Title: Bone and Skin
Rating: T; later to be rated M due to violence, language and adult content
Another take on the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone, with a few spins here and there. Hope you enjoy.
"We revel in skeletons / find the clean lines / sensuous and economical. / The dead sing us songs / I'm learning to answer.
I'm learning new words / like pomegranate— a word you spit out, / the snick of seeds / against your teeth."
- Relearning the Dark, Nan Fry
There was a heavy silence in the room, sun creeping through the windows as dawn loomed on the horizon. Fire crackled in the hearth, jumping and dancing at will. It was a familiar sound, something of comfort if there was such a thing for the man sitting behind the ornate desk in the room.
Dark eyes downcast on the papers in front of him, he sighed, fingers drumming against the desktop in restless hymns played no more. Sometimes he did this out of simple and personally annoying habit– he hated ostensibly acknowledging the old world, how it had crumbled and taken the light away with it. Though his family was often pleased with modern society, they, unlike him, all looked forlornly to the days when they were Gods, when the mortals graced their temples and bowed at their feet.
The only thing he was forlorn over was her. At least, this is what the past inside of him said. So many centuries had passed since their paths last crossed that he often wondered if there ever had been such a thing as love between them after all. When he was young, new and old to the world alike, he had stolen her out of selfish need, a craving for life. She'd refuted him, cried for the surface and her mother, a helpless child. Until one day, she was a child no more, sprawled naked in his bed, ruby red juice on her lips, a queen with an iron will to fit. Then again, the stubbornness had always been there…
Sighing, he flipped through a few more pages– pages addressed to Logan Fairgrave, even though the name at the heading of the ledgers was much different. The letter was nothing but meaningless words from his younger brother. 'Some Gods seek to bring the demons from their keep.' It was the same story every millennia, and Logan didn't count upon the prophecy being fulfilled, even if Apollo himself had said that this time it was likely to come true.
Logan Fairgrave didn't much trust in prophets anymore; didn't much trust in anything that wasn't sleep and false memory.
With a scowl, he picked up a glass from the edge of the desk, amber liquid sloshing in it, burning at the back of his throat as he swallowed it in one go, standing from the desk and grabbing his suit coat off of the back of the desk chair. He was to have a meeting with his 'siblings' soon, to talk of news and festivities. His scowl deepened with the thought– festivities. That had never been something of a sort of appeal for Logan. He preferred solitude.
The living are so much more ignorant than the dead.
As he stepped out of the office, he was met instantly by the shadow of a young man, hair combed neat and suit pressed to perfection. "My Lord," said the young man, bowing his head respectfully. "Your siblings are awaiting you in the meeting hall."
"Thank you, Chad," Logan said, striding through the well-known halls of the home that he'd had in his name for centuries.
Chad nodded with a small, "Of course Mr. Fairgrave," as he kept pace with his employer. In the young man's pocket were a handful of coins, jingling with each step he took. Logan looked at him and raised a brow, making Chad glance away sheepishly. "I wasn't against them paying me for passage."
Logan chuckled, though it held no real amusement. "Old habits die hard, eh?"
Chad laughed too, wiping his sweating palms against one another in nervous tick. "I still crave the river's voyage."
"As do I," said Logan somberly, stopping in front of an ornate pair of double doors. "As do I…"
He opened the doors with a wave of his hand, walked with an air of rule. At the head of the table his youngest brother sat, gold eyes glinting in the early morning light. Logan had never held any true disdain that his brother had gotten the throne, though by birthright it was truly Logan's alone. No, he was content with the lot he had drawn, content with the solitude. But today he was a bit pissed that his chair had been taken.
"Hades!" his little brother called with enthusiasm, making Logan grit his teeth. How many times had he asked not to be called that name anymore? Too many. "Marvelous spread you have here." His youngest brother's hands gestured to the exotic foods spread upon the table, while his gaze traveled to the young servant girls posted throughout the room, attending to the men's other siblings with care.
Logan rolled his eyes, sat down on his youngest brother's left side, shared an even glance with his second youngest brother across from him. "John, Edgar," he acknowledged them.
"Come now, Hades!" said John, the youngest brother at the head of the table. "We are in safe presence; call us by our true names, I insist!"
Logan grimaced, but an order from the King of the Gods could not be refuted. "Zeus, Poseidon," Logan said begrudgingly, and then looked to the many servants frolicking about, pinching the bridge of his nose in growing aggravation. There was a harsh edge to his voice as he said, "Leave us now, please," simply wanting privacy so this meeting could hurry on and be done with.
The servants all bowed their heads respectfully and left, closing the doors behind them.
"Come now, Hades," said a round, beautiful matron from his left. "You must be gentler with the dears!"
"I said 'please'," Logan grumbled, but went unheard.
"Oh Hestia," said a leaner, fiercer looking redheaded woman sitting across from the one who'd chastised him. "They are but servants. Simple nymphs."
"Ah, but you forget their worth, my dear wife," Zeus said, running a hand through his short beard humorously. "They worship us and we come into power once more, just like the mortals."
"Who wants power?" said a tired and worn looking brunette from next to Hestia. "It is but a game of the mind. I simply want my daughter."
Logan looked down at the table then, didn't say anything in parry. He knew his sister, Demeter, still hated him with enough ferocity to match that of the depths of Tartarus for taking her daughter away in the beginning. Though this time, it truly wasn't he who'd stolen her, but time itself.
"What have you gathered us here for, my husband?" Hera suddenly asked, distilling the silence. She flipped a lock of red hair over her tanned shoulder, mauve eyes on everyone.
Zeus frowned, glanced to Poseidon who was too busy playing with the water in the glass before him to notice the call for help. With a harsh breath, Zeus began in saying, "I am afraid, my dear siblings, we have not come here for the usual merriment we regularly discuss…" He let his words trail off, expression gone somber. Logan bristled in his chair at this. "As everyone is well aware of, those who wish to bring back our ancestors have risen once more."
"They 'rise' all the time," Demeter said dryly. "They've never gotten anywhere with this before, except back in the times of old."
"It has been a thousand years, dear Demeter," said Zeus, steepling his hands atop the table. "With each cycle we become stronger, and I believe the time is at hand that they may be able to access Tartarus and break free."
"Do you question the bonds I have put there, brother?" Logan challenged, dark eyes narrowing in sudden contempt.
"I didn't before and look what happened," countered Zeus, stomping on Logan's pride as he always had. "The bloody monsters escaped and nearly killed us all!"
"But no one believes in them anymore," said Hestia, quick to placate the situation, even if it would be in vain. "They shall have no power…"
"No one believes in us anymore either," Poseidon countered, bowed lips pursing, "yet here we are, all alive, all wealthy, all respected. The myths that have come about have given us enough revere throughout the years to be able to make all of this happen. Gods only know how soon it shall be before we return to Olympus."
"You silly man!" Demeter said, looking almost insulted. "Do you honestly believe we shall ever be allowed to return there? It is in ruins from the first time the Titans tore us down!"
"Well my seas are still here!" Poseidon yelled pettily.
"Sister, brother, calm your selves." Zeus waited until the two were level before continuing. "We know not how many people are in this league of the Titans' followers, but we do know some of its members."
Logan raised a brow suspiciously. "Since when?"
Zeus was quite at the question, very slow in answering, as if lost in thought. "Since when, Zeus?" asked Logan with impatience. "What aren't you telling us?
Zeus sighed, brought forth a crumpled piece of paper from inside his expensive suit jacket. Once thrown in view, Logan could clearly see it was a picture. Two young girls, one old crone. "We have found the Fates once again."
Everyone at the table was silent.
The Fates had been thought to be lost to time as well, just as Demeter's daughter had, and Ares, and Pathos and Enyo… Many other Gods had been missing for some time now too– Dionysus for three centuries, Hermes for six. Hera had stumbled upon Morpheus for the first time in the last cycle, but he was not here now. Neither was Hephaestus nor Aphrodite, Nike, Pallas … Only recently had Artemis and Athena ran across a young Eirene, Goddess of Peace. It'd taken Logan years to find his siblings, and even longer still to find Thanatos, God of Death.
"And just what did the Fates say?" It was Demeter who asked the question, eyes sparkling in concern. Logan very good and well knew she wanted news of her daughter.
Zeus looked at his siblings, one to the next with a calculated expression. "There shall be a war, this time."
Logan blinked, hands fisted together beneath the table. War. It left a fowler taste in his mouth than 'festivities'. "You said you knew some of whom are on the Titans' side– what are they planning?"
"They are breaking the devils from their bonds with every opportunity they get," said Zeus evasively. "Over the centuries, the more we have been, the more power we acquire; we all know that. There are few who have been in life as much as we, but they have been."
"Who?" asked Demeter.
"Nemesis," said Zeus with disdain. "Anteros, Erobos, Hypnos…"
"And they are to rise against us?" Logan asked, cold eyes shining in the morning dawn. This all sounded ridiculous, but he more than anyone knew better than to test the word of the Fates. "A war; a war for what?"
"For power," said Zeus, expression livid with greed. "They have found a way to take it from us, from the earth. If they acquire it, they shall rule Olympus, the Titans shall rise, and the world shall fall."
"How are we to fight back?"
Zeus clucked his tongue, looked at the picture of the Fates. "All I know so far is that we must find the others. All Gods have been reborn into this cycle."
There was a shocked murmur throughout the room, and then Demeter cried, "My daughter?!"
"She is on earth," said Zeus. "As is Apollo, Ganymede, Eris…all of them."
"And why must we find their innocent souls?" Hestia asked, seeming more a fretted mother than ever. "Why involve the young ones in battle? You know what it is like, brother, to be young and ignorant to who you once were. Why curse them with this?"
"Curse?" Zeus boomed, static crackling like lightning in the air. "This, my dear sister, is a gift. And besides, we are stronger together, something we all know to be true. The more of us there are, the easier it is to maintain our abilities. Especially with our children at our sides, who hold our essences in their very souls. And if, if the battle is won, then we need as many Gods as possible to once again ascend to Olympus."
"How do you know we can go back?" asked Poseidon, seeming overly excited and dreadfully young.
"If the Titans can rule, then obviously so can we," Zeus answered with an arrogant finality, collecting the photo of the Fates from off the table. While Logan was glad that his youngest brother seemed finished with this meeting, his skin still itched with unanswered questions. Where had Zeus gotten hold of the Fates after all this time? Was this war truly to be, or just an idle threat like all the others? Was she truly reborn? "Rest assured brothers and sisters, we are working quickly to find the others. Our workers are scouring the globe as we speak. And I am sure the Fates have a few tricks still left up their sleeves."
"My daughter…?" asked Demeter softly, eyes wide as pastures, the color of curling wheat.
"We are searching."
Logan swallowed something akin to ache in the back of his throat then, standing up from the table as Zeus had. Everyone slowly exchanged formalities, conceded to meet again in a month's time to figure out their plans, once more information was known. Zeus would further consult the Fates (though truthfully he should have let Logan as they once lived in his domain and were therefore his jurisdiction when not stupidly overruled) and find out more of this whole matter, if possible. While the Fates may have clearly been swayed to the Olympians' side in this life, they could not reveal anything too intimate with the future; bonds as old as creation would not allow them.
"Until then," Zeus said, shaking Logan's hand with a smirk, "I urge you to make sure you have no vulnerable spots; no loose ends." The man's golden gaze to somewhere distant in the house, and they both knew of who Zeus was talking. "Make sure the boy doesn't do something stupid."
"Of course," Logan said.
"We shall figure this cursed situation out, dear siblings," called Zeus, all of his malice gone and replaced with quiet reassurance. The King of the Gods always had worn many masks. "Whatever this was may be, we shall figure it out…"
Everyone left after that, Logan's home emptying of all the Deities that did not permanently reside there. Just as he was about to go back to his office, pour himself another drink and sulk, a tall, exotic complexioned woman approached him. She wore fine purple silk and many golden bracelets, her tanned skin sparkling in the sunlight of the entry foyer.
"My Lord," she said, bowing.
"Hecate," Logan greeted, looking at her dark green eyes with respectful fondness. (He knew green eyes once long ago.) "…They have told me that…she's alive. Is it true?" He knew that Hecate hadn't had to sit in upon the meeting to hear every word said, nor make him wait for the answer to his question; she was strongest of them all and her magic was something Logan had learned not to query long ago when he was still just a boy.
"Indeed, my Lord. Her aura calls to the world– she is coming into her powers; she must be grown and strong. I am surprised you have not felt her for yourself."
This information shocked Logan more than any of the meeting's conversation had.
"How long have you known?" he asked, hands fisting at his sides in misgiving. "Why keep this from me, if you knew before today she is alive?"
"I was not sure at first," Hecate admitted, stepping back from his anger with defense, expression narrowed. "It seemed so much like her, yet I've thought I have felt her in other lives too. But in confirmation from your meeting, I believe this feeling to be right."
"Can we find her?" Logan asked, ire draining to be replaced with sudden anticipation. What Zeus had said was true– Gods are stronger together. The divinity they had left from when they were immortal fed off of each other's like a growing parasite. With her by his side, he would be nearly unstoppable. Long ago, when he'd been young and love-struck like a pup, he'd given part of himself to her and she must have still held it, for he felt weak even in his prime. If he were to be able to use her to his advantage, then… "Before Demeter?" Logan added as his thoughts caught up with him, knowing he'd never get near the girl if his overprotective nut of a sister had a hold of her first.
Hecate, with little enquiry, closed her eyes, breathed in the crisp air of the house, let it go. There was a bit of a smoky glow around her suddenly, as there always was when her divinity was afoot. It was stronger this life than the last. Finally Hecate's eyes reopened, the smoke dripping into their irises. "There is a spell I may be able to craft… The Fates shall figure it out eventually themselves, but if I were to start right away, we could get to her before Demeter. But, if we find her my Lord, what do you intend to do?"
Logan thought about it for a moment, nerves drawn tight, and it was then he noticed the bowl of fruit on one of the entry foyer's many stone tables. The crimson staining the porcelain. He picked the morsel up in his hand, studied it.
There was a reason pomegranates were his favorite.
"I do what I did last time, only now, the ending shall be different." He tossed the fruit in the air, Hecate wide-eyed as it careened towards the ground. Her lithe hands caught it just as Logan began to saunter away. "Be sure to hurry, Hecate. We wouldn't want to lose her before the Summer's out, it'll be too cold." He laughed as he walked up the steps, dusky aura of the many Shades that still followed him trailing behind in his abrupt dark delight.
"No my Lord," said Hecate quietly, the pomegranate like blood in her hands. "We wouldn't want to lose her; not again."