I was not really looking forward to this impromptu gathering, but Luis had a point. The invitation was for immortals, and I really needed to make an effort to mingle with the family more often. So I huffed and puffed, and grumbled and whined, and then I finally gave in. I donned my best Canadian tuxedo and headed out.
Summer was nowhere near in full swing yet, so I thumped up the collar of the awesomeness that is denim against the chilled air and walked out into the night. The location was not too far from the God Complex, so I only got lost twice while looking for it. When I finally found the place, I was not impressed. It looked to me that someone had decided to have the party at a rundown storage facility or warehouse that had seen no use in years.
When I made my way to the entrance, I stopped to take a deep breath and settle the voices in my head. My breath caught in my chest for a few seconds. I sat there frozen in place as the voices kept going on with more gusto than usual. After a few blinks, I realized that the voices were coming from the room, just past the door. I could hear Daddio’s booming voice before even walking in, and that caught me by surprise. Perhaps it was a good thing I decided to show up after all.
I walked inside to find a big room that looked to be the main attraction of the evening. Half of the family was already present, and they were arguing about who the host of this particular shindig was. I knew I was going to get blamed for it, so I decided to take advantage and use it as an icebreaker. I strode into the middle of the room, calling out in a loud voice for everyone to hear, “I bet you are all wondering why I called you here today. Well…I did not.” My comment drew more chuckles than groans, so I took it as a win.
There had definitely been effort put into making the place comfortable. There were high ceilings with twinkling lights and small, raised, bar-style tables placed around the edges of the walls. Now the walls themselves were peculiarly dressed from top to bottom in black silk, probably an attempt to hide the age and decay. It reminded me a bit of that axiom people say about putting lipstick on a pig. I did not know the reason for anyone doing such a thing, but who was I to judge the predilections of someone else?
The other features in the room were the three different fully-stocked bars. I knew right then, this gathering had not been organized by any of us in the immortal family. Ever since my return home, pretty much anything involving alcohol was referred to me for validation of quality or help with obtaining that particular drink. I very much enjoyed helping, even if I complained about it at times.
That being the case, when Zeus asked if I had signed off to the bar supply, I made sure to say it was not mine and that everyone should drink at their discretion. Not that the disclaimer would keep anyone from drinking, of course. Immortals and alcohol went hand-in-bottle. There was a time I had barely been able to keep up with supplying just the family.
Apparently, Eros and Clio had found a sitter for the twins because they were already there. They were nudging and hissing at each other, so I could tell married life worked well for them. They were talking with Eris, who seemed to be sizing up the only mortal in the area, a young, handsome man serving drinks. Eris’s appetites were notoriously insatiable, and not all of them were survivable, so I was not sure whether I should consider the man lucky or not.
Poseidon was also there, or part of him was anyway. His melancholy felt so strong it was palpable. He was talking to Zeus about the younger generation as if we were not already thousands of years old. I did not mind the banter since I have used the strategy myself. Sometimes to command respect, but most times for a laugh. Old humor never gets old. Har-har.
At another table, Selene and Artemis were talking, half-jokingly, about making a go of it by taking the next step in the relationship. Selene was also keeping an eye on Thanatos, who seemed to be looking for the first opportunity to vanish back to his self-imposed isolation. Not that I blamed him after everything that he had been through. He blamed himself plenty as was. I thought I really should invite him over to try cheering him up sometime soon.
Athena showed up and, between her red glittery dress and her golden locks, she beckoned for the attention of every ray of light in that room. She was definitely comfortable with being the center of attention. On the other side of the spectrum, there was Dikê. As imposing as Dikê could be, she hid it inside an oversized leather jacket and kept to the shadows. It was obvious she did not want any attention directed toward her at all. Erebus was also keeping his distance, staying in the dark, but shadows were like oxygen to him, so that made sense.
Someone else that was sitting off to the side quietly nursing a drink was Ares. There was a lot less brooding coming from him and a whole lot more…calm? Whatever changes he had gone through seemed to be agreeable to him. Speaking of agreeable to someone, I noticed Amphitrite sitting by a table close to the bars. Her eyes were going back and forth between Poseidon and me, and that made me chuckle.
I had never expected to get this close to someone again. Mortal or immortal. Some days it still surprised me that Pheephee had chosen me. Being Dionysos, my reputation as a party god had always preceded me. Sometimes rightfully so, most times not. The wine, the frenzy, the madness, they all came with an inescapable image of a non-stop party goer. It was so because that was where the fun lay. I am also the God of Vegetation, but no one ever thought of me when they ate a salad.
And then there was Adrestia. Her attire looked to be more fitting for a military march than a party, but she wore it well. I was not worried about her outfit, though. I was more worried about the scowl on her face and her tired-looking eyes. For some reason, Adrestia seemed to be living off stress as if it were food. I had yet to hear from her about our sparring session, and I was worried her stress would beat her up before I would ever get a swing in.
I inspected the drinks, and they seemed safe enough, so I grabbed one, tossing it down. Tipping my head back on my second drink, I caught sight of something interesting on the ceiling. Some kind of shadow? While looking up, I did a few of my patented three-sixties, admiring the decor and looking for the shadow, but I did not see it again. Maybe it was a loop stuck in my mind from when Nike had floated down moments before.
I reached out for two more drinks and started making my way to Amphitrite when the entrance suddenly filled with black smoke. In the next breath, not one but two figures stepped through the darkness. Atë and Hekate had decided to be fashionably late. It was a good entrance, as usual, and it worked as it was intended, directing all eyes on them. With a laugh, one of the voices in my head said, You can’t really celebrate without Atë. Hekate, too, chimed another, and I laughed right along at the wordplay.
I passed the drink to Pheephee, and she greeted me with a kiss. She told me she had no idea where this get-together had come from either. It seemed that most everyone was enjoying the free drinks that were handed out from the bar and the lone person delivering them. I mentioned that if free drinks were all it took, my phone would never stop ringing.
Chatter was at its fullest, with a smattering of laughs, when Zeus’ god voice boomed out for everyone to hear. “It occurs to me that we don’t do these nearly as often as we should. Things have been quiet of late. All of us doing our own thing, which is great. But, whoever brought this shindig together, I would like to thank you.” Cheers rose up, and that brought another round of drinking and wondering who had organized the gathering.
I told everyone that I was more than willing to take the credit for the party. Artemis mentioned that it couldn’t be good that no one knew who had put it together. That did somber the mood some, and things quieted down. Maybe it was instinct. The same way the little hairs start standing up before some upcoming danger.
Suddenly, the lights wavered, and all the conversations were drowned out by the strange chanting being piped through hidden speakers. The magic imbued by the chanting was palpable, and things quieted down in a hurry. The black silk drapes covering the walls shifted and fell in lazy waves, revealing mirrors embedded in the walls.
Each mirror was etched with runes along with the name of each immortal, mine included. As the chanting rose, the mirrors started glowing. The silliest thought passed through my mind right then, This is great! It looks like I’ll have an excuse to skip out on that three o’clock meeting Luis set up for me. I tried to laugh at that, but I was no longer in control of myself. There was a bright flash, and then all light vanished, leaving nothing but darkness.
And I heard nor sigh nor groan
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.