Ephus again reached out, trying to feel if Zeus was in deed gone or hidden within his home. Again Ephus shook his head, again thinking great, there was no telling where in the world or realm they were. As usual, Ephus sighed. Nothing was going his way.
He was about to leave when he felt a familiar godly power approaching. A moment later, Hrra appeared before him.
"Godling, I thought that it was you. Is there anything I can help you with?" Hera said, hurt sounding in her voice. No human or god had ever refused her, though when Zeus had appeared she had been more than surprised by his actions.
Never had Zeus ever done the things he had to her. If this was what her daughters and other children of Zeus had felt, she could understand now. It was a wonder that they hadn't pledged themselves to him.
Then again, she thought, they just might have. To say the least, their realm, thanks to Ephus, was going to change for the better.
"Yes," Ephus said, breaking her out of her thoughts. "I am seeking Zeus and answers to questions I have about the Titans.
"Ah I see. Perhaps you are in luck then, he is attending to their prison. I could take you there if you wish," Hera said with a deceptive smile, reaching out to him.
Ephus grasped her arm before she touched him, "I think not Hera. You think I don't know about your powers?"
Hera gasped as she started to fall to her knees, "I didn't mean..." Hera shakily said.
"Yeah right, you are still needed in this realm," Ephus said as Hera started to gasp, then real tears started to fall from her eyes. "I know you, all of you, all of the gods and goddesses here. You can not trick me, I know.
At his feet, now sobbing and shaking, Hera started to plead. "Please Godling, please restore me."
There were three whooshes of power. Athena, Aphrodite and Artemis appeared. Aphrodite smirked at Hera.
"You know, one would think that with as much knowledge as you have, you would have learned. He is immune to almost all our powers. Really Hera, after last time, I'd have thought you wouldn't try this again," Aphrodite said.
Hera, of course, was still trying to make the pain stop. Ephus took pity, slowly restoring her power.
Ephus looked at the three very pregnant goddesses, each looking at him with an almost frightening hunger.
Ephus could only shake his head. Even with all that had happened, they were still as vindictive as they were. That plus the fact that they were still more self-centered than much else.
"That was a warning Hera, your daughters learned, here I thought you had,"Ephus said.
"Oh, she'll learn eventually, that's the problem. She is slow. Now, you were looking for father?" Artemis said.
Ephus turned to her, nodding, she touched Ephus' head, showing him. "I see, that might be why I am having problems with them, thank you," Ephus said as he bowed to the three sisters, then vanished.
A dark, empty feeling area seemed to rush at Ephus as he appeared a few feet from Zeus and Hades. He'd been to the underworld, though it hadn't felt like this .From what he could see, they were far deeper than they had been before.
"Ah Ephus, good to see you, I heard of your recent adventure. What brings you to this forsaken place?" Zeus asked.
There was a sudden rush of power, then a snarling voice shouted, "You! No one hurts Iapetus and survives long! Iapetus will rend your mind and spirit with pain that he will not let end.
"Now, now Iapetus," came another voice, out of sight. "The more you do this the weaker you get. I need you and the others at full strength when we break out of here."
Another visage moved in sight next to Iapetus. "Hello Cronus," Ephus smiled, "I thought you'd be holding his leash."
Iapetus started to sputter, then growl. Cronus put a hand on him, calming him. "Have no doubt, godling, your unique power will lead us from this prison. Here Cronus turned to Zeus, "nothing, no one will escape our wrath when we do. You will be the first Zeus, then this world will know true suffering."
Ephus smirked as he suddenly altered his power to mimic Zeus. "You might find that harder than you think, Cronus."
Cronus's eyes narrowed, then he nodded. "So, you met your ancestor, it will be a sweeter revenge then. Like him, I will break you, I..."
Cronus's eyes went wide, then he started to scream, Iapetus started to growl, then he too let out a scream.
"I am not the weak, unknowing godling you met before." Ephus hissed, a look of menace on his face. "In fact," the two Titans started to scream more, then suddenly dropped.
A glaring look came from both of them, Iapetus started to open his mouth, "I will..." then screamed again.
"I see that the Titans are as unteachable as the gods," Ephus calmly said.
"We..." Cronus started, then snapped his mouth shut when Ephus turned to focus on him. "We can be slow, I admit, we do learn though. As with Zeus, now with you, we have learned this won't happen again." The area in front of them was suddenly empty as the Titans vanished.
Zeus and Hades' mouths were hanging open, both staring at Ephus. "Again, I have to say, I am glad that you are on our side," Zeus said.
"I am not the same as I was, your son, showed me a great many things that have helped. I need to go, the Asgard realm still has a lot of trouble. As bad as here, when Ares was trying to rule," Ephus said.
Both Zeus and Hades nodded, then Ephus vanished.
There was a collective gasp from Odin and the others within the domicile of Freya, when Ephus appeared.
"So I have been to see Zeus. It appears that even with them imprisoned, the Titans are still trying to influence the outside world. It appears that my power is the only thing that can release them. That isn't going to happen." Ephus said.
"Are they not an older power?" Odin asked.
"We should take them, we have numbers," Göndul said the was shocked when Ephus shook his head no.
" They have as much power as all of you put together," Ephus said, shocking all there.
"Surely Odin and Gungnir can..." Frigg started.
"No, even with his power, I am afraid not even Thor would have much chance. These Titans have a more ancient power, we have to out think them as Zeus did," Ephus said.
"Well, that shouldn't be too hard considering the stories we have heard about them," Frigg said.
A small smile came to Ephus's lips, then he shook his head. "I'm afraid that, given the amount of time that they have been, it won't be that easy. I've seen just how shrewd they can be, they also have a lot of illusion trickery."
"So you think that they may have an advantage over all of us?" Frya asked.
"I'm afraid so, though as strong as all of you are now, that power of theirs might not affect you at all," Ephus said.
"So, we can't defeat them with strength, nor with trickery. Are you sure that you can?" Thor asked.
"Oh yes, after all, I am the one that they want, no, need. I have seen many lose when they are more focused on something other than what is going on around them. Now, I have a plan, here's what we need to do..." Ephus started.
Quinn was starting to pace, she was far more worried about Ephus than she'd let on. Bast, Serket and Thoth had stayed after Freya and Göndul had left.
Bast was still expecting a message from one of them. She, too, was worried, she'd seen Ephus become preoccupied and single-minded like this before. It was good though she knew he would keep going to the point of death.
Almost as if she had heard Bast's thoughts, Freya contacted her. Bast, it is as you said he is indeed focused deeply on this.
You and the others need to protect him, he can forget quite a bit if you allow it, came Bast's thoughts.
I have done as you asked. I have not told him that we are watching him. I will endeavor to keep him as safe as I can, Freya's thoughts said.
Thank you Freya, now I just hope that this doesn't incite his anger, Bast thought.
A gasp drew her out of her thoughts, turning her toward Serket and Quinn. Bast's eyes opened wide when she saw the glow coming from around Quinn.
Bast took a deep breath, " Sister wife, I know you're worried. You have to calm down before something happens that we can not help with."
Quinn's glow started to fade when she asked, "something you can't help with?"
"Yes, sister wife," Bast answered. "Though you haven't shown it yet, you could transport to a place we can't go."
Only for a moment Quinn's face held confusion, then it dawned on her. "Oh! I hadn't thought of that. Do you really think I might develop that?"
"I can't be certain, not with the way your power seems to be multiplying. Might I suggest?" Bast asked, to which Quinn nodded. "Try not to think of anywhere else. We have found that unless we have been there? Where you can land, might not be to your advantage."
A look of horror came to Quinn's face. True, she had god-like power, but she still had no real control. It appeared that her sister wives, as they called themselves, weren't much help. Damnit! She needed Ephus here if she was ever going to get a handle on this.
All three of the Egyptian god and goddesses had to back up as these thoughts had Quinn's power starting to rise again. Quinn looked at one of hands glowing, shook her head, then the glow vanished. Bast and Serket nodded their heads. It appeared that she had far more control than they thought.
Thoth was shaking his head, the amount of power he'd felt was almost twice what it had been before. They needed something to get Quinn's thoughts controlled. A sudden thought hit him as he remembered a similar problem with Ephus.
He turned to Quinn, he just hoped that this worked. "I remembered something my sisters. Ephus told us that he might have god-like powers, his thinking was human. Perhaps if we approached the problem like that it would work."
A broad smile came to Bast's face as she also remembered that day. "That sounds far easier than it appeared to be. We are of the gods. What do we know of human thinking?"
Thoth could only shake his head and smirk at Bast, "you had a great amount of time dealing with humans sister. Don't even think about passing all this on me."
"One thing I can think of to help you, Quinn. Look inside, see your power as a bright ball of energy." Bast started, waiting 'til Quinn nodded. "Now, see a wall that the energy can't get through."
"You mean like," Quinn said, then fell to her knees with a look of pain on her face. "Oh shit! It hurts Bast,"
"See a door in that wall, open it a little. There you go." Bast instructed.
Quinn gasped, then drew in a large lungful of air. "What in the hell was that?" Quinn nearly shouted.
"It appears you completely shut your power off. I have never seen anyone do that except for Ephus. Fortunately, you were still connected to your power, very interesting," Bast said.
Quinn stared at Bast. What do you mean very interesting? What!? You think I am a danger, that I am going to destroy everything?" Quinn said, looking at the three there, backing away slowly.
"No sister wife, your control is almost as fast and good as Ephus's. I wish he was here to show you more. At least now you can turn it down," Bast said.
"For the moment, I am afraid that I just might cause those things I mentioned," said a now worried Quinn.
Bast looked at Thoth and Serket, "shall we test your power?" When Quinn only nodded, Bast touched her shoulder as they all four winked out.
They all appeared in a rock quarry. For a moment, Quinn was looking around with an almost panicked look. Bast nodded, then Quinn and Ephus' son appeared in his playpen. Quinn breathed a sigh of relief.
"I want you to destroy a few of the rocks, OK? Bast said. "Start with that one, just a small one."
Quinn looked at Bast as if she was crazy. The rock in question was eight feet high, six feet wide. "So uh, what exactly do you want me to do?"
"I'm not sure, I guess try to crack it. Don't use all your power, maybe three parts of four.," Bast suggested.
Quinn looked at the large rock, concentrated, then watched as it was blasted to dust. "Oh shit! I think I used too much," Quinn said.
Both Bast and Serket had large smiles on their faces. Thoth was actually worried. He was afraid that he was going to have to contact Ephus. Thoth shook his head again, what he was seeing was bad, really bad.
Thor was outside of the Asgard Palace, beating down a few of the fire and ice giants that were coming at him. The shit-eating grin on his face had Ephus rolling his eyes. Yeah, Thor was enjoying this a lot more than Ephus thought he would.
Thor, came Ephus' thoughts. Now I can feel them coming.
Thor just nodded as he took flight, leaving the area much faster than the giants could follow. Within a minute, Ephus and Thor could feel the rest of the Valkyries as they gave chase.
"You should surrender to your defeat and death," a Valkerie shouted as the group started to gain on him.
They are starting to gain on me, are you sure of this?" Thor asked. If this fails, even I can not defeat this many.
It will work, keep heading to Freya's home. Inside, Ephus and the other five freed valkeries waited. Thor was just coming within sight of Freya's home, with the Valkeries a few feet behind.
Ephus smiled when the group of winged women gasped and stopped when Thor vanished. Then there were shouts of surprise and anger as three of their number also vanished.
The three appeared before Ephus, Thor and the five freed Valkeries. Each was startled, then growled, then drew weapons.
"So Göll, Kára, Mist, you still betray Odin." Göndul said.
"Bah! We serve the true leader, Loki, attack my..." Göll started, then was staring at Mist and Kára. They were frozen, staring transfixed at something in front of them. Göll turned her head to stare straight into the eyes of a human-feeling male.
What was worse, both Kára and Mist had walked to the side of the other five Valkeries in the room. A shake of her head seemed to clear the strange compulsions that she was having.
A battle growl issued from her throat as she rushed forward with her wand and sword. Her sword was met by seven others as hers was knocked away. Whirling, she started to attack with a vicious ferocity that surprised Ephus.
Yes, yes! Kill the male, kill all that are there, kill them. You will be well rewarded. You have the strength. NO! Shouted Loki's voice as she looked up again, straight into the gaze of Ephus.
This time, there was no looking away as she felt herself drawn deep into Ephus' eyes. All will be fine, just let the bad feelings go. There you go, came a soothing male voice in her head, a voice she couldn't ignore.
NO! You will only listen to me, I am your leader, came the screaming into the thoughts of all there.
Göll was confused, the screaming thoughts she thought were her leader. The soothing thoughts made her mind feel clearer. As Ephus knew, the clearer her thoughts got, the less control Loki would have 'til she was free.
She lowered her sword and wand as she started to take a step toward Ephus.
"Well, it appears that you are losing a large part of your army. Good luck hanging on to the rest. I hope you are enjoying not having the dark elves and stone giants has seriously weakened your control," Ephus said, then laughed.
It was you! Loki's thoughts screamed. I will crush you and those weak useless Valkeries. Even with Odin and Thor, you have to chance of winning. I still control the nexus and the palace. You will never take them.
Ephus started to laugh again, " You are a fool, Loki. Trusting that the Titans will honor their promises. They will crush you like the bug that you are."
No, you are the fool, they have more power than you ever hope to have. You'll see, you will see, when they are slowly destroying you.
Ephus continued to laugh even harder as Loki started to sputter, then yell, 'til he was actually screaming. Ephus just shook his head, cutting the connection.
A moment later, Odin, Frigg, Freya and Thor appeared from a room. All eight Valkeries bowed to the floor before all three.
"Arise daughters, we have a lot to do before we move to relaim our realm. I have recovered Gungnir with the help of the godling Ephus. Ephus has banished the dark elves and the stone giants. He has lost eight of you, he has lost quite a bit though we have gained a lot," Odin said.
"We will gain more of you soon. Once we claim more of your sisters, we can put an end to this," Freya said. "We have a plan but it will take all of us to do this. As Odin said, we thankfully have more now."
All of them then stepped back as Ephus outlined his revised plan. All of their eyes were wide as Ephus explained in detail just what he wanted then to do.
In the Asgard palace, Loki was extremely angry, he'd already knocked several of the fire and ice giants unconscious. He was shouting and throwing things 'til he felt as if he was suddenly held by a giant hand.
Loki struggled to break free, then gasped as the face of Croinus appeared before him.
"You are acting like a little spoiled child. I came to you because you had the power and knowledge to accomplish this. Now, we need you to take Ephus. You have far more power than he has. I suggest that you use it or we will find one that can. You won't like it if you anger us, not at all," Cronus said as he flung Loki into the far wall.
Loki growled as he tried to rise of the floor. Reaching within, he felt this power that the Titan spoke of. Shocked when a huge well of power rushed up to greet him. Ah! With this I can completely destroy that weak godling.
Loki started to laugh hysterically, then he felt as if he were slapped across the room. Smashing into the wall far harder then he thought he would, he heard Cronus growl. "We are watching, do not fowl this up, capture not kill!" Loki growled when he felt the Titan leave, then slipped into unconsciousness.
Ephus shook his head when he felt the leader of the Titans near Loki. If he hadn't been sure before, he was now. He thought of all that Zeus had told him. So far the plan was working, he felt that Loki was indeed weaker, though not enough yet.
He had congratulated Thor on his great acting. He was getting ready to send him again when the building shook. A look showed him that Loki was attacking them from a great distance.
Ephus extended his arms as he doubled the strength of the shield. An hour later, Ephus laughed as he could just imagine how mad Loki was, not even weakening the shield.
Odin and the others had been worried when the attack had started. Seeing Ephus still calm, though he had reassured them. They finally had quiet when Ephus nodded to Thor, who vanished, appearing again outside the palace.
With almost child-like glee, Thor started to knock several of the ice and fire giants out again. You really think they will fall for it again? Thor asked.
Ephus shook his head again at Thor's antics, I believe so especially with Loki as mad as he is. Less than a minute later, Thor smiled, feeling the group of females rapidly advancing toward him. Taking off at half speed, he was just fast enough to stay ahead. Here we go again, he thought as he drew close to Freya's home.