Book of Hades
When the gods left Earth, so did all others who were not human. A fair few of the darker ones were placed in my charge here in the Underworld. Why not? I take care of everything nobody else even wants to acknowledge or think about. Tartarus is feared by all.
I had returned to the Underworld from a trip up top to see Cerberus sleeping on the job again. Two heads were snoring loudly, and the other sort of whistled through his nose and drooled.
Lazy bloody bugger.
I stepped past him and made my way to the house. It was cut off from everywhere else and gave me some peace from the dead that walked in circles and moaned in misery. Something didn’t feel right. The surrounding atmosphere had shifted, and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Everything appeared to be running smoothly. I hadn’t had any issues with discontent with the occupants of the Underworld. It was all smooth sailing.
What is it?
I looked around closely, inspecting my surroundings, but it was exactly as I had left it. My throne room was perfect, with a leather recliner, coffee machines, a jukebox, and a roaring fireplace that snapped, and popped. I love that noise.
What the bloody Tartarus is it?
It was infuriating, like an itch you cannot quite reach getting worse by the second. I needed to find out what it was. Cerberus was guarding the gate, and that was the most important thing, making sure the Underworld had remained locked down until my return.
“Cerberus! Wake up, you lazy lump!” I shouted at him, causing one of his heads to pop up and nudge the others awake. They yawned in turn and stretched. “Anything happen, Cerberus?” I asked him accusingly. His heads shook violently at me. He was saying no, and whatever might have happened was nothing to do with him. I could read his thoughts like a book. I knew him so well. Whatever it was, he didn’t know anything about it and had seen nothing pass him at the gates. I nodded at him knowingly and patted his heads before walking onto the Asphodel Fields to try to find an answer and scratch this itch. Nothing was amiss. The same for the Fields of Mourning and Elysium. Tartarus was locked down tight, nothing, and no one was getting out of there…or were they?
I began to think. I had not been down to Tartarus in a while. Something could be going on down there. What, I didn’t know, but this shift in the cold, damp air had convinced me something very bad had happened. I decided to descend into the darkness. I had to see it for myself to know what the issue was. There was darkness, and then there was Tartarus. It gave a whole new meaning to the word. The air was wet, and the ground brittle and sticky, like walking through an army of squashed slugs and bones. A mist was somehow visible in this blackest of black, cutting through it and swirling around me like snakes on a tree branch. The hydra who guarded the gates swiftly moved aside as I reached them. I knew what the problem was the second I stepped inside. Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone, the Furies, would normally pounce out of nowhere to terrify the new prey who had entered. They didn’t. They were gone.
I had to find them. I needed to find them. I had no option. Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone were the worst seekers of justice the world had ever seen. They tortured murderers by causing madness, horrific visions, and voices that penetrated their target’s very thoughts. If a country was harbouring a murderer, they caused disasters to that country. Famine, disease, earthquakes, you think the great fire of London happened the way humans think? Or the black plague? It was fair to torture the guilty ones, but putting your claws to a country’s throat was overkill. They tended to go to extremes.
When the gods left earth, so did everything, and everyone else, including the Furies. They were put under my charge to be kept in the Underworld, but they were difficult to control and were always trying to take over my job as torturer. I gave them some freedom in Tartarus to do just that, but only for one person, for one day. That was the deal. They had no purpose, and I gave that back to them. Now? Now they were who knew where.
I had a good idea how they got out. I had sent people to Tartarus to collect adamantine to reinforce the entrance to the Underworld. That was a mistake. The Furies must have sneaked out when they left. They could be very clever and blend in. They were just normal looking women, albeit very ugly ones, until their wings burst from their backs, and huge fangs suddenly slipped between their lips. Claws grew from their fingers, replacing their ordinary-looking nails, and suddenly they were monsters.
I ran as fast as I could back to my house. I needed to prepare myself for the real possibility they had escaped the Underworld. They may have escaped Tartarus, but that didn’t mean they were out of my dominion and on Earth, yet. I had to move quickly. I opened up the security cams on my phone and looked around. No sign of them. Cerberus knew nothing, and the dead were wise enough to keep their mouths shut, not that they would have seen anything. The Furies would not allow themselves to be seen. I made my way back out and stood on the bank next to the river Styx.
Where the bloody Tartarus are you, Charon?
I waited for a few moments, and the boatman turned up, looking the same as always, bloody miserable.
“Charon!” I yelled when he came into view. “Have you seen the furies? They escaped Tartarus.” He paddled himself to the bank and looked at me passively. “Oh, you bloody, greedy cretin, here.” I handed him a gold coin, and he pointed in the direction he had just come. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath of damp air before stepping onto the boat.
“Why didn’t you stop them?” I asked, irritated. He gave me a look like I was stupid. “Of course, silly me, what the bloody hell would you do? Hit them with your paddle?” I shook my head at his uselessness and waited for him to take me to the place he had spotted them. On the bank where the dead are dropped off, and Charon picks them up. A stone’s throw away from Earth. I got off the boat and looked around. Charon pointed up at a corner of the cave-like entrance, and I inspected the area closer by growing to a larger size.
“Scratches,” I commented. “They were here.” Charon had definitely seen them, and now they were gone. They didn’t need him to take them across the river. They had wings. Once they reached the entrance, it was a matter of time before it was opened, and they were out. I had just opened the entrance on my return, and I missed them. They had escaped.