Finding safe ground, I nodded. “Telly had this symbol tattooed on his arm.” I pointed at the torch, careful not to touch him. “And so does Romvi—who, by the way, still hates my guts, in case you’re wondering. And I remembered in the section that talked about the Apollyon, it mentioned that Thanatos killed Solaris and the First. Maybe this Order business is still going on and they have something to do with what… what happened in the Catskills.”
The hand beside the book curled into a fist, but Aiden didn’t look up. “As far as I know the Order doesn’t exist anymore, but you never know.”
“Maybe this can tell us something? But I can’t read it.”
He smiled briefly. “Give me a few minutes. Reading this isn’t exactly easy.”
“Okay.” Beyond the crack in the door, the library was dark and silent. There was no way I was going out there. I pulled out a notebook and pen. “I’ll… pretend to study or something.”
Aiden chuckled. “You do that.”
I smiled as I started doodling on a blank page of notebook paper. It was hard, because his knee was still touching mine, and it may have been my imagination, but we seemed to be getting closer. His entire lower leg was against mine.
While Aiden read, I sketched a really bad version of the Apollo and Daphne statue outside. Several times, Aiden glanced over and made comments about the drawing. He offered to pay for art classes at one point. I punched him in the arm for that.
Giving up on my masterpiece, I checked to see what page he was on. As I stared at the symbol on each page, I felt a tightening in my throat. Instead of thinking about Telly or Romvi, I thought of the pure I’d killed in the Catskills. Leaning back in the chair, I rubbed my hands over my thighs. The feel of shoving a blade into a pure was much different than shoving one into a daimon, even a half daimon.
There were always choices, and once again, I’d made the wrong decision. Actually, I’d made a string of bad decisions over a short period of time, but that one kind of took the cake. I could’ve disarmed the pure-blood Guard. I could’ve done something other than what I had done. I’d killed him and still didn’t even know his name.
“Hey,” Aiden said softly. “Are you okay?”
“Yep.” I lifted my head, forcing a smile. “Find anything out yet?”
He was watching me intently. I could feel it, even after I returned to staring at my hands. “Just why the Order was established,” he said. “It appears that they were created by us—the pure-bloods—as an organization to keep the old ways alive and to protect the gods. And it looks like even a few chosen half-bloods were initiated into the Order.”
“Great.” I smoothed my hands over the table. “Do the gods need protection?”
“It doesn’t seem to be in the way you’d think, but more like protecting their existence from mortals and those who might be a threat to the gods.” Aiden turned back to the book, flipping several chapters ahead. “It does say the members are marked, which would explain the tattoo if they do belong to the Order. But there is something else.”
“What?” I glanced at him. “What is it?”
He took a deep breath and slid the book toward me. “We’ve all misread it. Understandable since it’s how it’s phrased. Look at this.”
Aiden was pointing at the section on the Apollyon. “‘The reaction from the gods, particularly the Order of Thanatos, was swift and righteous. Both Apollyons were executed without trial‘.”
I sat back, understanding sinking in. “It wasn’t Thanatos who killed them, but the Order of Thanatos.”
Aiden nodded as he turned back to the section on the Order. “That’s what it looks like.”
“But how? Both Solaris and the First would had been fully Awakened. The way Seth talks, once that happens we become indestructible.”
He shook his head. “The Order is very mystical, or at least, that’s how it reads in this section.” He tapped his finger on something that looked like chicken scratch to me. “The Order is said to be ‘the eyes and the hand of Thanatos.‘ There’s something here about the Order being gifted with ‘daggers dipped in the blood of the Titans.’”
“Daggers dipped in the blood of the Titans? Like, literally? Is the Apollyon somehow allergic to Titan blood?” I shook my head. “What I don’t get is, if the gods and the Apollyon can both use akasha, then why would the gods—Thanatos—need anyone else to kill the Apollyon? They could just use akasha.”
“I don’t know,” he said, looking at me. His eyes were gunmetal gray. “And I have a hard time believing that Seth wouldn’t know, either. Didn’t he tell you that, once you Awaken, the knowledge of the previous Apollyons will pass on to you?”
“Yeah, he did. Seth would have to know.” An uncomfortable feeling clawed for my attention as I rested my chin on my palm. If Seth knew everything that the previous Apollyons knew, then wouldn’t one of them, in all these years, have figured out that they were a product of a union between a pure and a half? And wouldn’t one of the Apollyons have to know about the Order, especially if the lives of Solaris and the First had passed to Seth during his Awakening?
“What is it?” Aiden asked quietly.
Anger stirred, poking at the cord. “I don’t think Seth is being completely honest with me.”
Aiden didn’t respond.