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An Uncomfortable Dinner

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When the ground surged and swallowed up the party, Han Sooyoung was expecting another attack. Some stupid plot to separate the party and pick them off one by one while Kim Dokja was out of the way. Staring at the gleaming silverware in front of her, she can’t help but feel that all this would be much simpler if it was a murder attempt.

“Sooyoung-ssi, Dokja-ya told me that you are an author?”

Kill her. Kill her now.

[Abyssal Black Flame Dragon is telling his incarnation to stuff her face so she doesn’t have to speak.]

Shut up, you have no rights! Do you want her to be stuck down here forever?! Han Sooyoung’s eye twitches as she ignores her sponsor. The food in front of her looks delicious. The asparagus was a deep green while the blue cheese gave a lovely contrast on top of the juicy steak. The wine is perfect, of course, a sweet red with a hint of berry lingering in the aftertaste (Raspberry? Cherry? Han Sooyoung doesn’t know, she isn’t the gourmet member here, but it's annoyingly delicious and she knows she’s going to have cravings after this). The dim lighting makes the table feel intimate without crossing the line to romantic.

Han Sooyoung clenches her fork and grins, “Ah, well. I did a little writing before the scenarios. Although Dokja-ssi probably said I was a hack if he mentioned it. He wasn’t my biggest fan.”

“True, our son may have mentioned something along those lines.” Persephone lets out a light chuckle, “That child, even when he was complaining he couldn’t help but praise you as well.”

Eh? What? Kim Dokja praised her?

“He’s rather shy like that. He much the same way towards Joonghyuk-ssi as well. Why, he even thought that we meant him when naming our successor.”

Wait, go back! What did Kim Dokja say about her? Don’t look at Yoo Joonghyuk! Yoo Joonghyuk is busy ignoring them. Han Sooyoung can only despair as he pokes his food like the picky child he is. Stop being rude, you damn fool! No- don’t make that face! Manners! Manner are very important right now! Do you not understand that these constellations can end everyone here by speaking? Stop being such a dump fuck, you dumb fuck!

Persephone pauses to stare at only male in the room before turning to Jung Heewon, “He much more straight forward when it comes to you, Heewon-ssi. He has nothing but praise, if I didn’t know better I’d almost say he was smitten.”

Jung Heewon goes wide eyed and stiff at that statement. Her panic is obvious as she tries to deflect, “D-Dokja-ssi- my king is- He’s an amazing person but, uh, that is to say, I’m already seeing someone else and, um. I-I don’t think that.”

“It was a jest Heewon-ssi,” Persephone says taking pity on the woman, “and a poor one it seems. As lovely as you are, my son has a type. Well, two types. One that Han sooyoung,” Han Sooyoung chokes on her wine, “and one that Yoo Joonghyuk fit.” Yoo Joonghyuk twitches but doesn’t look up.

This dumb fuck! He’s still ignoring all of them! Persephone continues to stare as he plays with his food. Han Sooyoung meets Jung Heewon’s eyes from across the table. She jerks her head towards Yoo Joonghyuk and Jung Heewon nods.

“Another joke?” Han Sooyoung laughs swirling her wine, trying to grab their host’s attention.

“Not at all, you’re both quite different.” Persephone turns to stare at her politely.

Lightning quick, Jung Heewon’s fingers jab between the Yoo Joonghyuk’s ribs. He tries not to fall out of his chair as he drops his fork and doubles over.

“How long has Kim Dokja been your successor?” Han Sooyoung loudly changes the subject, “I have to admit, I can’t figure out when you two had time to meet, unless it was at the Constellation Banquet?”

Jung Heewon grabs Yoo Joonghyuk’s plate and furiously starts cutting while he’s trying to uncurl. When he looks up his face is thunderous. Han Sooyoung can see his mouth twist into an open snarl before Jung Heewon stabs a piece of steak and shoves her fork in.

“Dokja-ya came to our attention when he snuck into the underworld. He’s such a mischievous child, I was utterly charmed by his antics, and Yobo was curious. We gave him a little test to make it official. I believe you were there when he killed Yamato no Orochi’s incarnation.”

Han Sooyoung purposefully keeps her gaze forward and doesn’t stare as Jung Heewon forces Yoo Joonghyuk to essentially deep-throat her fork. “Ah! I was wondering why he did that. The King of No Killing title was such a cheat, I couldn’t understand why he would give it up.”

“Yes, it was a brilliant move to snatch the title when he could. But enough about Dokja-ya, I want to know more about you three,” Persephone smiles warmly at Han Sooyoung, “after all, he trusts you so much. He even asked you to save him, didn’t he?”

Han Sooyoung chokes on her drink and Yoo Joonghyuk wrenches his head free and starts coughing into his elbow. There’s a quiet crunch as Jung Heewon crumples the fork in her hand.

“Oh, was I not supposed to know? Was I not supposed to find out that you three, the ones he trusts most, failed my child?”

Jung Heewond stands, “We-”

[Queen of Darkest Spring has released her status]

There’s a smack as Han Sooyoung’s hands brace against the table. The status pouring off Persephone is crushing, the weight slowly forces her head down into a bow as she fights to sit straight. Jung Heewon’s knees buckle and she slams back into her chair and Yoo Joonghyuk struggles to stand.

You will sit at the table, like polite guests, and listen to what I say.

[Demon-Like Judge of Fire is angered by this attack]

[Abyssal Black Flame Dragon is warning Queen of Darkest Spring]

Shut up.”

Persephone waves her hand and probability crackles around her. There’s another pulse, a mixture of probability and status, and the indirect messages cease. The table is flayed, splinters fly through the air and stay suspended. The stone beneath her chair heaves and cracks underneath the pressure.

What were you doing? Were you playing, were you having too much fun and not training enough?”

There’s indignation, in a stupid part of her brain that isn’t busy panicking or trying to keep her alive. Persephone wasn’t even there, what right did she have to lecture them about not trying hard enough. The constellation has given up all pretenses of civility. Her dress is tattered and burned, hair whips through the air slaps her face. Sparks of probability light up her face and cast deep shadows in rapid succession.

“You are weak. You weren’t capable of proving my son’s trust and he was taken. Taken by someone who shared one of your faces. Who was he? What did you do, Yoo Joonghyuk? Why did let that outer god take him.”

Han Sooyoung can’t breathe. Her throat is closed and her lungs crushed. There’s a pounding in her ear but she can’t tell if it’s her own pulse or the steady waves of status crashing into her. Probability arcs forward and slams her head back against the chair. She can taste blood in the back of her throat and feels it dripple down her nose and neck.

WHY DIDN’T YOU SAVE HIM?!”

Enough.”

As suddenly as it appeared, Persephone’s status folds back into her. With the pressure gone, Han Sooyoung can only sag in her chair, gasping for breath. Yoo Joonghyuk kicks the table over and grabs both her and Jung Heewon as he scrambles back. They kneel together and watch as Hades steps forward and settles the probability storm surrounding them.

Hades doesn’t take his eyes off his wife, “Please escort our guests out.”

Ghosts rush into the ruined room and assist the three of them. They’re helped to their feet and herded out. Persephone jolts to her feet and slams the table. One hand grabs her husband and rips.

I am not-”

“Enough. Dokja will want his friends when he gets back.”

Before they’re hurried out, Han Sooyoung catches Hades brushing Persephone’s hair back. She tries not to think about the grief she glimpses in that motion as she returns home.