Medusa told me yesterday that the Underworld finally admitted they were the cause of the problem.
Of course, Hades' first reaction was to blame it all on Palutena – saying that if she hadn't 'stolen' Pit from the Underworld, he would be there now to fix the problem. He conveniently evaded the matter of what caused the problem in the first place or why they only had one countermeasure that involved keeping a warrior who didn't belong in the Underworld down there against his will. Or maybe it only just occurred to the Lord of the Underworld and second most powerful deity in existence that if he is put in charge of a purview as important as death and he completely neglects his duty, abandoning and even eating souls instead of returning them to the cycle of reincarnation, the balance of the Universe is going to go just a little off kilter and it might just be interpreted as his own fault.
Maybe the hordes of Undead, heavily mutated monstrosities invading every region of Angel-Land was his first clue that something had gone a bit wrong.
Anyway, the Underworld has accepted the blame and agreed to work together with Skyworld to fix what they broke. That's a big improvement, I suppose. Actually, I'm not sure this situation has any positive side to it. This war stopped only because a bigger war started, one that has already claimed the lives of more people than the first, and that we can't even escape from when we die. The only thing that could ever persuade Skyworld and the Underworld to work together might just be the event that destroys both of them and everything in-between.
Hades isn't there in person any more. He locked himself in his shrine. It's probably a good idea. He's very ill and anyone with half a brain can see he's getting worse. There are a lot of Gods around here who are very angry with him for how he's manipulated them over the years, and others who are just generally watching him like vultures so they can be first in line for a promotion. The Reapers want him out as well, mostly because of his incompetence. I walked past the door to his shrine yesterday. I heard him screaming and ranting about the things tearing him apart from the inside. Maybe he's got indigestion from eating all those billions of souls. Actually, I'm not sure you can even digest souls at all.
What with Hades too sick to oversee them personally, Medusa and Pandora have already broken free of his control. I agreed to assist them with their latest plan, one that they need me personally as a test subject for. It sounds plausible enough, and less likely to condemn me to a fate worse than death than not doing anything at all. They've been rebuilding the Mirror of Truth and using it to clone ever more sophisticated objects. They have a working prototype of the Three Sacred Treasures. It works fine, apart from that the armour's gone dark blue and the bow shoots red and blue energy globes that go wherever they want to instead of where you ask them to. Medusa's also teaching me how to endure petrification and come out of the condition in an emergency. She says there are times when I might want to pretend to be a statue, as well as times when being as unbreakable as stone might be the only thing that keeps me alive. She doesn't want me learning tricks that I can use against her so easily but she says it's less important than what's coming.
I told Pit about it. He asked me to teach him the trick to enduring petrification. He says it's as bad up there as it is down here. A reanimated Hewdraw head had broken in and trashed the place. He still wasn't sure if he had actually killed it. It was difficult to tell with those things at the best of times. I asked him to come and help me sort this out once and for all but he refused. He has to protect Palutena. Her soul's gone missing once before and he's worried this will make her more vulnerable to the infection.
I should probably tell the story in order. About the Undead hordes, I mean. It's important that someone knows exactly what happened.
The first infected life form they found was a Tortolunk, of all things. You don't expect something to get the better of a Tortolunk, not with those huge shells and the speed they can move at. It looked almost skeletal, clearly already dead, had grown to about ten times the normal size and was mindlessly attacking everything in sight. It took an entire Centurion squad to put it down. There were other things living in that cave. For most of them, it was possible tell which Underworld life form they had been before the infection; others had changed entirely. Those that were already Undead to start off with had just been mutated and driven insane. Anything holding a weapon was now fused with it. A living Exo-Tank was even found. It was pandemonium enough to be a Chaos invasion; Pandora was blamed at first, except that there were Handoras among the infected and she was genuinely upset at losing them. Hades tried to blame Dyntos once he saw the Exo-Tank, accusing him of building cursed armour and weapons. He replied that the only cursed armour he had ever made was the suit that Hades paid him, the one made to fit Gaol.
Three weeks later, after a spate of attacks that had driven most of the mortal civilisations into hiding in the mountains, a Celestial Pirate Ship crashed in the old town square. Its crew had completely fused with the ship's inner workings. They managed to save the Captain and restore him to enough sanity to ask him what happened and how far out into space it had spread. The infection was everywhere, he told us; the Komaytos were spreading it. He talked a lot about the Komaytos. They weren't really alive in the first place, not the same way that a mortal or even a God was alive. They could drain the soul or give it back, they didn't need a ship to travel to any world they wanted. The ones you saw were only infants. There were bigger, more powerful ones out there, ones who didn't need bodies and could get into your minds. Once they were infected, they had become something more evil than the worst things in the Underworld, even the Aurum, and there was no way for them to be destroyed. He spoke a lot about their 'Prime', out there in space, still in the process of being created, and how it had already been corrupted, and twist all of reality with it on the day that it opened its eyes. He didn't live through the night.
The fact that the infection had spread through the entirety of space wasn't the thing that convinced Hades to take the blame. No, it wasn't quite enough on it's own to break his morale. It was what happened the next day. The one thing that nobody in Angel-Land ever believed could happen.
The Chariot Master was corrupted.
He had fought for three days solid against the invading forces before he even bothered to contact anyone to inform them he was under attack, let alone ask for help. None of the three entire waves of Undead forces had managed to take his fortress and he had already taken hundreds of injuries without any signs of infection. If the disease was transmitted through any kind of physical contact, he didn't even have enough of a physical presence to contract it. (They were paranoid about it for a while - their strongest warrior already being Undead in the middle of an Undead invasion. Hades even tried to blame him once but he got shouted down straight away.) Then the Komaytos came, a swarm of thousands, and he could see the shape of another, larger Komayto in their twisted souls. All the souls were twisted, he said, like something that couldn't break but had been warped out of shape from thousands of years' worth of strain. He knew, then, that he would be taken. He still fought as hard as he could. They had taken off his legs before they got anywhere near his soul. He used their own warped reality to fuse his upper torso with his chariot, then retreated somewhere far away, leading them behind him. His retreat wouldn't really change anything, other than buying them time. Once he was corrupted, they would have a powerful weapon and they would know that it was possible for them to corrupt anything and everything in Angel-Land. At least he would be able to meet the mind out there, the thing that was twisted enough and powerful enough to destroy the Universe before it was born.
I wonder if he'll find a way to stop it before he gets bad enough that he can't send messages back to us any more.
I've stopped getting messages from Pit. He's supposed to send them every day. I'm going up to Skyworld. If you get this message, give it to Medusa and Pandora. If I get into trouble and there's no way I can get out again, I'll use the thing we discussed. I'm sure we'll think of something between us. I'm not returning, even though my training isn't finished and my bow still keeps firing the red and blue things. If you know what's good for you, you'll get out of the Underworld too. It's not just dangerous because it's the place where all the trouble started.
Hades still hasn't come out of his shrine. He's fallen completely silent. I remember, now, what Pit was telling me about all the Komaytos he saw in Hades' bloodstream, as close to them as though they were his own antibodies.