Nialane Antaeus/The Return of Nikias

From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe

Jump to: navigation, search

An Entry from Nia's Diary

Why did he have to scare me like that? Aunt Dex says everything will be fine, then he questions his ability to be safe. He said it so quietly, like his internal voice slipped out, but it sank to my ears, perched below him. Panic rose in me faster than I could contain it. Though he couldn’t see me, he could feel the terrified stare boring through him.

Streams of thoughts slipped through my mind in his voice. It was like he was trying once again to cradle me, just in the confines of my mind. “Don’t worry, little one, everything will be fine. Nothing will hurt your father…” His deep, melodic voice sang through the catacombs of my brain, the gossamer thread-words binding my anxious thoughts. Not gone, but contained. Once again a hopeful glow began to inhabit me. How easily he took hold of my mind!

If he couldn’t be protected then I wanted to help him. Sometimes the moments where he chose not to see me were so inopportune. Instead of pleading with him on the basis of being the too-darling-to-resist half-him, I had to try to reason with him. Yes my father, Nikias Antaeus—the steel-trap controller, telepath. What chance did I stand against him?

His answer half-relented: “okay, with proper training” he agreed. I’d like to think that maybe a little of it was because of my status as his little girl, like that gave the slightest bit of sway. Even better, maybe he trusted me, knew that I had the potential to be of some help. That idea bowled me over. Either way, I’d won a small victory; my father believed in me enough to bring me into his world.

The world whirled that night with all of the activity. So much going on all at once, the laughing, the crying, the concern, the love, my head spun. The little farm girl, once secluded except for a select few, was in the middle of a crowd—momentarily I missed the quiet of the country.

Then what I considered to be impossible happened: my father needed me. It was the first time I had ever felt that bond between us, and I hope fervently it will not be the last. A passerby asked him for directions, and at one point, a pep talk. Father took it in stride, even applying a spell to help him on his way. The young hero stopped to shake his hand, which father couldn’t see.

“I’m sorry, my father is blind,” I told the hero as he withdrew his hand awkwardly.

“What happened?” Father asked his question quietly, grasping my hand gently.

I smiled as I replied, “It’s alright, father. He just wanted to introduce himself.”

Father sighed beside me, taking in a deep breath of night air. We said our goodbyes to the fledgling hero, and then headed for home, hand in hand. I’d started to get accustomed to this routine, though all of it hadn’t lost the sparkle of newness.

Returning home, he tucked me in as usual, adopting this time my new Aunt Dexamene’s pet name for me. “Good night, little starfish,” he whispered. Pausing to kiss my forehead before dropping back to his chair, I knew he was listening to my thoughts, dying to hear my reaction.

“Night daddy,” I thought, “I love you.” Peeking through the corner of my eye, I saw that familiar million-watt smile accompanied by a few tears. I drifted to peaceful sleep under his watchful eye, succumbing to his usual lullaby.


Nia's Diary, Later That Week

I knew he would worry if he found out, but I had to do it. Training earlier that day had given me such a high: the feeling of flesh splitting under my fists was addictive, and I hadn’t got enough. Surveying the numerous cuts, scrapes, burns, and bruises I sustained, father had ended my training, saying that I needed to heal up before I tried again. But in my eyes I wasn’t training fast enough. I needed to get some practice, and now.

I wanted to be of any help I could to him, and fighting seemed to be what I was most passionate about. Belonging in his life was most important to me, closely followed by becoming something that he could be proud of. He hadn’t told me much of the family he left behind, The House of Antaeus, but I’d read that they were fierce fighters, fearless and mighty. He was all of those things, and I had not become such yet. I was desperate to keep training, even as my muscles ached and my bruises throbbed. (The burn of the scrapes and singes were easier to ignore.)

Once I was sure he was asleep, I pondered what I would do next. I knew a little fighter like myself had many uses in the violent surface world: eliminating gang wars and crushing dangerous deals. After he was asleep I made my way to the Hollows. It wasn’t long before I’d found a police officer who dared me to clean up the Troll problem in the Sewers. I couldn’t turn down the challenge.

Soon enough, I knew why that hero who had found father the other day needed a pep talk. The sewers were unimaginable in the worst way, and filled with equally disgusting Trolls. They swung objects, slashed, casted spells at me, but I kept pummeling away, even as I was certain I would die there. I knew father would certainly be worried out of his mind if he knew what I was doing alone, and I hoped against hope that he wouldn’t find out.

I dispatched the villains the lady officer had recommended to prove my worth. Weary and beaten, I headed for home. The familiar feeling of the cold stone walls against my face was soothing, and made the bruises ache a little less. I wanted to stay there forever but I knew that I had to get back to bed before father noticed my absence. Tiptoeing towards bed, I listened carefully, hoping that I would hear him move if he was awake. I’d need a clever excuse for my sorry state if he had awaken, one that I wasn’t prepared to come up with, but rehearsed in my head. I knew that everything I was coming up with was sure to be seen straight through by him, but I feared that if I told him how much I wanted to fight he would think there was something wrong with me.

I reached the edge of the doorway. I tried to see around the corner, but then a voice.


My worst fear was realized in the trembling tone of his voice: he knew exactly what I’d been doing. His eyes were glowing again as he tried to look over the new additions to my catalog of injuries. I could tell that he was a little angry, but more concerned than anything. I’m sure he was looking for a very detailed explanation of why I had decided to do what I did, but he didn’t need one. He scanned through my thoughts like a sieve through sand searching for seashells. He picked out the most sordid and embarrassing of all of them, holding them under the acutely accurate microscope of scrutiny. I knew what he was going to understand would be at the very least, devastatingly embarrassing for me, at the worst, alarming for him. Frozen in my spot, he continued to look for the worst injuries, pausing to frown at the abrasion across my cheek and the cut above my eyebrow. I wondered for a moment if he could remember what my face normally looked like, since he didn’t see it that often. (At least I thought he didn’t.)

He was fighting back the urge to say something, I was sure of it. Instead he rose from his usual chair and wiped a smear of Troll blood off of my face. I knew that second I’d hurt him: he’d been worried while I was gone. I didn’t want him to be angry at me, or disappointed—that was exactly the opposite of all the reasons I did what I had done.

“Daddy…” I mumbled, my jaw still aching from a cheap shot I’d taken in the face. He hugged me, trying not to grasp me too tightly. Once he had held me there for a few moments, he gestured for me to sit down. I knew he still wasn’t talking because he didn’t know what to say to me. He sat down next to me, contemplating what needed to be done next.


Nia's Diary, the Following Week

Screaming didn’t stop the invasion. I awoke screaming again last night, but it was not the same nightmare that haunted me. A powerful feeling of dread had invaded my lovely dreaming recollection of time spent with my father. The images near the quiet lake he had taken me to blasted into a million dark fragments of pain and self-loathing and embedded into my psyche. Surging through my brain, every nerve in my body screamed with the indescribable pain felt by this truly unfortunate individual. These emotions were not unfamiliar to me, but in such large concentrations they overwhelmed every sense of reason I could pull forth from the depths of my mind. It settled over me like a dark cloud; I immediately felt as though I deserved every ounce of suffering I could be given and the most unfortunate death.

Father was gone from my presence, leaving a note pinned to my bed by the golden pearl, glowing in the darkness. I could feel his warmth radiating from its surface, giving me a small measure of comfort. His note said that he was going to be away for an undetermined period of time and that if I should need anything to find my aunt Dexamene. “Of course he’ll be gone,” the voice in my head seethed. “Once again you’ve done something wrong…he’s rejected you.” Reason was gone, replaced with bitterness, angst, and poisonous words.

My fists cried out for blood once more; it melded into the feelings of worthlessness and self-destruction infecting my brain. “I deserve every bruise I get…I hope they make me beg for mercy…” Torrents of devastation raged, wiping out what will I had. Desperately I reached for him in any way I could think of, slowly losing grasp on reality. I resolved with what little reason I had left that I had to get strong enough to go to the only place I knew he could shut me out, where he must certainly have gone: the Ouroboros gates, where he could break away from time entirely. If I should travel there and not find him, I imagine I will never be found. Perhaps that is not a bad thing entirely…

May my blood run in rivers.

I hope I find him before it is too late for the both of us.


Nia's Diary, Later That Week

The tides had turned against me. My aunt Dexamene knew something was wrong with me, and in her deep concern, surrounded me with allies to watch over me. I did not know that some, like Princess Zancleia Cor, would become my friends along the way, but I was grateful for them all the same.

I had fought countless hours, spilled the blood of countless enemies, acquired countless injuries. My bones ached to their core; my screaming muscles a heavy burden to my fragile frame. Bruises bubbled to the surface of my pale blue skin, blotching it with violet and black pools.

My hands fought a battle separate from my mind. “What if I don’t cast another spell? What if I do not strike another blow—would it matter?” I thought these thoughts in an endless loop as I waded through the masses thirsting for my blood, my soul. I had begun to believe it and my battles became more and more of a challenge. I spoke much with my aunt Dexamene over the last few days. Her initial frustration at my condition, my state of mind, was quickly overcome with affection and concern. I hadn’t thought it possible that someone beyond my father would need me, but she did. Her’s and my father’s love for me gave me something tangible to cling to, driftwood in the raging currents.

But the memory of his voice had begun to fade from my mind. I could hear him less and less with each passing second. Taking to my lullaby like it was my very air, I hummed it every second I could, even as my shockwaves burst from my hands and into the body of an enemy. If I couldn’t keep his memory alive, I feared, I would forget him, and with him forget myself.


The waves swept against the rocks of Ithaca Island. Three figures walked together to a flat portion near the ocean. Dexamene turned and looked to the others. “Alright then, hopefully with any luck, this will work." Nialane nodded as they took their places. Watching them both as guardian and witness waited Leviathas. Looking over at the child Dexamene reached out a hand. “The Pearl Nialane.” She closed her hand around the fist sized golden pearl. Holding it in her right hand she raised her other to the sky.

“Gods of Olympus, please hear my plea. I Dexamene Aoide, child of Poseidon, Champion of Merridia, stand on these shores and beseech your guidance in my path. I stand here with Nialane, another of Poseidon’s children who also pleas with you. We use this now, pearl of the ocean, treasure of the sea with the essence of one of our own locked inside. We ask that you allow us to use our bodily energy in place of the arcane, to bring our brother, our kin home. I call upon you Hestia, Goddess of House and Home, focal point for family. I beseech you to give us the strength to search both high and low, throughout space and time, to find the one we seek. We implore you to understand our plight and take pity on our souls."

Nialane adds her voice as the chant together: “As above, so below, my heart will follow wherever you go. North and South, East and West, your absence has been my true test.”

Dexamene’s voice remained as Nialane went silent once again: "Nikias, my brother, my kin, my soul attached. I stand now with your daughter Nialane, who cannot survive in your absence. Look not into the dark abyss of your creation but face the light that we here as a family call upon to give you now."

Her voice continued softly but rose as did her intensity. “Nikias...I sense you, I feel you. I beg of you to return. You have no other choice. Your continual absence will mean certain death for your daughter and as your sister I will not allow it. Dexamene: I thank you for protecting me and mine against the darkness you have attempted to save us from. But it has not worked. Your absence aches my heart and bones more than words can say. With that, I command you. Nikias Antaeus, you WILL return to this time...”

Turning to Nialane she spoke again, “Concentrate Nia.” Nialane grasped her aunt’s hand tighter, electricity arcing between their hands. All who watched now could feel the return of Nikias’ mind slowly.

Nialane concentrated on her aunt's clasp, her eyes narrowing then falling shut. "We beseech you father to return to us, to heal the hearts your absence has broken. To mend the wounds....our wounds...” she felt her strength falter for a moment then took in a deep breath. Dexamene reached farther into her own strength and lent it to the young girl. She picked up the slack, and felt beads of sweat roll from her forehead, her concentration deep.

Nialane pushed onward even through her exhaustion. “Hear the prayer in our hearts and let it not fall upon deafness.” She and Dexamene felt a surge in the air around them as power built. The King looked skyward as the skies darkened and the heavens began to swirl. A vortex formed in the sky as a violent wind tore across Talos Island. Suddenly a column of light was cast from the eye of the heavens and in a bright flash, Nikias Antaeus appeared before them. Leviathas nodded. Nikas had returned...

He hovered before them, his face full of peace, the lines of pain and sorrow that had etched themselves on him for so long erased as if they had never been. Dexamene slid to her knees in exhaustion, speaking through heaving breaths, “And...that... you do...a ritual...blast it!” Nialane joined her on the ground as she drooped, her muscles giving into the weight of her task. Nikias’ words were quiet. “Dex? Nia?” His sister looked up at him “It's about time you showed up...” He called the light to his eyes and looked down on the both, “I’m sorry, and thank you.” She struggled to stand then once she did her eye stared into his. “You will never....EVER... do this to me again.... do you understand me?” In response her pulled her into an embrace and hugged her. “That is not an answer you infuriating boy...” He then knelt and hugged his daughter.

The King smiled. A tender moment was shared between family. Or, perhaps it was a semi-tough moment in Dexamene's case. No matter, Nikias had returned and had embraced his daughter warmly. Dexamene looked over to Nia with a knowing look. "He’s all yours.” Then up to Nikias. “Prepare yourself brother.” And at last to the King: “I need a vacation...”

Leviathas nodded to her and watched as the father and daughter held each other, the sky opened and Apollo's chariot brought back the light. Leviathas looked up and smiled. It seemed just a little brighter today.   ---

My mind reverberated with the pain surging through it. I felt so weak, like nothing was left in my body to hold me up. I slumped to the ground, my knees giving way beneath me with the weight of the task we had accomplished.

He gazed lovingly at me, his eyes filled with a weightless light. His face looked younger, his worries erased; his pain forgotten. I couldn’t hide the contortion in my face as the last of my strength gave way and the screaming in my brain grew deafening. I was drowning in the pain as it overtook my psyche.

“Nia…” My father’s voice echoed through my mind. On his knees next to me, he pulled me into his arms, drawing me as close as he could. He could feel my pain radiating from me. It must certainly have felt familiar since it had passed from his own mind to my own just a few nights before. My mind fought him, willing to give up its hold only unto death.

Determination welled up in him. “Nia, I love you. You saved me, let me save you,” he whispered in my ear.

My eyes had become vacant, the battle in my mind siphoning strength away from me. My hands became limp, my legs listless. Aunt Dexamene sat and observed from a nearby rock, waiting and hoping.

Fierceness took hold of him. “Nia, answer me.” His voice cut through my emotion, seeking the last of my rational mind. As much as I wanted to respond, I was simply incapable of it. I struggled through ragged breaths, trying to form the words. My muscles pulsed with exhaustion and overexertion intertwined. He could feel me losing the battle, my mind being consumed by the pain, anger, angst.

The words echoed in my head, running in a loop: “He doesn’t want you…You’ve caused him so much pain…” The voice trailed through my head sounding so sure in its harsh tone. It was as if Hades himself sought to pull me through his gates.

My fingers twitched as I tried to clench my fists. “N…no…he loves me…” I fought with everything I had left, barely able to articulate the words even in my head.

Father could hear the battle as it raged in my mind, ravaging my psyche. Then something unexpected happened, something I never thought possible: he began to pull the pain away from my mind. At first my mind resisted, unsure of what was happening.

“Let the pain leave you, Nia,” he coaxed me. “It will do you no good.”

As I relinquished my hold of the pain, he drew in a deep breath and continued to siphon the pain away from my mind, pulling it into his own soul and locking it away forever. I hadn’t realized how much the pain had kept me alive and moving, motivating every step I took. Leaving my body, it took my strength with it. My head came to rest on his shoulder, feeling the weight of it disappear. Then the weight of my many injuries came back. Then suddenly, it was excruciating: many of my bones broken, my body covered in cuts and scrapes. My body recoiled in agony and fell limp. I was dying.

Father lifted me in his arms and stood, speaking several words in Greek with an intense fervor, causing my body to begin to glow. I could feel my body piece itself back together, mending quickly with a insdescribable warmth. Instantly I felt like my vibrant self once more, minus a substantial amount of insecurity and pain. He had given me a gift that I couldn’t describe: my mind overflowed with the affection and adoration he felt for me. My father loved me more than I could understand, enough to take my burden from me and take it within himself. And in the same token, he understood my overwhelming love for him, the love that had driven me to sacrifice everything within me to bring him back to me.

Aunt Dexamene sighed, her own burden feeling a bit lighter. “Welcome back, little starfish,” she whispered into my mind softly. My aunt loved me and my father so much that she had sacrificed everything she had. All the love was felt for me flooded from my eyes in the form of tears.

I stared into my father’s youthful face, his eyes still glowing. My eyes glistened with relieved and overwhelmed tears. “Don’t…ever…leave me again. Please?” The begging tone sounded almost pitiful to me.

He nodded to me with a smile and clung to me. “I promise, I will not leave you like that ever again Nia.” The realization that he had nearly lost me hit him with a force he hid easily in his voice, but exploded through the added pressure in his grasp on me. He held me as close to him as he could, soothed by the sounds of my breathing and heartbeat. Looking over my shoulder, he spied Zancleia watching our interaction.

She had been my friend when I needed her most, and she had watched my descent into madness. I was sure that she felt a measure of relief in witnessing what she had.

“Father, this is my Zancleia Cor, princess of Philomantae. She has been with me through these long days of training while we awaited your return.”

The relief in his expression was obvious as he nodded to her. “Thank you for helping my daughter.”

Zan was her typical aloof self as she glanced up, uttering at first, “Hm?” Realizing what he had said through the look of gratitude on his face, she replied warmly, “You’re welcome.”

I had come to Ithaca Island that day broken and dying. I left once again whole, surrounded by loving and relieved family.


The water was frigid—only his magic kept him from shivering. Nikias rose from the pool, the water running down his body as his massive tail coiled below him, lifting him. Pulling himself to stand, his tail shrank and split into legs once more. He lifted his cloak and set it on his shoulders. As he moved away from the cold water, it became still once more.

He glanced to the sleeping Del’phina. She and her kind called themselves the People, traveling a great distance to reach the gates of Atlantis. Since their arrival, they had been treated by human and Atlantian alike with suspicion, disdain, and even had been threatened with violence. Deciding if he could help his new cousins then he had to; they deserved at least that much.

The quiet halls of the Temple suited his thoughts. Memories of the steps leading to the Ritual chamber led his feet, coming to rest before the Altar as though he greeted an old friend. His mind wandered back to the tragedy of the day before: the pain and death that wreaked havoc on friends and allies, even watching a friend and brother raise a hand against their queen, though he sat behind bars. The cries in combat of sacrifice were still clear in his mind. He had not known the one called Flea, or Jake. His final act to allow their escape, throwing himself against Hades, was fitting to a Hero of Old like him. Taking the memories most important to the heroics of the day before, he focused his mind to the task to recording them forever. He knew that one day the tale of the Maiden and the Monster must be written in a manner befitting its monumental stature, a timeless tale to be recited for centuries to come, but realized that a master would be needed to spin such a story into the tales revered by the Atlantians. He shook his head, instead recording what he remembered, hoping to find such a chronicler and poet another time. After he had finished he retired from the temple and back to Atlas Park.

The wind whipped around him as he flew through the clear skies of the city. Drifting down to a pool of water behind the great dome of City Hall, he returned his legs to the water, a smile creeping across his face as his bare toes dipped below the surface. Another touched their feet into the pool, and he raised his head to greet them. The aura was distinctive to his Othersight he had grown accustomed to since the loss of his sight, the vision of color and feelings becoming as second nature to him.

“I sense you Nephelea.” He bowed his head to her in respect. Her stature as a Shaman made her as important to her people as he was to his as a Priest.

Shifting with her movements, her jewelry chimed like a chime song. Bright and shining blue, her aura reminded him of the morning sky in the surface world, streaked with pure white and pulsing with azure of the deepest ocean. Knowing that she still held out hope for her people despite their desperate situation brought a smile to his face.

“I see you Meri'dian Nikias. Your heart is still heavy; your spirit is weakened though you have rested.” The necklace jingled again as she paused. “You are kind to have used your power to make the People comforted in these warm southern lands. We thank you.”

He waved his hand. “I did nothing that is worthy of thanks. I wish only to help as I can. It is the least I can do after one of our own threatened your warrior.” Irritation at the hotheadedness that created such a needless situation filled him, though his words remained calm. “It is I who owes a debt of gratitude. I am thankful for your offer to assist Lykaios. His mind is not his own. I feel it is only right that we free him.” His words were soft as fought to suppress the memories of his own possession and time amongst the Ysan.

“If the Great Spirit grants me the strength I will do what I can for him.”

A soft hand touched the side of his face and drew off his mask. “I sense that your loss is not only physical. It is in your heart as well.” As Nephelea removed the mask slowly, he forced his eyelids to hold shut to prevent her from seeing his empty sockets. Leaning in close to him, she spoke softly into his ear: “I believe that you could be healed. That if the Spirits wish it, your wounds could be washed away.”

It took nearly all of his will to keep his voice and hands steady as the Shaman offered him his sight back with no price or warning. “That would be…a wonder if it could be done.” He turned his head to the side and then back toward her. “I would not wish to sacrifice help for my friend for myself, though.” Holding out his hands, he waited for her to give back his mask.

Slowly she set the mask in his hands. “Though it is a ritual already known to me, it is not the same for this task. I would need to gather my tools first, but it could be done when you are ready.” Her aura moved away from him, no different than when she had first landed.

Setting the mask back on his face, his eyelids relaxed. “I must return to the Temple for now. I will seek you out when I have decided.” He bowed to her once again, then let the air carry him up and away from the city.

This time the silence was not welcome; a voice repeated in his mind: “To be healed, to be able to see.”

Personal tools

Interested in advertising?