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“Hadie?” Kharon called drawing my attention to him.
I turned away from the young man disappointed that I couldn’t get a good look at him, but there was always eternity. If he was going to be trapped in hell then we had a long time to get to know each other. I thought sarcastically as my eyes met a flash of pale blue, I’d have sworn there was something like jealousy in them had I had more than just a glimpse. I shook the thought from my mind as I placed my hands on my hips and raised an eyebrow at him.
“How can I help you now insufferable arse?” I asked sweetly.
“I would like to get to my job now and your presence is causing a bit of an uproar.” He sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose, “Look, people are looking for Hades, the man, monster and legend. They aren’t looking for some tiny woman in a dress.”
“Well speaking of dresses if your robe was any longer it could pass for a fantastic clergy dress.” I replied with a sarcastic smile on my lips, “Thanks for the heads up though, you’re a real buddy.”
I turned away from him toward the crowd forming at the base of the ship and stifled a curse. I knew he wasn’t wrong, some of the people stared at me with open confusion while others seemed to leer at me like I was some kind of meal. I lifted my chin and narrowed my eyes at the latter, I may not look like the myths described but I wasn’t a weak little woman either. My brother wouldn’t have trapped me down here if he wasn’t a little afraid of me. I noticed Kharon’s shoulders dip in an inaudible sigh before he pulled a list out of his pocket and turned to the growing crowd.
“Hear me, hear me,” he called in a loud voice, drifting across half the beach.
“We couldn’t not, even if we tried.” I sighed, examining my nails, “Might as well have just shouted, ‘silence mortals or I shall devour your soul,’ it has a better ring to it.”
A nervous laugh rang out through the crowd as Kharon struggled to mask his irritation. Well, today was going to be rather interesting, I thought as I glanced up toward the god, I’d never seen him lose his cool before. The young man from earlier shifted restlessly in the centre of the crowd behind a small malicious looking older woman with amber eyes glistening with greed. I could barely make out the light shimmer of hazel eyes as he shifted from side to side almost as if he was pacing in place. Dark hair dropped over his eyes in waves and onto his neck like one of those musical boys Eris often told me of. I could almost hear her scolding me for forgetting the term again. His black t-shirt and jeans with boots reinforced my thought. I turned my attention back to Kharon as he gripped his list tighter after shooting me a glare from beneath his hood.
“If I call your name step toward the mighty gates of Hades, Cerberus will then deem you fit for hell or in need or re-judgement.” He called out, pale eyes almost daring me to interrupt again.
Who was I to deny him I thought, “Ah re-judgement, the fancy way of saying damnation twice.”
“Hadie,” Kharon growled under his breath, “Knock it off.”
“Temper temper.” I reminded him quietly, “You wouldn’t want people to think you had emotions, now would you?”
“You’re a bi–,” he started but I cut him off with a frown.
“No need to be so ungodly. Go ahead, read from your little list and I will wait.” I said narrowing my eyes at him, “Perhaps Cerberus should deem your fate.”
A loud howl echoed through the air silencing even the crabs clicking through the sand. A second howl sliced through the air followed by a third deafening howl louder than the other two. It was almost as if my dearest Cerberus was seconding my comment to the ferryman. Kharon had the good mind to look a little worried as he glanced over my head toward the gates of Hades and muttered a half-hearted apology. I followed his gaze over to the large golden gates and winked at the large beast standing before them. The irony of golden gates in hell was not lost on me. He dipped one of his large heads in reply; at least someone revered me as queen still.
Like his daughter, Cerberus’ three heads were not identical. Blood red eyes faintly glimmered out of obsidian fur, his left head looking more demon than dog. Pale green eyes the same shade as my own followed me from his light midnight middle head, faint layers of fluff puffing up from around his large bat-like ears. Like his other two heads, coal coloured fur coated his head passed his wolf-like snout and amber eyes. Muscle coated his body making him seem larger than he already was, standing more than two heads taller than I. I turned my attention back to the ferryman and pursed my lips; I wasn’t sure how far I could push it before Kharon lost it with me. I’d never seen him behave this way before; something about his short temper and desire to have me leave didn’t fit well with his usual behaviour.
“This is taking forever,” a feminine voice called from somewhere near the centre of the crowd.
“How long do we have to stand here?” a male voice griped with a sigh.
“This is Hades, the underworld, land of hell and brimstone.” Kharon snapped, “What did you expect a chorus of singing angels and soft couches?”
“Now now Kharon, don’t be rude to our guests. This will be their home forever.” I said sweetly, “If they don’t like it here they’re welcome to wait with Cerberus I think he might feel like a snack.”
“I don’t need your help,” Kharon growled under his breath.