The boring party
All the same, each time. That’s what the Lord of the Underworld thought when he watched upon the gods and godlings as they danced and drank like there was no tomorrow. It was the god Zeus’ celebration party. For what, nobody seemed to care. But the All Seeing God of Dead did. This was another wasted day when he could be using his somewhere else. Hades took the last sip from his goblet then rose from his throne in an attempt to leave.
”Dear brother, Hades! Where’s the fuss?” the thundering voice called from a few metres away from Hades.
”What do you mean, ’o great Zeus?” the God of the Dead gazed at The King of the Gods, as he was lifting his goblet for his brother.
”Once again you are leaving us after only showing your face here. Why don’t you tell us stories about the Underworld? Or adventures of the heroes who have crossed your realm?” Hades merely lifted his cloak and said:
”The stories of the dead aren’t for laughs. Goodbye.”
Hades could still hear his brother’s voice in the distance as he was walking to the gardens of Olympus where his chariot was waiting. Hades was wistfully thinking of the cool Underworld. Upperworlders sometimes said that it was cold and wet but Hades himself liked that. He preferred that over the hot and dry air of the surface world. On Olympus it was slightly better but then there were the numerous gods with their constant nosy questions of the Underworld. The more often he visited the Olympus, it was becoming more and more clear that it wasn’t his place. He didn’t belong there. He had become terms with that already, but sometimes he had thoughts in the back of his mind. Thoughts that he did not want to think about, for he had too much pride to acknowledge them: he wanted someone to experience the Underworld the way he did. To see the calm beauty of the Fields of Elysium or the tender coldness reflected on Lethe.
The Lord of the Underworld suddenly snapped out of his thoughts when he noticed a figure near his chariot. A young nymph was patting the horses of the chariot. The stallions never let anyone near them as they only obeyed Hades. So how could a simple nymph manage to gain their trust? As Hades was approaching the horses lifted their heads to their nearing master and slowly bowed their head to him. The nymph turned around.
”Oh, hello! You must be the charioteer.” The nymph looked at ’the charioteer’ and smiled at him. He looked upon the simple girl with an offended look. ’How dare this wench speak to the Lord of the Dead?’
”And what if I am? Do you not know who you are speaking to?” Hades stared down at the young nymph who clearly wasn’t affected by Hades’ scornful tone. She merely gave a gentle smile and bowed respectfully.
”I know who you are, my Lord. The Lord Of Us All and the Ruler of the Realm of the Dead. It’s an honor to meet you.” Hades brushed aside the formalities and asked:
”How were you able to approach my steeds? They’ve never let any nymphs or other gods near them.”
The girl raised her head.
”I gave them flowers from my wreath. I was feeling kinda bored so I decided to take a walk in these gardens when I noticed these majestic beings. But low and behold I was mistaken.” Hades lifted his eyebrow.
”They’re the sweetest things. Of course, first they were very cautious but after I offered my flowers they became the most adorable creatures.” The girl stroked Nyctaeus’ mane as it brushed it’s muzzle to the girl’s face. The nymph’s face suddenly lit with realization.
”Of course I don’t mean that they aren’t majestic, I still think they are!” The nymph looked into the steeds eyes.
”I just… it has been awhile since I have felt so peaceful in Olympus, so I may have gotten carried away.” Hades stared at the young nymph. The expression on her was something that he couldn’t quite describe. He decided not to intrude on the matter.
”It doesn’t matter. For them to let you get near means you have earned their trust. They can recognize people’s fears and inner thoughts.” The nymph’s hand slightly twitched. Hades acted like he didn’t see that and brushed Nyctaeus’ mane. They stayed in a moment of silence, only feeling each other’s presence and Hades noticed that he didn’t really dislike it.
”I thank you for taking care of them, but I must leave now, if you excuse me.” The nymph backed off a little and gave a way for Hades to board the chariot.
As Hades was preparing to depart the nymph suddenly said:
”May I ask you something?” Hades pulled his steeds to stop and stared back at the nymph with intrigued gaze:
”Can you give me a ride to the ground?”
Hades dropped the reins from his hands after hearing this request. He quickly regained his composure but he certainly didn’t expect this.
”Why would I do that? Do I look like some travel service?”
”No! Of course not!!” The nymph shook her head frantically.
”But you saw the chance that you’d get a quick ride by using my chariot didn’t you?”
”No... I mean...Yes...” The girl looked at the ground with red spreading on her face.
”I… I don’t have any other means to travel down. I need someone else to help me and you..”
”Yes?” Hades noticed the red on the girl's face wasn’t caused by embarrassment. It was shame.
”You are the only one who is currently leaving.”
The nymph clearly didn’t have other ways to leave. The gates to Olympus were closed during the festivities and only those with chariots or of authority were able to leave. And the other gods really looked like they weren’t leaving anywhere in a long time.
Hades hesitated. If there started spreading rumours that the Lord of Underworld had become some kind of a chariot travel service for nymphs, he wouldn’t hear the end of it in a few eons. Though... Hades glanced at the girl. He felt that this nymph wasn’t as loose lipped compared to her sisters. There was a certain kind of pride in her. The impression that she wouldn’t run around whispering useless things. But still…
Hades’ expression softened. He sighed deeply:
”How long away is this place of yours?” The nymph lifted his face.
”I asked, where do you want me to be left off?”
”Just… just down from the mountain. There’s a small meadow where my mother can find me easily.”
”Very well.” Hades moved slightly aside so there was enough space for another person in the front.
”Come in.” The nymph looked at Hades with a dumbfounded face.
”Ye- Yes! Thank you!” The nymph pulled herself inside the chariot. She held onto the sides of the chariot. Hades gave the nymph a small glance, hit the reins and the black steeds started galloping down from Olympus.
She felt the cold wind piercing her skin as the chariot was galloping through the sky down to the ground. Persephone held on to the sides of the chariot with all her might so she wouldn’t be flown away. She glanced at the man guiding the chariot. When she asked the King of the Dead for a ride to ground she didn’t think he’d actually agree to do it. She felt her face get warmer even though of the piercing wind. To think she had to request something like that and someone of his pedigree. She had to repay the kind man later.
”Aren’t you cold in there?”
”Huh?” Persephone’s grip loosened a bit and she jolted backwards. Lord Hades catched her and pulled her close to him.
”Hold on to me until we’ve reached the ground, or else Zephyros’ winds will blow you away.”
Persephone put her arms around him and felt the warmth rushing through her body. The front clearly was warmer.
”This is why I gave you a space near the front.”
”I didn’t want to intrude.” Persephone muttered. The man sighed.
”If I was afraid of you invading my space I wouldn’t have invited you to my chariot.” Persephone just nodded slightly and tightened her grip.
They pierced through the clouds and reached the surface. Persephone looked around the view. Steep mountains and dry meadows, with few forests here and there. Scarce land but simple and beautiful on it’s own way. She slightly loosened her grip to see the ground and then she noticed the familiar meadow in the distance.
”Can you leave me there? To the far east.” The Lord of the Dead effortlessly steered the chariot to the pointed direction and the dark steeds changed their course to the new destination.
As The Lord of the Underworld was pulling the steeds for landing Persephone was, unbeknownst to her, slightly fidgeting. She couldn't wait to feel the warm grass under her feet. She just wanted to run through the meadow hills and bask her skin in the warm sun. Away from everyone. Well mostly everyone.
The chariot landed on the ground with a thud and Persephone jumped off and almost immediately fell on the field of flowers. She laid her arms around and breathed the warm air. She heard a loud cough and realised that Hades was still there. She quickly sprung on to her feet and bowed down.
”Thank you for bringing me here, kind lord! How can I repay you?”
”I don’t need any payment, I only ask that you won’t go spreadin around that Lord Hades gave a chariot ride to a nymph.” A nymph? Persephone raised her head to see the Lord of the Dead but he didn’t seem to be joking. Did he think of her as a simple nymph? She laughed under her breath. ’Well, who wouldn’t mistake me for a nymph.’ Persephone simply smiled, trying to hide her disappointment.
”Of course, my lord. My lips are sealed.” The man looked at Persephone and asked:
”May I have your name? You have never addressed yourself.” Persephone looked at the man and had a second thought should she give her name, she didn’t want to have the King of the Underworld’s wrath on her for embarrassing him by mistaking her for a nymph. But also… she did want to thank him for the hospitality.
”The name’s Persephone. I’m the goddess of spring and fertility, daughter of Demeter, my Lord.” She bowed down a little but just enough that she could still have a glance of the God of the Deads’ expression. His eyebrows were wrinkled and he looked surprised.
”I haven’t seen you before. How so?”
”My mother rarely let’s me leave this area thus I almost never show my face on Olympus.”
”I have heard that Demeter had borne a child not long ago but... I didn’t expect it to be you. Forgive me for my rudeness.” Hades bowed down his head. Now it was Persephone’s turn to look surprised. Hades looked at him with the same sternness but this time he was speaking with an apologetic tone. ’Did one of the Great Gods just apologise to me?’
”No, I should be at fault for not addressing myself immediately.”
”That is true, could have saved us from a few misunderstandings.” Hades sighed.
”Doesn’t matter. What is done is done. Now...” He steered the dark horses to another way and in the far distance a crack opened in the ground and an entrance to the Underworld had appeared.
”Now that you have reached the ground I shall go my own way. Goodbye.”
”Goodbye and thank you again.” Hades glanced Persephone’s way and nodded as a reply. He hit the reins again and the horses started galloping to the crack in the distance. Persephone looked until the earth ate the horses and the chariot within. For the first time Persephone thought that it was good that she had attended this feast on Olympus. She’d deal with her mother’s scolding later but now she just wanted to enjoy this good feeling she had. She walked to the depths of the forest meadow and added a little spring to her feet while smiling all the way home.