Two days after Circe’s disappearance, my brother and I stand in front of my parents. My mother stands, arms folded, giving orders. My father sits in the background, listening, content to be dominated by her for now. He is the most powerful of us, of course, but he will only remind us if he needs to.
“Did you upset Circe?”
“No, I didn’t do anything.”
“Well, we have not been able to contact her since your meeting. It was bad enough that I had to hear about Mnemosyne from you. Now she ignores us? Can you get along with nobody?”
Ares comes to my defence. “Mother, that is unfair. You know how Circe can be. After all, she once called me a vulgar, idiotic child.”
All in the room immediately find interesting things to turn and look at on the walls.
My mother drops the subject. “You will go and see Mnemosyne in Tartarus. Hades, tell them.”
Hades appears in the room and stands beside my mother. He does not appear happy, and I sense it is more than simple discomfort at being around other gods, which is likely unusual for him. “I will allow access to her. You will all come to the bank of the Styx, and Charon will bring you to me.”
All of us? I look at my mother. She tilts her head, daring me to ask the question. I decide to wait for her to speak.
As Hades sits down, my mother says, “The two of you will go together. You will take Circe and also Clio.”
Ares becomes animated. “Clio? You cannot ask her to go!”
“I can. And I have.”
“Knows her place and will do her duty, as will you! Clio is Mnemosyne’s daughter. She may be able to help us.”
Ares shakes his head and fumes while my mother addresses us again. “Mnemosyne is powerful. Hades suggested Nemesis join you—”
Ares explodes again. “Nemesis? I am not going if Nemesis is going to be there!”
A guilty conscience is a terrible thing. I turn to him. “That is rather rude, isn’t it, brother?”
“I don’t care. I’m not going if she is going to be there. Mnemosyne, Circe, and Nemesis all searching through my mind? No, thank you.”
My mother glares at him and raises her voice as she continues. “—but I felt that Nemesis might make some of you nervous, and so Hades shall join you instead. You will all remember that you are in his dominion and will not embarrass me.”
Ares sighs and manages to remain silent.
“Why can’t Moxie and Nike go?” I ask.
“Because it isn’t a day trip, Hephaestus! I’m not booking a bus!”
A fair point. My mother appears annoyed and cannot stop herself from adding, “And between the two of you, the options are rather limited as there are those who would rather not work with one or the other of you!”
Hades does not look happy. “Does Hades think this is a good idea?” I ask.
He shifts in his seat. “I do have concerns that—”
My mother interrupts, “There was a discussion, and now there is an agreement.”
I decide not to ask any more questions if I can avoid it.
The door swings open, and Circe enters, looking around the room with vague interest.
My mother is unamused. “Where have you been?”
Circe stands beside us and nods in greeting to my father and Hades before answering my mother. “Here and there. I needed some time to recover and think about some things.”
I decide to update her. “We are going to the Underworld to see Mnemosyne.”
My mother’s patience is wearing thin. “How could you know that?”
“Why else would I be here?”
“And because you viewed the future?”
Circe shrugs. “Well, it’s fairly easy to see locations. Anyway, how else am I supposed to know how to dress appropriately?”
“Now that you are here, do you wish to add anything to what Hephaestus has told me about Mnemosyne?”
“Well, I do not know what he has told you, but I will say that what was done to him will be very difficult to undo. Whoever did this, it has been in place for a very long time. Reversing it will not be a simple process.”
“Thank you for that insight.”
Circe adjusts her dress and stands up straight. She speaks casually but firmly. “You may have to accept that he will never love you, Hera.”
Silence descends. Circe pretends not to notice my mother attempting to control her anger. Why would she say such a thing? Is it some kind of test? If so, my mother does not rise to it.
“Who did this? Mnemosyne alone?”
“I don’t think so. How could she arrange all of this from Tartarus? We will find out.”
My mother points her finger at Circe. “You will do anything necessary to obtain that information. Is that clear?”
Circe appears unconcerned. She does not seem to fear my mother. “Oh yes, quite clear. Tell me, what role did Trismegistus play in this?”
“Trismegistus? What do you know of him?”
“He is competent. I find it hard to believe he would act against Hephaestus.”
“We believe he was manipulated. However, he appears to have no memory of it. Or anything much at all.”
“Do you believe that could also have been Mnemosyne?”
Circe nods. “She would certainly be useful for that type of thing.”
“Do you intend to let him live?”
My mother has clearly had enough of this conversation. “Concern yourself with your own affairs for now.”
Circe simply smiles and looks at me expectantly.
I do not know what information we will be able to obtain from Mnemosyne. My suspicion is that we are going to see her because nobody has a better idea of how to proceed, but I do not know if my feelings can be changed. I feel little desire to spend more time around my mother and none to spend time in the Underworld with Ares. How much is due to these new, apparently false, memories? I cannot say. I try to remember how I felt about my family long ago before this began, but I cannot be sure what is real and what is not.
I turn to my mother. “When do we leave?”
“Tomorrow. Hades will make the necessary preparations. You will meet him in the morning.”
I nod because there is nothing more to say.