Dark skye, p.39
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       Dark Skye, p.39

         Part #15 of Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole
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Chapter 38

  Thrymheim Hold, Northlands Home of Skathi, goddess of the hunt Goddess council convening Agenda: Petition for godhood submitted by Phenïx the Ever-Knowing, firstborn Valkyrie Nïx, you’ve known about this meeting for decades and decades,” Riora, the goddess of impossibility, said. “Couldn’t you have prepared better?” Nïx blinked at Riora as they made their way through the rumbling halls carved into Godsbellow Mountain, a peak continually shaken by thunder. “I don’t take your meaning. ” “You’re wearing a T-shirt and flops, you’re carrying a sleeping bat, and you reek of what can only be gastric acid. ” The bat burped in its sleep, expelling a puff of green mist. Then it smacked its lips. “This is a formal affair. Kali is wearing twelve skulls. ” Nïx’s eyes went wide. “I should’ve vajazzled!” Her excitement woke the bat. It clawed its way up her T-shirt to perch on her shoulder. With a shrug, Nïx opened her backpack, retrieving sheets of paper. Riora looked approving, expecting a résumé of Nïx’s great works and deeds, a divine CV to advance her cause—then frowned when the Valkyrie turned to post a flyer for a “barely used” Bentley on one of Thrymheim’s sacred walls. “As your friend, I have to tell you that the atmosphere in Skathi’s meeting hall is contentious. Most of the deities think you reach above your station. The questioning will be intense. ” From within the hall, they could hear goddesses debating whether Nïx had “the juice. ” “Who’s here?” “Most goddesses. Standing, levitating, and astral projection room only. ” “How’re you liking my chances?” Nïx asked. Riora tilted her head. “Nothing is impossible with you, which is why I’ve always liked you. ” Nïx nodded thoughtfully. “Aside from a few other deities, you’ve always been my favorite. ” Riora pursed her lips, and she and Nïx entered. The focus of the room was a grand wooden table with three concentric rotating disks. One disk measured all times. The second was a perpetually changing map of the mortal world and connecting domains. The third monitored celestial acts taking place across all realms. The center of the table was hollow, with a dais in the middle. A number of goddesses, or their dimensional likenesses, were in attendance. In the flesh were the witch deities Hekate and Hela; Lamia, the goddess of life and fertility; Wohpe, goddess of peace; Saroh, the goddess of the Jinn; and the Great She-Bear, protectoress of shifters. Among many more . . . With a nod of encouragement, Riora left Nïx and took her saved spot at the table. The legendary Skathi presided. She looked exasperated, not bothering to hide her feelings about Nïx’s petition. The Valkyrie didn’t seem to notice the goddess’s displeasure. With that bat on her shoulder, she nonchalantly made her way toward the dais in the center of the rotating table. As she approached, a path opened up, the wood disappearing, then reappearing behind her, like a wake. Atop the dais, Nïx turned to Skathi. It was known that if one gazed into that goddess’s eyes, he or she would experience all the fear and sorrow of Skathi’s prey over the ages; yet Nïx boldly met her gaze. Which appeared to surprise the goddess. Clearing her throat, Skathi called the meeting to order, then took her seat. “We will dispense with formalities to limit the duration of this meeting. We convene because Phenïx the Ever-Knowing is petitioning to join our ranks in the pantheon of goddesses. ” Skathi steepled her fingers. “Tell us in your own words: Why should we welcome you into our blessed number?” Bright-eyed and breathless, Nïx said, “Well, I can mime”—she demonstrated as Riora dropped her forehead to the table. “I’m a mistress of keg stands”—Nïx looked around for a keg with which to demonstrate—“two of my three parents are gods, and I have a goddesslike power. ” Skathi raised her brows. “Your talent for mime notwithstanding, you have an obvious mark against you: human blood. One of those three parents of yours was mortal. ” “Doesn’t seem to slow me down. ” Nïx hiked a thumb at herself. “After all, just this Accession, I orchestrated the death of Crom Cruach. ” The god of cannibalism. “Hmm, Skathi, wasn’t he your curse to deal with? Right, then. ” She brushed off her hands matter-of-factly. “We’ll settle up at the bar. ” Skathi glared, and the flames of her temple climbed higher. Yet then, a bout of thunder shook the mountain, seeming to soothe her. “A goddess is measured by the company she keeps. Yet you’re close to Loa, the voodoo priestess, a mere shopkeeper who grows to be a practitioner of the darkest arts?” “Loa prefers to be known as the Commercenary. ” “You do realize the power she wields?” Nïx sighed. “Counting on it. ” Seductive Lamia observed, “Under your direction, La Dorada the Queen of Evil has arisen. ” “Dora and I are like this. ” Nïx spread her arms wide. “Now, I’ll be the first to admit she’s not without faults. Very grumpy when she wakes up. And with Dora, it’s always me me me, ring ring ring. ” “Why would you resurrect her?” Skathi demanded. “No one else was going to do it!” Nïx said, just as her bat leaned in beside her ear. The soothsayer nodded to it, then murmured, “Meet me at the lightning bolt. ” She gazed on fondly as the creature flew away with a screech. “Your attention!” Skathi snapped. “What were we talking about? Let’s be quick, then. It’s past Bertil’s bedtime. ” Jaws dropped at Nïx’s temerity. Speaking to no one in particular, Nïx said, “And because we’re going to need her. ” “Who?” Lamia asked. “Dora. ” As if speaking to a child, Nïx said, “You asked me why I’d resurrect her, and I’m answering your question. ” She narrowed her eyes. “Are all of you inebriated?” “Continuing on,” Skathi intoned. “You claim a goddesslike power, styling yourself ever-knowing, yet you can’t even find your sister Furie. ” “Find? As in bring to light?” she asked, leaving the pantheon to puzzle over her words. Hekate said, “You’ve been working to ally factions of immortals for the Accession, assisting Loreans of different species to find their mates. From what I understand, we’re to have a rash of halflings in future generations. ” “Halflings are formidable,” Nïx pointed out. “Think of Queen Emmaline of the Lykae, Queen Bettina of the Deathly Ones, and Mariketa the Awaited, leader of your House of Witches. Plus, Valkyries have a soft spot for halflings, since we have three vastly different parents. I guess you could call us triflings. ” Broad wink. “Why are you tirelessly seeding halflings and renewing ancient alliances?” Hekate asked. “To battle what foe?” Nïx breathed, “The Møriør. ” The other goddesses tensed at the mention of the Bringers of Doom. They didn’t speak of the Møriør lightly. The Valkyrie seemed unaware of the stir she’d caused. “All the harbingers are there. They descend upon us. Though the Accession exists to cull the immortal population, mortals and gods alike should fear this one. ” Lamia offered, “Nïx would sense them first,” and earned glares. Skathi’s flames grew and grew. “You took it upon yourself to plan a defense against the Møriør? You toy with the fate of the entire Lore, Valkyrie!” “Not defense. Offense. Why come out of the dugout for anything less? I’m not interested in a farm league. Which is why I’m here. Only a divinity—with this pantheon’s resources—could unite all of the factions. ” “You believe you can lead the charge? Against them?” “Review: transcript of this meeting. See: farm league comment. ” Skathi drew her head back. “All of your sarcastic—” “Multilayered. ” “—answers will not help your cause. You’re very flippant about these proceedings. ” Nïx’s playful demeanor vanished in an instant, her amber irises swirling, mercurial. “Because I’ve already seen the outcome. ” “And what is that?” “You’ll move to dismiss my petition, telling me that I must have a cause—an area of power, a specialization of sorts. After all, you are goddess of the hunt, the Great She-Bear is goddess of shapeshifters, Lamia is goddess of some-some. ” When Lamia scowled, Nïx shrugged. “I calls ’em like I sees ’em. ” Then she addressed all the goddesses: “You believe that this area of power must be a critical one. Since foresight has been taken—hat tip to the goddess Pronoea—you expect I’ll come up short. Yet, in fact, I’m going to reveal my specialization, and all of you will comprehend the inevitability of it. ” Skathi pursed her lips. “Thrall us, Valkyrie. ” Nïx paused drama
tically. “I will rise from the ashes of the old ways to become Phenïx, the goddess of . . . accessions. ”
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