It was just before sunrise, but Hades knew that his grandmother would have been up for at least an hour by now. She always chided her grandchildren for being sluggards and sleeping in past sunrise.
"Grandmother, can I ask for your help?" Hades asked from outside Gaea's cabin door.
"Come in Hades... wipe your feet." Gaea said pleasantly.
"Thank you." Hades said as he did what he was told.
"Goodness, you look a fright. No sleep whatsoever." She said as she plucked the tops from berries and put them in a bowl.
"No ma'am. I've been looking for something." Hades said quietly, feeling powerless in her presence.
"What is it my boy? Here, help me clean some berries while we talk." Gaea said and pushed the bowl of berries between them.
Hades picked the green top off a berry and said, "Thanatos is in love."
Gaea stopped her movement for a moment, then said, "I see."
"I read the account of Erebus and Tsunami... it's the closest thing I can think of that could help him but..." Hades trailed off and tried to devote more of his attention to cleaning berries.
"You want a guaranteed happy ending." Gaea said with a nod.
"It would be nice." Hades said with a hopeful expression.
"That it would sweeting, however, I don't have one to give you. I can't give you any more than what you've got. A chance." Gaea said sadly.
"I don't know what to do." Hades said darkly.
"Do what's best. You'll have to decide what that is." Gaea said, knowing that it was thoroughly unhelpful.
"If they decide to try... would you do it?" Hades asked, looking his grandmother in the eyes.
Gaea simply nodded.
"Thank you grandmother. I'm going to return to my realm. I have a lot to think about." Hades said with a sad look.
"You need to come and visit more often... and you're too thin." Gaea said sharply.
"Yes grandmother." Hades said with a smile, glad to know that at least some things were constant in the universe.
Ares woke Joxer, then quietly went to wake Phobos and Deimos.
"Dad?" Phobos asked in confusion, not remembering the last time his father had come in to wake him.
"Do you still want to help me in the battle today?" Ares asked quietly.
Phobos eyes lit up and he nearly leapt out of the bed.
"Wake up your brother and get ready, I need to get Ter." Ares said in a whisper.
Phobos immediately went to Deimos bed and shook him awake.
Ganymede and Asclepius appeared in the Halls of Love, Ganymede was carefully holding the arrow that held so much power as Asclepius said, "Are you ready for this?"
Cupid looked up from his work with tired eyes and said, "Yeah, just put it down there, then you'd better go. If Zeus or Jett sense you here, they'll know something's up."
"Are you alright?" Asclepius asked with concern.
"Yeah, I just didn't get enough sleep. As soon as I get my desk cleared, I'm going to knock off for the day." Cupid said as he divided his attention between Asclepius and the scroll before him.
Ganymede laid the arrow on Cupid's desk and moved to Asclepius' side.
They gave one final look at Cupid's stooped, exhausted posture before flashing out of the temple.
Bliss awoke to feel warm arms wrapped around him. He opened his eyes to find that it wasn't his father, but his Uncle Strife.
"Unca Stwife?" Bliss called quietly.
"Yeah boogah?" Strife said in a whisper.
"Where's daddy?" Bliss asked with worry.
"He's workin'. He asked if I would stay with ya. How you feelin?" Strife asked in a sleepy voice.
"Hungry." Bliss said with a tummy growl for confirmation.
"How's bout I take ya ta see yer daddy, then we go to grandma Dite's for breakfast?" Strife asked with a tender smile.
Bliss nodded happily.
"You go get dressed and we'll go." Strife said as he sat up in the bed.
"Unca Stwife?" Bliss asked seriously.
"Yeah?" Strife responded, worried by Bliss' serious tone.
"You love my daddy?" Bliss asked, looking Strife in the eyes.
"Yeah, Ah do." Strife responded with a smile.
"You gonna be my poppa like Joxer is Pho an Demi's poppa?" Bliss asked, his eyes holding hope and curiosity.
"Yeah Boogah, as soon as yer daddy's ready, that's what Ah'm gonna do." Strife said with a tender smile.
Bliss pulled Strife close for a warm hug.
Ares walked into the living area and found Anteros and Senscie asleep and holding each other. A smile came over his face and he argued with himself for a moment before deciding to go ahead and wake Anteros.
"Ter, wake up, it's time to get ready for battle." Ares said in a soft voice.
Anteros opened his eyes and saw that he had fallen asleep in Senscie's arms. He blushed as he extracted himself from her embrace.
"We were talking and fell asleep." Anteros hurried to explain in a whispered voice.
Ares moved Senscie to her bed with a thought then said in a normal voice, "It's fine Ter, I thought about leaving you here but you said you wanted to battle with us, and I think Pho and Demi can use the support in their first battle."
"Yeah, thanks dad." Anteros said, then changed from his comfortable toga into his leather armor.
Joxer walked into the living area, followed by Phobos and Deimos.
"Come to the armory with me so we can find some armor for you." Ares said and led the way.
Everyone followed Ares down the hall to a room just off the main audience chamber.
Phobos and Deimos were filled with excitement since they had always been forbidden to enter this room.
"The armor's against that wall. Go and pick out what you'd like to wear. If it doesn't fit, I'll help fit it for you." Ares said, indicating the far wall.
Joxer, Phobos and Deimos walked over and began to look at the armor.
"I like this one." Phobos said, looking at a pure black leather armor with a helmet that looked like a panther's head.
Ares looked at the armor, then at Phobos and said, "Let's try it."
Ares flexed his power and in a flash Phobos was wearing the armor.
"How does it feel?" Ares asked as he looked at Phobos in front and behind.
"Good. It's not too heavy." Phobos said in surprise.
"That's important. Go over and look at the weapons. Remember not to pick something too big to be practical." Ares warned.
"Can I have this?" Deimos asked, pointing to a suit of armor that was much like Strife's signature outfit, but with many buckles instead of pins.
"Let's give it a try." Ares said and fit the armor to Deimos body.
"That looks great Demi." Joxer said, looking him over.
"Yes, a very good choice. Go choose a weapon." Ares said with pride.
"How about you love?" Ares asked, looking at Joxer.
"I want something like yours." Joxer said, looking lustily at his husband.
Ares moved in for a kiss. When the kiss broke, Joxer was dressed in armor identical to Ares, except there were bands of red on the wrist, ankles and waist.
"Let's get you a sword." Ares said with a proud smile.
Anteros stood aside, looking over the blade of his broadsword.
Joxer picked out a simple but sturdy sword from a rack on the wall.
Phobos had chosen two slender short swords, one fastened at each hip.
Deimos had a dagger in one hand and a sturdy short sword in the other.
"Good choices. Is everyone ready?" Ares asked as he felt the battle beginning through his godhood.
"Lead the way." Joxer said in contentment.
There was a large flash as the family went into battle.
Cupid looked up at the appearance of two gods in his office.
"You still willing to do it?" Jett asked quickly.
Cupid smiled and asked, "Are you still wanting me to?"
"Yeah. Let's do it." Jett said excitedly.
"Grandfather, I need to know that this is what you want." Cupid said, for forms sake.
"Yes. After millennia of laying next to the unmoving, unfeeling, frigid body of your grandmother, I'm ready to have a lover who knows what passion is and what to do with it." Zeus said vehemently.
"Too much information... but you answered my question. Look into each other's eyes." Cupid instructed as he summoned his bow.
"Romantic love is what you desire, with this arrow, I bestow the blessing of the House of Love." Cupid said as he shot Jett through the heart.
The arrow passed through Jett and embedded itself into Zeus. The two gods held each other's gaze as Cupid noticed movement from the corner of his eye and Strife walked into the room carrying Bliss.
Cupid reacted instinctively and flashed himself, Strife and Bliss out of the temple to the main hall of Olympus.
"Why'd ya do that Cupe?" Strife asked in confusion at the relocation.
"Because I didn't know how long it would take for that much power to settle. If they'd seen you... or Bliss even. You might have been woven into their love spell. It could have pulled you in. I've been waiting too long for us to be together for my grandfather to take you away from me." Cupid said seriously.
"Zeus ain't so bad... kinda sexy. Have you seen his ass?" Strife said in a dreamy voice.
"Oh gods! MOM! DADDY HEP! HELP!" Cupid called with panic.
"Calm down Cupe, I was only funnin." Strife said before breaking down into laughter.
Aphrodite and Hephaistos appeared before Cupid looking worried.
"What's wrong sweetie?" Aphrodite asked, confused by Strife's gales of laughter.
"Strife just pulled a joke on me... a good one." Cupid said, and began to laugh.
"I could use a laugh. What'd he do?" Aphrodite asked with a tired smile.
"He... he made me think... that... that... the super charged arrow pulled him into... Zeus and Jett's love spell." Cupid said as tears of laughter ran down his face.
Aphrodite laughed and Hephaistos chuckled a little.
"Ya screamed like someone tried ta pluck you." Strife said, holding his sides.
"Only the thought of losing you would make me react like that." Cupid said, bringing his laughter under control.
Strife sobered at the serious statement.
Cupid got down on one knee before Strife and said, "I never want to lose you Strife. Will you marry me? Be my one and only husband from now until the end of time?"
Strife looked at Cupid with wide eyes, then his expression melted from shock to tenderness.
"Ah love ya Cupe. Yes, until forevah." Strife said and took Cupid's hand to help him to his feet.
"Oh... that is soooo cool." Aphrodite said through tears as she held close to her husband.
"Congratulations boys, I think you're both ready for this. I'm proud of you." Hephaistos said seriously.
Cupid smiled and said, "Thanks Daddy Hep, I love you."
"Let's go tell my Dad and Mom. They're gonna flip." Strife said happily.
Bliss watched with joy to see his father so happy.
"You want me to watch Bliss while you tell them?" Aphrodite asked with a smile.
"Thanks Mom." Cupid said automatically.
"Hold up Cupe." Strife said with uncharacteristic seriousness.
Strife got down on one knee before Bliss and asked, "Do ya want me ta be yer Poppa Strife?"
Bliss nodded happily.
"Then, we're taking the boogah with us. I ain't just gettin a husband, I'm gettin a son too." Strife said seriously.
Aphrodite and Hephaistos smiled as Bliss hugged tightly to Strife.
Cupid smiled at his son and husband-to-be, holding close.
"I'll take care of everything, when do you want to do it?" Aphrodite asked with joy.
"Is tomorrow okay? I don't want to wait." Cupid asked Strife hopefully.
"Tommorrah, but would'ja work with mom on tha plans? I want her ta be part of tha wedding." Strife asked hopefully.
"Just let me know when you've told them. Persephone and I will make the best wedding that Olympus has ever seen." Aphrodite said with a gleeful bounce.
Strife, Cupid and Bliss pulled into a three-way hug and flashed out of the main hall.
Ares and his family appeared in the morning light as two armies approached each other.
"Here's what we've got. That army is led by Mykantos. This one is led by Lystius. Both are followers of mine but Mykantos has been withholding his tribute and breaking some of my rules of war. Anteros, you and Phobos work on Lystius side. Anteros can use the cause of 'Love Avenged' to inspire warriors to fight to preserve their loved ones and avenge the fallen. Phobos, you can inspire them to overcome their fears so they can fight without hesitation or indecision." Ares said seriously.
"How do I do that?" Phobos asked quietly.
"Anteros can show you." Ares said with a smile.
Phobos nodded and looked up to his older brother.
"Deimos and I will work on Mykantos side. I'll withhold the essence of war, filling them with doubt in their leaders and their cause. Deimos will project his power to cause any injury, even a nick or a stubbed toe to be agonizing." Ares said, then looked at Deimos and continued, "I'll show you how."
Deimos nodded and looked seriously at the battle.
"Joxer, Mykantos is a superior warrior and leader. I need you to rain misfortune on him. I don't want him killed, just defeated. When he slinks away with his tail tucked between his legs, I'll reveal that this is the price you pay for disrespecting the God of War." Ares finished with a growl.
"Anyone we need to watch out for?" Anteros asked, noticing that the first skirmishes were starting to heat up.
"Yes, just a few. I'll mark them for you. Two are Cupids, one is favored by Discord and... that's unusual, one is Hermes'. Help them out if you see they're in trouble. Otherwise, leave them alone." Ares said as he put a mark on the favored ones.
"Everyone ready?" Ares asked with a sparkle in his eyes.
"Ready." Joxer said, admiring the beauty of his husband.
"Let's go." Ares said and put his hand on Deimos shoulder to move them into the battle.
Anteros did the same for Phobos and Joxer transported himself to Mykantos camp to begin his work.
Zeus and Jett looked into each other's eyes with love and adoration.
"I never thought it would be like this." Jett said joyfully.
"Cupid's better at this than his mom. Her potions never felt this good, there was always something... artificial... about them. Come here." Zeus said as he pulled Jett into a deep, loving kiss.
Jett closed his eyes and felt like he was falling, floating, flying... every cell in his body screamed out with joy, the essence of his being flared with happiness. All over Greece, those that felt retribution and retaliation in the depths of their souls felt... satisfaction, peace, a rightness that everything would work out as it should.
Zeus felt passion like he hadn't known since before the fall of the Titans. Something that he thought had died within him millennia before suddenly awakened. He felt... giddy, innocent, pure. This was like first love. He felt youth, energy, vitality... everything in the world was in harmony. The skies over Greece filled with the most beautiful fluffy clouds, whizzing around in a merry dance, forming and reforming into incredible shapes, never before seen in the world.
Gaea felt the peace run through her own godhood and smiled. [It's about time! Zeus could have done this a few thousand years ago and saved us all a lot of grief. He always was stubborn, that one.] She thought as she whipped a bowl of cream.
Strife had just proudly announced his engagement to Cupid when he felt something pulse through him, the peace of death. The serenity of a life lived well. Unnatural creatures throughout Greece knew a moment of joy as their god was enraptured with the sensation of well being.
Bliss and Cupid forgot their surroundings and immediately hugged Strife close, sharing in the incredible warmth of the feeling that coursed through their godhoods. Cupid gazed into Strife's eyes and knew that everything was finally right. Bliss looked at his daddy and poppa and knew that he would always feel their love, he never had to doubt again.
Psyche felt the tremor through her godhood and went to Hercules' room to place a gentle chaste kiss on his cheek. Hercules awoke to find Psyche looking down into his eyes. Hesitantly he raised up and gave her a gentle, tentative kiss. Psyche pulled him close and deepened the kiss into one full of love and promise.
Hera and Lust looked at each other with wonder as they felt a ripple in their godhoods that signaled vengeance satisfied and lust fulfilled. Neither made the connection to Zeus and the arrow... which was probably for the best. Hera felt the last of her misgivings about her relationship with Lust give away and she pulled Lust close to her, to kiss her deeply and proclaim her love without words.
Ganymede and Asclepius felt a wave rather than a ripple, both were overcome with the feeling that they needed to progress. Asclepius' hesitation was logical, but unnecessary now. The path before them was clear and right. They never need be unsure if they were meant to be together. It was all so clear. Ganymede felt his fears melt away in this revealing light of love. Both knew certainty.
Ares felt the power wash over him and opened his link with Joxer to revel in their love. Joxer finished directing a bee to a war-horse's testicles before stopping to bathe in the glow of love with his mate.
Anteros felt the wash of power through his godhood and formed a link with Senscie's dreaming mind. His movements were purposeful as he hacked and slashed his way through enemy soldiers, feeling the rightness of his cause, avenging the death of Wayen by destroying the type of men who killed him.
Hephaistos and Aphrodite shared a long, meaningful kiss and enjoyed a peaceful moment when all was right with the world.
The fates watched carefully as the weft and weave of the great tapestry changed and flowed.
"It is done. The time has come daughters." Moira said, not breaking her intense concentration.
"But they haven't taken their places yet. They aren't ready." Clotho said with worry.
"It can't be helped." Moira said seriously.
"How bad is it?" Lachesis asked, worried by her mother's dire look.
"Mama? Is it time?" A small girl asked as she sleepily made her way into the room.
"Yes Destiny, it's time." Moira said sadly as Destiny's sisters looked on in horror. She would only awaken in the last days.
"Then I must deliver the prophecy, so they may have a chance." Destiny said, as she became more awake.
"Yes, and we'll have to help them. The time is now. If we do not intervene, then all is lost. Atropos, attend to the one who was broken. Clotho, attend to the one who must be changed. Lachesis, attend to the one who must be sacrificed. Hurry daughters, any delay could be the end of Greece." Moira said with great worry.
"Yes mother." The fates said in unison and disappeared in a collective flash of light.
[You yourselves will be tried in the coming days daughters. Please be strong enough... save us all.] Moira thought before she too left the cave.