“If you’ll just sign here, here, and here, Lady Night, and we’ll be all set.”
My mortal lawyer and the real estate agents sat around me in my office at Nox, waiting as I signed the documents that granted me the beautiful piece of land in the Highlands. The paperwork meant little to me – if I wanted this land, I could simply take it for myself and be done with it. Who would contest me? But we’re supposed to play by the rules (sort of), so I might as well make it official in the eyes of those who we are to win back.
I scrawled my signature across the pages and slid them back to the agent, who looked both pleased and horrified that he actually had a goddess’ autograph, so to speak. He shuffled them into his briefcase and gave me a wide smile.
“Congratulations, the land is now yours to do with as you wish. Did you have any questions?”
“No, but I am sure he does.” I gestured to my lawyer, and they started packing up, chatting as they went. Just as well, since I wasn’t feeling in much of a hosting mood. I left the mortals to their tidying of papers and idle chatter, and headed outside. I swapped my mortal-body’s usual outfit for a black turtleneck, gray slacks, and ankle-high boots that were hidden beneath my pant hem, a long linen coat hanging off my shoulders. I wasn’t really cold, but the mist in the area gave off an eerie feel, and it felt safer, somehow, to dress down.
Before I could go explore my new property, I had a date with Artemis and Hestia – the Glorious Twelfth was upon us, and we were to hunt together. Artemis had said to meet her here, and we could arrive together, so I sat in the front foyer awaiting her.
She popped into existence ten minutes later, already dressed for the hunt, her bow slung over her back. A golden retriever bounded up the steps towards me, and I scratched the dog behind the ears.
“Father said she can’t be roaming around in a dragon form, scares the humans. If dogs are man’s best friend …” She gestured to the happy canine, and I shrugged, getting to my feet. “You’re ready to go then?”
Artemis eyed my attire with a careful look, which made me laugh. “I will change when we arrive, this is comfortable for now. Shall we?”
She took my arm, Sayeh’s leash in hand, and we teleported to Hestia’s home. The Scottish forests were dark and rich, and already starting to itch the scratch that had been sitting in the back of my mind since I had come down from Olympus.
“I like how this place feels,” Artemis commented, her eyes wandering into the long dark of the forest. I could understand what she meant, though probably for different reasons. Nature here felt not of this world, probably because of the satyrs and Hestia’s presence. My owl ring, ever present, tingled slightly, so I whispered our greeting to Hestia in it, and it took off to find her. We didn’t have to wait long – she appeared before us a few moments later.
“Welcome, sisters.” She pulled us into a hug, the scent of fire and earthen pine strong on her. “You have perfect timing; the Pack has just finished preparations for us to begin.” She gestured for Artemis and I to follow her.
“You missed quite the event the other night,” Hestia started, a smile in her voice. Her footsteps were light, the forest floor keen to carry her.
“Aye. Wasteful bastards, the lot of them. We sent them screaming to Hades, except one – a warning, you know?”
Artemis scowled. “There is no sport in ruining an innocent life, especially if there is no purpose in it. That’s not what we’ll be doing, right?”
Hestia shook her head, turning left and leading us further into the woods. “No, we use the ancient ways. I will not have mortal ignorance in our sacred hunts, and the Pack certainly wouldn’t even consider it an option.”
The smell of burning wood, sweat, and musk rode the gentle winds towards us, and I heard the tell-tale sounds of the satyrs as we entered the clearing. I had forgotten how fierce and…wild, they were. Low drumming was coming from somewhere outside the circle of firelight, and a handsome satyr approached Hestia, kissing the back of her hand. “My Lady,” he murmured, before wrapping an arm around her waist. It surprised me to see Hestia blush ever so slightly.
“Are…you two…?” Artemis started, and Hestia nodded.
“Just before you arrived.”
“A celebratory hunt then, as well!” I hugged Hestia tightly, and she laughed in my ear. “My congratulations, dear heart. I wish you all the happiness in the world.”
“Thank you, Night. But I believe we’re here to run, not exchange pleasantries.” Hestia led Artemis and I to the fireside, where two satyrs waited for us, holding a wooden bowl each. Hestia gestured to them. “This is Jamie and Alex. They will be your hunting partners this evening, though I know you will be fine on your own.” Her eyes sparkled in the fire, and the satyrs nodded to us.
“A pleasure, I’m sure. What are the bowls for?”
Hestia motioned for us to stand before the satyrs. I chose Alex, who stared at me with dark eyes, and reminded me of my own night skies. He dipped his fingers into his bowl, a black substance sticking to them, and he gently painted it onto my cheeks, chin, forehead, and nose.
“The Firstborn of the Creator needs no protection from the unknown,” the satyr murmured, the palm of his hand grazing my jaw. “I look forward to hunting with you, Mistress Night.”
Alex was alluring, with his broad shoulders, thick horns, strong arms, silver hair. I didn’t need to be a goddess to understand the appeal of satyrs, and this one had especially caught my eye. I gave him a smile, and stood back with him at my side, Artemis receiving a similar treatment with Jamie. Connor had joined us now, and bowed a greeting to us.
“I am honoured ta meet ye, Virgin Huntress, Lady Night.”
We walked towards the edge of the forest, a drumbeat pounding out an assertive throbbing, and I shed my mortal appearance for my Primordial. Black wings unfurled from my shoulder blades, catching the firelight and causing the satyrs to send up a growl of approval. I pulled my hair out from its usual ponytailed spot, letting the braids and locks flow behind me like the Milky Way, taking the shotgun that Connor offered me. Alex’s face changed from its human countenance to the elongated one of legend, and a terrifying growl rumbled through his chest. It was thrilling!
“Tonight, the women spill blood in honour of our glory and strength! Tonight, we our the goddesses that mortals should fear, and the immortals should pay tribute to!”
My body felt of fire and ice, and I wanted to run through the forest with abandon, with the power of a Protogenoi. I shot Alex a hot look, which he returned with a hand grazing my hip, and I knew our kills would be glorious.
I shouted, an unearthly sound that I hadn’t used since the Titanomachy, and lunged into the darkness of the forest. The hunt was on.