"Destiny, what is the meaning of this? You've only given us half the prophecy." Hephaistos said angrily.
"Please be calm. You are quite correct, but there is no more prophecy for me to give you." Destiny said simply, her large eyes conveying the truth of her statement.
"Please explain." Hades asked in a reasonable tone.
"Sisters, attend me." Destiny called.
A moment later, Lachesis, Clotho and Atropos were standing behind Destiny.
"Sisters, what did you see in the pattern if the three tasks are not completed?" Destiny asked forcefully.
"Nothing, we could see no future for Greece." Lachesis said automatically.
"Does that mean that Greece has no future or that no future is visible to you?" Hades asked carefully.
Atropos, Clotho and Lachesis looked at each other in puzzlement as Destiny smiled.
"I think you got it." Senscie said while watching Destiny.
Destiny smiled at Senscie and gave a gentle nod.
"It's the end of the known future. From here on out we'll be living each day without knowing what the next will hold." Hephaistos said in astonishment.
"Beyond that, the barrier that protects Greece from the influences of other Gods will be gone. You can expand your influence... and risk overextending your resources. Its a big and exciting world, and you won't be the only gods around. You'll have to deal with the Egyptian, Norse and Mayan gods to name a few. It could be a struggle to survive if they choose to try and conqueror you. It's a big decision with extreme consequences." Destiny said seriously.
"So what will happen to the fates if we do this?" Anteros asked with a look of concern at Lachesis.
"They will no longer be 'the fates'. King Hephaistos can choose their godhoods and their houses." Destiny said with a smile at her sisters.
"What about you?" Senscie asked quietly.
"I'm just a child. In all the millennia that I was sleeping, I didn't grow. Now I will grow and age normally. When I grow up I want to be in the House of Intellect." She finished with a smile.
"I am calling a full assembly of the Houses of Olympus. I am king and I will decide, but in this instance I believe that everyone should be included in the debate." Hephaistos said to those gathered.
Agreement spread through the office.
"I will call the meeting soon. Be prepared." Hephaistos said and walked away.
"Lord Hades, do you know anything about binding my godhood with death?" Jace asked quietly
"Yes, but there is more to it than that. I have only heard of this being done once before and it... ended badly." Hades said regretfully.
"But if there's a chance, I've got to try. Than is so special and caring, he deserves to have someone to hold." Jace said in a pleading voice.
"The last time, the one who was changed went mad. His godhood was changed to destroy life and not create it." Hades said with sympathy.
"My godhood doesn't create life, it just relieves stress. I'll give up my godhood if it comes to that, Thanatos is a lot more important to me than Debauchery." Jace said simply.
"It's not my choice to make Lord Jace, King Hephaistos will make the decision that is in the best interest of all involved. If he approves the change, I will offer whatever resources I can to aid you both." Hades said sincerely.
"Thank you King Hades... Thanatos is right for respecting you the way he does." Jace said with admiration.
Hades inclined his head in acceptance of the compliment.
Jace hurried away to try and talk to King Hephaistos.
"Mom, I trust daddy Hep. If he says I have to do it, I will." Anteros said firmly.
"That's just stupid." Senscie said immediately.
Anteros looked at her with question.
"My husband left me and I stood silently and watched him leave. My son died for no good reason as I stood silently and watched them kill him. I'll be damned to Tartarus before I'll stand silently and let you kill yourself. You're smart, strong, caring, and those wings are pretty damned sexy..." Senscie said, then blushed wildly as she realized what she just said.
"Thank you Senscie. Knowing that you care... for no other reason than you like me... It makes me want to live." Anteros said with a gentle smile.
"Oh, like any woman's gonna be able to stand up to that?" Senscie said in frustration, then pulled Anteros into a kiss.
"Cupe, I don't care if we have'ta go live in Gaul an eat snails an shit, I ain't gonna promise ta not see ya no more." Strife said definitely.
"Watch your language. Bliss." Cupid said, looking at his son soaking in every word.
"Yer daddy's right Bliss. Ya shouldn't say 'snails' in public." Strife said in as serious a voice as he could muster.
Cupid couldn't help but smile and pull Strife close for a hug.
Hephaistos and Aphrodite walked into the large open garden behind the great hall. Both were silent, contemplating the pristine beauty of the springtime day.
"I Hephaistos, King of Olympus call upon the host of Olympus - - attend me." Hephaistos called out in a booming voice.
Cupid, Anteros, Strife and Bliss appeared right beside Hephaistos. By ones and twos more and more flashes came, revealing an increasing number of gods.
"King Poseidon, attend me." Hephaistos called out.
"Hail King Hephaistos." Poseidon said formally.
"Hail King Poseidon, would you summon those of your realm to come forth. This decision concerns them as much as any of us." Hephaistos said gravely.
Poseidon nodded and summoned all the water gods of the Greek pantheon.
"King Hades, attend me." Hephaistos called to his other side.
Hades appeared and looked around, noticing Tethys and the others of Poseidon's realm. "You want me to call the gods of Asphodel?"
"Yes, thank you uncle." Hephaistos said quietly.
Hades called forth all the gods in his domain.
"This is a monumental day. We have been given a choice, to continue on as we have been, or to move out into the world. This could be the beginning of our end, or the beginning of a new chapter in our lives." Hephaistos called out for all to hear.
Phobos heard the call that only the king of Olympus could make.
"I have'ta go Charise. It was great." Phobos said as he hurried to pull on his armor.
"What's wrong?" Charise asked with worry at Pho's abrupt change in mood.
Phobos thought about the question as he saw the look of actual concern in Charise's eyes.
"I'm a god and I'm bein called by tha king of tha gods." Phobos said plainly.
"A god?" Charise asked with wide eyes.
"Phobos, god of fear." Phobos said hesitantly, waiting for her reaction.
A tender smile fell over Charise's face as she moved to help him with the last of his armor.
"That explains it." She finally whispered.
"Explains what?" Phobos asked curiously.
"I couldn't understand how a man as young as you could be such an accomplished lover. But since you're a god... I guess you would be better than an average man." Charise reasoned.
"Charise, I'm just me. I didn't use any god powers or nothin. If I was mortal, it would've been tha same." Phobos said, not knowing why it was important to explain, but just knowing it was.
"Okay Pho... Phobos. I guess if he's calling, you'd better go." Charise said as she began to pull on her clothes.
"I'll always remember you Charise. Always." Phobos said and disappeared.
Deimos and Tad were comfortably holding each other, basking in the afterglow when the call came.
"I gotta go Tad." Deimos said abruptly.
"What? Did I do something?" Tad asked with worry.
Deimos began to dress himself and said, "No. And I don't really want to go. But tha king of tha gods called, so I have to." Deimos said as he buckled on one piece of armor after another.
"King... are you a god?" Tad asked with worry.
"Yeah, Deimos... God of Pain." Deimos said shyly.
Tad looked on in awe and couldn't help but ask, "Deimos... Was I your first?..."
Deimos smiled and said, "Yeah Taddius, you was my first an I really liked it."
"Me too." Tad said shyly.
"I gotta go." Deimos said with regret.
"If you... ever need me... for anything..." Tad trailed off, trying to find the words.
Deimos pulled Tad close and asked hopefully, "Was it more than sex for you too?"
Tad nodded, then looked into Deimos' eyes.
Deimos smiled and said, "Next time I see you, I'm gonna ask you something. Think about what you want yer life ta be like."
Tad nodded and Deimos vanished in a flash of scarlet light.
As Ares and Joxer were reaching the apex of their sexual act, the call came through.
Joxer gave one final thrust and broke out into a gale of laughter.
Ares chuckled as he pulled his husband close and said, "Heph still has a great sense of timing."
Phobos appeared in the huge garden and was surprised to find so many gods around him.
A minute later Deimos appeared at his side.
"What's goin on?" Deimos asked as he looked around.
"No idea." Phobos said, then saw Ares and Joxer appear a short distance away.
"Did you guys have a good time?" Joxer asked as he walked up.
Phobos and Deimos both nodded enthusiastically.
"The Fates have decreed that Cupid and Strife cannot be married, they must separate and be forever bound to their respective realms. Jace must be made to feel no love... ever. And Anteros must sacrifice his life to maintain the seal on Greece." Hephaistos called out over the murmurs and whispers of the assembled gods.
Ares and Joxer immediately began to push their way through the crowd to get to the front. A moment later, Phobos and Deimos followed.
"What is the seal?" Jett called from Zeus' side.
"It keeps the influences of other gods out of our realms. It keeps us safe from the outside world." Hephaistos said directly.
"What happens if the seal is gone?" Joxer asked from beside Ares.
"No one knows. The seal is what gives the fates the ability to divine the patterns of our future. If the seal is gone, we will have no clue as to what the future holds." Hephaistos said loudly enough for all to hear.
"Then it must be remade." Athena said with certainty.
"No!" Strife called out.
"It is for the greater good. Without the seal, we might not survive." Athena said emotionlessly.
"Anteros won't survive if we do. The price is too high." Senscie said, her own voice sounding faint among the gods.
"It is regrettable, but necessary." Artemis said, looking at Senscie defiantly.
"King Hephaistos, what are you going to do?" Joxer asked with a tremor in his voice.
"I am going to do what is in the best interest of us all." Hephaistos said with regret in his eyes.
Joxer immediately pulled Anteros into a hug and held him tight.
"There may be another way..." Lachesis said absently, deep in thought.
"What would that be?" Hephaistos said with hope.
"The prophecy is linked to Anteros' godhood... if his godhood were transferred to another... who could take his place... then perhaps..." Lachesis said weakly.
"It's trading one problem for another..." Hephaistos said, shaking his head.
"I'll do it." Lachesis said firmly.
"What?" Anteros said in shock.
"I'll take your place Anteros. You've always been a good friend to me. Mother or Destiny can take my place with the fates... please let me do this for you. For our friendship." Lachesis said hopefully.
"No Lachesis. Even if I were willing to do it. You can't accept Anteros godhood. Your presence among the fates is required." Destiny said firmly.
"Then me." Deimos said in a strong voice.
"No Demi, you can't." Joxer said in panic.
"Yeah Poppa, I can. I'm a warrior, this is what a warrior does. Sacrifices himself so tha people he loves can survive." Deimos said firmly.
Ares held Joxer close but said nothing. His pride for his son could clearly be seen in his expression.
"Then can I take Cupid's place? Then he can marry Strife an be happy." Phobos asked, directing his question toward Hephaistos.
"You'd be bound for all eternity to Olympus." Hephaistos said cautiously.
"Yeah, that's not so bad." Phobos said, looking with worry at Deimos.
"Enough." Destiny said in a booming voice which seemed strange coming from a five year old girl.
Even Hephaistos was startled by the action.
"The time is now. King Hephaistos, you must decide." Destiny said firmly.
Hephaistos nodded and called for all to hear. "All those in attendance, summon one mortal to witness the following. These events will effect us all and mortal interests must be represented."
The command was a surprise, but being a command from the king, no one could go against his will.
There were many flashes and Joxer was surprised at how many of the mortals he knew.
Meg was standing beside Ganymede. Autolycus was standing by Hermes. Xena was beside Ares and Hercules was beside Zeus. Iolaus was beside Hebe and Gabrielle was beside Psyche. An older woman was standing by Jace, someone he vaguely remembered... Twanky?
Joxer was surprised to see two of the people from Meg's brothel standing beside Phobos and Deimos.
"You need to pick someone Joxer." Ares whispered.
"I think everyone I ever met is here." Joxer said, looking around.
"Then there is someone you could summon for me..." Ares said quietly.
Joxer nodded and an image filled his mind.
In a flash, King Iphicles of Corinth was standing beside Joxer.
"What? Where am I?" Iphicles said in puzzlement.
"A meeting of the gods. Favored mortals are being asked to bear witness to these events." Ares said in a moderate and respectful voice.
Iphecles was astonished, but finally nodded and said, "Thank you Lord Ares, I'm honored to attend."
"Why couldn't he be my brother instead of Herc?" Ares said with a shake of his head.
Joxer smiled and turned his attention back to Hephaistos.
"First order of business. There is but one choice before me. To remake the seal at the cost of the loves and life of my children, or to face the unknown future. There is but one choice. I am king, but I am a father first. Aphrodite, proceed as you will." Hephaistos stood aside.
Aphrodite was surprised but quickly walked before Cupid and Strife.
"Cupid, who stands with you to bear witness to your marriage?" Aphrodite asked curiously.
Cupid thought for a second, then smiled and said, "Psyche."
Psyche looked up in surprise, but hurried to Cupid's side.
"Psyche, will you stand by Cupid to support him in his marriage with Strife?" Aphrodite asked hesitantly.
"I will." Psyche said firmly.
"Strife, who stands with you to bear witness to your marriage?"
"Queen Persephone." Strife said without hesitation.
Persephone ran to Strife's side and took hold of his arm.
"Queen Persephone, will you stand by Strife to support him in his marriage with Cupid?"
"I will." Persephone said, beaming with love.
"Join hands." Aphrodite said to Cupid and Strife.
"Do you Cupid, avow before the assembled host of Olympus to take Strife as your one and only husband for all eternity?"
"I do." Cupid said firmly.
"And Strife, do you promise before all those gathered to love and cherish Cupid as your husband until forever?"
"Ah do." Strife said seriously.
Aphrodite bound their hands with a gold ribbon and said, "Then all in attendance, I confirm before you all that Cupid and Strife are forever joined in marriage."
Cupid pulled Strife into a firm kiss for all to see.
"Jace, Thanatos, Gaea, come forward." Hephaistos boomed across the whispering gods as Cupid and Strife continued to kiss.
All three made their way to the front and waited expectantly.
"Gaea, I must admit, I don't know exactly what you're going to do, but proceed as you will." Hephaistos said quietly.
"Destiny, I call upon you to bring forth the essence of death that is to be transferred." Gaea said in a voice that all could hear.
Destiny stood forward and raised her arms.
A small whirlwind started which prompted gods and mortals alike to stand back out of the way.
The whirlwind increased until it was ten meters across and nearly three stories high.
Finally Destiny said, "I summon Tsunami, that the essence of death you carry may be halved."
A howl of rage erupted from the whirlwind before the sea titan of death and destruction took form.
The wind died down as the insane titan's rage became evident to everyone present.
"Stop that!" Gaea said firmly.
Tsunami continued to howl with rage that came from the depths of his soul.
Gaea balled her hands on her hips and tapped her toe.
Tsunami continued to howl.
In a voice that was nearly a whisper, but was still heard by all present, Gaea said, "Don't MAKE me have to take you over my knee in front of everyone."
Tsunami stopped his howling and a look of recognition came over his face.
"Well?" Gaea said, toe still tapping.
"I'm sorry Aunt Gaea. I'll behave." Tsunami said shyly.
"That's better, come down here and give me a hug. I haven't seen you in millennia." Gaea said with a gentle smile.
The titan began to shrink in size and finally stood before his aunt, looking like a skinny, lost teenage boy with pale skin and unruly green/brown hair.
Gaea pulled him into a hug and said, "I know you hurt little one, but you've had six thousand years to let it out, now it's time to do something about it."
Tsunami got a look of surprise as he pulled back to look into his Aunt's face.
"Jace, come forward. I'd like for you to meet Tsunami." Gaea said, as if it were any other day.
"Um. Hi." Jace said weakly.
"Hi." Tsunami said with caution.
"Jace, if you're willing, I'm going to join your godhood to the essence of death that Tsunami carries. If I'm right, then you'll both have what you truly desire." Gaea said with hope shining in her eyes.
"And if you're wrong?" Jace asked hesitantly.
Gaea thought about the question and said, "Then you two can go off and enjoy a six-thousand year long tantrum together."
Thanatos walked up beside Jace and sent, //Don't do this. We can endure as things are, I can't bear the thought of seeing you hurt.//
Jace looked into Thanatos' eyes and was almost ready to comply to his wishes when Gaea said, "With the essence of death reduced, Tsunami may be able to move on with his life instead of continuing as an insane force of nature."
Jace looked from Thanatos to the scared and wild eyes of Tsunami.
"Go ahead." Jace whispered.
Destiny linked hands with Gaea. Destiny directed her other hand toward Jace as Gaea directed her free hand toward Tsunami.
Violent greens and yellows erupted around Tsunami and splotches of black would spark and flare in a dizzying swirl.
A peaceful violet glow surrounded Jace, reflecting his nature.
Slowly the violent dizzying dance of colors abated as streaked green and yellow began to swirl slowly around Tsunami, revealing the occasional black patch every now and then.
Jace's purple glow began to swirl and streaks of black could be seen.
"There, that's got it." Gaea said as she watched the colors settle.
"It is done. Death is now bound to the godhood of debauchery." Destiny said in an almost regretful voice.
"What does that mean for my godhood?" Jace asked with concern.
"It means that the consequence of overindulgence in wine and debauchery is now death. Where before the worst one could expect from days of unrestrained drinking was a hangover, now it can be lethal. Unrestrained indulgence with sexuality can now lead to death by disease... every impulse of debauchery now leads to death if taken to it's extreme." Destiny said sadly.
"What about me?" Tsunami said fearfully.
"Your godhood is still bound to death, but now it is a precursor to new life. Instead of causing mindless destruction without purpose, you can cleanse old stagnant systems out, making way for newer systems so that they might thrive." Gaea said warmly.
"Erebus... What happened to Erebus? I need to see him." Tsunami said in panic.
"King Hades, could you possibly find it in your heart to allow Erebus to join us?" Destiny asked with a 'puppy dog' eyed expression.
"My pleasure." Hades said and vanished from sight.
"Can we touch?" Jace asked hesitantly.
"Yes child. Go ahead." Gaea said warmly.
Jace brought a hand to Thanatos' cheek and gently dragged his fingertips down.
Thanatos brought up a shaking hand and pulled Jace close, just holding him tight against his chest.
Hades appeared with a black robed figure standing beside him.
"Erry?" Tsunami asked with fear in his voice.
"Nami? You're back?" Erebus asked with shock.
"Erry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." Tsunami said and flung himself into Erebus' arms.
"Shhh, it's okay Nami... do you want to stay with me?" Erebus asked hesitantly.
"Yes... anything Erry... anywhere... yes..." Tsunami said between kisses.
"I live below the ninth level of Tartarus now... it might not be much of a future for you..." Erebus trailed off with regret.
"Erebus, if you would like. You two could move into the castle, your room is still there, just like you left it. It's always been your home, you just seemed to fit in with the others in Tartarus." Hades said quietly.
"Thank you Hades. I knew that I could come and go as I pleased because I am bound to death... I just never had reason to leave before. What do you say Nami?" Erebus asked hopefully.
"Yes. I say yes." Tsunami said with a glorious smile.
"I suppose it's time for the sacrifice now." Gaea said to Destiny.
Silence fell over the host of Olympus at that declaration.