Imelda tilted her head to the side, indicating to her daughter that she was listening as she chopped the vegetables for the evening meal.
"How did you and Papa meet?"
The knife stopped in its' tracks as Imelda got lost in her thoughts.
Was her daughter really ready for such a story… what would she think of Hector, what would she think of her?!
"Let's… let's wait until your Papa gets home." She eventually answered, knowing that she needed his support, "Then we will tell you the story."
"… I promise."
Imelda couldn't help but feel slightly relieved at the familiar voice and the closing of the front door. Coco had been pestering her for most of the day, and she was now finding it difficult to concentrate on her shoes.
Not when she was so plagued with memories of the past… not when she kept thinking of him.
"Imelda? Mi Amor?"
Plastering a fake smile on her face, she turned to face him, the fake smile turning to a real one when she spotted the concerned look on his face and their daughter in his arms.
"Imelda, what's wrong."
She took a deep breath, "Coco would like to hear the story of how we met… the whole story."
Hector winced, understanding immediately why she was a little tense. "Are you sure?" he asked Coco, "Wouldn't you prefer another story… any other story."
"No…" Coco pouted, "… I'm a big girl now. Please Papa, I want to hear how you and Mama met!"
Hector and Imelda glanced at each other once last time, before sighing wearily and moving to sit at the dining table.
"Okay…" Imelda began, "…. But first, I must tell you about the Gods."
"Awwww, do you have- "
"- Yes… It's very important."
"Imelda!" La Muerte, Queen of the Land of the Remembered, giggled as her daughter grabbed at her hair, the giggle sounding like musical wind chimes in the breeze, "Behave yourself!"
Xibalba, King of the Land of the Forgotten, couldn't help but smile fondly at the sight, dangling the scorched feathers of his wings in front of his daughter's face, watching as Imelda practically crossed her eyes trying to focus on them.
"Excuse me! One side! Coming through!"
The pair turned, watching as a familiar figure bounded towards them, a beaming grin on his face and handing a bouquet of flowers over to La Muerte, which she accepted gratefully.
"Candlemaker! Oh, they're lovely!"
"Did the arrangement myself ma'am!" he then bounded over to Xibalba, "Great party! I honestly didn't think you had it in you!"
As Xibalba scoffed and turned away, trying to ignore the Candlemaker's friendly babbling, Imelda (who had been placed in his cot) leaned over and tried to grab her Papa's prized staff, Mas y Menos.
"Xibalba!" La Muerte growled, "Keep that thing away from the baby."
Xibalba glanced down, before shrugging. "My dear, they are no threat to her, in fact, they might be good- "He stopped in his tracks, watching as the staff came to life and the two snakes curled around the baby, "- friends for her."
He turned and smirked at his beloved wife, "See? Friends?"
When La Muerte sent him a vicious glare, Xibalba nervously cleared his throat, turning his attention to all those present. "On behalf of my daughter, we would like to thank you all for your wonderful gifts!"
"And what about our gifts dear?"
Xibalba beamed, straightening up, "I though you'd never ask my love…" With a puff of smoke, two skeletal figures appeared beside him, "… I call them Felipe and Oscar. The perfect friends for our little angel."
"Do you see anymore children around here?" Xibalba glanced around, "Besides, they're not only victories, but guardians as well."
La Muerte stared at him for a few moments, before a soft smile appeared on her face and she slowly started to hand Imelda over, "Mind her head dear."
"…. She's so tiny."
Imelda was clearly thrilled to be in her Papa's arms, reaching up to try and grab his beard, before playing with the pendant attached to her nightshirt. After a couple minutes of contented silence, Imelda eventually yawned.
Placing his daughter back in her bed, Xibalba smiled fondly down at her, "Good night… mi pequeña princesa."
Everyone turned to the entrance, frowns on their faces as they spotted a familiar, shadowy figure standing there.
The demonic presence, simply known as Envy, smirked at them, "… You know, I haven't been this choked up since… well never."
Envy… a manifestation of one of the seven deadly sins.
"So, is this an audience or a painting?"
Envy, simply looking like any other skeleton from the Land of the Dead, moved through the crowd, smirking at some of the guests (even those who shuddered away from him).
Xibalba forced a smile onto his face, intercepting Envy just before he could reach the main platform. "Good to see you…" he greeted, "… how is everything? Work…. Things like that?"
It was clear that he really didn't want to be having this conversation, but Envy was either oblivious or he didn't care. Nipping around Xibalba, he darted over to the crib, smirking down at the baby inside, "And here's the little princess."
As he reached into the crib, Imelda's hands suddenly darted out and grabbed his fingers, gripping it as hard as she could.
"ARGH!" Envy cried out in pain, wrenching his finger away, "Strong little… darling isn't she?"
Xibalba was the only God who dared to break the awkward silence by nervously laughing, "Takes after her mother… why don't you come and join the party?"
"Love to…" Envy hissed, "… but unlike you, lounging about down here, I have work to do."
And with that, Envy was gone.
There is one person you don't want to make angry, and that's Envy…. Because he had an evil plan. As soon as he arrived at the gates of his own, modest realm, he bellowed out for his minions.
Dumb shells that he'd enchanted, who followed his every command.
"Inform me the minute the wise women arrive."
"They…. Are…. Here."
"Of course, they are." Envy sighed, heading into in modest council room, where three women held some golden thread and a knife.
"Nice and tight now… nice and tight now."
The blade of the knife flashed and the thread was cut, turning dull immediately.
Another one that would soon be waking up near the marigold petal bridge.
Envy barely flinched at the sight, before heading over to the three women.
"Ladies…" he began, clearly forcing cheer and politeness into his voice, "… Sorry I'm- "
"- Late." Interrupted one of the women, "Yes, we knew you would be."
"We know everything!" the second lady smirked, "Past…"
"…. Present …"
"…. And future!" finished the last woman.
"Wonderful." Envy sighed, "You see, I was at this party and- "
"- we know!"
Envy growled under his breath, "I know, you know." He moved over to a large table with figurines all over it, "So, here's the deal. Our darling leaders of the Land of the Dead now have this- "
"- bouncing baby girl! We know!"
"I KNOW YOU KNOW!" Envy bellowed, "I know, I get it, I get the concept!" He took a deep breath and calmed down, "So I gotta ask, is this kid going to get in the way of my takeover plans or what?"
"No! We're not supposed to reveal the future!"
Envy glanced at them for a few seconds, before heading over to the more susceptible member of the three. "Have you done something with your hair?" he asked, a charming smile on his face, "It looks amazing!"
The woman blushed at the praise, giggling into her hand until one of her companions slapped her on the arm, the All-seeing eye popping out and falling onto the floor, where it rolled towards one of the minions.
Without even flinching at the sliminess of the eyeball, Envy bent down and picked it up, his usual charming smile on his face, "Ladies, please…" he beseeched, handing the eye back, "… my fate is in your lovely hands.
The women all glanced at one another, before the oldest waved her hand, "Oh, go on then."
With a simple word, the eye started to rise into the air, turning into a white, glowing orb.
"In 18 years precisely, the planets will align ever so nicely."
Envy rolled his eyes, "Ay, verse. Oy."
"The time to act will be at hand. Unleash the Titans, your monstrous band!"
"Mmm-hmm. Good, good."
"Then the once-proud Xilbalba will finally fall… And you, Envy, will rule all!"
"YES! Envy rules!" Envy whooped in glee.
"But a word of caution to this tale..."
"…. Should Imelda fight, you will fail."
The three Fates all cackled and vanished into thin air, the white orb quickly following on behind, disappearing with a pop.
"WHAAAT?!" Envy bellowed, darkness encompassing the entire room, before he quickly calmed down and took several deep breaths, "Okay, fine, fine… I'm cool… I'm fine."
He stormed over to the doors that led further into his domain, a secret chamber that was kept hidden away from the rest of the realm.
"I have a riddle for you two." He addressed the brainless minions, "How do you kill a God? A God of the Underworld at that?"
Silence… not that he really expected an answer.
"You can't!" Envy continued, "They're immortal!" He reached out and grabbed a small vial of pink liquid, holding it up, "Which means we need to turn the little princess mortal."
Less than a month later, night was falling across the Land of the Dead.
Imelda was cuddled up to her brothers, tiny hands loosely clutching at their clothes as she slept peacefully…. Unaware of the shadow creeping across the room.
In the next room over, Xibalba and La Muerte were startled awake by a loud crash and the cry of a baby.
"Imelda!" La Muerte cried out, leaping out of bed and racing towards her daughter's room, throwing open the door… only to fall back against Xibalba, who had followed her in.
"No…" he whispered, when he realised why his wife had collapsed, "…. NO!"
"Imelda!" La Muerte sobbed, her eyes on the over-turned cradle and the stunned twins lying beside it, "IMELDA! NO!"
Hearing the heart-broken cry shatter the night, the minions winced and quickened their steps. Mindless though they were, even they knew that getting caught would be very painful.
And the baby screaming didn't help with this.
Just wanting to get it over and done with, they pulled the potion vial out of a bag and shoved it into little Imelda's mouth, watching as the baby gulped it down greedily. The glow of her skin started to fade with every drop that she drank, as the minions watched eagerly.
They couldn't do anything yet though.
She had to drink every last drop.
The minions freaked out, dropping the potion vial and the baby, before disappearing into the shadows, missing the fact that one drop was still left in the vial, hanging onto the glass for a few moments before it dropped to the ground, quickly absorbed by the dirt.
Watching from the shadows, they saw a middle-aged couple emerge from around the corner, lit torch landing on Imelda instantly.
"Amor!" The man yelled, "Amor, over here!"
A woman emerged from around the corner, her face lighting up at the sight of the crying baby, "Oh you poor thing!" she cooed, lifting Imelda into her arms, as her husband searched for anybody nearby.
In the shadows, the minions glanced at each other silently, before transforming into snakes and slithering closer to where their target was.
"She must have been abandoned." The man sighed.
"We've prayed so much for a child of our own, what if the Gods have answered us?"
The man silently nodded, examining the necklace that was around the baby's neck. "Imelda?" He read out loud, noticing a strange symbol on the jewellery.
And then he spotted the shadows of the snakes on the alleyway wall.
The woman screamed as the shadows dived in for the kill, however, the baby in her arms simply squealed in delight, grabbing the snakes and smacking their heads against the ground. Tying the snakes together, she swirled them around for a couple of seconds, before throwing them off into the distance.
As the snakes disappeared into the night sky, Imelda glanced back at the shocked adults and giggled.
"Uh-Oh." One of the minions muttered, as the other nodded in agreement.
It was tragic.
Xibalba and La Muerte led their kingdoms on a frantic search for their new-born, but by the time they found Imelda, it was too late.
Imelda was mortal now.
But since she did not drink the last drop, she still retained her God-like strength.
La Muerte wept the night she was found, knowing that her daughter could never come home, knowing that she would have to watch her precious baby grow up from afar.
Even though Envy's horrid plan took place before Imelda's first tooth, the baby grew stronger every day.
Which wasn't always a good thing.