By Claudiu Herta
Hades sat on his dark thrown deeply engaged with the glowing crystal ball in his lap. The throne room was very dark, but the light of the crystal ball pierce through the darkness like a Greek spear into human flesh. He sat alone, but the soft patter of footstep could be heard coming down the long, wide halls. A smile broke over his face as he failed to notice that his beautiful young wife Persephone had perched herself beside him.
“I’m bored.” She leaned onto the Dark Lords cold calculating shoulder.
“Please be quite, my love.”
“But I’m so bored. There’s never anything to do down here. Everyone is so, well, um, dead. I mean I know the dead aren’t the most exiting but – ”
Hades tore himself away from the vision in the crystal ball, his fury burned through his Queen, “Enough! Quit with your childish whining for a moment and perceive this moment for what it is. I’ve done it. I’ve finally done it. I’ve found her!”
“Rude… Found who?”
The deadly smile returned to Hades’ pale, but soft lips. “Innocence, my sweet, sweet Persephone; pure, unadulterated, innocence. Thy name is Pandora.”
“Oh…why were you looking for her?”
“You can’t be serious. It is all I ever talk about, my love.”
“I fell in the river Lethe on the way here.”
“I’ve done it before?”
“Just…” Hades furrowed his brows. “You know what? Fine, I’ll start from the beginning. When that insufferable gossip Hermes came to announce the birth of yet another one of my brother’s sons he actually let slip some uncharacteristically useful information.”
With the crystal ball in one hand, Hades stood up and did his best impersonation of the Messenger God. “Ya didn’t hear it from me, dead buddy, but ol’ King White Beard found a family heirloom in the desert!”
“Ha! Ha! That’s so Hermes!” Persephone leapt happily onto Hades’ empty throne. “I think…”
Hades continued, “Anyways – I did some research and found that the family heirloom is actually a chest containing the last remaining essence of Kronos and the rest of the Titans.”
“Ouu, Kronos is a cute name!” Persephone exclaimed.
“Could you just let me finish?! Okay? Yes. So, my brother placed a seal on the box and declared that only one who contained the purest of essence could open it and use the power within. That pompous ass thought he was so smart because no one has ever been truly innocent, man or god.” The Dark Lords’ menacing grin lit up the Underworld. “Until now.”
“Ohhhhh. I get it. The crystal ball found Pandora. An innocent girl.”
“Exactly! I stole the crystal ball from the Sisters of Fate some time ago and I’ve been using it to find innocence. You see, the Eye of Fate shows the one who holds it that which they seek most of all. I’ve spent years looking into that crystal ball only to find it empty. But today was different! Do you now see the significance of it all, my love?”
Persephone peered into the crystal ball, “No. I guess I don’t. I don’t see anyone in there. Maybe I’m starting to become more and more like you – gross.”
Hades took a deep breath as he placed the Eye of Fate back on its pedestal. “My, dear, sweet, Persephone, while I do so much enjoy our morning dialogues – ”
“Morning? How can you ever tell down here?”
Shaking his head slowly, Hades continued, “The significance is that I must leave you for a brief moment, while I attend to this matter.”
“Yeah, no, you’re not leaving me down here alone.” The smile had faded from her perfect face.
Hades clasped his wife’s shoulders tighter than he usually had. “What’s wrong with it? Don’t you like it down here?”
“It’s just you’ve never left me down here alone. It gets cold and it’s always dark.” Her face mimicked that of the child in the crystal ball.
“I will not be gone very long, my loving, understanding, Persephone. I must do this alone.” This was his moment of glory, not hers. “Besides, I find it soothing and a wonderful place for being alone with one’s thoughts.”
Persephone’s wide doe eyes tightened to a sharp glare which cut right through the Dark Lord. “Well maybe then I should go back to Mount Olympus and leave you alone with your thoughts.” Arms crossed, she knew she had him on the ropes. Hades never was able to deny his young wife when she persisted.
Looking an even paler shade of white Hades surrendered, “No. No, I suppose you may accompany me on this errand if you must.”
Her face lit up the cold, darkness of the Underworld. “I must, for me and for you, sweetheart. If you’re going to deal with a little kid, you’re going to need a woman’s touch. I mean I find your pale skin and beady black eyes sexy, but you’ll just scare the poor thing to death.”
Hades rolled his eyes, “That is what I need, another to join this crowded moratorium.”
Persephone was perched on a large black and gold chest in the centre of the temple. It was a chest half as tall as her and four time as wide. This chest contained every Titan essence and the loud clangs reverberated as Pandora swung her heels into its metal sides. Whistling a tune, she jumped as Hades appeared out of the darkness holding the little girl Pandora. “I should’ve went and got her instead. You know, because of that whole dark and creepy thing you’ve got going on. Plus I’m so booOOoored. First I sat and did nothing in the dark at home. Now I’m sitting and doing nothing in the dark…well you get what I’m saying right, babe?”
Hades eyes flashed. “Yes, yes, bored. Got it. Get off the chest!”
Persephone leapt off the chest as if she was sitting on hot coals this whole time and only now realized it. “Sorry…is she asleep or dead? You didn’t actually scare her to death did you?”
“She is asleep, my love. A God’s spell. Morpheus owed me a favor after that unpleasantness at Ares second birthday party. I guess that’s why he’s the God of Sleep and not awakening, am I right?” Hades’ evil smirk was met with a blank stare by his beloved.
“Yeah, no. I totally get that joke. That’s so funny. You’re hilarious, babe.”
“Right…I do believe it is now time to wake up our little girl.” Hades softly sifted his long pale fingers through the little girls’ deep black hair “Stir, stir little one and allow us the Gods to do what needs to be done.”
“Ouu rhyming!” Persephone smiled and sighed, never taking her eyes off her husband and the little girl together. “You’d make such a good father.”
Ignoring his wife, Hades placed the girl down as she stirred in his arms. With the girl now standing on her own two feet, Hades back peddled into the dark shadows of the temple.
“Hello sweetheart, my name is Persephone, who might you be?” A beautiful smile was laced across the Goddess’ face.
The little girl brushed sleep from her eyes as she mumbled, “I’m Pandora.”
“Well that’s a beautiful name.”
“Thank you, mommy says it means gift because I was her gift when daddy died.”
“Oh, I see…” Persephone peered over the little girl and into the shadows. “I don’t want to do this anymore. I’ve grown attached.”
Pandora whined, “I want- I want my mommy. I want to go home.”
A soft echo called out from all the dark corners of the temple. A cold voice only Persephone could hear. “Don’t be so hasty, my love. No harm will come to her. This I promise you.”
Screwing up her face back into a smile, Persephone motioned for her husband to make an appearance. “I said I can’t.”
The echo responded, cold and darker. “This was your idea, my love.”
“Yes. Well, it was a dumb idea. You’re better at persuasion anyways. I mean you got me to marry you and I’m beautiful, while you’re all lanky and pale…” For the first time in her life Persephone was shocked out of words by the site before her.
As Hades softly glided out of the darkness and into the moonlight, his pale skin glistened bronze and his eyes turned from a dark black to a beautiful sky blue. His long silky black hair turned golden and his thin lanky body morphed into a thicker muscular build.
His wife continued to stare in amazement as she spoke with an air of confusion, “Pandora, this is my husband Hades and we need your help with something. If you help us we promise to take you back to your mother.”
A strong, bronze hand rested on Pandora’s’ little shoulder. A deep powerful voice now replaced the snakelike tone of Hades. “Ahh, such a sweet innocent girl. I’ve been looking for you for so long. Do I frighten you?”
“No.” Pandora mumbled.
Grabbing her husband by the collar roughly, Persephone whispered, “I thought I was supposed to handle her?!”
“You just said you couldn’t…”
“Yeah, well, why can’t you always look like this?!”
Hades drew his attention back to the little girl. “What my beautiful and eloquent wife says is true. I can and will return you to your mother, but only if you do something for me first; something very simple.” Hades pointed to the large black and gold chest behind the little girl. “See little one, that chest right there is not locked, but only you can open it. And I need you to open it for me. That’s all.”
“Why?” Pandora asked as her childish eyes stared back and forth between Hades and the chest.
“Well, my mean old brother hid away something very important to me in that box and even though it’s not locked, do you know what he said to me?”
With wide, curious eyes Pandora replied, “Nuh, uh.”
“He told me that someone as evil as me would not be allowed to open it. Now, do I look evil to you?”
Both Pandora and Persephone shook their heads.
“No indeed. But, what he also said is that someone as good as you could open it.”
Pandora’s eyes grew even wider. “Really?”
“Really.” A devilish smile overtook Hades. “Now please. Open that chest up for your good friend Hades and I promise with all my heart that once you do, I will take you home to your mother.”
Pandora looked at him with suspicion. “Do you promise?”
“I promise.” He stated reaching out his right hand for hers. “You have my word sweetheart and the word of a God is as good as gold.”
Persephone began to giggle, but Pandora took no notice and shook Hades’ hand.
Hades lifted the girl off her feet and carried her to the large chest. She reached out and unbuckled the clasps. The little girl and Hades were suddenly enveloped by a hurricane of darkness that shot out of the black and gold chest. Persephone screamed in horror as she lost sight of both the little girl and her husband. The bright shining moonlight turned to clouds of darkness and a roaring thunder could be heard all around the temple.
Inside the hurricane the little girl had passed out, but Hades had shut his eyes in ecstasy. Finally, his moment had arrived. He would claim what was his. He envisioned sitting on the thrown of Olympus with the beautiful Persephone at his side and the all powerful Zeus would be chained at his feet. None could opposed Hades now and all would bow to him and his immense new found power. He would be more than a God and the greatest ruler that both mortals and immortals had ever seen. He would be a calm and collected king, unlike his passionate and angry brothers.
Hades did not realize that the hurricane had subsided. Opening his eyes, he felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. Before him lay the black and gold chest, open and empty, with the little girl lying passed out before it. She was now glowing with the essence of the Titans.
“No. No. This can’t be. I’m such a fool.” Thoughts raced through him, but he could not clear his head. It was all for nothing. He planned everything so meticulously. Reverting to his pale lanky self, Hades collapsed to the floor, defeated. “I’ve wasted so many years. How can I now usurp my brother’s thrown? With this little girl?!”
Persephone stood behind her husband, clasping his shoulders softly. “Why not? I mean she still has those Titans inside her doesn’t she?”
“Yes, but she is mortal. It’s a foolish idea.”
Persephone looked to the now clear night sky in triumph and uttered a sentence that would change the course of existence. “It’s so foolish it just might work!”