If Ares believed the gods ever peered into their world, he’d chalk the day up to their twisted humour. But since he doesn’t, the only explanation he has is shit luck.
Once Julius’s survival was announced, the continent’s leaders decided to hold a summit to discuss how to proceed with the eradication of the rest of the Loptyr cult. Isaach, least affected by their child hunts, offered to host.
Which explained why Ares hadn’t seen hide nor hair of Seliph or Lester since he arrived, he supposed. If he had to guess, they had gone off with Shannan to revisit old haunts and eat the local cuisine before the meetings started. His frown deepened at the thought of how much Diarmuid would’ve liked to be there. Ares should’ve faked some illness so Di could’ve gone on his behalf.
It was not the first time Ares had kicked himself over it, that day. Just arriving and having servants flock out to his train – his train, like he couldn’t travel alone perfectly well – made him remember that he was the least-suited of all the kings present for a diplomacy meeting. He wanted to cut Julius’s head off, purge the cult, and be done with it. (Apparently it wasn’t so simple.) It had taken him hours and hours to get through his docket, which only fueled his frustration. The other kings knew how to read so easily it was second nature.
But worst of all was passing by the meeting room on the way to the chambers he’d been given. Servants bustled about a massive oak table, polishing it with scented oil and laying down brittle reed-paper cards with each leader’s name in Isaach’s most intricate calligraphy. He caught his own at once, enjoying the shape of the A: and then watched with horror at the one placed right beside it, the one labeled Leif Faris Claus, until the door was shut in his face.
It had to be after midnight, by now. The ones that had grown up in Isaach were still out, perhaps carousing, since the meetings wouldn’t start until midday. Ares hoped they were having fun. He’d tried to go to bed early, failed utterly, got back up, put on his cloak despite the night’s lingering heat, and went for a walk.
The air was even dryer up on the battlements, and no breeze was blowing, but it was peaceful. The constellations burned brightly. Surely they had different names than the ones Augustria called them by; he would have to ask someone in the morning. Anything to keep his mind off Leif. There was no way Ares was surviving tomorrow. He couldn’t even think about him without feeling his chest open and cave like his ribs had been broken in with a warhammer; what would seeing him feel like? What would it feel like if Leif didn’t even give a cursory hello? What if he made some comment about Ares breaking another glass at this meeting? (What if Ares did break his glass?)
He was so preoccupied that he nearly ran into somebody as he rounded the corner.
So I touched on Adean helping my son become the soft sweet boy he is today, and I headcanon that when all the kids were little, she (or Oifey and Shannan, depending on Lester-mun’s thoughts!) would have them buddy up to hold hands with when they went anywhere so they didn’t get lost. And Seliph just… never grew out of it. He doesn’t hold hands with people for no reason, but he has no shame taking a friend’s hand to lead them somewhere.