• Published 30th Apr 2016
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There Goes The Neighborhood - Georg

At one time, Mount Olympus was the home of the Greek gods. Then they let the first pony in. There goes the neighborhood

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Know Pets

Mount Olympus - Pony Style
Know Pets

“...and here we have the end of the tour, your new homes.” Zeus delivered the line in a near-whisper, out of respect for the younger of the two new goddesses who had walked through the entire tour of the mountain with her head leaning against her sister and her eyes closed. Normally when he gave ‘The Tour’ for new female residents of Olympus, the event included several interesting little side trips into quaint little corners of the mountain where a few refreshments and comfortable reclining spots had been tucked away out of Hera Allmother’s sight.

Since the wife in question had been one step behind Zeus all the way through the tour today, the journey had been a little shorter than usual, and completed in about half of the time with none of the side-trips he had been looking forward to. What was worse, Zeus had felt almost ignored during the trip about the mountain. Various gods and goddesses he could barely even remember came out of the woodwork, each to greet Zeus Allfather as he deserved, of course, but also to shake hooves with the new arrivals, or at least the one who was awake. And what was worse, Celestia knew them individually by name, even the dryads and nymphs, who had been positively fascinated by her flowing mane to the point where Zeus had to chase them away like swarming butterflies.

There was supposed to be a temple for each of the arriving minor deities, built by the earth sprites with the collection of drachma donated by eager worshipers. On a good day, pillars and plinths would just seem to erupt out of the rich soil as the invisible workers toiled with supernatural strength and skill, but on a bad day, lichen moved faster, and formed squarer corners.

This was a particularly bad day in Olympus.

The open area where the Temple of the Sun and Moon was supposed to be was still an open area, thick with the rich green grass which sprang up wherever the raw earth of the mountain touched blessed sunlight, but no shelter at all. If it were not for the presence of Hera Allmother directly behind Zeus, he might have offered the sisters a replacement room in his own mansion with a few extra little side-benefits thrown in on top. Or maybe bottom, depending on the situation. As it was, Zeus was just getting ready to apologize when Celestia gave a loud cry of pure delight and sank to her knees.

“Great Zeus! It’s perfect.” She buried her nose in the grass and took a huge bite, chewing with a look of pure ecstasy as she looked back up at Zeus and Hera. “S’fantastic! Oh, Great Zeus, I’ll never be able to thank you enough! I feel centuries younger!”

The large white horse rolled over and over through the thick grass like a little filly, making intricate patterns of flattened grass as she kicked up her heels and fluttered her wings on her delighted trip. It took several minutes of staring for Zeus to remember her darker sister, but when he looked, Luna was curled up into a sleeping ball with her own nose in the grass, taking tiny nibbles as she slept.

“That’s… good, Celestia,” said Zeus, watching the sizable goddess lay on her back with all four hooves kicking up in the air and her wings spread wide along the grass. “Are you certain this is sufficient?” He looked around the empty lot, untouched except for the long lines of matted grass where Celestia had rolled.

“Absolutely, Great Zeus.” Her horn glowed a bright gold and Celestia’s tiara floated up into the air before drifting to one side to hover. “Oh, sunstroke. I don’t have anyplace to put my things.”

“Things?” Zeus looked at the floating tiara and tried to figure out how it became plural.

“Oh, yes.” Celestia rolled over on her belly and looked up. “Just my crown, the perch, and a few little things from home.”

“Perch?” Zeus was getting a little tired of monosyllabic responses, but he still took a step backwards and called out “What?” when a bright orange bird dropped out of the sky and landed on Celestia’s back. At first glance, it appeared to be on fire, but a second more stringent look revealed the shimmering colors in its feathers to only be an illusion, fed by the bright sunlight shining down across its wings.

Zeus almost wished it was on fire. After all, he was the god with the thunderbolts, and early-morning birds on Olympus had eventually learned not to frequent his vicinity in the mornings after Zeus had gone out for a night of heavy drinking. This bird seemed to relish in the orange and yellow flickering among its feathers, and cast a wary eye at the Allfather as if it knew what had happened to many of its early-rising noisy brethren.

“Philomena!” cooed Celestia as she rolled to her hooves and extended a foreleg. The bird flashed back up into the air to avoid being squished during her roll, made a few rapid circles with sparks of light flying from its wings, then plummeted down to land on the offered snow-white leg. “Philomena, I would like to introduce you to Great Zeus and Hera Allmother. Behave. Great Zeus, this is my pet, Philomena.”

“Pet?” Shaking himself out of the shock, Zeus quickly pounced to regain his proper place in the conversation. After all, he was Great Zeus, and the winged unicorn was the newest goddess on the mountain. It was time to put his sandal firmly down. “I’m sorry, but mortals are forbidden on Olympus. No pets,” he added.

“Are you certain, Great Zeus?” There was a mischievous sparkle in Celestia’s eyes as she winked at the brilliantly-colored bird, who lifted up into the air and gently flapped down to land on Hera’s extended arm. “She’s just a little bird.”

Hera was smiling as she ran her fingers through Philomena’s bright feathers, and the blasted bird leaned into the caress with a chirping purr of adoration. “I’ve always liked birds,” said Hera as she stroked down the bird’s back and watched her brilliant wings unfold almost like flames. “And we do have those peacocks.”

“The annoying birds you made from Argos,” stated Zeus quite firmly. “An immortal.”

“Until he was slain while guarding the cow,” said Hera, looking off into the distance while a cold chill crept up Zeus’ back.

As much as he had loved her smooth calves, the beautiful maiden Io had been transformed back to her human form after Hermes had killed Argos, but she had run away to some foreign land afterwards rather than dally with Zeus again. The only way Hera let a grudge die is if she killed it, and this was one grudge he would rather not see return, no matter how soft and delightful the young lady was. Perhaps a minor compromise which would not result in her divine vengeance was in order.

Zeus cleared his throat and eyed the bird. “As I recall, Castor and Polydeuces were given temporary residence, but they were people, not pets.”

“Don’t forget Ganymede,” said Hera, still apparently entranced by the way the bird shimmered in the sunlight like flames. “I know I haven’t. I wonder where he went when he ascended?”

There was a rustling in the grass and the dark form of Luna uncoiled slightly. She looked up at the rest of her divine peers and blinked several times before yawning. “D’nt worry, Great Hera. I gave him a beautiful piece of the sky with some very distinguished neighbors, and I visit him every time I get the opportunity. He’s a delightful child, and speaks highly of you.” She yawned again and blinked while turning to her sister. “Celly, s’much as I love you, can you move your discussion a little further away so I can sleep? I have to get up in a few hours.”

“Of course, Luna.” Celestia lowered her voice as they moved to the other side of the unmarked field. “She’s such a dear, putting all of the stars up every night as well as the moon. She works so hard at her job when all I have to do is move the sun. Certainly you can make an exception to the rules for her pet, even if my beloved Philomena has to go.”

“No pets,” stated Zeus firmly. There could only be one supreme god on the mountain, and it was going to be him, no matter how the devious little horses tried to bend him around their hooves. “Mortal humans in exceptional circumstances, but no pets.”

“As I recall, your daughter Athena has an owl,” said Hera.

“Glaukopis is a symbol of her divinity,” stated Zeus, holding onto what felt like a crumbling line in the sand even as his skull gave a pained throb right about where his daughter had sprung forth, fully armed and armored, as well as a little upset about being born. He was not about to bring up Nethapletis at this point, because the only ‘exceptional circumstances’ of the Nubian mortal was his ability to have a bottle of ambrosia available whenever Zeus walked through the door of his bar, and there was certainly no way a bird could ever be considered a bartender.

“Very well, Great Zeus. I shall obey your wishes.” Celestia nuzzled the annoying bird and chirped to it, after which Philomena flew away to the other side of the open field and landed in the grass. Afterwards, the goddess of the sun lifted her horn up to the sky and extended her bright white wings as the sun grew brighter.

And brighter.

A beam of pure fire lanced down from the sky, striking the orange bird so quickly that it seemed to vanish, as did several dozen cubits of earth and soil from its immediate vicinity. The beam of concentrated sunlight remained for several heartbeats, then went away as if it had never been, leaving only a smoldering crater large enough to hold a chariot.

The tall winged unicorn strode over to the shallow indention in the ground and regarded the ashes scattered around little bits of molten rock while Hera and Zeus followed. The three of them stood in silence for a few moments before Hera clouted Zeus over the head with an open hand.

“Foolish man. What would it have harmed you to allow her this one thing?” Hera gestured at where the wind was swirling the ashes of the incinerated bird around in a circle. “She is new to our mountain, husband. Certainly she should be permitted a friend from her previous life.”

“Do not chastise Great Zeus,” cautioned Celestia with a twinkle in her eye. “He is the wise Allfather, and ruler of Olympus. Behold.” The swirling ashes blurred together with a brilliant flash of light, and when their eyes had adjusted, the same orange bird was hovering in place, only with real flames cascading off its burning wings.

“A Phoinīx,” said Hera in amazement as Philomena swooped down to land on her outstretched arm and nibbled at her ear. “You have chosen your symbol well, Celestia.”

The sun goddess bowed her head. “I am but a servant of Great Zeus. I only hope my sister chooses to endow her symbol with less drama.” Celestia looked pointedly at the other winged unicorn, who was stretched out and snoring in the grass with some sort of small dark creature attempting to make itself comfortable in her flowing star-strewn mane. Whatever it was seemed irritated by the light, and only glared out of its dark concealment at the attention it was suddenly getting. “As sisters, our powers and our domain are equal.”

“I see.” Hera looked around the empty lot covered in flattened grass with one smoldering crater to the side. “I believe your domain could use a few amenities. Don’t you think so, husband?”

“I don’t know what you want me to do,” grumbled Zeus. “I already passed the drachma to the earth sprites. If they haven’t started construction, there’s really no forcing them unless you want to wind up under a roof that leaks even when it isn’t raining.”

“I see,” said Celestia with a look of deep thought. “Would it be permissible to bring in a few mortal construction specialists? Just to build a few structures and do some minor work on our domain, of course. After all, our needs are fairly limited, and once they are done with their tasks, they can return to their homes.”

After due consideration, Zeus nodded. After all, he preferred to pursue young and nubile goddesses out of sight of Hera Allmother, and while rolling in the grass was great bovine fun, bedrooms were far better and less likely to attract her attention.

“You may bring in a few mortals to make an edifice suitable to your station, but after they are done with their tasks, they must return to their homes. So commands Zeus Allfather.”

“Thank you, Great Zeus,” said Celestia with a bow. “You won’t even notice them.”

Author's Note:

Author notes: Ghost of Heraclitus was responsible for Athena’s owl’s name, as follows:

Different owl. :) Traditionally, Athena's owl doesn't have a name, but may I suggest Glaux? It's the proper name of a type of owl, and I could see them being named after the original. Besides, it dovetails (owltails, rather) rather well with Athena's Homeric epithet of Glaukopis (gleaming-eyed) which is where Glaux comes from too.

Also, Peter suggested the story Monday Begins on Saturday by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky as a companion read, and Ghost heartily agrees.