They stepped off the last stair that led down from the castle and started making their way back towards the gate, the fog the perpetually covered the ground no longer moved aside, it seemed to be blasted out of the way in the face of Drake’s anger.
“Okay, so first things first, we get back up to earth and drop Diana off at my place,”
“Wouldn’t I be safer at Aislinn’s? I mean I know her Mom’s mortal but she obviously knows things about the Greek gods.”
“As much as I love my Mom, she wouldn’t be able to keep you safe, much less herself. Besides Drake’s “parents” are actually Naiads, Nature Spirits. They’ll be able to protect you.”
“Oh all right then.”
Even though she agreed she didn’t sound very reassured, so Drake offered a few extra words of comfort, hugging her around the shoulders with one arm.
“No worries Diana, only three gods are allowed into my home. My parents and my grandmother, Demeter…okay four if you count Zeus, but I doubt he’ll actually ever come to my place.”
“For some reason, Dad isn’t too fond of him. He won’t explain why.”
Before Aislinn could expand on her statement, Diana’s hand went to her head and she stumbled. She would have fallen if Drake’s arm had not still been around her shoulders.
“Diana, what’s the matter?”
“Headache, out of nowhere…” she trailed off and looked straight ahead, as if she could see something. The other three turned to look at what she was looking at but saw nothing out of the ordinary. All they saw were the Gates of Hades and Cerberus looking at the line of the dead menacingly.
Aislinn snapped her fingers in sudden realization, “She’s having a vision.”
Diana was indeed having a vision, but it wasn’t the same one that she’d been having for the past month. This vision showed her the underworld, her and her three friends, and three other figures, in cloaks. She couldn’t make out their faces. After another few seconds the vision faded and her headache dissipated. She blinked her eyes, getting rid of the last vestiges of the vision, and looked up into the concerned faces of her friends. “I’m all right,” she smiled and took Aislinn and James offered hands and let them help her to her feet.
“What did you see?”
“Us. We were here, in the Underworld, and three people wrapped up in black cloaks came from around a cliff. I couldn’t make out their faces and I don’t know much about this place so I couldn’t tell you where it was. There seem to be a lot of cliffs here. That’s all I saw.”
“You don’t think she could mean us, do you?” The four friends whirled around to find three cloaked figures standing behind them. Even though they couldn’t see their faces, their body language screamed amusement.
Aislinn put herself directly in front of Diana, lightning already sparking around her right hand.
“Aw, isn’t that sweet. The little lightning bug thinks she can fight a god.”
“A god you may be, friend, but lightning still hurts like a bitch no matter what your mortality status.”
“Point taken,” The figure on the far left spoke, dropping his arms to his sides when he noticed little sparks starting to dance around Aislinn’s fingertips. He turned his attention towards Drake who had yet to speak. “Have you nothing to say, little Prince?”
“Yeah, two words: Hold still.” Blue-green vines shot out of the ground around their feet, attempting to trap them, wrapping around the ankles and snagging at the hams of their cloaks.
The three figures jumped back and out of the way, but the vines did manage to grab the cloaks, allowing the four teens to see who their would-be assailants were.
“I should have guessed. What’s your game Thanatos?” Drake crossed his arms and glared at the three of the minor gods of the Underworld, his right palm was facing up, a ball of blue flame danced above his hand.
James hissed in Aislinn’s ear, “Who are they?”
“Thanatos, Hypnos, and Moros. The gods of the death, sleep, and doom, respectively.”
“Yeah, that about sums it up.”
James moved a few feet away from Aislinn and Diana, giving himself room to move if he had to, though he had no idea what he was going to do, he had no idea how to fight, much less fight a god.
“My game? My game, dear Prince, is world domination. I’m sick of being shunned by the Olympians. If it weren’t for me then there would be no mortals, everybody would live forever. Then we wouldn’t be special, we would just another part of the masses. The only difference between us and them would be our youth.”
“So you’re pissy because you feel you haven’t received enough recognition –”
“We have received no recognition, you impertinent little upstart. Not in the millennia we’ve been alive. It stops now.”
Drake’s eyes narrowed and blue fire surrounded his hands, “Well you’re right about one thing, Than. It will stop, now.”
“Oh, I don’t think so.” Aislinn and Diana stiffened at the voice that came from behind them. Diana was pulled away from Aislinn and put behind Hypnos, who was the one who had spoken. Before Aislinn could even think of doing anything Hypnos gave her a naughty smile and blew some light blue dust into her eyes. Aislinn’s eyes immediately began to droop. She stumbled back a few steps shaking her head trying to fight the effects of Hypnos’ sand, but she eventually succumbed. She managed to sleepily flip off the god before falling to the ground, asleep.
“Aislinn! You bastard, you’re gonna –” Drake didn’t get to finish his threat as Thanatos cut him off by punching him in the face, sending him flying into the side of the cliff. The side of his head cracked back against the stone and he slumped down landing in a heap, unconscious.
James glanced around at the three gods that now had Diana as a hostage and had him surrounded. "There's a word for this situation, and that word is damn."
Moros walked up behind him nodding and said mockingly, “Yeah, that about sums it up.” He brought the side of his hand down against the back of James neck and the teen dropped to the ground, out cold.
Diana looked at the three gods around her fearfully, she wanted to run, but knew they would just catch her. She also wanted to help her friends, but again the three gods were in her way.
She took a step back when Hypnos walked up to her. “It’s time to go to bed, sweetheart. Say goodnight.” Before she could even formulate a response Hypnos had blown the same dust into her eyes that he had Aislinn’s. Her eyes fell shut immediately and Moros caught her shoulders, stopping her from toppling over before she could even start.
Thanatos looked at the other three would-be heroes to make sure they wouldn’t be getting up any time soon, kicking Drake’s left leg just because, and then he turned to his brothers. “Hypnos, grab the mortal, we’ll take her with us.”
“Sure thing Than.” Hypnos took the unaware Diana from Moros, carrying her bridal style. Moros opened a Door that would take them back to Hypnos’ home in the Underworld, one of the last places anyone would think to look for them. “Why are we taking the girl Thanatos?”
“Because Moros, if the little heroes come after us, they won’t attack. They won’t want to risk hurting their little mortal friend. Think moron.”
Thanatos stalked through the Door ignoring his older brother and twin.
Hypnos rolled his eyes at his brother and walked up next to Moros, “Ignore him brother, you know how he gets sometimes.”
“Yes he always has been a little off. It’s just I have a bad feeling this thing is going to go belly up if we take the girl.”
“That’s just you doom-saying again. You can’t help it. Ignore it and let’s go before Thanatos gets all pissy.” Hypnos stepped through the Door closely followed by Moros. As soon as he stepped through the portal swirled, getting smaller and smaller until it disappeared with a soft ‘pop’, taking girl and gods with it.
Diana bit back a groan as she slowly opened her eyes. Once her eyes focused she discovered that she was lying on her side facing a river. She assumed that she was still in the Underworld because the landscape she saw would have been right at home there. But when she shifted her gaze cautiously – so as not to alert her kidnappers – to the left of the far bank she saw the Delta Bessborough. The thing was that that side of the River was just as it was before she had gone to the Underworld. The trees were green with leaves only just starting to turn colours, hinting at an early autumn. The grass was still green and she could see the occasional flock of Sparrows flying around erratically as they always did.
On the side she was on, everything seemed to be dying, or changing to look like the Underworld. Diana looked around a bit more and saw her three captors standing near the bank watching their handy work unfold. At the water’s edge where the three gods were standing she could see a black water seeping out into the dark blue-gray of the Saskatchewan River, watching with ill-concealed glee as everything it touched started to change.
Deciding that while they were busy watching her world die she would at least attempt to escape. She started to move her wrists around in the bonds they had tied her in. From what she could see of the rope around her ankles, it looked to be some kind of silver nylon rope, but she couldn’t be sure, as she had never seen a silver coloured rope before. She tried to be quiet about it, and had almost got her left hand free, but Hypnos turned around a few seconds before she would have managed to free herself.
“Look who’s finally awake. Did you have a nice nap, little one?”
Diana stopped trying to free her hand once she realized that all three gods were looking at her.
“What do you want from me? Why are you doing this?” She struggled to sit up, but found that the only thing she could do – tied up the way she was – was to roll over onto her back. Now she could glare at her captors better.
Hypnos walked over to Diana until he was standing over her; she tried to shrink as far into the ground as she could. Trying to keep as far away from him as she could. He reached down and pulled her into a sitting position. Diana blinked up at him in confusion, but muttered a quiet thank you, she new her manners.
“Why would we answer the questions of a pitiful, little, mortal child?”
Diana sent the Thanatos a quick glare, then realized exactly who it was she was glaring at and quickly averted her gaze.
“Well you did beat up my friends, knock me out, and then kidnapped me. I think I’m entitled to a small explanation at the very least.” Thanatos glared down at her as he approached his twin, who was still standing in front of Diana. She just returned his glare with a blank look – almost like she was bored. When you’re best friend had the temper of a dragon one got used to being glared at like someone wanted you to spontaneously combust.
Diana pulled back when Thanatos leaned over and got right in her face, but her expression never changed. On the inside she was terrified; this was the god of Death she was dealing with after all. She just didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of seeing her fear. And from the look of things the other two didn’t seem inclined to do her bodily harm.
Hypnos watched as Diana just looked at his twin, meeting his gaze easily. He couldn’t help but chuckle, “I like her. Girl’s got spunk.”
“Humph, you would.” Thanatos moved his glare from Diana to his twin, who just grinned.
“Well is someone going to answer my questions, or what?”
Hypnos was starting to like the mortal they had captured. He had never seen anyone besides himself, and his parents, willing to stand up to his twin. He decided to be nice and answer her questions and crouched down so he was at eye level with her. “Well little girl –”
“What?” Surprised that a mortal, no matter how spunky she was, would have the gall to interrupt him.
“My name is Diana. Not little girl.”
“Sweetheart, I’m older than bloody dirt. Trust me, you will always be little girl.” He grinned.
Diana glared but didn’t say anything.
“Now as I was saying, little Diana,” her glare intensified and Hypnos’ smile widened. “We kidnapped you for a very simple reason. When Zeus’ little brat and the Prince of the Dead come looking for us– and they will come, trust me – we will use you as a means to keep them from attacking us. They won’t want to risk hurting you. So as long as we have you, we can go about our business unimpeded.”
“And why are you doing this exactly?”
“Trying to take over the world, why bother?”
“No reason in particular. I mean I don’t have a reason. I’m just bored, and Thanatos is my twin. You always help family.”
“Okay then why is he doing it?”
Before Hypnos could answer, Thanatos put his foot against the side of his head and pushed him over. “Enough! Knock her out again, I’m getting sick of her questions.”
“Fine, you are such a kill joy, you know that?” Hypnos pushed himself into a crossed-legged sitting position in front of Diana. He closed his left hand and when he opened it a small pile of the blue dust, that Diana briefly remembered seeing before she passed out the last time, appeared in his hand.
“You’re not going to get away with this! Aislinn and Drake will stop you.”
“They can try, little Diana, they can try. Night-night,” Hypnos tossed the dust into her face and grabbed her shoulder as her eyes fell shut for the second time in an hour.
Thanatos regarded the unconscious Diana for a few moments before looking at his twin, a thoughtful expression on his face. “What do you think Aislinn and Drake would do if we harmed and/or killed the mortal?”
“Oh, I have no doubt that they would hunt us down, kill us, throw our bodies in a fire, roast marshmallows over our burning corpses, and then after we were burnt down to nothing but ash they would dance on said ashes. Then Drake would raise us from the dead and do it all over again.”
Thanatos just looked at him. One of those looks that screams ‘dear lord, I’m talking to a crazy man’. “You have way too much time on your hands, you know that right?”
Hypnos went on as if his brother hadn’t spoken, “And I’m pretty sure that if you did decide to kill her I’d claim no part in it and leave you to fend for yourself. You know just because you’re the god of Death, doesn’t mean you have to kill everything. I mean look at me, I’m the god of Sleep but I don’t knock out everyone I come across.”
“Yes that’s true, but you where pyjamas all the time.”
“We’ve had this discussion before, it’s because they’re comfortable, dammit! And what does that have to do with anything?”
“Whatever you say, Hypnos…besides I’m not planning on killing her, it was a hypothetical question, don’t have to get all defensive about it.”
“Go back to gloating over your victory would you, you’re starting to annoy me.”
Moros listened to his younger brother’s banter as he watched the water of the River Styx seep out into the Upper Realm, and chased the thought about what it would have been like to have been an only child.