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Terpsichore was unable to sleep. She had felt something dark... wrong. She walked into the archive of the muses and found a single candle lit and a solitary figure reading a scroll.
"Can I help you?" She asked hesitantly, not sure who it was.
The man turned and looked at her, then gave a tired smile of relief.
"Maybe you can. I can't find what I'm looking for... if it even exists." Hades said as he looked back at the scroll before him.
"What is it that you're needing?" Terpsichore asked with concern as she took a seat beside him.
"I'm trying to find out about the original binding of death, and about Asphodel, back in the days of Erebus. I'm looking for a way..." He trailed off, not sure if he should be telling this secret.
Terpsichore thought about what he said, and what he didn't. She nodded and said, "I think I know what you're looking for."
Hades looked at her with surprise.
Terpsichore went to the back of the archive and came back almost immediately with a large scroll that was nearly worn to rags.
"Here." She said and began to unroll the scroll before him. She went nearly three-quarters through it before looking for what she wanted.
Hades watched and wondered how she could know what he was looking for.
"This one. This is the story of Erebus and Tsunami." She said seriously.
"Tsunami, I never heard of him." Hades said curiously.
"Poseidon knows about him, he's one of the progenitors of the ocean realm. This is an obscure story, but I think it has what you're looking for." Terpsichore said pleasantly.
"How do you know what I'm looking for?" Hades asked suspiciously.
"I introduced Jace to Thanatos." She said simply and walked away.
* * * * *
Hercules heard a noise and woke with a start.
He reached over and shook Iolaus awake.
"What?" Iolaus asked in a whisper.
"Listen." Hercules said, barely loud enough to be heard.
"What is that?" Iolaus said as he came fully awake.
"It sounds like... gods, it sounds like hundreds of people crying out in despair." Hercules said as he jumped to his feet.
Iolaus was on his feet a moment later and ready to fight by Hercules' side.
"Come on." Hercules said, already running full out.
* * * * *
How they met will always be a secret kept between them.
But Erebus and Tsunami did meet and their attraction was
immediate. The forces that guide the hands of the fates
have a bitter sense of humor for this to be so.
Tsunami was a god from the water realm, He was the
sea god of growth and prosperity and bound by his
essence to the creation of life. Erebus was the master of
Asphodel and perminantly bound to death. The touch
of Erebus would kill Tsunami immediately, so their love
could never be expressed physically... or so it seemed.
Eros felt the pull of their passion but was unable to help.
He went to Rhea and begged her to find a way for the
couple to come together. Rhea spent ten years searching
for an answer and finally, nearly defeated, went to her
mother as a last resort.
Gaea looked with sad eyes at the situation before her and
announced that there was only one way. Regretfully
she summoned Erebus and Tsunami before her. It pained
her in her soul to transform the life-giving essence of
Tsunami into the essence of death.
Forever after, Tsunami could only bestow death with his
godhood and he became the sea god of death and
Erebus and Tsunami were finally able to touch, both
bound permanently to death. But Tsunami couldn't
accept the loss. He tried to persevere and be content
with Erebus' love, but in the end. He could not.
Tsunami left Greece and is rumored to have joined a
foreign pantheon. The rumors say that he is one of the
most violent and bitter forces ever known, wiping out
life indiscriminately without pity or regret.
Erebus continued on. Up until the fall of the Titans
he continued to be alone, never again seeking the
touch of another.
[Oh my friend. How can I even consider laying such a curse on you and your love?] Hades thought sadly.
* * * * *
Hercules and Iolaus ran into the city of Arcadia to a horrifying sight. People were screaming out in pain from their rooms. Some were running through the streets in terror. Hideous screeches and howls came from every direction.
"Gods! What could have happened?" Iolaus asked over the increasing wailing.
"Let's find out." Hercules said, knowing a god must be behind this.
He hurried to the nearest temple, the temple of Apollo.
As the pair walked in, they were stunned. The normally bright and shiny temple was dark; a single torch was lit which revealed an elderly priest, crying in the floor.
Hercules walked carefully to the priest and asked, "What's happened?"
"We're cursed, all of us, all of Arcadia... because of me." The priest said in despair with his head cast down.
"Please, tell me." Hercules said in a whisper of a voice as he turned the man to face him.
Both Hercules and Iolaus were shocked to see the solid white eyes staring sightlessly.
"The gods came to our festival... as gods often do. They simply came to enjoy the festivities..." the priest trailed off in disbelief.
"What happened." Iolaus prompted.
"One of their children, a godling of four or five years... he was taken. Pervus was going to... to have sex with him." The priest said in shame.
"Bliss." Iolaus said immediately.
Hercules turned his head at the name and a tremble of fear for the joyful cherub crawled up his spine.
"The gods cursed us all, those of us who knew that Pervus enjoyed... unwilling... boys..." The priest choked on the words.
"Go on." Hercules said, less sympathetically.
"We were blinded... our Lord Apollo said that no one, not one of his Arcadian priests had ever lifted up a prayer for one of the common children raped by that man." The priest said in a voice of disbelief.
Hercules went pale as he thought about all his children. And how he would have felt if any of them had been abducted and raped.
"I need to talk to Apollo." Hercules said with resolve.
"He won't hear me. All of us have been cursed and dismissed from his service." The priest said in a lost voice.
"Then I'll go to Cupid's temple." Hercules said sharply.
"It's gone." The priest said in nearly a gasp.
"Gone?" Hercules asked in a disbelieving tone.
After the curse was put on us, his temple crumbled to dust. His priests and priestesses said the House of Love will no longer hear prayers from Arcadia.
"What else?" Hercules asked darkly, knowing that couldn't be all.
"The Hestian virgins have left their temple and the hearth-fires of Arcadia have gone out... all of them. The temple of war has closed its doors. And I heard less than an hour ago that a shrine to the goddess Psyche exploded." The priest said as he began to tremble.
"We need to talk to someone, I've got to know if Bliss is alright." Hercules said desperately.
"Let's try your dad's temple." Iolaus said, leading the way out of the room.
"Please kill me." The priest begged as he began crying again.
"I wonder how many of those kids asked the same thing?" Hercules asked coldly as he walked out of the temple.
* * * * *
Bliss awoke and looked around. He was in his Daddy's bed, snuggled against his Daddy's shoulder. Strife was laying on Bliss' other side with one arm across Bliss' waste.
Bliss carefully lifted his head and saw his Mommy sitting and watching him from a chair at the foot of the bed.
Bliss looked at his Daddy and Strife again, then waved 'hi' to his mommy.
Psyche motioned for Bliss to 'come here' and helped him extract himself from between the two gods.
Quietly Psyche led Bliss out of the room to leave Cupid and Strife to sleep.
* * * * *
"Can I please talk to you? It's important." Hercules asked with worry at his father's temple.
"Hercules." Hephaistos said sleepily.
"Hephaistos? Where is my father?" Hercules asked in confusion.
"Asleep if he has any sense. It's three in the morning. You're calling for help in my temple, so I answered." Hephaistos said irritably.
"I just heard about what happened, how is Bliss?" Hercules said quickly, cutting to the heart of the matter.
Hephaistos looked at Hercules and could sense his genuine concern.
"Come with me." Hephaistos said, holding out a hand.
"What?" Hercules asked suspiciously.
"I'll take you to visit Bliss, he always liked you two." Hephaistos said, glancing at Iolaus.
"C'mon Herc. I really want to see the little guy." Iolaus said as he stepped forward to take hold of Hephaistos hand.
Hercules nodded and took hold of Hephaistos and Iolaus clasped hands.
* * * * *
Memories flooded her mind, The free feeling, a truly happy day, the curse, the gods... she was on Olympus! Senscie bolted upright in her bed.
She quickly put on appropriate clothing and made her way out of the bedroom and down the hall.
Anteros looked up at the movement from the corner of his eye.
Senscie froze in place.
Anteros smiled and said, "Come in Senscie, I couldn't sleep either. Would you like a cup of tea?"
"Yes, thank you Anteros." Senscie said, having difficulty not using the honorific as she had always been told was proper.
Anteros produced two steaming mugs of tea and sat them on the low table before him on the couch.
"Come in, have a seat." Anteros said gently.
Senscie forced herself to move and took a seat on the sofa, the other end from Anteros.
"What's got you up so late?" Anteros asked and picked up his mug.
"I was sleeping, then it hit me... I'm on Olympus." Senscie said in a disbelieving voice.
Anteros smiled warmly and said, "The stories make it out to be more than it really is. The eternal springtime is true, but most of the rest is things mortals made up to make the story more interesting."
Senscie nodded as she picked up her mug and took a sip.
After an uncomfortable moment of silence, Senscie thought to ask, "Why are you up so late?"
Anteros gave a weak smile and said, "My whole family has been shaken to its foundations, and all I could do is stand by and watch."
"I know that feeling." Senscie said with sympathy.
"Really?" Anteros asked.
"Sure. I lost my son, Wayen. He was a good boy. He wanted to be a chef. We were poor, but happy for the most part. Then a warlord came to our valley and decided that he needed more soldiers. They took all the men, then killed the old and very young... I don't know why. The only thing Wayen knew how to do with a knife was chop vegetables... All I could do is stand and watch." Senscie said with eyes that looked into the past.
Anteros felt sympathy for the woman as he saw her reliving that day in her mind. Without thinking, Anteros moved beside Senscie and took one of her hands.
"Did you know he can hear you?" Anteros said as he looked deeply into Senscie's eyes.
"What?" She asked in confusion.
"Wayen, when you think about him, he hears your thoughts. He knows that you're thinking of him and shares your memories." Anteros said in a soothing voice.
"I hadn't heard that." Senscie said, then gave a pained smile.
"It's true. From what you said, your son would have gone to the fields. That means he spends his days doing the things he enjoys most... probably cooking, from the way you describe him. And everytime you think of him, he knows that you still love him and care for him." Anteros said with certainty.
"Thank you Anteros. It helps to know that he's happy." Senscie said with a watery smile.
Anteros looked into her mind and found a very clear image of Wayen.
"I have something I need to do for a minute, I should be back before you finish your tea." Anteros said and got up to leave.
Senscie nodded as Anteros flashed out of the room.
* * * * *
Hercules, Iolaus and Hephaistos appeared in the main room of the Temple of Love.
"Hello Psyche." Hercules said with a warm smile.
"Unca Hercese." Bliss said happily and jumped off his mother's lap.
"Hello Hercules, Iolaus." Psyche said shyly.
"Will you see that they get home Psyche?" Hephaistos asked hopefully.
"Of course King Hephaistos." Psyche said with respect.
Hephaistos gave a slight bow and disappeared.
"What are you doing here?" Psyche asked with surprise.
"I heard some things in Arcadia and I wanted to see if Bliss is okay." Hercules said honestly.
"He was just telling me what happened. Come and have a seat, he can tell us all." Psyche said with a gentle smile.
Hercules went to sit beside Psyche without hesitation. Iolaus took a seat farther away... to watch.
* * * * *
Anteros returned to the living area to find that Senscie was still sipping the tea.
"I just had to be sure. I went to Asphodel and found out that Wayen *is* in the Elysian Fields. He cooks, plays ball with other kids his age and spends every evening with... 'Gwenhemina'?" Anteros finished hesitantly.
"Oh Gods! That's my older sister! She's in the fields with Wayen? Oh, thank you Anteros, thank you." Senscie said in relief as she pulled Anteros into a hug and held him tightly.
Anteros hesitantly put his arms around her and closed his eyes, as he felt the peace of being held and admired.
* * * * *
"BLISS!" Cupid gasped when he woke up and found that Bliss was gone.
Strife bolted out of the bed, alert and ready for battle.
"He's in here Cupid." Psyche's voice called from the living area.
* * * * *
"Can I see him?" Senscie asked from Anteros' arms.
"I'm sorry Senscie. The living aren't meant to visit the realm of the dead." Anteros said sadly.
"Why?" She asked shakily.
"Because the living have to be able to let go of the past and continue on. Being able to visit the dead would make that much more difficult." Anteros said in a soothing voice.
"I guess I can see that." Senscie said in thought, enjoying the feeling of being held after such a very long time.
"Be content knowing that at the end of your days you'll be able to join your sister and your son in the fields and enjoy eternity with them." Anteros said as he also enjoyed the comfort of her embrace.
Silence fell over the room as the two continued to hold each other until they both drifted off to sleep.
* * * * *
Cupid and Strife ran into the living area to find Psyche holding Bliss who was asleep. Beside her was Hercules and on the other sofa was Iolaus.
"Sorry about that. I woke up and Bliss was gone." Cupid said in embarrassment.
"It's fine. I heard about what happened and needed to see for myself that Bliss was okay." Psyche said quietly.
"Me too." Hercules said in a whisper.
Cupid gave a warm smile and said, "Thanks for coming."
"Maybe you could tell us more of what happened, Bliss' version of the story was a little... abstract." Iolaus said.
"Sure." Cupid said and took a seat on the couch by Iolaus, followed by Strife.
"Phobos, Deimos and Bliss were looking at the market..." Cupid began.
"By themselves?" Hercules asked darkly.
"Yes. Think about it. What could be more fun then being allowed to go and explore the festival market by yourselves for the first time? Dad wanted to prove to the twins that he trusted them... It was a good idea." Cupid said peacefully, finally reconciled to the fact that this wasn't his Dad's fault.
Hercules thought about that, then reluctantly nodded.
"There was a mortal watching them, he was waiting for Phobos and Deimos to look away from Bliss so he could grab him. Finally, after about ten minutes of waiting, he saw his opportunity and snatched Bliss from right between them." Cupid said darkly, feeling the dread and fear crawling in his gut from what might have been.
Strife noticed that Cupid was caught up in his feelings and continued the story. "Tha old mortal pulled Bliss between two stalls in tha market an started tryin ta get his pants down when Pho and Demi found him. Pho froze him with fear and put a curse on him ta make him see whatevah he's fraid of. Then Demi cursed him ta feel pain and Bliss cursed him ta feel no more happiness."
"I'm surprised they didn't kill him." Hercules said absently.
"They wanted to, but Joxer asked them not to kill anyone." Cupid said quietly.
"Joxer?" Iolaus questioned.
"Oh yeah. You been gone for a while..." Cupid trailed off, wondering what he should say.
"Why don we let Jox explain all that? He speaks mortal." Strife said with a smirk.
"Strife? Um... I don't mean to be bringing up any bad memories but... aren't you dead?" Iolaus asked hesitantly.
"Ah was, now Ah'm not. Ah was reborn." Strife said happily.
"Ouch. I bet that was a tough delivery. How's Discord." Iolaus asked with feigned concern.
Strife giggled in his manic way as Cupid smiled and proudly said, "Strife is the son of King Hades and Queen Persephone and is the Prince of Asphodel."
"Prince Strife?" Hercules asked with disbelief.
"Yeah, I got me a muthah an fathah who want me and care bout me." Strife said happily.
Hercules felt the snappy comeback die on his tongue as he could see that Strife was completely serious. Instead he said, "That's great Strife. And it's good that you can appreciate them."
Strife was taken aback by Hercules thoughtful response, he had actually been expecting some dig about Discord. All he could think to say is, "Ah do."
"What else has happened while we've been wandering in the Grecian wilderness?" Iolaus asked, breaking the silence.
"Um... Dad got married, Grandpa got divorced, three mortals ascended to gods... Psyche and I divorced." Cupid stopped and looked at Psyche who gave him a smile.
"You're divorced?" Hercules asked incredulously.
"Yeah. It's a big long story Uncle Herc. Me getting stuck with my own arrow, her getting a godhood that messed with her mind, when the magic finally broke... we didn't have anything between us as a foundation for a marriage." Cupid said sadly and noticed Psyche nodding in confirmation.
"I have to say, I've never been around a divorced couple that got along as well as you two." Iolaus said in disbelief.
"Why not get along? It didn't work out. It's not my fault, it's not Psyche's fault, it's sure not Bliss' fault. We're still a family, Psyche just doesn't live with us." Cupid said with a shrug.
"Thanks Cupid." Psyche said tenderly as she stroked Bliss' wings.
Iolaus gave a big yawn and said, "We'd better get back, I only got a couple hours of sleep last night."
"You can stay here if you want. I have a spare room right over there." Cupid said as he pointed to a doorless room.
"Um, sure, I guess." Iolaus said, looking to Hercules to see if he had any objection.
Hercules was focused on Psyche.
"If you like, I have a spare room in my suite of rooms at the Halls of Intellect that you'd be welcomed to." Psyche said, looking into Hercules' eyes.
Iolaus rolled his eyes; he'd seen this story play out a hundred times before.
"I think all of us should get some sleep. I'll put Bliss back to bed now." Cupid said and picked Bliss up from Psyche's lap.
"Are you ready to go?" Psyche asked demurely.
Hercules nodded, enthralled by her grace.
Psyche delicately laid a hand on Hercules' arm and they flashed out.
Iolaus seemed to slump as Strife gave a chuckle.
"Looks like Herc's fallen in love, once and fer all... again." Strife giggled.
"Yeah, the big goof can't see the pattern." Iolaus said with a shake of his head.
"What's up with you curly? Why do you hang around with tha big oaf?" Strife asked as he settled back into the sofa.
"Well, I really do believe in the whole hero thing. Now and then his 'leap before you look' approach gets him into trouble and I have to bail him out." Iolaus said honestly.
"And ya love him." Strife said with uncharacteristic seriousness.
"Yeah." Iolaus said sadly, not seeing any point in denying it.
Cupid had been listening and said, "I'm sorry Iolaus, but Uncle Herc don't feel that way about you."
"I know." Iolaus said sadly.
"Would you like me to do something about it?" Cupid asked unsurely.
"Oh gods no!" Iolaus said in horror.
"Just thought I'd ask." Cupid said with a shrug and settled in beside Strife.
"It's just about time for me to settle down I think. I need to find someone who *does* want me." Iolaus said sadly.
"Well if that's your only qualification, I've got someone for you." Cupid said immediately.
"What? I mean... oh gods... what did I say?" Iolaus said in panic.
Strife rolled off the couch and into the floor with laughter.
Cupid smiled at Strife's laughter and said, "I'm not trying to trap you or trick you Iolaus, I'm just saying that I know someone who's been admiring you for years."
"Who?" Iolaus asked in interest, then turned his attention to Strife laughing in the floor.
"Have you ever met the family, Uncle Herc's brothers and sisters?" Cupid asked in a leading voice.
"Um, not all at once, but I think I've met all of them at one time or another." Iolaus said in thought.
"Do you remember Hebe? She's Zeus and Hera's youngest daughter." Cupid said, hoping Iolaus remembered.
"Um, yeah. Goddess of... children?" Iolaus strained to remember.
"Right. She's been admiring you for years, but I wouldn't consider doing anything about it since you were pining for Uncle oblivious." Cupid said frankly.
"She's pretty, but kind of young." Iolaus said in thought.
"Yeah, she hasn't even reached her first millennia but she's a good person and she honestly cares for you." Cupid said as Strife finally found his way back onto the couch.
"I thought you shot arrows and arranged chance meetings to get people together." Iolaus said in confusion.
"I do. But it's four in the morning. Guy to guy, she likes you, I think you'd like her if you got to know her. Think about it, the worst that can happen is it won't work out... then you end up no worse off." Cupid said frankly.
"Okay, but how do I... I can't just go up to her and say, 'Hi Hebe, I hear you been watching me'." Iolaus said seriously.
"No, that might not be the best opening line... How about I invite you and Herc over to a family dinner tomorrow, I'll invite Hebe too. And that's all I'll have to do with it. What happens next is up to you and her." Cupid said, looking Iolaus in the eyes.
"Thanks Cupid, that sounds good." Iolaus said shyly.
"Good, now I'm going to get back to bed. It's been one Tartarus of a day." Cupid said and got up.
"I guess I'd bettah..." Strife trailed off, looking a little lost.
"You're going to help me keep Bliss safe aren't you?" Cupid asked with wide eyes.
"Yeah Cupe." Strife said with a smile.
"Goodnight Laus, if we're not here when you wake up, my office is out that door and down the hall to your right." Cupid said as he and Strife went to the bedroom.
"Goodnight Cupid." Iolaus said with a smile.