The time has come to remove this story from my online writing archives. I know it will sadden some readers, but it has to be done as the story is being edited and prepared for publication in novel form. I have already had someone plagiarize this story and post it elsewhere (the matter has since then been resolved) so that is another reason I need to take this story down. I will leave a few bits of this story here, but the bulk is now deleted.
The book will be a refined version of this story. The story is essentially the same, but is more polished, words and sentences tweaked here and there, some scenes deleted or rewritten, etc.
I have created a Facebook for my nom-de-plume, M.M. Kin. It is where I will be posting official information on my books – publication, updates, bonuses, etc etc, and will also be happy to answer questions from readers as well as listening to your feedback and suggestions.
As soon as the book is published, I will also update here and inform you of the title and where you can buy it.
My Facebook ID - 100002454774004
I would like to give a huge THANK YOU to all of my readers and fans who have supported me through the writing of this story, and hope that you like the book even better than you did the original draft of this story!
The vast realms of Dis could never be measured by mortals or even the gods they worshiped. It was a realm that encompassed the corporeal and incorporeal, a place with a tangible location yet a dimension all its own. This fearsome underworld had rules that even the mightiest of gods could not violate, and not one entity had ever succeeded in mapping out its infinite domains.
The Underworld was a vast, mysterious landscape that struck terror in even the bravest or wisest of souls. What they were afraid of, not even the most erudite person could describe accurately.
But if all these vague yet piercing feelings of fear, awe, respect, confusion, resistance, and even curiosity were somehow defined with words, it would be this. The realm of Dis – which was given an almost infinite amount of names – forced one, regardless of who and what they were, to shed all illusions about themselves and the world they had known. That here in Dis was the truth, and it was unconquerable.
Through the aeons that this dimension has existed, exceedingly few sentient souls managed to understand this and fully embrace it. Unlike the rest of the souls that made their way here at one point or another in their existence, these few – some called them lucky, others would refer to them as cursed – were forever bound to it, unable to escape their bond.
Such a one was to be found in the pantheon of ancient Hellas. He was worshiped as God of the Dead, Lord of the Dark Realms, the Rich One, the Hidden One, even Dreadful One. Unlike the other gods, Hades was not celebrated in worship. He did not demand festivals in his honor, only somber rites acknowledging the power he had over them, for eventually all must die and go to his realm.
Despite his dark reputation and the fear his very name evoked, the ancient Greeks could never forget him. He was elder brother to Zeus and Poseidon, and offspring to Rhea and mighty, bloodthirsty Kronos. Though Hades' youngest brother was King of the Gods, he could not have attained victory without his five siblings. Hellas became theirs.
The three brothers had to divide up the realms of Hellas and decide who would rule over what. Hestia did not have lofty ambitions, and was content with the hearths that warmed god and mortal alike. Demeter had already shown her mastery over the earth and all things that grew in it during their decade-long struggle against the Titans. Nobody else had such a gift, so it was only appropriate that their sister took to the sunlit earth as her dominion, with the blessing of their grandmother, Gaea. And the youngest sister, Hera, preferred to reside over the affairs of people, rather than a physical realm.
This left to the three brothers the heavens, the seas, and the underworld, where the imprisoned Titans were housed with the souls of the dead. The heavens was the most coveted realm, for who ruled it would rule the other gods and Hellas as well.
Each one of the brothers was powerful in his own right, so who would get which kingdom? This tale was one of the favorites among mortals, and was passed through the generations, well-known even after Zeus and his brethren ceased to be worshiped. The three brothers drew lots, a choice mortals often made when vying for something they coveted. Zeus drew the best lot and had his choice – the skies, with Olympus as his palace. Poseidon took the seas, and Hades was left with the Underworld. In this way, Hades was regarded as the unluckiest brother, for he was condemned to rule a kingdom of dead souls and prisoners, his dominion forever frigid and sunless.
He had all the riches of the earth to tap. Men prayed to him for wealth. They prayed to him when they dug the earth or explored a cave, hoping to find treasure. Hades might be king of a cold realm, but he had every kind of precious metal and gemstone imaginable, and his wealth was beyond comprehension, which some said made up for the shortcomings of his kingdom.
After all, what did one need for love or light when they had infinite riches? So it was what the mortals said of him. They knew so little of him where the other gods had countless tales told about them, of their heroic deeds or the princesses and maidens they had wooed, and the gifts they had chosen to bless mankind with. Their beauty and abilities were spoken of and praised, and festivals and elaborate rites performed in their names to continue to be blessed by the gods, to come to the temples and see the statues carved in the likeness of their deities. Of course, their negative qualities were also illustrated, with countless tales and jokes of their follies and mistakes passing from mouth to ear, something that even the mightiest of deities could not overcome. Their likenesses were captured by painters, sculptors and poets alike who had claimed to have seen the gods themselves in their dreams or before them in person, or found their myths inspiring.
And all of Hellas, despite their respect and celebration of the Olympian gods and their blessings onto mankind, knew Hades only as a god whose heart was as cold as his realm.
One of the many names for Dis was Hades, making the realm synonymous with its ruler and making the utterance of the name even more dreadful to mortals. The name Hades, or Haidou – house of Hades – was uttered only when absolutely necessary, in respectful, hushed tones. There was no love for the God of the Dead. It wasn't something that concerned Hades at all.
He saw the attention that his family demanded, and how extremely petty any of them could be at a minor offense from a mortal, or another god..
Hera badgered the bastard children of her husband, even though they had never had any part or say in their father's infidelities. Arachne had been condemned to the life of a spider for being a skilled weaver and arousing Athene's jealousy. Apollo placed curses on the women who spurned his affections. Artemis set her hounds upon a innocent archer after he had made the mistake of stumbling across the pond where she and her nymphs bathed. Poseidon caused the seas to churn and the shores to quake when he was in one of his fits. Aphrodite was a merciless tease who toyed with the hearts of men and women. Dionysus disdained labor, and spent his days and nights frolicking with nymphs and mortal maidens, encouraging people who should be hard at work to turn their efforts to merrymaking and the irresponsible consumption of alcohol, and he acted like a brat whenever someone told him to get serious and be responsible.
With each century that passed, Hades grew more distant from his clan. Certainly, there were few exceptions in members of his extended family who genuinely respected him and were well-regarded in turn. His respect was something that had to be earned, and not without considerable effort. This earned him the reputation of an antisocial miser, even an outright misanthrope. He visited Olympus at his whim, invitations or summons having little import to him. His appearances in the world of the living were rare.
It had been centuries since Hades had taken the throne of Hell. Not once had he regretted this decision. It was where he belonged. When his brothers had been discussing the division of the realms, he had volunteered for the realm nobody else wanted, and everyone else was too relieved to argue.
Yet at times he felt a certain emptiness deep within the pit of his chest. For as long as he could remember, he had always had it, even before he had become the lord of this realm. It wasn't something he was able to define with clear-cut words. All he could describe it as was that something was missing, and he had no idea what it could possibly be. He was detached from the world above, his family, and even from his own heart. He dismissed this feeling as a weakness, and found other things to focus on.
This condition he usually was able to ignore, but in his quiet moments, when he was free to contemplate whatever he wished and not have to worry about his duties, the feeling would creep up on him, slowly but surely as night overtakes day. He reviled the emptiness, hating this unwelcome guest in his psyche. At these moments, all he could feel was the lacking. And it unnerved the mighty God of the Underworld in no way that anything else ever could.
The Fates were at work, ever spinning and manipulating the threads of life before snipping them off at the appropriate lengths and weaving them into the tapestry. This scene met an grim-faced Hades as he approached, inclining his head in a slight bow out of respect for the trio of women that determined the lives of mortal and immortal alike.
That abysmal feeling of a void in his life had been especially nagging lately. He had never been one to share his private thoughts with anyone else, even before he became the Lord of this realm. If anyone could offer insight about this issue, or point him toward a solution, it would be the Fates.
"We welcome you, Lord," the youngest-looking woman said.
"A matter weighs heavily upon your heart." This was said by the one pulling on strings and leaving them in the air, giving them the appearance of floating in water.
"Ask, and we shall answer." The sound of a sharp snip from a pair of shears punctuated this statement. As always, Hades had the sense that he was speaking to one entity, not three. But the affairs of the Fates – Fate? – were their – or her – own.
"Sisters, have I not been a good ruler of this realm?" he asked.
"Your wisdom is not questioned."
"Your character is inviolate."
"This realm was yours before you became its Lord."
Sometimes Hades wished they would give simple answers to his questions, but he knew this was their way.
"I am satisfied with my lot. My brother's realms would never suit me. But..." He frowned, trying to think of the right words to say as he stared at the women. Dressed in white, Klotho sat on a stool as she spun the thread of life from glittering, formless aether. Midnight blue-shrouded Lakhesis stood at the tapestry, measuring out thread with her fingers, her slender digits skittering across the flowing, myriad images like the nimble legs of a spider and plucking strings from the air to weave into the grand design. Infact, all three women made Hades think of spiders. It was probably the way their fingers moved, and the thread that they were always seen manipulating. Black-cloaked Atropos' gnarled yet slender fingers would pluck out threads and snip them with her shears, and deftly arrange others. Lakhesis did not protest the work of her sister, and when Klotho added a few threads of her own, the older Fate simply continued her work, each sister complementing the others' work. Curiously, no one had ever seen the sisters fight, lending to Hades' idea that these three women were actually one.
"Sometimes... I feel as if I am missing something. I cannot guess what it is," Hades murmured. He was not confined to the Underworld like his subjects were. He alone was the exception to the rule that applied to everyone else who ate the food that grew within the Underworld. He was free to enjoy the myriad offerings of his own realm or the one above. He had tried various amusements, to no avail.
"There's a time for everything."
"Going without makes one appreciate the with."
"You will know what you're looking for when you find it."
Again, Hades found himself wishing that the Fates were capable of giving out straight, simple answers. Calmly, he surveyed the seemingly domestic scene before him. The fingers were in constant motion. He couldn't remember a time that these hands had ever been at rest, even when the bodies they belonged to were standing or sitting like statues.
He had to fight back the urge to demand to know just what it was that he was looking for, and where he could find it. Pressing them for details would only give him even more vague answers, or silence. But at the same time, the answer they had chosen to honor him with was reassuring in its own odd way.
"All things in due time." This time, Hades was not certain which one of them had said it. Had they read his mind? He glanced at them, seeing that they now had their backs to him. With a respectful bow, he retreated from their presence.