Book of Hades
I had known Charon for a long time. He had always demanded a nice shiny gold coin in payment for his services. Not just from the souls who needed a ride across the Styx, but from me as well. He must have been the richest person ever, even richer than me. It was not like he ever went anywhere and spent his money. He kept it in a dwelling. Not even I knew where it was, but it must be the size of a mountain.
I had just returned from a trip up top when I saw Charon on the bank of the Styx. His face was a blank stare, as always, but something was obviously wrong. He was sitting in his boat and just staring at me as I entered my dominion. He was waiting for me to return.
“What in the name of Tartarus is wrong with you?” I asked him, confused. He was looking at me as he always did, but his eyes were screaming at me. It was eerie even for the Lord of the Underworld.
“It’s gone.” I nearly jumped as his voice filled my mind. It was broken, as if he had been punched in the throat. It was a little trick I’d learnt, but the old fool did not speak but once in a century or two when it was vital for him to communicate with me. Morse code and sign language were too much trouble when it was something important.
“What’s gone? What the bloody hell has happened now?” My voice echoed in the cavern as I stepped forward, concerned. It had been years since he last spoke to me. The last time was when I’d stood on his foot while getting on his boat. He’d called me a clumsy bastard as he rubbed the pain from his toes. The involuntary words had echoed through my mind, forced from him bythe unexpected shock of the pain of my stomp.
“My coins,” he growled. His eyeballs were red, and his pupils were large. “Stolen.” He put out his hand as I approached him. He wanted his coin for my ride.
“What? By who?” I placed a coin in his palm and stepped aboard.
“This is your kingdom.” He pointed his paddle at me accusingly, like I was to blame. He’d hit me with the paddle once, and it bloody hurt. I pointed at him with a look that said don’t you bloody dare, and shook my head as I looked at his paddle, which I suspected was about to come at me. “You need to get this place under control. You have allowed too many things to go wrong since you decided to play in that circus upstairs.” I was beginning to get angry. It was true that things had been going very wrong since I decided to return to Earth, but I would not be told so by that stupid, greedy old goat.
“Bloody watch it, Charon.” I stepped towards him menacingly, suddenly letting my voice drop a few degrees. “I can see you are upset, so why don’t you show me where this crime happened, and we can get to the bottom of it, eh?” It was a command, not a question, and Charon knew better than to argue once I had told him to watch it.
“Show you where I keep my coins? No,” he said with finality without opening his mouth. He protected them like a parent protecting their offspring. I never understood why and still didn’t.
“It’s no longer a secret, you idiot. Someone has stolen them. Now take me, damn it.” I was in a bad mood. I just wanted to go to bed and relax.
Charon’s nostrils flared, and his eyes continued to appear red and slightly evil, but he eventually nodded and pushed us away from the bank. He rowed, taking us to his not-so-secret cache.
I will not tell you where this place is. Charon will be an even bigger nightmare for me if I ever speak about it.
We reached one of the boundaries of the Underworld. A little spot of land up against one of the walls. Several giant chests that looked like coffins were sat one on top of the other. One sat off to the side, opened up and empty on the small patch of land. We stepped out of the boat and walked to the chest. It was very big, but Charon had been taking coins for a very long time. The chest would only hold coins for a few weeks, maybe. So, I was confused.
“Are you thinking of becoming a pirate?” I looked at him, amused. “Well, I suppose you are like a pirate, aren’t you? You have a little boat and take coins from people. What about the rest? Are they safe?”
He didn’t look happy about my comments or humour. “Forty-seven chests are gone. Whoever took them could obviously not take them all. There are many.” He threw the coin I had given him into the chest and looked at me, waiting for me to speak and make everything the way it should be.
“Forty-seven of those? Most would struggle with just one. It couldn’t have been any of the souls. None of them could have done this, and they would have no reason to. Not like there is a little sweet shop around here where they can spend them.” I scratched my chin and tried to think of what could have happened.
“Figure it out, Hades.” He growled angrily and gave me his cold stare.
“Just bloody calm down and shut up, will you?” I like him better when he says nothing. I hoped he hadn’t got a taste for talk now. “Let me think for a moment.” I had been watching my cameras back at the end of every day, and I think I would have noticed someone taking forty-seven huge cases of gold coins out of the Underworld. So, whatever happened, they were still here somewhere. But what in the name of bloody Tartarus could have happened?
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