It's About To Go Down
It was almost evening when they finally reached the streets of Los Angeles.
"So where is this entrance to the Underworld exactly?" Caitlin asked as she stopped at a red light.
"I don't know. This slip just told us it was a company called PAO Recording Studios but I couldn't find the exact address." Cisco replied.
"Why would the Gods need that? Hermes could just teleport to the place directly." Skylar rolled his eyes.
"So what do we do now? We check every single street in the entire West Hollywood?" Sebastian asked.
"Maybe we should stop and think for a second." Caitlin said as she stopped the car on a roadside. Cisco turned on the radio and everyone froze when they heard the news was broadcasting the explosion in Lima, Ohio.
"That man was a freaking monster!" They recognized the voice from the one and only Kurt Hummel. "We all knew he was a bully from the beginning but we have no idea that he is a psycho lunatic!"
"He had partners with him! They must be the one who brought the gunpowder into the school!" Another voice from the dumbass giant Finn Hudson boomed. "And the last time we heard, they're going west! Probably starting another attack there and bring terror to the people!"
"I don't know what I see in him… He's such a jerk…" Sebastian was going to break the radio as he heard the voice from Blaine Anderson. "I once thought he was a nice guy… that we can be friends…"
"He's such a lying shit! Mr. and Mrs. Anderson must be really proud of him…" Sebastian hissed.
"There you have it, a bunch of adolescents terrorized by someone similar to their age with serious issues." A new female voice rang, probably the reporter. "The last known position of this troubled young fugitive was reported a week ago in Denver, outside the Drue Diner. Three more people were seen accompanying them. There were two people who had communicated with him. Who are these people? And who is this Sebastian Smythe? When we come back, we will discuss that with a leading adolescent psychologist. Stay tuned."
"Really? Do all the journalists have no sense or moral at all?" Caitlin snapped as she turned off the radio harshly. "They were not like that in the past!"
"People change." Skylar said lowly. "In the past, the reporters and editors of those media were really trying to tell the public what exactly happened. Now, all they care was how much audience they could get and how much money they could make. They are no longer reporting facts."
"Just like the majority of the Republicans…" Cisco rubbed his forehead. "Just a bunch of fucking liars…"
"I'm really curious to see their reaction if they saw what really happened and what exactly caused it." Sebastian whispered.
"They won't. They can't look through the Mist." Caitlin shook her head. "Even if they really caught a glimpse of the monsters or our weapons, they would just think it was their illusion or substituted them with something they knew if their lives. That's simple human psychology and part of the Mist's magic."
"But the Mist itself… it is created and maintained by Lady Hecate, isn't it? What if it got removed or destroyed for some reason?" Sebastian asked.
"I'm not sure about that, but chaos is bound to happen." Caitlin reasoned. "After all, the mortals' minds work and evolved agonizingly slow, especially in terms of ideology and culture. If our world was really exposed to them, they would definitely pretend it was all faked. When they were forced to accept that it was real, they would treat it with a hostile manner. They always have irrational behaviour towards anything new that might challenge their traditional brains. They always refuse to change."
"Just keep moving. It's no use being mad with those morons." Sebastian said and looked out the window. "And we have company."
The others looked and saw a group of people approaching them. They had clubs and steel bars in their hands. A gangster, obviously.
"Hold on, guys." Caitlin said. "This is gonna be bumpy."
She stepped hard on the gas pedal. The car sped forward and spattered sewage and garbage at the gangsters' faces.
"Wait! Wait! Wait! There it is!" Cisco suddenly shouted. "PAO Studios! There!"
He pointed at a small entrance built with dark marble, huge letters made of pure gold were etched onto the black reflective stone:
"PAO RECORDING STUDIOS"
"We'll turn around the next block, then we'll leave the car and get to the studio." Caitlin stated as they saw the gangsters were following them.
"Got it!" Everyone in the car replied. Caitlin stepped onto the gas. The car sped past the block and then took a sharp right turn. The gangsters soon arrived and found the empty car. They looked around before deciding to harass other people instead and left. After a while, four heads popped out from a shop called "CRUSTY MATTRESS WHOLESALE".
"I think we lost them." Cisco whispered.
"Lost who?" A voice boomed behind them and they jumped. Spinning around, they saw a guy with a devious look. He had a smile on his face but it was like the one a python had, before it pounced and strangled its prey.
"No one!" The group replied at the same time.
"So you're avoiding those gangsters then. Thanks to them, I got some customers every night. I'm Crusty, by the way." He introduced himself. "Are you looking for some mattresses? I can show you some."
"Uh… no, actually. We're in a hurry." Sebastian carefully replied but the man cut in.
"Oh, if you're waiting for the studio, you'll need to wait. There're lots of people there." Crusty said and the group stiffened. How did he know?!
"This is my most popular model. It is a water bed, actually. You can feel a million-hand massage for this one." The shop-keeper patted his hand proudly over a mattress cover with red satin sheets. It vibrated and Sebastian could see the ripples flowing through it.
He stood up and turned towards them. "Come on, try it."
"Uh… I don't think-" Caitlin began but Crusty pushed her. Unknowingly, his hand touched the part a man shouldn't touch a woman. Caitlin sneered. She spun around and slapped Crusty hard on the face.
"Don't touch me! You fucking pervert!" She screamed and slapped the man again.
"Okay! Okay! Yeesh!" Crusty held his arms in defence. Caitlin glared at the man.
"Well then, maybe you can do me a favour and try this out." He turned to Skylar who looked at him with a gaping mouth.
"Are you serious?! Do you know how to write the word 'shame'?" He snapped, unwilling to move, but Crusty pushed him in the chest. The son of Zeus landed on the mattress on his back with a grunt.
"Hey! What're you-"
Skylar's protest was cut short when Crusty snapped his fingers.
Ropes shot out from the sides of the mattress and held the blonde to it.
"Oh, almost…" The salesman frowned.
"What?" The rest of the group were shivering and tried to take a step back but a raise of the man's hand stopped them from moving.
"Don't worry, kids. We'll find you one in a moment."
"What're you doing?! Let him go!" Caitlin cried but the shopkeeper shook his head.
"Not now, I've got to make him fit first. He's too short for it." Crusty said and as if on cue, more ropes sprang out and latched onto Skylar's limbs and started tightening, stretching the son of Zeus from both ends.
"You're not Crusty, are you?" Sebastian asked, a mind forming in his head. He would need Caitlin and Cisco's help but first he must keep the salesman distracted. He muttered an apology to Skylar in his mind, this's gonna hurt for him.
"Procrustes, that's my legal name." He admitted, confirming Sebastian's suspicion. "But you know it's difficult to pronounce it so I made it Crusty, more user-friendly."
"Wow, that's very genius of you." Sebastian praised and Procrustes's eyes lit up.
"Really? Thank you! Finally someone can appreciate me. Most of the others just said I'm a crazed bandit!"
"Sebastian! What are you doing?!" Skylar cried, his forehead was glittering with beads of sweat. Caitlin and Cisco were staring behind in disbelief.
"And this feature can really stretch our muscles too." Sebastian ignored him. "I wonder if you can make him to have other sets of posture."
"Absolutely." The salesman replied with confidence.
"Show me. I'll need to take a picture of it." Sebastian challenged. The bandit smirked and turned towards Skylar. Sebastian took out his phone and raised it higher than his head. But instead turning on the interface of the camera, he created a new message. He wrote it in huge capital letters so Caitlin and Cisco could also read it clearly.
"CAITLIN, GET THE LAMP FROM THAT BEDSIDE CUPBOARD, NEAR THE ONE WITH ROSE COVER. HIT HIM AS HARD AS YOU CAN FROM HIS BACK.
CISCO, KEEP DISTRACTING THE BANDIT WITH ME."
The two demigods nodded, realising what Sebastian intended to do. Procrustes just made Skylar in an X shape when he saw Caitlin moving towards the mattress with rose pedal cover.
"Don't mind her. She's just curious about that one." Cisco jumped in, pulling up a smile on his face.
"Yeah, yeah. I love flowers and wanted to check this one." Caitlin piped up. "I want to see if these sheets are made from real silk from China."
"And can we have another posture? Like a ballet dancer?" Cisco asked.
"That can do." The bandit turned back to Skylar who spitted at him. Caitlin grabbed the lamp and hurried back to them.
"Can you lift his right leg a bit lower? Yeah, that's right. Now, his arms. Move his left arm a bit higher, like he was really dancing. Yeah, that's fabulous." Sebastian kept distracting the bandit until Caitlin gave him the signal.
"And… GO!" He shouted. Procrustes turned to him with confusion, only to get smacked on the head hard by Caitlin, who swung the stone-made lamp as hard as she might. The bandit dropped down to the floor, unconscious. Cisco and Caitlin hurried towards Skylar and cut off the rope. Sebastian then pushed Procrustes onto the mattress and summoned the ropes to tie him down.
"Ugh… You drive a hard bargain…" The bandit hissed as he woke up. Sebastian just glared back at him with a cold smirk.
"More like you messed with the wrong person." Sebastian uncapped Turbulent. "I vowed to protect those I love and care. As for those who dared to harm them, I will make sure they pay and I mean my words. You, on the other hand, are going to be the first. Be honoured, bitch. Don't worry, though. It's gonna be quick."
Crusty opened his mouth but Sebastian swung the sword and the bandit stopped making sound. Everyone let of a breath of relief. Sebastian turned to Skylar who was still glaring at him. But he could say that the son of Zeus was not really angry at him.
"How does your stretching exercise go? Can you do a back-flip now?" He teased.
"You're so dead, young man." Skylar hissed as he stood up, moving his limbs to get rid of those numb feelings.
"Come at me, you drama princess. See if you can catch me." Sebastian invited him with his index finger.
"Why drama princess?" Caitlin asked curiously.
"Well, his father is a drama queen. That made him a drama princess." Sebastian smirked but dropped when he saw the son of Zeus was smirking too.
"You're going to pay for this and the slap on the car back then." Skylar smirked and lunged at the son of Poseidon. Believe it or not, the two just started having a hide-and-seek game inside the shop, with a lot of shouting and childish insults throwing at each other, much to Caitlin and Cisco's shock.
"Can you believe this…?" Cisco whispered to Caitlin.
"Not in my wildest imagination…" Caitlin replied flatly.
"Even when they fight, they looked like a pair of high school students in puppy love…" Cisco deadpanned as Skylar finally managed to grab Sebastian. The blonde locked the green-eyed boy with his huge arm and started rubbing the soft brown hair. Sebastian was yelling and laughing all the time and to Caitlin and Cisco's biggest surprise, Skylar was smiling! Skylar Who-never-ever-smile Thawne was fucking smiling! It would be like Aphrodite suddenly decided to be faithful to Hephaestus.
"Well technically… you're right for half of the statement: Sebastian is a high school student, but I just have no idea that Skylar to have this youthful side too." Caitlin said, still staring at the two.
"It seems Sebastian is warming up Skylar, making him more like a living being rather than the cold, indifferent 'Iceberg' back at camp…" Cisco observed and recalled all the times when Skylar Thawne acting not-so-Skylar like. "Or that maybe is just Aphrodite's plan, she always does this."
"Maybe… and after we finish the quest and got back to the camp," Caitlin said with determination in her eyes, still staring at the duo.
"I'm going to tell my friends and sisters about this. And we will make sure: The ship will sail!"
"Oh boy…" Cisco swore he could see all the crazy schemes forming inside Caitlin's fantastic mind and shuddered.
"But before we start this operation…" Caitlin whispered as she approached the two idiots. "We have to finish the mission first."
She slapped hard on the back of the two's heads and shouted.
"Alright, you two! Get yourself together and stop your lovers' quarrels." She said. "We're going under."
It was late at night, but the studio was still brightly lit and packed with people. A tough-looking guy sat behind the reception desk. He wore an expensive black silk tuxedo and had an earpiece. His pale blond hair was shimmering in the light.
"That guy reminded me of Paul Bettany." Sebastian commented.
"Ooh… Paul Bettany! I love him! His role as Jarvis in 'Iron Man' and 'Avengers' series are my favourite, not to mention the chemistry between him and Tony Stark. They will be a great couple if Jarvis has a body. I-" Cisco whispered.
"Cisco!" Caitlin hissed.
"What?! I'm just trying to give us some distraction!" Cisco hissed back. "Before we go down under, you know?"
"More like to you. Only you ship cyberhusbands; I, for one, ship superhusbands and superfamily." Caitlin snorted as they walked inside the lobby.
The first thing they noticed was how cold the room was. They also heard music, the sound of pipe organ and orchestra, humming from hidden speakers, but to Sebastian, the sound seemed to come from the walls, like what he heard back in Poseidon's cabin, except the music played was things like 'Toccata and Fugue in D Minor' and 'Davy Jones Theme'. Another thing was the colour of the room: everything was either steel grey or black. The furniture, the pots and the decorations, all were black or grey. The people were lining up quietly for the elevator but as soon as Sebastian tried to focus on anyone of them, their body started turning more translucent.
The reception desk was located on a raised podium so they had to tilt their head up to look at the receptionist. True to Sebastian's words, the guy looked very much like Paul Bettany. His slightly pale skin was totally free of wrinkles and the light blond hair was short, slightly messy but it only made the guy look sexier, and the black tuxedo he wore not only made his perfect physique stand out, it made his entire form radiate a sense of elegant and yet dark aura. It was like a poisonous snake, extraordinary beautiful but at the same time packed with danger. A black Narcissus was embedded to his silver name tag which reflected the glaring light of the room but the group still managed to catch a glimpse of his name.
"Charon… as in the ferryman?" Sebastian whispered as the receptionist looked up from his work. His beautiful blue eyes seemed to be penetrating his soul. Sebastian gulped.
"Well, a young man." The Paul Bettany-like Charon spoke. "And one that knows my work instead of asking me if my parents are a fan of Greek mythology. Now, how may I help you, little dead ones?"
Sebastian gulped again and started to blush. Charon's accent was British-like and British-accent was always a turn-on for Sebastian. Just before he could say anything, someone jumped in, with a less than happy voice.
"We need to go to the Underworld." Skylar said coldly and his form was stiff. Charon raised his eyebrow.
"Wow, that's refreshing and honest. No screaming and other shits of their own religion." Charon looked back to his record book. "How did you die then?"
"We're very much alive, thank you very much." Skylar replied coldly and Charon looked up sharply. He looked at the four of them with calculating eyes. Then those beautiful blue orbs narrowed.
"Indeed… I should have known… you're demigods." He said and the room turned colder.
"And we need to go to the Underworld." Skylar insisted.
"No living is allowed here, you may want to take your leave now." The ferryman to the Underworld replied coldly. Skylar looked like he was going to jump onto the desk and gave Charon a punch but Sebastian jumped in.
"Okay, let's be diplomatic. We're here because Lord Hades has a side quest for us and we need a piece of crucial information that only Lord Hades could provide us. Unless you want your boss to keep waiting until he ran out of patience, we humbly ask you to take us to the Underworld, please?"
Charon fell silent and he narrowed his eyes on the group again. When he found they're not lying, he sighed.
"Fine, but no tips, no service." He said. Skylar wanted to say something but Sebastian took out some Drachmas and handed them to the ferryman. Looking content, he stood up elegantly, like a noble gentleman, Sebastian thought but then he caught Skylar's cold eyes staring on him. What's wrong with him?
"The boat's almost full, anyway. I might as well add you guys and be off. Follow me." He said. They pushed through the crowd of waiting people who started grabbing them and tried to shove them to the back of the lane but their translucent body passed through them. To the group, the grab seemed to be more like wind blowing through. Charon escorted them to the elevator which turned out to be crowded with people, each had a green bracelet on their wrists. Several people wanted to squeeze into the elevator, only to be pushed back into the lobby by Charon who looked really grumpy.
"Alright." He announced to the room. "Let me clarify my terms: No one touches the radio, unless you want to spend the next millennia standing here. Is that clear?"
He pressed the button and the doors closed. He then inserted a key card into a slot in the panel and they started descending.
"Okay, there we go…" Sebastian whispered in his mind. "We're going to the freaking Underworld…"
He looked at his companions and they all looked nervous. After all, no one will ever step into the Underworld. The place was simply not a choice for vacation or business. The light in the elevator got darker as they descended further, until the elevator stopped for a second and started moving forward. It also started swaying. The sound of water dripping and flowing could be heard, near and afar. The air turned misty and a cold blue light illuminated the elevator, except it was no longer an elevator, they were on a huge wooden barge. Turning back to Charon, Sebastian noticed that the ferryman's tuxedo was replaced by a long black robe. His face got even paler and his beautiful blue eyes were now a pool of darkness, cold, despair, gloomy, the taste of no return. He had a huge pole in his hands. The person in front of Sebastian no longer reminded him as Jarvis, the all-round AI butler in 'Iron Man' and 'Avengers' series. Instead, Sebastian thought he saw Silas, the albino antagonist in 'The Da Vinci Code', smiling in front of him and the pole in his hand was a knife, waiting to plunge into his body. People, or spirits, around them started changing. Their modern clothes started peeling off like leaves in the chilling wind of autumn. Grey hooded robes replaced what they were once wearing. All these things were reminding Sebastian where he was going.
Feeling really nervous, he grabbed hold of the hand of the person closest to him. That hand was slightly larger than his, more callous than him and was giving him some weak electric shot. Wait… he didn't… Sebastian turned and saw the face of Skylar Thawne. Sebastian tried to yank his hand away but the older man squeezed back. Suddenly, Sebastian was thankful that it was dark enough so the son of Zeus wouldn't be able to how red his cheek was at the moment. The barge slowly moved across a dark tunnel, with a shoreline of black sand and a background of rugged barren rocks, dotted with huge holes and stalactites that looked very much like fangs. They also saw waterfalls higher than all the ones that mortals had seen. Looking further up, Sebastian could see water droplets dripped down from the stalactites ceiling high beyond their reach. They moved past one more turn and their vision broadened dramatically. Charon was now poling them across a dark shimmering river, swirling in silent. Sebastian looked down to the water and saw the river bed was filled with all kinds of mortal things and the water was heavily polluted.
"What happened to the River Styx?" He asked, finally breaking the eerie silence. "It's so polluted…"
"As the deceased past through the river, all their unfulfilled dreams would be left here. Those that could take a physical form would precipitate and sank to the riverbed like those soggy diplomas and banknotes while those that do not have physical form like the yearning for power and greed for fame would remain in the water. What you now see is the result of countless of people dumping these wishes over thousands of years and it escalated shortly after the Industrial Revolution, a solid proof of how corrupting mortals can be."
"But some of them are good." Sebastian defended.
"I do not deny that, in the past many of them were good. But ever since the Industrial Revolution, people became even more greedy, hubris, cruel, bloodthirsty and hypocritical." Charon said. "Occasionally I have really seen real good people, their souls shimmering like the stars in Olympus, but they're the minority now. Most of the case, you see things like these."
He gestured to the spirits in the barge.
"Many of them are grey in colour, they're neither good nor bad. The kindness in their souls was tainted by the greed and hatred at some point of their lives. And some, like that one over there, had lost almost all his kindness. His past-life was nothing more than killing, hating, discriminating and bullying."
Charon nodded at one spirit which was dark grey in colour.
"Is there a possible way for a soul to become completely black?"
"If it is completely black…" Charon looked towards the far end of the river. "That means he or she had committed a sin that could never be forgiven, like murdering your own family, betraying your friends, break the oaths you made, hubris, etc.… Those would have a black soul, completely corrupted. Therefore, if you saw someone in the mortal world saying things like 'It's sin because God says so' or 'God wills it', these are a kind of hubris. They're not the Gods and they're not their heralds but they thought they were or they're executing powers only the Gods had, those people are the one having a black soul and I would welcome them to my colleagues."
He finished with a smirk which only made him look creepier. The Underworld could now be seen in the far horizon, hidden in the mist, glimmering in a greenish or blue or red light. Another wave of fear soared up Sebastian's throat, he squeezed Skylar's hand again and muttered a silent prayer.
The shoreline came into view, like the way they came from, it was made of craggy gabbro and kimberlite. Dark basaltic sand stretched inland for several hundred metres to the base of a high stone wall, extending to infinity. A gate was located between two huge stone sculptures towered on the wall: two hooded figures holding some kind of weapons. As they got closer, the gate slowly opened and a blood red light leaked out. A deafening howl could be heard somewhere in the gloomy environment, its voice echoed in the hard, unforgiving stones.
"Ah, dear Cerberus is possibly bored." Charon smirked again as the boat came ashore. Slowly, the dead began to unload. The dark grey soul, however, was unwilling to move forward. Instead, the sly soul tried to jump into the water and swam back to the living world, only to be grabbed by Charon and shoved him towards two awaiting ghouls. The soul kicked and screamed, trying to get free but was being dragged away.
"Things like that happen occasionally. Sometimes it was a single man, sometimes it was a group. But no matter how hard they tried, they could never get away from what they're fated." Charon replied indifferently and turned back to the group.
"I need to be off now, and I'd wish you luck, but there's none down here." He winked and started ferried the now empty barge back across the river.
"The nymph Styx would be very angry to see her river became polluted like this…" Sebastian whispered as they passed the huge gates of the Underworld, several words were embedded onto the rock saying, "YOU ARE NOW ENTERING EREBUS", and saw its border. It looked like a cross between airport securities instead of great looming columns with torches as expected by the son of Poseidon.
A metal detector like apparatus with two security cameras on top was placed in front of three separate entrances. Behind it were three desks like what was seen in an airport, under a huge banner saying "JUDGEMENTS FOR BLESSING OR DAMNATION". Desk no. 1 had two guys, one sitting and one standing; desk no. 2 had only one guy and desk no. 3 had no one. And as expected, the line went through desk no. 3 was moving right along while the other two were crawling, especially desk no. 1.
"Line no. 3 goes to the Asphodel Fields?" Sebastian asked.
"It should be, given the fact how fast it goes. The people don't get judged so they can avoid being punished." Caitlin suspected.
"But it came with a price." Cisco piped up. "What they got was standing in a wheat field for the eternity."
"Oh dear…" Sebastian shuddered.
"Yeah, but not as much as that." Skylar said, nodding at the commotion on Line No. 1 and 2.
One spirit was dragged towards a rocky path to the left, to the Fields of Punishment while the other one was dragged to the back, to a much darker place. The two spirits were screaming and kicking as they were brought to their damnation in the distance. A vast, barren, volcanically hyperactive wasteland, with rivers, lakes and seas of red hot lava; folks of red lightning thundered in the distance and even from this far, Sebastian could see people being chased by horde of hellhounds, whipped by fiery whips and a lot more worse tortures.
"I wonder what they had done." Sebastian whispered.
"If I remembered correctly, the spirit in line 2 is a racist who discriminated and killed black people just because they think they were stupid and violent." Caitlin replied as she thought. "The one in line 1 is a very notorious rapist and homophobe. He killed gay boys and raped lesbian girls before killing them, using the name of their God as always, like those people in Uganda, and shelter pedophiles."
"That's sickening!" Sebastian said in disgust.
"Indeed. That's why he's being dragged to the back. It's the way towards Tartarus." Caitlin agreed. "The guy in line 2 was not as sinned as the one in line 1 so he was sentenced to the Fields of Punishment."
"What about those who do good? Like the heroes." Sebastian asked.
"They go to Elysium, there." Cisco said, pointing to the possibly only happy part of the Underworld in the far right: a piece of land hidden behind a white wall with different landforms, hills, valleys, plains, teeming with life. Lush spring green grass and forest covered the entire land, dotted with shimmering rivers and crystal clear blue lakes, an underground sea could be seen in the far end; flowers of all colours and forms blossomed with beautiful birds, butterflies and dragonflies dancing in the air. Higher above, snowy peaks and volcanoes with a more gentle temper rose up to the blue sky and one mountain top was hidden in the white clouds. Architectures from all time period in history made up a neighbourhood with laughter and cheers could be heard.
"See the peak hidden in the clouds? That's the Isles of the Blessed, for those who had chosen to reincarnate three times and achieved Elysium three times." Cisco said. "That's the place every one of us wants to go."
"It's quite depressing that Elysium is so small compared to the rest of the Underworld." Sebastian commented.
"Don't be silly." Caitlin soothed. "Look how many people are there in the Asphodel Fields. Many of them are unwilling to get judged because they've been told for all their lives that they're evil or outcast or sinned or a failure over something they have no control of, like their skin colour, weight, sexuality, any kind of disability, even for something as minor as some habits. If all of them were judged, true, the Fields of Punishment will grow but so will this paradise. I'm confident that many of them are good enough to reach Elysium. Just because the older generation or some religion didn't like them, doesn't mean they are not good in their hearts."
"And many of them believed what they had been told is the ultimate truth, a black and white scenario that only existed in their stupidity." A new voice rang and the group jumped. Sue Sylvester was standing behind them, a cruel smirk on her face.
"Uh… Hi…? Coach…?" Sebastian gulped as he stood in front of his companions. The Fury's smirk just got wider.
"Hello, my dear. Would you need a helping hand?"
"Helping hand? Why would we-" Skylar jumped in.
"Do you seriously think you can get pass the security system and hide from the ghouls and hellhounds?" Sue Sylvester challenged. "Lord Hades is expecting you and he offered me to take you guys to the palace without much trouble."
"Okay…" Sebastian agreed uncomfortably.
"Cool. Let's get moving." Sue said and started marching towards the gate with the group anxiously following behind. Cerberus's three heads snapped up as they approached. The huge animal started snarling, baring the fangs. But Sue just held up her hand.
"Sit!" She ordered and the three-headed dog turned its penetrating gaze towards the Fury. Recognizing her was his friend, Cerberus sat obediently and started barking, like a puppy seeing its master coming. Sue, however, paid no attention to that.
"Buddy, you better behave. These four are our guests." She said coldly as she moved towards the detector at line no. 3, Cerberus twisted his heads towards her, trying to get her attention.
"Leave me alone, I don't have time to play with you." The Fury snapped as she tapped several buttons on the panel and deactivated the detector. The monster whined and when he got no reactions from her, he lay down and Sebastian believed the monster was sad and lonely. After all, the ruler of the Underworld and his subordinates were probably way too busy to spend time with the dog. Sebastian suddenly felt bad for the monster. He wanted to go up and pat its nose but was too afraid to do so. He just stood there as Cerberus turned its gaze towards him, blood red staring into deep sea-green and back. He felt they could continue their staring contest if Sue didn't bark at him.
"Sebastian Smythe! What are you waiting for?! Come here!" Sebastian turned and saw his companions had already passed the border and were waiting for him next to Sue. Turing around to the monster again, Sebastian gave it a smile before hurrying over to the border.
The group walked through the Underworld under the leading of a Fury, also known as Sue Sylvester. Sebastian was getting more restless as they walked past the path leading to Tartarus. He had dreamt about it twice and now he was close to it. He silently prayed to the Gods that nothing bad happen as he hurried up to his companions. Unfortunately, the Fates were never too kind. Just the moment he caught up to Cisco, an unseen force grabbed onto him, like an invisible hands striking out from the darkness, took hold of his ankles and started dragging him backward. The son of Poseidon grunted as he lost his balance and thumped onto the stone floor. The force strengthened and was picking up speed.
"Sebastian!" He heard Caitlin screamed and saw Cisco, Skylar and Sue running towards him but the distance between the two were getting larger.
"What's the matter with him?!" Cisco shouted in the distance.
"How am I supposed to know?!" Came Skylar's angry reply.
A sharp turn and his companions and the Fury were lost from Sebastian's view as the drag continued to pick up speed. He was now being dragged down a slope with increasing slope. The walls narrowed to only three people could fit and the light from the torches on the wall turned from a faint blue to an ominous red. The stalactites hanging above now appeared as a frightening dark and got even more rugged. The ground was becoming barren, no grasses or trees or wooden fences, just black barren rocks with unforgiving edges. Sebastian felt his exposed skin got scratched as he was dragged across them with brutal force and speed, leaving a trail of blood behind. He could hear the screams and shouts from his companions but he was not sure if they could reach him in time.
The tunnel got darker and colder and had a distinctive smell down there. Sebastian couldn't tell what it was distinctively, but it was ancient, evil, full of rage, hatred, bloodthirsty and yearning for revenge and destruction.
And then, he saw it: A huge dark cavern with an enormous chasm that seemed to plummet towards a bottomless abyss, the entrance of Tartarus. He was being dragged in! He had to do something to save himself! Sebastian tried to grab at anything within his reach but there's nothing big and solid enough to slow him down. It was just like what happened in his dreams… Wait! Dreams! How did he manage to get away from the grip in his dream?!
His hands flew to his pocket and found what he needed: his swords. Sebastian took out Riptide and stabbed it hard and deep into the ground. That did manage to slow him down and he was now caught in a giant tug-of-war. He was on the losing end because deep in his mind, Sebastian knew he would eventually let go because of fatigue. But a new ray of hope was within his reach: his companions were very close. Skylar was the first one to appear, he froze dead when he saw the place but he immediately resumed running and grabbed onto his wrists. Cisco, Caitlin and Sue soon turned up and joined the force but Sebastian was still slowly sliding down the edge.
What saved the son of Poseidon was Skylar's lightning. As soon as he realized their help was not working, Skylar let go of Sebastian's hand and summoned two bolts of lightning. It crashed onto the solid rock between the chasm and Sebastian's feet. A cry of rage could be heard and Sebastian could move his feet again. With a final yank, Caitlin, Cisco and Sue pulled the son of Poseidon away from the ultimate fall. The three engulfed Sebastian in a hug.
"You okay?" Caitlin softly asked. Numbly, Sebastian nodded.
"Is this what you've been dreaming?" Cisco whispered as the group turned to look at the huge chasm.
"Ye… yes…" Sebastian's voice was a bit higher than usual, it was also shaky. "And… and… and…"
"And what?" Skylar tightened his hug as Caitlin whispered comforting words to the shaking Sebastian.
"It's… it's whispering… right now…" The deep sea-green eyes were filled with terror as the heads turned towards the pit. And there it was… a malicious, deep, evil voice, chanting with ancient words most of them had never heard, coming from somewhere deep below, from the abyss. It was faint, seemed so far away, but with so much power it rocked through the very bottom of their souls.
"Come, we need to go." Sue said quietly and somewhat nervously, which was extremely for a Fury.
"Lord Hades must be informed of this…" She muttered to herself as the trio helped Sebastian got to his feet. They started to back up the tunnel, away from the chasm and the chants. Skylar, who had been carrying the backpack all the time, felt it got heavier. Back in the pit, the voice got louder, angrier and more powerful. The group broke into a run just as a gust of bone-chilling wind, not due to temperature, blasted out from the pit, like a black hole had formed in the pit and was determined to pull Aether from the high heavens into the pit. The group dropped to their knees and started crawling up the slope. Sue cursed in ancient Greek and spread out her wings. She flew herself over the four demigods and swiped them up in one arm. Flapping the bat-like wings furiously, she shot through the narrow tunnel, back to the Fields of Asphodel. The demigods could not feel the pull from the gale now, but it still echoed from the tunnel and a faint wail of outrage was mixed in the wind.
"Is… is that what I think it is?" Skylar panted as they collapsed onto the road.
"I'm not sure…" Sebastian was too busy catching his breath. "I think coach may have a better answer…"
"Actually, I don't." Sue replied coldly. "And I don't even think Lord Hades has a clear answer either. But either way, you guys need to go. My boss is probably getting impatient. Just walked down the road and you would reach your destination."
Then, the Fury disappeared into thin air as the group looked at each other with uneasiness. But without other options, they walked down the road and true to the Fury's word, the road did lead them to the palace of Hades: a huge fortress with glittering black walls at least two stories high, with abstract engravings and gemstones embedded in them. In front of the demigods, was a pair of black iron gates, standing wide open with a fiery colour glowing from the inside. Passing through the metal gates, the group entered the garden of Persephone, and embraced the tempting smell of ripe fruit. Fighting the desire to devour one, they hurried through the sweet smelling garden and up the stairs leading to the main door. What lay beyond the iron door caught their breath.
The hall was magnificent. It was like the abandoned mine of Moria in 'Lord of The Rings', only it was neater, brighter and at least a hundred times grander in scale and size. The place was mostly empty, except the occasional passing of spirits and ghouls, skeletons with soldier uniforms were seen guarding each side door. Red Greek fire torches were installed on the gigantic columns, illuminating the grand hall so the group could see two skeleton soldiers were standing in front of a set of black iron door towering up to the ceiling. As they approached it, they noticed that Skylar was lagging behind.
"The backpack is very heavy." He panted.
"What? But we didn't have a lot of things in it except some clothes and supplies." Cisco asked with a frown.
"Should we check if someone has snuck something in without us noticing?" Caitlin asked in worry.
"No need for that." Skylar panted as he adjusted the backpack to a more comfortable position. "I guess it's just because I'm exhausted and shaken from the… previous incident."
Suppressing a new sense of dread down their stomach, the group turned to look at the closed iron door. Just when they were thinking if they should knock on it or talk to the skeleton soldiers guarding, the door opened on its own.
"Wow…" Cisco whispered.
The throne room of Hades was nothing the group had imagined. They had been expecting large columns made from thousands of skulls and bones with red or green candles as lighting, fountains of magma, graves as decorations, spiky black throne and dancing monsters, ghouls and spirits. What they got was a floor entirely made of deep blue marble slabs; black granite columns with diamonds and gemstones as big as Sebastian's fist were embedded; candles burning with a clear blue flame were inserted onto bronze candle-stands on the table, the columns and the colossal chandelier, pecked with precious gemstones, hanging down the ceiling. In the back of the room, under a huge sculpture of a sceptre, a symbol of the God of Underworld, were two thrones. One was smaller with Promulgates as decoration. The other one was made of black and bluish black marble slabs, with its master sitting on it.
Hades was in a size of a giant, three times higher than an average mortal. He wore a shimmering black silk robe. His short black hair was well-combed. But what made up Sebastian's biggest impression was his aura. He first thought the God would be radiating horror, death and despair, things that could easily drive people mad within seconds so the God could send the tattered souls straight down towards Tartarus.
In reality, there were much more in the God's aura. Hades still radiated some horror, death and despair as pictures of the unexpected people killed by all the crazy terrorists; the 6 million Jews executed by the Nazis Germany; all of those who perished during the Crusades; people succumbing to Black Death in the Middle Ages flashed in front of his eyes. But there were also something more, there were also scenes of heroes who fought to their death to protect those they loved and left a memory in people's heart; people achieving their life goals and passed away in their sleep peacefully, with no regrets and surrounded by their families and friends.
"So this is they say about death… It can be ugly as well as beautiful… violent as well as peaceful…" Sebastian thought as Hades boomed.
"So you came." The voice of the God of Underworld echoed in the giant empty hall. It was cold, indifferent and more importantly, packed with power and maturity. After all, Hades was the oldest among the Big Three. "Do you have my helm?"
"Unfortunately, no, Lord Hades. We don't even know where Lord Zeus's lightning bolt is. But we think-" Sebastian replied honestly but was cut off by Hades.
"You don't know?" Hades's face turned darker as the horror section in his aura intensified. "Young one, lying to a God will do you no good and is the most senseless thing to do."
"What do you mean-" Sebastian frowned and suddenly widened his eyes. He heard Caitlin gasped. Sebastian spun around and looked at his companions who looked back at him with wide eyes. Skylar suddenly ripped off the backpack and Cisco opened the zipper. There, in the light blue backpack, cramped together with their supplies, was the lightning bolt, giving off a blinding white light with sparks of electricity shooting out of both ends.
"How did it get in there?!" Skylar demanded, looking at Sebastian.
"And how the fuck should I know?!" Sebastian hissed back. "The backpack was given by-"
The son of Poseidon cut off in his mid-sentence as the truth dawned upon him and his companions. Anger started welling up his chest and Sebastian looked up to the ceiling, and shouted on top of his lungs.
His shout bounced off the hard stones and the companions felt their ears rang for several seconds. He was also not aware of someone was watching him in the back of the room, shaking his head with a grimace on his face and rubbed his still ringing ears as he whispered quietly.
"Oh man, he's pissed… This is gonna get ugly…"
Taking deep breaths to calm down, Sebastian opened his eyes and looked at the God of Underworld. His eyes were now a brilliant blue burning with fury.
"My Lord, I believe that we have found out who stole your helm and orchestrated this madness. We are going to find him and confront him. Therefore, my companions and I will need to leave now. But I swear on River Styx, when we finished the confrontation, we will be back and give you back your helm." Sebastian said loudly and Hades nodded after hearing the oath.
"Fine. I will give you one more chance. Do NOT come back to me empty hand this time." He boomed as Sebastian took out the bag. He took one out and smashed it on his feet. The salty smell of the ocean and sea breeze filled the air as a white bubbling mass accumulated around his feet.
"Take us to where Ares currently is." He said and the sea foam started migrating so it encased the group's feet. Seconds later, the group was encased in a giant bubble. It started rising and raced towards the roof of the Underworld, towards those sharp stalactites. Caitlin, Cisco and Skylar shielded themselves but Sebastian, who learnt how the pearls work from Oceanus, stood still. After a flash of white light and a splash, the group entered the complete darkness.