Solace

Chapter One: Olympus

Planet Solice, Olympus Palace.

Persephone

Persephone wasn't supposed to be there.

The large gates were open, allowing the flood of the rich, famous and wealthy to pour into the splendour of the Palace. Olympus, they named it, because the pearly white walls seemed as astonishing as heaven.

Gazing upwards to see the beautiful building, Persephone couldn't help but feel overwhelmed. A small hand touched her chin and pushed her mouth closed.

"You are almost drooling Persephone," Laiya giggled, ignoring Persephone's narrowed eyes. Having never been anywhere near the palace in her 21 years of life (her mother had made sure of it), she couldn't quite believe the size or magnificence of it all. Her large grey eyes absorbed all, from the shimmering gowns to the splendid armour, the shining silver trays holding tiny canopies and rich red wine flowing into goblets.

"I don't believe I am actually here..." Persephone whispered as they made their way into the grand hall, the pillars adorned with golden flowers and sweet smelling honeysuckle. "It is so...unreal,"

"Yes, isn't it just?" Laiya swiped a golden goblet from a tray, the servant blushing as she gave him a dazzling smile and a wink. Laiya had been to the Palace many times. Her parents were wealthy, so the fiery redhead had become accustomed to large grand gatherings with the higher end of society.

Persephone, on the other hand, lived a simple life. She lived in a small cottage with her mother, Demeter, on the edge of the Cascade forest, as far away from town as one could get. If Demeter knew she was in Olympus she would probably be punished for the rest of her life.

Taking a big gulp of air, Persephone pushed her mother from her mind and took a goblet of wine. Laiya suddenly nudged her with her elbow sharply, making Persephone start and nearly drop her drink all over the floor.

"Persephone look, tis Apollo!" she squeaked, her voice full of excitement. Persephone let her eyes travel over to the far side of the hall, where a young man spoke animatedly with others around him. His golden hair and shockingly blue eyes made all the ladies swoon, not to mention his perfectly formed body, full of muscle.

Sighing, she took a sip of wine. There was little point in her falling in love with him. Laiya paid no heed to her, just stared at him in earnest. Laiya was very beautiful, it could not be denied. She possessed a large bosom, tiny waist and dramatically round hips that swayed very seductively when she walked. Her fuller figure made Persephone cringe with jealously; where Laiya was curvy, she was slim and slight, her hips small and gentle and with little to no bosom.

"Do you think he is looking over here?" Laiya asked as she smoothed her curls.

"Sort of, he would be a fool not to notice you," Persephone smiled tightly.

"Oh my dear, would you relax? Your mother will not find out about you coming here!"

Persephone bit at her full pink lips. "I'm sorry, I am trying,"

"Laiya, my my, what a pleasure," Came a voice from behind Persephone. She turned to see a striking woman in a long gold dress, the whole garment shimmering in the candle light. Her blond hair fell to the small of her back in delicate waves, her cat like green eyes sharp and striking.

Laiya's eyes remained sharp, but she smiled all the same. "Athena," she said as she curtseyed. "A pleasure as always,"

"I see you have brought a friend with you," Athena's voice held an icy tone, sending shivers of uncertainty through Persephone. "You are Demeter's daughter, are you not?"

Persephone curtseyed accordingly. "Yes, my lady,"

Athena looked her up and down. Feeling naked, Persephone held her own as the Princess scrutinised her. "You needn't use formalities. Do you have a name?"

"Persephone,"

"Well, Persephone, as you are my sister, you may regard me as family," Athena gave her a calculated smile with her thin lips. "We sisters must stick together, after all,"

Her words held no sincerity at all. Persephone felt her veins turning to ice; if Athena knew who she was, wouldn't the others? Wouldn't they tell her mother? She silently cursed at herself, wishing the ground would swallow her whole.

"Anyway, I will take my leave. This has been..." Athena paused as her eyes remained locked with Persephone's. "...riveting."

Both Persephone and Laiya curtseyed as she left, handmaidens in tow. Laiya scowled, her nose wrinkling with distaste. "Royals."

"I cannot believe she knows my mother...if anyone tells her I will be in so much trouble..." Persephone twisted a piece of her platinum white hair around her fingers anxiously.

"No one here ever sees your mother," Laiya protested. "Will you calm down?"

Music started floating throughout the hall. A beautiful woman in a sheer pink gown began playing the Lyre, joined by a few other male musicians. The atmosphere became hypnotic, the sound of the pan flute seductive and inviting. Persephone finished her wine, the liquid hitting her senses and finally letting her relax slightly. "She said...she says she regards me as a sister..."

"Yes, which is rather strange if you ask me, but do not fret, we are here to have fun, not dwell on elephants in rooms," Laiya grinned.

An elephant in the room was exactly right. For everyone knew King Zeus had many, many lovers, and many, many bastard children...Persephone hated him for it. Her father, the King, had never once laid eyes on her. Persephone's mother had been nothing more than a conquest, a lady to bed at his pleasing then discard when finished. It was no wonder Athena held such disdain for her; her mother Hera, the Queen, knew of her husband's lechery, yet she could do nothing about it.

A silence filled the hall, and as Persephone looked over the crowd it seemed to part as if a spell had pushed them aside. The music halted, filling the palace with whispers. She stood on her tiptoes like Laiya to try and get a better view, but found soon she needn't bother.

A man stalked through the crowd. From the way his head was visible above the guests, Persephone came to conclusion he was rather tall. He had a mass of dark brown hair on his head, falling just above his ears, with dark eyes to match. His looked so bored and miserable it was almost painful; and he seemed to be grinding his teeth.

"Who is that?" Persephone said to Laiya as he marched towards the end of the hall, where the other royals had assembled.

"Hades, King of the Night Planet," She whispered. "He hardly ever comes to these events, I am rather surprised,"

Persephone raised her eyebrows. Hades clearly didn't wish to be there as he addressed the other royalty, his shoulders stiff and face never once cracking a smile. Despite the lack of happiness, Hades was a handsome man. His jaw line was sharp and defined, nose long and perfectly shaped. His shoulders were broad and he sported all black, a golden plate on his chest.

"He looks rather miserable," She commented.

"Well, you would if you were condemned to the Night Planet, or as most people here say, the 'underworld'," Laiya took another goblet of wine as the music began to play once more and the atmosphere became relaxed again. "I believe most folk would prefer to go to hell,"

"Condemned? What did he do to warrant such a punishment?"

"Well, it is said he bedded a woman Zeus was in love with, and Zeus punished him...but it is rather superfluous. What I do know is that Hades and Zeus were very good friends many years ago, they plotted the murder of Zeus's parents, the old Rulers, Cronus and Rhea, together,"

Persephone glanced up towards the royals. Hades sat on one of the grand thrones with his eyes fixed in front of him, not speaking to anyone. "It is a wonder he bothered to come if he speaks to no one,"

Laiya laughed, a few men turning their wanting eyes towards her. "Little one, you are a dear, aren't you?"

...

Hades

He scanned the crowd. They were all laughing, joking, talking idly about unimportant, boring things. How boring he found each and every one of them.

All of the women were beautiful, of course, but women meant little to nothing to him. He was Hades, King of the Night planet; if he wanted a woman, he would have her.

"I am surprised to find you here, Hades,"

The woman's voice came from his left. Hades turned to see Queen Hera, who looked as equally as bored as he did. Her stunning features formed a look of disgust as she looked at the people in her Palace. Zeus's wife, a woman scorned...over and over again. He said nothing to the Queen, hoping she may find someone else to speak with.

"Do you find it astonishing how happy simple folk are?" She asked, chocolate eyes finding his dark orbs. "They make for very poor conversation,"

"Poor conversation is a given, Hera, I thought you would be used to it by now, considered who you are married to," Hades said smoothly. Hera's full lips curved into a small smile.

"I do miss your dulcet tones Hades, your lack of cheer inspires me,"

Hera was twisted, even Hades knew this. Her husband was a serial adulterer, taking many women. Hera had once taken over four hours to skin a woman alive, before putting her in a large pot over a fire and leaving her to boil. Having known Hera for a long time, the change in her had been swift, for he had once known her to be innocent and kind. Those days were far behind them.

Hera placed her hand on his shoulder, leaning in so close to him he could feel her breath on his cheek, see her plunging cleavage. "Perhaps later you can...inspire me," She whispered, giving him a steamy look with her intense eyes before leaving him alone once more.

He followed her leave with his eyes. She was beautiful, there was no doubt in it, and any other time, he may have taken her up on the offer. This night did not seem to call for it.

The 'simple' folk had started to dance. Hades felt his weariness taking hold, and wished he needn't had bothered to attend such a trivial occasion. The King had yet to make an appearance, if at all, and he wondered which of his maids he was bedding.

His eagle eyes caught a flash of something silver, no, more pure white. Long curling hair cascading down a slim, petite back, the colour so vivid it almost glowed. The face in which the hair framed almost stole away his very breath.

Hades had longed lived on the Night Planet, full of the night creatures, dark and twisted. Never in his existence had he ever seen anyone as beautiful as she. He watched as she reluctantly took the hand of Hermes, who led her to dance, a smile on his face. Hades felt his insides boiling. The girl was dwarfed by the man's presence, her features as small and as delicate as a flower. Her grey eyes were large and inviting, her lips full and slightly parted as she looked up at the muscled Hermes.

Fist clenched tightly, Hades could do little other than watch. The music became upbeat, lively, and Hermes took her hand to spin her, her long gown flowing behind her. She smiled brightly, and Hades felt his heart stopping in his chest.

Who on Solice was this girl? How could she captivate him so easily? He felt himself becoming angry, his temper ready to flare.

"My Hades, you look about ready to murder someone," Athena, the Princess, said with a knowing smile on her lips. "Who do you watch there...? Oh, tis that peasant girl,"

"I watch no one," Hades growled, forcing himself with immense effort to look at the Princess.

"You needn't lie to me my lord. I know a man captivated when I see one," She turned her knowing eyes to the young girl still dancing with Hermes, her eyes alight with captivating happiness. "My sister is innocent and pure...in other words, naive,"

Hades eyes widened in shock. "Your sister?"

"Why yes, she is one of my father's bastard children, though she looks nothing like us. I wonder where she gets that white hair from? Probably her plebeian mother,"

Hades let his eyes rest on her once more. She danced with such grace, such humility, his body began to ache all over. The pretty flush on her pale cheeks lit a passion inside of him; one he thought had been extinguished many many years ago. He wanted her, all of her. He wanted to feel her small body pressed against his, feel her smooth skin beneath his fingertips, feel her thighs wrapped around his waist as she cried out his name...

Too much, it was too much. She was one of the King's bastards. She was worth nothing. Zeus valued only his royal children; Athena, Apollo, Artemis and Ares. All Hera's children, none others mattered. Hades could not believe such a young, innocent creature could be the seed of such a King, a heartless, lecherous beast.

"Her name is Persephone, my lord, you would do well to bed her this night, I do not think her mother allows her to venture here often," Athena said smoothly, though her face was lined with a frown, as if his lack of attention on her made her jealous. Hades did not reply, and as the Princess marched away, under his breath he uttered one name;

"Persephone."

...

Persephone

Dancing with Hermes, being twirled and swirled around the room gracefully, was never something she'd ever thought she'd do. Persephone had never been to a dance, the only dancing she ever did was when she visited Laiya. The redhead had always forced her into practising the steps, and though she'd complained about it, Persephone was rather enjoying herself.

Hermes kept hold of her hands when the song ended, his face so close she could feel his breath on her face. "You are a wonderful dancer, Persephone,"

With a blush she smiled. "Thank you sire,"

"Please, call me Hermes my sweet, I have yet to find an equal to your beauty," He kissed the back of her hand. Persephone wondered how red her face could become; she wasn't used to all of the attention she was receiving. Her mother had kept her far away from the city, far away from men. She had no experience with the opposite sex, Demeter would never allow it.

Laiya had finally managed to get her claws into Apollo, who seemed desperate to get away. Persephone did love her best friend, but sometimes she could be extremely full on. The golden Prince spotted her and Hermes finishing their dance, and strode over with Laiya pouting in tow.

"Who is this beautiful creature within our midst?" He practically bellowed, his eyes alight and dancing. "Laiya, you must introduce us,"

Laiya rolled her eyes behind his back. "This is my friend, Persephone,"

Persephone curtseyed accordingly. "It is a pleasure to meet you my lord," She looked up to his face shyly, feeling overwhelmed, as if she were trying to break to the surface of a pool but not quite able to reach.

"How are you enjoying the festivities Persephone? Are they to your taste?"

"I...am enjoying them very well sire,"

"Come now Apollo, let us not bore her with trivial small talk," Hermes interrupted, taking Persephone's arm in his large hand. "Let us dance,"

Before Persephone could protest, she was pulled along with the tall young man, his grip on her strong. She wasn't sure she liked being handled in that way, and the look on her face must have given away her discomfort. Hermes stopped to twirl her into the music. "Forgive me sweet Persephone, but I do not believe Apollo has good intentions towards you,"

Persephone blinked up into his golden eyes, liking how gently they stared back. "I do not really...understand," She admitted.

His lips twitched slightly. "You are naive young one, do not fret, I will not let any harm come to you,"

"I am not naive," She protested stubbornly, earning another grin from Hermes. As soon as they had began their dance, the music suddenly stopped. A small man dressed in rich royal purple plodded up to the centre of the hall, a huge ruby embellished staff in his tiny hands. He lifted it from the ground and proceeded to pound it loudly upon the marble floor. He finally ceased when the guests fell into silence.

"Announcing his highness, the King of Solice, Zeus!" He roared in what was an alarmingly loud voice for such a short man. Persephone gazed upwards as the King himself took meaningful, lengthy steps down the golden staircase circling the hall.

Her heart stuck in her throat.

He wore armour so gold she was almost blinded by it. Her father looked as powerful as she had been told in stories. His dark hair curled over his head in a wavy mass, his face chiselled and worn. His body was thick with muscle, his hands big and strong, liek the warrior he was. She now knew why he had won so many battles, why Solice lived in peace. He looked as if no manner of enemy could rattle him.

The crowds of guests all bowed gracefully, Persephone mimicking them all. Managing to tear her gaze from her father, she scanned the ensemble of royals. A pair of eyes met hers and she nearly started in shock. The eyes were dark and cold, staring into her as if he were trying to find a way into her body and rip out her soul.

Hades's gaze was unrelenting. Persephone found herself unable to look away, for in his gaze held torment, pain, hardship...and want. A flush spread over her face for what felt like the hundredth time that night, yet this time was different. The flush seemed to spread, from her face down to her stomach and much, much further, until she could feel it within her toes.

"Persephone!"

She jumped so vividly at the sound of her name the wine in her goblet sloshed around like the sea in a storm. Hermes took hold of the goblet quickly. "I am sorry little Persephone, I did not mean to frighten you,"

The spell was broken. There were suddenly too many people in the grand hall, too many noises and sounds, even the music's soothing notes grated into her eardrums like a cat screeching. "This...I...I need to go..." She mumbled quickly, leaving the goblet in Hermes hands as she raced from the hall as quickly as she could.

...