Excerpt from Harmony

Prologue

 

Rhea, mother of all gods, defender of the earth, watched, listened and plotted. The serene, somewhat bored expression on her exquisitely ethereal face hid the calculated, surreptitious way with which she looked forward to outsmarting her husband. Cronus, as usual, gave no thought to anyone or anything but his own importance. He presided over the proceedings, lording his position, trying to undermine all she and her daughter, Meredith, were trying to accomplish. Meredith had been barred from attending the assembly.

In fact, Rhea had no idea where Cronus held her daughter. Cronus detained her somewhere, making sure she could not influence the other gods who were present. He would not dare mistreat my daughter! Rhea tried to brush aside her worry that he might harm Meredith in any way. She knew too much of his own indiscretions, and the multitude of offspring those had spawned. Harming one of her own children would lead to direct retaliation. Rhea was not above exacting her own pointed vengeance.

Her siblings, gods in their own right, were also, for their own purposes, biding their time. Cronus expects us all to bow to his whims. Rhea knew that more than a few of her brothers and sisters were eager to garner as much power as they could for themselves. The heavens were not as secure under his dominion as Cronus imagined.

Aside from those present, Rhea was aware of other gods who were patiently watching and waiting. Long forgotten to time, Zeus, her beloved son, hungered for his own return to power. Born from her union with Cronus, Zeus remembered well his father’s attempt to end his life at birth. It was only through the actions of others that Zeus had managed to survive.

Zeus, for the longest time, believed his father remained imprisoned in Tartarus where he had placed him. Having tossed his father into the endless abyss to languish forever in torment, Zeus, unfortunately, had put him out of his mind. If only we had known. Rhea would have done everything in her power to stop her husband’s return. Cronus escaped his prison having spent less than ten years in the abyss.

Rescued by Poseidon and Hera, two of her other children, Cronus kept himself hidden for centuries before making his presence known. Why their other children had saved him, Rhea never found out. What had Cronus promised them? Whatever it was, he must have never made good on it. She knew with certainty that Poseidon and Hera were now aligned with Zeus.

Sitting on her assigned pedestal seat, ignoring Cronus’s droning, she pretended to study her nails. Anyone glancing her way would see indifference to her husband’s speech. They would be wrong, however. Rhea was paying attention to every word her husband uttered. Every now and then, she casually shifted in her seat, drawing Cronus’s eyes her way. She had taken extra care with her appearance before the meeting. Rhea knew Cronus had a particular liking for the gown she had chosen. Blue as the sky, the gossamer material hugged her every curve. The bodice dipped so low it made its necessity obsolete. Her ample bosom, almost fully exposed for his shrewd examination, entranced him.

She hid a smile at how hard he endeavored to concentrate on what he wished to articulate. Leaning forward, seemingly to be attentive, Rhea caught his momentary loss of focus. Resuming his speech, Cronus’s gaze fell on Rhea, who ran her hand leisurely through her hair, brushing it out of the way. Waves of golden blond curls ran free, fanning her shoulders, as they cascaded down her back. His eyes raked over her, in much the same way as when she had first entered the meeting arena.

Rhea suppressed a shudder of revulsion before he could see it. Does he know how much I detest him? Cronus fancied himself above any and all gods. He could never imagine his near-perfect looks and physique would be matched by anyone. Rhea could name several mortal men she had sampled who had put him to shame.

Mortals were the very reason they had been called into that meeting. Her daughter’s actions were regrettable, but Rhea saw an opportunity arise from them. Meredith, born of a passionate and impetuous affair with a Sidhe warrior, caused immeasurable problems with her most recent actions. At the time Rhea met Meredith’s father, she believed him to be a mortal man. She should have known, guessed, he was something more. Even a goddess could be fallible.