"HADES, WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?!"
Anaxandra had her back against the wall, a look of pure terror on her face. Hades was in her face, menacing and evidently threatening her. At the sound of my fury, he wheeled around, the colour draining from his face.
"Thantos..." The relief in Anaxandra's voice was evident as Hades backed away to face me.
"I told you to leave, Hades." The room darkened slightly and the sounds of Hell got a little louder.
"Afraid I can't do that buddy. You need me."
"I am the God of Hell, in case you have forgotten. I own you, Keeper of the Ninth Gate and you are currently banished from the Realms of the Gods and powerless. What hope do you have in fighting me?"
I hated the cold arrogance I was forced to speak with. I hated how Aphrodite had turned me against the only God I could share Hell with properly. How she had cost me one of my precious few friends.
"Hades. Don't. Do. This." I emphasised each word heavily in an attempt to get through to my old friend. "We'll work something out, just give me some time.. "
"No!" Hades had his sword in his hand, blazing and resplendant in his fury, though no power emanated from him. "I will not wait! How long Thantos? Weeks, years? I will not wait the centuries it took for Nyx to get her powers back! I will not wait all those years.. I will not live as a human! I am Keeper of the Ninth Gate, proud and powerful denizen of Hell, Keeper of the darkest souls. I will not be lowered to the level of mere human!"
"Swallow your pride and et over it." I snarled back. "Look at what Nyx endured. And look at her now, back in her place as Queen. The Titans managed fine here for a while before they went Underground as well. Even Apollo is in the human realm. He's not fighting it like you. He's doing the right thing, the honorable thing. Look at you, snivelling because your pride can't take living with humans for a while. Grow a spine! Keeper of the Ninth gate.. you aren't fit to call yourself a god. You barely qualify. Even Aphrodite has taken her punishment. But you, you were weak enough to allow this to happen and now you have been caught, you don't even have the grace to take the punishment that has been given to you."
I could see the pain in his eyes as I spoke, the harsh judgement falling like physical blows, cutting deeper than my sword ever could. But the Hades I knew was not the specimen in front of me.
"The Hades I know would never beg. He would never whine and he would never complain. He would have taken it with grace. He would have retained his honor and done the right thing to attempt to get his position back. Not this. The Hades I know is better than this."
"The Hades you know died the minute you let him rot in the human realm." Hades' voice rang hollowly through the house, threat evident in his tone.
I drew my sword slowly, the ring of steel echoing off the walls. "Then I have no qualms in killing the imposter wearing his face."
Hades lunged for me as I parried his blow effortlessly, forcing him out of the front door, which had been left swinging open. We burst out onto the Plains of Hell, where the souls passed through to the Gates. As we passed, ripples went through the souls there and a howling started up. They recognised us as their captors and they resented that. Ethereal forms began hurling themselves at us as we battled. I forced Hades to the ground time and time again, but in his desperation, he refused to stay down, springing up to attempt to lay a blow. The souls of Hell seemed to avoid me as I threw Hades to the ground again, this time using my powers. The converged on Hades, smothering him. They weighed nothing more than feathers, but hundreds swarmed to him, crowding him, their ghostly arms flailing widly as if to hit him. I back away as the crowd around him grew bigger. I had never seen the souls act like this. As ants will recognise intruders in the nest, the souls of Hell swarmed against Hades, burying him in semi-translucent limbs. Fearing for his life, I took decisive action.
Holding my greatsword aloft, I brought it swiftly down, point first and buried it in the ground.
The command rang out across the whole of Hell. The sky vibrated with it, convulsing with dark clouds. Every soul in Hell heard and obeyed. In Hell, no one else commanded the souls in the same manner.
Almost reluctantly, the souls drifted away, leaving Hades in a crumpled heap. He was shaking visibly, even from a distance. The souls still churned restlessly, a faint rustling, like old leaves, now audiable as the sounds of Hell had been muted. It sounded like whispering voices.
"Hades." I went over to him, putting my hand on his shoulder. "Come on, I think you should go."
He barely resisted as I lifted him, creating a Portal. It opened into a quiet village, which was bathed in a beautiful night. A warm, friendly looking house was sat directly in front of me. From here, I could see smiling faces and hear the laughter.
Sounds like somewhere Hades will be taken care of.
I knocked on the door, which opened a few moments later. The smile that initially greeted me fell as soon as my face registered.
"Look, just take care of him. I can't do anything for him now."