I was in my office, and Eleni was helping me with the new computers and software when I felt it. It was a dark feeling that gripped me for a moment, then passed on. A wave, a ripple, but more than a nuance that came and went quickly. I wiped my brow as it went over and easily brushed it aside as something inconsequential. Calli and Ao felt it as well, because they lifted their heads momentarily, but same as I, it was fleeting and they ignored it.
No one ignored what happened next. Several minutes later, an inhuman shriek pierced the entire building and shattered windows as well as equipment from the top floor to the bottom. The lights flickered, went out, then slowly came back on as multiple backup generators kicked on and restored power floor by floor.
Both wolves sprang to their feet as well as Eleni, who reached for the revolver on her hip. “What in the world was that?” she exclaimed as she looked back at me. I shrugged and opened the office door to look out. The bank of computer screens that showed security camera footage was black and lifeless. Eleni joined me in the reception area. Desks and chairs were thrown around, and several people were picking themselves up and shaking their heads.
I started to answer Eleni when I heard the pop of a deity arriving. I turned to look and couldn’t believe my eyes, as a woman I hadn’t seen in a thousand years, stood before me covered in blood.
“Aunt Enyo?” I said as I walked toward her. My father’s sister, the Goddess of War and Strife. She loved to breed chaos and lived for bloodshed.
“Dinlas,” she said, “you’re needed.”
I ignored her statement and challenged her. “Did you do this? Is this your work?” as I waved my hand at the destruction all around us.
She shook her head. “Don’t be ridiculous, Mother needs you, get up to her office at once. Is there anyone who can secure the building downstairs?”
“From what? What is happening?”
“Just get up there.”
I hesitated, then looked at Eleni. “Take the girls and get down to the lobby. Call for backup and find out what’s happening.” I turned back to Enyo. “Are you coming with?”
She shook her head and replied cryptically, “I have to check on the others.” With a pop, she was gone.
Eleni looked at me again and I nodded for her to go. Enyo wasn’t always the most reliable, her love of war and bloodshed is renowned. Still, something in her voice seemed odd. I closed my eyes and popped into Nana Hera’s outer office.
It was, in a phrase, a complete disaster. Broken glass, furniture splintered beyond recognition, and drywall chunks created a chilling mosaic that littered the floor and the halls. I’d found the epicenter of the blast, no doubt. The door to her inner office was gone, along with much of the wall. That room was more, if possible, of a shambles then the one I stood in. I peered into it and lying there on the floor, was a bloodied body with the remnant of sheet or a blanket haphazardly thrown across it. Blood was all over the carpet and whoever this was, they appeared dead. I approached but was startled when, what I thought was the discarded bloody blanket, suddenly moved. It was a person as well and they raised their head at my approach. A woman, she seemed small and frail next to the man she was draped over. She locked eyes with me and I froze, it simply wouldn’t register when I saw her face.
“Na-Nana,” I stuttered in a whisper as I knelt down. I had to kneel, it wasn’t by choice, my body felt for a moment like it was shutting down. If this was Hera, then that could only mean one thing. The corpse on the floor was Zeus.
“Nana,’ I said again as I found my voice, “what happened? Are you hurt? Did Enyo do this?”
Hera ignored my questions and pleaded, “Help him, Dinlas. You have to help him.”
I looked down at Grandpa again. He looked like he had been fed through a wood chipper, then the pieces set on fire afterwards. I looked back at her; she was covered in blood.
“Nana, are you hurt?” I asked again. She sat up and shook her head. When she wiped her arm across her forehead, more blood smeared everywhere.
“Enyo saved him. Please, you have to help him…fix him. You have to…” Here her voice trailed off as she stared at his pale face.
I reached out and laid a hand on his face and his heart. Despite his wrecked appearance, there was a flicker of life in him. “Unbelievable,” I murmured.
What? What is it?” she asked as she reached out and touched his face as well hoping to feel something.
“Nana, please. I need room to work. Do you have a first aid kit? Something? Anything? I need to bandage these wounds.”
Hera shook her head and replied, “I- I don’t know, but I’m not leaving him. Use something else. I can’t, I just can’t leave him.”
She was in shock, so I nodded and moved my hands down his body. He was covered in wounds and his torso was more stabbed than not. Someone had gleefully ripped him apart and practically disemboweled him. I couldn’t help but think as I worked how he must’ve felt several months ago when he saw me in such condition.
“Nana, please,” I said again as I maneuvered around his body. “I need you to move so I can work.” I slid my hands down his legs as I felt for more wounds or burns.
Nana flared up this time. “I told you I am not leaving him,” she warned with her eyes flashing and her voice low.
Then, in my frustration, and for only the second time ever in my immortal life, I raised my voice at the only woman who ever was a mother to me.
“Hera! Get out of the way so I can try to save him.” Her eyes narrowed at my tone and she hissed back at me like a snake. We stared at each other for a moment, then I added, much softer, “Please, Nana, I love him, too. Let me work.”
She seemed to come to her senses and slid back without a word so I could freely access him. I shrugged my shoulders and tore my own shirt off, watching as buttons flew everywhere. Nana needed a task, so I would give her one.
“Here,” I said as I handed her the ragged garment. “Rip this into strips and be ready when I need them.”
She nodded and snatched the shirt from me, clearly glad to be helping. I turned to face Zeus again and the only sound in the room was our breathing and the frenzied ripping of fabric.
His wounds were horrific. I placed a hand over his heart; it was weak and erratic. I placed my other hand over my own heart and pushed energy into his body. He shifted, groaned, and many of his wounds bled anew. One by one, I started mending them, taking the worst of them first. Each one I tended as I whispered spells and incantations that Asclepius taught me all those years ago. Every so often I would reach back and take a strip of cloth from Nana to bind or pack a wound before I moved on to another. My hands slid over his body. I worked his innards back into the proper places, then blessed the wounds and spoke the healing words. He only moved the one time and Nana was clearly worried about his unresponsiveness.
“That’s the last strip,” she said as she handed me the last piece of my shirt for a gouging laceration on his neck. I nodded, but kept murmuring the magic that was holding him together.
“What now?” she interrupted after a minute. She was simply incapable of sitting still and not helping.
I looked up at her from my work. She was an absolute mess. This woman. This goddess was every bit as much of a stalwart fixture in my life as Uncle Hades ever was. The Queen of Olympus, she demanded respect and in return she gave love, often tough love, to all her family. Goddess of Marriage, Goddess of Birth, Goddess of Family…the list went on and on of mortals who worshipped her and gave her tribute. She had always been an unbreakable force and my immovable bedrock, for many others as well. Now she kneeled over her king’s lifeless body, completely broken.
She looked up at me expectantly.
“Don’t be angry at me for asking, but do you love him with all your heart?”
Her face became stern for a moment, but then softened as she answered, “Yes, Dinlas. Of course I do. What kind of question is that?”
“And he? Does he still love you the same?”
She looked perplexed, but nodded as she wiped a tear off her cheek.
“Then you can help me,” I continued. “Lie next to him, you will not hurt him. Talk to him and let him know you’re here. Tell him of your love, of the things you have shared in the past, and all the things you wish to share in the future. He can hear you, even if it doesn’t seem so right now.”
Nana hesitated for a second, then leaned down next to him on her side. After a moment, she put her lips to his bloody ear and began whispering. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, nor did I want to know. I went back to his wounds. After a brief search, I found more cloth for bindings and worked to put him back together as Nana continued to lie next to him. She whispered and murmured non-stop, pausing once in a while only to wipe a tear or kiss the side of his face.
So it went for quite some time. Finally, I sat back on my heels and wiped my forehead. Blood was everywhere on the floor, the table, his clothing, and the both of us. I watched the intermittent rise and fall of his chest as I took my hands off him. This was the moment to see if he could breathe on his own. I glanced at Nana; she was still lying next to him whispering. As I watched, she brushed her hand across the side of his head and through his hair.
“Nana,” I said as I pointed at his chest, “he’s doing it. He’s breathing on his own.” She cut her eyes at me and half-smiled.
It was several more minutes before the popping of deities teleporting in let us know that reinforcements arrived. So they found us, with me fussing over his last physical wounds while she whispered her loving words and held his spirit in place.
I looked over at her. She glanced at me again and this time smiled wider when I nodded to her.
“We did it,” I murmured for her benefit. “We did it together.”