The Great Escape
Hades had slept through most of the morning. When he awoke, it was to the sound of light knocking at his door.
It startled him for a moment, before he rose from his bed. He opened the door to find a slightly timid Perikles staring back at him.
"Master Hades, did I disturb you?"
"Obviously. What do you want?"
"The judges have inquired about you non-attendance to any judging in the past few days. Also, the Lady Kore-"
Hades raised his right eyebrow, "the Lady Kore-," he took a deep breath, "I will meet with them within the hour. Tell them that."
Hades shut the door before Perikles could utter another word. His blood was boiling at the thought that the judges were treating him as if he were their subject. If he never attended another judging, it should be of no concern to any of them.
Hades had a feeling that Zeus did not have to worry about those who served him questioning his "non-attendance."
He picked up his chiton from the floor, putting it on in haste. Since the judges desired his attendance to matters, he wanted to make sure that he looked his best. So, he placed the pins to his chiton on carefully, and made sure to smooth out any wrinkles in the fabric.
Hades rubbed his chin. The stubble was beginning to grow into a full beard. It was definitely time for him to shave. He retrieved his mirror and headed out of his bedroom.
He called a servant from cleaning, to help him shave. The pair headed back to his room. The servant left for a few minutes and returned with a water basin, and tools to shave with. The man looked nervous, and shook a few times as he flicked the blade back and forth across Hades face and neck.
When he was done, Hades checked the work. It was not as neat of a job as Perikles would have done, but it would have to do.
He thanked the servant before heading off to meet the judges.
Kore woke early in the morning. Even despite the lack of sun, she could tell. The atmosphere felt livelier to her. She stretched from her bed, before smoothing over her wavy hair.
The day prior, she had fun with Hades. A fact that she was not excited to admit. The same feelings had her secretly looking forward to more time spent with the god. Something deep within her wanted Hades to come knocking at her door with a promise of another adventure.
She turned her eyes to the door. As if she had willed some force, she did hear a knock at the door. Without thinking, she ran to answer it.
"Whom is it that has disturbed me?"
She instantly recognized the voice of Aeacus.
She sighed. "Yes?"
There was silence before Kore heard the click of the lock as he opened the door.
He looked over her quickly for a moment.
She quickly smoothed over the chiton she had slept in.
"I have not harmed myself."
"Apologies Lady Kore, I have to make sure."
"Is breakfast ready?"
Kore was not hungry, nor interested in sitting at a table full of food she could not eat, but unlike yesterday, she felt that it would be much better than sitting in her room all day. The excitement of exploring the realm with Hades had caused the prospect of being alone to be almost scary.
She rationalized that having somewhat wrath-inspiring company was better than no company.
Aeacus brought her from her thoughts with a nod of his head before replying with a "yes". He then escorted Kore to the dining hall. There, she saw most of the immortals. She stopped a few feet from the table, looking over them.
She was ashamed to admit that she knew none of their names, save for a few. The rest of them she only knew by face, and that was because she had seen them at the festival for Apollo.
They all stared at her for a second, some of them midway through speech, before they all stood. They then proceeded to wish her a "good morning" before bowing to her.
Kore stood still. She had never been greeted in this manner, save for the servants in Olympus. She felt like she had to do something in return.
"Good morning to all of you as well."
She tipped her head, spotting an empty seat near a familiar looking god. He was the only immortal that she felt comfortable enough to sit by. He lifted his head, a wave of blonde hair following. There was a slight grin on his face as Kore made her way near him.
She sat in the seat, eyes trained forward. She could feel him looking at her, which caused her to glance his way.
"Is there an issue Hypnos?"
He grinned at her question. "No issue Lady Kore. I was just wondering what I must have done to be honored with a seat next to the Lady of this realm."
Kore rolled her eyes. "I do not feel in the mood for jesting."
"It would make you feel better."
She turned her eyes to the empty table. Her face turned into a deep frown.
"I thought breakfast was ready."
As if she were speaking to him, Aeacus responded from further down the table.
"My Lady, breakfast will be served when Lord Hades arrives."
Kore tipped her head to him as some sort of thanks to his response. She wondered briefly, what was taking Hades so long. She clasped her hands into her lap. Her nerves would not allow for her to settle at the table. She only hoped that none of the other immortals noticed her fidgeting.
"How have you liked the realm so far Lady Kore?"
She inhaled a breath.
"It is… agreeable"
She nodded her head. The truth was that the Underworld fascinated her. She wanted to explore every corner of Hades' realm, but giving such an impression would be counterintuitive to the image she wanted to portray.
She had to pretend to not be enthusiastic with the idea of becoming familiar with what the Underworld had to offer.
A few of the Underworld immortals chanced a glance at Kore. Their eyes did not linger long, for when she met their stares, they pretended to be looking elsewhere. Kore hoped that her statement had not offended the immortals, but was too afraid to ask. Even though it helped her cause for them to believe her distant, it did not bode well for her conscience.
A few moments passed before the immortal on her other side, got up, and moved from the seat.
A woman with black hair and green eyes took the now empty seat.
Kore could pick up the faint smell of citrus and a hint of something else, as the woman adjusted herself in the seat. She turned her face slightly, and recognized the woman immediately.
"You are Minthe, correct?"
The woman nodded her head. " I am honored that Lady Kore remembers my name."
She gave a big smile, which showed a set of perfect teeth.
Kore returned it. She turned her head, not before she was tapped lightly on her left shoulder. She turned back to the woman.
"I wanted to apologize to you for my attitude when we first met Lady Kore. It embarrasses me to think of my behavior."
Kore waved her hand, "that is all in the past."
"I am glad. I wanted to apologize to you, but since you have been lock- I mean, away from the rest of us…"
Kore cut her off. "My absence is not of my doing." There was a degree of something unpleasant in her tone that bothered Kore.
She leaned in and whispered, " You miss your home do you not?"
Kore turned to the woman. She blinked back her surprise at such a blunt statement, but recovered instantly.
Minthe continued. "I think I may be of some assistance to your endeavors, shall you choose to pursue them."
She then shifted herself from Kore, looking away in the process.
Kore stared at her for another moment before she was interrupted.
"Lord Hades will not be attending breakfast."
"Lord Hades, we are only asking because we are concerned for you."
Hades stared at the three judges. They were standing before him in the throne room. He sat on his throne, looking down at them.
They had been discussing his behavior for over ten minutes. He had only entertained them for this long because he wanted to seem attentive to their concerns.
But now, their concern was irritating him. They were questioning his motives for bringing Kore to his realm.
He thought back to his conversation with his father. They had deduced that Hades had been shot by one of Eros' arrows, and that it was more than likely the cause for his changing behavior.
Hades thought of sending Aphrodite a letter, but realized that it would not matter.
His feelings for Kore were deeply embedded in his heart whether he wanted them there or not.
Admittedly, his desire to be around Kore lessened as the days went by. He no longer felt like shadowing her every move. Instead, he now wanted to spend time with her, but it did not hurt if he did not see her for a few hours.
His feelings had bridged from infatuation and obsession, to a more mature version of affection.
"Your concern is well noted; however, it not necessary. With that, he waved them away, waiting until he was alone to sink into his throne.
He placed his head in his hands in thought. Part of him wanted to attack Eros and Aphrodite for their actions.
The two gods obviously plotted to strike him with one of Eros' love arrows as a means of amusement.
Hades gritted his teeth.
The two would find that amusing themselves at the expense of his feelings would not be worth whatever enjoyment they got out of the situation.
The young goddess was more innocent than even Hades in this situation. She was a mere pawn in Aphrodite's games.
Hades looked up to find Perikles standing before him.
Hades spoke lazily. "Yes?"
"Breakfast is ready to be served."
Hades waved his hand at the servant, hoping he understood its meaning. He did not feel like eating, especially when so many things weighed on his heart, and mind.
Almost an hour later, Hades walked to Kore's room with the intention of continuing the tour. He had made his way to her door, and knocked.
She arrived at the door in a hurry, at least in Hades' opinion.
"Another tour?" she smiled at him.
His heart nearly jumped out of his chest. He returned the smile, before he led the way.
He decided to show her a few more rooms, and then show her the library again. He could tell that she enjoyed the time that they had spent there, and he wanted to recreate any happiness that Kore felt while in his realm.
After asking her opinion of each, Hades could tell which room would be Kore's new bedroom. When they arrived at a massive room with a large, colorful mosaic of a garden on the floor, Kore's reaction to the room was nothing short of a jaw drop, as she bent down to inspect the artwork.
"This is beautiful Hades."
She moved slowly through the room, examining the work.
Hades stayed behind, observing her.
"You could stay in this room, if you would like to."
Kore stiffened before raising herself up.
With her back still to him, she spoke. "That would be nice."
He bit his lower lip. "Your things will be moved in here promptly. While that is happening, we could visit the library again."
She turned to him, a small smile on her face.
As soon as they entered the library, Kore disappeared. Hades watched her as she made her way through the shelves. She would routinely scan the shelves before picking up a few scrolls and moving to the next shelf. She disappeared for a moment before reappearing with full arms. She then headed to a kline.
Hades made his way to a kline a few rows from her. He picked up the nearest scroll, before sitting.
It was of no appeal to him, for he was more interested in watching Kore.
She was staring intently at a scroll in front of her. Her eyes would scan the contents before a she would smile to herself. There was one time that she almost caught him staring at her.
This went on for a few hours before Hades got up and interrupted her from her reading.
"Would you like to see my orchard?"
She stared at him wide-eyed for a moment before nodding her head. As they were walking, she finally broke the silence between them.
"I did not know you had an orchard."
"Yes, it is attended to by a servant of named Askalaphos, son of Acheron and Orphne."
"So actual fruit grows in the orchard?"
They walked in silence until they arrived at a large, golden door. Hades pushed the door open, revealing a stream of light. Kore blinked her eyes a few times to adjust.
The smell of fruit was ripe in the air.
"It smells delicious."
Kore gave a deep inhale as if for emphasis.
The orchard expanded for what seemed like several acres. Kore tried to absorb the entire scene. The area was littered with trees, with a few patches of grass.
She looked up and saw something that made her mouth hang in the air. The sky, for it was a sky, was the blend of orange and red, like a sunset on earth. Although it was similar to the light at dusk, it felt much brighter than the torch and lamplight from the palace.
The three days in the Underworld had made Kore forget how the sky and the sun, or at least a false sun, looked like.
"How is there a sky down here?" she pointed upward.
"It is enchanted to be that way, so that the fruit can grow."
Kore could not help but leave her mouth slightly open in disbelief. There was a horizon off in the far distance.
"What is beyond that?"
She looked to him, "so if I follow the setting sun, then I will fall into a nothingness?"
She raised her eyebrow at him. "Then what is beyond there?"
He breathed in heavily, "I will explain that to you some day."
He walked to her side and pointed to a figure in the distance. "That is Askalaphos, the caretaker of my orchard. He is a quiet fellow, but a hard worker."
Kore stared at the slowly moving figure. He was checking, and picking fruit from the trees.
Kore began walking through the orchard. The trees all bore the same fruit.
Kore stopped at one of the trees, holding one in her hand as it hung from the branch. The fruit was heavy in her hand.
"This one is ready to be picked."
She turned to Hades, whom had picked one of the fruit from the trees. He applied pressure to the fruit's exterior, until it began to slowly split open, exposing the juicy seeds inside.
Kore watched as he picked a few seeds from the fruit. The juice from them ran down his hands and stained his fingers. As if he were unaware of her staring, he licked the juice from his fingers. He then placed the seeds in his mouth. His eyes lifted for a moment, catching the eyes of Kore. He smiled self-consciously to her.
She looked away, instead walking past a few more trees. The fruit looked tempting, especially with the image of Hades eating the pomegranate still in her mind.
"I would like to show you my horses next."
Kore turned to him to see him still eating the pomegranate seeds. She watched as his lips closed in on his fingers as he placed a few more into his mouth.
She nodded to him, and followed him out of the orchard.
It was a few minutes before they reached the stable. Kore heard the whine of horses as they approached a large, wooden stable. The outside was a wide space of grass, and the sky was the same as the orchard.
"They can sense my presence." There was a hint of a smile as he led her to the whining horses.
They were the same horses that Hades had driven his chariot with when he had brought her down to the Underworld.
They were black as coal and bigger than any horses she had ever seen.
Kore walked cautiously to one, petting the bridge of its nose, before stroking it. The horse bumped her hand.
"Nikon likes you."
"The horse. That is his name."
"Oh." Kore turned back to the horse. "I am glad you like me Nikon." The horse neighed, bucking its nose into Kore's hand again.
She moved on to the horse in the next stall.
"And what is his name?"
"She is Eunike"
Kore petted Eunike a few times. The horse imitated Nikon, knocking her nose into Kore's hand. There were two other horses occupying the stable, Diodoros, and Kyros, who both reacted in the same way to Kore's touch.
"Would you like to take them out for a ride?"
Kore turned to Hades before nodding her head. The last time she had ridden a horse was with her father, and that had been a few years ago.
Hades called a servant who led Nikon and Eunike out of their stalls, and into the grassy outside.
Hades held his hand out, helping Kore mount Eunike before hopping atop Nikon. He led them away from the followed without Kore's aid. They trotted at an even pace, and it was not until they neared a tree that the silence was broken.
"I want to apologize to you for my behavior." Hades looked down for a moment before his eyes met hers.
When Kore said nothing, he continued.
"I should not have acted so aggressively toward you. And the truth is-"
"Hades I forgive you, but you must understand that I cannot stay here."
There was more silence between them as Hades led them back to the stables.
Kore knew he had understood what she had said, she only hoped that he would do what was right, and return her home.
When Hades brought her from dinner, he led her to the room that she had said she liked earlier.
"This is really the room that I will stay in?"
"Yes. Do you not want to stay in it anymore?"
"I would like to stay in this room while I am here."
There was silence between them before Hades wished her a good entered the room, closing the door behind her. She heard the click of the lock.
'At least some things remain the same.'
Kore did a quick turn, glancing over the room. It smelled faintly of scented oils.
She walked to the table and sat. There was a small oil lamp that was already lit. Kore dug through the top part of her chiton, pulling the scroll out. It was warm from being tucked in her chiton most of the day.
She unfolded it, and laid it on the table. The scroll was weathered, and faded in some areas, but for the most part, Kore was able to make out most of the drawing.
It had been in the library, when Hades was not looking, that the nymph Minthe had snuck the map into Kore's hands. Kore had no time to question how the nymph had come into possession of the map, nor when she had entered the library. She was just happy that she now had a way out of the Underworld.
The scroll contained a detailed drawing of the Underworld. When Minthe had given it to her in the library, she had to calm herself from physically jumping from joy. Kore's mind was still reeling at the find.
She had to hide it as soon as she had received it, and for most of the day, she had been afraid that Hades would hear the ruffle of the scroll in her chiton as she moved. Thankfully, that had not happened.
She leaned closer to the light, tracing the trails of the rivers with her fingers.
According to the map, she was very far from the main parts of Hades' realm. Her room was deep within his palace, and all of the marked exits were far from were she was. That meant that it would take her some time to get to any of them.
Kore knew that she could not leave out of the front entrance to his palace. She searched the map for another possible way to escape. After a few scans, she spotted one.
She outlined the particular trail with her finger. It ran from the area where she was, to the Fields of Asphodel. From there, she could make it to the main gate, and then to Charon's ferry.
She had not met the immortal, and hoped that he did not ferry the dead all day.
Beyond the exit plan, there were a few things that Kore had to work out before execution.
The first was that she would have to pick a time of day in which she could make the journey without the threat of her absence being noticed. Aeacus and Hades visited her throughout the day, and left her alone at night. So, the time of day for the journey would definitely have to be while she was assumed to be asleep.
The next thing was how to get pass the main gate. Kore knew that Cerberus guarded that area. The problem, or problems was that she had never seen Cerberus or the main had to convince Hades to allow her to see Cerberus. That way, she could familiarize the dog with her presence, thus allowing less of a chance for him to be threatened by her presence while she tried to escape.
Kore figured that she could climb the main gate if she needed to. She sat back in the klismos. That left a huge portion of the plan open for faults, for if she could not get past…
Kore would think of that when she got to the gate, for now, she had to think about what she knew.
The last thing was getting into Charon's boat. She had never seen the immortal, and hoped that he did not ferry the dead in the night as tried to think of Hermes, who had to bring the dead to the Underworld. He had never had to work during the night, so she figured that neither did Charon.
She inhaled, rolling her neck.
Another issued arrived in Kore's mind.
Having an escape plan was great, but it meant nothing if she had no way of getting out of her locked room.
She could do two things.
One, she could convince Aeacus to leave her door unlocked, or trick him into doing latter was obviously the more favored in her mind.
The next step was to figure out how to trick the god.
It was the next day, when Kore commenced with her plans.
Hades took her to see the orchard again, and for most of the day, they walked around, engaging in light conversation. The rest of the day carried on the same as the day before, with a visit to the horses, and then dinner.
Hades never stayed at the table long. Kore was grateful, for it was awkward to sit at a table of food and be unable to eat.
When he returned her to her room, Kore spun on her heels. She refused to wait for the chance to trick Aeacus. The time was now.
Her voice sounded deeper than she intended it to be. Regardless, it did the trick. He was about to lock her in the room. He opened the door wider, staring at her in question.
The memory of trying to seduce Apollo flashed in her mind. Kore did not like the trend of having to seduce men in order to get things.
"I would like a kiss before you leave."
She walked to the door, opening it wider. The shock on his face was evident, as his mouth hung slightly open.
He blinked a few times, before looking away. "I... We have not... It is too-"
"Too what Hades?"
The coyness in her voice was heavy.
He swallowed, and Kore watched him stare blankly at her lips. She moved closer to him, looking up into his eyes. From the light within the room, she could see them turn cerulean, darker than their usual color.
She placed her hands on his shoulders before standing on her toes to kiss him. He was a head and a half taller than kissed his lips, clutching his neck in the process.
At first, he did not respond, but it only took a millisecond for Kore to feel his lips pressing hard against hers. She felt something wet against her lips and bit it.
He stepped back from her, briefly touching his fingers to his mouth.
"Was that your tongue?"
He looked at her before nodding.
"It does not appear to be bleeding."
He covered his mouth with his hand.
"Are you upset with me Hades?"
He stared into her eyes. "Why would I be upset with you Kore?"
"Well, I did bite your tongue."
He chuckled, "yes, you did, but it was only to preserve some propriety in this situation."
Kore moved her focus to the ground. "Was I too forward just now?"
Her voice broke slightly.
She felt his hand under her chin as he raised it. She once again met his eyes.
"I enjoyed it, even the bite."
She saw the grin creep up on his face.
"You did not!"
He laughed with her for a moment, before becoming silent.
"I should leave you for your sleep. It has been an eventful day."
Kore nodded her head. He smiled at her one more time, the dimple appearing in his left cheek, before closing the door.
Kore stood by the door in silence.
That had been her second kiss. She touched her lips briefly, before smiling. She looked down to her hand. In it was a piece of cold metal.
She looked at the key a moment longer.
It was almost two hours later before Kore took the map she had stolen and one of the oil lamps, and left her room. The hallway was quiet, and for the most part dark. From the tour, that Hades had given her, Kore knew that none of the other immortals' rooms were on her side of the palace.
There were no torches to light the way. She brought the lamp to one of the walls, recognizing the painted panels.
A few looked familiar. She followed them for some time before coming into a slightly warmer area. She had difficulty focusing on the drawings on the wall, while at the same time balancing the hot oil lamp in her hand. A few times, she had to switch the hand she held the lamp in.
It was a few corners before she began to recognize that she was getting close to the entrance to the dining hall.
A few minutes later, she arrived at the familiar hall.
It seemed strange to see the once well-populated area so dark and empty. It seemed bigger in comparison to the mornings and evenings she had spent dining with the other immortals.
Kore made her way through the hall, entering another plethora of hallways. It began to get tricky at this point, for not only did she have to turn around a few times after going the wrong way, but she also was afraid of running into one of the immortals.
Kore looked down at the map briefly; she only hoped she was going the right swept over her as she neared an exit to the maze of hallways and rooms. She was beginning to think she would never escape the palace.
The exit led her to another hall, but this one was much bigger than the dining hall.
The walls were lined with klismos and klines. What caught her attention however, was a throne in the front of the hall, opposite the exit that Kore needed to take.
'This must be where the judgment of souls is cast.'
She stared at the throne for a moment longer. It glistened from afar, hints of a shiny surface reflecting in the dark.
Kore could not resist the urge to come up to the throne and touch it. Upon closer inspection, she realized the throne was high-backed and made of ivory and gold. It reminded her of her father's throne, except, Hades throne had a few differences.
The back of the throne was adorned with gems. A vast array of colored gems caught the light of the lamp. Kore ghosted her hand over them, feeling their cold and multi-faceted exterior.
She moved the lamp to the bottom of the throne, whose legs were made of some sort of metal that Kore could not identify. She sat the lamp on the arm of the throne, giving in to the desire to sit on it.
It was obviously made for someone much taller. Her feet barely scraped the footrest that was placed underneath.
Kore held her head high, overlooking an imaginary court of subjects. For a moment, she could see a court of people staring up at her, smiling. They all seemed to be in good spirits.
Her fantasy was interrupted by a noise nearby. Without thinking, Kore swung herself behind the throne, trying her best to mask the light of the lamp with her own figure.
In the dark, she could make out the outline of someone walking toward the maze of hallways that she had just waited for their footsteps to become distant before tiptoeing her way to the exit. She took one final look at Hades' throne before entering the second leg of her journey.
Exiting the throne room led her to an open room with only a simple chair near the door. She had no idea what it was for, and decided to ignore it. She pushed a large, golden door open; similar to the one that Hades had taken her through to get to the orchard.
The outside looked like a plain. The map listed the place as the Plain of Judgment. Kore was shocked to see that the sky looked exactly like the night sky on Earth. It was a midnight blue, and was filled with stars. There was also a replica of the moon. On this night, only half of it was visible.
Kore made her way through the plain, which seemed to stretch on for miles. The plain had bare trees scattered upon the length of it, and was slightly chilly compared to the halls of Hades' palace. Kore suddenly envied the chlamys that she frequently saw Aeacus wear.
She stopped a few times to consult the map. According to the map, the Field of Asphodel would not be far off, given the path she was taking.
What seemed like an hour later, Kore finally reached her first asphodel.
The gray- looking flower stood alone and was swaying slightly, although Kore had no idea how, being that there was no wind to create such an action. She began to run past the flower, spotting a few more, before they eventually bleed into a sea of flowers. Only then, did she slow down some.
The Field of Asphodel was more populated than the Plain of Judgment. Huge trees populated the area, and the flowers upon which the name came from, crowded the entire area. It was somewhat difficult for Kore to walk through them without crushing a few.
Based on the scrolls that she had read from Hades' library, Kore expected to see a soul or two, but a look around showed her nothing. She refocused on the task at hand, which was escaping. Despite this, she still wondered briefly, what Hades was doing at the very moment.
More than likely, he was in an oblivious sleep.
There was a light noise near her that made her stop mid-step.
Out of the corner of her vision, near a tree, she saw a silver figure step out. It did not appear to notice her at first. Then, the figure fixed its eyes on her.
For a moment, Kore was frightened by the look of the seemingly transparent figure, but she relaxed once the figure calmed its features. It came closer to her, and Kore saw that it was a woman.
The woman came to her side, a look of curiosity on her ghost-like face.
"The gods do not usually visit at night. May I ask whom of the blessed gods do I have the honor of speaking to?"
"Kore, daughter of Demeter and Zeus."
The shadow bowed. "I am honored Lady Kore."
Kore looked upon the spirit for a second. The woman looked truly like a ghost. The only defining feature was her eyes, which had a slight glimmer to them.
"Do you know the way out of here?"
The spirit looked down for a moment before lifting her eyes. Kore could see that she was staring at something behind her. She turned her head, but nothing was there.
"What is it that you see?"
"I apologize Lady Kore, but my loyalties lie with my king."
Kore gulped. She had hoped that the spirit would be able to help her out of the field, but could see that she was only wasting her time.
Kore walked a distance away before turning to see if the woman was still watching, but there was no figure behind her.
She looked at the map again, this time to commit the details to memory. The lamp was basically burned out, and no other light was available except for the light from the moon.
Kore walked for a while before she saw a large black wall. She began to run toward it. As she got closer, she realized it was stone. The wall's height stretched up past her eyesight. She followed the length of the wall, holding her hand against it for guidance.
According to the map, there were two sides to the wall. In the center was the gate, the only exit to the front of the palace, as well as where Charon's boat was located. She continued to follow the wall for what seemed like an extensive time before the aforementioned gate glimmered in the light of the moon, and into Kore's view. She could hear the faint sound of water nearby. Her heart began beating faster.
She had made it this far.
When she reached the gate, she saw that was thankfully not too tall to climb. However, it was indeed locked. In a silly attempt, she tried the key from her room, but it did not work.
The only solution Kore could think of was to climb the gate. It looked to be made of some sort of metal, and had pointed ends at each bar. This made Kore feel unease, but she figured she would deal with them when she reached the top.
She set the now dead lamp on the ground, and stuffed the map under one of the shoulders of her chiton. She wiped her palms on her chiton to remove any moisture from them. She then placed both hands on the bars and began climbing. The bars were smooth, but they allowed enough grip.
Kore got a few feet up the gate. She was beginning to get too excited about her progress, enough to not notice six large, red dots in front of her. She gulped as she recognized them as pupils. They were already intimidating to her at the size they were, but Kore noticed that they continued to become even bigger.
She realized that they were coming closer to her.
She looked down below her. She could jump from where she was, but a deep growl stopped her.
Kore looked through the bars of the gate to see the outline of three heads staring back at her. They were the source of the growls and the red pupils.
The beast came closer to her; she could see that his three noses were twitching.
Thinking quickly, Kore slowly raised the key that she had tied around her wrist and offered it to the three noses through the gate's bars.
Cerberus sniffed the keys, and Kore ignored the desire to retract her hand as the beast's three wet noses took a turn in nudging the wrist with the key.
'Come on Cerberus.'
As if he had read her thoughts, the dog nudged her wrist again, before licking it with one of his tongues.
Kore gave a half-smile, before wiping her wet wrist on her chiton, and continuing her climb. She reached the top of the gate, careful not to touch the sharp edges. Then she began the process of climbing over the sharp points, and then down onto the other side.
When she was a few feet from the ground she jumped. She eyed Cerberus, who looked at her curiously. Up close, the dog was almost twice her size in height. He was big width-wise, and his black fur only helped his intimidating appearance.
Kore began to ease her way past the dog. He still frightened her, and she did not want to ruin her escape by becoming a dog treat. As soon as she made it a few feet from him, she began hearing his paws pattering against the wet entrance. She figured she would let the dog follow her in exchange for not eating her.
Beyond the gate was cave-like. Similar to the place where Hades had carried her through when she first entered the Underworld. According to the map, Charon's boat had to be nearby.
Sure enough, as she turned a corner in the cave, she saw the Styx River. There was a small shore where the river and where the gate stood, and upon closer inspection, Kore could see that the shore was occupied. Several ghostly figures were sprawled out on the shore, and in the water. A few gave off a moan upon seeing her, and two of them were weeping.
"Please help us!" They began making their way toward Kore, who cringed at the sight of them.
'They must be the poor souls of dead mortals.'
They continued moaning, which became even louder as they got closer to her. Kore stepped back a few feet, before she heard Cerberus growl from behind her. She chanced a glance at the dog, whose eyes were fixated on the souls. When she returned her gaze to the shore, the souls began to retreat.
"Thank you Cerberus." Kore wanted to pet the dog, but did not want to chance it.
She began looking over the river until she spotted exactly what she was looking for. It floated lazily in the water near the other side of the shore, and most importantly, it was empty. Kore silently thanked the gods that Charon was nowhere in sight.
She ran to the boat, nearly jumping in it. It took her a second to steady herself. She grabbed the oar and began to move the big boat through the water. After a few strokes, she let her arms rest.
She was finally free.
Kore pushed the oar again through the water letting out a sigh. The thought of going back home calmed her.
She thought of what her mother would say to her when she saw her again. There would be more than likely tears from both of them. Then she wondered what her father would say. She could not settle on any possible responses her father might have toward her return, for her father was a wildcard. Yet, she held some hope that he would become slightly emotional at her return.
The other gods would probably want to know every detail about her time in the Underworld. But, they would probably have to get through her mother, whom Kore undoubtedly knew would never let her out of her sight again.
A small part of her wondered what Hades would think of her escape? Without question, he had to know that she could not stay with him in the Underworld unnoticed for long.
And he had to know that she did not have any intention of staying.
But still, she wondered what he would feel; knowing that the woman he "loved" had escaped into the night would surely hurt.
And the other gods would think of him differently after this incident. Even though it was not above her fellow gods to take what they wanted without little thought to consequences or the will of others, Kore knew that Hades was revered as possessing an honest character that most of the immortals struggled to maintain.
She looked ahead of her, and to her dismay, a large body of water lay ahead. She pushed the oar through the water harder. It seemed like she had a ways to go.
"Did you think I would not notice?"
Kore froze on the spot. That voice belonged to only one person. She turned, and a gasp escaped her lips.
AN: Who do you guys think it was that caught Kore? I think you guys have a good idea!
Please remember that constructive criticism is always welcomed.