- November 10, 2013
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The London Games
It is time for the Grants to be awarded in London. Monica Adams, who has not let death stand in the way of her studies, and Kora Wallace, the American Socio-Anthropologist who recently met a dragon, find themselves in opposition. The ghost of I.S. inspector Maia Tarang is being held by the brokerage firm, Enkidu Ltd., in their office on the non-existent 88th floor of The Shard. Assistant Commisioner Hogan-Howe with I.S. asks Kora to rescue Maia's ghost. The ghost of Kate Sharpley, who leads the Underground, wants Monica to bring Maia's ghost to her realm without stopping at I.S. Kate knows that if Hogan-Howe questioned Maia's ghost, many Underground criminals and informants would be exposed and arrested. Maia had been working the Underground patrol for many years and had bent the rules to get the information she needed to do her job.
Paris Elliott, the weathly businessman also known as Paris of Troy, is offered a Grant in exchange for returning Aphrodite's stolen beauty. Lena Dawson, an American of modest means, is offered the same deal. The wizard Erasmus makes this offer to both of them at the same time in the Inner Temple, the headquarters of a secretive organizaiton known as The Pillars. Aphrodite is there to answer questions (badly) about the theft. A former member of the Pillars known as "Riley" had stolen her beauty while she slept. It is clear that Riley had used the Helm of Hades to do this while Aphrodite was staying at the Royal Hotel, coincidentally in the same building as Enkidu's headquarters.
A party is held in The Shard building. Two of Enkidu's senior partners are there: the dragon, Janka, and Sheikh Jassim, who is known by some to deal in souls. Paris and Lena go dress shopping before the party. While Lena is in the dressing room, Paris calls his sister, Cassandra, in Hades. Cassandra informs Paris that "Riley" is actually "Euryale," the gorgon and that the best way to protect oneself from her petrifying gaze would be to enlist the help of the gods. Cassandra asks Paris to visit her sometime. He and Lena leave the boutique with a set of dresses that could sink at least 300 ships, altogether.
Kora and Monica meet on the tube on the way to the party. Through conversation, they acknowledge each others' unusual traits but do not trust each other. Monica heads to the Shard while Kora stops breifly to connect with Inspector Higgins and a conspicuous plain clothes squad from I.S. that will wait outside to back her up, if needed. Monica sneaks into the party by moving through walls.
Kora asks her ex, Gregory, for an invitation to the party. An invitation arrives, but not from Gregory. When Kora arrives at the party, Janka is there. Janka still remembers how Kora stole Gregory from him and struggles to recall why he has not eaten her yet. Monica watches that scene unfold. Eventually, Kora persuades Janka to tell her how to get Maia's ghost. "It will turn out better for all of us," says Kora.
Paris and Lena are greeted at the party by Jassim. It's clear Jassim wants Lena on one way or another. They agree to go to a private lounge for a chat. On the way, Paris stops off to get a drink and runs into Monica. While they are having a chat, Jassim offers Lena a job (and a Grant).
Over the course of the party, Monica and Kora work out a deal with Jassim: they will get Maia's ghost in return for a future supply of "more than his share" of souls, or something like that. Jassim persuades Monica and Kora to sign contracts that will eventually compel them to become a kind of double-agent for him for the foreseeable future. Kora and Monica proceed to the 88th floor and persuade Maia to lie to Hogan-Howe and to Kate, reminding her that her oath to I.S. only binded her in life. Monica promises to give Maia her Grant if Maia can't obtain one on her own.
Over the course of the party, Lena realizes that she is the reincarnation of Helen of Troy and that the men after her are Menelaus and his Myrmidons. Also, Riley turns Paris' servant, Samuel, to stone in a taunting gesture. Lena reads the statue to find Riley's location. In the process, she makes a binding promise not to reveal that Samuel is secretly working for I.S. while he is working for Paris.
Paris and Lena summon Athena, who lends them the Helm of Hades. Athena is, of course, only doing this for Lena's sake AND wants Paris to dedicate that new library to her. Paris and Lena confront Riley in the Greek Suite of the Royal Hotel. Jassim runs into them at he elevator landing, but does not see Lena (she is already wearing the helm). Jassim implies that he knows what Paris is up to and does not really care. However, he tells his staff to "lock down" the hotel until things are sorted out. Paris senses that one of the hotel staffers locking himself in a room is in league with Riley, but marches on into Riley's suite. Riley has left the door open for him, tauntingly.
Paris distracts Riley with rhetoric (and the aid of a compact mirror). Riley moves behind him with a dagger poised to strike at the first sign that Paris is not worthy of her hospitality. Lena dons the Helm to sneak behind Riley and grab her. Aphrodite's beauty transfers to Lena, but the two of them topple forward. Paris is bitten by a poisonous snake. Lena tries to turn Riley to stone with a mirror, but does not realize that the mirror will not work while she is invisible until it is too late. Lena is petrified and Paris is not even aware of it. In her plight, Lena calls to Artemis for help, Artemis crashes into the room and helps by removing the Helm from Lena's head. Lena is still petrified. Riley looks at Athena with anger and confusion. Riley herself acquired the Helm from Athena not too long ago. Riley curses Athena. Athena slays Riley. Athena tells Lena not to ask for help again and leaps out the window.
Paris summons Aphrodite, who takes her beauty back from Lena. Then she uses Riley's blood to unpetrify Lena and cure Paris' poison. The three of them return to the party. Sheikh Jassim takes Aphrodite for a ride in his Lamborghini. Jassim and Paris BASE jump from the top of the Shard.
Paris takes the Grant for restoring Aphrodite's beauty. Lena accepts Jassim's job offer in order to remain in London, where she thinks she is safe.
Looking forward, Riley is supposedly immortal and perhaps Athena did not slay her permanently. However, even if she returns to life, Riley will no longer have a Grant and therefore should not be too big a problem. Still, why did Athena give Riley the Helm of Hades in the first place? Maia's murder at The Shard remains unsolved, although Maia's ghost should be able to help with that. Monica is obligated to give up her Grant to Maia if Maia cannot get her own Grant. Both Monica and Kora are contractually obligated to let Jassim use them as living surveillance drones for the forseeable future. How can they get out of their contracts without forfeiting their souls? Also, Janka is probably counting the days until he can devour Kora. Also, Lena recognized Monica from a vision she had 10 years ago. At the time, she said something about it to a mysterious visitor at the institution that may have lead to Monica's death. Monica knows nothing about how she died.
Kora is a descendant of Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. Paris has been watching her and her family for some time. Hades is the God of wealth, among other things. Kora's family is rich. Kora herself once shared some knowledge with Paris that saved him a fortune. Paris may have helped Kora get her scholarship. This information may come up when Hogan-Howe finishes his background check on Kora and he may ask her to state, for the record, that she has no ties to Paris or The Pillars that would lead to a conflict of interest.