“Souls of the damned, go that way, please…to the right, souls of the damned…” A dreary voice could be traced back to a tired looking Thanatos. Turning to a cloaked and hooded figure towering over him, he muttered, “I don’t really appreciate getting stuck on traffic duty, you know.”
A rumbling voice growled softly back so as not to disturb the spirits drifting around them. “I understand, but this one is special, and the normal guidance ghosts wouldn’t notice.”
“Did you say she was living?” Thanatos questioned skeptically.
“Indeed.” The taller figure shuffled his robes around him as he began to move away. “Alert me when she arrives.”
“Wait!” The shorter of the two shouted before the other had made it more than a couple of feet. Peering through the shimmering crowds, he continued in a hushed tone, “She’s here.”
“Aahh…” Vibrant color, an almost unknown thing in the Underworld, had appeared around the corner, illuminated by hundreds of thousands of slow-moving spirits.
A short, nervous looking figure slipped carefully in between those around her. She had long, limp reddish-blonde hair hanging halfway down her back. Her dark skin looked similar to the charcoal walls about them.
Hades pulled back his hood, revealing strong features in a surprisingly tan face, rough jaw lined with short, black stubble, carefully styled. His tousled black hair and smooth skin made him look more like an average man rather than a god, billions of years into life.
Thanatos gasped slightly when he glanced up and saw his master’s cloak down. It had been hundreds of years since he had revealed himself, and even still he hadn’t changed a bit.
The girl had seen them too, which wasn’t hard since, apart from them, everyone in the cavern was translucent.
She waved shyly.
Hades glided over to her, stooping and reaching out a hand to shake. Unlike her, he went straight through the dead, their spirits splitting like smoke and then drifting back together. “My dear, it is so good to finally be able to make your acquaintance, in the flesh especially!” He chuckled, but she barely cracked a smile.
“Nice to meet you too, then.” Looking around, she could see as far as the ghosts illuminated in the darkness, and knew that the halls must go on much farther than that. She couldn’t even begin to make out a ceiling of any kind. “Um, I thought you were god of riches, why don’t you have more, um, gems? You know? Like, in the walls…” She trailed off looking embarrassed.
He laughed again, deep and loud. “Why, those are to come, darling. Walk with me.” He turned, his cloak tearing apart a dozen more ghosts that let out strange squeals like air being let out of a balloon.
“Now, you sold your soul…for a friend?” He looked back, wondering showing on his face. “That’s a new one, I must say.”
She had to jog to keep up, and her answer was choppy as she tried to breath normally. “Not just…any friend. You…You have to be..my friend now…”
Hades stopped to let her catch up. “You really aren’t the athletic type are you?” He asked with a grin that faded when he saw her expression. He sobered slightly, “Now, personal friends with the god of the underworld is a big request, little one.”
“Selling your soul is a big price.” She retorted, a determined glint in her eye.
Chuckling, Hades conceded, “Yes, I suppose you are right. Well, we can work something out later-”
“What? No! I sold my soul for this relationship! We’re friends now! That was the deal, and you can’t change it.” She had her hands on her hips, whether from aching sides or in her sudden rage Hades wasn’t sure.
“I’m the god of the largest place ever known to man! I don’t have time to watch over some little midget with big ideas of grandeur..” He knew immediately he has said the wrong thing.
Tears were welling up in her eyes. “You promised.” She looked away, tugging locks of hair in front of her face so he couldn’t see her cry.
“I…” He sighed in defeat. It was true, honesty was one of the values he prized above most. And it was also true that they had made a deal. Hades looked down at the pitiful girl, sobbing quietly into her blue hoodie. “Fine. I guess we are friends now.”
The crying stopped, and after a minute she looked up with a crooked smile. “Thanks.”
Hades frowned. “Ya, whatever kid.”
How could he get her to leave him alone now? As they continued on their way, she trotted close by like a lost dog in search of scraps. Dog! He would take her to see Cerberus. Surely, that would show that this was not a matter to be trifled with, living in the Underworld was a big deal! It could get rough sometimes.
Grinning to himself, he pointed to the left, past Thanatos and on towards a dark tunnel. “I’m going to take you to see my guard dog, he’s off duty right now, but he will want to know your scent so that he knows not to eat you.” Hades snapped his teeth for emphasis, but the girl just giggled.
“Speaking of Cerberus, why would you name him that?” She asked curiously.
“Well, why not?” Was the defensive reply.
“It literally means Spot. You made it sound all cool, but you, the Great God of The Underworld, Eldest of the Three Brothers, King of Riches…you named your puppy Spot.”
Hades glowered. “It’s a perfectly acceptable name. Very regal, in my opinion.” He straightened up, trying to appear ‘regal’ himself.
“I bet he’s cute, though.” She said to herself happily. “I do love dogs.”
Maybe this wasn’t going to work, he thought to himself. Perhaps he should show her Tartarus instead?
“Are we close?” She asked after a few minutes of silent travel.
Hades sighed, “Yep.” Sure enough, they turned around a pillar and there was Cerberus, growling softly, slobber dripping from his jowls as he snored.
The god whistled, grabbing a massive rope from a huge basket of over-sized dog toys. “Up up, boy. You have a visitor.”
The dogs’ ears perked up right away upon hearing his person’s voice, and his groggy eyes soon peeled apart too. He barked, and it seemed to almost crack the cave walls around them all.
“Bonum puer, bonum puer, magnus canis …” Hades patted him on the nose, then wiping his sopping hand down on a towel he kept nearby for that very reason.
“Quam bellus paulo canis!” She stepped forwards, stroking his velvety snout with her tiny hand. He sniffed her, decided she was okay, and allowed her to continue rubbing down onto his belly.
“You speak Latin?” Hades was upset, now how would he keep things a secret from her? “That’s supposed to be a dead language.”
“I taught myself. Along with French, Spanish, Japanese, Hebrew and German.” She smiled, a full smile this time, looking very proud of her accomplishments.
After a while of cuddling the ‘fearsome Spot’, as she now called Cerberus, Hades had seen enough. “Let’s go, you must be tired from your trip. Let’s get back to the palace.”
“Sweet!” She jumped up, wiped her hands and arms and pretty much everything, clean of slobber and then started briskly down the path once more.
“You’re going the wrong direction.” Hades spun on his heel without waiting for her to fix her mistake.
As they were walking, Hades remembered something else he’d been meaning to ask her. “So… is your name really, er, TerraDactylQueen626, is it?”
She threw back her head and laughed, her first real laugh since they’d met. She had a warm, clear, happy laugh that seemed to fill the tunnel with light. “No, it’s just Terra.” She suddenly turned to him, staring suspiciously. “You are Hades, right?”
“Um, yes?” He awkwardly looked away. “Who else would I be?”
“Well, I just thought maybe you’d be older, chubbier, you know…”
“And I thought you might be part dinosaur.” He confessed sadly.
They both laughed, and then continued on their way.
After nearly a half an hour by Earth times, they finally reached a great, black, gate.
Hades turned, excited in spite of himself to show off his home. It’s not everyday you get visitors in the Underworld, after all.
“You wanted to see jewels, right? Gems in the walls, diamonds for stairs, emeralds for flowers?” He had one finger outstretched, almost to the gate but not quite.
“Um, maybe not that specifically, but yeah, yeah sure.”
“Then look…no…further…” He brushed his finger across the giant lock, and there they stood, holding their breaths in anticipation. “H- hang on, it’ll be just a moment…” He reassured her.
At long last, the gates opened, with a swoosh and a gust of cool air that smelled much more pleasant then the emptiness that was the scent of everywhere they’d been so far.
Both of them released their breath with a gasp. Hades smiled down at the girl as she stepped in, gazing with eyes as big as the moon at what lay about them.
The stepping stones really were diamond encrusted, through a garden of emerald and ruby and sapphire flowers, carved carefully. Gold and silver stems swayed gently, as though the sweet air really was blowing in the wind like on Earth above. This side of the gate was not black, but silver, with Dragons intertwined, creating bars.
Where grass would normally have been in a front lawn there was…actually, still grass. But it was deep and rich and hick and beautiful, really lovely grass, nicer than anything Terra had ever seen on Earth.
A crystal-like pond glistened, pink and purple lilies floating in the rippling water, and strange, mechanical looking ducks and frogs moved slowly and rhythmically.
“Wow…” Terra whispered.
“Wait till you see inside,” was Hades reply.
To Be Continued. Thanks for Reading!