I arrived at Nyx’s island and immediately regretted it. The place was crawling with satyrs and nymphs in addition to deities. By the looks I was receiving, it was clear the satyrs were aware of my angry comments to Iain from a few weeks ago.
Ah, well. I said it. I guess I gotta live with it.
I moved through them slowly, with Hate and Jealousy padding alongside. In the spirit of the festival, I wore a kilt with a moon and stars design complemented by a black shirt. As always, I had my sleeves rolled up to just below the elbow. My ancient sword was my only weapon, strapped in the scabbard across my back.
I should’ve brought a revolver.
I’d almost jostled my way through the crowd when an exceptionally large brute stepped into my path and looked down at me. I stared at him unflinching. Both my girls pulled their lips back in a casual snarl. I was sorry for the things I said, but that was between Iain and me, not this behemoth.
“Hey, hey…Golly,” said one of the others as he pulled on the mammoth satyr’s arm and shook his head. I stepped to the side and he turned, just enough, to let me pass.
I shouldn’t have come. This is ridiculous. These guys are spoiling for a fight with me. Wait until we add the alcohol.
Ahead, I saw Aunt Hestia pouring brew for guests with her partner Connor, a satyr also. They both saw me at the same time. Hestia touched her hand to Connor’s chest as if to tell him she’d handle it. She then walked over to me.
“Aunt Hestia,” I greeted her. I put my arms out to hug her, but she ignored the gesture.
“Welcome, Dinlas,” she said cooly. “Are you here to enjoy yourself? Or did you think of something else to say?”
I stood silent. Aunt Hestia was always pretty laid back and casual. I’ve always loved her for doing her own thing, and she was good to me. I never thought about the fact that my words would sting her, too.
“Well?” she asked again. “Are you here to behave? I hope so. If you can’t keep that tongue civil, then keep away from Artemis and Iain. Do you hear me?”
I nodded my head as I took my lashing. “Yes, I hear you, Aunt Hestia, no worries from me.”
She gave me a disapproving look.
“I only came tonight because Nyx asked…”
“I have to finish serving guests,” Hestia interrupted. She turned and walked away from me while I was mid-sentence.
Well, apparently I deserved that, too.
“You look like you could use a hug,” said a female voice behind me.
I turned to see Aunt Nike smiling at me. I smiled back.
“I could, Aunt Nike, I really could.” She gave me a big hug and I returned it.
“Now what is wrong, Sweets?” She then lowered her voice to a whisper. “Is it Artemis?”
I nodded. “And Iain, and the rest of the satyr nation that showed up tonight.”
Nike nodded and looked around at them staring at us.
“They don’t seem happy with you. What did you do?”
“You assume I did something?”
Nike countered back, “Well, did you do something?”
“No,” I faltered, “well, yes. I did, and said…something. Some things actually.”
Nike nodded at me. ‘So, how are you going to fix it?” It was hard dealing with Nike sometimes. She looked like a mortal late-teen, yet she was far older than I, and wiser.
“I don’t know how…” I stopped suddenly as I saw tall and graceful Nyx gliding through the crowd. She was greeting and thanking people for coming. As always, she looked stunning.
“Aunt Nike, I just thought of something, but I need your help.”
“Go on,” she replied cautiously. I whispered my plan to her and she clapped her hands together at the end.
“Will you help me?” I asked.
She stuck her pinky finger out and said, “Do you swear you will follow through on your end if I help you?”
I grasped her pinky in mine. “I swear.”
Nike giggled, then said, “Let’s do this.”
The scavenger hunt came first, what an ordeal that turned out to be. Then came the pet races where Hate ran, but not Jealousy. Jealousy whined and pouted, but I wouldn’t let her compete, since she was still recovering from being shot. Hate did well and I was proud of her effort.
The food was served and Nyx stood to announce the best dressed contests before everyone got too far into their cups. She called the men up to her small pedestal stage for the judging.
Moments before I stepped up with the others, Nike breezed past and blew a puff of victory glitter on me. It twinkled for a moment or two, then disappeared into my clothing.
I stepped up on the dais with the other men. Hades, Apollo, my three brothers as well as numerous satyrs. I felt nervous and for the first time ever, doubted Nike and her victory glitter. Uncle Hades was, of course, impeccably dressed, all the way down to his walking stick. I glanced out in the crowd. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. My eyes roamed down the banquet table until they fell on Artemis and Iain. They were sitting together. From my angle, they looked to be quite close. As I watched, she laughed at something he said, then playfully slapped his arm. He smiled back at her and looped his arm casually around her waist.They were laughing and eating with others nearby and clearly enjoying themselves and each other.
I shook my head and looked away.
Nyx spoke in her sultry voice.
“I must say, I can’t remember the last time I saw this many gorgeous males all in one place. That’s really saying something when you’re as old as I am.” The crowd chuckled, and one of the younger satyrs reddened as she brushed her fingertips under his chin then trailed them across his neck to his shoulder.
“However, there can be only one winner this evening. For the best dressed, and winner of my favor, I choose Dinlas.” There was a smattering of polite applause. The uncles and my brothers all clapped me on the back in congratulations. Nana Hera gave a loud, wolf-whistle from the end of the banquet table. From the satyrs, there was no clapping or cheering. Nor from the nymphs, either. I glanced down the table again. Nike was pumping her fists and grinning. Artemis stared at me, her face unreadable.
I turned to Nyx. “Thank you, Nyx. It’s an honor to be chosen. You have been a most gracious hostess tonight.”
Nyx smiled. “But of course. Now, Dinlas, what is your wish from the Night?”
I glanced back down the table. Iain was whispering and chuckling with one of the other satyrs and Artemis elbowed him gently in the ribs to stop.
“Nyx, to win your favor is truly an honor. An honor that I certainly don’t take lightly. However, what I wish is that you would accept a request to transfer my prize to Iain.”
The crowd fell silent.
Nyx raised an eyebrow. “Iain? The consort of Artemis?”
I twisted my head side to side and cracked my neck at the use of that word, consort. Still, I think I recovered quickly.
“Yes. He is the one. I hope, that while he and I may never be friends, he accepts it as an apology and gesture of goodwill in light of my recent words and actions.”
I could hear the satyrs murmuring.
Nyx shrugged, then replied, “Let it be so. Iain, consort of Artemis, may claim the prize.”
Seriously, Nyx, that word again?
I left the dais, but not before Aunt Hestia appeared and gave me the hug she denied me earlier. She said nothing at first, but offered a swig of her brew. I gladly took it then looked at her.
“Better?” I asked her.
She nodded, then said, “When you were ill, I sent you food to aid your recovery because you’re my family and I love you. Yet I was torn, because I was also so disappointed in you. Artemis told me what you said to her, that you were angry at being unfairly accused by the family. You were right, by the way; they did that to you. But then you did the same to my satyr family.”
I nodded. “I hope this helps. I was angry, but hurting you, or them, was not my intention, Aunt Hes.”
Hestia smiled and hugged me again. “I believe now you didn’t mean it. Sometimes we say and do things that have unintended consequences.”
“So, are we good between us?”
“We are good,” Aunt Hestia replied.
I hugged her again and took another swig of brew. I turned to leave and she touched my arm.
“I’m sorry you received no such gesture from those in the family that smeared you. But then we are talking about the egos of gods and goddesses.”
I nodded, kissed her a peck on the cheek, and left. I had to find Eros for our drinking competition. I wasn’t much for it, but my brother insisted I join in. What can I say? In his own twisted way, I’m sure he’s trying to help.
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