“Pathetic,” Miho dropped, disgusted as she stepped over where Pavo laid on his back groaning.
Karno’s expression wasn’t triumphant, however, but abnormally stony given the Goddess of Corvus’ sweep into the picture.
“Why is it that in stories like this,” she sighed in exaggerated sorrow, “minions get thrashed so easily?”
“Would you like an answer to that, or are you just here for my stars?” Karno questioned flatly, stepping to the side as Mieke entered the other end of the room, effectively cutting off any route through which he might escape. “You have some gall coming here.”
“Gall is what it takes to rebuild your life after it’s been ripped from you, Karno,” Miho said, her eyes flashing with a dangerous darkness. “Gall is how you put yourself back together when all you ever held dear is taken away, when even your own body and mind are held captive.”
“What are you talking about?” Karno scowled, and some of Miho’s shadow brightened in surprise.
“You don’t know?”
“Miho, we shouldn’t linger,” Mieke pointed out, and Miho shook off Karno’s attempt to keep her longer than she needed to. “Others will come.”
“Yes, they will,” Karno agreed, but Miho didn’t seem to mind, stepping closer to him.
“Hush now and be still,” she told him sternly, worming her will into his, paralysing him so she could draw within arm’s reach. “At this point, it doesn’t matter who sees me,” she smiled, a slow spreading satisfaction. “I nearly have enough power to bring all this to a close.”
In Karno’s eyes his stars sparkled with the promise that Miho so desperately sought.
“Give them to me,” she demanded, and there was nothing Karno could do but obey.
“What the hell is keeping you so…” Leon began, bursting into the room as was his usual way of doing things.
Instantly Mieke barred her teeth, but Miho simply nudged Karno harmlessly away from her and peered at her brother who stood frozen in shock.
“Hi,” she smiled gently, but she could simply not mask the pleasure she gained from his expression.
There was a hole, a really large hole in the living room wall of the gods’ mansion on Earth. Leon had put it there in a raging display of raw emotion that impressed even Krioff.
“So, it was Miho,” Zyglavis exhaled, his expression troubled, and he looked away from the group to the window.
“After what the King did to her, I’m not surprised,” Scorpio snorted, crossing his arms.
“You sympathise?” Krioff growled. “You’re a potato compared to your former self thanks to her.”
“I’m just saying I get it,” Scorpio fired back.
Meanwhile, Leon remained silent, staring at the damage he’d done.
He couldn’t quite decide which emotions were responsible for his loss of control – could he truly say it was anger? Could he be angry at the sister he so brutally betrayed? Was there anything he couldn’t excuse because of that?
Frustration then, that when the culprit stealing stars had been right before him and he had been rendered as impotent as if she’d taken his?
“We have to tell the King right?” Ichthys cringed. “I mean, I didn’t want to last time and I want to even less now but…”
“It would be the right thing to do,” Karno nodded soberly. “And perhaps the only chance we way of getting our stars back.”
“Why didn’t you stop her?” Krioff scowled at Leon, the turn of whose head, the narrowing of his eyes, was nothing short of menacing.
Zyglavis stepped in between them.
“Infighting won’t solve this,” he said evenly, though beneath his skin he was twisting, tensed, wound so tightly he thought he might break. “And whether we think Miho has a right to be angry does not excuse her own crimes. We take this to the King.”
For once, Leon had no voice to argue.
Miho closed her eyes and allowed the warm of Mieke’s hand in hers to fill her mind completely. It kept her grounded though they were a step away from their goal.
Surely they would be waiting for her now, they would confront her before she even reached the King, but that was okay – she wanted it.
Leon had lost all sense of time, Zyglavis also. They weren’t there to guard the King per se, though they had both seen the flash of uncertainty visit the until that time indomitable aura of the most powerful being they knew.
Or maybe he wasn’t anymore?
“I could make some witticism about welcoming committees,” Miho said, breaching the silence, “but I don’t want to unnecessarily add to the cliché count.”
“Miho,” Zyglavis began, “we understand why y…”
“I know you do,” she nodded slowly. “Just as I know you know it’s not enough.”
“You cannot disrupt the balance,” Leon frowned, the toss of his head sweeping his fringe to the side dramatically. “Even if you could depose the King, it would cause immense chaos in both the Heavens and on Earth.”
“Would it?” she posed, stepping closer to them with her partner, whose eyes darted between the two other gods. “With the King’s stars, I’ll have his power. What makes you think my Heaven would be worse than his? Am I more monstrous than the creature who has touted balance and yet done so much to so many that has jeopardised it? Did he not when he marked you with sin? And the others? Did that not throttle Heaven’s defences and allow the uprising of the Dark King?”
She had a point, they knew it, but…
“And, in his defence, are you not complicit in the crimes he continues to commit that threaten the lives and happiness of two worlds?” Miho continued, walking until she and Mieke were just out of reach.
“Rhetorical question,” she sniffed, her upper lip curling back in a sneer. “So now I offer you a choice. Move aside of your own will, or be made to kneel.”
ALTERNATE ENDINGS PENDING