She landed in front of him, her talons scratching the walls as she neared him, the keys dancing in front of her feathered chest. She reached for one and made the unlocking motion. Skiron’s face twisted in agony, and his hair greyed as she drained him.
I felt my rage wane as her eyes widened, and her lips formed an O. Snow swirled around us as I fell into my grief, holding my side, my cold aura pushing outwards to cover us both in a layer of frost. Her hand lowered, hanging limp at her side. I broke down, the sobs escaping even as I tried to hold them back.
I nearly stumbled over my feet. A yak? A yak’s smell was nauseating, and they were excruciatingly slow. I could blizzard my way up the mountain in mere minutes. I thought about protesting, but the light in Aspen’s eyes stopped me, and I swore I saw Artemis smirk.
“You’re going to be fine, Kia. You’re as strong as she is and just as powerful, even if you don’t believe it. Together, you’re going to find Skiron and set everything back to normal. Hopefully, he can fix these crazy weather patterns across the globe.”
Hey, don’t give me that look, Kia. If you need to find an object, I’m your guy. That’s what my powers are, finding and stealing treasure. If you need to trick something or someone, you’d have to ask Dolus. Tracking someone, well, you know who you’re going to need to ask.
Sybil tried to prove she was a good daughter, but she grew to hate Skiron for not accepting her, although he treated us all well. She decided she’d had enough of vying for his love and attention and said she was leaving to find her family. Her true family.
I looked up at the master of camp, catching his expression of bewilderment. The rest of the camp had stopped and was staring at the children, waiting to see what I would do. I couldn’t help but smile. They were so brave! The two kids I’d given the snowballs to earlier were hiding behind the nearby tent, whispering to each other.
“Point me toward the way out?” I asked, feeling the forced grin still plastered across my face. Charon obliged, silently pointing, before pushing off from the dock. I pulled my hood over my head and then made my way back to the surface.
I smiled back at him, and he changed to stalking towards me. The terrifying grin was unwavering on his frozen face. His long nails scraped the ground as he hunched forward, his eyes peering through his scraggly hair, focused intently on me.
I walked to the middle of the compound, slowly drawing the cold inward. There was something here. The deserted compound should have been a haven for the hibernating animals, but nothing was here. Even the birds had left, and the only other living thing around was the Qiqirn demon dog.
I had come here out of obligation and a need to prove myself. Instead, I found myself supported by the people I had surrounded myself with. I was lucky to have people and pets who accepted me for who I was.
I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back, pulling my knees to my chest. The decision to come and make new friends was a good one. My vision was right. Visiting Hestia was a good choice, and now I had a group of friends that I felt connected to. Maybe I could expand my decision to trust others. There was going to be more to this evening, I was sure, but I was happy to settle in and have another drink.
“What did I miss?” Aphrodite said as she came back into the living room. Under one arm was a basket of muffins, the ones I had made in vain to save my kitchen. She had whipped cream on her nose and cheek, and in her right hand was a can of the processed stuff. I had no idea why Dite liked that crap. She always says it’s fun, whatever that means.
I stood with Hestia and picked up my food while Mano settled back around my neck. “I’ll come with you. If you’re worried about something, you may need a fire hose.”
Hestia slid her hand over her face. “Only if it’s Dite trying to cook something. That girl can burn water.”
My gaze flitted to one side and then the other before I decided to use some questionable skills I had picked up in my time away with mortals. They were both good and bad influences. I was going to find what I wanted for muffins, and I wouldn’t let something as simple as a locked door prevent me from reaching them.