Aislinn and Diana ran up the steps to Drakes house, not even bothering to knock before pushing the door open. “Hey guys, where are you?”
“In the kitchen, we're cleaning wounds.”
They didn’t bother to kick off their shoes, just closed the door then jogged into the kitchen. When they entered the room they saw what James had been talking about. James was sitting up on the counter and Drake had a hand towel tied to his lower right arm, and one around his left calf, blood dripping from underneath the makeshift bandages
“What happened?” Diana was horrified at the wounds her friend had received, and Aislinn…Aislinn was laughing.
“Ahahaha, you got bit by the hound! That’s hilarious.”
“Aislinn, don’t laugh! Those look like they really hurt.” Diana turned around and glared at her friend, who had slid to the floor she was laughing so hard.
“Yeah Nike, show some compassion. Now stop laughing like a hyena and help me find something to clean these with, you great useless waste of space.” He grumbled as he limped from one cupboard to another looking for a First Aid kit, blood dripped off his foot, leaving a bloody trail of footprints as he walked.
“Fine, fine, but it’s only because all that blood loss has rendered what little brain cells you had to begin with, useless. Who keeps a First Aid kit in the kitchen? Normal people usually keep them in the bathroom.” Aislinn used the kitchen table she had slid down beside to pull herself to her feet, and then she walked down the hall to the bathroom.
The bathroom was an average size, with gray-blue walls and slate floor tiles. The counter top of the dark wood cabinets was black. The room would have seemed to dark if it wasn’t for the larger than normal – for a bathroom – fogged window. It let light into the room, but kept people from seeing into the room, providing privacy. She crouched down in front of the cupboard doors that were located directly below the stainless steel sink and opened them. There, sitting at the very back was a bright red bag, the First Aid kit. She pulled it out and shut the cupboard. Walking back into the kitchen she tossed the bag at Drake, hitting him in the small of the back.
He turned and glared at her then looked at the floor. He muttered a ‘finally’ as he bent down to grab the bag off the red-orange tiled floor. Before he could grab it Diana had snatched it up. “Sit, Mister. You can barely tie a knot. You try to bandage your own injuries and they will fall off within five minutes.”
“What? But hey –” he was cut off when Diana just ignored him and pointed at one of the four chairs that surrounded the small kitchen table. He grumbled something about pushy women but did as he was told. He limped over to the chair and dropped into it with a wince and a grunt of pain.
“So, since when do hell-hounds bite you, and chase people they’ve never met before?” Aislinn asked as she hopped up on the counter opposite from James, a playfully evil grin on her face.
“Since they became confused as to why they are suddenly up here, when they know I didn’t call them here, and that Dad didn’t send them.”
“Uh-huh yeah, that still doesn’t explain why it bit you. Or why it chased Jimmy, here.” Aislinn ignored James vague protest to being called Jimmy.
“I actually have no idea why it chased him; maybe he could smell me on him or something? I don’t know. As for why he bit me, he didn’t believe me when I told him I was me. Thought it was some kind of trick. I tried to calm him down, I got too close and he bit me. He felt bad about it afterwards, and asked how he could make it up to me. So I told him to sniff around and let me know if he finds anything interesting.” He explained as he watched Diana remove the towels from his arm and leg, and expertly clean the wounds before bandaging them.
“Interesting as in…” James hopped off the counter and collected the towels that Diana had tossed onto the floor, taking them and putting them in the sink to soak in cold water.
“Interesting as in ‘WTF, that shouldn’t be here.’ That kind of interesting.”
“Ah.” Deciding to change the topic for a bit James asked, “So, Diana, are you feeling any better?”
“Huh, what? Oh yeah, much better thank you.”
“Yeah Di, what was up with that today? You don’t usually pass out from your migraines.”
“I’m not really sure what it was.” She explained as she finished tying off the bandage for Drake’s arm. “I thought at first that it was just a migraine, but when I got to the end of the desks…” she paused for a minute thinking of how to explain what had happened to her.
“It was like my vision shifted almost. You know when you’re videotaping something and you move the camcorder really fast sideways, and you get that blurred image? That’s what happened to my vision. One second I was looking at the classroom door and the next there were seven people in a decaying garden. Everything was in varying shades of gray and black. There were seven people. I couldn’t make out their faces, or what any of their genders were. They all seemed to be fighting, except for the seventh figure; they were off to the side just sitting there. I don’t know if they were dead, watching, or just unconscious. The other six all seemed to be fighting with each other, three against three.
Two seemed to be fighting more viciously than the rest. One was knocked to the ground, and just as his opponent was about to finish him off…the vision-thing ended and I passed out.” Her gaze had a far away look to it, almost like she was seeing the vision again.
Drake caught Aislinn’s eye and said something in Greek, to which she just nodded. She turned to Diana and asked, “Say Di, have you had this vision thing before? Or anything else like it?”
“Hmm? Oh, I’ve been having this for the past month now. Though it’s usually as a dream, and this was the clearest it’s ever been. And as for having anything like it before now, I can’t say that I have, no, but it is entirely possible. It was only after I started having the same dream almost every night that I started to keep a dream journal. Why do you ask?”
“I’m not entirely sure so don’t quote me, but it looks like you may have the gift of prophesy. Drake remind me kick Apollo in the…shins…yes the shins the next time I see him.”
He winced but replied, “Noted.”
“What, but how?” Diana looked and sounded almost as confused as she had on Saturday.
“Like I said I’m not sure exactly, Apollo’s supposed to look out for things like this. I promise that I’ll find out though. As soon as we deal with the Shades, I’ll help you figure this out, but right now we need to get to the Underworld, and talk to Hades.”
Drake parked his car at the corner of 1st Avenue and 22nd Street and the four teens climbed out of the car. Like usual – after schools got out – the malls were packed, or heading in that direction; the side walks were packed with people. James and Diana had no idea how they were supposed to get to the Entrance to the Underworld, especially with all the people everywhere. They crossed the street against the light, deciding that the information they needed to give Hades was too important to wait for something as trivial as a ‘Walk’ sign.
The weather had changed since they had left school. It had gone from being cloudy and rainy to no rain and cold, but still clouded over. They walked the half a block to the mall entrance and paused at the door that was to the right of a Starbucks. It looked like a normal service door and James and Diana were both wondering why they were stopped in front of it.
As Drake was looking around to make sure that they were all in the sphere of ignorance he’d placed around the door, he noticed the odd look on the two’s faces. “I had this Door put here when I first came to the Upper-Realm. It allows me to travel directly between here, and Olympus or the Underworld.” He took a decrepit old skeleton key out of his pocket and slipped it into the very modern lock. Diana and James were surprised – to say the least – when the key slipped in as easy as anything. The lock clicked and Drake swung the Door open. Aislinn walked in first followed by Diana then James. Drake closed the door behind them and locked it again.
The door opened up into a short stone hallway, lined with torches held in wall sconces. At the end of the hall was an elevator that was made out of obsidian. The up and down buttons on the panel next to it were honest to god sapphires. Aislinn hit the down arrow and tapped her foot as she waited for the elevator doors to open.
As Drake joined the three teens waiting by the elevator there was a ‘ding’ and the doors whooshed open, a faint wind blowing out from the interior of the elevator, sending nervous chills down James and Diana’s spines.
The four friends piled into the elevator, which was obsidian on the inside as well. The panel was gold like the one on the outside but instead of the buttons being sapphires they were rubies. There were four buttons, the first three said P1 and P2, the third said Underworld, and the fourth said Tartarus.
Drake leaned over Diana, who was closest to the panel and hit one of the rubies; the label next to it read ‘Underworld’.
James lent back against the back wall of the elevator arms crossed over his chest, looking uncomfortable. He had never been a fan of small spaces. “Why didn’t you just make a portal thing like Hermes?”
“It’s called a Door. And I didn’t create on because I can’t. Creating Doors is something only gods can do.”
“Besides even if I could create them, I wouldn’t have,”
“I’ve never seen a normal mortal travel through one before…it could have worked just as any normal Door does, take you from one place to another instantly, or it could have turned you inside out, or something equally as nasty.”
James paled and swallowed hard, “Good choice then. How long is the ride down?”
“We should be there soon. Stay close to us and don’t eat or drink anything while we’re down there.” Aislinn was leaning against the elevator doors; she was fiddling with her lightning bolt necklace idly as if going to the Underworld was an everyday occurrence.
James decided he had to point out something that he thought his two not-so-normal friends might have over looked. “Say, isn’t usually a bad idea for anyone, other than gods, to go to the Underworld? I mean all the myths I’ve read, say that all those who enter the gate and go past Cerberus never get to leave again.”
“That’s only true if you’re going to get someone out of the Underworld. Seeing as were only going to talk to Hades, we’ll be fine.” Aislinn waved her hand unconcernedly, Diana and James looked unconvinced.
“Besides, you’re with me. I’m the son of the Lord of the Dead. If I vouch for you – and as long as I’m with you – you can go pretty much wherever you want.” Drake took a step towards the door as the elevator slowed. The lift lurched to a stop and another ‘ding’ sounded. “We’re here.”
The four teens were sitting in a small wooden boat as it manoeuvred itself across a slow moving river. The boat was made out of ancient looking wood, that didn’t look like it would be very sea-worthy, let alone able to cross a river.
When they’d approached the boat James had asked which of the five rivers it was.
“This is Acheron, the river of woe, and woe to any who fall in it, for they will suffer.” Drake had laughed dramatically, but stopped when Aislinn cuffed the back of his head.
“Well I see bubbles, but not enough for it to be boiling.”
“I didn’t say anything about boiling water,”
Aislinn picked up where Drake had left off, “He said that because the water is actually a highly corrosive acid.”
By then they were at the bank and Aislinn walked over to one of the skeletal, leafless trees that decorated the Underworld. She picked it up and held it at the very end of the branch, so that her hand was as far away from the river as possible. She dipped the other end into the water for less than a second, when she brought it out the end that she’d dipped in was gone, and the remnants of the acid that were left on the wood were working on the rest.
Diana and James were both horrified and impressed by the demonstration. James turned and looked at the boat doubtfully before turning to look at the two Godlings. “And you expect us to cross a river of acid in a rickety boat of ancient age and dubious craftsmanship?”
Drake looked offended, “Hey, Hephaestus himself built this boat, it’ll hold up fine. Come on, get in.”
Back in the present, James sat uncomfortably in the middle of the boat, as far away from the gunwales as possible, his feet tapping an agitated beat on the floor of the boat. “Can’t this thing go any faster?” While he was out in open space he was still trapped on a small boat floating in acidic water, so James wasn’t a happy camper.
“Yes it can, but if we did the water would splash into the boat and we would die.” Drake explained calmly from the bow of the boat.
Aislinn could be heard snickering from the stern, “We’re almost across, keep your pants on Morgan.”
Diana leaned out carefully over the edge of the boat, trying to see the shore. The lantern that hung out off the bow didn’t illuminate very far. “How can you tell? I can’t see a thing through this fog.”
Just as she finished speaking the boat bucked as it hit the opposite bank. “Oh. Never mind,” Drake tossed her a cheeky grin before hopping out of the boat and, using the rope attached to his seat that Aislinn threw to him, pulled it up onto the bank so the other three could get out safely.
This side of the river looked much the same as the other side. There were trees but they had no leaves, and judging by the ground it looked like they never had. The ground you couldn’t really see because of the one foot thick layer of fog that covered it. But it was hard, no grass to be found, just rock. Small bushes – again no leaves –could be seen peeking out from under the fog, fighting for air. In the distance James and Diana could see a high cliff and what looked like a fortress atop it.
Diana pointed it out, “What’s that?”
Drake and Aislinn looked at where she was pointing. “That’s Hades’ castle, it’s where we’re heading. Come on this way.” Drake finished tying off the boat then started walking towards the castle.
As they walked down a path that no one but Drake seemed to be able to see, James and Diana both noticed that the fog seemed to move out of Drakes way. The other two didn’t seem to find this odd, and they wondered how often Drake and Aislinn came here that none of this seemed new to them. They decided that it was probably better that they didn’t ask.
A cliff started to form up next to them, getting higher and higher as they walked on, it seemed to taper off at about 100ft. Then it started to curve. As they rounded the cliff they saw large columns of black granite with an ornate black Iron Gate between them, the gates were open slightly wide enough that seven people could walk abreast through them, with adequate room to swing their arms between them.
Standing just off to the gates right – their left – was the biggest dog James and Diana had ever seen. And it had three heads! It looked like a Rottweiler Doberman cross; a really big Rottweiler Doberman cross. From where they were Diana could see the gleaming white fangs of the hound and the three, lashing, snake tails. Standing at least three story’s high, Cerberus – the hound of Hades – made an impressive and ferocious figure.
Which was why when Drake ran up to the giant dog, Diana was horrified. “Aislinn, what is he doing? That thing’s going to eat him!”
“Cerberus? Eat Drake? Don’t be silly Di; he wouldn’t harm a hair on Drake’s head. Watch,” Aislinn continued walking towards the gate, but James and Diana hung back, not sure if they wanted to risk approaching the giant hell-hound or not. To their amazement Cerberus didn’t seem interested in eating Drake; in fact it looked more like he wanted to play. The giant dog lowered his front, his back end raised high in the air, and his three snake tails wagging playfully. All three heads had their tongues lolling out the side of their mouths.
“Hey boy! How’ve ya been?” Drake had reached the large hound and was scratching his leg, the only thing he could reach, even with the hounds heads closer to the ground. Cerberus wagged his tails happily and dropped down next to the young god, head dropping to the ground and turning, so that he could have his ears scratched. Drake happily obliged.
He looked back to where he had left his friends and saw that Aislinn was the only one approaching. “Come on you two, Cerberus isn’t going to hurt you; he’s a big pushover really, unless you’re trying to escape through the gate.”
“Then your own your own. Hey big guy, eaten anyone lately?” Aislinn had reached the two and was scratching the middle head’s snout.
Cerberus’ six eyes were closed and he was making happy growling noises. They patted, and scratched each of his three heads before making their way to the gate, where Diana and James were waiting for them. Despite the reassurances that Cerberus wouldn’t hurt them, they had decided it was better to be safe than eaten and had waited by the gate.
“I’ll see if I can’t sneak you out a steak to give to you on our way back, boy. Oh, and before I forget, bite Charon for me when you see him next, all right?”
Cerberus’ answering barks shook the cliff and caused loose dirt and small pebbles to fall down the cliff side. Aislinn shook her head at her friend, partly in disbelief, and partly to get the dirt out of her hair. “One of these days Drake, Charon is going to figure out that it’s you telling Cerberus to bite him.”
“I don’t see how, Cerberus won’t tell – even if he could talk – and you won’t tell. So unless I walk up to him myself and tell him, I doubt he’ll ever figure it out. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.”
“No but his brothers aren’t stupid. And I really wouldn’t want Thanatos coming to visit me before I’m scheduled to die.”
Drake just smiled at his friend as he led the way to the castle. The landscape was pretty much the same beyond the gate as it was before it, but as they got closer to the castle they started to notice plants and flowers of the variety that didn’t need an abundance of light to live and grow, just water.
“Who put all these plants here?” Diana asked as she bent to examine a beautiful fluorescent blue flower with a dark green stem and leaves.
“I did. My mother has to spend six months out of every year down here. And while she didn’t like it at first she did learn to, but she still missed all the plants that were up on earth and Olympus. She had tried to grow things here before but she couldn’t. She may be Hades wife, but Persephone doesn’t have any power over the land down here. Dad does but he has no clue about plant life. So I did this for her, I don’t know how many years ago.”
James looked at Drake for a few seconds before saying, “Your mother is Persephone.” It wasn’t a question.
Drake started to nod but then he realized what James had said, “Oh, fuck.”
All four came to a stop. They were at the bottom of the spiral staircase that would take them up to the top of the cliff, and to the castle. The stairs were black iron, a match to the gate they had just passed through, and the support that held the railing to the steps and supports were vines with leaves, thorns and flowers. The stairs themselves seemed to be growing out of the side of the cliff.
“Well…Persephone is your mother, isn’t she?”
Aislinn turned around and narrowed her eyes at him, “Now really isn’t the time for this James.”
Drake was too busy cursing at himself to really hear what James had asked. Diana looked at James, “What do you mean? What’s the big deal with Persephone being his mother?”
“Persephone isn’t mortal.” James explained. “Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, she’s a goddess.”
Diana, tilted her head in confusion, “I still don’t get what the big deal is. Drake already told us that one of his parents was immortal.”
“Yes true, but he said he was Hades’ son. He never mentioned that his mother was immortal as well.”
“Are you going somewhere with this, Morgan?” Drake had by this time stopped cursing and was glaring at James.
Diana was quick to catch on after that, “You…you’re a god?”
“Bugger all. Yes I’m a god. Both of my parents are immortal. Are you happy now? I am in so much trouble.”
They all turned to look at Aislinn when she suddenly started laughing. Drake glared at her, his voice nothing more than a snarl. “And just what about my impending doom is so funny?”
She paused in her laughing long enough to explain, “You’re not in trouble. You were told you couldn’t tell anyone that you’re not mortal. You never told. They guessed. No one said anything about people guessing you mortality status.”
Drake thought about that for a few seconds before he joined Aislinn and started laughing, though more in relief than finding the situation funny. He loved loopholes, especially when they were obvious ones and no one realized they were there until too late.
Diana was debating on whether or not to be upset that they had lied to her again, but decided to let it go. Now her friends had no secrets from her. Plus she supposed that if the gods had threatened to punish her, she probably would have kept her mouth shut too.
“So are we going to go and talk to your Dad or what?”
Aislinn and Drake were a little surprised that Diana was suddenly so accepting, considering with what had happened on Saturday. Aislinn smiled and slung an arm around Diana’s shoulder singing, “We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
Drake gave her a droll look, “You know he hates it when you call him that.”
“I know, why do you think I do it?”
“Are you sure you don’t have a death wish?”
“Most of the time I’m pretty sure I don’t, but sometimes…”
He smirked and shoved her shoulder, hard enough that she stumbled. “Get up the stairs, smart ass.”
The outside of Hades castle was nothing special. Non-descript gray stone made up the foundation and walls, making it look like any other medieval castle you would find up on earth. There were tall, narrow openings in the turrets, archer’s windows, flags topped each tower and turret, a skull atop a blue flame, and growing up the sides of the castle was dark blue, slightly glowing lichen. There were no guards – alive or otherwise – walking along the parapets, no watchmen up on the turrets, nothing, but empty parapets and echoing moans that floated out of the cracks and openings.
The gate into the castle was large and made out of thick planks of wood, with black iron braces running across horizontally. The doors were much too large for any of them to open, either together or by themselves; before James and Diana could even venture a guess as to how they were going to get in, Drake stepped forward and knocked on the door three times. They waited a few seconds and then a much smaller door appeared before them, it was a just a square out of the right side of the gate, with a ring of steel for a handle. Drake turned the ring and pushed and the door swung open with nary a sound.
“What’s the point of having such a huge door, if no one ever uses it?” James asked, tilting his head to the side as they walked through the gate.
“Intimidation factor,” The young god explained simply, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
There walk between the outer wall and the castle was short and grandly decorated. The path they were walking on was made out of silver marble, with veins of gold. Bushes of black roses lined either side of the path and there were two elaborate fountains beyond them.
The one on the left was white marble with a figure of, who Diana and James assumed to be Hades – made out of black smoky quartz – perched atop it. The left arm was stretched out, hand flat. The water fell from there to the pool below. They only colour on the statue were the two sapphires that made up his eyes. Curled at his feet were three hell-hounds. One sat next to him under his right hand, the other two were standing in front of him, one crouched low on its front legs while the other stood straight, both were growling at an unseen enemy, diamond teeth bared. The eyes of the hell-hounds were red chalcedony that seemed to glow with a wild light.
The other fountain was made out of black granite, and had a figure of Persephone – made out of highly polished milk quartz – sitting on a bench. Woven into her hair was a single red rose, the petals made of rubies, and the stem of jade. The bench was black with dark jade vines twisting up either side. The pedestal upon which the bench sat was an intricate knot work of numerous precious stone vines around a tree stump, made of brown coloured granite. In her hands Persephone held a blue water jug made out of sapphire, and from there water poured down into the pool below. The outside of the pool was engraved with various plants, flowers and vines. The flowers were made up of different kinds of precious and semi-precious stones, giving the otherwise monochromatic fountain colour and life.
James and Diana pulled their attention away from the grandiose courtyard and back towards the looming form of the castle. The double doors that led into the castle seemed plain compared to everything else in the garden, until they realized that the door was made not out of yellow steel, but gold. The windows were red, green, blue, purple, and orange stained glass. There were no pictures in the glass, just abstract patterns.
The doors swung open as soon as Drake was within a meter of them, the four didn’t even pause as they walked through the doors swinging closed behind them. James and Diana did stop though when they saw the foyer. It was just as grand as the garden was, but the picturesque look of the foyer took Diana’s breath away. Her fingers suddenly itched for a sketchbook and some pencils.
The room was a large square with a vaulted ceiling. A silver chandelier hung down from the apex of the dome, but instead of lights there were brightly burning torches of blue fire. The support beams that arched up towards the centre of the dome were gilded in gold and the ceiling itself was white.
The floor was alternating black and white marble tiles with a deep blue carpet leading from the door then branching off to the grand staircase that led up to the second level. In the centre of the Foyer was a massive Pomegranate Tree. The leaves were a deep green and the pomegranates hung off the branches like crimson drops of blood.
There were four doors leading out of the room on the level they were on. The one they had come in, one off to the right was just an ornately carved archway. The door on the left was not as intricate as the front door, but was no less beautiful. It was some kind of black metal, not steel and the window was again stained glass, done in red, black, and orange. The door that was directly in front of them – and the one they were headed towards – was by fair the plainest of the four. It was a French door made out of oak, the curved handles were made out of gold, and the window trim was also gold. The glass was blue and fogged obscuring the room beyond from view.
Drake paused before opening the doors. “Let me or Aislinn do the talking guys. My mother may think it’s great that I have mortal friends, and dad doesn’t care either way, but I doubt he’ll appreciate it that I brought you two all the way here.”
James and Diana nodded their understanding; they had no desire to anger the Lord of the Dead.
Drake nodded then knocked before pushing the doors open. The double doors opened up on a large formal dining room. The floor was a highly polished ebony wood floor. The table, which was able to seat 22 people comfortably, was done in a red Sedona wood. The chairs matched the table. The table and chairs themselves did not sit directly on the wood floor, instead the were set on top of a brown area rug, with a white tree design, to off set all the dark colours of the room. Again hanging down from the ceiling was the same Chandelier as the one in the foyer.
At one end of the table sat two people, one at the head seat, and the other person sat to the right. The person who was sitting at the head of the table was a handsome man that seemed to be in his early 30’s, he had straight, ear length, artfully messy, black hair and blue eyes set in a strong, square, face. There was a hint of black stubble along his jaw giving him a roguish air. He wore a pair of black dress slacks, and a deep blue shirt, that made his eyes seem brighter than they were in reality.
The person that was sitting on his left was a beautiful woman appearing to be in her mid-twenties. She had long, softly waved, coffee coloured hair that was pinned back away from her face, but was left to cascade down her back; leaving her face free of obstruction. Her eyes were the same charcoal gray as Drake’s. She wore a pale green dress, almost the colour of sage, which hugged her curves.
They looked up as the doors opened and smiled upon seeing their son. Hades rose from the table and waved his son and his friends over. “Drake? What are you doing home? Come, join us. Is something wrong?”
The four friends walked to the table and took their seats; Aislinn sat after Persephone had given her a hug, “How are you little sister.”
“I’m fine Sephy. How are you? How’s the soon to be bundle of joy?” It was then that James and Diana noticed that Persephone was pregnant, about five months.
“We’re both splendid. Though I am a little frustrated,” she sat down after giving her son a kiss on the cheek and a hug.
“I can’t find my favourite dress; I’ve been looking for it for days.”
Drake looked at his mother in confusion, “Mom, you’re wearing it.”
She looked at her son in confusion then looked down at herself. Her mouth formed an ‘o’ in surprise and her hand went to her mouth. “So I am. Oh thank you Drake, I’ve been looking for it for ages.”
Drake and Aislinn sent each other perplexed looks. Persephone wasn’t usually this scatterbrained, quite the contrary actually, she was really quite smart.
“Mom, Dad, I didn’t mean to interrupt your meal, but there’s something I need to tell you.”
Hades and Persephone set down their utensils and gave their son their full attention. “What is it Drake?”
“Well Aislinn and I, and our friends,” he pointed at James and Diana, “Have been seeing Shades up on earth. Not new Shades, old ones. I’ve seen Achilles, Aislinn’s seen Samurai, and James saw a Native American Brave. Diana saw an elderly man, that may have been a new Shade but we’re not sure. Also not even an hour ago, James was chased to my house by a hell-hound. And it wasn’t one that I had called; it seemed very confused as to why it was on earth to begin with.”
“We were just wondering, Uncle, if you’d noticed anything odd going on lately.” Aislinn asked with as much tact as possible. It wasn’t necessarily a good thing to accuse the Lord of the Dead of not knowing what was going on in his own kingdom.
Hades listened patiently but in the end shook his head. “Don’t be ridiculous you two. Shades that have passed through the gate cannot reappear in the Upper-Realm, unless Drake summons them. You both know this.”
Drake protested, “But Dad, I know what I saw. And I’m telling you that I didn’t summon the Shades to Earth. I saw Achilles during school hours, not afterwards or on the weekend.”
Hades paused to consider what his son was saying, taking a sip from his goblet of water. Persephone was just setting down her glass.
It was a few seconds before either god spoke again, when they did it confused the four completely. Hades looked at Drake like he was seeing him for the first time. “Drake? What are you doing here, son? Is something the matter?”
“Dad, do you not remember the conversation we just had? About the Shades appearing in the Upper-Realm?”
Hades just shook his head.
“What about the Shades dear? Oh and before I forget,” Persephone reached across the table and took her sons large hand in her much daintier one. “Drake, have you seen my favourite dress? I’ve been looking for it everywhere but I can’t seem to find it.”
Aislinn, James, and Diana were completely flabbergasted by what they were hearing. Drake eyes narrowed. He caught Aislinn’s eye and nodded subtly towards the door. She nodded back and nudged James and Diana, motioning that they should follow her. They didn’t protest, just got up from their seats as quickly as they could without being rude.
“Never mind Dad, forget it. And no Mom, I haven’t seen your dress but I’ll keep an eye out for it, all right?”
“Okay, honey.” She patted his hand then went back to eating. Aislinn waved goodbye to her Uncle and sister, Diana and James had already made it back into the foyer.
Once they had shut the dining hall doors behind them Aislinn turned to Drake and said, “Okay. What the hell was all that about?”
“I think I know what’s going on. What do you know about the River Lethe, cousin?” The four friends didn’t notice the décor of the foyer, or the beautiful garden, as they made their way out of the castle.
“Lethe?” Aislinn tapped a finger against her chin in thought. “That’s the River of Forgetfulness isn’t it? The dead drink from it to forget their life on earth. It keeps them from trying to escape the Underworld to get back to earth.”
“Right, if the dead drink from it they forget everything about their past life. If a god drinks from it though…well actually no one really knew what would happen if a god drank from that river, we never bothered to test it. But it looks like it makes them forget as well, just not on as big a scale as a mortal would.” Drake explained as they exited the foyer and back into the front garden.”
“So how is it making your parents forget things then?” Diana asked struggling slightly to keep up with the conversation and the much longer strides of her friends.
“Someone has redirected it to leak into the drinking water. It just may be that the waters diluted, and that’s why they’re only forgetting bits and pieces.” Drake stopped, causing the other three to run into his broad back, a look of horror falling over his face. “Something just occurred to me,”
“If they have the power to redirect one river, then they can redirect others. Fuck they could completely destroy the Underworld.” He ran both hands through his hair in agitation.
From behind Drake James said, “Okay that makes sense. But who would want to redirect the river? Another question would be who would have the power to do something like that?”Drake eyes narrowed in anger at what had been done to his parents, and what someone was doing to his home. “I have no idea, but I certainly intend to find out.”