The kitchen door cracked open and Deacon stuck his blond head out. “Is it safe . . .” He trailed off, eyes widening when he spotted the horses, the men, and Hades. “Yep, I’ll just keep Gable distracted a little longer.”
The door shut.
Hades’s smirk grew as he surveyed the room, his all-white eyes beyond eerie, and I just stood there, arms dangling at my sides. The dagger was forgotten in my hand. There were dead things reduced to ashes on the floor—the floor that was currently split wide open. There were horses—giant warhorses I was pretty sure were not of normal size, and Hades—the god of the Underworld—was standing a mere handful of feet from me.
“Should we bow or something?” I whispered to Luke.
Luke slid me a sidelong glance and murmured, “I’m just not going to move or draw any attention to myself.”
“Too late,” Hades said, turning to us. “A half-blood and Apollo’s daughter. I figured we’d be meeting under different circumstances.”
I shivered, thinking “different circumstances” probably meant our deaths.
“What were those things?” Aiden asked.
Hades nodded up at the men. They hooked their super-special lassos to their waists but did not dismount. They sat upon their horses, eyes straight ahead and as silent as graves. Turning in unison, their heels dug into the sides of their horses and turned to stand sentry by the rift.
Understanding dawned, and my stomach dropped. I realized who the two men were—Hades’s servants. His men. They were what Seth had pledged himself to become upon his death, to serve under Hades, taking Aiden’s place.
I suddenly felt sick.
“Those creatures were held in the pits of Tartarus, deep within the fire caverns,” Hades explained, swiping his booted foot through the pile of ashes. “They were once daimons.”
I needed to sit down.
Even Alex paled.
“Did you believe when daimons die they simply cease to exist?” Hades queried, tone smug. “No matter what they tell you, everything is sorted out in the end.”
“Kind of like Hogwarts?” Alex asked.
Hades inclined his head to the side.
Alex sighed. “Never mind.”
“The daimons spend eternity being burned alive and then put back together, only to suffer the same fate nearly at once.”
I really needed to sit down.
“Sometimes I change it up. Burying them alive in just enough lava to sear the skin away and then let them dig their way out of rock and soil is fun,” Hades continued with a shrug. “The torture drives them insane.” He paused. “Then again, they were daimons. Not much going on between the ears anyway.”
“Okay. Could’ve lived forever without knowing all of that,” Alex said slowly. “But what were they doing up here?”
A fissure of energy rolled through the room, followed by a blinding bright, golden light. Electricity poured in, pure power, lifting the tiny hairs all over my body. The light receded and in its place were two forms.
Hades sighed. “Always have to make a grand entrance, don’t you?”
Apollo stood by the staircase, and beside him was Hercules. The sun god—my father—stepped forward, and his all-white eyes sparked. When he spoke, fury sharped his tone. “What have you all done?”
My father looked like he was only a few years older than me, which was as weird as it sounded. He wasn’t dressed like Hades or how I’d ever imagined any god to look.
Apollo was wearing faded jeans and a tight black shirt.
I’d first met him when I was a young, lonely girl, and he was just a strange man who went by the name Bob, who gave me candies and dolls. Looking back, I totally got how incredibly creepy that was, but for a short summer, he’d been my only friend.
And now he was my father—my absentee father who randomly appeared and disappeared within minutes, and I hadn’t been around him long enough to see him like this, truly angry.
I sucked in an unsteady breath as he stepped forward, the all-white eyes giving way to irises as blue as mine. “Do you all have any idea what you’ve done?” he demanded.
I opened my mouth, but Alex responded before I had the chance to even figure out what to say. “You’re going to have to be a little more detailed. We’ve done a lot of things.”
Apollo’s eyes narrowed on what was his great-great-great-great-times-a-thousand granddaughter. “You killed Atlas.”
“Um, hi Dad . . .” I kept my expression blank as Apollo’s golden head swung in my direction. “And how is that a problem?”
Hades chuckled darkly. “Luv, look around and you should be able to answer that question.”
Aiden’s frown was severe.
“You weren’t supposed to kill Atlas or any of the Titans. “ Apollo’s voice was as harsh as a violent windstorm. “You were supposed to entomb them.”
“Okay. Sorry?” A prickly feeling along my skin grew. I was so not in the mood for this.
“Sorry?” Apollo repeated. “Perhaps my instructions were not clear enough when I explained that the Titans needed to be entombed.”
Alex barked out a cutting laugh. “Your instructions are never clear.”
His eyes snapped blue fire and he looked like he was gearing up for a major rant I really didn’t want to listen to. “He was going to kill us,” I said, and I felt that should’ve been explanation enough. “He was killing us. Look at what happened to Solos. If it hadn’t been for Seth—”
“I really don’t want to hear that name right now,” Apollo interrupted, and yep, he was ticked off.
“Sorry, but we’re going to need to talk about him.” Aiden’s voice was level and calm, but I tensed all over. “Because we all have several questions about what happened with him.”
Neither Hades nor Apollo answered.
“How did Seth become the God Killer?” asked Alex. Her arms were folded across her chest and her hip was cocked to the side. She was all attitude. “As far as we knew, that wasn’t possible. I was the God Killer and when I died my mortal death, that was that.”
Impatience flooded Apollo’s expression, tightening his jaw. “I’m not sure if you remember how unordinary that entire event was?”
Alex raised a single brow.
“We had no idea what truly would happen to you or to Seth. Making you a demigod—who also happened to be the Apollyon and the awakened God Killer, while there was another Apollyon alive—had never been done before. I warned you—all of you—that anything was possible,” Apollo shot back, but he hadn’t warned me about any of this. Then again, he didn’t really tell me much. “Anything was possible.”
“So you’re telling me that you really had no idea Seth could tap into all of us and somehow become the God Killer?” Disbelief colored Alex’s voice.
“That is what I am saying,” Apollo replied sharply.
My frustration grew, as did the ache in my arm. “Okay. Even if all the super-special gods in the world had no idea that Seth could somehow become the God Killer, that still doesn’t explain how he killed Atlas. We were told—he was told—that only the demigods with their unlocked abilities could kill them.”
Apollo’s jaw flexed. “They could entomb them.”
“We were not sure if the God Killer could,” Hades stated after a moment. We all turned to him. He looked particularly bored with the conversation. “God Killers did not exist when the Titans were in control. We felt it was best to not put it in that unstable cretin’s head—the possibility of him being able to take out a Titan.”
“He is not an unstable cretin.” My hands curled into fists.
Hades smirked. “That’s a matter of opinion, luv.”
I exhaled heavily. “Basically, you guys knew there was a chance Seth could become this. After all, didn’t you have Alex and Aiden watching him?”
“Well . . .” Alex trailed off.
“And you knew there was a chance he could kill a Titan, but you said nothing,” I continued. “And now I’m assuming the earthquake and the charbroiled daimons had something to do with Atlas’s death?”