I wonder where everyone is. I just got back and so far I haven't seen a single one of my 'beloved' family. I need to start thinking about how to get Ares out of his depression and into my clutches. No way am I going to take on the family without him. He'd be just the kind to sucker punch me while I was taking care of one of the others. Perhaps, Strife can be made to talk. Or better yet, there's Aphrodite.
She looks surprised to see me, a little worn around the edges as well. "Aphrodite. Olympus seems very subdued."
She sighs and pushes back her hair. "It's been a real shock. To think that one of us could be so ... so ... nasty! Joxer was such a nice mortal. Kind of silly but really sweet. Harmonia is still broken up about it. I sent her away for some fun in the sun."
I nod kindly. "How is Ares taking it? I was surprised at how attached to the little man he was."
She pouts and twirls a long blond curl around one delicate finger. "He's devastated. Just devastated!" She frowns to emphasize real despair. "Hestia had to prevent him from committing suicide. Really!"
I can tell that she's totally uncomprehending of any of the darker emotions. Damn Hestia anyway. Why did the old lady have to interfere? I could have had one less problem to deal with.
Feigning amazement, I continue my subtle interrogation. "Good for her. I checked at her temple and didn't find her. Is she staying with the god of war to cheer him up?"
She tilted her head and a little frown line appeared between her eyes. Deep thought never did come easily to her. "I don't think so. Hera said something the other day, you know, during one of her afternoon teas," she rolled her eyes, "about Hestia checking on a problem at one of her temples." She giggled and perked up. "Something about one of the Vestial Virgins ... who isn't! If you catch my drift?"
I do indeed, you little idiot. But I smile politely and let her go. She's of no use what so ever. I doubt that Ares cares enough about her to come to her rescue. That leaves Hera or Hestia or Harmonia. Which one would draw him out? He respects his mother and sometimes I think I may even see his affection for her but would that be enough?
Hestia is close to him and always has been. They share fire and a real liking for each other. But flame is still my weakest element and I don't know if I want to take on a true mistress of fire. Besides, I must admit to a sneaking admiration for the old woman. She was one of the few who came to me after the death of my little one and sat with me. She was at least honest.
I can still hear her saying, 'I've never had a child, Ate, so I can't imagine what you're feeling. But I know about pain and if you need to talk to someone, I'll listen. I'm a good listener.' Then she'd shut up and just shared the silence with me. I respected that.
No, I think it needs to be Harmonia. Since my daughter was taken from me, it's only fitting that I take his daughter. That should draw him out into the open. Besides, she's young and weak like her mother. I'll be able to handle her easily. It shouldn't take long to find her. I'm good at ferreting out secrets. Once I have her, I'll be able to dictate to Ares.
My energy reserves have never been higher. It's almost time to challenge Zeus. But first, I need to kill a god, just to leave a little message to the big man. Then, while everyone is running around in a panic, I'll snatch Harmonia and bait the trap. Now, which one should I explode back to the elements? Someone everyone dislikes? Or one that is universally adored?
End chapter 19