I walked down the hall and knocked on Dad’s door. A gruff “Enter” sounded from the other side, and I opened the door and walked in. He was standing by the windows, looking out over the city. I closed the door and went over to join him. “Did you learn anything at the forge?” he asked me, getting down to business.
I gave him a recap of what I had seen and heard, then laid out my plans regarding security. He nodded in agreement, but didn’t say anything. After a few minutes of silence, I finally said, “Why did you call me here?”
Dad walked over to his desk, picked up a piece of paper, and held it out to me. “This was on my desk when I arrived earlier today.”
Taking the paper from him, I scanned it, my eyes widening at the vitriol on the page. “This is unbelievable,” I said, shaking my head. “Was there anything written on the envelope?”
He shook his head. “Just my name.”
I reread the words again. The gist of it was that by tomorrow morning, someone close to Dad would be dead. The only way to prevent this from happening was if the Gods left and never returned. Our kind wasn’t welcome here among the mortals anymore. “What are you going to do?”
“I’ve never run from a fight before, and I certainly do not intend to start now,” he snapped.
“Then what do you want from me?”
“I have a strong feeling that this is tied into whatever is going on at the forge houses. But without Hephaestus here to keep an eye on the place, there isn’t much I can do.”
“Do you know when he is coming back?”
“He’s decided to take an extended vacation. Aphrodite’s return has disturbed him more than he cares to admit. He wants to go off by himself and think things through. Hell of a time for him to take off, when we have all these new businesses we need to open, construction on the building here that still needs to be carried out, not to mention general maintenance.”
“Sounds to me like you need to find someone to take over things for him temporarily until he comes back.”
“I have come to the same conclusion,” Dad replied. “You’ll start immediately.”
“Wait…what?” I stammered. “Are you nuts? I don’t know anything about construction. It’s definitely not a good idea to let me anywhere near fire. Do you remember what happened to the vineyards during the Panathenaia in 1752? I burned them to the ground while trying to build a bonfire! No, this is a very bad idea, Dad. Get someone else to do it. Hades would be perfect for the job. He’s used to extremely hot temperatures.”
Dad put his hand on my shoulder. “Son, there is no one else. Whatever is going on at the forge is tied to this note. I need you to find out who is doing this and put a stop to it, before someone dies. I won’t have someone killed because of me, not like this.”
Seeing the determined look in his eyes, I knew it was pointless to argue. “All right, Dad. I’ll do it. There are some good men in my office; I’ll recruit a couple of them to help me out. I’m also going to do a background check on the men already working there.”
“Your brother vetted them before he hired them.”
“My people will do a more thorough background check, Dad. They’ll dig so deep, they’ll know how much silver is in their fillings. If there’s something to dig up, they’ll find it.”
“Whatever you’re going to do it, do it quickly, Ares,” my father said with a serious look on his face.
“Are you going to warn the others?” I asked him. “At least give them a head’s up so they can arm themselves.”
“I don’t want to cause a panic, but I don’t want anyone to be unprepared in case of an attack.”
“There’s your answer,” I replied. “I’ll post some extra security around the building.”
“Good luck, Ares,” Dad said, shaking my hand. “Keep me posted.”
I assured him I would before I left his office. As I closed his office door, I thought about all the work Hephaestus did around the OA complex.
Great. The God of War is now the handyman.
This wasn’t going to end well for me.