I looked up at the tall building, absorbing the immense power radiating from it, and curled my hands in my pockets. Autolycus strode through the front doors without hesitation. I steeled my nerves and followed behind him. He waved to the receptionist. “She’s with me. I’m taking her to the Post Man.”
The bright-eyed receptionist nodded her head in understanding. “Y-Yes, sir.” She turned to me and looked me over, anger flickering in her eyes. Who is that chick? Who is she to him? And other expressions of hate and jealousy spilled across her face, plain to see. I passed by without acknowledging her, following my old friend into the elevator. He smirked and looked at me.
“This is an elevator, Kee. It brings us to the floor we want.” I said nothing as I struggled to hold in my aura as much as possible in the small space. The doors opened, and a sign welcomed us. “Hermes Mail Service.” I may have rolled my eyes out loud because Autolycus smirked and said, “Yeah, updated with the times.” His face twisted, and he continued, “I don’t know how much you know, Kee. No one knows anything about you. It took me nearly six months to track you to that mountain. Who knew you’d be so close to home?” His smirk faltered a little as he divulged how long it had taken him.
I cast my eyes low, but then thought it over and raised my gaze, putting my hands on my hips. “I am not ignorant, and I’m not made of glass.” His smile returned then, and he led me to a closed office door.
Autolycus beckoned me forward and winked. “Let me warm him up. You’ll know the moment.” He strode inside, leaving the door open. I stood to the side of the door, listening and waiting.
“Hiya, Dad. Where are my knives?” I heard a muffled chuckle, followed by someone sinking into a chair.
“Hello, Auto! Does that mean you’ve found her? Did you deliver the summons? Can I get my staff back with the signature?” I leaned back and rested my head against the wall, closing my eyes as I listened to the conversation.
“How many times do I have to tell you to call me Seth? I delivered something to her, but seriously, who’s got my knives?” Autolycus pressed.
Seth? I thought. That was interesting.
Hermes sighed, and said, “Security has them locked up. Good luck in getting them back.” The cheekiness dripped from his voice, and he continued, “Give me my staff, and I’ll be able to get your knives for you.”
“Nah, I lost your staff in a bet.” Autolycus laughed, and I heard him stand up and start walking out. “I’ll go take my chances and get the knives myself.” He winked at me as he passed and whispered, “Not glass, little firestorm.” He walked on to the elevator.
“What do you mean you lost my staff in a bet?!” Hermes shrieked. “Who in Hades has it?!” The elevator doors shut as Hermes barreled past me into the hall.
“I have it,” I responded coolly, as I stood as relaxed as I could manage, my hands in my pockets. He stopped in his tracks and turned to me. His mouth hung open in shock as he processed the sight of me.
“I believe you have a message for me?” I snapped at him. His trance broke, and his impish smile returned to his face, the twinkle of mischief appearing in his eyes. Like father, like son, I thought.
“This way, I have a copy for you to read. It comes from the king himself.” Hermes gestured for me to enter his office.
My eyes bulged slightly, stupefied by the words written. My fist was curled around the staff I held, threatening to snap it in half. If it weren’t magical, it would have been splinters on the floor. I kept my face expressionless as I read, but still I tensed as the words rattled around my brain. I tried to keep my body from trembling, but felt the temperature drop around me as I warred with my emotions.
Keep calm. I thought. The anger coursed through me as I held that writ at arm’s length, chilling my blood and creating patterns of glistening fractals along my skin. My eyes iced over, freezing any chance that tears could form and betray my stony demeanour.
I am strong! The words sang inside me as I struggled to contain my growing rage, the iciness at war with the red I saw. I can control this. This will not affect me. I took a deep breath as I finished reading, letting the words sink into my cold bones and quell my boiling anger. I ran my hand through my hair to ground myself, then rolled the letter up and sighed loudly.
“Well,” I started, sarcasm dripping from my voice, “it seems like I’ll be needing a real job.”
He nodded sheepishly, a small smile creeping up the corner of his face.
“Yeah, He wants us all to rejoin the mortals and make us relevant again.” The boiling rage bubbled up inside again. That damned face. I wanted to slap that smile off of it and smash his head into his desk until he couldn’t smile anymore. I inhaled deeply. I am numb. The ice formed over the staff in my hand, and I willed it into a sharp point. A cruel smile formed on my lips, and I raised my arm back and held the staff like a dart. I threw my arm forward with force and released the icy projectile. It whizzed by his head and embedded firmly in the wall behind his desk. His smile faltered and, with wide eyes, he stared at me.
“Message received,” I spat, turned on my heel, and marched out of the office. My angry footsteps echoed as I entered the elevator. It took a couple of seconds, but I heard him follow me.
“Khione!” he called, and I winced. I hadn’t been called by that name in a few lifetimes.
“Khione, wait a minute. There is more to talk about!” The door closed, and I concentrated on having the frost remain on my skin and not on the walls. My runaway emotions had caused electrical faults in the past. I didn’t need to cause any damage or accidentally freeze someone into a statue again. The elevator opened again, and he was running into the lobby, having raced down the stairs, the frozen staff in hand. He waved to the receptionist. “Tell her to wait!” he called. The receptionist promptly stood up to stop me.
“Uh, excuse me, miss, uh…i-it seems like he still has something to tell you.”
I scoffed at her. “Yeah, like how to force your will on someone. Not this time.”
He caught up to me and grabbed my arm. I swung it away and spun in surprise, ice daggers forming in my hands. He looked down and let go.
“Shit, this isn’t how this is supposed to go.” His head hung a little low, but in his eyes, I saw some level of pleading. His hands lifted as he rubbed his neck. I didn’t want to listen to his words. I still wanted to carve his heart out and stomp on it. Repeatedly. Until he felt his broken heart as much as I felt mine.
“There are conditions!” I raised my eyebrow for him to continue, but said nothing, daggers readied. “You have a choice of where to work. You can work nearby or open a business. There is a floor here just for you—If you choose to stay here.” High, shrill manic laughter exploded from my chest, and both Hermes and the receptionist flinched.
“You expect me to live here? Among those who thought I was dead? The ones who haven’t sought me out for years?!” My hand involuntarily reached to my lower belly, where the mark of their arrogance was left on me. My voice, laced with venom, lowered to just above a whisper. “I will not be pushed around and forced into situations I do not choose, but I will not hide either. I will follow what he has decreed, but I will do it on my terms.” As I exited the doors, I called back, “Next time, just send me a damn email!”
I whipped my smartphone out of the pocket of my white cloak and hit contacts, frantically searching for the man who might just have what I need.
“Hello, Wendell, It’s Kia. When are you free for a meeting? I’d like to discuss whether that offer is still on the table.”