08. Spring's Suggestion

Act I. Dark Ascension

PERSEPHONE

I waited for Hades in my bedroom, hoping he would be in a much better mood than when he arrived. ‘Perhaps I went a little overboard,’ I felt some regret over my earlier actions. I rolled around in the dark satin sheets. My heart was uneasy over what was to come.

“Lady Persephone,” someone greeted me, forcing me to suddenly sit up. It was Amphiaraus, a revered oracle from Olympus whose predictions failed no one. “I come with a warning,” he said. A golden wreath decorated his black hair, and he was dressed in an ethereal white tunic, a customary outfit for those who lived on Mount Olympus.

“Speak quickly, Amphiaraus. My husband is on his way to this very room and unless you would like him to know the contents of our conversation, I suggest you make your explanation as short as possible,” I replied.

“You cannot change fate, no matter how much you wish it. The Fates have been watching Erebus ever since his birth and have predicted his destiny to be one filled with tragedy and calamity. If you try to deter Erebus from the path he is set to walk on, it will have severe catastrophic damages to all the Realms.”

“What did you see, Amphiaraus?”

“I am not inclined to say. Such divinations may only be granted to those who have received permission from the mighty Zeus. Can I trust you will heed my words?”

“Is Erebus truly destined to only experience tragedy?”

“The Fates have decreed it. But, I will leave you with a parting thought out of respect for you and your husband, allowing me to see my daughter, Eurydice. Love is the key to Erebus’ destiny.”

‘Love? Could it be...’ I thought, my mind wandering to Asteria. ‘To prevent Erebus from being enticed by Chaos’ dark influence, we must fill his heart with light and love. How had we not considered this before?’ We were so concerned with delaying Chaos’ ascension, we didn’t ponder the long-term solutions. ‘Most likely because the Olympians must have already decided to imprison Erebus for eternity.’

“I can see you have plenty of things to consider, so I will take my leave now, Lady Persephone. Please know this is my only warning. It is up to you whether you heed it. Farewell.” He disappeared instantly just as Hades walked into the room with a scowl on his face.

Thank you, Amphiaraus.

“Hades-“ I began.

“I’m not going to yell at you, Sephie,” he replied as he took a seat at the stone table and poured a glass of wine for each of us.

“You’re not?”

“No, yelling won’t solve the problem. We have a far larger problem, one an argument won’t solve. But I would like to know why you were so insistent on taking Erebus to the Mortal Realm. You understand the consequences and the position you’ve put me in.”

“A match between darkness and a star was an auspicious sign among the heavens,” I joked, letting my nervousness get the better of me. How could I tell him his friend was destined for nothing but melancholic sorrow? He strived to make the most out of Erebus’ immortal life, even though it was a caged one.

“This is no time to be silly, Persephone. I was speaking to the Olympians today on behalf of Erebus, hoping they would understand how inhumane it is to keep him around the dead all the time. If they knew what happened today, I would be in prison with the Titans and you would be as well for aiding him.”

When he used my full name, that’s how I recognized his seriousness. I took the glass he held out to me and took a sip before sitting in his lap and wrapping my arms around his neck tenderly. “I thought if Erebus could see the Mortal Realm once, he would get rid of these desires and perhaps find a new reason to stay in the In-Between. His eyes are lifeless, Hades. He doesn’t have to say it, but he hates himself.”

“I know.”

“What he needs is something or someone who can keep him grounded. Someone who can give him a reason to stay in control of his body. We might think Chaos is gone, but it’s always there in his soul, waiting for an opportunity to ascend. Erebus has no emotional connections to anyone and that could be his undoing.”

“He has us.”

“You know that isn’t the same. What do you think he sees when he looks at us?”

“A wife who won’t listen to her husband.”

I elbowed him in the side, knowing he wouldn’t feel any pain from the action. “No. He sees a couple happily in love, able to leave the Underworld whenever they want to. He’s what the mortals are calling a third-wheel these days. Our relationship with him is nothing more than servitude.”

“What do you suggest?”

“I think we should encourage him to pursue this relationship with Asteria. It could be good for him and just what he needs to maintain a positive mind.”

Hades shook his head and said, “We cannot let him travel to the Mortal Realm again. I could hide it from the Olympians once and doing so again would tempt fate.”

“No, but we could invite her to come to the Underworld.”

“Forgive me for being harsh for a moment, Sephie. The only people who visit the Underworld are the dead, you, and me. No one would want to come to such a dreary place.”

“We have the Elysian Fields.”

“It would never work.”

“Why not?”

“Have you forgotten about Perses? Her relationship with him has not ended. The last thing Erebus needs to experience is jealousy and greed.”

“What if we have a masquerade ball? We could invite everyone and allow Erebus and Asteria to have a moment with each other? Asteria needs as much help as Erebus. Allowing herself to love Erebus could be the deciding factor to rid herself of her husband permanently.”

Hades took the glass from my hands and placed it on the table before holding my hands in his own. “Love, I know you mean well, but you cannot force two people together if Fate has not allowed it. Perses is a Titan of destruction. If he gets too close to Erebus, it might stir something in his soul and force Chaos to awaken.”

As much as I hated to admit it, my husband was right. But I wasn’t willing to admit defeat just yet. “I suppose we will just have to remove Perses from the situation.” I could feel a smile forming on my face as the gears in my mind turned. Like Asteria, Perses was on a probation of sorts. If he did anything to upset the Olympians, it might be reason enough to lock him away with the other Titans once more. And this would allow Erebus a chance to explore a relationship with Asteria.

“Oh no, you have that look on your face,” Hades exclaimed. “Whatever you are plotting in that pretty head of yours, please make sure it does not turn around on us. I don’t want your Mother traversing all levels of the Underworld to retrieve you a month early.”

“Trust me, this plan will work.”