Chapter 5 - Meeting the Family
CHAPTER 5 – MEETING THE FAMILY
A dark cell…
Somewhere in Ancient Greece
When the sun rose the next day, Seth and I were roused from our beds and hauled towards the dark corridor. We were asked to put our armor once more and we’re about to fight for the amusement of the crowd.
The guards escorting us stopped in front of metal bars.
“It’s now or never,” Seth whispered.
“I know! Cause a distraction or something!” I answered as I peeked at the crowd and looked for Zeus. He likes this sport so he’s got to be here somewhere! If not, our plans will go to waste.
And sad to say, there was no Plan B.
Seth turned around and addressed one of the guards that escorted us. “Do you know what we’re to face today?” he asked.
The corner of the guards’ lips curled up. “Lions.”
Lions! Great. Just freakin’ great.
Seth laughed nervously. I’ve heard him laugh last night so I know this one is fake. Also, he does not seem to be the type of person who’d fear lions.
“Literally thrown to the lions, huh?”
All the guards laughed. I didn’t expect this kind of distraction but it’s working. All the guards are looking at him now. While he had their attention, I looked around again. I spotted Zeus and he was near the emperor’s stand.
He was too far away!
“Can I ask one favor then?” Seth asked the guards.
“It depends,” one of them answered.
“A favor from one warrior to another. I feel that we’re not going to make it today so I just wanted to make a last request. I just want some water,” he told them.
The guards all looked at one another. Their leader, I assume he is, nodded and then one of the other guards left.
I turned away and scanned the crowd again. Someone must be here. I could sense magic in the air and it felt really close.
I turned around again when I heard footsteps. I saw all the guards retreating.
“What happened?” I asked. Why did they all just leave all of a sudden? Were guards at this day and age really that stupid?
Seth just shrugged. Again, I saw his eyes turn gold. Maybe that was really their color. It was weird but also fascinating.
“Maybe they all wanted water as well,” he answered.
“Uhm. Right,” I answered. I didn’t think that was the reason but I couldn’t focus about that now. I needed to find someone. I know they’re here somewhere. They loved gladiator fights.
Suddenly, I spotted a familiar figure.
“Hermes!” I shouted. He was also too far but not as far as Zeus. I checked if the guards have returned but there was still no sign of them.
So I bent low and picked up a rock from the ground. It was half the size of my fist.
I threw it with all the strength I could muster and at the same time, prayed that my aim was true. It was. It hit Hermes right in the head and he staggered. Then, he shook the fragments from his hair and turned around.
Hermes looked at the man behind him with his murder in his eyes. Then, he clenched his fist, pulled back and let it fly. It hit the man in the jaw and there was a sickening crunch.
That started a fistfight. It was like throwing a match in a barrel of oil. The fight was not only between them but everyone that surrounded them as well.
“Ouch!” I hissed when I saw someone elbow another person directly on the face. The person that was elbowed tripped and fell on another person who was quietly sitting there. That new guy then stood up and hauled the one who fell to his feet. They exchanged blows as well.
“Uh-oh,” Seth said as he shook his head.
“Hermes!” I shouted. Much louder this time. He lifted his head and looked directly at me.
He let go of the man he was throttling and went towards the gate.
“What?” he hissed. “Did you throw the rock?”
Seth and I looked at each other, our eyes wide, and then shook our heads. “No! That wasn’t us.”
“How do you know my name?” he asked.
“You’re my cousin! Listen, we need your help!”
He threw back his head and laughed. “Cousin? It’s a big family, boy! I can’t keep track of everyone!”
“Why should I help you?”
I elbowed Seth. I needed his help. He moved forward and stepped into the light.
“I am his father.”
Hermes stilled for a while. And then his face changed into a mask of incredulity.
“So what?!” he barked.
“Are you for real? Being someone’s father is not a reason for me to help you! I don’t even know this boy!” he spat. Then, he laughed some more.
Oh, Olympus. I resisted the urge to rub my face with my hand.
“Say your name,” I told Seth.
He obeyed. “I am Hades.”
Suddenly, the laughter stopped. Hermes stepped closer to the gate and peered into the semi-darkness. He looked at Seth from head to foot. There was a few seconds of stunned silence. My hands went cold and clammy and my knees started to shake. This was it. It’s either Hermes sees through the deception or he falls into it.
“Hades! It is you!”
I breathed a sigh of relief. It was so instantaneous and substantial that my knees almost buckled. I stepped forward and held onto the bars of the gate. “We need your help, Hermes. Please.”
It was as if he never heard me. His attention was focused solely on Seth. “You’re awake! I can’t believe it! Is Thanatos awake as well?”
This time, it was Seth who looked incredulous.
“It’s mid day! Of course I’m awake. I woke up at dawn!”
Seth looked at Hermes as if it’s absurd that someone doesn’t wake up at the crack of dawn. Gods, this conversation was deteriorating rapidly. I can see Hermes’ mouth open to reply and so I cut in before he started explaining something Seth will never understand.
“Look, Hermes. We need to get out of here before the fight starts. Can you help us?”
And then now, he remembers I was there. He looked at me as though scrutinizing every single detail. “He is your son, you said? You’ve been holding out on us, Hades! You never told us you had a son! You two look so much alike!”
Seth looked at a loss. “Err…”
“Let’s talk once I get you out of there. Wait here. I’ll be back!”
Hermes left and then I saw him stumble over a small rock. Ugh. Some things never change. Yes, he was the fastest. But he was also the clumsiest.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. As if there’s anywhere we could go to right now! In case he didn’t notice, we were chained to a rock.
Hermes comes back a few minutes later. I was waiting for him at the gate but he came from the back where the guards disappeared to.
“How did you get there?” Seth asked. Hermes rolled his eyes. “Magic!” Then, he laughed. Seth laughed too and I knew I was saved from that one. He must’ve assumed it was a joke.
Hermes handed over the key and Seth and I freed ourselves from the chains. “I got that from the guards. They looked like they were in a daze. As if their minds have been tampered or something.”
“Or they’re drunk!” Seth added. Then, he laughed. And this one sounded more like his nervous laugh.
“So where do we go?” Hermes asked me.
I wasn’t sure as well. “Where’s Zeus and everyone else?”
“Oh! Good idea! Zeus and Poseidon will want to see Hades now that he’s awake. Let’s go to them first,” he answered. Then, I felt the air fill with magic again. This magic was familiar as it was one I did daily.
Hermes was about to teleport.
I clamped a hand on his arm and that stopped the magic. I leaned closer making sure it was only him who was going to hear my next words: “I can’t teleport. My mother is mortal,” I told him.
“Hades! With a mortal?!” he said the words as if it offended him.
“Uh. Yes. We should walk,” I suggested.
“Alright, then. I know a way out. Follow me.”
And that we did. He led us through a dark, winding passage. We passed by our previous cell and kept on walking. I saw several prisoners eye us warily but I ignored them. We walked faster and Hermes opened a door.
And there it was… freedom!
I rubbed my wrist and tried to get blood in my hands again. Now that the shackles were gone, I saw the part of my skin which was rubbed raw. We moved away from the coliseum and walked towards the busy marketplace.
I looked around and felt a spark of excitement when I realized that this was the first time I was seeing ancient Greece! For the past few days, I’ve been in the cell and now, I was free!
Ancient Greece was really different from the modern world.
There were no roads and there was sand everywhere. The streets were muddy and it was very noisy as various merchants shouted their wares. Women also shouted as they haggled over prices of meat, vegetables, cloths, and other various items.
I saw several guards patrolling the marketplace. There were also men who wore fine togas surrounded by a band of guards who passed by. And then there were women who wore bright-colored chitons. They were escorted by guards as well.
“So what’s next for you?” Hermes asked me as we continued walking.
“Hades and I… We’re looking for something,” I answered. His eyes glittered. “Does it require stealing? I can help!”
I shook my head. “Uhm. No. We’re good.”
The only thing I know was that the scroll was in Sparta. But then again, that might be wrong. Another thing I know is that it was Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades who kept that scroll. So maybe once I get my powers, I can travel to the Underworld. There’s a vast library there and perhaps it could lead me to the location of the scroll.
“So where are we going?” I asked Hermes.
“We’re almost there. It’s a place where we always gather,” he told me. “I’m so excited to arrive! Everyone will be surprised when the see that Hades is awake!” he said. Then, he rushed off. He was just so fast that it was hard to catch up with him even when he was just walking.
Seth moved closer to me.
“Is your father lazy?”
What?! I wasn’t sure I heard him right. He repeated the question and my brows creased in confusion.
“Hermes is so surprised that I am awake. And then he keeps on saying that everyone will be surprised that your father is awake. So… Is your father a lazy person? Does he sleep all the time?”
Before I could stop it, I face-palmed myself. I wanted to pull my hair out. It was just one of those things that makes sense and at the same time, doesn’t make sense. And what’s even harder was that I couldn’t really explain.
So I just decided to go with the flow.
“Uh. Yeah. He is kind of lazy.”
Seth nodded. “That makes sense. So I’m assuming this Thanatos person is lazy as well because Hermes also mentioned him.”
Good thing I was saved from replying when we entered a small tavern. My eyes roamed around the room quickly and my heart skipped a beat when I realized that almost everyone was here. The gods, I mean. There were no mortals around.
Even in ancient Greece, it seemed that the gods already had boys day and night outs! In my dad, they did it in a bar in New York. Now, it’s a small tavern here in Greece.
The first one I saw was Dionysus. He was at the bar and he was mixing one of his brews. He was also handing it to everyone who was nearby.
“I don’t know anyone here. They might figure out that I’m an impostor.”
I shook my head. “They won’t,” I met his gaze. His eyes seemed a light shade of brown now. “Trust me.”
“Hmm. They seem like they don’t know you as well. I trust you. I just don’t want us to be placed in a tough situation.”
I flinched. Well, he got me on that one.
“First of all… My father is a very private person. He does not mingle much with the family. Second, he kept me a secret.”
I had to lie through my teeth but this is the only way. The other way, which is explaining everything to him, is a no go. He won’t believe me. The world of gods and goddesses is fucked up and bat-shit crazy.
Seth reeled. “Why would he keep you a secret? Are you a bastard? Well, even if you are… You’re a good warrior. He should be proud.”
My dad is proud of me. He trains with me often and he was the one who taught me much of what I know. I felt a twinge in my chest as I recalled my childhood. The twinge widened into a black hole of emptiness when I recalled his body, so still in death; his hand reaching out to my mother.
Truly, they were two souls who fit together like puzzle pieces. They were a great team—not only as king and queen of the Underworld but also as lovers and parents.
And now it was all up to me to make sure they all live and we get to be together for all of eternity.
“It’s a rather complicated story,” I told Seth.
He only grunted in reply. This was one good thing about him. He asked questions but if I wasn’t ready to give him the answers he sought, he let it go. He did not press or cajole me into answering.
I sighed. “Alright, so before everyone notices Hades is here, I’ll give you a brief introduction about the family.”
“So that man standing over there by the bar and handing out drinks is my cousin Dionysus. He’s Zeus’ son. He’s the family drunkard. He’s rarely sober. When he is, he’s making beverages that will get you hammered.”
Seth frowned. “Hammered?”
“Wasted. Knackered. Flat-out drunk.”
“Ahh. And who’s that?” he pointed to one side of the tavern where Ares was bench-pressing a keg of what I assumed was beer.
“That’s Ares. He’s the best warrior in the family. He loves to pick fights over minor details so beware.”
Seth snorted. “I can take him. I am the best warrior in my family.” I resisted the urge to snort. Ah, hubris. It is what makes kings fall. What more for normal mortals?
“And the one that helped us escape?”
“That’s Hermes. He’s a kleptomaniac.”
“A what now?!”
I almost rolled my eyes. I have to fit in better with this time period and that includes fixing my speech. “Uhmm… He loves to steal things just for the joy of it. It’s his nature. He can’t help it most of the time. He’s also the fastest runner and is a good messenger.”
I pointed to the other side of the room where Athena and Artemis were having a target practice while Apollo watched.
“That’s Athena. She’s the wisest in the family. Beside her is Artemis. She’s a great huntress. And the blonde there is her twin brother, Apollo. He’s our healer and is also good with music.”
I cringed as I recalled all the boys’ night outs where Apollo hogged the mic all night long.
“That man getting wasted there is my Uncle Poseidon. He’s a… ermmm... A fisherman of sorts. He also captains his own ships. He spends more time in the ocean than on land.”
“Fascinating,” came the reply. I looked at him and he did seem fascinated with my family’s crazy dynamics.
“The way that your family seems to have everything essential. This is how my family works too. But we’re not all related. We’re just living in the same place. Something like that.”
Well, that one is weird. Maybe they were foster brothers and sisters or something. Hell, I don’t know what it’s called in this century.
Suddenly, the door to the tavern opened. And as usual, it’s Zeus and his flare for dramatic entrances. Beside him is Hera and she had her arm around his waist.
“That is my other uncle, Zeus. He is the head of the family. He is a bit weird. Most of the time he is short-tempered.”
“Ahh… He looks menacing.”
Hmm. Menacing would be a good word to describe Zeus on bad days. But on good days, he’s more of a womanizer and an all-out crazy guy. But that changed already—his womanizing ways. Menacing… It’s still the same.
Suddenly, Seth pauses and his eyes widen.
“Adrienne!” he shouted.
All eyes turn towards him. “Who?” I asked.
“My que—“ he coughed. “My wife! What is she doing here? I told her to stay!”
He stood up and walked towards her with his fury burning in his eyes.
“Wait, no!” I shouted as I chased after him.