The sun reflected off of smooth marble buildings, creating a spectacular light show in the heavens. Everything had a sense of sterility to it; the vines roping around the pillars were clean-cut and had a smart quality about them. There was no trash on the ground, pollution that thickened the air, or toxic gases emitted from human contraptions. Everything looked to be in perfect condition, as if a gifted architect had left behind his lifetime’s work in an uninhabited world. Even the trees looked like they never saw a single day of wear from the elements. In actuality, everything in sight had been in use for thousands of years. It was pristine because it was in a different realm than that of Earth. Mount Olympus was always blinding at first sight.
Elegant and proper, all the gods and goddesses were there. Many were naked, only holding bows and arrows or lyres. Aphrodite, representing love and beauty, Apollo, god of poetry, music, and art, and even Hypnos, who resided in the underworld, was there. All eyes were on King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia, rulers of Ethiopia. Andromeda, their daughter, was young still and stood close by them. Her beauty was bewildering even then.
“Where is she?” Andromeda quietly asked Cassiopeia. Andromeda was intelligent and clever but outspoken, and at roughly thirteen years of age, had an idiosyncrasy that was something of an intimidation to many others in the heavens. She was a foil to her mother, who was vain and rather shallow. Even in that moment, Cassiopeia carried herself rather detached from the present.
Which is why her father answered her question. Pointing to a corner of the grand marble edifice, he told her, “She will be coming out from there. I imagine she will have company with her.”
The next half hour was filled with handshakes, greetings, and hushed discussion. Many more gods and goddesses arrived, along with some beloved mortals who were given aid from the Olympians in history. It was stressful for some, and others anxious to see what was to come; it was not everyday in Mount Olympus a murder trial was held.
Most importantly, Zeus was there. As Leader of the Gods, he was to conduct the trial in an orderly fashion, as well as decide the fate of the convicted.
Today, the convicted was Andromeda’s very own sister.
Andromeda sat down along with all the others who came to watch. There was a pregnant pause as she and all the others who had come waited for Zeus to begin speaking. His voice was a deep, permanent bellow. He first gave an introduction on how the Olympians overthrew the Titans, how they are the leading representers of everything from beauty to war to art in the human world, and all their many other accomplishments in history. Then he took on a much more serious, less proud tone, about how the unforgivable—the unthinkable—has been done. And especially when that god was one of Zeus’s own children, his own disregard for Ares forgotten.
Most importantly, to commit a murder everyone thought was impossible.
Zeus’s son, Ares, was dead. It was not up for debate amongst anyone. They had all seen the cadaver. A clean slit across the throat was made with a knife, leaving Ares to bleed out. God or no god, Ares was dead.
Generally speaking, nobody liked Ares—not even many humans on Earth. He stood for violence and cowardice and was largely mistrusted. Not even Zeus and his wife, Hera, thought very highly of him. Those who had come to see his body with their own eyes did not cry, but were merely overcome with shock at its nature.
There was an anticipating pause before Zeus continued. “As the Leader of the Olympians, I would like the convicted murderer of Ares to come out.”
A few dozen eyes shot to the very corner Cepheus pointed at earlier. A young woman entered seemingly from thin air. She wore a white chiton, had a soft face with distinct features, her skin was beautiful—the color of nutmeg. She walked toward the platform at a steady, balanced pace. Everyone present drew in their breath as she halted before him. Her face exuded only fortitude.
“Tiassale of Ethiopia, you’ve been charged with the murder of my son, Ares,” Zeus began. “One of the precedently twelve Olympians. Do you admit to breaking into his home and cutting his throat open with a knife?”
“Yes,” Tiassale said without hesitation. “I am guilty.”
Hushed words were exchanged between the audience. Andromeda’s throat closed up, although she had already known it was true. As disrespected as Ares was, it was still a crime, and her older sister would still have to pay for it.
“Can you explain to me why you did it?”
She paused, briefly making eye contact with the audience. When her eyes locked onto Andromeda’s, she managed a melancholy smile.
“I did not kill Ares, god of violence and war, in vain. Forgive me Zeus, nor was it a murder. It was an assassination.”
The crowd gasped or stood ill with shock. Zeus was taken aback; enough to ignore the growing disarray among them.
“An assassination?” he boomed. “What made you think you should execute my son?”
“I overheard talk of him wanting to start a war on Earth. A war where every nation is manipulated by Ares himself and turns on one another and is driven to kill, kill even their own brothers and sisters and kin.” Her voice remained strong and steady. “To a point where the only beings left were us, the immortals, and he would hide and watch the self-destruction of Earth. I approached him separately and asked him if that truly was what he was planning. Being the coward that he was (well there’s no use in not admitting it) he begged me not to hurt him. I told him I wouldn’t if he didn’t. He said no, yet drew back his bow towards me as I was leaving so I fled the dwelling before he could shoot. I watched that very night as people in my very own kingdom began to turn on one another. I returned the following night with a dagger equipped with a very special kind of poison that could affect the blood of only an immortal, found him asleep in bed, and slit his throat as he awoke.”
Tiassale had told Andromeda the same story, the very night that she returned from Ares’s house. She found out from Hermes, the messenger god, that Ares had been murdered. Tiassale returned for a fleeting moment to apologize but assured her younger sister that they’d see each other again soon. It was all Andromeda could do to grip Tiassale’s hand before watching her disappear into the night.
At this, all the gods and goddesses were besides themselves. King Cepheus and his wife teared up, looking at their daughter in disbelief. Zeus did not debate if what Tiassale said was true or not. In fact, he did not even acknowledge it whatsoever.
“You said you used a poison to kill my son. What kind of poison can kill an immortal?”
“A very special one. I wish I could, but I cannot tell you, Zeus.” Tiassale’s voice was apologetic, but final.
A challenging smirk crossed over Zeus’s face. “No?”
“Such knowledge is forbidden,” she replied.
That last act of refutal sent Zeus over the edge. “Princess Tiassale, what you have done is a crime. The cold-blooded murder of a god, much less an Olympian. You must pay the price.”
Zeus held out his hand and called forth a horrible tempest. Andromeda shielded her face with her arm and braced herself as the air crackled with electricity and a lightning storm struck the sky on what previously was a clear midday. In an instant, the trial was over.
Tiassale’s body lit up as she was struck in the breast with lightning and dropped onto the marble floor in a lifeless heap. Nobody moved, or spoke, or dared break the tension. Ever so slowly, the sky cleared up, and the sun was released from behind asphalt-colored clouds. The winds died down until the air was completely still, and nobody had moved, and Tiassale’s body was still lying on the floor, and all eyes were still on her. So much as if to say nothing had really changed.