The Gods Of Today

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Chapter Four: Unforeseen

He shuffled his way to a chair and plopped down, throwing his head back. The pain circulating through his body was not foreseen on today’s agenda. Why did he have to enrage Zeus? Maybe if he handled the situation differently, he wouldn’t be in this predicament.

“What in the gods!” A woman yelled from down the hall. Running inside, she saw him beaten and panting. “My beloved, what has become you?” Kneeling down by Hades side, she started checking his body.

Scorched skin consumed his chest. Smiling from such innocent concern, he held her hand firmly. “Do not fear, my dear Persephone. It is but a mere scratch. I will heal my love.”

Wrathful, she vowed vengeance toward the perpetrator. “I assure among all who hear my cry, whoever did this too you shall succumb to the upmost horrendous torture that has come to thought.”

Hades brushed her cheek softly while looking at her intently. The love he felt for her knew no bounds. The sacrifices he would face just to keep her happy and out of harm’s reach were endless. Hades was content with Persephone. Now seeing his beloved be just as protective over him only filled him with greater joy.

“It was of my doing,” he told her, ashamed of the actions he took. “My proud ways wanted to teach Zeus a lesson. Such ideas were sour, and I faltered.”

His wife exhaled softly. “Why would you tempt such an action? Taunting my father in such a manner? You know of his temperament.”

Slowly getting up from his chair, he did not have a good response for his wife. A part of him did it to knock Zeus off his high horse that he claims to be rightfully sitting on, but that was not a good enough reason, and Hades knew that answer would displease Persephone. “It was ill-advised, I grant you. Rest assured, as no such thoughts will not come to pass again.”

Rolling her eyes, she wrapped his arm around her shoulders and told him to lean on her for support. If you would have asked her a few millennia ago if she would do this? Persephone would have instead shared chains with Kronos. She despised Hades for the longest time. After tricking her into eating fruit grown from the underworld, she was bound to this place for almost half the year’s cycle. Being restricted and not being able to go as she pleased infuriated her. She vowed to make the god’s life miserable than it was. She wanted him to feel how she felt, but no matter what she had done to him, he always treated her with respect and courtesy.

This side of Hades no one has seen, but her, and it only made her curious as time went on. The more she dove into his mind and who he indeed was? The easier it became to accept him as her partner and, eventually, her husband. The power she was given by him when she arrived as the queen of the underworld only fueled her ambitions of being a just yet vengeful god. Not only was she succeeding in her field, but secretly she enjoyed every moment as well.

Making their way down the corridor, Persephone instructed Hades to rest until his strength replenished. Passing by a room almost forgotten to them, it strongly called to Hades. Stopping, he looked back at the Prophets library. Behind those doors were full of artifacts and scriptures even unknown to Zeus himself and something about it called to the god. Whispers soon consumed his mind, and he kindly refused his beloved’s offer. Instead, he wanted to be guided into the library that so loudly called to him to which it has never done since his rule.

Persephone stopped and shook her head. “Are you mad? This room is enchanted and prohibited to be entered upon by any god besides the prophets themselves. Even Zeus himself could not enter those chambers if decided. It was decreed.”

“I do not dare defy you, my love,” Hades assured her. “But, something calls to me from within that room. I do not know what it is, but it rattles my ears, yearning to be found.”

Persephone pressed further warning for her husband that he was walking a thin line as it is. Doing such an action would only make matters worse. “My king, whatever calls could be a temptation of trickery. You promised me you would not do such foolish things after the circumstances that came to pass. I urge you to uphold your words to me.”

Smiling at his darling wife, he did confirm that what he said was meant to its fullest form. Staring upon the door, she reached for his hand and held it tight. Persephone implored him yet again to not enter. No god has dared attempt the thought and knowing her husband was about to break one of the biggest rules set by Olympus frightened her.

Hades turned away and finally caved to his wife’s plea. Cupping her face with his hands, he informed her she was right. Perhaps it could have been a trap. No one knew what lurked behind those doors, and Hades knew it wasn’t worth jeopardizing Persephone’s emotions for. Kissing his dearly beloved’s forehead, he told her he would not enter the chamber of Prophets.

She became relieved, thanking him for taking her words into consideration. The last thing she would want to witness was Zeus and the other gods smiting Hades where he stood. She would not know how to cope with such heartache. Holding him close to her, she helped him toward their room.

Walking amongst a dark hallway, Persephone waved her hand. Torches lit the corridor making a door visible. Black like the night, the heavy wooden ingress flickered with hints of emerald along the ridged edges of its frame, and a hand carving of the pair imprinted the middle of the door, immortalized in its place.

Gazing upon such a thing always brought the most joy to Hades. His wife was one to produce such beauty. Along with being queen, she developed a keen eye while living in the underworld. She always said that just because they live with the dead does not mean one has to show it. This ideal alone is what drove her to shape such marvelous things and stylizing them within their palace. Even if Hades was one for simplicity, he could not deny this woman’s touch. Especially one as artistic as her. Setting Hades against the wall, Persephone told her beloved she would prepare the bed for his recovery.

“As you do, I shall stare upon this creation,” he informed her.

“Are you truly smitten of a door?” she asked him.

“Ha-ha, it is not what one admires,” he laughed, “It is of who. A remembrance of the one who spent days carving such a picture. Who traveled among the edges of this world to find such emeralds to capsulate the beauty. A beauty who so happens to be the one who stands before me.”

She smiled at him and caressed his cheek. Closing his eyes, he placed his hand over hers. “I truly want you to know how sorry I am. It was callous of me to forget the spoils I have been given. This job, this burden, it becomes unbearable at times.”

“Oh my king,” she muttered sympathetically. “You shall never be alone as long as I sit by your side. That is my word. I have known no love for another, and I shall not have that fade nor taken.”

Breathing in relief, he nodded his head, agreeing with her words. He, too, would not want to lose such a love he was graciously gifted. He would fight all gods in Olympus just to keep it even if it were for a mere minute. Releasing her touch, she turned to reach for the handles of the door. “Once you lay, I shall grab a pint of ambrosia and bring it to your bedside without trouble. You need to heal,” she emphasized.

“Your kindness overwhelms such a god. I do not deserve you,” Hades told her.

“Silence, you are more than enough for any.” Smiling kindly at her husband, she tried pulling the doors open before they exploded outward in a violent fashion. Hades stood in the corner, watching Persephone be engulfed by debris and flame. Her work of art that she meticulously spent months working on blasted off their hinges and shattered into pieces as their remains scattered down the hall.

Dust obstructed his vision. He called out to his love in a panic. She was right in the middle of it all, and Hades feared the worst. Scanning the ground, he saw a dark shape lying among the rubble. He found Persephone alive and remaining still staring upon the ceiling. Breathing shakily, he started stroking her hair.

Leaning in with tears in his eyes, he spoke to her. “My love, oh, my love.”

“I cannot feel the ground beneath,” she told him.

Seeming confused, he did not understand her words. She kept repeating herself over and over, slowly getting hysterical. Raising his hands up, he told her to remain calm. He did not want her to stress any more than what she felt. He examined her body and realize what she meant. She had several shards of wood piercing her torso. He wished for it to be the sole problem, but luck did not shine among them this day. Resting on the floor, torn and shredded limbs were not attached to his lover’s body. It was then he knew how severe the damage was.

Trying to be strong for her, he placed his hand on her forehead and remained positive. “I shall have you transported to Apollo at once. His hands are wonders in healing. You will be whole, I swear upon Olympus.”

“One should not make false vows before such outcomes are resolved,” Zeus spoke.

Hades looked at his brother, baffled. ‘Why is he still here?’ Hades thought. He assumed his brother would have transported himself back up to Olympus after their encounter.

Zeus slowly walked out of the room with his hands firmly behind his back. “I stood among my son’s at court thinking of such turmoil you have caused, and the thought finally dawned as to the suitable punishment. Here I am now, ready to bestow such torment.” Looking down at Persephone, he let out a sardonic grunt. “I do admit, one did not see such a circumstance come to pass. Hmm, what a shame to see my daughter in such a distasteful way. To think, her pain could have been prevented if it were you opening those doors. Fate is a fickle force, is it not, brother?”

“I beg of you,” Hades pleaded, “Spare her, and you can do as you wish upon me. She does not deserve such agony. She is pure of heart and honest intentions.” Seeing his brother’s face, Zeus saw in his eyes what he never expected to find.

“You … you truly care for her,” Zeus realized.

“I do, I do with all my heart and soul. Spare her and have your way with me. I do not care about what happens. Just spare her. I beg of you,” Hades continued.

“In all my time ruling this realm,” Zeus started. “Never have I seen a god with such feeling. Who knew among all gods, you would be the one to convey such emotion. A crippling feeling exposed to one’s enemies could meet such an ill-fated demise.”

Hades turned away, putting his attention on his beloved. He did not care for his brother’s words. Staring at his injured wife, all he could think of was how to save her. Watching Hades blatantly ignore him and comfort Persephone gave Zeus a venomous epiphany.

Sighing disrespectfully loud, he caved in. “My heavens, this is truly agonizing! Call Thanatos down to you. We shall need assistance to take her to Apollo.”

He bowed at Zeus’ feet, thanking him profusely. No amount of words could show the gratitude he had for his brother’s mercy. Even if it was not of noble intentions. Hades summoned Thanatos, who materialized in front of them.

Seeing the situation at hand, Thanatos spoke. “My liege, what has become her? What must be done?”

Hades looked up at Thanatos. “What must be done is--”

“Of a necessary evil,” Zeus interrupted. Grabbing Thanatos Scythe, he smiled before electrocuting the god and smacking him clear across the hallway. Hades looked toward his brother in confusion. “What is this? Why would you do such a thing?”

Aiming the blade at Persephone’s neck, Zeus answered back with a simple answer. “To teach one a lesson.”

In one clean swing, he decapitated Hade’s beloved in front of his eyes. He watched in horror as her head rolled down the side of her body while blood spewed from her neck. He felt his heart skip a beat. His breathing cut thin with the sight of her corpse lying there. It could not even register to him that she was indeed dead. In his own denial, he believed he could still save her, but realism quickly took hold of the god once more.

“So misfortunate,” Zeus added. “She was among my favorite, but one needs to learn.”

“Why,” Hades whispered.

Tossing the murder weapon to the ground, Zeus put his hand over his ear. “Did you say something, brother?”

“WHY!he cried.

“That!” Zeus clapped amusingly. “That is why. Emotion is weakness, and such a dangerous flaw are beacons to enemies. A god should not have such a crutch in his heart. In the end, one shall thank me for the mercy I provided.”

“She could have been spared,” Hades assured himself. “She would have lived. My love could have, she could have.”

Crouching down to Hades, Zeus looked him in the eye. “Does it truly hurt? To know she will never rest among your quarters? Never to sit among your tables or touch one’s skin? To see one’s gaze looking back with utter infatuation? Tell me, how does it feel?”

Hades shook his head, unfazed by his words. The fact that his brother believed he could be so daft about his intention insulted Hades. Out of all, he was the smartest, and he knew as such. Looking at Zeus, he called out his actions. “You did not do such an act out of mercy,” he responded. “Your intentions are of selfish intent.”

Standing on his feet, he confronted Zeus head-on. “You thrive on hatred and more so of me than any else. You stand among all others claiming love is what fuels you, but I know of one’s true face. It is why you turn other gods against me. It is why you belittle others and antagonize those of pure heart. The pleasure you feel of their hatred fills you with such joy. If you want such emotion, I shall not concede such a feeling. You will starve without such luxuries.”

Zeus laughed with amusement. “Is this your reasoning? I must say it’s quite a story to conjure. I wonder who shall ever believe such a fable.”

What Hades uttered next made Zeus boil with unfathomable rage. “Who you are and the actions you take? You are no different from Kronos,” he added.

Knocking Hades off his feet, Zeus pressed his foot against his brother’s neck. Adding pressure, Zeus looked down at him. “You dare compare?! You think such words can break a god?! One thing is certain, I took pleasure in such an act to see the look in one’s eyes when nothing becomes them. That is what you are. I shall spare your life for the sole reason to relish in this dismal place in anguish and torment of not fulfilling one’s promise to her. The words I spoke were not heeded, and such defiance can come with great consequence, but you seem to have thought my words were mere hearsay. How do such words hold now?”

Zeus lifted his foot off Hades. Straightening his appearance, he began walking away from them. “Let this moment serve YOU as a lesson. Another toe out of line, and I shall take another you care dearly.” Fixating his gaze on Thanatos, he made it clear as to who would be his next victim. Zeus then clapped his hands and disappeared through a current of lightning.

Hades slowly crawled to Persephone’s body and placed her corpse onto his lap. Tears streamed down his face seeing the injustice placed upon her. Heartbroken and shattered, Hades let out a painful scream that could be heard throughout the underworld. Pressing his head on her chest, he wept for the only woman who ever truly loved him.

Thanatos grabbed his scythe and used it as a cane, limping toward his friend. Seeing the brutality of Zeus, the god was shocked into silence. Placing one’s hand on his shoulder, all Thanatos could do was assure him he was not alone in his moment of devastation. For it was at this moment where they both knew nothing would be the same.

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