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"For your crime, you are banished to the human realm for nine years."

"You have no power over me," I growled back, loud enough the sound bounced off the smooth, gray marble floor and pillars around me. The high roof remained sky blue as always, but I wished I could darken it to match the rage boiling through my veins. Maybe then they would realize I meant business. "I am Zeus! I fought in the Great War and earned the right to be your king! You cannot exile me, I forbid it!" My fists clenched as I silently dared anyone tell me different. I'd slam a lightning bolt right into their face if they did.

"Actually brother, the Fates oversee all vows made on the River Styx. They have the authority this time." Hades snickered, no doubt loving that I was the one in trouble this time. I grabbed a bolt, thunder clapping as I hurled it right at his head. He jumped out of the way, laughing harder.

"Zeus, control yourself!" Poseidon stepped forward. "You have done this and must pay the price for breaking your vow."

"I did no such thing! Hera was starting an uprising—she deserves to be banished, not me!" My fingers itched for more lightning.

"There was no uprising, you made sure of that," Hera retorted from her corner. "I wouldn't have attempted a rebellion if you'd been paying attention to me instead of those humans you kept whoring around with!" Her voice shook with fury. "I'm glad you divorced me. Now I don't have to watch my husband be unfaithful."

The thunder was roaring in my mind, calling to be unleashed. I turned back to the Fates, trying to display an outer calm.

"Hera deserved what she got. She was going to commit treason, and it wasn't the first time she's tried something like this. I may have broken our marriage vow, but I know treason is the bigger offense." My calm evaporated as I continued. "I am your king! I think some leniency is expected, or even required in this situation."

"We have turned a blind eye all these years, knowing you've violated your vow by being with other women," one of the three Fates said. "But you have declared the vow broken now. You must obey our laws—especially as the king."

"Fine," I roared. "But I will rain down terror on Earth with my lightning and you'll have no one to blame but yourselves!" I grabbed more bolts and turned to leave, sure someone would stop me.

"Wait," the first Fate said, and I smiled to myself. "We have not given your entire sentence." The lightning in my hands crackled in anticipation.

"Do your worst." The deadly whisper made several of the gods shift uncomfortably.

"In addition to your exile, your powers will be stripped from you," the last Fate replied. The color drained from my face as a collective gasp hit my ears. "You will not be able to return until you've earned them back—even if your nine years are up." From the corner of my eye, I could see the Gods whispering to each other in shock.

"How will I earn them back?" My mouth had gone dry, and the hoarse words stuck in my throat.

"You must fall in love—completely—and she must love you back. Total fidelity will be eternally required," the Fate answered. "You will still be immortal, but I suggest you don't take forever to find her."

I shot Hera a fierce scowl. She probably hadn't had anything to do with this part of my sentence, but her face was a picture of pure glee. Resigned to my fate, I glanced back at my three punishers.

"When must I leave?"


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