"So...you got one of those golden apples?" I asked slowly, remembering the illusion Lucifer had conjured for me what felt like an eon ago.
"Yep." she sighed, "Ambrosia. That stuff is amazing."
A mixture of curiosity and dread pricked at my throat.
I had been so caught up in my thoughts that I hadn't noticed how quickly we shot up the side of the mountain until we were placed onto the ground at its peak.
We were at the feet of a huge temple that looked like a newer version of the Parthenon, with gigantic columns looming over us.
Ace jogged up the steps and I forced my aching body to follow, doing my best not to break a sweat.
"C'mon kid, pick up the pace."
I gritted my teeth and sped up, ignoring my legs' cries of protest.
After what felt like forever we passed through the columns into the temple's dark interior.
A few steps in and source-less lights flickered on, bouncing off the immaculate white marble floors and walls.
As imposing as it had been on the outside, on the inside it was...surprisingly empty.
We walked down a wide hallway, the only break in scenery the occasional vase or torch mounted on the wall.
"So this is where the gods live?" I asked, my voice bouncing off the walls and hitting me accusatorily.
"Nah." Ace shrugged, "Most of them left to do their own thing. If you can believe it, this place was pretty impressive once."
It was hard to believe. Mount Olympus was bare, clinical, and...nothing at all like I'd expected.
Eventually we emerged into something of a throne room, just as devoid of colour as the rest of the temple had been.
Across from us, sitting on an impossibly tall white throne, was a boy of maybe five years old wearing a suit that that looked a few sizes too big.
"Come in." he ordered, his baby voice ricocheting off the walls, "You were slow this time, Ace."
She scratched the back of her head in embarrassment.
"I was hungry. Had to get lunch first."
I tried not to think about how Eversio had gone missing.
The boy looked at me, and I almost jumped when I realized that one of his irises was black, and the other completely white.
"The Prophesied. I've been expecting you."
I walked forward, trying not to look at his white eye, and folded my arms.
"So...what's this about?"
He looked at me out of a corner of his eye and laughed.
"I can see how Lucifer rubbed off on you. Is that how you greet your God?"
The childish voice managed to strike fear into me.
He nodded, and His neck almost disappeared in the folds of the oversized suit.
"Zeus. Jupiter. The Heavenly Father. Allah. Krishna. The Big Man. The names are arbitrary."
His high-pitched voice enunciated words without so much as a moment of hesitation, and I felt myself being hit by a wave of shock.
"You...made the universe?" I asked, my voice coming out in something of a croak.
He shrugged, and the suit slid with Him.
"I would love to answer your questions, but there's business we have to attend to."
I was stunned into silence, and may or may not have nodded.
He cleared his throat.
"Zara Shah. Sold in infancy to the King of Hell. High Commander of his forces. Recently decorated due to your exploits in battle, I've heard."
"Yes." I responded, unsure of what else to say.
"You're a strange one." He mused, before sighing, "As you can imagine, I have something to say about this little scuffle."
A greyhound padded out from behind the throne and lay its head on His lap. He scratched it behind its ears, and I was glad that the unsettling eyes were momentarily diverted.
"Purgatory overstepped their boundaries." I insisted, freezing when He looked at me again.
"Oh, I know. They deserve entirely to be crushed in war. But afterwards, you must leave them be."
"Leave them be?" I asked, lost.
The greyhound looked at me with silvery eyes, but turned its lithe frame away at a gesture from its master.
"Lucifer is a proud man. He doesn't like to let go of his...prizes."
He studied me before continuing.
"If he has his way, Purgatory will be absorbed into his empire as an inferior state that will suffer constant abuses. And while its leaders may have made their share of mistakes, the inhabitants of Purgatory do not deserve such a fate."
"Why are you telling me this? Why not tell Lucifer himself?"