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The visitor entered the main audience chamber of the grand temple that used to be Zeus'. Hephaistos was sitting at a desk next to Aphrodite. They were looking intently at some papers and didn't notice his entrance.
"Lord Hephaistos, Lady Aphrodite, may I speak with you a moment?"
Hephaistos and Aphrodite looked up as one with looks of concern then Aphrodite spoke, "Come in and join us, would you like some breakfast?"
The visitor smiled at the kind and genuine invitation and shook his head. "I just have a few things I need to tell you and I'm going to be on my way."
Hephaistos had a surprised look but said nothing, waiting for the visitor to continue.
"I'm just tying up a few loose ends before I go. You know that there are those on Olympus that are loyal to Zeus and are going to try to make your lives difficult?"
"Yes, we discussed that last night. We have a pretty good idea who to watch out for." Hephaistos said glancing at Aphrodite.
The visitor shifted forward in his seat and said, "I don't think Athena will be as much of a problem as you might think. A small camp of Mongol soldiers arrived from Chin this morning and are camped right outside Athens..."
Aphrodite twigged to it first and asked, "And how did a Mongol horde happen to arrive today?"
The visitor smiled and answered, "I put them there, of course. But given her fascination with strategy and tactics, I thought I might take the opportunity to introduce her to another culture. Oh, and I think Apollo might be a little busy too..."
Hephaistos just raised an eyebrow as Aphrodite giggled.
"You see, a new style of music was introduced in southern Greece this morning. It has a most interesting beat. And it's nearly impossible to dance to. I think it might take some time to understand the structure of this music."
Aphrodite jumped in with, "What'cha got for Artie?"
The visitor shook his head. "Artemis is a goalonger." At the vacant stare he received from both in front of him he continued. "She'll go along with Athena and Apollo but she won't start anything unless she's backed into a corner. Basically, it's not her fight, so she's not that interested."
Aphrodite nodded her head in acceptance of this while Hephaistos considered it.
"The only other problem I perceive is not really as much a problem as an annoyance, that would be Hercules. I know he is needed for many things but it would really be better if he were out of the way for a month until things get settled."
"Can you send him to Chin? That would keep him away for a while." Hephaistos asked with a little spark of mischief that Aphrodite hadn't seen in a while.
"No, I don't think he'd survive the trip, they play by different rules there. I put him and his friend Iolaus somewhere very safe while they slept. Right now they're inside a mobius torroid... it's a 4 dimensional... never mind, if they walk in a straight line, as they see it, in any direction, they will end up where they started two to three weeks later. It just looks like a normal forest path. The only difference will be that he won't find any towns or other people for the entire time. But it has plenty of food and water. Hercules'll probably never even know he was inside the thing. It will dissolve by itself in about a month." the visitor said with a smirk.
"What about Xena and her bard? What'd you do to them?" Aphrodite asked with a little bounce.
"Nothing, you have a god of mischief in training that should be able to make good use of them, unless I miss my guess. I will take my leave of you now. I have faith that you will help this pantheon reach it's full potential."
And after a respectful bow, the visitor flared into a ball of rainbow hued light and left Olympus.
* * * * *
After waking up and a simple breakfast, Ares announced that they were going to visit Strife. Joxer was a little nervous since he had received Strife's godhood, but he was happy to have the chance to see Strife again.
They were standing before a grand building that seemed to be a cross between a temple and a castle. As they walked through the doors, Joxer was thinking he liked this idea less and less. The huge rooms were intimidating, the gray on gray color scheme was depressing, and it smelled funny. Ares led him to a large set of double doors. Joxer was about 98% sure that he didn't want to know what was behind those doors, but Ares just walked up and opened them.
There was a group of people (sort-of) sitting around a dining table. The only one that Joxer recognized was Strife. At their entrance everyone looked up but Strife jumped up and ran over to his uncle. "Unc. S'Good to see ya! What'cha bring Jox for?"
Ares reached over to Joxer's neck and pulled the smirking pendant out of Joxer's shirt by the chain.
"No way! Jox got my job?" Strife nearly bounced with enthusiasm.
Joxer shrunk into himself when Strife reacted, and Strife noticed.
"Don' worry Jox! Yar perfect for the job! I was worried about who would git it. I couldn'ta picked anyone bettah."
Joxer's entire face lit up with his smile. Strife threw an arm around his shoulders and led him away from the dining room.
* * * * *
A few hours later Joxer was in a daze. He had just been told more about creating mischief than he ever imagined. Finally he had had enough. He broke in on Strife's impromptu lecture on the importance of rodents and their various uses.
"I have a question." Joxer interrupted.
"Go 'head Jox." Strife shot back.
"What would I have to feed a horse to give it a really nasty foul case of gas?" Joxer asked glancing down at the floor afterward.
"I'll tell you bout red beans n green apples latah but first... would this be for a horse I know?" Strife asked with his old full force smile in place.
"Well, it's nothing against Argo, she actually treated me the best of the three of them..." Joxer once again found the floor interesting.
"Whoa, I thought Xena and the Gabbs were like yer best buds or sumthin, what's the story?"
Joxer looked up from the floor with shiny eyes. "I didn't know they were treating me bad until someone treated me good and I could tell the difference."
Strife nodded his head once, paused, then gave one more nod, "Okay... I think we'll start wit green apples and boilt eggs..."
* * * * *
Ganymede appeared in Meg's, unseen by mortals. He had spent a few hours talking with Meg and together they came up with a few things. The first thing was the alter before him. His first alter.
They discussed it and decided that it need only be a scarlet alter cloth and a single candle. Any tribute could be left around the candle.
While he was looking at the simple alter set up in his honor, he heard a scream come from one of the rooms.
Without a thought, Ganymede ran into the room and saw a monster of a man trying to force a girl. Meg rushed into the room and tried to pull the behemoth off the crying girl. When he saw that Meg was making no progress, Ganymede made himself visible.
"Stand aside!" he said to Meg in his most authoritative voice (which wasn't much).
Meg, recognizing his voice, stood aside and saw him create a melon-sized fireball and throw it at the man.
The man turned his head and seeing Ganymede began to laugh.
Unruffled by the man's insolence, Ganymede declared, "Get out of this room and out of this building. These women are under my protection!"
The man laughed harder and went back to his rape.
Ganymede walked over to him and grabbed onto his shoulder with a hand that crackled with scarlet lightening.
The big man's body went rigid and he began to cry out in pain.
Still holding the same shoulder, Ganymede dragged the man out of bed and out of the room while the man just screamed "How?... How?... "
Ganymede looked down at the now whimpering man and said, "I'm a god, you idiot!"
Ganymede let go of the man and walked around to face him. "I believe in second chances, this is yours. Remember this: No means no! If you EVER harm anyone under my protection again, I'll show you what I learned in 1500 years at the hands of the sickest bastard in the known world. LEAVE. NOW."
As the big oaf scrambled to get out of the building, Ganymede felt that warm, sweet feeling again. He turned to see Meg and the unfortunate woman and once again identified the feeling... worship.