Gates to Asphodel, Chapter 25

Recap: Corey’s parents had an argument about her and were found dead the next morning. Corey then meets Detective Skylar Adams. She is later adopted by Helen and Andy. Two years later, Corey is in school and meets a friend, Terese, and the class bully, Sandra. One day, two students are found dead and Corey meets Detective Adams again. Corey starts 2nd grade, which brings her face to face with a terrifying new teacher. As you can expect, her teacher does not last long. And then neither do her adopted parents, but things look up as Corey may have found a forever family. Corey moves in with Detective Adams and his wife and learns Terese lives across the street. One Friday night, Corey has a typical, happy evening with her mom, but seems out of sorts when Skyler comes home looking haggard. One night, Terese is sleeping over, but it doesn’t stop Skyler from working on the strange murder case. Corey and Terese get an interesting ski lesson and Corey provides some important information regarding the murders. Skyler and Dimitra go on an overnight trip, leaving Corey with a babysitter who does not meet with a happy end. School is back in session after winter break and the class gains two new students, twins Aiden and Cate. During recess, Corey is drawn to the twins and starts to get to know them. Then one snowy evening, Corey’s family has the Asphodels over for dinner. Corey has a chance to chat with the twins and learns magic is real, but it’s a secret. Turns out Corey isn’t a great secret keeper and grows suspicious of the twins. Aiden and Cate explain magic isn’t bad and induct Corey into magic. Corey’s magic lessons begin. Corey, Aiden, and Cate are caught doing magic by the principal and something bad happens to him. Sent home for the day after the principal’s death, Corey and Terese get to hang out and start planning Corey’s birthday party. Skyler thinks magic might be the key to solving the case and Corey returns to her magic lessons. Corey wakes up on her 10th birthday to more than one surprise, but learns what has been protecting her.

 

“Nooo!” The Moirae’s wail ripped through Asphodel, awakening the remaining slumbering inhabitants.

All across the world, they awoke to find members of their families missing. But none were as distressing as the disappearance of the two month old Kore, the young Queen of the Underworld in the care of the Moirae.

Acheron, then a middle aged man, found the three women clustered around an empty crib. Beside the empty one, Hades and Hecate wailed from theirs, sensing that someone special was missing. The three women hurried into Acheron’s arms, Clotho trying desperately to shove a pale yellow blanket into his arms.

“She’s gone,” Lachesis wailed, falling across one of Acheron’s arms. “The young Queen is gone. How could they steal her from us?”

Acheron gathered the women close and looked over at the empty crib. The young Queen was indeed missing. Her parents, Zeus and Demeter, were also missing. That he already knew. He had hoped all of the children would be okay, but, apparently, he was wrong.

“My lord,” a breathless voice said from behind him.

Acheron quickly placed the three women firmly on their feet before turning to face Hermes, the winged messenger god. The young man looked frazzled and his eyes wild, especially when he spied the empty crib.

“Not the young Queen,” Hermes whispered, putting a hand over his chest.

Acheron nodded grimly. “The Queen is gone, but the Lord of the Underworld is still with us.”

Hermes sighed. “At least that’s one good thing.”

“Tell us, Hermes,” Acheron urged. “Who else is missing?”

“A great many of us, Acheron. Zeus and Demeter, Hera and Aphrodite, even Dionysius and Ares. Poseidon is also missing. Half of the pantheon are gone and numerous other lesser gods.”

Acheron gritted his teeth. Whoever had taken members of their world had chosen well. The rulers of the sky, seas, and underworld were gone. Fortunately, they still had Hades, but the boy would constantly be searching for his Queen if she weren’t recovered soon.

“Anyone else, Hermes?”

The man shook his head. “I don’t know. It was Hephaestus who discovered the ones I told you of. He sent me down here. Then I’m off to get a count.”

Acheron nodded. “The only one missing from here is Kore.”

Hermes nodded and took flight to spread the word and to learn who else had gone missing. Acheron turned back to the wailing women.

“Clotho, Lachesis, see to Hades and Hecate. Soothe them and make sure they are well. Atropos, come with me. We go to the Oracle and hope she is still there.”

The three women nodded. Clotho and Lachesis hurried to the infants and swiftly picked them up to attempt to soothe them. Acheron and Atropos turned and swiftly left for the Oracle, the infants’ wails following them until they left the Underworld. They swiftly traveled to the Oracle’s cave and found it already cluttered with other gods seeking the woman’s advice and prophecies.

“Acheron!” one voice cried out.

The man turned to Athena as she hurried to him picking up her skirts as she ran. He nodded to her and waited for her to reach him, glad that at least she remained.

“Acheron,” Athena breathed, clutching at his arm. “The babies.”

He looked at her grimly and panic filled her eyes.

“Kore is missing. Hades and Hecate are fine, but the young Queen is missing.”

“This is terrible,” Athena moaned. “Her parents and Hera are likewise missing. The Oracle says they have all been taken to the same world and we must go through the Gates of Asphodel to find them.”

“We haven’t gone through those gates in many millennia,” Acheron said, frowning deeply. “We haven’t been on that world since the Greeks rejected us. No one goes through the gates anymore. How could they have been taken through?”

“The gatekeeper is missing,” Athena whispered. “Chiron and Apollo have taken to guarding them.”

Acheron nodded as he swept his eyes around the cave. Many were missing, but many still remained. “Has the Oracle spoken?”

Athena nodded. “She spoke only to say that we must go through the Gates of Asphodel to find our brethren. We are welcome to approach her individually, though. Perhaps you should go next. As far as we know, Kore is the only child to be taken and it is most imperative that we know what happened to her. A child of Asphodel on Earth may not bode well, especially for her.”

Acheron nodded and allowed Athena to guide him and Atropos to the Oracle. The girl was covered in white robes with a deep hood thrown over her face. She sat upon a plain raised throne, her arms thrown over the chair’s arms.

“Acheron, Atropos, come,” the Oracle said softly.

“Greetings from the Underworld, Oracle,” Atropos said as she and Acheron bowed. Athena retreated respectfully to join Hestia, Chronus, and Rhea. “We seek your guidance regarding our child Kore.”

The Oracle inclined her head. “Yes. The youngest of our children. It is a grave misfortune that the young Queen is missing. She is on Earth with the others. We must wait a period of ten years for her return. No one may walk through the gates before the age of ten. She will return on her tenth birthday.”

Atropos looked aghast at the news. “But she is a child, just two months old.”

“She will return. But she must be inducted to magic first.”

“Atropos and I will go for her, then,” Acheron said resolutely. “We will do what we can to become her Earthly parents.”

“No,” the Oracle said sharply. “That will be chaos. She will be well. They may perceive her as a little odd, but she is a quiet child. She will be well. Do not worry too much. She will know she does not belong. Ready Hades and Hecate to go to her. They will turn ten before her. It will be best if her intended and constant companion seek her out and induct her. They will bring her home in ten years.”

Acheron placed his hand on Atropos back. They both bowed and retreated. They swiftly made their way back to the Underworld and found that the infants had been soothed for the time being. They quickly relayed what was going on at the Oracle’s cave and what she had said.

Clotho looked down at Hades, whom she cradled in her arms. “Then we will wait. As soon as they are old enough, they will be inducted into magic. And when they reach Earth, they will be inducted again.”

The other two fates nodded in agreement.

The years passed quickly. Several inhabitants of Asphodel were returned, including Poseidon, Dionysius, and Aphrodite. The others, though, remained missing. Small groups left Asphodel yearly in search of the missing, but most returned unsuccessful. They didn’t know why this was so; they should have been able to find them. But they hypothesized that several had been masked in attempts to keep them from being found. This worried Acheron. How would they be able to find Kore if she was masked?

Acheron stood by the River Styx, staring down at the murky waters. The river’s guardian slithered comfortingly around his feet. It was Kore’s fourth birthday. They only had to wait six more years.

“What bothers you, Acheron?” Styx asked, her voice gentle and soothing.

“Today is Kore’s fourth birthday. Yet her whereabouts have not yet been discovered. We have six years still, but what if some harm befalls her?”

“We will go find and protect her,” Styx said.

Acheron looked at the serpent in surprise. “You? How could you find her when no one else has in the past four years?”

“We are guardians,” Styx replied. “We may go anywhere. Kore is one of ours. We know Kore. We can find her.”

“Why have you not said so before?” Acheron asked in anger.

“You did not ask.”

Acheron breathed deeply for several seconds. Though the river guardians were members of the Underworld, they were ruled only by Hades and Kore. They would not freely give information. He should have remembered that. Even though he was the ferryman, he still had no sway over the rivers.

“Then find her and protect her. Take Lethe and Plegethon with you. Stay with her until she knows who she is. Once Hades and Hecate find her, they may still not be able to protect her.”

The serpent inclined her head. “Of course.”

She slithered back into the river and vanished.

The twins grew up quickly, learning magic dutifully for the next six years. The river guardians had reported that they had found Kore and were duly protecting her. They would stay with her until Hades and Hecate came for her. Kore was indeed an odd child to the people of Earth, but she had found a loving family and was developing friendships. Kore didn’t know they were with her, but she could sense something was protecting her, and so wasn’t afraid.

Hades and Hecate studied hard, learning all they could. Hades also learned to become the Lord of the Underworld, but he wanted nothing else than to have his Queen by his side once again. He knew they had ruled well in past lifetimes. This one was different, but he was determined to see it end the same way. Hecate was desperate to be reunited with her friend and lady. She had never been so separated from Kore and it often drove her to tears.

Acheron and the Moirae weren’t sure if they could last until the twins turned ten.

Finally, the day came. The twins were ten and Kore would be ten in just three months. They knew where she was and that she was well. Now they just had to get the twins to Earth.

“Acheron,” a booming voice called.

The ferryman jumped and hurried from the palace to see who was calling. He found Chronus and Rhea standing before him and bowed deeply to them.

“Acheron, the twins are ten today,” Chronus said.

“Yes, my Lord, they are.”

“They are going through the gates, then?” Rhea asked.

“Yes. As soon as we can ready them.”

Chronus gave him a suspicious look. “You are not sending them alone, are you?”

Acheron gave them a puzzled look. “Well, that was the plan. They know how to take care of themselves. I’m sure they’ll be fine. It’s just three months.”

Rhea shook her head. “Acheron, dear man, that won’t work. Earth is very different. The children have parents. They live in homes and go to school.” She turned to Chronus for a brief second. “We will go with them and pose as their parents. We can also induct them into magic on Earth and continue to teach them.”

Acheron scratched his head. “I hadn’t thought of that. You make a good point.” He nodded. “The twins will be ready to depart shortly. They know where Kore is and we have already secured the house next to hers.”

Chronus nodded. “We will meet Hades and Hecate at the Gates of Asphodel.”

Acheron bowed his head as the titans departed. A thrill went through him. Kore would be coming home soon.

“We’re ready, Acheron,” a sweet, yet demanding voice said from behind him.

He turned his head to see the twins walking towards him, dressed appropriately for Earth. He smiled and ushered them to his boat.

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6 thoughts on “Gates to Asphodel, Chapter 25

  1. So much going on in this section! It all makes more sense now =)

    Couple of thoughts… This chapter seems a hard shift from everything before it. Maybe in each chapter before this give ‘glimpses’ of more going on? (A serpent searching and then finding her intended ‘prey/charge’, random chaos moments in the world caused by the others missing… stuff like that). This might also make Corey’s magic more plausible if you indicate more unnatural things other than the murders.

    Secondly, there are a lot of names thrown into this and, unless you’re familiar with the mythology, it could be quite confusing. A few less people might help or maybe a little more world/background building?

    I like the turn this has taken. Now I’m super curious how all these gods and goddesses were kidnapped and for what purpose!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been thinking of expanding this chapter and weaving it in, but always wondered if that would be confusing. From your comment, perhaps not! And it would give me a great opportunity to explore the gods and their realm a little more. Though I really need to figure out who kidnapped them and why. It’s been 7 years since I wrote this and I’m still clueless, so it’s a good thing I’ve just been letting it sit. And a good lesson in what not to do with future stories.

      Liked by 1 person

      • This must be why it can take an author years to release a book. Anyone who thinks it’s easy to write a book is nuts and I often question my 8 year old self who said, “I’m going to be an author when I grow up!”

        Liked by 1 person

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