FIVE - The Message From Olympus
5-A MESSAGE FROM OLYMPUS (3,509)
Hermes - The Divine Messenger God
Hermes was known as the god of roads, travelers, shepherds, and above all thieves. But he was also given the honor of being the messenger of the gods by his father Zeus as a testament of his love. It did not take long for him to see it for what it was, a payoff. All the sons of Zeus knew the same; there was no joy to be had being the son of the king.
Hermes can often be found flying through the air, aided by his feathered sandals, delivering secrets and messages from one god to another. His permanent boy-like smile was often thought to be caused by the many scandalous secrets he knew. Along with delivering messages, Hermes also helped lead lost souls from the land of the living into the land of the dead. While Hades might have permitted his nephew’s entrance he was certainly not invited to do the task.
He grew to know that if a minor god was going to thrive instead of survive, they had to be the most clever. And so he grew close to those in power, learning their secrets and their demons. Other gods began to know him as the god of whispers. From then on he had learned secrets were the only interesting thing about the gods. They would tell him everything he had to know about the individual. As he grew he quickly learned that although he was not the most supreme god, secrets in their own way held power far greater.
The light coming through the window softly woke her. When she opened her eyes it was as if she remembered where she was all over again. Never had she been so happy, she was in the Underworld living with the love of her life.
But then, following the happy memory, she suddenly remembered her mother’s outstretched hand. She remembered that her mother was not here and she did not know the next time she would see her. Her mother’s sharp words echoed in her memory. The only hope she could hold onto was that someday she would understand, someday her mother would be happy for her and Hades. Someday her mother would forgive her.
Hades. Where was Hades? The bed was cold and the room was empty. His absence gave her a moment to appreciate the room in a way she was unable to last night. The numerous times she had come to visit Hades she had seen every part of the castle but had almost never been in his room. It seemed like a line that could not have been crossed but it had always intrigued her.
To Persephone, her room was her sanctuary. A place where she could be herself, not studied or watched. Because of this she had decorated it and made it her own. But as she looked at the plain walls and empty shelves she did not think Hades had spent much time here.
She would have to change that.
When she sat up she felt a piece of paper lying on top of the bedding. In closer inspection, she recognized Hades’ script immediately. She had spent many years hiding these same notes. It instantly made her smile knowing she never again would have to.
I was seconds away from waking you up, to wish you good morning as I have always dreamt of. But as i watched you i saw the softest of smiles spread across your perfect lips and I had to stop myself. How can you be so divine while still asleep? I could not let myself ruin such perfection.
I will be in my office, if you wake before I return to you, come find me.
Love your devoted king.
Smiling to herself she folded the note in half so it would sit prettily when placed on one of the empty shelves. She smiled, she loved that she could now display Hades notes as one of her prized possessions.
Her bare footsteps echoed down the massive hall as she made her way to Hades’ office. It was a room she had spent so much time in but she was still not sure how to locate it from his room. With trial and error, she finally found the double doors that lead to his office. She pressed an ear to the door listening for any voices because she did not wish to interrupt any meeting that might be happening. When all she heard was silence she could not tell if anything was happening on the other side. She remembered that in his note he had told her to come find him so she opened the doors only enough to peek her head into the room.
A stern Hades looked up from his pile of papers on his desk at the interruption but his face immediately relaxed when he spotted her. In fact, his whole body seemed to relax. “I was about to come back,” he promised as she came to sit on his lap.
“Sure you were.” she laughed looking down at the mess of papers that looked quite complicated and serious. She did not think any of them could be put off for a couple of days. Nor did she think the king of the Underworld could take a day off.
“It’s nothing,” he told her, trying to collect them into organized piles.
“Doesn’t look like nothing.” she stroked his cheek with her hand the way she always did when he was distracted. She didn’t know why it worked so well but it always seemed to bring him back to her.
“It is nothing that could keep me from you.” he leaned his forehead against hers, getting as close as he could without locking lips with her. Soon the space seemed to be too much for her to handle. She leaned in the remaining inch claiming his lips, claiming the kiss. It was less than a second before he took charge of the kiss and cupped the back of her neck keeping her where he wanted her to be. But there was little chance of her moving from that very spot. There was nowhere else she wanted to be.
She was lost in the kiss, thinking of nothing else but the feeling of his lips, when they suddenly left hers. His head jerked backward as if he was shocked. When she looked at him his face was once again focused and concerned. His eyes were not on her but looking out the window and his eyebrows were drawn together in concentration.
“What is it?” she asked worried she had done something. He looked back at her and was silent before answering her carefully.
“Hermes is here,” he said as if he were confused.
“Yes, and isn’t he supposed to be? Doesn’t he bring the souls here from the land of the living?” she asked for clarification. She was confused why Hades would be so worried about Hermes’ arrival.
“Not today. Today Thanatos is working,” he explained to her, still worried about something she did not understand. “And not here. He never brings the souls to the palace.”
“Then why has he arrived?” she asked.
“He must have a message,” he kissed the ridge of her forehead gently. “I must go to meet him.”
“Then i will come with you,” she told him simply. She was now the queen of the Underworld and she might as well start her duties today. He studied her, causing her to prepare to argue with any doubts he had, but he answered before she could say a word.
“Ok but not like this. You must change first,” he told her as he ran his hands down her hips. She looked down to see she had not gotten changed and was still in one of Hades’ oversized shirts. She blushed remembering the long route through the castle she had taken. “I do not wish to fight my nephew this morning for eyeing my beautiful wife,” he told her, meaning every word. She knew he had no problem starting a flight over something as simple as this. When it came to her he had become very possessive.
His words, one in particular stuck out to her, repeating over and over again in her mind. “Your wife,” she echoed to him.
The reason they met Hermes in the courtroom instead of Hades’ office was beyond her, but she supposed it was just as good of a place. The guards opened the large doors that lead into the courtroom simultaneously as they walked in. The room had tall vaulted ceilings making the man standing at the front of the room look small in comparison. The couple walked together towards the visitor as he watched them with a smug look on his mischievous face.
She had grown accustomed to Hermes’s foolish antics during the many deliveries of secret messages brought to her from Hades. He was a fool but he was the most charming of fools. He had a way of making Persephone laugh uncontrollably from just one sidewise look or lengthy story. She wished Hades was as warm towards Hades as she was. It was not that he disliked the messenger god but Hades did see him as unreliable and untrustworthy. To Hades trust was everything. The only characteristic she knew Hades liked about Hermes was that if you needed him he was there for you, ready to do whatever was needed. When it came to gods it was hard to find one as willing to help as Hermes. There was never a need for a debt to be repaid or a reason given, he always seemed to be happy to help.
Her long crimson dress dragged on the floor because she refused to wear heels for this meeting. Hermes had seen her many times without shoes as she ran through the forest. She did not think the change of scenery would change anything in their relationship. On the off chance, one of the servants would see her, she was sure they would not be able to see her feet from under the lengthy and elegant dress.
As they approached the god of thieves she let go of Hades’ hand to run to Hermes. She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him as he returned the gesture in kind. It had been many months since she had seen him or heard one of his fabulous tales. Until Hades had mentioned his name she had not realized how she had begun to miss him.
She watched Hades pass them as he gave his nephew a warning growl. He did not like another man touching what was his and she understood why. She would not have liked another woman touching him either. She could not imagine.
She walked faster to catch up with Hades on his walk to their thrones. When she did she bounced up on her toes to quickly kiss the king on his cheek, in return, he tried to hide his smile. It pleased her that he was not doing as good of a job as he thought he was.
Finally seated in their separate thrones Hades finally acknowledged Hermes who stood waiting.
“I assume there is a reason for this uninvited visit.” Hades askes him in a rather uninviting tone.
“Yes, unfortunately, I have been sent to deliver a message,” he told them as the wings on his sandals fluttered. Immediately she thought of her mother and the possibility of a message from her excited Persephone. She did not care if it was a good or bad message because all that mattered was that it was from her mother.
“A message from who?” she asked but the words that followed made her sink into her seat, a motion that was not un sean by both men.
“From Zeus,” Hermes told them both, pausing a moment to look between the two. “Your brother is calling you to Olympus, I’m afraid.” When the home of the gods was mentioned an annoyed noise came from Hades’ direction.
“I have only just come back, what is the reason he wants me to return so soon?” Hades asked. Hermes glances at Persephone as if they were not understanding something that was clearly important.
“As you know my lord, the harvest is over early.” his words froze her, suddenly all the air in the room was not enough as she still could not breathe. “Nothing grows, the earth is in ruins without the touch of Demeter.” she had felt something was different when she had awoken but didn’t think her mother had done something so drastic.
Persephone had still been continuing her spring by sending her growing power to the surface, but it was now obvious that it was not enough. Her mother had obviously stopped her. Persephone had the power to grow flowers and all living vegetation but her mother had a deeper connection to the land and could make it do as she wished. True her mother could grow very little and not nearly enough to feed the populace of the earth as it was now. Maybe it had been enough in the early days, but certainly not now. What her mother did have control over was the harvest, if she did not want it to grow it would not, no matter how hard Persephone tried. Her mother had taken full advantage.
“Why does Zeus not command Demeter to do so? Certainly, my brother can handle a rebellious goddess.” Hades asked. She could hear the slight strain in his voice, he had to have also been worried. It was not every day they got called to Olympus.
“Demeter is furious, she demands Persephone’s return. Without it, nothing will grow. And in return, the humans will die.” Persephone’s heart sank further, could she have all that death on her hands? She could not imagine the weight of living in the Underworld surrounded by the lives she had ended because of her selfishness.
“Persephone is going nowhere.” Hades growled at Hermes, “Tell that to your father.”
“He is not asking. Demeter is calling a tribunal, all gods must attend,” he told them, looking guilty for giving them such bad news.
“Olympus is listening to this madwoman? Can no one else see she is acting out of jealousy?” Hades asked, standing from his seat.
“She is demanding Zeus punish you for kidnapping her daughter.” Hermes clarified. Persephone was confused, why would her mother say such lies? Her mother knew the truth, Persephone had done everything but get on her knees begging her mother to let her leave with Hades. Her mother should also know that if Persephone wanted to leave the Underworld, then she had the power to do just that. She was not being held captive. “Some believe her and she has already gotten goddesses onto her side. But some are staying true to you, dear uncle. Olympus is split. Either way, you must bring Persephone up and attend the trial.”
At this point, Hades was pacing the steps in front of their thrones. She could tell he was nervous and worried about what Hermes was telling them. It did not take a genius to read him and to know he was desperately trying to find another way. She knew because that was what she was doing. They never thought her mother would go as far as calling a tribunal. It was serious and far too permanent. Whatever happened at this trial would be final, there would not be any negotiations or changes made later. The final decision might as well be carved in stone.
“On a lighter note, I would personally like to congratulate both of you on your marriage. Besides the both of you, there is no other god or goddess who knows what you have gone through to be together here today. You deserve all the happiness.” Hades told the couple. She knew he meant it for he had often told her how well-matched they were. “If it were up to me you would not have to go through this.” the three of them seemed to share the silence that stuck between them. There was not much to say after being hit with such news. All Persephone knew was that she wished to be alone with Hades. As much as she adored Hermes, all she wanted now was Hades.
She stood suddenly, walking down the steps from her throne and towards Hermes. He waited patiently.
“Thank you, Hermes, I know you meant every word. You have always been such a good friend.” she nodded to him, placing one hand on his in a friendly gesture.
“Thank you, goddess. I will see you on Olympus.” with a nod to her then to Hades behind her, he vanished, choosing to simply disappear rather than fly away on his winged feet.
Persephone did not turn around until she felt his arms wrap around her waist. She instead leaned back into his strong embrace. Now savoring his touch as if it was the last time. “How can she do this? I knew she would do something but this is too drastic. She could be killing off thousands of mortals.” The thought of the starving families up above, the ones she could do nothing for, the ones her mother would use as pawns, broke Persephone’s fragile heart. “I may be the more powerful goddess but she is the goddess of the harvest. Without her approval, nothing, not even using my powers, will grow,” she said nearly falling from the weight of the situation but Hades held her tight and she knew he would not let her fall. She turned to face him, hoping he held the answers. “How is Zeus allowing her to get away with this?”
He shook his head slightly while tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear, “I do not know, i will have to talk to my brother and find out what i can.” She knew Hades hated going to Olympus but above all else, he hated talking with his brothers. There was bad blood shared between all of them that had yet to lessen over the years. He kissed her reassuringly, “We knew something like this could occur. But I won’t let anything happen, this I promise.”
She knew that if there was anything that could be done he would do it. But this did not stop her mind from worrying. “We can’t let her win.” she gripped his shirt tightly in her fists, “I meant it when I said that I wasn’t going to let anyone take me away again.” he took her hands away from his now wrinkled shirt and instead held them in his larger hands.
“My love, stop worrying yourself. You are a goddess who cares about every life and names every rosebud and that is why she is doing this. She is trying to play on your emotions, your guilt. Do not let her. This will be over soon.” he promised her.
“You do not know Demeter as I do. When she makes a threat she follows through.” Persephone said knowing it as the truth. “She will kill them all if she has to If only to make a point. I do not think I could survive that type of destruction.” He opened his mouth to object but she stopped him before he could say a word. “You would never forgive yourself if you were responsible for the death of millions,” she explained her well placed worry and guilt to him. His eyes seem to droop as if he knew the pain she was speaking of.
Softly he told her, “You will never have to carry that guilt, I will talk to my brother and see what can be arranged. I will even go to Demeter if I have to. This type of threat cannot be forgiven.” he told her, gearing up for the battle in front of them.
She looked back up at him and took a deep breath before asking, “Will I have to go back? To her? Will there ever be a good time for us?” she asked, echoing the words he used last night in the garden.
“You will never be forced to go anywhere, I won’t allow it. I will take care of everything. There must be something that can be arranged. You will not have to leave again, that I promise. I would destroy worlds, lay down my kingdom at your feet, and drop to my knees for you, my queen.” he told her, leaning down to softly kiss her lips once again.
“I do not need words or kingdoms Hades. You kneel to no one, least of all me. All I ever want is you and your love.” she promised him when their lips separated for a second before going right back.
“I swear your mother will not get away with this,” he promised in return.