Pili finally delivered Anubis to that damn temple (we’ve been talking about that happening for like 30 chapters now or something, so yw; never say I don’t deliver ok). They had feels and we saw them have manly hugs and manly tears…apparently this was the loss of just one kid too many for our favourite bald eagle.
After that, um…oh right! Kebs and Hattie whined about each other a bit (as they do), and Horus booped Hattie bc she was being too serial (maybe in the boob, idk).
Taveah went for a non-suspicious stroll in the jungle and met some friends. Some of her friends were a bit intense, and she might be a spy or something (I know right? GASP).
Hattie probably followed her.
If you could say one thing for mysterious cultists, it was that they really weren’t into idle chit chat…well, not this one anyhow.
The woman in the cleverly wrapped bed sheet led Artemis through the trees with the surefooted grace of a person who knows exactly where they’re going, and how to get there–never mind that a couple of times the path they turned onto was legit not even there a second ago…probably; Artemis had to admit she wasn’t super good at trailblazing, so maybe she just didn’t see it (or maybe there was some magical BS going on here).
Suddenly, the trees parted, spilling them out into a small clearing. It was bathed in soft sunlight, with a shallow brook burbling off to one side. From the center, rose a pale two story building that had sort of a ‘glowyness’ to it; the whole kit and caboodle was picturesque AF, and seemed to be almost entombed by the surrounding forest.
“Hot dog,” Artemis paused, taking it all in.
“Yes, quite,” the cultist gave her another one of those soft, creepy smiles, “but there is no time to tarry, little sister.”
“Okay, but why not?” For no apparent reason, Artemis suddenly found herself caring about why this woman was in such a damn hurry.
“Come, I will show you,” she spared a glance at the treeline, “quickly.”
“Sure, why not,” Artemis grumbled, following along like a lamb to the slaughter, “damn my insatiable curiosity.”
The weirdo led her to a set of stairs, tucked out of the way, and partially hidden by the well manicured shrubbery.
“You want me to follow you down a dark staircase into a basement?”
The cultist shook her head, “they are down there, be safe, little sister; I wish you well.”
“Er, what, they?” They who?
“Go, he is coming,” for the first time since she’d appeared out of bloody no where, the cultist’s smile faltered, her tone suggesting a hint of panic, “Athena watch over you.”
For some damn reason, Artemis found herself in a massive hurry to stumble down into the darkness alone.
“I’ve been wondering about something peculiar,” Khafre’s tone was light and conversational, but there was a severity to the statement that he could not hide from her.
“Perhaps you ought to leave the wondering to me, dearest.”
“Why oh why did the lovely Persephone infuse a stone with her, hitherto, carefully guarded magics, and then build said stone into a well,” light, conversational, and sassy, “and then leave that well completely unguarded in the middle of an Amazon settlement?”
“It was not in the middle, if you’ll remember, my love; it was off to one side, near the entry.”
“Oh yes, forgive me, near the entry of the Amazon settlement,” Persephone could feel the side-eye he was giving her, “where anyone could happen by, even better.”
“What does it matter anymore?” She sighed, trying not to let him spoil her enjoyment of the woods, “Sima-Mighdall is long turned to dust, and we are going to retrieve my magic.”
“Yes, but why why why did you do it in the first place?” Had he always been this tiresome?
“I am certain you have a theory you’d like to share with me.”
“I do, as a matter of fact!” Her brother feigned delight, “it was all very confusing until I remembered our conversation on the bluffs, and how obtuse you were concerning the involvement of certain beings–”
“I do not care to discuss your idle fancies.”
“So that’s it, is it?” He asked, his mien subdued, “were you trying to curry favour with this ‘Athena’?”
“But! No favour was forthcoming, and ah, that must mean the being never existed in the first place…for who could deny my lovely sister?”
“I–,” was it true? “I do not know,” she admitted at length.
“It’s a curious thing, isn’t it? A great Amazon city disappearing into nothingness without warning,” he paused, “I did always wonder why you carted me out there.”
“As usual, nothing can be hidden from my darling twin.”
“You lied to me.”
“I cannot lie to you, Khafre,” she fixed him with a poignant look, “if you were deceived about my motives, then it was willfully done on your part; now quit sulking.”
His silence was the loudest sound in the forest; regret welled up, tightening her throat, “I did not anticipate the witches,” her voice was quiet, but she knew he could hear her, “it was badly done on my part.”
“You thought then, to what? Make life a little nicer for the Amazons by giving them a wishing well? Create mischief? Increase their power?”
Persephone shrugged a shoulder, “perhaps all of the above,” she attempted a smirk, “especially the mischief part?”
He snorted. “No one can anticipate witches, sweet sister; they are always showing up unexpectedly, ready to make a terrible mess.”
“Isn’t that the truth.”
“So, it is not only vampiros that guard this secret place, I see,” Oberon pushed down the little frisson of–concern–that tried to intrude on his composure.
“There are many more terrifying creatures in this world than vampires,” she smiled serenely at him, “as well you know.”
“And,” he inhaled sharply, “will I be fighting something more terrifying than a vampiro this day, do you think?”
She appeared to consider his words for a moment, then stepped to one side, “no, not this day.”
“We should never have let Cassandra go in there with her, this is an utter catastrophe!” As usual, Belladonna was being a touch on the dramatic side.
“Come now, surely it’s not much more than a…slight inconvenience?”
“A slight inconvenience? You would call this a slight inconvenience?” The red haired witch began to turn a most unbecoming shade of purple, “the creature is all but immune to our magics, Primrose, immune! How are we supposed to make any headway here? It’s laughing at us!”
Primrose had to agree that the creature did, indeed, appear to be enjoying itself at their expense; one might even be forgiven for using the term ‘taunting’.
“It must have been Cassandra, I agree,” the whole notion left her feeling a bit sick to her stomach, “it’s created some sort of cocoon around itself, from what it absorbed–most unfortunate.”
“It was careless of us to let the woman near her, held together as she is by our magics–”
“Let’s not start heaping more blame onto ourselves for this, Bella,” regret was a rather unnatural state for a witch, after all. “We will find a way, there must be a way.”
“Fiddlesticks! Just because we’re in a pickle, does not mean a solution will miraculously present itself on the merit of our desires alone–”
“Well I’m not ready to throw in the besom just yet; you’ll forgive me if I exhaust all other avenues before I roll over and let this parasite bugger me in the–”
“Mistress?” Balsam’s voice quavered with barely suppressed emotion.
“Please tell me you have good news, my pet, I’m not sure I could take another setback at this point,” from the look of him good news seemed unlikely, though it could just as easily be acid reflux.
The quickly expanding familiar promptly burst into tears.
“Good of your fairy friend to abandon you without a word,” muttered the ginger witch.
“Your sour grapes are not helpful at the moment Belladonna,” though Prim had to admit to a slight flutter of resentment that Persephone had suddenly disappeared in their hour of need.
“P-please do not fight,” hiccuped Balsam.
“Yes, you’re right of course, my dear; fighting will not do us any good at a time like this! The creature wants us to squabble among ourselves, I am certain.”
“Very well,” Bella huffed, “but now what?”
“There is…another, that we could call for help,” Prim’s eyes slid toward her partner, gauging the other witch’s reaction at the suggestion.
Belladonna drew in a sharp breath, looking for all the world as though she might lay an egg right there on the patio.
Balsam gasped, for the first time in many weeks, a radiant smile split his face, “do you mean you are going to call grandma?!”
Oh that crafty Bastene and her magic-bubble shenanigans!
Gee, I wonder who they’re gonna call? (Spoiler: it ain’t Ghostbusters 😬)
“Did our guests find what they were looking for?”
“They did, High Priestess.”
The tinny chorus of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ suddenly echoed throughout the chamber.
“Excuse me Iseult, I have to take this.”