Book of Hades
I am the Lord of the Underworld, but like any King with a kingdom, things need to be delegated to others to keep everything running smoothly and working. Charon, the boatman, for example, is pivotal to bring souls. I need these individuals to run this place, and sometimes it can be difficult and quite infuriating.
I had promised Alexander and Francine, the two individuals who had set up my surveillance system in the Underworld, a place in the Elysian Fields if they pulled off this extraordinary piece of work, and they had. I made my way back to the Underworld to reward them after my last trip up top had been a successful one. I had bought a business, my eyes were on the dead at all times no matter where I was, I had a new house, and I had a new car. Life was good. I even brought Charon a brand-new shiny coin. His miserable face never flickered when I presented it to him. He just gave a slight nod as always, which I knew was as close to happy as he would ever get. He took us to the bank in front of the gates of the Underworld, still locked. A huge grin spread across my face. Souls stood about, thousands of them all squashed together like sardines in a tin. Tasty snack, I will have to buy them again. I never acknowledged them. They had not seen the three judges yet. They chose who goes where, Tartarus, Elysium, Asphodel Fields, or the Fields of Mourning. Once they were put in their place, as it were, then they would be under my power and rule.
Cerberus snapped to attention when he saw me get off the boat. He had been napping.
“Sleeping on the job?” I asked him seriously. He just whined at me and nudged my hand with one of his heads for me to pet him. Soft sod. I gave him a few pats and a stroke before unlocking the gates and walking through the nearly impenetrable door. The dead lined up and followed one another through. They must be thinking about their lives, some wishing they had never done the terrible things they did. Judgement would be swift and harsh. Tartarus awaited some of them. Only a rare few made it to Elysium. Because humans were selfish and cruel, most ended up in the Asphodel Fields. It was all about numero uno for the vast majority. I allowed those thoughts to drift from my mind.
I really didn’t care where they ended up.
Just inside the dark and gloomy entrance sat a huge desk, guarding the doors to the judges’ chamber. The giant who sat behind the desk had a book of the dead, listing every soul that entered the Underworld. The scribbler asked the soul’s name and wrote it down before sending them through the doors to face Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus. Some lie about their names, but the scribbler had been doing that job for a long, long time and could sniff out a lie as easily as blinking.
I walked up to the desk and coughed loudly to get the giant’s attention.
“Name,” he spoke tiredly, not that I blamed him. I wouldn’t want to sit in that seat saying name to every single cockroach that entered and writing nonstop for all eternity.
“It’s Hades,” I said, just as tired as he. Doesn’t even bloody recognize my voice, stupid old oaf. “I need to see the judges.” I went to walk past the desk and enter the chamber when he spoke again.
“You have an appointment, lord?” He never looked up from his scribbling in the enormous book and didn’t seem to care he was talking to the king.
“I’m sorry?” I asked impatiently. “An appointment? I am King Hades, this is my dominion, not yours. I need no appointment,” I spat fiercely.
“Let him through,” a voice said from within the chamber. Let him through? Like the fool could stop me. He never once looked at me, just kept his head down, eyes on his book.
I walked through the doors and entered the judgement chamber. The three judges sat high, so they could look down on those who came before them. I did not allow anyone or anything to look down on me. I made myself taller, a lot taller, to look slightly down on them.
“How can we help you, my lord?” Minos asked me kindly. He usually did most of the talking and was the most judging judge out of the three. He scrutinized each person’s every decision, and every bad deed must be balanced out by ten good ones. In his warped and unjust mind.
“I need two individuals moved to the Elysium fields. I have never moved anyone before, can you see to it. Thank you.” It wasn’t a question. It was a demand made in a diplomatic way, nicely.
“For what reason, my lord?” Rhadamanthus interjected, looking confused. I glared at him accusingly. Questioning me?
“They did a very good deed for me, and I promised them this reward, see to it…please.” I smiled kindly, which they knew was fake, and meant more like a threat. Not that I would do anything to them. They were too important. Who else would want this job?
“One good deed does not match up to a lifetime of bad and ordinary ones,” Aeacus, the older and, in my opinion, wiser of the three, said.
“I promised them this. Do not make me a liar.” I looked at each of them in turn, waiting for them to do as I asked. I felt less confident about them obeying my command. They did not agree to my request instantly, which was not something I was used to.
“We need some time to deliberate, lord,” Minos eventually said.
“Time to deliberate?” I asked, my voice going up an octave. My anger was rising, and I struggled to hold it in check.
“Please, lord,” Aeacus asked me kindly. “This is our area, and we decide who goes where. It is our decision.” I knew he was right, but I still wanted to burn the three of them until they were nothing but ash. I nodded, returned to my preferred size, and left the room.
The souls were still on hold, a blessing for some who would venture to Tartarus. The judges deliberated for almost an hour, leaving me standing there. I was furious by the time they eventually came to a decision and called me back into the chamber.
“We agree to move them to Elysium, lord,” Minos said. “But we will not go through this again. A person’s life determines their final destination, not acts after death. We realize they did a good deed for you, and for that reason alone, we are prepared to grant your request…this once.” Minos sounded aggrieved, I knew he’d voted against it, and the other two voted for.
“Thank you.” I nodded to them kindly and walked back out. I was very proud of myself. I had not released my fury on them, even though it would have been so easy.
I had Alexander and Francine moved as promised and decided I needed to spend a short time in the Underworld to make sure all knew I was still more than capable of smiting the lot of them. Fear up close was always going to have the greatest impact. I had kingly duties to perform.
Hope I don’t see those bloody judges anytime soon, though.