717 BCE / XXXVI Ann. Ab Urbe Condita
The Olympian peace was short-lived. After the war with Demeter, many of the gods had returned to their realms, hoping vainly for peaceful retirement after years of agony and bloodshed. Alas, though, it was not to be. When the gods turned their attention inward to Olympus, they found their family torn apart. As the great mountain palace returned to prominence, so too did pride and envy.
In an effort to stave off conflict, Queen Hera bartered with her husband Zeus to reorganize the realms of the Olympians. Seeking naught but to heal a battered family, Hera offered to share his burden of leadership. The boastful King of the Gods, however, had not lost his taste for blood. He would hear none of it. Zeus, fearing a plot to strip him of authority and steal his symbol of power, grew ever suspicious of his own household. In jealous fits he flashed his Alpha Bolt around recklessly, threatening his own subjects. Spiralling into paranoia, the King acted impulsively.
The god of the sky descended to his Royal Vault and, defying a most ancient law of godly power, he meddled with the jurisdiction of Hades, lord of all riches. Using power no other god would dare, Zeus conjured a surfeit of new personal wealth, expanding his own treasury until it overflowed with cursed treasure. Emboldened by greed, he used his new fortune to strengthen his mighty fortress, employing mortal labourers to construct his new bastion. But corruption cannot hold forever. The Fates watched on as Zeus brashly spurned the ancient codes, swelling his power as he fell deeper and deeper into tyrannical madness. At last, the Moirai had seen enough. They cut their thread, sealing the destiny of the King of Olympus. The fall of Zeus thus prophesied, the remaining Olympians confronted their father and brother. He had but one dishonourable card left to play, though.
Slipping away from his fellow gods, Zeus silently departed Olympus, leaving only the innocent mortal builders to defend it. He appeared in a cloud of fury before a band of mercenary thugs, sputtering with power that exceeded his own control. Zeus offered the brigands a share of riches in exchange for raining terror upon mortal nations. The gods learned of Zeus’ scheme when the mercenaries marched on the Roman outpost of Delta. The immortals, enraged, flew from their myriad realms — Poseidon from the sea, Makaria from the underworld, Aeolus from his cloud palace. Even Hecate, once more stirred from neutrality, joined the righteous defence, as did the redeemed Titan Atlas. The grimy band of vagrants stomped through the streets of the peaceful town, souring its idyllic farms and temples with blood. They laid siege to the bemused leader Damien, who had done nothing to provoke such godly wrath. Zeus himself joined the attack, throwing himself at his fellow gods who had come to defend Delta.
The gods’ divine ichor had never boiled with such anger; lightning snapped at wind, and oceanic might entwined with chthonic power as the Olympians fought their bloodiest internal conflict yet. Roused by the clamour, Dionysus reluctantly emerged from his vineyard enclave and took up arms against a father that once favoured him. The wine god’s curses of madness only increased the chaos on the battlefield, rooting god and mortal alike to the spot in agonizing fits. As Dionysus ensnared his enemies, Poseidon slew them, wielding the sacred Uru Blade of his spurned brother Hades. The pair chased after Zeus, the sea god roaring with fury at the King’s refusal to stand and fight. Pushed back from the front in Delta, Zeus fled the scene to Asteria. He assaulted the new capital of Rome with its patron gods already engaged in battle, but the brave emperor — the mighty Son of Ares — supported by Makaria and Dionysus, quickly turned away his feeble attack.
The distraction had worked, though; the brigands captured Delta, and the red mist of battle dissipated. As the cacophany faded, the only noises left were the forlorn bubbling of red-tinged streams through the streets, and the ragged breath of gods. Though they’d lost a brave Roman town, the Olympians had subdued Zeus. The once-resplendent god of the sky fell to the ground, his immortal flesh and spirit both equally wounded. Sighing deeply, Atlas turned to the Olympians.
Though their number had shrunk so recently with the fall of Demeter, it seemed no choice remained: the King must be cast from the mountain he’d once ruled. Together, the gods stripped Zeus of his power. With a mighty heave, the benevolent Titan Atlas cast the shackled god to the dark pit of Tartarus, damning him to live on, ever chained to the Titans he himself had once overthrown. Hera assumed her place at the head of the Olympian council. Around the table, immortal gods could not hide their sorrow, their divine faces etched with the pain of all their mortal followers had lost.
Thus began yet another new chapter in the Sisyphean lives of the gods. They retreated, once more, to their enclaves, hoping once more for peace. Heed this parable, reader. Pride and power make dangerous fellows, but the vainglorious cannot escape fate. The greater the hubris, the more painful the fall.
Contritium praecedit superbia. Dupla arrogantia, duplus casus.