone wall and dive off the side, impaling the sword in the snake's side. But before he could run, the snake quaked and sucked in air, spraying a toxic gas at the group.
"Medea, we need a whirlwind!" Jason yelled, diving into the tower for refuge.
Nodding at Medea's request, Elyssa and Atalanta made their way toward Circe's mansion and found themselves near a courtyard. Animals milled around the area. Elyssa ducked under a stone when she heard footsteps approaching.
"Circe!" She whispered. Sure enough, the black-dressed mystic came strolling out of the front door and began to stroll around the courtyard, admiring an assortment of flowers and stopping to take note of animals she came by. Elyssa's eyes fell upon a window on the upper floor, left open.
"Ok...I have a grappling hook to get up to that window. Or we can try to sneak through the front door when she isn't looking...what do you think?" Elyssa asked Atalanta, keeping an eye on Circe's location.
“OOK!” The monkey yelled at the snake for attempting to eat its girlfriend. Medea saw an opportunity and took it, throwing out one of the spare cures she had cooked up. The paste splattered the monkey’s face and in an instant, she was a human. She didn’t hesitate to raise her hands, putting them together around a shining stone. She brought them down together and in mid swing, grew a full foot taller. She would strike with power that impressed even Heracles. Medea backed up as the snake’s toxic cloud spread. “No time. Make do with this. Poison resist!” Medea’s hand flashed and everybody on her side of the field had their organs reinforced against toxic attack.