A story retold throughout time, now once more retold;
the journey from kidnapping to Queen of the Underworld.
Unlike the original tale, in this retelling Hermes and the Olympians decide to do something about the kidnapping of Persephone. Namely have Zeus rain his anger on the Underworld, opening the gates of Tartarus and releasing not just the souls but also the Titans to wreck havoc upon the Underworld. It is up to Persephone, Hades, Hermes, and Cerberus (to some extent) to try and fix what has been broken. Though, of course, that is not easy when one of the quartet is a mortal.
[font "Calibri" A gentle breeze grazed the porcelain skin of a young woman who had taken it upon herself to sit in the middle of a newly bloomed meadow. The sounds and smells and spring surrounded her and for the first time in a long time, she felt at peace. Her mother would not have been happy about her desire for solitude in the middle of nowhere without a proper chaperone but she was uncaring of what her mother wanted for her. In fact, she rather despised how much the woman tried to control her life, often bringing her to meet random men she deemed fit for marital introductions. As for her mother, she was solely concerned with her being married to a man who could take care of her daughter so that she no longer had to. Although Persephone was certain that she was also worried of her daughter’s reputation of a potential spinster.]
[font "Calibri" Persephone was completely uninterested in that life. She dreamed of a life full of adventure and [I real] romance, something epic like the stories of their deities. Olympus always seemed like such a fascinating place but it was a million miles away from the life she led. The mundane and boring life of a mortal was the hand she had been dealt and she was sure that she would spend the rest of her days, however many she had left on this Earth, wishing she had been dealt better cards.]
[font "Calibri" A sigh escaped her lips as she allowed her form to fall amongst the foliage, the greenery tickling her skin as it danced in the wind. [#EF0599 “When will this torturous boredom end?”] She asked into the silence. As far as she knew, she was completely alone so it wouldn’t matter if she conversed with the universe for a short while. [#EF0599 “I wonder if anyone would even notice if I stayed here for the rest of time? I do not want to go back to that retched village. I do not believe there is a single man left that my mother hasn’t tried to give me away to. She just does not understand that I want more than that. I [I need] more than that.”] Persephone sighed once more, followed up with a chuckle after realising how ridiculous it was to be voicing this out into the open space of the meadow.]
[font "Calibri" She recalled the most recent introduction. Her mother had found a perfectly eligible man. Christopher was among the most handsome of men she had brought her way so she should have had no problem being attracted to him. He had enough money to be able to take care of her for life and he would have been able to provide her with a perfectly safe environment to thrive in. She could have had a family with him and settled down into her role of housewife and mother. But [I safe] was far from her yearning. She hadn’t meant to run away from him but she couldn’t help the need to get out of there. He was almost insufferable but that was because of her. For anyone else, he would have been the perfect gentleman and husband material.]
[font "Calibri" Persephone did understand why her mother wanted this for her. It was expected from society and her mother just wanted her to fit in but that was something Persephone could never foresee happening. Of course, she had a deep rooted love for the woman who had given her life but she was slowly dimming the light she had in her trying to force her into the boxes everyone else expected her to fit in. This was one of the many occasions she contemplated running away, starting a new life somewhere but the only thing that stopped her from leaving was the lack of a clear destination.]
[font "Calibri" The woman sat up once more, allowing her fingers to run through the grass until they came to rest on the stem of a beautiful apple blossom. She pulled on the stem and rose the flower to her nose and breathed in the scent. [#EF0599 “You are a rare thing.”] She said with a smile before weaving the flower through her hair. The white of the petals were the perfect contrast against the red mane of hair that fell in curls below her shoulders. It almost complimented the pink blush center of the blossom that now acted as an accessory to the woman.]
[font "Calibri" [#EF0599 “What is wrong with me?”] She asked, wondering if she would find the answer here in the depths of the meadow.]
[size12 The soft thud of the back of a skull against wood was followed by an indignant sigh, as Cerberus bark carried through once more, signalling the attempt of a soul to escape. Despite meeting on the way in, some souls always grew a hubris thinking themselves clever enough to sneak past his beast. The man rose from his throne of ebony wood, and made way to lecture the foolish whomever.
He was silent a long while upon arriving, as he had learned to be the best method to make the souls who dared oppose the turn of the world squirm, scared enough from hushed tales of being told all their life to not dare speak his name.
Then. Quick as a robin darting out from a bush at the slightest noise, he leaned forward; face set impossible cold, light above casting a shadow hiding his eyes, too close for comfort for most.
[#597377 “Here you are. Here you remain. I will be fair this [i once], try again and you will find that there are worse fates than the rivers.”] voice booming and dripping lower with each word, darkness grew ever closer and imposing until he saw the defiance drain entirely from the guest before him. Sentence punctuated by a growls from each of Cerberus heads. He did not wait to see where the soul went, they would either listen, or they would not. Instead turning his face to the Acheron.
It was rare that Hades left the Underworld, though rarer things there were. Once stood with the gentle breeze brushing strands of hair against his cheek, he agreed with himself that it had been a good choice. The sounds of life surrounding the sparse woods he found himself in, which he wandered. Unlike the mortals that walked the lands, the trees and the flowers had an ebb and flow of their own, reborn each spring to grow anew.
He had not wandered far when a voice travelled the winds towards him, his steps trailing to a stop to listen, before continuing anew towards the sound; which was coming from the meadow just beyond a few rows of trees. Eyebrows rose as the voice, clearer now, asked if anyone would notice if they stayed in the meadow for the rest of time, of a mother giving her away—of needing more than that. Eyes wandered the field before noticing the figure, not sitting, but laying, in the grass.
Then she sat up, and any thought of mortals and their issues vanished from his mind, as did every other thought he had ever had. Red mane tussled in the wind, a gentle face, a hand travelling the expanse of the grass to pick a blossom almost as beautiful as her but not quite. She spoke again, smiled, and perhaps she was right to, as the flower looked quite lovely in her hair. She asked what was wrong with her, and he had to refrain from speaking. The ease in which he wanted to concerned him.
He knew nothing of this woman, yet he wished to speak with her; tell her she was prettier than any apple blossom, that she was right to find any man unworthy of her, as if he knew anything at all about her other than her smile. A sudden though striking him, he could give her more; a whole kingdom. Why stay in a meadow to escape a village when she could have the entirety of the Underworld at her disposal. His eyes glances towards the flowers on the meadow away from her, remembering with sudden clarity who he was, the soul before him a time earlier. Much like them if he were to step out into the meadow she would surely run, back to the village, back to her mother, away from the meadow that seemingly brought her some joy.
Eyes drifted to the apple blossom in her hair, thought of how she’d plucked it from its stem. Taken from its home in the meadow to the glorious seat amidst her locks. [i Taken from its place and given a better existence.] It made sense, did it not. This wonderful woman wanted away from her village the way a blossom begged to be off its stem, needed more than just a man to marry, more than just a branch to wilt off of. He could show her the kingdom, could give her anything she could ever want if only she lost the fear mortals held for the Underworld—With a bite she wouldn’t have much choice but to find peace with it, eventually grow to love it and all it had to offer.]
[font "Calibri" One minute she had been sitting in a meadow full of colours and life and the next she was no longer there. The meadow was now void of any human presence as it had been before she arrived. For anyone now passing through, they would fail to find any evidence that Persephone had even been there in the first place. Though, she did not choose to leave. Instead, she had been taken from her place in the pasture just as easily as she had taken the apple blossom from its root.]
[font "Calibri" The events of her abduction would not be remembered – in fact she simply lost time as though she had fallen asleep. At first, that is exactly what she assumed had happened since she found herself lying down with her eyes closed when any real consciousness returned to her. Although her eyes were closed, she knew that she was no longer in the meadow. The grass had a particular feel below her body and what she felt now was far softer than the soil she had resided upon. Perhaps she had fallen asleep and whoever her mother had sent to look for her had found her and carried her home. In her confused slumber-induced state, that made logical sense, but she would have been awakened if that had been the case and whatever shrouded her body now was softer than any bed she had ever laid upon.]
[font "Calibri" Persephone eventually managed to open her heavy eyes, blinking a few times before she could really focus on any specific details. At first, she noticed the darkness. [I Everything] was dark. Then she felt the cold. It wasn’t a dip in temperature that caused her to shiver, but more an emptiness one might feel when the world had been stripped away.]
[font "Calibri" She sat abruptly and blinked a few more times before noticing that she had been laying upon a bed covered in the finest silk. It only added to her confusion. Her heart had started to quicken as fear of the unknown started to engulf her. She moved her body around, allowing her legs to dangle off the side of the tall bed and took a second to look at her surroundings.]
[font "Calibri" Then her heart stopped. Dark eyes were staring at her; [I through] her. The man before her oozed dominance and was the perfect image of fear embodied. He [I wanted] to be feared, or at least that is what she could infer by the way he held himself.]
[font "Calibri" [#EF0599 “Wh-where am I?”] She asked, her voice holding far less confidence than she was used to. [#EF0599 “Who are you?”]]
[font "Calibri" Persephone proceeded to move off the bed and attempted to look around for some kind of escape, although the man looked as though he could slice her throat open before she could even reach a door if he so wished. Even so, there was little light illuminating anything besides the figure who had seemingly been watching her.]
[font "Calibri" The empty feeling became more prominent. Wherever she was, was not somewhere she was meant to be. Persephone almost felt unbalanced, but it was not really a feeling she could have described. Then she became full of dread as a possible explanation came to the forefront of her mind. Her eyes widened as her attention moved back towards the man in the centre of the room.]
[font "Calibri" [#EF0599 “Am I dead?!”] She searched her memories for any clue or indication of what might have happened but the last thing she remembered was talking carelessly into the wind. There was no conflict; no pain; just peace. [#EF0599 “I’m dead aren’t I? Are you here to take a lock of my hair? Are you Thanatos?”]]
[font "Calibri" [#0E879F “Hades!”] A voice came from behind her. Her startled form turned to look at the figure it belonged to, not noticing anyone else being in the room before. [#0E879F “What is a mortal doing here in the Underworld?”] The man moved towards her, inspecting her closely. It was almost as though he could not believe that she was there and as his hand took her wrist he sighed. He was checking for a pulse to confirm that she was in fact still alive. He dropped it softly and turned away from her. [#0E879F “I knew I could feel something off. You need to put her back. Living souls do not belong here. I shouldn’t need to tell the King of the Underworld that. You know my part of my job requires me to report back to Zeus if anything is amiss. I think this qualifies.”]]
[size12 He did not know how much time had passed, with the woman resting peacefully on the silks. Time keeping in the Underworld was a wasteful affair he had found. However long it had been had given him time with the dark to think about what to do next; he had considered feasts and delicacies, which route of the kingdom would be least frightening to a mortal, growing ever more aware of how the darkness imposed. Considered whether she was better of being met with the kindness he showed Cerberus, or if it was better to frighten—Not that he ended up having much of a choice in the matter as the more he mulled the more the darkness oozed.
When she sat abruptly, he watched, watched as she moved to dangle her legs off the side of the bed, looking around before their eyes met. Then she spoke, a stutter, the quiver of something. ‘Where am I?’ and ‘Who are you?’, could he have expected anything else? He said nothing. Knew she would figure it out. Simply watched her as she moved off the bed and looked around, as slowly he realised that he didn’t [i like] it. She’d been so peaceful in the meadow and now she was not, eyes flittering about, no. It had been a good choice, she would learn to not fear it.
He considered telling her to sit back down, but allowed her to soak it in, and it did not take long before she asked if she was dead. If he was to take a lock of her hair. It was at this point he decided to scoff and opened his mouth to tell her that no he was not Thanatos, that he had taken her from the meadow because she wanted more and here she could be more, when he felt the presence and heard a voice he was not glad to hear. Hermes.
Of course, the first words out of the God’s mouth was questioning his action. He rose as he watched Hermes take the woman’s wrist to feel her pulse, as if he’d taken her just to kill her, as if there was never a just cause for anything he did. Hermes was right, of course, that she did not belong in technicality. But she would, she would eat and then there would be nothing but belonging. [i I think this qualifies,] Hermes said.
[#597377 “You think I did not bring her here for a reason?”] he found himself glancing towards the woman after he spoke, realising how it sounded, the spite which dripped off his tongue like the blood from a wound—dripping with darkness. Spoke to her, pushing his voice softer despite the fury at Hermes’ interruption [#597377 “I heard you, about you mother.”] but stopped himself from sharing more, Hermes did not deserve to know her secrets. The less the messenger of Zeus knew the better.
[#597377 “I will not put her back.”] he defied, turning back to Hermes. Wishing the Gods feared him the way the mortals did. Just the thought of Zeus getting himself involved had his jaw ache. Though bringing back the image in his mind of the woman in the field wishing to be away from her village reminded him that it was more important than the bother that would be Zeus dabbling his hands in the pots. [#597377 “So you best use that speed of yours to leave before I truly lose my temper. Tell Zeus what you wish, but know I will not look kindly on his involvement.”]
With a huffed scoff he stepped closer to the woman, introduction spoiled by the other God. With a deep breath he tried to ease the sudden tenseness in his shoulders, tried to think of Cerberus wiggling with stomach shown for pets, the thump of a tail against the ground, and the yip of three in harmony. Frightening her into staying no longer seemed a good idea.
[#597377 “As Hermes declared,”] he glared towards where the other God had stood, [#597377 “I am not Thanatos, but Hades. This is the Underworld, and no you are not dead. I took you here because I heard you claim to the wind that you did not wish to return to your village.”] he turned away from her and walked towards the bed, tucked the silk straight while contemplating his words. [#597377 “This is a whole kingdom, this is [i more].”] he repeated her words. Doubt was not a feeling Hades felt often, but he presumed that was what tickled at the edges of his consciousness. Had there been a better alternative than simple taking her here? What of Hermes, the other Gods. Had he merely proved her the thoughts of mortals that he was nothing but the cruel and disdainful man of many guests.
[#597377 “Walk with me,”] he said, turning to her again, feeling his brows knit together, [#597377 “we can talk on the way.”] he needed to pace the frustration off, and perhaps hopefully seeing more than the darkness of the bedroom would ease her. Replace the fright with less fright.]
[font "Calibri" Persephone stared open-mouthed at the second man who had given away answers to her initial questions. She could hardly believe that she was in the presence of gods, talking about other deities as casually as mortals talked about an acquaintance of theirs. This [I had] to be a dream. That was the only explanation that would help answer all the questions clouding her mind. She had fallen asleep in the meadows, wishing of a life full of more excitement and this was the furthest thing away from her reality that her brain could conjure up in her slumber.]
[font "Calibri" She let out a laugh, causing Hermes to turn his head towards her curiously. Mortals did not [I laugh] in the Underworld. Hermes even seemed to smirk ever so slightly, humoured by the woman’s lack of fear for where she was, before turning back towards the god who usually commanded terror from every mortal he had ever encountered.]
[font "Calibri" Persephone’s eyes were trained on Hades now. She was intrigued to know how her mind had decided on what the God of Death himself would look like. Yet, there was nothing familiar about him at all. Usually, people in her dreams were made up of features of those she had met but there was nothing about this Hades she could recognise. It wasn’t until he looked at her and addressed her directly that the realisation slowly came; this was not a dream.]
[font "Calibri" [#EF0599 “You…you did?”] She asked, not really expecting an answer. Persephone had never heard of Hades upon Earth before. Why would he be strolling through an unimportant meadow to have heard her talking into the wind in the first place? More importantly, why would he [I care?]]
[font "Calibri" Hermes was just as curious it seemed. [#0E879F “I can handle your temper Hades.”] He wasn’t about to do as he was told and leave just yet, especially since he too wanted to know why Hades had brought this mortal to the Underworld when he had never done such a thing before. He watched as the man approached the woman and for the briefest of moments, he saw something within him that he never expected to see. There was something more to this than Hades simply being bored. He was not playing a game. His eyes narrowed as he listened to the words fall from his lips, offering the explanation the mortal needed to understand exactly what was at hand. If she wasn’t scared before, he was sure she would be now.]
[font "Calibri" When he requested the woman should walk with him, Hermes expected her to scream, run, [I anything] but reprimand the god she should have feared. Yet, that is exactly what she did after soaking in everything he had to say.]
[font "Calibri" [#EF0599 “So, you thought that the best place to bring a mortal was to the Underworld? I wanted [I more] not death! Things come here to die, not thrive. I do not know what you heard exactly but I do not think [I this] would have been my first choice in destination to escape.”] She sighed and crossed her arms, looking away from Hades for a moment as she tried to take in everything that was happening. Once again, she noticed a hint of a smirk upon Hermes’ lips, and she unfolded her arms again. [#EF0599 “I do not know what you are so smug about. You have not won anything.”] Hermes let out his own laugh then, heading towards the door as he did.]
[font "Calibri" [#0E879F “I like her. She’s interesting.”] He said, before disappearing almost as quickly as he had appeared, no doubt off to tell Zeus of Hades and his kidnapping. Now that she was alone with Hades, she wondered what would be in store for her. He was one of the most feared gods of Olympus yet standing in front of her now, it seemed like there was more to him than what the mortals spoke of. Her teeth bit down on the inside of her lip, keeping her anxiety from showing in any other form.]
[font "Calibri" [#EF0599 “Where will you lead me?”] Persephone asked, wondering where they would go if she was to follow him somewhere. [#EF0599 “I want to know why before I follow you. You told me you brought me here because you heard what I said. Why do you care what an insignificant human spoke of to the winds?”]]
[size12 Everything was going awry, a plan that was meant to be so simple and easy quickly gaining more troubles than a temple had pillars. From the woman laughing in the face of it all only to immediately switch tone. To Hermes refusing to leave being as nosy as he was, and all he could do was pretend he wasn’t there. They were meant to be dining in the throne room, placated by food, as he told her how the Underworld worked, but instead here they were.
Then something he had not expected, could never have expected, happened. The woman crossed her arms defiantly and spoke with such reprimand he only heard from fellow Gods. As she did the doubt grew, overshadowing the frustration for a moment, as she laid all his errors out before him; what she wished more of was the ability to [i thrive], like the meadow she had been in, growing with flowers. It wasn’t the village she wanted away from, but from the place that kept her from thriving—And he had taken her to where things came to die, had taken her away from her growth the way her mother did. She wasn’t an apple blossom wishing to be plucked away, she was the plucked blossom wishing to keep growing on the stem.
Where he should have felt insulted that she dared, he could not help but instead grow ever fonder of her. This woman who stood defiantly in the face of Hades in his kingdom, who bit into him like a God scolding a mortal, who could most likely make the souls quiver should they face her wrath. Her words should have fuelled his frustration until it burned like the Phlegethon—but then she turned to Hermes and scolded him for his smugness, and for a moment all he felt was awe, he could have swore he even felt a tug at the corner of his lip for a moment, before Hermes spoke again and the frustration returned in full.
Then, finally, they were alone. And she spoke once more; wondering where he was leading her, asking why he cared.
[#597377 “The throne room, it and the road leading there has more light than this room. I thought you might be more comfortable.”] Then he paused, thought back on her scolding, knowing it was right to apologise, but not finding the words. [#597377 “I did bring you here because I heard you. I felt,”] he paused, what had he felt, how would mortals describe the feeling under it all. [#597377 “The way I thought you felt for that blossom in your hair. Seeing its beauty and knowing it was worthy of more than what it had.”]
Placating her by saying mortals were not insignificant would not work, he was certain. Because while they did hold worth, most lost it once they came to the Underworld, and he would merely be seen a liar when—if, he reminded himself, given Hermes’ running off to Zeus—she saw him having to lecture another soul foolish enough to escape, or a mortal trying to steal someone away. True, the mortals spoke of how the Underworld worked and knew how the souls changed, but he had no way of knowing if she truly believed in any of it. A mortal would not know how the Gods saw mortals in all their faults and all their strife, how could he possibly explain to her that he had seen so many mortals and souls but she was different from them all. He turned to the door and walked towards it, not wanting to look at her as he spoke.
[#597377 “I realise it was not right, to take you.”] he sighed and turned to her upon realising frustration was still undercurrent in his tone, [#597377 “But I believe you can thrive here, in my kingdom.”] Because he did, her who would laugh at him, her who would reprimand Hermes and him. Her, who’s name he did not even know.
[Font “Calibri” In truth, the only things that Persephone knew about the Underworld were stories and myths told by mortals who claimed to know how such a world worked or those who liked to give the impression of heroism. Some even told stories of their ability to out-maneuver Hades himself. She never believed them but having him before her now just consolidated how fictitious those stories were. Therefore, it was likely that she simply did not fully understand just how much opportunity Hades was offering her by bringing her here. Still, she needed to understand the motivations of the god. She was eerily calm for someone who had essentially been taken away from her world to one of darkness and death. Yet, there was that part of her that craved adventure and there was no doubt that this would be something she would be granted easily here.]
[Font “Calibri” It wasn’t until he mentioned that they would make their way to the throne room that she found herself taking in her surroundings once more. She hadn’t noticed that it was a bedroom before, some of the features far too dark for her human eyes to have made out initially but they were adjusting slowly. She remembered waking up on a bed, but it hadn’t registered in that moment. Persephone wondered whether this was his own room and how long he had been sat watching her while she slept through. Her eyes travelled back to Hades, and she nodded briefly as he told her she might feel more comfortable where there was light. She had not expected him to care much for her comfort, but she was already learning that it was hard to know what to expect with him and she was sure the same would be said for his kingdom.]
[Font “Calibri” Then, her breath caught in her throat at his words. He said them so nonchalantly that she almost missed the meaning behind them, but they were deep and profound and he [I meant] it. All the men she had been introduced to were saying what they thought she would want to hear but Hades spoke with subtle conviction, and she believed every word. He brought her here because he thought that she deserved more. Was the King of the Underworld infatuated with a mortal of the world above? It seemed that way.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone had not considered the opportunities and adventure he could offer her until now. He had been right about the things she had said and surely a god could offer her more than any mortal man could. She let out a long sigh, seemingly accepting whatever fate awaited her. She would let things play out and see what was on offer. At least here her mother wouldn’t be able to find her. It wasn’t exactly somewhere she would think to look or even dare.]
[Font “Calibri” As he walked towards the door, she put one foot forward, ready to follow him but he stopped for the briefest of moments, turning back towards her as he spoke. It was not an apology but there was a ghost of one behind his eyes and in his words.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “My name is Persephone.”] She would have offered a hand in any normal situation, but formal introductions hardly seemed proper considering their predicament. Instead, she ventured towards the door Hades had started towards and she placed her palm on the handle, the metal cool against her skin. [#EF0599 “After you.”] She pushed the door open and gestured for him to lead the way since she had no idea where they would be going or the obstacles they might encounter on the route towards his throne room.]
[size12 Hades watched as the woman took in the room once more, wondered if the adrenaline and recent awakening had kept her mind too occupied with the situation to realise the exact location they were in, or if it was the mere fact that her eyes had adjusted to the darkness. He knew if she was to stay in the Underworld he would have to procure oil lamps and torches to make her feel more at home, make it [i into] a home. He found himself once again wondering which path would appeal the most to mortal eyes. While she had been asleep he had considered following it below, show her the duties of the rivers, the judges and their justice, tell her where the souls journey—Show her that the Underworld was a mere place, that death was not the terror mortals made it. Even though, perhaps, it was him who had grown cold to it all. The long sigh that escaped her did not go unnoticed, and Hades vowed to do what was in his power to make her happy, to make up for what had been done, what [i he] had done to her.
Persephone. That was her name. The woman with her red hair who walked ahead of him towards the door, and pushed it open. He knew it was mortal custom to shake hands, but just as he had not extended his when Hermes was there, she did not extend her’s now. He glanced at it, still, where it held onto the handle; wondered if it was warm or if the Underworld had given the skin a chill, if it was clammy with terror sweats, soft, or calloused from the work of mortals. He wondered what she—Persephone, he reminded himself—would have done had she not been here. What this Persephone who would reprimand God’s did to pass her time aside from sitting in meadows. He found himself repeating her name in his head, then quietly out loud, before continuing towards the door once more to join her, and before exiting, as was only polite; nodded his head with a soft [#597377 “Thank you, Persephone.”] It would not be right to say he was glad to have met her, so that, he kept to himself. There would be a time to say it when its meaning was not soiled by circumstance. There had been time to say it, if he had walked up to her in that meadow instead of taken her here.
Once he stepped out, sandals against glass rather than stone, he found himself glancing at the walkway they stood on. The bedroom was on the very edge of the castle, with a glass walkway which had steps leading down to the glass that made up the area around it; the best place to look down on Cocytus, and where it diverged into the other rivers, to see the small light of the brazier by the gate that lit while judgement was made. Being in the cooler outdoors helped ease most of his frustration, and he closed his eyes for a moment to exhale it. What was done was done. Hermes was well on his way to telling an exaggerated tale no doubt, Persephone would hopefully feel more at ease in the light, and he would have time to think of what to do next while answering any question the woman might have. Would have time to mull over the gravity of the mistake he had done. He had yet to truly process that a mortal had stood up and scolded him, genuinely and without the hubris of foolish souls, but in true unshaken self-kindness.
The Underworld itself rest far below them, while the castle—much like mount Olympus—rested in the air like an island surrounded by hellenistic glass instead of water. It was only as he started walking along the balcony edge that he realised that perhaps it too would be a fright. For it was true that if you looked beneath you, while the glass was akin to bone in areas, it was still glass and some believed that to be fragile. So he found himself speaking, and perhaps he should have considered by he felt the need to reassure, but he did not. [#597377 “It will not break, no matter what you do.”] And it is only as the words have left his lips he realises the way they could sound like a threat, but he does not correct himself, for it was true that the glass could not break.
[#597377 “That is Cocytus,”] he said instead, pointing towards the river that bent akin to the hooves of a horse, to prove he meant no ill. Deciding to stick to the walkway proper and circle the castle towards the throne room. They could take a tour another time, seeing the rivers far above without being able to see the souls certainly a more appealing sight. [#597377 “If you have any questions, you are free to speak.”]
As they walked along the path, he did his best to focus on the sound of his own steps to not mull over what she had told him. He would have time when she fell asleep once more to think of all that she had said earlier, even as it left him feeling almost restless in his bones with the sinking knowledge that what he had done was wrong.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone could not have imagined what the Underworld would look like if she tried. Many a mortal told tales of the different rivers, some with magical properties one could not associate with any body of water above ground. Others spoke about Tartarus and the beings who were rumored to have been bound there but no one could truly know anything more than what the gods allowed them to know. She had always been curious of Olympus, never so much of the Underworld, but now that she was here, she found herself overcome with a degree of excitement to discover what the Kingdom of Hades had to offer. More so because Hades himself had been so different from what she had expected.]
[Font “Calibri” She watched him carefully, studying the hard features of his face and the depth behind his eyes as he appeared to be lost in thought. She had expected to find an emptiness behind them but instead there was something else; something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Persephone found herself wishing that she had the ability to read his mind – to know the thoughts of the god who had decided it necessary to bring her to this world; to [I his] world. His lips moved and she could have sworn she heard some sound, something low and deep but she couldn’t make out what he had been saying, no idea that he was simply committing her name to his lips and to his memory in doing so. Then he spoke once more, this time loud enough for her to hear since he intended for her to. She offered him a smile as means of accepting his gratitude. It might have been odd to smile at one’s captor, but Persephone was far from a damsel in distress, and she had promised herself to at least see how things could play out here.]
[Font “Calibri Once he moved through the open doorway, she took a breath and proceeded to follow him. Though it only took one step for her to come to an abrupt stop. The bone-like glass was cold against her feet. She had forgotten that she had removed her sandals once she had arrived at the meadow. Persephone loved to be at one with nature and to do so she needed to feel the gentle caress of the grass upon her skin. Her stomach lurched forward the moment she glanced downwards and instead of the stone she had expected to see beneath her feet, all she saw was the depths of the Underworld. She hadn’t expected to be so high up and the height of it sent her head spinning momentarily.]
[Font “Calibri” Her hand absently went to her stomach as though it might calm the fear and sudden nausea that came with it. She closed her eyes and counted slowly in her mind. It was something she had taught herself to do to calm herself and once she reached five, she let out a long exhale and opened her eyes. Hades offered some reassurance that it would not break, although that thought had not even crossed her mind. Instead, she had simply been overcome with the shock of such altitude. Persephone nodded her head briefly, shakily putting one foot in front of the other, slowly moving forward over the walkway behind Hades. It was hard for her mortal mind to comprehend being able to see the depths below her feet as she walked, and she knew she would have to spend some time training her brain to realise that she was safe up there, but it seemed to defy all laws of nature and it would take some getting used to.]
[Font “Calibri” It wasn’t until he pointed out one of the rivers and spoke its name that she really allowed herself to take in the ariel view of the Kingdom her ruled over. [#EF0599 “The River of Wailing?”] She asked, wondering if those were simply nicknames the humans gave to the rivers above ground. Persephone allowed herself to follow the river with her gaze until it met another. [#EF0599 “It’s beautiful,”] she found herself saying. She meant it. Persephone was always good at seeing the beauty in everything and this was no different. In fact, she even paused to take in the sights below her without realising that her feet refused to carry her any further until she satisfied the eyes. Persephone was so awe-struck that she even missed Hades granting her permission to speak, not that she required that from him. She would speak if she wished regardless.]
[size12 Hades made to only glance as she got her bearings, more to make sure he was not walking too far ahead of her than anything else. As he had said the glass would not break, she would face no real danger, glancing at her would not change anything. So he focused on his steps, and as she began to walk with him, their steps in tandem. Walking with another on the glass was a new sound he was not familiar with hearing, feet different from four paws and the click of claws. Though her steps are quiet, and with a glance down he remembered that she did not wear sandals when he brought—took—her. While no ill would come from it, as he himself sometimes walked without them too, he realised it would most likely be best to find her some. Yes. His first gift to her would be the finest sandals she had ever seen.
As they walked he had expected her to ask questions, but she seemed lost in the sight below them. Calling it beautiful not once, but twice. He stopped once he realised she was no longer walking, and followed her gaze—Though his eyes could find nothing new about Cocytus compared to last time he saw it. One look back at Persephone told him she saw something different, and he glanced towards the river once more, squinting to try and see what it was she would see. Was it the bend to it? the shade the souls provided to its water? It had been a long time since he had stared at the rivers, but the longer he looked he realised it was a calming sight, if nothing else. The familiarity of it.
[#597377 “Yes, the souls in it are quite loud if you stand too close.”] he replied at last, but once again realised once the words are out that they were probably not good. Had it been her scolding making him so aware of how little time he spent to think before doing anything? [#597377 “It is natural to wail at the loss of your own life.”] he amends. Finds himself glancing at her as if to make sure she doesn’t look too saddened by the knowledge. Death would always mean more to mortals than it ever could to him, not even the bloodthirstiest of strategos had seen as much death as Hades.
Thankfully for him, the route to the throne room gave them a better view of Lethe, which he pointed out as soon as it was in good view. [#597377 “And if they want to forget the sorrow, there you have Lethe, which any soul that enters is free to drink from.”] He doesn’t mention the ones that go to Tartarus, the less she thinks about Tartarus the better. Perhaps the less she thought of the dead at all the better. Though, as he had that thought, he realised that he was once again making decisions for her. Perhaps she liked thinking about the dead, he did not know her mind.
[#597377 “If you wish I could,”] he paused, cleared his throat, [#597377 “[i we] could take a walk down on the marshlands, once you’re fit with better shoes. If you want to see the river’s a little closer?”] [i Not close enough to hear the souls scream,] he does not say. He wants to give her options, let her know that she has choice even if the kidnapping would make it seem otherwise. And perhaps also, because it dawns on him as the towering throne room comes into view, that he doesn’t want to force her to feast on Underworld food—and without that, aside from showing her on parchment the way the Underworld is navigated, and where her throne could be, there is little he knows could prove to her that the Underworld is a good place for her.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone was someone who could see the beauty in everyone and everything but there was something special about this place that she had not expected. She should have feared the Underworld like most mortals because they feared the death that came with it, but she was still very much alive, and she was seeing this through the eyes of someone who craved something more than the monotony of the limited village life she had experienced so far. As a woman, she barely had any opportunities to experience something more and it was expected of her to fulfil the feminine roles society had created for her. Perhaps here she could have something different. However, it was still entirely feasible that Hades was like every other man who simply wanted companionship and someone to serve him in whatever way he desired. She was sure to find out soon enough.]
[Font “Calibri” She glanced up from the scene below her when she heard Hades speak and she noted the way he added to his speech so that he didn’t sound overly ruthless and uncaring. Persephone nodded and noticed him look up at her, his eyes searching hers for something although she could not be sure of what it might have been. [#EF0599 “I think it impossible for anyone to be truly ready to face death. Although, I do find some comfort in knowing that there is still some existence when one passes.”] Persephone started to walk once more, still taking in the new sights as Hades pointed to a new river. It seemed that everything here had a place and a purpose and seeing the legendary rivers for herself was helping her make some sense of the stories she had heard. It was one thing hearing the speculation and another seeing it.]
[Font “Calibri” When Hades spoke again, she was surprised to hear a less commanding tone in the way he spoke. It was clear he was cautious about how he communicated with her now, wanting to convey the illusion of choice even if she truly did not have one. Yet, she couldn’t find any anger or negative emotions within her for having taken her from the meadows. It was true that she had scolded him at first but hearing his reasoning behind it had somehow made her feel different. Knowing that his intentions had not been malicious and knowing that he simply wanted to offer her a better life after telling the winds that she needed one made her feel some ease. She might have even found the gesture rather romantic in the grand scheme of things, but she would not admit to that. It was still possible that he was not telling the truth when he told of his motivations, but Persephone believed his intentions.]
[Font “Calibri [#EF0599 “I would very much like to see the rivers closer if that would not be too much trouble?”] She asked as they started to approach a large structure that she could only assume was his throne room. Everything was exuding grandeur and she couldn’t help but allow the awe she felt to reflect through the expressions upon her face. [#EF0599 “Well this place is certainly fit for a king.”] She commented, wondering just how many mortals or gods could say that they had the privilege of exploring the private courters and throne room of the most feared god of them all. It was more his association with death and what he represented that rendered people scared of him, but now that she was here with him and taking in the opulence that surrounded them, it was clear that she too had forgotten that he was a deity of wealth and riches alongside guarding the dead.]
[Font “Calibri” As they neared the entrance to the throne room she turned back towards Hades, asking something that had been playing on her mind since he had first pointed out the River Lethe. [#EF0599 “Does one forget their sorrow if they were to drink from Lethe or do they forget who they were entirely? I’m not sure I would ever want to forget who I am…who I was during my time on Earth.”]]
[size12 The woman had a point, that many mortals would never truly be ready to face death. He had met few who were, and most were frail with no one left to remember them—with the glimmer of hope to unite with ones they loved and lost. Something, however, about the way she found comfort in it had him contemplating. Realising that she, too, would die. She was not immortal. Although, that, he quickly pushed from his mind. There were enough to consider getting her to even trust him, considering her death was looking too far ahead.
He was thankful when she agreed that she wanted to see the rivers, though found her phrasing it as a question equal parts sweet and worrying. Was quick to say [#597377 “Of course. We will get closer to the river as soon as I’ve shown you the throne room.”] before returning to his thoughts of wondering [i what] he could show her, considering where the parchment map is, and once more which route would be most appealing to a mortal—Because it certainly wasn’t near the entrance where Cerberus would bark up a storm.
Then, she spoke again. He was about to point out to her that he [i was] a king when the look of awe on her face made him stall. And once he managed to look away from her and back towards the throne room, he was once again trying to see what she saw in the everyday sight of it. True, it was pretty, fit for a king, but not awe inspiring, [#597377 [i ‘Perhaps her village is truly so dull everything is a work of marvel?’]], he thought to himself. Although much time he did not get to consider, as they neared the entrance and she asked him about Lethe.
[#597377 “All that they were is forgotten.”] He says, and does not look at her, [#597377 “Some carry many great sorrows, others merely hope not knowing what was will make them happy.”] he can’t say he knows why the souls who choose to drink do so, it is not his business or concern as long as they don’t cause him any trouble. He looks at her again, finds her eyes, [#597377 “It is a choice, freely made.”] is all he says, all he can say. Although he would not fault her if she did not believe him, after what had happened.
He turned forward again, and walked the last few steps towards the darkness that was the archway. For intimidations sake one would think the archway was an endless darkness, or the mouth of a cave, for anyone who was foolish enough to seek an audience needed to be well aware of what waited them. Though once the door was reach, the room beyond it was much different. Lit by braziers and thin windows way up high, the room has an eeriness to it—The throne room itself was smaller than one would assume from the outside, as there were doors on either side that lead to a corridor that spanned the perimeter to a dinning room in the back. Not that Persephone needed to know that now, as Hades no longer planned to take her there.
The room they were in was still large, however, though vacant and empty. Aside from the ebony throne that stood in the centre back portion on the farthest edge of a patterned carpet. A few paces before it stood a small thee legged table, with a small box on it. A box with Hades made swift steps towards before waiting to see Persephone’s reaction, though still finding himself listening just in case she says something, curious. Once the box is opened and parchment in hand, he turns to her. Looks at her, and is about to gesture to his throne with his whole arm to tell her there is room for one more when he changes his mind. Bad idea. Instead, he raises his hand with the parchment, and realises as he holds it that he most likely looks like a poor imitation of the statues the mortals enjoy carving of the Gods.
He puts the parchment on the table, and rolls the map out to tell her which river is which, where they cannot go due to terrain.]
[Font “Calibri” It was entirely possible that her pondering had left the god with a sense of confusion since the entire reason she was here was that he had overheard her wishing for something more; something better. Surely if her life had been so boring it wouldn’t matter to a mere mortal if she were to forget? Yet, Persephone knew that every single moment of her life had led to who she was today, and she wouldn’t want to forget that quickly, especially with recent developments. As she awaited her answer she continued to allow her eyes to drink in their surroundings, completely amazed by everything she set her sights upon. Everything [I felt] magical in some way and perhaps that was part of the beauty and appeal.]
[Font “Calibri” It wasn’t until she heard his low hum of a voice that she looked back in his direction and as he spoke his final words their eyes were locked together. She felt something shift within her although she couldn’t quite identify what it was – simply some kind of fluttering in her stomach but she did not allow herself to break their gaze. [#EF0599 “Then I am saddened that many feel the need to forget their lives.”] Persephone continued to follow him up the stairs and suddenly her attention was drawn to the large opening of what she could only assume was a cave. It did not surprise her that his castle would continue to present intimidating and dark features as they explored it further. Everything about Hades’ image exude darkness and fear and she suspected that he intended to ensure his architecture mirrored his reputation.]
[Font “Calibri” As they entered, the darkness melted into something far less menacing. Instead, she was greeted by a rather minimalistic throne room. The surprise must have been evident upon her face, but he was not looking at her to gauge her reaction, instead he was making his way towards a table to retrieve something. She focused her attention upon the throne. It was hard not to admire the grandeur of it from a distance, but she found herself drawing nearer so that she could marvel at the details of such a beautiful design. [#EF0599 “Exquisite.”] She whispered to herself, although she was sure Hades would be able to hear her if he was listening. Persephone held out her hand, allowing her fingers to caress the carvings delicately for the briefest of moments before she pulled her hand back. She was not sure how the god would react to her touching things that belonged to him, so she took a further step back from the throne and just smiled to herself.]
[Font “Calibri When she turned back to look at him he stood in all his marvel with a parchment in hand. For the briefest of moments, her breath caught in her throat but once she gathered herself, she made her way towards the table where he began to roll out the parchment. Persephone listened to him speak, a hint of fondness in his voice as he described the features of his kingdom, and she could not stop herself from watching his facial expressions as he spoke. It was becoming harder to fear the god that most mortals did. Instead, she found herself completely enamoured by him. Persephone forced her eyes away from his face and focused on the parchment, watching his fingers move across the parchment.]
[Font “Calibri [#EF0599 “Why are we not going this way? It looks like the route is much easier.”] She asked as she pointed to a different route, not realising that he was simply avoiding a beast that many feared.]
[size12 Hades found Persephone to be a curious conundrum; she wished to escape but was saddened at the idea of people wishing to forget, she did not want to be in the Underworld but she found it seemingly wondrous, she was upset with him yet they spoke plainly, but most of all the fact that she seemed to genuinely care for the souls of the dead. Although, then again, who was he to judge someone who’s entire world might had been twisted on its head—he could not tell how he himself would have reacted if he woke up in a mortal bed on a farmstead with goats bleating in his ear. Not that Hermes could be compared to a goat, that would be a disservice to the animals.
Her caress of the wood carvings did not go unnoticed, and while he could not tell her how much he’d enjoy having another made for her the knowledge that she would likely find it equally exquisite warmed his heart. Perhaps that could be a gift too; something of wood with similar carvings that were not quite a throne in the Underworld but held the same exquisite art. Although the idea of going to Hephaestus to request something of the kind was bound to stir trouble, although a second throne would most likely cause a similar reaction unless he spun a lie that he’d broken his own in anger.
The sound of footfalls nearing the table pushed away the sudden sullen thoughts, and describing the Underworld and its paths was soothing in a way. The rivers as they flowed and where they lead, the bogs, meadows, and caves. Perhaps she was right that there was beauty in it, in a way. Hades realised as he ran his finger across the Acheron that it had been a long long time since he wandered the Underworld without purpose.
Persephone asks—of course she would—why they could not go the route by the gate. Momentarily Hades considers telling her a haunting version as he usually would otherwise; that Cerberus with might and horror would growl and sneer as the judges assume she’s a lost soul and try to put her in a river—even as he knew that in actuality Cerberus seeing her with him would be more of an excited pup than a guard dog, and the judges would faster turn their judging eyes on him than her for taking a mortal to the Underworld. He did not wish to lie to her, but neither did he wish to tell her the truth. So he paused, tapped his finger against the little marked gate on the parchment as he considered what to tell her without making her too curious of his avoidance.
[#597377 “Perhaps, but it is also longer and as you mortals would say; quite boring.”] that would have to do, because it was technically true that the entrance of the Underworld was little else than the gate, braziers, docks, and rugged rocks to look as intimidating as possible. Quickly, he added: [#597377 “Would you rather go by foot,”] his finger traced a route he was certain was walkable, [#597377 “or take the chariot?”] then the route that was accessible by wheels and hooves, knowing that the black stallions were a far less intimidating sight than his three-headed guard dog even with their impressive size.
As if to signal the end of the talk, he let the parchment go to watch it furl into its natural rolled up state. Only then did he look at her again, and in a spur of the moment decision, handed her the rolled up parchment to show that she was their navigator, in a way.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone detected some hesitance from Hades, and she was not entirely sure what it meant, although she guessed he was likely withholding something from her. After all, this was his kingdom, and he did not need to answer her questions about it if he did not wish to. She watched as his fingers slowly drummed against the parchment before her gaze found his face once more. She noted the contemplation and Persephone couldn’t help but smile a little. She was finding it increasingly harder to remain angry at the fact the god had brought her here against her will, or at least without her permission. Instead, Persephone found him endearing and she noticed that her desire to learn more about him and the kingdom that was his home was becoming increasingly more prominent.]
[Font “Calibri” A quiet chuckle escaped her lips at the god’s use of human vernacular. It sounded humorous coming from him, especially since he seemed so well spoken and almost regal when he communicated with her so far. She doubted that any route could truly be [I ’boring’] here, but she knew that he would have his reasons, whatever they may be. Hades certainly was an enigma. He did not wait for a reply from her when he offered his excuse for the route chosen and instead offered her an option of how they might travel. Her smile remained and she glanced down at the parchment once more to look over the route.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “I think by foot would be just fine. I like an adventure and it’s usually the best way to see things.”] Persephone offered him a smile. She had no doubt that the chariot he spoke of was magnificent - likely with the most majestic of stallions pulling it along, or whatever beasts existed here in The Underworld. Yet, there was no desire to see the Kingdom in this way. She watched the parchment return to its original curled form and when Hades held it towards her she took it gingerly. [#EF0599 “I may get us lost.”] She warned, humour lacing her tone as she spoke. It was hardly likely that they would truly be able to get lost within his own kingdom, but she was simply trying to show that she was not scared of him. He seemed to move cautiously around her as though she may shrivel in fear or like she might break if he was to graze her skin with the briefest of contact.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone looked down at her bare feet and then looked back towards Hades. [#EF0599 “Do you think they will survive the terrain?”] She asked. [#EF0599 “I did not have time to pick up some sandals before I was whisked away.”]
[size12 She chuckled, and the sound felt much like laying down under the cool blanket after a long day, comforting almost. Surely she would not chuckle and smile if she was still as angry, maybe earning her trust would not be such a daunting task, maybe just having her smile was enough. And as she spoke of how it was adventurous to walk on foot, he thought back on the meadow where he’d seen her, barefoot in the grass full of flowers. He could not help but wonder, briefly, if the Underworld would provide the same feeling she felt in the meadow; If perhaps the different terrain would be curious to her, or that up close the rivers and the mud and the roots would all be more bothersome than adventurous—The idea of her tripping over a root was momentarily funny to him, and he quickly squashed the though, Hades was [i not] the kind to laugh at people’s unfortunate, [i except when he very much was.]
[#ef0599 “I may get us lost.”] she said, after he’d handed her the parchment map, and Hades would have smiled wider if he hadn’t been caught off guard by the fact that he wanted to respond with [#597377 [i ‘Perhaps that would not be so bad’]], though smile he still did; a small curl at the corner of his lip quickly hidden as he responded [#597377 “Then I will make sure to keep my eyes on our surrounding.”] before following her gaze to her still bare feet.
There was something in the reminder that she had no choice in being here, but more so in her choice of words. Whisked away. Not ‘before you kidnapped me’, [i whisked away.] This thought too, he pushed away.
[#597377 “Then we will simply have to fetch you something before we go, there might be thorns.”]
Standing there, in the throne room, considering how he would go about them getting her sandals, the image of the piles that lay in the dark corners of the bedroom as well as behind one of the doors where they stood had him quickly moving towards said door, [#597377 “Wait here.”] he said, before adding, finally waving his hand towards the throne as he’d wanted a few minutes ago [#597377 “Feel free to sit, I’m sure I have some somewhere around here.”] She didn’t need to see the pile, or rather, he did not want to explain why there was a pile of sandals; some with drool and some with bitten straps, in the might throne room of Hades.
Yet, for trusts sake, he left the door ajar as he entered—hoping it would signal that it was not a secret task by any means, but hoping still she wasn’t too curious. Cerberus throne room pile of stolen sandals was the least impressive of the bunch, although he was certain one lone sandal belonged to one of the Goddesses. Kneeling in front of the pile he carefully removed, one by one, the sandals that had intact straps that he could find. He did not want to ruin Cerberus handiwork by sorting them all top-to-bottom, but be moved as quickly as he could. Finding a matching pair with no obvious bite marks that might fit Persephone was not an easy task, but neither was any of the things past this point either.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone watched the god carefully as he caught himself smiling. She couldn’t help but notice the way that he worked quickly to try and cover it up. The corners of his mouth smoothly hidden by speech so that most would just assume his mouth was moving to form words. She saw the smile though; she was sure of it. Persephone wasn’t quite sure of the reasons for his desire to keep his emotions locked down, but she assumed that it was all to do with image. Yet, he didn’t appear to want her to fear anything, least of all him. In fact, he was going to quite a bit of effort to make her feel secure and she could not pinpoint the exact reason why he would do such a thing. What purpose could he possibly have for bringing her here and then trying to make her feel comfortable? She would never have guessed his true intentions – she was not egotistical enough to think that the god might be infatuated with her. Even if she allowed that possibility to cross her mind she would have laughed it off almost as quickly as the thought came.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “You be sure to do that then. I do not want to become infamous for getting Hades lost in his own kingdom.”] Persephone smiled wryly before noticing his focus had now shifted to her feet. She wondered if Hades could somehow conjure up something for her to wear. She wasn’t sure how his powers worked, or any powers of the Olympians for that matter. All the humans knew were the legends that were told. [#EF0599 “Maybe next time you could grab my sandals too? At least then I would have some protection against potential thorns.”] She joked, trying to keep the mood light.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone looked amused when Hades pointed towards the throne and asked her to sit. Even with his invitation she doubted that she would act disrespectfully enough to sit in a king’s throne. Instead, she watched as he made his way to another room, leaving the door open slightly. She should have waited in the room like she was told but her curiosity got the better of her and she made her way to the door, peering around it to see where exactly he would be finding her something for her feet.]
[Font “Calibri” What she saw behind that door was not what she expected to see. In her shock, Persephone accidently leaned on to door too hard, forcing it open and she stumbled into the room. For a moment she awkwardly tried to steady herself and mentally prepared herself to face the wrath of the god but in an attempt to keep things light she thought on her feet quickly. [#EF0599 “Do you have a long line of ex-lovers who are missing shoes or a dog who likes to steal them?”] She looked at the shoes briefly before looking back to Hades. [#EF0599 “I hope it’s the later since some of these shoes look like they’ve been chewed on.”]]
[size12 When Persephone pointed out that he could have grabbed her sandals, it seemed obvious. Perhaps it just went to show the haste of his decision, after all he had noticed them in the grass when he first saw her. Though, once more, the fact that she joked of it felt both calming and worrying. So Hades had not left a comment on it. Simply mulled it over his head, as he fiddled with the pile of sandals. Perhaps she was not so much calm and okay with it as merely appeasing him—But she had had no issue standing up for herself previously, so the idea that she was joking to keep the peace did not make much sense. Even more curious was the idea of her becoming infamous, as if the legends would think anything unkind of her. If anything, he knew, the legends would speak of the sweet and kind Persephone stolen and taken and living in misery in the Underworld.
Hades was just in the middle of inspecting a sandal with a cork sole when the sounds of stumbling feet announced the presence of Persephone, which really, he supposed he should have expected. The snort of laughter escaped him before he thought much else, and before he even glanced up to see if Persephone was all right. And when she spoke, the smile on his lips was wide and honest, as he finally looked at her to make sure that she was all right; Persephone was not just pretty and strong, but also witty, it seemed. He opened his mouth to answer her question, before the idea of having an ex lover chew on a shoe in fury made him press his lips together. It was not funny—It definitely was—.
[#597377 “You will find chewing on cork is a a very reasonable response to ignorance of souls you have to deal with,”] he found himself replying, before amending, knowing there was no way to hide it, she would face the beast eventually. [#597377 “It’s Cerberus. Three heads make for quite the collection. The people who lose them won’t have much use for them here.”]
He focused back on the pile, not wanting to see that endearing awkward expression sink into one of mortification as she remembered the three headed beast of the Underworld. He dug out one with leather sole, but failed to find its twin in the immediate top of the pile and so put it to the side, instead picking up another which was thankfully tied to its twin although unfortunately missing its other string. As he put the pair to the side he saw the heel of the leather soled one he’d found earlier, thankfully also intact. He lifted it at arm length away from himself, before glancing at Persephone’s feet, and tossed it to land slightly in front of her to check that it did indeed seem to be the right size [#597377 Why don’t you try that one? To wear, not chew."]
Rising from his crouched position, Hades nodded towards the door, allowing for conversation to continue as they walked—Not particularly keen on standing in front of the pile of sandals that had now become a reminder that most of the Underworld was not for mortal eyes and taking a mortal here was a bad decision, even as her laugh and wit and smile made him not want to take it back at all.]
[Font “Calibri” Was that a laugh of sorts she heard escape the mouth of the fearsome god? Persephone was sure that it was and that made her feel a little relief that he might not be angry with her for intruding. He certainly wouldn’t laugh if he was and when he turned to face her, the smile upon his lips served as further proof that Hades was nothing but amused. Perhaps her wit had gone some way to ease whatever tension there was between them. Hades was clearly feeling some sort of guilt about bringing her here and was trying hard to make sure that she did not continue to feel any anger towards him. However, her initial anger had already melted away and instead, she was seeing this time in the Underworld as the adventure she knew it could be if she simply gave in.]
[Font “Calibri” It seemed that Hades himself had wit about him too and she chuckled quietly to herself before he corrected his humour with the truth. Cerberus. The beast that all mortals feared almost as much as the god himself. There were tales of the three-headed monster that guarded the Underworld. He was supposed to ward off souls from trying to leave and he clearly did a good job as there were never any stories of souls who had managed to escape the grips of the Land of the Dead. Although there were stories of Orpheus and his lover Eurydice. Still, Persephone rarely believed the things she could not prove to be true. Perhaps that is why she couldn’t bring herself to demand Hades return her to the meadow just yet.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “So you mean to tell me that a three-headed beast that mortals are supposed to fear, roams the Underworld stealing shoes from the dead?”] Persephone smiled knowing that the whole thing sounded ludicrous. When he finally found matching shoes they were flung towards her, and she let out another laugh when he continued their previous joke. [#EF0599 “I assure you, I’m not likely to be chewing on any shoes - thank you.”] She added, wanting to show her gratitude towards Hades as she leaned down to pull on the sandals. Persephone made a noise that was akin to a satisfied hum as she secured the shoes, showing that they fit perfectly and as Hades gestured towards the door she did not hesitate to follow him.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “Well Cerberus hardly seems like a beast worthy of fear.”] She chuckled at the image of a dog-like creature running around the kingdom to steal shoes that he then kept in piles here. [#EF0599 “I would quite like to see Cerberus.”] She added, showing once again that Persephone was fearless in many ways. [#EF0599 “I understand now. He’s the reason we are avoiding a certain pathway, the one you claimed would be longer and more complicated. He’s the complication isn’t he?”] Persephone rolled open the parchment briefly and made a note of where it was and smirked. [#EF0599 “Well as the designated navigator I think we should go this way.”] She pointed towards the area Hades had previously suggested they avoid.
[size12 If Persephone was afraid she hid it well in her voice, or perhaps the knowledge of Cerberus’ habit brought a fake peace of mind that would be ripped away once she saw the three heads snarling and barking. Though she continued to laugh, when he tossed her the sandals, when he joked about her chewing on them, and it felt genuine.
[#597377 “Don’t let the sandal stealing fool you,”] he found himself replying before even really processing her request to see Cerberus. She’d realised why they were avoiding the gate. Complication was not nearly enough a word to describe putting a mortal he wanted to impress in front of Cerberus. Though, it seemed Persephone was also stubborn, as she unrolled the parchment and pointed them in the direction that lead to the main staircase, right towards Cerberus. [#597377 “there is a reason why Cerberus is the guard and not some other.”]
Aside from Cerberus being Cerberus, there was also the case of the judges—who Hades knew would take one judgemental look at him and know exactly why Persephone was here, and who knew if they choose that she deserved to know that he had seen her and been so taken with her beauty that he barely had a plan in mind when he took her. Assuming of course, that Cerberus didn’t scare her enough that she ran off and got hurt.
He realised, however, that denying her the request would indicate she was trapped without free will, and so he agreed. [#597377 “If that is what you wish. I must warn you that whatever you thought of Cerberus before...”] he paused. While she had spoken lightly of it, it did not feel right for him to share the sentiment. [#597377 “That imagery is closer than what you think now after seeing his chew toys. Just as everyone else he eats, sleeps, and enjoys himself—He would not be keeping the souls at bay if he was not terrifying. Cerberus has three heads that all could rip you apart on a whim, he may snarl, and bark, and while you’re safe with me that does mean you won’t feel unsafe.”]
As they walked, Hades glanced through the platform towards where they were headed to find the flickering ember that was the brazier. Something about watching it get slightly closer calming. He glanced at Persephone the Navigator; the new sandals she wore, the parchment in her hand. Trying to understand how she was so brave, because it was not foolishness.]
[Font “Calibri” It was not as though Persephone was void of any fear. Of course, there were things she feared, and she could not possibly know what her reaction would be to seeing the legendary three-headed beast until she finally laid her eyes upon him. However, her curiosity far outweighed any potential terror. She looked towards Hades who was seemingly warning her against seeing Cerberus, although he did not do it with tales of people he had chased back into the Underworld or men he may have chewed up and spat out. Instead, he simply allowed his tone and her imagination warn her enough.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone smiled as she allowed the parchment to curl back into its usual position. She noted the way Hades spoke, surrendering to her desire to see the beast that everyone seemed so afraid of and as they began to walk, he tried to prepare her for what she was about to be greeted with. Yet, all the while reassuring her that if she was with him she would be safe and not considered a target by the beast. Although, he might still terrify her. Perhaps he was simply trying to keep her away from Cerberus so that she wouldn’t be scared enough to request that he should take her home. But that arrogance did not exist within her and instead, she assumed he simply felt guilty about bringing her here and he just wanted to reassure her that she was safe.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “I know that I’m safe.”] She said simply as she took in their surroundings, a glimmer of excitement and wanderlust in her eyes as she drank it all in. [#EF0599 “If you brought me here to die, I would be dead already, so something tells me that you won’t let anything happen to me.”] Persephone looked towards the towering god at her side wondering what thoughts were going through his mind.]
[Font “Calibri” The Underworld had not yet failed to be anything but a maze of wonder and grandeur and while most would assume that it would feel like a prison one might want to escape, Persephone was feeling more at home than she had in her village. That did scare her a little, especially since she might only be here for a short time if the god decided to take her back above ground or perhaps if she was stuck here it would feel more liked entrapment. Was it the Underworld or was it Hades that was the root of such feelings? Persephone shook her head subtly as if to wipe the thought from her mind.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “Why was Hermes so bothered by my presence here? What are the consequences of a live soul being here?”] She asked as they neared their destination.]
[size12 [#ef0599 “I know that I’m safe.”] Persephone said, and continued as thought those worlds hadn’t pulled the metaphorical rug out from under Hades’ feet. True, her follow up words made the statement make sense as a general thing, she felt safe because if she hadn’t been she would have been dead already. If they had been on the ground rather than the glass platform it would have been him tripping on a root, certainly, as the five words rattled around in his skull akin to Cerberus barking up an unsynchronised storm. It took everything in him to keep moving one foot in front of the other as to not stand frozen and gape at her. Though he feel the tension around his eyes from how high his eyebrows were arched. She felt [i safe] with him, [i no one] felt safe with the God of the Underworld. When he asked [#597377 ‘You feel safe with me?’] it was so quiet no words actually left his mouth but a weird sounding breath lost between their footfalls.
Perhaps it was foolishness after all, he concluded. Had to conclude. He’d just told her how she would most likely be terrified and she told him [#ef0599 [i ‘I [i know] that I’m safe.’]]. A laugh, finally escaped him. [#597377 “You—”] he shook his head, huffed laugh interrupting, [#597377 “You’re something.”] He raised the pitch of his voice a little to try and match her [#597377 “’I would be dead already,’ you say, as though the thought should not have you quaking in your sandals.”] ’How do you trust I’m not tricking you’ he did not joke. He was not about to ruin it even in jest. [i [#597377 ‘I know that I’m safe.’]]
They had managed to continue a bit before Hermes’ name came up, causing a sour taste in Hades’ mouth. It was, however, an important question that she deserved to know the answer too—it was not her fault that Hermes was how he was, and he did not want to redirect his distaste towards her. He considered slandering Hermes, for a moment, telling her he was a spoilsport who thought there was nothing but pure evil to every one of Hades’ actions. Though, even he knew that the other Olympians did have their reasons for distrusting him and looking down on that which he did.
[#597377 “The souls may get, jealous.”] the terminology was wrong, but it was a good enough, he though. [#597377 “Some of them will see life and remember they used to have that; they might be drawn to you, might try and steal that life for themselves.”] He was mostly speculating admittedly. He had never truly been paying much attention to what that man with the lyre had gone through after Hades had fetched his wife’s soul—and Persephone did not have a lyre, nor a lost soul for companion. So even if he had, the comparison would not be apt. [#597377 “Zeus might come and say the same things Hermes did, hoping it will be more intimidating.”]
As they begun to descend the steps that would take them to the gate, he could not help but wonder if Persephone would take the words more serious if it was Zeus, if Zeus would convince her that this was not a place to be. Hermes was one thing, he was hard to believe anyone could look at the God without feeling a deep seated feeling of wanting to defy him and his cheeky little eyes. Zeus, on the other hand, well, Zeus was [i Zeus.]]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone could have sworn that she had initially heard something in response to her claiming a feeling of safety but when she looked towards Hades he did not appear to have said anything, although there was an expression upon his face that she was not able to determine straight away. That was until he finally crumbled and gave way to a laugh. However, it was not a laugh that was fuelled by humour, that much she could tell. No – this laugh was full of disbelief and for a moment the god no longer appeared to be the confident, mysterious god she had become accustomed to but instead he was a stumbling mess, laughing through his words and mocking her voice as if to give away the root of such disbelief.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone rose a brow slightly, glancing towards him as if he was a child having a meltdown. Still, she waited, her look simply saying everything without voicing the words – [I ‘Are you quite finished?’]. There was an echo of a smirk as though Hades had simply humoured her, and she was sure he had made more a fool of himself than he had of her by attempting to mock her. She almost retaliated but Persephone chose to let him remain confused about the reasons why she was not scared of him, the strange world she found herself in, or the beast they were about the lay eyes upon. It was hard to fear a god who acted as though he was a young man with no confidence talking to a woman.]
[Font “Calibri” She focused on the path before her until he offered her an answer to her question. It was not something she had considered before and suddenly a sombre feeling swam over her, remembering that there was more to this kingdom than wonder and adventure. There was death and the souls who roamed upon this land had lost their lives upon Earth. Some perhaps centuries ago, others maybe a matter of days. How would she react if she were to come across a soul desperate for life once more? That was something that held more fear for her than beasts and magical beings she did not understand.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “And what if Zeus does come down to The Underworld to berate you? Will you put me back?”] Persephone asked, not even looking in his direction. She was not sure what she wanted his answer to be. Instead, she focused on descending the stairs and putting one foot in front of the other, so she did not trip. The glass of the platform had thrown off her sense of balance a little and she had to focus a little harder on the stairs to ensure she wasn’t out of sorts.]
[size12 Hades could not quite decide whether Persephone’s raised eyebrow and [i look] made him feel embarrassed or just further confused him, or both. She had just said she knew she was safe and dared look at him as though he was the one who was the fool. True, perhaps he needed to pick his chin off the floor, but that was simply because Persephone was continuously full of surprises.
Of course. Full of surprises as she was, she had to ask him if he’d put her back. Rightfully he didn’t know the answer; he knew the right thing to say would be that he would put her back regardless of Zeus, that Zeus was not the one in control but her. Though the thought of saying that and her immediately demanding to be put back caused something to snare in his throat. He could also say that he did not care what Zeus did or did not do, but that would never carry the intention he meant—Which was that Zeus was pompous and deserved to be told more often to not stick his nose in others business and simply leave it well enough alone—but rather sound as a threat. Though it was truer than the right thing. Because ‘I would want to put you back just because you wished it, but I would really like to show you the meadows’ sounded more like something meant for the theatre than the Underworld. And it was not how he actually felt. It wasn’t.
[#597377 “I care as much for what Zeus has to say as I did Hermes. He berates me for a great many things, it does not phase me.”] he settled on, feeling what he was now certain was [i guilt] tingling in the spaces between his ribs. [i She knew she was safe with him,] yet while he did want her safe he could not bring himself to make the right choice. Not just that, he did not want to think of the fact that it was an inevitability. Whether after they met Cerberus, after the lakes, after the meadow, at some point he would have to put her back—Because it was either that, or have her starve to death in the Underworld, and that was not an end he wished for her.
[i ‘Will you put me back’], she had asked. And Hades decided, for lack of options that made sense to him, to not answer at all. Instead, he said [#597377 “When we get down these stairs it won’t be long before Cerberus smells you, you best be prepared.”] which perhaps was the cruelest option of them all, because silence was almost always a no. And the fact that he kept his eyes on the staircase, once again refusing to look at her, would most likely only further paint the imagery that she was stuck and he would not let her go.]
[Font “Calibri” There was a delay in his response to her which told her that there were two possible options he was mulling over. He was either trying to figure out a diplomatic way of saying that no one had a say in whether she was going back to Earth or not. He brought her here and he had no intention of this being a fleeting visit. This was a permanent move. Or the other likelihood was that Hades was simply trying to work out the answer for himself as though he did not know if Zeus would have much sway over his decision to keep Persephone in his kingdom. Perhaps she truly was his prisoner no matter how much he tried to disguise it or how much she imagined the adventure she could have here. The fact of the matter was that she was not here by choice, and she was simply waiting for Hades to either make that clear or reassure her that she was free to leave if it was her wish.]
[Font “Calibri” Frustration was the most prominent emotion Persephone felt when Hades finally [I ‘answered’] her question. Or more so avoided her question entirely. She chewed at the inside of her lip as if to stop herself from saying something without much thought – a habit she had since she was a child. Sometimes she would bite down so hard that she would draw blood. Not this time. She had to remember that this man was not just a man, but a god and she was not sure what he was truly capable of or what his motivations were.]
[Font “Calibri” She noticed how he refused to look at her and how quickly he changed the subject to that of Cerberus. For a moment she had forgotten where they were going. [#EF0599 “That’s not what I asked. But I suppose that tells me everything I need to know.”] Persephone quickened her pace slightly, not to get to Cerberus quicker but to put more distance between her and Hades.
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “I’m prepared.”] She called back as her foot stepped off the final step of the staircase onto the solid ground of the Underworld. Her heart quickened slightly, more with anticipation than anything else and as her second foot hit the ground she heard the snarling of the beast that was to come forward any minute now. [#EF0599 “I’m prepared.”] This time she whispered it quietly to herself and closed her eyes for the briefest of moments to take a deep breath before taking a step forward.]
[size12 Persephone made no secret, when she spoke, that what he had chosen to say—or rather, not say—was indeed the worst option he could have chosen. Yet her anger did not make the guilt grow, instead he felt almost relieved; she was still standing up to him, angry on her own behalf. She put distance between them, and he watched her back trying to discern why he did not want her to go but simultaneously was glad she was angry at the idea of being forced to stay. While he may not have been able to let her go from the Underworld, he could let her go quickly down the stairs.
He followed her, slowing his step hoping she would not feel the need to quicken her pace enough that she’d trip. The space allowed him to mull over his thoughts a little more again, it was contradictory. He wanted her to be happy as she’d been on the balcony again, but that same happiness stemming from her leaving to not return until she was naught but a soul in the river felt empty. But the way they were going she would leave in anger, and that would be worse. Yet, the thought of her leaving, it was something, certainly. He should have never taken her in the first place, he knew. In hindsight he realised he should have left a note for her as she slept instead, left her flowers, let her like him without seeing him before revealing himself to be the king of the Underworld—He should have had patience. But the did not, and neither did the stairs have any more steps for him to keep thinking.
The snarling of Cerberus was a familiar sound, the slight delay as the three heads began not quite simultaneously. He felt conflicted, something he was getting unfortunately familiar with on this day alone. On one hand he was filled with pride for Cerberus being a great guard, as the beast stepped forward; one of the heads snapping with the realisation that this was a mortal not a soul. But on the other he knew that after their conversation this was most likely only putting her closer to wanting to leave the Underworld filled with contempt for the place.
He whistled, sharp and short, to get Cerberus attention—the head closest to his direction glancing over while the other two doubled their threat to show that the beast of the Underworld could very much multitask and was no less threatening just cause one head stopped paying attention. Though Cerberus must have felt the worry coming off him, for he hunched down as if Persephone was a threat. [#597377 “She is a friend.”]
He had no right to call her that, but she was no visitor, and ‘she’s with me’ had a horrible taste. But Cerberus relaxed, and that was the point. Not quite at ease, teeth still bared, showing clear that should Hades change his mind then Cerberus was at the ready.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone had every right to be angry, although she wasn’t sure if the anger was directed towards the fact that he had brought her here in the first place, or the fact that he would not give her a direct answer now. Perhaps she would have been angry no matter what his answer might have been. For all she knew, Hades was centuries years old, perhaps even millennia – she could not be sure - yet he was acting as though this was the first time he had communicated with a woman. Perhaps it was their circumstance that made him act in such a way, but it was a circumstance that he had created, and she simply wanted the god to be straight with her. Why did he really bring her here and why would he not let her go back? For now, she tried to push those thoughts and the growing negative emotions aside so she could regain her courage to face Cerberus without too much fear.]
[Font “Calibri” The snarling grew louder and as her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she could make out the shadow of the beast before them. He was a large beast, and he truly did have three heads. It was something the mortals always disputed. Some agreed that he must have three, but others claimed more, others less. Not that Persephone would be able to confirm which of the descriptions of Cerberus were true since it seemed she had no way back to the land above ground she had once called her home.]
[Font “Calibri” The beast stepped forward and as he did, his distinctive features became more visible. The muscular frame holding up the heads, each almost bigger than her entire body as they snarled and barked, teeth as sharp as the swords men went to war with smashing down in a threatening way as he neared her. Her breath caught in her throat and her body twitched as the sound startled her and instinctively, she closed her eyes. But as soon as she opened them again, the beast was still and partly focused on Hades as he told him that she was a friend and not a threat. [#EF0599 “That’s right. I am a friend.”] She echoed, smiling towards Cerberus slightly as she took a step closer to him now that he sat before her. [#EF0599 “You are magnificent.”] She told him as she looked him over and slowly held her hand out towards him. Her heart was still racing but she managed to control her exterior so that she did not look scared. The beast curiously tilted all three heads, each in a different direction and he tried to decide what to do with the hand she had presented towards him. Then, he glanced towards Hades with what she could only assume was a confused look if beasts could show such an expression.]
[Font “Calibri” After a brief moment of silence, one of the heads neared her hand, sniffing as a normal dog would and when she felt safe enough, she turned her hand over and rested it on the side of his face. [#EF0599 “See. I’m a friend.”] She said, and before her words were even out, three giant tongues licked at her face, knocking her to the ground in full force as the beast now imitated an excited puppy wanting to play. [#EF0599 “Not so scary now are you.”] Persephone laughed as she offered her hand to the other heads, not caring about the fact she was no longer standing.]
[size12 Hades kept his eyes flitting between Cerberus and Persephone as the interaction played out before him, waiting for her to unfreeze from the terror and shock that she was most likely experiencing. To faint, even. At the thought of that Hades moved slightly closer so he could catch her, he doubted a mortal would handle hitting their head on the edge of a glass staircase very well.
Persephone had seen the display of terror that guarded the underworld and chose to step closer as Cerberus sat; closer to the teeth and the maw, she called him magnificent. When she stuck her hand out Hades found himself floundering once more, a reaction Persephone seemed consistent in bringing out of him. She had said she knew she was safe, true, but to not show a single sign of fear in the face of Cerberus was far more than just a passing knowledge of feeling safe. He understood keenly what Cerberus was feeling, the three heads tilting in various directions, and could not help but wonder if mimicking the pose himself would bring him any sort of understanding or at the very least dislodge the confusion. Three pairs of eyes met his and all he could do was raise his shoulders minutely, he did not know how Persephone could stand calm as she was, all he knew was that it inspired a keen knowledge that her leaving would be a terrible loss for the both of them. There could hardly be any other mortal quite like her.
Was that what it was, he wondered. Then let it go, watching as one of the heads moved closer to sniff. He found himself taking a step closer, keeping himself from saying anything, keeping himself from smiling. But there was something warm, something like comfort, in seeing the way Persephone’s hand cradled Cerberus cheek. In the way Cerberus got that glint in his eyes before storming her with kisses.
The thud of Persephone’s back hitting the ground had a smile tug on his lips anyway, but somehow he still felt almost burdened by it. She had been upset with him, and now here she was laughing, happy again. It looked better on her. She deserved to laugh and cuddle with Cerberus and fear nothing, worry for nothing. But she could not stay forever as she was.
[#597377 “Or perhaps it is you who is brave,”] he spoke, finally finding his tongue, [#597377 “I have never seen anyone stand before Cerberus quite the same who was not part of the Olympus.”] he had to say it, it was the truth. Though he realised that perhaps speaking would sour her mood, as Hermes meddling in his business had him—and was he not the same? Hermes come and told him to put her back, here he had been on the stairs refusing to put Persephone back. Perhaps he truly was nothing but the same pompous fool akin to Zeus who thought he knew best.
[#597377 [i ‘I should take her back, let her have this walk and then take her home.’]] he thought, he [i knew], but again, that feeling. That felt like a sigh, a stone sinking to the bottom of a lake. He ignored it, looked where Persephone was with Cerberus, and stepped forward to gave Cerberus a pet on the flank to not disturb their cuddling. The fur between his fingers was a feeling and comfort he was well familiar with.]
[Font “Calibri” For now, Persephone’s anger was forgotten. It was hard to remain angry whilst she was receiving an abundance of affection from the beast she was supposed to dread. She did not care of the conversation that had happened previously to this, but that did not mean she would forgive or completely forget any time soon. It just did not seem important in this moment. She was experiencing something that no mortal could ever claim and yet, she never had any intention to share this with anyone. Whatever she experienced here was for her and her alone. She was not an adventurer and storyteller. She was just a mortal who had somehow managed to convince the guardian of the Underworld she was a friend to play with. The thought made her laugh and the smile remained upon her face, even as she heard Hades vocalise his thoughts.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone let his words sink in for a moment and knew that for this god, what he said was akin to a compliment. In fairness, to be compared to an Olympian would have been an honour by many standards. [#EF0599 “Well now you have.”] Persephone was not one who could ever consider herself to be overly brave but giving herself a minute to reflect upon it, most mortals would not have reacted to this whole situation the way she did. [#EF0599 “I am not like anyone you have ever met Hades. I am sure you will continue to be surprised by me.”]]
[Font “Calibri” Her gaze shifted when she detected the movement besides her and she watched as Hades placed a hand on Cerberus. She could see the admiration he had for the beast and while she suspected he did not realise it, there was nothing but love in the way he looked at Cerberus. Love and respect. It was obvious that it was mutual as one of his boulder-like heads moved from her to pay attention to his master. The beast pressed his face gently against Hades’ and she couldn’t help but feel happiness that they had each other. She suspected that it could get very lonely here in the Underworld. Is that why she was here?]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone pulled her hands away from the beast for a moment, simply to push herself off the floor and as she moved, Cerberus helped nudge her up with his heads and she laughed in response. It made her motions clumsy, but it did the trick. [#EF0599 “Thank you.”] She said, petting him as a reward. [#EF0599 “I believe we have a Kingdom to explore. I hope to meet you again Cerberus.”]]
[size12 For a moment, at her first words, Hades wondered if things between them would be short, but after a while she continued. She was right, of course, she truly was not like anyone he had ever met, and she had indeed been nothing but surprises. He mulled over her words, while petting Cerberus. Glad to get the attention of one of his heads, he gently rested his hand upon his cheek as Persephone had done earlier, scratching it with his little and ring finger.
Hades cherished the peaceful moment, and kept up his gentle petting even as he glanced over to watch Persephone get up off of the ground, only letting go as Cerberus moved to help her up. It was endearing, seeing Cerberus nudge her up, hearing her laugh in response. And as she gave him pets as reward, he too rewarded Cerberus with three quick pats on his hip. The impromptu cuddle session—which he still found hard to wrap his head around—was over, and it was time they got moving again. They did indeed have a whole Kingdom to explore.
[#597377 “We’ll meet at dinner, boy.”] he murmured softly, taking place before Cerberus to place forehead kisses on each one of his three heads. As much as he wished to impress Persephone, there was nothing that could ever stop him from giving Cerberus a proper goodbye. The licks he got in return felt gentler than usual, and he noted to himself to give Cerberus plenty of cuddles, once they were alone.
[#597377 “Let us go, then. Where would you like to go from here?”] he asked, stepping just close enough to Persephone that if she took out the parchment he could see it, but keeping his distance as best he could not to crowd her. [#597377 “We’re thereabout equal ways away from Lethe, Cocytus, and the Mourning fields—Where those who suffered unrequited love reside.”] he offered, as perhaps he could make up for lack of disclosure on letting her leave by disclosing other information.
He glanced ways away, towards where Cocytus and Lethe branched away from Styx. There weren’t any bridges in the Underworld, so if she wished to see the Lethe or the Fields they’d have to cross it by using the spare ferry as a bridge between the dock and the other side, whether over Cocytus into the fields, or over Cocytus onto the other side for Lethe. Otherwise it was to follow Cocytus, towards where smooth stone slowly turned to natural stone, then to moss as they got deeper into the Underworld—As it was not the barren land most mortals assumed it to be, at least not outside of the entrance and Lethe. Almost as though the sheer pain of unrequited love has sapped the live out of the fields themselves.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone watched as Hades said his temporary goodbye to Cerberus, noting the affection between them and the way he kissed each of his heads in a promise to see him again later. Seeing this side of him made her question whether the god had [I any] bad intentions bringing her here. He was showing a vulnerability that she doubted any Olympian would usually show to a mortal and that made it hard to believe that he would bring her here against her will for anything sinister. Instead, she couldn’t help but wonder if he was simply unversed in real connections and Hades had merely gone the wrong way about trying to build one. Perhaps Persephone would be able to give him the benefit of the doubt.]
[Font “Calibri” She smiled as Cerberus returned his mater’s affections and in that moment she [I knew] that she could forgive Hades. It was hard not to let her guard down a little when she had witnessed such a genuine and pure moment. Giving one last lick of attention to Persephone as he passed, Cerberus made his way back to his position as guard and he became but a mere shadow once more.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “I’d like to see all three since they are so close together.”] Persephone pulled out the parchment to gaze upon it once more before she looked towards Hades. [#EF0599 “Lethe and Cocytus both originate in the same place right? This is the River Styx?”] She asked pointing to where she believed the origin of the two other rivers were. She looked to him for confirmation and once she received it she looked back at the map. [#EF0599 “I cannot tell from this map how wide the rivers are. Are they easy to cross? I’m assuming one cannot simply wade through the rivers like we would upon Earth.”] Instead of waiting for an answer, she started to walk in the direction of Cocytus, knowing it would likely be easier to see all three if they were to cross the river into Fields of Mourning and walk through the fields to where Lethe met the edge on the other side.]
[Font “Calibri” On this particular route, the terrain remained the same although she guessed that different parts of the Underworld would look different to differentiate key features of it. She noted that what appeared to be barren land initially, seemed to evolve as they edged closer to the river, with vegetation beginning to grow sporadically along the route. It appeared the Underworld had plenty to offer in the way of fruit and plant life and as she neared one solitary tree, she reached up and plucked a single apple from a branch. At first she was merely surprised that something so perfect could exist in a world that was designed for the dead to reside in. Most had the vision of a desolate wasteland where nothing could grow but that was proven to be false. The Underworld had far more to offer than any mortal could have imagined.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “I do not believe I’ve ever seen such a ripe apple.”] She voiced, inspecting it closely. Of course, she was unaware that all the fruit was intended to look enticing. Suddenly she could not remember the last time she ate, and her obvious hunger became apparent now that she held a solution to it in her hand.]
[size12 It should not have surprised him, that Persephone wanted to see them all. Yet, of course it did. With the way she had spoken of Lethe before, he had expected her to want nothing to do with the sorrow of it all. He supposed something could be said about the danger of curiosity, but admittedly it was admirable. The mourning fields for all their decay was not a terrible place, the souls there were allowed to cry, united, for all they had lost. No shame, no one to scold them that they were foolish. If he thought too long about it he would have to admit that he held much regard for the people who could spend their lives loving someone who would never want them, watching them attain happiness from a far with sorrow in their heart but happiness too. If he paid attention to the train of thought he would know that there was value in letting that which you admired go free, but he was paying attention to where Persephone was pointing, and the colour of her eyes as they met. He nodded quickly, for yes, it was the River Styx she pointed towards.
[#597377 “They are not so wide as to not be able to cross them by boat with ease. I would advice against touching them with your skin, the souls are...”] he trailed off, would it be fitting to call them greedy? Or were they more akin to fish swimming to the surface to eat a water strider as that was in their nature? [#597377 “They might try and pull you in.”]
[#597377 “When we arrive at the bend there should be one of Charon’s ferries free for us to borrow, we can take that to cross towards either the Fields or the other side of Lethe, whichever you prefer.”] he explained as they walked, watching Persephone curiously as the barren lands made way for vegetation. He couldn’t help but find himself frowning as he saw that the apple tree was in full bloom, it seemed even the very nature itself was alerted of a mortal, or perhaps it had always been there and he had simply paid it no mind—It was not as though he usually took this route specifically. Though he was willing to blame it on the nature conspiring against him, but certainly it would not matter. One apple here or there, they’d continue towards the river and the fields.
Except, of course it was not so easy. As Persephone plucked an apple to inspect, surely surprised that it was not a barren cave system filled with terror and death, he watched her inspect it almost fondly, feeling a swell of pride that she was once again admiring the Underworld. But then she spoke, and all at once pride was swallowed up by the abyss as all at once it dawned on him.
He did not quite think through anything at all when he quickened his step to snatch the apple from her hand, barely registered his own actions in fact until the splatter of the apple hitting the ground with force far away from them reached his ears. Then he became aware of his own stature; hackles raised, teeth clenched, towering as he would over souls trying to escape. His breath came out almost ragged, and he realised the tightness in his torso, the tenseness of his body. He stepped back with haste, almost huffing the tension out of himself like Cerberus after a long bout of play. [#597377 “Don’t eat it.”] he said, spoke through gritted teeth, jaw clenched tight still. ‘You’ll be stuck here’ he did not say. Swallowed, instead. Breathed in. Before trying again to force it out. [#597377 “If you eat anything here you can never leave.”] His heart felt sour, as he realised that not only had he forbidden her again—even if it was for her own good—but he had gotten angry with her, it was not her who deserved his anger but himself. He had put her here, he had originally planned on having her eating here, keeping her from doing it was only half the apology for what he had almost done.
[#597377 “I should have warned you.”] he amends, knowing that it will most likely do little to appease whatever turmoil Persephone might be going through as she learns yet another restriction and one told in anger. His eyes try to bore holes in the tree with venom as if it would wilt before him—it did not.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone stared at the fruit in her hand for a moment. While she knew that it was not smart to eat something from The Underworld when she did not really understand the consequences of doing so, it was almost as though she could hear something encouraging her to do so. It felt like a simple whisper that was just for her and she could have sworn that she felt hot breath on her neck as the unknown entity spoke.]
[Font “Calibri” [I Just a bite…]]
[Font “Calibri” She blinked, breaking the stare as she shuddered and looked around as if she might find the source of the voice but there was no one there. Of course, there was no one there. It was simply The Underworld’s way of enticing the mortal in whatever way it could. It was a place of magic after all. If she had the chance to she would have put the apple down herself but before she could act on it herself, the apple had been seized from her hand and thrown a distance from her.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone watched as the perfect apple shattered into pieces as it collided with the ground. When the initial shock wore off, she looked back at Hades who had managed to get himself into a state of anger.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “I wasn’t…”] She said, cut off by her disbelief at how Hades had changed his demeanour so quickly over something as simple as an apple. He was almost snarling in the same way Cerberus had been when he had tried to terrify her into submission. Before she could ask anything he was already giving an explanation, but it made no sense. Earlier, he had made it clear that he had no intention of taking her back aboveground, yet he was forbidding her from eating anything that would keep her here. She was entirely speechless and perplexed.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “You are an extremely frustrating man.”] She said as she started to walk once more, not caring to watch him stare down a tree that had apparently betrayed him in some way. It was her who displayed anger now, wanting a straight answer from him for once and in her exasperation she stopped moving again and turned around, marching straight up to him. Though the man towered over her she was not about to cower before him. [#EF0599 “One minute you are refusing to take me back to the meadow and let me get on with my life and the next you are destroying apples so I can’t eat anything that will render me stuck here. What exactly is your plan Hades? Keep me here until I’m close to death and watch me die?!”]]
[size12 If he had not already been keeping himself off the edge of anger, being called frustrating would most likely have tipped him over it. As it was, Hades clenched his teeth more to still his tongue as he watched her walk away. It was true that it had been unkind that he did not warn her off the fruits and the food—As were the other things he had not disclosed. Yet his chest was slowly filling up with new flame at being called frustrating, trying to figure out how to articulate the truth without making her terrified while not knowing [i why] it mattered so much to him that she stayed and didn’t fear him.
When Persephone stopped moving, turned around, and marched back, her words were laced with anger. He felt himself defensively wanting to interject that he had not refused to take her back he had been silent, but technically it was true, and it wouldn’t have mattered as she kept powering through. Questioning his plan, which he had already thrown out the window the moment she awoke—not that she knew that either. If her next words hadn’t deflated him so horrible he might have had time to consider that, but they did. [i Did he want to keep her until she was close to death and watch her die?] The thought had him run cold, the familiar feeling of bitterness filling his mouth.
[#597377 “Was it not you who said you knew that if I wanted you dead you already would be?”] this time he does not feel guilt at the near snarl of it, as if it wasn’t his own fault for forgetting who he was. [#597377 “Do you mortals normally give prisoners a map and tell them to lead the way around the grounds as a means of torture?”] but then the bubble burst, and maybe he understood then, why he was frustrating if that’s what she thought of him while he clearly did not have any of those intentions. [#597377 “I do not which to keep you here forever, I wished to—“] he cut himself off, huffing. He realised that Zeus could come at any moment, they were already wasting her time, and perhaps it was for the better that he laid it all out for her and took her back. So far all he had done was upset her, and maybe it was better to take her back immediately as she wished instead of trying to prove her otherwise. Was it not merely being punished for not thinking his plan through?
[#597377 “I wished to speak with you in the meadow but I knew what mortals say of me. So I thought if you would fear me anyway I might as well take you here to show how the Underworld is good too. I did plan on having you eat, but I realised as you awoke that I was wrong, that I shouldn’t have taken you. Now I am showing you my grounds to make up for my mistake, and when you are satisfied then I’ll bring you home. Because once you leave you can never return, mortals only come here once.”] He knew he should tell her the whole truth, about the time she was wasting, but instead he says [#597377 “I am certain if you choose your words right Zeus will compensate you with many a gift.”] because he is certain that too, was truth. For while he wanted her to know the truth, he still wanted her to stay, and what mortal would stay if they knew they’d already been gone a week, that a day wandering the Underworld was a month wasted.]
[Font “Calibri” If Persephone had truly thought through what she was doing, she might have realised that she was showing her anger towards an [I Olympian.] He was quite literally one of the most powerful beings in existence. Hades was part of the trio who had conquered the Titans and entrapped them in Tartarus where they belonged and here she was, scolding a god who could very easily find a way to torture her for a lifetime if he so wished it. This was The Underworld after all and despite its continuous wonder and glory, she knew there were parts of this kingdom where the worst of humanity were locked away to face their own unique torment. If she pushed him…]
[Font “Calibri” However, there was something that told her that she was safe from such a potential. Just as she remembered her own words, Hades was throwing them back in her face, reminding her that she had not been worried about the prospect of death earlier. She was not worried now but she simply wished to understand, and her frustrations were not exactly communicated in a calm way. Even now as he spoke she could tell that he had been angered by her assumption that she was almost imprisoned here. While he had given her certain freedoms and had shown her a kindness that she assumed he very rarely showed, he had made it clear that he had no intentions of letting her leave. At least, that was her interpretation of his chosen silence.]
[Font “Calibri” Just as her lips parted to speak once more, Hades had clearly decided that it was time to be straight with her, which is all she was really asking. She had not demanded to be taken home, but she simply wanted to know [I why] he had brought her here and why he seemed so indirect when she asked him of the world she had been made to leave behind. She hung onto each word and things began to make sense to her. Perhaps she might have run if he had approached her in the fields, but she had not tried to run from him here. Perhaps getting her here in the first place had ruled out that possibility and her curiosity got the better of her, but she would never truly know how differently things might have turned out if he had chosen to simply greet her in a way one would normally be greeted by a stranger.]
[Font “Calibri” Hearing him tell her of his initial plan and how it had changed to something else entirely actually made her trust him a little bit more. Knowing that he had realised what he had done was wrong and that he was working to rectify it was something she admired and respected him for, regardless of the fact that his initial actions were questionable. The open and honest communication was all she needed to feel that safe feeling once more.]
[Font “Calibri” The emotions she felt now were ones she did not understand. The thought of never being able to return here if she left made her feel empty. Considering she had only spent such a short time here, she had an attachment to the place she couldn’t really understand but it was one she had never quite felt at home. Perhaps that was because she had never really felt at [I home.]]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “I do not wish for gifts as any kind of compensation.”] She said simply, her tone now far less aggressive and more exhausted as though she did not want to feel anger any longer. [#EF0599 “I just wanted your honesty and that is something that I now have. While I do not necessarily agree with your methods, I [I do] understand. If I only get to be here once as a mortal with life, then I do not see why there is any need to rush. Surely I’ve only been gone for a few hours? I’m doubtful that anyone has even noticed that I am missing yet. All I ask of you Hades is that you give me choices. If you say that I am not your prisoner then you tell me the things I need to know to be able to make choices for myself.”]]
[size12 When Persephone spoke her tone had shifted, as though she was exhausted—and Hades found himself mirroring her feeling, sighing and hoping the anger and bitterness would wash off. It was no surprise that she disagreed with his methods, and he could not fault her, yet the familiar defensiveness clung to him regardless. What he did not understand was her claim that she understood him. He barely understood it himself. And for a moment it seemed that maybe, miraculously, things would be all right. That maybe this would be a truce and they could move forward. She didn’t feel a need to rush. There was no reason to rush her with the truth.
Except, then the truth demanded a presence anyway. [#ef0599 “Surely I’ve only been gone a few hours?”] she asked, and he realised that he would not be able to hide that from her either. A part of that realisation was almost relief, or perhaps resignation. Because she hadn’t been gone a few hours. Every minute in the Underworld was twenty four up above. Just in the time between the moment she touched the apple and now was likely more than an hour in and of itself. And, as so many other things he did, he spoke without thinking.
[#597377 “Just this talk was an hour.”]
There. It is out in the open. The only way was forward.
[#597377 “You have been here a few hours, but time is not the same. If you were to wander these grounds, it would take us a day—While a month passes above.”] The feeling from the stairs return to him, a sinking like a rock in a pond, as though his chest has turned to stone and was pulling him down. [#597377 “It has already been more than a week, since you arrived.”] He finally chanced a glance at her, feeling oddly vulnerable. Here and now it was clear that up until now he had done little but mistakes, and that if he had taken a day to think things might have been different. If he’d not been selfish he could have spoken to her on the meadow once for her week if he made time for it, every few months at worst, but he had not been patient, and even now the very thought of all the days she would spend as mere hours passed had him feeling like something slipping from his grasp like sand between his fingers—even though it made no sense. You could not lose a stranger who you had spent no time with. Yet it still felt very much akin to reaching Olympus and being met with a chuckle telling him he was hours late, as if it was not mere minutes for him.
[#597377 “That is the last truth I kept from you.”] he added, quieter. As if it could make up for the fact that he had already stolen at least a week of her life, and standing here was stealing her hours still.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone had requested the truth from Hades, and she did not doubt for a second that she would get that. If he was to hide anything from her now it would be fruitless. They had laid all their cards out on the table and they both seemed more than debilitated by the anger they had been harbouring. She was not naïve enough to believe that there was no other truth that she needed to know but as she wished, Hades was quick to explain that her idea of a few hours away from her meadow and her home was not all that it seemed.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “An hour?”] She asked in disbelief, not quite understanding what he meant but she did not need to prompt him for further information because he offered her an explanation quickly. Time was already a complicated thing and to hear that time was passing by differently here than it was everywhere else made her feel…well she did not really know how to describe how she was feeling. It was almost as though she felt dazed at the concept of her being gone from her world for a week. The things that could have happened in a week aboveground were almost unimaginable.]
[Font “Calibri” Her mother could have set her up on several meetings with suitors as she usually did. She might have even been matched without much of a choice left since she was beginning to lose patience with Persephone’s distain for every single man her mother brought to her attention. The risk of her daughter becoming a spinster was something she was not willing to gamble, and she was close to losing her right to choose a husband. So much could have happened in a week in the mortal world yet here in the Underworld they were able to take their time and enjoy every minute. As a mortal she knew just how precious time was and to be granted with more of it was simply a gift that perhaps only she could appreciate.]
[Font “Calibri” Hades seemed more sombre about the notion of time when he spoke, but she imagined that when the rest of the world was moving at a quicker pace, being stuck in the Underworld with time passing at a much slower rate, she understood how it could be so difficult for him to watch the world pass him by. Bringing her here was his way of trying to create more time. If either of them took a moment to think about it they might have seen the romance in such a notion.]
[Font “Calibri” She smiled a little which was probably the last thing Hades would expect from her and when he looked to her she could [I feel] his vulnerability. She reached out to brush his arm reassuringly, but the contact was brief. [#EF0599 “Hey, I have nothing important to go back to. You’re doing be a favour keeping me from my overbearing mother.”] Persephone chuckled and little and then sighed as she turned her attention back to their surroundings. [#EF0599 “I still want to see rest of your kingdom. However long it takes.”] She spoke confidently and then made a further observation. [#EF0599 “I’m surprised the other Olympians have taken so long to act if I have been here a week according to their time. Unless Olympus works the same way as it does down here?”]
[size12 The smile, albeit small, he was met with when he looked at her was at such a disconnect from what he expected. He was so puzzled in fact that he barely registered the touch to his arm before it was already leaving—For which he was glad, because as soon as the touch left him he felt the instinct to want it back, to put his hand on hers to keep it there. To feel the warmth seep down into his very bones and make a home in the cavern of his chest. His arm felt distinctly other, now that she had touched it, albeit briefly. Reassuring, almost, if he dared speak such sentimentalities. But that was what it had been, had it not. A reassuring touch, as if to say that it was wilted and regrown, the brown leaves of a plant pulled away to allow space for fresh leaves.
And then she chuckled. Said she had nothing to return to as if losing a month was not world ending to a mortal. Hades did not even begin to try and identify the feeling he felt, but it made his chest into a hearth. Although she spoke of her mother, and he felt the familiar tug again, being away from things was lovely, to a point. Though she continued on to talk about how she still wished to see the rest, and the mood seemed to lighten a little.
Then, of course, the Olympians. It was true he did not know either why it had taken them so long. Aside from Hermes dragging out the tale and the others getting distracted spinning other tales.
[#597377 “Most of the week passed as you were asleep. I would not be surprised if the hours since has been Hermes’ retelling a horrid tale of how I am treating you.”] he is glad all the anger has burned out of him, otherwise he might have gone into a defensive tirade. [#597377 “Though, I am certain Zeus will be here. So it is best we keep going if you want to see the fields before he get’s here, although I would not be surprised if you could scold him into running off.”] it is true. And the imagery of Persephone directing her anger at Zeus was something he very much would adore seeing, the Olympian certainly deserved it.
He slowly stared back on the path, as if to urge Persephone on. Away from the apple tree, away from their anger. Towards the river of forgetting and the field of unrequited love. Though the thought remained, it was curious that Zeus had not accosted them in the throne room, and while he was certain they could speak plenty of circles, saving a mortal should have been a priority. Especially with however Hermes decided to twist the tale, Hades had no doubt he did—Or perhaps, it was merely the defensiveness telling him that that was what it was. Regardless, he did not wish to let Persephone be corrupted by his own thoughts of the rest of the Olympians. They were, after all, the heroes of the stories, and it was not as though he had not given them reason to dislike him.]
[Font “Calibri” Time was indeed a curious thing to wrap one’s head around and she knew that if she tried to think about it too much it would cause a headache. All she needed to focus on was the time they had now; the minutes she could spend experiencing a world she might never get the chance to see again. Hades was offering her the opportunity to walk his Kingdom and she was not about to turn that down because it would take a few weeks away from her mundane routine of avoiding societies expectations of her.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “Hermes must have some imagination. He has not witnessed how I am being treated. The only thing that he has seen for himself was my initial confusion and anger. I’m sure he got the brunt of that too.”] She laughed once more, glad that any tension between them seemed to dissolve into something a lot lighter. [#EF0599 “It would seem futile to bring a mortal here just to torture them. I am sure that you have many souls here that you could exercise any sinister desires on. Although, something tells me that us mortals have you all wrong.”] Her words were genuine, and she was finding it hard to believe that the fearsome god they had all passed-on stories about was stood before her now. It was likely, and she was believing it to be true, that Hades had simply been misunderstood and because of his association with death by his nature and domain, men have simply assumed his personality and given him a reputation he did not fully deserve. Although, she also did not doubt that the god could live up to that reputation if the right situation were to arise.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone found the image of her chastising the God of Gods humorous, and it seemed that Hades did too. It was doubtful that such a moment would ever come to fruition, and she was sure that if she was to meet Zeus himself, it would simply be to drag her back to her place aboveground.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone followed Hades’ gaze towards the path and with a quick glance back at the obliterated apple and the newly barren tree, she put the ordeal behind them. She started to walk towards the river bend where a ferry would be available for them to use so that they could cross the Lethe. Persephone was not sure what to expect from the river or the aesthetics of it but as she approached, there was a cloud of mist that shrouded the surface of the river, almost giving it an air of mystery. The closer she got, the clearer the illuminous nature of the depths became. An emerald green marbled through the water giving it the most beautiful effect. There seemed to be a slight coolness in the air, although she couldn’t quite tell if it was a temperature change or an atmosphere shift causing a chill to rip through her as she shivered in response. It was the strangest feeling to be in awe while the eerie nature of the river engulfed her.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “Where is the boat?”] She asked, the vessel not in obvious sight.]
[size12 To know that Persephone had no hesitation speaking of Hermes and his imagination, even laughed, brought an actual smile to Hades lips. It was reassurance he did not know he had needed, to know that she had not taken Hermes’ side in it all. Then, she continued, and while it felt unjustified the generous words she said—it could be both better and worse. It was true the tales of mortals were quite wrong, for if he himself were to judge he’d argue he was both much worse than texts dare say, but also not quite entirely as they might say. The mortals feared death, of course they had to fear him too. It was true that he had little sympathy for most things, but that was a necessity. Though, he enjoyed these moments. The calm evenings with Cerberus bringing a wet shoe up on the bed, the walk with Persephone watching her eyes fill with awe. Though, as he thought, he realised he did not consider his own feelings much. He did his job, walked his grounds, and that was what was needed of him that was his duty. He thought of how to reply, but could think of no words other than [#597377 “Perhaps so.”]
They walked towards the river bend in silence, and as they got closer to Lethe Hades could not help but wonder what else they might face. The mist rose from the water as it always did, looking much like a field in the hours of morning on a spring day—almost as though memories evaporated like dew from the blades of grass, if one wished to be poetic. The river itself, marbled with emerald green looked almost illuminated from its depth.
Hades glanced towards where Cocytus continued, then towards where Styx diverged. The change in colours of the water was always fascinating, though not something to dwell on. Almost as soon as Persephone asked where the boat was, the familiar creak of wood resounded from a ways away. It is small but long, enough to seat a few people. It creaks and groans as it makes it way towards them. What makes the boat, Charon’s ferry, so special, however, is the fact that it is but a boat. There is no Charon aboard, not any oars to be seen, this one is moving all on its own. As it makes way towards them, Hades finds himself glancing at Persephone for her reaction. The ripple of water against the wooden frame is continuous and even, the boat cleaving its way through Styx, and into Lethe’s emerald depths. That is where it slows to a stop, right at their feet. Hades finds himself instinctually reaching out, gently giving the gunwale the same pats as he would Cerberus after a good job.
[#597377 “The boat is here,”] Hades says, proud of himself, [#597377 “after you, Persephone. Watch your step.”] He does not know what travelling across Lethe will bring, nor what awaits them once they reach the fields, but what he does know in the moment, is that all he wants to do is hold his hand out to offer Persephone a handhold while stepping into the boat, and so he does. Cold hand held casually open should she want it.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone looked out at the water once more while she waited for Hades to point out where they would get the boat from. She couldn’t shake the feeling that if she were to delve into the water itself she would see the memories of those who had been tempted enough to drink from the river. It almost seemed like Lethe itself acted as a gatekeeper for those who had once found themselves in a pensive state and in a way it offered her some comfort to think that the memories forfeited were not lost forever but kept safe here in the waters. She stared closely at one singular ripple, and she could have sworn that she could make out the shape of figures in the water - two silhouettes dancing to no music but holding each other in a way that only lovers did. However, the scene was soon broken apart by the swell in the water caused by the arrival of the boat.]
[Font “Calibri” She looked up, expecting so see some sort of being controlling the movements of the boat but it was void of a rower or any oars to make it move. Persephone looked towards Hades with a look of astonishment upon her face as it stopped right at their feet. She shook her head, letting out a brief laugh of disbelief although she felt like she should not be surprised at the magical elements that she had come across so far in this world. An echo of a smile remained upon her face as she watched Hades caress the boat as though it deserved an award for turning up. Perhaps the boat did have some kind of consciousness and that in itself was a lot to wrap her head around.]
[Font “Calibri” All questions and curiosities about the boat were completely shoved aside when she heard the way her name sounded upon his lips. It was as though her heart had failed to function for what felt like minutes and then all at once it was quickening to catch up from the missed beats. She could hear it echoing in her ears and she was suddenly conscious about whether he knew; whether he could detect the change in the mortal’s heart rate when hers was the only one beating in the Land of the Dead. This was not a feeling that Persephone was familiar with. Why did the way he said her name affect her so? It was not a question she would so quickly understand the answer to.]
[Font “Calibri” Now feeling more vulnerable than she ever had before, she swallowed and tried to regulate her heart rate but as she pulled her eyes from his face to his hand, she could not imagine the contact would help her unruly heart. Still, she did not refuse his offer. Persephone slowly reached out, her fingers delicately laying on top of his hand just enough to offer her balance as she stepped off the riverbank into the vessel. His skin was cold against her own but not uncomfortably so, just enough for her to notice. Once she had both feet on the wooden platform she removed her hand from his and very quickly felt the absence of his skin upon hers. Her hand tingled where his had been, a ghost of his hand reminding her that it had been there.]
[Font “Calibri” She looked away from him for the briefest of moments as her cheeks flushed a light shade of pink, a colour that only highlighted her beauty and innocence if one were to observe it. She distracted herself from the overwhelming feeling of…whatever the feeling was. She could not identify it. Instead, she lowered herself down onto a bench where she could sit for the journey across Lethe and when she felt brave enough she looked back at Hades. [#EF0599 “I’m ready when you are.”]]
[size12 Persephone’s face was aglow with astonishment, and Hades watched fondly as she shook her head and let out a laugh. Knowing he could surprise her too, sometimes, felt nice. He enjoyed the fact that she enjoyed what she found in the Underworld, that was really all he had hoped. That she would look upon the Underworld the way she looked upon the meadow, this time it was easier to understand what had her feeling what she felt. Charon’s ferries were quite wonderful in how they arrived, it was a comfort to know that all you had to do was wait by the river and it would arrive.
Something changed in her face, as he spoke. It almost looked though she was drawn inwards, eyes not quite looking at him. He found himself tilting his head, wondering what had caused it. Had the river drawn her in the way the apple had? She looked away, then, towards his hand. Perhaps he had simply scared her when he told her to watch her step; had she imagined all the horrors that could happen if she slipped into the water? He let it go, because none of it mattered when he felt her touch again—This time fully aware of it as he was.
Her touch was delicate this time as well, and it took effort he did not want to think about to not firm his grip to make sure she was truly balanced—Or perhaps merely to hold her hand—so she did not slip. Then, once more, her touch was gone, and Hades stood with his empty hand still raised for a moment before lowering it. Thumb moving to stroke against the part of his hand she had held as though to retain the warmth between his fingers. She looked away again, but Hades was too caught up by the tinting of her cheeks. It was such a sign of life, to be embarrassed by something, Hades would have wondered what if he wasn’t so caught up trying to memorise the way it subtly changed her overall look. Persephone who stood up to Gods, cuddles beasts, and blushed in a boat about to cross Lethe.
Then she spoke, and Hades was pulled out of his thoughts. He stepped into the boat himself, careful not to rock it too much, and sat down on so he was facing Persephone. And just as he relaxed onto the bench, the boat began to move—it’s subtle turn towards Lethe nothing but a gentle sway.
Hades glanced at Persephone, wondered if it was ill meant to ask, but decided to anyway. [#597377 “Are you worried what the river might do to entice you?”] He’d have met her eyes if the blush did not keep pulling his eyes. Some part of him wanted to reach his thumb out to see if it would feel warmer than the rest of her cheek.]
[Font “Calibri” Of all the places Hades could have situated himself on the boat, he chose to sit opposite her. He was close enough that if the river swayed them slightly their knees might brush each other, and she was not sure if she could handle another moment of physical touch so soon. Without a single command from him, the boat automatically began to journey across the river, and she watched as the emerald reflected beneath them.]
[Font “Calibri” When Hades spoke, her eyes were drawn from the water to him. He was asking a valid question, especially since she had spent quite some time staring into the depths and she had already experienced how the Underworld liked to try and trick mortals once it detected their presence. In response she shook her head gently and smiled softly.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “I do not believe I have anything to worry about. No matter what the river does, I do not think you will let any harm come to me and I was able to ignore the whispers trying to encourage me to eat that apple.”] She said as she glanced back at the water. [#EF0599 “Although… I wish I had drunk more water in the meadow.”] Persephone smiled a little and just as she placed her hand on the gunwale of the boat to look over the edge there was a tremble that ripped through the Underworld, causing the boat to tip from side to side. She did not even think about her actions then, simply reaching out for Hades as though he would be able to keep them both balanced upon the boat as it rode out the tremor of what felt like an earthquake.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “What was that?”] There was no time for a reply before a second vibration travelled through to them, this time more severe than the last. Her grip tightened on Hades as she looked around them to see how close they were to the other side of the river. It was not too wide and within a few seconds they could be close enough to jump off the boat, but she wasn’t sure how much safer they would be on land. [#EF0599 “Hades what is going o--?”] Before she could finish her words there was a sickening crash that sounded as though the whole world could crumble. Following the crash she could hear Cerberus snarling aggressively.]
[Font “Calibri” [#009999 “You’ve had your fun Hades.”] A booming voice surrounded them, and she did not need to ask to figure out who it belonged to. [#009999 “You did not listen to Hermes and put the girl back, so maybe you’ll listen to this.”] Persephone could not even describe the sound that followed. Sickening laughs from tormented souls - the sound of destruction and chaos. Whatever it was had disturbed the river and ghostly hands reached out and encased the boat and tried to pull it down.
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “We need to get off this boat. Now.”]]
[size12 [#597377 “I wouldn’t”] Hades found himself whispering as soon as Persephone mentioned not thinking he would let any harm come to her. Although the following words, that she had been able to ignore the whispers of the apple herself, had a twinge of guilt pinch him. It meant he had not needed to throw the apple, but then again, if he had not thrown it they would not have spoken plainly. Her honesty about wishing she had had more water made Hades smile soberly, but it quickly faded as a tremble ripped through the Underworld. He felt his knee bump into Persephone’s as the boat tipped side to side, and then she was reaching out for him, and he followed suit. Grip trying to mimic a statue.
Persephone spoke his thoughts, and he had no idea, which brought a feeling of cold chill he was not used to. Another tremble came, and Persephone’s grip tightened. Hades tried to look for the source of the tremble, because it could not be what he though, surely was no way the tremble came from below them. The boat was tipping precariously, and Hades tried to figure out what to say. What could he say to reassure Persephone when he himself did not know what was going on, the only thing he [i wanted] to say was ‘hold onto me’ and she already was. He did not know whether it could actually protect her but he did not wish to let her go. Whatever happened he did not want her to get hurt, could not let her be hurt.
Then a familiar voice resounded, and for a moment Hades felt relief. A sick trick to terrify Persephone away, that was all it had been. Immediately the anger roared to life, how [i dared] he. How dared Zeus terrify her for—But then familiar laughs resounded, Cerberus’ barks growing more fierce, and for a moment all he could think was [#597377 [i ‘No, don’t hurt him.’]] but then he realised that it was everywhere. And everything around him seemed to stop for a moment as it dawned on him like a cold chill.
Zeus had chosen to not just sacrifice Persephone as a lesson, but he had opened Tartarus. Realised as the hands reached to try and pull the boat down that Zeus had torn the very fabric that kept the Underworld as it was. So that was the time it had taken. The Olympians had sat on their thrones debating whether Persephone’s life was worth losing to prove a point. He realised the grip he had on Persephone had tightened, and released it somewhat. It was not her he wished to main, to throttle, to—No. He had to protect her. The Olympians would always be there but Persephone would be lost in the blink of an eye. He had to focus on her, on keeping her safe, on not letting Zeus decide to throw her life away.
Persephone’s voice was like the Lighthouse of Alexandria, bringing him to senses, guiding him home. She was right. They had to get off the boat, before the Lethe spilled in, before the hands could hold onto her. He stood, and thankfully the hands on the boat kept it steady enough that jumping off would be easy, or, as easy as it could be as the world caves in.
[#597377 “And we have to run.”] He added, because they would need to. Who knew what the souls could do, who knew what Zeus had unleashed.
Then there was solid ground beneath his feet, the sound of water splashing against rock resounding as the loss of two people made the boat sink significantly. He did not look as it was swallowed up by the emerald depths, instead focused more on finding a new grip on Persephone, not wanting to let her go. His hand naturally slipped down to find hers, it would be easier to walk that way, run that way. As much as he wanted to simply pull her close and shield her, all he could do was intertwine their fingers and squeeze.
They were on the wrong side of the Lethe, he knew. Now with no way to cross it again unless Charon came with the other boat. He found himself instinctually whistling as loud as he could, just to hear the echo of three howls that confirmed that Cerberus was okay, and from the ways of it further away from where he had been before. Hopefully in the throne room, or hidden away in the bedrooms. Far away from the rivers, far away from what was going on. Just as he and Persephone needed to be. Except the only place they could hide was the field of mourning, and there was no telling what had become of them.]
[Font “Calibri” Of all the things she had faced so far in the Underworld, this moment of unknown chaos was by far the most terrifying since it was something she didn’t understand or could not control. The magic of The Underworld up to this point had been wonderous and exciting and this was something far more tumultuous. She could feel the grip of Hades tightening around her and she wanted to tell him not to let go when she could feel him loosening his grip slightly. The last thing she wanted was for him to let go. It would take but seconds for her to be lost in the River Lethe if he did.]
[Font “Calibri” She was looking to him for instructions, a plan to keep them both safe and when it was decided that they needed to leave the boat it was something they put into action quickly. Still holding on to him, the two leapt from the boat until their feet hit the riverbank. Persephone looked back at the boat, watching the hands pull it into the water, knowing that if they waited one more minute to jump… [I No]. She shook her head and tried to focus on what they needed to do next. They had to run. Hades words echoed in her head and before she had time to gather her thoughts she felt Hades’ hand wrap around her own, offering a gentle and reassuring squeeze. It was his way of telling her that he would keep her safe without offering the words, but it was also necessary. They needed to stick together and this way, it would be far easier to navigate the terrain before them.]
[Font “Calibri” She watched Hades and felt her own relief when she heard the response of Cerberus to his whistle. Persephone would hold a lot of guilt if anything happened to the beast he held so much affection for. [#EF0599 “We should go…”] she suggested, not really knowing where they would go but she knew they could not stand here and wait for whatever threats might come their way. It was obvious now just how serious the Olympians had taken her presence here in The Underworld and she couldn’t help but wonder if Hades put her back now, if his Kingdom would return to a level of peace he was used to. Yet selfishly she couldn’t bring herself to ask the god to put her back. She didn’t want to leave but if it was necessary for things to return to the way they were, then she would do so.]
[Font “Calibri” She didn’t have time to pull out the parchment that would show them where they were but from memory she could work out that they were close to the Fields of Mourning. [#EF0599 “Will we be safe in the fields?”] She asked looking in the direction they would need to go. She did not wait for an answer, instead she tugged on his arm, encouraging him to start moving.]
[size12 Persephone was right in that they needed to go, the sooner the better. It wasn’t hard to follow her lead, allowing the tug of his arm to lead him in the direction of the Mourning Fields. She asked a good question, he knew, but he also knew that he did not know the answer. Though as the waves splashed behind them, and the laughter or souls echoed around the caverns and nooks of the Underworld there was nothing to do but run and hope.
[#597377 “I don’t know,”] he confessed, as he followed after her in a sprint, focusing on the two sets of sandal soles smacking against the stone and the dry grass as they made their way. [#597377 “they could be so lost in their mourning they notice nothing.”] He hesitates to even think of the other alternative. Of the souls gaining a different kind of restlessness, whether on their own or souls from Tartarus hiding in their midst. [#597377 “But it’s overgrown and unkept, so perhaps we can at the very least hide.”]
Hades does not know, truly, if hiding is possible for the King and a Mortal—the souls could know the otherness, the earth could turn against them the way the apple enticed Persephone. Who was to know if the Underworld would hold its loyalty to Hades when Zeus himself broke it open, who could say that the Underworld was even his kingdom anymore.
It was not a far run from where they had jumped to the entrance of the fields; It seemed, at first glance, to be eternally stuck in the shift of autumn and winter, dying tufts of yellow grass, trees and bushes at various states of abscission, and ankle high radiation fog that never left evaporated. Though, in sharp contrast to it all, some flowers were sprouting throughout the field where the souls had held moments of love for those who did not love them back. Though many of said flowers were wilted, some were bright still, the ebb and flow of how the mourners unrequited love was both lovely and not.
When the field came into view, Hades could not stop himself from tugging Persephone in turn, feeling the need to get her to stop just briefly, had to look her in the eyes as he spoke. [#597377 “I will do everything to keep you safe, I promise.”] She had to know. If nothing else he needed her to know that she would not be hurt, that if anything Zeus released dared try and touch her he would return it tenfold. He did not tell her that he would find a way to raze Olympus to the ground if she got hurt, knew that that was not the right thing to say, yet felt the urge to do it anyway. But there was no time for guilt, for worrying that bringing her here was the wrong choice. She was here and the Underworld was falling apart, all he could do was keep her safe as best he could, only when she was safe could he waste time wondering what horrors he could inflict on Zeus.]
[Font “Calibri” They were running towards the unknown. The fields could have been affected in some way by whatever it was that Zeus had released. If he was trying to cause pandemonium, she doubted there would just be one element to the Olympian’s plan and while she did not know what Zeus had done, she figured that [I something] had been released to enact their retribution. Persephone did not expect – could not predict - that her presence here would warrant such a strong response. They could have just come down here and taken her back surely? That did not really matter right now; what mattered was getting to the fields to find some sort of safety, or at least they hoped it might offer them refuge, even if it might have been for a short time while they tried to figure out their next move.]
[Font “Calibri” She wished there was more time to truly take in their surroundings but as they continued to run together, hand-in-hand, everything around her became a blurry haze of colours, foliage and fog. If she had the opportunity she would have appreciated to unique flowers that seemed to bloom in solitude and the colours of the wilting leaves. She happened to enjoy the autumn just as much as the spring as she believed that the cycle of these seasons had much to offer in the way of beauty, even here in the Underworld it seemed.]
[Font “Calibri” If Persephone took a moment to think about it – to really think about it – she might have found it a little bit strange that Hades was running from the chaos that Zeus had brought to his Kingdom. The things she [I did] know about Hades would point towards a more direct approach. He wouldn’t take this from anyone, and she imagined that he would face whatever was thrown at him and make it all go away somehow. The mortals associated him with power, violence and death and she was sure that he [I was] capable of bringing about his own destructive forces. Yet, in this moment he was far more concerned with running.
[Font “Calibri” As if to clarify why running was so important to him, he pulled on her arm, indicating that she should stop. As she did, she noticed the way his eyes found hers and she could see his truth behind them as he spoke. He was running to keep her safe. Fighting this could put her in danger right now and he was not willing to do that.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “I know you will.”] Persephone squeezed his hand gently, offering him some reassurance of her trust and then she turned back towards the fields. [#EF0599 “Which way?”]
[size12 There was a relief in knowing Persephone still trusted him, still knew innately that he wanted no harm to her. And the squeeze to his hand allowed him to remember that they were still connected, the sudden of it all had made it instinct more than anything, and now, so close to somewhat tentative safety, he felt the entirety of it all. Her hand in his, the skin of her palm against his palm, the skin of his fingers against the back of her hand, the skin of hers against his. He let go of her arm, felt the urge to brush his fingers through her hair, and looked away to ignore it.
[#597377 “Left, if we want a chance of making it back to the throne room we must get closer to Cocytus. All we can do is hope Charon still has his ferry and can take us over.”] he says, as they got closer to the bridge that would have them access the deeper parts of the field. The idea of hands breaking through the planks of the bridge crossed his mind, shadowy hands clutching around Persephone ankles and pulling her down, down, down into the depths. It cause the anger he was pushing down to lick at his bones akin to lazy flames, and he squeezed her hand in his once more. She was safe. She would be safe.
The fields were overgrown, which was good if one wished to hide. There was no a soul within line of sight as of yet, Hades found, and that was both reassuring and not. It could be that the commotion had caused them to scatter or gather together, or that they too had found their escape from the fields to somewhere else. A frustrated huff escaped him, considering the possibilities, but it would do no good to think when they had to move. So deeper into the fields he lead them. Past trees that lose leaves as they pass, bushes with snagging branches, colours ranging from yellow to molten to barren. All stages of autumn all at once, the beginning nip of winter chilling with the mist.
[#597377 “I don’t wish to scare you more than you are already feeling,”] he began, stopping momentarily to scan the surrounding, [#597377 “but the laughter we heard as everything shook may, it may have been Tartarus opening. If that is the case you are in more danger than you ever were here, and we cannot know if the souls we will meet in this field are truly mourners or if others hide in their midst.”]]
[Font “Calibri” There was something about the closeness of the two that almost felt intimate. Her belief that he would protect her and his promise to do so was not the usual trust that could be so easily built in less than a day. Yet there was something that felt organic about the way she was beginning to feel around him, and she was not sure she ever wanted to return to the emptiness she had felt amongst her own people. Being here, being with him, was making her [I feel] something for the first time and while that feeling was not something she could identify, she knew it was there. Although in this moment they had other things to focus on, it remained on her mind while she committed the feel of his hand gently wrapped around her arm to her memory in case after this whole ordeal, she never got the chance to feel his skin on her own again.]
[Font “Calibri” Persephone nodded when Hades made it clear which direction they were heading for. It made sense that he would want to make his way back to his throne room and she wondered if there was some kind of protection within his fortress that they did not have out here in his landscape of his Kingdom. All they had to do was focus on their destination and make it there safely. So that is exactly what they did as they kept moving through the fields.]
[Font “Calibri” The deeper they went the more the chill of the air kissed at her skin, unsure as to whether it was because of the temperature or the anticipation of the unknown chaos. Her free hand absently wrapped around herself as they progressed through the fields as if to keep the chill at bay. It was strange to her that they had not seen a single soul as they moved through the Fields of Mourning but there was so much undetermined action surrounding them that it was impossible to know if this was normal or if something had happened to those who usually freely roamed amongst the unkempt ground.]
[Font “Calibri” They came to a stop once more and as if to keep to an earlier promise, Hades divulged what he thought was happening in the Underworld. He had promised that he would not hide the truth from her and so he divulged his theories. The Olympians were so distressed with Hades bringing a mortal to his kingdom that they found it a suitable punishment to unleash the worst of all beings from Tartarus and suddenly the pit that had already formed in her stomach seemed to deepen. This was partly her doing and Hades was suffering knowing that his kingdom could be torn down because of her.]
[Font “Calibri” [#EF0599 “Will this all go away if I return home?”] Persephone asked, an obvious sadness in her voice that would tell anyone that she did not want the answer to be yes. [#EF0599 “Hades, I cannot be responsible for the destruction of your kingdom.”]
[size12 What he had not expected from his admittance of Persephone being in danger, was her trying to take responsibility for Zeus’ cruelty. It made anger roar up again, not at her, but at Zeus. It was one thing for the other Olympians to make him the scapegoat, but to make Persephone feel as if she had dome something wrong by being [i kidnapped] was out of the question, in fact he’d make them suffer for it.
He nailed Persephone with a look he hoped silenced any questions. Put his free hand back on her bicep, holding her there. He needed her to know that she had done nothing, needed her to stay and know that she was free of it all. That she had done nothing.
[#597377 “You are not responsible for Zeus’ actions. I can tell you with certainty that they’ve waited for the moment I stepped out of line enough to justify this in their minds. It could have been the wrong soul dying, it could have been boredom, it could have been anything that made them have this whim. It just happened to be me taking you, and whatever Hermes told them.”] he looks from one eye to the other, hoping there’s something else overshadowing the anger he feels at Zeus. [#597377 “I will return you home, if you wish. But I doubt it would stop anything. Zeus is not easily swayed.”] He knows it might be lies, knows that maybe Zeus is not as cruel, maybe the Olympians are actually protecting Persephone, but he does not care. If they were protecting her they would have swooped in and saved her, showed her the halls of Olympus and the beauty of it all to convince her—He huffed to stop his train of though, focused his gaze on Persephone again.
[#597377 “None of this was your fault, Persephone.”] his voice softened as he spoke her name, feeling a terrible sadness knowing she would blame herself. [#597377 “If anyone other than Zeus is to blame it’s me for taking you. But there is nothing we can do to change what has happened. Now, we will keep you safe. We will get you out of here still alive.”] he let go of her bicep, squeezed her hand, and this time he could not resist the urge to brush the back of his fingertips through the hair by her temple. He aimed to curl it behind her ear but realised within seconds what he was doing and moved his hand away just enough that her hair fell back into place, curled his fingers into his hand as if to salvage the touch, and lowered his hand. [#597377 “What will fix this I do not know, but getting to safety matters more.”]]
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