"Well, maybe we need to Cesar Millan their asses and show them who's boss. Tsst, tsst!"
"I'm sure that'd do it," she answered, relieved when Regin's attention fell back to her papers. Sometimes her sister could be a handful even for Lucia, especially if Regin wasn't engaging in regular, fatiguing battles -
Lucia tensed, again thinking she'd spied movement in the bushes outside. Was it MacRieve?
Since the night they'd met, she'd learned much about him. When his older brother Lachlain had disappeared, Garreth MacRieve had become the king of the Lykae clan - though he'd never thought he'd be their leader. Before assuming the throne, he'd been wild, a ladies' man and a brawler, so bad he'd been nicknamed the Dark Prince.
He was the best kisser she'd ever imagined.
And what would Lucia say if MacRieve showed? It seems you want to have an affair with me. But I can't have sex. Though I want to in the worst way. Duty, chastity. Lucia was sick of them. Yet she'd had her shot to find a good man. Her shot at a normal life.
And I blew both targets by miles.
She squinted, identifying what had moved. A nefarious tomcat. As she exhaled a pent-up breath, she realized she'd been clutching her bow hard. This morning, she'd checked her abilities, and her skills remained intact. They must truly be penetration-based.
Still, all day she'd held on to her bow, absently running her fingers over the raised inscriptions. Skathi had hesitated to let Lucia leave Thrymheim with that bow, because of her "darkness."
To other Valkyrie, Lucia and Regin were relatively young, but Lucia had lived a long time and seen many things. Never had she encountered a male who brought out her darkness like MacRieve.
He might be her worst weakness. If so, he couldn't have come at a more inconvenient time. With a glare, Lucia glanced over at their command center. Her duty was coming online soon. She and Regin would do as they did every five hundred years and prevent Cruach from rising.
But this time, instead of using Skathi's golden arrow to weaken him until the next Accession, Lucia wanted to discover a way to kill him for good.
One problem: the Broken Bloody One was a... deity. The ancient horned god of human sacrifices and cannibalism.
So now Lucia and Regin sought the only thing that could obliterate him, a dieumort - a god killer. Extremely rare, the dieumorts were created by the Banemen, a league of immortals from all factions. They'd discovered a means to destroy gods, who in turn sentenced all the Banemen to death. The league had disbanded and fled, hiding their power in talismans, weapons - even in beings - all over the world and adjoining planes.
Any vessel of the power was considered a dieumort. And there were whisperings of an arrow.
Lucia and Regin had hundreds of leads, everything from riddles to ancient journals to mapped clues. They were nearing the time for action, gearing up for their worldwide search, and Regin liked to spread out their calculations, tips, Post-its, and atlases for clarity when they knew no one was home.
Tonight Nucking Futs Nïx was the only one upstairs, but she didn't count - since she truly was mad. She could see the future so clearly that the present and past gave her fits. If Nïx did stroll by the command center, she'd probably forget or would look at the maps and think to herself, Greeting cards. Must be December.
Lucia and Regin had repeatedly requested her help in their quest. The first time they'd asked, she'd answered, "What's a dieumort?" Once they'd explained, she told them that she'd look into it. When they'd followed up, Nïx had said, "Now what's a dieumort...?"
No one in their coven knew that Lucia and Regin spent a good deal of time researching the god killer, because they'd never told another soul what had happened with Cruach. Their sisters knew that Lucia felt pain when she missed a shot, but they didn't know why. Nor did they know Lucia was a Skathian. There simply was no reason to tell anyone. Lucia had cleaned up her mess last Accession, and the one before that, and she would again -
Her ears twitched just as Regin said, "Someone's coming!"
"Hey, let's don't," Regin said. "I'm sick of sneaking around, being all furtive and guilty like we stole Freya's car and wrecked the alignment. Let's hang a lantern on this. Get everyone involved this time."
At the idea, Lucia grew nauseated. "You swore, Regin!"
"For once, I'd like the coven to know I'm a mastermind." At Lucia's unbending expression, Regin added, "No. Really. Do you know how bad their heads would explode if they knew we are masterminds? Instead of video-game flunkies?"
Lucia must have looked as aghast as she felt, because she muttered, "Fine. We can act like we're f**kups idling about. As per our usual. But if we cap a god, I'm telling everyone I know! Two words: Press. Conference."
As they hastily hid their materials, Lucia said, "It's probably Annika." Who would not welcome the news Lucia and Regin would have to deliver. Your foster daughter met a man and told us she'd be home... basically whenever her happy ass felt like it.
Finished stowing their papers, she and Regin sped to the couch. By the time Annika burst through the door, they were sitting in the great room, painting each other's toenails while watching a TiVoed episode of Survivor.
With no hint that the two were conspiring - to exterminate a god forever.
Gasping for breath, Annika asked them, "Is Myst back? Or Daniela?" She weakly hung on the thick door, peering out into the darkness. "Have they returned?"
Regin said, "We thought they were with you."
"Hibernating in her room."
"Nïx!" Annika yelled over her shoulder. "Get down here!"
Lucia wanted to tell her, Good luck with corralling Nïx. The soothsayer worked only on Nïx Standard Time.
Annika slammed shut the front door and bolted it. "Is Emma on her way back yet?" She put her hands to her knees, still catching her breath.
Lucia and Regin shared a guilty look. "She's, uh, she's not coming back right now."
"What?" Annika shrieked. Aneurism in five, four, three, two...
Regin offered, "She met some hottie over there - "
Annika held up her hand. "Got to get out of here."
Where was the cataclysmic freakout over Emma? Lucia frowned. "I don't understand 'got to.' Sounds like you want us to leave?" Or even to flee? Valkyrie simply didn't flee - from anything. Monsters flee from us. Just as it'd always been.
You ran from that Lykae.
"There's a plane about to crash, isn't there?" Regin sighed. "That is so gonna hurt."