"If distance is what makes the heart grow stronger, then I must be a million miles away..."
Suddenly, I'm startled awake!
A gasp escapes my dry, chapped lips while my hollow ears echo with the trembling cries of the shadow stalking Hell Hounds, howling for the blood they have been dying to quench their thirsts with. I quickly examine the area around me to find that everything I had thought was real had only been the works of my imagination
the cruel and heartless bastard that it truly is. For Persephone had not at all been nursing my wounds, but suffering her own while I had drifted to sleep as she continued to lay cold and lifeless against the equally frigid ice below her soft, gossamer skin.
Fool! I chastise myself harshly.
I instantly wished for my worthless arms to respond to my actions of wanting to envelope the maiden in them. I wanted to be the one who brought life to an innocent creature, but my arms would not allow it. I begged my legs to bend and support my body so I might crawl to her, bring her warmth
but they would not budge from their aching slumber. Recalling prior events, I'm reminded of the toxic venom that drips from a worthless canine of a beast! I'm reminded of how ignorant I was for making such creatures
Another long howl rips through the forest causing the tree encasing us to shiver in response while I wince in pain.
Blinking back weary eyes, I am astounded to find that it wasn't my voice calling her name.
"Persephone!" she cried again.
Demeter? I think to myself.
A fool I had been to think that she would not come looking for her
Damn you, Hades!
Squinting my eyes as the tree's surroundings began to wither away, I'm given enough strength in sight to see the beautiful Goddess who shares an uncanny resemblance of beauty with her daughter as she weaves in and out, like a needle pulling thread between trees calling out Persephone's name. A look of worry has taken the one of merriment and joy I have grown accustomed to seeing, revealing the real age she had been able to mask with the not so wonderful magic of immortality.
"De-" I cough and wheeze, letting my heavy head fall down to my shoulder, wincing at the sting in my dry throat and over used lungs. "De..met-"
But the words would not echo from my mouth nor trill off my sandpaper dry tongue.
Suddenly, the howling wolves cease their deathly cries as they descend into the never-ending darkness.
"D-damn you-!" I cough, shaking with immense anger as I come to realize just how useless I am. I cannot save my love, my Persephone nor can I stop my own creations from obliterating the one woman who can save us both...
Closing my eyes in defeat, I prepare to hear the agonizing screams of Demeter, failing on my behalf to save the woman we both love...
Hours and hours I waited only to be... disappointed?
No that's not the word.
Ah, yes, that's it. I'm confused as to why my ears are not echoing with despair and pain but rather... Silence. The chilling and suffocating sound of absolutely nothing numbs my already immobile body and limbs. The unknowing that leaves a bitter taste of suspense on my lips as I wonder if I had once again let my imagination take hold of sanity...
Suddenly, a loud ear-splitting cry rips through the silence while whimpers and howls escalate! I try to bend my head into my lap so I might extinguish this thunderous sound, but my body does not respond to my actions, instead I'm left suffering as my ears ring. Turning my gaze towards the lifeless body in front of me, I let a tear run down my cheek, knowing all this to be my doing. All this pain I had caused Persephone is my fault...
And yet, I still don't regret confessing my true feelings to Persephone. Even if knowing had killed her, I couldn't forgive myself if I had been left wondering what could have
been. Even if-
"Persephone?!" a man cried out. "Persephone, answer me!"
I then found myself burning and churning every last bit of the pounding muscle in my chest, for those hadn't been Demeter's cries... But Judas' and his pack! And that voice... Oh did I know that voice as I growled and snarled like the beast I have always been... For that voice was not just the sound of every angel's wing breaking, but also the echo of all my land stands for
"Demeter?" I hear vaguely behind the tree where Persephone and I hide.
"Ares," Demeter choked, obviously wounded from the Hell Hounds, "what are you doing here?"
"Shh..." he demanded. "Don't worry about that right now. Your daughter is missing and you're bleeding worse by the second. My reason being here is simply to save you and my love."
I growled internally, wishing this man dead and buried in the ground whilst the maggots feed off his rotten corpse and molding marrow. Nothing would please me more than the sight of the one and only Ares, God of War and Violence, bloodied and bruised, weak and defenseless to my power! The images of such events were as sweet as honey dripping down my chin. I craved- no, lusted for this man's death! A man so evil, humans and Gods alike only imaged this spawn to be of my own loins. Even I would damn myself to call this barbarian my own.
Being brought back to what little of a world was in front of me, I wince at the singeing pain that courses through my veins as it weakens my senses, lulling my thoughts to drift off into another world
another time when I, Hades, Lord of the Underworld had been basking in luxuries equivalent to the kings on the highest peak of Mount Olympus. Where I was once recognized as a healthy man rather than this rotting corpse, damned to an eternity of Hell
Where everything in my life had began
and ended all at once.
It was another morning like any other before that day: Helios' reign was strong and bright as he was sure to banish all shadows and darkness from our heaven. The sound of laughter from the main square echoed down every which path, where all would come to celebrate the new day. But, unlike the Olympians, I had other engagements excluding me from the crowd as I let my black leather boots take me where I had been asked to do my daily rounds.
A mystical swish followed behind me as my coal and crimson cape cascaded through the breeze that lingered after every stride. I laugh to myself when I think how differently things used to be symbolized before
before I ended up here.
In Hell, Crimson is taken as the color of war and bloodshed while coal was the symbol of all death, wicked spirits and perishing.
On Olympus it was another matter entirely. For Crimson was not the color of hate, but a symbol of passion! And Coal Black was not marked as death, but strength and bravery. This was a cloak and armor I earned through countless battles where I, War General Hades fought alongside my people and the kingdom that I shared with my brothers, gaining us a victory every time.
"Ah, General Hades!" a youthful and spirited man called out in great excitement. "General Hades, wait up!"
Turning about, I smile over my shoulder to be greeted by a man who could be no more than a thousand years younger than I was myself. His eyes sparkled with onyx and emerald green flecks with a smile as bright as Helios' sun. I could not help myself but to smile as wide as he.
"Good Morrow, Ares," I greeted the boy.
"Good Morrow, General," he bows.
"Ares," I laugh, "your memory seems to slip every time I tell you not to use my title."
"What brings you here?"
"My father bids your appearance straight away," he smiles.
Tilting my head in curiosity, strands of ink black hair continue to wave against my cheek, reaching out to touch the boy before me. "Does he now? And what does the all-powerful Zeus need my appearance for? Surely he knows that today is my only day to report back the status of Olympus."
Ares only shrugs his shoulders innocently as his russet colored hair licks his face like a canine greeting his master, pouting a lip. "My father won't say. Only that it's urgent that you see him right away."
Chuckling from the heart I once had owned, I shuffle my youngest nephew's hair as he quickly attempts to sculpt it back to its original style. "Alright, but remember your father also demands that we go over the laws of battle, for if not taught properly, the consequences could be dire."
"Not to worry, Uncle Hades," the little soldier salutes to me in a poorly held stance, "I'll be there before the sundial reads five."
"I'll be sure to return by then," I smile again, returning a salute.
Turning about to go up the path I had previously been going down, I am accompanied by nothing but the sound of my tapping feet against the yellow coble stone road and my constant inflation of crisp air passing through my lungs. From where I was walking, the palace to where I was beckoned was nowhere in sight. This gave me a great sense of peace while a corner of my mouth turned up, confirming that my journey would be much longer than anticipated. Taking a detour down a familiar path, I intend to take as much time to myself as my feet will bid me.
I had always enjoyed my walks in the kingdom, both on duty and not. I like to watch as children run about laughing and engage themselves in a mystical game of make-believe while mothers sit on the side line, anticipating a cry from the tiny babe nestled safely in her arms praying that their husbands journey will be a short and safe one home. Off to the right of the families are the shops where Zeus' personal blacksmith, Hephaestus, continues to hammer away at a new lightning bolt that will fly faster and aim at his target with little to no hesitation. Just to the side of him, his wife, Aphrodite sits back and admires her husband at work while other men passing by attempt to keep their eyes on their feet knowing Hephaestus will turn his hands for sculpting weapons into lethal ones of his own.
Although I enjoy a good brawl or two in the square from the blacksmith, that was not what had turned me down this way. For just down the road was a place where I could never grow weary of such beauty. A place where I could lose myself, my title and my everything wishing I would never have to turn my eyes away from it.
I finally turn at the end of the road where there is no Olympus. No kingdom, no palace, no title of War General
just the innocent people down on earth, going about their business in a fashion that I find to be so fascinating. But, one particular scene has me mesmerized to the point where time and space mean nothing but laws of which I do not intend to follow. Piercing through the wind like a sword, I land in the perfect center of a garden, infested with every flower found on both Heaven and Earth while countless trees are infested with ripe and bountiful fruit, dripping from branches.
Walking under the shade of the limbs above me, I caress my bare hand through the ever green leaves that, in turn delicately leave a drop of dew in my palm as if to leave a memory by it. Gentle wisps of the sun's rays peek through the branches above, giving an ultimate feeling of warmth that seeps through my skin, down in to my soul that rests beneath it while my senses are intoxicated by the overwhelming scent of exposed citrus blossoms, roses and various other aromas, leaving me drunk in a stupor of beauty that something this heavenly was hidden down here on earth.
"Excuse me?" a delicate voice, whispered behind me.
Turning about, I'm in awe of the creature that stands before me.
"Excuse me, sir," she says again, walking closer to me, "but you're not allowed to be out here without a chaperone. We have invested much of our blood, sweat and tears into making this garden as beautiful as it is. We don't need a warrior of death stomping around here and ruining it all. Who do-?" blinking, when she's finally seen my face, she holds her heart. "Oh, Daemon, it's only you."
Bowing down low to the mortal name I have adopted on Earth, I hold one arm to my chest and smile at my feet. "My apologies for startling you, ma'am."
"Demeter," she harshly corrected me, folding her arms over her chest.
"Demeter," I smiled, turning my gaze up back into her emerald green eyes. "I had only wanted to observe this Eden of beauty. I assure you, my boots and I had no intention of ruining your marvelous work."
She smiled a bit, amused I assumed with the light joke I had made. "Nonetheless, you know the rules: A chaperone is needed at all times for visitors."
"Are you offering, my lady?" I smiled lending out a hand, charming and innocent all at once.
"Hardly," she laughs, dropping her arms.
"Then, might I be given a tour with Persephone?"
"Before I summon her appearance, I must know what your intentions with my daughter are. You have stumbled in our garden for years now and yet it feels as though you have been hiding something
something major from our knowledge. The last time I let a stranger into my life
" suddenly she stops and sighs putting one hand on her forehead. "Just please, Hades," she whispered my true identity, turning her eyes back to mine, "don't repeat your brother's mistakes with Persephone."
Walking towards one of the many mistresses of my baby brother, Zeus, I softly grab her sagging shoulder in a gesture of compassion. For it's not he who deals with the broken hearts of his many lovers, but I who pick up the broken pieces to this one because she has every right to question a motive of a God. Our reputations aren't what one would like to call "close to Godly-ness."
"You know my intentions are far from my brother's own, Demeter. I would never hurt your daughter the way Zeus hurt you. I care deeply for you and Persephone," I smiled, boyishly blushing even at the sound of her name. "I will protect her with all the blades of war and summon the dark forces our kingdom has banished should a soul ever try to harm her. My intentions are nothing more than to lighten up the world she lives in, just as she has done to mine."
"Alright," she sighed, letting her shoulders sag a little more at the thought of having no control over this blooming relationship the way she does with a flower during her solstice and equinox. "But," she warned harshly, returning back to the strong and confident woman I had always known her to be, "should a single tear be slashed on her heart, and I find it to be your doing, I can and will banish you from ever seeing her again. Is that clear, Hades?"
"Translucent," I nodded, not taking anything she said lightly.
"Persephone," she sang.
Suddenly, a petite woman appearing to be the age of eighteen in human years, with bright copper locks bounded from the tree above us, landing with grace a feline would be envious of.
"Yes mother?" her voice chirped, turning the same emerald green eyes her mother shared onto me, then back to her mother. If possible, this creature's eyes were more beautiful than her inheritor's while she herself was far beyond any garden and any woman I had ever seen. No matter the time we have spent together, she continues to take my breath away.
"It appears we have a guest wishing to view on our garden. Would you care to make sure he doesn't ruin it?"
She nodded once giggling, pulling her hands behind her back. "Yes mother."
"Don't wander too far off," she warned us. "I'll be needing you home soon, Persephone and I don't want to have to scavenge this entire land to find you."
"It'll be a short walk," I interjected, smiling, "I promise. I'll have her home in no time. You can trust me." I smiled back at Demeter, bestowing more than one meaning to my words.
"You'd better," she cautioned, pointing a finger towards me, "or it's your head."
I chuckled, knowing she understood exactly what I had said, holding an arm out to the beauty before me as she smiled happily taking it between her hands.
"Shall we?" I gestured with my free hand down the path.
She nodded excitedly, never letting a single finger away from my arm.
"It's a pleasure to see you again, princess," I beamed, pulling her in closer as we ventured down the path we had taken many a time before.
"Why do you call me that?" she giggled, curiously. "I am of no royal blood or lineage, but still you insist that I am
"What if you had been?" I challenged with a grin. "Perhaps you are more than just a girl of harvest
Perhaps you are a Goddess from Mount Olympus and you had been obligated to live on this Earth as a mortal?"
A secret that I and her mother have been keeping from her. A secret that must never be spoken above more than hushed tones, for Gods only know the damage that could happen if Hera, my sister, found this enchantress to not only be a child to her husband and another woman but that in secret, she has been courting with another God. Therefore, it was not a surprise when she responded with a charming laugh.
"Perhaps you have been in this garden for far too long, Daemon. You're beginning to speak of fantasies. For if I am a Goddess, then so must you be a God."
I chuckled, playing along. "And if I were?"
Ever so gently, she takes hold of my hand to lace her fingers with mine. I immediately respond to this action by returning the gesture. Looking up at me, she says nothing but only smiles letting her eyes say what she won't.
"I would never let you out of my sight."
After we had travelled down the path and admired the many critters that scurried along the trail, cupped every last orchid and inhaled every scent we could, Persephone smiles up at me, tightening the grip on my hand to gather my attention, not that she didn't already have sole custody of it
"I was afraid I wasn't going to see you before the Winter Solstice wiped our land clean of petals," she chirped, hugging my arm into her chest as her gemstone eyes continued to drown me in her world. "It'd been a shame for you to miss this, Daemon."
I chuckled at her lack of knowledge to my name, gently pressing my gloved thumb against the height of her brow. Even though our hearts and souls have been twined to each other, our skin must never touch
for she must never know who I truly am. I can't hurt her with the knowledge of loving a man that she can never in fact, be with. A God and human relationship is considered an act of taboo in the realm of Olympus. We can never merge the two worlds unless
unless I mimic the actions of my youngest brother
leaving her behind with nothing but broken promises, painful memories and a heart that, like my own, would perish.
I won't do that to the woman I love more than the heart in my chest could muster. She deserves someone who can supply her with more than what I can offer
"Daemon?" she asked, furrowing her brows in curiosity and worry, reaching for the much shorter version of my tar black hair on the body I had adopted in order to accommodate the human race during our visits.
Gently grabbing her hand with my own, I smile back at her as if I had never seen her before this very moment. Sometimes I forget that we even met at all and that she'll over look me as nothing more than a stranger in her dreams.
"I'm sorry, Love," I responded. "Forgive my absent mindedness. I had been so lost in my thoughts that I did not know they had abducted me from the garden."
"Is there something wrong?" Persephone whimpered. "Something I can do to help possibly?"
"No, no, darling," I laughed, wrapping my arms around her delicate waist so I might ebb the worry she had begun diving into. "Nothing is wrong at all. In fact, the very moment I set foot into this garden, I feel as though I have become a whole new being as my cares and worries have all been left atop a mountain, never to find me again." If only that last part were true
She chuckled a bit, playing with the clasp to the cape that draped around my shoulders. "If only such things were possible
"Wait here," I said, releasing her momentarily as I look around the abundance of flowers surrounding us. Constantly looking around, I kneel down into the grass to gently ease aside flowers searching for the perfect one.
Smiling to myself, I gently pluck the most beautiful flower I could find and adore it silently. Returning to my feet, I turn back to Persephone and smile just as warm as the bright white petals laced to the solid gold pollen center of the flower I embrace between my fingers.
"A daisy?" she asked as a small dimple appeared in the center of her forehead, giving the universal sign of confusion.
Gently grabbing her most sacred hand, I twist the vine around its self until a perfect circle is made just right to encase her second smallest finger where a husband will one day replace this flower with a real ring.
"Let this flower I set upon your finger be a reminder to you that one day, a day that neither I nor the all mighty Zeus himself could ever see till the event presents its self
One day, I will take us away from here
" gently cupping her face in my palm, I don't break my gaze from hers. "Somewhere far, far away from this world where Gods and Humans are all but figments of our imagination... where titles are not but a name."
" she asked reaching for my face, but not before I could hold it in my own hand again. "Why is it you insist on pretending that nothing is wrong when I can clearly see it fighting under your skin? Please, tell me what it is that you don't think I can grasp."
Dropping our hands, I close my eyes wishing now more than ever that I could ease this moment with a gentle kiss
"It's not in my will
"I don't underst-"
Turning my gaze back to hers, I could feel a power in me that I had never felt before. It was dark
and above all, seductive as the thought of marrying my lips to the woman before me. But it wasn't romance that my body wanted
I exerted more of a demon than I had originally intended to. "Neither is it in yours!"
But she doesn't even flinch. She stands perfectly still as a statue before me, wearing the face of worry, keeping eye contact as her hands take each one of my own.
"Please accept my request, Persephone," I interject, slipping the faux ring on her wedding finger. I can't let her see the fear I hold at this monster I have been introduced to. Something isn't right, for that much I'm certain. I've never once raised my voice at her, nor have I had this
No, not a craving, for that word barely begins to illustrate this
this lust and aching desire for
"I want to know what's going on," Persephone, demanded as she removed her hands from mine to slowly take a cautious step away from me. I silently thanked those who were watching over us
My vessel was failing. The seams that held the body parts together were splintering and the organs that I had been using to keep this body alive began to combust and disintegrate.
"Daemon? Daemon!" was all that I could muster through the fog of silence before everything around me turned black
The beginning to my end