The Brightest Heaven (A Song of the Muses book)
A Muse, a Mortal, a threat to the Universe.
Ages-old grudges and human weakness.
What chance do Urania and Daniel have at happiness?
Athena stood in the center of the bower, armed for war, with Glauxion on her shoulder. The little owl held an olive branch in its beak. Ready for war, seeking peace. Sometimes, Zeus’ oldest child wasn’t too subtle.
Someone else stood in the shadows, so immobile that Ourania couldn’t guess at the Olympian’s identity.
“You must stop him.”
“Greetings to you also, sister mine,” Ourania replied without moderating her sarcasm.
Athena pounded her spear and the scent of mint and sage rose stronger in the bower. “There is no time. The humans are too close to opening a portal, and the time isn’t right. Nor are the players.”
Cold slithered across Ourania’s shoulders, carrying a susurration of incomprehensible voices. Shivering, she glanced around, and wondered again whether it was a warning or a threat from the Underworld. Athena’s words echoed her own fears. But if she stopped Daniel’s work, what then?
“Who are the players?”
Athena’s hand tightened on her spear. “You share Apollo’s sight, and yet you do not see?”
Ourania shook her head.
The third person stepped out of the shadows, a beautiful woman dressed in the long, flowing robes of a married lady, her well-coiffed hair covered with the finest veil.
Ourania bowed to her. “Themis.” Ancient goddess of law and order, lady of prophets and seers, mother of the Horai, the guardian-sisters of the gates of Olympus, and of the Moirai who presided over Fate. “I only share Apollo’s gift, my lady. And in this instance, I do not see.”
Themis seemed to peer right into Ourania’s soul. “Ah, so it is.” She nodded, and appeared satisfied with what she saw. “Athena is right, child. Your protégé must be stopped. His quest cannot continue. It threatens the very fabric of the universe.”
The cold touch whispered again over Ourania’s skin, and rebellion simmered hot in her belly. “How can a thought threaten the universe?”
“When thought is made manifest, child,” Themis said with unflinching patience.
Ourania stared from one goddess to the other. They had made their decision. They had seen, or sensed, or even failed to see something, and would not be swayed. Taking a deep breath, she fought back sorrow and tears and prepared to fight a last battle for Daniel.
“You’re asking a terrible sacrifice of this mortal. How will you repay him?”
Athena, younger and war-like, turned towards Themis, ageless and knowing. “She is right, o Well-Counselled. To one such as this mortal, his quest is is life. His soul. He must be repaid.”
Themis closed her eyes, looking inward. Golden light shimmered around her as the power of prophecies gathered in her. “Offer him a choice, then, child. He may forsake his mortal life and retain his knowledge. He will then know the truth of his quest. Or it will fall upon you to destroy his knowledge and memory and redirect his questing mind.”
“But… No!” For people, for peace, for humanity, she had been called upon to wipe clean a mortal’s mind. But Daniel? Daniel’s bright aura, his splendid energy? She had to force herself to speak. “He would not be the same!”
“Child!” Themis’ voice resonated as only a Titan’s could, and Ourania was reminded of the goddess’ age – greater than Zeus, greater than Hera, her power contained only by her choice and her sense of righteousness. “You do not know what is at stake. Believe me, there are no other choices. Present them to this mortal. Eternal life, or forgetfulness.”
A flash of light, sudden sunshine in the midst of cool shadows brought warmth and serenity. Apollo appeared at Ourania’s side, close enough to take her hand. But like Dionysus before, something stopped him before he could touch her.
“Obey, dear Muse of numbers and cycling stars. I must order you. Father sends me. I sense a disturbance, but I cannot see beyond a veil of darkness. Do you not feel it?”
Ourania shook her head.
“Ah.” All three gods nodded as if they understood something she was missing entirely.