The Right Time and Place
The town was in chaos. Not that that was anything unusual, where ever Hercules went he found the same rampaging chaos, no control, anywhere! This time Hercules vowed to find out what was going on! He looked for Ares' temple as soon as he entered the town. He could feel the desire to get angry with these fools, these victims of the God's whims. Then he realised that he knew that rage. It had a specific cause. The last time he had felt it Ares had lost his powers. Yet, this was worse. Just about everyone seemed to be bent of self destruction.
Hercules wandered around until he located the exact temple he had been looking for, now he'd get some answers. He'd make sure he would get answers. He was angry enough to beat the answers from his brother.
He swept the alter clear of offerings and smashed the breakable items into tiny pieces, each little bit shone in the bright sunlight pouring through the decorated glass of the temples windows. Picking up the less breakable items he threw them at those beautiful windows and revelled in the joy of complete destruction.
"Ares!" He screamed, then listened. "Ares!" He screamed again. "Ares, show yourself!" He threw more of the offerings around.
He drew a deep ragged breath into air starved lungs, and waited, and waited. For nothing to happen.
"Discord! Ares!" He screamed, this time he destroyed the collected weapons in that temple. "Show yourselves!" Still nothing, his suspicions were maybe going to be proven true.
Hercules tried a different tack. Someone who maybe could supply the answers he needed. Ares and Discord were maybe no longer Gods, but there were plenty other's to choose from. Though which one to call on, that was a dilemma! Finally he chose his nephew Cupid, he was always willing to talk to him.
"Cupid!" he cried out and received no answer.
After he had waited a while he sat down on Ares' throne, and as he slid forwards on the shiny wood he leaned over to one side and hooked a leg over the side to stop himself from falling off. For a second or two he wondered if that was why Ares sat like that?
"Dite!" He shouted out. And once more waited to see if he would be answered.
This time he was answered but not in the manner that he expected. This time it was his father that turned up.
"Have you finished ruining this temple and screaming on people?" Zeus knocked Hercules' leg off the arm of Ares; throne and forced his youngest son to get off that ornate seat.
"I want to know what Ares and Discord think they're doing, the people are going insane, no one can control themselves. Look at the world out there!" Hercules said.
"But isn't that exactly what you always wanted? Ares and Discord are leaving the world to its own devices and guess what? The mortals are even more destructive than they are. Anyway, things will get back to normal tomorrow, hopefully, or maybe not. Look, tidy up this mess and keep out of Ares' way!" And with that Zeus made to disappear, but had his hand held in place by Hercules.
"What is going on here? Why are Ares and Discord ignoring their duties? What's going on father, even Cupid and Dite didn't respond!"
"It's the time of year, oh son, there is so much you don't know, so much you wouldn't understand even if we told you. Leave it, just leave it, okay?" Zeus broke free from his Demi-God son's hand.
"If I don't understand it's because no one ever tells me anything." Hercules took a deep steadying breath. "What is going on? What do you mean the time of year? It's the end of Autumn, winter is on our door step and Persephone will be with Hades soon. What else is there?"
"It's Samhaine." Zeus whispered.
"It's what? Sa what?" Hercules quizzed his father.
"It's pronounced Sah-wayn. It's just one of the many names for this time, this festival. The vale that separates the dead from the living is at its thinnest. And those that are dead can give comfort to those that are left behind. Oh, some of these idiotic one God is enough people think it's all about the dead haunting the living, bringing fear and pain and sorrow. What do they know? It's one of Hades' busiest times, he has all these spirits to deliver here and there. Comfort sought and comfort given. Ares, Discord and
Cupid have a boon to ask Hades this year and are all preparing for it. They can't do anything but make ready."
"A boon? What boon?" Hercules looked at his father, but his eyes were defocused, as if he was looking into a distant vision. "And why is Cupid with them?"
"I can see this will take a long time." Zeus sighed, produced two comfortable seats and sat, indicating the second one to Hercules and waited until his son sat. "Many years, centuries ago, Ares and Discord were very much in love, as Gods are want to be. They were so in love they created a new God, a product of that union and he was Strife. With me so far?" Zeus asked somewhat sarcastically.
"Strife was Ares' son?" Hercules thought on that for a moment, and this is the time when the living can be with the dead? "And they want to visit with their son? So what has Cupid to do with this..wait, isn't Cupid Strife's half brother?"
"Yes he is. And he was also Strife's lover. Now let me finish what I'm trying to say?" Zeus glared at Hercules. He would much rather be in Hades' palace standing with his son and daughter, lending what support he could. "So, in a nutshell Ares and Discord and Cupid are going to petition Hades for the return of Strife. This is the one time of the year that Hades can release a soul from the Underworld without the usual hassles and trouble.
"They want him back?" Hercules was amazed, and let his surprise show.
"See, I told you you simply wouldn't understand!" Zeus shouted at him, waving a finger at his troublesome son.
"If Hades can return a child, a dead soul why should he return Strife, why not my children?" Hercules was angry, jealous, willing to do whatever battle might be necessary to secure the return of his children.
"Why your children? Why not Ares' children? The ones you yourself have killed? Why shouldn't Ares and Eris have their son back?" As Zeus shouted at Hercules his son tried to rise. "No, you are going no where!" Zeus stood. "I on the other hand have another place I should be. I promised your brother I would be there to support them. You, tidy up this mess." Zeus vanished leaving a confused Hercules behind him.
Had he been unfair? Why shouldn't Ares and Discord plead to have their son returned to them? Why shouldn't he be allowed to have his sons and daughter returned to him? He would love to have his family back with him, they could walk in the sun, run, play. Live together as a family should. They would be with him, he would be with them, always.
No more helping people, for who would look after his children? He would be a farmer again. Just like before. And more bored than ever before, for there would be no Deianeira there with him. He would have to plead for the return of his wife, his sons, his daughter and then he could be content.
But which wife? Which children?
The family that Hera had murdered or the one that he had murdered? And like wise which of his children?
So he would plead with Hades for the return of two wives all his sons and daughter. And how would he look at them? Knowing he only asked for his first wife and family because he felt guilty for the very existence of his second family! That was eleven lives he wanted back, and Ares wanted one life. One child, not all the children that he himself had killed over the year. Just the son his brother and sister had created with their once upon a time love.
If he were Hades?
One soul or eleven?
He cleaned up the mess he created, there was nothing he could do about the shattered windows however. But the rest of the temple was once more clean and tidy. By the time he finished it was dark outside and the temple torches had lit themselves. He sat on one of the chairs Zeus had created and thought about his day. Wondered if his brother had been lucky? Had he been granted his son back?
Looking up at the disturbance of the otherwise still air, he saw Ares and Discord appearing before him. Their faces were as hard to read as ever. Hesitantly Hercules stood, stepped towards them.
"Well, were you successful?" He asked, some how he held his breath catch in his throat, waiting for their answer. Though before he got an answer the air moved once more and Cupid appeared. Then Zeus. "How did it go?" Hercules asked again.
"You would care?" Ares asked him.
"Yes I would. This is your son we're talking about. My nephew, family is family Ares; you, me, Discord, Strife, Cupid whatever, whomever we are family. And family should support one another." Even to his own ears he sound so pious, it nauseated him. "That's such shit! Why shouldn't you have your son back? So what happened?"
"We sit and wait and see." Ares looked at the shattered windows and made them whole, he looked at the empty alter and filled it with food and drink, he looked at the two extra chairs and made two more. "We might as well be comfortable while we wait." So saying he sat down.
Towards dawn, Discord and Zeus had fallen asleep. Curled together on a couch, father and daughter slept soundly. Exhausted by the day's stresses and strains. Cupid and Ares sat together and talked, Hercules kept his own vigil, listening to father and son talk, the occasional laugh, the occasional cry. Then he realised they were talking about Strife. He got up from his seat, stretched his cramped legs and walked to the doors of Ares' temple. He opened one slowly and took one step out into the crisp morning air.
There he was greeted by an oh so familiar shimmering as the air distorted and Hades and Strife stepped out of thin air.
"You decided! Strife, welcome back!" Hercules greeted his nephew. Then hugged him reasuring himself that his nephew was indeed alive.
"Unk?" Strife quizzed Hercules. Trying to break free from that hug, eventually he gave in and hugged back. At least it had been a warm welcome back. Even if his uncle was showing signs of insanity.
"Your f.. mother and the rest of us have been waiting, go on, go see them!" He pushed the door wider and stepped to one side as Strife entered the temple.
"Strife!" The delight in his brother's voice told Hercules that Ares had seen his son. Hercules wiped a tear from his cheek.
"That was ... well .. generous. Not like your usual style where Ares is concerned?" Hades pointed out in his normal, blunt style.
"Well, I got thinking." Hercules shrugged. "I don't have the right to oppose any decision you would make, or any request he would ask of you. Well, you never know, one day it'll be the right time and place for me and Ares would sit that vigil with me!"
"Who else would you expect to be there?" A voice spoke from directly behind the hero. Turning he saw his happy brother. "Strife has woken his mother, spoken to his grandfather, oh, and me. So he's off home with Cupid now. Anyone want to celebrate?" Ares grinned. Hades grinned and nodded his head, and as he watched both Gods walk back into the temple Hercules laughed and followed them.
"Well, the world did seem kinda dull with out him around anyway!" He muttered to himself, and took a last look round the now peaceful again town before he closed the door against the day.
Shamenka's Samhaine blessing to you all!
As this year ends and the next year begins;
Remember all those that have gone,
And ready a place in your hearts for those yet to come.
Gild your hearts with Elder branches,
Make fast a welcome for comforting spirits,
And rejoice in all new beginnings.