"So I said to her, "I know you're the Goddess of Love and Beauty, but if you wink at my father one more time, so help me, I will knock you from here to Crete. And then I'll kick you back, to make sure the lessons been clear" And boy! You should have seen her face! So I did that look father does and I -"
A shiver running through Macaria halted Melinoes story.
She sat up on her bed, where the sisters had been lounging.
"Let me guess," She sighed, " dead people to go pick up?"
Macaria smiled bashfully, tying her hair back into a quick plait.
"I'm afraid so. Sparta again...so who knows how many trips I'll be making"
Melinoe shook her head disapprovingly, crossing her legs as she began picking at her toenails.
"Blood thirsty idiots, every last one of them. I swear if I have to hear about those poor children being murdered again...and its not just Sparta, its going on in Athens now too." The fury on her elder sisters face tugged at Macarias chest. It was not often her dear big sister would show her deep sadness at the actions of mortals.
No wonder she favors the company of the dead - Macaria reflected.
Deciding her fingernails were not up to the job, Melinoe swiftly removed a knife from her gown and continued her task.
"Well you better get going before Thanatos gives you another lecture 'Macaria-" She quoted, with a bland expression, "- Death waits for no one. You must take your responsibilities seriously or I will end up doing all the work for you.' He seriously needs to loosen up, or he'll never realise you're hopelessly in love with him"
Melinoe smirked, delighted with her little sisters squeak of embarrassment.
She threw the knife into the air, catching it flawlessly with the blade pointed towards Macarias face.
Macaria arrived a short distance from the battle zone, her eyes finding Thanatos immediately.
"What brings you here friend?" She called, happy she could finally call him that with confidence.
She waited for his stoic response, but found it never came.
She received no sign of acknowledgement at all from the God of Death.
"Thanatos what is the matter? What plagues you so deeply you cannot look a friend in the eye or spare a word?"
As she walked closer to him she could see the tension in his body, his muscles tight in restraint and his fists clenched.
But what worried her most were the wings. Only ever used in battle were now being held back in desperation.
He stood on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a battle from what Macaria could hear.
But as she approached she could not recognise the sounds of agony being torn from the mortals lips. A pain unlike any she had ever heard.
When she saw them she believed she was seeing the Eyries of Tartarus, who she had devouring the flesh of punished mortal souls.
But she looked again. These were not the creatures of Tartarus she knew too well.
These creatures were gnarled and sharp, blood covering every inch of their distorted bodies and pieces of human flesh clung to their talons.
Thanatos stay stood, his eyes downcast.
"They are the Keres, spirits of Cruel Death...Battle, murder, disease...They are...My sisters"
Mistaking her gasp of disbelief for one of horror, he kept his gaze to the ground.
The scene below was not a battle ground, but a town.
Now a pit of fire and rampage. Warriors and civilians alike were falling before her.
Mustering her courage she drew herself up, calling in a loud voice.
"Keres, hear me now! I am Macaria, daughter of the great Lord Hades! I command you as Goddess of Blessed Death to stop this mindless slaughter!"
But the Keres did not halt. They did not falter one second as they devoured the Spartan men and women.
"Why...why won't they stop?" said Macaria, her voice trembling in disbelief.
"They can no longer hear you, their constant lust for blood clouds all judgement. They will only stop when there is nothing left for them to feed on here. Then they will find their next kill."
She cried out again and again, her desperation rising as they began feasting on children.
One man came running into the square, shouting at the rioters to stop. It took one lunge of the rioters sword to gain the attention of the Keres.
Their talons tore at the wound, eyes shining with hunger.
"no...No! This is horrible! Make them stop! Please! Please Thanatos make them stop!"
The Keres continued ripping the man apart, despatching his body across the ground, his soul screaming in agony.
The torture continued until one took her claw-like nails across his face, ripping it from the bone, leaving nothing but a contorted mass of flesh behind.
Macaria cried out in horror and hid herself by the arm of Thanatos. She clung to him with all her strength, letting out a fearful sob as he placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
They stayed like that for hours, until the Keres finally took their fill and went in search of their next prey.
Thanatos looked down on the young Goddess. She was shaking still, yet her touch was less terrified than before.
He sighed, his eyes filled with pity.
"I...I know this may sound odd, coming from myself...but Macaria, I promise you need never fear any creature whilst I am here. They may be my sisters by blood but...I will do everything in my power to keep you safe."
Macaria raised her head slowly, astonished to hear such tender words from the God who had captured her heart.
"Of course...A..as a daughter of my Lord Hades it is my duty to protect you"
As kind and honorable as his words were, Macaria could not stop the pain of disappointment, her heart plummeting to her stomach. She stepped back, wiping the tears from her face.
"Oh...My deepest gratitude, my Lord. My Father would be most pleased to hear such loyal declarations" and though her eyes showed her gratefulness, she spoke with a voice void of all joy.
Is this how I shall spend my life, no more important than the title of my family? Will he never see me as anything more than a child he must protect?
Without saying goodbye, she departed to the souls she deemed worthy of paradise, all the while battling the sorrow in her own soul.
When Macaria finally returned to the Underworld, she did not feel ready to face her parents and sister. No doubt her father would have heard of the attack and would be worried sick about her.
No, she was not ready to discuss those events with them. She could not hear her sisters harmless gibes at her affection for Thanatos after their discussion that day.
And so she walked across the Underworld. She knew the paths well and took pleasure in the sounds and smells of her home land.
The smell of opium and waters of Lethe alerted her that she had walked towards the Gate of Dawn, right to the Halls of Night - Home of Thanatos and his brother Hypnos.
The poppies brushed against her bare knees, their scent soothing her as she approached the entryway.
Soft music could be heard from inside, reassuring Macaria that Hypnos was awake.
A common misconception about Hypnos was that he slept a lot. True he was well rested, but he was always alert when sought after.
She made her way into his home, brushing aside the fine dark curtains which acted as doors.
"Macaria! My little poppy!" and stood in the entrance hall was non other than God of Sleep.
For the twin of Thanatos he seemed a complete opposite. His eyes, as opposed to the harsh silver of his brother, were the colour of a full moon.
His stark white hair had been cut short and bounced with a natural curl. While his face was the spitting image of Thanatos, his bore no sign of stress or worry, a broad smile widening as he embraced the young Goddess.
"My dear lady! Come in please!" His beaming face welcomed her warmly to his home. Hypnos walked with a confident breeze, each muscle in his body as relaxed fluid as his voice.
"Can I tempt you with a cup of Ambrosia? Warm milk? Oh I did just brew a pot of verillian, camomile and honey tea?" He happily chatted as he meandered through his home.
"I am quite parched my lord, verillian tea would be delightful."
He smiled, nodding to an unseen servant down an opposite corridor.
A stranger might have thought Hypnos had led her into his private quarters. Macaria, however, had visited Hypnos for many years with her mother and knew every room here was adorned with throws, pillows, chaises and rugs, ready to accommodate a weary guest. Indeed Macaria could never remember how she left his home as a child as she fell asleep within an hour of their arrival.
Macaria made herself comfortable on a fine chaise, while Hypnos took purchase on the floor, creating his own nest of silk sheets and fine down pillows.
"If you're here to see Thanatos I'm afraid he's out...I imagine he will not be back for a few more months"
"Thats alright, I just saw him"
"Did you? Ah yes, I suppose you see him more than I do these days" He chuckled, "At least someone's keeping an eye on him"
Macaria took the drink that had appeared on the table beside her, a confused expression on her face.
"Even though we're twins, Thanatos has always needed someone to keep an eye on him. Not because he's reckless, but because he's focused to such an extreme he forgets about himself. Although I am sure you've noticed that since you fell in love with him."
Were it not for her immense respect for the elder god she might have spat her tea across his floor.
"No need to be so shocked Macaria. I have watched your dreams since the day of your birth, do you think I would not notice when your very heart cried to see my brother even in your dreams? There is no need to be so embarrassed my dear. I would have been more surprised if I found you had no feelings for him at all. Oh he's difficult for sure, but his intentions are well-meaning. His heart is in the right place, he simply has not felt it beating yet."
"Hypnos, I saw your sisters...the keres today"
A serious look washed over his face. He took a deep breath, relaxing once again.
"I have many brothers and sisters...many with less pure hearts than my brother and I. Though that is no excuse for their behavior...it is in their nature and can never be revoked." Seeing the troubled look on the girls face, he sighed again. "It must have been hard for you to see such things. Though you were raised aside Tartarus, all cruelty you saw was deemed fairly by your father, who saw fit to punish each treacherous soul in accordance with their crimes. My sisters are not so diplomatic... I hope you do not think less of my brother and I for the scene you witnessed today."
"Never! You were always so kind to me as a child, even when others believed I had no path to take. And Thanatos-!" She stopped.
How could she continue when such words had been spoken today. How could she profess love when he only saw her as a child.
"You are not the first to fall in love with someone who could not show such affection back."
Macaria stared at Hypnos in shock.
"I was in love once" He smiled solemnly at Macaria, "I loved him so dearly...held him in such high regard. I gave him a gift so that he and his lover could stare into each others eyes forever...knowing he would never look at me in such a way. He was cursed to an eternal sleep...and I gave him all he asked of me...The other Gods of Olympus do not know of his existence yet...but when they do, my side of the story will never be told...Love is not an easy thing Macaria, no matter what the poets say. I was not the first to fall into its blessed agony, nor will I be the last. For I believe, more than most, that dreams of love are the dearest we can be blessed with."
And with that, the two Gods sat in companionable silence, until their eyes softly closed and they slept with dreams of love.
You know this started out as a serious, deep rooted chapter about the cruelty of some figures in Greek Mythology...then it just turned into Macaria having tea with her sassy gay best friend...Hmmn