Read Seeds: Volume Two Online

Authors: M.M. Kin

Seeds: Volume Two (6 page)

BOOK: Seeds: Volume Two
12.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

     “I cannot let you starve yourself. Must I tie you up and force you to eat or stand by and watch you waste away? I do not relish the thought of either,” Hades scolded.

     “I have no desire to talk about it,” Her eyes were downcast

     “... Very well.” He slowly let go of her wrist to stroke her hair. “Come to bed, then, and sleep.”

     “Do not tell me what to do.”

     Hades raised an eyebrow. Was she
looking
for a fight? Hmm. He smirked wryly. Normally, he did not respond to deliberate provocation, but this might be fun.

     “I am your husband and master,” he stated imperiously, biting back a smile as he saw her cheeks flush in indignation.

     “You are not! We are not even married!”

     “Oh, is it a ceremony you want?” Hades did want one, but he hadn't wanted to force her into one, so the subject had not been approached. He would prefer her to eat the food of the dead first and accept her place here so she would be a happy bride for the wedding. “I will be all too happy to oblige. The tailors will make a glorious wedding dress for you. What color would you prefer? Oh, this is so exciting. This will be the first wedding we have ever had in Dis.” In a rare moment of playfulness, he clapped his hands together like an excited child.

     “Hmph! I think not. Go away,” she pouted.

     “Such behavior is not fitting of the Queen of the Dead,” the Lord of the Dead retorted, dropping his hands.

     Persephone whipped around to glare up at him. “You sound like Mother. 'Such behavior is not fitting for the daughter of a goddess', she would say when I did not want to listen to her orders.”

     “Yet you refuse to eat my food so you can go back to the surface.”

     “I want to see the world.”

     “Accept what I offer you, and you
will
have the world.”

     “I am not in the mood for riddles.”

     “Then what are you in the mood for?”

     “I don't know.” Persephone huffed softly, setting down her brush. It was clear she was frustrated about something, and that she didn't know how to – or didn't want to – voice it.

     “How about a bath? I'll massage your back,” Hades offered. Perhaps being in the hot water would ease the perturbed and unhappy glint he saw in her eyes, Goodness knows that a hot bath always soothed him.

     “No.” She looked away, as if afraid by the thought of a bath.

     “Perhaps I could...
soothe
away your frustrations...” His voice dropped lower, taking on a velvety tone.

     “
No!
” This idea seemed to bother her even more than a bath with him.

     “Why are you so upset?”

     “Hmph.”

     “Come now, love. Talk to me.”

     “No.”

     Hades let out a quiet sigh. Women could be so... baffling sometimes.

     “I hope that you know you can talk to me,” he finally said after several moments of terse, awkward silence. She nodded briefly.

     “Leave me alone,” Persephone stated after several more moments of silence. In the mirror's reflection, she saw a flash of hurt in his eyes, but she regarded his pain with frosty silence. He looked down at her, his gaze lingering on her face before he retreated from the room.

 

 

Chapter XXIII

 

o0o

 

     On Olympus, nobody knew of Kora's disappearance but Zeus himself. Once in a while, he would send one of his eagles to check on Demeter, and they always returned with the news that she was still looking for her child, which was fine and dandy with him. Let Demeter keep looking, as long as she didn't cause trouble. Hopefully after a while, she would be more receptive to the news that her daughter was now the companion of Hades once she was assured of her safety. After all, the Dread Lord really wasn't a bad man. Kora would be treated well. Things would be fine. It was not even a month after Kora's disappearance, and what were a couple of weeks to the gods, who had existed for many centuries?

     Zeus was relieved that she hadn't gone to the Olympians for help. He expected her to, after a while. But now, or soon, was definitely not a good time. After declaring that Kora was off-limits, the young gods had to find another diversion. If they knew Kora was missing, there would be a flurry of gods eager to help Demeter out for a certain prize; the pleasure of the girl's company, and that simply wouldn't do for her mother. And Hades certainly wouldn't welcome such a prospect.

 

o0o

 

     Demeter was a powerful Earth-goddess, much like Gaea herself. She could find secrets deep within the earth – like she had discovered Ouranos – but the location of her daughter eluded her. Nymphs continued to report back to her with empty hands. Even the reclusive nymphs who lived in the most remote mountain ranges and underground springs or rivers yet unexplored by man had no news to offer.

     Demeter hoped that she would not have to go to Olympus, but the earth offered her no clues to Kora's whereabouts, and Cyane would not appear out of her pond. She had been hoping that she could find her daughter on her own, but that prospect was fading every day. If Kora wasn't being held prisoner on or within the earth, she dreaded to think who might be involved.

     It was something she never wanted to contemplate. After she lost Iasion – despite her feeding him ambrosia and nectar – she was especially loath to lose her only child. She had pushed the knowledge of Kora's paternity into the deepest recesses of her mind, content with the illusion that her daughter was the child of the man she loved, not the god who had tricked her.

     If Kora could not be found in the earth, did that mean she was on Olympus? Surely Zeus wouldn't...

 

o0o

 

     Iasion moved away from the shore, strolling along the white sand as the azure-green waters of the Sea of Eternity sparkled under a nonexistent sun. He'd been dead for over ten years, and while Elysium was a pleasant place to live in, he still felt at times that this place was lacking despite its pleasures. Any newly dead mortal was comforted in the fact that they would eventually be reunited with their loved ones. Mother had led a good life and Father was here, waiting to welcome her when her time came. His brothers would come here too, he was sure of it. His nephews and niece...

     His thoughts went to his wife and daughter as it often did. One day, he might see Kora. She would be twenty-five years old now. Was she already married? She had been a beautiful little girl, and he had no doubts that she would have blossomed into a lovely maiden. He spent a lot of time thinking about her. Never in his mortal life would he have dreamed that he would have a child with a goddess. Demeter had lifted the curse from his life and loved him, and he had worshiped her freely.

     Demeter would be gone for days at a time, performing her duties as the Goddess of the Harvest. Her absences made him appreciate her all the more, and he always welcomed her back with ardor. Sadly, he knew that he could never be with her here in Elysium. This was one of the consequences of loving an immortal being.

     Anytime a person felt that Elysium was not the right place for them, they could petition to go to the Lethe Court, where they could drink of the waters of oblivion and be reborn in the mortal world.

     This place was nice, but it wasn't one that he wanted to stay in forever. He had met new people here and made friends, but he still missed his goddess. He could not forget her as long as he remained here. This would mean meeting the Judges, or possibly Hades himself face-to-face as he made his case. He could only be honest, and wondered what Hades might say to know of his relationship to Demeter. But he had heard that the Lord of the Dead was a stern but fair ruler.

     This was something he had considered for a few years. He saw lovers being reunited with one another, joy filling their eyes as they saw cherished ones, rushing forward and kissing and hugging often. Every time he saw such a thing, he felt wistful.

    
What's the point of living in Paradise if I do not have somebody to share it with?
His mind was made up. He would go to one of the shades who kept an eye on this blissful haven and wait to be summoned before the Judges or even Hades himself. He already knew what he was going to say.

 

o0o

 

     The sun was setting, and the view from Olympus – no matter what side one was looking from – was spectacular. Zeus had the best view of all, his Palace having been built at the peak of Olympus in his sire's time. Kronos and his brethren had lived here and when the Olympians had taken over, many of the palaces had been torn down to build new ones more fitting for the new generation of gods, but Kronos's Palace was one that had remained intact.

     Of course, Zeus had removed every remainder of his father and had the Palace refurbished in his own tastes. Gone were Kronos's blood-red tapestries and decorations, to be replaced with cheery blue, white, and gold. When his children had been growing up, the palace hallways were filled with the sound of little feet. Zeus had not heard that sound for a long time.

     A set of footsteps almost as light as a child's met his ears as he sat in the solarium atop the Palace, where one had a full three hundred-and-sixty angle view of Olympus and Hellas. This was one of his favorite places to be, where he truly felt as if he was on the very top of the world. He was currently reclined on a divan, being fed grapes by his newest lover, a dryad. Just as he was about to close his mouth on the grape that dangled from her fingers, another nymph emerged from the staircase.

     “My lord, I hate to interrupt...” The nymph knew that Zeus did not like to receive visitors when he was in the solarium, but Demeter would not accept the demurring refusals for admittance. The Harvest Goddess was a tall and imposing figure, radiating quiet strength, easily intimidating the young Aurai. “Your sister is here, and she will not be denied.”

     The nymph yelped softly when Demeter herself emerged, wrapped in a somber brown cloak, the hood pulled from her head. Her tresses were braided around her scalp in a severely tight coronet that added austerity to her demeanor. With his hand, Zeus waved the nymphs away, and they scuttled down the stairs.

     “Whatever it is, it must be very important to you to interrupt my quiet evening at home,” Zeus said in a slightly impatient tone. Demeter frowned at her brother's attitude, but the King of the Gods maintained his facade, knowing he would have to pull off a convincing performance so she wouldn't suspect that he might know where Kora was.

     “It is of dire importance, indeed. Do not take that tone with me,” Demeter stated reproachfully. Zeus might be King of the Gods, but he was her younger sibling, and owed her for the wrong he had done her. Her eyes glinted fiercely. “Kora is missing! She is to be found nowhere on the earth.”

     “She is missing! My goodness, for how long?” he asked, immediately shifting to the role of concerned father.

     “A fortnight. I have searched far and wide, and enlisted the help of all the spirits of Nature, but nobody knows where she is. I have used all the magic at my command, to no avail. If she is not on earth, she must be here!” She approached Zeus, towering over him, her hand shooting out to prevent him from rising off his seat.

     “If she is, I have heard nothing of it!” Technically, that was the truth. After all, part of charm was choosing a genuine fact and working around it when flattery was not called for.

     “Truly?”

     “Truly, I swear by the Styx. I know nothing of our daughter being here on Olympus. I have left you and Kora in peace as you have asked.”

     “Yet there is now no trace of her.”

     “I can have other gods look for her.”

     “I do not want to spread this all around Olympus!” Demeter replied, chagrined that people might think her a poor mother, unable to keep track of
one
child.

    
I don't either
, Zeus thought, a plan forming in his head.

     “Hermes is the one who found Kora and revealed her existence to the other gods. Why not use him to look for her? After all, he is the speediest of the gods, and good at discovering secrets. I know you are still angry with him, why not let him serve penance to you?” the King of the Gods offered astutely. As much as Hermes might search, he wouldn't look in the Underworld. He was as much wary of that place as any other god was. Additionally, this task would keep him occupied for a good while.

     That thought reminded him that he needed to talk with Hades, to make sure that things were well between his brother and the bride he had chosen.

     Demeter nodded slowly, finding that agreement suitable. Yes. Let the one who started all this trouble help her end it! “I will send Hermes to you in the morning. Does that suit you, sister?” he asked, turning his palms upwards in a gesture of agreeability.

     “It does, indeed,” the Harvest Goddess replied.

     “Very good. I do wonder where she could be, though. But if anyone can track her down, it's Hermes!” Zeus replied, utmostly relieved that he had just bought himself some time.

 

o0o

 

     The weak, pained cries of the child rang through the room and its mother leaned over her, making soft hushing sounds as she stroked the soft, downy hair of his scalp. Despite his clean diapers, warm blankets, and the loving attention of his mother, he still cried. He appeared to be in constant pain, often crying fitfully for no apparent reason however he was held, rocked, fed, or simply left alone in a soft nest of blankets. Sometimes he would exhaust himself from crying and would just whimper, flailing his small arms in frustration. The best physicians could not diagnose his malady, and all kinds of remedies had been tried, to no avail. It was doubtful the child would even make it to his first birthday.

     Her child's pain baffled Metaniera. She and her husband already had five children, a son and four daughters. All of them had been healthy, and were growing up to be a fine prince and princesses. Triptolemus, the older son and oldest child, was just past twenty and was a handsome and ruddy-faced youth. Her daughters, in various states of maidenhood, were all of pleasant if not beautiful appearances, with agreeable personalities and each with a talent of her own.

     Instead of having a wet-nurse as queens usually did, Metaniera had breast-fed each and every one of her children. After all, what better nourishment was there for a child than its own mother's milk? But Demophon drank fretfully, sometimes spitting up his milk when a fit of pain seized him.

     Metaniera felt frustrated even though she knew that this wasn't Demophon's fault. Perhaps the gods had cursed him, and the rest of the family. Eleusis's harvest was not looking good this year, for a drought had bitten into the crops, and the dry summer heat was stunting the growth of the harvest that was to feed the city-state. Even though her older son wouldn't admit it, she sensed that Triptolemus was unhappy. A plague had gone through the city last year, and even though this year had been thankfully free of disease, their army was still depleted, with minimal manpower for the city's defenses. A warlord was threatening them, and would only consider backing off if the two older Eleusinian princesses were given to said warlord and his brother as brides. No decision had been made, but the toll of stress was visible in the lines of her husband's face.

     Celeus loved his family and city, and had no desire to hand over any of his children. Yet he had the welfare of his city to consider. He was not really in a position to fight, but giving the Princesses over might cause the warlord to make more demands, perhaps even for the crown itself. To make matters worse, his own little son was dying.

     They had prayed at the temple and made sacrifices to various gods, only to receive nothing for their efforts. Metaniera shook her head sadly as she looked down at her son, wishing she could alleviate his pain. His cries turned to whimpers as she stroked him, humming a soft song. It was only within the refuge of sleep that any of them could escape their problems.

 

o0o

 

     Thalassa was the eldest daughter of Celeus and Metaniera, and was well aware of the warlord's threat against her parents. She had no desire to marry him and knew that her parents didn't want to force her into marriage, either. But with the welfare of the city at stake, Thalassa was afraid that she might have to steel herself and agree to be the wife to a man who might possibly mistreat her and betray her father. All of them had prayed to the gods, but to no avail.

BOOK: Seeds: Volume Two
12.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
Dreamspell by Tamara Leigh
Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons
The Principal's Office by Jasmine Haynes
One Lucky Deal by Kelli Evans
Necessary Evil by David Dun