Back in the real cosmos!" Phoebus cried. "I could bend down and kiss the Earth," Hephaestus said.
The first thing they did was have a celebration, a reunion dinner roasting Zeus. They sang "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow"; they did comic imitations of his elaborate and portentous style. They sacrificed the usual animals and got the blood all over everything because servants, not the gods themselves, usually did the dirty work of sacrifice; they got drunk and acted in a bawdy fashion.
Zeus rapped on the table for attention. "I want to thank you all. It was very good of you to put on this celebration for me."
"Three cheers for Zeus!"
"Thank you. Thank you. Now then, on to something a bit more serious. I've been looking into what we might do with ourselves, now that we're out of Afterglow. I'm talking about all of us together."
"Do something together?" said Athena. "But we never do anything together!"
"We need to this time," Zeus said firmly. "Lack of cohesiveness is what brought on our defeat the last time. We're not going to make that mistake again! We need a project we can all work on, something that will serve our common good. It has come to my attention that the biggest thing going on now out there in the world is a certain play that a young demon of the modern persuasion is trying to mount for the edification of the world. This demon, Azzie Elbub, is planning to award seven players glorious prizes for no reason at all. Did you ever hear of such a thing?"
Zeus paused for comment. The gods and goddesses made none, but sat on their golden folding chairs and listened attentively.
Zeus went on. "The first thing we need to do is put a stop to this sort of vague and purposeless moralizing by upstart spiritual powers like the aforementioned demon. Didn't we ancient gods say that Character is Fate? Isn't that as true today as it ever was?"
"If we take action," Hermes said, "the Powers of Evil aren't going to like us putting the kibosh on their plans."
"I am indifferent to their feelings," Zeus replied. "If they don't like it, they know what they can do about it."
"But should we be getting into trouble so quickly?" said Hermes. "Wouldn't it be better to arbitrate? I'm sure we can find something to arbitrate. Meanwhile, perhaps we should lie low, or even hide."
"That would do no good at all," Zeus said. "The others, the Powers of Light and Dark, will try to put us back on the Limbo reservation. Anyway, where would we go? There's no place in the universe where we can hide. The powers that be are going to come for us sooner or later. Let's have some fun while we may, and strike a blow for our usual way of doing things—godlike trickery!"
They gazed far out from Olympus and saw Sir Oliver's troop riding through some low hills.
"What's the story?" Athena asked as she and the others watched the great band of armed riders. Hordes of pilgrims, too, seemed to have joined the host.
"What happens when they reach Venice?" Hermes asked.
"Their leader gets what he most desires," Zeus told them. "Maybe, by extension, they do, too."
"Well, we can't have that happen, can we?" Athena demanded.
Zeus laughed and summoned the various wind gods, Zephyrus and Boreas among them. They whipped around Europe, Asia Minor, and parts of Asia collecting stray breezes. They stuffed these winds into a large leather bag and presented the bag to Zeus. Zeus loosened the leather thongs that held the mouth of the bag, and a west wind poked her head out and asked, "What's going on? Who goes around capturing wind?"
"We're Greek gods, and we capture winds when we please," said Zeus.
"Oh. Sorry I asked. What did you want us to do?"
"I'd like you to blow up a good storm."
The west wind looked more cheerful than before. "Oh, a storm! That's different! I thought you wanted one of those mild breezes people are always talking about."
"We don't care what people want," Zeus said. "We're gods and we want dramatic weather."
"Where do you want this storm?" the west wind asked, rubbing together her transparent hands.
"Ares," Zeus said, "why don't you go along with the winds and show them where we want them to blow?
You could also direct the rain, while you're at it."
"Delighted," said Ares. "Especially since I consider weather to be war by other means."