Connor stood, staring at the horn in this “Pan’s” hand, gobsmacked, not sure which way was up when it came to this satyr, but he knew one thing, this was above his nonexistent pay grade. A satyr with a thunderfist? Most satyrs had a pretty strong punch but not enough to crackle with real lightning.
“Hey Jack, lock the door and keep your distance.”
Jack was lost looking at the horn.
“Oi, ye listening to me?”
Jack snapped to his senses. “Yeah sorry, what’s with the horn?”
“I don’t know but it’s enough to take upstairs. Lock the door, no one in and no one out,” Connor said. “In my consultant’s opinion: I don’t have any say in security matters of course.”
I smiled. That last line was worthy of him. “I promise I’ll be a good boy, don’t want mom to send me to bed without dinner.”
“Watch your sass, man, the adults are coming down, and there’s a lot goin’ on. You, me, and the table, this fuckin’ around ain’t in your best interest.”
Connor left the room and made his way to the elevator, tapping his badge to clear himself for the executive floors.
Arriving at Hearthfire, he turned and looked at Bruna, leaning on the reception desk. “How ya doing, love? When am I gonna get a smile outta ye, hmm? Yer always so serious. You should come out with me, the lady and the lads have a smile. We’ll make sure you’re smiling with Celtic pride by night’s end I’m sure.”
“Does your lady know that you are trotting out those same old lines behind her back?” Bruna replied, not even looking up from her laptop. “I am here to work, Master Opan, not to be a test dummy for satyr chat-up lines.”
“Well if I were meaning anything by ‘em I’m sure she’d care, but as a fellow assistant of her Ladyship, I’m only being friendly. I’m sure they’d be a good lad willing to offer up a drink and a lap for you if ya gave him a smile. You do know how to smile, don’t you?” Connor detected the futility of his action, yet again.
“Well anyways, is she in? Kinda important. Something weird downstairs,” he said with a deep sigh, attempting to fall back into professionalism, though it wasn’t his native setting.
“Master Opan, if you ask me to smile one more time, I will be forced to rearrange your rather charming facial features into something a bit less attractive, possibly with the application of cast iron. Yes, her Ladyship is in the living room.”
“Miss Bruna, I do believe you’re learning to flirt in satyr,” he said with a giggle while moving out of range and toward the living room.
“Hes, send your dancers away, I got a real thinker of a problem downstairs,” he quipped, calling out to his lady.
“I’m sure Monsieur Pepin can wait, if it’s that important,” Hestia answered, laying aside a cookbook dripping with bookmarks.
“I’ve got a Satyr, name of Pan, won’t give his family name. Jack found him up in the old offices, called me down to make sure nothing was wrong with him. I broke regs so Jack didn’t have to and went through his pack. He had this weird horn…”
Hestia went pale. “Tell me you didn’t touch the horn! For the love of Cernunnos, tell me you didn’t touch that damned thing!”
“I touched it, aye, but he melted the cuffs we had on him to take it from my hands, something about big trouble if it was blown,” he continued now, as concerned as he was confused.
She exhaled and a little color came back to her cheeks.
“Oh, not much, just a way to inspire actual, literal pandemonium. As in, pure primeval fight-or-flight responses, and I’ve never seen it lead to flight responses. You could have put this entire building into a bloodthirsty orgy of destruction and murder.”
“So do you know this guy, or at least the horn? Do I need to get more security down there?” He saw color return to his lady’s face. He ended the question with a gulp and a slow reach for his flask, his face a mask of what did I just walk out of?
“Oh, aye, boyo. That’s your great-great-grandfather. The actual Pan himself, or if not, it’s someone who was strong enough to take his horn off of him, and that’s even more terrifying. Drink up, there’s a lad.”
Connor took a drink of his flask. “I’ve got him in one of the side offices downstairs. Jack dinnae wanna drag an unconscious satyr…god through the foyer, you know with security going through its transition.”
“If he’s unconscious, I’m your granny Molly,” Hestia replied dryly. “He’s playing along because he doesn’t want to stir up trouble. Give me a minute to change and we’ll go see what kind of impression you made.”
“Oh he was unconscious, all right. Jack said he shot part of a wall down on his head to stop him. He was conscious when I left him.”
Hestia walked back into their room and came back out a few minutes later in her Olympian finery: all-white linen and gold jewelry, complete with her white woolen palla draped over her hair.
“He’s more likely to recognize me this way. He’d probably have kittens to see me in jeans and one of your rugby shirts,” she said, gesturing to the ancient getup that bore an eerie resemblance to the white marble statue in the foyer downstairs. “Come on, then, help an old lady to go rescue her nephew.”
# # #
Waiting in the security office, I grew thirsty. “Hey Jack? How much head does a guy have to give to get a glass of something around here?” I called out to the closed door. “The service in this place is as bad as I remember,” I muttered.
“And your language is just as shoddy,” came a female voice from the other side of the door. “Manners of a goat, forever getting stuck somewhere and yelling until someone comes and rescues you.”
I leaned my head to one side and squinted, listening. “I never called out, I found my own way out. I might have damaged a few walls but I got out, not that Triton and Hermes were any help.” Holy hells, did I just admit that?
The lady in white opened the door and smiled at me. “I seem to remember when a wee little buckling got stuck in some grapevines, once, sneaking into where he ought not to be, and you were yelling fit to bring down the sun. Triton ran off to the nymph pools to his mummy, and Hermes wouldn’t stop laughing long enough to help,” Hestia answered. “It’s good to see you.”
“Oh Hera’s hairpins,” I cursed, wincing, my worst fears slowly coming to pass. “Songs of the Siren’s, great aunt Hestia, please tell me you all aren’t still dressing like it’s in the fifth century…”
Something icy slithered down my back, making me shudder. “It’s good to see you too Aunt Hestia….” attempting to remember my manners.
Hestia laughed, and it was a genuine sense of good humor. “Let me get the keys so you don’t break all of Jack’s toys, and then I can go put this ridiculous getup away until next Winter Solstice. I didn’t think you would recognize me in jeans and a hoodie. I caught your Olympic National Park concert, the one down where the forest meets the ocean. You put on a good show. Jack, come let my friend here go. I’ll vouch for his good behavior, and no need to tell Sparky. Just write up that you found another lost hiker.”
She turned back to me with a raised eyebrow. “Come on, wee buckling, come sing for your supper and a wee draft of the good stuff.”
Jack came in and unlocked the cuffs on my ankles. “Don’t let me catch you up on the mountain again,” he said with a little bit of bravado.
I surged toward him enough to make him jump back, and seeing the scared look on Jack’s face made me laugh out loud.
“Whatever, big man,” I said, following after my aunt.
“Nice place you got here Auntie H, it’s no Olympus, but it’s not bad. I wouldn’t have known I hadn’t walked into an L.A. high rise building… and hey wait, you said you’ve been to my shows?” Now I was really confused, I went through a lot of work to stay in hiding, and if someone knew where I was, that meant things, I don’t know what kind of things, but It meant things.
“I said I caught one of the shows. It was recorded—Connor played it for me—he thought I would like it. Your voice hasn’t changed much in fifteen centuries. I well remember a sweet voice that would sing in the gardens underneath someone else’s window in the dark of the evenings. I didn’t say anything because no one asked me about it. I’m the secret-keeper of the family, after all. The other Pan, the one that was here—I knew that wasn’t you—even though he looked a bit like I remembered. Nice boy, but not you.”
It was hard thinking all that far back, painful even to think about sitting under her window “Yeah…well, I’m glad you liked it,” I changed the subject quickly “So what’s going on, I saw Clymene in Los Angeles, and then, well suffice to say part of me told me I had to come back.”
I moved to catch up alongside my Aunt, “Not to mention what happened at home? The place was in shambles.”
She punched the button and didn’t answer right away. We rode in silence to the eighth floor, and as soon as the doors opened, there it was: the brazier that signified the flame of divinity in all of us.
I was a bit perplexed, while it wasn’t unlike my family to keep Auntie H out of the loop, she always found out about what was going on, usually just in time to yell at one of us in the younger generation for being idiots. I was worried right up until I saw it, the immortal flame, I don’t know why but it always meant home, god as I might be I always fed some of my wine to the fire or offered some of my hunt.
“Auntie, I’m home, and it scares me more than a little to be here knowing why I left.” I felt my right hand go numb and hissed in discomfort. “What’s wrong with you…ahh.”
“Look I don’t know how long I’ll get to stay, but I miss you and the family…” I continued rubbing my numb hand.
“We were attacked. Here. Zeus was nearly killed, Hera went a bit mad. Someone let the Titans out of Tartarus and they decided to come round for a bit of old fashioned mayhem.” Her voice was calm, but it was the practiced kind of calm Sven used when things were right on the edge of bubbling over. I watched her go towards the brazier and stick her hand into the flame, and I swear by my horns, the crackle of the flames turned into a purr.
“Drums below…” I muttered. I thought when Clymene mentioned Kronus she was being hyperbolic or exaggerating somehow, either way, at the time I didn’t believe it.
The very idea of the Titans returning to Earth made me shudder. The kind of chaos that could cause. “Is there anything I can help with? I mean Clymene is dealt with and out of the way, but I’m here, and until Zeus decides to lock me up, I’m willing to help how I can. I just need to get my bearings and figure out where Triton and Hermes are. I’m sure the three of us can start causing trouble for some Titans.
The night went on with Auntie H explaining just what had happened, showing me up to the 8th floor of the building.
The place was pastoral: a blend of all of the wild places that I had spent time in during my glory days. For a moment I couldn’t help but beam. I was home. I was unshackled. Pan was back, baby.