Η Πύλη του Θανάτου
“He set fire to the world around him,
but never let a flame touch her.”
Persephone felt her blood freeze in her veins, as the terrible growl was heard around them. Cold sweat appeared on her pale complexion as she moved her body closer to Hades, seeking his comfort and protection.
Her eyes had widened from the fear and the horror she was feeling, searching around frantically, trying to find the vicious predator that was hidden in the thickness of the darkness that was surrounding them. However, the predator was cunning and well trained, because she couldn’t see him no matter how much she searched to find him.
She began to realize that she wasn’t in the world of the living any longer. She wasn’t protected under the watchful bright eye of the sun nor was she safe from the dangers that were lurking around.
She was in the world of the dead –a place unknown to her, where not only kind souls resided in but also the punished titans, the sinner souls, a few of the most powerful deities that have ever existed, along with some of the most terrifying and horrible beasts that the Gods have ever created. And right now, she had come across one of them.
“Hades”, she whimpered scared out of her mind.
The Lord of the Darkness paid her no mind and continued to carry her through the pitch blackness. Persephone started to consider that he either lost completely his logic or his hearing. Hadn’t he heard that low threatening growl that had bounced like thunder around them? Wasn’t he aware of the beast that was lurking close to them?
“Hades, please...“, she tried again, burying her face into his neck and closing her eyelids tightly as if this would make reality stop.
“What is it, my love?“, he asked her softly, sensing her discomfort.
“I am scared”, she whispered barely audibly.
The God of the Underworld kissed her forehead softly, the same way he did when she was younger and he wanted to calm her down. He let his lips linger a bit longer than usual on her, letting him feel the warmth of her body.
“You have nothing to be scared of, my sweet.”
His words had such finality in them and were spoken with such strength that immediately comforted her. But she could stay calm for so long when she knew that something was watching them and following them in the dark.
“The growl, Hades. Something is lurking around! I don’t k-”
“Shhh”, he shushed her gently, cutting her off.
“No harm will ever come to you in my realm, my dear. I promise!“, he vowed to her, trying to calm her yet again.
“Don’t you trust me, my love?”
He knew exactly which buttons to push in order to get what he wanted.
“Of course I do”, she admitted blushing slightly.
“Then trust me on this one”, he smiled down at her.
They walked for a while longer though the Erebus of his kingdom, towards a direction Persephone didn’t know. How could he possibly know which way to follow, when absolutely nothing was visible around them, was beyond her.
Hades’ boots were the only thing that could be heard around them as he led them to their final destination, but the Goddess of Spring was no fool. She could still feel a pair of burning eyes following them and was absolutely sure that whatever beast was following them, wasn’t going to let them through so easily.
Suddenly, she distinguished something through the darkness of the Underworld. There was a huge archway right in front of them, made out of pure black marble. A doorway of sorts, which undoubtedly led to her beloved’s main kingdom.
The black marble was glistering slightly and was decorated with small red sparkling gems that created words on top of the doorway. The delicate Goddess squinted her eyes in her try to read the message on the archway.
«Εδώ βρίσκονται οι Πύλες του Άδη. Κανείς ζωντανός δεν εισέρχεται προτού πεθάνει.»
She felt a shiver of awe and terror going down her spine as she read the clear message on the arch. She wondered how mortals felt every time they read it, especially when they had just died.
“Here are the Gates of Hades. No one alive passes them before he dies”, σhe murmured the message to herself.
“This is the entrance to the world of the dead, my dear. And therefore, only the dead can pass through the Gates of my kingdom”, Hades explained to her softly.
“But I am not dead?“, she wondered confused, making him laugh slightly.
“Gods are divine, my love, and heroes sometimes are too. They can come and go as they please, as long as I allow them to. You have to keep in mind, Persephone, that this is my kingdom and therefore, I have the last say in everything that’s happening here.”
“You can overpower even...Zeus?“, she asked him, eager to know more about this new world that was opening in front of her eyes.
“Yes, my dear. As I said, I am the King of my realm and my brother of his. He has no power here and I ‘supposedly’ have no power in the world above.”
“Supposedly?“, she asked him curiously.
“Nothing gets away from you, huh?“, he smiled gently.
She blushed slightly as they made their way towards the huge gates.
“This is a story for another time, my darling”, he murmured at her and she nodded, not wanting to pressure him.
They were just a few feet away from passing the huge arch when the growl sounded yet again, but louder and closer from before this time. A huge black figure leaped in front of them, effectively cutting off their way.
Persephone screamed in horror and came closer to Hades, not knowing that she pleased him greatly by showing to him that she would come to him for protection. Alas, this woman would be the death of him.
The young Goddess was hidden behind the Lord of Erebus’ broad figure, using him as a shield between herself and the monstrous creature in front of her. Peaking slightly at the sight in front of her, she felt her whole being to freeze completely at what she saw.
There, was a huge beast in front of them, blocking the entrance to the Underworld. His fur was as black as the midnight sky, his paws had needle-like claws that could cut through skin effortlessly and his canines were sharp and capable of killing anything that came towards his way.
What worried the beautiful maiden more than anything though, was the fact that this monstrous beast had not one, but three heads in the shape of a dog. Its three mouths were pulled back in a snarl revealing its sharp teeth as white spit was dripping from them. Its eyes were a deep red color and all three pairs of its orbs were pinned on her, following her every move like the dangerous predator he was.
Hades’s voice was strong and confident as he spoke, a command clearly in his words.
“This isn’t the best way to greet our guest, is it?”
In her utter disbelief, the creature listened to Hades’ command. It immediately stopped growling and snarling, siting his huge form down on the hard ground. A hitting sound could be heard afterward and Persephone realized that the beast was actually moving his tail like a little puppy waiting for a gentle pat from its master.
What in Zeus’ name was this?
What the hell was she seeing?
Hades moved towards the dog-like creature, who looked at him in adoration and longing. He placed his right hand on one of the three heads, caressing it gently while the other two began to whine desperately, trying to make him pay attention to them too.
“Were you a good boy while I was gone? Hmm? Who was a good boy?”
The dog barked slightly at his praising words as he moved from one head to another. The head that he left whined adorably, while the other one licked his whole form reminding him that he was there too.
The three heads pushed him down on the floor in their attempt to get his attention, making him let out a gorgeous laugh that had Persephone’s heart melt. She let out a giggle escape her as she watched the scene in front of her.
At the sound of her giggle, the beast was reminded of her presence. It stopped playing with his master and started approaching her slowly, making her gulp loudly in fear. However, it didn’t growl nor snarl at her as it did before. It made an agonizingly slow circle around her, sniffing her neck and auburn locks, taking in her flowery scent and getting accustomed to her aroma.
“Don’t be afraid, my sweet.”
Hades gave her a reassuring smile as she was slightly panicked.
“Well...easier said than done, when I am so close to...to...what is it?“, she asked in confusion as her body slightly trembled.
“This is Cerberus, my love.”
Hades introduced her to the humongous beast, who huffed as his master uttered his name.
“Hello, Cerberus...nice to meet you,” Persephone said, stuttering slightly as the beast watched her closely.
“He is the Guardian of the Underworld. Makes sure that nothing comes in or runs out of my realm unnoticed and unannounced. He has been guarding my gates effectively for all these past years”, Hades explained as he watched their first encounter.
Persephone swallowed down her fear and reached her small palm out to the beast, making slow and gentle movements. The three heads sniffed her hand for a moment and then –to her utter surprise- leaned in her palm, allowing her to pat one head gently.
She caressed the beast softly, making it purr slightly from her touch, and encouraging her to keep patting it gently. The other two heads nagged her slightly, whining at her as they needed her attention too. She laughed at the antics of the beast that reminded her of a small needy puppy and caressed it as much as she could, changing heads often so everyone was pleased.
“What exactly is it?“, she curiously asked Hades, who watched everything unfolding in front of him.
“He is a hell hound”, he admitted proudly as he watched his guardian licking his love’s cheek, making her giggle.
“A Hell hound? More like an adorable puppy!“, she laughed as Cerberus threw her gently on the floor, licking her whole form and making her ticklish.
“Well, I did get him when he was just a pup. But he grew out of that phase a long time ago.”
He smiled as he watched her laugh adorably.
“What do you mean? Look at him! He is still a pup! Aren’t you, baby? Hmm? Yes, you are! You are an adorable little pup! And what a good boy! Oh yes, you are a good boy!! My good boy!”
“Since when did he become your good boy?“, Hades smirked, enjoying seeing Cerberus interacting with his future queen.
“Oh hush, Hades! Will you stop being jealous? Look at him! Look how much he likes me! Don’t you like me, baby boy? Oh yes, you do! AAAHHH!! Stop it, Cerberus!! It’s tickling!“, Persephone let out a shriek of laughter as Cerberus continued to ticklish her.
Hades watched as Persephone’s face became flushed from all the laughing she was doing. He couldn’t help but smile at her carefree behavior and the pure happiness that was shining in her eyes. This was the way he always wanted her to be, blushing from happiness and laughing until her throat was hoarse and hurting.
Her smile was just so damn beautiful, it made his heart deliciously pained.
“Okay, you two!! That’s enough for one day! We have to get to the palace and get you comfortable in your room! We can’t sit here all day!“, Hades clapped his hands in order to get their attention.
Cerberus whined slightly, but nonetheless let Persephone go. She stood up and took a much-needed breath of fresh air, fixing her white dress and shaking it in order to get any dust away. She pouted slightly and took Hades’ hand in her own.
“What is it, my love?“, he asked her gently, touching her lip with his fingertips.
“Can I see him tomorrow?“, she asked, begging him with her emerald orbs to say yes.
Hades kissed her forehead softly and hugged her small form tightly.
“You can see him whenever you desire, my darling”, he promised her, loving the smile that decorated her flawless face at his words.
“Thank you so much, Hades!”
He was a bit shocked when she stood on her tiptoes and graced him with a gentle peck on his lips. He closed his eyes at the feeling and didn’t let her go away so quickly, molding their lips together in a deeper kiss. He licked her lower lip with his cold tongue, making her shiver in delight, as he asked for her permission to deepen the kiss.
She gasped at his coldness and he took the chance to explore the warmth of her mouth, playing with her tongue slightly and pouring as much passion as he could handle in their fiery kiss. When the need to breathe was too dire to ignore did he only part away from her, but not before biting her lower lip gently.
They gazed into each other’s eyes as they tried to calm their heavy breathing and their wild hearts. He caressed her blushing cheek lovingly before he buried his face in the crook of her neck, making her giggle as his nose tickled her.
“We should keep moving”, he said after a while, making her nod in agreement.
She placed her small hand in his larger one, admiring the size difference. With one last pat to a whining Cerberus, they passed through the Underworld’s gates, unbothered by anyone else as they made their way further into the kingdom of Erebus.
She hummed gently.
“Cerberus never liked anyone besides me. He never let anyone else come close to him, nevertheless, caress and play with him”, he admitted as he squeezed her hand gently.
“No one?“, she wondered.
“No one, never. Your brother, Hermes, is well aware of this fact. He’s been coming to the Underworld for centuries now, carrying the dead souls in my realm. Cerberus has seen him countless times and yet never showed the slightest affection to him.”
Persephone gazed at him in bewilderment.
“You are the first person ever –besides myself- that he actually showed affection to.”
She was at a loss of words.
“Interesting”, she murmured while being deep in thought.
Hades agreed with her as he guided them, through his kingdom.
Could this be a sign?
A sign that his lonely rule was coming finally to an end?
End of chapter 15!!
Title Translation: “The Gate of Death”
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Until next time!!