M E E T I N G
F A I R
P E R S E P H O N E
- Dim Aldebaran -
He was dying.
It wasn't like all the other times, where there were fairies with their blue sparks, forcing life into him like a shot of ecstasy, eyes rolling back and arms spasming as all was made well again. It wasn't like all the other times, where there was Domovoi with his great arms, carrying him away to the car, and then, the hospital, where women in white would mother over him as Angeline never had. It wasn't like other times, where there was a cool breeze across his fevered brow, sending the men and their Uzis far far away, where they could never hurt him, and he could forget his nightmares for a time and be young.
There was a door, black and silver, glinting, some portal to the Underworld—had he already passed Cerberus, had he already paid Charon? Had he dipped his fingers into the Styx as he drifted by, his pianist hands now invulnerable, though it was too late for them to bring Chopin to life?
The door opened, and there stood Rhadamanthus, in the purple robes of a king who knew his mind. He seemed severe, and, indeed, his thoughts were harsh, for judged the deeds of men.
"I shall weigh your soul," spoke the Judge.
It came slowly, at first. The trickle scarce caused a frown, the scratches, the stubbed toes, the bruises. But then, then, cuts, concussions, then bullets, stabs, pain more than he could ever imagine, could ever contain, and he fell to his knees, clutching his head. Pain, pain, sharp and fierce and hot and striking him, his feet, chest, hands, everything, and he felt himself fall—
It stopped. For a few moments, his body was incapable of believing it, and he lay, throat jagged and hoarse. But then he stood once more, the pain mere echoes.
"Your soul is heavy with sin," said the Judge, "but I alone cannot judge. Pass on to Minos, and learn your fate."
Artemis passed through a corridor of mirrors, and saw men, many men, all around him, yet when he looked there were none. They had guns and knives, and in the mirror they shot him and he bled; yet as he walked he felt no pain.
There was a door, pale gold and soft silver like the sweet memories he never had. He passed through, but yearned for the river Lethe to wash away the lack of memories.
Minos stood before him, and his countenance seemed thoughtful and kind, as though death was nothing to him. His robes were of gentle gray, and he smiled at Artemis, for he judged the mind of men, and knew their hearts more clearly than his brother.
"I shall weigh your soul," spoke the Judge.
As with pain, it came slowly, but there was an edge that pain did not have: whereas the mind distracts the body, the body cannot distract the mind but for an instant. Artemis felt the thousand heartbreaks for which better men had wept, but he had not; he fell to his knees. He knew the pain of his father as he saw how the bank account had swelled in his absence, when he knew all his son had done. He knew the pain of Angeline as he told her that no mother of his would put others before the Fowl name. He knew the pain of Domovoi as he set him asides for a younger bodyguard. He knew the pain of Juliet as he broke her teenage heart. He knew the pain of Holly as he blackmailed the LEP once, twice, thrice. So they came, faster and faster, until he knew not which cares were his and which were another's, cascading around him until they fell about his mind like rain and he cried out and there was no answer.
"Your soul is heavy with regret," said the Judge, "but I alone cannot judge. Pass on to Aeacus, and learn your fate."
Artemis bowed his head and passed on through a corridor of mirrors. He saw men crowded around, and he knew the faces of only a few. They reached out to him and cried out their sorrows, and though tears streamed down his reflection he would not answer. He reached up to touch his face and it was dry.
Aeacus stood before him, and he was crowned with gold and garbed in black. There was no expression upon his face, no sorrow, no laughter. He had been mortal once, as Artemis, but now he was far greater, and his wisdom transcended him beyond even the minds of the Gods. He decided the fate of men, but nothing weighed upon his soul, for he knew his word to be true.
"My brothers have weighed your soul," said the Judge, "but they could not judge. Your soul is heavy with sin, but heavier still with regret. You will pass on to the Asphodel Meadows, and taste forgetfulness and be at ease."
Artemis bowed his head. There were three doors before him: one of black, inscribed with rubies; one of gold, with flashing diamonds; and one of gray, the gray of driftwood, lost and dead.
He took this, for on its left was pain, and on its right was joy, and nothingness is of neither.
There were, indeed, meadows, but not sparkling meadows with butterflies and frolicking children, not the meadows of family picnics and summer-blue skies. They were gray, gray as the door; the grass was a curious shade between pine and its smoke, and the white poplars edging the land were too tired to even lose their leaves in their death. The people drifted like dandelion seeds on the wind, garbed in white robes, walking heavily and without care. They gazed at their feet, and nothing else.
But there was a place where they were all drawn to, like ships circling around Charybdis. He could not see what it was, but his feet were drawn to it nonetheless; passive, he let them, for he was dead, and nothing mattered.
He drew within the people and their heavy-lidded eyes and found a pool, ringed with white narcissus, which wept only themselves. Souls bent down and took a drink from their hands and drew away again, emotionless.
He went to his knees, tired of it all. He would have fallen in but for his hands, gripping the pool's edge. The heaviness was a burden; and how he thirsted for it to leave, and here was sweet water, free for even the sinners to drink from. The heaviness grew, and he leaned forward to drink of the water like an animal would, lapping it up with his tongue. He closed his eyes, and yearned to forget in the clear waters.
There was a hot breath in his ear, and a whisper, a sound that opened his eyes: "We are not animals in Olympus," murmured the fairest voice of all, and he lost all weariness with its cold clarity. "Nor are we animals in Elysian, nor Tartarus. So why in Asphodel?"
Artemis raised himself to a stand and saw the Queen of the Dead. Her hair had once been gold, but had been bleached to near white. Then, it had flowed from her shoulders like spring sunlight, but now it was dressed severely in a net of silver. Her skin was as white as his, and her eyes gray-blue. Her robes were black, dismissing her body with formless elegance. She beckoned to him, and walked away. What could he do, but follow?
The souls parted before her, and he followed in her wake, still in his most un-Grecian black suit and slacks. He smoothed back his hair, and the numbness fled from him. Now he could act: he could face Rhadamanthus and tell him that he was not afraid; he could face Aeacus and tell him he was not wise; he could face Minos and tell him he could go to Hell. He could laugh at the souls, he could piss in their pool. He was Artemis Fowl.
As if aware, Persephone turned back and gave him a cold smile, and her eyes trapped his for a moment. Intrigued, Artemis found the hollow of her throat and kissed it with his eyes; she seemed to sway more as she walked. She knew his thoughts! and he did not care. She was the Queen of the Dead, and he wondered if Hades was home.
They passed through the white poplars; Morpheus, Lord of Dreams, held one aside for them as they slipped through. The river Styx flowed before them, and Charon came with his boat. He needed no toll for the Queen and her guest, though he gazed curiously at Artemis beneath his heavy black brows. As Artemis stepped off he seemed to wink.
They entered a garden. The hedges were tall, but there was no sense of entrapment as they walked; he drew alongside Persephone and took in her form with the corner of his eyes. With a thought he made her blush, and with another he made her smile.
She sat at a bench. He followed suit, leaning back. If he was dead, the cause of it did not seem to bother him. His shirt was as white as ever.
"You died young," she said with her voice of crystal.
"As did you," he replied with his voice of silver.
Her white hands were in her lap, listless, and he took one and brushed his lips against it. "We are taught to be chivalrous in Ireland," he said, following the curve of her face, the sweep of her brow.
"You never bothered with that until now," she replied. Her eyes followed his head as he raised it up again.
He released the hand, brushing it, teasing it. His eyes were dark; why not? "You never cared until now."
"I watched you as you died," she said.
"Did you watch me as I lived?"
"It wasn't as interesting."
Artemis paused, then asked, "What do you find so fascinating about suicide, then?"
"Not the means."
He nodded in agreement. He sensed in her what he had sought and never found; it fascinated him, and he was startled at how much was curiosity and how much was lust. "Yes, a shot to the head was hardly original. But, I wasn't interested in patenting."
"And not the reason."
"Really," he said quietly, and met her eyes. "I suppose longing becomes somewhat repetitious down here?"
"Most certainly so." She laughed, and he felt the bitterness like he had the bullet to his brain.
"Unless it is your own?" he queried, and her sharp laughter was the answer. What did she long for, he wondered, and he knew the answer, for he had had the same longing himself.
"We are alike, you and I," Artemis continued, but he said nothing else; he did not need to, for he had Persephone, Queen of the Dead, in his eyes. He was not the little boy who had taken on the LEP, B'wa Kell, Spiro, and Opal for danger's sake alone, not the little boy who had first been so stupidly ambitious then so stupidly moral. He was Artemis Fowl, the young man who had hurt so many yet regretted so much, who could not stop his regret, who liked the pain. He did not cut himself, he did not cry; no one guessed that he would kill himself, though after his father died that second time, he knew in his mind that it was inevitable. The sins were stopped with the greatest sin of all by the sinner's own hands.
Persephone stared back, and knew his mind. "I know," she whispered, and something stirred between the pair. "We are alone."
"We are cold."
"We are meaningless."
"We are alone," Artemis repeated, and kept her eyes.
She sighed and looked at the jeweled rose bush. She was beautiful, and had she been mortal, she would be his; but he was dead, and he still longed to forget in that esoteric place of shadows within us all. She snapped her fingers, and Hypos stepped before them, the God of Sleep, in his indigo robes and sleepy smile. His heavy hands held a crystal flute. Artemis raised it towards Persephone's face, smiled, and sipped. It was the sweetest thing he had ever tasted.
As he was led away to the Asphodel Meadows, Persephone stared at the place he had vacated for a long time; though time was meaningless to her, she felt her regrets as keenly as he did. She did not weep. When Hades came for her, she followed, and longed to die.
That was really weird, I know. I took some serious liberties with the functions of the judges, but, besides that, I tried to keep to the myths. I love Greek mythology.
If you have any comments, please tell! I know this wasn't the best, but I want to make this better, and you can help. It just takes a moment, right?
Thanks for reading!