Khthonios

V

o0o

After he brought Leuke back to the mountain refuge he shared with his sisters, he did some thinking. He'd never come face-to-face with a Titan, though he'd heard well often enough of them. The encounter had been... sobering, to say the least. He knew he was nowhere near strong enough to face down his father, but the fact that a young Titan had been able to frighten him brought a realization to him.

He turned to his older sister, who was meditating in front of the fire that danced cheerfully in the circle of rocks she had assembled.

"We can not hide forever," he stated as he sat across from her. She looked up at him from under the hood of her cowl. Hestia always liked to keep herself covered, even around her brothers or other women. Hades suspected it was more than just shyness that made her so modest, but he never commented on it.

"I know." Hestia's eyes were golden from the fire reflected in them. After he brought Leuke back, he and Hestia had questioned her, and the nymph had eagerly answered them with everything she knew. Hades and Hestia shared an innate ability to discern lie from truth, and everything they learned from Leuke was true, at least to the nymph's knowledge. She now lived with the other nymphs amidst the mountains, although life was harder for her, being unused to the rocky clime.

"Leuke has given us some valuable information. We should start seeking allies."

"Much of what she knows is rumor," Hestia pointed out. The same could be said of what the other nymphs knew. Kronos was a secretive man, and though some of his allies were obvious, like his brothers Krios and Iapetus, many were not as obvious. Hades did not doubt that some were merely pretending to be allies with Kronos to escape his wrath, but who?

"What about Hyperion? It is said that Kronos has his children hostage to force his cooperation. By others than Leuke," Hades quickly added the last sentence. Given all the things he heard about his father, it did not surprise him the least that the tyrant god should hold loved ones hostage to force someone's hand.

"There is that." Hestia conceded. "I know where he lives. He always has fires going in his palace."

"I will observe him from the shadows and determine the veracity of these rumors. If the story is true..."

"He might still say no, our of fear for their safety."

"So we wait and do nothing?" Hades asked in a tone sharper than he intended.

"No." The siblings both turned at the sound of Hera's voice, seeing her standing in the cleft of rock that served as the doorway to the chamber where Hestia kept her flame.

"Go, seek Hyperion. He is a father who grieves for his children," Hera stated in the usual quiet but firm tone she had whenever she had a vision.

o0o

The majesty of Hyperion's villa was visible even under the limited light of the waning moon, but just as apparent to Hades was its gloom.

To the mortals, Hyperion was the sun. They believed that he rode his chariot day after day, that he was the very source of the light that nourished Hellas. His home reflects that, from the sun motif in the gate to the solar-themed mosaic that covered the ground of the courtyard, made up of varying pieces of marble ranging from red to yellow and gold to white. During the day, the residence of Hyperion would have been an impressive sight, just as intended. Even at night the home holds a quiet majesty befitting the Titan who was worshiped as the sun.

However, the sadness was practically palpable to Hades, and he recalled Hera's words about Hyperion's grief. Effortlessly, he slid into the house, bypassing the magics that Hyperion set up just as easily as he had the magic on Crete shielding Zeus from Kronos.

It was not difficult to find his uncle. Hyperion sat in front of the fire, his breath reeking of alcohol. Hades had seen this in mortals before, though it was much more rare for mortals to obtain alcohol, or the ingredients needed for it, than a Titan. With a life filled with so much despair, it was all too easy to seek refuge in the embrace of alcohol.

A Titan was no different from a mortal in that aspect, Hades noted as he watched Hyperion take a swig from a flask before setting it down. He was a handsome man, with some resemblance to Kronos, but even under this dim light no one could mistake him for his younger brother. He had dark gold hair, and his face than Kronos'.

A similarly-aged woman emerged through the doorway, bringing a platter of food to Hyperion. From their behavior towards one another, Hades surmised this was Theia, his wife. Like Hyperion, she had a passing resemblance to a sibling, this one being Rhea. They had the same nose and chin, but like with Hyperion, she couldn't be confused for a sibling.

Hades paused as he grasped at a foggy memory of his mother. It'd been almost three decades since he saw his mother, but even now he could not see Rhea. Kronos guarded her jealously, according to the stories, and she had not been seen for several years now.

He quickly pulled his thoughts back to the present, focusing on his mission. He realized that right now, he was an intruder, but he did not dare approach the gate in daylight as a normal guest would. Kronos likely had his brother under surveillance.

"Love, please eat," Theia begged as she offered her husband the platter. On it was some flatbread, along with cheese and olives.

"I am not hungry!" Hyperion growled, but Hades sensed that this growl was not directed at Theia.

"I know you miss the children. Do you think I do not grieve for them?" Theia asked. She set the platter aside and drew to her knees, resting her hands in his lap. Hyperion looked down at her, placing his hand across her own.

"How did it come to this?' he asked, his voice raw.

"Remember what Kronos was told as he cut Ouranos' head off."

"So he imprisoned his own children, why mine?"

"Sometimes, to avert a prophecy, people take... drastic measures."

"How did we become so powerless to stop him?" Hyperion demanded. "How have we become so cowed by our little brother?"

Theia was silent.

"If you want his reign to end, you can not simply sit back and do nothing." Hades said quietly, so as to not startle them too much. Theia's head snapped up, and Hyperion looked in his direction warily. Hades allowed himself to become visible, and took several steps to let the firelight illuminate him better.

"Kronos...?" Hyperion said, immediate alarm breaking through his alcohol-induced fog.

"No. Hades," he said, letting that name linger for several moments. Did he really resemble his father that much? When his facial hair had started coming in, he simply let it grow.

Hyperion was on his feet. "Hades. But that's impossible, you..."

"Escaped."

Hyperion and Theia stared at him for several long moments.

"How do we know it's not a trick?" Theia asked quietly.

"What can I do to prove myself? I seek an end to his reign as much as you do, and you and I both know that it can not be done alone." He did not miss the glimmer of hope in their eyes, but he also saw their wariness.

Without warning, Hyperion lunged at him. Instinctively, a barrier of shadow sprung up, separating him from his uncle as he heard Hyperion's grunt.

"Kronos is a dark man, but even he can not manipulate shadows," Theia observed. He lowered the shield and offered his hand to his would-be assailant. Hyperion did not take it, choosing instead to push himself to his feet.

"What was it that Ouranos said to Kronos?" Hades asked, having remembered that from earlier.

Hyperion looked at him for several moments before he spoke. "That the cycle would repeat itself, and Kronos would be felled by his own son."

"Then why not kill his children?"

Theia spoke. "Gaea would know if the blood of her line had been spilled. That is why he does not kill his brethren. Prometheus and Atlas are both imprisoned, even though it would be easier for Kronos to kill them."

"If I were to free them, they would join the cause?"

"If you can find a way to free them," Hyperion cautioned. Hades looked from husband to wife, studying them, remembering Hera's words.

"If I were to free your children, will you join me?" Hades finally asked.

"Yes!' the older god replied without a second thought. Theia nodded eagerly.

o0o

Thanks to everyone for their feedback and support! I'll answer a question from a reviewer – will Persephone be in here? Yes, but this story centers on Hades.

I know some of the chapters are short, but I am writing this in a different format than Seeds, and the pace of storytelling necessitates some pretty short chapters, others will be longer. I hope y'all are enjoying this story, and I welcome your thoughts!