Persephone felt strange in Minerva’s presence. She could see the eddies of power that wisped off of Minerva’s skin like steam off of a cup of coffee; she wondered how someone could possess so much raw potential and not use it.
“Why don’t you use your powers to step back through time and see where the thief went?” asked Persephone. Minerva considered the question, her face turning plaintive. The pair sat at a table in the hotel’s lobby while August delivered his speech about dealing with grief in one of the meeting rooms.
“It was a while ago. It feels like a lifetime ago. I used my abilities to do terrible things, and have since vowed not to use them,” answered Minerva.
“Isn’t it tempting to use your abilities?” asked Persephone, interested.
“Have you ever broke your vow?”
“On occasion,” answered Minerva after a brief pause. “Sometimes life has a way of asking you to do the things you don’t want to. Sometimes, you can’t say no.”
“How do you mean?” asked Persephone, popping a sugar cube in her mouth and letting it melt slowly.
“It’s like knowing how to swim, but being afraid of the water, then finding that someone is drowning. Do you refuse to save someone just because of your limitations?” asked Minerva. Persephone frowned deeply, then started to slouch in her chair.
“So a promise is a promise only so long as you want to keep it?” asked Persephone in response. As an Elf, the vows she swore were always binding, even if it meant death.
“I guess that it is the privilege of being human. We have a way of governing our actions which can seem contradictory at times.”
“It seems to be a contradiction that you will use your extra-sensory perception, but won’t use your magic,” responded Persephone.
“My E.S.P. is something that I can’t turn off very easily. Unless I’m mindful, it will just click on. It is like breathing. I do have a natural talent for magic, and it is a gift, but one that I have abused too much in the past.”
Persephone’s curiosity was mounting. She needed to know what Minerva did that was so grim, so she asked.
“There was someone that believed in me. He persuaded me to use my abilities to do terrible things, things which I cannot easily live with,” said Minerva. Her eyes wandered from Persephone’s. “I’ve hurt innocent people with my abilities. I wish I could blame it all on him and move on, but I can’t. It was my decision, even if I was coerced into making it.”
Persephone rapped her fingertips on the table impatiently. She wanted a direct answer and had tired of Minerva’s evasiveness.
“What, exactly, did you do?” she asked.
“I called a god, and it came.”
“Did it kill people?” asked Persephone morbidly.
“Worse. It took them away, back to wherever it came from.”
“Did you stop it?”
“No. August did. It took a lot out of him. It was how our friendship began.” said Minerva. Persephone tried to find out more, but Minerva wouldn’t speak anymore about it.
“Does August make a habit of saving people from themselves?” asked Persephone, more to herself than to Minerva.
“He only saves the ones he can,” responded Minerva absent-mindedly. Persephone sipped her tea; it had gone cold and tasted too bitter. She pushed it aside and looked around the large dining area. No one else was around. She studied Minerva’s hands for a moment, noticing the wedding band on her finger.
“Are you married to him?” asked Persephone.
“No,” said Minerva abruptly. “I’m married to Tobias Krieg.”
“The Otherkin activist? The one that went crazy?” blurted Persephone, not reflecting on her hurtful words until she saw them register on Minerva’s countenance.
“I wouldn’t call him an activist, and I certainly wouldn’t call him crazy. He’s passionate, and a werewolf. The two can get a person in out of their depth sometimes,” explained Minerva. “The news got their story wrong; he hasn’t been charged with wrong-doing. The reporters on the scene refuse to retract what they have said. Besides, even if they agreed to a retraction, it wouldn’t get as much press as the accusation.”
Persephone was impressed by Minerva’s answer. It was passionate, but tempered with wisdom. She supposed that Minerva was one of the smartest people she’d ever met, and she was likely one of the wisest as well. She decided that she liked Minerva more than most humans.
“You bitch!” sneered Piotir Ivanovich, pulling apart the half-Windsor knot of his tie. He was a successful business man, both in legal and illegal trades, and much of his success came from nearly two-thousand years of experience. The woman that appeared on his computer screen had managed to cut through the web of identities and names changes he had fabricated, and now held his future on the tip of her finger.
“Name calling? Really, Piotir, I expect much more from you. I thought that death threats would be in order. That is why I have additional measures in place in case of my untimely demise. You have two days to comply with my demands before the information of your unlife is released to the Russian government. I’m sure that they will take much more from you than I’m asking,” said Tabitha. Piotir knew that she was right, but he wasn’t happy with the position she put him in, either. Truthfully, he hadn’t felt so threatened since the Revolution. He decided to push his emotions aside, and approached the situation as a matter of business.
“So, you want a share of my business and information about another Ancient, that is all? This is blackmail, so I have no guarantee that this will placate you. A deal with you could be worse for me than dealing with the government. A well-placed bribe could easily circumvent your attempts.” Piotir smirked, marking Tabitha’s facial cues. She seemed dismayed, but not averted.
“You have your choice. You have two days to contact me and make arrangements,” said Tabitha, ending the video conference abruptly. Piotir admired her spirit, but he felt that he could squirm his way out of her trap unscathed. He had been through worse. However, one detail annoyed him: how was she able to find him?
Part 10 (Coming Soon)