Beauty Divine, Pain Be Thine Part 4

The journey continues for Aphrodite and her friends.

Chapters 31-35

Chapter 1

Chapter 31

The sun beat down on the group as they walked along the rocky pathway to El Matador beach in Los Angeles. The day was hot and humid, with nearly no breeze. Aphrodite felt the moisture in the air making her clothes stick to her skin, but she had to admit, the rock formations and waves lapping on the sand was an amazing sight. "I've never been here, in all my years. This place in so beautiful," she sighed contentedly, as they found a small, secluded alcove and set up a picnic lunch.

"Yes," Shea agreed, "This has always been one of my favorite beaches to come to. Not too crowded, but so lovely."

Tristan smirked and pulled Shea on to his lap on the beach blanket. "Just secluded enough for you to grow some legs and hang out without being seen." Shea glowered. "What? You know that most people would have panicked at your appearance, or worse. Some people would have attacked you, or experimented on you. Luckily, now that Ally here has helped you out, you can go out and blend without sending people into a tizzy. I think you're beautiful, no matter what you look like. But regular people just aren't prepared for that. I wasn't trying to be offensive." He kissed her on the cheek apologetically, and the stiffness and annoyance melted away from her face.

They dug in to their lunch and chattered happily, until a young man approached them. He wore a thin black tank top and cut off jeans with sandals. His gray eyes studied them for a moment before he nodded to Aphrodite in acknowledgment. "My lady," he said, his voice deep and smooth, with just a hint of a hard edge. "I have been expecting you."

Aphrodite stood, followed by her friends. "Kyboclus. Thank you for coming."

"You may call me Ky, dear Goddess," he responded with a small smile. Then, he glanced at the other three. "Will your friends be joining you, Highness?"

"Yes, please, Ky," Aphrodite said, then added, "And there is no need for formalities with me. I am here as your student. My alias here is Aleazia, or Ally. In public, you may call me by one of those names. In private, you may choose whichever name you'd prefer. You needn't call me 'Goddess' or 'Highness'."

"As you wish, my-- Aleazia. If you would follow me," he said politely, turning back the way he'd came.

Aphrodite led her friends after Kyboclus. He brought them to a cliff face, where he placed his hand on one of the rocks and muttered something quietly. A moment passed before the cliff rumbled and a hidden tunnel opened up. As soon as they were all inside, the doorway closed behind them. Aphrodite half expected it to be pitch black, but the inside of these tunnels was just as bright as the day outside. Of course, she realized. This place has been created by the gods to hide and protect the heroes that are trained here.
The tunnel became steeper, and they moved steadily down for nearly half a mile before the tunnel let out into a huge underground cave. Rooms had been carved into the rock. There were sleeping quarters, a kitchen and dining area, and a massive training area. A few demigods were crowded around a ring, watching two more spar on a large mat. Ky looked to Aphrodite and said, "They do not know who you are. The safest option is to maintain this assumed persona here."

"Yes," Aphrodite responded. "Hera has spies everywhere. I have no doubts that she would pay very generously for information about me."

Ky nodded. "I will show you to your quarters. I ask that you each sleep separate, as to focus on your training. That being said, I give half of Saturday and the entirety of Sunday to all of my students for rest and relaxation. You may do as you wish during that time. I have had all of your belongings brought to your rooms already, and the car you travelled in has been parked in another section of underground caves. It will be safe." He halted at a cluster of sleeping quarters. "These four are yours. I will let you settle in for the night, and you will begin your training tomorrow. You may come to the training area to watch until dinner, if you'd like."

They all muttered their thanks and entered their rooms to put away their things.

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