After speaking with Tory for a moment off to the side, I disappear back into the trees, jumping from limb to limb, returning to the location that Nike had caught me at before the party began. From my perch in the trees, I survey all the deities watching the bonfire, dancing and twirling around, several creating music mystically, the sounds reaching me on the soft breeze. Artemis is dancing with the satyr around the fire, and my brother is trying not to look at her longingly as the festivities around the fire begin in earnest. Could he be more obvious?
I do notice that he’s also glancing at Nyx, which means my arrow prick is finally starting to take effect. Dinlas is stubborn, so he’s going to fight these new feelings tooth and nail. But he’ll succumb. They always do.
More and more deities circle around the bonfire, entranced by the color-changing flames, not knowing they are falling directly into our trap. Knocking one of my golden arrows, I let it fly into the bonfire, speeding faster than most gods can see. Before the explosion begins, I catch sight of Nyx and my brother cuddled together, and smirk knowingly to myself.
The colors of the bonfire begin flickering suddenly, and I string several more arrows as I prepare for the resulting explosion. Tory’s fireworks begin, executing off several friendly innocuous ones, her finale concluding with an extremely realistic Typhoon appearing to be summoned from the sea.
I cackle to myself as I watch the gods and goddesses below scramble at the sight of the father of monsters. It probably doesn’t help that they’re probably already off their rocker from Nyx’s special brew. Yet, the fireworks are only step one. Three…two…one…the chalk bombs Tory and I have hidden in the bonfire suddenly ignite; chaos ensues.
The cloud of dust allows me the opportunity to release the three arrows I’ve knocked.
The first one hits Thanatos in the ass, who ran to cover Artemis from the resulting explosion, using his cloak to prevent the chalk from hitting her. Yet another god in her thrall. I barely stop myself from rolling my eyes at that. The second hits Selene, the third nails Gaia. Knocking two more quickly, I fire them into the cloud of chalk, not quite seeing were they land, though I think one hits the muse, Urania, and other hits Athena. Athena is one of the three goddesses supposedly immune to the effects of my arrows, and by hitting her now, the millennia old question might finally have an answer.
As long as we’re here…might as well try another arrow on one of the others immune.
Narrowing my eyes at Artemis, I knock another one, pulling the string back, I let it fly, following it with my eyes, curious to finally settle the age-old question. I mean, the most powerful of us is not immune. Why should she be?
The arrow slices through the air, my breath holding as I wait to see it land. My aunt is turned away from me, no idea that she’s about to be another test subject in determining the effects of my arrow on those supposedly immune.
My breath hisses out of my astonished mouth when my aunt twists, moving faster than Hermes, and catches my golden arrow mid-air, an instant before it lands.
The moment is frozen between us, the archer and the huntress. She holds the arrow, the tip merely inches from her. Her eyes slitting as she tracks the flight of the projectile, finding me, frozen in amazement, perching on the limb of a tree. Even through the clouds of chalk, which still disorient the rest of the gods, she’s caught me.
Fuckity fuck fuck. I have to get out of here. Artemis catching me is cutting short my fun. Placing a hand on my quiver, all my arrows returning – including the one Artemis has clutched in her hand.
Even from the distance between us, I know that Artemis is coming for me, and I have extremely limited time to disappear before she catches me. She is the goddess of the HUNT.
Leaping down from the limbs quickly, I land on the forest floor, completely unsurprised to find Din and Las – in full tiger form – waiting at the base of the tree for me. What does surprise me, is that they are accompanied by Hate and Jealousy.
Frowning momentarily at the two wolves, I take off deeper into the forest, and again, the wolves follow me, keeping pace with Din and Las, the forest floor blurring beneath my feet. Dinlas must have disappeared. Fingers crossed he’s off with Nyx. There’s no other reason for the wolves – who rarely stray from his side – to follow me so doggedly.
I hear my aunt’s golden wings slice through the air above me and her joyful voice echoes down to me, “So, that didn’t go so well?”
I laugh back at her, laying a hand to launch myself off over a fallen trunk, as I continue my sprint away from Artemis.
Tory arrives, flying above to me, sailing easily along. Her laughter is musical, her voice teasing me when she calls out, “You know if you had your wings, this would be much easier.”
Oh yeah, I’m a god, I don’t need to run on foot. I forgot about that crucial detail when I started speeding away from Artemis. Slowing to a stop, I smirk as Tory hovers above me, turning around to raise an eyebrow. I call out to her, “You know, sometimes, having wings stops you from trying something new.”
Smiling mischievously, I snap once, popping Hate and Jealousy back to the OA, snapping again, popping Din and Las back to my floor in the OAB.
Tory’s mouth drops in shock, no doubt surprised I developed new powers since I’ve been away.
Winking broadly, I pop back to my great-uncle Poseidon’s bar.
In hindsight, I should not have challenged the goddess of victory to a race. She always wins, always. Even though I appear at the Mermaid’s Tale in the blink of an eye, Tory is already there, sipping a milkshake. She looks over her shoulder at me, smirking, “Beat you!” My mouth still drops open in surprise, an astounded how escaping. Tory just laughs, pulling out a stool for me.