All Rights Belong to Rick Riordan
The relative calm and tranquillity of the rest of the morning and early afternoon, passed by reasonable smoothly, considering everything that had happened already this morning. I continued to swim in the pool, had some food, went back in the pool (sans tail this time). Eventually as a response to a harmless enough jab from the goddess about getting flabby, I decided to work out. She wasn't actually wrong, compared to what I used to do before joining the Hunt I had gotten lazy.
Then again, I had recently started a new exercise plan that I had never expected.
All the while, under the hungry and increasing glazed stare of the goddess who continued to float across the pool. Glass of wine in one hand as the other supported her cheek up.
If you are wondering if a supremely powerful goddess can get drunk. Then the rosy cheeks and glazed expression were all the affirmation that you needed. I had long since lost count of the number of times the glass had been refilled. However, the likelihood was that glass was the only thing between her and me needing a new pelvis soon.
Besides, it was not as if the inebriated goddess was doing anything wrong. If anything, it was out of character that she was doing so very little. After spending the last few days at full throttle all the time, she was thankfully finally taking it slow.
Perhaps we both needed this after the last few months. An opportunity to simply rest and relax without having to worry about the Hunters, Olympus, rebellious Titans, angry river goddesses… Hades even the only (possible) Primordial I had to worry about was happily floating about on a bright yellow lilo.
So, it was quite annoying to find my serene afternoon ruined by an unexpected, and all too familiar problem. The issue itself was normally quite a significant problem itself. However, considering recent circumstances I was actually more terrified on this occasion by how the drunken goddess would react.
Pausing my cycle of sit ups briefly I bit my lip as I regarded the now almost translucent appearance of my right-hand little finger. The tips of my other fingers likewise turning similar as I watched. Taking a deep breath, I let out a small groan at my counterpart's complete ability to fuck things up at the worst possible moment. The question would normally be which one, but I had a distinct impression I knew which one of the two remaining it was.
"Perrrrrrcyyy. Why did you stop? I was enjoying the view." Harmony called across the room.
Shit. How am I supposed to tell her that my annoying embodiment of Lust part had been kidnapped, without potentially setting off the end of the world?
"Sorry I was just considering what exercise I was going to do next." I answered panicked turning to see her slowly pushing herself to her knees before standing up on uncertain legs… on the surface of the water. Most impressively however was the fact that not once did she failed to spill a drop of wine out of the glass she still held.
"I can think of a fewwww." She slurred before giggling to herself as she slowly staggered towards me. Falling to her knees behind me, she placed her head on my shoulder as her arms wrapped around my chest tightly.
'Well, there was definitely no way out of this now.' I thought to myself before simply holding up the affected hand in front of her.
"We may have to put a pin in that for a moment." I told her with a chuckle, even as a feral growl slowly started to get louder behind me.
"Harmony?" I asked nervously once the growl eventually stopped.
"Hold this." She commanded bitterly before forcing the wine glass into my left hand as the scenery suddenly changed.
Thankfully, she had the sense to have her wings out once we arrived because the last thing, I wanted was to fall twenty-thousand feet to the desert below. Summoning my own as she slowly released her grip on me, next I looked on nervously as she pulled out her bow. Nervously because this was not the short little hunting bow that she used on most occasions, but the full height, 'as tall as she was' great bow version.
However, that was not the end of it as the goddess slowly started to grow much taller. My father was the tallest of the Olympians now at around fourteen feet, likewise I was taller than everyone in both Pantheons at twenty. Which was why I rarely ever using my divine forms height out of self-consciousness, plus it was inconvenient. Harmony was well over thirty by my estimation by the time she had finished growing.
As a result, I almost felt insignificant next to the shear mass of silver goddess next to me.
"Harmony don't do anything to rash!" I shouted nervously as the goddess pulled an arrow against the string and took aim at the desert below.
Of course, telling Harmony not to rush into things was like trying to hold back the ocean. I could possibly do it, but then it would have to go somewhere else instead.
Instead, I could only wince as a twenty-foot-long silver arrow broke the sound barrier and smashed into the cold desert below, a fraction of a second later. The impact instantly displacing hundreds of thousands of tons of sand into the air in an instant, creating a sandstorm that suddenly blanketed the whole area. At the epicentre however was simply a ring of glass, hundreds of feet wide and two-hundred deep before it broke through to something deep below.
Folding her wings, the goddess plunged downwards towards the hellscape that she had created, causing me to follow nervously glass in hand as we descended into 'literal' hell. Taking a sneaky sip, I wondered how on Earth I was going to explain this one. So much for us keeping a low profile.
'Quick someone call Hans Blix. The good news was that I had done what hundred of thousands of foreign troops had failed to do and finally located Iraq's missing WMD's. The 'bad' news was I was marrying her.' I thought to myself with a sigh, as I flew into the open chasm below after the massive silver goddess.
Strangely I suddenly felt quite happy to be tied up and securely bound by the great golden chain.
It had meant that I was not thrown about like a ragdoll by the shock wave, unlike the split personality goddess who had stood in front of me.
"What? This is impossible!" The goddess screamed fearfully rising to her feet and looking around at her shattered kingdom. If Irkalla had resembled Asphodel before, now it was definitely taking after Punishment.
Thankfully, the attack had missed us by almost a mile, but even then, the ringed crater of glass ended only a few dozen feet away from where we had sat. The shockwave had blown out the magical blue flames that had illuminated large swathes of the cavern. So now the only light was provided by the magical chain binding me and the faint dark light of the stars above.
"I tried to warn you." I said laughing at the absurdity of the situation as the glowing silver winged archer began to descend through the hole she had created looking like an avenging angel.
Once she had cleared the opening, the smaller recognisable figure of my other half could be seen following on behind glowing golden. However, compared to the goddess he looked positively tiny even from this distance.
"No…No… !" The black robed goddess screamed falling to her knees her arms beside her head as she underwent a panic attack. A minute ago, she had seemed full of confidence and assured in her supremacy here in her own domain.
Now she was a gibbering wreck on her knees, as true power descended from the heavens. Those gates of hers on the way down may have had the power to drain someone of their power. However, that was not true if someone had the power to simply evade the gates in the first place by making another more direct entrance.
"Eresh do something!" The other goddess Ishtar demanded from her counterpart who was far to busy shaking in fear as the giant silver goddess's feet touch down on the scorched glass floor nearby.
"Well, this is kind of-. Hiccup. Pathetic." Giant 'Artemis' asked briefly pausing. Well, that was going to ruin any sort of seriousness in the situation if that carried on, I thought to myself.
"You dare to mock me, I am the goddess of War, Justice, Se-." The trembling goddess said angrily rising to her feet only to be cut off mid-sentence.
"You are nothing but a failed goddess who has lost all relevance. Hic-. You did not even have the decency to fade into the void with dignity. Hic-." The goddess lamented with annoyance slowly walking closer as the figure of Percy flew a short distance above her, seemingly only holding a half full wine glass. Suddenly the larger goddess's annoying verbal tic made sense. She was completely drunk and yet still managing to destroy everything before her.
'Wait… why is her eye golden?' I thought to myself noticing the imperfection almost hidden behind a bang of auburn hair.
"Besides Inanna, can you really still claim to represent sex when you are alone down here in an almost dead and empty Underworld?" 'Artemis' mocked leaning forwards whilst leaning on her bow for support as the other goddess was finally able to move.
"My name is Ishtar!" The smaller goddess shouted angrily half her face becoming flushed.
"I know that Inanna, which means the other you, must be your delightful big sister." 'Artemis' teased clearly amused as the goddess began to shake with anger.
"Enkidu!" She commanded angrily as the great chain began to move, dropping me to the floor painfully on my mangled leg causing me to grimace even as I watched the chain spear forward towards the goddess, who made no effort to move out of the way. The way that Percy did not respond either suggested that they must have been talking between them mentally.
For the next minute I watched as the golden chain wrapped around the giant silver figure who had still not bothered to react to the attack, other than perhaps crack a smile when it wrapped between her breasts.
"Fool that is the Chain of Heaven, no matter how powerful you may be, you cannot escape its links." Ishtar shouted haughtily.
"I know, but your mistake was thinking that I was the only one here more powerful than you. Percy if you would." She replied condescendingly even as Percy slowly put the glass of wine on the ground and drew a familiar bi-metal blade. If I had been paying attention to her face still, I would have noticed her golden eye begin to glow.
Instead, I watched as my complete other half let the blade hand behind him, easily cutting through the stone ground as he slowly took a step forward dragging it behind him…
…Before he was suddenly back where he had stood a second before only now putting away Maelstrom and recollecting the glass from the floor.
Even I had to marvel at the sight of the pair of them simply standing there as hundreds of tonnes and pieces of golden chain suddenly began to fall to the ground around the giant smiling goddess. It was obvious that time had been stopped but I was surprised that I too had also been frozen, but then I had lost my powers on the way down here. So perhaps that was why, one thing was for certain though it was really cool to watch.
"Well, that was fun, what are you going to throw at me next? The Bull of Heaven maybe? I could do with a large steak. Do you recommend rump or Sirloin?" She asked her tone dripping with sarcasm as she finally began to shrink down to normal size, dispelling the bow even as she relieved Percy of the glass.
"You are an abomination." Ishtar said pointing a finger at the goddess who simply sipped on her drink.
"Says the two goddesses fused together. That's rich." She said mockingly before blinking repeatedly as the twin goddess seemed to be experiencing a seizure as she began to flash golden.
Finally, though it seemed that the other goddess Ereshkigal had managed to attain almost complete control over the body as everything, but one bare leg changed to her own darker colour palate.
"Please forgive my sisters as well as my own actions!" She cried out falling to the floor on her knees with her forehead and hands likewise pressed down beside it in subjugation.
"Dealing with younger twins, really is a pain in the ass isn't it. No matter how much you try to look out of them, they always manage to drag you down with them. Before you know it, you are forced to apologise for their foolish actions." 'Artemis' lamented with a shake of her head, clearly talking about Apollo.
"I simply wished to protect what is left of my kingdom, Inanna is all that remains of the Pantheon above. I could not just turn my back on my own sister even if she is a fool." Ereshkigal pleaded tearfully.
"If the others are gone, then why do you remain down here?" Percy asked stepping forward.
"For the same reason Hades does, because though it is a thankless task someone needs to do it. Someone needs to guide and calm the souls of the dead. Lest they grow restless." 'Artemis' explained looking about as here and there black wraith like beings slowly began to fade into view across the open canyon.
"They mean you no harm. They are simply concerned for me." Ereshkigal said suddenly sitting up, a panicked expression on her golden tear-stained face.
"They are concerned for you, but you are a goddess?" Percy asked confused.
"There is a lot to be said about the rulers of the Underworld, potentially doing a better job than the rulers of the Heavens. Hades himself does not rule his kingdom through fear, that façade is simply given to outsiders who would threaten it. There is little point in trying to threaten the dead, all you can do is inflict needless suffering on them for eternity. Which is merely damaging your own character and esteem. Why else would there be no checks on the entry to Asphodel? The majority of those who end up Punishment are there because their own twisted character has made them believe that what they did was correct. It is only once the judges have found them sorely lacking that they begin to realise what they did was evil… and that they have condemned themselves to their fate." 'Artemis' explained sitting down on the cold rock floor, any hostility now gone from her as she looked at the Sumerian goddess.
"Oh, by the way Ereshkigal, you can call me Harmony, these two idiots are my husband-to-be. Well, this one is Percy, that thing is just along for the ride at the moment." She, Harmony said pointing to me as if I was some sort of waste product.
"I have a name." I said indignantly sitting up careful to keep weight of my still mangled leg.
"Yeah but no one cares, all I want to hear from you is silence." Harmony said glaring as her mismatched eyes stared at me. Gulping I decided to bite my tongue for a second. Unlike her I was still the wrong side of several gates to attempt to do anything. Not that I would have stood a chance anyway.
'Percy what the hell happened with her?' I asked my counterpart mentally hoping that still worked.
'No idea, but just roll with it for the time being. She is already pissed with you for getting caught down here.' He responded simply causing me to pale.
"You spoke of Hades, that would make you one of the Greeks?" Ereshkigal asked nervously.
"Correct and this is not the first time we have met. Though it has been over two thousand years since my half-brother's death in the old city above us. Though I was a lot younger looking back then and had a different name."
"Alexander… You are Artemis." Ereshkigal said finally realising who Harmony really was.
"Wait… what? You mean I came out here to find evidence of other pantheons and you had already met them." I said in annoyance unable to hold it in any longer.
"I thought I told you to be quiet. Besides, you never asked. I was sent over here along with Apollo to investigate Alexander's death and find out if there was foul play. As you can imagine Father was quite proud of his little Macedonia king who conquered most of the known world. Ereshkigal oversaw the local funeral rites he had."
"His soul was filled with sadness and regret. He had gained so much and yet he lost so much more due to arrogance and perceived betrayal. He could have been a truly good king if he had lived longer. He reminded me of Gilgamesh but unlike him he never got his own sense of redemption." Ereshkigal explained sadly.
"Unfortunately, arrogance and seeing betrayal behind everyone else's actions runs in my family. Although in that case it was completely justified, seeing as his mother was fucking insane and had already killed his father just to get him the throne in the first place. She would then go on to kill his wife and son before finally getting her own just desserts."
"Moral of the story, Zeus don't put your dick in crazy." Percy muttered before being shot a look by Harmony.
"Speaking of crazy, Inanna really wanted him, didn't she?" Harmony joked looking back at the goddess of Underworld.
"Please do not provoke her, it is hard to force her into subjugation." Ereshkigal pleaded as her 'Ishtar' foot and ankle twitched about.
"Just proving my point there Inanna."
"Lady Harmony why do you insist on calling her that?"
"Because that is her true name is it not? I don't care for people that wish to change their identity to suit other people's desires. I am Artemis as much as I am Diana or as I am currently Harmony. Unlike me or even Percy here, Inanna never had split personality to justify the change. She just decided it was cooler to go with the new name."
"Speaking of whom, your consort, Percy… who is he? I remember that you were a virgin goddess." Ereshkigal asked nervously looking across at him.
"Percy Jackson, Titan Lord of Time, Constellations. Light, Tides and Hunting. Plus, a load of other feats that are hard to remember. Make some business cards already." Harmony teased looking across at the Titan who proceeded to scratch the back of his neck nervously.
"I didn't ask to do most of those things." He whined as the other goddess's jaw dropped looking at him.
"Oh yeah, by the way his adoptive father is Hades, also making him a Prince of the Underworld." Harmony suddenly announced and for a second, the Sumerian goddess suddenly had a look of lust on her face before realising the ultra-powerful goddess in front of her was not likely to take that well.
Instead, she suddenly became almost excited and began to barrage the poor bastard with an endless barrage of questions on the Greek Underworld. Most of which he was unable to answer but that was not a deterrent to the suddenly animated goddess who leaned forward on her hands as she continued to question.
All the while Harmony simply sat back sipping at the glass of wine with a smile. Clearly amused to watch this sudden change of events.
"No, I don't know about any connection between Irkalla and Erebus, I actively try to avoid being down there. Bad things usually happen when I go exploring the Underworld." Percy said in exacerbation in response to her latest question.
Despite all my initial suspicions and anger at this turn of events. I was quite enjoying this sudden turn of events. I suppose part of that was to do with the fact I sympathised with the pale goddess of the Underworld. I knew how it was to be forced to deal with a problematic younger sibling. Inanna was also quite literally the equivalent of Ares and Aphrodite rolled into one annoyance, so for that she had my condolences. Likewise, the Diana part of me understood what it felt like to be exiled to the edges of 'civilisation' not able to interact with others.
Besides turning a significant area of desert into a glass bowl was also a fun way of relieving stress. Not sex levels of fun… but definitely a good time.
It was ironic that of all of our Pantheon that could have been pissed of with the Sumerians. They had picked one of only two/three (Athena probably knew as well via her son Eumenes) that had bothered to ever learn about them. Almost as ironic as the fact that I personally oversaw the birth of the future King of Macedon and was then involved with the investigation into his death. But that was the ironies of fate, at the time I had seen it as another thankless task handed to me by my father.
Of course, back then the Sumerian Pantheon was significantly larger and so Apollo and I were forced to be diplomatic in our dealings with them. But even then, the goddess of Sex and I were never going to get on. She had openly mocked me for my vow of chastity. The only solace was that I had broken up the rapidly budding relationship between Apollo and her before he had accidentally knocked her up.
So now I got to feel smug seeing what she was reduced to. A parasite that was forced to latch onto her successful sibling for survival.
But I guess that was the most ironic of all things. The only true survivor of the Pantheon was a goddess who was not actively worshipped by the living. She still maintained power because of the belief in her by the dead. She had been good to them after they had passed from the world of the living and so what little remained of them devoted themselves to her.
Of course, how long she could continue to survive in that capacity was anyone's guess. Eventually even that would not be enough, and she too would pass into the void and her Pantheon would go extinct at last.
"Ereshkigal can you actually leave Irkalla?" I asked curiously pulling back from the glass without drinking this time. It was almost impressive to see a goddess who had never seen sunlight in at least a Millenia or two suddenly turn even paler.
"L-l-leave?" The goddess trembled.
"Not permanently but just hypothetically can you and Irkalla survive if you were separated for a period of time?"
"Harmony where are you going with this?" Percy asked nervously turning towards me.
"Well hypothetically of course, we have an Underworld that is overpopulated, and this results in Hades being overworked. Meanwhile right here, we have a goddess of the Underworld that is beloved by her subjects but is responsible for a slowly dying Underworld. One that would be lucky to last another thousand years in its present state. Now if only there was a way, we could do something about this predicament?" I teased looking back to the pale goddess with a grin.
In response the other goddess looked like someone had just blown her mind and now she was trying to reboot as she processed the implication of what I was making. The first one was easier, we moved Ereshkigal to Erebus and she helped administer 'our' Underworld. The other was we 'ship' several million souls from Asphodel to here.
"Doesn't she get a say in this?" Percy asked pointing at the still frozen goddess.
"Only if she actually wants to die." I said simply regarding the crimson eyed goddess who suddenly shook her head and returned to the realm of the conscious.
"Wel-Well I suppose I could take a look at this Underworld of yours. If it is, Ok?" Ereshkigal asked nervously.
"Oh, please as long as you don't try and seduce our uncle then everything will be fine. Hades will be less stressful; Persephone won't have to deal with his mood swings and Melinoe will be…"
"Melinoe." Percy and Lilith said at once before looking at one another. The creepy looking goddess of ghosts was indeed quite unique. Then again, her entire nature was unique, whilst Hades or Thanatos could be called the god of death, Melinoe was the only example of an actual 'dead' goddess. Conceived, carried, and birthed in the Underworld. Though I guess Annabeth was also similar having become a goddess accidentally, after her death.
"Well then let's go visit uncle." I said cheerfully downing the rest of the glass before tossing it away where it shattered even as I rose to my feet grabbing the other goddess's hand and pulling her upright to her feet. Even in my normal 'human' height, I was still almost a head taller than her.
"You're up, kelp head take us away." I told him grabbing him with my other hand before we disappeared into light.
"Oh, this is just fantastic!" I complained turning away from where those three had just disappeared from.
Some of you may think that I had been left behind simply because the half-drunk goddess had simply forgotten about me. But I knew the truth, she did it out of spite. I had ruined whatever she had planned and now I was paying for it, the best thing was in her mind she did not have to do anything herself. I had got myself into this mess and now I had to drag myself out of it.
After all there was nothing now stopping me leaving. Apart from a several mile crawl back up the slope to the surface and the hope that as soon as I passed a few of the gates I would get some of my power back. Which would mean hopefully my leg would heal, then I could eventually fly and then flash out of here.
Turning back and looking up I looked at the still gaping hole in the cavern roof, sand kicked up by the storm above slowly blowing in and trickling down onto the dead landscape. Hopefully, Harmony would remember to come back and deal with that before the mortals noticed the new direct entrance to hell that she had created. That and the several hundred tonnes of golden chain.
Then again, I had come here to have some questions answered and instead now I was left with more questions about the one I was supposedly closest to, who had known my original questions answers all along and then god-napped the other goddess before I could ask any questions of my own.
Turning back away from the sky high above with a sigh I was shocked to find myself suddenly looking at the black figure of a wraith seemingly looking down at me curiously from mere inches away.
"Err. Hello." I said nervously before it suddenly glided across to another cluster of a dozen or so more that were congregated around where their goddess had previously been. All of them however seemed to be looking at me intently, or so it seemed despite them lacking any real features apart from a vague head shape on a long triangular body. A faint white outline around the pitch-black body the only way of telling where one began and another ended when they were grouped up.
Ignoring my deceased watchers, I began the long painful crawl towards the first gate.
"Didn't we leave someone behind?" Ereshkigal asked as we reappeared on the edge of the plain of Asphodel a short walk away from the entrance to Hades' castle.
"Not anyone of importance." Harmony said simply as I rolled my eyes.
'Harmony you know we or rather you are supposed to be keeping a low profile. We seem to be failing at it epically.' I told her nervously now noticing that the walls high above were now filling with undead soldiers all pointing weapons in our direction. Or seemingly rather at the goddess beside us.
"Well then go say hello and say she means no harm." Harmony said cheerfully watching the wall almost hungrily as if itching for a fight. You know what, it was easier to deal with the goddess short attention span when she was focusing on drinking instead.
Flying into the air towards the castle I noticed that sure enough the defending soldiers were not interested in me but at the two goddesses on the ground. So, continuing my flight I landed on the parapet and watched as the familiar figure of the Fury Alecto flew across to greet me.
"Percy Jackson, who have you brought into Lord Hades domain?" The fury demanded clearly agitated as she looked down and across at the silver goddess who was looking back at us.
"Oh, what Artemis?" I said chuckling nervously.
"That is not Artemis." She said simply her eyes glowing brighter.
"Listen it is really complicated, and Zeus wants us to keep quiet about it. Please just let it go for the time being." I implored with a sigh.
"Lord Zeus's commands do not matter down here. She smells like mother; she has the stench of a protogenoi." She said with annoyance and sure enough down below Harmony was drawing her bowstring playfully.
"Alecto if you really want to keep Hades best interests, I suggest not saying she smells weird again. Otherwise, you and this wall will be atomised in short order." I said nervously wondering how she could hear us from this distance.
"Percy why is it always you that causes a commotion in my domain?" Hades said appearing from Alecto's shadow.
"If it were up to me uncle, I would be just happily sitting at home, having a nap. Unfortunately, the women in my life do not have similar plans. Next thing I know things have snowballed so far I am forced to come down here." I complained chuckling at the absurdity that was today.
"Divinity is not all it is cracked up to be, is it." Hades said cracking a rare smile.
"Sometimes I miss the simpler days when all I had to do was kill maths teachers that wanted to eat me."
"I was an algebra teacher, and I did not want to eat you." Alecto cut in seemingly offended by the concept.
"Tisiphone is the one that likes to eat people." Hades commented dryly and I had to wonder if he was joking or not.
"Regardless, I was under the impression that Harmony was supposed to be staying at home for the time being." Hades said looking down at the silver figure who suddenly waved back.
"You know about her?" I asked surprised.
"Poseidon and I were both summoned to talk about it this new development of hers. Frankly I could not care, my nearest neighbours are primordial gods stuck behind a big set of doors that might as well be balsa wood if they ever actually wanted to actually get out. We let Nyx through all the time. Even my own kingdom is literally inside another sleeping Primordial. One more is not going to bother me to much unless she causes a commotion down here. Zeus and Poseidon have it easy up there now with Ouranos, Gaia, Pontus, Thalassa, Chronos all gone. Checks and balances, Zeus does something stupid she puts an arrow up his ass. Saves me the hassle of having to go upstairs." He explained clearly not bothered by it too much.
"Well, that makes things easier for me." I said pleasantly surprised at not even having to pretend to hide the truth.
"As for the other one, she has the aura of death, but I do not recognise her."
"That's because she is not one of our Pantheon. She is Mesopotamian. Her name is Eresh- at least let me finish." I said hanging my head as Hades disappeared back into shadows and instantly reappeared down by the two goddesses. Around me the skeleton guards began to file of back to wherever they normally waited as if by some unheard command.
"Kindly remind my lord that Lady Persephone is home currently, before he gets any ideas." Alecto said turning to me in exacerbation before flying back towards the highest tower where her sister waited.
Jumping over the nearest crenelation, I slowly glided back down to the group below.
"I don't think I should be here." Ereshkigal said nervously her mismatched leg twitching nervously as she looked up at the army of the dead high above.
"It is not you that they are worried about. Most in our own pantheon are not aware of what is happening with me recently. Which is why I sent Percy up there instead of going myself. He has a habit of calming down a situation by shear audacity and simplicity." I responded watching as Percy and the head fury talked to one another.
Of course, I did not need to watch them to know what was being said as an unaware Percy carried a small piece of my very being on his finger. If I remained within a certain distance, I could hear everything around the ring.
Though I may have given away a hint when I drew my bow upon being called smelly. Even if it was not in an altogether negative manner, as the Primordial of Night I had met Alecto's mother Nyx several times over the millennia. The mistress of darkness occasionally amusing herself by blocking out the light from my chariot as if on a whim. Though how that confrontation would go now could certainly be interesting. After all I on top of my own power had also acquired Percy's power over Light.
Sure enough, the sight of me holding my bow was enough to cause Percy to panic before fortunately for the Fury her master arrived.
For the next minute or so I listened as the two immortals bantered back and forth and discussed my presence before Percy explained my companion upon which the god suddenly came right before us both.
In shock at his sudden arrival the blonde goddess suddenly ran behind me eager to put me between her and my uncle.
"Lord Hades." I greeted politely putting my bow away.
"I suppose this is the first time we have met, Lady Harmony." The god of the Underworld replied formally. Who knew what slanderous allegations my own father had made about me to him?
I mean it was not like he remembered all the slanderous things that I had done to and around him.
"Whatever my overly dramatic father has told you, is probably only mostly truthful. I don't want to overthrow anyone or take anything." I told him sarcastically as Percy landed beside me.
"That's strange I was led to believe that you were plotting to overthrow my brother, install yourself as the Queen of Heaven and subjugate a certain Titan Lord as your eternal boy-toy." He said keeping an unbelievable poker face throughout that entire sentence somehow. As said boy-toy shot our uncle a look of deep concern.
"Well ok, one of those things may have some truth to it." I said grinning as Percy hung his head in defeat.
'You're incorrigible.' He told me mentally with a sigh.
'You fuck my ass; I will fuck your reputation.' I was not letting that surprise tactic go anytime soon. Either way he clearly had no response to that for the time being.
"So, may I ask why you have brought a foreign goddess to my domain? Let alone how you found her in the first place."
"Second one is easy, she inadvertently kidnapped one of this idiots… idiots. So, I smashed through her ceiling at which point I then proceeded to verbally eviscerate her sister while Percy killed her pet chain. Then the grown-ups had a conversation, and so we came here." I explained cheerfully as if none of those things were out of the ordinary.
"You are clearly spending too much time around Percy. You are picking up on his mannerisms now. None of those things are normal in any way, shape or form." The god said incredulously as Percy once again hung his head.
Turning around I quickly grabbed the other goddess by the shoulders and quickly pushed her in front of me.
"Uncle this is the Sumerian goddess Lady Ereshkigal. Ereshkigal this is my uncle Lord Hades." I said cheerfully letting go of the goddess who was suddenly seemingly frozen in place.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, you bring a light of beauty to this Underworld of mine." Hades said flirtingly, immediately taking the goddess's hand and kissing it as she suddenly stiffened further and began to turn crimson. Once again, I was reminded that Hades was still a member of the big three and equally as bad as his brothers around women.
"Alecto asked me to remind you that Persephone is home currently." Percy said monotonously even as his eyes scanned the ramparts for signs of my younger sister.
"I was merely being polite." The suddenly flustered god retorted.
"Sure, you were." Percy and I sarcastically muttered at the same time. Perhaps he was right about me picking up on Percy's habits. I was basically GOD at this point, who was I supposed to pray to for this not to be the case?
"It issss…a pleasure to meet you." The nervous wreck of a goddess in front of me responded. You know maybe there was a reason that she was picked by her Pantheon to rule the Underworld. Her crippling fear of social activities was swiftly coming to my attention.
However, I was suddenly distracted from this awkward exchange by the rapidly approaching black mass in my peripheral vision.
'Heads up Percy.' I told him mentally causing him to look at me in confusion, the opposite direction from which the enormous hellhound suddenly rammed into him. Throwing him to the ground at my feet and hurriedly rolling over just in time to be savagely licked by the enormous drooling beast.
"Mrs. O'Leary stop...please…someone…help." The Titan Lord spluttered between getting his head licked to within an inch of his life. Now if I didn't find this hilarious, I would have reminded him that he can stop time and so easily get himself out of this situation.
However, this sudden scene served as a distraction to the foreign goddess as she watched it with wide eyes.
"Umm should we help him?" Ereshkigal asked nervously.
"Oh, don't worry about him, this is what happens when you neglect one of your pets for too long." Hades said with a smile as the Hellhounds tail wagged happily even as the Titan desperately flailed below it.
"That is a pet? It is a monster?" She asked in disbelief.
"Your sister called me a monster earlier… besides Mrs. O'Leary is the most normal of my husbands, furry little friends. The others are a flying horse that is also his nephew and the worlds angriest shiny kitty. Which can quite easily take on a pantheon of gods on its own." I explained as Percy finally got his arms around his face to protect him from her tongue.
"If you think she is bad I have her mate who is twice the size and has three heads." Hades said proudly speaking of Cerberus.
"I am almost afraid to ask what you have." Ereshkigal asked turning to me, well of the three of us here I was the most powerful after all.
"I…I have a golden hind." I said nervously, there was no way of making that sound impressive by comparison. It was not even any bigger than normal, it was just gold.
"Lame." Percy said laughing even as his arms were almost being knocked to the side by the muzzle of the friendly hellhound.
"Well, the argument could be made that you have the grand-daughter of a calamity class dragon-god as a subordinate. That is if she keeps her sanity this time of course." Hades proposed to my defence.
Come to think of it I had not actually thought about Morganna to much since the war-game. I would have to inquire with Hecate how that was going when everything calmed down. Would she even still be the same quiet girl she was previously or had the memories of the ancient queen of corrupted her mind?
"She is a Hunter not a pet so that doesn't count. Maybe Thalia though. She often seems to act like an angry guard dog." I countered laughing at the mental image, she even wore a dog collar on occasion after all.
"Who or what is a Thalia?" Ereshkigal asked her eyes having turned like saucers at the words dragon-god before.
"My youngest sister and Lieutenant. She finds it fun to throw lightning at people."
"Your Pantheon is very… inter-related." Ereshkigal said nervously.
"We have a song for it in this country. 'Sweet Home Alabama.'" Percy sung laughing as Hades hung his head.
"You're not wrong. We are actually cousins." I said pointing to Percy. "He married his niece. Who is also my half-sister and cousin at the same time. My father is married to his sister but also slept with the other to produce said half-sister Persephone. And then this idiot's father slept with the same sister to produce a horse. And that is all just the tip of the iceberg in this family." I explained with a sigh.
"You make our family sound so dysfunctional sister." A voice called out to me as Persephone stepped out from Hades' shadow. The ground at her feet instantly growing small patches of wildflowers on the normally dry black grassland of Asphodel.
"As one of Queen of the Underworld to another. I am Persephone." The goddess said towards Ereshkigal, the tone in her voice basically that of a warning.
'I might not like being here, but this is my Underworld (and husband) not yours.'
"Oh, for heaven's sake. Mrs O'Leary will you sit down!" Persephone commanded as the giant Hellhound immediately did as she was told, finally allowing the bedraggled figure of my future husband to his feet.
'I am not going near you until you have a shower.' I told him looking at the shiny texture of drool that had been applied over his entire top half.
'Will you be joining me though?' He retorted cheekily as I had a flashback to earlier and outwardly blushed.
"So, is there actually any reason you are having this talk standing around outside in the plains, rather than the perfectly functional castle right behind us?" Persephone asked folding her arms and to my sister's credit. She had a point.
"Wait you have a brother, that is a horse?" Ereshkigal said putting two and two together.
"Not as many as he does." Persephone said pointing at Percy even as she rolled her eyes.
"Anyway, why don't we go inside and sit down and discuss what Harmony brought you here for." Hades proposed before leading the way towards the castle.
"I don't think she likes me." Ereshkigal whispered to me looking at the other goddess who was one step behind her husband ahead of us.
"She may be queen of the Underworld, but she does not normally enjoy being here. She is normally the goddess of Spring but is forced down here for the winter. As long as you don't try taking her husband away, she will not care about you too much." I explained as we carried on walking towards the great castle gates.
'I have got something I need to take care of while I am here, are you going to be alright with her?' Percy asked looking up at the rampart where I could have sworn, I saw a pale face with black hair suddenly ducked back behind cover.
Don't worry I am not going to destroy anything, as long as you don't start without me.' I told him cheerfully outwardly flashing a feral looking smile, inadvertently unsettling the goddess next to me. Percy however disappeared into shadows himself before reappearing on the walls above.
It took almost thirty seconds for Hades to notice one of his guests had disappeared.
"Am I likely to need a new son anytime soon?" Hades asked nervously noting the absence and putting the facts together.
"You still have a…two daughters if it makes you feel better." Persephone said emotionlessly after correcting herself. Evidently, she was not to impressed with her Husband's Roman daughter either. Then again, I had expected her relationship with their legitimate daughter to be more estranged than it had appeared back during the war game. Instead, both mother and grandmother had been genuinely kind to the goddess of ghosts, while she was out of her element topside. When she was not extorting the god of war for money over a bet of course.
"Nico I know you are behind the pillar so stop hiding. We need to talk." I called out to the younger god who had scrambled away as soon as I shadow travelled up here. I had just caught sight of his jacket flapping around the corner when I arrived.
"The last time we met you almost took my head off." The son of Hades called back.
"And I want to apologise for that, I learned a lot of information at once that was really hard to process. What I did was wrong in every way, but I do not want second-hand information from someone else. I want to hear the truth from you… about Annabeth." I implored emotionally walking over and leaning against the crenelated wall looking over the vast black plain below.
"I wanted to tell you, but I, no we didn't know how you would react." Nico said walking around the corner nervously still keeping his distance however.
"Better than I did do, I should not have had to hear it from Piper of all people." I told him bitterly with a sigh. In the distance I could make out the brighter area that was Elysium and Blessed. The two areas of the Underworld I was both forbidden and unable to ever enter.
"We didn't mean to get together, it just sort of happened. I would just visit her to let her know what was happening and we just bonded. Annabeth was a lot like you were back then when we met. Isolated, depressed and missing purpose. You told me that you actively tried to kill yourself back in those days. She was almost the same, except well…" Nico explained sombrely.
"She was dead. She was the one with everything to live for and had plans for the future. I had all the power and yet I was nothing without her. I was left bitter and angry with the world, the fates."
"So was she when she thought you had died on the Argo. She planned on avenging you even if it meant her death as well. The difference was though that you survived as did the rest of us. So she felt alone again, she had naturally achieved the Isles of the Blessed and yet hated it because she was alone. A few dozen people a century achieve that feat and as a result she was isolated from everyone she knew. You know how that feels." He explained as I nodded my head in quiet contemplation.
The truth was this pained me even more to hear the truth of her situation. Watching her death had wounded me to the core emotionally at the time, but I had at least tried to draw some solace that she had achieved Elysium or as the case was Blessed. However, to hear that even that was not enough to calm the pain in her heart threatened to reopen that wound in mine.
"This was in the months before she discovered her connection to Anna Minerva and the Parthenos. So I was the only real visitor that she had for months. Hazel would try and help but she was always distracted with what was happening with the camps. Whereas I would try and stay with her for hours where I could, explaining the developments of what was happening politically between the camps, with Orthrys… with you." He told me eyeing me nervously before leaning against the battlement a few feet away.
"With me? What did she want to know?" I asked curiously.
"So what did you tell her?" I asked tentatively that had not been a good time for me.
"Honestly, that we were all worried for you. You were now almost a complete loner, you had actively tried to kill yourself on numerous occasions, apart from me and a few of the Titans you talked to no one. That at some point I expected you to arrive at the gates, after paying Charon the fair." He explained as I felt a tear run down my face.
After all he was not wrong. For over a year I was an emotionally stunted recluse with the power to bring about change and yet I did nothing but act bitter to everything around me. The only thing that brought me out of that state was a passing request for help from an unlikely source. Just over six months later and my world had been turned on its head.
"Thank you." I told him tearfully watching as a golden tear fell to the ground far below.
"For being there for her, when I could not. For being her being her light in the darkness." I told him turning towards my cousin who uncharacteristically had actually turned pink despite his complexion and the light down here.
"We never planned on anything happening between us, it was just in the case I was spending more time with her than I was doing anything else. I just really like being there for her and that she was good company, I mean I have trouble making friends you know that. But we had a sense of companionship when we were together. Then I found out about you and Artemis and so I thought that if you could move on with your life. I thought maybe so could she?" He said sound almost afraid as if I was going to do something.
"Nico sometimes I can't work out if I want to strangle you or hug you. You may not think it, but you are a good friend." I told him whilst slowly walking over towards him before grabbing him into a bear hug and lifting the smaller god off the floor.
"So, I am going to give you some advice that I have received from a number of people recently." I told him as his entire body stiffened.
"If you hurt her, I will hurt you." I whispered half-seriously before slowly putting him back down. As I stepped back, I watched as the pale young man nodded his head nervously.
"Her mother told me the same thing. Between the two of you I am not sure which one I am more afraid of?" He said laughing half-heartedly.
"Her. You wont see it coming." I told him laughing having faced Athena myself on exactly that subject.
"So, speaking of girls what is going on with Artemis or Diana or whatever she is calling herself now. I wasn't allowed to hear what he was talking about with Zeus, but father's laughter carries through the walls."
"Honest answer is not a bloody clue, the gods don't know, the Fates don't know. The only things I have learned over the last few days is that she takes after the old man in more ways than one. And that I am apparently far more sensible with my powers than I could be." I told him looking across the plain again.
'I can still hear you by the way.' Her voice said in my mind causing me to immediately tense up despite the fact my senses told me she was nowhere nearby.
"I don't know whether to be glad for you or to pity you." He said smirking.
"Sometime neither do I. Still, it means that every day is different and interesting. I am sure you will begin to understand soon enough." I told him patting him heavily on the back.
"Yeah, I don't have the best role models in life for relationships. My father and stepmother for obvious reasons. Hazel and Frank are too lovey-dovey, it makes me ill to watch. Piper is a bitch who I currently wish could die, so I could send her to punishment for her stunt, whilst Jason has all the personality of a sex toy. My only solace is that Athena is now directly her boss and is equally annoyed with her. The final relationship I have to take inspiration from is you. Which in the nicest possible way is a route I do not want to take."
"Good choice. Just try and be yourself, do not copy what other people do. Act natural. I mean do not drag an entourage of skeletons around with you on a date. So, try and be somewhat normal." I said quickly rethinking, none of the children of the big three were normal by any stretch of the imagination. Thalia could be described as a sadist; I had been called masochistic and Nico was well Nico.
'He dated dead people.' I thought to myself whilst cringing at the thought.
"Unfortunately, our options for going out are kind of limited, she may be a 'goddess' now but she has no physical body of her own. So, her spirit is confined to the Underworld unless she uses an intermediator like the Parthenos or her mother. The second of which wont even let me hold her hand. The first is not quite repaired yet and while better than nothing is still a statue at the end of the day."
"You will get it sorted. I mean you have managed to overcome much worse, remember when you managed to convince your dad to get over himself and save the day. You're a fighter." I told him smiling reassuringly.
"My opponent is the goddess of Warfare and Olympus's Heir. Being a fighter is not going to cut it, I nod my head and take whatever restrictions she places. Unlike you I am not that crazy."
"I think that the fact that we are having this conversation in the first place proves that you are a bit crazy, besides at some point Thalia is going to find out. There is something for you to look forward to, you are not going to outlive her. After all my job is to keep her alive, forever."
"Protect me instead of her!" He squealed nervously.
"I can't play favourites with my cousins, well ok one of them I can." I said smiling even as the younger god grabbed my arm and pleaded for protection.
'Annabeth I may not be able to see you myself for the moment, but you have picked a good man. I wish you both the best of luck. Hopefully one day I will be able to tell you this myself even if I have to defy Fate herself to do so.' I thought to myself looking towards the shining distant summery isles.
"So, Nico you want to go find out what chaos my wife has managed to cause?" I asked him smiling watching as his eyes widened.
"Oh, right she is here too. Who was the other girl? She is kind of cute in a foreign sort of way."
"First of all, you are technically 'foreign' to this country remember. Second you are in a relationship now buddy, so keep your eyes on the prize." I said bonking him on the head with the bottom of my clenched fist.
"I am Italian, we are allowed to admire beauty wherever it may be." He said grinning causing me to smile as well.
I mean, I suppose the Sumerian goddess was cute in an adorkable kind of way. Her sister was a bit of a bitch, but the goddess of the Underworld herself was like that one clumsy girl that simply oozes sweetness with the way she acts. Perhaps that was how she had won over the adulation of her own Underworld.
My senses of beauty however were out of alignment. I was basically engaged to my ideal of perfection and that was before she took the perfection plus package to her current form. Compared to Harmony, cute was probably the best you could get from me.
"Anyway I meant to ask why are you all wet and sticky?" He asked laughing as we headed towards the stairs back down to the great hall.
AN. And back to the actual story and not what can be described as Porn with Plot as someone called it. I mean they were not wrong but now we can go back to sexual implication like the good old days rather than explicitly writing it. Now if you thought there was going to be some epic battle between Harmony, Percy and the Sumerians then you would be mistaken. They are quite literally on their last legs, if their opponent came in the normal way like Lilith did then they could stand a chance especially with the corpse of Enkidu acting as the Chain of Heaven. However I think it is quite established that Harmony doesn't do things the normal way.
However at some point in the future of SHOI you will be able to see Percy versus a fully functional Enkidu and Gilgamesh to establish the true greatest Hero. That is of course if Percy stops drooling at the thought of Gate of Babylon.
Anyway back to 2021 not 202X. We have a foreign goddess being strong armed into helping 'our' Underworld. Percy and Nico having a chat about girls.
Now there will be a chapter addressing Annabeth's side of this in the future, but if you have any questions I will be happy to answer. As a number of people can attest, I will answer any question you have about the story to the best of my ability. some things are set in stone, others are fluid and can be moved chronologically. discussing my plans for this via PM's or reviews is my greatest motivation. It is just saddening that the longest chapters invariably get the fewest reviews which makes me believe that people don't like where the story is going. 'A Night to Remember, A Night to Forget' was massively controversial at the time and continues to be to this day. However it was also a necessity for the story, otherwise in all likelihood the twins would not be conceived until now and we would still have 9 months to go at this point.
Hell even killing Annabeth in the first place was controversial, despite it seemingly making more sense than her randomly betraying him for Percy's brother who has achieved a sum total of Fuck all of any note in camp. Even then it has taken me almost another hundred chapters to bring her back into the storyline without fucking over her own character development in the original series. I have always liked Percabeth in the original series, which is why I never bothered to read any fics that write the same ship. For the first 8/9 books it was a well written ship in a well written story. However I was lured in by Pertemis/Periana (to a lesser extent Perzoe) and the rest is well history.
To peoples other large complaint that is Harmony herself, she will not be staying around forever. Any more than Perseus will remain fractured. At which point the status quo will return back to normal and Zeus can breathe a sigh of relief. Wheels are in motion then we will have our beloved Artemis and Diana back. It will happen shortly after the epilogue of the Morganna's Interlude. Speaking of which I need name suggestions for the Snake/Lamia girl.
Also as I have finally bothered to read the summary of TOA. Is Rick now deliberately taking shots at me with the whole Reyna joins the hunt and being shipped with Thalia or what. First it was Iapetus and a cat in Tartarus and a number of other coincidences over the years. at this rate I might have to send my solicitor over there to get some of his new Disney dollars.
Speaking of, I am currently in the process of finally buying and moving into my own home. Which means that either chapters will slow down again for a while whilst I get it all sorted, or they will speed up because I will be alone and bored with nothing to distract me.