Quiet for the moment, Kali looked around carefully. The stage was almost set, now. Elysian Fields, they'd decided, in mocking reference to the angels they'd set to draw in, and as a gesture towards Mercury's already badly strained temper. Though he'd been the one to call them actors, the one to call this half-formed meeting place their stage, the act still sat very very badly with him.
"Mercury is not taking the next part well," Samedi rumbled, coming to rest beside her with a grin and his customary leer. She flashed back a dark smile from habit, and frowned.
"The eating of human flesh, even the pretense of it for the sake of a human audience, was never going to sit well with him," she noted quietly, watching the temperamental Olympian gesticulate wildly at her son. Ganesha, thankfully, was doing his level best to calm the other god down, and exerting a considerable influence over affairs, she thought. Doing his best to ease obstacles from their path, but it wasn't easy. It was never going to be, such a dangerously balanced gathering as this.
"He will do his job, though," the Baron said, dark eyes grim. "As psychopomp, he has taken the disruption of Death as badly as the rest of us. Fast as he is, this random tearing of souls from life is testing every death god around the world, and he would see it stopped as soon as the rest of us."
"I know," she acknowledged. Careful, so carefully balanced, this act, this trick. To force Loki to act, to force the angel they knew lay beneath into the light. To force the actors of this ill-thought Apocalypse together, and bring them to action. They had to force Gabriel out. They had to make him move. He was the only piece they had in this game.
And she, at least, and the god by her side, fully intended to make use of him.
The others, though ... the others were more trouble. They needed Mercury. The only Trickster they'd been able to reach, through the channels of Death at the Baron's command, with enough of a stake to convince him to act. They needed his cunning, his ability to deceive, to pull to them the last player in their act. They needed Mercury, messenger and thief, to draw the Devil in. Coyote would have done it, would have lied easily, but Coyote's lands were too much under threat from Lucifer for the Devil to believe his pretense of betrayal.
So they needed Mercury. Which was why Ganesha had spent the last four days carefully and patiently keeping the seething Olympian calm, why they'd invested in some high-quality illusions of mortals to prevent his horror at the act from losing him to them. All that, at least, was explainable.
Zao Jun, too, was explainable. The Stove God was not there by their request, but in the interests of fulfilling his function to the Jade Emperor, and reporting on the actions of families. Which, when interpreted very broadly, might entail reporting on such families as her Devas, or Yahweh's angels. Reporting on foreign interests, in case the Emperor should feel the need to take action.
Zao Jun was, in essence, the most explainable of all features at such a meeting as this. Zao Jun was a diplomat, or, more bluntly ... a spy.
Odin ... less so. The Norse ruler too had largely invited himself along, his eye set upon Loki, and Kali didn't trust the layers of planning and deception she saw there. Though the Aesir was willing enough to play along with their game, though he would lie through his teeth with a grin and happily play the part of monster to the two Vessels they'd use to lure the others in ... there was something in him Kali could not, and would not, trust.
Any more than she trusted the other Norse addition to their gathering. Baldur, gleaming with faith and light and strength, with conviction of speech, who played so readily the role of their leader, who would stand so surely beside her. Baldur, who had been dead. Baldur, who had volunteered himself to even his father's shock, playing some game they couldn't see, with Odin and Loki and the Devil for his pieces.
And Kali, too, if he had his way. There was darkness now, in the god of light. The gnawing burn of destruction inside him that she would know a thousand miles away, and she did not trust him. He thought to fill the Baron's role as her partner, to take the lead. Well, she would let him. To a point.
Samedi, watching her as she glared across the hall towards the younger god, grinned and spat eloquently to the side. "The trials of being beautiful, eh?" he murmured filthily, grinning at her, and without looking she elbowed him sharply.
"Behave, or I'll be talking to your wife," she purred, dark and friendly, and he laughed at her.
"And you, or I'll tell your husband," he shot back, and she grimaced, looking back at Baldur once more.
"He has nothing to worry about there," she muttered, cool as the darkness and truthful as a blade. Her husband had no worries. He knew her purpose well, and trusted her to it.
"And with our lurking partnership of jotun and archangel?" Samedi asked, oddly serious, for once, and she flinched, a little bit.
"That's different," she murmured softly, feeling something in her tighten. "Shiva understands that, too." Shiva alone, her husband who laid worlds low to make them anew, her husband who understood the act of destruction in order to create, to purify, to make anew. Her husband, who understood the act of sacrifice. As, she thought, did Gabriel. Gabriel, who had watched a world drowned to make it clean, might understand why her hand would wield the blade. Gabriel, who had asked her, silently, so long ago, to make him clean, to burn the blood from his hands.
"Yes," Samedi said softly. "I see." And he did. The Baron Samedi, the loa of death, here to see the natural order restored, that one affront that brought them all here. He understood.
Outside, they heard a car pull into the park, knew it without question for who it was, and Kali drew herself up. Pulled command around her like a cloak, and looked out over this motley gathering, this dramatis personae. The stage was set. Time ... to raise the curtain.
"Let it begin," she whispered softly, and, eyes glittering, they nodded.