I sat in my office, looking out the window towards my temple. For the first time in eons, I did not want to go home to the park. The memories from the night I was with Dinlas kept haunting me. I felt terrible about the way I left things with him; he was much too angry to reason with. Perhaps, his anger was justified, but it upset me that he would accuse me of trying to take advantage of him.
“My Lady, sorry to bother you,” Britomartis said.
“What?” I snapped.
“You are late for your meeting with Lady Night,” Bri said, taken aback by my curt retort.
It was too late to fly on Sayeh, I’d hate to keep Nyx waiting, so I decided it best to teleport to London.
“Thank you, Bri. I am traveling with Nyx to Scotland. Aunt Hestia’s invited us to the Grouse festival this year, and I think a good hunting session is what I need right now.” I needed this to get over my current sense of exasperation.
“My Lady, I thought you were opposed to organized hunting.”
“I am Bri, but the Glorious Twelfth at Aunt Hestia’s moor, hosted by her estate, is responsibly stewarded. It’s not the kind of driven hunting that mortals conduct, and there’s absolutely no collateral killing,” I explained and walked over to my room to change.
I dressed in a short ivory tunic dress that fell just above the knees. I accessorized it with my golden waistband that was connected to the quiver holding my arrows. I inserted the silver blade into the sheath tied to my right thigh and finished the look with my hunting shoes and golden antler headgear.
“You look ready for the hunt, My lady,” Bri said, looking at me with admiration in her eyes. I waved her goodbye and teleported with Sayeh.
I met Nyx in London as planned, and together we teleported to the dark forest of Scotland, to Aunt Hestia’s hearth.
The woods of Scotland beckoned me, similar to that of Olympus, I loved every scent and feel of it. I saw Nyx whisper something into her owl ring right before Aunt Hestia appeared with her satyrs.
“My darlings,” she said and pulled us both into a warm hug. She led us deeper into the moor, the smell of burning wood and musk told me that we were closer to camp.
“Aunt Hestia, I am aware this is not driven hunt, but do we have beaters?” I asked.
“My satyrs will be the beaters for tonight, but only to drive the birds into our line of vision for the hunt. We do not use snares to stop other wildlife; it is as natural an environment as your park.” She smiled, knowing full well of my concern for the wildlife. “We only use breech-loading shotguns for the hunt and also have the policy to shoot only what you can eat.”
“Thank you, dear aunt. It makes me happy that you are as loving of the wild as I am,” I said, impressed by her efforts.
As we approached the campsite, I noticed a tall, handsome Satyr address Aunt Hestia. “My Lady,” he said as held her by the waist. The color rising in Aunt Hestia’s cheeks told me there was something more to their relationship.
“Are…you two?” I started to ask not sure how to phrase the rest of the question.
“Aye, dear Arty,” she said, blushing further. “This is Connor, my consort.”
I looked at Connor and nodded before hugging Aunt Hestia. “My best wishes to both of you.”
“A celebratory hunt it is then!” Nyx added, hugging her.
A few other Satyrs followed Connor; Aunt Hestia introduced them.
“Dear heart, Nyx, meet Alex and Golly; they have been assigned to you for the hunt tonight,” she said as two muscular and handsome satyrs bowed to her.
“Lady Night, it will be our pleasure to serve you,” Alex, the silver-haired one, said. Golly, who was mesmerized by Nyx, nodded in agreement, too dazed for words.
“Arty, meet Iain and Jamie, they will assist you tonight,” she said, pointing to the two satyrs who stood before me.
One of them, the redhead with a dimpled cheek and sheepish grin introduced as Iain, took my hand in his, kissing it lightly. He bowed before me holding my hand to his forehead. “My Lady, it is my honor to serve you.”
“As is mine,” Jamie said, bowing with a hand to his chest.
In other circumstances, Iain’s impertinence at taking my hand in his would’ve resulted in him drawing a bloody stump, but his admiration for me was clearly visible in his dark eyes. Those eyes reminded me of someone that I cared about and distracted me enough to let it go. I pulled my hand out of his and gestured for them to rise.
“Shall we head for the hunt, my ladies?” Connor asked.
“Lead the way, Connor,” Aunt Hestia answered, looking at us. He handed the shotguns to Aunt Hestia and Nyx.
I refused the gun when Connor handed me one. “I prefer my bow and arrow.”
“Show off!” Nyx said.
I shrugged and we laughed before heading further into the woods; the satyrs took their position as beaters to drive the birds out of their nests. The beating of drums and the chanting brought about the mood. The birds came out in flocks, providing ample opportunities for the hunters. I took aim with three arrows and released them at the same time.
“My lady, you are hunting a flying target with a bow and arrow?” Iain asked.
“Iain, if you have any idea about the Goddess of the Hunt, you wouldn’t have asked that question,” Aunt Hestia said as she loaded her gun.
“Impressive, Arty!” she said watching my arrows bring down three birds. Aunt Hestia was no less of a hunter herself as she shot with a perfect aim each time her gun was loaded.
“Watch and learn, boys!” Nyx called out as she shot bird after bird. I took another aim, this time with six arrows.
“My Lady, six arrows?” Jamie asked.
“You doubt my skills?”
“No, My Lady! I just wanted to remind you to leave some for the others,” he added quickly.
“Aren’t you a smart one!” Nyx said, looking at Jamie. Golly rushed to pick up the birds she shot down.
With enough red grouse for a feast, we returned to the campsite and then back to the estate for the party.
I left my bow and arrow in the room and changed into a maroon gown before heading out to the party.
Aunt Hestia appeared in her signature brown sleeveless gown with golden accessories to match. The best accessory she had on was, of course, Connor. He stood behind, holding her by her waist and whispering sweet nothings into her ears. His devotion to her made me yearn for someone I had been with recently. I quickly pushed the thought out of my mind.
My eyes wandered the floor, looking for Nyx. She was rocking a midnight blue gown with a plunging neckline. I saw her dancing with Alex, his hands moving over the curves of her body, and his lips grazing her neck. I smiled at the pair of them and made my way towards the bar. A drink would be welcome right now. The hunt was a good distraction from my thoughts about Dinlas, but it seems to have waned, and this party was not helping. I saw Iain walking towards me with two glasses in his hands. He handed me one. “It’s your Aunt Hestia’s special brew, My Lady.”
“Are you planning to get me drunk, satyr?”
He smiled his dimpled grin again, and I couldn’t help but be drawn into them. “No, My Lady. On the contrary, I need you sober to answer my next question.”
“What do you need, Iain?” I asked, expecting him to demand some divine favor in exchange for his service tonight.
“I’d like your permission to remain by your side day and night until you order me away,” he asked, bowing.
“What are you saying, Iain?”
“I am only asking for your permission to accompany you on your journey onwards.”