Ambrogio agreed to the deal.
Artemis gifted him another arrow to kill one more swan.
He ran to the lake, killed, plucked and bled the swan, wrote the message to Selene.
I must keep this short as the sun is close.
Meet me on the ship Observer at the docks today. I will explain the details when you are there.
He ran to the dock, arranged for a coffin then arranged for it to be put on as cargo on the ship Observer.
The sun was close, time was against him. But the details of the deal with Artemis insisted he hurry. He had one chance.
Before getting into the coffin, he wrote one last note and arranged for the captain to hand the note to Selene.
In the cargo area is a coffin. Do not open it until the sun has gone down. When we talk, I will share the deal I have made, then you can decide what to do,
He slipped into the coffin, had it sealed and let the men do their job of putting him into the Observer. He lay there, hopeful, nervous, yet tired. It wasn’t long before he fell asleep.
He woke to the sounds of nails being removed, the banging of the claw grabbing the nail, the screech of the nail as it rubbed against the wooden as it was drawn out. Each one lifting the lid a bit more until it came off.
There she was. Like magic they were together again. He wanted to hold her close, but the deal. First, she needs to know the deal.
Before embracing her, he told her the journey he had taken to be with her, what Artemis wanted and the idea of being together without touching.
The glow in her eyes waned, the shine of her excitement disappeared, she looked defeated. Yet she seemed unsurprised.
Ambrogio realized that he had made a mistake. That everything he had been fighting for was for nothing but an illusion. She leaned forward, lifted her arm to touch his, then stopped.
“Accept the deal, Ambrogio. I want you”
They sailed to Ephesus, found a comfortable cave out of town, worshipped Artemis at her Grand Temple every night. While Ambrogio and Selene missed the sun, they became comfortable about it.
While they desired a touch, a kiss, an embrace, they found ways to be closer than most people ever could be.
They wanted children, but what kind of world do they live in when gods punish the innocent, steal from the faithful, and lead wars using people as pawns. They found ways to accept the idea that a child is not the world or a representation of their love.
What they struggled with was time.
Ambrogio remained a young man, strong, swift, athletic. He was immortal, a gift to keep him away from Hades, a present to allow time with Selene.
Ambrogio had not considered that Selene would age. Her hair greyed, her skin wrinkled, her body aged, while he didn’t.
With age comes illness.
Selene fell ill, she become drawn, thin, sickly. As she weaken, Ambrogio tried to keep her healthy. Eventually, she was in her deathbed. Unable to stand, sit up, she struggled to breathe. Time had stolen Selene, she was going to die, her soul would lift upwards while his soul remained in the Underworld.
They were both distraught.
As she lay on her deathbed, when it seemed she would barely last more than a day, Ambrogio left the cave with his bow and a single arrow. Walked to the lake and shot a swan. He prepared it for Artemis, made the offering, and before he could turn away, she appeared.
She was the same, decades older, yet no change. He remembered her forgiveness, her kindness and asked her.
“She is old, mortal, and about to die. We have both served you well, we have followed your rules, we have cared for your followers beyond what you asked of us. We did it willingly. Yet now, she is going to die. We will never be together again. Can you help her?”
Artemis thanked him for his service and dedication. His work had increased her followers in the region.
She offered a deal.
“You can touch your love, just once, to drink her blood. Her body will die, but before she is completely gone, cut your hand and let your blood enter her mouth. Let the blood you drank of her return, mixed in with your blood. If you do this, I will ensure that you stay together forever”
Ambrogio looked at her in horror. This god was playing games with him, testing him to see how far he would go to get what he wanted.
“No, that is not acceptable. I would rather set her free than do such a thing.”. He turned away from Artemis, returned to the home he shared with Selene, knowing he would never touch her until she had died.
Selene asked him what happened. While he wanted to avoid explaining the terrible thing Artemis was asking of them, he told her anyway. Selene leaned in close and whispered
Without another thought, without allowing a moment to go by, he leaned in, gathered her close and sunk his fangs into her neck. Drawing her blood out, he felt her warmth for the first time while also feeling it drain from her.
The transference of her essence entered into him, making her part of him, flowing through his body, encircling his entire being in Selene. They were one.
Within minutes, the close embrace was over, she went limp, and died.
As instructed, Ambrogio cut his hand and let the mixed blood enter her mouth, combining them together in the final act of the blood ritual.
As the blood entered her, she began to radiate, her glowing spirit lifted upwards into the sky to meet Artemis, God of the Moon.
As her spirit lifted up, it met Artemis on the moon. The moon lit up much more. The beams of light from the moon shone over Ambrogio and he felt Selene embrace him again, embracing him in her spirit light. She was with him, touching him, reminding him of her love for him.
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