what would suffice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire 
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice, 
I think I know enough of hate 
To say that for destruction ice 
Is also great 
And would suffice.

      [Fire and Ice - Robert Frost]


Part 1: In which the Queen of the Gods has Intimations of Really Bad Things to Come

"You won't release him?" Eris whispered hoarsely.

"No, Discord! That giggling idiot of a troublemaker stays! He screwed up once too often, and by the Fates, he can pay the price!" Zeus snarled at the goddess kneeling before him. "He's there to stay!"

Hera drew in breath to protest and he flung out a hand and a glare to silence her. It wasn't that which stilled the Queen of the Gods however. It was the way her tempestuous daughter refrained from screaming in outrage, as was her wont. Instead, she tilted her head and gave her father a long, considering look from cool dark eyes - characteristic of her twin brother in one of his planning moods, but highly uncharacteristic of the chaotic war goddess.

Then she smiled. Not her "Sweetie, Discord is gonna chew you up, twist your bones into a knot like a cherry-stalk, then spit you out and enjoy every second of it" smile. Nor her "Discord is about to go orbital around Planet Psycho and nuke anything in the atmosphere that moves" smile. Or even her fortunately rare "Discord has a nasty sneaky little plan that will leave you deathly allergic to something or someone for the rest of your natural life" smile.

No, this was a calm, rational, even slightly sweet smile of acceptance.

"As you wish, Lord Zeus." the Goddess of Discord stood and bowed, "Mother." she nodded to Hera, then vanished in a miasma of purple sparkles.

"Ha! Well, that went better than I'd hoped!" Zeus slapped the arm of his chair, then rose, making his way to the doorway "The girl's finally learning to respect my wishes."

Hera stared at his departing back in disbelief, rendered speechless yet once more by her husband's blindness. He wouldn't change his mind - that jackass Hercules hadn't gotten his stubbornness from his mother - and she knew no amount of pleading on her own part would help. But didn't he realize he had just denied his own daughter the one thing in the world she wanted the most? Had in fact insulted and belittled the only person she possibly loved more than her twin? And for no reason other than a dislike of the boy because he didn't smarm over him like his other grandchildren did.

With a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, Hera remembered the way Eris had smiled.

Too calmly.

Too sweetly.

Too obediently, even.

None of them qualities she associated with her beloved, but ferocious, daughter.

Hera also remembered what had happened the last time another deity had taken something Eris loved and wanted. Even now, centuries later, mortal poets sang epics of that war. The repercussions still echoed around Olympus with battle lines and alliances that lasted from the conflict. However most had foolishly forgotten who instigated that debacle, and why.

Perhaps she should speak to Ares, though in truth he was as devastated as Eris by Strifeís murder. He also wanted him back and had ranted and raged at Hades to no avail. But his anger and outspoken anguish were understandable, recognizable quantities. Eris's quiet acceptance of her son's death-sentence was not.

Hera truly dreaded what her daughter was planning now.



Part 2: In which the Goddess of Discord Decides to Do Really Bad Things


*"He's there to stay! He's there to stay! He's there to stay! He's there to stay! He's there to stay! He's there to stay!"*

Huddled on the ground beside the cold black marble alter, Eris bit through her lip, the sharp pain and explosion of salty-sweet blood in her mouth drowning her rising desire to scream. Scream and scream and scream, until every pillar and wall in Olympus cracked and broke and crashed and splintered to the ground in jagged torn pieces. Like her heart.

No, she wasn't the greatest mother in the world. She knew that. But when she'd fallen into pain and despair and psychotic rage, she'd had instinct enough to give her beloved baby to the one person she trusted to cherish and raise him properly.

No, she hadn't seen too much of him in those brief years that godlings spent growing up. But those times they'd had together had been light and sweet and filled with laughter. They'd been happy, her little family - her and Ares and Strife.

Yes, in public and under the eyes of mortals, they were the ultimate dysfunctional family. But that was a masquerade brought about through political expediency and to a certain extent, a black sense of humor. In private it was a different story - in fact her little 'family' had even grown bigger over the last few years, expanding to include members of the House of Love. She'd always liked Cupid, once you got past the dumb blonde stereotype he liked to play. And Bliss was a sweetheart through and through. She'd even started to enjoy having 'Dite around again, now that she'd finally forgiven her. Doing 'girl stuff' she hadn't done or wanted to do for decades. And 'Dite no longer underestimated her.

But her father did.

The whirling cacophony that was usually Eris's mind slowed and calmed to stillness. She leaned back against the altar and thought.

Like too many other gods, and mortals, and beings of immortal or magical nature, her father mistook her for her title. Sometimes she didnít think he even remembered her given name.

She was The Goddess of Discord.

Of Disputes and Arguments and Disagreements.

Of Dissension and Friction.

Of Dissonance and Disharmony.

She was The Goddess of Conflict.

She was also a goddess. And what her titles were, and what her duties were, didn't decree the way the woman who was a goddess was.  They molded her experiences, and her environment, but being the Goddess of Discord didn't mean that her thoughts or feelings were discordant or conflicted. She was quite capable of logical reasoning or sincere feeling. She seldom had cause or inclination for either, but in those instances when she did, she was deadly serious. Few had ever seen her so, even fewer that still lived, but they would have recognized both in her now.

*Zeus will never let him go, damn him! And despite 'Res practically going down on his knees, Hades won't release him either. Between the two of them, two stubborn ugly-souled old men, they'll drain the brightness from my little mischief-maker. He'll be nothing but a wan shade on the shores of the Styx. No. Oh Fates, no.*

She wrapped her arms around her legs and curled into a ball.

*Jerkules gets his blonde fucktoy back every time he slips up and lets him die. That hypocritical she-bitch of Ares' gets her yappy little bard back. Damn them all to Tartarus.*

She realized the wetness on her knees was tears.

*No. I won't accept this. I was right before, and that's what I'll stick with.*

She remembered the moment of clarity she had experienced, staring up into her father's enraged face earlier that day.

*As long as Zeus reigns and the Twelve preside on Olympus, nothing will change. As long as he reigns, Strife will never be released by Hades.*

*So my father must die. Permanently.*



Note: The conflict Hera refers to is the Trojan War, which was started by Eris rolling a golden apple inscribed with the words "For the Fairest" at the feet of Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, all of whom claimed it as theirs. 

next chronicle: father's day from hell