|Obed Brandt | Hades (obedear) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-03-06 18:59:00
|Entry tags:||hades, hecate|
this will all be a distant memory
Who: Obed [Hades] and Kate [Hecate]
What: Hades and Hecate go for a walk.
When: After this thread.
Stepping across the invisible line that separated the Underworld from the living, Hecate blinked at the cold that enveloped her skin, more biting in the wind’s movement than the stagnant bone-chill among the dead. She did not mind the change, as temperature did not truly affect the gods; she merely needed to get used to it after untold years of the balmy nights that had welcomed her. Demeter’s wrath swirled silently from Olympus in soft white flakes against the midnight sky, blocking out moonlight and starlight into a truer darkness than Hecate had ever known.
Hecate wondered if Demeter had intended to turn her beloved earth into the very place she despised for taking her daughter away, realized she probably had, and considered with amusement thanking Demeter for creating an even more ideal environment for Hecate’s night wanderings.
With Demeter’s likely expression to such a conversation in mind, Hecate was just about to set off when she felt a presence coming up behind her. It seemed as cool and dark as the winter night around them. It was a void in spite of its solid nature; a thing that simply did not belong. Hades moved into her line of sight, each step as soundless as shadow.
"Hecate," he said. "Are you at work or at play, tonight?"
“Hades.” She greeted the god with a nod of her head. A barren earth, a spring goddess among the dead, the lord of the dead among the living. Hecate had watched regimes fall and old gods give way to new, but these changes intrigued her far more.
“Play,” she replied, “unless I find there is work to be done along the way.” She appraised Persephone’s husband; they had worked together amicably enough, but now she wanted to discover what drew Persephone to him, and him to her, to justify such burden on mortals. “Would you care to join me?”
His black robes moved around him like a living thing, swallowing up the pale lines of his arms and his long, thin hands where they folded at the small of his back. He moved near to Hecate, walking alongside her as they moved deeper into the living realm. From cavern to crossroads they walked, silently observing all in their path.
Beasts shied away from the underworld god, scuttling under rocks and into tight burrows. Only the owls remained, watching the pair pass with wide, dark eyes.
"What brings you to this place," he mused, "in search of play? What pleasure do you find here?"
Hecate reveled in the darkness as they walked. She had always found comfort in the hidden spaces the shadows created, the contrasting starlight brighter for the darkness it dared penetrate. Clouds blocked the sky now, but the frozen rain that fell from them blanketed the earth in silence.
Hecate’s ears pricked, drawn to the seeming loudness of Hades’ voice amidst the vast plane that stretched around them. “The land has changed,” she said, casting a sidelong glance at her companion to gauge his reaction. “I come to ascertain what Demeter has wrought.”
Hades kept his own counsel on this for what seemed a long time. The mortal coil spun around them, moving beneath the swift strides of their feet. All the while his face was cold and impassive as marble; his unblinking gaze swept over the world under their feet. Upon further inspection, he felt a chill in the air, a soft crunching of frost beneath his feet that had not been there upon his last visits.
He hummed, a small but judgmental sound. "Demeter's work is equal parts cruel and unnecessary."
Unsurprised by Hades’ long silence as he contemplated his response, Hecate had conjured a torch to examine the flakes more closely as they stuck to the rough black cloth of her robes. She observed almost detachedly as they melted when she brought the flames near; once she determined the proper distance to keep the torch so that the flakes retained their shape, she admired the crystalline patterns, seeing no two exactly alike. No doubt Demeter would say that was due to her grief being renewed with each tear that fell.
“And beautiful,” she responded when her patience was rewarded by Hades’ answer. “She does not do things by halves.”
"Unlike some of us," he said, "who willingly sacrifice half of what they most long for to mitigate her vengeance."
Still he stood in the halo of her torchlight, watching the snowfall most closely where it melted. It was here he found himself, in the little death of each flake where it touched that unyielding flame; her grief was strong, but it could be overcome. He looked to Hecate, and a light danced in his eyes that had not been there before.
"Praxidike has made her choice. Her mother should have faith that it is justified. I would tell others the same were they to doubt her in my presence."
Hecate met Hades’ gaze for a moment, the reflection of torchlight bright in his eyes against the black landscape behind him. She knew Persephone had given up half of herself to appease her mother; did he count himself among the sacrifices? Persephone wore her emotions like clothing, plain for everyone to see, so Hecate had no doubts about her veracity. But Hades was like her, closed off and removed, and Hecate knew too well how life futilely struggled and broke against their unforgiving walls.
They had nearly reached a crossroads, the signs pointing to grand cities whose names changed too often for immortal Hecate to track. The wind shifted, blowing against Hecate’s back, and dogs howled in the distance. The horses leading a cart toward them neighed nervously and lost their stride for a few moments before their master regained control. Hecate smiled terribly, and her flame seemed to grow larger and brighter, as if she held three torches instead of one.
“I am pleased to hear it,” she said. “A spring goddess will need support in the world of the dead. Though,” she added, recalling the steel in Persephone’s eyes and voice during their previous conversation, “I anticipate her will quickly becoming iron.”
He nodded. He was as slow to speak as ever, though what might have been a smile began to play at one corner of his mouth. It was gone as quickly as it had come, easily written off as nothing more than a shadow in flickering torchlight.
"It already is," Hades said. "Those who fail to realize that do so at their peril." No small amount of pride colored his tone, rendering it deeper, richer; it reverberated around them, speaking out from every shadow that surrounded them. The horses shied away, then bolted, dragging their cart behind them. Hades watched the cart go, his smile fading as the driver tumbled from his perch, fetching up hard against the cold ground below. The horses disappeared into the distance, fading first to black points, then nothing.
Hades moved toward the man, still twitching on the ground. Though his eyes were on the dying man, his thoughts remained with his beloved. He looked back to Hecate.
"Persephone has more than my support," he said. "She has a kingdom at her beck and call. She is the world of the dead, named its queen by the one who built it. The dead would die again for her. Demeter would do well to remember that, and call her daughter merciful."
Hecate shivered at his tone; she had found the answer to her earlier question, and was glad for it on Persephone’s behalf, though the broken mortal body in front of her caused other concerns.
“Really, Hades,” she chided, kneeling next to the dying man with fear in his wide eyes as he searched for the presences he felt but could not see. “Where is your mercy? Or do you believe the death of a young innocent would make an acceptable gift for your new wife?”
"None are innocent," Hades said, and by his tone it was plain he believed it. "And if he dies, he adds to our ever-expanding kingdom." His voice softened at last, though only for an instant. "Regardless, what need has he of my mercy? He has you here, Hecate Atalus."
Hecate sighed. Her usual nightly wandering involved making her presence known at the crossroads, using her disembodied torches to startle mortals out of forgetting her existence, but not taking their lives. She supposed she should have expected no less when she invited the lord of the dead to accompany her, but she hoped Hades’ appreciation for life was not funneled entirely on that which Persephone represented, to the detriment of the rest of the world. The imbalance would destroy everything far more than Demeter’s icy wrath could, and his careless actions tonight had left her in doubt.
She waved her torch over the body of the young man, and in his place appeared a majestic horse, deep chestnut with a long mane, muscles straining as he pulled himself upright. Where snowflakes touched his coat the quickly cooling heat of transformation melted them into a white dappled pattern.
“A gift from me, then,” she said, watching the horse gallop in the direction of the carriage he had owned in a different form. “He will greet the spring goddess as she emerges from her deathly kingdom and bear the iron queen back when she returns.”
This time, when his smile appeared, it did not retreat quite so quickly. "It suits her," he said. His hands folded close against him, disappearing into robes that swirled like smoke. He watched the stallion until it was swallowed up by darkness, as though desire and vigilance alone might hasten its return. "You have my gratitude. I'm certain you will have hers as well."