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“Tap-scrape. Tap-scrape. Tap-scraaape.”

The firelight’s nervous on Hephaestus’s face as he makes tapping/scraping gestures at his audience. Hermes has stuffed his face with popcorn; Ganymede’s so rapt that he hasn’t noticed Aphrodite’s hand halfway up his thigh.

“A bit lowbrow even for him, isn’t it?” murmurs Apollo to his sister.

“They can’t all be… lyrical,” she says, grinning.

“Christ,” he scowls, “I don’t know why I even talk to you about this kind of thing.”

“Because,” says Hephaestus, “he’s RIGHT BEHIND YOU!”

Thunder tears down the slopes of Olympus. Humanity cowers. Zeus has to go change robes.


You don’t need tongs when you’ve got chitin.

Cadmilus can thrust his hand hot in the forge-heart for minutes, waiting for the steel to flare white, and all his skin will do is redden. The hard part is remembering not to scratch his nose afterward. That’s what got his father, in the end: or so old Heph said, when they buried him.

He keeps promising (on his shuffling rants around the caldera, always avoiding the real work) to introduce Cadmilus to some women like him, too. Cadmilus doesn’t really want that. Who wants to be caressed by a fiddler’s claw?