If Aegeus had thought Thanatos’ castle was terrifying, then Hades’ was way worse. His stylistic
choice was more devilishly magnificent. Black, brown, and red streaked bejeweled walls. Statues, not
skeletons, adorned the hallways. Even the windows were menacing, with stain glass ranging from blood
red to sickly yellow to murky blue.
Eventually, the Furies deposited Aegeus in the center of a great throne room, were two thrones
sat proudly. One was giant, black as the heart of the devil, and seemed to be made of souls. Moaning
faces faded in and out of view, swirling in a cloud, empty and obviously Hades’. The second was smaller,
but still beautiful. It was intricately carved obsidian with jewels, emeralds and rubies, encrusting the
headrest, and in it sat Persephone, Hades’ queen.
“What are you doing here, mortal? Surly you know that those who enter the land of the dead
seldom escape.” She was radiant, with smooth, mocha skin and flawless, even features, and a poise that
commanded attention and respect. She batted her long eyelashes at him, waiting for an answer.
“I came to retrieve two poppies from Thanatos’s garden.” Said the hero flatly. He knew there
was no reason to lie, and he wasn’t even sure that he could faced with such remarkable beauty.
“And you know the consequences for such action?” Asked the queen.
“So then why have you done this? Assuming you had a reason.”
“I do, your grace.” Aegeus told her the whole story, starting with his walk in the fields, then his
wife insistence that he go for the sake of their child, the sphinx, the death of Bion, and his journey to the
underworld. When he looked up from the telling of his tale, he saw that Persephone was crying.
“Oh, how wonderful you are, mortal.” She sniffed, wiping a perfect hand across her cheek. “To
risk your life for your family. I will try to help you in any way I can.”
“Do you know a way out?” Aegeus asked, and the woman smiled slyly.
“I have some tricks.” She stood from here throne, black gown shimmering. “Have you ever
heard of Persephone’s Pearls? They are tools that I give some of my… visitors to make a quick escape
from this place if Hades comes back before planned.” She held out her hand, revealing a delicate, milky
pearl. “All you must do is crush it under foot and imagine in your mind where you wish to be. But,” She
pulled her hand back. “It comes with a price. One loved sacrifice for one pearl.”
Aegeus bit his lip. He didn’t have a sacrifice, unless… he pulled Bion’s necklace out of his pocket
and studied it. A small light shone from the pendant, pulsing faintly as if a small heart beat inside.
“Is this…” His voice trailed off as he held it out.
“That’s it. You have someone looking out for your, handsome hero.” She snatched the necklace
and dropped the pearl in his hand. “This is for you.”
Aegeus knew he should’ve gone straight home from there, but it just didn’t feel right leaving
Bion’s family in the dark about their son’s fate. Plus, he had made a promise. When he arrived in
Cyanea, the town was bustling and vibrant. Though it had only been a few days since their release, it
looked like a completely different place.
When he appeared, the ragged woman who he had seen talking with the boy only a few days
earlier came rushing up to him. Her face was pretty, but lined and marked in a way that showed years of
worry and fear. And, clutching her hand, was a girl. Under one arm was a hand carved crutch that
helped support a twisted leg. This was Calliope.
“Bion?” The woman asked. Aegeus just shook his head, not meeting her eyes.
“What do you mean?” Calliope demanded, voice strong and clear.
“I mean there was a storm, and the cave we were talking shelter in… collapsed.” He answered.
“I’m so sorry. I blame myself, and,” His voice caught in his throat. “He spoke of you often.”
“He always said I had the loveliest signing voice.” The girl whispered.
“Bion told me that when you sang, it was as if the wind stopped to listen.” And then then, she
sang, except signing wasn’t the right word for it. The sounds she made were just short of godly. It was a
song of mourning, a song of lose, love, and a boy who loved his family very much. The kid was right.
Aegeus thought. Even the sun has stopped. And as her sweet tune filled the sky, Aegeus thought of
“Aegeus!” It was Elene. He had arrived home to find his wife, sweating and screaming in her
bed. She was in labor, and he had arrived just in time to save her.
“Elene! I’m coming Elene!” Aegeus ran as fast as he could to his shack. Then he remembered.
“Apollo! Apollo, I have your price! Come to me!”
“Yes, Yes I’m here. Now, do you have the flower?” The god had appeared on a dime.
“Here, now save my wife.” Aegeus held out the flower.
“My wife. This is what your son needs to save her!”
“Oh, yes, right.” He cleared his throat. “On my way!” And, in a puff of smoke, he disappeared.
Aegeus was to focused on rushing to his wife’s side to make any sense of the god’s odd
“I’m coming, Elene!”
It was a boy, and he was beautiful. It was 17 hours, and all three of them, the nurse, Elene, and
Aegeus were exhausted.
“Did *gasp* you get us a new life?” Elene wheezed. Aegeus was confused. A new life? The only
reason he went on the quest was to help his wife. Then, out of the fog in his mind, he remembered.
“Not yet. Wait here.” He stepped out of the hut and walked a ways out of sight.
“Mighty Zeus, I have retrieved your prize.” A clap of thunder rumbled, and there he was, robes
“Ah, thank you for your work. You shall be rewarded for this task.” He plucked the poppy from
Aegeus’ outstretched hand and disappeared.
Aegeus reached in his pocket, feeling for Bakchos on instinct. Even though he had left the little
map with Bion’s family, he still checked for him every few minutes. Thinking of this brought Aegeus’
mind back to the boy’s death. The horrible storm and the lightning. Bion’s broken body giving him the
necklace. But something was peculiar about his last words. He said this would happen. He told me to
give this to you. That’s when Bion had given him the pendant that had brought out from the
Underworld. But who is he? Apollo had been looking out for him on his quest, but surely the musical god
wouldn’t have let Bion die.
“Lord Apollo!” Aegeus had to be sure. For Bion. “Lord Apollo?”
“Yo.” Aegeus turned to the god who had appeared behind him. “I thought we’d be done with
each other, seeing as though your wife’s okay and everything.”
“Did you know Bion would die?”
“Ooh.” He rubbed the back of his head, wincing. “Yes, I did. In fact, I was the one who killed him.
In order to escape from the Underworld, you need one of Persephone’s Pearls, and the way to get one
was trade for a heart of purest kindness. The boy was one such a soul. Quite genius, really.”
Aegeus was speechless. How could someone be so coldhearted to a being of such untainted
character? “So, you planned it from the beginning? The Sphynx, you appearing from over his shoulder,
just so you could have him killed in the most brutal way imaginable?”
“Exactly.” Apollo’s eyes shone with glee. “All part of a master plan.”
“You disgust me! Using him?” The hero was outraged.
A gleam shone in the god’s eyes, and a wicked smile stretched over his lips. “Little Bion wasn’t
the only one I used, Naive Hero.”
“What, what do you mean?”
“Oh, I think you know.” The prophecy god stood, slicking his hair back. “You wife is alive and
healthy, yes? Well, that has nothing to do with your precious flower. You know why I needed it?
Because Queeny up there in the sky was the deciding vote. Hera got my flower first, and sided with me,
“But what about your prophecy?”
“Oh, she’ll die alright, just not in labor. I’ve heard Zeusy boy has quite the temper. Ta-ta!”
It took a second after the god had vanished for the words to sink in. He just stood there, in a
blind stupor. Thunder ripped through the sky and his instincts kicked in. He sprinted back toward the
village, black smoke billowing from his home where the lighting has struck just moments before. He
threw himself into the wreckage, searching in vain for Elene.
“Elene! Elene, where are you?” The roaring of the flames filled his ears, acrid air flooded his
lungs. He felt around in the darkness, hoping to feel something. His hand struck flesh and he gathered it
in his arms and ran from the collapsing building.
When the smoke cleared from his eyes and the cool air once again brushed his skin, he looked
down at the bundle he cradled. It was his son, nestled in a charred blanket. Aegeus sank to his knees,
weeping over his wife’s murder and pressing the boy to his chest.
“Excuse me, sir, but, where is Elene?” It was one of the women in the town, come to mourn
“She has perished.”
“And what of your son?”
“He is safe. And his name is Bion.”