“I have decided to relinquish my title as one of the twelve Olympian gods.” Hestia said in a language- less voice that reverberated throughout the halls of Olympus.
The gods did not have a language. They just spoke and all understood. When Hestia spoke, the crowd gasped. The Twelve did not change their expressions. They knew that this was coming.
“We understand that you wish to go back to your duties wholeheartedly.” Zeus said, his voice like a blast of thunder.
“I do. I feel as if being one of the Twelve is distracting me from my charge over the hearth.” Hestia said.
“Distracting in what way? What do you mean? Can you explain it? Is it us? Are you distracted by us?” Hermes asked rapidly, always curious about the world around him.
Hestia could not find the words to explain herself to her brothers and sisters. Neither was she anticipating that she would have to explain her decision to the Twelve. She had just expected to go through the ceremony of stepping down from her title and then go back to the hearth where she belonged. Hestia glanced around. The crowd of creatures who had come to witness this gathering of the Twelve wanted to know why she would leave the prestige and honor of sitting on a throne of Olympus.
“I feel as though there is too much fighting amongst the Twelve. I need a calmer environment. I am sure you all understand.” Hestia said, her words dancing around her true anger at the Twelve.
“I’m afraid some of us don’t understand, Hestia. What fighting do you mean?” Hera asked, spitting the words down to her sister.
Hestia looked up at Hera’s disapproving face. Hera was naturally thinking of ways to make existence difficult for all of the gods. When Hera spoke up, Hephaestus immediately got up on the edge of his throne, a fire having been sparked in his soul.
“Possibly the throwing of children off mountains! Or you trying to kill and torture everyone my father has had an infatuation with!” Hephaestus said, his voice coarse from laboring over a fire night and day.
Aphrodite let a small laugh slip playfully from her perfect lips. Aphrodite loved to see Hera in bad light.
“How dare you bring up such issues in front of the lesser beings?” Hera yelled to Hephaestus, pointing to the crowd below, “Zeus, did you hear this filth? Will you allow this disgusting abomination to speak to me in such a way?”
Zeus did not speak. He had learned from experience that nothing could satiate Hera. Apollo spoke in Zeus’s stead, as he often did.
“Abomination? You have made him what he is, Hera.” Apollo said in his angelic voice.
Apollo had to feel Hera’s rage once as well. All of Zeus’s children not born of Hera have gained her hatred. Apollo had gained the misfortune of being of a different mother. He felt Hephaestus’s pain.
“He was a disappointment from birth. He was weak and ugly. I just made it obvious to everyone else. A little trip down the mountain served him well. No child of mine would be anything less than perfect.” Hera said.
Hestia winced at Hera’s spiteful words. She loved all of her brothers and sisters and it pained her to allow Hera to speak to Hephaestus in such a way, but she dared not speak against Hera now. She wanted to leave the Twelve, not become their prisoner.
“You evil witch! Do you enjoy the freedom of being able to stand up, mother? Because I can take that from you once again, if you wish.” Hephaestus said, reminding Hera of his act of revenge.
“You ingrate!” Hera screamed, her anger causing Olympus to shake.
The crowd of creatures below all shuddered with fear when they realized that Hera could accidentally kill them all. None of them wished to see the kingdom of Hades today. Hestia, on the other hand, was giving the crowd a glimpse of what happened to her every day.
“I think you understand what I mean by ‘distracting’, Zeus.” Hestia said.
“I understand,” Zeus said, calming all other Olympians with his agreement, “But who have you nominated to take your place?”
Everyone in the palace, the palace that had hosted the most rambunctious parties, the loudest debates, the fiercest fights, suddenly grew silent. The lesser gods were all wishing it to be them, of course. They wanted a chance to be one of the Twelve. To receive the power and the glory of being one of the most powerful gods on Gaia. It was an intoxicating idea, but Hestia had already made her choice.
“I have chosen Dionysus to take my place as one of the Twelve.” Hestia said.
The mountain exploded. Everyone was shouting and yelling. Even Zeus had stood up. He was trying to hold back Hera while she attempted to kill Hestia. Poseidon did nothing as he found the matters of Olympus to be trivial. Athena and Demeter stayed silent. Athena was using her powerful wisdom acting as her guide while Demeter did not participate in debates. Apollo eagerly supported Dionysus being one of the Twelve. Aphrodite agreed with Hestia, as well. Hephaestus and Dionysus were great friends, so he was verbally assaulting Hera. Hera hated Dionysus, even though he had saved her life. She thought he was too crazy to be able to take being one of the Twelve seriously. He was also the product of Zeus and another woman. Ares and Artemis agreed with Hera, since they both took their jobs very seriously as well. Hermes and Dionysus got along fine, so he supported Hestia as well.
“Silence!” Zeus shouted.
The mountain grew silent at his command.
“I will hear from each of the Twelve.” Zeus said, turning to Hera.
“He is insane! He can’t handle the responsibility of being one of the Twelve. He is unpredictable and too concerned with his ‘festivals’ to even consider this proposition.” Hera yelled.
“He is perfectly capable of doing anything any of the rest of us can do. And he is just as insane you are, Hera.” Hephaestus said, “Probably less so, in fact. I support Hestia.”
“I would love to see Dionysus again. I haven’t seen him since Hyacinth died. He’s quite the god,” Apollo said, trying to picture Dionysus’s face after such a time apart, “I agree with Hestia.”
“He may be powerful, but he’s too attached to the world below to ever come back to us,” Artemis said, her voice as mysterious as the moon, “He loves those humans and he loves the earth. I refuse Hestia’s request.”
“Ha. He doesn’t love anything. He just wants things. Don’t confuse want with love.” Hera said.
“Silence, Hera.” Zeus said.
“They are easy things to confuse, Hera. However, Dionysus has loved those humans as no other god has. I’ve felt it from him. I’ve felt everything from,” Aphrodite said, “I agree with Hestia.”
“No.” Ares said, speaking absolutely as he often did.
“If Hestia desires Dionysus to take her place, I see no reason to refuse her.” Demeter said.
“I agree with Hestia. There is nothing wrong with Dionysus. He’s a great god. I like him. He made me wine once. It was nice. Actually, I don’t remember it. Or maybe I do. I must have been drunk. I wonder if he will make me wine again.” Hermes said, nearly jumping in his throne.
“Brother?” Poseidon said, asking Zeus his thoughts.
The King of the Gods simply looked at the King of the Sea. Poseidon then knew Zeus’s thoughts on the matter.
“I agree with Hestia.” Poseidon said quickly, eagerly waiting for the moment he could leave the sky and return to his domain.
Athena merely shook her head. Zeus considered Athena’s choice. If Athena opposed it, there was reason for opposition.
“Lower creatures of Gaia!” Zeus shouted, gaining the attention of the masses below, “What do you think of Dionysus?”
The crowd surrounding the thrones became savage. They had been demanding that their voices be heard and they were eager to speak. They seemed to be rallying around Hades, who did not want anyone but himself to take the throne of the Twelve.
“There are other more qualified gods who could take Hestia’s place as one of the Twelve!” Hades yelled from the ground, but he was powerful enough to have his voice reverberate off the walls.
“Hades, my brother. Are you considering yourself for the position?” Zeus asked, the question pulling a veil of silence over the palace.
Hades felt the stares of the other creatures boring into his macabre head. The whispers overtook him. He had lived the entirety of his life hidden away inside his realm of shadows. He wanted out. Hades took a step forward, his body beginning to quiver and shake. A strange darkness overtook the shining palace and wrapped around the Twelve. It could not fully encase Apollo and Zeus, but it was causing them some discomfort to protect themselves from Hades’s shadow. His form began to turn ethereal. He took flight as the other creatures stepped back in awe of his power. He was reminding them that he was a god.
“My brothers, my sisters, my friends, my subjects,” Hades said, his voice drilling into the creature’s souls, “Who remembers the Great War?”
Shudders, screams and fear became prevalent in the crowd. The Twelve even lowered their gazes in remembrance of the dark days. Words were Hades’s power. He constructed them, polished them, tamed and mastered them. Some say that Zeus forced Hades into the Underworld for fear of his words. Zeus did not want to be challenged for power.
“Why talk of this day, my brother?” Zeus asked.
“To remind you who was there, brother. To remind you who fought for the fall of our father and for the establishment your reign. My body was broken. My will was almost broken. My powers became drained and diminished. However, I fought ever still. I remember the day when we cast the Unjust into the Pits of Tartarus. Zeus lifted the world from darkness and we obtained peace!” Hades took a pause and felt the condition of his listeners.
They were in awe of him and he could tell. Hades knew that he need only push them a bit further before he had them in his grasp.
“Imagine what we could accomplish, my friends, by adding my power to yours. We would be unstoppable!”
The crowd erupted into praise of the master orator. Zeus, however, was not amused. He glanced to Apollo, who shared his hatred of Hades’s speeches. They had to stop it.
“I propose a contest between Hades and Dionysus.” Apollo said.
Hades turned to Apollo and sneered at him with all of the distaste that he could muster. The crowd had calmed and was now intrigued by Apollo’s proposition. Hades could not refuse.
“What sort of contest?” Hades asked.
“I propose a contest of popularity and faith. As we all know, we have fallen out of favor with the rest of the world.” Apollo said.
The creatures and gods all sighed dismally. The world was divided in who was correct in their gods, but no one had given an offering to Zeus in ages.
“The world has forgotten the gods of old and replaced them with new divine beings. We have lost brothers. Gods have been fading to nothing as the world loses faith in us. We have lost power. Because of this, I believe that my contest will prove which god truly deserves to become one of the Twelve. The god who manages to find just one person in one day who still worships them will receive the honor of being one of the Twelve.” Apollo said.
“I agree with your terms, Apollo,” Hades said, “Let us confer with Dionysus.”