Thanatos and the Nymphs of the Underworld, Part II

We shoot off like a rocket as the water rises and propels us forward at the combined will of the sea gods. Dion is thrown back and lands on top of me. Charon lurches forward, loses his balance, and lands on top of Dionysos. I groan from the bottom of the dogpile. We sail through the mist at top speed, not even feeling the cold on this trip.

The nymph passes under the ferry, causing it to rise and throwing all of us off balance. She circles the boat close enough now to reach into the water and touch her. That would be ill-advised. Poseidon removes the beads from his neck, and they form into his trident. He slams it against the bottom of the ferry. 

The Nymphs stop circling and slowly face the boat. We can see the very tops of their heads above the water. The one who has been circling the closest grabs the side of the ferry with milk-white hands. Her skin looks like that of a drowned corpse as she raises herself halfway out of the water. Inky black eyes assess us with predatory interest. She smiles, showing the rows of razor-sharp teeth. She focuses on the trident, and a look of ecstasy crosses her face. Amphitrite moves closer to the edge of the boat, and the nymph’s gaze shifts between the trident and Amphitrite. 

The Goddess of the Sea takes a regal pose and smiles warmly.The nymph smiles back, exposing deepwater teeth. 

“Greetings, I am Amphitrite,” Amphitrite begins.

“Yes, Queen of the Seas,” the nymph says in a watery growl.

“That’s right, and King Poseidon,” Amphitrite says.

“Yes, all hail the king,” the nymphs growls.

“We have come to connect with the lost clans and bring you home. Do you have a name?” Amphitrite says.

“No name, only the darkness! Lost!? Lost!?” the nymph says, throwing her head back and letting out a gargled laugh. “We are not the lost clans, Your Majesty. We are the exiled children.”

“Exiled?” Poseidon asks.

Amphitrite looks over her shoulder at Poseidon, visibly confused. I summon my scythe to my hands as the hackles on the back of my neck stand at attention. Dionysos reaches out as his pine cone topped thyrsos materializes in his hand. Charon raises his staff from the water and holds it close. We all feel the calm before the storm. The nymph lets loose another round of her watery laughter, and Amphitrite turns her attention back to her.  

“Exiled by Doris and Nereus. The queen is the daughter of Nereus and Doris,” the nymph says, still laughing. 

The other nymphs surrounding the ferry raise their heads from the water and join her in her laughter.

“Trix!” Poseidon urges.

Amphitrite backs away from the nymph as it slowly slipped back beneath the surface. Amphitrite bumps into Dion and lets out a small scream. Dion starts a little, and they both let out a laugh. The other nymphs disappear, joining their sister underwater. The area is still and quiet, and we all hold our collective breath.

“Than, you said at the opening that these things were cannibals,” Amphitrite says.

“I did indeed,” I answer.

“What exactly do they eat?” Dion asks.

“The souls of the wandering dead who are unlucky enough to sink to the bottom of the Styx,” I say. 

“So, where are they?” Poseidon asks.

As if on cue, the area fills up with siren’s songs. These are the Sirens of Death. Of course, the song has no effect on us as we are gods, but the sound is haunting. Poseidon and Amphitrite pale, looking sick to their stomachs. Poseidon’s grip tightens on the trident, and it glows, infused with his power. The ferry rocks hard to port as the nymphs attack. We all stagger, doing our best to keep our balance. I land on my knees, and Dionysos bumps into my back while Poseidon catches Amphitrite by her arm, keeping her from going into the water. The nymph raises her head from the water and gives us a smile.

“Come in the water, my king and queen. Come in the water and be seafood.” The nymph laughs. “Seafood so yum.” 

The nymph winks as she sinks below the surface. The bow of the ferry raises completely out of the water, sending all of us tumbling into the Styx as it capsizes. I hear Dion coughing as we swim to the boat. We are in complete darkness, the lanterns having gone out. It is not a problem for a scion of the night like me. I can see as clearly in the dark as I can during the day. We hold on to the overturned ferry, both of us panting.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“Sure, if being murdered by cannibal nymphs is your idea of okay, then I am great,” Dion shoots back.

“We need to upright this ferry,” I say.

Dionysos nods and then jerks, looking around panicked. I understand why when something brushes past. It yanks on my leg but doesn’t pull me under.

“Shit, something tugged at my foot!” Dionysos yells.

“Mine as well. I believe they are toying with us,” I tell him.

“Foot play is not my type of foreplay,” Dion jokes.

“Are you ready?” I ask, not amused.

Dion nods. 

“On three,” I instruct him.

“1, 2, 3!” We both count out loud, take in a deep breath, and dive. 

We move fast, and righting the ferry takes us no time at all. I assist him back into the ferry, and he sits, coughing and taking in air. I am about to pull myself aboard when two pairs of hands grab my shoulders. I hear Dion yell my name as I am dragged under. 

The water is heavy and crushing. It’s a cold that seeps into every fiber of one’s whole being. Due to the black water and the black sky to match, it appears bottomless, but I assure you there is a bottom to the Styx. I look at either side of me, and I am greeted by the smiles of two nymphs. 

Poseidon speeds past me, his trident alight, the nymphs not fast enough to get out of his way fall to its tri blades. Amphitrite appears in her own little storm bubble. Her storm sweeps up the nymphs nearest her. The gods of the sea showing these forsaken creatures their power.

They continue to pull me down, but I can sense the souls of these creatures who have failed to recognize me. Sharp pain explodes as they simultaneously sink their sharp teeth into my shoulders. I growl through the pain and raise my elbows, placing my hands on their chests. I reap, ripping their souls from them and watching their bodies sink to the bottom. The souls in my hands writhe and scream as I summon my will. In a flash, they are no more. I clean my hands of the sticky residue and make my way back to the surface. 

I come up coughing and grab the side of the boat. Two pairs of hands grab my arms, Poseidon on one side and Dion on the other. They hoist me into the ferry, and I lay on my back, gasping for air. I see Charon at the stern with staff in hand, looking dismal. The lanterns are back and burning bright. Amphitrite stands with her hands outstretched above the water. 

“The mist…we need to get back to the mist…it is too cold…for them to pass through,” I sputter.

Poseidon nods. “Say no more. Everyone hold on! Trix!”

Amphitrite nods and places her hands in the water on one side of the ferry while Poseidon places the trident in the water on the other side. We shoot off like a rocket as the water rises and propels us forward at the combined will of the sea gods. Dion is thrown back and lands on top of me. Charon lurches forward, loses his balance, and lands on top of Dionysos. I groan from the bottom of the dogpile. We sail through the mist at top speed, not even feeling the cold on this trip. 

Charon reasserts his control over the ferry and guides us back to Lake Aveinos, where we disembark. Charon scowls at all of us as he pulls off back into the waterways of the Underworld. 

“You didn’t give your speech, Trix,” Poseidon says.

“It’s all right. It would have been wasted on them, anyway. The one who spoke to us had more to say to me under the water. Her name is Cressida, and she swore that she would see us again,” Amphtrire says, looking out at the lake. 

“Ominous, but if she does come back, we will be ready for her,” Dion says, looking at Poseidon.

“Definitely,” Poseidon agrees. 

“Well, there are other lakes and possibly other clans down here, but you can count me out of those adventures. For now, come inside. We will make tea, coffee, sandwiches, and I have a box of testing caramels from my company. We are trying out some new flavors. Plus, there is a storm brewing, and it will be sometime before it passes,” I say, gesturing toward my cabin.

We begin to move toward my home as the thunderheads gather on the horizon. Dionysos looks over his shoulder and stops abruptly, his purple eyes lighting up. He rushes back to the water and wades out. We all watch as he victoriously raises his knapsack from the waves. Amphitrite begins to laugh. Poseidon and I watch in amazement as he produces two more bottles of wine from it. He is smiling widely when he rejoins us.

“It’s enchanted and bottomless. We still have crackers, cheese, and fruit in here to go with everything else. This will be a perfect evening!” Dion exclaims. 

“Indeed it will be,” I say.

We enter my cabin as the first drop of rain slaps at my windows. Dion is right. It is a perfect evening with friends. 

Thanatos (Marc Tizura)

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