“You’re a bouncer, don’t you use a sword, dagger or anything?” Inés asked.
Lilac looked at her like she was crazy. “The idea is to get the rowdy patrons out when they cause trouble, not evicerate them. I just use my fists.”
“Okay, okay,” Inés said. “No evisceration. Got it. Maybe we should get you a pair of bagh nakh. They aren’t the same as fighting with your fists by any means, but they’ll probably be the closest weapon that matches your style.”
“I don’t even want to be here,” Lilac complained. “I wanna be back home. Finding a nice young thing to shag and getting drunk off my ass.”
“Well, just think about it this way,” Inés said. “We’ll get through here. You’ll survive thanks to my training and you’ll be getting drunk and taking all the young ladies to bed you want.”
“Ladies?” Lilac asked. “you shag ladies?”
“Damn right,” Inés said. “But whatever, find young men. Either way, let’s get started on your training.”
“I dunno,” Lilac said. “Are you gonna be staring at my bum?”
“No,” Inés said. “Now can we please start the training?”
“Well I suppose,” Lilac agreed. “If you aren’t gonna stare at my bum.”
Inés sighed. Dealing with this woman was going to try her patience.
“How about I train you,” Sylvie volunteered. “I’ve never taken a woman to bed. Would that make you more comfortable?”
Lilac examined her. “But you’re just a mortal, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but I trained the same way Inés did and I’ll teach you the same techniques she would,” Sylvie said.
“Well, all right,” Lilac agreed. She allowed herself to be led away by Sylvie. Pointedly covering up her bottom as she went.
“You know, if that woman wasn’t such a pain in the ass I’d point out that Sylvie likes women, she just hasn’t slept with any yet,” Inés said. “Too busy pining over Illyana.”
“I think she said that to spare you the trouble,” Serena said.
“I know,” Inés said. “Remind me to do something nice for her when this is all over.” She shrugged. “Sylvie’s probably a better choice to train her any way. She’s more patient than me.”
“Well, you’re still adjusting to finding out your dad’s Poseidon and all,” Serena said. “It’s funny, all these half Gods look like they’re in their early twenties and yet some of them have lived for over a century.” She leaned back and examined Inés. “You know, before we came here. Before we heard the truth, I thought your strength was going to kill you and I’d be left behind, mourning. Looks like you’ll still be young and beautiful when I’m a grizzled, eighty year old woman.”
“Maybe,” Inés said. “But I’ll wager you’ll still be a total babe at eighty years old.”
“Oh?” Serena asked. “So you’ll still make love to me then?”
“Absolutely,” Inés said. “As long as you want me to.” She leaned over and kissed Serena. For a time they stood there, caught in one another’s embrace. Finally, reluctantly, they moved apart. “Tonight.” Inés whispered.
“I’ll look forward to it,” Serena said.
“Ladies.” They turned around. Athena was standing behind them. “Hephaestus sent some weapons for Lilac and Wilfred. Have them pick out what they like and leave the rest. I’ll pick them up later.”
“Jenna and Eri… Gail already have some?” Inés asked.
“Jenna does,” Athena said. “Gail shouldn’t need one. Her magical abilities vastly exceed any you’ve ever seen. Possibly any you will see. Even among the half bloods, she is exceptional. She will be your team’s greatest weapon. Be cautious with how you deal with her.”
“Got it,” Inés said. She stared at the ground, looking briefly up at Athena and back down. This was her Goddess, the one she’d devoted herself to. She felt more nervous speaking with her than she had when Poseidon had boarded their ship. “Hey, Athena,” she began “am I… am I a disappointment as one of your priestesses?”
“Not many would still serve one of the pantheon upon learning of their divine heritage,” Athena said. “But why do you doubt yourself?”
“Well,” Inés said. “It’s just… Sylvie always says I’m… lecherous and there are times when I care more about bedding cute ladies than I do about serving the greater good.”
“I know,” Athena said. “I have watched your journey with some interest. No, Inés, you aren’t a disappointment. You, Sylvie and Serena have all gone beyond what is expected of initiates. Even those in their final trial. Truth be told, I am proud of you. All of you. As for your dalliances with pretty women… Well, you rather remind me of myself as a young Goddess.”
“Really?” Inés asked. “Do you still…”
“That is not something that needs concern you,” Athena said. “One more thing, Inés. Stay away from your sister. She may have been released from Tartarus, but I suspect she hasn’t changed much from the frenzied queen of old.”
With that, Athena vanished.
“Frenzied queen?” Inés asked. “Where have I heard that before?”
“Did Athena just say she’s had a bunch of dalliances with women?” Serena asked. “What happened to her being a virgin Goddess?”
“There are people who still consider me a virgin because I’ve never lain with a man,” Inés said. “Doesn’t matter how many women I’ve been with. I’ve always suspected that she and Artemis both have rules against their priestesses getting with men but none against women because they don’t want to subject their followers to rules they wouldn’t follow. Never thought I’d know for sure.”
“I guess,” Serena said. “Should we check on Sylvie’s progress?”
“Yeah,” Inés agreed. “I also want to see if she knows what the frenzied queen thing is about.”