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beyond

the drawn curtains. Brevyn laughed and slapped me accidentally,


startling me enough that I bumped into the door. Something fell off the door
ledge and bounced at my feet. I stared down in shock at a key.
“Did you...?” I gaped at my son but he just gurgled up at me. “Holy hand
grenades,” I whispered.
I bent and picked up the key, then slipped it in the lock. The door opened
silently and the house was just as quiet. I closed the door behind us and
wandered into an eccentrically decorated living room. There were large leather
couches and thick rugs in several styles; Persian, Navajo, and Chinese. I padded
across them to gape up at an elaborate crystal chandelier which looked straight
out of Paris. Bookshelves were filled with objects from Russia, Africa, Mexico,
Malaysia, and more. Masks hung on the walls; Japanese samurai glowered
beside Venetian carnival smiles. It was such an eclectic collection but every
piece looked valuable. Then I saw the photographs.
“Thor,” I whispered as I picked up a picture of Thor and I at our first
Yule Ball in Asgard. I put it down and picked up another frame. “The God
Squad,” we were all smiling at the camera, arms around each other. Morpheus,
Katie, Torrent, Artemis, and Sarasvati were all missing, so I knew it was an older
picture. I put it back on its shelf and went over to a snapshot of Sif. “Your
mother,” I whispered down to Brevyn and swallowed hard, “in another life. And
this is...” I picked up a picture of a blonde man holding a wood bow and staring
sternly at the camera. His face looked familiar. “Who is this?” I pondered him
until it struck me. “Oh, you're him. The father who left.”
I stood back and held Brevyn so he could better see the photographs. He
giggled in delight as I took him through the house, seeing bits of Ull in every
room. Finally, we came to a study and I was pulled towards the desk by the
feeling of power tingling over my arms. I bounced Brevyn in one arm as I stared
down at a large, leather clad book. This felt familiar.
“Is this what we came for?” I looked to Brevyn and he waved his hands
excitedly at me. “I'll take that as a yes.”
I pushed back the black cover and laid my hand over the first page. It was
hand-written in faded sepia ink. The style was antique, much too loopy to be
modern, and the words were in another language, one I didn't recognize... all but
one word that is; Ull. This was obviously Ull's spellbook.
“And now it will be yours,” I said to Brevyn as I closed the book and
tucked it under Brevyn. “Alright, my godling, we had best get back to Faerie
before your dragon father has a fit.”
I was just contemplating the long walk we'd have home from the Great
Tree, when the Aether opened up and sucked the both of us in. We rushed
through the realms and popped out into Faerie right where we'd left; the rocking
chair. I gasped and dropped the book. It thudded to the floor but I couldn't hear it
hit, not over the commotion which filled Castle Aithinne.
“Oh, you've done it now,” I said to Brevyn as I picked up the book.
I stood and laid the book on the rocking chair before I hurried out of the
nursery. Rian wasn't in his crib, the room was entirely empty, but his baby wails
carried in from the hallway so I had a good idea of where he was. The cries
blended with Dexter's howling and Arach's shouting. I ran towards the clamor
my family was creating, hoping to catch Arach before he did anything rash.
“Arach!” I called out to my husband from the same railing he'd stood at
earlier.
He was standing on the stairs, Rian in his arms, shouting to faeries who
were running past him in all directions. Dexter was sitting on his haunches
beside Arach, howling pitifully. Everyone froze when they heard my voice and
they stared up at me in shock.
“Vervain?” Arach gaped at me as Rian and Dexter both instantly went
quiet. “How?” He ran up the stairs but Dexter beat him to me. The nurial began
purring as he rubbed against my legs but Arach pushed past him to pull me and
Brevyn into his chest. “What in all of Faerie just happened?!”
“Nothing in Faerie, we were in the Human Realm.”
Chapter Thirty-Five


I explained to Arach what Brevyn had done and then I had to explain it to
the High King of Faerie. It hadn't occurred to me in the midst of it all but Brevyn
had done more than one impossible thing when he had traced us into the Human
Realm. The only place in Faerie which was open to the Aether was the Great
Tree at the End of the Road. The rest of Faerie was completely warded against
tracing; either in or out. The only way around this restriction was my Ring of
Remembrance, which functioned through time, not just space, and wasn't bound
by wards.
“Your son must be a wayfarer,” High King Cian declared in awe. “And a
powerful one at that. None have shown their magic as early as Prince Brevyn.”
“He can't be a wayfarer,” I shook my head. “He's not fey.”
“Well no god could break through a faerie ward,” King Cian scowled.
“Especially not one placed by the High King of Faerie himself.”
“Actually,” I thought about it. “I know one who might be able to do it.”
“Who?” Cian asked immediately and Arach subtly shook his head.
“I can't say,” I held up a hand when Cian started to speak. “It would be a
betrayal. Just know that he would never destroy your wards unless he was forced
to do so.”
“Alright,” King Cian sighed. “So one god may be able to. That hardly
gives credence your claim that Prince Brevyn is merely a god.”
“He isn't merely anything,” Arach growled.
“My apologies, King Arach,” Cian waved my husband back. “That's not
how I meant it.”
“We were told that Brevyn will have the ability to choose his magic,” I
informed Cian. “I think this was his way of experimenting.”
“Experimenting?” Cian's snowy brows lifted over his golden eyes.
“I think he's trying to settle on a magic,” I nodded.
“And what magic was that, which allowed him to pierce my wards not
once but twice?” Cian narrowed his eyes on me.
“I don't know,” I shrugged. “Un-magic maybe, a power to unmake
spells.”
Cian gasped and Arach shot me a grim look. If Brevyn did choose such a
magic, he'd have to keep it secret, like Torrent did. We couldn't let the High King
know that our son had the ability to unmake our very realm.
“I'm just reaching here,” I hurried to cover up my mistake. “That's an
impossible magic.”
“I should hope so,” Cian huffed in relief. “Well, keep me apprised of the
situation and please watch your son carefully.”
“Yes, High King,” Arach and I nodded.
The mirror went foggy and then cleared to reveal our worried faces.
“But I often believe in six impossible things before breakfast,” I
whispered.
“Do you really think he was using the unmaking magic, like Torrent
does?” Arach asked me, ignoring my Alice quote.
“I don't know,” I chewed at my lip and went to sit down at the small table
we had near our bedroom window.
The twins were back in their nursery with Granuaile and part of me
wanted them near. So much had been happening, it left me feeling anxious. At
least Dexter was in there with them. Ever since Brevyn and I had returned, Dex
had been unwilling to let the boys out of his sight. And Dex may be a big old
softy with me but a full grown nurial could do some serious damage. He was
more than competent enough to guard the boys.
“What did it feel like?” Arach took a seat across from me. “You've
traveled with Torrent through the Aether and watched as he unmade magic. Did
traveling with Brevyn feel like that?”
“No,” I lifted my face to his in revelation. “No, it didn't. It felt like...”
“What?”
“Like the wards weren't even there,” I struggled to explain. “We never
even paused, Arach. With Torrent, we had to wait while he worked his magic. It
took time. Effort. Brevyn just pulled us through as if the wards were the same as
everything else.”
“What?” Arach frowned.
“There was no difference between the wards and the Aether,” I struggled
to explain. “Torrent once told me that he could see spells, like he could see
programming code in the Internet, and all he had to do was alter the
configuration to unmake the magic; untie the knot. This felt like Brevyn had
gone deeper than that, beyond the knot and through its very heart. The wards just
opened up and welcomed him past. They untied themselves for him; reality
altered to suit his wishes.” A shiver coasted over my skin as I said the words and
my stare connected with Arach's.
“Altered?” He whispered as his skin went even paler than it was. This in
turn frightened me further, it was so rare that I saw Arach scared. “Do you
understand what kind of power our son could hold?”
“No,” I huffed. “I don't understand any of this. But I'm hoping that it's
only temporary. A side effect with this choosing period that he's going through.”
“You think it will settle down once he makes a choice?”
“I hope so,” I whispered. “If not, we'll have to do more than put glass in
the windows.”
“The book,” Arach stood. “Where is it?”
“I left it in the nursery,” I followed after him when he immediately
started out of the room. “I don't see how it will help. I can't even read it.”
“Maybe I can,” he opened the nursery door and strode over to the rocking
chair, where the book still lay right where I'd left it.
“My King?” Granuaile looked over from where she was rocking Brevyn
in his cradle.
“Everything is fine, Granuaile,” he reassured her. “We just needed this
book.” He ushered me back out of the room and closed the door behind us.
“Come with me, Vervain,” he strode down the hall to his study and laid the book
on his massive desk. “Close the door,” he said absently as he sat in the chair
behind his desk and flipped back the cover.
“Come with me,” I mocked. “Close the door.”
“Vervain,” he growled.
“I'm coming,” I huffed and went to sit on the arm of his chair. It's
actually a huge chair and the arm is padded, so it's more comfortable than it
sounds.
“This is Norse,” he declared as he looked over the writing. “Old Norse.”
“You can read it?” I was impressed.
“Isleen taught me,” he nodded.
“Oh, right,” I remembered that Isleen had a history with the Norse gods.
She was in fact, currently dating Mimir; a Norse giant god (as in a real giant, not
just a big guy like Odin). “So what does it say?”
“It says the book belongs to Ull,” he waved at the first page and then
started to flip through it. “There are several spells in here written by Odin.”
“That makes sense,” I nodded. “He was Ull's grandfather.”
“There are spells for opening locks but nothing for destroying wards,”
Arach shook his head.
“Well that wasn't one of Ull's abilities. Nor is it a general god magic,” I
shrugged. “What did you expect; a page explaining what's happening to Brevyn
in great detail?”
“I guess I was hoping for some kind of clue,” Arach's shoulders drooped.
“Wait, what's this?” He pulled an envelope out of the pages and turned it upright.
It had my name on it.
“Sons of Anarchy,” I whispered and snatched it out of his hands.
“Hey now,” he grumbled.
“It's addressed to me,” I said absently as I opened the envelope. Inside
was a letter, written to me by Ull. “Dear Vervain,” I read it aloud. “Rain came to
see me yesterday. He had a warning for me. He said that he saw my death,” I
stopped and took a shaky breath. My eyes watered and I had to put the letter
down.
“A Thaisce,” Arach whispered and gently took the letter from me. “Let
me, my love.” He straightened the letter and began to read where I'd left off.
“Rain said I had a choice to make; I could stand beside you in battle and die or I
could avoid my death and you would die instead,” Arach inhaled sharply and
looked up to me.
“Oh, Ull,” I cried, holding my hands to my face. “You saved me twice.”
“Yes, it appears that he was a hero long before he was ours,” Arach
pulled me into his lap and kissed my forehead. “Shh now, he's with us. He's safe
again.”
“Go on,” I nodded to the letter.
Arach spread it on the table and continued reading, “I was scared at first
and spent many hours trying to come up with a plan to save us both. In the end, I
realized that it was useless. If there was such a plan, Rain would have told me of
it. And then a strange peace came over me and I knew this was what was meant
to be. Rain told me that if I chose your life over mine, you would then offer me
another choice in return; that of being brought back into a new body or being
reborn as your son,” Arach stopped and looked up at me.
I nodded for him to continue, I couldn't speak.
“There is a lot which I hold dear in my life,” Arach cleared his throat and
swallowed hard. “I have my family, the Squad, and Kaitlin. I have finally found
love and every piece of me wants to hold on to that. But even with such
wonderful gifts, I have long been unsettled. My magic feels tight inside me,
pressed down like a metal spring ready to burst free. It wants to hunt, it wants to
judge, and I want neither of those things. I'm so tired of death and scrutiny. I'm
tired of binding people to their word. I'm tired of oaths and killing. I know you
understand how horrible it feels to have your magic working against you. I
cannot bear it anymore and now I am presented with a way out.”
“Stop,” I whispered and took the page from him. “I need to finish this
myself.”
“Alright,” Arach took my free hand as I read the rest of Ull's letter.
“I know you'll do right by me and when I think of having you for my
mother, the heaviness on my heart lifts,” I sniffed back the tears and went on.
“Take care of Kaitlin for me, tell her that I love her and I'll return to her if I can.
Tell my family that I love them too, that blood ties made no difference to me.
Thor has always been my father and Odin my grandfather. Vidar and Vali are my
true uncles and you Vervain, you were my grandmother once. I never brought it
up, didn't want it to alter our friendship, but I remember Sabine fondly. You were
mourned by more gods than Odin. I know the mother you will be and I ache to
have that for myself, to truly be born of a woman like you. So tell my family that
this was my choice and not to grieve for me, for I don't. Tell Thrud especially, to
not give you a hard time. I know my sister can be a bit of a... well, I'm sure you'll
see. Tell them all that I chose to be reborn long before you offered me the choice.
I chose a new life and a new magic; faerie magic. I'm growing excited now;
contemplating the possibility of becoming something I never thought I could be;
a faerie. I can't wait to discover what kind of magic it will bring me. And I wish I
could be there to see the look on Arach's face when you tell him I'm to be his
son.”
“So Rain didn't see the separation of the twins,” Arach mused. “Ull
thought he was going to be fey.”
“How could Rain see it?” I shrugged. “I changed that future. But wait,
there's more,” I held up the paper. “Please know that I'm happy with this
decision; happy that you will live on and I will become a bigger part of your life.
I don't know when or even if you will ever find this letter but I hope my soul will
remember and lead you to it because I want you to know, Vervain, that you have
given me the greatest gift. Thank you, my dear friend- soon to be my mother.
And it's signed; Your new son... pick a good name, will ya? And not one of those
silly flowery fey names,” I choked on a laugh and laid my head against Arach's
chest.
“Well, at least we did right by him on that account,” Arach chuckled and
took the letter from me. He folded it neatly and placed it back in the book. “We'll
hold on to this for him and when he gets older, he can read it.”
“So he knows his past,” I nodded.
“And now we know how to guide him into choosing his magic.”
“How's that?” I sat up and looked at him.
“He wants faerie magic,” Arach shrugged. “You read it.”
“But he can't have faerie magic,” I frowned.
“Why not?” Arach lifted a brow.
“Because he's not a faerie,” I huffed. “He can't connect to the Source and
pull an element from her.”
“No but he can connect to the Void and choose an elemental god magic,”
Arach smiled. “Perhaps even all of the elemental god magics.”
“What; like one ring to bind them?” I chuckled and then went serious
when Arach gave me a steady look. “Oh no you don't, dragon. You're not finding
another way to rule Faerie.”
“I'm just thinking of our son,” he said innocently.
“Our son will make his own choice,” I slipped off Arach's lap so I could
glare at him better. “And if you had paid closer attention to that letter, you'd see
that the last thing Ull wants to do is rule. He wants a kind magic.”
“Yes but what kind?” Arach couldn't even bring himself to understand
my meaning.
“No, kind as in gentle,” I shook my head at him. “Merciful.
Compassionate.”
“Kind, gentle, merciful, and compassionate?” Arach scoffed. “He's the
son of a dragon queen not a Disney princess.”
“The kind son of a dragon queen,” I smiled serenely and left the study as
Arach sputtered behind me.
Chapter Thirty-Six


We locked away Ull's spellbook and I headed back to the God Realm
using my ring. I wanted to talk to Odin about what had just happened with
Brevyn. I loved Arach but he just didn't understand god issues, or Ull issues for
that matter, like Odin did. So as soon as I reformed in Pride Palace, I went
straight to the bed Odin was still asleep in and shook him awake.
“Odin? I need you to wake up.”
“What? Huh?” He jerked upright, his arms held out in defensive
positions. “Where's the war?”
“Relax,” I held up my hands. “There's no war... yet.”
“Yet?” Odin blinked and rubbed at his amazing eyes until they were
bloodshot amazing eyes. The sunlight coming in from the balcony caught the
shimmering sapphire and shifted it to green, which kinda went well with the
whole bloodshot thing.
“Never mind,” I waved the war comment away and sat on the bed beside
him. “I need to talk to you about what happened with Brevyn.”
“What happened with Brevyn?!” He nearly shouted.
“Shhh,” I chided him. “I think everyone else is still asleep.”
“Not after hearing Odin shout; where's the war, we're not,” Trevor
grumbled as he slumped down the stairs with Kirill in tow.
“Well, Azrael's sleeping,” I sighed and headed towards the coffee pot.
This conversation looked like it would require caffeine. Huge vats of caffeine.
Maybe we should go down to the Intare kitchen... nah. Ironically, I needed
coffee before I could go downstairs to make more coffee
“Azrael's vorking,” Kirill started rooting around in the fridge.
“Oh. He's doing that a lot lately,” I filled the pot with water and then
dumped it into the machine as I yawned. They were just waking up while I
already needed a nap. Ah, the trials of time travel.
“People die constantly,” Trevor dropped into a chair at the kitchen table.
“Sit down and tell us about Brevyn, Vervain,” Odin took a seat beside
Trevor.
So I did. I told them everything that went down. The tracing, the wards,
the book, the letter, all of it. They just gaped at me.
“He knew?” Odin whispered. “He knew he was going to die?”
“And he knew what a bit-,” I drew out the word as I caught my near-
swear, “-ter... what a bitter woman Thrud would be about it.”
“Thrud feels things intensely,” Odin defended his granddaughter.
“Sure, uh-huh, I felt her fury very intensely,” I agreed while internally I
wondered if she could be the goddess whom the Horsemen were supposed to
kill. Wouldn't that just be a rain of toads on my parade?
“Heavy veight to carry alone,” Kirill shook his head, “knowing of your
own death.”
“He wasn't alone,” Trevor noted. “Rain knew.”
“And never told us,” I blinked in surprise. “I hadn't even thought about
Rain knowing.”
“It wasn't his secret to tell,” Trevor said.
“Poor Rain,” I frowned, wondering how many secrets he had kept on
behalf of others over the centuries. “That couldn't have been easy.”
“He vas spy,” Kirill reminded me. “Secrets are easy for zem.”
“Secrets aren't easy for anyone,” Odin had a strange look on his face, an
undecided look.
“Ull wanted us to know that he was happy about his choice,” I took
Odin's hand. “He was tired of holding magic he didn't like, of being responsible
for things he never wanted to be a part of.”
“So now he has a choice,” Trevor mused. “That's more than any of us
get.”
“Which is what I want to talk to you about,” I said to Odin.
“Go on,” Odin nodded.
“Ull seemed to want to be a faerie,” I said gently. “I think he was looking
forward to having elemental powers.”
“And now you want to know if there's a way he can choose fey magic?”
Odin scowled. “No, there isn't. It's impossible.”
“So was flowing through the wards of Faerie,” I reminded him.
“Impossible seems to be a theme with him.”
“Brevyn is in an unformed state,” Odin mused. “A lot can be
accomplished in such circumstances but he can't change his DNA. Genetically,
he's a god. Gods cannot hold faerie magic.”
“But humans can,” I whispered as an epiphany hit me.
They all gaped at me again.
“Neither of your children are human, Vervain,” Odin finally said. “You
gave Rian a fey essence and a god soul, remember? When he split into two, Rian
took the fey essence and Ull... I mean Brevyn, took the god soul. There's no
human soul in either of them.”
“I'm not so sure about that,” I mused.
“Vhat are you talking about, Villis?” Kirill mocked the Different Strokes
quote I loved to use.
“My son was meant to be a twin soul,” I shivered as I felt the truth in my
words. I was on to something, I knew it. “He was a being of two essences. Now
what happens when you split something in two?”
“It's half the size of the original,” Trevor frowned.
“Exactly,” I smiled. “And Nature abhors a vacuum. So where would they
get the other half that they needed to complete themselves?”
“From the only option left to them,” Odin whispered in awe. “Your
humanity.”
“This is pure theory right now,” I cautioned. “But all of these strange
things happening with the boys... it just feels like they're more than just a fire fey
and a god.”
“They're dual souled beings,” Odin smacked his fist onto the table.
“Sweet apples of immortality, Vervain! I think you're right.”
“Is there any way to be sure?” Trevor asked.
“Yes, actually, there is!” I blinked in surprise as I jumped up. I ran into
my walk-in closet and pulled open a drawer. Then I grabbed what I was after and
went running back into the room, waving the goggles in the air. “I can use
these.”
“Tlaloc's Farseeing Glasses,” Odin's jaw dropped.
“That'll do it,” Trevor declared.
“So what if they are?” I lowered the glasses. “What if I look at them and
I see two souls? What would that mean for them?”
“Well, first of all, you are both right and wrong about human souls,”
Odin tapped the table as he worked it out. “A human soul doesn't have fey
magic, only fey souls do. Witches have magic because they have a trace of fey
blood from ancient human-fey unions. That has nothing to do with their human
souls.”
“But I-” I blinked in confusion.
“You already had a faerie essence,” Odin pointed out. “And as we all
know, you are a different matter altogether. But your sons are not you. They are
fey-human and god-human... in theory.”
“Then how was I right?” I grimaced.
“My theory,” Odin explained, “one I've been working on for years, is that
humans are flexible. They're like the universal blood type; the O-Negative of
souls.”
We all stared at him blankly.
“A human soul is a soul without magic,” Odin went further. “Yet, we
gods have been living off their energy for years.”
“They have the potential for magic,” Trevor mused. “Raw energy.”
“Like Brevyn but on a much smaller scale,” Odin nodded. “I believe that
this is why a human can become immortal through consumption of one of our
magical enhancers.”
“Or become a witch through breeding,” I frowned. “But I thought that
gave them fey essence?”
“Ah ha!” Odin pointed at me. “And now you've come to another aspect
of my theory. Faerie essence is unique, yes? It's not a soul exactly. The essence
of a faerie comes from their Source; a collective elemental source. The elements
are a physical magic; they're of the world. You can find them in nature and a
faerie can control the elements through the connection inside them.”
“Yes, that sounds right,” I agreed.
“God and human souls come from the Void; a home for individual
spirits,” Odin explained. “The Void is not a collective of any kind of energy but a
repository of several separate beings.”
“Da,” Kirill got up and fetched the brewed coffee, brought it back to the
table and poured cups for everyone. “Souls versus essences, zese are facts.”
“The Source of fey essences are like this coffee pot,” Odin waved to the
coffee Kirill was pouring in his cup. “It can be divvied out in whatever amount is
needed. But the Void is like this bowl of sugar cubes,” he pulled the bowl over
and took out a cube. “It can only release souls as precise portions.”
“Alright,” Trevor picked up a couple sugar cubes and threw them into his
cup. “That makes sense.”
“Now let's go even further,” Odin lifted a brow. “In the Void we have
human souls, souls without magic but full of energy, and god souls with magic.”
“Okay,” I added cream and sugar to my coffee and stirred thoughtfully. “I
see where you're going with this. You're thinking like a scientist.”
“Yes,” Odin's smile was brilliant. “A geneticist to be exact. Genetically
speaking, when two beings mate, the dominate genes are what gets passed to the
young.”
“And the god soul would be the dominate,” Trevor narrowed his eyes on
Odin in consideration. “At least in a god-human mating.”
“Yes,” Odin agreed. “But a birth is both a physical and a spiritual
occurrence so let's look at it even deeper. A god mates with a human and the god
soul is stronger so this is what gets sent from the Void into the physical body of
the baby. However, the physical has its own stockpile of energy and the baby's
body is half human. This human half, with its unresolved magic, would temper
the god magic. In most cases this would result in less powerful children who are
still immortal but only through a link to their god parent. They would need some
type of immortality enhancer to become immortal on their own.”
“Demi-gods,” Trevor breathed.
“Yes, exactly,” Odin agreed. “But now let's consider a human-fey union.
We have a spiritual soul being sent down from the Void, encountering a physical
essence sent from the Source. Again, the universal potential of the human soul
would not fight the dominate magic of the fey essence but the fey essence isn't
spiritual, so the human soul survives and the fey essence is left to become a
physical trait instead of a fully cognizant essence in control of the body, as
happens with a full faerie.”
“Witches,” I whispered. “That sounds right to me. What do you guys
think?” I looked to Kirill and Trevor and they both nodded. “That would explain
how a fey essence can be diluted through the generations of human families.”
“Precisely,” Odin tapped the table. “But we haven't even got to the god-
fey unions. Two dominant magics but one a spiritual and one a physical. In this
case, I believe that they would have to coexist. It's only possible because of their
different natures but this is how we get dual-souled beings like Aradia.
Technically, she's a soul-essence being. We've always lumped essences together
with souls but although both souls and essences hold the consciousness of the
being, they are completely different.”
“Okay,” I took a deep breath and summed it all up. “So human souls,
being this universal magic potential, can combine with anything but fey and god
souls can't combine with each other so children resulting from such a union are
born with two souls; one soul and one essence to be precise.”
“Yes,” Odin said simply.
“But if your theory is true, then my boys wouldn't be dual-souled,” I
surmised. “They'd simply be god or witch and Rian is definitely not a witch, he's
a faerie. Only a full-blood dragon-sidhe can shift.”
“Yes,” Odin smirked. “But the births of your twins were just as unusual
as your own, Vervain. As we already went over, they had two souls, like Aradia;
one essence and one god, both fully formed.”
“But then they split,” I sighed in understanding. “The human soul was
added afterward and so it didn't have to blend.”
“And thus, your sons each have two souls!” Odin exclaimed.
“Combinations that are otherwise impossible.”
“Well damn,” I blinked.
“So Ull wouldn't be able to gain faerie magic,” I concluded with
disappointment.
“Well... no, I suppose not,” Odin deflated.
“But he'd have an extra soul's worth of potential,” Trevor mused. “Maybe
that's how he's able to manipulate things like wards. He's got this dominant god
soul, even more so because it's a reincarnated soul brought back with its
awareness in tact, and then a submissive human soul bowing to the wishes of the
god soul while simultaneously offering it pure energy.”
“While the god soul is full of undecided magic,” I swallowed hard as the
full implications hit me. “He could blow himself to smithereens!”
“He won't,” Odin took my hand. “The god soul is intelligent. It will guide
the process.”
“Alright,” I tried to calm down. “So what about Rian?”
“Immortality and elemental control from his fey essence,” Trevor mused.
“And pure spiritual potential from his human soul. You realize that he can be
reborn now?”
“Oh,” I gasped as tears sprung to my eyes. “No, I hadn't realized that.
That's wonderful news.”
“We don't know anything for sure yet,” Odin leaned to the side to hug
me. “Let's not start rejoicing prematurely.”
“You're right,” I pulled away from him. “I'm going back to Faerie.”
“Is it wrong that an LL Cool J song just started playing in my head?”
Trevor grimaced.
“I'm going back to Faerie, Faerie, Faerie,” Kirill started to sing I'm going
back to Cali with his new improved lyrics.
“I'm going back to Faerie,” Trevor picked it up. “Hmmm, I don't think
so.”
“If you two yahoos are quite done with your musical rendition,” Odin
grumbled at them but I didn't hear the end of it. I was already on my way back to
Cali... er, I mean Faerie.
“And there she is,” Arach came forward to kiss me. “I miss-”
“Yeah, yeah,” I pushed him away and rushed into the nursery.
“A Thaisce,” he growled as he chased after me. “How dare you interrupt
my romantic endeavors.”
“I need to see something,” I waved the goggles at him.
“You're using those things on our children?” He came to a stop inside the
nursery and stared at me in horror. “Why? What's going on?”
The goblin who had been on baby duty, jumped up and ran from the
room without a word. Dexter, who was sleeping between the cribs, opened one
eye to half-mast, took stock of what I was doing, and then closed it again.
“I'll tell you after I know for sure,” I pulled the thick goggles on and
everything went brighter.
Tlaloc was an Aztec god who had once been friends with Blue. He was
kind of an evil bastard and we ended up killing him. But he had these goggles
which allowed him to see very far... into someone's soul even. When I wore the
goggles, I could see what people truly were. The truth was revealed to me. I once
saw all of my beasts and I saw a crown upon Kirill's head. That was when I'd
learned he had once been Russian royalty. The glasses showed it all.
So when I looked down at Rian, I wasn't surprised to see his brilliant core
of fire. I had expected that. As I had expected the shimmering form of his dragon
stretching out ethereally past his human shape. What I hadn't expected was that
Rian's dragon wasn't like Arach's, it was more like mine. His dragon wasn't in
pure dragon form, it was a combination of human shape and the beast. There,
lying in the crib before me, was a half-form ghosting over the solid substance of
my son's body. A baby boy with shining horns and a glittering tail. Translucent
wings wrapped around his sleeping body and spiritual claws tipped his little
hands.
“Rian,” I whispered as my eyes filled with tears. Now was the time for
rejoicing. “My little dragon boy.”
“What's going on, Vervain?!” Arach hissed.
“Shh,” I chided him as I sniffed back my tears. “One more to go.”
I headed to Brevyn's crib with a pounding heart. I could see the gleam of
his soul before I saw his body. Then I was standing beside the cradle, looking
down at a glowing, shifting swirl of energy I assumed to be Brevyn's undecided
god soul. Trails of light streamed out from it, as if it were questing for magic,
looking for something to make its own. But within that swirling vortex there was
a steady, blinding light; a cache of energy that was feeding the vortex. As I
watched, sparks siphoned off from the cache and went surging down the tendrils
like electric signals. Was he communicating magically with the world around
him?
Then I noticed that the tips of one of the tendrils was crimson. It faded up
to orange, then yellow, and then back to that blinding white. The tendril
undulated sharply like a cracking whip and flame burst out along it.
“Fire,” I whispered and reached out to touch the tendril.
It raced to meet my hand like it was magnetically pulled to me and then
twisted around my finger lovingly. I gave a little gasp and felt Arach pushing in
behind me.
“I feel that, Vervain,” he whispered. “What are you doing?”
“Just wait,” I said absently as I looked closer to the ends of the other
tendrils.
Oh gods, there it was; a tendril filled with shimmering liquid, deep indigo
fading to cerulean, sapphire, turquoise, and then sky-blue before blending back
into that white heart. As if it sensed my notice, it lifted and the water within it
bubbled then burst from it in a mist of tiny droplets.
“Water,” I murmured and Arach stiffened behind me.
Then I spotted the verdant glow of earth, sending questing vines out. I
frowned at it and searched further. I knew I'd find... yes, there. A tendril of
golden light bursting into breezes. A tiny tornado circled it. And then, skulking
in the shadows, harder to see because it almost looked like a shadow itself, was a
tendril full of darkness. I only spotted it because of the sparkling mist leaking
from it. Fire, Water, Earth, Air, and Darkness, all drawn to the Spirit at the
center. But these were only five of the numerous lengths of light streaming out
from Brevyn's core and the others were still searching. My son remained
undecided but it seemed that Arach was right; Brevyn could hold all of the
elements if he wanted to.
I pulled off the goggles and turned to the Dragon King with a sober look.
“I have some news for you about your sons,” I smiled a little when I saw
how worried he was.
“Vervain, I swear on the bones of my father that if you don't tell-”
“They both have two souls,” I announced and he stopped to gape at me.
“What did you say?”
“When our sons split, it created a vacuum,” I explained the theory. “They
both needed another soul to make themselves complete again.”
“And they only had one option left,” Arach gave a huffing sigh. “Are you
saying that Rian...?”
“He has a human soul along with his faerie essence,” I nodded. “If the
worst should ever happen, he can be reborn or I can bring him back from the
Void.”
“A Thaisce,” Arach hugged me. “That's miraculous.”
“You haven't asked about Brevyn,” I teased.
“What about Brevyn?” He pulled back to look at me somberly.
“Rian's human soul gives him the possibility of rebirth and an extra horde
of energy to use, maybe to fuel his magic,” I explained. “Brevyn's human soul
has been dominated by his god soul, a soul which hasn't decided on its magic yet
but which longs for faerie magic. The human soul is fueling the god soul's desire
and these unresolved potentials are most likely why he's been able to move
through the world so magically.”
“Vervain,” Arach growled. “Speak plainly.”
“Brevyn has called all of the elements to himself,” I chewed at my lip,
trying to work out the wording. “He seems to be communicating with his
environment and searching for more.”
“He has all of the elements and he still wants more?” Arach gaped at me
for two seconds before he burst into laughter. “That's my son!”
“Arach,” I shook my head, unable to hold back the huff of laughter which
escaped my lips. “It's unsettling to see. He could choose all of the elements or he
could change his mind and choose something else entirely.”
“He's fireproof,” Arach mused. “We know this already and we know that
he remains so in the future. He showed you that vision. So he must have at least
decided to keep Fire.”
“Alright, I'll concede that,” I frowned.
“Did the Fire look more rooted than the other elements?” Arach asked.
“No,” I blinked. “But it' hard to say.”
“A Thaisce,” he took me by the upper arms. “These are the facts; you
saw all of the elements within him, you saw him looking for even more magic,
you saw a human and a god soul which gives him twice the power of a normal
being, and the god soul has had a previous life which has taught it to be
perceptive and careful. I think if we consider all of these details, there is little to
worry about. Brevyn will make his choices and we will help him.”
You're wrong, Faerie's grim voice came in my head. Arach stiffened so he
must have heard her too.
“What do you mean?” I demanded
I should have seen it before, she sounded tired. I don't know why I didn't
think to look.
“Look at what?” Arach growled and Brevyn gave a cry. “Sorry, Son,” he
began to rock Brevyn's cradle. “Shhh, it's just Faerie.”
Brevyn's soul... souls, she corrected. You're correct about the dual souls,
Vervain. But the god soul is not trying to decide on a magic.
“But the bean-nighe said-”
The bean-nighe was only partially right, she interrupted me. Brevyn is
searching but it's not in the way you've assumed.
“What do you mean?” I asked her.
Think, Vervain! Gods can't choose their magic.
“But I thought maybe since I was able to choose god magic...”
That what; your son could choose a magic for his god soul? She scoffed.
“But I saw the elements within the tendrils of his god soul.”
Yes, you did, Faerie agreed. As did I. Brevyn does have the ability to cast
spells and yes, he could make himself immune to fire if he wanted too, but this
fire you see isn't an elemental god magic. It's a fey magic which is the result of
his god magic.
“I'm totally confused,” I huffed and went to sit in the rocking chair.
Well that's nothing new, she chuckled.
“Faerie,” I growled.
Alright, she sighed. I'll explain it so that even you can understand. I
didn't know to look for it until you did. That questing glow you see is his god
soul, yes, but it has already been given its magic. The magic the bean-nighe told
you of, though she didn't understand entirely what she saw. It's the magic of
Borrowing.
“Borrowing?” Arach laid a hand on Brevyn's back.
“Brevyn's magic has the ability to take another person's magic,” I
explained to Arach.
Finally! Faerie declared. Yes, your son can have any magic he desires,
even faerie magic, thanks to his accommodating human soul.
“The universal soul type,” I muttered.
What? Oh... yes, that's a good way to put it. The human soul can accept
both fey and god magic, it's flexible. Anyway, that's what you saw, his god magic
reaching out to what's around him, connecting with potential sources of magic to
borrow and completely unlimited in his options due to his universally compatible
human soul. However, the only magic in Faerie he can draw on are the elements
and...
“And me,” I whispered and yanked the goggles back on.
Sure enough, I found the blush of Love on the tip of one of his tendrils.
Another cord glowed an earthy mustard and I knew it was my Intare magic.
Finally, the pale light of my moon caught my eye. They were all camouflaged
among the rest of his glowing threads, subtly filled as opposed to the brilliant
colors of the elements.
And you, she confirmed. The elements are brighter because he has more
of their energy available to him here. If he were in the God Realm, among a host
of gods, you'd most likely see those tendrils full of their magic. It doesn't mean
he's chosen them and he will never hold any of them like you hold your three. He
simply connects with everything nearby and when he wishes to, he makes a
temporary choice. That is the undecided nature Nainsidh saw. In a way, he will
always remain undecided because even when he chooses, he has the option of
letting go and making another choice.
“So wait,” I held up a finger. “It sounds like he can have any magic but
only one at a time.”
I believe so but I'll have to watch him and see what happens when he
uses a magic, Faerie mused. If that's true, then when he decides on one magic,
the magic should dominate his aura and those questing tendrils should
disappear. However, I could be mistaken. Perhaps his human soul will make it
possible to hold several magics at once. We will just have to wait and see. But
for now, it's pretty clear that until Brevyn decides to keep a magic, he will be in
this questing stage, where his psychic abilities are heightened to help him
discern what magic would be best for him at any given moment.
“So he'll always have the psychic abilities,” I sighed.
This is a good thing, Vervain. It will be immensely helpful to him.
“Yeah, I know.”
“Our son can have any magic he wants, whenever he wants,” Arach
surmised.
Keep it in your pants, Fire King, Faerie chuckled. But go ahead and think
about the possibilities. If Brevyn could change elements at will...
“Oh hell no!” I pointed at Arach. “Wipe that look from your face. We
already talked about this. It went bad when you tried to use Rian to rule Faerie
and it will go bad if you try to use Brevyn.”
My realm is ruled exactly as it should be, Faerie chided Arach. Do not
upset the balance again.
He gave a grudging nod.
What I meant was; you could have one son to rule Fire and one to be an
ambassador between the kingdoms.
“An ambassador?” Arach made a disgusted face.
“An ambassador,” I repeated and started to smile. “He could speak to the
other fey with complete understanding of their elements.”
Brevyn would be the ultimate faerie, Faerie agreed. Able to unify all of
my children with his understanding and wisdom.
“And compassion,” I added with a smile at Arach. “Told you so.”
And compassion, Faerie agreed. Rian is a fighter, King Arach. He's your
heir and more powerful than any prince before him. His dual souls have given
him twice the magic. It's why he's strong enough to accomplish feats such as
carrying his brother along with him on his first flight. But Brevyn is something
altogether different. Something our world has never seen. Something no realm
has ever seen.
“A faerie prince who's not a faerie at all but yet can have the magic of all
faeries,” I whispered.
“Sounds like a high king to me,” Arach muttered.
Faerie and I groaned.
Chapter Thirty-Seven


I went back to the God Realm and informed my husbands of Brevyn's
unique ability.
“We tell no one,” Odin declared immediately.
“We tell no one what?” Azrael asked as he came into the room.
“Brevyn's god magic is the ability to borrow another god's magic,”
Trevor informed him.
“Like Vervain can?” Azrael made an impressed face. “Cool.”
“He can change magic whenever he feels like it and he's not limited to
god magic. Because of his human soul, he can borrow fey magic too,” I added.
“I think his magic is going to be substantially more powerful than mine.”
“We don't know that yet,” Odin said cryptically.
“A what soul?” Azrael held up a hand to stop us.
“Oh, sorry, babe,” I sighed. “I forgot to tell you about the boys each
having human souls in addition to their fey and god souls.”
“So they're twins in many ways,” Az mused.
“And yet very different,” I nodded. “Rian's human soul makes him a
super-charged fey and Brevyn's makes him a...”
“Thief,” Odin sighed. “And it all comes back to me. I did this to you and
you passed it to your son,” he looked at me apologetically.
“Odin, this isn't a bad thing,” I gave him a grin. “I was worried at first,
like you are. But then I realized that Brevyn will be able to become whatever he
wants; faerie or god... and he can change his mind. It's a huge relief to know that
he won't be stuck with a wrong decision.”
“So you won't know how many magics he can handle until he starts
taking them,” Trevor frowned. “Maybe you should keep him away from gods for
now.”
“What?” Odin growled. “No. I'm going to see my grandson.”
“Who's now your step-son,” Azrael chuckled.
“Step-son,” Odin mused. “Yes, I suppose that's what he is now. Just as
Ull was once to Thor. How fascinating.”
“So actually, he's a stepped-up step grandson,” Azrael kept going.
“Nice one,” Trevor fist-bumped him.
“I just realized; in Faerie, Brevyn doesn't have to borrow an element
from any one faerie in particular,” I said as I remembered how much brighter the
element tendrils were. “He can connect with the elements in the land.”
“He should be able to do zat anywhere,” Kirill noted. “Elements are in all
nature.”
“That's a good point. Though I suspect that the elements in Faerie are a
little more magical than those in the Human Realm,” I smiled. “But that means
he doesn't have to be a thief.”
“Even if he took a god magic, it sounds like he just mimics it,” Trevor
mused. “When you take a magic, you pull it into yourself and claim it, Vervain.
But you said Brevyn touches magic and forms a connection which he can later
sever. He wouldn't be able to do that if he took the magic, it would need a place
to return to.”
“And if he took it completely, the god he took it from would be dead,”
Odin noted. “The magic would have no place to go. It would have to be released,
in effect it would be destroyed. And no magic would willingly destroy itself.”
“That's right!” I started to smile bigger.
“So he's a copycat,” Odin considered.
“Why do you insist on using insulting labels for my son?” I asked him
dryly.
“I didn't mean to be insulting,” he looked genuinely surprised. “Would
you prefer mocker or mimic?”
“How about mime?” Azrael asked with a smirk.
“You're on a roll today, Archangel of Comedy,” I laughed.
“I had a good night,” he smiled serenely and slid into a chair beside me at
the breakfast table. “I took an old man and his wife to Heaven.”
“Together?” I lifted a brow.
“Together,” he nodded. “She died in her sleep and it was like his soul
sensed it and he just followed.”
“Thanks a lot,” I smacked him. “Now I'm going to cry.”
“It was sweet not sad,” he stroked my cheek. “And they're thrilled to be
in paradise together.”
“I'm not crying cause it's sad,” I sniffed and then wailed, “When will
these damn hormones go away?”
“You're just more sensitive now,” Az pulled me into his lap. “There's
nothing wrong with that.”
“Alright, lovebirds,” Trevor chuckled. “Can we get back to the mime?”
“He's not a mime,” I ground out.
“You thought it was funny when he said it,” Trevor huffed and pointed at
Azrael.
“He didn't mean for it to actually be used,” I grimaced. “It was a joke.”
“You should watch Brevyn carefully,” Azrael had a thoughtful crease
between his eyebrows. “Depending on what element he borrows, it could have
dangerous results.”
“What?” I gaped at him.
“Well fire and water makes steam; you know, all that stuff. Like what
happens around the borders of the faerie kingdoms, where the elements meet,”
Azrael slipped me back onto my seat and went to pour himself some coffee.
“But how would that be dangerous?” I pressed.
“I don't know,” Az shrugged. “I just feel like it could. But that's only if
he's able to borrow more than one element at a time.”
“Just keep Brevyn under close observation until we figure this out,” Odin
offered. “He's a baby, Vervain. We have plenty of time to deal with this.”
“You're right,” I sighed. “And Faerie said she'd watch him. I'm just
relieved to know that Rian will be reborn if he ever dies and Brevyn will have
the choice that Ull wanted.”
“Lots of choices,” Kirill snorted.
“How do you know what Ull wanted?” Azrael asked as he came back to
the table.
“Oh, wow, I forgot just how much you've missed,” I blinked.
“I got this,” Trevor gave my hand a squeeze and caught Azrael up.
“Thanks,” I said to Trevor while Az reeled from the surprises.
“Tima,” Alexander, one of my Intare, came running in holding the
enchanted Samedi plate. “Something's happening.”
“Samedi on the move again?” I asked as he slid the plate onto the table
before me. “Wait; what's he doing?”
“It looks like he's stealing soul pots,” Trevor growled.
“He is,” Alexander confirmed.
“Jerry jinx it,” I stood up. “Where is he?”
“I don't know, Tima,” Alex shook his head. “I saw him trace out of his
territory and then into this room but I can't tell where the room is.”
“Son of a sea biscuit!” I clenched my fists in futility.
“Is that Seabiscuit as in the famous horse or sea biscuit as in a weird
faerie food?” Trevor asked dryly.
“The food,” I looked at him in confusion. “There's a horse named sea
biscuit?”
“Yep,” Trevor nodded.
“Why?”
“No one knows,” he shrugged.
“Vell, ve can't stop Samedi,” Kirill got us off the silly horse name. “But
at least ve now know for certain zat he's guilty.”
“Oh poop,” I huffed and fell into my seat.
“Da, big Seabiscuit poop,” Kirill nodded.
Chapter Thirty-Eight


We called a God Squad meeting to let everyone know what we'd
discovered about Samedi. Yemanja was invited too of course. We had all just
settled into our seats when Blue walked in... with Eztli. Everyone went quiet.
“Eztli wanted to help,” Blue said into the silence. “But if we're not
welcome...”
“You're absolutely welcome,” I jumped up and went to greet them.
“Absolutely! The absolutest. Thank you for coming,” I shook her hand.
“Please,” I waved to the table,” have a seat. Would you like some coffee?”
“I'd love some,” she smiled at me, her full lips making it seem suggestive
even though it wasn't. Blue had definitely bagged himself a hottie, not that I ever
doubted his sexual appeal.
“Pan, could you pour her a cup?” I waved to him. “You're closest to the
pot.”
“I'd be happy to,” Pan gave Eztli a wink. “And there's a free seat next to
me,” he nodded to the empty chair beside him.
“I think we'll sit over here,” Blue gestured to the opposite side of the
table. “Thank you,” he whispered to me as they went by.
“Alright,” I said as I resumed my seat. “Everyone's here now so I'll go
ahead and tell you what we've learned. Samedi is definitely the one behind the
pot de tet thefts.”
“What?” Yemanja sat forward in alarm.
“We saw him stealing jars,” I said gently to her. “We know it was truly
him, not some impostor, because we saw it in the plate Odin enchanted to watch
Samedi.”
“Oh Sam,” Yemanja sighed. “Why?”
“Unfortunately, we couldn't stop him since we didn't know where he
was,” I grimaced. “So I think we need to-”
“Tima?” Fallon came into the room holding an envelope. “This was just
delivered to Moonshine for you. The messenger said it was urgent.”
He handed me the large envelope and I looked over the beautiful
calligraphy on the front.
“Godhunter,” I huffed a laugh. “Well okay,” I opened the envelope while
everyone watched. “It's probably just another invitation,” I offered. “We've been
getting a lot of those lately...” I trailed off as I read the elegant, gold-embossed
card.
“Is it an invitation?” Brahma asked.
“Oh yeah,” I felt my eyes widen. “The first of its kind that I've ever
received.”
“Are you going to tell us what you've been invited to?” Horus drawled.
“We're all invited actually,” I looked around the table and held up the
card. “To war.”
“Someone sent us an invitation to war?” Trevor took the card from me
and stared down at it. “Godhunter and Squadron, You've been cordially invited to
test your strength and magic against me and my army... and then there's
coordinates,” Trevor laughed. “Well damn, we have been invited. I think that's
the most polite battle cry I've ever heard. Or read, rather.”
“Who sent it?” Odin snatched the card out of Trevor's hand. “It's signed;
Me. Cute, very cute.”
“So, another battle?” Eztli looked at Blue.
“You want to join them?” He asked her in surprise.
“You thought I just came to socialize?” She lifted her brow at him and I
laughed.
“Alright,” I confessed. “I'm starting to like her.”
“Wait till you see what Blue and I can do in battle, Godhunter,” Eztli
smiled.
“First of all; you call him Blue? That's awesome,” I grinned. “Second,
please call me Vervain. If we're going to be friends, that's a good place to start.”
“Alright, Vervain,” she nodded.
“Well happy, happy day,” Horus waved his hands about. “Can we get
back to the war with the anonymous Me?”
“More like; Despicable Me,” Kirill said to Trevor and then they both
chuckled together like children.
“Well he isn't anonymous, is he?” Yemanja said sadly. “It's Samedi, it has
to be.”
“Which means he'll have innocent possessed humans fighting for him,”
Karni Mata said sadly. She turned to Teharon, her boyfriend, and the sweet
Hindu Rat Goddess shared a concerned look with the Healer God of the
Mohawks.
“We'll put them to sleep,” Teharon reassured her, his turquoise eyes
staring at her earnestly.
“You won't be able to,” Yemanja shook her head. “The possessed are
immune to magic that works upon the physical body. It's not their body after
all.”
“So what do we do?” Finn asked. “I'm not down with killing a bunch of
innocents.”
“Me either,” Morpheus added. “I've done enough of that to haunt me
forever.”
“We'll have to corral them and incapacitate them somehow,” I chewed at
my lip and then looked to Yemanja. “Do you have any idea how many pots were
taken?”
“Hundreds,” she whispered.
“We're going to need help,” I looked around the table.
“Well, Dad did say that Hell would stand with you,” Azrael reminded
me.
“Oh,” Eztli looked to Blue. “It's that battle.”
“Yes, I realized,” Blue said grimly.
“That's right, you knew about the vision Elena had,” I narrowed my eyes
on Blue.
“Elena said it would do more damage to warn anyone,” Blue defended
himself.
“And Elena is always right,” Eztli gave me an annoyed look. “As
irritating as that is.”
“She approached me at your wedding,” I told her. “Told me that she
knew who was behind all of this but couldn't tell me.”
“Yes, even when she can't tell you, she still likes you to know that she
knows,” Eztli grumbled.
“That's obnoxious,” I observed.
“You're telling me,” Eztli rolled her eyes. “She's been my best friend for
over four centuries.”
“That's a long time to deal with an annoying person...” I drifted off as I
realized my husbands were all giving me amused looks. “What?”
“Nothing,” Trevor said and they all looked away.
“You guys are so going to get it after we're done defeating Samedi,” I
growled. “And not the good it.”
“Anyway,” Hades drawled. “Will all the demons of Luke's Hell be
enough or should we solicit more aid?”
“How many soldiers will Luke bring?” Yemanja asked.
“Thousands,” Azrael grinned maliciously.
“That will be sufficient, I'm sure,” Yemanja's eyes widened.
“Can I use my bow if I promise not to kill them?” Artemis asked.
“Do what you have to do,” I nodded. “We'll try not to kill the humans but
if it comes down to it, your lives are more important,” I gave them all level
stares. “Everyone good with that?”
“I'm not dying for a stranger,” Pan shrugged. “Be they human or god.”
“Good,” I sighed.
I used to be adamant about protecting humans but these days I was more
concerned with the lives of my friends. Call me selfish but that's how I felt.
“We have vampires we can bring as well,” Eztli offered. “They'd be
helpful in subduing humans without killing them.”
“Really?” I lifted my brows. “But if Teharon's sleep magic won't work,
what can a vampire do?”
“Drain enough blood that the body will have no choice but to shut
down,” Blue explained. “It's not magic, just science.”
“Yemanja?” I looked to her.
“Souls usually won't stay in dead bodies,” she mused. “That causes stress
to the soul; its natural instinct is to leave a dying body.”
“So if they drain them enough,” Hekate mused, “the souls will actually
leave?”
“Yes but then we're left with dying humans,” Yemanja pointed out.
“Vampires have had to be very careful about killing,” Eztli said. “We've
learned exactly how much blood we can take without killing a human. It won't
be a problem.”
“I can call in the Egyptian gods,” Re offered.
“No,” I said along with my husbands.
“Why?” Re blinked at us.
“Do you not remember the whole kidnapping thing?” Odin growled.
“Or the attempted murder of our wife?” Trevor added.
“No more Egyptians,” Kirill said decisively. “Ve have enough already.”
“Fine,” Re huffed. “But a god can do more than a demon can.”
“Really?” Azrael lifted a brow. “Because a demon can possess a human.”
“Oh,” Yemanja gaped at Az.
“Even if they're already possessed?” I asked him.
“It depends upon the strength of the possessing spirit,” Azrael smiled.
“And I think my demons, who also happen to be gods by the way, are more
powerful than any human soul.”
“Demons are gods?” Re blinked.
“Minor ones but yes,” Azrael confirmed. “They're gods, not demi-gods.”
“Well damn,” Re exclaimed.
“Yes, they can do that too,” Azrael chuckled. “You can leave the
vampires behind. I think we'll be alright without them.”
Chapter Thirty-Nine


Yemanja gathered the Vodou gods and brought them with her to the battle
site. They looked grim and very vicious in their fighting gear. Even Erzulie-
Freda, who was more of a diva than a warrior, looked frightening. She was one
of the few pale-skinned lwas and her blonde hair stood out like a beacon among
their group. So did the pink armor she was wearing. Yes, pink. But the color kind
of faded into the background when you saw the look on her face... and the sword
in her hands.
Beside her, an African woman stood, skin as dark as Erzulie-Freda's was
light. Her armor looked well-worn and she held her sword like she was born
with it in her hand (ouch, by the way, that was a horrible analogy). This was
Freda's counterpart; Erzulie-Dantor, and she was obviously a battle goddess. But
it didn't matter, warrior or not, the lwas were there to fight. This was extremely
personal for them and they had insisted on being in the front lines.
Directly behind them were Luke's demons. Satan himself sat on a sin-
black horse among them and at his side, on a pale horse, rode Death, my
husband. Next to him, were the rest of the Horsemen; War, Famine, and the
Antichrist. Or Sam, Ira, and Ted respectively. They were raring to go and so was
I. I was wearing my old godhunting gloves for the first time in years. I didn't
want to shift into a lioness to fight and I couldn't use my half-dragon form either,
so I needed the gloves. They felt good, like an old blanket, and so did my
fighting leathers. It was a physical reminder of who I was and where I'd come
from. The original Godhunter.
“There's more than we expected,” Trevor growled in his gravely wolfman
voice. He'd already shifted in preparation of the battle that would begin at any
second.
Kirill gave a huff of agreement. He couldn't really see much since he was
in lion form and the lines of soldiers before us blocked out the view. I couldn't
see much either. My lack of height was something I lamented often but
especially when I was standing at the back of an army. Still, I knew, as did Kirill,
that there was an army of possessed humans stretching out across the barren
battlefield to either side and back, much further than we had expected.
We were on an open plain in Norway. An odd choice, even stranger when
I considered that I'd recently been to Norway. Ull's house, the one I'd traced to
with Brevyn, was here somewhere. Odin knew the place and had recognized it
from my description. So to be back there, fighting a Vodou army, was a weird
coincidence.
Samedi must have taken his bodies from the locals because most of them
were pale-skinned Norwegians who would have looked right at home on a
Viking longship. I glanced at Odin and Thor apprehensively. These were their
people and it must have been hard for them to go against them in battle. But they
didn't look upset, probably because the demons of Hell had assured us that the
humans wouldn't be in the battle for long.
However, once a demon took over the possession, they'd be out of the
battle completely, needing to direct their full attention into guarding their soul-
less body and getting it back behind our battle line to safety. Demons normally
left their bodies in Hell when they possessed a human. In Hell and under the
guardianship of Lucifer. But in order to possess specific pre-possessed people,
they had to be on site. Which meant that their bodies would simply drop
wherever they were at the time. In this case; a battlefield.
The demons were being amazingly brave and loyal to their leader, to
come out and possess bodies in such a dangerous manner. So we all agreed that
the possession was the only attack they'd be required to make. Only the highest
ranking demons would sit out the possessions, mostly to watch over their
brethren and make sure it all went smoothly.
A horn sounded and we all tensed. Then another horn blared much closer
to us, the sound raising goosebumps on my skin. That second sound had an eerie
quality to it, like something you'd hear while running for your life in a
nightmare. Whatever had made that sound, it wasn't your average musical
instrument.
“Samedi called challenge,” Trevor explained to Kirill and I. “And Luke
has accepted. Prepare yourselves.”
Those were the last clear words I heard. My ears were instantly assailed
with a chaotic cacophony of shouts, screams, and roars. The demons possessed
the human army as soon as they closed in on them and demon bodies began to
fall like harvested wheat. I pulled back as a human ran by me, carrying a
sleeping demon with acid green skin and oily black horns.
It had been a long time since I fought in human form on the ground. I
missed the advantage my wings gave me, and my claws for that matter. Though
at the moment, neither my dragon claws nor the ones attached to my gloves were
helpful. I wasn't there to kill, at least not humans. So I kept my blades sheathed
and used punching as my main attack against the horde of the possessed.
But those possessed bodies wouldn't stay down and I had to keep
punching until a demon could come up to relieve me. It seemed endless and I
was tempted more than once to just start killing. They simply didn't seem
innocent. They fought viciously and it was difficult to remember that these
bodies were just tools being wielded by an enslaved soul.
Inside me, my beasts growled and roared, wanting desperately to join the
battle, but they couldn't help me now. Neither could my magic, which I reached
for in desperation. Not even Love could touch these dead souls. It was a perfect
human army to use against gods. At least, gods who didn't want to hurt innocent
people. Why were the good guys always hindered by their morality? It should be
the other way around; bad guys should be crippled by their evil. Too bad life
wasn't fair and evil often ended up being an easier path than good.
But I wasn't evil and I had to keep reminding myself of that as every
human I struck got back up again. I heard growls and shouts as Trevor and Kirill
were met with the same frustrating scenarios. Overhead, flashes of magic
streaked across the night sky. I assume that they were aimed at Samedi since
they wouldn't do anything against the army of possessed. Then I caught a
glimpse of Blue and Eztli, glowing as they had at their wedding. They were
holding hands as waves of magic rolled out from them.
“Damn,” I muttered to myself. “Maybe I should practice glowing with
Re.”
Then very abruptly, a circle cleared around me, the humans simply
turning and going after other gods. I was confused for a second but then I saw
him. Samedi. He was striding towards me through an aisle of the possessed.
“Godhunter!” He shouted. “Come and meet your death! I look forward to
the wails of your harem as they mourn their whore.”
“Harem and whore?” I huffed before I responded. “You better watch
your mouth, Sunshine,” I growled as I flung my fists down towards my sides.
That familiar click came as my blades slid into place. He looked at my hands in
surprise and I nodded, “Oh, yeah, we're doing this old school. Now bring it, you
backstabbing Brutus.”
“Is that what I am?” He chuckled and lunged for me.
I was fast, much faster than I'd been when I'd first started hunting, but
Sam was even faster. I found myself shaking off his punch as I laid amid the
frigid blades of grass. What the hell? I rolled as his foot came down right where
my face had been. I jumped to my feet and swung at him but he leaped out of my
way with annoying agility. How could a freakin' cemetery lwa be so good at
fighting? Didn't the guy just get sloshed and screw all day?
“Alright, maybe my curriculum needs to be updated,” I growled as I
reached for my Love magic.
Love may not sound like the best weapon to use in battle but it was
actually more effective than any of my other magics. It was also the first magic
I'd held and I tended to lean toward using it. The butterflies rushed up inside me
in a swarm of jewel-toned righteousness, shooting out of me and over to Samedi.
The bastard just laughed.
“What are you; heartless?” I gaped at him as my magic came flying back
to me in failure.
“Quite the opposite,” he shrugged. “I'm in love; a powerful love that your
magic can't touch.”
“Well I'll be damned,” I whispered. “I didn't know love made you
immune to Love.”
“That and some serious spells,” he grinned.
“Why are you doing this, Sam?” I shook my head at him. “I don't get it.”
“Because someone needs to stop you,” he growled and came at me again.
I ducked and punched him in the belly. He grunted and spun to the side
but remained standing. His red tunic was shredded, revealing black armor
beneath. I grimaced and plowed into him again. I ended up knocking him to the
ground and then landed on top of him but in a moment, he had rolled us over and
loomed above me.
“This is going to be fun,” he smiled.
“You've got something in your teeth,” I stared at his mouth intently,
He blinked, then started sucking at his teeth with his tongue.
I used his distraction to head butt him and roll us once more. Then I tried
to punch him in the face but again, he was too quick. He blocked my fist with a
forearm and enough force that I was sent flying off him. I used the momentum to
roll up into a crouch and faced off with him.
“I thought you'd be a better fighter,” Samedi shook his head in
disappointment as he got to his feet.
“Ha!” I stood. “Fake laugh... hiding real pain.”
What the hell was going on? Was I so encumbered by my broken star that
even my fighting skills were suffering or was this guy a total bad ass?
“Come on, you're not even trying,” he chuckled and waved me forward.
“Oh, I'm going to do to your face what Limp Bizkit did to music in the
late 90s!” I growled.
“Vervain, could you please stop quoting Deadpool?” Azrael huffed from
behind me.
“Az?” I turned in relief... I mean, I could have totally handled Samedi on
my own, I was just happy to see my husband. “I can't help it, Deadpool is like a
cruder version of myself.”
“Valid,” Odin sighed as he joined Azrael and I.
“I'm waiting, Godhunter!” Samedi shouted.
“And you'll keep waiting,” Trevor growled as he came up on Samedi's
right. “The fight is over. Look around you Samedi, you've lost.”
How had I not noticed that? All of the humans had finally been taken by
our demons and the bokors who had been controlling them were sleeping like
babies, thanks to Teharon's magic. I sighed and pulled the levers on my gloves to
sheath my blades. I hadn't even scratched Samedi and that was damn frustrating.
“It's not even close to being over,” Baron Samedi started to move
forward but then jerked to a stop as a man slipped between us.
The new guy pulled off his helmet and revealed himself to be another
Baron Samedi. “What the hell am I doing over there?” He gestured indignantly
at the first Samedi.
“You!” I pointed at him in shock. “But you're him,” I pointed at the
Baron who stood across from us.
“Nope, I'm me,” the new Sam smiled.
“C'est pas vrai!” Erzulie-Freda exclaimed from her place amid the group
of lwas who had walked up behind us.
“What she said,” Erzulie-Dantor growled. “Someone explain this. Now!”
“Eztli?” The Baron who had been previously kicking my ass, stepped
forward and gaped at someone on my left. “What are you doing here?”
Everyone followed his gaze to Eztli.
“Excuse me?” Eztli was standing beside Blue, looking terribly confused.
“I don't believe we've met.”
“Impostor, you'd better fucking reveal yourself right fucking now or I'm
going to fuck you up!” The Samedi next to me shouted.
“That's a lot of fucking,” I muttered to Az and he nodded in agreement
but kept his eyes on the show.
“It is I,” Samedi shifted, bubbling up into a froth of mist until a shorter
but much wider and much uglier form was revealed. It was the god I'd seen
dancing with Eztli at her wedding. The one who had given me the nasty look on
his way out.
“Morvran?” Eztli started to step forward but Blue pulled her back. “What
are you doing?”
“What am I doing?” He scowled. “What are you doing with the
Godhunter? I thought you hated her.”
“That was before I married Blue,” Eztli gaped at the massive god.
“What's going on, Morvran? Why are you doing this?”
“For you,” he whispered. “I did it all for you. So you'd see what kind of a
god I am, that I could-” his words were literally cut off as a sword sliced through
his neck.
Eztli screamed as the rest of us flinched in shock. Morvran's body fell to
its knees and his head landed beside it. Then the headless body fell forward and
gushed blood all over the grass. Behind the gruesome display stood Morpheus,
looking like an avenging angel. Ebony wings extended righteously from his
shoulders, his legs were spread in a warrior stance, his sword was held
dramatically out to his side, and his expression was as hard as the steel in his
hand. Where was a canvas when I needed one? This guy needed to be
immortalized in paint.
“Morpheus,” I whispered and stepped past the real Samedi so I could go
to my friend.
“No,” Eztli was bent over Morvran's body, crying like she'd just lost a
lover, and Blue stood stoically behind her. I barely gave them a glance as I
hurried over to Morph. As far as I was concerned, that guy deserved what he got.
“Morpheus?” I laid my hand gently on his shoulder and he turned
satisfied eyes to me. The mist of the Dream Realm swirled and shifted inside
those eyes; cerulean clouds that shimmered with vengeance.
“This was how he killed my brother, isn't it; he beheaded Phantasus from
behind?” Morpheus sheathed his sword and stared down at the body. His boyish
face was drawn into grim lines. Ironically, it made him darkly handsome.
“Yes,” I whispered.
“For me!” Eztli cried to Morpheus. “He killed Phantasus to save me.
Your brother kidnapped me and tried to kill Blue.”
“Morvran also killed humans for you,” I nodded to the mass of possessed
humans standing over their demon bodies. “Each of those bodies represent a
human who he murdered to gain control over their soul. Morvran may have
started out with good intentions but he ended up a villain.”
Eztli looked down at Morvran's head and sighed. She gently shut his eyes
and nodded. Blue helped her up and eased her back through the crowd. He cast a
somber look my way as they passed by. Perhaps Eztli wouldn't be a part of the
God Squad after all. But I had the strangest hope that we'd still be friends.
“Well done,” Samedi pounded Morpheus' shoulder. “I wanted to do that
myself but it sounds like you had a stronger claim.”
“You!” I pointed to Sam again. “We saw you stealing pot de tets. I was
certain you were behind this.”
“I wasn't stealing them,” Sam huffed. “After Papa told me what was
happening, I was worried for my serviteurs. I decided I'd better keep their pots
safe until this was over. I was collecting them to protect them. I have them in the
God Realm where no bokor can reach them.”
“That's a rather good idea,” one of the other lwas, I think his name was
Ogoun, grimaced. “I wish I'd thought of that.”
“I can't believe you all thought I was capable of this,” Samedi snapped at
the gathered lwas. “I may be naughty but I'm not evil. I would never take your
people. If I wanted an army of the dead, I'd take them from the followers of
other pantheons.”
“Isn't that reassuring?” Odin rolled his eyes.
“You have my deepest apologies,” Yemanja stepped forward first and
then the other lwas followed suit and soon Sam was surrounded by a mass of
apologetic gods.
“Yeah, yeah, you're all sorry. You're the sorriest motherfuckers I've ever
seen,” I heard him mutter as I edged away. “Alright, you're forgiven. I told you,
I'm not evil. But you fuckers better come to my next barbecue.”
I moved over to where Luke sat with the Horsemen and the demons.
They were all floating back into their bodies and the humans who had been
possessed were falling to the ground asleep. I looked at the mass of sleepers with
concern.
“They'll be fine,” Cid, one of the higher ranking demons, said to me.
“Being possessed is taxing on the body. They'll sleep it off and wake up a little
hungover, that's all.”
“And very confused,” I looked around. “Why here? Why did Morvran
pick Norway?”
“He's a Celt,” Odin huffed. “Celts have a sort of feud going on with the
Norse.”
“Perhaps because your people used to attack his?” Azrael suggested.
“Perhaps,” Odin grimaced. “I guess he figured that if he was going to use
people as canon fodder, it might as well be Norwegians.”
“Classy guy,” I glanced back at his body. “We'll need to take him with
us.”
“Let the lwas handle it,” Trevor huffed. “They'll probably want to put his
head on a pike anyway.”
“Yeah, that's some imagery I could have done without,” I sighed.
“At least it's over and no innocents were hurt,” Luke offered.
I burst into laughter.
“What did I say?” Luke looked to the Horsemen of the Apocalypse for an
answer.
“I believe the Godhunter is amused by the irony of that statement coming
from the lips of Lucifer Morningstar,” Ira, also known as Famine, noted dryly.
“Yep, you and your demons saved the day, Dad,” I grinned at him. “If
only the Christians knew what a softy you are.”
“For my sake, I hope they never find out,” Luke gave me a horrified
look.
“And for theirs,” I nodded. “Humans need their scapegoats.”
“Poor goats,” Luke shook his head sadly. “They're actually very cute
animals. Have you ever seen a baby goat in pajamas?” And the Lord of Hell
trailed off into a conversation about all the YouTube videos he'd seen featuring
goats; screaming goats, pygmy goats, angry goats, goats playing with balls,
goats jumping on trampolines... it went on and on.
Cid looked at Azrael and mouthed the words, “Kill me now.”
Chapter Forty


The bokors released the souls they had stolen and then paid for their evil
deeds. I don't know how the lwas made them pay but I can't imagine it was
pleasant. All I know is that the pots were returned to their proper oumphors,
under the care of mambos and houngans who would look after them, and the
souls were escorted back to Ginen by Papa Legba, a lwa who was a type of gate
guardian (though that's an oversimplification of his duties).
The demons looked after the sleeping Norwegians until they woke, just
like the guardian angels they once were. Though that's not really an accurate
statement since I've seen more kindness towards humanity from demons than I
have from angels. After the humans woke, Hell's henchmen went home for a
well deserved party hosted by the Devil himself. It was quite an affair, as
evidenced by the fact that I woke up the next morning in Azrael's old bed,
covered only by angel wings and having no knowledge of how I'd got there. If
you know anything about god metabolisms, you know just how powerful Satan's
wine was and just how much of it I'd had to consume to get that result.
But I'd been on a mission. I wanted to forget how I'd almost lost a fight. I
don't know why it bothered me so much, it wasn't like I haven't been bested
before. I've been kidnapped and tortured more times than I care to admit. I guess
it was my concern over my shattered star combined with the humiliation of
having my ass handed to me like a plate of hors d'oeuvres.
Odin had tried to comfort me, explaining to me that Morvran was a god
of war, thought to be a demon by his enemies. The simple fact that he was in the
midst of battle helped him to be stronger. But I pointed out that the sub-magics
associated with my Love magic were War and Victory. I should have had just as
much advantage as Morvran. So I suppose our magics would have canceled each
other out.
The one thing that finally made me feel better was when the lwas had
showed up to join the celebration and Yemanja reported what she'd learned from
the bokors. They'd been crafting spells for Morvran, weaving protections around
him so thick that even my love magic couldn't get through. Which explained my
first failure with Love. It had nothing to do with the power of his own love,
which was evidently for Eztli.
I'd asked Yemanja why the bokors would cast spells for a god they
believed to be a lwa. Wouldn't they have been suspicious that a lwa needed their
help? But she said Vodou was an exchange of services and so the bokors didn't
think anything of it, it was just another offering to their lwa. They'd been
horribly played. I almost felt sorry for them. Except for the whole enslaving
souls thing.
The Vodou community went back to normal after that and although my
star situation was still unsettled, my life went back to its normal routine as well.
We even had a visit from Clotho, who let me know that my threads, though still
separated, had lost the hint of wrongness. Morvran was the god the Horsemen
had been fated to kill. His death had put everything to rights.
So by the time Horus and Hekate's engagement party rolled around, I was
more than ready to celebrate with them. My threads were as right as they could
be for the moment and no god drama had come to my attention. I could go to
Pan's Neverland and enjoy myself without any worry. Well, without too much
worry.
“So what's the chant to get into Pan's territory?” I asked my husbands.
“Please tell me it's; think happy thoughts.”
“Hardly,” Odin chuckled. “Though it might as well be. It's; Áse me na
bo.”
“Assy what?” I blinked at him.
“It's Greek,” Trevor took my hand. “It means; let me in.”
“Creative,” I rolled my eyes.
All of my husbands (well, the god husbands) looked fantastic in their
casual suits but Trevor looked like restrained ferocity and it gave him incredible
bad boy appeal. Kirill looked exactly like what he used to be; a foreign prince.
His long hair was loose and brushed to an ebony sheen, matching Azrael's wings
perfectly. Az had his glossy black hair slicked back from his regal forehead and
looked every inch the angel.
Then there was Odin. His closely trimmed beard and his whiskey colored
hair, highlighted with blonde, made him stand out among my dark-haired men
and his shifting peacock-colored eyes attracted just as much attention as Azrael's
diamond ones. Of course, no one could outshine Re, especially in his Armani
suit, with the collar left open to show off a hint of golden chest. They were quite
a group to make an entrance with.
I smoothed out my deep blue silk dress with my free hand before taking
Odin's. I was always nervous when we went out together. I tended to feel like a
wallflower, fading into the background amid such splendor. I had to psych
myself up and remind myself that it didn't matter what other people thought,
their opinions only affected me if I allowed them to. Plus, they'd be right; my
men were far better looking than I. Maybe I should just feel proud about it
instead of self-conscious. Unfortunately, there was no reasoning with the female
psyche.
“You ready?” Azrael looked back at me and I nodded.
He stepped into the Aether ahead of us. Trevor, Odin, and I went next
and then Kirill and Re brought up the rear. We emerged under an arbor of grapes
and standing on a brick road. The road wound through a field of flowers up to a
giant pirate ship. The ship had a flat bottom and sat securely on a hill. Towers
jutted up from its deck in feats of impossible architecture, snubbing their noses
at both the sky and gravity. Between the towers, rope nets were strung and off of
one of them, a giant hot air balloon was tethered. At the bottom-center-front of
the ship, a large door was hanging open and steps led down from it to the road.
But that wasn't even the most amazing part of the scenery. Around us,
just past the field of flowers to either side of the road, was a sporadic forest;
groups of trees sprouting in random patterns here and there. Amid the trees were
carnival rides of strange designs, everything either too big or too small, like the
miniature carousel and the super sized bumper cars. There was an enormous
inflatable ball set on a platform and braced with stilts. Inside it was a plastic
scene of a little town, giving the ball the appearance of a gigantic snow globe.
Except instead of snow falling, there were children; bouncing off the squishy
buildings with delight. It was a bouncy house. Or more accurately; a bouncy ball
with houses inside it.
Then there were toys of unusual sizes, including a rocking horse large
enough to seat twenty children, and a rather terrifying Jack-in-the-box as tall as a
two-story building. It loomed above the children, waving about on its enormous
spring, but they loved it, several were hanging from its hands and laughing.
Amid all of this was a crystalline lake. At the center of the lake was an island
and in the center of the island was a sand castle. But this sand castle was the size
of an actual castle and was sturdy enough to live in. I knew it was inhabitable
because I saw a mermaid swim to shore, shift her tail into legs, and then stroll
into the castle as casual as can be.
A train wound through the woods and headed toward the pirate ship...
pirate ship house... on the hill. It was painted in bright colors and had huge
stuffed animals hanging out of the windows. In fact, one of them was driving the
thing. It tooted the steam whistle and disappeared behind the ship.
And everywhere, there were children. Children of all ages, both girls and
boys, jumping, shouting, laughing, playing all over the damn place. They
launched themselves off the ramparts of the sand castle and jumped into the lake.
They swam in the water and staged mock sword battles on the shore. They filled
the carnival rides and screamed with glee. They even pulled a Mary Poppins
with the carousel and rode the horses right off the platform. It was an overload of
sounds and sights from the bizarre to the ridiculous.
An orange stuffed tiger bounced over our heads.
“I'm sorry,” I pointed after the tiger. “Was that Tigger?”
“Woo hoo hoo hoo!” Tigger laughed as he bounded away.
“Yes, I believe that was he,” Odin said dryly.
“Um,” I looked down at the bricks we stood on. They were bright yellow.
“Is this the yellow brick road?”
“Yep,” Trevor grinned. “We-e-e-e'-re off to-”
“No, you will not,” Odin cut him off.
“We got a lion,” Trevor chuckled. “And the tiger just went by. All we
need is a bear, Odin, and you can shift into anything. Help us out here.”
“No,” Odin grimaced as a little boy flew by, holding the rope of a very
large kite. He was giggling hysterically.
“This is amazing,” Re elbowed Odin. “You have to admit you've never
seen anything like this. Pan is a psychotic genius.”
“Yes, I freely admit that,” Odin shook his head. “Though I'm surprised
that Horus would want his engagement party here.”
“You're here for the engagement party?” A rabbit in a waistcoat hopped
up to us. He pulled out a pocket watch and I nearly fainted from happiness.
“You're just on time, well done!”
“It's... it's...” I pointed to the rabbit with a huge grin.
“I am Mr. White,” the rabbit bowed. “If you would just follow the yellow
brick road-”
I squealed in delight.
“Eh hem,” Mr. White cleared his throat and I tried to contain my
excitement. “As I was saying, if you would but follow this yellow road here, it
will lead you to the Master's ship and there you will be met by a steward. He will
show you where the grown-up party is.”
“Zank you, Mr. Vhite,” Kirill nodded and the rabbit nodded regally back
before hopping off. “Shall ve?”
“Oh yes,” I couldn't stop smiling. “I hope it's the Red Queen.”
“Who?” Trevor cast me a sideways look as we wandered up the yellow
brick road.
“The steward,” I rolled my eyes. “Look at this place, it's like every story
book rolled into one.”
“He must have collected imagery which he thought the children would
enjoy,” Azrael smiled sweetly. “Our friend Pan has depths to him which I'd
never imagined.”
“He's a good guy, isn't he?” I nodded to Az.
“Much more than the front he shows people,” Odin agreed. “I do admit
that I'm touched by his kindness to these lost souls.”
“I'm going to turn Pride Palace into the the Mad Hatter's house,” I
declared.
“Nyet, Tima,” Kirill begged as the others just shook their heads.
“We could have unbirthday parties everyday,” I whined. “With tea!”
“No,” Odin glared at me.
“No way,” I gaped at the steward who was waiting for us in the doorway
of the pirate ship/house.
“Thank you,” Odin sighed.
“No,” I huffed. “I mean; no way, look who it is,” I pointed.
“Hello,” the wooden puppet bowed to us, removing his jaunty yellow hat
to sweep before him. “Welcome to Neverland, friends of Pan! I am-”
“Pinocchio!” I shouted and clapped.
“You've heard of me?” The wooden boy beamed. “I'm so flattered.”
“You're famous,” I nodded.
“Thank you for thinking so,” he bowed again and fell over his wooden
shoes. One of them fell off and rolled away. “Son of a bitch! God damn fucking
pieces of wood. Even the Dutch don't wear these stupid things anymore,” he
muttered as he scooped up the shoe and pulled it back on. “I want to get new
shoes but Pan won't let me. He says I have to maintain a certain image.”
I just gaped at the profane puppet.
“If you would follow me?” He immediately went prim and proper when
he saw our expressions.
He turned and clip-clopped his way to an elevator in the shape of a
rocket. He pulled open the metal door and ushered us inside. We pressed in
together, wide god shoulders hunching in around me. With a smile, Pinocchio
slid into a little space near the front and pulled the door closed. He pressed a
large red button and a worrying whirring noise started beneath our feet.
“Hold on,” Pinocchio grinned wickedly and waved towards to metal rails
set into the inside of the hollow rocket. He slipped his arms around one placed at
his height.
I grabbed a hold of a bar just as we were launched upwards at a
ridiculous speed. I may have screamed just a little. I needn't have bothered
holding on though, the men closest to me; Kirill, Azrael, and Odin, all reached
one hand out to me and one to the rocket. I wasn't going anywhere. Well, except
for up that is. The contraption came to a jerking stop and Pinocchio let go of his
handhold so he could push open the rocket door.
A plain wood landing was revealed, set before a circular stone building.
We all stepped out, some of us (me) on shaky legs, and stumbled over to a
railing. I flinched when I saw that we were at the top of one of the precarious
towers, hundreds of feet above the deck of the pirate ship. Children climbed
across the rope nets far below us, laughing and waving up to us. I waved back
weakly.
“Right in here,” Pinocchio opened a door set into the side of the tower.
The sound of music and adult laughter filtered out. “May I have your names so I
may announce you?”
“Um,” I blinked at the men and they shrugged. “I'm Vervain, this is Odin,
Trevor, Kirill, Azrael, and Re.”
“I need more than that,” the puppet huffed. “Come on, you're gods, right?
Seriously, WTF? It's not like you haven't done this before. Stop messing with me
and give me your full titles.”
“I'm going to turn you into splinters and use you to pick my teeth if you
talk to my wife like that again,” Trevor growled and Pinocchio's legs started to
shake, making a horrible clicking noise.
“And I will burn the remaining toothpicks into cinders,” Re added.
“My apologies,” the wooden puppet waved his hand in a warding motion
as he backed away slowly.
“I'm Vervain Lavine, Goddess of Love, Lions, and the Moon,” I gave
Trevor and Re annoyed looks. Can we please not threaten Pinocchio?
“Prince VéulfR Fenrirson,” Trevor said. “Heir Apparent to the Froekn
crown.”
Pinocchio's eyes went wide.
“Kirill Alexeyevich,” Kirill intoned. “Ganza of the Intare.”
“Death,” Azrael said simply and Pinocchio fainted.
“Wonderful,” Re huffed. “Now he can't announce the Sun God, Re.”
“You'll be fine,” Odin stepped over the prone puppet and then held a
hand out for me.
I took the offered hand and we entered a massive ballroom. The floor
was white marble and the walls were pale pink plaster. The ceiling was a dome
painted to look like the sky and beneath that sky, scattered tables were filled with
gaily dressed gods. On one side of the room, a buffet was set up with a feast of
food from several cultures. On the other side, there was a small area for dancing.
Directly across from us was the high table where Pan sat with his honored
guests; Horus and Hekate. Behind them was an open balcony, showcasing an
amazing view of Neverland.
“The Godhunter has arrived!” Pan shouted in glee and I sent him a happy
wave.
Thankfully, the room was full of gods I knew so there were no glares of
doom sent my way. Of course just because I knew them, it didn't mean I liked all
of the gods. I grimaced as Re's daughters; Sekhmet and Bastet, walked up to us.
They went immediately to kiss their father and then an awkward silence ensued.
“I'm going to get a drink,” I said and started to leave.
“Wait, Vervain,” Bastet grabbed my arm and I looked down at her hand
pointedly. She let go. “We're sorry about what we did to you.”
“You know they were acting under my instructions,” Re added.
“Was it your instructions for your daughter to bring along her psychopath
husband to try and kill Vervain?” Trevor growled.
“No,” I held up a hand between them. “We're not doing this here. This
party is for Horus and Hekate and I'm not letting any of you yahoos ruin it for
them.”
“Fine,” Trevor muttered.
“Yes, you're right,” Re sighed. “But no, I didn't order Ptah to try to kill
Vervain. What a ridiculous question.”
“Then they weren't acting under your orders, were they?” Trevor
snapped.
“Hey!” I glared at both of them. “What did I just say? I swear, it's like
being a high school teacher sometimes.”
“At one of those schools where the kids bring guns with them,” Odin
muttered.
“Very helpful, thank you,” I gave Odin a peevish look.
“I do my best,” Odin sniffed and then looked to the cat and lion
goddesses. “Frankly, I'm shocked that either of you two ladies would dare to
approach my wife after what you pulled.”
“I didn't think he was going to hurt you!” Bastet declared.
“I know, Bast,” I took her hand. “I heard you try to stop them and I
forgive you for your role in that whole mess.”
“Thanks, Vervain,” she gave me a hug. “I'm glad you worked things out
with my father.”
“Me too,” I smiled but it faded when I looked at Sekhmet. “But you,
you're harder to forgive.”
“I didn't ask for your forgiveness,” Sekhmet growled, tossed her long
mane of golden hair, and strode away.
“Alrighty then,” I shrugged. “I guess that settles it; not forgiven.”
“My sister just needs some time,” Bast shared a concerned look with Re.
“She gets even angrier when she knows she's wrong.”
“Well, I appreciate your apology, Bastet,” I avoided talking any further
about her sister.
“May I offer one as well?”
I turned and saw Sokar, an Egyptian god I'd met in Aaru, the Egyptian
Underworld; where the aforementioned mess had been made. I'd stopped at his
pyramid for tea on my escape out of Aaru and he'd ratted me out to Ptah. And
yes, I know how crazy that statement sounds. But he'd basically prevented my
escape by insisting I have tea with him and then the cat sisters had shown up
with Ptah and that jerk had tried to destroy me by separating my souls.
“Sokar,” I nodded to him. “So you made it out of Aaru.”
“I'm taking your advice and seeing more of the realms,” he smiled.
“Vervain, please accept my humblest apologies. I was acting under loyalty and
had no idea Ptah would do something so horrible. But still, that's no excuse for
breaking the laws of hospitality.”
“I accept your apology,” I tried to be gracious about it, even though I
kind of wanted to punch his face in. I'd forgiven Eztli after all, and she had tried
to do much worse than Sokar had.
“Thank you,” Sokar bowed, his black eyes lowering respectfully.
“Please tell me you're not starting a fight the minute you walk into my
engagement party,” Horus drawled from behind Sokar.
“She was doing nothing of the sort,” Sokar defended me. “Merely
granting forgiveness where it's not deserved.”
I admit, I stopped wanting to punch him after that.
“Horus,” I grabbed the Falcon God and hugged him before he knew what
was happening. He squirmed a second and then gave up and accepted the hug.
“Congratulations,” I said when I pulled away. “I'm glad you decided to propose
sooner.”
“What?” He blinked at me in shock. “Sooner?”
“Never mind,” I smiled and drifted away as my men surged forward to
offer Horus their congratulations. “Katie,” I hugged Hecate next. “Are you sure
you want him forever?” I teased her.
“I heard what you said to Horus,” she narrowed her eyes on me,
completely ignoring my Horus insult. “It's that future, isn't it? That's what you
were talking about? Were we married in it?”
“He had just proposed,” I admitted. “And it was years from now.”
“Oh yeah, that future was all wrong,” she snickered. “I never would have
waited that long.”
“I am worth waiting for,” Horus entered the conversation at the perfect
time.
“Uh-huh,” Katie gave him an innocent look. “You just keep telling
yourself that.”
“You bring chaos wherever you go,” he looked to me in accusation.
“I had nothing to do with this,” I chuckled and turned away.
“Pan punch?” Pan offered me a glass filled with a bright pink liquid.
“Why yes, I would like to punch you, Pan,” Horus smirked. “But since
you threw me this fairly nice party, I'll restrain myself.”
“Ha ha,” Pan rolled his eyes. “I wasn't offering it to you, Tinkerbell.”
“Will you stop calling me that?” Horus growled. “I don't even understand
what prompted this sudden Tinkerbell idiocy.”
I looked away innocently.
“Vervain,” Pan said.
“I did not!” I denied and then realized that Pan was just bringing my
attention back to the punch. “Oh, thank you.” I took the drink as my men took
glasses off the tray of a passing waiter. “Is that Captain Hook?” I gaped at the
waiter, who was holding his tray with his only remaining hand while he used the
hook to steady it.
“Neverland wouldn't be complete without him,” Pan shrugged. “He was
actually a Greek philosopher in life.”
“Wait... what?” I cocked my head at Pan.
“Well you didn't think I simply created life from my territory's energy,
did you?” He lifted a nutmeg brow.
“I hadn't thought about it,” I looked around the room with new eyes. “I
made animals in my territory.”
“Yeah but basically, those creatures are soul-less things that can move,”
Pan pointed out. “If you tried to make a human, they'd be animated but wouldn't
be able to have a conversation with you.”
“Sounds like the makings of a perfect woman,” Horus lifted a brow at
Hekate and smirked.
“Who are you kidding?” She teased back. “You wouldn't even need her
to move around; just hold still for two minutes.”
“Oh... da-a-a-amn,” Trevor drew out the word.
“Yes, she's spectacular, isn't she?” Horus smiled proudly at his fiance.
I barely spared them a glance, I was too busy looking around the room. I
spotted Cinderella, Maleficent, and Prince Charming, all handing out glasses of
Pan's punch. It was like Disneyland but the characters were real. Like really real;
no make-up or prosthetics needed here. Except they were actually souls
pretending to be the characters. So I guess it was more like Disneyland than I'd
first thought. Or rather, Disneyland was more like Neverland, since Neverland
came first.
“So who are all these people really?” I asked Pan.
“My followers,” Pan shrugged. “My people tend to be open minded folk.
Most of them love altering their appearance to entertain the children. Some of
them even stay in character all the time. The mermaids won't even admit that
they were ever anything else.” He leaned in to whisper, “Country girls.”
“It's lovely, Pan,” I saluted him with my glass. “Truly magical.”
“Your efforts to give the child souls an amusing afterlife is admirable,”
Re added.
“They must adore you,” I noted.
“The children?” Pan asked and I nodded. “I'm their Pan,” he shrugged. “I
guess that's come to mean a type of father to them. I don't know. I offer them
sanctuary without conditions. Though I do have rules and the adult souls help me
to enforce them.”
“I'd imagine that can be a lot of work,” Azrael noted.
“Not really,” Pan made a face. “The children are already dead so it's not
like they can hurt themselves from roughhousing. It's only the little disputes we
have to monitor. But honestly, those are rare. These kids were unloved and then
found a family who wholeheartedly accepts them; nothing is more precious to
them than each other.”
“Shared trauma can bond people,” Kirill nodded and I gave his hand a
squeeze.
“Who was Pinocchio?” Odin asked casually.
“What's that?” Pan looked confused.
“The wooden puppet who led us in,” Odin explained. “Who was he in
life? I'm just curious.”
“Oh, his name was Polybius,” Pan said.
“The historian?” Azrael looked shocked.
“Yeah, that's the one,” Pan nodded. “That's why he's my steward, he's
great at keeping the house in order.”
“Oh, now I feel awful,” Az grimaced.
“Why? What did you do to my steward?” Pan began to look concerned.
“He's fine,” I reassured him. “He's just had a bit of a scare.”
“I'll be right back,” Azrael said. “I think I'm going to apologize.”
“Okay,” I glanced at the others as Az hurried off. “I guess this Polybius
guy was a big deal.”
“He invented the Polybius Square,” Odin nodded sagely.
“Oh that Polybius,” I said.
“You have no idea what that is, do you?” Pan asked in a whisper.
“Not even an inkling,” I admitted.
“It's a tool used in telegraphy,” Odin went on and when he saw my blank
expression, he went further. “Polybius assigned each letter of the alphabet a
space on a square where it could be numerically cross-referenced.” I continued
to stare at him until he finally huffed, “Spy stuff.”
“Oh,” I made a sound of epiphany as Odin rolled his eyes. “Cool.”
“Vhy don't ve go out on ze balcony?” Kirill asked me.
“I'd love to,” I took his arm.
“You guys go ahead,” Trevor offered. “Odin and I will stay and socialize
so you can have some alone time.”
“Thank you,” I kissed Trevor on the cheek and then Odin. Pan angled his
head out for a kiss too and I gave in. It's hard to resist that childish charm.
“I shall never wash my cheek again!” Pan declared dramatically as he
held a hand to the spot I'd kissed.
“Gross, Pan,” I chuckled as Kirill led me away.
Night had set in as we'd wandered through the ballroom and now
Neverland lay peacefully beneath an indigo sky scattered with stars. The sounds
of playing children still carried over to us but they were winding down and
muted. The toys and rides all looked mysterious in the moonlight and the lake
glittered like a beacon, luring little swimmers into her embrace.
“I can't vait to have children,” Kirill said wistfully.
“Really?” I looked over at him. “I mean, I know you all are excited about
having kids one day but do you really want one now?”
“I do,” he shrugged. “I know our life is unsettled and it can be dangerous,
but I vant to meet our daughter. I vatch Fallon vith Zariel and I feel jealous. Zis
is hard for me. I have never been a jealous man.”
“Alright,” I took a deep breath and let it out in a whoosh. “We can
discuss trying soon but we'll need to include the others in the conversation.” I
glanced back over my shoulder at Trevor and Odin.
“Vhen vas Lesya born; vhat number child vas she?” Kirill asked.
“First was Rian, who is now Rian and Brevyn,” I mused. “Then came
Vero and then Lesya. She was my third pregnancy. But the time schedule of
things seems to have altered. Look at Horus and Hekate.”
“I don't zink ve should take chances vith our children,” Kirill frowned.
“Best to keep it in correct order.”
“That would mean Vero would be next,” I said gently. “Are you sure?”
“It's how ve did it last time,” he chuckled. “I can vait, I'm just excited.”
“It's not like we can really decide who will get me pregnant next,” I
mused. “I can stop the birth control spell again but I think we should just let
things happen naturally.”
“Hmmm,” he considered. “Da, is probably how ve did it first time.”
“Honestly, I don't know if I'm ready to go through another pregnancy,” I
grimaced. “The last one almost killed me.”
“In so many vays,” he sighed. “Okay, ve vait.”
“At least until I get this star thing handled,” I rubbed at my chest. “I
definitely can't think about having a baby when my body is so unbalanced.”
“Agreed,” Kirill pulled me into his side. “Ve'll talk about it more after ve
fix your star.”
“I just wish I knew how to fix it,” I mused as I looked across Neverland.
I have feeling zat it vill show you,” Kirill kissed the top of my head. “For
now, don't vorry about star. Focus instead on keeping husbands happy.”
“Wow, that sounded a little caveman.”
“I am man vith cave,” he reminded me.
“That you are,” I laughed and turned in his arms.
As caveman as his words had sounded, they had also described exactly
what I wanted to do. So I gave in and pulled my husband's face to mine. There's
no time like the present for happiness.
A flash went off and I jerked away from my husband, blinking in
confusion. Kirill started to growl and I felt his body tense beneath my palms. I
instantly slid my hands up his chest and kneaded his shoulders in an effort to
calm him. If he lost it, so would I and I probably shouldn't hurt Pan's father at
Horus and Hekate's engagement party.
“Hermes,” I ground out in a low voice.
“Godhunter,” Hermes lowered his camera and made a face at me, like he
smelled something nasty. Probably his upper lip. Sorry, that was childish.
“Is there a reason you're snapping pictures of me kissing my husband like
you're some kind of scumbag private eye?”
“I'm the party photographer,” he huffed. “I have to take pictures of
everyone... even those I'd rather not look at.”
Hermes and I had a rocky past. Mainly because I'd killed Aphrodite,
who'd been his lover. Ol' Afro had lots of lovers and a husband but that didn't
seem to bother anyone except her husband. Her lovers, some of whom had
wives, didn't see a problem with her sleeping around. I had no room to talk either
but my husbands knew the deal, her's hadn't. She'd even had children with some
of her lovers but not with her husband. I think she even had a son with Hermes
but it wasn't Pan. His mother had been a wood nymph named Dryope... see, I did
know things about Pan.
“You have four seconds to run,” Kirill stepped forward and lowered his
face into Hermes'.
“I was just doing my job,” Hermes huffed, his boyish face twisted in
anger. He flopped around and flounced off, his golden curls bouncing as he
clutched his massive camera possessively.
“Damn nosy messenger gods,” Kirill growled.
“Ugh,” I huffed. “I hadn't considered that Pan would invite his father.”
“Huitzilopochtli, God of Sun and War!” Pinocchio, who looked fully
recovered, called out from the ballroom door. “Accompanied by his wife; Eztli,
Goddess of the Blood Moon!”
“We'd better go say hi,” I gave Kirill a worried look and he nodded.
We hadn't seen either Blue or Eztli since the battle in Norway and I was
hoping that their presence here meant she was over Morvran's death. As we
headed across the crowded room, Trevor joined us. My other men were occupied
in conversations; Re with a flock of groupie goddesses, Odin with his children,
and Azrael with his parents. So it was just the three of us who approached Blue
and Eztli.
They were such a striking couple. Blue was in a black tux with a crimson
tie and Eztli wore a long, slinky dress which matched his tie perfectly. Everyone
was staring at them and I wasn't sure whether it was because of how beautiful
they looked or simply who they were. Whatever the case, I could see that Eztli
noticed it too and it was bothering her.
“Hey. How are you both doing?” I gave Blue a quick hug.
I leaned towards Eztli in one of those hesitant moves you use with new
acquaintances; are we huggers yet or do we just shake hands? She hesitated too,
then leaned forward and gave me a fast, barely-there hug. It wasn't a huge step
forward but it was enough to let me know that she wasn't holding me responsible
for what happened to Morvran.
“We're fine,” she said. “Thank you for asking.”
“I'm glad you two came,” I went on more confidently. “I was getting
worried that you might have changed your mind about joining the Squad.”
“I thought about what happened,” she said gravely and glanced at Blue.
“And we talked about it. I understand what Morpheus did. I barely remember my
blood relatives but I have a new family now and I've lost quite a few of them
recently. Two in particular were a great wound in my heart. So I can sympathize
with the need for vengeance.”
“I'm sorry for the vampires who we killed in Tuscany,” I offered gently.
“But you did have my lions.”
“I'm not referring to them, Vervain,” she smiled sadly. “Soldiers enter a
battle with the knowledge that they may die there. Such loss is tragic but not
something which requires recompense.”
“Then who do you... oh.” I had a sudden flash of our first meeting; I was
in a circle of blood and she was smiling smugly until Blue came striding in and
and announced that he had killed her vampire escort.
I looked to Blue with wide eyes and he gave me a pained expression
before nodding. Oh damn, Blue had been the one who had killed members of her
new family. That must have been a tough hill to climb over.
“The loss of a loved one can be a consuming grief,” I offered gently.
“Morpheus lived with his brothers for centuries. It was just the three of them
really. His parents lived nearby but they rarely visited. Morph was closest to his
brothers and Phantasus' death hurt him deeply.”
“Phantasus talked about Morpheus often,” Eztli mused. “He had felt
betrayed when Morpheus joined your Squad. At the time, I'd supported his anger
but now that I've met all of you... well, a new perspective can change your point
of view in so many ways.”
“I'm relieved you got a new look at things,” Trevor gave her his lopsided
grin. “Because my perspective at the battle included you and Blue, and I'd rather
not go up against you two glowworms.”
We all chuckled as new guests were announced.
“Elena the Vampire Psychic and escort; Ajax Dimitriou...” Pinocchio
stopped and turned to Elena to murmur, “Do I really have to say that?”
Elena gave him an insistent look while Ajax simply looked like a man
headed to the gallows.
“Ajax Dimitriou,” Pinocchio went on in a slightly softer voice, “Vampire
Sex God.”
I choked on my Pan punch.
As Elena smugly walked in with her date, the room went quiet enough
that I was able to hear Re's exclamation as if he were standing right beside me.
“Blast it all, that's my title!”
“Re's the Vampire Sex God?” Trevor asked Kirill with a smirk.
“He vants to suck your-”
“Alright,” I cut Kirill off before he said what I suspected he was about to
say. “That's not fair, you already have the Russian accent. You barely have to
alter it to make it sound like Dracula.”
“Hey all you party people!” Elena exclaimed to us as she walked up.
“Hey, Vampire Psychic,” Trevor smiled and then looked at Ajax. “What's
up, Vamp-”
“Don't,” Ajax pointed his finger at Trevor.
Ajax was a big guy. He looked as if Eztli had plucked him right out of a
gladiatorial ring and turned him into a vamp because he was such a bad ass. He
had long, dirty-blonde hair and almost as much muscles as Thor. Still, this wasn't
enough to intimidate the Froekn Heir Apparent (and btw, I had no idea that was
Trevor's full title).
“Don't what, Sex God?” Trevor smirked.
“Elena, must you embarrass us wherever we go?” Eztli cut in before
Ajax could get angry.
“I bring the fun,” Elena was not at all embarrassed.
“Where's this psychic and her sex god?” Pan was practically jumping up
and down with joy as he approached us. “Hello! Such a pleasure to meet you,
Miss Psychic,” he shook Elena's hand vigorously before shaking Ajax's. “I'm a
sex god too, you know? You've come to the right place.”
“Really?” Elena frowned doubtfully. “Cause it looked like Peewee's
Playhouse out there.”
“Peewee?!” Pan huffed. “Are you insane? Did Peewee have a gigantic
sand castle? Did he have a snow globe bouncy house? No! Peewee has nothing
on the Pan!”
“Darling,” I drawled to Pan, “Disney has nothing on the Pan.”
“I love you, Vervain,” Pan threw himself at me and I caught him just in
the nick of time. “Have I ever told you that?”
Pan's face had conveniently landed between my breasts and he stared up
at me with supreme satisfaction. His little pointed chin was tapping my sternum
and his boyish face was framed by the violet velvet of my dress. He settled in
against me as if he intended to stay there forever. Then came the growling.
“Pan, I think you'd better run,” I whispered.
He shifted his eyes side to side and caught the menacing leers of my
husbands.
“I gotta go handle something over there!” Pan leaped back and rushed
off. “Way over there!”
Trevor and Kirill stalked after him, tracking their prey through the maze
of people slowly but steadily.
A few moments later we heard Pan squeak, “I don't care what you do to
me; it was worth it!”
“Some sex god,” Ajax rolled his eyes.
“You're Greek, right? Dimitriou sounds like a Greek name.” I asked Ajax
as Odin sidled up to me.
It was like my men could sense when there was a husband vacuum and
one of them would immediately rush to fill it.
“Yes,” Ajax looked at me warily.
“Don't you know who that was?” I kept my tone casual.
“A pervert?” He offered.
Odin and Blue both looked away and muffled their laughter.
“That was the Pan,” I took great joy in announcing. “The Greek God of
the Wilds.”
“The one with the caves for temples and all the gorgeous women
flocking around? Nymphs and pipes and hooves; that Pan?” Ajax gaped at me.
“That's the Pan,” I nodded.
“Ba! I just met Pan!” Ajax turned to Elena in shock.
“I get the joke but Pan's affiliated with goats, not sheep,” Re said as he
joined us.
“Well, flocks,” I offered.
“Oh yes, you're right,” Re kissed me on the cheek and then looked back
to Ajax. “Go ahead and baa all you wish.”
“Ba is a Greek expression of amazement,” Elena explained while she
chuckled. “Lighten up, big guy,” she elbowed the glowering Ajax. “That was
funny. I told you, you shouldn't use that word around non-Greeks. What did I
say?”
“That I would sound like a little lamb,” he recounted in a petulant tone.
“And you would have to rename yourself Mary.”
“Exactly,” she nodded smugly. Then she leaned forward towards me,
held her hand up to her mouth to block Ajax, and whispered, “That's why I gotta
tell everybody how good he is in bed. Not too bright, this one.”
“Elena, I can hear you,” Ajax growled.
She winked at me and then straightened, “Hear what, sweetie?”
Ajax sighed deeply and looked to Re, “She's amazing in bed too, which
is why I put up with all of this...,” he waved his hand generally at Elena,
“nonsense.”
“Nonsense am I?” Elena scowled at Ajax.
“My friend,” Re laid a hand on Ajax's shoulder sympathetically. “Might I
recommend bondage?”
I choked on Pan punch again.
“We've already done that,” Elena said smugly. “It was fantastic.”
I gaped at her as I wiped my wet chin.
“And a ball gag,” Re added thoughtfully.
“Hmm,” Ajax nodded while Elena sputtered. “Good idea.”
“Just a suggestion from one sex god to another,” Re smiled.
“Is this room full of sex gods?” Ajax lifted his brows.
“Nope, just this group,” I rolled my eyes and then looked consideringly
at Odin. “Actually, that's pretty accurate.”
“It helps to have magic hands,” Odin chuckled.
“And tongues,” I agreed.
“I'm sorry,” Elena stopped sputtering and honed in on me. “Did you just
say tongues... plural?”
“Magic is a marvelous thing,” I waggled my brows at her.
“Do you have any brothers?” She asked Odin in complete seriousness.
Ajax pulled her away to the dance floor as we laughed.
“So marriage is working well for all of you?” Blue asked.
“All but one of us,” Re said before I could answer.
“Yes, it's wonderful actually,” I gave Re a quelling glance.
“And your new sons are well?” Eztli asked.
“Um,” I shared a look with Odin, “yeah, they're great. Exhausting but
great.”
“Children,” she mused. “We've been discussing the possibility.”
“Can vampires have children?” Odin asked politely.
“No,” Eztli sent a sympathetic look towards her friend. “But I'm more
than a vampire now.”
“Children,” I thought about the future I'd been to and couldn't remember
Blue mentioning them. But that didn't mean he didn't have them or that he
couldn't have them in this new timeline. “Yes, I think you'd make an excellent
father.”
“That's quite a different opinion from the one you had before,” Blue
teased me.
“You're quite a different man than the one you were before,” I shot back
and then noticed Eztli's sharp gaze. “And now you're finally with the woman
who was meant to be mother to your children.”
Eztli gave a grim laugh and shook her head. “It's rather ironic to hear you
say that, after our history together.”
“Blue isn't the only one who's changed,” I offered. “And from what I
understand, you've already played the role of mother to your vampires. Stepping
into the role of biological mother shouldn't be too hard for you.”
“I hadn't thought of it like that,” she gave me a soft smile and then
transferred the look to Blue. “Perhaps we should try.”
Blue's face lit up with a radiant smile as he pulled her into his side. “I
didn't think I could be any happier than I already was,” he kissed her temple.
“It may not happen,” she warned him.
“And that's fine too,” he said. “For now, let's not worry about it, let's
simply dance.” He stepped back and held his hand out to her.
“Just steer us away from Elena,” Eztli said as she took his hand and let
him lead her out to the dance floor.
A tinkling sound caught our attention and we all looked toward the high
table where Pan was standing, striking his crystal goblet with a spoon.
“Everyone! Hey!” Pan called and the room went silent. “Thank you. I
just wanted to make a toast to the happy couple,” he waved his hand towards
Hekate, who looked beautiful in a Victorian inspired black lace dress, and Horus
who was wearing a tailored tuxedo with a black bow tie... and a wary expression.
“Horus and I have been friends for a long time. We have an odd relationship; a
sort of comedic antipathy, but as anyone who truly knows us is aware; Horus is
the best friend I've ever had.” Pan went serious and stopped to give Horus a
sweet smile. Miracle of miracles, Horus smiled back. “He's a great guy, don't let
his Horus persona fool you,” we all chuckled at the face Horus made. “And he's
always been there for me; whether I needed a kick in the ass or a helping hand
up after he kicked me in the ass. I...” he swallowed hard. “I couldn't have picked
a better woman for him than Hekate. She's brought my friend back to life and put
a smile on his face again... something I've been trying to do for centuries. But
evidently, I didn't have the right equipment for the job,” another pause was filled
with laughter and much Horus scowling. “But in all seriousness, I'd like to make
this toast,” Pan lifted his glass and the room mimicked him. “To Horus and
Hekate, may they always make each other smile.”
“To Horus and Hekate!” The room echoed and we all drank.
I looked around me and saw that my husbands had closed in and our little
group was complete again. Even Re was standing within the circle, accepted, at
least for the moment. I regarded each man, noting that they all made me smile as
Hekate did for Horus, but they each had their own way of doing so. It was truly
the secret to a lasting relationship. Pan had shown his brilliance with that toast.
Love lasted as long as you made each other smile.
I lifted my glass to my men and they seemed to know exactly what I was
thinking. I suppose four out of the five of them did. They lifted their glasses to
mine and we had our own private toast. No words needed to be said, real
happiness doesn't need to boast, we just clicked our glasses, drank deeply, and
smiled.


Grammar Giggles
And just for a little giggle, here are some grammar mistakes found by me
and my editor Michelle Hoffman, during the editing of this book
The correct line: Then, around the edges, were several beds of all different
styles, all of them full of naked, writhing couples.
The mistake: Then, around the edges, were several beds of all different styles, all
of them full of naked, writing couples.

The correct line: I ran my hand down the slick wall.
The mistake: I ran man hand down the slick wall.

The correct line: “I'm not the most knowledgeable about the Jehovah religions
but I thought I'd heard that there were four?”
The mistake: “I'm not the most knowledgeable about the Jehovah religions but I
thought I'd heart that there were four?”

The correct line: “Everywhere I look something unusual pops up... even the
sand,”
The mistake: “Everywhere I look something usual pops up... even the sand,”

The correct line: “Vervain told us how Dexter didn't leave Arach's side after she
died in that wrong future?”
The mistake: “Vervain told us how Dexter didn't left Arach's side after she died
in that wrong future?”

The correct line: She was wily, that one.
The mistake: She was willy, that one. (Evidently Nefertari was a willy)

The correct line: Except instead of phone calls passing through the vein, it's
souls.”
The mistake: Except instead of phone calls passing through the vein, it's
souls.”014 (Michelle wrote in her notes, “I'm not sure what this number is for.”
Neither am I, Michelle, neither am I.)

And please feel free to write me at vervainlavine@yahoo.com if you spot any
grammar errors yourself. I'm a poor self-published author who must rely on the
kindness of my super-smart friends for help in editing. Please have mercy on my
writing.

Keep reading for a sneak peek into the next book in the Godhunter Series:

As the Crow Flies


Chapter One


So many of my friends were getting married. It was wonderful, really it
was. I had thoroughly enjoyed Blue and Eztli's wedding, despite the nasty looks
Morvran had given me. He was dead now anyway, so it didn't matter. Oh damn, I
probably shouldn't be thinking about death at a faerie wedding, and a royal one
at that.
I looked around the crowded ballroom of Castle Under, called so because
it was in the city of Under, twin city to Water, which was of course located in the
Faerie Sea, above Under. Castle Under was actually only half a castle. The other
half of the castle was Castle Water, in the city of Water which was significantly
wetter than Under. The Water King was a close friend of mine and he was
marrying another friend of mine, Nora, who had once been a fire phooka. Now,
thanks to Faerie, she's a water phooka but she's still a bit uncomfortable in the
water. So the royal wedding was taking place in the dry Castle Under instead of
Castle Water.
There had been a lot of concern over this since traditionally water royals
were married in Castle Water. But Guirmean had got around this tradition by
blaming the High King. It was my suggestion. He didn't want his fey to think
less of their new queen for not having the fish balls to get married in water,
literally in water. So I suggested that Guirmean tell them all he was holding the
ceremony in Under for the comfort of the High King. This worked amazingly
well since no one wanted to make the High King of Faerie uncomfortable.
Personally, I was grateful to not have to attend an underwater wedding,
just an Under wedding. Even with my breathing pearl, I just wasn't comfortable
in the water. Probably because I was a dragon-sidhe and we were fire fey. It was
bad enough that we'd had to tromp through the sandy crystal tubes all the way to
Under, which was in the heart of the Faerie Ocean, under billions of tons of
water. This was the exact opposite of a no pressure situation; there was literally
tons of pressure pushing on Under's stone sky.
Actually, now that I was in the city, it wasn't so bad. It was the getting
there that had been traumatizing. Walking through the tubes felt like being in a
surreal world where the roles of fish and humans had been reversed. We were in
the bowl and the fish were outside. Except our bowl was a long tube which the
fish could swim along the outside of and watch me to their heart's content. Scary,
monstrous fish with human faces.
Ugh! Forget about the fish, Vervain. I focused on the beautiful room with
its pearl-studded walls and mosaic shell floor. Swaths of fabric in shimmering
pale blue ran the length of the room, draped between columns of glass. Within
the glass, fish swam, so there went the whole forgetting about fishes thing. I
rolled my eyes in despair.
“The hollow columns run all the way up to Castle Water,” Arach
whispered to me when he saw where my attention laid. “It's a way of uniting the
castles.”
“Great,” I grimaced. “So if one of those things were to break, the entire
Faerie Sea would come rushing in.”
“That's fey crystal, it won't break, A Thaisce,” he chuckled as he gently
rocked the sleeping Rian. “Just a little longer, and then we can leave.”
We'd decided to bring the babies along for their first royal event. So
instead of his usual outfit of a simple fey diaper, Rian was wearing an elaborate
green velvet tunic which matched the scales at his temples. It wasn't that we
didn't like dressing him up, he just tended to shift into his dragon shape so much
that it became a waste of good clothing. Brevyn, on the other hand, was used to
wearing finery. He was perfectly comfortable in his baby blue silk tunic and
white leather pants. He looked like a miniature knight and he was the perfect
thing to distract me from the fish. I lifted him closer and nuzzled the soft blonde
halo of hair on his head.
“Just a little longer my patootie,” I whispered in my sing-song mommy
voice. “We haven't even got to the ceremony yet.”
“It will be fast,” Arach assured me. “Recall our own ceremony, it was
less than ten minutes.”
“Alright,” I grumbled. “That's one thing I'll give the Fey, they know how
to make events short and sweet.”
“Sometimes,” he leaned in and kissed me. “But sometimes we like to
take our time.”
Music started before I could respond and everyone turned to look down
the aisle. Arach and I were with the other royals at the front of the room, right
before the dais where Guirmean stood. He looked very majestic in his faerie
raiments; his deep blue skin was complimented by the rusty pumpkin color of
his tunic and the dark brown leather of his pants. Over his shoulders, a long cape
of water was laid. Yep, water. Frickin' faeries loved using magic to make
elements into pieces of clothing. So Guirmean's cape fell in literal liquid glory
around him. Basically he was wearing a waterfall and his pastel green hair laid
across it like seaweed on the surf.
Sitting beside me and Arach was Lorna, mother to Guirmean's son,
Prince Morgan. And beside her was Darius, one of my lions and Lorna's lover.
Yeah, it was a weird situation but everyone got along, which was more than I
could say for me and Queen Aalish. The Earth royals were seated across the
aisle from us due to the well known animosity between me and the Earth Queen.
The Air royals were seated beside them to keep them company but the High
Queen was with us. Probably because the High Queen was once a fire faerie.
High Queen Meara was a leanan-sidhe, from the House of Fire, and
although she hadn't physically changed, technically she was a spirit fey since she
had married Cian and become a member of the High Royal Family that ruled all
of Faerie. Still, she knew where she came from and had requested to sit with us
while her husband conducted the marriage ceremony. Plus, I think she wanted to
be near the babies and even now had Prince Morgan on her lap, cooing at the
little prince.
But she stopped cooing when the music began and we all stood to watch
Nora come walking up the aisle escorted by her father, Albion. Albion was of
course a fire phooka but he was beyond proud to escort his daughter to her soon-
to-be water fey husband. Nora's mother, Sonasag, was at the end of our row,
right beside the High Queen, and she was already crying happy tears.
Nora looked amazing. She may have got her wish to have the ceremony
in the dry ballroom of Castle Under but Nora was still getting married in water.
Her dress matched Guirmean's cloak and frothed about her in a liquid mimicry
of a bridal gown. A pale blue underdress showed through some of the thin areas
but most of the outfit was moving too quickly to be transparent. It was accented
with bits of cream colored lace and the veil that trailed over her dark hair was
made solely of the fabric, so that it draped behind her on the watery train of her
dress like beautiful flotsam. She wore a necklace of pearls but no tiara, that
space was reserved for the water crown.
I beamed at her as she passed by us but her eyes were set on Guirmean
and they were shining with happiness behind that lacey veil. Her father helped
her up the steps and her mother rushed forward to take her massive bouquet of
fey water flowers from her. Sonasag came back to her seat with her husband
escorting her and we all slid over to make room for the father of the bride.
The High King came forward and just as he opened his mouth to start the
ceremony, Brevyn opened his eyes and slapped me. Okay, he didn't exactly slap
me but he smacked his palm into my cheek forcefully. It was one of those baby
slaps except his had psychic intent behind it and was very purposeful.
We'd recently discovered that my sons had been born with two souls.
Brevyn had a god and a human soul while Rian had a faerie essence and a
human soul. This would have affects on my children that we weren't entirely
sure of yet. However, we were sure that Brevyn had a god magic which was
brand new; the magic of Borrowing. He could copy anyone's magical ability and
use it for as long as he wished. Because he also had a human soul, he was even
able to copy fey magic. And due to this constant questing magic of his, Brevyn
also had a psychic gift. We believe it was meant to help him choose which magic
to borrow but lately he'd been using it to show me all manner of strangeness...
and usually at the most inopportune moments.
“A Thaisce?” Arach whispered to me but that was the last thing I heard
from the real world.
I fell into Brevyn's vision; a world of fluttering shadows. I squinted into
the dark and flinched as something brushed my face. A cry sounded, a horrible
screeching cry that made me shiver. Then came the slapping sound of something
moving through water. Splash, splash, thwack. Whatever it was, it landed hard,
as if it were thrown. The shadows continued to screech and move about me but
slowly, they started to separate and I saw that they weren't shadows at all. They
were birds, lots of big, black birds.
Wings beat madly as the birds swarmed upward and surged through a
bright blue sky. I stared at them as they circled overhead. Their cries continued
to fill my ears but they faded the further up the birds went until it was just a
background murmur, sounding strangely like sobbing. I blinked up at the rustling
shapes, sunlight streaming through them, and pondered what they had to do with
me.
“They're crows,” a woman said from somewhere nearby.
I gave a start and looked towards the voice. She was old and hunched,
bent even further while she washed a black jacket in the river that rushed by her.
We were standing on a flat plain. The grass of the fields looked dead, almost
completely brown in spots, despite the wealth of water which ran through it. The
sky seemed cold suddenly, a winter sky without clouds, and the river was crusted
with ice.
Still, the old woman swished the fabric through the water and pulled it
out to slap against a flat stone before her. Splash, splash, thwack. Splash, splash,
thwack. She didn't even spare me a glance.
“What did you say?” I asked her.
“Crows,” she muttered, angry at having to repeat herself. “They're
carrion crows. Stupid girl,” she made tsking sounds to herself.
I looked again at the field, peered closer at the grass, and saw that it
wasn't dying at all. It was simply covered in death. The brown patches were
dried blood and when I lifted my gaze to the horizon, I saw the outline of a pile
of corpses. Some of the crows were perched upon them, feasting.
“Where are we?” I whispered.
“Nowhere,” the old woman said conversationally, satisfied that I was
finally paying attention. “This is nowhere but it is still somewhere important.”
“What happened here?”
“Battle, girl!” She snapped. “What do you think happened? People will
die. Not yet, no, not quite yet, but soon. Oh yes,” splash, splash, thwack. “Soon,”
she lifted the cloth to her face and inspected the torn fabric. “Almost out. Almost
clean. Almost.”
“I know that coat,” I walked towards her slowly. “That's my husband's
jacket.”
“Is it now?” She cackled.
“What are you doing with it?” I demanded.
“Washing out the blood,” she shook her head at the coat and stuck it back
in the water. “That's what I do. I wash and I warn. I warn and I wash but no one
ever listens.” She lowered her voice to a mutter again, “Why don't they ever
listen?”
“I'm listening,” I insisted. “Why does my husband's coat have blood on
it?”
“Because he's going to die,” she turned to me and cackled. Her eyes were
sightless gray but I knew she could see me. This woman could see more than
most. She continued to laugh as the birds swooped down from the sky and
surged around me.
“When?!” I screeched. “How? Tell me! Give me your warning!”
“As the crow flies, my dear! As the crow flies.”
I jerked out of the vision, my heart racing as I found myself staring into
Brevyn's eyes again. My skin was freezing even though Arach was leaning in
against me, one arm around me as he tried to surround me while still holding
Rian. Brevyn looked calm for just a moment and then he opened his mouth to
take a deep breath. He screamed with such terror that the whole room went quiet
and stared at us. Rian woke up and began screaming too, which then sent
Morgan to screaming.
“My apologies,” Arach stood and helped me to my feet. “Please
continue, I'm so sorry for the disturbance.”
He led me out of the row of seats and then out of the room. Lorna
followed after us with the wailing Morgan, and Darius followed after her.
“In here,” Lorna opened a door off the hallway and ushered us into a
sitting room. “Shh now,” she bounced Morgan, who had already started to calm.
Arach and I had a harder time with our twins but after a few minutes, we
were able to get the boys quiet again and they soon fell back into exhausted
slumbers.
“What did you see?” Arach already knew what had transpired, he'd seen
Brevyn share his visions with me often enough to recognize the signs.
“See?” Darius asked.
“Brevyn has been showing me visions,” I explained but it was hard to
speak around the lump of fear lodged in my throat.
“Visions?” Lorna asked softly and gave her son a fake smile. “Visions,”
she repeated in a happy voice, widening her already massive blue eyes at him
until he giggled.
“Of the future,” I whispered and sat heavily on a couch. “Sometimes of
the past.”
“What did you see, Vervain?” Arach laid Rian on the couch beside me
and then knelt before me.
“A washer woman,” I swallowed hard and looked into his dragon eyes.
“What?” He frowned. “A bean-nighe?”
“No, she wasn't a faerie,” I took a deep breath, trying to hold it together.
Don't scream, don't scream, nothing's happened yet. It was only a warning,
remember? It can be stopped. Can't it? “She was... I don't know; a goddess
perhaps?”
“I don't know of any goddess washers,” Arach frowned. “But if she was a
washer, it means only one thing.”
“Whomever's clothes she was washing will die,” Lorna finished and
Morgan started to whine. “It's okay,” she said brightly. “It was just a vision, yes
it was,” she cooed at him.
“Vervain,” Arach took my hands and flinched when he felt how cold they
were.
He slid Brevyn from my arms and laid him beside his brother before
returning to me. He put my palms between his and focused his fire into me. I
took a relieved breath as my temperature went back up. Why hadn't I thought to
do that?
“She's in shock,” Darius came into view, his turquoise eyes going dark
with concern. “Tima focus, tell us what happened. Whose clothes was she
washing?”
“Kirill's,” I burst into tears.
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About the Author

Amy Sumida lives on an island in the Pacific Ocean where gods can still be
found. She sleeps in a fairy bed, high in the air, with two gravity-defying felines
and upon waking, enjoys stabbing people with little needles, over and over,
under the guise of making pretty pictures on their skin. She, like Vervain, has no
filter but has been fortunate enough to find friends who appreciate this... or at
least tell her they do. She aspires to someday become a crazy cat lady, sitting on
her rocker on her front porch and guarding her precious kitties with a shotgun
loaded with rock salt. She bellydances and paints pictures on her walls but is
happiest with her nose stuck in a book, her mind in a different world than this
one, filled with fantastical men who unfortunately don't exist in our mundane
reality. Thank the gods for fantasy.

For information on new releases, detailed character descriptions, and a
in-depth look at the worlds of Godhunter and the Twilight Court, check out
Amy's website;
http://www.amysumida.com/
You can find her on facebook at:
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Series/323778160998617?ref=hl
On Twitter under @Ashstarte
On Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7200339.Amy_Sumida
And you can find her entire collection of books, along with some
personal recommendations, at her Amazon store:
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