T W E L V E
“Once upon a time...” Charon began, his voice suddenly ominous and far away “It was once believed that everything the darkness of the Underworld touched was above surface”
I sat forward in my seat, enthralled with his silky voice and interesting story.
“Here we go” Hades grumbled under his breath, hunkering down in his seat “I hate this story”
“The living, unbeknownst to them, walked alongside the dead” Charon maneuvered the boat away from a large, pointy looking rock and continued his story “The dead quite enjoyed this luxury because it meant that they would still be able to protect their loved ones from beyond the grave”
“What happened then?” I asked softly and Zephyr let out a small growl “What changed?”
I gave him a side glance and watched as he mimicked Hades posture, slouching down in his seat and grumbling profanities under his breath.
Charon gave me a soft smile, his lips curling up and his eyes softening.
“Patient is a virtue Love” he said softly.
“For as long as I have lived as the Ferryman of this boat, the dead were always given this privileged” he said “It wasn’t until a Goddess foolishly disrupted the laws of nature did everyone truly begin to suffer”
I shifted in my seat, suddenly uncomfortable.
If this story was the same story that I suspected they were talking about, then things were about to get awkward really quickly.
“In her selfish attempt to save her dying Mate, the Goddess decided to defy the only rule of the Underworld Hades harshly enforced” his eyes darkened “She brought a soul back to life and bound it to another being”
“But it was for a good purpose” I whispered so quietly that I didn’t think anyone heard me.
Boy was I wrong.
Hades shot to his feet so fast you’d think they were on fire.
When he turned to me, I flinched when I saw fire (literal freaking flames) light his eyes.
“The only good purpose it suited” Hades spat out “Was for Selene’s own selfish needs!”
“Everything happens for a reason!” I shot up to my feet too “Maybe Selene saving her Mate was meant to be! For a greater purpose!”
“She had no right!” Hades bared his teeth and stepped closer to me “Her one little action fucked everything up for the rest of my people! And why you ask? Because she was too damn selfish! Thinking with the thing between her legs instead of thinking with that thing in her skull!”
“I’m not saying what she did was right” I defended myself “I’m just saying that it happened for a reason!”
“Well whatever that reason was...” Hades clenched his fists “It caused my people and I to be banished to this hellhole! Never to see or visit the topside again”
“I...” My words were cut off when I found myself being pushed over the edge of the boat.
My mouth opened in shock as I stared at Hades outstretched hands.
“What the fuck did you do?” I roared, running towards the side of the boat and peering down into the murky water.
“I....I...didn’t mean...” he looked at his outstretched hands in shock for a moment before shaking his head, not doubt clearing his thoughts “She’ll survive”
“I know she will” I growled, taking off my shoes quickly “Because I’ll make sure of it”
“Zephyr” Charon grasped my arm “If you go in there, you’ll draw attention to yourself”
“If I don’t, she’ll die” I growled, ripping my arm out of his grip and diving into the dark and murky water.
The Acheron was the river of sorrow and pain, the longest and harshest river in Hades’ Domain. Hades chose this river specifically to guard the boarders of the Underworld because most souls who try to pass it without the help of Charon are immediately sucked in and drowned with all the sorrow and pain flowing through it’s channels.
As soon as the water touched my skin, I was overwhelmed by billions of people’s sorrow and pain like it was my own. It danced across my skin and nicked at me like fiery blades.
I gritted my teeth, ignoring the pain and swimming farther down. Since the whole river was dark and murky, I could barely make out my own hand let alone another human being.
Well...there goes trying to keep my secret to myself for as long as possible.
Being the Prince of Hell has it’s setbacks but I would be lying if I said it didn’t come with some perks too.
One of those perks happens to be my natural talent of manipulating the Eternal flames of Hell.
Because I need both my hands and feet to swim in the Acheron, I manage to make the flames erupt throughout my entire body, from the top of my head to the bottom of my soles. Since my flames are eternal and everlasting, and come from the core of Hell itself, the water of the Acheron has no effect on them.
As soon as my flames maintain their brightness, I manage to see an outline of Serenity’s body.
She is no more than five feet away from me and my heart sinks when I realize that she is no longer moving.
‘Please let her be okay’ I pray to whichever God is willing to listen to me, as I swim to her as fast as I can ‘Please’
Within no time I grasp her around the waist and swim upwards as fast as my legs can take me. We break the surface and I am relieved to see Charon holding out his staff to me.
I grabbed on and he pulled me in closer to the boat.
I released the staff quickly and held out Serenity to him, making sure he deposited her safely on board before I climbed in.
“You’re mother’s going to kill me for this” Hades whispered under his breath, running his hands through his hair.
I shot him a look and for once in his life, he shut his mouth and remained quiet.
I turned my attention towards Serenity and began doing CPR on her.
“Why isn’t this working?” I growled after three minutes of doing chest compressions.
Not how I imagined our first kiss going.
“She must have consumed too much water” Charon said “It’s one thing to feel the pain and sorrow nipping at your skin but it’s an entirely difference experience when the pain and sorrow consume you from the inside out”
“How do I get the water out?” I asked frantically, pushing her wet hair away from her face.
When no one answered me right away, I looked up at them.
They both had grave expressions on their faces “What’s wrong?”
“The Waters of the Acheron are meant to drown a soul from the inside out whenever they tread the journey across the river without Charon” Hades said in an unsettled tone “Because they’re dead and don’t actually have a physical body, the only way for a soul to expel the water is for them to suffer through the entire drowning process over and over again until Charon deems the sufficiently punished”
“Well, then clear her” I bared my teeth at Charon “She’s suffered enough”
He grimaced “I manage the dead, not the living”
“Dammit!” I cursed “We need to do something or else she’s going to die!”
My mind raced frantically, trying to think of something that would help my Mate survive this ordeal.
Suddenly, an idea popped into my mind.
“The Flames” I whispered to myself before looking at them and repeating myself louder “Will my Flames heal her? Metaphorically boiling and expelling the River water from her system?”
“You want to boil her from the inside out?” Charon gaped at me “That would most likely kill her”
“Can it be done?” I growled
“In all my years, I’ve never heard of it being done” Hades said thoughtfully “Besides, how would you even transfer the flames to her without burning her or damaging any major organs?”
“She’s my mate” I hissed at him before returning my focus back on my Mate “We were made for each other”
“Mates?” I heard Charon say in shock “As in destined Mates?”
Hades must have said something but I was too focused on my mate to care what he said.
“Okay Princess” I whispered to her softly before grasping her face in my hands “This might sting a little by trust me, after it’s over, I promise to soothe the pain away”
Silence ensued but I knew that once I did this, all her pain would go away and she would be safe again.
“Please come back to me Princess” I said quietly, pressing my forehead to hers “Please...”
Without a second thought, I pressed my lips onto hers and summoned my flames.