“Blah blah blah.”
“Pardon?” Leonid of Corinth blinked at his employer, wondering if the sun hadn’t been too much for him. That thought was followed immediately by the question of whether it was possible for Troy to have too much sun.
He frowned, and rubbed his ear. Could Old Gods get sunstroke?
“I said blah blah blah. Is that all mortals do? Talk?” Troy Ilios held out his phone so Leo could see the offending video. “They’re all talk and no action. How can this woman have seven hundred thousand followers when all she does is talk in a whisper and tap her fingers on things?”
Leo looked. “She does ASMR. That’s what proponents of that lifestyle do.”
“Well, it’s ridiculous.” Troy waved a hand at the massive wall of stone behind him. “Mortals deserve more interesting content to look at that someone tapping her fingernails on a piece of paper. What’s the hold up?”
“We’re waiting for the drone to be repaired. I told you that earlier. Maybe you should get out of the sun?” Leo asked, studying his employer’s face. What did sunstroke look like?
“Why are you squinting at me in that objectionable manner?” Troy asked, leaning back as if Leo were puffing foul breath at him.
“I was wondering what the signs of sunstroke were. You don’t feel odd, do you?”
“Odd? Me?” Troy drew himself up, squaring his shoulders and looking down his nose at Leo even though the former was seated. He made a noise remarkably like a snort. “The idea is obscene. Why would you even ask that? Have I ever been odd in all the centuries you have served me?”
Leo knew better than to answer that question truthfully. “I just wondered if spending all day out in the sun mightn’t have been too much for you. It is extremely hot.”
“Your concern for my well-being is right and proper, but don’t allow our time in the mortal plane to taint your memory. I am not a mortal to be so affected by the sun.” Troy gave an injured sniff, glanced down the steep slope to a flat bit of road where three off-road vehicles sat, and immediately clicked his tongue in annoyance, asking again, “Why is it taking so long? The light will soon shift and my good side will be in shadow if we wait much longer to stem the void.”
“I’m sure they will fix whatever is wrong with the drone so that it can film every second of you climbing the…er…void,” Leo said, waving at the tall rock structure behind him that he’d heard someone refer to as a chimney.
“Stemming. I will be stemming the void, not climbing. Really, Leo, how can you not know the terminology by now?” Troy asked, glancing up when Leo’s phone pinged. “What is it? Have I hit three hundred thousand followers? How can that whisper woman have more than double the followers I have when I provide so much more interesting content? Anyone can tap their fingers on things. But only a god can climb the most impossible of structures.”
“Yes, sir. It does seem unfair. However, I’m afraid it’s not a notice regarding your follower count. It’s a reminder you had me set last week about appointing a new lord to the Seventh Hour.”
“Bah,” Troy said, standing to stretch. Leo had to admit that Troy appeared every inch the god who the ancient Greeks had worshipped a few millennia ago, what with his dark curly hair, chiseled jaw, and a physique that had many mortal women doing double takes. But his animal magnetism aside, Leo wished his boss had a bit more going on upstairs. “The Hour is fine. We’d hear something if it wasn’t.”
“Sir, with all due respect, that isn’t necessarily the wisest of attitudes to adopt. If you don’t appoint a replacement soon, the members of the Hour are going to notice that you aren’t there to contain and police them, and at that point, all hell will likely break out. Literally.”
“You exaggerate,” Troy said, doing a few deep squats to warm up his legs. “It wouldn’t be that bad. Everyone there is, for the most part, well-behaved. Other than a few troublemakers, and they know their place.”
“They know their place because up until six months ago when you decided that you were going to take Instagram by storm, they had no other option,” Leo pointed out, more than a little exasperated. While he didn’t mind being out and about in the mortal world, he missed his dogs, missed his nice little cottage, and most of all, missed the busty ale wenches at the Flogged Bishop inn.
In short, he wanted to go back home.
Troy paused doing his squats, and looked thoughtful, or as thoughtful as a man obsessed with himself could look when it came to subjects that lay beyond his immediate concern. “You think the thanes would really cause problems?”
“Yes. They have sworn to wreak revenge upon those who betrayed them into the underworld,” Leo said, a flicker of hope coming to life within him. If Troy ordered him to find a replacement to head up the Hour containing the four thanes who had been cast into its depths, then he could return home and be with his dogs and cottage and ale wenches.
“Their vengeance can mean nothing to us,” Troy said after a minute’s consideration.
“They want to destroy mortals.” As a rule, Leo disliked using abrupt tactics with Troy, since the latter could be as obstinate as an ass when it came to herding him to a desired action, but there were times when it was a necessary risk.
“Meh,” Troy said, and started to turn away.
“Mortals who make up your existing and future Instagram audience,” Leo said, buffing his fingernails on his shirt as he played his last card.
Troy frowned, his ebony brows pulling together in a manner that had the ancient Greeks who worshipped him falling on their knees in supplication. “Hmm. I suppose you have a point. It wouldn’t be at all kind to the mortals to unleash beings who wanted to see them wiped off the earth. Very well. I charge you with picking someone to replace me as lord of the Hour in the next few days.”
“But—my lord—I’m not the right person—”
“Of course you’re not. Only I can appoint a replacement. But you can at least find the individual. So go do that.” Troy made shooing gestures.
“Go where?” Leo asked, feeling adrift in a sea of confusion.
“Wherever a suitable replacement can be found. Do not bother me with trivial issues! Go find a replacement, and then inform me so I might make it official, and can focus all my energy on growing my brand. Now, I shall give those idiots a piece of my mind, and tell them to get the blasted drone running so they can get shots of me looking down the belay.”
Leo’s hope that he might be able to return home fizzled and died even as he sighed, pulled out his phone, and loaded up a search engine to locate any demigods who weren’t already attached to a spiritual realm.