Nash was at a party, and no one was trying to kill him.
To Nash, it seemed like some people never learned.
The flaming sword flickered through the air. Nash raised his hands, and it was only instinct that saved him. He had moved to the side at the same time, and his hands passed through Michael’s without touching them. The archangel’s Grace was in full swing, and Nash couldn’t touch him.
The ice was slippery, but it was less than an hour to reach the edge of the gaping hole. Nash knelt down, and frowned, staring down the smooth walls of ice. Climbing them would be impossible. “Fuck,” he murmured. One of the chains hung nearby, massive iron links looped together, ending in a tremendous collar that hung down, into the blackness visible within the ice. “Not getting out that way,” Nash muttered, and shook his head as he stood up. “Unless any of you might be able to pull something off?”
Nash could hear the soft sobs fill the air. He looked around, and found that the only thing in any direction was an endless gray expanse. It stretched off into infinity in a way that was completely impossible to focus on, undifferentiated and mind-numbing. He turned until he could hear the sobbing coming from somewhere in front of him, and began to walk. It seemed to make a difference.
Nash ran without tiring, as the skies clouded over. A thick sleet began to pelt down, gathering in great drifts on the ground. It was thick and dark, with a smell like mildew and neglect. He could hear the others coughing and choking as they ran through the deepening piles of slush. The smell was foul, making it hard for them to breathe. Their feet were uncertain, and he heard a splash behind him. He turned to find Eumaeus pulling himself to his feet, smeared in the disgusting mire that gathered constantly around their legs.
There was the distant sound of crumbling stone. Plumes of smoke rose from the slums. Nash frowned down at them sigh, pausing mid-stride. Tezcatlipoca set a hand on his shoulder, hurrying him along the open street. “The Vemana have evacuated to the Aztec Quarter. The defenses there will help to keep them as safe as anywhere in Paradise. The Loa agreed to lure the angelic forces into the heart of the slums. We rely on Prester John to want to keep some image of benevolence for now, and avoid outright destruction for fear of revealing his true nature.”
“You know,” said Betty, her eyes narrowed, “You’re an unusually arrogant human. I can admit I find that admirable. It takes real stones to wear someone’s skin in front of their friends and family.”
Nash watched as the two gods sped up the wall. He could have followed them, maybe. But he wasn’t that fast, and he suspected Betty could handle the situation. He turned back towards the young man who had arrived with the dog. Legba’s servant coughed nervously. “You aren’t going to beat me, are you, sir? I just walk Legba. I didn’t mean to offend.”
“Now?” asked Djehuty, frowning. I gave him an unapologetic smile. “The emissaries will be here in a matter of days. This war can end, but we need you here, Bastet. Your strength is one of the things that forces them to respect us.” He tugged the feathers on his head, frowning at me as he preened. “Surely your village will be safe for a few days more on its own?”