Mythology Monday: Medea

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*Spoiler warnings for anyone who has not read Aphrodite. This is a unedited draft of one of the first chapters of Love and War. It will change before the final version comes out. Enjoy!*

They wanted to call it hope. I stared at the line I’d written as I bunched up the fluffy, white pillow beneath me, trying find a comfortable position on my bed that didn’t make writing impossible. Scratching out the line, I frowned, mulling over where to begin.

This isn’t a story, I wrote. And I’m not going to tell it like one, even if I did get a fairy tale ending. It’s a memory. One I never wanted to revisit, only now I have to.

Sometimes I get paranoid. Letting out a long breath, I glanced behind me toward the bathroom where the empty box loomed. I think the worst things. But only because I’ve forgotten how lucky I am that he saved me. I’m better off, no matter what he’s done.

Slipping off the bed, I walked across the cool tile of the bedroom floor and closed the aged, wooden door to the bathroom so I could no longer see the box. Then I returned to my journal.

I should have known. He never stopped pestering me about my decision. Maybe if I’d paid attention, I’d have noticed missing pills or poked holes or something. But I would notice something like that, wouldn’t I? Gods, I’m crazy. Completely crazy. There was nothing to notice.

But…

Gritting my teeth, I wrote, No. I’m not focusing on that right now. I need to look back. Back to that awful day when they found out I was a match for Absyrtus’s bone marrow. The ice cream, toys, and constant cajoling. My guilt. I was scared. The procedure sounded painful. But I didn’t want my (step) brother to die, so I agreed.

And yeah, the surgery hurt, but they loved me for it. Everyone was so happy. So hopeful, so damn proud of me and back then that mattered. Mom took the whole week off work. I still remember how happy I was snuggling in bed with her while cartoons played on the screen. How special I felt. And then he got better. Not just a little better, but a full on, complete cure by the next blood draw. Even his scars were gone. That’s when they realized how special I really was.

I swallowed hard, flipping on to my back to stare up at the palm leaf blades of the ceiling fan making their lazy circle. “Just write it, Medea.” Drawing in a deep breath, I shifted so I could return pen to page.

That’s when Mom got greedy.

My phone buzzed. I glanced at the screen and saw a set of coordinates with the number of passengers. Two more than Jason left with, always a good sign. Closing my journal, I slid my pen through the little elastic loop and set the leather bound book on the bed beside me.

“Okay.” I pushed myself to a sitting position, crossing my legs. The beige duvet crinkled beneath me. Drawing in a deep breath, I closed my eyes and focused.

Boats were hard. The first couple times I tried relocating an entire boat, I fried the engines. But Jason was nothing if not persistent, and money was no object when charm was involved. We could replace whatever we broke.

The tricky part was not accidentally breaking the people I dragged along. I’d never done that. Keeping everyone intact seemed mostly instinctual. But the worry nagged at the back of my mind that one day, I’d ‘port someone to me and they’d pop up looking like a misshapen blob of flesh with limbs sticking out in all the wrong places and upside down faces.

My stomach lurched. Wow, I needed to not think that visual ever again. Particularly not now. Drawing in a deep breath, I forced my mind to clear, visualizing the boat and the little golden people on board. I couldn’t see them, not really. But I could sense them, and that was almost the same. Two unfamiliar…not shapes, more like impressions, were on board the boat.

Nails biting into the palms of my hand, I drew them to me. Well, not to me. A boat crashing through the wood plank walls of my bedroom wall would be problematic on a lot of levels. Fortunately, the shield stopped anything from actually ‘porting onto the island. The boat would arrive just far enough away to avoid slamming into the invisible barrier before Jason could signal Glauce to take the shield down.

Hot washes of agony sang through my nervous system as I yanked the vessel to the edge of the shield. Oh gods. Gasping, I lurched off the bed and into the bathroom just in time to heave my guts into the toilet. Pregnancy or teleportation? Ugh.

Jason kept saying using our powers was like strengthening a muscle. But he was wrong. Maybe my accuracy was improving with practice, but my body wasn’t any happier tolerating the strain of using that much power no matter how much I practiced.

My gaze landed on the trashcan filled with nearly a dozen pregnancy tests mocking me with their lines of blue, pink, yeses, and pregnants. My stomach lurched again.

Spent, I pulled my dark hair into a ponytail and carefully gathered all of the evidence into a plastic bag. I couldn’t risk the tests or empty box being in the house. Jason couldn’t find out. On a whim, I grabbed my journal, locked the door of my cabin and hurried down the street. I’d swing by the hospital while Jason oriented the newbies to the island. He’d be busy the rest of the day. As long as I put in an appearance at dinner, he’d never know anything was amiss.

I circled behind the hospital and tossed the bag into the medical waste bin, ignoring the twinge of guilt for the improper sorting. Trash collection on the island was a complicated affair. It didn’t take much to screw up completely and send us drowning in garbage.

A flurry of voices from around the building disrupted my thoughts.

“Get the doors!” Jason called.

Rushing to the front of the hospital, I grabbed one of the doors just as Otrera grabbed the other. She nodded at me over the stretcher that was being wheeled in.

I gasped when I saw the girl on the stretcher. Her face was a mass of bruising and swelling, her dress crusted in blood. The sheer violence of her wounds twisted my stomach.

“What happened?” I asked Otrera, rushing into the hospital on her heels.

“Tantalus went off the rails,” she panted, rushing through the lobby. “You know that call Jason got from Tantalus last night about the gods taking our place and using glamours?” She met my eyes, and I nodded, though I hadn’t heard about that call at all. “He thought she was one of them.”

“…presenting with broken ribs, lacerations, and internal bleeding,” a person in scrubs yelled as they whisked the girl down the hall.

An unfamiliar demigod, his face an identical mass of swollen bruises, tried to follow the stretcher, but the nurse pushed him back before hurrying through the set of swinging doors.

“…can’t go back there,” Jason’s calm voice reasoned. “You’re injured. We need to—”

“I’m not leaving her!” the demigod protested in perfect Greek.

Jason couldn’t have understood what the demigod said, but he moved in front of the swinging doors, speaking in calm and soothing tones. “She’s going into surgery, there’s nothing you can do for her right now. Let’s get you taken care of, and—”

He moved to get past Jason, but Jason could be an effective wall when he had to be.

“We can take him to the operating theater,” I suggested, approaching from behind the demigod. “You can’t cross that line,” I motioned to the red line in front of the doorway in front of him. “But there’s a room upstairs where you can see where they’re prepping her.”

The demigod whirled on me and I jerked back. His face clouded in confusion when he saw me, a pretty common response since I’d come to the island. What are you? The quick once over seemed to demand. You’re not one of us.

And I wasn’t a demigod. Not exactly.

“You could watch,” I prodded, intentionally misinterpreting his look of incomprehension, switching to Greek. “You’ll be able to see her the entire time.” Probably not proper protocol, but I had a way of making people bend the rules.

“That’s a great idea,” Jason said at the same time, moving between me and the angry looking demigod. “You’ll be able to see her the whole time,” he explained, echoing me in English, “And we can get someone to patch you up.” He flagged down a passing nurse to charm her into making it happen.

I stared at Jason for a moment, mind flashing back to that trashcan full of pregnancy tests. Did you do this to me on purpose or am I just being paranoid? “Patched up?” I asked instead, eyes dropping to the hand the demigod kept pushed to his side. “What—”

 

The demigod moved his arm and I drew in a sharp breath when I saw the long, shallow gash on his side. “Yeah, that’s probably going to need some stitches.”

Mollified, the demigod let me lead him to the windowed room, looking over the operating room. “Are you a doctor?” he asked when I pressed some gauze over his cut.

“I’m seventeen.” I laughed. “I’m lucky they trust me with band aids.”

Jason paused in the doorway, flanked by a doctor and nurse. “Medea,” he called from the doorway. “Let’s give them some space to work, yeah?”

“I’ll be back soon,” I promised. “And don’t worry. She’s in good hands.”

He nodded, eyes never leaving the girl lying on the table below.

The second Jason and I stepped out of the operating theater, I turned to Jason and forced myself to focus on the crisis at hand. “What happened?”

Jason leaned against the wall, hands resting on the wooden railing. “Tantalus thought she was one of them in disguise. Last night, he called ranting and raving about how the gods are using glamours to replace us and send us down to the Underworld to infiltrate our camp. He said some new goddess threw him in Tartarus and Ares was walking around wearing his face.”

Tartarus? Yeah, sure. “Tartarus has cell reception?”

“I know, right.” Jason snorted, but couldn’t quite manage to laugh. There was nothing funny about this. He glanced down at the floor, squinting against the harsh light that bounced off the tile. “He was not forthcoming on how he supposedly got out of the Underworld, much less back onto a moving ship.”

“He couldn’t have.” Tantalus was the only other demigod who could teleport. But his ability was granted by Zeus and had weird limitations, like he couldn’t be touching land or water and he couldn’t bring anyone with him. “Landing on a moving target, that’s…impossible. He’s got to be lying.”

“I know,” Jason agreed. “He clearly snapped. I told him to evacuate the other demigods on the ship, scrap the mission, and not to do anything until I got to the meeting place.” He said, referring to an otherwise empty island we met all the newbies at before ‘porting here. He glanced at me in mute appeal. “I couldn’t risk him losing it out there and bringing the whole Pantheon down on our heads.”

“You made the right call,” I assured him.

“Except that he didn’t listen.” Jason gripped the wooden railing so tight his knuckles went white. “Our people are still on that boat and all I’ve managed to piece together from Adonis is that Tantalus thought he and Elise were gods in glamours and nearly killed them both.”

I tilted my head. “He told you that?”

“In bits and pieces, I’d like a more complete picture, but…” Jason let out a frustrated sigh. “Getting that much out of him wasn’t easy.”

Language barriers tended to have that effect. I’d taught Jason a little Greek, but he was by no means fluent. “I’ll talk to him,” I promised, glancing back at the door to the operating theater.

“Thanks.” Relief was evident in Jason’s voice. “I don’t think I’m Adonis’s favorite person right now. Find out anything you can. At this point, I don’t even know if I can trust Tantalus’s report that there was a goddess on the ship. Narcissus and the others will be back in a few days. Hopefully we’ll get a full report from them, but in the meantime…”

“We have to assume the worst.” Crossing the hall to lean on the wall next to Jason, I laid my head on his shoulder. “You need to tell everyone else what happened. We’re not in any shape to face the Pantheon right now, but if Tantalus set them off, we might not have the luxury of waiting anymore. They need to know, Jason.”

“I know.” He sounded overwhelmed.

“Where is Tantalus now?”

Jason squeezed my shoulder. “Hell if I know.”

 “Do you want me to summon him?” I winced at the thought. Summoning the boat took a lot out of me. “Find out for sure? I’ll need some time to recover, but—”

Jason shook his head. “Not yet. The last thing we need is for Adonis,” he jutted his finger toward the door we’d just walked out of, “to see Tantalus and completely lose it. Do you know how damaging this could be to our cause?” He clenched his fists. “We’re not supposed to get hurt by each other. I hate to ask…but if you healed her then—”

“Absolutely not.” I shook my head, ignoring the guilt blooming in my chest. “Never again.”

“Okay,” Jason said.

I couldn’t suppress my sigh of relief even though I knew he was never going to strap me down and take my blood. “Tantalus is insane, not stupid.” I reached down and laced my fingers through Jason’s to give him a reassuring squeeze. “He’ll hole up somewhere like he always does and howl at the moon for a while. He’s not going to come back here anytime soon or near any of the demigods. He went against your orders.” I eyed Jason. “Didn’t he?”

“Of course he did!” Jason pulled away from me in shock. “Do you honestly think I’d condone that?” He pointed toward the operating room. “I told Tantalus not to do anything until I got there and evaluated the situation. So what the hell was he thinking? Can you imagine if he’d been right? If he’d done that to an actual goddess?”

Shivering, I stared down at the shadows we cast on the floor. “We’d be dead by dawn.”

“Ah, it’s not as bad as all that.” He shot me a sideways grin and recaptured my hand. “I’ll need you to summon Tantalus eventually, but let’s talk to Narcissus and the others first. Hopefully Elise will wake up by the time they get back and we can find out a bit more about what set Tantalus off. In the meantime, I’ve got to call a conference. Can you wait with them?” He motioned to the operating room and gave me an apologetic look. “I know you hate hospitals.”

I flushed. He’d rescued me months ago, and I was still having a hard time getting used to such thoughtfulness. “I’ll be fine.” Feeling guilty for doubting him, I drew him to me and planted a kiss on his lips. “You take care of yourself.”

He grinned, the stress on his face melting away. “You, too.”

 

 

After betraying her father, killing her brother, helping the Argonauts survive and complete their quest, killing Pelias so Jason could rule, restoring Jason’s father’s vitality, and bearing Jason two to six children, Medea’s husband decided to marry a younger, richer, better woman named Creusa, sometimes called Glauce, the daughter of the king of Corinth, Creon.

Medea was pissed. She confronted Jason, who blamed the whole thing on Aphrodite making Medea fall in love with him in the first place. Which, is actually true mythologically speaking, but it was true back when she was useful to him, too. Jason apparently didn’t harbor any ill will toward Medea. He was willing to set her up in a  little house with the kids and send her money periodically. But he basically claimed their marriage didn’t count.

Medea got her revenge. She gave the younger bride a cursed wedding dress as a gift that stuck to her body and burned her to death when she put it on. (Seriously, why hasn’t Medea been featured on Supernatural?) Creon tried to save his daughter and ended up burning to death as well.

Then Medea either accidentally killed her children, the people of Corinth killed her children as revenge, or she gave a long monologue and intentionally killed her children depending on the source. One son, Thessalus survived and became a king.

Afterward, she fled to Athens in a chariot of dragons sent from her grandpa, Helios. On her way, she encountered Hercules and healed him for the murder of Iphutus. Herc gave her a place to stay in Thebes, but she was eventually kicked out by the citizens.

She continued to Athens where she got married to a guy named Aegeus. They had a son named Medus and for a minute things looked like they would go to the happily ever after realm, but then Medea remembered she was a Greek myth and thus could not have a happy ending. Aegeus’ son long lost son Theseus (yeah, that one) showed up. Medea, nervous about her son’s inheritance, insisted he was a fraud and convinced her husband to poison him. At the last second, Aegeus recognized the sword in Theseus’s hand and knocked the cup of poison away from him.

Medea fled home to Colchis and discovered that her father had been deposed by her uncle Perses. She killed her uncle and gave the Kingdom back to dad, settling her debt with him once and for all. She lived out her life in her home and eventually died of old age. Jason died alone and unhappy when the stern of the Argo fell on him, crushing him to death.

Medea is always looked at as a villain in Greek mythology, and don’t get me wrong, killing children is bad. But Hercules killed his wife and children, too, and he’s looked at as a hero. Women in Greek mythology aren’t one dimensional, but society works really hard to paint them that way. Persephone is always the victim, Medea always the murdering mother, Hera, the jealous, insane lady, Aphrodite the divine whore. It’s why I’m rewriting the myths. These women had depth, it’s obvious from their stories, but over time it’s been stripped away from them.

I hope you enjoy my take on Medea as a character in my upcoming novel, Love and War.

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2 thoughts on “Mythology Monday: Medea

  1. Pingback: Myths Featured in Love and War | Kaitlin Bevis

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