Excerpt from Finding Balance
PART ONE: OF THE GODS
“By Gaea… what have you done!”
Zeus stared at the rubble of the stone door that once sealed Gaea’s adyton, a sanctum impenetrable even to the gods, and only the Earth Mother could sanction who entered. Gaea had informed Hermes so he could bring Zeus. He could see the writhing darkness of Gaea’s sister scorn him even though she had no face. Zeus could only hear her in his mind for she had no need to be vocal as a Protogenos, a primordial being.
“What do you mean I ignored you? And how did you enter this place? Only Gaea can sanction…”
Amorphous and ever changing, her tendrils of darkness curled around the Olympian king. Cloudlike, much like her mother, she roiled throughout the stony chamber, seeming to laugh, if a Protogenos could. Zeus, still aghast, examined the wreckage of what once was a set of scales, those that kept the balance of Order and Chaos in this world and the one beyond. Swimming through the dusty air, she smirked at him, or he sensed she did. He, however, was on the verge of tears for the first time in his existence.
“You destroyed the Hieros Zugos, O Dark One. Shattered the Sacred Scales as if they were…”
Her voice entered his mind in a language almost forgotten by the gods.“
The vast tenebrosity pervaded the cavern, filling each cavity. Cloudlike wasn’t even an appropriate description for her; she was a living, gurgling mass of nothingness, darker than even the sky devoid of stars. For her to destroy something so powerful, so vital… he did not have the words. Or did he.“
Nyx, dark Night, how did I ignore you that you should do this? Not even the Moirae know the consequences of such an act! Keeping the tenuous balance is what fastens the cosmos together. I do not understand…” His voice trailed off, trembling before this daughter of Khaos, as he knelt by the debris. It was a good thing Hermes had told only him of this tragedy and not the other gods. The winged messenger, the only other witness to the catastrophe, flitted in the shadows. Nyx’s silent words brought ire to the Olympian king.
“What do you mean you are not as detached from the gods as I think you are? We felt your detachment, despite what you say, and one would think that a Protogenos would have a deeper understanding of the gods.
“Aye, you are correct. I did indeed seek counsel from Erebos, Aether, Thalassa…
“Aye, I sought the same from Eros, Phusis, and even Gaea… and I deeply regret not approaching you. But, this? To have taken the Scales from us? That, O Dark One, seems petty…”
Petty? Filaments of dark, serpents of shadow, made their way toward Zeus—an attack for his disrespect. With clenched fist, he summoned his own filaments, of lightning, and protected himself from her assault. The fires of the sky were enough to repulse Nyx, but Zeus knew well she didn't want to destroy him, simply to scare him for his insolence. He had certainly done as she said. In his pride, he had failed to consult her in the new order after he defeated Kronos and the Titans. Plus, there was one other indignity. How could he now face the gods? No matter. He was King of Olympos, of the Skies, and could wield the thunderbolts forged by the Cyclopes. He would find a way to deal with this. Holding a chunk of one of the scales in his hands, he closed his eyes for a moment and breathed deeply, if gods do indeed breathe. What to do now, he mused. Nyx began to reply.
“No, I do not speak with you,” he muttered, “And stay out of my thoughts.”
He had to tell the other gods. The repercussions of this would resonate throughout time, forward as well as backward, since the scales were not of this world, but merely in it. Even creation itself might change, and he would have to wait to see. Patience was not a godly virtue, however. As he left the bowels of the earth beneath the great mountain, he turned back to see the shifting form of Night vanish into the darkness once more, and he heard what he thought was laughter. The shards of the scales vanished, as well. There was no telling what she had done with them. But, it didn’t matter now. The gods needed to know. There was something else, however, that they didn’t need to know, and he wouldn’t tell them.
He had not walked more than twenty paces when he saw them.
Five immortals stood before him, Hera in front. His sister queen had led them down into Gaea’s innards with her consent. Hermes, guilty of letting the others know where Zeus had gone but not why, darted about in the shadows. Indeed, Zeus would be annoyed, but he would overcome that soon enough. When she saw his pallid, angry face, Hera reached for Zeus’ cheek.
“Do not be upset at the messenger, my husband. Hermes told us where you were out of necessity. What is wrong? You have been crying?” She had never seen him cry, ever.
Shifting his eyes away, he pointed toward the inner sanctum. As the remaining Olympians witnessed the destruction, disbelief echoed, and the lord of Olympos made his way back to the scene, now devoid of the perpetrator who had undoubtedly skulked back into the depths of the underworld until Helios’ sun would set. Only light from a lone torch held by Hesteia shone down on where the debris once sat, and Poseidon knelt and hung his head. He, too, knew the consequence of such an act. Creation’s doom, he thought. Hades kept his stoic gaze on emptiness where once sat the keystone of the world, now splintered beyond recognition, its pieces expunged. Unable to remain, Hesteia disappeared in a fiery cloud back to Olympos, ashamed to be in that foul place now. The eldest god, she felt wrenching guilt for not being aware that something like this could happen, or would happen. Deep down, she recognized her own impotence.
Hera touched Zeus’ shoulder and radiant eyes spoke words she need not convey, but he understood nonetheless. They had had their differences, to be sure, with all of his dalliances with mortals and immortals alike, but now—at this nadir of their existence—she knew her allegiance was not only necessary, but also required. What do gods do when they despair?
Zeus’s brethren, after witnessing Nyx’s handiwork and realizing how it might threaten their entire being, took a simultaneous moment to reflect upon that day after Kronos’ defeat during the Titanomachia, the day when each took dominion over his or her province of power. Unlike them, Zeus slumped in his throne, the responsibility of Nyx’s actions weighing most heavily upon him specifically. He knew all too well why, and he wasn’t convinced of her reason either. The gods would look to him for leadership, for strength. How could one who had had prevailed over Kronos now sit, wounded, sulking like a child. His memory of the day after would remain his deep memory, not brought to the nostalgic surface. His ascendance took place the moment the scythe pierced his father’s heart, not when he—later—received the blessings of Aeolos, sovereign of the winds, who pledged his offspring into the Olympian’s service. Having stretched his hand toward the skies, the newly crowned king of the gods summoned a thunderbolt as his scepter, and thanked Aeolos for his service. The prophecy fulfilled, Zeus had plans to bring Mount Olympos to greater glory than the Titans had. For Humankind, he had much in store, punctuated by lightning that streaked across the bloodstained heavens, a fading reminder of Ouranos’ defeat by Kronos that still lingered, but would disappear in time.
Now came his greatest challenge—moving forward and keeping his goals of making the sacred mountain of Olympos the glory of Gaea’s earthly crown. So said Zeus, king of the almighty gods.
While he brooded, a conflagration rose in the hearth, its flames erupting, scorching the ceiling. A voice stemmed from the flames, no… three voices, in unison. Not since their birth had they spoken directly with any god, so hearing this made Zeus stand at attention, his fist clenched around a writhing thunderbolt.
“Who speaks to me now? Show yourself!” The voices of three replied, and Zeus at once knew in whose company he stood.
“Kneel, O Wrathful One, kneel before those who weave thy aftertime!”
Zeus would usually refuse such a command, and would kill the one who demanded such for his impertinence, but in this moment, he genuflected, extinguishing the scepter of lightning.
“Summon thy siblings, son of Kronos, for our words have urgency and purpose.”
Normally, he would call for Hermes to deliver such a message, but in this instance, thunder would do just as well. Each Olympian appeared instantly; apparently, Zeus’ thunder conveyed such urgency, as well as the identity of those for whom he called them: the Moirae, the Fates.
“As the Scales kept the balance, they also provided us the thread from which we weave the aftertime of all, mortal and immortal alike. Without such an instrument of equilibrium, our loom is lost, and a new one has taken its place, and threads of unknown origin entwine and braid with new direction.” The voices paused. “We know not what the aftertime brings, nor do we know what the beforetime has been. As such, new prophecies unfold and will set forth new paths for mortals… and the gods.”
Eyes darted around the chamber, from one god to the other, expressing disbelief mostly, but also, perhaps, fear.
“Take heed of these words, Olympians, if thou hast any yearning to repair what one among thee has brought.
“Four not born of godly word
Two of vessel, two of sword,
Keep vigil over Gaea’s kin
From Keto’s progeny within.
Lead day’s darkness to finds its path
Let spirit restore balance without wrath.
Four for Gaea, four must be,
For being lacks uncertainty.”
With that, the voices departed, leaving behind simply glowing embers in the hearth, and only the bewilderment on the faces of the gods marked the Moirae’s presence, and they had questions. Fate never gave a straight answer.
Gods begat gods, and Olympos grew strong, overshadowing what remained of the Titans’ tyrannical rule, the promise of a bright future, perhaps, but only the threads of Fate would truly know.
Nyx’s rash act, the ripples of which would crash upon the world, however, would change that which should have happened into what might yet be… or not.