A/N: The gods of Greek mythology are a capricious lot. Barring that, they always seemed so... human, to me. Mortal wants, mortal desires. And if Persephone wasn't the foolish nature goddess we have always made her out to be - i do not think she would have been content to watch the grass grow. I think she would have yearned for adventure - yearned for a life beyond what she had. And in that insatiable quest for adventure ... i think she would have pushed too far.
A wise man once told me that our life is the sum of the choices we've made, both consciously… and unconsciously. That if you can control the process of choosing, you can control all aspects of your life.
The concept would have been a bit more beguiling if the man hadn't already gone off the deep end some years ago - as it was, these days he was so perpetually intoxicated by the libations to the gods (not to mention the toll that the deadly volcanic fumes which had permeated his lungs for decades might have already taken on his mind) that he could barely stand on his own two feet, much less say something wise. Yet hypothetically speaking, the cogidy old soothsayer had a point. Our life is made up of choices, but our own impulsivity and curiosity tends to get in the way and screw us over in the end. Mortals, half- mortals – even the immortal – not one of us is ever truly guileless with choice. Otherwise, would not the gods and mortals alike be masters of their own destiny? Yet we're all so apt to make decisions without real regard of the consequences. So quick to lose control. Just look at Aphrodite and Ares – or rather, don't.
So if you flip the old man's words inside out, what you really end up with is this: that sometimes, everything you are - everything you have worked so hard to achieve – can be unraveled with a single choice.
A single question -
A sudden raucous cry of birds taking flight jarred me from my reverie. The sound also startled my unsuspecting prey, but before I could hastily loose an arrow into its side, the proud beast shook its antlered crown and bounded off into the thickset forest. The shaft buried itself viciously into the loam. Silently I cursed my luck and a few of the minor gods as well. My mother would faint dead away if she could hear half of what went on inside of my head, but my thoughts were the one thing I didn't have to censor around here, for her or really anyone else. Not that it really mattered… I was half Zeus's kin after all - I could afford to make a few enemies.
With a sigh, I carefully disentangled myself from the tree branch I had wedged myself into in an attempt to get a better angle on my prey. I wasn't any huntress of Artemis, but considering most of my ventures had to be done in secret anyway, I wasn't doing too badly for myself, either.
Before I could slide gratefully from my clandestine perch among the treetops, however, another figure came crashing into the clearing. I blinked in surprise. It was one of Artemis' huntresses, a demi-mortal no less.
The woman collapsed onto her side, gripping her ankle and grimacing, glaring at the offending part as if it meant to slow her down. There was a lone falcon cry and almost as if on cue the hunter whipped around and began firing shaft after shaft into the darkened wood she had left. What came next was almost too quick for even immortal eyes to see. A flash of silver streaked across the corner of my vision and buried itself in the hunter's shoulder, causing her to gasp and drop her weapon in shock and pain. The woman wrenched the knife from her shoulder with a gasp and attempted to raise it in defense, only to let out a strangled cry as a second one found her throat. A throaty chuckle emanated from the woods. "You==" she gasped, choking. A figured dressed in violet hues and a single unadorned band stepped casually up to the huntress' dying figure. "My dear, dear, Arethusa. I gave you a choice. One cannot serve two masters. But don't worry – Death takes great joy in the stewardship of your company. "
The hunter stared up at him with wild eyes, spluttering for air. I wasn't doing much better.
The man sighed, pacing around the side of her prone figure. "Perhaps I ought to cut out your eager tongue to keep it from swaying around to your mistress too much from the Underworld? Then again, I find it personally quite difficult myself to speak to others when my throat has been slit." The last word was steeped in hatred, but after a moment, the figure seemed to compose himself again, even going so far as to smile indulgently down at the dying girl. He traced the knife at her neck with his leather-clad boot almost absentmindedly, as if considering the threads of possibilities before him. Then, without warning, his boot connected with her neck, suddenly driving the blade deeper into her throat. The huntress jerked grotesquely and lay still.
With a languished sigh, the figure straightened and peered lazily around him. He paused for a moment, cocking his head as if something interesting had caught his eye. My heart caught in my throat. Out of the corner of my eye, filtered light glinted traitorously off the glimmering shaft of a single, half-buried golden arrow. The thought sent a sickening thrill down my spine. Not daring to draw breath, I watched from the trees as he cast one last look at the body behind him before casually made his way toward the edge of the clearing. As he turned to leave, he cast a single, knowing, glance into the treetops before melting back into the shadows.
For a moment I lay still, so still; even a dryad would be hard pressed to find me among the trees. Eventually though, I slipped down from my hiding place, tore aside the underbrush and crept surreptitiously out into the glade. Almost as if I had been possessed by some otherworldly force, I knelt cautiously beside the prone figure of the huntress, running my hands gently over the soft greaves at the girl's wrist and smoothing back her dark hair. The girl's eyes regarded me glassily as I bent to study her further, yet a flash of pitched black color in her hand quickly drew my eye. Slowly, carefully, I tried to gently pry the knife out the girl's cold fist.
There, among the wash of red and silver, was a stark black emblem of an eye flanked by three sharp, downward strokes.
My heart stopped.
I knew that symbol.
It was a seal, one of the marks specific to The Twelve.
The symbol of the Underworld.
A/N: Hello! As I'm sure many of you noticed, this is not your usual, run-of-the-mill Persephone-Hades story. We often make so many parallels to our concept of Hell and the Greek's concept of the Underworld, but we tend to overlook the parallels between mythology and Celtic folklore that seem to be staring us in the face.
Who is this villain? Is it Hades? Or someone else? (shout out in the next few chapters to the one who guesses correctly~)
Chapter 2 is on its way. In the mean time, please review! Feedback always makes my day a little brighter (and will encourage me to update quicker!)