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"Hold on, Heph. 'Roman' god of war? As in THE Roman god of war?" Ares asked cautiously.
"Yes." Hephaistos said firmly. "If Evander were to stay in Greece, he would have no opportunity to fulfill his potential. He is the son of war and retaliation. The essence of his godhood is righteous war."
"But... I'll have to go there... alone?" Evander asked in a trembling voice.
"No, no. By the time your training is complete, I'm sure there will be many other gods either already there, or soon on their way." Hephaistos said with assurance. "Your father should be able to keep things going until then."
"With your help." Ares said with a hopeful smile at Evander.
"And If you wanted, I could go with you." Phobos said simply.
"You'd do that?" Van asked hopefully.
"Yeah. I mean, if you wanted me to. You might be sick of seeing me by then." Phobos said frankly.
Van smiled at his newly discovered brother, then his gaze shifted to his mother and the smile left his face
"Evander, we have some things that we should discuss." Ares said seriously.
After a moment, Evander reluctantly turned to face his father.
"Why don't we go to the halls of war to talk and let Heph get back to the business of running everything?" Ares asked hopefully.
Evander glanced at his mother, then looked Ares in the eyes and reluctantly nodded.
"Nemesis, would you join us?" Ares asked gently.
"Only if Evander wants me to." Nemesis said hesitantly.
"What do you say, son? Do you want your mother to join us for our talk so we can get everything settled?" Ares asked with a hopeful smile.
"I'll be there with you, Van. I've got you covered." Phobos said from Evander's side.
"Yes, Father. I think it would be good to put some things behind us. But what do I do with this?" Evander asked as he slightly shook the enormous sword standing before him.
"If you want, you can ask it to be smaller so you can carry it easily." Ares said frankly.
"How do I do that?" Evander asked slowly.
"Just as I said, you ask it to be smaller and kind of wish for it to be so. This is your sword of power, its nature is to do your bidding." Ares said carefully.
"Um, excuse me, sword... would you turn into a little dagger for me, please?" Evander asked cautiously.
There was a burst of crimson power, then the large broadsword began to levitate itself into the air and shrink.
Evander watched it become smaller and smaller.
When it had finally stopped shrinking, it was barely more than four inches long and looked like a child's toy.
Evander pulled the small dagger out of the air, then stuck it in his pocket.
"Since Van's not used'ta transportin', we'll meet ya's there." Phobos said casually.
"If you wouldn't mind the company, I think all of us would enjoy the walk." Ares said with a proud smile at Phobos.
"That okay with you, Van?" Phobos asked hopefully.
"Yeah." Evander said with a genuine smile at Phobos who had so recently become not only his brother, but his friend.
* * * * *
As Evander walked, he puzzled over what he was feeling, or more accurately, not feeling. Intellectually, he knew that being told that he was a god should have been enough to freak him out. But he felt uncharacteristically calm and self-assured, even for him.
"You're controlling my fear, aren't you?" Evander asked Pho in a whisper.
"Yeah. I was thinkin' you might like it best if you looked strong in front'a Dad." Pho answered quietly.
"Thanks. I appreciate that. But could you go ahead and let me feel my fear for a few seconds? Not feeling it's making everything seem unreal to me." Evander slowly explained.
"Yeah. Sure. Just hold on ta yerself for when it hits." Phobos warned, then carefully withdrew his godly influence from Evander's fear.
Paralyzing fear froze Evander in his tracks as every bit of color seemed to rush out of his face. He couldn't process anything past the barrage of anxiety that dominated him.
"I got it, now." Phobos said as he gently took hold of the fear.
Finally, Evander was able to breathe again.
"You alright?" Phobos asked with concern.
"Yeah. But I didn't think it'd be that bad." Evander said in a shaky voice.
"It really ain't. It's mostly show. If you's ta look behind the huge scary thing that's causing tha fear, there's really not much there." Phobos said frankly.
"I couldn't do anything. I was frozen."
"That's how it gits ya. Soon as ya stop tryin' ta fight it, you've lost."
"Can you help me do that?" Evander asked hopefully.
"Yeah. Thanks ta Pappa Joxer, I think I can." Phobos said with a grin at his brother.
"Will you boys be joining us?" Ares called out from ahead of them.
"Be right there." Phobos called back, then smiled at his brother as he silently urged him to pick up the pace.
* * * * *
"How are you doing, Ace?" Apollo gently asked as he walked into the room with Dorin at his side.
"Everything hurts. Are you sure that there's nothing wrong with me?" Asclepius asked in a slight whine.
Apollo walked to Asclepius' bedside and closed his eyes as he briefly scanned his son, then said, "You're perfectly fine. Your body's just adjusting to its new situation."
"How are you feeling, Lord Ganymede?" Dorin asked timidly.
Ganymede smiled at the shy boy and quietly said, "I'm doing just fine."
"Dorin is here to take care of you. Let him know if you need anything." Apollo said with a slight smile at the boy.
"What about Cleptus?" Asclepius asked cautiously.
"He won't be joining us. I've spoken with Dorin and he has my complete confidence." Apollo said as he looked his son in the eyes.
Asclepius seemed uncertain, but finally accepted his father's words.
"Now, Dorin, if Ganymede or Asclepius need anything, you can step outside this door and catch the attention of one of my priests and they'll get you whatever you need." Apollo said warmly.
Dorin nodded his understanding.
"I need to make the rounds to check on the others. Call to me if anything happens that concerns you." Apollo said to the men in the bed.
"Thanks, Dad." Asclepius said sincerely to his father with a slight smile.
Ganymede nodded, including himself in Asclepius' thanks.
Apollo gave one last look at the bed before vanishing in a shower of golden sparkles.
* * * * *
"How is everyone doing?" Apollo asked as he appeared in the sitting room of the halls of war.
"Apollo!" Pan yelped as he tried to sit up.
"Stay still, Pan. You need to relax." Apollo said as he hurried to kneel at Pan's side.
"I can't do this." Pan whispered as tears welled in his eyes.
Apollo saw the fear and followed his instinct. He moved in and gave Pan a long, slow, lingering kiss.
Joxer and Anteros exchanged a surprised look at the actions of the usually superficial god.
"You can do this." Apollo finally said against his lips.
"I don't know how to be a mother... or a father. All I've ever done is plant my seed and move on. I don't have any idea of what you do with young." Pan struggled to explain.
"Honestly, I haven't been involved in the care of any of my children until they were much older. It wasn't until Asclepius decided that he wanted to learn about medicine that I took much of an interest in him. But I promise you, Pan, I'll love our child and share in taking care of him. You won't be alone. I'll be beside you every step of the way."
"You'll stay with me?" Pan asked hopefully.
"For as long as you'll have me." Apollo whispered in the tone of a vow.
"Apollo? I didn't expect you to be here. How is everyone doing?" Ares asked as he led a small group into the living room.
"I was just about to check on them. I heard the announcement, is this Evander?" Apollo asked from Pan's side.
"Yes. My son. The Roman God of War." Ares said proudly.
Evander's eyes began to fill with tears at the sound of his father's proud declaration. It soothed an ache within him that he had carried all his life.
"Congratulations, Evander. I am your Uncle Apollo, and this is your Uncle Pan. Please call on us if we can help you with anything."
"I will." Evander said slowly as he watched Apollo gently holding Pan in his arms.
Ares gestured beside him and a new couch appeared.
"Nemesis, please have a seat and be comfortable." Ares said, then walked to Joxer's side.
"How are you feeling, Love?" Ares said quietly.
"All better, now that you're here." Joxer said tenderly.
Ares leaned in to give him a brief, but heartfelt, kiss, before turning his attention back to the others in the room.
"Evander, I know that you're upset with some of your mother's decisions, but I'm going to ask you to set that aside for a moment and try to understand the choices that she made." Ares said gently to his son.
"She lied to me about you and about me and about... everything!" Evander implored his father to understand.
"She gave up her godhood and basically chose to live in exile from her own people to protect you from the truth that might well have destroyed you." Ares said as he held Evander's gaze.
After a moment of staring into his father's eyes, Evander hesitantly asked, "You think she did the right thing?"
Ares considered the question for a moment, then said, "There's no way to know if there was a right thing. She found herself in a difficult situation and had to make several choices. I can't say if they were right or wrong, but I know that she made all of those decisions with your best interest at heart."
"Thank you." Nemesis whispered as she looked in awe at her ex-lover.
"I didn't like some of your choices at the time, but I respected them. And seeing as our son turned out to be such a fine young man... I can't find any fault in what you've done." Ares said honestly.
Nemesis smiled at his words.
Evander looked back and forth between the two, then seemed to come to a decision.
"I'm mad because you kept me from knowing my dad and because you lied to me. But if Dad says that you had good reasons, I'll believe him." Evander said in a tightly controlled voice.
"Thank you, Evander. All I ever wanted is for you to grow up being a happy, normal person free from the burden of godhoods and duties." Nemesis tried to explain.
"But I am a god. No matter how hard you wish or how much you lie, you can't make me be anything else." Evander said seriously, then glanced at his father for a moment before continuing, "But, I think growing up the way I did might make me a different god than if I was raised here."
"You're probably right about that." Joxer said with a smile from his place on the couch.
"Will you come and visit me?" Nemesis asked cautiously.
Evander thought about it for a moment, then slowly nodded.
"He may be busy training and learning his new duties for a while, but I'll see to it that he takes a break to visit with you every so often." Ares assured.
"Thank you, again." Nemesis said gratefully.
"Are you ready to go home?" Ares asked cautiously.
"Evander, can I have a hug before I go?" Nemesis asked hopefully.
It only took a second for Evander to decide, then he ran into his mother's arms to hug her tightly.
"You'll be fine. Just listen to your father." Nemesis said as she returned his hug.
"I will." Evander promised as he finally released her.
Nemesis gave Evander a quick kiss on the cheek, then vanished in a flourish of red sparks.
* * * * *
"How are the babies doing?" Joxer asked cautiously as Apollo examined him.
"Babies? Like, twins?" Ares asked to confirm.
"Yes... Well, um..." Apollo stammered as he scanned Joxer again.
"Is something wrong?" Joxer asked as he felt panic beginning to rise.
"No, no. They're fine. There's just... three of them. I wasn't expecting that." Apollo said as he watched for any reaction.
There was a long moment of silence, then Ares quickly asked, "Is Joxer going to be alright?"
"Multiple births aren't uncommon on Olympus. Given Joxer's age and general health, I'd say that he should be fine. Although he's going to need to eat lots of ambrosia and get lots of extra bed rest. Remember, godly births aren't always like mortal births. Anything could happen.
Ares paled as he remembered several extreme and extraordinary birth stories from the gods over the millennia.
"We'll get him through it. Now, where's Deimos? I need to check him out." Apollo asked as he stood.
"He's in his room with Tad, back this way. Come on, Van." Phobos said as he hurried toward the hallway.
Although Evander was reluctant to leave his father, he couldn't resist his brother's impatient urging.
* * * * *
As they walked into the room, they stopped at the sight of Deimos and Tad snuggled together, fast asleep.
Evander noticed a tear in Phobos' eye and asked, "Is something wrong?"
"I never thought I'd see him this happy."
The sound of Phobos' voice woke Tad and he glanced at the visitors in his doorway.
"I just came to check on Deimos and the baby, to make sure everything is progressing normally." Apollo said gently.
"Demi, wake up." Tad said quietly as he smoothed the hair off Deimos' forehead.
"Love you." Deimos muttered, semi coherently.
"I love you, too, Demi. But we've got company." Tad said shyly.
Deimos cracked one eye open, then looked at Phobos, Evander and Apollo in his doorway.
"I just need to do a quick scan to make sure everything's going the way it should." Apollo said seriously.
"Does Tad gotta move?" Deimos asked as he became more awake.
"Only a little, and only for a moment." Apollo said as he walked to the bedside.
"Who's that, Pho?" Deimos asked slowly as he looked Evander over.
"Our brother, Van." Phobos said frankly.
Deimos looked at Phobos in surprise, then asked, "How'd that happen?"
"Dad, Nemesis..." Phobos said and finished with a shrug.
"Nice to meet you, Van. You can call me Demi." He said cordially, then Apollo's worried expression caught his attention.
"What's wrong?" Deimos asked firmly.
"It looks like you're having twins." Apollo said gravely.
"Yeah? Is that a problem?" Deimos asked cautiously.
"At your age, yes, it might be." Apollo said frankly.
"Why?" Phobos asked as he automatically walked to the bed to be closer to his twin.
"Your body is still growing and you're making some unusual demands on it right now. It may not be up to the challenge of adapting this far." Apollo tried to explain.
"So, what are you saying?" Deimos asked cautiously.
"I may need to take one of the babies, so you'll be able to carry the other one to term." Apollo said regretfully.
"No." Deimos said firmly.
"Demi, you're too young. Your body can't handle it." Apollo implored him to understand.
"No. I refuse." Deimos said without hesitation.
"Trying to carry both babies to term could end up killing all three of you." Apollo said bluntly.
"I understand that." Deimos said seriously, then looked at Tad cautiously.
A single nod from Tad was all it took to reconfirm his resolve.
"You're going to need lots of ambrosia and lots of bedrest." Apollo said as he stepped away.
"Tad'll take good care of me." Deimos promised.
Apollo looked at Tad, then said, "Yes. I believe he will."
* * * * *
A rumbling in the distance drew Hephaistos and Aphrodite's attention.
After a moment of looking at each other, they turned in unison and began to walk to the balcony that was just past the door to Hephaistos' office.
As a multi-hued light began to flood in through the archway, both remembered the arrival of the visitor that had changed their lives so dramatically.
But when they arrived on the balcony, what they found instead of the visitor was one end of a truly awesome sight, a rainbow bridge.
"Honey Bunny, where'd that come from?" Aphrodite asked cautiously.
"If I'm not mistaken, that is the bridge known as Bifrost." Hephaistos said as he watched a lone figure walk toward them on the bridge.
"What's it doing here?" Aphrodite asked quietly.
"In ancient legends, it was said that the Elite Asgardians, the Elder Norse Gods, from the North, would use Bifrost to make formal visits to other realms. In essence, it means that they come to us in friendship." Hephaistos said cautiously.
"Very good, Olympian. There were those of us who feared that you might not understand the overture and perceive it as a threat." A large man... god... said as he approached.
"You would be Heimdall, I presume." Hephaistos said as he offered his scarred and disfigured hand.
"Yes. Although, you do not appear to be Zeus." Heimdall responded as he shook the offered hand with extra care.
"No, I am Hephaistos. I was recently instated as King of the Gods, and may I present my lovely wife, Aphrodite." Hephaistos said as he gestured to her.
"Lovely indeed! It's an honor and privilege to meet you, dear goddess." Heimdall said as he gently kissed the back of her hand.
Aphrodite demurely giggled at the surprising action.
Hephaistos rolled his eyes in fond amusement, then asked, "What brings you here to us, today, Heimdall?"
"There are those who would like to visit with you to discuss recent developments in the world at large, I simply came ahead to be sure that they would be well received." Heimdall said diplomatically.
"It would always be an honor and a pleasure to receive a visit from the Norse pantheon." Hephaistos said formally.
"Then I will take my leave and they will arrive shortly. It was a great pleasure to meet you and your lovely wife, King Hephaistos."
"Thank you, Heimdall. It was our pleasure to meet you, as well." Hephaistos said sincerely, then watched as Heimdall began to walk away on the multi-hued bridge.
"What do you think..." Aphrodite began to ask, when three forms came into view in the distance.
"Hephy, isn't that..."
"Yes. But what is Isis doing traveling on Bifrost?" Hephaistos asked in bewilderment.
As the three women reached the end of the bridge and stepped onto the balcony, Isis said, "I remember you, Hephaistos, the blacksmith god, isn't it?"
"Yes, you honor me by remembering. Although, now I am King of the Gods as well as God of Blacksmiths. And may I present my wife, Aphrodite, Goddess of Marriage and Childbirth." Hephaistos said regally.
"A pleasure to meet you, however, our time is short. We will have time for pleasantries later. Accompanying me are Freyja, the Norse Goddess of Love, Battle and Death. And Astarte, the Phoenician Goddess of Fertility, Motherhood and War. As we are sure you are aware, there has been a tremendous shift in power that has had some unexpected consequences for the gods of all our realms." Isis said seriously.
"Do you mean, the supernatural fertility?" Hephaistos asked cautiously.
"Primarily, yes." Freyja said grimly. "With so many of our men incapacitated by their unexpected pregnancies, it has fallen to us to sort matters out."
Astarte nodded her agreement, then said, "And it has been discovered that several of our unborn children have bonds to the new world. It is going to take all of our cooperation to navigate this development without it becoming a war among the gods."
Hephaistos looked at the three strong women who were visiting, then at his beautiful wife.
After a moment to consider, he quietly said, "Since the women of the other pantheons are representing their interests in this, I believe Greece should do the same. Aphrodite, please represent our interests well, but know that whatever decisions you make, that you will have my full support."
"I'll do good for you, Hephy." She said with a loving smile at her husband.
"Remember that I've already made commitments regarding Erebus and Evander. I'll leave the rest to you." Hephaistos said gently.
"You got it, Honey Bunch." Aphrodite said with a grin and a wink at her husband.
"You're so lucky, Aphrodite. You'd think from the way our men were sniveling that they were the first beings in the whole history of the whole history to become pregnant. I've still got Thor's whining about sore nipples ringing in my ears." Freyja said as Aphrodite led the women inside.
Hephaistos smiled after his wife and felt strangely assured that she would, indeed, represent them well.
It was a happy surprise to find out there was a new chapter in this wonderful story.
I have always enjoyed stories of the ancient races. And when you add to that the fact that this is a MultiMapper story, it makes it all that much more enjoyable. It has been about four years since there has been an update to this exciting story, and it was a pleasure to read this new installment. I hope everyone let's MultiMapper know how much you enjoyed it. Remember your comments are the only reward the authors get for all their hard work.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher