Just as Hephaestus thought it was over, he flashed into another scene. He was in a long feast hall surrounded by men in various stages of drunkenness. He floated around and found his mother standing in a corner talking to a man who looked very familiar but who wasn’t his father.
“You don’t want to incur my wrath, Egemen. I will see my son whenever I want to!”
Egemen bowed his head slightly. “As you wish, my Lady Hera. My only concern was for the boy. It is difficult for him when you leave. He doesn’t understand why he can’t go home with you.”
Her expression turned to one of anguish. “I know. I know, but I can’t bring him home yet. Zeus would just harm him worse. I need more time to convince him.”
“A father shouldn’t need convincing to see his child.”
“Watch yourself, Egemen. That is the king of the Gods you are talking about.”
“My apologies, my Lady. You will find Hephaestus in his room.” Egemen stood aside and watched Hera rush off.
Egemen, I’d almost forgotten you, baba. How could I have forgotten the only place that truly accepted me?
The scene changed and Hephaestus was suddenly in the room, watching his mother play with the little god. As the baby stumbled into his mother’s lap, she tickled his ribs and then leaned down to blow on his chubby belly. Mother and son laughed. A nurse came in and Hera stopped laughing. She hugged the baby up tightly and kissed his chubby cheeks.
“Mamá has to go, little god. I will see you soon. I promise.” She stood and handed the baby to the nurse before quickly walking away. Hephaestus watched his fat baby arms reach out for his mother, confusion on his face turning to tears when she didn’t come back.
The scene changed.
“Zeus, please. I want my son home where he belongs!”
“That abomination will never set a foot on Olympus as long as I have a breath in my body. Stop your incessant whining, Hera!”
Hephaestus saw the rage on his mother’s face. “I’ve only ever asked one thing of you. One thing! And you refused me. You laughed in my face as you whored around and spread your seed. You will give me my son back or so help me, Zeus, I will make you wish you resided with our brother, Hades!”
“I already do!”
Hera gasped and sat down hard on the bed as she watched Zeus storm out.
The scene changed.
Hephaestus was now floating in an open field. He heard children laughing and followed the sound. Eventually, he saw himself and his siblings playing what looked like a game of tag. Nike was “it” and was chasing after Ares.
“S-stop it N-nike! F-flying is ch-cheating!” He tried to jump over a log and stumbled, landing face-first in the dirt. Nike swooped down and smacked him on his backside.
“You’re it, Ares!” Nike laughed and flew away, her small golden wings shining in the sunlight.
Ares stood up and grumbled under his breath. “Why d-didn’t you h-help me, H-hephaestus? B-brothers are s-s-supposed to protect each oth-ther!”
Hephaestus turned to look behind him and saw his younger self sitting on the grass with Moxie who was weaving flowers into his hair and making vines lazily crawl across their laps.
“I’m busy, Ares! Besides, you can’t be the God of War if you let a girl beat you!” The younger Hephaestus winked at Moxie who covered her mouth and giggled.
Nike flew over to Hephaestus and Moxie. “I like the crown, Moxie. Can I have one, too?”
One of Moxie’s vines reached up, wrapped around Nike’s ankle, and pulled her to the ground laughing. “Of course, sister.”
Young Hephaestus winked at the girls. “C’mon, Ares. You need a girly crown too!”
The scene changed.
Hephaestus now saw himself in a training ring with Ares and two other boys who were much larger than them. Ares was at the back of the ring, away from the others, flirting with a young woman.
Rehor and Vadik. How I wish I had been stronger that day. I would tear you to shreds for this.
The two boys approached Hephaestus from either side, their training swords banging against their wooden shields. Both had a wicked grin on their faces.
“We heard that all we gotta do is knock ya down and you’ll go crying home to your mommy.” The boys laughed and moved in quicker.
Rehor dropped his training sword and pulled a dagger from his belt. “Let’s up the stakes, shall we?”
Hephaestus looked awkward standing there, training sword in one hand, shield in the other. He shuffled his feet backward trying to get away from them and not stumble. “Hey now. This is just a training session. You’re not supposed to use real weapons!” He looked over to Ares, hoping for help but feeling his heart drop when he realized Ares wasn’t even paying attention.
Vadik swung his training sword at Hephaestus, causing his shield to reflexively block. With Hephaestus’s side wide open, Rehor darted in and in quick succession, stabbed Hephaestus three times in the side, dancing out of the way as Hephaestus crumpled to the ground.
Hephaestus clutched his side, blood pouring over his fingers. The boys laughed and gave each other a high five.
“Hey, Ares! Your brother needs his nursemaid.” They laughed even louder.
Ares turned when he heard his name and when he saw his brother bleeding, hurried over to him, the young woman all but forgotten.
“What happened, Heph?” Ares leaned down to help him up. Hephaestus stumbled, unsteady on his lame foot and weakening from the blood loss. He pushed Ares away.
“Nothing you would care about, brother. Go back to your whore.” Hephaestus stumbled away as quickly as he could, the boy’s laughter following him.
Ares watched his brother leave and then turned on the boys, fury in his face. “What did you do to him?”
Rehor laughed. “Nothing that he didn’t deserve. He’s not a real God and someone needed to put him in his place.”
Hephaestus saw Ares’ young eyes flash red as he reached in and pulled on Rehor’s wrist, twisting it so the blade faced his belly and then lunged into Rehor, laughing as the blade penetrated the skin.
It took Vadik a minute to comprehend what he saw, but when he did, he jumped on Ares’s back, trying to pull him away from Rehor. Ares let out a loud war cry, stabbed Rehor one more time for good measure and then flung himself onto the dirt, pressing Vadik underneath him.
Rehor looked down at his bleeding gut and paled. He stumbled backward and fell as he watched Ares flip around and straddle Vadik.
“You will NEVER hurt my brother again!” Ares yelled as he pounded his fist wrapped around the knife into Vadik’s face. Blood shot everywhere and coated the front of Ares. Vadik stilled quickly but Ares continued to beat on him.
Then Ares rose and turned to Rehor, who immediately let loose his urine from fear. Ares stood there, angry and bloody and in full God mode.
“Never. Again.” Just as he uttered the last word, Ares flung the bloody knife at Rehor, watching it sink into his skull right between his eyes.
But…I don’t understand. Ares, why would you do that?
The scene changed.
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