Book of Hades
The creatures and beasts that are conjured up from Tartarus are normally strange and peculiar. Many of them are extremely dangerous and oftentimes deadly. Others are most certainly dangerous and deadly but are not all evil. Many inhabitants of Tartarus did terrible things, but everyone and everything has a tame side to them.
I stood on the bank of the river Styx with Bion at my side. Charon came into view through the mist with his paddle in hand, swiping water aside as he moved towards us. He bore his usual dull, expressionless face and stared at me as the boat came to a stop.
“Seen anything weird out there today, Charon?” I asked him as I strode towards him and stepped aboard. He tilted his head slightly, and his lips pulled into two long stretched-out lines as he refused to indicate an answer. I rolled my eyes, pulled out a coin, and placed it in his palm. “Well? You greedy old goat.” He gave one slight nod.
“Do you want me to come along, my king?” Bion asked, about to step aboard. Charon banged his paddle on the side of the boat before pointing it at him and shaking his head. “Or perhaps I should stay with Cerberus and make sure he is alright.” He looked warily at Charon before backing away slowly.
“That would be best, Bion.” I shook my head at Charon when Bion bowed his head and returned to Cerberus, who snapped at him as he kneeled beside him. He was not a popular person, it seemed. “When are you going to get over that, Charon?” I asked him.
Bion once took a trip to the Underworld on an errand for me and made the mistake of paying with a fake coin. Charon was furious and had refused to pick him up and bring him back. I had to give him five coins to convince him to go back and collect him. Bion came back, but he had a huge lump on the top of his head where Charon had cracked his paddle over his skull. Now Charon refused to have him on his boat. I could pay him extra as I did the last time, but I can just as easily send someone else, and it would save time and damage to his precious paddle.
Charon glared at me, and his silence spoke volumes. “Never, then? Thought so. You really are the most stubborn person I have even known. Come on, show me where this snake thing is so I can destroy it.”
He pushed away from the bank and took us through the mist and out onto the Styx. It was always dark and cold on his boat. It made you feel empty and sad, the feeling of death. This is what everyone must go through to reach the afterlife and face the three judges where their lives were scrutinised before they were sent to their final destination. I had to go through this most days and, of course, the return trip. It really was no wonder I got so angry and depressed.
“If this thing swims, then how in bloody Tartarus are we to find it?” I asked Charon, who gave me a quizzical look. “Oh yes, of course, silly me. How am I going to find it?” I growled sarcastically. He gave a slight shrug of his shoulders, and a slight grin pulled at the sides of his mouth. Bloody git.
We came to a stop, and Charon pointed at the black water below. I looked over the side to see nothing. The river was still and calm.
“This is where you saw the snake creature?” He nodded once and stood still, looking out at nothing with unblinking eyes. “So I just sit and wait for it to come to me then, do I?” He looked over at me with raised eyebrows as if surprised that I was there before looking away again. I shook my head and tried to calm myself. My anger was boiling up, and I knew it wouldn’t help. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, trying to push the anger deeper so I could think.
A little splash suddenly sounded, and my eyes creaked open slowly as I tried to listen. There was another plop, and I carefully looked over the side of the boat again. I could see something long weaving back and forth just under the surface of the black water. I slowly reached into my inside pocket and pulled out my Bident. I had been reluctant to use it lately because of the whole shrinking incident that had happened recently. But it was just a little creature, a small zap, and it would be incapacitated.
I made it grow in size so that I could reach the creature from where I stood. I didn’t want to fall in and ruin my suit. I stuck out my tongue as I concentrated on the creature and lowered my Bident towards it. I took a deep breath and plunged it down hard and quick, causing a huge splash to wash over me.
“Where is it?!” I shouted, shifting my head from right to left and back again as water dripped down my face. Charon clicked his fingers twice to get my attention. I spun around, and he pointed to the other side of the boat. I growled and moved quickly to the other side of the boat and peered down. The snake creature was still quite lively as it swiveled around in the river. “Little git!” I shouted. “I am going to blast you into a million pieces!” I plunged my Bident down again, trying to catch it but missed.
“What did I do?” I heard a voice say in a language I could not remember ever hearing, but I strangely understood.
“You hear that, Charon?” I asked, my anger now overtaken by confusion. Charon looked at me curiously, like he had no idea what I meant. I continued to look down at the creature and said, “What?” My confusion was evident.
“I said, what did I do?” the voice repeated in the same weird language.
“Are you speaking…err… snake… snake… thing?” I said, not knowing what to call it.
“Yes,” it answered as it stopped moving and popped its strange large head out of the water. It didn’t appear to speak, but I could hear it all the same. “But I’m not a snake. I have no name.”
“How the bloody Tartarus are you speaking to me?” I could feel Charon’s eyes on me. I knew he could not hear the creature and looked at me like I was mad.
“I do not know.”
“Okay,” I said, still completely bemused. “Why did you attack Cerberus?” I asked harshly.
“What is a Cerberus?” The voice of the creature was neutral, like it had no emphasis on any words to give context. It was very emotionless, like a machine.
“My dog! Big animal with three heads. You spat some kind of venom in his eyes. Why?!” I shouted, pointing my Bident at it again.
“Protection. The Cerberus wanted to eat me.” I thought about that a moment, and if Cerberus tried to eat the creature, it was well within its right to protect itself.
“So, what is your purpose? Where did you come from? What do you want?” I asked in quick succession.
“I woke in darkness and needed to find light,” it answered. I understood that answer. It woke up in Tartarus and had the basic compulsion to seek out light. I knew people, and I knew creatures, and this one was not completely evil or even looking for trouble. It was simply a new thing that was conjured up and was looking for a way out.
“You live on land and in water, but I’m guessing you don’t want to be in this river,” I stated. That brought a grim look from Charon, who spent his life on this river.
“It is too dark,” it answered.
“How about you come with me? I have clean water and light.” It’s just a lost creature. Maybe Persephone would like it as a pet?
“That would be acceptable.” It jumped out of the water like a dolphin and landed on the boat. It stared at me and cocked its large head sideways as it looked me over. I wasn’t going to kill the creature for defending itself, and Cerberus was fine.
Charon glanced at the creature and then at me.
“What?” I asked him. He looked away and put his hand out. “Bloody Tartarus, are you serious? You want me to pay for the creature to be aboard?” He continued to stare into the distance with his palm outstretched in superior silence. I shook my head and flicked a coin at him, which he caught without even looking. “Take us home, you bloody old swine.”
We arrived back at the gates where Cerberus was lying down. His eyes were still red but not causing him any issues. I stepped off the boat, and the snake thing followed. It slithered towards Cerberus. Before he or I could react, it shot what looked like green mist from its mouth into Cerebus’s six eyes. Talk about death breath. I pulled out my Bident again and ran towards the creature. Underestimated you, didn’t I, you little bugger!
“I fixed him,” the creature said before I reached him and blasted him into nothingness. I stopped and looked over at Cerberus, who growled loudly and backed away from the creature. I waited until he calmed, and when he did, I noticed his eyes were perfectly normal. I walked up to him and patted his heads. He was totally fine.
“Thank you for that,” I said. “Follow me, Creature. That is your name now, by the way.” I took it to my home and told Bion to find a tank and fill it with water for my new pet. I imagine it will make a good guard for my throne room. Tartarus really did surprise me even after all of these years. I wondered what it would spit out next.
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