God’s & Monsters - Fantasy by Megan Rutter

Night shrouded the Winter's inhale of death from view; the trees were stripped to their skeleton, the lake was paralysed with an ice blanket and the foliage was crippled by the worn soles of boots. Eros stood with his hands in his pockets, the ghost of a smirk tugging at his lips as he leaned backwards into a splintering tree trunk. Euphoria surged through him — the tantalising taste of chaos was like nicotine to the twenty-year old. Without consequence, he sought disaster and craved chaos. To such an extent that there was not one ounce of humdrum remorse budding inside his withered soul when he stared at his fallen friend. At his feet, Artemis lay dead and his steel eyes remained unblinking on the corpse. 

She looked peaceful, yet troubled. And that was Artemis in a Polaroid shot — a beautiful, bewitching mess of contradictions. Strands of midnight locks were arranged neatly around her sculpted features. Even in her death, her reputation of perfection remained in tact. Her fox-like eyes glimmered in the faint moonlight — pierced open in betrayal — and the delicacy of her porcelain skin shimmered like grand piano keys. If she was death, death was beguiling. 

Given that the two were once an invincible duo, it was incongruous with their nature for Eros to earn satisfaction in the demise of Artemis. In the past, the two were a team that made mortals envious. They had explored the world together, thrived in the modern world together, kept the world on its axel together. Unknown to most, their spontaneous partnership had prevented the annihilation of time. Traditionally, Artemis had served nature whereas Eros destroyed nature. However, their unexpected friendship lead to the golden thread of fate fraying. Against all odds, the two opposites created balance in the universe. Artemis had always ensured life would flourish under her callous fingertips and had been the one to the lead the wild hunts where Eros would feed off chaotic energy. In tragedy and calamity, he removed mayhem to help form harmony. But, if they were harmony, harmony was beguiling. 

For years, the pair had covered the Earth's cracks in band-aids, finding a temporary fix for the disintegration of the world. Sacrilege. Sin. Sacrifice. They dealt with it all . . . until it became suffocating, smothering, stifling. Once the two transitioned to being less than lovers but more than friends, the beginning of the end began. Subtle at first, then thunderous. After the honeymoon phase of innocent bliss, Eros' insatiable hunger became more prominent. Knowing her fears, her hopes, her dreams had failed to gratify the man, he demanded more. Unfortunately for him, Artemis was immune to his expert manipulation tactics and refused to surrender her body to him. Of course, this evoked to a tremulous outburst from the man, the man who didn't often get told no. Although, if Eros was chaos, chaos was beguiling. 

As a result of his rage, Artemis had plotted her escape. On Monday, she had begged her best friend to help her flee. On Tuesday, she had pretended everything was okay. On Wednesday, she had ran and became a fugitive. By sundown, she was dead.

"You killed her!" Jace accused, the venom of Medusa's snakes injected into his tone. 

Jace Petrakis — the best friend of Artemis, the one other person that knew the deceased like the back of his hand — revealed himself. Blue knuckled, red faced. In the dusk, his saturated features were illuminated as he held his ground against the expressionless Eros. After Jace had shared a fleeting, tender kiss with Artemis, he trusted the woman was in a safe zone, bid farewell and set off on his journey home. Minutes following their parting, he heard a scream that made his blood turn cold. Like a primal instinct, Jace sprinted to check on his friend, only to find her boyfriend hovering over a body. Her body. Her dead body. 

Steel softened to silver, Eros looked Jace in the eyes. "I didn't kill her." He claimed, the clipped calmness unusual for such a reckless man. 

In disbelief, Jace's calculating eyes wondered to his friend. She was like a doll — her body was twisted at awkward angles. She was like a ghost — her skin was translucent. Except, that wasn't what captured his attention. Strangely, her small hands rested over the dagger that protruded out of her chest. Tentatively, the man leaned forward to try and pry her hands away from the murder weapon. He recoiled in trepidation, her grip was locked and if her body was stiff as a board, Eros could have never tampered with Artemis. At his feet, Artemis lay dead and Eros' steel eyes remained unblinking as he confirmed Jace's fear. 

He had abetted in Artemis' suicide.