1 February 1865

Just tell him everything,” Lima said.

We were walking down the long staircase to the first floor. I was dressed as a member of the Dolphinae sisterhood, minus the mask: the light blue, see-through dress, gold gloves that extended to my shoulders, and sandals.

It’s important,” she continued, “that you tell Poseidon everything – leave no detail out.”

I nodded, feeling nervous. I was about to meet a man who purported to be a god of Olympus, a truly blasphemous claim. From the moment I heard his name spoken in this building, my feeling had been that of course this man was not actually the God of the Oceans, but as I descended the stairs, my confidence wavered. After all I had seen, could I be certain I was not about to meet an actual god?

At the bottom of the stairs, we turned left and then back in the direction we came, as that was the only way we could turn. When we hit the back of the staircase, there was the same design as the upper floor: a hallway that ran to a room to the right and left and a large set of double doors ahead of us.

Lima pointed down the hallway to the left. “That is where Jenson’s mistress will be held,” she explained, and then pointed to the right, “and that is where Jenson is being held. You will be meeting Poseidon through the double doors.”

Are you coming with me?”

Lima shook her head. “He wants to meet with you alone.”

I took a purposeful breath. “Is there anything I need to know.”

It is best that you experience him yourself.”

I took a step towards the door, but hesitated. “How is Lord Shepherd?”

Improving,” she answered, and motioned again towards the double doors. “It’s not best to keep him waiting.”

I nodded and turned back to the doors. They were a dark oak, inlaid with gold designs. Each door had a large trident on it and two elongated handles. I grabbed hold of one and the door easily opened. I stepped into a room unlike any I had seen. It was incredibly large and circular. The walls were made of grey rock and there was a walkway that rimmed the room. The front wall of the walkway came up to my waist. I moved to the edge as the door shut behind me. At the wall, I looked down and saw there was a large pool of water where the floor should be. The smell of salt in the air told me it was sea water. At the edge of the pool were natural rocks which led back to several cave tunnels. The pool looked to me to be nearly fifty feet wide, the pool edge nearly fifteen feet, and the three cave tunnels were directly opposite from me, each of them nearly seven feet tall. The water sent a reflection of lamp oil light across the great stone walls. It was clear to me this cavern had been cut right out of the earth.

Walk down to me, Beatrice Sharper.”

I could not see the speaker of the powerful voice, but it had to be Poseidon. I moved to my left – the walkway hugged the cavern wall and arced down to the pool. When I reached the bottom, I could see the silhouette of a man in a cavern tunnel opposite me, below where I had just been standing.

Poseidon?”

Who else?”

The God of the Oceans?”

Poseidon laughed and moved out of the cave and into the light. He was tall and strong, with a confident face and eyes that could only be described as powerful. He wore a short-sleeved, light blue, button up shirt (although he only had it buttoned to the bottom of his chest) and black leather pants and boots.

And, there was this:

He was a negro.

Moving towards me to his right around the edge of the salt water pool. His hair was salted with a touch of grey and pulled back behind his head. The yellow light from the oil lamps on the cavern walls cast an odd light around the room, but he looked to be closer to 50 than 40. Poseidon was tall, too, standing well over 6 foot. There were guns on a holster on his hip, but he moved with such confidence and was so solidly built, that it seemed to me an opponent would have preferred to fight the guns and not the man.

You are not the god,” I said.

Poseidon smiled and held out his hand. “Charles Francis Poseidon,” he greeted warmly in an accent that was not quite British. “Born to a British father and an African mother, raised in both the finest schools and notorious ships around the glove, I earn my keep getting paid to fight the monsters no one else will fight.”

That sounds practiced,” I replied as a way of showing him I would not easily fall for his charm.

He laughed richly at my response. “Lima was right about you,” he revealed. “You are not easily moved.”

Shall we get to business?” I asked.

What did Kadul offer? Please, tell me as much as you can.”

I explained the entire story to the demon fighter, and ended with Kadul’s offer: “My soul, my child, a life of luxury, in exchange for whatever I most want.”

And what do you want most?”

I admitted I did not know.

That makes it difficult, but also provides an opportunity.”

How so?”

Because it allows us to negotiate.”

If I do not make a deal with him, he has threatened to send Jackson to kill my parents.”

Poseidon frowned and turned to walk away from me, giving him time to think. “That is very bad,” he explained. “Demons do better taking souls with honey rather than threats. If Kadul is resorting to threats, he truly is afraid.”

What does that mean for us?”

It means that we’d best find a way out of this situation, or you are likely to spend eternity in Hell.” He looked at me with sadness on his face. “Unfortunately, we do not have time to think too deeply on this matter. We must go and capture the ill-fated woman who bears Jenson Shepherd’s child.”

Why?”

Because she is due to give birth,” Poseidon explained. “The birth of children is a wonderful, beautiful thing, but not when the birth cycle is completed in 1 month instead of 9.” The tall man looked me over. “Will you be joining us on our raid? I hesitate to make an offer to one not of the sisterhood, but Lima’s neck tells me you can handle yourself in a fight.”

About that neck … ?” I asked, letting the question hang.

Poseidon glanced across the salt water to the door I entered through. “There are demons that owed me favors and demons that fear me,” he explained with a quiet, somber tone, and said no more. “Go to your room. Prepare yourself. We leave in three hours.”

And with that, he walked into a cavern tunnel, leaving me alone with the water and my thoughts.

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