It didn’t take long for everyone to return to examine the divinely made weapons that had been left by Athena. Lilac chose a pair of bagh nakh with long, sharp blades. Wilfred selected a zweihänder.
“Are you going to take anything, Gail?” Jenna asked.
Gail waved dismissively. “Athena didn’t bring those toys for me. Nor do I need them.”
“Fine,” Jenna said. “Then we’ll just have the rest taken away.” She looked around. “I know we’ve got an alarm system, but I suggest we still keep a nightly watch. Just to be on the safe side. Besides, it may give us a few extra minutes to prepare.”
“Couldn’t hurt,” Wilfred agreed. “This place is quite old and it doesn’t look like Hephaestus bothered maintaining it.”
Jenna nodded. “We’ll do a triple rotation in pairs. Each team can keep watch for three hours. I’ll take the first shift tonight with Inés. Wilfred and Lilac can take the second shift. Gail and Sylvie can take the third.”
“Just a moment,” Lilac said. She moved close to Jenna and whispered, loudly enough that everyone in the room could still hear her. “Are you sure you wanna work with her? She sleeps with girls. She might try something.”
Jenna laughed out loud. When she spoke, she didn’t bother whispering. “I don’t think my cousin here is going to try anything. And who cares if she takes women to bed? I’ve had men and women both in my time. I rather prefer the latter.”
Lilac looked away, her face flushing.
“Oh you poor dear,” Gail said, mockingly. “Are you the only child of Gaia here? Surrounded by children of the moon and one of the sun. It must be so difficult for you.”
“Gail, there’s no need to be mean,” Jenna chided. “She’s clearly not used to being around so many of us.” She looked around the group. “I’ll come up with some formations the seven of us can use and we can start practising them tomorrow, if we have free time.”
“Who put you in charge?” Lilac muttered.
“I’m in charge because I’m the oldest one here with real combat experience,” Jenna said. She looked at Gail. “You’re the only one here older than me. Do you object?”
“The command is all yours,” Gail said. “I suspect the only one who would really want it besides you is the young mortal there.” She gestured at Sylvie.
Jenna winked at Sylvie. “Hope you don’t mind me taking charge.”
“I’ll defer to your experience,” Sylvie said.
“Then it’s settled,” Jenna said. “Unless someone else has an objection?”
There was silence in response to her query.
That night, Inés took the first watch with Jenna. They sat atop the wall. Jenna was writing by the light of their lantern, periodically looking out across the area to see if anything was approaching.
It was strange, knowing that below them the realm of mortals was bustling with activity. Some would be watching the skies, looking up at the realm and seeing only clouds.
“Hey,” Jenna said. “Does Sylvie happen to have a lover?”
“No,” Inés answered. “She’s never made love in her life. She does have a lady she likes, though.”
“I see,” Jenna said. They sat in silence a while longer. “How much does she like this lady?”
Inés sighed. “Hate to break it to you, since you’re clearly interested, but she’s been deeply in love with her for a long time and I don’t think that’s gonna change any time soon, if ever.”
“Pity,” Jenna said. “I would have quite liked to have her, if only for a little while.”
“I can understand that,” Inés said. “I’ve had women I would have liked to get involved with, but couldn’t because they weren’t interested or already had someone they were seeing exclusively.”
“Not the one woman type?” Jenna asked.
“Nope,” Inés answered. “I’m completely up front about it so that every woman I get involved with knows that she’s not the only one.”
“I used to be like that,” Jenna said. “But then I got older. All my lovers started getting old, dying. While I remained young. After a while, I decided I’d stay with one for their lifetime. Less painful that way.”
I’m sorry,” Inés said. “I didn’t mean to bring back painful memories.”
“No,” Jenna said. “I brought it up.”
Inés gazed out at the outskirts, not knowing what else to say. That’s when she spotted something unusual in the sky. “Are my eyes playing tricks on me, or are those birds really big?”
Jenna rose and looked over. “Caucasian Eagles,” she said. “damn things can lift an elephant and they’re children of Echidna. We’re under attack!”