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All the gods were there, great and small, famous and infamous. They gathered around Zeus' lengthy marble table, laughing gaily at their own wit and beauty. Artemis, Athena, Ares, and Hermes lounged together in the bliss of inactivity, watching, judging, and waiting for a fault to be seen. Ambrosia was had by one and all. First fruits were in and the wine was sweet, flowing freely from skin to goblet. To many of the gods, it seemed a joyous occasion. However, as with all things in life, that was not the case for all, for Zeus was troubled.
"What do we do about these people?" Hera pouted. Her smile was slow and beguiling. She gently trailed her hand along her husband's large, well-muscled thigh. "You are a wise ruler, my love. Of that, there is no doubt. Here, Olympus, resides in order, but those dreadful mortals..." Her voice trailed off as she looked into the distance with disgust marring her perfect features. "They need to be controlled."
"And who would you have do this? We all have our areas."
From the corner of her eye, she glanced at him. "Not all."
He did not like it when his wife took that tone. It meant she had too much time on her hands and had found displeasure in one of his own. "Not all?"
She lifted one shoulder in a dainty shrug. "No."
"Who?" The question slipped from his lips like water from the melting northern glaciers before he stopped to think about the ramifications. Hera never instigated a conversation about mortals unless it was a scheme of destruction.
"What of Ares? My precious son lives among them. They pray to him and he has been good to the people. He would rule them justly, fairly."
"No one man can have all the power,"Zeus began.
She bit her bottom lip. Her even, white teeth gently tugged. Zeus' gaze lingered there, watching eagerly as she released her lips then wetted them. "Fine. Not Ares then. Still, the mortals need to be controlled." She walked behind him, trailing her fingertips across the bared flesh of his neck. "You are correct. One person alone would become too powerful. The mortals are your personal project. One I do not pretend to comprehend. You keep them about for your purposes. That, I do understand. Yet, there are so many and they create more every day."
Her beautiful lips frowned and the perfectly smooth skin of her brow creased. "Their intelligence is lacking, however. In sheer numbers they could be a threat. As I said, they must be controlled."
"And as I said, we are busy."
A smile replaced her frown. "Your daughters, the Moirai. How about them? The four of them would do nicely. Four is a number of power. One would not have too much control. They are of your blood. They would seek to do your bidding for the greater good of all Olympus."
"Hera," Zeus warned. His blue eyes narrowed. What was the woman up to?
"Of course, they would have to live somewhere else, other than here. Somewhere they can keep an actual eye on their charges. They could not be swayed by the gods of Olympus, so they will have to be put from Olympus."
He surged to his feet and lightning ran across the heavens. "Hera! Silence!"
"I suppose we could send the Furies." She nodded, weighing the decision. She spoke as though he had not commanded her silence. "I believe they would take to the role of judging mortals and decreeing--"
Zeus would not let her finish. He loved the mortals, at times too much. He would not leave their fate in the hands of the vengeful Furies. "My daughters will do just fine."
"It has been brought to my attention..."
Zeus refused to look at his wife. She had manipulated him. Her arrogance and pride spoke too soon. He had bound his daughters without thought or consultation. Sadness filled him. Hera might believe she had gotten the better of him, but he would have the last word in this battle of wills.
"It has been brought to my attention that discord runs rampant among the mortals. They need structure. A finite set of rules and goals."
Many of the lesser gods nodded their approval, but Zeus noted his daughter Atropos' raised brow. She elbowed her sister Lachesis. The two women seemed to share a sigh. It was as if they knew he had betrayed them. The unease in his stomach churned. "I have selected who will master this charge."
Murmurs drifted through the crowd.
Zeus spoke calmly, firmly, loathing himself for allowing his pride to speak. Yet he remained unwilling to stop the chain of events that Hera had set in motion and he had decreed law. "Clothos. Lachesis. Atropos. Lucky. My four daughters. Rise."
With a flurry of dark hair, Lucky shoved away from the table. She looked first to Hera, then to her father. She shook her head. "Never," she cried. "You and your pious peers will never control my gifts. Nor will you dictate whom I bless. Dear Hera, this is your manipulation, do not doubt we know. For this, no god will again have my blessing." With that, she vanished.
Hera rose. She snapped her fingers and the Furies materialized at her side.
"Let her go, Hera. She has my protection." Zeus raised his voice. "No one will touch Lucky. Am I clear?" He waited for all to acknowledge his decree. "No one will touch any of my daughters."
Hera inclined her head. "As you wish."
The Furies hissed.
"My daughters." Zeus turned to the remaining three: all beautiful, all defiant, all brilliantly angry. "This means a heavier burden now rests upon your shoulders."
"What if we too leave?" Lachesis asked.
"You are protected from any god save me. If you choose to run from this mandate, I will destroy you," Zeus replied.
"And if we stay?" Clothos asked.
"I will give you my decree and be done with it. After I offer you your calling, not even I can interfere."
Atropos was not looking at him, but rather staring straight at Hera. "And then what, Father? If we accept this decree what will happen to us?"
"Lucky cannot be touched, but from this day forward she is cursed. She will never again set foot in these hallowed halls. The only luck she will have is that which she can find on Earth living as one among the mortals. One of them, yet not."
"And the word is law," came the resounding reply from the gods.
"The mortals need you," Hera intoned.
Zeus locked his hands behind his back. He was angry. Hera was a jealous woman and wanted his attentions focused on her alone. He knew that. At times he reveled in that knowledge. She cared not for the mortals. At any given turn, if it suited her whim, she plotted and schemed against them. Yet, the mortals had found a place in Zeus' heart. His daughters would protect them, they would watch out for them. His daughters would see that the mortals lived full lives, however long or short they be.
"And?" Atropos pressed.
"It has been decreed that mortals live out their existences on Earth. There they love, live, and die. To see that this is the guided route of their lives, I offer you, my three beloved daughters, as the Fates. You are renowned in the heavens for your unflinching dedication to loyalty and justice. Not mine, but beyond me."
His daughters nodded.
Oh, how he wished he did not have to do this, but he would protect his daughters lives with all he had. Once they were free of Olympus, Hera would do her best to destroy them and the mortals. He could not let that happen.
"Lachesis, step forward." She did as she was told, looking neither to her right or to her left. "You have always shown wisdom in balance. You will choose which elements will enter into the mortal lives. You will pick the yarn that makes up a life. Good, bad, hostility, even love. You will pick."
"And the word is law."
"Clothos, step forward." The young woman did as she was bid. "You are a skillful weaver, the most talented in all the heavens. You see beauty in all. Where one choice alone may seem so wrong, it is you who sees where that choice will lead. I trust in you to weave the elements into the tapestry that is the mortal life."
"And the word is law."
"Atropos, step forward."
She remained where she was, neither with her sisters nor apart. Just standing, staring straight ahead, and waiting.
At her defiance, he took a deep breath. "Daughter, you will determine the lengths of these yarns. It will be your decision how much of each element is woven into the mortal life. With your shears, you will either extend or cut short the mortal experience. Individual and life span."
"And the word--"
Clothos interrupted, "Is our word final, Father?"
"The word is law," responded Zeus. "Not even I can undo what the Fates decide."
"And the word is law," came the resounding reply.