Cast of the Story
Thanatos -Unsatisfied with his life as he brings sadness and despair everywhere he goes. God of death. Main character.
Hypnos -Often unsupportive and impatient, but still caring brother of the god of death, whose sons are the tribe of dreams. God of sleep.
Ker- Goddess of Violent Death, she often steps in for Thanatos when he is too busy or just too lazy to do his job. She isn't one to defend him against enemies, but she still loves him.
Moros- God of Doom, who leads people to where they should go to die, has the same abilities as his brother, and as such, he can also take the job of Thanatos from time to time. He is very neutral throughout the whole story and just follows orders.
Charon - Much loved, but seldom seen by his loving brother, he often travels amongst the spirits of the dead, and looks at them in pity from afar.
Nyx - Frightening even to her offspring. While she does enjoy the light and happiness, she can only enjoy it from afar, because whenever she approaches, darkness looms.
Persephone -Kind at times, but capable also of vindictive spite. Also goes by the name Kore. Goddess of spring, and queen of the underworld.
Hades- The brooding lord of the underworld. Gives Persephone and her friends whatever they like to make them happy while Kore is around. God of the dead, and King of the underworld.
The Harpies - Three dread goddesses whose sole pleasure is instigating fights and causing unnecessary drama in the underworld, while their queen, Kore, mistreats them constantly. Goddesses of Storms.
Melissa - Associates with the queen of the underworld as her right-hand girl. One of many nymph friends to the goddess.
Eurynomos - Insane. Kept on leash and muzzle by the goddess Nyx. God of decay and maggots.
The Three Fates - Wise and sophist, but often judgmental and cynical. Like to solve the problems of the other gods. Goddesses of destiny; past, present and future.
Zeus - wise and strong, but often does not like to dabble in the affairs of the other gods. He offers his assistance from afar. God of the sky and the weather. King of the gods.
Although my human name is Mors Caligo, one of my true names is Thanatos. To the Greeks, I am the god of peaceful death, and this is my story. It is a story of deceit, betrayal and revenge. I bet you're thinking, 'you've brought down countless mighty warriors: Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Achilles, even Hercules, and yet you can't deal with so small a problem as an enemy?' Well, in my defense, I don't have many enemies, as you might have guessed, since my only appointments are with the weakly, the sick, the doomed-to-die and the dead; however, I do deal in equally important matters. What could be as important as that? I'm glad you ask. Well, you'll just have to wait and see, now won't you?
It's Thursday. I'm walking in the park and I see a flock of pigeons, pecking at bread crumbs and making their normal cooooo, cooooo. How cute, a baby is crying in his father's arms. A dog chases a Frisbee across the park, and some little girls are playing Double Dutch. Hot potato, Ms. Mary Mack or something like that. This would certainly seem to be a normal day for anyone, even an immortal.
I look over to the flock of pigeons (which I despise) and my eyes glaze red. All but a few die instantaneously. Those I spared fly away in such frenzy that a few even bump into each other. I hate to think that I scare animals, but I do. But, that's nothing compared to my usual. I decide to continue my casual walk before the next round of deaths are too occur, seeing as how rest from my work seldom approaches anymore.
Nearing the rose bushes, I touch a lovely rose, causing the head to fall off and the leaves to wither. I decide to exit the park, because I can see that a rain cloud is fast approaching. That's just my luck. As I leave the park, the storm cloud fades. I hate that about me.
I head to the subway, and descend into the dark platform area to await my ride home. I stand beside a little girl and her mother. The little girl looks at me in fear and begins crying.
"Scary! He's a monster!" the girl screams in terror. Her mother jerks her away and cries, "Did you touch my daughter?!"
"No! Of course not! I'm no pedophile!" I replied in outrage. Then, ducking back behind her mother, frightened, the girl said, "No, mommy! He didn't touch me! You can't see his big black wings? Don't you see his robe and hood and red eyes? He's a monster!"
The girl's mother blushed and pulled her daughter away.
"I'm sorry. I thought you hurt her." She sheepishly stated the obvious.
"I guess she just has a wild imagination." and then said, "Come on, Lily, let's go."
But the little girl just wouldn't give up the ghost (I was almost tempted to make her). She kept ranting "monster, monster!" and refused to let her mother convince her otherwise, casuing a scene the whole ride home. Unfortunately, that, was not something that was odd.
At least for me it wasn't.
I got off the subway and decided to go home. Not my home, really, but rather my temporary living space. As I walked in the door, a cat brushed up against my leg and ran inside my house. Luckily, I was wearing my robe in my true form, so it didn't touch me.
I didn't bother to pick the cat up to take it out; I didn't want to hurt it, so I just let it make itself at home in my living room for now. I called my brother, whose real name is Hypnos, but he goes by Somnus here. I was in a bad mood and he was certainly someone to talk to.
"Hello? Who is this? How did you get this number?" he said.
"It's only Mors" I replied, annoyed.
We tend to be a secretive family, as our work requires it.
"Oh, hello, Mors, how are you? How's business coming for you?" Somnus found it polite to ask me that every time we spoke, even though I don't think he ever really cared.
"I'm good, Somnus; nothing to complain about. Except for..."
"I'm good, except for what, Mors? What's wrong, now?" He interrupted, impatiently.
I was sort of hesitant to express my grievance, but almost out of nowhere, the words came like an angry flood.
"I'm doing well, except for the fact that I don't want to go on murdering people left and right. That's what it is, Somnus, murder." Hypnos tried to get a word in sideways, but I continued my tangent of fast talking. And I was determined not to stop until I got all of my frustration out of my system.
"I touch something, it dies. I kill pretty flowers, too, and animals hate and fear me. The air I walk through becomes dry and stale. Not to mention, children can see that I really am Death. They see the red eyes, the wings, and the black robe, even the scythe."
"Oh, my goodness, Mors, I can't believe it. Another child pointed you out today, didn't they? That 'monster, monster' thing must get really old." Somnus laughed at me, like always.
"Listen, I don't think death is overrated or anything, just that maybe it shouldn't happen as often. Or at least I shouldn't have to physically walk among the people in this city, where it's so hard to keep a secret." I said, defending myself as best I could.
"Mother said it would be good to get fresh air, anyway. And if we assimilate to human customs, it won't be as hard to do our jobs. I'll understand why they must sleep, and why they need me for them to sleep. You'll understand why they must die, and why it's best that you deliver them to peaceful death. Ker and Moros have no problems with their jobs. Why'd you have to go soft?"
"I didn't go soft, damn it!" I stopped when I heard myself curse.
"Listen, Somnus, Ker is Violent Death. Of course her job is easy; she has no heart. And Moros is Doom; his only job is to lead people to Ker and I so that we can do the dirty work. That's hardly fair. I have to see humans when they look most frail and pitiful. I see men cry on a daily basis; I've destroyed families, dynasties and empires, laid them to their lowest points at a whim..."
"You can't help but feel for them, then." I said, as I felt myself begin to fume, quite literally.
The faint smell of smoke and brimstone began to burn behind my ears and from my cheeks, and I flushed a brownish red (my freakish way of blushing).
"Well, soft or not, the deed must be done. You must remain incognito, kill when necessary, and not feel. Your heart cannot be flesh, otherwise you'll end up lonely and pitiful, maybe even eating corpses like Eurynomos."
That sent simultaneous shivers down both our spines.
"Listen, Mors. The point is that you are Death. Everything around you is bound to wither and die, except us immortals. You've no choice but to kill things by touching them. Better that than violently killing them, though, eh?"
I disagreed sorely.
"No, it's not. Honestly, I would much rather kill them healthy and strong. They deserve to die, I know, but when they're so pitiful and helpless, and praying to God to be preserved, you can't help but feel the need to procrastinate."
"Fine, brother; think what you may. I, however, must go, because it is nighttime, I have sleeping to induce, my sons have dreams to dish out and I've simply run out of things to say."
'What a productive conversation', I thought sarcastically to myself. Well, now it was time for my night circuit.
As I head out to the hospital, I hear a siren wailing from an approaching ambulance and decide to begin my rounds with the lucky guy riding inside. But this was no guy; it was an older-aged woman.
I appear inside the van, remaining invisible, of course, and I'm greeted by the patient.
"Hello... are you Azrael, the angel of death?"
The woman whispered to me in Spanish (I could tell because I am able to understand all languages, as it is part of my job), and she was obviously still wearied by the thought of dying, as anybody would be in her position.
"Yes, I go by many names, my friend. I am Azrael...Thanatos, Anubis, Met, even the Grim Reaper, but all are me; to you, I am just Death. You've got to come with me."
I replied in my native tongue, which I call Deathspeak.
Only the Immortals, the dying and the dead can speak it aside from me. She understood perfectly and began to speak the same tongue.
"But, I don't want to. Couldn't you let me go just this once? I have to see my daughter's baby. That's why I was riding so fast."
She pleaded with me, like all the others do.
I saw tears rolling down her cheek and she began to weep silently. She didn't speak, because she had to lay back while constantly being silenced by the paramedic. She couldn't speak, but her mind plead her case, just the same.
"I'm so sorry, but if you don't come now, my sister will do you off in a far worse fashion. I like you, so I can't let that happen."
She began to cry harder.
"What a pity when Death itself likes you. Well...it seems I do have to go. Okay, I'll come. But let me leave a message, please?"
"Okay." I felt bad for the lady.
"Excuse me? Sir?" she called the paramedic to her, "Tell my daughter I'll always love her, even in death, and that I want her to always remember me. And---," I couldn't bear it.
Tears streamed down my face, so I just laid my hands on her, and she was gone.
I faded out of the van, and the paramedics were none the wiser. I put on my gloves (so as not to kill anyone except they need killing) and wiped my face. Maybe I was going soft, but at least I was doing my job.
I finished my rounds for the night (and what a night it was, 4,095 deaths in all). And they did not all come easily.
There were souls that welcomed death willingly, some that begged to stay, some that refused to leave, and a few that even tried to fight me or run away. After this grueling night, I decided to pay mother a visit. Yes, this time I would have to truly go home. Ugh. I told the ground to open up, descended beneath the earth and made my way to Erebus.
I made my way past countless horrors on my way down, many of which I call siblings. Those are scary people: my siblings, Misery, Envy, Deceit, Madness, Outrage, Delusion, Mockery, Age, Trickery, my brother Charon, who escorts the dead to the afterlife, and Withering, Eurynomos.
But no one of this horrendous bunch is nearly as bad as the lady who birthed them all, my mother, Nyx (Night). She scatters the stars in the sky, and unleashes my demented brood of brothers and sisters whenever she isn't spreading her own darkness.
She is who I come to visit.
I looked to see if I could spot my mother's palace from the dock, but it was too far away.
"Are we getting' in or not?" Charon called to me. I boarded my brother Charon's ferry and proceeded down the river to descend further and further through the underworld. The inhabitants of these rivers are chained to the bottoms (with the water up to the tips of their chins) so as not to escape.
I pass through the river Lethe, which punishes the sins of the slothful, the lazy and those who ignore the crimes of others, and I watch in baleful silence as men are dipped in the placid, nearly-purple waters to forget their past lives, before beginning their new lives of eternal misery. Some remain there after being dipped in the waters.
I then cross the river Cocytus, which is the punishment for the greedy and the gluttonous eaters, and I look away in pity, because the people have been crying so long, they no longer shed tears; they only mourn as they experience all the feelings of sadness, sorrow, despair and hopelessness of their lives over and over.
Next I cross the river Acheron, the river that is designated to punish the proud and the arrogant, and I grimace as I watch souls I pass distort their faces in silent agony, as all the wounds they've received in their lives re-open, and their bodies are made to experience all their life's pain, wounds and trauma at once.
After that comes the river Phlegethon, the river which punishes the lustful and the jealous-hearted, known for its unbearable volcanic flame. This is where I watch faces twisted in wretched pain as they are burned horrifically, but never totally consumed, by the eternally hot and hellacious embers.
Finally, we reach it, the river Styx, the torment designated for the wrathful, the hateful and the mean-hearted, where the inhabitants are forever plagued by the torture of a myriad of snake-haired and winged Furies. Even amongst countless other damned, the screams of the people in this river seem to ring the loudest.
This is where we dock the dreadful brimstone-and-black-colored skiff, which my brother Charon must ride for all time.
As I board the dock, I see the manor in clear view, now. I enter, and open my mouth to utter a word of greeting, but before a word passes my lips, I hear a vaguely disturbing voice.
"Hello, Thanatos. Why have you begun to pity the mortals? Your brother told me you were crying when you brought another soul to the underworld. We are immortals. Not to pity the mortals who are our charges. The dying must leave, by your hand or your sister's. Take your pick." Mother stroked my silvery-white hair once before adding, "They aren't pets, so you needn't grow attached. Are you saying the Fates are wrong in how they design their list? That you should decide when certain people die? Don't be stupid. Your days are vastly beyond the humans', but my days are vastly beyond yours, and the Fates' beyond mine."
"Be that as it may," I replied, "I cannot just go on killing people! Please, let me rest! I'm weary. Murder is not my favorite thing! I didn't even choose my role! I am not Ker! My sister is bloodthirsty and murderous! Let her do it all
" I wanted to cry then, because that always let me get my way with her.
"I'm tired, and I need to get away from the---"
"I know. You can rest...soon. But first, you need to do one last assignment. For now
"Her name you'll have to find out yourself. You know the rules. You can't know the name until the list reveals her identity."
So I walk out of the manor and pet the massive dragon-tailed, three-headed dog Cerberus. Then, after saying my goodbyes to some more of my underworld kin, I headed to get back on the ferry for my temporary home, where I felt most at home. As I rode on the boat across the Styx, I found my nostrils filled with the fragrances of lotus, poppies, and asphodel, lovely flowers that are the only bright part of Erebus.
Souls are told that if they can pick 100 of them, they can leave. But they only get to pick one or two before the flowers cause them to sleep and forget what they were doing, so the field is filled with sleeping shades of the dead, neither of which can remember who they are, why they are there, or where they plan on going next. A dirty trick, yes, but, it must be done to prevent escape.
I drifted off into a disturbed sleep, from the enticing aroma of the intriguing blooms
Hers is the kingdom in which you roam
Erebus is the place she calls home
Lady Kore, most baleful queen,
Of grimmest countenance, most mournful mien
Make thy way to avoid that Lady,
So as not to rouse the Wrath of Hades
I woke up from my catnap at the edge of the boat when a horrified spirit grabbed me, trying to drag me down into the grimy waters of Acheron.
"Sorry, but I prefer not to share your pain", I said to the pitiful lady, and pushed her back into the turbid mire.
"Yuck. How disgusting," I said pompously to myself. Then I wiped the putrid muck of the river off my robe and began to ponder what the dream meant. It had never even occurred to me that I was about to receive the meaning, but it left me wondering.
Did that even count as a dream? It was really just a warning, right? Stay away from Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. No hard job, seeing as how she is royalty amongst the damned
Hades would never let me touch her anyway. But maybe I had to make sure.
Either way, it never came as a second thought to me, and I drifted back off to sleep and was re-awakened by another pitiful shade. But, this time I was at the bank of Lethe, so I kicked the grievous haunt off of my robe and went about my way.
I ascended back up the great and dark staircase that led to the mortal earth. Shades cried out to me to take them along, but I refused. Shades must never see sunlight, lest they be freed from their bonds and try to escape. No one wants ghosts walking about the earth.
The light of the sun hurt my eyes and so I shielded myself in my robe, and I decided I should try out this thing that the humans call sleep. I thought I should see if it's as great as Hypnos said it was. He liked to make people do it so much; maybe this time, I would take a real nap, just for the heck of it. I did.
Paris. I remember that boy. He loved Helen, right? Brought her back to Troy and started the Trojan War over the little tramp. Lasted ten years, cost countless lives. Now they're both dead, suffering in Erebus. Helen's in Phlegethon now, right? Or is it Styx? No, it's Phlegethon. And Paris is right next to her, for his crime of lust. Separated for all eternity, much worse than what would have happened, had Paris just had his little fling and went about his way... or even (here's a crazy thought) just done his business with the kings of that land and just been about his way.
Why am I bringing this to mind?
'Oh, boy. I can't even have a minute's rest. Even my own mind is putting me to work', I thought to myself, 'no rest for the weary, unless you're human'.
I got up from my vexed sleep, and went about my job to find out who the last person on my list would be before I could take my vacation. I decided to check the list to see if I could go on and hurry up about my business.
I skimmed down the list for the next person and the last person for a while. Had the name of the last victim been revealed? Ah...yes, the last person on the list was there, clear as day.
"Her name is...Melissa. That's the Greek word for 'honey bee'. How cute. But, that's odd. I wonder why there's no last name?" Well, I decided to ignore the mild glitch on the list, and I went about my way to collect my bounty, anyway.
The girl I found at an apartment complex, sprawled on the lower steps, with her friend-girl sitting next to her, moaning piteously. I knelt down and, and the girl's friend said, "Why did they cut down her tree? She doesn't deserve to die." Then she looked up...at me.
Bewildered by the revelation that she could see me, I found myself at a loss of words.
"I-I-I don't know. It's the, uh, the Will of the Fates. What must be, will be, I suppose. Wait. How can you see me, and what do you mean, cut down her tree?" She shook her head with more grievous silence.
"Didn't you know...she's a nymph? When her tree is cut down, she dies. Not to sound pompous, but I prefer not to associate with humans. I am, after all, Persephone, Queen of the Underworld."
Silence grasped my throat, and I was nearly at a loss for words.
"Persephone, my queen. Lady of the realms of the underworld. Forgive me for not remembering your face."
I knelt and kissed her hand. Her deep-sea-blue eyes met my midnight-violet eyes.
"Let me do for you a great favor."
I looked over to the dying-but-not-yet-dead Melissa and began to speak my native tongue.
"Iskai lai tou bo gim na shakai mau."
I spoke in Deathspeak only briefly, but the lovely nymph arose off the steps of the staircase, now just mildly dazed. She and Persephone looked at me, each grateful for the favor I'd done for them.
"Oh, thank you! I am eternally in your debt! I cannot possibly repay you for your kindness to my friend and me." Persephone was just as thankful.
"Thank you! I will find a way to pay you back!" She kissed my cheek and the two were off into the sunset joyously.
The thought then struck me.
What have I done? I've just let my last charge go! She was spared, and that was not supposed to happen! I thought to myself.
I then saw the sky grow cloudy.
The thunderous shout arose and I was immediately summoned before the dismal Sisters Three...the Fates.
"What is my name, Thanatos?" spoke the blonde one, knowing full well I knew.
are Clotho. The redhead next to you is Lachesis. And the brunette is Atropos, whose terrible shears cut the threads of men's lives."
I spoke sheepishly before the condescending and beautiful beings, all of which glared at me with unearthly scorn.
"Yes, and do you know what we do? We set up the bounds for destiny. I start men's lives, Lachesis continues them, and Atropos cuts the threads, which puts their name on your list so you can off them. That's what you do; you kill. That's how it works; but since you spared Melissa, your fate lies now in the hands of Persephone."
"The girl is very affectionate", Lachesis added, "and if she delivers her affections to you, then Hades will be furious. But if Melissa dies now, Persephone will feel let down by you, which will make Hades ready to avenge his poor wife Kore anyway. Now do you see the severity of the matter? Destiny was not to head in this direction, but you made it so. Now all of fate is off balance, because of the destructive wrath of Hades that will be unleashed on you if Persephone tries to befriend you or if you suffer her wrath. That gives you two choices; either you correct the wrong by killing Melissa and suffer Hades' consequences, but avoid ours, or you can go on a monstrous killing spree, bringing souls to the underworld to compensate for the one lost. Which will it be?"
"Uh, is there a third option? Perhaps find a way to weasel out of this without all the extra work?" I hated to sound like a coward, because I had killed people much bigger and stronger than Melissa, but the thought of suffering any Immortal's wrath scared me.
"No! You must right the wrong immediately. End of discussion! Sotanaht!" In unison, the Three spoke my name backwards, which sent me back to the upper world. And that was that.
And so my decision was made, and Melissa's fate was sealed. I fetched my scythe and proceeded to my dreaded home world, Erebus. Unfortunately, however, I would have to descend into a much worse part of the Underworld, and it was called, simply, Hades, named for its ruler.
I rode through the rivers again, constantly being ogled and grabbed by the mournful spirits, and arrived at Styx, and kept riding until I reached the end of the realm of Erebus and the gate to the next realm, Hades, where the king of this wasteland resided. I entered through the gate and pushed past the guards, because I had an appointment.
As I traversed further through this frightening world, I saw the souls moaning in agony and writhing in unnamed pain. I saw Jezebel, the Queen of Babylon, who was eaten alive by dogs, and Achilles, who after so many grueling battles, was downed by an arrow shot by a feeble prince, along with so many other famous faces.
Adolf Hitler, Julius Caesar, even Marc Antony and Cleopatra; but none of these famous people caught my attention; I was far too stunned by the magnitude of the mansion that lay ahead. This was the house of Hades. The manor was a horrible and beautiful abode. The gray and black place was designed exquisitely, nearly unrivaled.
It had a black roof, and pillars of black marble. Not to mention, the gray walls depicted scenes from the history of the entire world, from the past to now and on.
However, it hadn't occurred to me to consult the walls for how my problem would turn out.
Hades' female attendants, Rest and Silence, stood in solemn dignity at his huge doors, and Eurynomos sat at the edge of the steps of the palace, gnawing at a corpse like a house pet would his master's shoes (they must decompose somehow). I neared this dreadful and lovely manor and knelt until told to enter.
The door flung open and I heard a familiar voice.
"What is your business here, Thanatos? Have you come to take my friend at last? Was her surviving a mistake?" Kore was already in a black dress and veil, and I divined that I was expected.
"Yes, my lady. How did you know?"
"My ways are not your ways. You need not know the devices by which I know all I know." Persephone looked up, though, at her Harpies, who I assumed must have told her.
The Harpies looked down on me, from the rafters where they were perched, their teeth as sharp and serrated as ever, their talons caked with dried blood.
"You'll not take her easily. You and I have a little unspoken wager. I have control over death as well, because I am the lady of the Underworld. I approve who enters and who exits the underworld before they even make their way down to my gloomy kingdom. If spirits can't enter my realm, their spirits haunt those who caused it to be that way. My simple decree can make this so. And I shall. Make note, Hecate." The now-wrathful Persephone looked over to her attendant, the Goddess of Ghosts and Witches.
"Yes, Madam. I shall tell Charon to deny all entrance to the Netherworld."
And Hecate went off in the greatest haste to let my brother know that he could rest, and that all death would temporarily cease.
"Tell me. Why did you spare my friend a few hours of extra life, only to snatch her away from me again?"
Persephone looked now at me, feeling all the rage she felt when Hades had first abducted her from her mother to make her his Underworld Queen.
"Can I have no peace and happiness in my lifetime?" she continued, "Am I damned to live in this rotten and corrupt place without friends, except the Harpies and that savage, Eurynomos? Do you hate me so much that even the slightest ray of sunshine in this dank pitMelissa must be cut short in the prime of her life? I'm almost positive that Hades would hate to hear that his poor Kore is displeased with her living conditions down here. I must only stay here for six months, and he wants all six to be happy before I depart. Don't you, Hades?"
Hades had entered the room, silent as a cat, and his immortally strong features were hard as always. His visage was now frozen in a permanent scowl, one that darkened the sun and raised storms. With this scowling demeanor, he looked at me with even more wrath in his heart towards me than he had towards his brothers when he found out he would only rule the underworld, with the damned being his only house guests.
Hades eyes were bloodshot and angry from living in an eternally dark home, and he spoke with a voice like a wizened old man, even though he had the features of a man, at most, in only his early thirties.
"What is this offense that has made my wife hysterical, almost mad, with grief?"
The whole of the manor grew darker and more hushed and only the Harpies rustled their feathers whilst Hades spoke.
"Sire, I have no choice but to do away with the nymph. She is mortal, and must die. Today is simply her day to depart. Can she not see Melissa again, down here?"
Persephone was outraged at the assumption that Melissa deserved to be down there.
"Tell the Fates that you simply refuse to take the job or whatever it is you must say whenever you cannot obey their commands." Persephone proclaimed meanly.
"But, I can't just say, 'Hey, Clotho, go blow it out your nose', or some other nonsense like that. I've never defied the orders of the Fates before."
Hades nodded, knowing very well himself that it was unwise to go against their orders.
"Well, I don't care. Unless you agree to stop, prevent, or substitute the death of my friend Melissa, you're not leaving. Melissa cannot die. Not now, not ever. Now, if you'd like, you can rest here, as long as Melissa wakes up in the morning, too." The wearied queen unruffled her dress and arose from her marble throne.
Next, summoning the Harpies from the rafters, she departed with the sharp-clawed, winged, feathery females squawking as though to imitate conversation, as their avian features prohibited true human speech.
I found the sight disturbing, but I shook the feeling and ascended the stairs. I'd gone about five stories before I remembered that I had no idea where anything was in their house. It took me about thirty minutes, but I finally found the sleeping quarters, on what I believe to be the twelfth floor. I collapsed on the bed, and began, once again, to dream.
Rouse not Kore's wrath, sleeping in her bed,
Wake thyself, raise thy head
For as you rest, Melissa nears,
A traitor she is, though you spared her from tears
I awoke. There were no mournful wraiths to greet me here, but I could not shake the feeling that my dream's warning was warning of something much worse. And my dreams are never wrong: especially not now.
"Wake up from my bed, you insolent murderer! Melissa told me of your plan! Kill her, and then leave as though nothing happened! Now, you're not leaving until you stand trial!" Persephone bellowed angrily. Persephone's attendants cowered out of the room, and the room grew dark.
Persephone's eyes glazed electric blue and a dark purple aura now swirled around her, which gave me the slightest hint that she might be a little angry.
"But, Melissa told me that this room would be a good room for me to sleep in! She set me up! The little traitor! I spared you once, Melissa, but it will be a pleasure when I can finally do you in! Fine, Lady Persephone, I'll stand trial. But if I win the trial, then Melissa's gone, with no visits from you, and you get the Fates to agree to let me go on vacation, for as long as I wish. If you win, I'll spare Melissa forever and I'll continue my unhappy work for centuries to come. No breaks at all, during this time."
Kore now looked at her friend, who she was sure could do no wrong. The two stepped away briefly to consult about the matter, and then they step back in front of me.
"We accept your wager. We shall hold the trial at noon tomorrow in the Olympian court." Persephone said with condescending glee.
"What?! Mount Olympus? You mean, with the rest of the gods?!"
I was stunned that she would take me to so high a court on so small a matter, "There's no need to get all hasty, Your Highness. Why make a mountain out of a molehill, really?"
"It seems as though you're afraid. Ocypete, I want you to do that funny chicken-clucking sound at him so he'll know I'm taunting him." the awkward Fury clucked in giddy glee and the other Harpies, Aello and Podarge, clucked in unison with her, then laughed together in a way I knew was intended to be mean.
"Fine. It's settled, then. I am far from chicken...you'll see." I walked away, to my actual room.
The next day, the whole of the underworld court was dressed in their best Greek attire, as they expected a royal occasion. What could be more interesting and noteworthy than Death on trial for attempted murder?
Outrage, Recklessness, Delusion, Theft, Lying, Distrust, Jealousy, Disobedience, Betrayal, and Injustice all came to Hadean Manor to have a hearty breakfast. Even the Seven Deadly Sins (who is Pride, Lust, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Wrath and Gluttony) and demented Eurynomos (with leash and muzzle) came to say hello.
After a delightful breakfast (Ambrosia and Nectar, the food of the gods), we all got into our chariots and off to the trial we went. During this time, it is said that no Vice or Hardship befell the Earth; it was pretty peaceful, I imagine. They were all too busy hounding me before the trial.
The chariots rode up out of the abyss of the Underworld and into the daylight. Our chariots flew as fast as the winged horses would take us, past unsuspecting people and plenty of tall buildings with windows that shattered almost instantaneously. All the people could do was run or duck, because the wind was so intense, many of us even came close to flying out of our seats.
Flying across the globe, it was quite the spectacle to be seen in chariots with flying horses and four-winged dragons or any other odd creature.
Across the rest of the United States, across the Atlantic Ocean, and over to Europe we went. The whole time, many of us had to fly in crazy patterns to avoid turbulence.
We eventually reached Greece, and from there, we made our way to the gates of Mount Olympus, which were guarded by Heracles (better known as Hercules). We entered the Gate and finally arrived at the abode of the Olympians.
What a glorious palace that was. All bright and beautiful, made from the loveliest ivory and the deepest gold. Never once had I seen a more glorious sight. The palace sat on clouds and glistened with a stellar aura of sunshine, with a folded up Rainbow right next to it, for when Iris, the goddess of the Rainbow needed to deliver messages. At a grandiose 298 floors (with a room for almost every possible purpose), it greatly rivaled the House of Hades. The master's attendants, Force, Strength, Rivalry and Victory stood in pompous silence at the door and we greeted the four, waiting to be invited in.
The whole of our group was greeted with a jolly, baritone greet.
"Hello, all! How pleasant to see you! It's not often that the whole underworld comes to visit! It's good that you come out for some fresh air. And we've got the freshest, don't you agree?" It was the lord of the sky, king of the gods, ruler of the sky and weather, Zeus.
Aside from the group, I walked around and stared at the room in awe. I had never seen such a glorious estate. We all get settled into our rooms and two hours later, it is settled that the trial shall not start yet.
"Tonight we feast. Then tomorrow, we try our cousin, Thanatos, for...attempted murder."
Well, that was just great. Zeus made me sound as though I were a common criminal for doing my job.
The night was full of tense laughter and sideways looks whenever I came around to speak to my relatives. They looked at me as though I were...mortal or something. I was glad to get to bed that night.
No annoying dream warnings and no other interruptions.
However, I would much prefer an annoying dream instead of all the occurrences that were to take place the next day.
The courtroom is an immaculate room about two stories high, with pictures, statues and scrolls showing and telling about all the wisest judges and greatest thinkers in all of history; Solomon, the wisest man on earth, and Socrates, Aristotle and Plato. Even Einstein made the wall of fame. I enter this grandiose, seven-story tall room and take my seat in the defendant's chair.
I was immediately greeted by looks of solemn contempt.
"Traitor", I heard one of my sisters or cousins say under her breath.
Soon everyone was quiet, and Zeus entered into the room.
"All rise! For the great, honorable, noble, wise, and magnificent---"
"That's enough, Hermes!" Zeus spoke impatiently. Hermes fell silent and motioned for the whole of the crowd to take their seats.
"We shall now have the arguments of the prosecution", Zeus said sweetly to his daughter, Kore.
She immediately stood and took her place in front of the judge's podium.
"Father, er, I mean, Your Honor. It seems that the defendant, Thanatos, has tried to commit a heinous crime. He has attempted murder on an immortal."
The crowd managed a startled gasp, and I looked up at her in outrage.
"What? Melissa was not immortal! How else---"
"Silence, Thanatos!" The room boomed with thunder and storm clouds began to darken the room, forming directly from above Zeus' stormy brow.
"Let her speak."
Kore stuck her tongue out at me inconspicuously and continued.
"Now, although she is my personal friend, Melissa is also the daughter of Melisseus, a divine son of Ouranos, the god of the dome of the sky. That makes her immortal, and thus, not capable of being put on Thanatos' list. Thus, the only way that she could have been put on his list is if someone put her there, in a murderous attempt at her life."
"You may speak now, Thanatos."
"Thank you, Your Honor. Well, it seems that I obviously made a mistake. I had no clue that she was immortal. When her name appeared on the list, I was immediately transported to her vicinity. That's how all my deaths go; I appear near the person next to leave. Ask Kore, I didn't even know that she was a nymph until I got there and she was dying. Since she was in agony, I immediately recognized her as the next person to die, but when I let her go, I hadn't the option to let her go twice. If I did, I was afraid that a mortal would have accidentally been immortalized. It hadn't come to mind that if she was a nymph, she was already immortal, and couldn't be killed. I thought it was a mistake that I let her go."
I tried to look very convincing, because I wasn't lying, but the jury didn't look like they were buying it.
"How is that possible, though? Immortals have never been put on the list of the doomed-to-die by the Fates. The Fates couldn't have made that big a mistake. It would be ridiculous for them to have made such a crazy mistake after millennia of doing their work!" Zeus looked at me suspiciously, trying to see where I was going with my argument.
"Well, Father", Persephone spoke, "I have a way to prove to the jury and yourself that Thanatos screwed with the design of Destiny by attempting to undo the life of a being destined to live forever." She motioned for my scroll, which Hermes handed to her.
"This scroll tells who must die and at what location, time and place. Let's examine it, shall we? Here's Alvin Aarons, Callinda Burroughs, Kelly Gilliam, Melanie Huff, and" scrolling down the long, long list, "
Melissa is the latest entry on the scroll. Let's see if the name has dark marks around it; that's the signature of the touch of Death."
Persephone proceeded to search for even the slightest hint of having been touched by me.
"Here you go, Your Honor. You should call in Queen Hera to look for the Deathprint." Zeus's wife, Hera, goddess of motherhood and the picture of a stereotypical wife, was awesome at finding evidence of crime (because she had used her keen eye many times to repeatedly discover Zeus' infidelity).
Hera looked over the scroll over and over. She then rolled up the scroll and looked at Kore doubtfully.
"I'm so very sorry. No evidence of infidelity, I mean, uh, Death's touch."
Persephone and Hera exchanged looks of disbelief and took time to examine it together, before finally admitting in unison,
"He hasn't even tampered with it once".
The jury and the audience cheered with a great clamor that echoed off the walls for a good minute or two.
"But", the room grew silent at Zeus' interruption, "If Thanatos had no part in tampering with the list, then who did?" The audience went from a joyous applause to a curious buzz of questions and whispers. All of a sudden, the culprit could handle being held out of the spotlight no more. Eurynomos broke his muzzle, yanked his leash from Mother who was walking him, and spoke.
"I can't take it anymore! I did it, you dolt! It was me!"
The audience gasped in shock, and I shared this feeling.
"Huh?! Eurynomos, I thought you were mad! Mother said that you were insane!" I said, still in disbelief.
But Eurynomos shook his head impatiently, replying, "I figured that would be the only way I could get close enough to frame you, you fool!" Eurynomos stood up and looked at me with unearthly malice.
"But how did you do it, Eurynomos?"
I looked at his bulgy eyes and saw that he was dead serious.
"How? Oh, it was so easy. I had centuries of false insanity, in which I took my sweet time to plan out your crime, down to the very detail of the framing."
Now the whole room grew hushed as he explained every detail, bit by bit, every detail more disturbing than the last.
"First, I had to decide which immortal would be the best target. Melissa was a traitorous beauty, so I figured that she would be the best person for the job. I got her and a few of our brothers and sisters to cooperate, too. First the Fates would have to be distracted, so the Harpies flew around their grungy lair for a while, to keep them from helping you. By the time the Fates shooed away the Harpies, Melissa's name was already on your list, from when I snuck in during the fuss and replaced her thread with a cut one."
"Next, I had to set up the death scene, but my power doesn't range in causing death. That's where our sister Ker comes in. She touched Melissa and the girl toppled down the stairs, but Moros kept you and Ker your distances away so that the girl would not die, because his power can bring you or deter you. However, if your powers were not to be weakened, he would have to let you near enough to choose for yourself to spare her or kill her."
The audience looked at Eurynomos in awe as this maniacal genius unfurled the entirety of his plan to undo my powers.
"This brought you to a crossroads." He continued.
"If you killed her there, Persephone would have unleashed the wrath of her husband, the lord of the Underworld, Hades. But, if you spared her, the Fates would look at your list and, whether she was immortal or not, she would have to die. You sparing her would undo the magic of the Fates because her thread appeared to have already been cut, yet she survived."
My eyes lit up with both surprise and disbelief.
"Then, you would be able to defy my ability as Death, and assume my powers. And since you could not keep power over multiple domains of the world, I would get your ability, and be stuck causing the corpses of the dead to rot."
Eurynomos nodded sinisterly.
"And there's nothing you can do about it."
He began to laugh evilly, which our family is very good at.
"I wouldn't say that there was nothing Thanatos could do."
The three voices came forth with familiar scorn, and the room darkened once more. However, even Zeus feared this new wrath.
It was...the Fates.
"The three of us heard your entire plan, Eurynomos, and personally, we do not like to be fooled."
Eurynomos turned around and stumbled backward.
"Ah, yes, fair Ladies, Deep-thinking Fates. Dismal Sisters, how nice it is...having you come for the trial."
The Fates looked at him.
"No, Eurynomos. You know what business we have here. We wish to retrieve the Thread of Melissa's Life... and yours."
Everyone in the room gasped. No one had a clue as to what the Three planned to do with it. Eurynomos reached into his tunic and found the two long threads.
"Here they are, my lady." Atropos stepped forward and snatched the threads from Eurynomos. She then wove the threads together, and called her sister Lachesis to tap them with her pointer finger.
"Now, as the entire Underworld and the Olympian Hosts are witness, by decree of the Fates, and sworn on the river Styx by which no god or goddess may relinquish their oath, Melissa is mortal, and Eurynomos is mad. They were once pretenders and deceivers, but, no more."
Instantly Melissa looked at the group and was consumed with the ethereal light that surrounded the palace. She burst into flame, and Kore could watch now, only in grievous disbelief, as I touched her and she was gone.
"Until we meet again in Hades, my friend." Persephone spoke in mournful whisper.
Eurynomos spoke up; "That was a wise choice indeed, your Honors! That girl was trouble! Traitorous, she was!"
But Lachesis had a reward for Eurynomos's treachery as well. Almost instantly, he was driven mad with feral rabies that no being, mortal or immortal, except God alone, could have remedied. He foamed at the mouth and writhed in pain beyond worldly compare. His eyes were blinded to all reason and logical thought. He was given over to every emotion, thought and impulse locked in his mind simultaneously, and his body jerked wildly as though self-control was a luxury that was now eternally beyond his grasp (which it was). He roved around the courtroom madly, until Zeus hit him over the head with his gavel, and Mother tied him back up and re-muzzled him.
Then Lachesis tucked the threads of Melissa's and Eurynomos' lives into her pocket. Zeus went back to his chair from which he decided and approved many of the world's affairs.
"Well, since we have a full confession from the culprit, who is not Thanatos, I find the defendant innocent. I also find Eurynomos and Melissa guilty of Thanatos' framing for the attempted murder of the late, once-immortal...Melissa. His sentence...well, uh, I think the Fates handled that pretty well. Case dismissed." We all gave a cheer again, because that meant that order had been restored to the world and the underworld. And so, it turns out that I was just being framed by my evil genius brother.
Oh, well. I suppose that's a good ending to the tale, right? Melissa's dead, as I intended, and Eurynomos is mad, like he pretended to be in the first place. Now I shall take my well-deserved vacation. Oh, and if you should happen to be on my list to die, don't worry. You won't be late. My sister Ker, that is, Violent Death and Moros, Doom, will be filling in for me.