The sound of applause got Clara’s attention. When she turned to look, a portion of the mob was gone, which gave her a clear view of the bar. Clara saw three women sitting on individual barstools. From this distance, they appeared to be triplets, albeit there were clear differences between them.
The middle sister wore a locket shaped like a key and was imbued with a silvery aura. The sister to the left had a brooch shaped like a lantern (on her left lapel) that glowed like a spark gap transmitter. Last but not least, was a sister who also had a lantern adorning her lapel (this time on her right) but appeared to have just stepped out of her grave. The single most disturbing aspect was her ethereal translucency.
“Bravo,” the silvery sister said in a jovial and uplifting tone. After all, she had gone through today, any words of encouragement were welcome!
“I’ve seen better,” the ethereal sister said.
This comment left Clara feeling as though she had been bludgeoned. Peculiar how those words had no emotion, no warmth and how they sucked the life out of her.
“Leave her alone!” Sparky exclaimed.
As a good measure, Sparky sent a jolt of electricity through to her ethereal sister. The recipient just glared at the others before she gave it her all in a Bronx cheer.
Should she laugh or get ready for another attack? There was something vaguely familiar about this whole affair, but for the life of her, Clara could not remember why.
“Thank you,” Clara said but remained unsure of herself.
“She’s stalling,” the ethereal sister said without a hint of emotion.
The silvery sister had nothing to say. Instead, she slipped off her barstool. With her first step, the other two merged into a single body, but every so often they would morph from one persona to another.
“You’ll have to excuse her,” the silvery woman said while extending her hand.
“Spirits and necromancy have a tendency to drag a girl down,” Sparky added.
The moment they shook hands, Clara felt the current flowing through her.
“Like anyone believes in magic anymore,” said the Ethereal sister who pulled her hand away.
“Clearly, not the life of the party,” Clara whispered.
“I will get you for this,” Drusilla said.
Up to that point, Clara had forgotten about that irritation. The triplet’s reaction was humorous. One by one, they glared at Drusilla and snapped their fingers. After the third sister completed this motion, Clara saw Drusilla’s eyes glaze over like an aged photograph. A quick glance around the room confirmed that the rest had been frozen in the same way.
The word bizarre fit this scene to a tee. There were clues leading Clara to believe that this situation had been manufactured by the sisters. Was it necessary? Clara had no doubts that her fate would have been unpleasant had they chosen not to intervene. So why the show?
Clearly, this remnant found her amusing, even one powerful enough to distort reality. The Georgians were unable to manipulate space and time to this degree. Since she was not getting any headway with this one, Clara decided to play a gambit.
“I am sorry,” Clara said followed by a pause to seem natural. “Have we met before?”
All three versions rolled their eyes in succession, but the transitions slowed until they settled on one version. This variant was nothing special to look at and could easily blend into a crowd. For now, it seemed like she was done with her parlour tricks.
“No,” the goddess said while moving back to the bar.
Once the goddess sat down, two full glasses materialised at her fingertips. She raised her glass in salute, then emptied it in one hit. She then pointed to an empty stool. Subtlety was not one of her hallmarks.
With no perception of choice, Clara sat down. She picked up the glass, staring deeply into swirling liquid. Nothing appeared to be familiar about the elixir. Heck, it even glowed, although it did smell divine. All it took was a drop of the elixir on her tongue to make all of her senses come alive. It was hard to describe, but it easily put the most intense orgasm she ever had to shame.
“Ambrosia,” Clara said absentmindedly while waiting for her body to stop tingling.
“Very good!” the other exclaimed.
The goddess grabbed the glass from Clara’s hand and finished it just like the other. Good thing it had only been a drop!
“That makes you a goddess?” Clara managed to ask.
“Right again,” the other said trailing off.
The change in her voice would have been hard to catch to the inexperienced ear. Clara focused on that change while forcing her mind to recover from the effects of the ambrosia. This was important, and she needed her wits to stay alive. Clara blinked a few moments and wondered why the world seemed so dismal and grey now.
“Something wrong?” Clara asked.
“Oh,” the other replied distractedly. “It’s nothing, really,” the goddess sighed.
Clara hesitated. Playing a motherly figure to something that was well over three-thousand years old was suicide. The elderly did not take their advice from newborn babes, a comparison Clara expected to hear from self-professed gods.
She mulled over the situation. First, there was the fight which brought her out of the woodwork, then her powers faded over time. Greek gods were renowned for their need of worship. Like Drusilla, they craved to be the centre of attention, be it on Olympus or the mortal realm.
Could it be that the wholesale abandonment of their followers had weakened them? Just how bored and lonely were they? How much would they give to feel alive? Even for a moment? How long would such emotions last when they were awash in several millennia of experiences?
“Clara,” she said to break the silence.
“Hecate,” the other said with a half-smile.
So that explained the three distinct personas! A goddess represented by holding two lanterns and a key, or sculpted as Siamese triplets. The goddess of magic, crossroads, moon, ghosts and necromancy. A fitting entity for the hallowed grounds of the Grand.
With a snap of Hecate’s fingers, an amphora appeared which permitted her to pour liberal doses of ambrosia. What effect did ambrosia have on the Gods of old?
“Thank you for intervening,” Clara said.
Clara reached over the bar and grabbed that bottle of coffin varnish. She opted to leave her derringer on the counter, doubtful that a firearm would be of any use given her situation. A shame, she rather liked that weapon.
Unlike the Goddess, Clara decided to forego a bit of class and drank straight from the bottle. Compared to ambrosia, this stuff tasted like molten brimstone. Why did that feel so right?
The goddess smiled, it must have been a while since she had last revealed herself. Clara still wondered what made her so special to deserve such an honour.
“Fun to watch,” Hecate said. “They wholeheartedly believe they control every facet of your society. Nice to see them knocked down a peg.”
For the moment, Clara kept quiet but saw where she was headed. She turned to glance at Drusilla, crumpled onto the ground. A shame that she had been unable to land that fatal blow, a problem she needed to address.
“You have a choice,” the goddess said.
Since Hecate did not elaborate, it forced Clara to ask what her choices were. Before that happened, Clara sent another dose of fire down her belly to calm her nerves.
“What choice would that be?” Clara asked.
“For a minute, you managed to shake a few cobwebs loose,” Hecate replied.
So Clara’s assumptions had been correct. The goddess was hoping to regain her former glory, regain even a sliver of her former powers. There were probably some followers to be found, scattered about by the winds of time.
How many still prayed to Athena or Ares? How many damned people to Hades anymore? These were vestiges of a time long past. Who could fault them for wanting to regain even one iota of their power?
“You mentioned a choice?” Clara asked, but could guess where this was heading.
Hecate smirked and pointed over to the mob of people who by all rights should have torn her to shreds by now. That would have been a quick death, perhaps, but also gruesome. Would such a death have made her worthy of canonization?
The hunter swallowed two large mouthfuls of that swill. Clara began to feel close to the edge, and if she were careless, might end up spifflicated. Then what?
“What about that one?” Clara asked while pointing towards Drusilla.
“What about her,” the other replied with a yawn.
“She’s still a threat, even in her current state,” Clara said hinting to the importance of this task.
“Not really your problem,” Hecate said.
There was truth to that statement. Had the goddess not interfered, Clara would not have lived to care. Drusilla would live to see another night, although scarred from their encounter but nonetheless free to continue her pattern of violence. Clara wondered if stories of her sucker punching Drusilla would become legend.
Hecate’s yawn had been the definitive clue Clara needed. She would live to fight another day, but at the expense of becoming a diversion. Once bored, would Hecate toss her away like trash?
“You would leave her to exact her revenge on the innocent?” Clara asked.
Time for her to start poking the bear, she thought. For a moment, all three versions of her appeared to break away from the unified form but were quickly drawn back together.
“Innocent,” the goddess laughed. “No one in this room is innocent.”
“God forgives all sins,” Clara said.
What were her chances of being killed for simply throwing down that name? Hecate glared at Clara, a sore point to their kind, given how Christianity had usurped their dominance long ago.
She walked away and made sure to have the bottle of coffin varnish with her. Clara stopped by Victor then giggled at the look on his face. He may have believed he was going to get lucky tonight, but that was a deal forged entirely in his mind.
“What can you offer me that God cannot?” Clara asked.
Clara’s demeanour was that of a woman who was drunk. The emotional upheaval, stress, and booze created the perfect conditions for Clara to lose control. To pull off a convincing lie, she needed some effects to seem authentic.
As expected, the goddess’ reaction was more violent this time. The goddess split back to her three distinct entities and this time, the ethereal entity took the lead.
“This one is trying to rile us up,” the ethereal sister said.
For once, the ethereal one was right. Sparky began to channel her powers which mimicked a tesla coil as surges of energy flowed along her length. Clara giggled. A goddess that was unable to conceal her temper was silly.
“Now why would I do that,” Clara said while playing the role of a dumb dora.
Clara pulled at her last pearl earring, then crushed it over the mouth of the bottle. The sleight of hand had been quick and expertly done, appearing as though she had been fumbling with the bottle prior to taking another swig.
“See! See! She just did something,” the ethereal sister said.
“What did you see?” the silvery sister asked.
Clara saw how Sparky’s eyes were set aglow in a bright blue hue. This was the first time Clara had observed this behaviour, so perhaps her capacitors were fully charged?
This was the perfect time for her to pretend to be scared. Her heart rate rose, and she backed away from the sisters until she tripped over Drusilla. Clara’s fall caused the bottle to fly through the air like some slapstick comedy. To think that all that time spent watching Charlie Chaplin movies would come in handy someday?
When she landed hard on Drusilla, the bottle crashed on top of that monster’s head, drenching both of them in alcohol. God she hoped the bitch could still feel that. The odour of alcohol invaded every one of her senses. It even made her eyes water.
“Bravo!” the silvery sister goddess exclaimed.
“All part of the act,” the ethereal sister added to keep the other two focused.
Based on the hysterical laughter, the ethereal sister’s words were having no effect. Clara needed them to unleash their wrath for her plan to work. That meant it was time to up the ante.
Clara grabbed onto the hilt of her blade buried into Drusilla’s spine. As expected, the blade would not budge, nonetheless, she hoped this act would force the goddess to play her hand.
“She’s going to attack,” said the decidedly paranoid ethereal sister.
“Now wait—,” the silvery sister managed to say just as a long and powerful bolt of blue energy made the air crackle.
The beam struck Clara dead centre in her chest, spreading over her body then passed through the blade and into Drusilla’s spine which made them both convulse. Whatever prevented Clara from affecting others in the room was easily sidestepped by the goddesses’ power.
The other two sisters turned to look at Sparky. The look matched precisely what was etched on the bimbo’s face. Of all the times to wish for a camera!
The look on their faces soon dissipated when a bright yellow light filled the room. That bolt of energy had been enough to ignite the alcohol which engulfed both women in an inferno.
“In nómine Patris et Fílii et Spíritus Sancti,” Clara said while making the sign of a cross.
In a final act of faith, Clara closed her eyes, understanding that time was not on her side. This would be a painful and unpleasant death. So where were the effects? Her skin should have been burning, her flesh drawing tight while pain flooded her mind.
Surprised, she opened her eyes and expected to see Hecate taunting her. Instead, she was greeted with a wall of flame growing in intensity.
When Clara glanced at Drusilla, she saw how the flames licked her corpse with zeal. Soon enough, Drusilla would be nothing more than a collection of charred bones. That idea put a smile on her face, succeeding in her mission despite interference from a higher power. Drusilla would never again be a threat to anyone.
So where was the sense of accomplishment? If her life revolved around revenge, then her goal had been met. To die doing God’s work was a good way to go, and certainly better than Drusilla’s pot-roast welcome to hell.
Then it dawned on her. Revenge had consumed her life because she was furious with these creatures for robbing her of a mundane life. Until that moment, she never stopped to think about her desires to find a good man, fall in love, and become a mother. The idea of existing like a normal person and carrying on in a world oblivious to what lurked in the shadows had been her idea of paradise.
Clara felt some form of energy from within which was hard to describe. She humbly accepted her fate, even while this power kept the flames at bay. Despite this divine intervention, Clara knew she had moments before being overwhelmed.
Clara finished off by saying, “Amen.”
Her final word was followed by an intense shock wave of blinding light that knocked down the column of fire.
“That bastard,” the ethereal sister said before spitting on the floor.
For the first time tonight, her voice carried a depth of emotion.
“Ab-so-lute-ly,” the silvery sister said before she turned to look at Sparky. “Someone just had to go and stir up enough shit so that egomaniac would save the day,” she added with a hint of disdain.
“What did I do,” Sparky said while feigning ignorance.
Tired of this party, Sparky casually strolled towards the exit. However, that did nothing to diffuse the situation.
“You know full well what you did,” the silvery sister said following suit.
“You always fuck things up,” the ethereal sister threw in to get one last dig in.
“Me?” Sparky asked while her eyes were aglow.
“Just ducky,” the silvery sister said.
The latter knew this would take a while to resolve. The last fight that broke out between those two had taken the better part of a century to resolve!
Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!