Lycus’s hand covers my mouth, and I lick him, making him grin.
“Spoilsport,” Simon mutters, and I wink at him. When Lycus pulls his hand away, I lean closer.
“I’ll tell you later. Want to help me pick out a dress?”
“No, that’s my job!” Reve yells, and then Zale hops up.
“No, you picked the last one!”
“No, he did!”
Nathair stands and looks us over. “I will pick the dress.” No one argues with him, and Nathair nods at Simon. “You should get back before anyone notices your absence. You know how to get in contact with us, and remember, Simon, you are always welcome here. Althea’s family is our family. You have our protection now.”
Simon sits up taller. “I will not fail you.”
I guess I’m not the only one who feels Nathair’s power. It’s addictive.
“I know.” He smiles softly at my brother and then looks at me. “It’s time to talk you through what to expect, and we must commune with the gods and get their approval for this.”
“I’m going. Gods? No, thank you, I want to fly far under their radar.” Standing, Simon kisses me on the head on his way to Conall. “Stay safe, and Althea?”
“Yeah?” I call.
“Do not die on me again, okay?”
Contacting the gods is never fun. I have only done it once in my entire time as a blood king, and that was to save Azul as he descended into darkness. They are fickle creatures, they kill sometimes just for fun, and their reactions never make sense because they play the long game, not the short one.
It makes them unpredictable, and Simon is right. It’s never good to be on their radar, but we must. This is too big to conduct alone, and we do not want to anger a god if they have taken special interest in a vampyr. We will ask for permission, even though I hate it.
We gather in the blood circle—what better place to call them—and we don our masks so as not to give too much away, including Althea. She seems nervous, but she shouldn’t be. She has been kissed by a god, though we will try to keep that a secret as long as possible. They might take offense to that or worse, be intrigued by her.
“I will talk. Try not to draw attention to yourselves,” I order them all. “Remember, the gods do not care if we live or die. They play with lives like chess pieces.”
“I got it.” Althea nods and winks at me through the mask. “Show them how to play, my king.”
Pulling the bowl closer, I rip open my wrist and bleed into it, and once it’s full, I dip my finger in and paint the requisite symbols before I bow my head. “My gods, I call upon you to ask for your guidance. My gods, I beg for you to show yourselves. Alrehujo Kazarr Monserysl.” I repeat it until the blood starts to glisten and then glow, turning gold before disappearing. I call to any and all, not just one, especially since I have no idea who will turn up at all. They all know of our roles, even though some hate it. We are above their wishes and whims for as long as we continue our jobs and don’t annoy them.
We wait and wait some more, and when I feel a presence, I do not lift my head, knowing they could take offense to that. “Speak. Why have you called me, judge?”
I do not lift my head, nor do I move. That voice is familiar—the god of death.
He’s a cruel bastard who takes great pleasure in pain and death, so for him to respond, he must be bored, but he is also the best one to ask. I need to be smart about this. “Judge, do I need to repeat myself?”
He is also one of the most powerful gods to ever exist. He bows to no other, and they all fear him. He is an outcast, even amongst them.
“We wish for your guidance,” I tell him, trying to keep my tone respectful and calm. “We are determined to help our race.”
He snorts. “Bloody vamps.”