The story so far:
"Proposed Project: Sword and Sandal" -> "The Sons of Mighty Herkales: Tigasis vs The Hydra (Chapter 1: The Virgins of Artemis)" -> "The Sons of Mighty Herkalies: Tigasis vs The Hydra (Chapter 2: The Blessing)"
Tigasis tightened the reins on his svelte, white steed and scratched its cheek. His speech about needing only Calisti’s blessing was just that, a speech. It would take more than the memory of her sweet smile to kill a hydra. The image of her soft, naked flesh, red tendrils of hair clinging to her breasts, hiding, as if to tease, her untouched nipples immediately took over his thoughts and he stepped back, shaking it from his mind. Better to keep her out of his head entirely. He checked his saddle bags for the second time. He had fresh food, wine, and medicinal herbs befitting a warrior of his somewhat impulsive nature. The son of a Demi God and a mortal could still bleed after all. He checked the blades of his swords, they would need to be at their sharpest. His favorite, the one he trusted the most, was his Lakonian blade. Given to him by the warrior King Leonidas himself, with whom Tigasis had trained as a young boy. Tigasis smiled as he ran his finger carefully along the short, thick bronze blade, he wasn’t sure he’d want to get that close to the hydra. The hydra. Tigasis had never met his father, but he had heard many times his stories of bravery and of how he had once bested the many headed beast. He strapped wicker torches to his saddle, patted his horse one more time, and readied himself to mount.
“Tigasis?” A soft voice caressed the air in the stable around him and he turned, surprised to see Adrinna.
“Lady, I am, with obvious reason, surprised to see you here,” Tigasis stuttered, his charm, not lost, but mitigated by suspicion.
“I won’t lie Tigasis, I surprise myself a little at times,” Adrinna moved closer, a tender smile on her lips, “I hope you understand that I only want to protect the most holy doctrine of my Goddess Artemis. I fear am a little too fierce sometimes, not unlike my Mother Goddess, and my desire to be a good disciple causes me to be, well, unkind.”
“Is that an apology?” Tigasis grinned as his demeanor softened. Adrinna blushed, bowing her head.
“It’s the best I can do. I’m afraid I’m not as gentle by nature as young Calisti, but I am no less sincere. And I have brought you a gift. A token of gratitude, if you will accept it.” she held up a shining silver pendant, an owl, strung on leather, “For luck in battle.” Tigasis bowed his head while Adrinna placed the pendant around his neck, filling his nostrils with her sweet perfume. She smelled like pomegranates, Tigasis thought.
“I am certainly glad to see you are not the biting thing you appeared to be. And I accept your gift with honor, thank you Adrinna.” Tigasis brushed her cheek with his fingers. Her smile faltered almost imperceptibly, but then she grabbed his hand, and gently kissed the tips of his fingers.
“Good luck, dear Tigasis,” Adrinna said with a slight bow of her head. Tigasis, stunned into silence, jumped on his horse and with a nod, rode off toward Mount Tokai.
Tigasis road through bustling farmlands kicking himself for not bringing Linus, his most trusted friend, on this mission to prove his innocence. While he didn’t doubt he could kill the hydra on his own, some company would have been most welcome. Someone to talk strategy with at least. As it was, visions of virgins, more frustrating than comforting, were all he had to keep his mind occupied during the tedious journey. Calisti had moved his heart, made it beat faster with her sweet, shy smile. But Adrinna, Adrinna had moved another part of him. He grabbed the silver owl hanging against his chiseled chest and stroked it between thumb and forefinger as he absently pondered Adrinna’s motive. Surely she hadn’t actually had a change of heart. He wasn’t naïve. She likely held a more physical, animal attraction to him, who didn’t, but did she have a motive beyond humiliating Calisti? Of that he was unsure.
Suddenly, as he held the small silver owl, his whole body was flung forward. His horse whinnied frantically as it and he tumbled to the ground. It took what seemed like minutes before he was untangled and up off the ground, his horse was still on its back, kicking wildly into the air and trying to right itself. Tigasis deftly grabbed the reins off the ground and pulled forward, giving the horse some direction. It calmed a little and rolled to get its legs under it and in seconds it was up, whinnying and stomping. Tigasis, brought it close, holding its head in his hands, petting its cheeks, and talking softly. As it calmed Tigasis could see its back, right leg was hurt. The horse held it gingerly off the ground, refusing to put weight on it. There was no point in going any further. Tigasis would have to find a farmhouse and, hopefully, get another horse. He picked up his muddy belongings and led the limping horse back to a farmhouse he had seen only a couple of miles back.