The arrival at gate Olympus is jarring for the mortal. Chadwick hits the ground like a soggy bag of socks, rolls down an embankment and finds a sudden need to vomit working at his throat. He swallows rapidly and rolls to his back. Clouds like fluffy cotton balls meander by. The air is warm yet dry as it sweeps gently over him. The ground vibrates slightly and he cranes his head to the left. A pair of sandals that King Kong could wear appears in his watery line of sight.
“Dude, you really need to learn to close your eyes. It helps,” Phobos chides and hauls his wobbly best to his feet.
“Again, a little announcement of the departing flight would really….Holy. Flecking. Hell.” The Brit whispers as he locates the temple of Zeus sitting atop the hill he tumbled down. Carved from white marble, the shrine to the Skyfather is the length of four football fields easily. Ionic pillars surround an interior building. Braziers sit between each column with pure white flames leaping from the golden dishes. The lawn is home to statues atop more pillars, each one holding a likeness of one of the Olympians. “This place is amazing,” CW murmurs as he climbs back to where he began.
“Meh,” Alexander tugs the human along, “It`s all pretense, you know? Ain`t one person inside that will give two shits about what we have to say. This is a fucking waste of time!” Phobos snarls, shoving Chadwick at Deimos. The terror god catches the lanky Brit and rights him. “What part of ‘No, I don`t want to go this route’ didn`t you understand?!”
“Do not chastise your brother, Phobos,” Ares claps a strong hand to Alex`s tight neck. “We must do this properly I see now.”
“Yeah well while we`re screwing around up here doing shit properly, Sara`s lying down on earth slowly slipping from me! I swear, if I go back and she`s already gone I will rip off both of your heads!”
“And we shall allow it, my son.” Ares pulls his boy close. The lad is a heaving cauldron of fear and emotion, his large body quivering in rage and fright. Alex inhales a few ragged breaths then steps back from the paternal love-fest.
“I would hug you as well but I find I cannot warrant such an action after the display of our father,” Deimos comments then chuffs his brother on the bicep and strides into the temple, Chadwick stumbling along in his hold trying to see everything.
“Your brother is a man of few words,” Ares states then walks off to enter his father`s temple.
“Shit,” Alexander coughs before jogging inside as well.
The interior of gramp`s digs is cool and airy. Already most of the thrones are filled. His father is just now climbing into the seat made of the skins of his enemies stretched over a structure of bones. Artemis was in her seat beside his uncle Hephaestus who filled his throne made of mechanical parts and gyros. Athena sat on the other side of Uncle Hep, a saw-whet owl on her shoulder and a very serious cast to her grey eyes. Fat old Uncle Dionysus was half-asleep, his white robes covered with wine stains and his beard littered with bits of fennel and twigs. Poseidon was reclining in his throne of mother-of-pearl, looking anxious to be back in Bikini Bottom. Hermes was tapping the arms of his throne with nervous energy while Aphrodite`s swan-shaped seat was empty. Where mom was Alex has not a clue or does he care.
Hades was settling his wife in his royal throne, a huge monstrosity chiseled from black stone with two bat-like wings rising from the back. Total Lily Munster chair if ever there was one Phobos decides. He looks at his great-aunts Hestia and Demeter attending the fire in the middle of the temple. Then he shifts his eyes upward to the two thrones that sit above all the others. The king and queen seem to be rather agitated. Zeus is glaring down at him and his brother. Alex rips his sight from the Skyfather and finds Hera assessing him coldly. Yep, nothing like loving grandparents the young god sighs.
Phobos steps up beside his twin. Chadwick is staring at the fresco on the ceiling. Phobos could give two farts about the artwork depicting all of Zeus` great accomplishments and victories.
“Why is there a human in our court?” Hera asks, cooling herself with a fan of peacock feathers. Deimos steps forward and bows to the woman with thick dark hair, direct blue eyes and a chiton of pale yellow.
“Grandmother, this mortal is our friend,” the terror god says and is met with a few disdainful snickers. “He is a valued fighter and is gifted with great skill in archery. He has been at our side and battled bravely against the creatures that Persephone sent against us. I ask that he is not turned to ash for gazing upon us, but is allowed to remain and add his testimony when needed.”
“You wish us to give credence to what a mortal tells us?” Zeus asks, a smile moving over his weathered face as he arranges his dark blue chiton. “Truly you ask much, Deimos, but, since you are the seed of my son, I shall allow your pet to stay. Ensure he does not speak out unduly or create a mess in my temple as humans are known to do,” Zeus announces aristocratically while patting his beard down.
Chadwick is intent on that thick, white beard of Zeus`. It seems to stand up as if the god of gods had his hand on a Van de Graff generator. Which, given the sparking lightning bolt resting beside his throne, he pretty much does the lone human reflects.
“I promise I won`t shite up the floor,” Chadwick grumbles and gets an elbow to the ribs from Alexander. “Your supreme and most holy gods of floating places,” he tacks on when Hera glowers at his impudence.
“Now, I would hear what it is that pulled me from my royal bed and my attentive wife! Speak Deimos!” Zeus barks down at the dread-wearing son of war. Deimos blows out a breath and walks closer to the seven rainbow steps that lead to his grandparent`s thrones. Alex has no wish to talk the old way to his family. D was the one for this job. Now if the fucker would just hurry it the hell up!
“Grandfather, forgive me for making you leave the loving arms of my beautiful grandmother,” Deimos lowers his head to the goddess of marriage. Hera nods and he continues, “I too am well familiar with the joy of a loving wife.”
“Yes, yes, we all are aware of the marriage that has joined our pantheon to that of the Norse gods! Must we spend time discussing how well each male here has bedded a female?!” Artemis spits then reaches down to quiet a sleek hound sitting beside her.
“Perchance if you spent more time rutting and less time hunting your demeanor would improve,” Dionysus guffaws and lifts a chalice in the general direction of Deimos, “A toast to Deimos, who plowed his Norse wife well and planted a Greek seed deeply!”
“Silence you drunken fool!” Athena growls. Her companion snaps its hooked beak at the god of wine, ritual madness and ecstasy. “We are all pleased for the joining of our two pantheons. Pray, Deimos, continue and speak about the charges you bring pertaining to Persephone.”
“You have my thanks wise Athena,” Deimos bobs his head to his aunt. “For many months we have struggled against creatures of Hades realm upon earth. At first, it seemed random to us, but, after time we came to realize that the beasts had been sent to earth to engage us, my brother and I along with our two human companions,” Deimos clarifies.
“What proof do you have of these accusations?” Hades queries while standing beside his seated wife. Persephone sits docilely and silent, her sad eyes moving from one throne to another. “Do you have the word of any of the elder counsel to substantiate your slander?”
Deimos shakes his head. The throne that the sun god sits upon is empty. Athena and Artemis could not verify anything but the request for a bow or the bedding of a Norse princess. Even their sire had no attestation of the claims, only his children`s words.
“So then we are to take the word of a pup of a god, one that is known to harbor ill will against every member of this pantheon due to some imagined slight?” Hades asks loudly.
“Nay and I do not hold all upon the elder counsel in disrespect!” Deimos fires back. Ares shuffles upon his throne. “That I was left here and ignored by all of you….”
“All of us save my wife who took you in, fed you, loved you and coddled you when your own mother and father did not care enough to do so, you mean?” Hades inquires sharply.
“Dude, stop tossing up shit that don`t account! Seriously, what went down years ago ain`t nothing now! Me and D are tight, and so are us and Pops! This is a bunch of bullshit! You got three people here telling you that Persephone did what she did, Gramps!” Phobos explodes forward. Chadwick keeps his long feet right where they are, but he is biting his tongue not to speak out and back Alexander. Not that his words would mean shit or squat he`s pretty sure.
“Your speech is sadly vexing young Phobos,” Zeus comments, his hand gliding down the back of a golden eagle perched on the arm of his throne, “But I concur. Let us not waste the time of those gathered with what happened in the past. I grow impatient to return to my chamber. Lay before us proof of your claims, Sons of War, or take yourselves back to earth and live among the humans as your father does.”
“I have no proof, mighty Zeus, only my word and the word of my twin and our companion,” Deimos announces to the counsel. Hestia tosses another olive branch into the flames in silence.
“Then this has been a waste of our time!” Zeus snaps down at Phobos and Deimos. “I will now pronounce my judgment of the matter.”
Phobos is about to shout at his grandfather when his eyes are nearly turned into tapioca pudding from the white light that appears suddenly.
“Father, I beg forgiveness for my tardy arrival,” Apollo bows deeply before his sire. Alexander blinks and wipes at the tears in his eyes. Yep, the sun god was just as street as he recalled seeing him before. Dude had even added some bling to his ensemble with a golden lute on a thick chain around his corded neck. “I did not hear the summons as I was blessing a studio rendition being laid down by Snoop.”
“I ask that you appear in our presence as you should, son of Leto!” Hera proclaims her bright blue eyes narrow and her mouth drawn into a slash.
“Again, I beg forgiveness for my attire,” Apollo smiles up at the mother of gods. His street clothes, and his music, disappear in a soft spinning breeze that leaves him in a white chiton and sandals. His golden hair falls loose and a lute appears strapped to his back. “Does this please you, protector of women?”
“It shall suffice,” Hera fans herself with more speed. “Take your seat and add your voice to this farce quickly, Apollo.”
“Aye my brother, speed is needed, for the queen was interrupted whilst nobbing on the kings manly staff!” Dionysus laughs loudly, spilling wine down his front.
“I need not take my throne, fair Hera, for all is as Deimos and Phobos have stated. I was witness to the attack by the hand-maiden of the queen of the dead upon these three valiant warriors, and a human that I myself have found favor with. `Twas I that interceded, rendering Hecate into dust to save the fair mortal that Phobos loves.”
Athena stands quickly. “Are there any here that doubt the word of Apollo?” she asks the counsel. There is a small bubble of conversation but no-one stands to speak against the twin of Artemis. “Then I suggest that this matter be turned over to Hades. `Tis his wife that has acted against those of our own, and although `tis a grievous matter as Ares will attest to, the matter is a personal one and best suited to the firm hand of a husband, do you not agree, most judicious Zeus?”
“I demand that my daughter not be treated with anger!” Demeter immediately interjects.
“I am sure that my brother will not use a stronger hand with her then is required,” Zeus states in a very placating manner. Alex knows that no-one wants a pissed goddess of the harvest again. Last time Demeter got a wild hair humans by the thousands starved. A dead human doesn`t make sacrifices or extol their love of the gods, and not one immortal here wants that. “Hades, I turn the matter of discipline of your fair wife over to you. Now, let us adjourn. Come my wife,” the Skyfather rises as does his bride. They disappear in a spinning vortex that lifts chitons dangerously.
“A toast to the wind,” Dionysus hiccups then slips into a drunken slumber. Hades` wife says nothing as she stands regally. Her gaze speaks of her hatred as it rips into the twin sons of Ares.
Alex gives his very quiet buddy a sound knuckle-bump then runs across the temple to catch the sun god before he splits. The ground rumbles when Hades and his bride disappear in a thick cloud of brimstone and stinking sulfur.
“Dude, can I have a word?” Alex asks, breaking up a conversation between Apollo and Artemis. The sun god nods. His sister steps away. “KK, it`s like this,” Phobos inhales deeply, “See, it`s Sara, right? You know she`s like sicker than sick. You`re the god of healing true? Come down and touch her, heal her. Fry that tumor in her head. I swear I will do anything to repay you, make any sacrifice, wash your cattle or tune your lyre for eternity if you just make her better.”
“Phobos, there is naught that I can do for her,” Apollo tells the lad gently. “Her fate rests not in my hands. I would like nothing better,” the sun god holds up a hand to stall the words forming on his nephew`s lips, “Then to bless you and she with a lifetime of happiness, for Sara Wagner is a kind, lyrical pleasure to me. I cannot though, her lifeline will soon be snipped and the sacrifice must be paid to another.”
“Man, you suck,” Alexander snarls before spinning from the shocked god. He stalks over to his brother, father and best bud. “Pops, home to Sara, now.”
“Alexander, you must gird yourself for…”
“Pops, spare me the speech, KK? I know what`s coming. Can we just get back to her before those miserable old hags cut her thread? I have to be there with her when it – when she – yeah, can we go?”
Ares looks down at his hands. They are healing nicely, muscle now has grown back and all that remains is for flesh to knit over them. These hands of his can do many things: wage war, maim, kill, defend, caress his beloved consort and hold his children close when they are fearful, but his hands cannot hold back the touch of death. He worries that Sara`s psyche will be treated poorly in his uncle`s domain but he does not speak of it to Phobos.
“Aye, let us return to your wee sick bird,” the god of war murmurs. Chadwick squeezes his eyes closed and the foursome leave Olympus.
This issue`s title comes from the song, ‘Pray For All’ by the band Chimaira. Enjoy!