Demeter shuffled quietly from the bathroom back to the small room, feeling a little better, but sadly the feeling would not last. Hestia’s gift was already fading rapidly, and the old woman could feel her limbs weakening, her skin shriveling. She sighed, and rather than crawling back into bed, she took a seat in the walker she had used the night before. Perhaps a wheelchair was more fitting, but there seemed none to be had. Still, Demeter knew it in her bones, in her very being that she would not walk again in this life.
It was a small price to pay to see her Daughter happy; strong. She would soon be ready to take her seat not just as the Bringer of Spring, or the Queen of the Underworld, but as Goddess of the Cycle. Demeter’s only hope was that she would be ready sooner rather than later. However, first thing was first. Hades had come, and she could sense that he was now gone, and now Demeter’s Dearest was in need of comfort if she was to face what was next.
As if on cue, Demeter could feel Persephone, just outside the door.
The embrace from her step-mother was wonderful and unexpected. She smiled at the older woman, glad that she was the first she ran into because it gave her just the little bit of strength to move forward after that. She said nothing to Hera, just gave her a look of understanding and thankfulness before she slipped past her and let the older woman into the lift behind her.
She watched her mother for a moment in the shadows before coming forward, the tears still spilling from her eyes though her sobs had lessened at least she could mostly breath fine. She shuffled forward to her, eyes locked on the old woman's weak frame as she stepped in. "Mother," she said softly, dropping to her knees in front of her and burring her face into Demeter's lap. "He doesn't want me..." she sobbed, her tears coming back stronger again.
Mother said nothing. She simply looked down at her daughter, her own heart aching, and gently stroked her daughter's hair. Sometimes, one just needed to cry, and so Demeter just let her cry. Not trying to shush her, or coo her to silence. No. Not this time. Persephone would be ready to talk, on her time. It was Mother's turn to just listen.
The Girl's sobs slowed sooner than she thought they were going to. But she'd spent so long crying anymore that she'd almost cried herself out. Persephone lifted her dark eyes up to her mother, chin still resting on her thin thigh, as she tried to blink the tears away as best she could. "He's...different...He doesn't look like himself and he's surely not acting like himself. He...he called me Zeus' bastard daughter..." The tears started anew, but she didn't sob, just let them run down her face. "He doesn't want me."
Demeter sighed. "I wish I knew what to tell you, my Dearest. After everything, I am as surprised as I expected this might happen one day. Hades, is and has ever been a complicated man. Though, I cannot in good faith give you false hopes that he might come to love you again someday, or that he is merely lost. For now, he is gone, and as the very fabric of our existence changes, perhaps it is time for you to change as well.
"Oh, my Dearest, I am sorry. So very sorry. Would that I could give you comfort. Would that I could have given you the choices you so deserved." Though Demeter's tone was quiet and comforting, they were rich with emotion and aches centuries old.
She listened to her mother's words taking in what she was really saying. Hades, she knew, was complex, she'd been married to him for a long time after all. But this almost seemed wrong for him. Though she hadn't known what he was like before her either, and what she had gathered over the years had spoken of his tendency for distance. It still hurt though, and hurt more because she had built up this idea that if he came back, that he'd be happy to see her again.
But maybe her mother was right. Maybe it was time for something new. The Harvest had come when the Fates had taken her husband from her. And every Harvest needed to be followed with planting of New Growth. And that she understood well. So she nodded, sniffling loudly. "It isn't your fault Mother," she started, her voice husky from her tears. "It wasn't anyone's fault or choice. I think I understand that now."
"Do you? What do you understand?" Comforting as Demeter sounded, she gently encouraged her to keep talking, letting go her deepest hurts.
"That marrying Hades wasn't my choice to make," she sighed, rubbing at an eye like a tired child. "It wasn't yours to make and it wasn't his either. Choosing to love him was my choice, but not being his wife. The Cycle's been a part of me for so long that I felt like I had the right to make those choices, but I didn't ever. It is as much a part of me as I am a part of it."
"You were always destined to be a part of the Cycle. Hades, you, myself, a triumvirate of life, death, and everything in between. Still, you deserved a courtship with Hades. You deserved time to come into your role, to understand it better. You should never have been forced and manipulated, and for that crime against you I nearly destroyed the world. I will never regret it, nor will I ever forgive those responsible." Demeter sighed, her eyes and face looking old and tired as ever. "But, for all our talk of the past, my dearest, now it is time to make a choice. Your choice. What will you do now? What do you want?"
Persephone sat for a long moment just looking in her mother's direction with unfocused eyes, thinking. "I don't know," she said finally, blinking her eyes back into the here and now. "I don't know what I want anymore. I spent a year longing for something I thought I could never have, only to have it mockingly thrown in my face today." She swallowed hard, keeping back her tears as best she could. "It might be time for a Spring for me."
"I have already broken the Cycle." Demeter said, she was almost surprised at her own bluntness. Still there was no use in keeping it entirely a secret anymore. "You have been free of it for some time. But it comes at a price. You must find your strength, because your time is coming more rapidly than you know. Remember whose Daughter you are, the power you could wield."
She didn't look all that surprised by her mother's revelation. She'd unthinkingly gathered as much this last year when her coming and going had been anything but normal. But she was still confused by what else she said. "My time for what Mother?"
Demeter sighed, and looked down into her Daughter's eyes lovingly, her tone was so gentle and soft a she continued to stroke her Daughter's beautiful black hair. "The Cycle must continue. It is broken for now, but it must be mended, and only you can do that. I have paid your price, but it is a grave price indeed, and I do not have much longer in this word. This existence."
The Daughter looked a little confused at her mother for a moment, blinking as she tried to get what the old woman meant by that. She wasn't for certain, at least not totally for certain if she was right in her assumptions, but she said nothing about it and just nodded her head. "I still don't want to see you go Mother," she murmured softly, her blood shot eyes glistening with tears that weren't going to fall. "I will miss you greatly."
Demeter turned Persephone's head up, by the chin, forcing her gently to look into Mother's eyes. She then held her Daughter's cheek her words soothing and firm at the same time. "Nothing can be created. Nothing can be destroyed. That is the Law of the Universe, and a Truth that cannot be undone. Just as seasons change endlessly, so does Life and Death. I will diminish, yes, but I will also be reborn. You will never truly be without me. I think, deep down, you already know this."
She swallowed hard again, nodding her head in her mother's hands. Hades had returned after all. But what happened to Demeter, might not be the same kind of thing though. Either way, she'd not ever see this woman again once she was gone, and that was the pain she didn't want to face. But she understood that there was nothing truly new in the world. Even as flowers died, their seeds regrew. And that was what would become of Demeter, somehow. "I'll still miss you though."
"As I have and always will miss you, my Dearest love. You are as you ever have been, the only good part of me, and I am proud of you. So very proud of you. You are courageous and strong. I see it, even if you cannot see it within yourself. You will find Joy." Demeter brushed away Persephone's tears, now drying as she could sense her Daughter's pain easing. "I love you. More than anything."
Persephone smiled a watery smile at her, trying to be the brave girl her mother thought she was. "I love you too Mother," she murmured, holding back her tears again as they were brushed away by the frail hands of her other half. "And I always will. I'll make you proud, I promise."
Demeter chuckled, the sound loving and sweet. "Then stand up, my Dearest. Hold your head high, and remember, you Lead; you do not follow. You are Queen, and you are my Daughter. Let the Wrath fuel your strength."
She nodded her head like an eager child, finding her feet under her and standing slowly up. Demeter was right, as was Athene, she was Queen, no matter what Hades decided he wanted from her. The Underworld was just as much hers as it was his now. She'd spent a year being a Queen without her king, and she couldn't give that back now. Persephone leaned over and kissed her mother's cheek and then straightened up, shoulders back and squared, giving her mother a smile that for once was not tear filled. "Rest Mother, your time isn't over just yet." She caressed the old woman's cheek for a moment before she turned and left the room, not for sure where she was heading just yet. But likely out in the open air for a bit. It was stifling down there all closed in.
The air somehow didn't seem right. Something was terribly amiss. Was it tension? Or was it the calm before a storm? Ares couldn't tell. He was as if a phantom, now. Lurking within the shadows of the Olympians. Watching as one came and went. Hades. Like the passing clouds overhead, like the cold breeze of Summer; He returned but then moved on. Leaving behind what he was supposed to be carrying along with him. To steal it away as he had done eons ago. To bring Winter back into the cycle of the mortal's life. Yet, it didn't happened. It was a mere visit. Utterly a confrontation with the family. To bid greetings and to show that He'd returned. Nothing more. Rejoice, there was none. Alliance, neither was offered. A different god. One that didn't seem fit to reclaim the position He once held.
He stopped in his track. Watching as the King of... former King.. -he corrected himself- of the Underworld be driven away by his undead subject. Waiting to see the Thundergod's back disappear into the forge as he retreated. Yet the god of war knew this wasn't it. It wasn't Hades that'd stilled the air. At least not entirely his fault. Ares looked up. Blinking at Apollo's sun. Sniffing the air that were tarnished by the stench of dry blood clinging onto his bare body, of devine sweat and of smoke from the forge. Ares grunted. This wasn't the kind of atmosphere he was hoping for or at least one that he was familiar with. This wasn't how it should be. There was no thrill. There was no sense of urgency. War was upon them, yet the Olympians seemed too indulge in the squabbles among themselves. Too caught up, distracted by their own selfish emotions. Each wanting to find a place in the other's heart that they neglected what mattered most. Pshaw! Pathetic! Thought the Wargod. But the fact that he was no better was shoved away deep within his soul. Hidden beneath his pride. The pride of a Wargod.
The trojans were better soldiers, he thought. Mere mortals that were more deserving for his credit than the Gods and Goddesses that were gathered in this godforsaken structure, the home to the Lamegod. Perhaps it was the absence of thrones, circling the hearth like they had back in Olympus. Perhaps the setting here was the reason they strayed far away from what they were supposed to be doing. Ares turned his head to follow an immortal walking to the goddess of fortune. Courtship? Was it mating season already? He then watched the twins engaging in a conversation over a mortal who was supposed to be long dead. Balance was tempered. His eyes flared, fists clenched but his gaze moved on. Athene.. No matter how hard he'd tried to figure out what wisdom she could gain from that outfit, Ares just couldn't find any. Then again, wisdom was never his field of expertise. Demeter and Persephone... in each other's embraces. A counselling session over the rejection of a husband. He stepped into the forge. Ares then heard the voices of his parents. Tch! Doubt began to bloom. The promise Hera made to him inside the lift seemed to be tossed aside. At least to him, it felt that way. There was no hope, he thought. Not when the two were in such a state. Loving, consoling and seeking comfort.
He stopped once more. A deep frown forming over his forehead. Anger slowly surfacing. Hephaestus, Aphrodite.. They were nowhere in sight. Assumptions slowly corrupted his mind. Accusations began to manifest itself within his thoughts. Provoking him. Arousing his rage to consume him. Yet he stood there, motionless but for the aggressive rise and fall of his chest. It made sense. Hera had probably given up on her promise after bringing both the Lamegod and the Lovegoddess together. That was probably why she was up here. To give the two some time to catch up. The urge to head down was overwhelming. But he was barred by the presence of his Father. His punishment may still be fresh on the Thundergod's mind, Ares thought. Tch! He turned himself around. Lost. Not knowing where to go or what to do. So he waited. Folding his arms across his chest and leaning against the wall, he waited. Allowing himself to be fueled with rage, angering himself. Quarelling with his own thoughts. Waiting for the right moment to have enough rage, to overcome his fear of confronting even Zeus himself and to gather the Olympians; preparing them for war against Echidna and Typhon. He waited.. His gaze dropping to the floor. His ears perked, listening to the conversation about him. He waited.. For something.. For anything..
Zeus steeled himself for the worst. For an acid tongue-lashing. For long lists of new rules and standards between them. For yet another fight. For trials to make even Herakles balk and cringe away. At the worst, he wondered if she would tell him that there was no penance great enough, no words with enough potency, to mend the divide that had been growing between them piece by piece, betrayal by betrayal, over the millenia. He was not prepared, however, for the request to simply be held. While the conniving voice in the back of his mind grew suspicious of such a meager requirement... he owed her a lapse in the skepticism that had ever plagued them. He was still her husband, and he did indeed love this woman.
Zeus held Hera.
For moments and seconds he did not count down in his head for once, always readying himself for that next action... he simply quieted his mind and held her. It was... good, to have her in the circle of his arms. And have her there willingly. Coming to him at last, rather than pulling away. He breathed deep in her hair, and his nostrils filled with the pleasant and familiar scent of her. She could calm him. Oh how she could make his rage boil and temper flare... but there were those other moments, when she was a soothing balm upon raw flesh, and briefly he could forget about Hades, Typhon, and all the rest. All the dire, misbegotten tasks that jockeyed for his attention, all his quarrelsome children he must put to task together against their enemies while somehow preserving their precious lives. With a stirring flutter in his heart, he held her, resting his cheek upon her crown.
But a King could not indulge forever. It was with regret in his expression and a grim cast to his bearded jaw some quiet minutes later that he finally lifted his hands to Hera's shoulders and guided her gently away from him, to fully gaze upon her. "I must speak with them all, Hera," he told her quietly but surely. "Some things have been delayed long enough, and the time to act decisively is nigh. I expect-" His voice trailed. I expect you to stand at my side as I address them, he'd nearly said. He frowned, glancing away a moment, clearing his throat softly. "I... I w-would ... ask..." He paused to grit his teeth a moment. Even in this close moment, the word was difficult. But returning his sight to her, letting his eyes touch over her familiar and beautiful features, made it easier. He took a moment to breath deep and compose himself, his expression one of self-deprecating earnestness, with a splash of formality, and collected both her hands in his.
"I would ask you... please, my wife... to stand at my side while I address them. Your... support means much to me. Everything to me." Zeus had asked his brother Hades the same thing, to stand with him... and had been scorned. Rejected. If Hera turned and fled from him now too... No. Zeus would not touch that dark place in his mind, just yet. The results would be far worse than Hades' betrayal. "Will you?" he asked drawing closer to her, unable to hide the vaguely troubled furrow of his brow.
Athene turned her back on the painful scene unfolding behind her. She didn’t want to witness their talk, didn’t want to hear the pained emotions it brought up. She had enough unwelcome emotions of her own to contend with and she had never been a creature of emotions. She moved closer to Orion, looking at him. She’d only known him in passing when he’d been alive and so she had little to compare him with but as far as she could tell he looked much the same. There were no visible signs of the evil he’d been re-birthed in. She knew Artemis couldn’t be trusted with him, Apollo either but for different reasons. She wasn’t certain he had it in him to hurt his sister so again.
She stood then and walked towards the closet that contained the lift. She knew somewhere below in the forge Hephaestus had some sort of restraint that would hold whatever it was that Orion had become. It was a task, something to keep her busy and away from the rawness of the twins. She had taken no more than a few steps when she saw him, lurking as he always seemed too. She wondered why he hadn’t run? Was it his love for the bitch or was it arrogance to think that he could do what he did and still be accepted? She stopped in her tracks and straightened out her carriage and looked him full on.
How long had they been all but enemies? How long had they been rivals? It seemed like it had been forever. But now, with what he had done could he be anything but an enemy in truth? It wasn’t the time for such things. It was the worst time really. They had a greater enemy outside of themselves and they couldn’t afford to be more fractured than they were. But he didn’t get that, this dog either didn’t care or didn’t have the intelligence to see the fullness of the situation they were in. She moved again, walking towards him with her steps determined. She had no idea what she was going to say to him, but silence wasn’t going to cut it for her. She walked until she stood before him, inches from him. She waited until he lifted his eyes from the ground to meet her stormy grey ones before speaking, her tone honey sweet and false.
“Brother, I would have thought you’d have gone to ground by now? How come you haven’t?”
Hermes felt her leave. Hecate pulled him up with sleep still in his eyes and she went as summoned. He stood for a moment thinking of following but instead permitted the dreams to call him back. He allowed gravity to push him back to the floor. A few relaxed breaths and closed eyes gave him a brief settled peace. In the thin line between real and unreal, Hermes felt his family all around. Waves of pain, beams of anger, flows of doubt, streams of passion, and tides of unfulfilled acceptance swirled around Hermes. He could not help but smile as he drank in the range of intense emotions. How could anyone not love his family? Immortal displays of intense mortal emotions, it was the stuff of Gods. Who could say they were not made from the imagination of poets. The arts are awakening. As feelings flood back into his family so do their powers.
As they awake so should he. Slowly Hermes stood, stretched, and felt the moods around him. It would be a good day. Was it day? Hermes had little clue as to the position of the sun or moon inside the machine laden garage. No matter. He followed the threads of those family ties. The twins were back and their colors flashed as they always did with the twist of love and misunderstanding. It is hard to look in a mirror and see your own soul. His father and the only love of his heart if not his body were entangled as they always were but this time it was a physical embrace. The Goddess of Love and the God of Hate were together and apart as they always were. Mother and daughter of seasons pulled together. Ah, that was a beautiful color. Hermes grinned as he felt them.
But the one he moved toward, the feel he wanted to see with his own eyes, was the strong emotion of control and release. Hermes went toward Athene. She wanted to hide her feelings when she believed action or systemic leadership required only intellect. Aw, poor Athene. Her battle was within even though she would fight the strongest against those without.
As Hermes began to walk toward her he stopped. By the looked of her body he knew now was not the time for him to stand beside her. The Gods of Battle were standing off together. Hermes was not needed there so he stretched again spun around and away before they could notice him.
Instead he walked toward the Sun, Apollo. Hermes had always basked in his brother’s light, whether it be painful tears or warm eyes. Hermes said nothing but smiled and stood beside him. There Hermes felt the sense that all would be gathered. The colorful threads of his family would weave together for just a battle or two and the unravel as they always did.
Out loud as if to Apollo, Hermes said, “Let’s see if we can work this together for just a while and remove the sword that is aimed to our throats before we work on the splinters that bring constant points of pain.”
The sight that came into his view was something he could somewhat cherish in. For a moment, he thought that it was His Aphrodite who'd approached him. He thought that it was his lover who'd finally presented herself to him during such disturbing time. Long and slender yet muscular pair of legs stepped into his vision. Damn smooth pair of legs. He raised his gaze ever so slowly then. Molesting the flesh with his eyes alone as they climbed over well rounded thighs and briefly rested over the spot just shy from sight and hidden beneath the shirt. His anger suddenly was intruded with lust. Another moment passed, he lingered over the chest of she who're either brave enough to face him or simply just being bold before he finally settled upon those familiar gray eyes.
Her deceptively sweet voice reached him. Almost stirring his composure. Ares's chest heaved. But instead of it being entirely of violence, it was spiced with a little bit of something else as well. Something that he'd never felt before for His half Sister. Something he never thought he could ever feel for her; as a matter of fact. His heart hammered and his eyes immediately flared. Athene... How quaint? Just the thing he needed to fuel his rage. Exactly the boost he was looking for, the push he'd sought to grab each and everyone of the Olympians by the hair and have them sit in a circle for the discussions on the upcoming war.
"Pshaw! And who would then lead them into battle, Pallas Athene? You?" he snarled before his gaze fell just below her neck. "Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately?" he asked, unfolding his arms before he pushed himself away from the wall. "You're no longer as strong as you thought you were, Sister! Especially not now!" Ares took a step forward, deliberately pressing his bare chest against her body as he stared into her eyes. His lips parted as he breathed. "I can sense it, Athene! You grew weaker each passing moment you're in the presence of the Lamegod! In the presence of your beloved Father! You're nothing but a spoilt goddess now, Athene! I no longer see you as a warrior like I used to.. Instead, I see merely a feisty woman who'd forgotten her place.. Standing here before me.. clad in nothing but a piece of that Cripple's rag!" The wargod then clenched his fist. Resisting himself from grabbing her by the throat. Resisting the temptation to wring her neck and to snap her head off. "You tend to be more careless these days, Athene.." he lowered his voice into a whisper as he leans forward to her ear. "I should've spea..." his words forcefully ceased from his lips but only to be heard in her thoughts as he willed it. His heated breath brushing into her ear as he converse with her in silence.
..speared Him and end His existence when I'd the chance.. The moment my axe buried deep into His sides, I should've finished the job then. But instead I gave Him a chance to live. I allowed Him to return to you in a more pathetic state just so that I can have you exactly where you now stands. Like so and as vulnerable that any men could easily take you.. Even for that wounded Cripple..
He then pulled himself back and grinned. Eyes daring her to take action. Challenging her to provoke him further.
Athene did not appreciate his scrutiny but she bore it. She knew he did it to get a rise from her and she was determined to maintain a cool, unruffled demeanor even though inside she seethed. She let none of it show on her face as he ran his eyes over her and let his disgusting appreciation show in his eyes. He was a coward and prone to dirty tricks. However, for a moment when his breath was hot on her neck she felt something of the appeal he must have had for Aphrodite. His rage, raw and powerful practically rolled off of him and she used all her willpower to suppress her shiver. She would show him no weakness, especially in the light of what he’d said and what he’d left unsaid.
She did not step back, though she longed to do so. She was unused to such charged proximity to anyone let alone he unless blows were being exchanged and it confused her. She turned her head, disliking the feel of his hot breath on her neck, making her feel vulnerable and more exposed. That combined with her refusal to step back meant that her mouth was a hairs breadth from his.
“Funny that weakness is a word so quick to slip from your lips brother. Normally I wouldn’t expect it to be in your vocabulary but here it is slipping from your tongue. It must be on your mind. Perhaps because I am not the one afflicted with it?”
She let her eyes bore into his, the grey flashing with anger, letting him see how much she knew.
"Tch!" Ares almost boasted of what he would do to her should he have gotten the chance as he grunted. But her slave, that Goose, Nemesis; might just hear each and every word he would mutter. He remembered who she was. He realized what that Goddess could do. It was her duty. Her task. Much as it was his and Athene's with war. Nothing under the watch of a God or a Goddess could go unheard. This, he understood. Thus the wargod held his tongue.
"Get out of my face, Athene! Lest if you're dying for me to..." Ares paused as his gaze once more appreciated the body of his half sister. "..spear you!" his lips brushing lightly over Athene's as he exclaimed. Their heated breath mingling. Gaze locked. His heart hammered against his chest so hard that they threatened to betray his demeanor to her. He feared that she could feel it as his body pressed onto hers. Even the rising heat of passion and of violence that was escalating from his core.
In that period of time, during the entire conversation; Ares was blind to his surroundings. He wasn't even aware at just how awkward the two Wargods must've looked to the rest of the Olympians. In fact, their presence seemed to simply fade from his conscious. All that was in front of him now was his rival, his arch-enemy as well as his half sister; Athene. Alone and in a rather peculiar yet in an appealing state as well. And he didn't bother with what the Olympians would think about them just then. Or what they would say. Intimate? Lovers? So be it! But the desire had never been to such course. Or has it?
"Tch!" he gave another grunt before he cocked his head slightly as if to say, make your move.
Athene’s eyes narrowed dangerously at his implied threat. She would not back down, not from this dog. Not after what he had done. She kept herself where she was, exuding fury and imminent violence as she tried to be rational, tried to be wise when all she wanted to do was to rip him to pieces with her bare hands. She felt the energy pulsing off of him and it drew her in, the wrath, the rage, the hunger. Her hands clenched into fists by her sides so tightly that the nails all but pierced the skin. Her skin began to tingle and anyone watching would see small sparks begin to form along it. Her voice when it came was choked with rage, deep and husky with promise, her breath hot against his lips.
“The way I see it Dog is that you have two choices here. You can go and hide with your tail tucked between your legs until I have the time to hunt you down or you can stand and be a man for once and try to redeem yourself in the battle to come. Either way you will not be trusted because I know what you did and I will see you pay a thousand fold for every second of pain he has from your hand. Your cowardice is well known and now we have proof that you are a backstabbing betrayer. Did you think you could get away with that anywhere near Nemesis and not be found out? I will see you pay, the choice about how you stand is yours to make.”
"And what's holding you back, Princess? For your father's command?" Ares paused but only briefly. "For a bird, you sure bark louder than any dogs of mine! Baring teeth.. Snarling.. But never biting without it's master's consent! Whereas I.." flames ignited in his eyes and on his hairs. "I bite! ...And I bite damn hard!" his fist tightened. Knuckles whitening and shoulders rise and fall with every angry breath taken. He was ferocious. "I'm right here, Athene!" he opened his arms, inviting. "I, Ares, stood before you! Closer than you'd ever wished me to! Come! Come at me, Athene! COME!!"
Being in his arms felt amazing, but it was ever thus, comfort in his arms but no place in his heart. Still she needed comfort just then and he was the only one offering. She shivered and burrowed deeper into his arms, breathing deep of his scent, covered over with expensive colognes but still evident underneath all that. She closed her eyes and let a few tears fall and breathed in deep again and detected, of all things, some of her favorite hand lotion amongst the scents that clung to him. She froze and her brow furrowed in confusion as her mind tried to puzzle out the mystery of that. She was about to ask when, like a rush, the explanation flooded her. Her cheeks colored at the implications. Memories of fire and small furry things filled her mind. Memories which were colored with fury tinged with inappropriate laughter filled her. Flashes too of the lovemaking that had followed that particular battle flooded her and she found herself just as willing in his arms if considerably less comfortable.
But then he spoke, cutting off her thoughts and she followed his words with her own emotions in a further uproar. It was like they simply needed a further target for her ire. Hera felt a twinge of annoyance prick her Zeus at his words. He asked for her to stand by him. When had she not? Throughout their entire married lives she had stood by him, she had stayed with him and supported him in matters kingly and now he asked like she might not know her duties. She pulled back from him, not quite releasing her hold from his waist, her face as thunderous as his own could be, her eyes flashing with ire. For a moment she looked as vital as she had ever been, as if the furor were good for her, were feeding her something.
“I have never failed to stand by you! I even stood by you when you made the ridiculous decision to marry our son to that tramp! I have stood by you playing the part in this whole farce of an election campaign. I cannot believe you had to ask. I’ll have you know….”
She trailed off, her head turning, looking towards the garage bays. Within the circle of her husband’s arms she grew tense. “Zeus…”
Then it was palpable for all, a tension in the air, rich with violence and intense emotion that wasn’t quite violence but was equally dark. She shivered and slipped from his arms, catching his hand with hers and gently pulled him after her as she headed towards the tension.
The messenger god approached him as Athene began her talk with Ares. Them being together made Apollo's hair prick up and his eyes shift. At the moment, however, they seemed fine. Hermes spoke elegantly to Apollo of their fate and what they should do. Apollo simply shrugged and thought about it for a minute. The same thought came popping into his mind like a sort of nat which kept flying into his vision. Could said sword actually pierce the divine neck in question; and, furthermore, would it kill? Apollo had asked himself this so many times before and attempted the deed to make it come to fruition but it never worked. The gods were always a foot behind death, ready to grab a hold of it but never able to tackle it and embrace it. Apollo turned to Hermes and smiled a genuine smile which showed the slightest hint of insanity.
"Why stop the sword, Hermes?" he asked genuinely. He crossed his arms and looked forward, toward Athene and Ares. His smile had vanished and he seemed lost in thought. "Why don't we grab the sword and finish the job?" he didn't give Hermes a chance to respond. He began walking toward the siblings with a confident gait, ready to try to pry the two apart. They were so close that Apollo became uncomfortable suddenly. He slowed his walk and became less confident. He continued to walk.
Apollo was ready to call out to them when Ares got louder. He was screaming at her in a matter of seconds and Apollo stood completely still as he watched the tension explode into an event like no other. Mt Ares had erupted and Athene was the sole victim. Her stone face, however, would not concede that point. She was strong--statuesque-- in the way of Ares' blind and unrelenting wrath. Apollo wished for that rage, he needed it. He needed something as punishment.
Apollo couldn't help but think of he and his sister. They got upset at each other but Apollo couldn't even begin to pretend they hated each other. Athene and Ares didn't hate each other either; hate wasn't a strong enough word. Apollo felt sorry for the eternal enemies. The pair, the unstoppable force and the immovable object, who were now embroiled in near battle, would never understand the love, only a sibling can provide.
Nemesis held her form leaned up against the door, she hadn’t moved very far. Anarchy was settling in her mind, her calm body held in place as she breathed deeply, releasing the rattling tension. Ares, the monster naturally spoiled it. Fowl knew that energy and her golden eyes narrowed in the direction, the muscles displayed sign of discomfort as the brown head lifted to Nemesis. The yellow scaled talons crossed over in her still lounging position, narrow head cocked with attitude and annoyance at the interrupting in the lengthy nap. It was many moments passed, Nemesis uncomfortable with the intense gaze with the sounds of soft tail feathers twitching. If the animal could speak then the argument would have been one Nemesis rather avoid.
“No. Athene doesn’t need my help. I personally hope Athene burns the Monster and then we can finally deal with Typhon without the Dog gnawing on our necks.” Huffed Nemesis her eyes turned away, hiding unwanted guilt and the desire to answer any sort of duty.
Of all times, when their lives were threatened it seemed their conflicts, grudges, and worse sides chose to expose themselves. What did the Monster expect? Hephaestus might not pursue revenge but Athene was another story altogether.
Fowl stared harder and unmoved.
“Ty has plenty of Uncles, one less won’t hurt her…besides the last thing I need is one more conflict between us especially one caused by Aphrodite and the Monster.”
This time Fowl blinked, glared a few more moments before a loud snort escaped her nostrils while her head lower upon front claws. Wings tightened about her long body as she was unfazed by her master’s returning look of astonishment at the creature’s cheek. Heat flooded Nemesis, burned away the confidence of her choice as she pulled her head back into the door in defeat.
“Fine… Happy? I’m going.” She sighed.
There was a loud stomp, her feet hitting the floor, each step less frustrated as the Goddess went to the source, with Fowl tailing behind looking more smug than before.
The War god’s yells soon reached Nemesis, her eyes took in the view and knew it had escalated in mere moments. Neither would yield that was certain and Typhon wanted to kill them, he just had to wait until they tore each other apart to finish the survivors. She glimpsed Apollo, Hermes not far off with Artemis behind them, between the two sparring immortals. Energy rippled off them like undying flow and for the moment, it angered her that they bothered to waste energy in this way not when it could be used for survival. A sharp intake of breath purged it quickly, her mind fighting the urge to grip her sword halted simply at the edge of the building conflict.
They maybe Tyche’s family but there was little point in her involvement, even less as she noticed who else arrived on the scene: Hera and Zeus. For the moment Nemesis pulled back, there was no desire to be involved in this and Fowl seemed to realize this as she too halted abruptly. Nemesis's body leaned up against the nearest wall while in watching distance of the gathering group, preferring to remain away should Athene and Ares clash. Some family they had as her red eyes just watched passively for the scene to unfold.
Zeus' eyebrows climbed high when Hera started in on him, only to furrow low again in the makings of a scowl. Of course he'd never had to ask her to stand by him! It was her duty as his wife and Queen to do so! But she couldn't even be gracious this once for him asking her, rather than simply expecting or demanding her support as usual? She'd curse at him for neglecting or imposing upon her own will, and now apparently she'd lash into him for humbly requesting things from her, as well. The woman was an utter mystery! Next time he wouldn't even bother-
The abrupt tension in her posture cut off his building tirade. He frowned at her in annoyance. What now? And he followed her gaze toward the garages, sensing the subtle shift in the air about the place, as well. His arms loosened from around her, and still frowning, he allowed her to take his hand and lead him along behind her. His steps lagged a bit. Namely because his mind was busy working out the scene he was coming upon, and each step he took toward the growing alarm in the nearby space only added exponentially to his outrage. By the time he was close enough to discern the full nature of what was transpiring between Ares and Athene, his eyes were wide and crackling and wild, teeth gritted, veins standing out in his neck and temple, skin red. He slipped his hand from Hera's and stormed forward toward Ares and Athene, fingers balling into fists.
"ENOUGH!" he bellowed, the walls literally trembling with his thunderous volume.
The air around Ares and Athene hummed with an unseen charge, lifting the fine hairs on their skin and collecting the strands on their head up at the edges in cloudy halos -- particularly Ares. Athene's peril was more from proximity. Positive charges were flooding the space around them, crawling over them both like ants, an invisible screaming beacon that would attract negatively charged particles that comprised electrical discharges ... discharges such as lightning. A palpable threat, if ever there was one.
"I have had enough!" Zeus shouted in his wrath. "No more! No more of this fractious quarreling! My children WILL NOT spend their energies murdering one another! Nor will my Pantheon languish in this nonsensical idleness any longer! Have we all forgotten ourselves? Forgotten our places? Our purpose? If it be so, then allow me to remind you!"
With a blinding flash of light, Zeus changed. The presidential candidate Richard Deus simply vanished... and there stood in his place the deity of old before Roman or Greek influences had ever shaped his appearance. Platinum curls to his shoulders so pure as to appear snow white, the matching beard, skin bronzed by a long proximity to the heavens stretched over dizzying male beauty, and ice blue eyes so terribly cold and alive that they burned. Gone too were the mortal clothes; in their place, the pristine wraps and ornately etched trappings of a King of Gods. A golden laurel crown wrapped his brow, and in his hand was a golden scepter.
Snarling, Zeus turned his head and pointed the scepter unwaveringly at empty space. With a wrench of his will, time and space ripped, opening a shimmering doorway.
When he spoke again, there was more to his voice than sheer, resonating volume; there was a command that carried a note of formality to the depths of the Forge and back, and struck ancient chords of compulsion.
"I, Zeus, now call the Pantheon to Order upon Olympus. Attend thy rightful places immediately for thy King's Advisement, Counsel, and Justice, or fear forevermore His Wrath. He awaits thee in the Heavens Above."
The King of Gods leveled a withering glare upon any near enough to receive it... particularly Ares. Then he made an abrupt turn, instantly locating his wife with his flashing gaze. After a moment of simply regarding Hera, he held out his hand for her... and was more pleased than he would ever care to admit when she slipped her slim, dainty fingers in his, and more affected than he likely should be in this moment by that particular gleam in her lovely eyes. Save those thoughts for later, he told himself. He squeezed her hand and turned toward the rift. With angry, purposeful steps, Zeus strode into the shimmering doorway alongside Hera...
...and found himself in Olympus' throne room.
Their footsteps echoed sharply off the empty, desolate space. The artistic figures and depictions in the mosaic floor they walked upon were so battered and faded the characters knew nothing of the couple's passage, and Zeus could discern nothing of theirs. Like everything else, the march of time had stripped all beauty and meaning from the artwork, leaving nothing but vague, broken shapes and the hints of ghostlike memories. Dark shadows loomed in the recesses, and the open dome overhead gave a view of cloudy, ominous skies that matched Zeus' mood. Nothing had changed since the last time he was here. The circular ring of thrones sat between their columns still, some of each fractured and overturned. The central hearth squatted cold and forlorn, bereft the happy flame of life it once held, and signs of old battle were strewn about as rubble and faded stains. Olympus had become a grey place of tragedy and sorrow... As had its former denizens.
No more, Zeus thought grimly. There was still life to be had here in these ancient bones of a kingdom. It need only be revived. Zeus escorted Hera up the dais, seeing her seated first at his throne's right hand, then squared himself upon his own, a seat larger and elevated above the others, the centermost piece in the ring that faced the door to the throne room. He turned one-eighty degrees and seated himself with the ingrained grace of a born ruler. The decades had stripped the seat of all cushion and now it was bare marble, but despite the discomfort of the hard surface... the throne felt like home. Hands on the ends of the arm rests, one gripping, the other holding his scepter, his spine postured straight and proud and stern, Zeus settled his gaze expectantly upon the shimmering doorway that remained as passage between the throne room and a humble repair shop in Minnesota.