Two days had passed since Proteus had appeared and they had so far been unsuccessful in their attempts. She’d told her many advisors to be on the lookout but when they had asked her about his appearance she’d fallen into a hopeless silence. It took some time for them to grasp that he was in fact a shape shifter.
Eventually Triton managed to get through to them and she’d heard reports of various sightings of a suspicious person but met with little success. Neptune was beginning to doubt that they would ever be able to catch the wiry deity.
On the outside she remained confident and tried to make the task sound a lot easier than it was. Triton was quieter than usual and she suspected that he didn’t approve of the arrangement but she didn’t have much choice. She didn’t know much about Proteus but she did believe that he would shed light on Pisces and the council. When Neptune wasn’t trying to find him she often brooded over the reasons why Proteus had come to her and no one else but couldn’t make sense of it. The fact that he was fed up of his immortality was a likely possibility but she was confident there was another purpose for his visit. Unfortunately she wasn’t at all optimistic that they would ever catch the old man.
A few times Proteus had made himself known to her advisors and appeared as a pig or a lion. He’d been outrageously conspicuous just to grab their attention and vanish from sight before they had any chance of capturing him. His mischief had the desired effect and when her search party told her the news she disappeared into the dining room and sat in silence.
Triton came into the room and saw Neptune looking depressed again. He moved over to her chair and tried to put some life back into the poor girl. He spoke positively about the day and reminded her that they still had five days left. Triton even offered to play some music and make her his favourite food but she showed no interest. He was beginning to feel disheartened when one of the nymphs appeared at the door.
Sao was elegantly dressed and was the most stunning creature Triton had ever seen. Well, almost. Her sisters were equally as beautiful and he felt spoilt rotten by their presence. She told them in her radiant voice that Venus had arrived and wanted to speak directly with Neptune. She wanted to talk about a matter of utmost importance.
“Talk to me?” Neptune repeated. She was thrown by the request and didn’t know how to proceed. Triton nudged her when he noticed she was drifting off again. Eventually she perked up and asked Sao to show Venus into the room.
There was a brief exchange between Neptune and Triton as they discussed why Venus was there and then Sao was at the door again with the lady in red. She was wearing a different dress but still wore bright lipstick – Triton couldn’t believe his luck. He was not at all sure who he liked the most and wanted very much to get to know them more. Unfortunately, the next thing he knew Neptune had asked for her and Venus to have a conversation in private.
Triton walked off sulkily and bowed to Venus as he left the room. The woman smiled thinly but made no way of reply and then brought her attention to Neptune, who looked more downtrodden than she had done at their last meeting. Neptune moved towards the fireplace and encouraged her guest to take a seat. She offered her a drink but Venus politely declined.
“You seem to have settled into your role quite smoothly,” Venus said. Her gaze was fixed onto Neptune.
“I’m finding the accommodation to be more than suitable. You’ve come a long way to speak with me.”
“I’m sorry if I’ve interrupted anything important but I’ve been meaning to talk with you for some time. There have been some concerns lately and I’ve been especially divided about our future. I know you’ve spoken with Jupiter about your suspicions.”
Neptune was surprised but managed to keep a neutral expression. “I am still very confused about the role Pisces and I are supposed to play, and why his memories were erased.”
“I appreciate that,” Venus said, crossing her legs as she had during the meeting. There was something very captivating about the woman and although Neptune wasn’t interested in that sort of thing she thought Venus was very pretty. She carried a sophisticated air that was inescapable. “I can also tell you that I have my suspicions too. May I talk to you a little more about Pisces? I have a story of my own I would like to tell you.”
“I would very much like to hear it,” Neptune said.
“I cannot tell you how long I’ve been on this council. It has been such a long time that I don’t remember my other lives. What I do remember is Jupiter and Saturn, who were there even before I was, and that the Zodiac has existed as long as I have. The others on the council joined us not long after and so it’s very unusual for us to elect new members. There was one member who I will come to that did join later. I have seen much in my time. Sometimes I think I’ve seen too much.”
“We are often described as deities and rulers of the astral realm but I was a woman like any another. During the first few years I remembered my earthly incarnations and yearned to relive those lives. For a long while I lived alone but eventually I became so lonely that I looked for a companion. The council wasn’t happy about this but it wasn’t against the rules and I couldn’t cope with the loneliness. After a few brief romances I eventually came across a spirit who I loved dearly. He was the most loving man I ever met and it may not surprise you to know that he was indeed a descendent of Pisces.”
Neptune listened intently to the woman’s account and found it difficult to believe that Venus had served for so long. She looked at her longing eyes and the wisdom they held and suddenly felt very humbled by her presence. It was also the first time that she thought about how the Zodiac worked and realised that there must be other descendants too.
“For the first time I was happy and my world changed. There was never a moment when I thought that Pisces wanted to share any of the power that I had. On the contrary, he was more than content to stay away from that side of life and offer me counsel whenever I needed it. To tell you the truth, I thought he would’ve been an excellent choice for leadership but he was never interested about being in the spotlight. The reason I’m telling you this story is because this is the last time we ever had a descendant of Pisces. He was never born again like the others.”
“What happened?” Neptune asked. It didn’t escape her notice that there were small tears forming in Venus’s blue eyes.
“Pisces regretted a lot of his past life and there were times when he would disappear for weeks before coming back. I never cornered him about it after the first time because I knew how difficult it was for him to forget. He’d been dead for a long time but of course we never truly forget our memories. I’m sure I could remember my own lives if I really wanted to dig up the past. We carried on in this way for many years but eventually it all got too much for Pisces. He knew that it would hang over him forever until he decided to make up for his past actions.”
“I didn’t have much say in the matter in the end. Pisces went to see Saturn and came to an arrangement. I thought he just wanted another incarnation but there was far more to it than that. There was only one way he could return to the material and that was through being reborn at the beginning of the Zodiac cycle.”
“There is an ancient legend that says Pisces can return back to group consciousness when the cycle is complete. I have never seen that happen. For my Pisces he would have to return as Aries and live through all those lives until he could finally be reborn again and be given his chance. He would also have to forget everything which had come before, including me. It took him a long time but eventually Pisces agreed to those terms.”
“What did he do that was so terrible?” Neptune asked. Venus shook her head and sighed.
“He never told me the whole story but he did say that he had failed to make the world a better place. There are two fishes in the Pisces myth and if it goes the other way, then the Pisces never gets to finish the cycle. My Pisces was given a chance of redemption but not without sacrifice. Neptune, the reason I’ve come here is because I wanted to tell you that we are faced once again with a very special moment in time. The Pisces that I loved and changed into Aries is the same Pisces that has once again been resurrected. He is your son.”
“How can you know for sure?” Neptune was shocked by what the mysterious deity had told her and didn’t quite have it in her to process what it might mean. If Venus was telling the truth then her son had already lived many lives under different signs and was now coming to the end of his cycle.
“Have you ever been in love?” Venus asked. Neptune nodded. “You never forget the person you love, even in the unlikely event that their face might change. I have also spoken with Saturn and he knows this is the truth. The reason why a Pisces descendant is so rare is because there are few who are willing to give up their individuality. The other descendant’s signs are all dynamic and have just as many qualities as Pisces, but there is always one block in their evolution. They are simply not willing to sacrifice their character, memories and everything that makes them who they are.”
“So what you’re telling me is if Pisces doesn’t succeed this time around then there’s no coming back?”
“Never say never. The universe is far more complex than you and I. But you can appreciate the seriousness of this issue. I have come here to tell you that I am personally invested in making sure that Pisces does succeed…Which leads me to my other reason for being here. I have reason to believe that there is someone within the council who wants to stop this from happening. I am afraid that there might be more than one.”
These were suspicions that Neptune had carried since the beginning so it came as no surprise that this might be the case. She looked once again into Venus’s eyes and decided that she was worthy of her trust. She took the opportunity to tell her about Proteus and the information they might be able to get from him. Venus nodded in bewilderment and admitted that she had met Proteus before. Neptune’s description was perfect and captured his slippery personality all too well.
“No matter how much I want to catch him I don’t know how I’m going to do it. He is the most cunning creature I think I’ve ever met.” Neptune said.
“I have a feeling that I might be able to help. There are reasons why I have been called the lover of the planets, Neptune. I can show all men their greatest desires – even the ones who have lived for centuries. I think it is very fortunate that I followed my instinct and came to see you.” Venus said. Neptune listened to her strategy and felt her spirits lifting as they spoke. She wa