It was nearly dark when Spiro joined Maya and Admeta. With the approaching winter, the sky grew darker early, limiting the time the inhabitants of the area had to do things. Like hold war councils.
“The birds come from the area surrounding Mount Olympus. They say Hera has been leaving the gods’ home more often and staying away longer. None are certain of where she goes, but they have heard rumors,” Spiro said.
“Do they think she’s getting another army together?” Maya wasn’t ready for another attack by the goddess. The last one drained her emotionally more than physically, and she still mourned the losses she suffered.
“The rumors tend to flow in that direction. They speak of alliances being formed, but not with whom. It is difficult to imagine any god or goddess taking up with Hera after her recent attempts to overthrow them all.”
“Have we learned anything else from these rumors?”
“Only that Hera’s favored cow and peacocks are wary of her recent activities. They are the ones who spoke to our new allies, telling them of their fears. Hera continues to change and the animals grow skittish around her, lest she decide to lash out at them.”
This bit of news was interesting. If she was turning on even her closest acquaintances and pets, was there anything that could make her feel an emotion other than hatred? She prized her twin peacocks longer than humans walked the earth, always well cared for and wanting nothing. Her white cow served her without hesitation, carrying her wherever she wished. Never had any of them feared her.
“Not even her cow, who she rides everywhere, knows where she’s been going?”
“It would appear she’s been spurning them all. She walks when she can and transports herself other ways when necessary. Our last confrontation left her untrusting of even her most loyal creatures.”
“They will be of no use to us, either. We must find out what she’s been up to if we’re to defeat her,” Alexander said.
“We should not dismiss them so quickly. Hera may slip and reveal something to them that we can use. In time, they may prove useful allies. We can use all the allies we can get,” Maya said. She was not ready to quickly ignore potential friends just because they weren’t helpful now. Even the smallest creature could become a powerful contact.
“How can we be certain the information won’t flow the wrong way?” Alexander didn’t want to trust the animals too much. None of the others could blame him. Until now, they had been the closest thing Hera had to friends.
“We limit the information that goes back. Things that won’t make a difference if Hera learns about them. It will keep her pets from thinking we don’t trust them and her from getting too suspicious should they turn out to be spies.”
“But, Maya, do you really think that will work?”
“We’ll never know if we don’t give it a try. All in favor of allowing Hera’s peacocks and cow to join with us in the capacity of spies?” All except Alexander raised his hand.
“All opposed?” Alexander’s hand went up. He was outnumbered, but wanted to let them know where he stood on the matter. If it turned out they really were on their side, fine. But if they were only trying to get into their camp so they could report back to Hera, well he wasn’t about to take the blame.
“The ‘ayes’ have it. Spiro, if you could communicate our wishes to our visitors it would be appreciated.”
“As you wish, Mistress.” Spiro bent his small gray head.
“I still think it’s a bad idea,” Alexander muttered. Hera was tricky. It stood to reason she would put her companions up to this. So far, they hadn’t been able to deliver them any reliable information, but Maya and her camp were expected to trust them. It reeked of Hera’s deception.
“Your hesitation of the matter has been duly noted. Should this prove to be disastrous, you have forewarned us.”
“Then why go forward with it?’
“Sometimes you have to take a chance. It’s the only way to find out if you’re right or not.”
“Heck of a way to prove a point. I can only hope my own instincts are wrong or I fear I may end up standing nearby, watching our world destroyed.”
“For the sake of Elpis and all its people, I hope your instincts are wrong, too.”
“I think now we must turn our attention to finding out who Hera has been meeting with. That is the most important information we could uncover right now. Shall we start drawing up possible lists?” Spiro stood to his full height, trying to obtain everyone’s attention. All around the clearing, heads nodded in agreement. Knowing who else they were up against would be valuable in planning their strategy. It would also give them a good idea of whether they had a chance or were doomed.