“As I said, it was a long journey. When they finally got to Hippolyta’s lands, she was immediately smitten with Theseus and hosted a week-long party for the men. During this week, Alcaeus told Hippolyta about his madness, how he killed his family, and how he was now doing labors to atone for the murders. Being Ares’s daughter, Hippolyta wasn’t immediately swayed by Alcaeus’s plight. She initially enjoyed his tales of woe. She enjoyed it so much that she laughed. She laughed so hard, in fact, that tears covered the table below her.”

Nike’s eyes widened. “Now that’s a laugh.”

“But, eventually, she saw that Theseus wasn’t laughing and looked upset by her finding humor in what Alceaus said. By this time, she had fallen madly in love with Theseus and wanted to please him, but she loved being the Queen of the Amazons too. And she was queen long before she met Theseus. She had a dilemma before her and told the men to give her another week to decide so she could pray to the gods for guidance. They agreed and continued celebrating while Hippolyta prayed to her father for guidance.” 

Dinlas leaned forward. “I’m confused. So the belt made her queen?”

Nike answered him. “It’s like a crown and had special powers imbued by Ares.”

“Oh. Well, Dad must have been ticked off.”

“Apparently not ticked off enough, Dinlas. After a week of sacrificing. She came back to Theseus and told him she would give Alcaeus her belt if Theseus agreed to marry her. I think you can see where this is going.” I paused for another drink of my tea. “He, of course, agreed, and they set off for one of her ships.”

“Wait, I’m still confused. Where is it going?”

“Theseus was taking her back to his home. She could no longer be queen without her belt. Frankly, I never understood why she gave up her power for a man.” I looked at my husband, passed out on the floor, and just shook my head. “Now, I couldn’t let this be easy for Alcaeus, so before the ships sailed, I went down and disguised myself as one of the Amazons. I started whispering seeds of discord. I let the women think that Alcaeus and his men were kidnapping their queen. The other women couldn’t let this happen. Under cover of the night, they attacked Alcaeus and his men. When Alcaeus saw the women, he thought ‌Hippolyta had deceived them and was planning on treachery all along. He drug Hippolyta from Theseus’s arms to his front lines.”

“Oh, now it’s getting good.” Dinlas grinned and held his hand out to Nike for a high five. 

“He called out to the women, and when he saw they all had eyes on him, slit Hippolyta’s throat and stabbed her in the stomach and chest numerous times. He threw Hippolyta’s body onto the ground and ordered his men to their ships. The women were in shock and didn’t move as the men sailed away.”

Nike had started to raise her hand to meet Dinlas but stopped and frowned. “That’s not nice.”

“No, it wasn’t, little one. I was so saddened by the idea of Hippolyta’s death that I had to save her. The women brought her to the temple, and I healed her. I couldn’t stay any longer, but at least I was able to do this little thing for Ares. We also didn’t tell anyone that she survived, so all the stories have her dying in that fight.”

“That was a nice thing to do, Lady Hera. Ares knew she was alive, though, right?”

“He did.” I smiled at Nike and saw her shoulders relax. “The next labor was boring and certainly wasn’t my idea. Eurystheus told Alcaeus to bring him the cattle of Geryon. Now, if you’re not familiar with Geryon, let me remind you what a fearsome beast he was supposed to be. Geryon was Medusa’s grandson and the nephew of Pegasus, who lived on the island of Erytheia. I wasn’t convinced of his ability to thwart Alcaeus, so I convinced Eurystheus the labor must include Geryon’s complete herd in order to count.”

“Geeze. Why did Eurystheus need all those stupid animals?” Dinlas just shook his head.

“The bigger the herd, the bigger the man, I suppose.” I winked at Moxie as she laughed. “Along the way, Alcaeus was crossing a desert and decided to shoot arrows at the sun because it was making him too hot. I mean, really. Can you believe the audacity of him?” 

“What an idiot. Apollo must have been cracking up.” Nike laughed.

“I’m sure he was. I was bored, though, so I didn’t really pay much attention to Alcaeus’s journey there. Once he got to Erytheia, he was confronted by the two-headed dog, Orthrus. Now, Orthrus is Cerberus’s brother, so you know he wasn’t the kind of dog who rolled over looking for tummy scratches.”

Nike yawned and stretched, trying to find a more comfortable position.

“This sounds epic. I bet you weren’t worried, Mamá” Moxie moved closer and let Nike snuggle up next to her.

“I was not, Moxie-mou, because Orthrus was as fierce as his brother and maybe even just a touch meaner and should have easily killed Alcaeus. But Alcaeus was riding the high of his self-importance and believing himself better than everyone. He swung his olive-wood club. The gods favored Alcaeus, and his blow killed Orthrus instantly.” 

Nike frowned. “That wasn’t very nice of him. Who doesn’t like dogs? Everyone likes dogs.”

Dinlas mumbled. “What a douche. Only sociopaths hurt dogs.”

“Hearing the death wail of Orthrus, the herdsman, Eurytion came rushing out to save him. Alcaeus was lying in wait and swung at the herdsman before Eurytion had a chance to react. Eurytion shook the ground as he fell, alerting Geryon to the attack.”

Dinlas sat up straighter. “Now we’ll get some action. That giant is going to spread Alcaeus’s guts all over the island.”

“That’s definitely what you would expect from someone as fierce as Geryon. He rushed out with three shields and three spears, wearing three helmets. He attacked Alcaeus with all the ferocity in his body.” I paused and took a deep breath while I looked at the young gods around me. I looked down at my drunken husband again, nudging his leg with the point of my shoe, rolling my eyes when there was no response but a snore. I continued my story. 

“It was about this time that I brought my attention back to Alcaeus’s plight, and just as I was sure his life was over, Alcaeus loosed an arrow with such force it had to be guided by Artemis. I wasn’t worried, though, because you can’t kill Geryon with an ordinary arrow. Alcaeus’s arrow was poisonous, covered in hydra blood. Geryon’s head snapped backward with the force of the arrow, pulling his large body with it.” 

Moxie growled. “I’m really tiring of this idiot always coming out on top.”

Everyone nodded their agreement. I looked at their faces, proud of their fierceness and camaraderie. They would need it in this modern world.

“What did you do next, Lady Hera?” Nike anxiously leaned forward.

I smiled and stretched. “Let’s order some lunch before I continue. I need to move around a bit. My legs are getting a little numb.” I looked down at my husband and sighed. “And I need to get the love of my life off of this floor and into bed. Shall we meet back here in an hour?”

Everyone nodded and got up, stretching. I pulled out my phone and texted my assistant, Aphaid, and Ares, asking them to meet me in the break room. I was going to need help to get this man off of the floor.

Hera (CJ Landry)
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