The cool air of the Scottish Highlands twisted through the hills of my Eventide, tussling my hair. I gently touched the braids that hung loose around my shoulders, feeling vulnerable for some reason. I never wore my hair down, but Artemis had suggested I let myself be the full goddess of night for my own party, so I took her advice. Locks fell to the small of my back, and I had donned a silver diadem, adorned with a delicately wrought moon. I wore a diaphanous black dress that fell to the tops of my feet, barely concealing my figure beneath. A black mantle was clasped at my throat. Beneath my dress, I wore a dazzlingly large beryl necklace that dripped between my breasts and linked to delicate chains that wrapped around to my back. It was a comfortable weight, and offset the nothingness of the rest of my outfit. I felt beautiful in every sense. With the full moon in the skies and a meteor shower set to fall in the next day or so, it was hard for me to not feel optimistic about how I was growing. Or who I was trying to impress.
I walked the hills with Alex, watching the finishing touches being added to Eventide before the family arrived. The race track for our animal companions was ready to go, several benches and water refill stations located around the dirt-packed oval, and a few locked cages for towels and brushes to clean up the animals when the race was over. I was looking forward to Urania’s familiar the most; I had no idea she had one, though I would obviously be rooting for my dear Adrastos.
We strolled from the race track down to the shore, where two pavilions faced out towards the rolling Atlantic Ocean. Each had beechwood benches and hand-carved chairs around small fire pits. There were wooden nooks for clothing and shoes, towels, and personal effects for our competitive swimmers, as well as spaces for my own things when I spent time there. The smell of the seaside and the briny air was a balm to my soul, and in the short amount of time that I’ve been here, I have spent most of my time curled up under a thick woolen blanket, inside the pavilion, just watching the waves come and go.
“The swimmers will not be given much leeway,” Alex commented, nodding his head towards the rough waves rolling in from the Atlantic. I shrugged noncommittally.
“We cannot die. The worst would be a cold, maybe some water up the nose. It is up to the ones who participate, really.”
He nodded silently, and we headed back towards my temple, my eyes straying to the farmhouse on the far side of the shore momentarily. Golly was completing the cooking fire for the spit roast that Hestia had said she would provide with the Pack, and he gave me a small wave before coming to join us.
“Seating is complete, Lady Night, and the fire will be hot enough when the rest arrive. You requested two long tables for the drinking competition, as well as for dinner. They rest just over there now,” Golly explained, pointing towards the right of my aedis. I could see them decorated with firefly lamps and silver runners, golden mugs in the shape of horns waiting to be filled with the drink of choice. Beside the fire, a limbo bar was perched precariously on two poles, waiting for my drunk kin to try and make it underneath. The forest sat in a loose semi-circle around the temple, and I was grateful for the shelter it would give the fires when the winds picked up. I gave Golly and Alex a smile, which they returned before bowing low.
“Everything looks complete. All that is left now is for my family to arrive and tear it all apart in their revelry.” I shook my head, already imagining the potential carnage. “Thank you, my friends. You are as diligent and stalwart as always. We have nothing left to do but wait for everyone to arrive, so please, do as you will. I will be inside until then – call me when they start to come.”
We parted, and I headed inside the aedis, the sudden silence enveloping me like wings. I lit new incense and swept the stone floors, my mind drifting to the evening ahead. I was most looking forward to the drinking contest and the scavenger hunt, though it would be fun to watch the family cut loose when the bonfire was lit. As I tucked away the broom, I heard Alex call my name from outside – it was time to start.
I stopped before my effigy, looking up at my own stony face, before heading outside to greet my guests.
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