“Well?” the goddess raised one dark brow at her, “what do you say, love? I’d suggest saying yes, “ she dropped a wink at the others watching in the doorway, “unless your friends annoy you terribly and you’d like me to get rid of them for you, I always did find human companionship annoying.”
“No,” Alice blurted, “fine, I except your…your competition.”
“Alice,” Shakra’s voice was laced with pain, and she was leaning against Altair, one hand pressed to her forehead, “it’s not use playing her little game. If you win, she’ll kill us all anyways. She a very sore loser.”
Alice glared at Athena, “how do I know she’s not right? How will I know you won’t kill me if I win?”
Athena grinned and shrugged, “You don’t. And don’t worry, you can’t win. There’s no way anyone can win a weaving contest with me.”
“And if I lose?” Alice tried to swallow the lump in her throat.
“Then you’re mine.”
“That just sounds like a bad deal altogether,” Alice hissed, “it’s not a fair competition.”
“That’s too bad for you,” Athena laughed.
“You have to play fair,” Alice glowered at her, “or we can’t play at all.” She leaned back as Athena bent closer to her and purred, “are you going to make me play fair, little Alice?”
“No,” Alice felt her heart lift a little as an idea occurred to her, “but I think I know someone who can.” She seized the bone necklace between her thumb and forefinger, rubbing it hard, shutting her eyes tightly she whispered, “Goddess Styx.”
Athena gave an outraged cry, “You can’t…”
A dark mist began to gather around their feet, and they both stepped back. Athena glared at her, “are you daft, child? The goddess Styx won’t lay a hand on me…”
The mist took form abruptly, turning into the tall, dark goddess of the river, “…but I can make you play fair, sister.” She turned dark eyes on Alice, “I was wondering when you would call me, little witch.”
Even though she knew the Goddess Styx was on her side, Alice still had to suppress a shudder under the gaze of her inky black eyes, “I know you won’t hurt one of…of your own kind just for me, but…will you judge a contest to make it fair?”
Styx’s eyes glittered with interest, shifting from Alice to Athena, who suddenly looked very pouty, as if she was a small child whose candy was being threatened, “yes, I will judge your competition. What are the stakes?”
Athena’s voice was sulky, “it’s a weaving contest. If I win, she dies. If she wins, she dies.”
Styx stared at her, until Athena sighed loudly and threw up her arms, “fine! If she wins she goes free,” she glared at Alice, “but she won’t win. It’s not possible.”
Styx’s voice became hard, “and if she wins?”
Alice forced her voice into steadiness, “if I win, everyone goes free and you leave me and everyone I love alone for the rest of our existence.”
YOU ARE READING
Alice Cunningham is back! First stop is Prague, a city drenched in ancient magic. It's beautiful, haunted and full of history. Maybe too much history. When Alice is confronted by a deranged and powerful witch with a grudge, she decides it's time to...