"That's right Demi, do you think you can keep your focus if we join Anteros and Phobos for some fighting?" Ares asked carefully.
"Uh huh." Deimos said while trying to maintain his concentration.
Ares relocated them to join the battle.
Senscie awoke from the most unusual dream. [After what I went through yesterday, it's no wonder my dreams are strange.] She thought to herself.
As she got out of bed, she found a short note from Anteros telling her that he would return before lunch.
Deimos and Ares appeared beside Phobos and Anteros.
"Is he ready?" Ares asked Anteros quietly.
"Yes. His focus is good and he's itching for a fight." Anteros said with a fond smile at his brother.
"Okay, you've both been trained in combat for years, so remember your training. If you receive a serious injury, call for me and I'll get you to safety. Now get in there and show these mortals what the sons of war can do." Ares said proudly.
Phobos and Deimos exchanged a look before running full out to find an opponent.
"We're going to watch them, aren't we?" Anteros asked from Ares side.
"From a distance, just until they hit their stride." Ares said, watching his sons begin their first battle.
Destiny appeared in the main hall of Olympus before Hephaistos and Aphrodite.
"Destiny?" Hephaistos asked in fear.
"Hail King Hephaistos." The small girl said with strength.
"What's wrong honey-bunch?" Aphrodite asked when she noticed Hephaistos' pale clammy skin.
"Destiny... the end." Was all that Hephaistos managed to say.
"That is correct King Hephaistos. The end is near, it is time for the final prophecy." Destiny said seriously.
Hephaistos closed his eyes and hung his head.
"The end... of what?" Aphrodite asked in confusion.
"Of Greece." Hephaistos whispered.
Destiny looked at Hephaistos curiously, then produced a scroll and began speaking,
//Joxer?// Ares called.
//Yes love?// Joxer replied.
//Are you at a point where you can get away? You need to see this.// Ares said with pride and joy flowing under the words.
//Yes, I just finished adding the poison ivy to the campfires. I'll be right there.// Joxer sent with love.
Atropos appeared behind Cupid and Strife.
"A prophecy has been given. There can be no wedding." Atropos said sadly.
Cupid and Strife turned as one to look at her in disbelief.
"It is the last days, if you two marry... it's over. Greece will have no future." Atropos said, allowing the worry to show in her eyes.
"Spill it, what's gonna happen exactly." Strife said impatiently.
"Well, I, uh, don't know exactly." Atropos hesitantly admitted.
Strife got a curious look. After a moment of thought he said, "You didn't rhyme."
"No, I, um..." Atropos stammered.
"All this time, you talked like you was some great wise all knowing... it was an act, wasn't it?" Strife asked in challenge.
"Not exactly, but to tell you the truth..." Atropos began.
"Ah knew it! You three cooked up those prophecies soes you could look like you knew what was gonna happen. But you don't know shit!" Strife said in delight.
"We could see patterns... From that we made prophecies to guide people's decisions so the future could be made to the greatest benefit for the most people." Atropos fought to explain.
"So it was all a guess. You three was weavin that ugly rug an actin like ya knew what was gonna happen... and you was guessin. Well I ain't doin it no more. Cupe asked, Ah said yes, we're gettin hitched tommorah and ain't nothin you can do ta stop it." Strife said defiantly.
"What happens if we don't marry?" Cupid asked quietly.
Strife shot him a glare.
"I just have to know..." Cupid said with pleading eyes.
"You'll have to swear on the river Styx that you'll never meet again. Cupid would be confined to Olympus and Strife to Asphodel." Atropos said quietly.
"NO." Strife said firmly.
Cupid remained silent with a thoughtful expression.
"Cupe, this ain't right. Ya can't mean ta say you're thinkin about it?" Strife asked in terror.
"Look at our boys." Ares said as he held Joxer close to his side.
Phobos and Deimos were fighting, back to back. They had sufficient skill to make the combat a thing of beauty. They would lure their opponents into the fight, dodge and block attacks until the opponent made a mistake, then they would cleanly and efficiently dispatch their enemy before moving on to the next.
"Oh love, they're wonderful." Joxer said as he watched them fight.
"I can't believe how proud I am." Ares said in wonder.
"They're great dad. You've trained them well." Anteros said from beside his father.
"You had a hand in it too Ter. I recognize one or two of their moves coming from you." Ares said with a smile toward Anteros.
"I helped them train sometimes." Anteros said dismissively.
"You let them know that it's okay to be more than your godhood." Ares said frankly.
At Anteros look of surprise Ares continued, "I was there when they asked you how you could fight so well, since you were a love god."
"You were?" Anteros asked in surprise.
"Yes. Just a few feet away, resting under a tree. When I heard what you told them, I decided it was better if you didn't know I was there." Ares said quietly.
"What did I say?" Anteros asked slowly.
"You said, 'I'm just me. I can fight. I can love. I can sing. I can be anything I want to be. Love Avenged is just my title'." Ares repeated from memory.
"Oh, yeah." Anteros said softly.
"I'm glad you were there for them Ter. If I'd tried to say that to them, I don't think they would have understood." Ares said seriously.
"You're the one who taught that to me." Anteros said simply.
"I did?" Ares asked in surprise, then asked, "When?"
"Every time you hugged me. Whenever you told me a story. Every day you showed me that you were more than war." Anteros said softly.
"Thanks Ter. You're a good son, and I'm proud of you." Ares said and draped an arm around Anteros.
The three watched Phobos and Deimos for a minute longer before Ares asked, "Who's ready for some battle?"
Anteros and Joxer both drew their swords and smiled.
Clotho appeared before Jace.
"Hi." Jace said kindly.
"Hello." Clotho said in return, not used to anyone not knowing and fearing her.
"I'm Jace, I don't think we've met." Jace said and held out a hand.
Clotho took his hand and gently shook it as she said, "I am Clotho."
"Oh, I've heard of you, you're one of the fates." Jace said, still not showing any fear.
"I have been given a prophecy and am here to tell you what must be done." Clotho said, feeling regret for having to hurt this young man.
"Me? I'm just a minor god, what's so important that I'm in a prophecy?" Jace asked curiously.
"If you should choose to go to Gaea and accept the binding of your godhood to death, then you could doom us all." Clotho said darkly.
"Binding? My godhood with death? Why would I do that?" Jace asked in confusion.
"It would allow you to touch Thanatos, but it would also break the seal on Greece and end the world as we know it." Clotho said in desperation.
Jace looked carefully at her and said, "I don't know you, I don't trust you. I'm new to being a god, so I need to talk to someone I do trust to give me some advice about this."
Clotho stood in amazement as Jace vanished from sight.
"Guys, guys, it's over. You can stop now. Mykantos called a retreat." Ares called to the twins.
"But Dad, it was just getting good." Phobos said through his heavy breathing.
"Come on you two, let's find your Poppa." Ares said with a smile and started looking for Joxer.
Lachesis appeared beside Anteros on the battlefield.
"Lach, don't sneak up on me like that or I might hurt you." Anteros said as he continued to fight a warrior.
"Ter, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you... there's been a prophecy." Lachesis said sadly.
"There's always a prophecy,it's what you do. What's up?" Anteros said as he finished off the warrior before him.
"This is different... it basically says, to save Greece, you have to sacrifice yourself." She said as her eyes began to sparkle with unformed tears.
"Wait, this isn't the place to be talking about this. Meet me at my dad's house in a few minutes, I've just got to tell him I'm going." Anteros said seriously.
Lachesis nodded and vanished.
[Just when I was getting my stress worked out...] Anteros thought to himself.
Joxer saw Ares and the Twins coming and said, "Is it over already?"
"Yes... I don't recall Mykantos having a limp, did you do that?" Ares asked as the group approached.
"Well, yeah. And I doubt that he'll be fathering anymore children... but he was being a real jerk." Joxer said as he hugged Ares.
Anteros flashed in and quickly said, "I've got to go home for a while. I'll see you back there later."
"Okay Ter. Is everything okay? You look worried." Joxer asked with concern.
"I'll let you know later Poppa Joxer. I've got to go." Anteros said quickly and flashed out.
//I think we should celebrate Pho and Demi's first battle in the traditional way.// Ares thought, with an undercurrent of hope.
//I don't follow. What do you want to do?// Joxer asked curiously.
//I want to take them to a brothel.// Ares replied hesitantly.
//YOU WHAT???// Joxer asked in shock.
//You were their age not too long ago. What would you have done if you fought in your first battle and your father declared, 'today you are a man,' then took you to a brothel. Wouldn't it be... perfect?// Ares sent as a plea for understanding carried under the words.
There was a long moment of silence in their link as Joxer considered, finally he nodded.
//If we're going to do this, *I* pick the place.// Joxer thought firmly.
//Thank you love. I know this will be perfect for them. // Ares sent with love.
"Guys, now that you've fought in your first battle and joined the ranks of men, I thought we could go out and celebrate." Ares said to the boys.
Both boys... young men's eyes lit up at the statement.
"Your Poppa is going to take us somewhere." Ares said and turned his attention to Joxer.
"I can't transport us all, I'm not that good yet. Can you look in my mind and take us?" Joxer asked hopefully.
"Go ahead and do it, I'll boost you." Ares said with a smile.
Joxer concentrated and in a flash they were gone.
Destiny's voice was the only sound in the great hall.
"On the day the Titans fell,
A seal was made to bind the land,
God and Mortal, land and sky,
All things bound, made as one.
All that begins has an end,
The coming end awakened me,
Love and death can break the seal,
Or choose to have the seal remade.
The broken cannot be made whole,
He must freely choose the path,
Love above and death below,
Must vow never again to meet.
The one who seeks the touch of death,
Must be changed to feel no love,
With eternity spread before them,
They must remain forever alone.
The avenger must forsake his love,
And take his life before us all,
The mortal woman made to watch,
As his life flows out and is no more.
When all these things have been made true,
The seal shall be remade,
God and Mortal, Land and Sky,
All shall be bound and made as one.
Destiny sat the scroll down and looked sadly at Hephaistos for a moment before flashing out.
"Where are we?" Phobos asked as he looked around.
"Joxer?" A woman said with joy.
"Meg! I'm glad you're here." Joxer said and accepted a hug.
"Where else would I be? And who is this with you?" Meg asked, looking at the group.
"This is my husband and two of our sons. I need a special favor." Joxer asked hopefully.
"Ooooh, I've been waiting for years to give you one of my special favors." Meg said with a leer.
"Not that Meg." Joxer said with a blush, then turned to his husband. "I used to come here quite a bit... just to drink..." Joxer trailed off at Ares incredulous look.
"Don't worry big guy. As much as I tried to convince him, he insisted that he was waiting for 'true love'." Meg said with a roll of her eyes.
"And I found it." Joxer said with a delighted grin directed at Ares.
Meg stayed silent, but her eyebrows went up in surprise at Joxer's declaration.
Joxer decided to drag the conversation back to the point. "My boys. They just fought in their first battle today and we decided to celebrate by bringing them here. Do you have anyone who could take care of them?"
"First time?" Meg asked in thought.
"You trust me don't you Joxer?" Meg asked, looking him in the eyes.
Joxer nodded again.
"Then let me take care of this. I'm guessing you want the works." Meg said as she looked around to see who was available.
Joxer nodded yet again.
"Ante up. I need to see at least a few dinars before I can get this going." Meg said seriously.
Joxer produced five gold coins and handed them to her then said, "And there'll be ten more if the boys have a great time."
"It's a business doing pleasure with you. Would you two like a room while we attend to your sons?" Meg asked, looking Ares over carefully.
"Yeah, that would be great." Joxer said with excitement.
"Take the one by the bar. You always liked that one." Meg said with a smile.
Joxer looked at Phobos and Deimos and sent, //You two enjoy this. Don't use any god powers, just follow the lead of whoever takes care of you... we're proud of you.//
The twins nodded in unison.
"Thanks Meg. Just give a knock when they're done." Joxer said, then led Ares to their room.
"Cupe, talk ta me. Tell me ya ain't thinkin bout it." Strife begged.
"Um, no. I think you're right... I mean, something's wrong. Atropos, is this prophecy written down? I'd like to have a look at it." Cupid said with distraction.
"King Hephaistos has the prophecy in the Great Hall." Atropos said anxiously.
Cupid nodded and looked around to see Hades and Persephone watching them.
"King Hades, would you look at the prophecy with us? I have a feeling that Strife is right. I don't know what... we need to look at it..." Cupid trailed off in thought.
Hades nodded and the group relocated to the Great Hall.
"So do you guys know why you're here?" Meg asked frankly.
"Ta get laid?" Phobos asked uncertainly.
"Yeah, that sums it up." Meg said with a smile.
"Look around the room and tell me if there's anyone you'd like to spend time with." Meg said casually.
"Her." Phobos said immediately, pointing at a slender girl.
"Charise." Meg called across the room.
Charise ran to the table.
"Charise, I'd like for you to meet... I didn't catch your name." Meg said in thought.
"Pho." Phobos said shyly.
"I've got your payment, show Pho how it's done and make sure he has a good time." Meg said with a smile.
Charise took Phobos by the hand and led him to a room.
"And what's your name?" Meg asked with a smile.
"Demi." Deimos said quietly.
"You see anyone you like Demi?" Meg asked quietly, matching his tone.
"Him." Deimos said shyly, pointing to the younger of two men behind the bar. The boy had sandy brownish blonde hair and looked to be on the younger side of eighteen years old.
"Tad." Meg called out with a grand smile.
"Yes Ma'am?" The young man said quickly as he ran to the table.
"Could you take Demi and show him what goes where? See that he has a good time. I've already got your payment." Meg said with fondness directed at Tad.
"Yes Ma'am. Come on Demi, I'll show you my room." Tad said with excitement.
"Hail King Hephaistos. Hail Queen Aphrodite." Hades said seriously.
"Hail King Hades." They said in response.
"May we see the prophecy? My son seems to think that we're not being given all the facts." Hades said with a look of pride at Strife.
Hephaistos laid out the scroll on his desk as everyone crowded around.
Anteros appeared in the living area of the Halls of War to find Senscie sitting quietly.
"Hi." He said with a warm smile.
"Hello, I'm glad to see you." Senscie said shyly.
Lachesis appeared a moment later and said, "The prophecy has been given, it has been foretold that the separation of love and death can remake the seal that is failing on Greece.
"Can you tell us the prophecy? I just want to hear it." Anteros asked quietly.
Lachesis nodded and recited the prophecy from memory.
Anteros looked at her curiously and said, "What if we don't remake it?"
"We can see no future for Greece if we do not remake the seal." Lachesis said with a note of apology in her voice.
Anteros nodded and took a seat beside Senscie.
"What's going on?" Senscie asked with concern.
"She says I have to kill myself to save Greece." Anteros said in a hollow tone.
Senscie sat and thought about what she just heard, something niggled at the back of her mind.
"I'm sorry I had to be the one to tell you Ter, I wish there were some other way, but it's spelled out in the prophecy that you have to take your own life before an assembly of the gods and a mortal woman must watch the act." Lachesis said with sorrow.
Senscie's eyes snapped up as she remembered a children's story she told her son when he was young.
"Can we see the prophecy? I think there's something wrong here." Senscie asked with strength.
Anteros looked at Lachesis with question.
"The scroll with the prophecy is in the Great Hall." Lachesis said in a stunned voice.