Note: Today’s part contains an important retcon for an earlier scene. The earlier scene will be changed later. For more details about the retcon and why, Click Here
“Hey Ryan. We won.” Isabel frowned in thought. “Or I think we’re winning?”
From the ground, Ryan raised his hand and gave Isabel a thumbs up. “You turned into animals,” he said, not wanting to risk pushing himself into a sitting position.
“Yeah, Arthur made me a stone full of animal souls. I can channel them to shapeshift, which is great. I can also burn a soul to prolong my life.” She leaned over Ryan. “Apparently this fulfills a deal you made with him on my behalf without asking me about it?”
“Yup,” Ryan said, ignoring the accusation in her tone. “How about the others?”
Isabel sighed. “Crystal’s alive and making her way over, Artemis – oh, Artemis showed up at the last second, by the way – is over with Athena, and Anansi and Dianmu are getting back to their feet. Everyone’s as beat to hell as you are.” Isabel put her hands on her hips and glowered at Ryan. “Although none of them can be killed as easily as you. Why the hell do you go into these fights? Why would anyone?”
Ryan shook his head. “I can’t ask them to fight for me.”
“Bullshit, Ryan. You totally could. Even ignoring worry about your own life, you still should worry what happens to the world if you died.”
Ryan smiled. “I was worried about you too, Izzy.” Isabel let out a huff of air, wincing as soon as she did. Ryan sat up. “What’s wrong?”
“Asshole cracked my sternum with that strong arm. And before you say something, yes, I apparently know exactly what bone he broke. Side effect or something.” Isabel offered a hand to help him up as Crystal strode into view.
“Hey,” Ryan said to Crystal, “you doing alright?”
“Love, I found out that my old mentor was a monster that had been powering himself on human sacrifice for years. I’m beat to hell, my sodding Hungers are in full force, and we’re still in the middle of a battlefield surrounded by angry Olympians and monsters, and I’m not sure which group wants me dead more. I’m not even on the same planet as alright.” She gave Ryan and Isabel a small smile. “Though I’ll admit getting all that out there does help with it, yeah?”
“Fair,” Ryan said.
“If you need anything,” Isabel started, and Crystal shook her head.
“Thanks, love, but right now we need to finish this battle.”
“Like hell we do,” Dianmu snapped, approaching with Anansi.
Anansi nodded in agreement with Dianmu, “the Olympians can take it from here. Moloch is dealt with, they’ll be able to handle his armies.”
“And there’s no point to any of us risking even a temporary death at this point,” Dianmu continued. She pointed at Ryan and Isabel. “Especially those two, since it wouldn’t be temporary. Besides, we have something else to take care of.” Dianmu glanced behind her. “Uriel survived.”
Ryan pushed past the others to walk over to the twice fallen angel. Uriel was struggling to her feet, her eyes wide with pain.
“God Almighty,” she gasped to Ryan as he approached, “He…he made me mortal.”
Ryan’s eyes narrowed. “Glad you survived it. Besides – you kidnapped my sister. You could have gotten her killed.”
“She wasn’t in any danger, Ryan,” Uriel said. “I was there, and the deal with Moloch let me get involved directly in the fight. If not for that, I couldn’t have-”
“So what was your plan for protecting her if you got turned mortal?”
Uriel sighed. “There was no way to foresee-”
“Yeah, of course not.”
“Quit being an asswipe, Ryan,” Isabel said from behind him. “She’s hurt, you’re hurt, and she was trying to help. She knew Moloch was King, knew you’d need backup. I’m mortal so she could tell me. Why do you think I agreed to go along with it?”
Ryan frowned. “Agreed?”
“Yeah,” Isabel said, “you think she just whisked me away?”
Ryan looked at Uriel, who nodded.
“Why didn’t you tell us, then?” he demanded of the angel.
“Me again,” Isabel interrupted. “Ryan, you have a terrible poker face. No way could we risk Moloch figuring out what we were up to.”
Ryan glowered at Isabel, then at Uriel, and then at the world in general. “Fine. I’m going to fulfill my debt to your boss, then.”
“You didn’t agree to choose the method of filling it,” Uriel said, carefully.
“Nope. But I saw what Moloch did to you. I can’t just undo it – I’m not him – but I definitely know a way to help. Think he’ll accept that?”
“I’ll persuade him if needs be,” Uriel said quickly.
“Great. I have you word on that?” Uriel nodded, and Ryan offered her a hand. “Come on, then. Athena is waving for us to follow, and it looks like we have a couple Olympians to escort us back to the Rest.”
Uriel took the hand, and Ryan helped her to her feet.
“Ryan, Isabel” Athena said as they approached, “I’d like you to meet Nike,” Athena gestured to a woman lounging with a massive shield and a spear nearly three times as long as Ryan was tall, “and Kratos,” she indicated the other god, a thin but muscular man leaning against a sword that was longer than he was tall.
Ryan’s eyes bulged at the two of them. “Nike and Kratos? You both are famous!”
“Come again?” Nike asked, frowning.
“You got chosen to represent a line of shoes. And Kratos, you’re in video games as the god of war.”
Kratos’ forehead furrowed. “That’s stupid. Ares is God of War. And what is a video game?”
“It’s…” Ryan stared at him, and at Nike, who looked equally perplexed. “Nevermind, it’d be hard to explain.”
“We’re famous,” Nike said, grinning at Kratos. “It may be for strange things, but we’re famous.”
“Never been famous before. Think I’ll get to replace Ares if he doesn’t resurrect?”
Athena frowned. “Why wouldn’t he resurrect?”
“Don’t know.” Kratos shrugged. “It’s been an odd few days.”
Isabel started tugging on Ryan’s sleeve. “Ryan, what is going on? Can you understand them?”
“Of course I can. Why…” Ryan replayed the last few minutes in his head and realized what he’d heard didn’t jive with what his brain had interpreted. “Holy crap, I understood Greek.”
Athena smiled. “Glossolalia. One step closer to Apotheosis.”
“But not there yet?” Ryan asked.
“Enough chatter,” Kratos growled. “We have to get you all to safety, and I don’t want to miss the entire battle.”
“Neither do I,” Nike added.
Athena nodded, and they headed to the Elysian Rest.