House of Earth and Blood

The white cat with eyes like blue opals sat on a bench in the Oracle’s Park and licked his front paw.

“You know you’re not a true cat, don’t you?” Jesiba Roga clicked her tongue. “You don’t need to lick yourself.”

Aidas, Prince of the Chasm, lifted his head. “Who says I don’t enjoy licking myself?”

Amusement tugged on Jesiba’s thin mouth, but she shifted her stare to the quiet park, the towering cypresses still gleaming with dew. “Why didn’t you tell me about Bryce?”

He flexed his claws. “I didn’t trust anyone. Even you.” “I thought Theia’s light was forever extinguished.”

“So did I. I thought they’d made sure she and her power died on that last battlefield under Prince Pelias’s blade.” His eyes glowed with ancient rage. “But Bryce Quinlan bears her light.”

“You can tell the difference between Bryce’s starlight and her brother’s?”

“I shall never forget the exact shine and hue of Theia’s light. It is still a song in my blood.”

Jesiba studied him for a long moment, then frowned. “And Hunt Athalar?”

Aidas fell silent as a petitioner stumbled past, hoping to beat the crowds that had filled the Oracle’s Park and Luna’s Temple since portals to his world had opened within the quartz Gates and the beasts of the Pit had taken full advantage of it. Any who had managed to return were currently being punished by one of Aidas’s brothers. He would soon return to join them in it.

Aidas said at last, “I think Athalar’s father would have been proud.” “Sentimental of you.”

Aidas shrugged as best his feline body would allow. “Feel free to disagree, of course,” he said, leaping off the bench. “You knew the male best.” His whiskers twitched as he angled his head. “What of the library?”

“It has already been moved.”

He knew better than to ask where she had hidden it. So he merely said, “Good.”

Jesiba didn’t speak again until the fifth Prince of Hel had stalked a few feet away. “Don’t fuck us over this time, Aidas.”

“I do not plan to,” he said, fading into the space between realms, Hel a dark song beckoning him home. “Not when things are about to get so interesting.”

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