Sylvie and Serena led their pegasi on the ground while Inés flew overhead on Blitz.
“Are you sure that you don’t want to be up there with her?” Sylvie asked. “I won’t take offence.”
“That’s okay,” Serena said. “There’s something I needed to talk to you about.”
“Oh?” Sylvie asked. “Go ahead.”
“We meet a very skilled, lame weapon smith who asks us to get pegasi for him, leaves us with amazing weapons and abandons his house before we return, leaving us with the weapons and the pegasi. It doesn’t feel normal,” Serena observed.
“Clearly,” Sylvie agreed. “I’d say that we met Hephaestus himself.”
“That’s what I was thinking. But why would Hephaestus be interested in initiates like us?” Serena asked.
“I haven’t the foggiest,” Sylvie admitted. “Perhaps Athena has a plan for us on our journey and these weapons & mounts are to improve our chances.”
“But why us and not more experienced priestesses?” Serena asked. “There are certainly enough of them travelling around.”
“You say that like you have some idea,” Sylvie muttered, scratching her head. “Go on, out with it.”
“I think it’s her strength,” Serena said. “There’s something special about her. Don’t you think?”
“I think that your feelings for her are affecting your judgement,” Sylvie answered. “Although, I suppose it is possible that she was gifted with great strength for whatever’s coming up. But, for your sake, I hope that’s not the case.”
“What do you mean?” Serena asked.
Sylvie kept walking, avoiding looking at her.
“Sylvie! Sylvie!” Serena pulled at her armour. “Hey, can you please answer me?”
Sylvie sighed. “There are two types of power granted to mortals by the Gods. The first is cleric magic, it’s strong but also temporary and requires communion between the cleric and her God. In contrast, mortals who are granted divine strength, divine intelligence, divine speed or have any other physical or mental attribute permanently enhanced by the powers of the Gods don’t live very long.”
“They… What, why?” Serena demanded.
“It’s too much of a strain on them,” Sylvie answered. “It’s not something mortals are meant for. If her absurd strength is natural, she could very well live a long life but if it’s divine…” Sylvie looked up towards Inés. “If it’s divine she’s only got a year or two left at this point.”
Inés directed Blitz to fly low. The pegasus rolled, letting Inés look at her companions from an upside down position. “Hey, Serena!” she called. “Come on up and join me. It’s a magnificent day for flying.” She studied Serena’s face. “Something bothering you?”
“No, not at all,” Serena said. “I’ll get on Dusk and join you right away.”
She mounted her pegasus and took to the sky. Flying beside Inés.
“Seriously, what did Sylvie say to upset you?” Inés asked. “Don’t hide it from me just to keep the peace. I won’t have her or anyone else talk down to you or belittle you. Okay?”
“It’s nothing like that,” Serena said. “We were talking about the weapon smith and… other things.”
“Were you surprised that he was Hephaestus?” Inés asked.
“You knew?” Serena exclaimed.
“Not until he disappeared,” Inés stated. “At that point, I put the pieces together. Still,” she stroked Blitz’s mane “they gave us a lot of help. There must be something really dangerous ahead!”
“Why are you so excited over that?” Serena asked.
“Because it’s just what I always wanted,” Inés answered. “I started down the road to becoming a warrior priestess for adventure and beauties. During this journey, I’ve found plenty of both. And I can only imagine what the future holds!” She laughed.
Serena forced a smile but she couldn’t stop thinking about Sylvie’s words. “they don’t live very long.” She knew that there were smarter people than her out there, but she was certain of one thing. The kind of strength that Inés possessed was not possible for an ordinary mortal. “a year or two left,” she whispered.
“What was that?” Inés asked.
“I’m going to make you as happy as possible!” Serena declared.
“What’s up with that?” Inés wondered. She shrugged. “That’s fine. In return I’ll do the same for you.”