There was no 'I'm going to be late if I don't hurry' or 'If I go past the speed limit I can make it.' No, she was already supposed to be there and she was still at home.
"Crap, crap, crap," the blonde muttered under her breath as she tied her sandals to her feet. Her hair was twisted into a cable that kept falling over one shoulder and getting into her way. Standing up, she checked herself in the mirror a final time. Stars fell in embroidered patterns from her shoulders as the dark blue fabric floated over her slim frame. It was held close to her waist with a silver cord and left her arms bare to show off the bangles jingling on her wrists. The tunic ended at mid-thigh but a darker skirt covered her legs to her ankles. More silver cord held the panels together down to her knee where they were tied.
She straightened the tunic and slung a bag over her head and shoulder, letting it rest at the small of her back. Lia headed out the door at a run, barely slowing down enough to grab the orb sitting on her desk.
The orb was bronze and the size of a softball, pricked all over in patterns that started to slow softly as she ran into the woods. Snow had fallen earlier and was part of the reason she was late. The path had been packed down and cleared, leaving the snow in piles between the trees. Her breath steamed as she ran. A glance above showed the blue fading away as the night began to creep in.
"Crap!" Lia uttered again and urged more speed out of her feet. The orb cast shadows against the trees as it glowed more and more in the fading light. The path ahead turned left, but Lia turned right, darting between two old trees with the branches entwined above.
One moment her feet were freezing in the snow. The next, the orb became a globe of bright light that obscured everything. Now she was pounding up a gravel path to the stone steps up a hill, green grass growing on both sides beyond the row of columns lining the path.
"It's almost time, Lia. You're late."
"So are you," Lia didn't bother looking at the raven who rose in a flurry of wings from a rock by where she had emerged. Now that she was here, she could see the sun had almost touched the horizon. She sped up the side of the hill, aiming for the gathering in the field above.
A huge palace loomed off to the side, higher than the field, and lit up with foxfire and globes of light. Candles and braziers burned everywhere and would cast the hill in brightness when the sun set. All of this to for Solstice, to welcome the sun back from the longest night.
She aimed for the gathering of her siblings. They were easy to pick out next to the stage, their clothing made them look like galaxies were colliding. She came to a halt and stowed her orb away in her bag to avoid the ticked off look on her brother’s face. This was their year to charm the sun back from its sleep and no one wanted to fail.
"Aurelia, you had me worried."
Lia winced at the exasperation in her mother’s tone and turned after stowing her bag away. She nodded in greeting to the man holding her mother’s hand. “Lord Apollo. Mother. Happy Solstice. I’m sorry I’m late. One of my students had a question.”
Apollo laughed and shushed her explanation with a hand. His golden hair glowed with the reflected light of the sunset. “Not to worry, Aurelia. Ourania and I are pleased you could make it. Isn’t that right?” The God of Music and other things turned to his companion who nodded and kissed Lia’s cheek.
“You all will be magnificent. How not when you are Muses yourselves?”
Lia smiled and settled in with her siblings as they moved onto the stage. Their voices lifted in hope and supplication as the last portion of the sun disappeared beneath the horizon and the night began. They filled the dark hours with music and dance, a celebration intended to woo the sun back from its slumber.
She may have missed this evenings practice, but Lia was a child of a Muse and had already gone over the gig a million times. She never missed a note as the gods and spirits danced around the field. One this night, differences were set aside and everyone behaved themselves. Well, mostly. They were gods after all. But no wars were started or fights begun. Hermes even asked her to dance a reel with him.
A long night later, the beginning song was sun again. Each of her siblings and all the attendees raised their arms to the eastern horizon as the darkness began to fall beneath Dawns hooves. They took up the call, weaving their voices in and out, over and below, creating a haunting melody that asked for the return of the sun. They sang in memory of a sunlit beach, the warmth of light on their skin. They sang for the crops in the ground, for the leaves on the trees. They sang the sun back to earth and cheered when the first rays of the glowing orb touched the hill.
The sun had returned.