A/N: Hello all! First of all, I would like to apologize for taking a little over a year to update. School and life have kept me busy. But alas! I have found time. Yet, I will not have as much time this year until possibly the end of December. Yeah, it seems like such a long time to be busy, but now I have to think about applying to graduate school. So the next 10 months or so will consist of being a full-time student, researching graduate schools, studying for the GRE's, doing a research paper for a writing sample, applying to scholarships and fellowships, and applying to graduate school. Of course, I will try to find time and write every now and again, especially since my research paper will be dealing with the Greek and Roman views of the afterlife. Anyways, before I bore you, I want to thank those who have kept reading this story. Well, I hope you enjoy the chapter.
P.S. I will also be editing the first few chapters because I was rereading some of them, and I feel like they could be better, so watch out for those updates too. Also, if you go to my FictionPress account, there is a story I had written a while ago titled A Stolen Apple. It would mean so much to me if you would read it and comment on it. Thank you. Enjoy! Don't forget to review!
Hades sat in his obsidian forged throne, his mind lost in contemplation as he scratched the back of Cerberus' ears. Each head fought for a bit of attention, growling and biting at each other. The corners of his mouth slowly tugged upward as he placed a hand on his cheek. He could still feel the lingering warmth of her lips on his cheeks. He could still smell the faint aroma of flowers and springs that lingered on his clothes. His eyes transformed into a mossy green as he kept thinking about how he had grabbed her waist, and how she shivered at his coldness. The image of her smile when he let her drive the chariot kept replaying in his mind. With his mind in deep contemplation, he did not hear the doors to the throne room opening.
King Minos approached the throne room slowly, afraid of his lord's wrath for disturbing him when he was clearly in such a good mood. Cerberus barked at the visitor in the throne room. He ran at Minos and pounced on him, almost knocking him to the floor. "Get off, you big brute, I have important matters to attend to."
Hades snapped out of his thoughts and turned to look at Minos, with a look of annoyance. Shadows slowly began swirling in his eyes, causing them to become a mixture of gray and green. "King Minos," he said "Am I correct to assume that there is something amiss in the Underworld, for you never grace me with your presence? "
Minos stood straight and dusted the fur off of his robes. He cleared his throat, "Lord Hades, when you arrived last night and advised us to be on our guard for any suspicious deaths, we took it upon ourselves to be observant of how every soul had died. Most have died by plague, war, murder, old age, the mundane ways most humans die. One has stood out to us; we are holding her soul in the judging room for further inspection. She died by having her energy drained by something that was not human. We are not sure what killed her, but your presence is required, my liege." Once he had finished speaking, he bowed low to his lord.
Hades' mind jumped back to the meeting on Olympus the night before. His eyes dilated into full black as he realized that he would need to arrange another meeting on Olympus. He stood from his throne, grabbed his jewel engraved crown from his arm rest and placed it on his head. Taking powerful, long steps towards the doors of the throne room, he let the shadows extend from his body. Cerberus placed his heads underneath his master's hands. Hades scratched their ears, "Cerberus, it is time to get back to your post. I need you to be more alert for any suspicious occurrences. Do not fail me."
Cerberus stood in front of the throne. Shadows slowly extended from the floor attaching themselves to his fur. When his whole body was enveloped by shadows, he gained control of them. The dog stood up straighter, his claws transforming into deadly weapons. Once his body was fully transformed, he let the shadows, and himself melt into the floor.
After his pet had left, Hades turned to look upon Minos who was still bowing to his Lord. "Lord Minos, it is not necessary to always bow before me."
Minos did not stand up straight until Hades had walked past him. "Lord Hades, when I was King it was a sign of respect to bow to one's superiors. You are my lord, and I will always bow before you."
"As you wish, King Minos." They departed from the empty throne room with Hades' shadows only growing larger as he thought of someone stronger than his father gaining power.
He could still smell the lingering stench of acid. The acid that could kill mortals, but only harmed an immortal. Day after day, he burned from the acid. His brothers and sisters could do nothing but suffer. They were trapped in that infernal stomach, with no escape. They only had each other. Their father, Kronos, had been cruel and vicious. He only cared for power and he would do anything to keep his power, even devour his own children to maintain his throne.
"Let us hope, Minos, that whatever killed this maiden can be stopped before it regains its true powers back." Minos looked at his master and nodded.
Those inside the Room of Judgment stood silent. The trickling of the dark water from the River Lethe was the only sound in the room. The young maiden kneeled in front of the little pond, her eyes watering as she kept looking at the image of the man that had taken her life away from her. The judges decided to stop judging any other souls until Lord Hades came to assess the situation. They did not know how to console the lovely maiden. She kept looking at the mist, perplexed.
The doors to the judgment room creaked open. She looked to the door and saw all the souls parting down the middle. Some were cowering towards the wall, others simply kept their gaze down as they felt the power surging from the figure enveloped in shadows. The doors shut down behind them, slightly shaking the room. The young maiden looked at him.
With a crown resting on his head, his skin an ivory pale, his eyes fully black and his shifting wisps of shadows surrounding him, she knew she was staring at the Lord of the Underworld. She quickly ceased her sobbing, and threw a glance at the door. It was closed.
Hades caught her looking at the door with a look of fear in her eyes. He took in a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. He walked to his throne, which sat on a higher platform than the three judges thrones. He placed his crown on the throne, which was identical to the one in his throne room. Rubbing his temples, he walked to the young maiden and placed a hand on her shoulder as she slightly tensed.
"I am Hades, god of the Underworld, as you have already guessed. Do not cower in fear, young maiden. I am not here to harm you for you have done nothing wrong. But I would very much like to see how you died. Your death may help us save other lives. Is that okay?"
The young maiden looked towards the images in the mist and at Lord Minos, who offered her a weak smile. She gave a slight nod. Hades stepped in front of her. The three judges repeated the ritual. They placed the water in the krater by dipping the vase into the dark pond; then they poured it into a golden cup. After swirling the water inside the cup and saying a few words, Minos threw the water into the air. The mist immediately ensnared them as the maiden's death was brought to life through the mist.
Hades saw the young maiden, curious and naïve, being led into the forest by a handsome man. He was witness to the man seducing her, and as he placed a hand on the maiden, he could see the figure's muscles increasing slightly and his height changing. Before the maiden knew it, she was being kissed. As he kissed her, she grew weak, but she only thought it was the moment that was causing her to go light headed and feel like she was floating on the clouds. As her body lay crumpled on the floor, he had grown bigger. His eyes began shifting between light blue and milky white as if he had clouds flowing inside his eyes.
After turning away from the mist, he cast a glance at the young maiden who held back her tears. Slowly approaching her, he asked, "May I have your name?"
Shaking, she replied, "Phaladrae, my Lord."
He returned to his throne, and placed his crown upon his brow. The shadows rose from his body once more. "Phaladrae, you have nothing to fear from us. You lived a life full on innocence and naivety. You were not impious, unjust or wicked; you led a good life. You are sentenced to a life in the Elysian fields, forever to be among the good, and never to suffer again."
Releasing her tears of relief she thanked Hades, and bowed to him. He gave her a slight nod. Turning to his judges, he said, "I will not be in the Underworld until later today. Tell the Eriynes that if anything should go amiss, if anything else seems suspicious, to leave a report on my desk in my library. I myself will go to Olympus to inform Zeus. As usual, Minos you are in charge until I shall return. If you desire any help feel free to contact Lady Hecate."
With that, he opened the room with a flick of his wrist. The mob of dead people slowly parted for him. As he walked to his stables, his shadows trailed behind him like wings fluttering with every step he took. The shadows masked his face as his thoughts went to Kore. The maiden. Phaladrae had died in the woods on Earth. The place she had died seemed to be too close to where he had dropped Kore off. A surge of protection rose in his chest, and he decided he should add another destination on his journey to Olympus.
Kore's golden eyes lit up in surprise as soon as the words left Echo's mouth. Her mind went immediately to the meeting on Olympus. Ouranos had risen. Their suspicions had been true. The gold in her eyes began to disappear as she thought of how her mother would handle the news. That is, if Olympus decides to tell the rest of us, she thought. She would never be allowed to leave the house, never allowed to be in anyone's company. Her mother would grow more skeptical of Olympus. As her mind wandered into the many possibilities the news might bring, Echo grabbed Kore's hand and gave a gentle tug.
As she walked through the part of the woods with the grace and silence of a cat, Echo led Kore away from the spring. She turned to face Kore and placed a finger before her lips, signaling for Kore to keep quiet. Echo kept glancing to her sides and behind her. Since she lived in the woods, and had claimed herself as the sworn protector of her lover's lingering beauty, she had learned to hide herself from any intruders.
Kore on the other hand was not as graceful. As she followed Echo, her foot clumsily stepped on leaves that echoed through the quiet woods, which caused Echo to look back at her and roll her eyes. Kore could not help but notice how quiet the woods were. There were no sounds, no birds chirping, no chattering nymphs, no animals rushing up the trees, and no insects flittering around. The only thing Kore could hear was air brushing past her that quietly ruffled the leaves. Kore could feel her heart hammering in her chest. The silence in a place that a couple of days back ago had seemed so lively and friendly bothered her. As Kore grew more anxious, the flowers and plants surrounding her shriveled up or seemed to fold inside themselves.
Echo halted and hid behind a tree, her chest rising and falling more as she poked her head from the tree. Kore waited for Echo to say something, but Echo kept quiet as she gazed in every direction before beckoning Kore from behind the tree.
The word left her lips once again as she whispered to Kore, "Ouranos."
Kore stared at the ground before her. The rise and fall of her chest became more prominent. Her eyes become glossy and rimmed with water. All she could do to stop from screaming was to cover her mouth and suppress the scream. Breathless bodies lay still on the floor. A couple of the bodies had insects flying around them; other bodies seemed as though they were just resting for their color had barely began to drain. Some of these bodies belonged to young girls, she guessed lived in nearby villages. The others, though, she knew. They were the bodies of some of her friends, the nymphs. They lay on the floor, their laughter and endless chatter silenced forever. She rushed over to them and shook them, hoping that they would wake up.
"Echo," she sobbed, "Why don't they get up? Nymphs can't die. They are immortal, aren't they?" Her throat caught as she mentioned death and the tears streamed endlessly. Her eyes slowly became darker, all gold fleeing from her eye. Her eyes that once shone with the brilliance of the sun now seemed as lifeless as the color of the sky on a moonless night.
"Die…immortal…they…" Echo repeated back to her as she reached for Kore and embraced her as Kore's knees buckled. Echo looked at the desperation on Kore's face, her sobs becoming louder. Echo glanced back to the area of the spring where her lover's flower grew. Tears filled her eyes, and she clung to Kore as much as Kore clung to her.
Kore's body rested on top of one of the nymphs. She carefully combed the dead nymph's hair with her fingers. Her eyes seemed to look past reality, as if she were in deep thought. With great difficulty, she had ceased her crying. Yet, every now and again a couple of tears fell from her eyes onto the nymph's silver streaked hair.
After they had found the bodies, Echo and Kore had wept in each other's arms. Once they had finished crying, Echo sat near a tree deciding it would be better to let the young goddess pay respects to her friends. As soon as Kore had thrown her body over her companions, she left the vicinity to give her friend company. Not only that, but when her friend had thrown herself over their bodies, the tears came back to her eyes.
All alone, Kore turned her attention to the nymphs' faces. She grabbed the other nymph's hand and gave a tight squeeze. The coldness of their bodies disturbed her as she remembered how heat had often radiated off of them when they would run to the forest away from Demeter. She remembered all the times they had gone for a swim in the springs during the summer, and had chattered endlessly about the matters of other gods or nymphs. Every memory she shared with the two nymphs came flooding back to her. She laughed as the images of them running away from Demeter crossed her mind.
"We had so much fun together," she told them. She waited, hoping that they would join in on her conversation. As the minutes passed, everything remained silent. She realized they were not going to laugh or speak with her anymore. They would no longer run through the woods with her, or sit on the fields, plucking flowers. They were gone. Their souls had left as soon as they had taken their final breaths.
Kore lifted herself from her friend's corpse and lay between the two dead. She turned to look at both of them, and began to cry. There had been so many days and nights that she had laid with them on the ground, just as she was doing then. At nights when they did that, her friends would tell her the stories of mighty Orion, of Callisto and her son, Arcas, or of any who won a place in the heavens. They had filled her life with wonder and knowledge. Kore grabbed one of their hands and squeezed them tightly, afraid they might suddenly vanish.
"My friends, your names shall never be forgotten. All of adventures will not be forgotten." She paused and a smile crept onto her face, although she still wept. "Do you two remember how we met? I don't think I can ever forget all the trouble we had gotten into. My mother would not let me out of her sight for weeks. You two, though, received far worse punishment. Your mothers made you into some of the nymph's personal servants. My mother, on the other hand, made you help her with fields for such a long time that your skins turned so dark that it took a year for it to look normal again."
Kore paused, laughing. As she thought about everything they had shared together, her thoughts took her back to when they had first met as children. Now, as her friends lay dead next to her, she would always remember that day.
The rays of the sun had caused the house to grow dry with heat. Tiny droplets began to form on Kore's young body as she sat on a chair in her bedroom, the house growing hotter as time passed. Her mother had ordered her to stay inside the house. She warned her it was not safe to travel by herself at such a young age. Demeter had often sat her down at night in her lap, combing her hair, as she told Kore the stories of humans, especially men, who stole girls away from their families. Those girls were either found dead in the forest or had been made into woman, her mother would say. At such a young age, Kore stared at her mother with large puzzled, golden eyes. Her mouth would scrunch up to one side and her brow would furrow trying to figure out what death or becoming a woman meant. Since Demeter kept her daughter with her at all times and she never left their fields into the human world, she had been sheltered from life, just as Demeter wanted.
At that time, though, the heat rose to a point where nothing would grow in Demeter's presence. It felt as though the sun oriented itself closer to the Earth, destroying all the plants with its heat. Sometimes little fires flared up in their fields as the heat became unbearable, even to Demeter. The towns around the area had stopped needing her assistance as her worshippers slowly died from heat exposure. Her own daughter looked tired and drained. Kore would often catch her mother sitting by the window of their small abode, looking at her dried up fields. She carved away at stone muttering aloud how much crops they were losing.
Kore sat next to her mother, eyes wide with wonder as she looked upon the figures that her mother kept carving into the stone. "Mother, what is it that you are doing?" she asked. Her mother would comb her fingers through her hair, and massage her tired hands.
"Kore, when you are old enough I will teach you to manage the fields and the crops like I do. I will take you into town with me so you can teach the mortals how to grow crops so they do not die of starvation. You will be loved by all, my little flower." She turned Kore around and started braiding her wild amber hair, so that she could feel relief from the air.
Kore stood still, knowing her mother did not like her moving when she was braiding her hair. "Mother, what are mortals and what is 'die'?" When her mother was done, she climbed into her mother's lap and hugged her, despite the heat clinging to the air.
"My little flower, you ask so many questions for such a young age," she said with a slight frown on her face. "Mortals are the humans, the men and women, which I help in the nearby towns and villages. They are mortal because they die. We, on the other hand, are immortal. We will never die. We can be defeated, punished, enslaved, and imprisoned, but we can never die. We will live forever. Death is something that you and I will never deal with. We are the immortals that bring about life and give the mortals a chance to live longer."
Kore gazed upon her mother, with her head slightly tilted and her eyebrow lifted up. "Where do mortals go when they die?"
Demeter looked down at her daughter and raised an eyebrow, a smile slowly forming on her lips. "My, my, Kore you are the most curious daughter I have ever had." Kore was then assaulted with kisses as her mother tickled her. She got out of her mother's hold and started running around the house, trying to avoid her mother's tickles. Her mother finally got hold of her and tickled her until tears formed in the corner of her eyes.
After settling down from her fit of giggles, and fending off her mother, she stuck out her tongue. "I am the only daughter you ever had," she teased.
Her mother collected her in her arms and rubbed her daughter's nose while smiling and laughing. "And I think one daughter is enough trouble," she teased.
Kore let out a gasp at her mother's jest. After things had settled down a bit, Kore asked her mother again, "Where do mortals go when they die?"
Demeter let out a sigh as she looked out the window. "Do you want to hear a story, my little flower?" Kore nodded, her golden eyes shining with joy.
"A long time ago before you were born, the Olympians defeated the Titans and claimed power over the world. The world had three domains that needed to be ruled and looked after. Zeus, your father, took control of the heavens so that he could oversee all of Earth and be its protector. For this reason, and because he had freed the Olympians and defeated the Titans, he became the King of the gods. Next, there were the oceans and seas. These domains were assigned by the luck of a straw to Poseidon. After the oceans and seas were given to him, he left Olympus to live in his domain, just as Zeus lives near the skies on Olympus."
Kore softly interrupted, "Mother, how does Olympus look like?"
Demeter could feel her daughter's large eyes staring at her with anticipation. Demeter gave her daughter a sad smile, "It is beautiful Kore. The Pantheon is bigger than our fields. The clouds constantly flutter through Olympus. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in all of my immortal life. Then you were born and you became the most beautiful thing I have seen in my life, Kore."
Demeter pulled her daughter in for a tight hug. Kore not aware of her mother's change of mood asked, "When can I go and meet my father?" Immediately Demeter's fist balled up, her brow furrowed and her lips thinned.
"One day when you are old enough, my little flower."
Kore brought her tiny hands to Demeter's face. She smiled at her mother. "You swear?"
Demeter nodded as Kore giggled from happiness. Demeter, on the other hand, lost herself momentarily in contemplation. Her thoughts began to wander back to when she had brought her newborn infant to Olympus. All the gods had been there.
The Fates had been present as well. The Fates had looked at the infant with somber expressions with their gazes locked onto the ground so as to not look at the infant. They looked at Demeter and gave her a sad smile. Demeter, although, was too happy with her newborn infant to pay attention to such a minor detail. She made her way through the throng of gods congratulating her. Before she had made her way to Zeus, Apollo stepped in front of her. His eyes were glowing with the brightness of the sun. He pointed to the child and closed his eyes as he spoke his prophecy.
Suddenly, Kore shook her mother from her thoughts. "Mother, you still have not told me where mortals go when they die. "
Kore smiled at her mother as she waited for her mother to continue telling her story. Before Demeter could resume her story, they heard a knock on their door. Demeter looked to her daughter, whose eyes lit up and her smile widened. "Kore, stay here and I will be right back." As soon as Kore had heard to stay put, she pouted her lips and crossed her arms over her chest.
Demeter opened the door to find the young god, Hermes, in front of her. He made a slight bow toward the goddess. "Good afternoon, Demeter," he said as he rose from his bow.
Demeter gave a curt nod as he continued to speak, "I have a message from Zeus, King of the gods. He demands that you be present tonight for a gathering of the gods and goddesses. The Olympians have pressing matters we would like to discuss with other gods. The meeting will commence after the sun has gone down. Farewell."
He gave another slight bow to Demeter and turned to leave. Before he left, a small hand caught his hand. Kore stepped from behind her mother and smiled at Hermes, "Hello," she said. "Are you from Olympus? Who are you? Mother, who is he?" He turned to face her, annoyed at being delayed.
A slight blush appeared on the little goddess' face as she gazed at his complexion. She looked at his light blue eyes in wonder and smiled at him. "I have never seen eyes of that color before. They look so beautiful." Kore took several steps forward and stood on her toes to obtain a better glance at his eyes. Hermes' lightly tanned complexion began to pink as Kore stared into his eyes. Her eyes became more golden as she smiled at him.
Kore held his gaze, unblinking. Hermes held her gaze as well until he gave a slight bow, "I am Hermes, the messenger god. Glad to make you acquaintance." He smiled at her as he stood up. Kore tried mimicking the same bow that he had just performed, but lost her balance and nearly fell. Hermes grabbed her by the shoulder, though, and steadied her while he chuckled at her clumsiness.
The young gods stood there laughing, while Demeter watched her daughter with amusement. "I am Kore, goddess of the spring. Pleasure to meet you, Hermes." Smiling at him, she asked, "Do you think my eyes are pretty, god Hermes?"
Hermes suddenly turned very red as she her brows shot upward, expecting an answer. He kept his gaze to the floor as he slightly shifted his feet around. Kore watched as he clasped his hands behind his back and swallowed with some difficulty.
Hermes quickly caught a glimpse of Kore by staring up through his eyelashes. As soon as their eyes made contact, he dropped his gaze to his fidgeting feet. "I think that…umm…you have…" Beads of sweat began to form near his temples.
Kore's forehead scrunched up and her lips began to form a pout as he attempted to talk. Growing a bit impatient, she bent down slightly so that she could look up at his face. She caught a hold of his eyes with hers and placed her hands on her hips.
"Hermes, do you think I have pretty eyes or not?" Hermes quickly nodded his head.
Standing up straight, Kore smiled with joy and her eyes shone with happiness. She grabbed his hands and tried to lead him into the house saying, "You should come inside Hermes. We can play together. Or Mother can tell us the story that she was telling me before you came. We are going to have so much fun."
Before Kore could drag him inside, Demeter grabbed Kore and pulled her back towards the house, "Kore that is enough. Young Lord Hermes has important matters to attend to. Bid him farewell and go back inside the house. I am sorry Hermes for my daughter's behavior. I will see you tonight at the meeting. Farewell."
Hermes stood bowing before Demeter and her daughter. "Farewell Lady Demeter. There is no need to apologize." He turned his gaze onto Kore, "Perhaps one day when I am not as busy we can play together. I think…I think your eyes are p-p-prettier than…than the golden s-suu-suun."
"Farewell, Lord Hermes." Kore said, reluctantly.
Demeter watched as her daughter bid the young god farewell. As soon as Hermes had walked out of their eyes' reach, Demeter nudged Kore, who had grown quiet, into the house. Kore trudged to their small social area inside their modest house. She sat herself in her mother's chair, keeping her eyes cast down to the floor. "Mother?" she asked, "Why couldn't I play with Hermes? I am never allowed to play with anyone."
Demeter approached her daughter and let out a small sigh. "Kore, one day you will understand. I am only trying to protect you, my little flower. When you are older, you will be able to play." She picked Kore up in her arms and sat down on the chair.
While combing her daughter's hair, she caught sight of small droplets of water melt into the fabric of her daughter's dress. Demeter bit her lip and closed her eyes as she thought back to Apollo's prophecy. Maybe his prophecy would not be true. After all, Demeter knew prophecies were hard to interpret for only the Fates knew the destinies of others.
Sighing, she said, "Perhaps, next time that Hermes visits, you two may play as much as you would like. Does that sound fair, my little flower?" Kore wiped her eyes, and nodded in agreement.
As Demeter placed a small kiss on her daughters head, she said, "Good. Now, I must leave to Olympus. I will return during the night. Kore, I want you to stay inside the house. Drink water if it becomes too hot. Do not open the doors to anyone, not even people you might recognize."
Kore glared at her mother, " You are going to Olympus? Why can I not accompany you, Mother? I will promise to behave." Demeter shook her head.
"Why can you go, but I may not?" Kore puffed as she stood on her toes.
Demeter placed her fingers on her temples as her daughter challenged her. "Kore, you are to stay here and that is final. Do not disobey your mother. I will return during the night. Remember, you are not to leave the house or let anyone inside. Do you understand?"
After a few moments, Kore replied, "Yes."
"Farewell Kore. Remember do not leave the house. It is a world full of dangerous men and creatures. You are safest in the house."
"Farewell, Mother." With those last words, Demeter grabbed her cloak and began to make her way to Olympus.
As the hours passed, Kore began to hear voices coming from outside of her house. She rushed to her window hoping to catch a glimpse of whoever was making the noise. Outside, on her mother's fields, she caught sight of two figures running around the fields. Their laughter resonated through the empty fields.
Kore watched the two small figures with curiosity sparkling in her golden eyes. They ran around the fields, chasing each other and laughing. As they approached, Kore joined in their contagious fit of laughter. Both figures stopped laughing. They hunched low to the ground circling each other. With their eyes squinted, they searched their surrounding area, carefully, with their eyes. Kore's breath became short and shallow when their eyes locked onto the window of the house. She ducked under the window holding her breath.
Suddenly, she could hear knocking on her door. Kore stayed squatted deciding which was the best course of action, to open or not open the door. She thought to herself that her mother had forbidden her from leaving the house or from opening the door to anyone, but her mother had, also, decided not take her to Olympus. Her small lips began to curl up as she thought to herself that her mother had been the one to leave her alone in the house. It was not Kore's fault if she wanted to talk to people other than her mother. At the same time, she thought of how disappointed her mother would be if she were to find out she had opened the door for strangers. While weighing the options in her head, there was a knock on the door again.
"Hello, Lady Demeter," called a voice from behind the door. Kore slowly made her way to the door, thinking that she should not open the door on account of her mother's wishes. Kore's eyes shot open as she realized that her mother had ordered her not open the door, but she never said anything about talking to strangers through the windows.
Kore rushed to the window and called out to the figures. "Hello," she said. "I am at the window, not the door." Kore could hear the rustling of grass as the figures approached the window. Quietly, they reached the window and Kore's eyes grew wide with amazement as she caught her first glimpse of the small figures.
They were around the same age and height as Kore, but Kore had never seen anyone like them. One of them had skin the color of tree bark with eyes the color of a clear sky. Her hair mostly consisted of a dark brown, like that of her skin, but it also consisted of natural streaks of silver. Her hair was adorned with a crown of dried leaves. The other figure had olive skin with eyes the color of a pale green. Her raven black hair was arranged in a braid. At certain angles in the sun, her hair seemed to be a deep crimson.
They both stood in front of the window, squinting their eyes as if they were studying Kore. Finally, the one with eyes the color of the sky spoke to Kore. "Hello, my name is Leuce. This is my friend, Minthe. Are you a nymph, like we are?"
Kore shook her head, "No, my name is Kore. I am the daughter of Demeter."
Minthe looked up at Kore with a huge smile, "Does that make you a goddess, as well? I do not believe that Demeter has ever mentioned she has a daughter, has she Leuce?"
"No, Minthe. I do not believe Lady Demeter has ever mentioned that she has a daughter."
Leuce turned to Minthe saying, "What do you suppose she is the goddess of?"
Minthe rolled her eyes, "How should I know that, dummy. I don't know her. I have never even heard of her."
Leuce turned back to Kore, "Are you sure that you are the daughter of Demeter?"
"Yes, I am the daughter of Demeter. Why do you ask when I have already told you?" Kore responded with a hint of impatience.
Leuce put her hands on her hips, "Well, maybe you were lying. Surely Demeter has never mentioned you before."
"Leuce!" Minthe lightly elbowed her friend on the ribs. "Do not ask questions like that. You should be embarrassed. This one is a goddess, show respect."
Leuce rolled her eyes, "It's not like she is older than we are. In fact, she looks younger and shorter."
Minthe sighed as she put her fingers on her temples and shook her head." Forgive her, Kore. Leuce always questions everything. Quite annoying sometimes. Anyway, have you had your goddess ceremony yet?"
Kore stuck her tongue out at Leuce and turned to Minthe, "What is a goddess ceremony?"
"See! I told you she was not a goddess, Minthe."
Again, Minthe elbowed Leuce. "Demeter has never taken you to Olympus? There is this whole ceremony in which a new god or goddess is presented to Olympus and given their title. For example, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades were given their domains after the Titan War. When they received their domains, they inherited all their powers. Quite amazing. Although, some are born with their powers already, but that is rare. I'm surprised you have not been given your title yet."
"That's because she probably is not a goddess. Or maybe Demeter never mentions her because she is ashamed of her."
Kore's lips became thin and her eyes burned with rage. She quickly climbed out of the window and lunged herself at Leuce. She caught a piece of her silver streaked hair. Leuce pulled her hair free and ran out into the fields with Kore pursing her. Minthe ran after them, trying to convince them to stop.
After a few minutes, they all stopped. The heat radiating from the sun became unbearable. They stood in the middle of the field attempting to catch their breaths.
Kore glared at Leuce, "How dare you speak like that to me!" With every word she spoke, her anger only increased. She thought of her mother who had refused to take her to Olympus. Then, she had ordered her to stay put inside the house. Her mother had also never mentioned she had a daughter to anyone. Kore thought to herself that maybe her mother was ashamed of her daughter, but Kore obeyed all of her mother's commands. As those thoughts flooded her mind and her questions went unanswered, her eyes seemed to burn brighter than sun with rage. Suddenly, the wheat around her began to crumple up and turn into dust.
Minthe caught sight of the wheat tilting, crumpling, and turning into dust. The corners of her mouth tugged upwards as she jumped in the air.
"Look, Kore! You have done something with the plants."
Kore was shaken out of her anger as she looked upon the dust of wheat that surrounded her. She smiled at Minthe, "I did that?"
Minthe nodded at her as she jumped with joy, "I did that!" She turned to Leuce and stuck out her tongue. "See, I told you I was a goddess." Running around in a circle, she plucked some wheat and placed it in her hair.
Minthe glared at Leuce, "Leuce, apologize."
Leuce rolled her eyes, " I am sorry, Kore." Kore came rushing up to her and embraced her.
"Did you see what I just did? I have never done that before. It felt so, feels so…" she continued running as she laughed. Finally, she fell to the floor and stayed there looking up to the skies.
Minthe fell to the floor beside her. Leuce reluctantly joined both of them. All three of them gazed upon the heavens with the sun shining with great force upon them.
"I have never done that before. I didn't even know that I caused the wheat to turn into dust." Kore smiled at the sky.
Minthe told Kore, "It may be possible that your powers needed something to trigger them. Anger? Maybe you are a goddess of anger or something? Or maybe a goddess of destruction? Yet, oddly you don't seem to have the personalities for those. I mean, I have met a goddess of destruction, not fun to be around with."
Kore propped herself on her elbows and stared at Minthe with wonder, "You have met another goddess. You are so lucky! The only other immortal I have met, besides my own mother, is Hermes. His eyes are so pretty." She closed her eyes and sighed as she thought about Hermes' eyes.
Minthe turned to look at Kore and started giggling, "Kore, I believe you have a crush on Hermes."
Kore shook her head as she giggled, "No. Maybe. I don't know. I only met him today, but his eyes. They made me grow hot."
Leuce rose from the floor and pretended to throw up. "It is getting hot out here, maybe we should go and play inside the forest, Minthe."
Minthe nodded in agreement and looked at Kore, "You should come play with us, Kore."
Kore's eyes grew large with excitement. She quickly got to her feet. When she stood, she found herself facing her modest home. Her smile faltered for a moment.
"Demeter ordered me not to go outside the house, or open the door for anyone. Maybe I shouldn't go. I do not want to disappoint her. If she comes at night, like she said she would, and does not find me I might be severely punished."
Minthe walked over to Kore and tugged on her arm. Kore looked back to Minthe, who had a smile on her face. "We will just make sure that we get you back before night time. Right, Leuce?"
Leuce simply grunted. Kore glanced back at her house, then at the forests. "I have never been in there, is it safe? Mother always says it is dangerous."
Minthe gasped, "You have never been inside the forest? But your mother visits frequently. Well it is decided then, we are going to expand your mind and play."
When Kore heard that her mother often went to the forest and never took her, she stopped struggling and let Minthe lead her into the forest, without glancing back.
While they walked through the forest, Minthe gave information on the trees, the plants, and anything they found while in the forest. Kore gazed at everything with wide eyes. She touched the bark of the trees, smelled the scent of the flowers, dipped her feet into a small pond, and chased after little animals they encountered in the forest. Leuce simply trudged along behind them, silently. When Kore asked her any questions, she would give a short response.
As the sun began to set, Minthe mentioned that they should be getting back to the fields before Demeter returned. Kore spun herself in a circle and took in the view of the forest surrounding her. When she stopped, she grabbed both nymphs and hugged them. "Thank you," she whispered to them.
Minthe hugged Kore back, "It was my pleasure Kore. We must do this again some day."
Leuce's face held no emotion as she patted Kore's back, "Don't mention it, goddess."
When they reached the outer skirts of the forest, the sun had not completely set yet. As Kore looked further up ahead, though, her heart sank into her stomach. The nymphs caught sight of what she was staring at and Minthe grabbed her hand.
Minthe whispered to her, "It will be fine. We are here for you."
Kore saw her mother's silhouette. As her mother approached, her face held only one emotion, anger. "You insolent child. I was worried sick when I arrived at the house and could not find you. I thought that perhaps someone had kidnapped you or injured you. Yet, here you come from the forest with two nymphs."
Kore looked at her mother, her eyes seemed to be a bit puffy lie she had cried. "I am sorry, mother. It w-"
Leuce stepped forward and bowed to Demeter, "Do not blame Kore, Lady Demeter. It truly was not her fault. I forced these two to come play in forest with me. If you shall punish anyone, punish me. I am the reason your daughter left her house. I wanted to play with her."
Demeter grabbed her daughter and placed her by her side. Turning to Leuce she said, "Leuce, your mother would be ashamed of you. I will notify your mother as soon I get the chance. The punishment for both you and Minthe is to tend to my fields until I feel you have learned your lesson."
Demeter turned to her gaze to Minthe, "Yes, you will have a share in the punishment. I will also be notifying your mother. Now run along!"
The low murmur of voices snapped Kore out of her thoughts. She rose to her feet and hid herself behind a tree. Echo appeared next to her and placed a finger in front of her pursed lips. Echo crouched down to the floor and made her way to the voices, silently. Kore followed behind her, being careful not to make any noise. They reached the area where the voices were and hid behind a tree. Kore's breathing became shallow. She could feel her heart hammering inside of her chest. Echo peaked her head from behind the tree. Quickly, she snapped her head back and looked at Kore. Her eyes grew wide with fear. Echo's breathing became shallow.
Kore decided to peak her head from behind the tree. She found herself spying on Eris, with her raven black hair, and another goddess she vaguely remembered seeing on Olympus. Next to them stood a large man, who had his back turned towards her.
She hid herself behind the tree and stared at Echo. "Ouranos?" she asked.
Echo nodded, "Ouranos."