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Gold talks

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When Kunlun met Zeus, Zeus was in a mood to talk, as usual.

“So then I saw this pretty little boy toy and I was like, I say! Mate! I have to get this little piece of arse or swallow the Styx trying!” boasted Zeus in his typically exuberant tones, while Kunlun politely sipped his tea and nodded his head to indicate that he was listening.

Unfortunately.

“So I swooped down majestically from Olympus, and I’d turned myself into a golden-clawed eagle just for him. Can you feel the divine favour?”

Deep in his heart, Kunlun cringed.

“And so I walk up to him, all tall, dark and handsome, and caw at him in a manner that is clearly appreciative. And you know what he did? That little ingrate.”

Kunlun felt he could make an educated guess.

Unfortunately.

“He jumped off the fucking cliff! There was a cliff in there, didn’t I mention before? So anyway, there was the cliff and that little shit just jumped off like a Norse god walking towards his rainbow bridge. Instantly dead of course. So you see, mate? See? People just don’t know how to cherish good things in life anymore, eh? We should send them a gigantic flood and be done with it. Start over with this humanity project, I’m telling you.”

Unfortunately you are, thought Kunlun, his face beautiful and immovable like white jade.

“Have you considered assuming a less threatening appearance?” he tried.

“Dude, really. Remember that Europa girl? I turned into this cute white bull for her and yet? She still wouldn’t put out. I’m telling you, mate, nice guys finish last.”

Deep in his heart, Kunlun regretted the Creation.

“Or that other time, I turned into golden rain, very classy, totally posh. Girls love those shiny things, eh? But that Danaë chit actually dared to toddle off before the blood on the sheets dried out. So ungrateful.”

For a moment, Kunlun imagined a sea of blood covering Mount Olympus. It was a very gratifying sight.

“So what I’m trying to tell you, mate, is don’t just waffle around. Fuck that little demon boy already. He isn’t getting any younger, right? What are you waiting for? Want him to grow horns or something and get all wrinkly and shit? I’m telling you mate, like one god to another. I’m very experienced in this area. They stop being obedient very soon.”

Deep in the mountains, there was a major earthquake.

“Thank you for you generous advice,” said Kunlun.

It was precisely at this moment that Little Ghost King chose to come back with one of his courting gifts. Blood splattered on the pristine stone mosaic, and a wounded three-headed
hyaena gurgled its last breath
“Whoa, mate! I had no idea! It’s some fucking kinky shit you got here, eh? Fucking kinky! But I’m not judging, man, never judging. A god has his needs, right? Right?”

Far away, an avalanche razed eighty one mountain valleys.

***
Little Ghost King squinted his coal black eyes, deep in thought. When he came back, there had been a strange man in the courtyard, laughing loudly, behaving immodestly, and taking liberties that, Little Ghost King felt, deserved the most severe punishment he could possibly mete out.

Later, Kunlun only flicked his sleeves and disappeared from sight, clearly displeased. The carcass of the hyaena Shen Wei brought from his travels was slowly getting cold on the frosty courtyard stones. A nightjar cried desolately into the night.

Little Ghost King thought that maybe he knew how to make Kunlun smile just once.

***

That mountain was surrounded by oak and strawberry trees, and fragrant cedars, and the air was filled with the buzzing of insects. There was a narrow, winding path going upwards, and soon the oaks were replaced by lush green conifers. Little Ghost King could see the golden light coming from above. A palace towered among the clouds.

There were no guards.

Little Ghost King smiled.

***

“What were you doing all day?” asked Kunlun indifferently. “I thought you wanted to study and improve yourself.”
“I was travelling.”
“No souvenirs this time?”

Little Ghost King burped guiltily.

***

It was a nice, quiet afternoon, filled with grading, paperwork, rummaging in the cupboards, and Shen Wei’s occasional efforts to disintegrate Zhao Yunlan’s beachwear before he would be seen wearing it in public.

Like some courtesan.

Shen Wei swallowed.

“Baby?” asked Zhao Yunlan suddenly, his voice deceptively calm.
“Hm?”
“Do you know Greek?” there were distinct undertones of something.
“Why do you ask?”
“Because,” said Zhao Yunlan, and put a golden scroll of… of byssus, Shen Wei realised immediately, on the table with a dramatic flourish. “It smells like myrrh and ambergris,” he accused.
“Ah, this,” said Shen Wei. “What do you want to have for dinner tonight?”
“Baby, are you hiding something from me again?”

Shen Wei swallowed.

“No,” he said. “It’s a thank-you note.”
“It’s a mermaid silk scroll written in ink from real purple and crushed lapis lazuli, and it smells like ambergris,” said Zhao Yunlan.
Shen Wei looked away. “Some… Some ladies are very particular about expressing their gratitude,” he mumbled.
“Xiao Wei? Didn’t you promise to tell me everything from now on?”

Shen Wei flinched. “It was a long time ago and none of us believed in divorce,” he started.