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I stood before the mouth of a deep and treacherous cave. If not for the stillness of it, I would have had the absurd impression that it would have devoured me. I felt a surge of fear, and the smell of death was high. I could sense the spirits entering the cave. This must be the place.
I knew as I stood there, that once I entered there would be no turning back. Taking one step at a time, I entered the cave. I threw the hood over my head, further covering my being. I only carry with me, a single silver knife tucked into its sheath, and black leather armor. Both of which are charmed by a dear friend, one who has made the ultimate sacrifice for me to come this far. With a little luck, my mission shall succeed, and he, as well as a few deserving others, shall be amongst the living once more.
I arrived to a lake, deep within the cave, with mist covering it as a cold blanket. The cave floor reached out to a point, to look similarly to a boating dock. At this “dock” was a long, standard boat and, at his post, it was the only entity that escorted newly arrived souls; Charon. I could only see his black cloak, hanging on him loosely. Under that, I couldn’t see anymore, and I dare not imagine what could be there. I approached the boat, and I saw the spirits now clearly, both men and women, most of them of a much older age. Some unfortunately, were rather young. These are the souls I shall release, once I am King of the Underworld.
Charon greeted me in a hiss, as if from a serpent, “Ah, a prince of Death. What a pleasant day this be. Upon normal circumstances, I would demand payment from my passengers, for you, I shall make an exception.” I said nothing to him, and stepped onto the wooden boat. I waited patiently on the bow of the ship, to cross the River Styx. Within the river, through the mist, I could see images of what never was. I saw dreams of wealth, fame, men growing old, justices of victims being sought through, star-crossed lovers, and so much more. I felt pity for the men and women in which these dreams belonged to. My thoughts were interrupted by a shuddering under the boat.
I turned to the boat’s captain. “Charon! What trickery have you wrought on me?” He just shook his head. “It is not I, sire, it is the serpent, Malucius, he is a guardian of the Underworld! He keeps out the living from crossing the river!” If it is the beast’s will to destroy me, I will have none of it. I turned back to the front of the ship, and touched the gem on my cloak. Let us see the god of fear’s true power. I felt the cloak reveal its true form, black and surging with the fears of thousands. The spirits on the boat stirred, and wailed, and Charon hissed behind me, “What in the name of Olympus…..”
The rumbling under the boat ceased. I answered to Charon, “The Cloak of Phobos; the god of fear.” Charon stayed silent, and then laughed, “You’ve been busy. There’s obviously more to you mortals than one could realize.” The serpent’s roars were deafening, and one could tell its disappointment; still, no meal for the hungry beast.
The cloak would burn up if I did not reserve its power, I must hope we make it to the other side in time. The remainder of the trip was uneventful; the ship had made its dock, and the spirits have wandered to the lines and the crowd waiting for their turn to see the ghost judges. The passing by Cerberus was no chore. The giant three-headed hell-hound stood by and whimpered as he caught view of the Cloak of Fear. Two guards down, one more to go.
I stepped through an opening in the cave wall and found myself in a field. There were spirits and entities as far as the eye can see, and I knew I had stepped into the Fields of Asphodel; the land of the dead. To my far left, I saw the cave opening to a new section, one filled with fire and horrible screams. Those were the fields of Punishment, Tartarus. To the far right, I could see the makings of a beach, one with houses lined on the white sands. From here, I could hear the laughter of men and women and smell the cooking of food. Further out to sea, I could see the Isles of the Blest. I realized that that must be Elysium. I am sad to say, that, compared to the other two fields, Elysium was very small.
The air shimmered and solidified in front of me. An angel with his wings and skin as black as the heart of a murderer appeared in front of me. This is Thanatos.
“Son of Hades,” he spoke, “I have been ordered to bring you to my master.” He turned and flew off, and I reached to rub the gem on the Cloak of Fear, as it seems to have no effect on him, but the cloak had burned away and the gem shattered in my hand. Oh well, if it doesn’t affect gods then I suppose I don’t need it. I ran to catch Thanatos before I lost sight of him. There must have been magic in place, because we had arrived to the Underworld Palace in a matter of minutes. Before I knew it, he was seated before me, as a giant, in his black robes and false glory.
Thanatos faded away, and I unsheathed my dagger. “Hades!” I bellowed, “I have slain the Sons of Ares, outsmarted the Twins of Apollo, and proven myself against your hordes of Monsters! I have even slain Phobos, the god of Fear Himself! Surrender or you shall meet your painful end!” The god laughed in his raspy and booming voice. “Do you think that, if you kill me, that your curse shall be lifted?” he taunted, “The curse the Fates set upon you can never be lifted. The more you kill, the more you interact with others, the more history will be erased. You are not meant to be remembered. Zeus has declared it!”
“You think I care?” I continued, “I have lost everything! My mother; Elysia, my wife; Lilia, daughter of Aphrodite, my son; Cornielium! Even upon this quest, you have taken away the only man to ever call me his friend. Gore, son of Hephaestus, the best inventor of his time, greater than Daedalus himself!” The King of the Underworld stood from his throne, “You shall not leave here alive. I was not made the Lord of the Dead for nothing.” I took my stance, “Actually, if my memory serves, that’s exactly what you were made lord for.”