*** NEW RELEASE – JULY 27th!!! ***
“Fair morning, my Lord Jupiter.”
“Fair morning to you, my dear Lady Juno,” Zeus Jupiter replied as he turned away from the terrace and the magnificent view of Olympus that it provided.
“My husband is up early today,” Hera Juno said as she embraced Zeus. “Does something trouble the head of Caste Olympia?”
“No, my dear,” Zeus replied as he kissed his wife. “I only wished to watch the sunrise on the palace, especially on this day of all days.”
The great golden palace was the crown jewel of Olympus. It was seated on the crest of the planet’s tallest mountain, Titanius, with the rest of the city of Olympia cascading down all sides of the long-dormant volcano and down to the plains below. In the light of day, the city gleamed and when night fell onto the capital city, Olympus sparkled more than the many stars in the sky.
As the head of Caste Olympia, Zeus was the highest authority over the city and all the small Houses that comprised the Caste and that resided within. By virtue of his position he was also the Emperor of all of the world as it had been for his father and for all of his ancestors since the first day dawned on the planet.
“It is hard to believe a full century has passed since the death of your father,” Hera said as she pulled him toward their waiting breakfast. “Chronos Saturnius cast such a large shadow across the world it seems difficult to accept he no longer walks among us.”
“Indeed,” Zeus agreed as he seated his wife at the table before taking his own. The action triggered a flurry of activity by the house servants. An assortment of fruits, sweetbreads and berry juice appeared as if by magic before the royal couple. “I almost wish he were still here.”
“Does the weight of his crown tire my husband so much?” Hera asked as she speared a bite of white melon.
“No,” Zeus replied, sampling the chilled berry juice and finding it to his liking. “But he was always so much better at navigating the intrigues of the court, perhaps because he had more patience for it than I do. He had so many more millennia of life ahead of him. To fall victim to death by way of such a senseless accident seems as if we were all cheated.”
“Not to mention having it occur on the one-hundredth anniversary of the Great Exile,” Hera said quietly, not meeting her husband’s eyes.
“I see someone has been speaking with Lord Yahweh,” Zeus said, matching his wife’s quiet tone. “Even after all of this time he has never accepted my father’s death was an accident, yet he has produced no evidence to the contrary.”
“Lord Yahweh’s wisdom is well renowned, my husband. Perhaps you should listen closely to his council.”
“Lord Yahweh’s council, and his loyalty to our Caste, is appreciated by no one more than myself,” Zeus said with a sigh. “We need look no further for proof of this beyond his role in the Great Exile of Caste Demoni two centuries ago on this day.”
“And the fact that both events occurred on the same day, separated by one century?”
“A coincidence,” Zeus interrupted sharply, “nothing more. Yahweh banished the entirety of Caste Demoni to Gaia and trapped them there for eternity. No member of even the smallest house from that Caste escaped the fate of Lucifer to remain on Olympus to enact any revenge. And since no other Caste aligned…”
“Openly,” Hera interjected quickly.
“…with Lucifer’s disgraced Caste,” Zeus continued without missing a beat, “then there could not possibly be any chance that my father’s death was an assassination. Please my wife, I would prefer not to begin this day with an argument.”
“Forgive a wife’s concerns, my husband,” Hera said, holding out her hand across the table.
“Which are appreciated, even if the husband does not seem to show said appreciation,” Zeus replied, taking the proffered hand and kissing it tenderly.
“If you two are going to start the day off like this, I will have to plan on yet another welcome ceremony for a new sibling,” a voice boomed out from just behind the couple. “Fair morning mother, my Father.”
“Fair morning, Apollo,” Hera said as she accepted a kiss on the cheek from her eldest son.
“Fair morning, my son,” Zeus said as he returned his son’s clasp on the shoulder and gestured for his son to take a seat and join them. “What brings you to our table at so early an hour?”
Apollo Phoebus, who’d always had a sweet tooth, collected two of the breads and spread generous amounts of sweet butter on them.
“It seems the Crown Prince of Olympus has become the royal messenger boy,” Apollo said with a grin as he bit into the bread. “Lord Yahweh sends word that he will arrive early from Eden and requests an audience with Lord Jupiter at his earliest convenience.”
“This audience could not wait until after today’s festivities?”
“Apparently not,” Apollo replied as he finished the first bread. “Perhaps he is concerned with a matter of security? If so, I might take offense, as your security today is my responsibility. I can assure you both that I am in no hurry to have another coronation on Olympus so soon.”
“I am relieved to hear that,” Zeus quipped. “It would not be pleasant finding out that my fate was to rule for just one hundred years.”
“And speaking of Fate,” Apollo continued as he began his attack on the second bread. “I also carry a message from House Delphi. Oracle wishes to see you. It is safe to assume she is little concerned with your earliest convenience either.”
Zeus sat back in his chair with a heavy sigh. Fate, it seemed, was determined to cast a shadow on this day no matter how hard he wished otherwise.
“I wonder when it became the rule that the House of Delphi could summon the ruler of Olympus and not the other way around?”
“Perhaps it is all the millennia that House Delphi has served our Caste?” Hera asked. “Using their talents to help warn us of impending danger instead of trying to take control of the throne?”
“A fair point,” Zeus allowed begrudgingly. “Very well. My son, if you would suffer the role of messenger boy for a bit longer, please relay to the Chamberlain to prepare for Lord Yahweh’s arrival and inform him that I will see him as soon as I return from my visit with Oracle.”
“Alas,” Apollo said in mock seriousness as he levered himself out of his chair, taking his yet uneaten sweet bread with him. “A royal messenger’s work is never done. I will see you both at the ceremonies later. Fair day mother, father.”
“Fair day, my son,” Zeus answered as he too rose from the table to leave. “And a fair day to you, my love.”
“Fair day, my husband.”
Zeus strode out of the room, trying to affect the air of someone unconcerned with anything. But the facade did not quite hold up in his own thoughts. The Delphi’s’ talent for seeing into the future was a useful tool, even when the news they delivered had not always been good. What troubled Zeus most was that he could never recall a time when a Delphi had summoned a ruler of Olympus without delivering a dire warning.
With each passing step, Zeus felt increasingly more like a man marching to the gallows.