Poseidon pulled his trident out of “Dionysus'” limp, bleeding body, and held it over his head in victory. Apollo and Aglaea were on the ground in an instant. I hoped they had the presence of mind to do all the right spells in the right order. They spirited their patient away, presumably to the medic tent.
“You can’t call the match without my approval,” I heard Zeus say. I turned my attention up to the stands and away from the demigoddess in mortal danger.
“She has my approval,” said Aphrodite.
“And mine,” said Dionysus-as-Beroe.
“She certainly has mine,” said Poseidon with an intolerable smug triumph.
“By my own word, I must now award my daughter’s hand in marriage to Poseidon,” Aphrodite conceded weakly, trying not to show that she was more focused on the medic tent than on anything else.
“I give it back to you,” said Poseidon. “I’ve been bewitched. Why in my right mind would I, Ruler of the Ocean Realm, bind myself to a wild woodland harpy, a mere demigoddess at that?”
WTF? Had this been Athena’s plan all along? How had she undone the glamour effect? If she had that power, why hadn’t she done it from the beginning and saved everyone all this trouble? I wondered if Aphrodite could still give Beroe her own hand in marriage, or if Zeus would just claim guardianship if she forfeited it.
Then I remembered: The moment Beroe is given her own hand, you make both Dionysus and Poseidon fall out of love with her.
Given her own hand.
I teleported to the medic tent. Asclepius and Epione were there, too. They hadn’t even been attending the tournament, so Apollo or Aglaea must’ve summoned them from their home. I stood back out of the way. If anyone noticed me, they didn’t take time to acknowledge my presence, which was how I wanted it. All their focus was on the patient, who was lying on the operating table, back in her own form.
“We’ve stopped the bleeding,” said Epione.
“She lost a lot, though,” said Asclepius. “We need to work on restoring her supply.”
“My spells aren’t working the way they should,” said Apollo. “It must be the trident’s power.”
“We need a transfusion,” said Aglaea.
“I don’t have much experience with that,” said Apollo. “Most of my work is with immortals. You three take care of it; I’ll keep working on the regeneration spells.”
Aphrodite appeared in the tent. She knocked the attending physicians out of the way. I could see more clearly now. Beroe still had a faint pulse, but a pallor was over her. Her scar from Charybdis’ tooth was clearly visible, as was a new triple scar on her abdomen from the trident. Her severed hand was in a dish on a nearby table. They must not have been able to reattach it, though the stump was now cleaned and cauterized.
“What can I do?” asked Aphrodite.
“I need to prick your finger,” said Aglaea. Aphrodite held out her hand. Aglaea pricked her index finger with a needle and squeezed the blood into a tiny white cup the size of a thimble. She passed it to Asclepius. He held it under a light next to an identical cup labeled Beroe.
“I’m sorry,” said Asclepius. “Your blood has the wrong mark.”
“What are you talking about?” said Aphrodite. “What’s wrong with my blood? And who are you, even?”
“I’m Apollo’s son and Aglaea’s father. We’ve met before,” Asclepius reminded her. “And your blood is perfectly healthy. But everyone’s blood inherits a mark from either their mother or their father. Beroe must’ve gotten her father’s. We need to give her blood with the same mark so her body won’t reject it. Does Adonis have any biological relatives you can trust? Demigods are preferable.”
“They’re all demigods on Endymion’s side,” said Aphrodite, “but I don’t know any of them that well. Apollo, what about Endymion?” she said.
“It’d take too long,” said Apollo, who was still concentrating on regeneration spells. It would take hours to get to the Great Bear and back, and that was assuming Endymion would even risk returning to Earth to save a living reminder of everything Selene had done to him.
“Do we have any of Adonis’ blood?” asked Epione. “Even if it’s only a little, we could possibly grow the specimen and use that.”
“Oh, sure, I keep vials of all my dead lovers’ blood lying around,” said Aphrodite.
“I meant Aglaea,” said Epione. “If she’d ever taken it for medical purposes.”
“I never treated him,” said Aglaea. “Damn, this would be so much easier if he were alive.”
Asclepius looked contemplative. “Zeus is rather distracted right now,” he said.
“Absolutely not!” said Apollo. “Beroe is the reason for the distraction. And what about Hades? He’s gone nearly five months without his wife. I’m sure he’d notice if his son went missing.”
“What about Hades’ son?” said Aphrodite.
“This is exactly what I created it for,” said Asclepius. “Victims of the gods’ pettiness and cruelty. This woman wouldn’t be dying now if two Olympians hadn’t decided to fight for her hand in marriage and two more hadn’t agreed to let her fight a Son of the Titans herself.”
“Created what?” said Aphrodite.
“Nothing,” said Apollo.
“I didn’t even create it; I discovered it,” said Asclepius.
“I won’t lose you again,” Apollo said to him.
“You guys,” Aglaea warned them.
“Gorgon blood is a cure for death,” said Asclepius.
Aphrodite tackled Apollo to the ground. “YOU! KNEW! ALL! THIS! TIME!” she screamed, straddling his chest and punctuating her words with fist blows to his head. I knew Apollo was choosing not to resist, likely because he agreed with her.
“Hey,” I interjected, “smack him around all you want, but his regeneration spells are the only thing keeping your daughter alive, so you might want to let him get back to that. And by the way, Beroe knew, too.”
Aphrodite jerked Apollo to his feet and shoved him back to the operating table. “Don’t EVER let me hear you say you loved him! EVER!”
“I did love him,” said Apollo. “But it wasn’t worth risking my son.”
“I never asked for your protection,” Asclepius firmly reassured him.
“You don’t have to ask me to protect you,” Apollo said in kind. “It’s supposed to be something a parent just does.”
“You said the cure is Gorgon’s blood?” said Aphrodite. “Will it cure someone near death, or does the person have to actually die?”
“They have to be dead,” said Asclepius. “Which Adonis is, so-”
Aphrodite grabbed a scalpel and slashed Beroe’s throat.
Apollo lunged for Aphrodite. He was thrown backwards by a giant black bat wing. All of us backed to the edges of the tent at the sight of the monster who stood over the table in Aphrodite’s place. Venomous snakes hissed at us from her head and shoulders.
“Alecto,” I whispered as she flew above the table and hovered protectively over Beroe’s body.
“Aglaea,” Alecto said in a deep, gravelly, echoing voice, “get over here and tell me if she’s dead.”
Aglaea approached the table with fear and trepidation. She placed one hand on Beroe’s head and another on her neck. “She is,” she confirmed the painfully obvious.
“Get back,” Alecto ordered. Aglaea obeyed. Alecto parted Beroe’s teeth. Then she bit her own wrist and squeezed the blood into Beroe’s mouth. Please work, I thought. Please, please work. And they all lived happily ever after.
The slash mark on Beroe’s throat closed. Color returned to her skin. She swallowed, coughed, and sputtered all at once. She opened her eyes. “Mom?” she said in a weak voice accompanied by an equally weak grin as she beheld her savior. “Keep the new look. Badass.”
Alecto touched down and turned back into Aphrodite. “Are you being summoned?” she asked Beroe.
“No,” said Beroe, her voice growing slightly stronger.
“Good. That means they still think you’re on the pavilion. I’ll go buy us some time. You guys, take care of her,” she ordered the four physicians.
“What was that?” said Aglaea.
“A harbinger,” said Apollo.
“That shouldn’t have worked,” said Asclepius. “You can’t shapeshift as a Gorgon and produce Gorgon’s blood any more than shapeshifting as Dionysus gave Beroe Dionysus’ powers.”
“Imma let you scientists figure that one out,” I said. With that, I teleported to the pavilion.
Instead of taking my designated seat in the Muses’ row, I went to Artemis and whispered, “Catch me up. What are they fighting about? I thought Poseidon forfeited the prize.” Poseidon was on the dais at the front of the pavilion, standing squarely opposite Zeus. He held his trident in his hand, and Zeus held a lightning bolt. Both gods had their weapons at ease, but that, it seemed, could change at any second.
“He only forfeited Beroe,” Artemis whispered back. “He wants to claim Dionysus’ seat among the Twelve. Zeus and Athena are arguing that the deal was whoever married Beroe would get the seat. So then he tried to say he’d marry Beroe anyway, but Zeus says he already forfeited, so he can’t reclaim her. If this goes on much longer, I’m just going to claim her as my huntress.”
“Aphrodite,” said Zeus as the goddess in question joined them on the dais. “Tell Poseidon that, since he gave your daughter’s hand in marriage back to you, he cannot reclaim it, and your daughter is absolved of her vow.”
“It’s true,” said Aphrodite. “You won it, you gave it back, and it’s mine now. And I don’t want to give it to you. In fact, I’m not sure I want to give it to either one of you.”
“I would advise you give it to Dionysus,” said Zeus, “so he can secure his seat among the Twelve.”
“I think not,” said Aphrodite. “See, the only reason I consented to this tournament was because I was sure watching two handsome, virile gods fight for her would make Beroe fall in love with at least one of them. But she hasn’t. As Goddess of Love, Sex, and All That Good Stuff, I can verify that my daughter has no desire for either Dionysus or Poseidon. So, now that my vow’s been fulfilled, I’m going to hang onto my daughter’s hand until she finds someone she wants to give it to. Even if she never does.”
“I have another idea.”
It was Beroe. The real Beroe. She appeared on the dais in her usual hunting clothes and all her rugged wilderness glory. I muffled a relieved sigh at the sight of her hand reattached, good as new. There wasn’t a mark on her. Wait, even the leg scar was gone? Beroe loved that thing. Why would she –
I forced myself not to facepalm as I realized that Apollo was nowhere to be seen. Would he really go this far to protect Beroe? Yes. Yes, he would. I resolved then and there that I sure wasn’t going to be the one to break it to Calliope that we were moving to the Ocean Realm. No, I took that back. I’d tell Calliope. Apollo, however, could tell Mom.
“Who is this?” said Poseidon, his expression one of incredulity rather than astonishment or betrayal.
“That’s the question, isn’t it?” said Hunter Beroe. “But a better question would be, who is this?” She waved a hand toward Princess Beroe and beckoned her to join her.
Princess Beroe came forward and shifted back into Dionysus. He kept Princess Beroe’s fancy chiton, platinum hair, and boobs, but it was still unmistakably Dionysus.
“Do you honestly think this foolish trick will work?” said Poseidon.
“The foolish trick already happened, and it didn’t work,” said Hunter Beroe. “Which should be proof enough that you haven’t been fighting Dionysus. Cut off his hand with your trident and see what happens.”
Poseidon grabbed Dionysus’ arm and gladly obliged. After a dramatic expression that didn’t look quite like a normal response to searing pain, Dionysus picked up his severed hand and popped it back on. It seamlessly rejoined his arm in less than a second. “Was that as good for you as it was for me?” he said to Poseidon.
“I don’t believe any of this,” said Poseidon. “All you’ve proven is that Beroe can shapeshift and create illusions.”
“Fine,” said Hunter Beroe. “Switch back,” she ordered. Dionysus shifted back to Princess Beroe. “But here’s my idea,” Hunter Beroe said to Poseidon. “Choose one of us. Either of us. Whoever you choose will marry you right here and now, before all these witnesses. Does that work for you?” she said to Princess Beroe.
“It certainly does,” said Princess Beroe. “I’ve been wanting to hit that for awhile now. I’ll take any form you like,” she offered Poseidon with a seductive flutter of her overly-long eyelashes, “and I know you like a very extensive variety of forms.”
Poseidon rolled his eyes. “That one,” he conceded, pointing to Hunter Beroe. “I have no idea who I’ve been fighting, and at this point I could care less, but I’m certain that is Dionysus.”
“If your bride is amenable to an open marriage, my offer still stands,” said Princess Beroe.
“Are you sure?” said Aphrodite as she took Hunter Beroe’s hands.
“What do you think?” Beroe grinned as she glanced at Poseidon.
Aphrodite was evidently satisfied with whatever empathic information she was getting. I had no idea what that was, but there was no way she could believe this was Beroe. “She’s chosen!” Aphrodite cried in delight. “I give you her hand,” she said to Poseidon, placing Hunter Beroe’s hand in his. I wondered if Apollo really was hot for Poseidon, or if he wasn’t, and Aphrodite was just happy to torture him. Either way, I did not like where this was going.
I saw Athena whisper something to Zeus. Zeus wasn’t happy about whatever he was hearing, but he evidently saw no reasonable alternative, so he told Aphrodite, “As a just ruler, I must honor your choice. I give my blessing to this marriage.” Well, there was our last out. Zeus was Apollo’s guardian. So even if Apollo eventually revealed his true identity after the wedding, it could still be argued that Zeus had, in fact, legally given him to Poseidon in marriage. And if Poseidon were married to one of the Twelve, that would be an even bigger foot in the door. I really, really, REALLY hoped Athena knew what in Tartarus she was doing.
“Do you consent to be given to this man?” Aphrodite asked Hunter Beroe.
“I do,” said Hunter Beroe.
“Do you consent to be given this person?” Zeus said to Poseidon. Crap. The word “woman” could’ve been a loophole. Zeus knew something was up.
“I do,” said Poseidon.
“Then I give her to you, that together you may create a home and a family with honor,” said Aphrodite. She snapped her fingers and a pair of rings appeared. Poseidon and Hunter Beroe each took one and put them on their left ring fingers. Poseidon grabbed Hunter Beroe’s wrists and proclaimed in triumph, “I have taken this woman. She is my own, and none can take her from me.”
“I’m going to kill him,” I murmured under my breath.
“They’re both impossible to kill,” said Artemis.
I refrained from saying that she might find a loophole if she knew which “him” I meant.
Hunter Beroe threw her head back and laughed in sheer delight. With her wrists still in Poseidon’s hands, she transformed back to her true form.
“Eris?” said Poseidon.
“Eris!” cried Zeus.
“Eris,” Poseidon’s new wife nodded. “Hey, Euterpe! I told you I had to marry someone!” she said in my general direction. Euterpe silently indicated to our sisters that she had no knowledge of such a conversation.
“Congratulations on your daughter’s wedding,” said Aphrodite. Then she disappeared.
“When do we start the honeymoon?” asked Eris.
“After we discuss the dowry,” Poseidon said, dropping Eris’ hands.
“Marrying a Daughter of Zeus-” Zeus began.
“And Hera,” Eris interjected, but no one paid attention.
“-should be its own reward,” said Zeus. “In fact, what we should be discussing is the bride price. If you were willing to give half your kingdom for a demigoddess, what is a full goddess worth to you, I wonder?”
“I was tricked into marrying her!” said Poseidon.
“Your blue hair is so pretty,” said Eris. “I should have blue hair, too.” Eris blinked her eyes and, not only did her hair turn blue, but her chin sprouted a bright blue beard just like Poseidon’s.
“You agreed to a shell game, and you picked the wrong shell,” said Zeus.
“Ooo, shells! Good idea!” said Eris. Her dress disappeared, leaving a clamshell bikini in its place. “Honey, let’s go home so you can eat my clams,” she said to Poseidon.
“I’m not going home until we’ve made arrangements for a dowry,” Poseidon said to Zeus. “I think a seat in your court sounds reasonable for your son-in-law, don’t you?”
“It’s not available,” said Beroe.
This one was unmistakably the real Beroe. She was bedraggled, pale, bruised, scarred, and missing a hand, but with Apollo’s assistance, she was standing. Dionysus was visibly relieved at the sight, but he wasn’t looking at her with that dazed, bewitched, lovestruck face he’d been wearing for the last week. “You said whoever married me would get Dionysus’ seat among the Twelve,” said Beroe. “I choose Dionysus. Athena is my guardian in Mom’s absence. You two can marry us right now.” Athena came forward. With a silent, approving nod, Apollo released Beroe to her, and then joined me and Artemis.
“We don’t have to do this,” Dionysus said in his own voice.
“Yes, we do,” said Beroe. “It’s the only way to secure your seat among the Twelve.”
“I have to agree with Beroe,” said Zeus. “Athena, will you begin?”
“Wait, let us change first,” said Dionysus. “I want to be properly attired for my wedding.” He shifted back to his own face and body. His hair returned to its natural shade of brown and transformed to an elaborate updo loosely bound with ribbons and pearls. His chiton changed to a glamorous wedding gown in the traditional red. Beroe shook her head, suppressing her laughter so as not to hurt her still-fragile ribs. She went ahead and exchanged her own soiled attire for an unadorned red groom’s chiton.
“Do you consent to be given to this man?” Athena asked Beroe.
“I do,” said Beroe.
“Do you consent to be given this woman?” Zeus said to Dionysus.
“I do,” said Dionysus.
“Then I give her to you, that together you may create a home and a family with honor,” said Athena.
“I have taken this man,” said Beroe. “He is my own, and none may take him from me.”
“He’s all yours,” said Zeus.
“This is brazen treachery!” said Poseidon.
“For the last time, you gave her up,” said Athena.
“After being tricked into it,” said Poseidon.
“Everything that’s happened here is completely legal according to the terms and conditions,” Zeus declared.
“Terms written to deceive!” said Poseidon.
Beroe whispered something to Dionysus. They both teleported to the ground, mostly unnoticed with the crowd’s attention on Zeus and Poseidon’s shouting match, which Athena was none too subtly encouraging.
That changed when Beroe touched the Fountain of Imagination and sent up a wall of water as high as the Museum. An image formed on the water’s surface. The image was of Zeus and Hera’s bedroom. Hera was the only one there, seen through the eyes of a woman saying, “You never deserved Zeus. You never understood his needs the way- ah!”
The image shook as the viewer was struck with a backhand to the face. I could almost physically feel her pain. “Don’t you dare talk to me about my own husband, you pathetic, insignificant whore!” Hera glowered. “Don’t you say his name to me!”
“What about the name ‘Leto’?” the woman said. She evaded Hera. “Zeus told me she was his first choice for queen, not you. No wonder you hate the twins so much.” Hera was enraged, but she stayed still. “I wonder if you’ll hate my child as much when you’re gone and I’m queen.” I glanced at Zeus. It appeared he was trying to recall the voice and determine whether this was a real scene or not.
Onscreen, Hera laughed. “Is that what he told you?” she said. “I understood him once, too, you know. I knew that I, above all women, was suited to be his queen. I’d heard rumors, but I flattered myself that those women weren’t strong enough, clever enough, beautiful enough. That I would be different, because I was everything he needed.”
“You don’t know him the way I do,” the woman insisted.
“And you don’t know him at all,” said Hera. “You want to be queen?” Hera grabbed the woman’s arm and pulled her in front of a wide full-length mirror. She bore a remarkable resemblance to Dionysus in drag. I remembered her now. It was Dionysus’ mother, Semele.
“Stop this at once!” Zeus ordered from the stands.
“Why?” Beroe called back to stadium. “Afraid of the truth?”
“None of this is true!” said Zeus.
“Dad, look at me,” said Eris, repeatedly jabbing his shoulder with her curled index finger.
“Not now,” Zeus brushed her off.
“Look at me,” she persisted.
“Daddy has business to take care of,” Zeus said, grasping his lightning rod.
“I’m talking to you. Look at me when I’m talking to you,” Eris demanded. She grabbed Zeus’ and Poseidon’s beards and turned them to meet her gaze. They were lost in her vortex of chaos. Athena took a step back, but didn’t take either the lightning rod or the trident from their respective owners.
Beroe’s moving picture resumed. Hera cast her hand over Semele. Semele became a perfect replica of Hera. Every tucked braid, every fold of her robe.
“Summon him,” Hera ordered. Then she left Semele alone.
Semele summoned Zeus. We could hear her thoughts. I’m Hera, she thought. I am the Queen now. Maybe she’s finally going to leave him, the cold, ungrateful bitch.
Zeus appeared in the mirror behind Semele-as-Hera. Her expression went from happiness and desire at his presence to shock and confusion at a look on his face that she’d clearly never seen before. I hadn’t, either. I’d known most of my life that Zeus’ slick, jovial charm was a veneer on a complete bastard. But this was the first time I’d seen the hate and malice under the veneer. Given the atmosphere in the stands, I’d say the same was true for most of the crowd. This was a face reserved for his wife.
And, evidently, his children. Apollo wore a brave, stoic countenance, but I could feel how much effort he was putting into it. I quietly took hold of his hand. He let me. Athena, who’d moved from the dais, had her arm around Artemis. Eris let go of Zeus and Poseidon and covered her face with her hands.
“Hera! What have you done with her?” Onscreen Zeus roared at the woman before him. The real Zeus, as well as Poseidon, was coming to. Eris locked them into her gaze again.
“No, it’s-” Semele started.
“It’s bad enough that I have to put up with you! Can’t you at least spare the woman I love?”
But Semele never had a chance. We all saw through her eyes as Zeus whipped out his bolt and shot a stream of lightning at the woman he believed was Hera. We saw her vision blur and flash. We heard her silently scream as her throat went paralyzed. We heard her bones crack as Zeus struck her with the metal rod. We felt her synapses burn, snap, and finally, die. But not before she managed one last coherent thought: The baby.
“Gods and goddesses of Olympus,” said Beroe in her best stadium voice. “I promised Dionysus, my new husband, that if he would marry me according to my terms, I would tell him the truth of his mother’s death. I have now fulfilled that promise. In case there’s any doubt, let me be clear: Semele was murdered by Zeus, who thought he was assaulting his wife. Which I’m sure was just a one-time thing, aren’t you?”
I saw Eris whisper something to herself, but I couldn’t make it out. She grabbed Poseidon’s shoulders and disappeared with him.
“Did you like the show?” Beroe called up to us as Zeus tried to pull himself out of the disorientation left by Eris’ vortex. “I’ve got millions of sequels and prequels where that came from.”
An image of Athena appeared on the screen. She held a vial out to the person through whose eyes we were seeing her. “This is all of Medusa’s blood that I was able to save,” Athena said. “I’m only giving it to you because I believe you’ll fulfill her last wish. Don’t break my trust.”
“I-” Apollo whispered.
“Go,” I cut him off.
He pulled me into a kiss that was over before I could register that it had happened. “I can’t lose you,” he said. Then he was gone.
“I swear I’ll use it only to heal,” said the onscreen viewer in a voice that confirmed his identity as Asclepius.
The scene fell away like chalk washed off by the rain. In its place appeared a scene on a ledge of a sheer, rocky mountainside. We still only saw through Asclepius’ eyes as the Cyclops bound him under Zeus’ supervision. The real Zeus was quiet and still. This concerned me. Apollo, I assumed, had gone to evacuate Asclepius and his family. I hoped he was being quick about it.
Onscreen, jumbled thoughts, feelings, and images of his family showed up in the corner of Asclepius’ mind as he heard Zeus proclaim his doom. “Asclepius, son of Apollo,” said Onscreen Zeus. “You stand accused of breaking the laws of both my realm and the realm of Hades. How do you plead?”
“How do I plead?” Asclepius laughed. “This is no courtroom, and I see no jury.”
“You see the God of Law and Governance,” said Zeus. “The only one with authority to bring souls back from the realm of Hades.”
“Cut,” came an order from the audience. It was Persephone. The audience parted, allowing her plenty of room to stride to the dais. “Is that what you told him?” she said when she was face to face with Zeus.
“Told whom? This whole scene is a fabrication,” said Zeus.
“Hades has never authorized you to take souls from our realm at will, and neither have I,” said Persephone. “Our only complaint against Asclepius was that he didn’t follow proper procedure. Do you have any idea how much paperwork is involved in a resurrection? That, and some souls don’t want to be resurrected. Protecting them so they can rest in peace is our job. That’s all we were trying to do. We would’ve worked something out with Asclepius. He’s Apollo’s son. The Muses are practically family to him. What you’re about to see,” Persephone said to the audience, “was neither demanded nor authorized by Hades or by me, which was why we were so cooperative in reversing it. Finish the scene,” she said to Beroe.
“Did you or did you not raise the mortal Glaucus from the dead?” said Onscreen Zeus.
“It wasn’t his time,” said Asclepius. “The Fates would have kept spinning his lifethread for years to come. You are the one who cut it short.”
Zeus raised a lightning bolt. “For your crimes against the Two Kingdoms, I hereby sentence you to death. Hades will decide your eternal punishment once your soul has passed to his realm.”
The lightning bolt struck. The screen went black, but through the darkness, we saw Asclepius’ last thoughts. A rush of images. The first time he met Epione. The day they got married, with Apollo, Artemis, Chiron, and all nine of us Muses in attendance. The birth of each of his nine children. Images of his own childhood. Apollo holding him as a baby, beaming the warmest, happiest, proudest sun-smile. Muses doting over him, Calliope in particular. Me playing peek-a-boo with my mask and making him laugh, while Apollo warned that I’d scare him. Apollo and Chiron showing him plants and stones, and talking about potions they could make. Apollo showing him Coronis’ portrait and telling him how she died, being far kinder to her memory than she deserved. Young Asclepius mourning the mother he’d never known, and silently swearing, Mortals don’t deserve to die just because a god was angry at them. Someday I’ll create a cure for death.
Then it was over.
The scene changed. The view was different. Narrower. The setting was now a workshop at a forge. We saw giant, leathery, hairy arms pound out a metal rod in the shape of a lightning bolt. There was a twinge of pain, and then nothing.
“That’s why Apollo killed the Cyclops,” said Beroe. “To avenge his son.”
“Then why is Asclepius alive?” said Zeus. “You’ve all seen him since the Cyclops’ death.”
“Apollo persuaded you to bring him back,” said Persephone. “People would want to know why Asclepius was killed. Sure, we could give a fake reason, but someone would get curious and discover the truth eventually. Then they’d know about his cure for death.”
“None of this happened,” said Zeus. “You and your granddaughter are conspiring to take my throne!”
“I don’t give a flying fate about your throne,” said Persephone. “Neither does my husband. All my granddaughter is doing is telling people the truth, and all I’m doing is confirming it.”
“If none of it’s true,” Athena said to Zeus, “I suppose you won’t object to her showing us more.”
“Fine,” said Zeus. “Please, entertain us,” he said to Beroe.
“As if it wasn’t bad enough that Zeus blamed Hera for Semele’s death,” said Beroe, “to add insult to injury, he also blamed Semele’s son, Dionysus, my husband, for another murder.”
“I’m supposed to have killed someone?” said Dionysus. “When was that?”
The screen showed a scene nearly identical to Asclepius’ execution. “Orpheus, son of Calliope,” said Onscreen Zeus. “You stand accused of-”
Lightning hurled through the air toward Beroe.