17 The Banquet (2)

So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?

- Stephen Hawking


Hypnos strolled peacefully along his path towards the other balcony at the end of the corridor, not at all looking like someone who had just initiated something so historic.

The fire of hope—he didn't change anything about it with his primal powers; instead, he used the ubiquitous power of belief. His guidance should persuade Hestia to believe in the existence of hope in her own fire, thereby initiating the change, and as more people believe in it, the fire will truly transform into a symbol of hope, with the possibility of Hestia herself ascending to become the Goddess of Hope.

In the cosmos, the power of belief, or faith, was a very influential concept. As long as a majority of the population believes in something, reality will change itself to make it the truth. Even his dream power was linked to the concept of faith; the collective dreams of mankind could technically alter reality itself, allowing their dreams to come true.

Faith, as terrifying as it may seem, actually had very little significance in the grand scheme of things. There was a long list of restrictions and limitations that completely stifled its potential. And the existence of the Primordials transcended the concept of faith, as they were cosmic in power and nature. Only the Gods and other lower beings were so heavily influenced by the beliefs and faith of others.

And now for the big question: why was Hypnos doing all of this? He was just curious—curious to see how his idea would affect the world, curious to see how much Hestia could accomplish with her fire of hope, and curious to see how much reform she would eventually bring to western civilization as a whole.

Hypnos liked "Change." And he wasn't worried that the Fates would come after him for this since there was still time for the birth of western civilization. The Fates should have yet to weave anything on it, and it could even be said that by doing this, he was assisting the Fates in weaving their tapestry, because if Hestia followed his guidance, the fire would become the flame of civilization in the original series, sparking the birth of western civilization, following the fated and yet altered course—this way was a loophole he found in his unspoken agreement with the Fates, which, for all intents and purposes, he was planning to fully exploit to his advantage.

In the end, everything falls on Hestia's shoulders. Will she surprise or disappoint him? Only time will tell...

As he reflected on his epochal act, Hypnos passed through the main hall, where the party was in full swing and immortals were solely indulging in worldly activities like supreme hedonists. Thinking about it, it could be argued that it was the divine beings who founded hedonism, and the Ancient Greeks simply imitated them.

The immortals were each in their own worlds, not noticing him at all, which could also be attributed to the fact he kept his presence slightly low as he moved past them towards the other balcony at the end of the corridor. But he still felt three eyes directed on him, causing him to sigh inwardly and turn towards them. Three Titanesses rushed towards him, pushing and weaving through the dancing crowds, though it would be more appropriate if two Titanesses nudged the other encouragingly towards him.

The ones encouraging were Leto, the Titaness of Demurity and Motherhood, and Themis, the Titaness of Divine Counsel, Order, and Custom, and the one who was being pushed towards him was Mnemosyne, the Titaness of Memory.

Finding his gaze on her, Mnemosyne seemed to gather her courage and whisper firmly towards her sister and nephew, and then she strode alone towards him.

"Lord Hypnos," Mnemosyne finally said as they faced each other in the corridor, far from the din of the banquet. "I am Mnemosyne, the Lady of Remembrance."

"Yes?" Hypnos hummed in acknowledgement.

Mnemosyne inhaled deeply. "I'd like to request if I could join your esteemed entourage," she said straightforwardly.

In surprise, Hypnos raised his brows. "Why?" he inquired, giving her the opportunity to present her case. "Why do you want to be a part of my entourage, Mnesmosyme?" he carefully pronounced her tongue-twisting name, and based on her reaction, he seemed to have gotten it right, or she was just too nervous to correct him.

"Lord Hypnos, I am the Titaness of Memory," Mnemosyne began. "My divinity is inextricably linked with your domains." She paused to expound. "Memories are an important aspect of dreaming—we all dream from our past memories and remembrances, weaving it all together in our minds to create a wonderful world."

"And I want to follow you to build that wonderful world."

Hypnos deliberated her case. Memories are indeed a very important aspect of Dreams. So having Mnemosyne by his side would be extremely beneficial to his duties. And Mnemosyne has huge potential that she was unaware of until now. She was not only the Titanesses of Memory but also the inventress of languages and words, thus gaining divinity over the domain of linguistics, which has the potential to be absolutely terrifying in the right hands. Despite all of this, he didn't immediately accept her; rather, he pressed further into her case as he had a feeling that there was still more to it.

"Is that all?" Hypnos finally asked, his gaze fixed on her.

"Lord Hypnos," the Lady of Remembrance continued her case after a bout of hesitation. "The war opened my eyes and brought to light many things, the most important of which was my own weakness." She took a deep breath and paused, placing her hand over her belly in an obvious gesture.

"Are you...?" Hypnos looked at her in surprise.

"Pregnant," the Titaness of Memory finished for him, gently rubbing her stomach, "with nine daughters. I want them to give them a peaceful home where they can grow freely without worries or dangers. That's my dream."

"And I humbly request you, Lord of Dreams, to help me to realise that dream."

Hypnos looked at the Lady of Remembrance, engulfed in a motherly aura. At that sight, his hard heart softened. He really has a soft spot for mothers, doesn't he? But, feelings aside, he asked the final and most important question solemnly. "Are you willing to give me your undying loyalty, Mnemosyne?"

"Yes," Mnemosyne said emphatically. "I, Mnemosyne, Titaness of Memory and Lady of Remembrance, swear my undying loyalty to you, Hypnos, Primordial of Sleep and Lord of Dream,"

"Welcome, Mnemosyne," Hypnos finalised it with a smile.

"Thank you so much." Mnemosyne gratefully bowed to him.

"Come meet me in my quarters after the banquet, and I'll show you around your new home." Hypnos spoke lightly. "Now go and share the news with your family; I can tell you really want to."

"I will meet you then, my Lord," Mnemosyne bowed once more and bolted to the banquet, specifically towards Themis and Leto, who were waiting for her with concern on their faces.

For a brief moment, Hypnos observed her joyfully sharing the news with her family before proceeding to the empty balcony at the end of the corridor. He entered the wide veranda and sipped his wine under the millions of stars. "You know, I can clearly sense you," he said abruptly, without turning around.

From between the columns, Hera emerged, her gaze fixated on his back. She strode towards him until she joined him in silence on the balcony. She cast a sidelong glance at Hypnos, who seemed intent on ignoring her existence all together.

The Goddess of Marriage finally bit her lips and turned towards him. "I am sorry."

Finally, Hypnos narrowed his eyes and looked at Hera. "I don't need an unwilling apology. Does your mother putting you up to this?"

"No," Hera vehemently denied. "I fully recognise my impolite words, as well as the consequences they would have had on my family. You are our hope for victory in this desperate war, yet I allowed my temper to get the best of me with you." she paused. "Mother helped me realise all of this, but it was my decision to come here and make things right with you."

Hypnos merely squinted at Hera. Then he turned towards the earth without accepting her apology, though he could tell she was sincere. It was truly unexpected for Hera to say such modest words, but considering the existence of her family is at stake here, it does somewhat make sense, but it was still extremely surprising, and nothing could deny that.

Hera looked around, an awkward energy encircling her after he left her hanging. She took a deep breath and changed the subject. "So, are you as strong as Hades claims you are?" she inquired curiously.

Hypnos snapped his prying gaze back at her, making her flinch and take a step back, but in the end, he only sensed genuine curiosity in her tone. "I am more powerful than you can fathom," he snorted finally.

Hera calmed down and asked out of the blue. "Can you show me?"

In surprise, Hypnos raised his brows. "Do you truly comprehend what you're asking of me?"

"Yes," Hera said boldly, looking into his silver eyes. "Show me."

"You asked for it." Hypnos smiled slyly, and for some reason, that sent shivers down her spine.

Hera, however, suppressed it, refusing to back down, and then smiled boldly at Hypnos. "So, what are we going to do now? Do we have to sleep or…"

"Nothing like that," Hypnos said, blinking and reaching out his hand. "Hold my hand tightly and never let it go on our next journey."

Hera nodded and took his hand in hers. "What will happen if I let it go?" she wondered out loud.

"You're a bit of a sleuth, aren't you?" Hypnos chuckled.

"I am just heedful." Hera shot back.

"Anyway," Hypnos said. "For your question, trust me, you don't want to know. The abyss is a dangerous place, even for divine beings."

Hera surprisedly nodded instead of pressing more into what the abyss was. Then she clutched his hand tightly, a spark of excitement in her eyes. "Let's go,"

Hypnos gave Hera a fleeting glance. "Ready?" he asked with a slight smile, unleashing his primal power into reality invisibly.

"Read—" Hera was abruptly cut off as the world around them turned upside down, tumbling Hypnos and Hera through the floor, falling past stairwells, halls, and corridors, and swirling into the core of Mount Olympus like they'd been flushed down the cosmic toilet.

They slammed right into the ground of infinite earth. That finally got to Hera, causing her to drop her bravado and embrace Hypnos instinctively, and they continued to fall together into the planet's depths.

Hera didn't even have time to notice anything since they were travelling so swiftly; it had only been three seconds since they dropped from Mount Olympus. But she still somehow managed to grasp their next destination—they were literally falling into a dark and bottomless pit; it was hard not to notice it even in this perpetual state.

It was Tartarus!

Hera's pupils trembled, and Hypnos embraced her back, putting his hands over her hips, which strangely calmed her down. She wisely chose to defer dealing with this strange revelation to her future self.

And they broke through into the pit of evil at even greater speeds; almost everything was a mere blur in their path. Hera was grateful for that, since she didn't really want to witness what lies in the pits of Tartarus, and she had the feeling this was a purposeful act on the part of Hypnos.

The blur eventually came to an end as they slowed slightly above an otherworldly city of castles beneath a brilliant night sky—this was a new realm.

She was beginning to realise that Hypnos was transporting her through various realms of existence. They were slithering in and out of domains with no restrictions or problems, as if reality itself had been alerted to make way for them.

Hera's eyes widened as she realised the truth—reality was indeed being altered by none other than Hypnos. But before she could do anything about this realization, Hypnos dragged her into the night sky, and they fell straight into a realm engulfed in shadows that housed a magnificent civilization with strange and beautiful humanoid creatures. They whisked through gothic buildings and grim castles before slamming yet again into the dark ground.

And they tumbled and tumbled, now plummeting into swirling darkness that gradually began to brighten with billions and billions of scintillations of light, each glinting with their own memories and voices. It was as though they all held a unique and marvellous story to tell.

No, they are not stories. Hera suddenly realised. They are dreams. Each light represents a dream. She looked around at the shimmering lights. And this is the abyss of Dreams.

As usual, the Goddess of Marriage didn't have time to marvel at this magnificent place since they were now being shot towards the very centre of the dream abyss, where there was nothing but absolute darkness.

As they collided into it, Hera gripped Hypnos tighter. And, for the first time since their wonderful journey began, she felt uneasy, her stomach tinged with a cramped weightlessness. Thankfully, that feeling went as fast as it came, allowing her to notice the fact that they had finally stopped falling.

Hera immediately looked around and found herself floating in a sea of churning darkness. Despite the fact that there was no light source, her vision was unaffected. Then the realisation hit her as she felt another body against her, causing the tips of her ears to turn crimson.

The Goddess of Marriage immediately flew out of the firm embrace of Hypnos, exchanging glances with him, and they both tactfully chose to not bring up what happened for now through just their eyes.

Hypnos actually didn't do this on purpose. He only wanted to show her a glimpse of his power by transporting her to some primordial realms through reality warping before bringing her to his realm of dreaming. But they somehow ended up in that position together. Then there was the previous situation where accepted Hera's request.

This was all making him realise the obvious truth: He was interested in Hera...

"Whose realm is this?" Hera inquired, yanking him from his thoughts. She was floating next to him, surrounded by awkward energy.

Hypnos pressed down his chaotic emotions and peered deeply at Hera. He didn't answer her question; rather, he pointed forward. "Look,"

Hera turned and witnessed something that she would never forget for the rest of her eternal life.

A ball of light emerged from the depths of chaos, seething with unfathomable power.

And the brilliant orb instantly exploded with dazzling, incomprehensible, and inconceivable light that seemed to eclipse all of existence.

Hera somehow knew what it was; the information automatically appeared in her mind by just witnessing it.

It was the Creation.

It was the Totality.

It was the Big Bang.


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