The walk to the Palace of Zeus was long and not nearly as interesting as the walk to Hades Castle…well James thought it wasn’t anyways. It wasn’t that the scenery on the walk to the Palace wasn’t beautiful, because it was. Shrubs and flowers lined the stone path guiding those towards the various homes that were atop Mount Olympus. The areas that weren’t filled with plants, trees, and other greenery were filled with fluffy white clouds that brought to mind cotton candy and cloud beds. With so many clouds everywhere it was hard not to imagine why people back in ancient times thought the homes of the gods were built in the clouds.
None of the god’s homes were right next to the main path; each home had their own path leading up to their front door. Because the houses were so far off the main trail one had to guess to which god’s home each way led by the way it was designed. They didn’t stop long enough for James to get a good look at any individual walkway so he couldn’t tell which path belonged to which god or goddess.
For the last kilometer to the Palace, large Oak forests lined the pathway on both sides. Satyrs could be seen frolicking amongst the trees, playing reed pipes or chasing Nymphs. The grass was a lush green, with flowers and fruit bearing bushes, plants, and trees scattered among the much larger Oaks. Birds of various species could be heard singing among the branches. Animals bounded around playing or resting in sun patches or in the shade the leaves provided. Water could be heard splashing somewhere in the distance as animals played in and around a nearby pond.
Sitting on a large rock about ten yards from the path was a Satyr that was larger than the others. His upper body was that of a handsome young man, no older than 25, his bottom half was that of a black haired goat, around his head was a crown of pine needles. His messy black hair fell into his eyes, which were closed in concentration as he played his pipes. The set of reed pipes he was playing was a much more complicated set than those of the other satyrs, and seated around him were various kinds of animals from rabbits to deer to wolves, as well as other Satyrs and Nymphs. They all just sat there listening to him play; some Nymphs were dancing to the beautiful tune.
Aislinn and Drake waved when he caught their gaze – revealing hazel eyes – and he played a quick flourish on his pipes in greeting before continuing to play the song he had been before. They grinned at the Satyr, shaking their heads at his antics as they continued on their trek to Zeus' Palace.
Zeus’ Palace was designed much like his temple on earth had been. It was a large rectangular structure with four walls. That was where the similarities ended. The walls of the palace itself were gold with hints of black, blue and silver to offset the blinding colour of the walls. Red vines grew down from the roof and down the walls, though they were spread out so as not to hide the beauty of the Palace. The pillars that were set around the whole Palace – 34 in all – were glistening white marble with black veins. Growing up each pillar were Concord grape vines, with large bunches of dark purple grapes growing on them. Along the top of the Palace were the roof met the Pillars were intricate depictions of Zeus’ many battles. The battle that was set directly above the door was Zeus’ battle with Typhon.
The path turned into steps that led up to the large double doors of the Palace. The stairs were not gold like the walls but instead were bronze coloured stone. The doors were made out a dark would with beautifully intricate iron metalwork integrated into the wood itself. In the center of the metal and wood door was a circle. Inside the circle was an oak tree an eagle flew in front of it holding a lightning bolt in his talons.
Aislinn and Drake both reached the door at the same time and the each pushed on one of the doors, using their uninjured arms.
There was a faint click and the giant doors swung backwards an inch then swung forwards, opening and allowing the three friends to enter.
Upon entering the foyer of Zeus’ Palace, James was blown away by the elegance of the room. The foyer was smaller than the foyer at Hades Palace but seemed much more lavish. The walls were still gold, but were polished to a bright sheen, so highly polished that James could clearly see himself and his friends walking into the Palace. The floor was polished white marble, but since it was stone, clear reflections couldn’t be seen, just blurs. There were no decorations on the walls; the walls themselves were decoration enough. James was looking around the room trying to figure out where the Throne room was. There were no stairs in this palace so everything was on one level. The Throne Room was located in a separate building behind the Palace. They still had to walk the whole length of the Palace, plus up a flight of stairs.
Drake and Aislinn remembered just how far away Zeus’ throne room actually was from the front door. Aislinn turned to Drake and asked, “Drake mind creating a Door? I really don’t feel like walking anymore.”
“Sure thing,” Drake nodded and stretched out his uninjured left arm palm facing outward. A second later a swirling black Door appeared; on the other side a room filled with people could be seen. Drake waved James and Aislinn forward letting them enter first. If he entered before either of them the portal would close and they would have to walk to the throne room. Aislinn walked through the Door, followed by James and Drake.
Zeus’ throne room wasn’t even really a room, it was an open circular pavilion made of the same columns as those that surrounded the Palace, and there was a domed roof to keep out the rain. The floor was black marble, polished to the same finish as the floor in the Palace. In between every other Pillar were beautifully done flowerbeds. There were seven beds in total, each one a different colour of the rainbow. At the back of the pavilion on a raised dais were the thrones of Zeus and Hera. Around the dais were flowers off all different colours, tying the flowerbeds that ran around the outside of the pavilion into the rest of the room.
Only seven of the twelve Olympians were in the pavilion. Zeus was sitting in his throne with Hera at his side, on his right. His throne was made of gray granite; the front two legs were stone eagles, with wings folded. The eyes of the eagles were amber stones and the beaks and talons were made of gold and silver – gold itself would have been too soft a metal to use. The back of the chair was high backed and plain, except for the symbol at the top of the chair, it was the same symbol of the Oak tree and eagle that was on the front doors of the Palace.
Hera’s throne was made of lighter gray coloured granite than her husband’s throne, but was nonetheless elegant. The front of the throne was nothing to look, all four legs were plain, but the back of the chair was a peacocks tail with the “eyes” of the tail all being rubies, surrounded by a circle of sapphire, and then a ring of jade.
To the left of Zeus’ throne was the lion, Cratos, lying on his side asleep in a sun patch – he could be heard purring on his exhaled breath from across the pavilion – and seated on the back of his throne with his head tucked under her wing was the eagle, Zelus.
Settled down next to Hera’s throne were two peacocks, one female, sleeping curled up next to her mate, whose tail was up and spread, revealing an array of beautiful colours that would never be found on the peacocks on earth.
Off to the left of the pavilion James could see a group of three gods, two argued beneath a large oak, and the third lounged in its branches. He assumed the two arguing were Apollo and Artemis. He recognized Hermes as the one in the tree, laughing at his older brother’s attempts to pacify his twin. On the opposite side of the room were two other gods, playing what looked like either Risk or Stratego. He assumed that these two were Ares and Athena. Athena had a small smile on her face, and Ares expression was getting more and more upset.
Hera glared hatefully at the three teens as they approached Zeus’ throne. They stopped at the bottom of the steps and bowed, James following their lead belatedly.
“Nicole, what brings you up to Olympus? Isn’t it a school night?” Like Hera, everyone else on Olympus called her by her more Grecian name. Not because they didn’t like her given name, but because they did not wish to anger Hera.
Aislinn hid a smile as she straightened from her bow. She was the only one of Zeus’ children to be born in this age, where education was mandatory. Hearing a million year old god ask about school in any form was just odd. “I know it’s a school night, but this really couldn’t wait for the weekend.”
“What couldn’t wait?” The other gods that were in the room had abandoned what they had been doing previously and had moved closer so they could hear what the three had to say.
James was surprised to see how comfortable Aislinn was in front of all these gods and goddesses, especially since not even twenty minutes ago one had tried to kill her. ‘How often does she come up here that none of this seems odd to her?’
“Well over the course of last week Drake, myself and two of our friends had been seeing Shades walking around up on earth, not newly dead spirits either. I’m talking ancient Shades here.”
“And then not even two hours ago, our friend Diana got chased to my house by a Shade, and James,” she pointed at James who was standing behind her to her left, he waved awkwardly, “Was chased to Drake’s place by a hellhound.”
“And before any of you ask I didn’t summon them to the Upper-realm, they got there on their own. And the ‘hound was very confused.”
“What proof do you have of this?” Hera demanded as she glared down at the two injured teens before her. Drake’s injuries had already healed themselves all that was left was the dried blood on his skin and ripped shirt.
A few of Aislinn’s wounds were still bleeding, dripping blood down her arm and off her fingertips to the black marble floor.
Just as Drake was about to explain that they didn’t have any solid proof because the Shades all disappeared – also his injuries from the Hellhound, which were very distinctive, had also healed, so they couldn’t use that as proof – Hermes stepped forward. “I saw the Shade that was chasing Nicole’s friend. It was trying to force its way into the house. I brought it back to the Underworld and gave him over to Cerberus. The big guy looked confused, he remembers each Shade that passes through his gate, and none have ever gotten out.”
Hera scoffed still unconvinced, “Then how are they getting out of the Underworld?”
“Thanatos and his brothers have most likely – somehow – managed to redirect a part of the River Styx.” Explained Drake, “We’re not entirely sure how yet…and it would be useless to contact Father and ask him, because Thanatos has also managed to get water from Lethe into the drinking water back home. My parents are both pretty much useless right now.”
James watched how most of the Olympians present looked at Drake with unmasked disgust. The only ones who didn’t were Apollo, Ares, and Hermes. He made a mental note to ask Aislinn about it later. When they had more time and the fate of the world wasn’t in jeopardy.
Zeus had sat patiently listening to his daughter and nephew/grandson as they spoke their piece. When he finally spoke himself it wasn’t about anything that they had been talking about. “Where did you acquire your injuries?” He cast a subtle glance in Hera’s direction, somehow guessing that his vengeful wife had something to do with it. Her unwillingness to listen to either child also made Zeus suspicious.
“From Thanatos and his brothers, When we were leaving the Underworld to come here they attacked us and kidnapped our mortal friend Diana.” James looked at Aislinn in surprise at the blatant lie.
“You brought a mortal to the Underworld?” Athena looked confused and slightly horrified. It wasn’t the smartest thing to do all things considered.
Aislinn smiled at her oldest sister, “Yes. You know as well as I do, sister, if you’re going to tell Hades that there’s something wrong in the Underworld, then you better have as much proof as possible. Diana saw the Shades as well, so we had to bring her along. If he hadn’t had been completely off his rocker – no offence Drake – he wouldn’t have accepted a second hand account of someone seeing a Shade.”
“That is true.”
Hera still refused to believe a single word of what the three young adults were saying demanding that they be shown more proof. “What more proof do you need?” Aislinn asked, bewildered. “Hermes has vouched for us, you have three eyewitness accounts, you’d have four but Diana was kidnapped by Death and his brothers. Why would three gods attack us and kidnap a mortal? For some misguided sense of a good time? I mean come on! We have no more proof to offer you! What more do you want?”
Aislinn’s voice had risen in volume with each question until she was yelling as loud as she could. As she had been yelling the skies above Zeus’ Palace had darkened, blotting out the once star filled sky, storm clouds were forming rapidly and thunder could be heard. A few moments after the sky had gone completely black, lighting started to dance through the clouds.
The gathered gods looked at Aislinn in astonishment after her outburst, some of them had never seen her loose her temper before, and were impressed by the display. Apollo and Hermes moved away from large structures that had the potential to attract the lightning, James watched the sky warily, and Drake slapped a hand to his forehead.
“Couldn’t keep your cool for five minutes, could you?” He hissed at her.
“Bite me Drake! I am so not in the mood for any more of that Harpy’s bullshit!” She answered, not as quietly as he had spoken, but still quiet enough that the gods didn’t hear her.
James leaned over trying to distract Aislinn from her fit of temper, and asked, “Hey aren’t gods supposed to be all seeing or something? Don’t they have a way to monitor what’s going on down on earth?”
Aislinn and Drake turned to look at him, surprised, and a little sheepish. “You’re a genius, Morgan.” Aislinn turned to Drake, “Why didn’t we think of that?”
He just shrugged before turning and addressing Zeus again. “If you want more proof, locate Thanatos or one of his brothers in a Seeing Pool. Where ever they are I guarantee that they’ll be up on Earth but it will look like they’re in the Underworld.”
Zeus regarded his grandson for a few agonizing minutes before turning to the pedestal next to his throne. Set atop the granite pedestal was a black glass basin, with a gold eagle embossed on the side of the bowl that faced the room at large.
He peered into it for what seemed like forever but was actually only five minutes. He splashed the water clearing the image of whatever he had seen and sat back in his throne.
He glared down at the three nervous children, causing James to take a step back, away from the anger in his stare. Drake and Aislinn waited patiently for whatever he had to say. Hoping it was what they thought it was.
He took his gaze off the three and addressed the other gods in the room, “They speak the truth. Thanatos and his brothers have somehow managed to bring the Underworld to Earth. You know our laws; we cannot interfere in the dealings of another god, no matter how much it may affect us. Therefore I am giving the task to these three to stop them and bring them to Olympus for punishment.”
James paused then asked, confused, “Wait, not that I’m complaining or anything, but isn’t Drake a god?”
Apollo chuckled but explained. “Yes but he has no true place among us, therefore he is free to do as he wishes. Not only that but Thanatos and his brothers have attacked – for lack of a better word – his parents directly, which also gives him grounds to fight them.”
Zeus regarded James for a few moments before asking, “Who are you? You are a demi-god, but I do not know whose child you are.”
“Well that makes two of us,” James muttered.
Zeus smiled mentally as he turned to his daughter, “Nicole, do you know whose child he is?”
“I have a guess, but not a definite answer.” Aislinn paused not sure of how to answer her father. She could describe his ability to manipulate light but he would ask her how she knew about this ability. She also hadn’t come up with a solid lie about their injuries yet.
After a few minutes of thinking and hoping that the other gods believed she was just pausing to gather her thoughts, and not work out a plausible lie, she said, “In the fight with Thanatos and his brothers, James somehow managed to remove all the light from the surrounding area, making it impossible for anyone to see. It’s probably what saved us from worse injury. Instead of trying to find us in the dark Hypnos just dusted the lot of us. We fell asleep and they left, taking Diana with them.” Lighting struck a nearby tree, making everyone in the room cringe, except for Zeus and Aislinn.
Zeus nodded; he had an idea who his divine parent was as well but decided to keep that bit of information to himself for know. “All right, do you three accept the task that has been given to you?”
“Good. Go see Hephaestus in his forge. Tell him I told him to arm you three to battle against gods.”
They nodded and Drake waved his hand, creating another Door, this one opened on a room that glowed red and orange.
“Good luck, and try not to die. Your mothers would kill me.” The last he addressed to Aislinn and Drake, to which they smiled, though Drake’s smile was a little hesitant.She turned to Drake, “Well let’s go get ourselves some weapons of mass murder, shall we?”