Athena stood poised and determined in the Hallway of the Gods. Ares had materialized nearby and walked through the lines of the golden statues. Her sword in hand, Athena waited, watching her deceitful brother through careful eyes. She knew before any of these events that he was never to be trusted. Now, she had the memories of Peripheras, Zeus' dead eagle, and she knew even more so how treacherous Ares was. In all that had flashed in her mind, she did not see Zeus set the Fates on Hippolyta, driving her mad, and what had in essence began the fight they were now embroiled in. She and Aphrodite had known that Zeus' presence had not been the first they had felt when Hippolyta rushed to the cliff. It had been Ares'. She wanted to kill him where he stood. Instead, however, the Goddess of Wisdom and Strategy waited quietly.
She knew Ares wanted the throne of Olympus, and that he was hedging his bets so that he would fall on the victorious side. He would give anything to be the supreme head of the gods, and Athena was going to let him live in his delusional world a bit longer. She knew, no matter would come to pass, that he would never hold the spot he coveted so much. As it was, Zeus' presence was no where to be sensed, and just as it had dissipated, Ares had chosen that moment to show up. If her father had been there in that moment, there would be no telling what Ares would do. One thing was certain though, he would fight on the side of the deity he felt would win. She wasn't so sure that it would be her. So she calmly watched, and didn't have long to wait before Ares spoke.
"You know Athena," Ares carefully delivered, "I look at these golden monuments that Hephaestus forged, and the likenesses are incredible. Pity he is no longer with us."
Athena knew better than to believe Ares grieved the passing of the god of the forge. Hephaestus had never cared for Ares' bloodlust, and didn't particularly get along well with the god of war. Ares stopped next to his own likeness and looked up. Hephaestus had crafted his monument and as he scanned it over, he noticed that Hephaestus had given him a slightly crooked nose. Ares gritted his teeth in disdain and disgust. He knew his nose was slightly off center and that had come in the Trojan War when he had squared off against Athena. The forger must have realized that this would incense him, but included it anyway. Ares snarled, and turned his attention to his sister.
"Now what Athena? Herakles is dead. Poseidon is dead. Half the Amazon nation is dead, including your..." Ares was sickened by what he was about to say, but gritted it out regardless. "...beautiful wife. Zeus hides, and can do so for an eternity. How do we find him?"
Athena's insides were burning. She wanted to lash out and strike him down where he stood, but her logical side gave her pause. Perhaps Ares could be useful. She knew what he was, and she knew how to manipulate him. "I believe we can find him, but will need help to do so. I killed Peripherus, but before I did, I drew out his memories. I know where Prometheus is. It seems to me that we should go to him and ask how to track down our father."
Ares was slightly stunned. He had known that Prometheus was alive, but had no idea where. Now, his aspirations were that much closer to being realized. If he could find the seer, he could gain all the answers he needed. He could figure out how to overthrow his father, and bend the rest of his family to his will, or if need be, learn how to kill them. He was so close to being the almighty ruler of creation, and he practically licked his lips in excitement. The bile rose in Athena's throat. Hate was a very powerful emotion, and she had never hated Ares more than in that moment. However, she placated lowly, "I have considered your offer over and over in my mind. Here is what I believe: Zeus must die. On that we agree. I also know that the other pantheons watch, and will look for a time to strike. Olympus needs a ruler that will be strong. I have seen in Peripheras' mind that our father was relentless in his pursuit of the answer to one question: Who was the son that would overthrow him?"
Ares wanted to squeal with delight. It would be a son. It would be him. He felt validated. He felt powerful. Ares just nodded, urging softly for his sister to continue on. She gave him what he wanted. "He never got an answer though. Torturing Prometheus all this time got him no closer to his answer. But I believe it's you."
Ares had considerable difficulty in not smiling. He was at the moment he had waited so long for. Athena noted his well hidden self satisfaction, and swallowing any insults, she continued. "It makes sense. No one stands as strong in the forefront as you. I think back to your request that I speak with Hera if the time came, and I believe these events are leading us to that moment. You are the strongest son. Zeus is unhinged, and is without many allies. Poseidon is dead, and Hades can be persuaded to retreat back. You, on the other hand, have me, and by de facto, our mother. Aphrodite sides with me and Hera. You have by that thought process the Amazon Nation. They are the fiercest warriors this world has ever known. You are poised to claim our father's spot. I am prepared to help you be victorious."
Ares narrowed his eyes, "Why now? What do you want in return?"
Athena sheathed her sword. "I want peace for our mother and the Amazons. Hera should be left alone to retire to the island to be with Hippolyta. If they are left alone, I will not stand in your way to claiming what you covet."
Ares was reluctant. Athena was powerful, and if he only had her, he was confident that victory would be achievable. She had asked for nothing for herself though. He would not have done the same if he were in her position. "You want nothing for yourself?"
Athena allowed her grief to be her ally in that moment. A single tear rolled down her cheek. "I want revenge for Alindra's death. With Zeus deposed and gone, I will have what I want. I can't continue to be a part of all of this. In my wisdom I believed that I could be a part of this family, and a part of Alindra's life. It just wasn't meant to be that way though. Being who we are and what we try to balance is too much anymore. I will do what our grandmother has done. I will go into a self-imposed exile. I don't want to be in a world where Alindra is not present, and our family represents too many reminders of why she isn't. Once this is over, I am done."
Ares nodded, and his self-elation was high. He would kill his father. He would be the king of the gods. The best part though was that the one deity who could stand in his way was offering her assistance, and then would no longer care what was happening anywhere. This, Ares thought, was perfect. Athena stood quiet and somber. She knew he had taken the bait, but patience would win out. Eventually he nodded quietly, "Deal."
Once she had seen Peripheras' memories, it was not hard to find Prometheus. He had been carefully tucked away in a remote spot of the world. Underground, the entrance to his prison had been concealed to all eyes and to those who would look for it magically. Her father had constructed it well, and she gritted down her feelings of disgust for her part in keeping Prometheus hostage for so long. With a wave of her hand, and with Ares in tow, she revealed a small doorway that lead into a clay ridden pit. They walked a well worn pathway, no doubt the result of all the visits Zeus had paid to his prisoner. Ares looked around, and was met with visions of dirt, grime, and an existence that was beyond destitute. As they walked, silence was all there was. Athena had said enough, and felt no need to bring her brother further in to her plans. He was set to be very disappointed when he was not victorious at the end of all things.
Careful navigating the path, they eventually came upon a large clay rock. It had been formed in the shape of an "X", Prometheus was bound by his wrists and ankles to the structure. Magical chains, forged by Hephaestus, 1`q`had successfully anchored him to his spot. His body was ragged, and emaciated by the years of torture. His head hung with his scraggly bearded chin touching his caved in chest. Athena grieved inwardly at the site. She hoped that Prometheus understood why she was not going to free him immediately. She needed him to convince Ares that his own victory was possible. Ares, for his part, smiled viciously. Prometheus was at his mercy, and he would soon confirm what Ares had already begun believing. It was all just a matter of time.
Sensing their presence and knowing that they would come, Prometheus struggled to lift his head to address the pair. "Ares and Athena, I knew you would come today." His voice was scratchy, likely due to his surroundings and the fact that he hadn't had water in years. Ares surveyed the scene and finally spoke.
"You knew we would come which means you know what we want."
Prometheus nodded lightly, his neck aching from his position. "You already were given that answer though Ares."
Ares ran his hand through his black hair. Did he really need to hear it? Did he really need to be validated by the fallen Titan? He did. He hated himself for it, but he needed to be beyond sure that this was his time to ascend. "Humor us."
Prometheus stole a quick glance at Athena who stood behind her brother. She was staring intently at his chains, and looked as though she was trying to work out a problem. He knew that she was trying to figure out how to release him. He also knew that she wouldn't be able to break his bonds. Nothing she could do would crack what Hephaestus had created as unbreakable. He pushed that to the side though. He would have his time alone with Athena soon. Instead he began his story, "For counted years, I have been kept here, and for all that time, your father has wanted an answer for one single question. Repeatedly and viciously, he asked who would be the son to overthrow him. He understood that his own path to being who he was came as a result of his toppling of his own father. Likewise it had been the same for his father before that. In his craving to get the answer to his question, I have been bound and tortured repeatedly. Yet, I never caved."
"And now?" Ares leaned in, desperate in his need to hear his name.
Prometheus looked him squarely in the eyes. "You already know."
Ares grinned maliciously. "It is me. I will be the one."
Prometheus nodded, "You will be the reason Zeus falls."
Ares wanted to scream in victory to the heavens. He would see his power become the ultimate in the world. All of Olympus would kneel before him. The prospect was overwhelming. He only had one more question. "How do we find him?"
Prometheus sighed, "Athena can find him."
Athena's head shot up at the answer. "How so?"
Ares whipped around to carefully eye his sister. Prometheus looked intently at the goddess of wisdom. She was truly a sight to behold. Even muted in this cave, he could see how powerful she was. She simply needed his assistance in wielding what she was not familiar with as her own capabilities. He whispered, "Your fight with Zeus imbued you with his lightning. It runs through your body. Harness it. Draw on it, as it is the very essence of the deity you seek. Listen to it, and listen for it elsewhere. You will find him through it."
Athena closed her eyes. Ever since she had fought her father, she had felt his power surging through her. To this point, she had fought to mute it, but now, she was going to let it run through her unchecked. Her eyes began to swirl between once more, and allowing the essence of her father to flow, she dropped to her knees and listened. It spoke to her. It was hers now. She could wield in just as she had in the lessons Zeus had given her far off in the past. Reaching out in her mind, she searched the heavens and earth for the same signature. It took only moments before she knew exactly where her father was. "Hephaestus' forge. He is there. He arms himself with weapons and waits for you Ares. It's..." Athena faltered slightly, "it's as if he knew this would be the moment you would come for him."
Ares howled in his perceived victory. "Let's go and finish this then." With the utterance, Ares disappeared. Athena, however, did not move from her spot. Prometheus continued to look at the kneeling deity. He smiled. She would be his savior. Quietly she stood, and surveyed the situation once more. Raising her hands to the heavens she concentrated hard. Just as she and her sister were able to conceal their conversations from others, she erected a magical barrier around the spot where her brother had teleported himself. He was now trapped with Zeus waiting.
Athena held fast to the barrier, as she could feel Zeus' power unleashed upon her brother. She felt Ares panic, and she felt the lightning course through his body. It was as if she was one with power and could feel it ripping through his core, through the atmosphere, and through the very air she drew in to tighten her concentration. She knew she had sent Ares to his death, and she didn't care. Let him fight Zeus. He wouldn't win. She had known all along, and so had Prometheus. Prometheus waited, knowing what she was doing, and knowing how it would all turn out.
Minutes passed by, and when she felt her brother fall, the lightning wielded expertly, she dropped the barrier. Ares was dead. Zeus had used the ultimate weapon in his arsenal, and the god of war couldn't stand up to the raw power. She had trapped Ares, and he was no more. She didn't grieve his loss for even a split second. He was the reason this had all started. He had gone to the Fates and tricked them, not her father. He was the reason that Zeus had become aware of everything. He paid the ultimate price for his lust for power.
Standing slowly, Athena evened her body out with the gaze of Prometheus. She drew upon her power and unleashed it at a link in the chain of the Titan's left wrist. Athena clenched her teeth tightly, pushing all she had into the effort. After a few moments though she stopped. The chains were still in place. She had given everything she had, and still nothing, not even a single crack. Prometheus spoke softly, "You know you can't break them."
Athena stepped back and shook her head solemnly. "I can't, can I?"
"No, you can't, but you can still free me Athena."
Athena met Prometheus' eyes. "It isn't fair to you. You should be free. You have paid too high of a price simply by being who you are. I want you to know what it's like to be able to walk again, wherever you want to."
Prometheus was touched. She wanted so much for him to be broken of his bondage. But he knew that physically or magically, it simply was not possible to be freed from the chains. He chuckled quietly at his predicament. "Hephaestus was good at what he did. Please, stop looking for a way to break the chains. No amount of power can do so."
Athena shook her head ardently, "No, there has to be a way logically. I just need to figure it out what it is."
"No, Athena, there isn't a way. My body is doomed to be here for eternity, but...my soul doesn't have to be. Release my spirit so that I may go to the Underworld in peace. You can do that for me."
Athena was pained. She had come to the same conclusion, but it meant taking Prometheus' life. She didn't think she was prepared to do so. The Titan eyed her closely, "Do you know why I said what I said to Ares? I told him he would be the reason Zeus falls. I spoke the truth, although not the version he wanted it to be in his mind. He tricked the Fates. He is the reason Hippolyta went mad and that Zeus saw the profession of love. Zeus's actions are his own, but he was spurned on by Ares. If he hadn't done what he had, we would not be where we are now, hence he will be the reason Zeus falls."
Athena held up her hand to silence the Titan. "Please stop. I know you are a seer, but I do not wish to hear anything further. I am not like Ares that I want you to tell me anyone's future. Too many times people have made decisions based on these things only to bring about what they would have avoided otherwise. I am not going to make decisions on what someone might see as my future. I will be as I am because I chose my path."
Prometheus nodded. He knew this conversation would go this way. He admired Athena for not taking what he could offer to her. He also knew that for millennia Zeus had asked the wrong question. He was so focused on what his history had been that he had made an assumption that a son would bring about his downfall. Prometheus knew that the correct question should have been which of his children would be his executioner. It wouldn't be a son. It would be a daughter, and Prometheus was staring right at her. Athena would end her father's reign, and now the events were set in motion to bring about that end. Prometheus offered something else though, "Athena, you will see Alindra alive again. Aphrodite has destroyed the Fates, and her tenacity has restored the lifelines of those that were lost. Alindra is going to be in your arms again, as she should be."
Athena stumbled backwards in shock. Could this be true? Was it possible? She didn't dare to hope, as it would be cruel in the end if none of it was. Seeing her emotions play across her face, Prometheus smiled serenely. "She is quite the Amazon. I could tell you more, but I know she will have plenty of time to come to say everything to you herself. You are blessed, and now, I ask that you give me a blessing in return. Please," Prometheus strained, "free my soul. Let me find peace once more."
Athena looked into his eyes, hers beginning to blur with unshed tears. She nodded in agreement and reached her hand out to his chest. Careful to cause no pain, she reached in with her divinity and drew his out slowly. The Titan leaned his head back and exhaled with relief that this existence was about to be over. He whispered a small thank you as his last breath. Silence loomed and Athena lowered her head in reverence. Prometheus was no longer alive. She had given him his freedom from bondage. In her mind, she grieved at his passing, but resolve strengthened her once again. She needed to find her father, and hopefully she could end this war.
She whispered into the air, "Alindra..."