"You think we could polish off another bottle?" Zeus asked, as he poured the last bit of wine out from their most recent conquest.
"Don't you have a council to address at sunrise?" Bethrael asked.
"By the gods, please do not remind me. If I have to hear Tyr bitch for another three hours about resource allocation, I may slit my own throat."
Bethrael chuckled at Zeus's overly dramatic statement. "He is quite up-tight if I do say so. Has he always been so difficult?"
Zeus took another long sip of wine, and reflected for a moment on Tyr. While the Asgardian remnant was officially lead by a council of their own, Tyr was the defacto leader. No decision was made without his approval. His overly cautious style of leadership was born of necessity after Odin perished in the Great War. Tyr was at Valhalla on that fateful day. He fought as valiantly as any of the survivors, but the carnage changed him. He morphed from a fearless warrior to a cynical and cautious politician, focused on the survival of his people above all else. The surviving Asgardians looked to him for leadership in the weeks following the slaughter at Valhalla. It was Tyr who kept them united, even as the Archangels laid their twisted curse upon his people and disfigured them into their grotesque demonic forms. It was Tyr who ordered all Asgardians to stand down from any and all conflict with the Kingdom, thus sparing them extinction. It was Tyr who kept them alive for all those years before the Kingdom fell and the curse was lifted.
Zeus sighed as he recalled why Tyr was the way he was. "Tyr is well meaning. He was one of Odin's most trusted advisers. Mortals called him a God of war, law, and justice. Adored by Asgardians and Olympians alike, and a damn skilled warrior to boot. Beyond that, he was also rational and wiser than most. He never felt the need to fight without cause. Valhalla changed him, though...just like it changed all of us." Zeus said while he closed his eyes.
Bethrael was unsure if Zeus was trying to hide tears or if he was simply ready to pass out from his over-indulgence. "We should try get some rest." she said. "Hildr will kill us both if we are too drunk to attend cou-"
A bang on the door interrupted her sentence. Zeus's eyes shot open. "What time is it?"
"Late or early..." Bethrael answered, unsure exactly how long they had been sitting here.
Another bang at the door. It appeared whoever was on the other side really needed to speak with Bethrael. Her first thought went to Imamu.
"What could he possible need at this hour?" she mumbled to herself.
She approached the door, preparing to open it.
"MY LADY!" A voice on the other side shouted. "YOU ARE IN DANGER! KUSHIEL HAS SENT US AS YOUR ESCORT!"
Bethrael paused for a moment, suspicious. Zeus shot up from his seat and shook off some of the grogginess he was feeling. "WHY DID KUSHIEL NOT COME HIMSELF?" Bethrael shouted back.
"HE IS ALERTING THE GUARD AS WE SPEAK! THE LOYALIST ARE PLANNING AN ATTACK AT SUNRISE!"
Bethrael called for Mjolnir which was placed on the floor by her seat. The pedestrian, white stone hammer with the unremarkable, wooden hilt flew across the room into her palm. Sparks emanated from her hand as she gripped it tight. She gave Zeus a look that told him to be prepared as she slowly opened the door.
"My lady! May we please enter. It is out duty to ensure your protection." The angel said as he moved his head uncomfortably close to the small crack in the doorway.
"Raphael." Bethrael said with a sigh of relief. "Why did you not announce yourself?" She swung the door open allowing Raphael and the other four guards to enter.
"Apologies, my lady. We are all still collecting ourselves." He eyed the powerful hammer still in Bethrael's grip. "Erm...would you kindly lower your weapon, ma'am?"
"Of course!" Bethrael said, feeling foolish she still had Mjolnir brandished. As she prepared to latch her hammer to her waist, a familiar sensation shot through her head, causing a brief and sharp pain. Frigg was trying to communicate something.
"Be wary of the company you keep." the disembodied voice said.
Bethrael eyed the five angels. "Tell me, Raphael. How did Kushiel come to learn of this attack?"
"Um...Imamu, the mortal representative, approached him during the banquet...said the loyalists sent a threatening message." Raphael said, still eyeing Mjolnir. "Ma'am...please...put your weapon away. It is only us."
A tense silence filled the air. Bethrael knew he was lying. Imamu was in her chambers when the banquet began, and he would have never run to Kushiel with such sensitive information.
"Gleharrrrrg!" One of the angels shouted.
Everyone quickly looked up as one of the guards plunged his blade through the back of another.
"It's a trap!" the mysterious guard screamed to Bethrael and Zeus as he pulled his blade back, spilling the silvery, metallic blood of the angel onto the floor.
Raphael quickly grabbed one of his lackeys and forcefully lunged him at Bethrael. The surprised angel was off balance and unprepared. Bethrael forcefully swung her hammer to the right, launching the would be assassin into the nearest wall, nearly sending him through it.
One of the remaining assassins went after Zeus, charging towards the Olympian with his sword and shield ready. Zeus attempted to lob a lightning bolt at the charging angel, but thanks to the wine, he was seeing double. The bolt sailed past the assailant and struck the the wall behind him, filling the room with a quick flash.
The last remaining assassin quickly covered his eyes to block the blinding light. Cason charged forward and violently shoved his blade through the blinded angel, marking his second kill of the day.
Raphael, seizing his opportunity in the moment of chaos fled through the doorway. There was no chance he could defeat the likes of Zeus and Bethrael on his own.
The angel charging towards Zeus took aim at the center of Zeus's belly. Zeus attempted to dodge left, but was too slow and intoxicated. The blade pierced his abdomen, as he let out a pained scream.
Bethrael turned to see her friend in danger. She threw Mjolnir with all her might striking the treasonous angel in his chest. The assassin was slammed into a wall and immediately slumped over dead from his injuries. Mjolnir landed on the floor with a loud thud. She ran over to her friend, who was losing blood.
"Son of a bitch..." Zeus whispered, as he attempted to cover his open wound.
"Let me see it!" Bethrael shouted. She examined the wound, fearing the worst.
"This...would...hurt...a lot more...if I was sober." Zeus said with pained breaths between his words.
"We need to get you into the infirmary- You!" Bethrael shouted to the guard that saved her. "Help me carry him!"
Cason quickly jogged over and threw Zeus's arm over his shoulders. Bethrael did the same on the other side. "They are attacking your city at dawn." Cason said to her.
"How do you know all this?" she asked as they began moving Zeus into the corridor attached to her room.
"Does it matter? I am on your side. That is all you need to know." he responded.
Zeus was losing a lot of blood and fading fast. They dragged him into the infirmary, which doubled as the make-shift intake room where Cason was interrogated upon his arrival. They tossed him onto the nearest bed. Bethrael began rooting through one of the cabinets. She grabbed a nearby knife and cut through Zeus's cloth robe that was blocking the wound. She pulled out a fine white powder, and sprinkled it onto Zeus's wound. Cason observed as the bleeding began to slow. She held her hands over the wound and closed her eyes, using her training to work some of her healing abilities on Zeus.
"Uh...what are you doing?" Cason asked, curious why she appeared to be doing nothing.
"Quiet!" Bethrael said as she kept her focus.
Zeus's shallow, pained breathing slowly returned to a normal pace. He seemed to relax as the bleeding all but stopped. He was completely unconscious at this point.
Bethrael sighed out of relief. "He is lucky. The blade missed the vital organs."
"Your ally betrays you." Cason said, ignoring Zeus.
"I noticed when he tried to kill me." Bethrael sarcastically responded, thinking Raphael's betrayal was fairly obvious at this point.
"No...the older one...Kushiel. He leads these assassins."
The news that Kushiel was involved with the loyalist stung Bethrael. The angel she trusted to coordinate New Eden's security was working to undermine her all this time. "How do you know all of this?"
"He made a deal with me, said if I helped kill you, he would help me save my family. I knew he was lying the moment he agreed to the deal."
"Your family? Are they in the city?!" Bethrael asked confused as to why this family needed saving.
"Earth. They still live." Cason said.
"Well, I owe you a debt, mortal. I will find a way to repay you." Bethrael promised.
Cason looked up to the windows within the room. The sun began peeking through. Screams from the streets began piercing through the serene morning air. "The attack. It has begun." Cason warned.
Bethrael held her arm up towards the direction of her quarters. Cason could hear a powerful object tear through the walls as it made its way towards the duo. It whizzed by him and smacked her palm. It was the strange hammer she used to quickly dispatch two of the assassins.
Lightning engulfed her arm, and the scowl on her face told Cason that she was ready to go to war.