Children of the Gods: Arc 2 [Game/Closed]

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People were walking onto the raft, although a few remained on the plane, still talking. They would move soon, though, and hopefully, get away. Andrew sighed as Aria and Remus spoke, everyone was obviously tired. He still didn't say anything, people seemed as if they would react offended to even the friendliest words. Besides, Andrew didn't have a motivation anymore, it would take some time to regain position, to make people trust him, and lower their guards.

Why do I even bother? Sometimes, I don't know.

He didn't care about other people, most of the time. He got along with them, through lies and deceit, because humans disliked what was different. Although he had no intention of actually joining Loki, he realized that the only thing stopping him from wanting that was morals. Morals he had because of society. There hadn't been any personal objections, nor did he find it a stupid thing to do, in a different situation. He felt no guilt, or shame considering this, but the only reason he had been so sure of that he was lying was because killing was wrong. According to the law.

I should be more opposed to it, the very least. Else I wouldn't have had those... wrong thoughts. But that was stress. Besides, killing is necessary now. Killing innocents people, however, is not. But is this why I'm not trying to make people trust me again?

No, that wasn't why he was feeling off. He just didn't feel like it was worth it, for the first time in his life. Then again, when was the last time he had lost face in front of people like that?

Not like I'm the only one acting off, almost no one reacted at all to the slaughter inside there. There is a limit to what one can get used to, and stomach, for most people. Should I even bother trying to keep this up? Or could I finally just act like I feel like?

He would decide after some rest. Perhaps find a bar, and a random woman drunk enough to consider a one-night stand. Sure, most weren't worth trying to persuade, but if he wanted to, he could easily find someone willing. Or make them willing, flatter them with nice words, seduce them, and convince them it would be great. If he told them he was a soon to be surgeon, and proved it by showing his knowledge, they trusted him more easily. Everyone trusts a doctor, after all. It wouldn't be the first time he had done that outside the US, and he had a feeling it wouldn't be the last. Even if it turned out that most didn't understand much English.

Provided, of course, they managed to avoid getting found by someone.

Nicole had been buckled up when they started their descent, and worked her way calmly out of the downed plane. She climbed into the life raft and looked around at everyone, Vera seemed exhausted but otherwise unharmed, good, heh I guess holding up an entire plane is hard work. She made a mental note to thank and congratulate her when she was more awake, after all Vera had pretty much saved them all from a much messier landing.

She felt bad about abandoning the plane to sink, she realized it was better if Dio thought they might be dead, but she hoped they managed to salvage the plane and ID the bodies. The families of those people deserved some amount of closure at least. She wondered how fast the raft would move, and considered getting out to push it while flying. Probably not a good idea, people will already be watching after the plane went down, glowing angel wings would be too easy to spot.

"I'm sorry. Just lay back down, you can get some shuteye now that you're on the raft." Remus said, coaxing a shaking of Vera's head. "Don't be. You're right we need to get out of here... just don't expect any wind power for your raft." Vera said, clearing Remus of any sense of guilt he might have had. Vera crawled into a sitting position in the corner of a raft. She might not be able to move much, but she could still keep an eye out for the coast guard.

Turning to Aria, Vera smiled and spoke up. "Thanks for the help; I guess that makes us even huh?" she said with tired laugh; recalling the incident in Gaia's chamber. Then, more quietly so that Remus wouldn't overhear, she added "and thanks for chewing out Remus for me; if you hadn't I would have. That said, please cut him some slack; none of us have it easy."

"Thanks for the help; I guess that makes us even huh?"Vera said to her as Aria leaned against the edge of the raft next to Vera "I guess it does" Aria said with a giggle "Never did thank you for that though, sorry, and thank you" "and thanks for chewing out Remus for me; if you hadn't I would have. That said, please cut him some slack; none of us have it easy." Vera then followed with in a low tone, Aria just nodded, she could have a little less mean about it, but still, needed to be said.

"So, who has the neat-o super power to propel a boat?"

The plane came down on the water, jolting Abe around in his seat. Everyone heaved themselves up and out into the freshly prepared life raft. Able walked off of the plane, his eyes fixed on his feet as he tried to block out the grizzly sights around him. Even so, patches of red stained carpet clinged to his boots as he walked through the carnage. However much Able tried to block it out and deny it, he kept catching glimpses of them. The murdered passangers. So many innocent people, families, people younger than them.

How many of them had people waiting for them somewhere in the world? Oh God.

Able found a spot on the raft and hoped they'd get to land soon.

With the group on the raft, Prometheus found four paddles, and gave the extra three to Remus, Nicole and Able. The beach of Sicily wasn't too far off; an hour or two's paddle, though it would have been nice if Vera could summon some wind. He turned to the group as he paddled.

"When we get to the beach, speak to no-one. It's best if we make for the vineyard ASAP; no rest for the wicked and all that. Andrew, see if you can find some food in one of the supply bags next to your foot."

Looking down at Vera, collapsed on the boat, he laughed.

"A bit tired are we? Don't worry; you can take a breather. I'm impressed by you."

So the group paddled their lonely little boat towards Sicily; leaving the wreckage of the plane to begin sinking into oblivion. High upon a distant mountain, he spied a white pillar of marble, gleaming in the sun. Under his breath, he mumbled.

The pillar of Victorious Nike. Here's hoping she doesn't want a family reunion.

"I am surprised we haven't been spotted," Steven start to say, the figured out how much he was tempting fate and regretted it. Although, now that he thought about it...

"Prometheus, do the Fates exist?" Steven asked, looking around the ocean to make sure there wasn't a military cruiser of universal irony after them, "I never let Hep... my father really explain how much of the myths are true. Since we ran into Loki, and I did take basic science classes, I know that things like the creation myths cannot fully be true."

"When we get to the beach, speak to no-one. It's best if we make for the vineyard ASAP; no rest for the wicked and all that. Andrew, see if you can find some food in one of the supply bags next to your foot."

Andrew nodded, and went to look for food. Although it wasn't a lot, shared over all of them, it should be enough. "Here," he muttered. "I'm not hungry, but the rest of you should eat." He knew that he should have something, not eating at this point was stupid. Yet he didn't want to, some part of him thought it was him making up to the rest, but that would be stupid.

No matter what they think, I helped. What I did helped.

It was better than taunting them, for a slight second there, it had worked. He handed over the food to the others, he was smiling, but he barely made an effort. He still hadn't decided what to choose, but if anyone spotted the emotion underneath, he would just look tired, probably. After all, what other emotion was there?

Prometheus froze mid-paddle at Stevens question, then shrugged it off and continued. A strange and probing question, one that the Titan felt he should answer as best as he could.

"You mean the three sisters that spin the Golden thread? Yes they do. However, if you're asking me whether Fate as a deterministic concept exists...I don't know. I don't like to think about it; does my head in."

After his answer, he gladly accepted a little food from Andrew, giving him a nod of approval. Turning away to face the Island, he spoke nonchalantly.

"Was that a smile I saw, Andrew?"

Aria just kept look out, taking a bit of food offered by Andrew but other wise keeping to her self unless she saw something and so far she did not. She wasn't really 'heart broken', after all She and Dan hadn't really had time to get that close, so she didn't know if she loved him or was just grabbing on to the first person to show interest in her out of desperation. Ether way she was disappointed and down he was gone, all she really had left now was this mission, she in all honesty, didn't really care about.

Nicole took the paddle and got to work, she had never rowed before but it wasn't too hard to figure out. She glanced at the column in the distance, Prommy said my mom had a temple here, I wonder if that's it... Might be nice to visit I suppose, see if she can help at all, but I doubt I'll get the chance. She shook her head, telling herself she didn't even want a family reunion anyways, and went back to paddling.

Before long a question occurred to her, and she turned towards Prometheus "You said that Dio could sense if any of the gods went after him, why couldn't you sense that Loki was on that plane? You're sort of a god aren't you?" she said, somewhat curious about Prommy's abilities.

The waves lapped against the side of the raft and the bleeding plane sank silently into the dark waters. Able paddled on with all his strength, trying to ignore the idle chatter that was going on around him in the raft. They had to gt to shore quickly, while they still had steam. If they could get to land, get to the winery and finish it. Any question of how they'd off Dio could wait. After all they'd just beaten one god through improvising with little injury.

Except Dan.

No. Dwelling wouldn't help anyone. He had to look forward, this was a time for tunnel vision. All he had to do was make sure that everyone survived this. After that Able could think properly on what had happened.

Andrew was passing food around and making a very visible effort to seem selfless. Was it real, or a PR move to try and win the others over after what had happened on the plane with Loki? Able had barely 'spoken' to him, he couldn't say he knew the man. But still... there was something about him. Able couldn't put his finger on it, there was just something that he found off putting about their resident medic. Like he could never really tell where he stod with Andrew.

Probably doesn't matter. This'll be over soon and we'll never see each other again anyway.

"Was that a smile I saw, Andrew?"

"Yeah." He smiled a bit more, in case the question was because of his lack of effort before. "It was. It's just not that easy to do, right now." He wasn't lying, just leaving out the details, not saying that it was more because he felt like dropping the act completely, than because of the countless murdered in the plane they were leaving behind. Which no one had really talked about.

I suppose that's not a topic anyone wants to bring up. After all we have to hurry, to see if we can get Dionysus. I do doubt he'd still be where he was before. If Loki knew where we was, then it is probably the same with Dionysus. And even if we reached him, because he thought Loki would just kill us off without trouble, who is to say that he won't just easily overpower us?

He didn't say aloud what was on his mind. Either the others had already thought the same, or they were too stupid to get it, and that would only lead to an argument, which was the last thing they needed. Still, the only ones who could something would be the ones with energy left, and he wasn't part of that group.

"Don't be. You're right we need to get out of here... just don't expect any wind power for your raft." Remus smiled and nodded at Vera. He took the paddle which Prometheus handed to him and slunk its head against the water. Gripping the other end, wheeling his arms back and forth, he propelled the raft across the water.

"Here, I'm not hungry, but the rest of you should eat." Remus turned his head to see Andrew had gathered together some scraps of food. Feeling his stomach growl, Remus realized that he hadn't properly eaten in some time. "Would be a bad idea to let hunger impair my energy at a time like this..." He met the doctor's smile with a bright one of his own. "Thanks." Remus said, then took a small bar. He had a few wolfish bites at the thing before it was gone.

As he kept paddling his eyes were set on the white pillar that loomed in the distance. "A temple to Nike, eh? What an odd coincidence for us to crash here." It was probably more than mere coincidence though. "I suppose it would have been too much to hope for an altar to Mars, but still, meeting any friendly deity will be a welcome change of pace."

Day 6: Early evening

You're a God aren't you...

Prometheus chuckled, dipping his paddle into the water, bringing them closer and closer to the beach. The sandy golden shores were devoid of life; not a tourist spot, nor a popular beach. It was short and concave, a little harbor that sheltered the sand from the whipping wind.

The water became more calm as they drew up along the beach. Prometheus took off his boots and rolled up his pants, stepping into the shallow water, leading the boat to the beach.

"No. I am not a God, nor could I sense Loki's presence. I'm a Titan; a proto-God. My gift is wisdom. And the flame that I stole."

He flicked a small flame into the water, instantly steaming and fizzling. The boat snugged to a stop in the sand, and Prometheus grabbed his pack and supply bag.

"Let's go. We need to find somewhere to crash for the night. And figure out where this farm is."

Aria grabbed her back pack and blinked off the raft and up to the top of a near by rock to have a look and see if there was anyone at all near by that might have saw them. "I don't like this, a plane just went down, where is every one?" she said after the raft was on shore and the group was piling off it.

"Let's go. We need to find somewhere to crash for the night. And figure out where this farm is."

"I suggest we find some motel and pretend to be cheap tourists. Hopefully, we can find somebody who accepts dollars, unless somebody brought Euros," Steven said as he stepped out of the raft, "I say we rip up the raft, burn it a bit, and throw it up to sea. If the authorities find it, they may assume it just broke off from the crash. Also, can any of you speak Italian?"

Day 8: Midday

The group had burned the raft and made a beeline towards the nearest motel. It was a tourist put-up, for backpackers, and offered one large room with bunk beds. Nothing luxurious, but it gave them a chance to rest. They spent the day after the crash recuperating, making idle chit-chat with people that came and went, but generally keeping to themselves.

Prometheus kept an eye on the Pillar of Nike the whole time. The locals whispered of sightings; winged figures and secret rituals, kept under heavy watch by the local authorities. Something was amiss.

They made their way cautiously to the farm, sneaking past the casual police, and into the vineyard. The place smelt of death and wine. The stench was strongest from within the distillery. The guards had their backs turned, expecting to keep people out, rather than in.

With one hand on the door, he turned to the group, ready and waiting. The Pillar stood tall in the distance. A small flock of black birds flew in their direction; a bad omen, if one was superstitious. He hoped to get this over and done with quickly. Surely there would be a sign.


Remus wasn't in a good mood to say the least. Since arriving to Sicily, he had been hearing nothing but bad news. Nothing specific, but enough to feed his gnawing worries again. Rumours about suicide cults throughout the country had gotten him beyond frustrated. Remus had spent all of yesterday and the morning today in a sour mood, keeping mostly to himself to trying to avoid speaking with the others.

And their operation today wasn't exactly helping his mood. Prometheus had them sneak into a vineyard, one guarded by the local police for that matter, for reasons unexplained to him. Worse still was when he picked up the scent of death and alcohol in the air. "We're heading into the wolf's den and this asshole won't even tell us what we're trying to do." he thought, glaring at Prometheus. Remus mentally groaned when he spied dark birds flying overheard. "A rotten auspice. Rotten, rotten, rotten..." Prometheus may not have told them what they were hoping to find in the vineyard, but it was no doubt something horrible.

"Ready?" Remus scowled at the question. "Do you really need to ask? Let's get in there already."

Although he hadn't gotten the chance to head to a bar, the time Andrew had spent resting, and the time he had spent away from the others, just being alone, had given him more motivation to keep his mask. After all, he had worn it for almost twenty years, why should he stop now?

Perhaps because the world is ending?

They were trying to prevent that.

So, because the world might end, then. It doesn't matter, there's many benefits to keeping it up, and none to let it go.

And now, they were going to enter the wine yard. What would they find? Andrew wasn't sure, but it would probably not be Dionysus, and it would definitely not be pretty.


"Yeah," he said, and kept smiling. He supposed he should be worried, by normal standards, but he wasn't going to pretend that he was.


Nicole only nodded, she hadn't done much more than follow the others since they had reached the shore, since they had gotten to Sicily she found herself worried what Dio's plan was, and what it would involve. More specifically if it involved her mother in any way, after all Dio had corrupted Gaia, mother of the titans, who knew what else he was capable of. As little as she knew her mother though she doubted that Nike would join Dio, which was a small comfort at least, one god was bad enough and Dio already had at least Loki.

She threw a glance towards Remus, it had to be eating at him even worse, this was his homeland after all. She hoped his family was safe at least. If Dio is targeting our families... she shook the thought from her head, no I can't think about that, I need to focus.

Aria had spent the evening at the bar, making small talk with the locals, as well as getting hit on by a few people, none of it went anywhere but it made her feel better, after that she got something to eat and then went to bed.

The next morning was all hustle as the got ready to move out. Apparently the farm in question was under the guard of the local police, which seemed less attentive then they should have been, but that's not what bothered her. The smell bothered her, it could only be described as 'death and bad booze'. The group made they're way to one of the buildings, and Prometheus readied to open the door, in clear violation of standard 'breaching protocols', but she nodded when asked if she was ready.

Prometheus pushed the door open, then recoiled at the smell, throwing his sleeve infront of his nose. He gagged.
"By Kronos, I have never smelt such death!"

The dim light from stained-glass windows threw shadows across the rooms, across the bloodied and broken corpses of several people. They were gathered around a large marble jug, about 3 feet high, that was full of blood, entrails and red wine. Surveying the room, there was another door opposite to them, that lead into the boiler room. To either side of the corpses were racks and racks of wine; all unlabelled, suspended in 10 foot high racks. The ceiling was high, enough for a second level, though there was none. The scene was gruesome, and as the group stepped in, a gust of wind accompanied them.

A strange voice cut over the silence.

So much death...

From out of the shadows stepped a slender woman, adorned in a cloak of black feathers. Her eyes were pitch black, and she had the strange semblance of Etna. Under her fine cloak she wore a tight, black jacket and a long skirt. Her hair was full of curious things; feathers, small bones, tiny vials. Her lips were pale and drawn.

Prometheus was wary, neither stepping forward or back, simply staring. The woman circled the bodies, nudging the corpses with her feet, studying them with keen eyes.

"Who are you, what do you want from us?"

She snapped her head towards the titan and frowned.

[i]From you? Nothing. From the young ones, something, perhaps, something hidden. Where...where...[i]

When Prometheus opened the door, Remus too sucked in the foul aroma of death. He placed a hand over his nose before his nostrils had to endure any more of such a powerful stench. As he stepped through he beheld a barely-lit chamber with a bloody red jug in the center, corpses scattered around it in a ritual manner. Remus observed the horrifying sight with a hateful revulsion in his eyes. Such awful sights and scents should have made him frightened, or at least queasy, but the only disgust Remus felt was an enraging one.

So much death... Remus snapped his head to see a woman draped in an attire dark as the room they were in. Her eyes shared the same blackness as her clothes, and she walked about taking small kicks at the dead bodies that lay about. "Who the hell is this? Another God?" Unfortunately, that was most likely the case given their circumstance. She certainly didn't look like any lowly monster.

From you? Nothing. From the young ones, something, perhaps, something hidden. Where...where... Remus' glare intensely at the woman when she spoke, his teeth barring in an almost feral fashion. "Stay behind me." he whispered to the other demigods. He felt his left hand instinctively form into a fist, while the right gripped the hilt of Dan's sword. "I don't care what she wants - if she gets close to any of us she's fucking dead."

Steven barely held back a barf at the sight. Sadly, he wasn't so successful at holding back the vomit at the smell. The woman walked forward as he wiped his mouth.

From you? Nothing. From the young ones, something, perhaps, something hidden. Where...where...

"I don't care what she wants - if she gets close to any of us she's fucking dead."

Steven pointed the colt at the woman in one hand, held out the shotgun to anyone in the group who wanted it.

Nicole felt a now sadly familiar nausea at the sight and smell, though she held back from vomiting, done that enough already, need to keep it together. At the sight of the strange woman she adopted a fighting stance, trying to be ready for what might come next. She looks a bit like Etna, is she her god-parent? God I hope not, we've run into enough gods already. Then as a hopeful afterthought, maybe she's here to investigate like us? Probably too good to be the case...

At least she had some goddamn sun lotion now.

Even if it was from an overpriced tourist motel. But there was still the curious token Prometheus had given her. She had spent the past hours trying to figure out what that angular lettering said. From comparing images, it seemed to be some fun of cuniform. It was a start, at least. Nevertheless, she soon put it back into the messenger bag, leaving it to rot there. Etna found the cawing of the black birds annoying anyway; she was not in the mood for work. The sight and smell of death and decay further worsen the mood. Just more death they failed to prevent. Etna sighed. Were they always going to walk into a pile of corpse like this? She looked at Nicole. Nike was her god-parent, right? Of course, the wings were a dead giveaway. It must have been dreadful for her, seeing the area near the Pillar of Nike like this. Etna approached her with a whispered, "You okay?"

Afterwards, she turned to the cloaked figure, "State it and name it, then."

He had already covered his nose and mouth before they opened the door, but the smell still made him feel sick. It was filled with dead people, although he wasn't sure how many of them there were. In the middle, a woman sort of looking like Etna walked around. She was clearly a goddess, or connected to that sort of thing. She seemed like the former. It didn't take a lot to figure out that she probably was Etna's mother, or related to her the very least.

Great. This was just what we needed. Then again, she might not be hostile.

From you? Nothing. From the young ones, something, perhaps, something hidden. Where...where...

Andrew was about to ask what that was, when Etna spoke.

"State it and name it, then."

Was I mistaken? Or did she not recognize her?

It could be either. It could also be that Etna had a bad relationship with her god-parent, she would be far from the only one it seemed.

"It'd be hard to help you if we don't know what it is, " Andrew added, speaking with a lack of respect, but still a polite tone. "And we'd all breath easier if we knew that you're not... part of this." He looked around, but only barely. Even he felt like leaving, no doubt the others were worse off.

The woman laughed as Steven pointed his gun at her, a soft yet high-pitched sound that unnerved the group, making them confused and unsure. She stopped in front of Etna, cocking her head and smiling.

Etna dear, it has been too long. Will you not embrace your mother?

Not waiting for reply, Badb elegantly gripped her, kissing her cheek softly, though if there was any affection it wasn't apparent. Breaking away, she studied Etna smiling.

What a beautiful and talented girl you grew into. Though you are travelling with some...unseemly friends...

She cast a glace at Prometheus, pouting in disgust. The Titan raised his eyebrows. Turning to the group with one hand on Etna, Badb spoke softly.

My sisters and I are offering our help...a blessing to turn the tides...yet we only need such a small oath to fight on our behalf, when the next Cycle begins.

Prometheus stepped forward.

"We neither have the time nor will to do such things."

Badb closed her eyes and spoke, barely acknowledging him.

That is a shame, truly. If only there was a way you could question the dead, discover what truly happened...

Her eyes flashed open. She drew Etna closer.

I only need one of you...but it is a lifetime commitment...

The door opened and the smell got worse, much worse, and unlike the plane, where she just ignored the dead to keep composed, it was right in her face here, and as much as the sights made her physically, ill actually seeing the devastation made her angry, so much so she wanted little more then to flatten the building and burn the grape plants in retaliation.

"So much death..." an unfamiliar voice said, Aria turning to find a strange woman who was a lot like Etna in a way nudging the body's with her foot, and generally had the look of some one searching for something. "From you? Nothing. From the young ones, something, perhaps, something hidden. Where...where..." the woman, presumably a goddess, said in reply to Prometheus's question, to which Etna replied "State it and name it, then."

Who ever this person was, she didn't seem hostile, yet, Aria still kept her guard up though, making ready to move and start shooting if need be, which turned out to be wholly unnecessary as she was apprently Etna's mother, and 'stood down', she seemed to not really like the titan much ether, that kinda amused her for some reason

"That is a shame, truly. If only there was a way you could question the dead, discover what truly happened, I only need one of you...but it is a lifetime commitment..."

"I can see dead people, even talk to them, though, admittedly there's been an odd lack of spirits despite all the death" Aria said to the goddess "But what did you mean?"

Etna dear, it has been too long. Will you not embrace your mother?" Now that was a surprise. Although the two shared a similar appearance, Remus never would have guessed that the goddess was Etna's mother. It was only after she placed a kiss on Etna's cheek and backed away that he realized she had managed to slip by his guard unnoticed. Remus scowled as the realization enraged him further. He was alert as a hound seconds ago - was the goddess confusing his senses?

I only need one of you...but it is a lifetime commitment... Remus took a bold step towards Badb, trying to place himself towards her and Etna. He kept his narrow eyes locked on the goddess, yet still felt an air on unease wafting about his mind. Thought with a hardy will he resolved to ignore the sense of confusion as best he could. He wasn't going to risk her getting close to anyone a second time. "Nobody's going to go along with your deal unless you clarify exactly what it is." He paused, barring his teeth still, then continued. "How can we even trust you? How do we know you aren't with Dio, and that you didn't commit this atrocity?" Remus gestured to the corpses.

The group's break was short and awkward at best. The were cramped into a low budget hostel with a rotating cast of backpackers. Able had to wonder how good a job of conjuring up some magical cash Promy's sorceress friend had done if they were stuck staying in one flea bitten hostel and motel after another. There was some passing talk about a temple to nike nearby. He was kind of tempted to talk to Nicole about it but she was keeping to herself. In fact everyone was. With all the 'excitment' of the fight over with, reality had come storming back in to kick Able right in the head.

He still couldn't shake the images of the murdered passangers from his mind and everytime Abe closed his eyes he heard Loki's mocking voice. He'd known him, known who he was at least. Vidarr was a worthy opponent in battle... Was he going to have to be like that now? They'd already been in several fights and barely gotten out of them. And then there was Dan. Wonder how Aria's holding up? The days carried on in a dreary fashion until the time came to find the farm they were looking for.

* * *

The Door creacked open and they were all greeted by the Dio's leftovers. Too late... damnit! Able was beginning to see a pattern developing. Dionysus was always one step ahead. And they were always two steps behind.

It was all set up. Dio had made himself a bloddy work of modern art with body parts thrown everywhre and blood sprayed in great curving arcs. He'd even gone so far as to make himself a centre piece. Was it really Dionysus doing all this, by himself that was, he'd already shown he had a healthy supply of minions.

There's no point in thinking of that now though. Prometheus seemed to have some kind of plan in store. On the edge of the dark room, something was stirring. A woman stepped out into view. She seemed pretty comfortable considering all the guts she was stepping in. She even looked at home in it all, quite the feat considering she looked like a cross between a substitute art teacher and a fortune teller.

Then she started talking and it all became clear. They'd found another god. We are the worst stealth team ever.

It looked like she and Etna knew each other. "Etna dear, it has been too long. Will you not embrace your mother?"

Holy crap!... Although, wait.... oooh now I see it. But Etna didn't seem very pleased to see her mother. Neither did her mother for that matter. But complicated parental relationships were another big theme of this group.

My sisters and I are offering our help...a blessing to turn the tides...yet we only need such a small oath to fight on our behalf, when the next Cycle begins.

And just what was that supposed to mean? Fight what, and what cycle? The whole thing felt like making a deal with the devil, something that would come back to bite them hard later on."I only need one of you...but it is a lifetime commitment..." And that certainly didn't make Able feel any better about this 'deal'. But this wasn't the time to try and write an essay of questions, not when the others were already asking what Abe was thinking.

He could wait a while and see how things went.

"You okay?"

She nodded, not wanting to actually say anything lest her tone betray her fear and nausea, also be rather weird to say "I'm fine" when surrounded by this... The goddess, for it seemed she was a goddess and indeed Etna's parent, moved swiftly about and spoke almost taunting them it seemed. Yet she seemed to be saying that she might aid them, I hope we can trust her, but a deal? Sounds faustian, it can't be good.

"Nobody's going to go along with your deal unless you clarify exactly what it is." He paused, barring his teeth still, then continued. "How can we even trust you? How do we know you aren't with Dio, and that you didn't commit this atrocity?"

Remus spoke up to the goddess, took the words right out of my mouth. She lowered her stance somewhat, at the very least they weren't fighting yet, the goddess could have ambushed them and caught them by surprise but she didn't so that was something. Lets see what she has to say.

Steven was so angered by the snicker he hardly noticed the woman move across the move.

That is a shame, truly. If only there was a way you could question the dead, discover what truly happened...

I only need one of you...but it is a lifetime commitment...

He pointed the shotgun at her face.

"How the @#$^ do we know your not poisoned with wine into doing Dio's bidding?" Steven yelled at the woman, "How do we know this commitment won't leave her like any of these people decorating the walls?"

'It isn't like I had a choice in the matter, mother.' Etna mentally retorted.

No, she wasn't pleased to see her mother and with that cold display of affection, Etna didn't really feel like embracing her either. Not with those taunts. Questions rang and echoed through her skull. Too many to ask at once, especially with the crowd around her asking questions of their own. At least they had struck at the heart of the matter: what exactly was the deal? Etna had left home in order to leave this sort of vague bullshit behind. Vague taunts, vague statements, vague deals. And now here she was facing Badb. Back to step one. Etna turned and saw Steven pointing shotgun. She could only roll at eyes at that.

"I won't waste time reiterating the same question that the others have asked." She said, folding her arms.

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