The elevator doors opened, and relief flooded through me when I saw Adrestia standing nearby. She smiled as recognition crossed her hardened features. Hestia called out from somewhere inside, “Unless it’s Hermes, invite them in!”
Adrestia gestured for me to follow her, but she seemed lost in thought as she led me through the kitchen. Hestia called out, “I’ve got a kettle boiled already. Make yourself a tea and then join us in the dining room.”
I stopped for a glass of water, Adrestia trailing behind, making a tray of tea with three cups. We entered the dining room, and I stopped dead in my tracks. She was there, sitting facing away from me, cutting something on her plate. Would she even recognize me?
I entered slowly, eyeing her and realizing I was holding my side.
“Oh. I’m sorry. If you’re busy, I can come back another time.” I turned to go, but Hestia stopped me.
“Wait, no, Kia, don’t leave. Artie, Tia, and I are stuck at the moment and could use the break. So, what brings you to my home? I heard you took off across the Northlands.” She smiled warmly, and I felt compelled to stay, even if the knots in my stomach were making me queasy.
I sighed and sat down at the open seat at the table, glad to have received the open invite from the goddess. My skin had frosted over, and I was still guarded against Artemis, but she paid no attention to me. She picked up another piece of her dinner and chewed it, staring at an ornate box on the table.
“I, well, I…” I stumbled over the words. Why was this so hard? I went out and fought a demon, got tossed into the Underworld, and then went to the Gryph camp and asked them for help. Why was asking her any different? Hestia waited patiently for me to spit the words out. She didn’t push but took a sip of the tea Tia placed in front of her.
“Is everything alright, Khione?” Adrestia asked quietly and subtly pointed at my bandages. I pulled my sweater down and tried again.
“I… I need some help… from her.” I mumbled it and nodded in her direction, but I knew she heard. She froze, and not because I made the temperature drop.
“Oh! Well, what seems to be the situation?” Hestia’s smile brightened, and Tia looked on in curiosity.
“What do you need my help for?” Artemis asked. I didn’t recognise this voice. It was kind, but with a hardened edge that said she was a leader. I felt my side pang as that phantom ache returned, but there was no maliciousness in her. She either forgot what she had done, or it just didn’t matter. I looked back at Hestia and recounted my adventures so far.
“I need help to find my Uncle Skiron,” I said. “He’s been taken by Alcholoë and her adopted daughter, Sybil. I fear what they are doing to him and how long he has been missing. It’s been months, and there is no way that the harpy that he’s tethered to should be able to keep him captive unless she got her hands on some kind of magical tool.” Three brows furrowed, and I saw a look pass between the three goddesses.
“Could this all be connected? Why else would she come here for help on the same day you summoned us to help you?” Adrestia said to Hestia.
Hestia looked at both women and said, “It could be. Tell us more, Kia.”
I told them about the Mahaha, the Qiqirn, and how we found the griffin feather. I told them about meeting the griffins and the discovery that it was Alcholoë who was behind the kidnapping.
“Do you have an object that belonged to anyone involved I could use to get a sense of what you might be looking for?” Artemis asked, all business.
I thought for a minute, then dug my hands into my still shredded cloak, silently thanking the winds that my pockets were still intact.
“Hey, Hestia, you don’t know a good seamstress by chance?” I laughed half-heartedly as I pulled out the scale and a feather I had collected from my uncle’s compound.
Hestia scooted slightly back at the sight of the items. Her eyes locked on the feather and she scratched behind her left ear. Artemis’s eyes widened, and she covered her mouth and nose.
“Can you track them with these?” I asked.
Hestia and Adrestia watched as the Huntress gingerly picked up the scale and feather. Her nose crinkled, and her face fell.
“Hestia, this is it.” She looked back at me, her eyes hardened and determined. “We have to find your uncle. Now.”
I flinched a little at the aggressive response, but Hestia put her hand out and carefully took the feather from Artemis’s hand and placed an ornate box in front of her instead. “Hmm, the feather feels familiar. You haven’t had a chance to investigate my boxes either. Can you feel if their magic is connected, or do we need to go speak to Lady Hecate?” Hestia mused.
Artemis seemed to think about her comments for a moment and then shook her head. “Let’s find out more before we bring in Hecate. General questions can have drawbacks with her.”
“I have a mortal to accompany us. She is a member of the Gryph camp and was friends with Sybil and Alcholoë. She knows them very well. I feel that she is important and that she needs to come with us.” I surprised myself by speaking directly to Artemis, and Hestia seemed to have a small smirk on her face.
“Very well. I will accompany you both. We leave in the morning.” Artemis smiled, a light filling her eyes. “Hestia and Tia, could the two of you find out more about Davids while I am gone? I will find the keys and return them to you. Once that is done, we still need to know why and how this was done. I will try to find out if this was Alcholoë’s doing, but she could be as much of a pawn as Davids.” The two nodded, and I rose to leave, wanting to get my distance and a good night’s rest before facing whatever was next.
I thanked Hestia, and she sent me back up to the elevator with a basket of muffins.
Returning, I found Seth typing away on his laptop, and Aspen was still sound asleep. I plopped down onto the couch beside him and rested my head against his shoulder.
“Find anything useful?” I asked, peering at his screen. He shook his head. “Nothing about Skiron. He’s not exactly well known.” He gestured to the screen, and I saw he had several tabs opened.
Skiron, Harpy Sightings, Naga sightings, Springfield PD, D.Till, Weird weather patterns, Government of Tibet, Traffic cameras, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency.
He was the King of Thieves, and information was worth more than treasures nowadays. I clicked on the Government of Tibet page and saw he had hacked into their intelligence department.
“No sightings in Tibet at all? Artemis and I are leaving for there in the morning,” I told him and shuddered. It was going to be tough.
“You’re going to be fine, Kia. You’re as strong as she is and just as powerful, even if you don’t believe it. Together, you’re going to find Skiron and set everything back to normal. Hopefully, he can fix these crazy weather patterns across the globe.”
He squeezed my shoulders and said, “You’ll be the hero no one ever thought I was.”