05. Appealing to the Gods

Act I. Dark Ascension

HADES

I arrived at the front gates of Mount Olympus, where Herakles was waiting. He was the spitting image of his father, Zeus. With curly hair and a thick beard that wrapped around his face, he stood erect by the golden entrance. His brown eyes met mine as he bowed his head in greeting. "Welcome to Mount Olympus, Lord Hades."

Even though Herakles was my nephew by blood, I treated him like he was a mortal. His presence was proof enough to Hera that Zeus had been unfaithful to her. If anyone demonstrated any compassion for the demigod, that person would be subjected to her wrath.

I walked past Herakles without so much as a greeting, as he opened the gates for me to pass. A bright light shined down on me, revealing peaks of several mountains. Atop each mountain sat a grand palace of gold and marble. Straight down the path were Zeus and Hera’s palace, where the council room was.

Various minor gods loitered around outside of the building. They didn’t have as grand of a duty as some major gods like Helios or Apollo. It was a common show. Minor gods often appeared at the base of the main palace, hoping to curry favors with the King and Queen of the Gods.

"Hades, it's been quite some time since we've spoken. Two centuries? Has Persephone forbidden you from having fun?" Turning around, I discovered it was Eris, the Goddess of Discord. She was one person I was hoping to avoid. No good ever came from conversing with her.

"I grew tired of your childlike antics, Eris. I'm enjoying a life of peace with my soulmate. I couldn't ask for anything better," I replied.

"Peace," she spat vehemently. "You're sounding more and more like Harmonia. Spring has poisoned you, Hades. It's a shame we can't wreak havoc like we used to. You would have more fun than what you're having now so long as you're acting as a babysitter."

Before I met Persephone, I had a dalliance with Eris. During those times, I enjoyed the pleasures calamity brought. However, once things were destroyed and places were conquered, there was nothing left to enjoy. I desired more than the end of the world, but Eris craved for even more destruction. It wasn’t until I saw Persephone did I realize how much immortal life offered.

"And that is why you will never find your soulmate, Eris. All you care about is destruction."

"It would be strange if the Goddess of Discord wanted anything other than destruction, wouldn't it?"

"I don't have time for this. Send a messenger to the Underworld if you wish to discuss something important. I won't waste my time reminiscing about the past." Tossing the end of my robe over my shoulder, I rushed towards the entrance, not wanting to hear anything else from the viper's mouth.

"How is Erebus?" she questioned suddenly, forcing me to stop.

"Leave him alone, Eris."

"You seem nervous, Hades. I only asked about the primordial deity's wellbeing."

“Erebus is not your concern. His name should never pass through your lips. You will do well to remember that or suffer the wrath of Zeus.” With no further hesitation, I entered the palace and was instantly transported into a secure room where the twelve Olympians were seated.

"You're late," Zeus stated, his blue eyes filled with judgment. He was dressed in his usual wear: a simple white chiton with his chest exposed and leather sandals fastened to his feet. Golden leaves were arranged in his platinum blonde hair to create a majestic crown, and sitting behind him was an abundant supply of thunderbolts, waiting to be thrown into a stormy sky.

"There was an incident in the Underworld that needed my attention."

"Is Erebus creating problems for you?"

"Always, Brother. He wants everything and yet nothing at the same time. I fear he will leave the In-Between if these desires grow stronger."

“It’s not Erebus who wants it, but the Dark Lord,” Athena noted. I glanced to the right to meet her gray eyes. Her olive skin glowed beneath the sun’s rays. “It would not be just to assume Erebus is inherently bad.” Beside the armrest of her gleaming chair was a bronze shield and helmet. Part of her dark brown hair was pinned up in a partial ponytail, while the rest of the hair hung loosely around her shoulders. I couldn’t help but agree with her logic. Perhaps it was because of my loyalty to my old friend.

“It doesn’t matter who wants it, they’re in the same body, so they are a threat either way,” Ares retorted.

“We should imprison him with the Titans, where his energy is constantly drained. As much as I like the idea of killing him, it is impossible to kill an Immortal.” It wasn’t uncharacteristic for the God of War to suggest such a violent means to an end, but the way he spoke of Erebus in such an insensitive manner made me pity him.

“Ares raises a valid point. We discussed in the past about placing him with the Titans if his condition worsened,” Zeus said. “However, because Erebus is in Hades’ jurisdiction, he will have the final say.” His gaze returned to meet mine, and he asked, “What do you think, Brother?”

“Erebus’ fate is a complicated matter. He didn’t ask to have a seed of Chaos planted in his essence, nor does he ask for much. I believe as long as he remains in the In-Between, he won’t be a threat to the peace of the Three Realms. Erebus may house the greatest evil, but he is still an important deity needed to maintain the balance in the Three Realms,” I responded.

“We cannot take any chances with someone like Erebus!” Ares shouted.

“It is not up for debate, Ares. If Erebus poses no significant threat at this moment, we have no reason to imprison him. Doing so without reason may be enough for him to harbor resentment towards us and in doing so, empower the malefic force inside him,” Zeus snapped back with greater authority. Sounds of booming thunder resounded around the room. The skies were reacting with Zeus’ outburst. The lightning bolts beside him crackled with his power as they surged with his newfound fury.

When no one made any gesture to intervene, I cleared my throat to dissipate the tension in the room. “Your approval is needed, Brother.”

“And you have it,” he said, never breaking eye contact with Ares. “This meeting is adjourned and we will reconvene in a moon’s time.”

“As you command, Brother.”

After those words left my mouth, I was transported to where I was originally, standing outside of the main Palace. Waiting there was Megaera, one of the Erinyes and a judge from Tartarus. She delivered punishment to those who were guilty of infidelity, theft, and any other form of oath-breaking. She took on a different appearance to avoid attention from the nearby minor gods. Jet-black locks replaced her snake-like hair, but her scarlet eyes remained.

“My Lord,” she greeted with a solemn bow.

“What brings you to Olympus, Megaera? You rarely leave Tartarus.” With a wave of my hand, I cloaked us in a thin layer of magic to prevent anyone else from eavesdropping. It was easy for gossip to spread in Olympus and the Gods loved every moment.

“It’s Lord Erebus.”

“What is it? Has Persephone’s flower ceremonies bothered him so much he has to send an Infernal Goddess to me? I am willing to forgive the incident that occurred before I left, but this is very inappropriate. He better be prepared for the consequences.” I started stomping towards the way I came, my mood turning sour.

“No, my Lord. He has risen.”

I paused and turned around slowly. “What did you say?”

“He has entered the Mortal Realm and Lady Persephone is with him.”

“Make sure no one else hears of this. It will be all of our heads if the Olympians discover Erebus has left the Underworld. Prepare a portal to the Mortal Realm at once. I will be the one to collect him.”

‘After all the trouble of protesting your fate, how could you betray me, old friend? Do you truly not fear anything in this world? Even I won’t be able to protect you at this rate,’ I thought with frustration.

“Alecto has already left to retrieve him and Lady Persephone.”

“Has anyone else seen him?”

“I was told Lady Persephone met with the Titaness, Asteria. She may have been with her daughter, Hecate, but it is not clear.”

“Gamóto (Damn)! Go to Alecto and make certain they return with no one else discovering their presence. I want him brought to me immediately and Persephone should be kept in her quarters after I’ve had a chance to discuss this with Erebus.”

“And what of Asteria?”

“I will deal with her later. For now, we need to ensure Erebus is the one in control. I will begin preparations in the meantime.”

“I shall leave at once, my Lord.” Megaera disappeared in a puff of black smoke, leaving me to return to the Underworld alone.