Once more, the doors to the Palace swung silently open for me, but this time I took notice of what awaited me when I entered the hall. Portraits and long-lost landscapes from centuries ago hung slightly akilter, unusual in itself. I could barely remember sitting down to paint these pieces, and yet here they hung. The further I moved, the more I remembered: outdated Persian rugs, sculptures of Grecian heroes, long deified or wandering the Elysium Fields, magical trinkets from Asia and Russia, a cabinet of Italian coffee.
I stopped at the door to my workshop, hand on the doorknob. I knew what was inside, vaguely, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see it again.
“One small step for a god,” I breathed, and opened the door. The must of clay and oil hit me, and I waved a hand over my face as I went inside, turning the lights on.
My workshop was one of the larger rooms at home, made for multiple projects because I could never focus on one thing when my creative streak hit me. However, it seems my creative streak cut me cold turkey the last time I was here: unfinished pottery, clay caked on to the wheel, partial faces in busts looking into lights, half-filled canvasses, dried paints, and in the far back, three cars in the midst of being rebuilt. Two sat on hoists, the third across from them with the driver’s door semi-open.
I wanted to sit and touch everything. I paused by a small statuette of Cerberus, running my hand over its clay heads, eyes lingering on the dust that had settled on it, before heading towards the vehicles. I could barely make out what I had been doing before, so thick was the dust and grime over the body. I slipped into the driver’s seat and leaned back, taking note of the interior before my eyes fell on the steering wheel and the expanse of room before me. It would be so easy to plough through everything, without a care in the world. Destroy it all, and for what? A thrill?
“Contemplating chaos, now I know there’s something wrong with me.”
I leaned over the wheel, arms crossed. I had come here of my own will, hesitant but still. Perhaps I wasn’t as big a lost cause as I thought I was. I left the car, dusting myself off and browsed the rest of the room, taking stock of what would need to be replaced. All my brushes, more than a few tools, easels, new clay…
I don’t know how long I was in there, but the list I had when I came out was far longer than I thought it would have been.
“I wonder who the resident interior decorator is nowadays,” I muttered to myself, turning away and starting towards my office. I would need to draw up a general overview for planning, and perhaps Hestia or Zeus would be able to recommend someone trustworthy to assist me.
As I pushed open the office door, a whirl of energy swept past me and I was made aware of two immortals awaiting me inside. Dinlas and Nyx sat across from my empty desk, dressed in solid black and looking grim. Dinlas sat with his head in his hands, rubbing his temples insistently.
“Nephew, Nyx – to what do I owe this honor?”
Nyx laid her hand on Dinlas’ knee, giving him a worried look. “Hades, it’s Ate. She tricked Dinlas into turning over his keys to Tartarus to her. She used some kind of charm spell on him, as well as Calli and Ao, and then wiped their memories.”
I furrowed my brow. Ate, Ate…all those years ago, something about this goddess’ name was so familiar, but why? I scrutinized Chaos’ eldest.
“Why is that name ringing an old bell, Nyx? I feel like I should know who she is, but I cannot place her anywhere.”
“Zeus will remember,” she replied. “He drove her out of Olympus after she tricked him. Please, allow me, Hades…”
She rose to face me, and placed her hand on the side of my face. Her unexpected gesture made me flinch, but the moment we connected, memories flooded back. So I stopped resisting and watched.
The oath of Herakles: Ate, she tricked Zeus and begrudged his favorite son the opportunity to rule over men. The treachery unveiled, Zeus drove her from Mt. Olympus and cast her out. So intense was his rage that he even wiped the memory of the other Olympians to even remember she existed.
Nyx’s hand left my temple, and the scene faded from my vision. Shaking my head, I looked to my nephew. “Ate did this, then? She released the Titans upon us?”
Nyx nodded once, just as Dinlas hissed between his teeth. She was by his side in a flash, hand on his shoulder.
“What is it, amata?”
I circled to the other side of my desk as Dinlas shook his head, wincing. “This damn headache, it keeps coming in waves, it hurts like hell…”
I looked at him, he was obviously in pain. “Did these just start, Dinlas?”
He nodded and replied, “Yeah, the last few weeks. They have been almost non-stop since Nyx opened up my memories.”
I looked over at Nyx and said, “Do you think this has to do with this Ate?”
Nyx shrugged at me. “It’s very possible. She went in and muddled with his brain and his memories. Hopefully, it will pass.”
“I wish I could be more helpful, but I am struggling here as well,” I said after several minutes. “She had the key, but how did she pass Charon, the Hecatonchires, and all the other safeguards?”
“Uncle,” said Dinlas as he blinked and rubbed his eyes, “what about Clio?”
I nodded as I watched him, obviously in agony. “Can you two go see her? I need to go back to Tartarus. Something doesn’t add up here and I am going to find out exactly what it is. Keys and locks can be defeated, that’s why we have other protections. She didn’t release all the Titans just by having the key.”
Nyx continued to watch Dinlas but responded, “Of course, Hades. You should also know that it looks like she can shape-shift. She caught Dinlas with his guard down because she took my form. By the time he realized, she had him charmed and incapacitated.”
“Is this true, Dinlas?” I asked. He nodded.
“She caught me off-guard.”
“Dinlas, how did this happen?” I glanced at Nyx. “Have your feelings for Nyx clouded your senses?”
“I beg your pardon, Uncle?” he said.
“Yes, Hades, I beg your pardon?” Nyx repeated.
I looked at the two of them as they emotionally positioned themselves to protect the other. “Calm down, you two. I am just trying to figure out what happened. If what you say is true, Ate somehow found out the depth of your relationship and knew how to use that against you. I am simply trying to explore any possible clues.”
Nyx and Dinlas glanced at each other and relaxed a bit. “Of course, Hades,” replied Nyx, “you are right to make any inquiry.”
They stood and Nyx nodded to me. “We’ll be off, then. Please let us know if we can assist. Otherwise, we will be hunting Titans.” She hid a snarl as she said it, but I understood it was not aimed towards me. They were gone a few moments later.