Hades Ch. 04byHeartShapedAss©
Gifts of every decadent form began arriving at the estate of Kore's foster family that morning. Fragrant floral arrangements, statues in effigy of the soon-to-be betrothed, sweets filled with nectar and honey and nuts, pastries piled high on Long tables, silk fabrics of every jewel tone hue imaginable. All of these had been streaming in for days, trumpeting the arrival of the prosperous Certese family. The servants worked for days cleaning, cooking and creating a fitting house to greet the arrival of the would be husband's family. They had expressed more than a casual interest in a marriage between Kore and their son, Andres.
"Kore has grown into such a beautiful specimen," Kore's foster mother mused to her husband. "She shall garner such a dowry as never before seen. Don't you think?"
"Well, we should not be too hasty, dear. Perhaps the other family from the south might offer more for her hand. One never knows." Cooing to his wife. The family had grown tired of the burden of this child's fostering. They knew where she was from and who she was. It was only a matter of time before she would be taken back as one of the gods she was related to. They sought to recoup their costs a million fold before that would happen and her hand in marriage was the only way it was to happen.
"My sweet, we must work quickly, before news of this reaches the ears of Olympus. Do not forget the warnings we received when we were given the baby girl Kore by the creature that brought her." They were entrusted with protecting the girl from anyone wishing to harm her and most of all she was never to be married off. Her future would be decided upon by the gods themselves and no one was to interfere.
The Certese entrance into the estate was as to be expected, full of pomp and circumstance fitting their perceived importance in the land. Their son, Andres was presented to Kore and the two would-be spouses were left together for a sparse few minutes to acquaint themselves.
"Well...this is the beauty that will cost my family a dowry fit for seven wives?" he smirked at Kore who looked on dumbfounded. Was this scoundrel meant to be her future husband? How could this be?
The suitor, Andres, promised to be a brute as many stories of his violent conquests swirled throughout the countryside. The pampered eldest son of a rich family, he was accustomed to having his choice of girls and doing with them as he pleased even to the extent that some of the girls would never be heard from again after they were brought to him. Knowing all of this, Kore's foster parents rationalized that the generous dowry price would justify sacrificing the girl they were all too eager to rid themselves of.
"Were it up to this girl, she would skip this entire affair and remain in the meadows, content to live a life of peace and solitude." She looked down, cheeks burning, but proud that she had not relented to this man just yet. He would have to do better than merely paying for her and intimidating her, before she would ever allow him to have the upper hand.
Andres, infuriated by the insult, grabbed her and forced his hands under her gown. Kore pulled away so violently that her garments ripped to shreds in his hands. She ran away from him crying, clutching her ripped gown. She managed to reach her bed chamber, locking herself safely inside. During the struggle she refused to utter any scream and in fact the man had no chance of overpowering the goddess, for neither of them knew of her innate physical strength inherited to her from her true parents.
At Zeus' fountain, Hera conjured Kore's image. He was away again, enjoying himself with the doomed princess Semele.
There was much work to do before anyone else could get to the fledgling goddess. Hera had already used the bird to bait Hades into rescuing the girl. Now, to attend to the matter of stopping Demeter and her procession from getting to the young goddess.
"Go to the girl, you and and your kin. See here?" She pointed to a map. "Bring all your battle gear, your most ferocious beasts and make a stand at the gates of the village. You are to make a big show of your intentions not to allow anyone to enter. Demeter's convoy will travel from the west," she spoke to Argus, the giant. He and his brethren agreed to guard the girl with the false assumption that Zeus directed it.
"Stupid. Demeter wishes to make a grand entrance and sweep the girl off her feet. She thinks the girl will accept her at first sight, at the first mention that she is immortal and go with her so that she can take her away from the only family she's ever known . Ha! The girl will surely spurn her. She's known nothing but the mortal way of life. Why would she long for anything else?"
"My lady, you say Demeter intends to harm Zeus' daughter?" asked Argus.
"She thinks Zeus will replace her with this girl. She has exceptional abilities in the realm of nature and fertility, far beyond that of any other goddess. He only wants for his mortals to prosper and thrive. Apparently Demeter has failed him in this. Kore's ability suggests that she may be more capable than Demeter."
"Yes, my lady. We shall make the stand. If we are but for show of brawn alone, who will do the work of fighting them?"
"I will take care of that. Another army will be waiting for them in the ravines outside of the village. They wont know what hit them. They think this will be a pleasant journey." The giant nodded dumbly. His confusion played him into Hera's plan only too well.
"Zeus is sending the girl's uncle, Hades to get her and keep her safe. He is not to be stopped. Do you understand?" Argus nodded slowly.
She had already instructed her army laying wait in the ravines. They were to kill everyone with Demeter, but leave her unscathed. Hera's name was not to be mentioned in any of this.
Duo'lo and Pathos scouted the valley. They spied two groups. One advanced from the west-- the procession sent by Demeter to regain her daughter. The other army, made up of giants sent by Hera, stood their ground at the gates of the village. Hades was able to see through the phoenix's eyes finding at least that which the bird had expressed to be true. There were in fact two armies readying for battle over the girl just as the bird, the new Dou'lo had informed him, but to Hades the armies appeared to be those of Zeus at the stand still and that of Hera advancing.
The bird flew over the balcony of Kore's room and saw the girl inside lying on her bed crying. Hades also saw the girl through Duo'lo eyes. Did the girl know of her impending death? The thought of this girl in such fear and misery nearly broke Hades focus on the scene that was unfolding in her village and the surrounding country side.
Hades briefly considered a retreat. He assumed the army of giants was placed there by Zeus to protect the girl from what he thought was Hera's army coming in from the west. Perhaps it would be best to leave this battle to the husband and wife. The giants formation faced west and they were at a complete stand still. Surely they would keep out Hera's advancing army.
The sight of a distraught Kore, renewed his resolve to save her. He decided neither Zeus nor Hera should be allowed access to this girl.
He summoned from the depths, his own army, one of scorpions and commanded them to attack the giants and their beasts. They were essentially defenseless against the insects and they fell dead, poisoned and stung by the deadly creatures. Hades swept through the village making his way to Kore's family home.
Inside Kore's chamber, she was unaware of the battles being fought for her. Her only thoughts were of her disappointing future. What a cruel dose of reality that'd been fed to her. She saw before her a barren life. No more fantasies about heroes and passionate nights in marital bliss. The bounds of matrimony now looked to be just that... restraints for the purpose of torture and abuse. She was about to be owned by heartless monster. Her future reality would indeed contain some heartless monsters, but nothing like she imagined and the man that would ultimately become her husband would turn out to be much more than any man she had ever encountered.
Storming the gates and bounding through the estate, Hades comes upon the door to Kore's chamber, where Andres is pounding, trying to force his way in. Eyes narrowing on the brute as if a nusuance, Hades charges through the door, trampling him under horse.
"Girl, you must leave this place now!" Dismounting, he picks up a crying and disoriented Kore from her bed. From the corner of her eye, she can see the lifeless body of her suitor and realizes this man, this thing has already saved her from a certain painful existence.
What is he, it, saving me from? How can it be? My dream, here before me... What is happening? She didn't fight him, surrendering to him completely, trusting that this being, this dream, would do only what was best for her. She could see it in his bright green eyes and for a split second she had a vision of the scorpions covering the grounds outside and the destruction around them in her mind.
In the ravines, Demeter's procession encountered their own battle with the army sent by Hera. The few that made it through to the village found more death and chaos. Demeter, finds her daughter is gone.
"What is this? Why has this happened? Just when I was to bring her home...Someone has done this to me and my daughter!"
Her heart began to break, from worry for her disappeared daughter, from sorrow at having been denied a joyous reunion with her sweet baby girl, terror at what or who could have done this to them. The world closed in on her as she wailed for her daughter. The sound of a grieving mother, no one ever wants to hear. This painful cry echoed throughout the land and sky. Soon, word traveled through the world of mortals and gods, that Demeter's daughter had been taken from her. Apollo's sun would be blocked out by a cold blackness covering the land and in time the world of the mortals began to die.
They entered the realm of the dead with no obstruction. No one blocked their way as free entry was given to them, and in fact a welcoming, almost reverence was felt from this place's inhabitants. Kore's total surrender and trust quickly turned to confusion at the realization that she was entering the world of the dead. Who was this being that brought her down to the depths of the earth? Surely he must be some type of immortal, or creature, as he was able to fly her there with no effort and no need of horse. Her gratitude at being spared from her suitor turned to terror at her uncertain future. Was she merely spared in order to die down here? And why? She was consumed by fear and it paralyzed her.
"Are you disappointed that Zeus did not come for you himself?" Hades studied her. Again he could feel her energy pulling, drawing him towards her and for the first time, it occurred to him that this was no girl.
He studied her, this time he was uncloaked and indeed fully visible to her. She could see the look in his eyes. Was it lust, hunger, or murderous intent written on his face? She stood unmoving, trying to utter any words and found she could not. She was overwhelmed by all that had happened and too utterly confused and afraid to move or speak.
He drank in the sight and smell of her once more. Himself unsure of how to proceed as he was also dumbfounded by the presence of this girl, so full of life and light in his dead realm. He surveyed her body and found that she was lithe and willowy with womanly curves, her dark hair flowing, mirroring the shape of her silhouette. His gaze came to rest on the tattered garments, revealing slender milky white ankles and bare feet.
Her captivating beauty had distracted him from her obvious fear and once he realized that she was terrified of him, he felt a sudden burning shame. He had indeed sought to save the girl from the hands of Zeus and Hera, but he couldn't deny his own desire for this girl, this...what was she if not a girl? She appeared so heartbreakingly fragile and innocent, but the unnerving sense that she was more than she appeared confused him only more.
He cleared his throat, "I will send maids in to care for you." With that he moved to leave.
"Wh-who a-are you?" She blurted out involuntarily, quickly covering her mouth with both hands as apparently hearing her own voice had startled her.
Hades turned to look at her and their eyes locked, for the first time, both seeing in person each others eyes and the persons, or entities behind those eyes, his green and hers hazel. Moments passed as an eternity until his lips parted to speak to her.
"Do not worry yourself. You will know much more than you care to soon enough, my child." With that he left her.
Something was wrong, very wrong in this whole affair. Someone had worked very hard at setting this scene. He was about to find out much more than even he could imagine.
"Pathos, bring Duo'lo back to me at once."
The phoenix, thoroughly pleased with his new form stood before his new master. He expected congratulations and praise at a job well done in his service to Hades.
"You appear quite satisfied with yourself. Is that so?"
"It would please me if you told me the truth." He again bound the bird, crushing him.
"You have conspired against me! Why?" Hades pressed.
"Answer, or suffer..." his last warning.
Duo'lo, too enamored with his own newest form to bear the thought of giving it up, quickly gave all the information Hades demanded.
"Kore is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter...Hera discovered their intent to bring the young goddess home...I told Hera that I saw you with the girl in the meadow together and she conspired to have you take her away from her parents...She used you, sir! She is jealous and wanted to hurt them...she used you to do this...it was all a trap meant for Hera's revenge against Zeus and Demeter. I was also used, sir! Please forgive your lowly servant! Please, don't kill me...or change me back... I can be useful to you sir, very useful."
"Pathos, deal with this bird..." with that, he left them. Pathos smiled, nodding his head.
"We shall see if this girl is indeed a goddess." Hades muttered under his breath.