“Thanks again for letting us come in,” Gemma said. “I know you’re usually closed on Sundays.”
“It’s no problem at all.” Lydia waved it off and winked at Gemma. “I make exceptions for supernatural beings. I can’t expect them to live on normal mortal time, can I?”
“I really appreciate it anyway,” Gemma said.
“Sorry. I was just doing a quick tarot reading.” Lydia peered down at the cards next to her for a minute, tilting her head this way and that before shaking her head and scooping up the cards. “This week looks like it’s going to be busy.”
“I’m sorry about that,” Marcy said.
“Don’t be.” Lydia smiled brightly and shuffled the cards. “It’s better to be busy than bored. That’s what I always say.”
“Marcy lives by the exact opposite of that motto,” Gemma said.
Marcy nodded. “I really do.”
“I know.” Lydia laughed in her usual light, twinkling way, and set the deck of cards aside. “Anyway, I got the e-mail with the list of names you wanted me to look up, and I’ve started the search, but it may take a little while.”
“Bummer.” Marcy leaned against the counter next to Lydia. “But I suppose there isn’t, like, a national Greek God Database like there is for missing children.”
“No, there’s not,” Lydia said. “And it doesn’t help that most of the gods and goddesses don’t want to be found.”
“How come?” Gemma asked.
“Humans and other immortals were always trying to capture them or kill them.” Lydia pulled one knee up to her chest and leaned against it. “They wanted their power or were afraid of them or blamed them for their problems. It’s a very tricky thing being so powerful.”
“I would imagine it is,” Gemma said.
“That’s why so many of them change their names,” Lydia went on. “What do your siren friends go by now? I’m sure it’s not Peisinoe and Thelxiepeia, is it?”
Gemma shook her head. “No, it’s Penn and Thea.”
“They’re much more manageable to say and spell, too, which is an added bonus,” Lydia said.
“The Greeks were lame about names,” Marcy muttered.
Lydia smirked. “Well, I’m sure the Greeks would think you’re pretty lame about names.”
“What about Achelous?” Gemma asked. “Do you know if he’s still alive?”
“I can’t say for sure.” Lydia gave her shoulders a helpless shrug. “Many of the gods live so far off the radar that their deaths don’t even register. I’ve got plenty of feelers out for both him and Demeter, though.”
“What about the muses?” Gemma asked.
“I did have some word on them, but none of it’s good.” Lydia smiled sadly at her. “The two you were looking for—Terpsichore and Melpomene—are confirmed dead, along with Calliope, Euterpe, Clio, Thalia, and Urania. The other two have been missing for centuries and are presumed dead.”
“So you’re saying that all the muses are dead?” Marcy asked, looking up at Lydia.
Lydia nodded. “Yes, I think so.”
“Dammit.” Gemma ran her hand through her hair. “I really thought they might be the key to destroying the scroll.”
“Destroying the scroll is pretty impossible, even if you had a muse,” Lydia reminded her.
“‘Pretty’ impossible isn’t ‘completely’ impossible,” Gemma said. “Thea told me about this Asterion guy, and how he used a muse to break the curse.”
“Are you talking about the minotaur?” Lydia leaned forward, her excitement piqued. “They’ve been extinct for over a thousand years.”
“Right.” Gemma nodded. “Because they undid the curse.”
“And you’re saying they heard it from a muse?” Lydia touched her chin as she thought about it. “That would make sense. Muses kept a lot of secrets, which is why they’re likely all dead. The other reason is their almost boundless love.”
“Boundless love?” Marcy asked. “Is that a nice way of saying they were prostitutes? Because hookers always seem to be targets for serial killers.”
“Serial killers aren’t killing immortals,” Lydia said, casting Marcy a bemused look. “Muses gave up their immortality when they fell in love. They chose to be human to be able to have a relationship instead of the somewhat parasitic version they’d normally have. And then they would just die of natural causes, like any other mortal.”
“So is that what happened to the gods, like Achelous?” Gemma asked.
“No. He’s a true immortal—he was born that way,” Lydia said. “Only those that have been granted immortality—either by being blessed or cursed—can give it up. Everyone else is cursed to live forever. Unless, of course, they’re murdered.”
“So if Achelous is dead, he was murdered?” Gemma asked.
“Yes. That would be the only way.”
Marcy readjusted her glasses on her nose and stared at the floor thoughtfully. “It’s weird that immortality is considered both a blessing and a curse.”
“It is a double-edged sword,” Lydia agreed.
“How do you kill a god?” Gemma asked.
“It depends on the god. If you’re god of the sun, it would probably have something to do with darkness,” Lydia said.
Gemma thought of Achelous, remembering how he was a freshwater god. “So for something like the god of water, it would probably involve being dried out?”
Lydia nodded. “Yeah, something like that.”
“So is that how you kill a siren, then?” Marcy asked.
“No, killing a siren is a lot easier than killing a god. A god—something like Apollo or Achelous—they would be here.” Lydia held up her hand above her head. “And an immortal, something like a siren or even a werewolf or troll, would be here.” She held her hand in front of her chin.
“Where would humans be?” Marcy asked, and Lydia lowered her hand in front of her stomach. “That far down, huh?”
“Yeah, we’re pretty fragile,” Lydia said. “So anyway, lesser immortals like vampires usually have more than one way to kill them. Breaking the curse, starvation, sunlight, a stake through the heart. A god only has one way, and it’s usually complicated and arduous.”