purple sunset over sea water

I won’t bore you with the way I left Rota, or how I convinced the Council of Good Fortune to let me go. That’s a story for another time. Tristran took me as far as Nassau, but then had to hurry off on some other mission. Not that really mattered because once in Nassau I easily took a cab to Par Impar. I timed my arrival for the hours just after midnight and I slipped on the grounds and to my villa without being seen. The weight of what I needed to do sat hard on my shoulders. I’d warded Par Impar before I’d left, and a damn good thing, too. The rumors I heard now curdled my blood, and if I’d had any ties to the goddesses of war, I’d rain a Boudica-worthy wrath down on those who had defiled my good name. That wasn’t me or my style. I’d pulled my luck from them. I hear they worshiped at a new deity of luck, but I knew him. Opportunistic. Sniveling. Conniving. Bastard. I shouldn’t worry about things. Karma had always been a bigger bitch than I ever could hope to be.

I paused by my koi pond. They had thrived in my absence, and I sat down, gently swirling my fingers in the water. As usual, they came to the surface looking for food. I turned off the automatic feeder. I breathed deep the salt-tinged air and my stresses melted away. In the morning, I’d check with Minerva, make sure everything was running on schedule. I’d been released from Rota with a special dispensation, and it’d be my job to inform my staff that our clientele would change somewhat. We’d handled Dorian refugees and high rolling gamblers. Some monsters and myths from legend wouldn’t bother my unflappable, professional staff. It’d set Par Impar apart and give me a greater mission. And also give me a damn good reason to keep any other gods away.

I stood and went inside. First order a nice long bath. Then I’d sleep in my own bed for the first time in months.

I awakened before the morning shift started, ready to seize the day. I opened my laptop and sat in my gazebo, watching my fish. The sounds of the resort waking up surrounded me. I smiled to hear the singing of one of the grounds keepers as he tied up the plants not far from my private villa. The ocean lapped against the shore, and I heard a splash that probably was a big fish or a dolphin playing not far offshore. I’d missed those sounds. It didn’t matter how important the work was at Rota, and to them, it was the most important work in the world. I missed being here. I missed being home.

My empty inbox testified to Minerva’s efficiency. Nothing required my attention. I smiled. Good, I had plans for her. A check on operations showed everything running smoothly. I noted our guest census was down, but that made sense with the pandemic going on. That it’d started while I’d been in Rota meant I couldn’t have been in communications. But it appeared that things were running smoothly, nonetheless. As I expected them to. My staff was very capable.

I showered and changed into a pair of cool linen slacks and a sleeveless blue and white striped shirt. I wore my seahorse pendant proudly, my hair pulled up into a ponytail. A small gold pair of horseshoes dangled from my earlobes. I slipped my feet into sandals, then walked to the main building as if it were any other day.

I made it as far as the front doors before being spotted. “Lady Tyche,” the doorman said.

“Kenneth,” I replied. “It’s good to see you. How are the kids?”

“Growing like weeds.” He grinned. “You’ve been away a while. It’s good to have you back.” He held open the door for me.

I walked in. “Glad to hear it. Thanks, and take care. Lots of work to do this morning.” I hurried inside, breathing deeply of the air that smelled like home. From the fresh flowers in urns not far from the door to the tantalizing aroma of breakfast coming from one of the restaurants, I’d missed the scents of Par Impar. I paused and listed to the slot machines jingle as they teased the players with the chance of a win. Dealers called out bids and provided cards. I strode along one of the long hallways along the edge of the main gaming floor to the almost hidden door that took me to my private elevator. I took the elevator alone and stepped out to find the door to my office closed.

Good. I’d be here before Minerva and hopefully surprise her with my return. I went to the door and stopped. Through the glass windows, I saw her sitting there, computer on, already up to her eyebrows in what looked like spreadsheets. Oh Minerva, I lamented. I never wanted this for you. I lightly knocked on the door, then opened it.

“I don’t need anything for breakfast, thank you,” she said.

“You look like you could use a reprieve. I had hoped to get to the office before you.” I closed the door behind me.

“Tyche?” She looked up from her computer, turning as she realized I’d come up in the private elevator and had entered behind her. She set down her pencil and promptly burst into tears.

I rushed forward, startled to see my unflappable assistant so emotional. Even in the worst of Hurricane Dorian Minerva had kept her cool, comforted staff members, and proved her worth many times over. “Hey. What’s going on?” I dropped to my knees next to the chair. “Everything okay? What happened?”

“Nothing.” Minerva sniffed and reached for a tissue. “It’s stupid really. Silly.” She dabbed at her eyes, careful not to smear her makeup. “I just never thought I’d see you again. When you didn’t come back and after the information you left.” She paused and took a deep breath. “It’s good to see you. More than you probably know.”

“Well it’s very good to see you.” I opened my arms. “Do you need a hug?”

Minerva nodded.

I embraced my assistant. Those weren’t just happy tears. Something had happened and I vowed to get to the bottom of it. Minerva held on a few moments longer than she would have, then stepped back.

“Thank you,” Minerva said. She pointed to the chair. “You can take your seat back. I was just going over some projections.”

“You can have it for a bit longer.” I sat in the chair next to the desk where Minerva often sat when she was taking notes. “There are some things I need to talk to you about. I couldn’t really tell you where I went. Now I could.” I breathed deeply. Revealing the Council’s existence to mortals, other than those working for them, hadn’t been something that I’d really wanted to do before. Now, with the changes coming to Par Impar, it was imperative that I do so.

Minerva spun the  chair to face her. “What is it? I’ve been trying to do a good job.”

“Oh I’m sure you’ve done wonderfully and I look forward to seeing all the great things you’ve done. I just arrived last night, but from walking in this morning, I can tell things have run like clockwork. No, this isn’t about you, or any of the people working here. You see, I’m sure you’ve noticed the strange things going on last October. The world isn’t as most of society wants it to be. There are supernatural creatures.”

Minerva held up her hand. “Then I probably need to tell you something.” She closed her eyes and it was as if a veil were lifted, because instead of the mild mannered assistant that I’d known for a long while, a Roman Goddess, complete with helmet and a white dress and sandals sat in the chair. “I’m a priestess, an aspect, of the Roman Goddess. I can only hold this form for a short while.” She breathed and the veil slipped down and Minerva-the-assistant sat in the chair. “I took this name as a child, when my affinity for the goddess became known. I went into business because I loved it, and because I believed that there was wisdom to be found there. Working for you, I’ve found that wisdom. So whatever you were going to say, I don’t think you were going to scare me off.”

“Good because all manner of supernatural creatures from vampires to mermaids and even the fae folk are real. And they’re going to be staying at Par Impar. I, along with other goddesses of fortune, are on a Council and we oversee the distribution of good fortune among mankind. But humans have become greedy. They’ve tilted the scales and brought them out of balance. We fear it’s irrevocable. Now that Kairos has decided that he can take the opportunity to grab some of this fortune for himself, a war is coming. A war between the forces that try to distribute good fortune in an equitable manner, as much as we can influence anyway because there still is free will and not even the gods can create a utopia, and those who wish to take it for themselves. Par Impar will always be a resort, a place for humans to come and have fun and try their luck. That won’t change. However, as I have warded this island against any other deities save those invited by me personally.” I inclined my head. “Or who already work in my employ and whom I trust with my life. This place is a safe harbor. This island is a safe harbor. We will be making some changes. Creating accommodations, for example to those who prefer to live in the sea, as well as ensuring one of our towers is supernatural creatures only so that they do not have to deal with humans except in public spaces. It will be a lot of work and I’d be honored if you remain by my side.”

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