Zeus stood behind his adopted children. There was no fear, no hesitation. Just power. The Nightgoyles at the fringes of the fighting continued to scatter. Ajax swung his mighty warhammer and crushed the horrid beasts. Perseus displayed an expertise with his swords that could only be described as epic. All of the kin of Zeus were warriors.
They were all legend.
Until they weren’t…
The wards charged forward in a blur: Zelus to the right, Kratos left, Bia center. The target, the man in the doorway, stood unmoved. In unison, the wards struck first. Red orange streaks flashed from Kratos’ fists, directed at the man; Zelus cried for strength and slammed down into the doorway; Bia, the irresistible force, rushed and exploded her wall of force at the threat.
In succession, the young gods were hurled backwards and away from the door. They flew, lifeless, and landed directly at the feet of a stunned Zeus. A purple haze of magic encapsulated each of the wards. They seemed paralyzed and caught inside a blanket of energy. Their eyes were open and frantically looking to their father for help. They were afraid. They were in pain, but made no sounds at all. They just writhed in agony in silence.
“Mother Gaia, what is this?” Zeus asked the universe.
In the air, breaking the silence, came a song. The words were old, very old. Zeus knew the language, but hadn’t spoken it in at least 3,000 years.
“No,” Zeus whispered. Shock and surprise claimed his thoughts.
The man slowly walked forward, no rush, no urgency. Draped in a dark violet orb of magical energy, this mysterious sorcerer became clear. Still, the song grew louder. It was a lament, exactly as Perseus reported it was. A song of loss. Of pain. Of anguish. The ancient words hit Zeus with a power he couldn’t identify, and it forced him to flashback in time, his mind losing its grip on the present. Louder and louder it grew in his mind; he had heard this song before.
“Orpheus,” Zeus unconsciously blurted out loud, “How?”
The mind of the King of Storms raced as he lost strength. His knees buckled, stomach churned to the point Zeus could no longer keep his legs under him. He fell to one knee, nearly falling completely.
“How are you even alive?” Zeus asked.
The man, Orpheus, grew closer. He was a poet of old, even a hero of legend, having traveled as an Argonaut. This figure of antiquity came upon Zeus and spoke to him, this time in the common tongue.
“Good to see you too, King,” he said, heavy sarcasm on the mention of the title. “Been some time. Apparently, this is the only way I could get your attention.”
Orpheus stalked around the still kneeling Zeus.
“I once tried to appeal to your compassion, to your kindness. You refused me.” Orpheus stood behind Zeus now, who had started to develop a small purple haze that was now crawling across his body. The sorcerer put a hand to the wilting shoulder of the Lord of Olympus. “If only I knew to just take from you the thing you love the most.”
Orpheus struck Zeus in the back of the head, causing him to fall flat on his face on the dusty ground.
“3,000 years is a long time to regret something. Or do you have regrets? Given your notable tales, probably not.” Orpheus continued his circular walk slowly, methodically, around Zeus, who was now fully covered in a web of dancing purple energy. It jumped and snapped into a cocoon that trapped the Lord of the Skies.
“I hope you understand the lengths I’ve gone to for you to be here. Nightgoyles are an absolute pain in the ass to negotiate with. They really are just stupid creatures. They lack nuance, subtlety.” Orpheus paused, crouching down to look at the prone Zeus and whispered, “I think a bunch of them shit in your vault. Accessible bathrooms, boss. Think about them.” The poet stood up, turned his back and walked toward the depository, his song beginning again.
“Eurydice would never have wanted this.” Zeus struggled to cough out the words.
Orpheus immediately stopped and turned back to Zeus on a dime.
“DO NOT PRESUME TO SPEAK TO ME ABOUT MY WIFE!” he screamed. A ball of violent flame grew from the right hand of the sorcerer. He lifted it high ready to cast its power down upon the vulnerable Zeus. “YOU LIED TO ME, YOU COWARD!” Orpheus threw his arm down, to release his assault when mid-swing, he was tackled to the ground.
“Father, get up!” Perseus, the King of Mycenae, bellowed. The two struggled on the ground, fists reaching the face of the caught-off-guard poet. Blow after blow connected, leaving him reeling. The assault allowed the wards, and Zeus, suddenly able to move, to rise and orient themselves. Perseus kept up the furious attack against Orpheus, keeping him occupied long enough for Bia and Kratos to join the fray. Zelus took to his father. “Lord Zeus, are you all right?”
Seeing the leader of their horde in distress, the last remaining Nightgoyles descended upon Perseus, Bia, and Kratos. Claws and teeth gnashing and scraping the Olympians, the melee became a dust storm of punches, kicks, furious shots, making it difficult to see who was winning.
“I’m fine, boy. Where is my phone?” Zeus asked.
“What, your phone? I…don’t know. Is that important right now, Father?” Zelus replied incredulously.
Zeus stood patting his pockets, looking like an old man looking for his lost reading glasses. “Yes, yes, it is…AHA! Here, found it. Go, be with your siblings. I need but a few moments.”
Zelus, confused but never able to refuse his father, turned and ran back to the brawl. Zeus took a moment to catch his breath, opened his Razr flip phone, found the one contact he needed and dialed.
“Voicemail. Motherfu…” *beep* the line opened and Zeus began immediately. “It’s your father. If you want it, it’s yours, but I need you NOW. I’m texting you the coordinates. Get here.”
Zeus hung up, texted his message and put the phone away. He focused on the battle. The tide was shifting, and his children were losing. The nightgoyles had given Orpheus the time he needed to regain composure. As the air began to fill with the song again, Zeus felt a sensation grasping for his mind, and he steeled himself and focused on resisting its beauty. He extended his right arm wide and in an instant, a five-foot-long bolt of light appeared in his hand. Tightly, he grasped the bolt, aimed directly at Orpheus and let it loose.
The bolt collided home in the wall of nightgoyles who were protecting their benefactor. They burned to ash without a word. A cloud of dust and debris hung in the air, a smell of flesh and burnt stone violating the olfactory senses of the Lord of Lightning.
Zeus readied another bolt.
When the scene settled, all the nightgoyles were either dead or soot under the boots of Zeus’ children. Perseus stood off to the right of Zeus, while the wards once again made a wedge formation in front of their father.
“You are beaten, Orpheus. Your hordes are gone, you are outnumbered, lay down your arms,” Perseus commanded to the sorcerer, what was now kneeling, face to the ground.
“Beaten? You morons, I’m just getting warmed up.” Orpheus snapped his head up, eyes now a deep and electric violet. He threw out his right arm and let loose a stream of power at the wards. Caught by an immeasurably fast rope of purple energy, the wards could not move fast enough to escape the now tightening noose. The three were immediately electrocuted and thrown casually aside. Zeus acted too late and threw his bolt. Too quick was Orpheus, who called up a shield of energy that surrounded and protected him. The force of the bolt was simply absorbed and it vanished.
Zeus stood dumbfounded, unable to move. Perseus was under no such spell and charged towards Orpheus, who now looked the King of Storms directly in the eye, winked, and turned towards the onrushing King. What sounded like a gun echoed throughout the valley, yet it wasn’t any mortal weapon, it was the bolt of lightning Zeus threw. Its energy redirected somehow and struck Perseus, favored son of Zeus, square in the chest. The resulting discharge launched him over a hundred feet away.
Silence hung over the battlefield like a tangible cloud. All life had been drained from the area, Zeus lost in a daze. He just saw his son be hurled away by a bolt of power that wasn’t meant for him. How was this happening? This was not the same Orpheus who came to him 3,000 years ago, was it? He was but a bard, a storyteller. Rumors of his demise were widely reported, but Zeus had no need to ever look for a body. He didn’t care. It was below him to be concerned about trivial things like that. “Where did you get this power from?” Zeus thought, the one question allowed to sneak through his speeding mind.
“How many more of your bastards do I need to kill before you give me what was promised?”