Post Count : 352
The River Styx, a repulsive conglomeration of departed souls. A literal rushing river of the dead, filled with those either determined for paradise or hell-like condemnation. An in-between dimension of sorts in its own design, a prison to those unfortunate enough to be caught within its currents. Misshapen figures move by helplessly in a blur, their voices raising in a disturbing crescendo of sound. One who wasn't used to this sort of thing would find it grating to the ears, but the God has been doing this particular job of his since its creation.
An occupation that always bored him, even more so now than usual. The reason behind that, is that while he is here taking care of his business, the only excitement he seems to find in this place is going on right out of site. Back in his throne room, where his minions currently reside, lies a certain open hole in the center of the room. A means to look into the swirling mass that is the apex of the Styx. The disgusting green glow of the spirits fills the immediate area ever moving images of undead spirits, giving those unfortunate enough to view it a sense of dread, or motion sickness, but not the two looking upon it now...
“Alright, you two get into the Elysium Fields,” Hades, the dark lord of the underworld tells a pair of specters peering up at him through the calmer portion of the river. Looking over a clipboard he sighs exasperated at his luck. More idiots to add to the desert. Adjusting the small reading glasses sitting on his face he grimaces at what his eyes find. “You twelve, however, get to go to Tartarus,” he continues, his face showing disgust, “raping, then killing six goats is, well, a very, VERY, disturbing thing.”
However, something comes to mind, something that makes it all worth it in the end. He's allowed the anticipation build up long enough. After spending two full weeks ferrying the souls of the dead to their proper places he finally has a means to reward himself.
Knowing this, he smiles, tossing the clipboard behind his head.
“Oh well, who cares, eternal torment, lots of dehydration, dying, then dying again and again. Bye, have fun, and don't forget to write!!” As he waves the spirits off they dozen cling to one another and cry helplessly as they're forcibly sucked down a path that splits off from the main body of water. Those unfortunate ghosts join the screams of those that share their fate. They don't know what's coming, but they cannot shake off the sensation of overwhelming fear. As though they can already picture those dry deserts, the hideous plague filled swamps, and of course the monsters of nightmares that dare call such a land their home. Most of them won't last a week, their souls shall be rend again and again, the chains of Tartarus pulling them down, breaking their bodies into nothing at the cellular level until naught remains but a pile of sand where they once stood. Others wouldn't even get the chance to move, being forced to reside within the waste that comes as the Styx hits the final barrier separating Tartarus from the Underworld Chambers.
However, in spite of being in the face of overwhelming despair, there are those that wish to go against the current. To fight until they free themselves from the murky conglomeration of rage filled husks they will soon become a part of. Brave spirits of the damned who cling to the belief that if they manage to endure this harsh wasteland they will be freed. But little do they know, that once they cross that threshold, there is no escape, they are there to stay, unless their God feels that they've been there long enough and decide to free them. Sadly for them, that never happens, except for one.
A single entity that has continued way past the normal threshold that have claimed billions of others before him. A man seeking redemption for the things he'd done during his life. But, whether he will get that or not lies upon his own shoulders. As long as he continues to move forward, he will get the second chance he so craves. But for now, torment is all that greets him, it eats away at his very soul, and if he doesn't make the distance now, he might never get to sever the ties that bind him...
It's this person that has Hades' attention now, and the reason why the lord is making the trek back to his throne room with such haste. It makes it difficult for one of his many denizens to make their way over to him. In fact, Hades is so wrapped up in his thoughts that he nearly tramples the undead minion. Were it not for his leg running into him, causing a sudden stop, he might not have noticed him at all.
Having his walk come to a sudden halt, the god of the dead looks down upon the unfortunate soul with an intense glare. The poor spirit can only shiver with fright as his master gives him such a scrutinizing gaze, however, he cannot allow Hades' temper to overwhelm him now, not when such a powerful entity has made its presence known. Having already met with some of those that dwell in these dark, dreary caverns, this one had to make sure that his God knew.
“M-Master, I-I'm sorry to disturb-”
“What is it?” Hades lets out a low growl, “What is so important that you're keeping me from getting back to my show?” The dead soul points a bony finger down one of the many cave openings spanning this infinite existence of dread.
“W-we have a v-visitor, wh-what should we do? He isn't normal, he seems so...” the spirit trails off, trying to find the right words to say. “Different, he's not like the ones who usually show up around here. He didn't even give the coliseum a second glance, yet this guy, he looks so strong. Stronger than the other competitors that have come here,” As he continues to speak, Hades moves around him, never truly acknowledge his presence beyond the initial dialogue. It's as though he were speaking to an insect rather than a soul of the departed. “The sentinels that have already gone to meet him are afraid, master.”
Hades, the Lord of the Underworld, is seemingly torn between his two options. Placing a hand under his chin in deep thought he begins to weigh his options. On one hand, it doesn't seem as though his potential champion has made much progress, but what he does manage to do is quite entertaining, and the great bits come when the dark lord least expects it. On the other, he's got some intruder lurking around his world unabated. That could potentially lead to a few headaches, especially if what the little spirit says is true.
Being stronger than a vast majority of competitors to the Underdrome isn't exactly a small feat. After all, that keyblade brat would fit the description when it comes to strength and he took down Cerberus with little to no issue. To think someone like that running amok down here? That would definitely keep him from his place on his throne, watching a mortal suffer. So, what's an Underworld God to do in a situation like this? He has to take care of his responsibilities, he does have a reputation to uphold after all.
As his thoughts continue to play out, a small smile of relief graces his features. Not bothering to look towards the undead's way, he waves a hand dismissively.
“I want you to go tell the boys to ask him why he's here. If he wishes to see me, just point him in the right direction. I don't need anyone causing a ruckus right now.” Suddenly, Hades turns and bends down until he's nose to nose with the spirit, his feiry eyes causing him to cry out in shock. “But I swear, if this is a waste of time, I will not be a happy camper. You got that?” The soul nods rapidly, tears pooling in its eyes as he does so. “Good.” He says, standing straight, as though he weren't looking upon a defenseless creature with murderous intent. With his business concluded he promptly turns back to the path and starts his small journey back to his room.
Post Count : 352
Hades schedule has remained the same, fair to say it wasn't much of one in the first place. Ever since he found this little gem among the pile of refuse in the Underworld Prison, he's spent a great portion of his time merely looking on. A spectator to the horrors a single soul would go through. However, there is reason behind this torturous madness. A single, solitary goal that he believes this individual could fulfill, all he'd have to do is endure, and endure he has. Because of his tenacity, he has provided not only the God of the Dead entertainment, but to his impish minions Pain and Panic.
But, their entertainment will not last for very long. Not with the one currently coming their way.
Hades, naturally picked up upon Lenneth's presence first, his laughter stopping short. This darkness, such a voracious presence that graced the dead caverns of his home world. An incredible power he hadn't felt since the Dark Sorceress Maleficent paid his world a visit all those years ago. It was more than enough to turn his head to take a quick glance out of the nearby window.
The god should have paid heed to what the undead denizen told him. Were he aware that this type of individual were coming her to seek his audience, he would have came in person rather than giving them an escort. Yet, there's more to this aura than what first appears. The nearer Lenneth draws, the more familiar his presence becomes, at least in relative terms it is familiar. Hades, through the extension of his undead soldiers, and through his little escapee, has felt nothing more than a silver of this power.
At least, it was a sliver compared to what he's sensing now. With a wave of his hand he dismisses the aural sphere that is projecting Eno's progress, causing the impish duo to cry out in protest. A single glare from their master is more than enough to silence their complaints. They can't comprehend what's coming their way, and The God of Death must prepare. It wouldn't do right to have his guest enter his chambers to find them being entertained by the torture of someone else. It'd detract from whatever it is his guest has come here to discuss, not to mention hearing Eno scream would interrupt them and that'd just be plain rude.
“W-what's going on, Master?” Pain asks, taking a place beside the throne rather than on the armrest. Panic moves to stand next to his partner in crime before adding his own question to the mix.
“Do we have a visitor?” A single nod brings a toothy grin to the blue demon's face. “Oh I like visitors. Are you going to steal his soul?”
“Oh no, not this one.” Like his little companion, the underworld lord smiles. “This one is much too useful to think of doing anything of the sort.” Waving his minions off towards the exit archway with a hand he turns his attention to the open spot on the opposite end of the chasm in the center of his chambers. A simple clap of his hands brings up a skull shaped throne, similar to the one he's currently sitting upon. Though, the size difference is rather obvious, after all it isn't a typical habit to place a guest on the same pedestal as the one who rules the afterlife. Plus, Hades is a rather tall individual himself. He's sure Lenneth won't take offense to this.
“Hurry up and escort him the rest of the way, you imbeciles! Those giants can't fit in here!”
“R-right away, master!” their voices echo from down the spiral staircase leading to the outside entrance.
Last edited by Eno on September 16th 2014, 6:08 am; edited 1 time in total
Post Count : 352
(Continuing from here)
After what seems like miles of travel, he finally comes to the origin of the sound. Eno definitely does not like what he sees. He looks on with a mortified expression coming over his face. Slowly, his jaw goes slack, hanging open. The obsidian banks make way for a black river of tar-like odor and a sickly green under-glow. Were it not in perpetual motion, along with the light, it would be hard to discern it from the rest of this damned landscape.
He moves closer, driven by his all-too-human eagerness to understand. As he draws near, he can make out shapes along the surface. Shapes which rise, act, then sink into the mire as soon as they surfaced. There is tension in this liquid, a sticky quality. Curiously, he watches as creatures, covered in the foul soup, reach in vain for something to grip on to against the smooth siding, only to be dragged back under. If not by the winding current, then by other figures which materialize and drag them back into the mysterious depths under the surface.
Finally, he comes to the edge of the near bank, and looks out over the water. Eno concludes that this was less of a river and more of a channel. Far too wide from him to consider swimming across. Not that he would if it wasn't. He had no desire to step foot in whatever that substance was. Eno wouldn't risk something taking hold of him and pulling him into the murky depths. For his journey to end here, he wouldn't allow that.
It's then, he starts to realize something. These shapes and forms struggling against the top scream rise further, screaming profanities and blasphemies at the top of their lungs. The sudden voices shock the ex-hand, putting him onto his rump, and making the poor man scoot away from the bank.
Humans, horses, cougars, eagles, even creatures Eno had never seen before, and all of them are fighting, brutally. Not just punching, kicking, mind. They tear at one another with tooth and claw, shrieking their hate for each other in the common tongue or through whinnies and growls.
He continues to watch, mesmerized by the display. Just under the currents he can see the warped faces of humanoid creatures. He assumes they are too weak to fight, being swept away by the roaring tar. These creatures are without features, their bodies covered in morass and being pulled back under by the surface tension before they could properly reveal themselves.
It's then, his other senses start to take hold. The odor was overpowering, the scent of burning tar was never something pleasant for him. Especially, when pouring it upon interlopers. There were times, during punishments, that he believed he'd never get the smell from his nostrils. It'd be days before he could smell the scent of freshly baked bread, or a rose, or anything pleasant really.
Looking again over the edge, he sees that the liquid has a thin viscosity. It appears as though the harder they struggled, either against their prison or against one another, the thicker, the tougher the liquid became. This must be the punishment for those filled with anger, hate, and greed.
He was like that, not too long ago. The very thought makes him cringe. At least, until he checks the other surroundings, and notices that twisted gnarled trees sparsely inhabit the banks of the river. Wooden structures, having broken through the glass at their roots, bearing the suffering likeness of once living in their wooden frames.
Narrowing his eyes in a suspicious glare, he takes a step towards one of these forlorn specimens. They widen when he finds something hanging from it. Could it be, could is possibly be...
No, not until closer inspection could be made. From his view, a glorious, red bulb hangs down from a vine on the tree. But, a quick scan shows that there isn't just one. There's another, and another. He shouldn't trust the Underworld but damn it he needs this. It's far from a romantic atmosphere, the screams and wails be damned. Profanities and blasphemies filling his ears as the sounds of bones crunching and cartilage snapping punctuates the expressions of hatred.
It doesn't matter to Eno, no not now. Once he's close, he leaps off his feet and clasps his hands greedily around one of the bulbs. It does not release, and he is left suspended precariously over the ground.
“Gimmie,” he demands, hoisting himself up only to let his weight drop once more, hoping that would jostle the fruit loose. But, the tree defies him. His response is to growl. His first means of nourishment that isn't in the hands of some thing, and this land wouldn't give in to his demands? Had he not been tortured enough? Unleashing a throaty growl, he throws his hips to the left, sending him into a spin, then he moves to the right, hoping to twist the fruit off of its mounting.
“It's way too early for this shit. Look, you,” he hisses, yanking down again and again on the stuck-fast apple. “I've been through too much crap,” another yank, “to let a stupid,” he hoists himself up, and pulls his legs up with him, bracing his feet against the bottom of the branch it hangs from. “TREE!” Eno starts trying t push against the branch, feeling the fruit begin to loosen, “get the best of me!” He hears a loud snap, and a distinct scream from the tree itself.
A wide smile spreads across his lips, he is overjoyed with the prospect of food at first. This is his reward for never losing faith! Food at last! It lasts for all of two seconds. Gravity soon takes over, and he finds himself falling to the hard ground below the branches. A single whack of the back of his head upon the hard glass fills his ears before the sweet embrace of unconsciousness overtakes him...
Post Count : 352
As soon as the man on everyone's mind strode into the room with that confident gait, the Lord of the Dead's eyes began to narrow. The God was reclining in his throne, one elbow resting upon the armrest, propping his chin up with his fist, while awaiting Lenneth's appearance. But, as soon as his yellow eyes got a good look at the Herald of Darkness, Hades couldn't help but sit up a bit straighter. He still held the air of carefree confidence, but there was something about this visitor that admittedly put the Underworld Lord on edge. This darkness, so like, yet so different from the evil sorceress he answered to for such a long time. It was hard to forget such a dense aura of this element, and with this pinnacle of human perfection now sitting before him, Hades couldn't help but feel a sense of nostalgia. As though he were peering into the past.
Just like Maleficent was, he's completely calm, showing no signs of intimidation. However, unlike the witch, the marksman had the good sense to keep any signs of disgust from his features. It's through his past trials and errors he's able to treat this guest of his with some respect rather than contempt. His old boss didn't like that attitude one bit, and while Hades was more than capable of holding his own against someone like her, he would rather not go through such trouble dirtying his claws over something so trivial as personal preference. Especially when the one sitting before him had the potential to be such a capable pawn.
Sure, Hades had Eno as a trump card of sorts, but he couldn't hope to hold a candle to this creature. The two are in completely different leagues, the Shepard of Souls could tell this through breathing in that scent of pure, unabated blackness alone. He didn't have to feel the presence through his pores, nor see the aura billowing off his body to realize this. He's even sure Hercules wouldn't be anything more than a minor issue for the Leveas. But just because Hades would like for something like this to happen, doesn't mean he'll necessarily get what it is he desires. After all, this individual caused quite a lot of trouble for him already.
Despite his features having morphed somewhat, given the fangs and cold gaze behind his eyes, Hades couldn't help but see the long, blonde haired man in silks barely concealing his chiseled features. The same one who showed nothing but a few slivers of his power when the Underworld Ruler sent his undead minions to fetch an escapee from the Colosseum. A task that ultimately failed because that blasted keyblade wielder joined forces with him in order to see to her escape. Such an annoyance, yet, that event could have possibly been one of many that lead this person here today.
Hades was certain Lenneth wasn't here to bring war to his home, that he could ascertain. Defeating and dethroning Hades, someone with tens of thousands of years of experience ruling this realm, wouldn't be a very wise idea on his part. No means to ferry souls into their proper places would result in disaster that would befall all worlds, whether they bathe in darkness or light. The undead would rise again and swarm both with no means to call either their ally. While light, darkness, and nothingness may be eternal, death was right up there with them. And boy would it be fair to say that the death came before the concept of joining with the those three elements became possible. Even Hades himself is eons before beings like Maleficent, Xehanort, and the like. He had been the one who helped place the keyblade warriors into their rightful places back during the war so long ago.
Lenneth has to be aware of this, and the God believes he is wise enough to be aware of that. A being like Hades is not one to be trifled with. That in turn leads into many other potential prospects, hopefully ones The Underworld Ruler could capitalize on.
As soon as Lenneth finishes speaking, the dark lord is sure to answer almost immediately.
“Before we get into that, my dear guest, I would like to say, welcome to my domain. I trust that your travel went well?” Hades scoffs, as though he were laughing at a joke only he would know of, “of course it did, it's not as though anything here would harm you. I mean, anything sensitive to what it is you're giving off would be too terrified am I right?” Each word rolls of the tongue in a calm and collected manner, as though he's had this very conversation hundreds of thousands of times before. A simple flick of his wrist brings a black goblet into being. A skull can be seen etched into the upper portion of this particular glass. It's shaped to appear as though someone were drinking the brain of a head upon a pike. Hades holds the shaft of the glass between the middle and ring fingers of his hand, his wrist likely swirling the contents within, if it had any.
“Would you care for some wine, Lenneth? While I'm sure long distances mean nothing for you, there are some who might find their mouths parched or their bodies a bit worse for ware should they stay in my realm for too long.” He smiles, showing off his own row of razor sharp teeth from behind deathly blue lips. He waits for the Heartless' princes answer. Pain and Panic stand at the ready behind the Death God's throne, should the visitor accept the offer.
Post Count : 352
Hades meets Lenneth's refusal of the drink with a slight shrug of his shoulders. It's not as though everyone preferred a drink within new company. After all, when one consumes too much, they might find themselves in a rather vulnerable position. More so than the average man would have to worry when it came to the average wine. This however, was anything but that. It is a drink of the underworld as Lenneth believed, and nutrition would be something this drink couldn't provide, whether it be for the living or the dead. This particular brand of wine was of his own invention. One diluted with the same class of poison he utilized to take Hercules' life.
It was something meant to weaken the powers of the one who drank it, along with pumping them full of the same liver killing properties that would have put the Heartless Prince into a stupor. While it is an added bonus, it really isn't a necessity. Those who align with something other than the Lord of the Underworld are affected. Hades even sad it himself to Sora, heroes are zeroes in his domain. However, this realm does have a certain fancy for those who bathe in the darkness. While they are also drained of their strength, the rate it leaves them is at a much slower pace.
Still, it wouldn't be long before the cold embrace of the Underworld starts to make itself known. In fact, the Leveas may even be feeling it now. A slight, chilling sensation creeping up the tip of his fingers, as though they were being wrapped in small sheets of frigid temperatures. The tops of his toes, and of course portions of his exposed skin would be next.
Even though the Leveas didn't fall for such an obvious trap, that doesn't necessarily mean the game is over just yet.
The peak of physical condition is still in HIS realm sitting on a throne HE made himself. That in and of itself should be a constant reminder for the position that he is in. Should the Lord of the Underworld will it, this marksman wouldn't get out of here in one piece. He should realize this, and yet here he sits just as confident as Hades, seemingly without a care behind those bight eyes. Perhaps the time to instill some paranoia behind that cold gaze would come sooner than he'd expect.
Hades believed he was seeing the peak of Lenneth's confidence, but the next few words that were uttered completely destroyed that notion. If the heartless prince did agree to drink with him, the Underworld Ruler would have definitely spat out the contents in his mouth. Such a display of arrogance is astounding, not even Maleficent was foolish enough to believe that her power would be enough to throw this world into darkness. It's why his world was left alone for the most part. Even if Sora and his friends didn't defeat him, the other Gods definitely wouldn't sit by and watch as their world is consumed by the dark.
In this moment, Hades wanted nothing more to chastise the marksman for his ignorant goal. Instead, Hades adopts a smarmy grin and soon his eyes are half lidded, something to contrast the narrowing of Lenneth's eyes. The dark lord reclines on his throne, resting his hand under his chin, letting his elbow prop up the weight of his head.
“You know, Lenny, you don't mind if I call you that right? I wanted to do the something similar,” his eyes peer between Lenneth and his empty goblet as he speaks of events so long ago, “spent nearly twenty years formulating this plan, waiting for my time to strike. I almost had it you know? Those foolish Gods couldn't fight the Titans I freed from Tartarus, and Hercules was powerless to stop me. But, when blunderboy got his strength back he wiped them out within moments.” Training his gaze back on Lenneth his eyes seem to spark with rage, but only for a second.
“It took everything I had and more, and one demi-god ruined it all. So, if you're going to say something so brash I really hope you have a plan to back those words up,” casually tossing the glass over his shoulder he continues, “you've got my attention, Lenny. Really you do, but you won't believe how many times I've failed trying to cast this world into darkness for Maleficent so I could be its rightful ruler. It doesn't help that my brothers and sisters have countermeasures set in place for creatures like the Titans. If they suspect something powerful is gonna poke its head out, and it's something Herc the Jerk can't handle, they'll throw everything they have into stopping it. They don't do anything now because Hercules seems to be more than enough to thwart my schemes,” as he speaks, his anger begins to rise, “they recline in their little chairs and live in leisure while Zeus' son does whatever he wants. So I say again, unless you have an idea in that pretty little head of yours you can leave.”
Post Count : 352
He awakens an undetermined amount of time later. Rays of light fades into his consciousness, and he can only be depressed at this motion. He's still here in the underworld. Naked hands don't run along stone, no blood runs from open holes. He isn't in a clinic having his wounds tended to. He was hoping that the whole thing was just a dream, but he has no such luck.
He groans, struggling to get up from his belly, the banks of the wicked channel before him. There's something else with him though, a shiny, red, plump apple. The very thing he knocked himself out for. It sits innocently on the ground before him, passively waiting to be eaten. Normally, he wouldn't even consider eating things that have been in the dirt. In fact, he wouldn't dream of eating fruit from a growing tree by a cursed river in hell either.
He smiles weakly, at least he has this for his efforts. At the very least he wouldn't be stuck in a state of perpetual starvation. He reaches his hands forward, his jittery, weak hands. His palm bumps it, and the apple starts to roll away, causing him to cringe. It proceeds to bounce, then hop down the back and into the hateful mire, where it bubbles and dissolves into nothing.
The unpleasant souls still wail, attempting to escape the river, but none of that matters now. All that does, is that he's infuriated. More than all the lost and damned trapped under that surface put together. His fingers dig into the palms of his hands, furious at his own stupidity.
How could he do that?! He had it, right there he had nourishment. A means to keep himself going in this wasteland, and he ruined it all! After all that work, all that torment, and now he has to start over on another one!
His moment of self-loathing is interrupted by a deep, throaty roar of uproarious laughter that fills the air from behind him. He does not bother to look, only to relax for his inevitable fate of starvation.
“Serves you right, ya jerk!” Gritting his teeth, he turns to look over his shoulder. He isn't surprised to find no one there. He must still be hallucinating, how else would he- “Up here!” It instructs, causing Eno to shift his attention to the tree itself. “There ya go.”
Rolling over his shoulder, he puts himself onto his back, then he pushes himself up to a sitting position, his legs sprawled out in front of him. A look of shock plasters his face, having never experienced a talking tree before. There were tales of ents back on his world. Tree humanoids towering over others, their strength and wisdom of the ways of old unparalleled. But, they were never any works of nonfiction. Then again, the logic of his world doesn't apply here.
“That really hurt, you know!” It scolds. The tree leans in towards him a few degrees, still rooted in its obsidian soil.
“Sorry?” Comes Eno's almost automated response. He holds out a hand both in question and sincerity. Almost waiting for the tree to uproot a portion of itself to shake it.
“All you had to do was ask. Didn't your mom teach ya any manners?” Okay, he wasn't about to get into that conversation with a tree, no matter how old or wise it could be.
“Sorry.” The tree straightens out, the ghostly face upon it never moving. Well, it was less of a 'face' and more just natural stains and markings which, when observed at the proper angle, resembled a warped visage. “May I have another?”
“What?” The tree asks, dumbfounded.
“I said, can I have another? You said all I needed to do was ask.” The tree scoffs at him in response.
“No.” Eno frowns. Oh well, he's at rock bottom anyway, he might as well go for broke. Leaning forward, he puts on the biggest smile he can, and then bats his eyelashes.
“Please?” A momentary rustle follows the question.
“Grr, fine!” He hears a wet snap, and an apple falls straight into his lap. Eno's eyes go wide, surprised that was all it took. Seems as though these trees, or at least this one in particular, has a weakness for manners, an extreme one at that.
His eyes go wide, and the following smile is the most sincere he's had in a long time, and when he takes the morsel in both hands his grin only widens. To be shown such kindness within a land of hopelessness, it's almost enough to bring tears to his tired eyes.
“Thank you!” he cries relieved to get the precious nourishment he so desired, “Oh thank you!” The rest is muffled by the wet gnashing of his teeth as they dig into the apple's skin. He gorges himself shamelessly, the meat of the sweet apple filling the space between his jaws with its sugary goodness. It's a sensation the ex-hand welcomes openly. He could hardly appreicate the flavor before he swallows and goes in for another bite. Spittle and debris flies from his ravenous maw, but he hasn't a care for it. The best part by far was that there was water within. It wouldn't be enough, but damn it if he wasn't going to take what little he could get.
For the next few minutes, his gift giver watches on in silence, contemplating the desperate man now feasting upon the fruit that once grew from it. A silent sentinel to keep the frenzied Eno company as his battered soul gains the relief it urgently needs.
“You must have been hungry,” it concludes. Several more wet snaps fill the air, as more apples fall to the ground around him. Eno eyes each warily as he chews, not caring that liquid is now running down his hairy chin. It isn't until over half of the apple is devoured before he wipes his mouth clean.
“So, what is all of this?” He asks with a grin, pleased to have finally had company in this realm. While it wasn't another human being, Eno was more than willing to converse with his savior no matter the species. It's almost as though that crippling loneliness was finally starting to ebb away for the ex-hand. Not wanting to keep both hands off the fruit for longer than needed, Eno motions to both the river, and the obsidian plains with his head.
“This is the final resting place for those whose lives were earned only by bringing pain to themselves and others.” Its response is almost sage-like in fashion. Not wanting to interrupt, Eno leans back, listening to the old wood's words.
“For as long as I can remember, the souls of murderers, selfish bruits, petty thugs, and those that sought to end their own lives have found themselves imprisoned here beyond the reach of time, space, and the universe.”
Hearing that part of the tree's explanation caused the man to do a spit-take. Eno himself fit the description of the types of souls trapped under the surface of the waters. Why is he forced to move about deserts, murky lands, and these plains while those that are like him were stuck there? Perhaps his sacrifice for the people meant more to this place than he once thought. It could have acknowledged that, and instead of trapping him, it allowed him to wander aimlessly, and without a purpose. That, in his eyes, is infinitely better than the fate that awaits those in that accursed channel. Knowing what his fate could have been, it's a relief to find that he's able to move on his own, not having to be forced this way and that, to be a slave to his surroundings for all eternity.
Having finished his apple, Eno tosses it over his shoulder. Without wasting a moment he picks up another and starts biting into that as well.
“The fruit which grows on my branches is nourished to grow to a healthy shine by the wrathful vengeance wrung from the inhabitants of the river. It is their sin, their euphoric hatred for all things, which makes it so bitter sweet.” Eno casts a glance between tree and apple before asking.
“It's not going to kill me is it?”
“Oh, no. The Underworld wouldn't let its occupants go that easy.”
“Well, that's a relief,” Eno scoffs before taking another bite.
“Now, those who do die here? If the Lord deems them unworthy they dissolve into the plane and become a part of it for all eternity. It's either this or back to the river styx for them. To swim among the other souls of the departed. Either way the souls will lose their sense of self and become a part of the collective.”
“You refer to a lord,” the ex-hand starts, his mouth full of fruit. After swallowing he continues, “I was wondering if there was someone in charge of all of this.”
“Lord Hades, Ruler of The Underworld, The Keeper of Souls, he has many titles he can be referred to.”
Eno could hardly imagine such a being. Someone in charge of keeping all of them in his realm, to have such intricate settings, even if the ones he'd been exposed to appeared simple at a glance. But, that's just it, a single look and one would only see the surface of the area Eno has walked through. Not how it forces him into certain trains of thought if he wasn't paying attention, making the landscape match it, and only further drag him into the emotion he's feeling.
“Now, that makes me wonder,” he says, looking over the apple in his hand.
“About what, young one?” The tree asks, curious.
“If what you say is true, then I should be in there with them.” His eyes glance over the river for what had to have been the twelfth time. “Yet, here I am walking around instead. What could that mean?” Turning his gaze back to the tree, he hopes that it'd be able to provide him with some answer. But, there may be some things not even this wise old thing could know. Either way there's an awkward pause.
“I can't answer that. I'm a tree,” it reminds him, “I don't get around, much.” Silence hangs heavy between the two, the only source of noise coming from the water itself. Suddenly, as though forcing its way through him, Eno leans back, turns his head up, and lets loose a round of uproarious laughter. “It seems as though this place is taking it's tole on you, young one.”
He hears not his words, only his own voice. He laughs, and he laughs, his sides begin to pain him, yet he continues. He sprawls out on his back, letting the noise carry throughout the otherwise vast and empty space, not caring about any and all who could hear him.
“Oh,” he manages after a few moments, wiping the tears from his eyes, “but you're not a natural tree though, right? Are you a spirit as well?” Not bothering to get up, he continues to lie there, letting his stomach settle from the sudden sensation of having matter enter it.
“This is my punishment, I guess.” The tree says, his voice monotonous.
“You seem like a nice enough guy,” Eno starts, sitting up and giving the tree his full attention. “What are you doing down here?”
“Well, you see...”
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“Well, well well,” Hades scoffs, his grin becoming lazy, “looks like someone did their homework.” He claps lazily to accentuate his lack of enthusiasm for Lenneth's knowledge. It comes as no surprise that the “great” Hercules' exploits became public knowledge. After all, some of those he put in Tartarus were gutsy enough to openly laugh in his presence, not caring that the Lord of the Underworld held their ultimate fate in his claws. It didn't matter, he is the great blunder, the foolish death god to the masses. The numerous failures that followed only made things worse. In fact, he'd lost to Hercules so many times over such a long course of time that he's forgotten just how high the number has become. Just thinking of it now is more than enough to make those bad memories resurface...
But, the smooth, sweet words his guest has flowing from his lips, play the sweetest tune to the Death Lord's ears. Perhaps Hades didn't take Lenneth as seriously as he should have. To think, the idea was so simple, and it took little effort for the Leveas to add on to that plan. In fact, The Underworld Lord probably would have figured that out for himself if he ever reviewed past plots. The god was always under the assumption that if a scheme didn't work the first time, then no amount of revisions would make it succeed. Instead he took to coming up with new angles and processes with which to proceed by. Calling in favors, manipulating humans, offering empty promises, and so much more in hopes to gain the upper hand.
Yet, here he is now, being told that his original plan had a means of succeeding if only the right conditions were fulfilled. It's almost enough to make Hades laugh, where the goal not such a serious point to take into account. He'd fantasized about it many times, sitting on that golden throne, waving a hand then having the other gods do his bidding, having people worship and bow at his feet, asking for his mercy. To Hades, it'd be his single, greatest triumph next to defeating Hercules, and funny enough even with the countermeasures in place he has a greater chance taking over than beating the demi-god. If only there was some way to keep him from getting to Mt. Olympus.
And here his guest is offering something like that, at least that's what it appears as though he's implying. He's giving Hades this, and so much more. Tempting, so very tempting to roll with this, throw in his own interpretations with Lenneth's.
“You're right on that part, Lenny. The titans did play a huge role in my attempt, and yes without Hercules I would've won. But, offering that hero a challenge that he can't beat is next to impossible,” as Hades explains he speaks with his hands, “I've had associates of mine attack the town before to try and strike at his morale, only to have the people offer him the words needed to pull through and save them. If you attack them he only fights harder, that much I know.” His smile turns sinister as his own plan formulates in his mind. “Unless we give him something designed to not be beaten, a challenge that can't end.”
Pausing to wave his hand in front of the large, circular chasm separating the two dark lords, the River Styx begins to emerge from the hole. The insurmountable amount of souls making up the dreaded river casts the room in a pale green glow. It acts as a never ending flame of sorts, whipping just out of reach of the two sitting before it. Pain and Panic take a few steps back, fearful of the death magics at work. For a few moments, the two are greeted by the sites of Eno speaking to the cursed tree upon the obsidian plains, but its only for a few moments. The image fades away to reveal an undead solider.
Meat falls off its exposed bones, and what remains of its skin is sickly pale and green with exposure. A single eye hangs from a socket while the other remains in place, working as it should. In contrast to the disgusting fleshy human, the heavy armor that covers the majority of its body seems almost new, were it not for the bits and pieces of it being missing or broken from the battles that surely ended its life.
“I can bring out these babies in an almost never ending swarm,” his smile widens as he explains, “summoning spirits to complete my tasks for me takes little power, and the Underworld has plenty for me to choose from.” In order to show Lenneth that he has more than just words to offer, the heartless prince is shown countless types of warriors in a blur. Normal humans, centaurs, giants, among many others are sifted through, each sporting their own unfortunate wounds and rot from their time being among the dead.
“Wars, bandit attacks, small skirmishes, etcetera brings me fresh soldiers annually. I can shove these babies down Hercules' throat, while at the same time giving them an objective to only add to the mix.” With another wave of his hand, a small pudgy, yet hairy saytr is showing to the duo through the green flaming souls of the dead. “This little pest right here has not only trained Hercules, but he runs the Olympus Coliseum. He has all the little keys to those pesky locks keeping the Heartless, among other monsters captive. I know he's got a particular little trinket for the titans whenever the people want a grand display of skill from their hero. If we capture Philoctetes, the thought of his mentor being hurt might placate Hercules, and of course with the keys in my possession the town can be flooded with even more creatures. The titans being only some of those monsters.”
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“My older brother is a fool,” Hades says, “he blatantly ignores my attempts at killing his son and still considers me family. He thinks it's all one big joke, probably because of my failures.” He scoffs, the mere thought of what he's about to say next feels like a joke for the Underworld Lord. “They still invite me to their meetings to get my input. Not that they take me seriously or anything. I'm honestly surprised Hephaestus built any countermeasures at all, he tells jokes at my expense just like all the other gods.”
That in itself is more than enough to send his quiet rage into a burning inferno. However, he knows better than to just blatantly show his anger off to his guest, besides he's sure Lenneth can sense it anyway. If the man knows enough to give off his aura in excess like this, he has to know how to feel it as well. At least, that's Hades' assumption. It's not like the dark god can help it, his brother and other members of his family are constantly on his mind. Their constant comments, their thinly veiled insults poorly passed off as jokes. Ares, Athena, all of them talking down to Hades because of his position, forgetting that they unanimously decided to put him here in this hellish place.
Do they not remember their battle with the Titans? While Hades lacks the strength and courage of Zeus, or his other brother Poseidon, he still held his own when Zeus freed them, he threw everything he had at Cronos and the other titans that fought alongside their father. Hades was forced to bypass his own limits in hopes of helping out his family, and for what? To be cast down, to be put into almost the same position as a pariah by the ones he helped so long ago? He did nothing to deserve this, in fact, when they informed him of his new job he took it willingly because he thought it would help.
And they dare pretend to wonder why Hades turned away from the light? Oh he'll make them pay, he'll make them all pay. And it seems this curious man of the darkness will be the one to help him. But, at what price? There's no fooling the Lord of Death. He knows Lenneth has come here seeking something in return, he looks nothing like a man who'd willingly help someone like Hades without a thought of reward. But as to what the Leveas wants Hades can't say.
“Zeus can't bear the thought of me losing any power, because apparently I have so little,” it's then he smiles, a sinister one at that, “or so he thinks. There's plenty of things he doesn't know about. The undead army being one of them. And as far as the little goat man is concerned he has no power of his own. Phil relies on others to fight for him while he offers little support. If you want to lure the saytr into a false sense of security, send a woman his way. Preferably one with large breasts, that'll get him going. He'll follow the girl like a lovesick puppy. He won't even realize she'd be leading him astray. That's when he can be captured.”
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Lenneth is playing such a sweet tune to the Death God's ears. A fantastic melody of words, yet despite hearing everything he's always wanted, The Lord of the Underworld couldn't help but feel that there is an underlying plot to all of this. No one in all his thousands of years has come to him wishing to aid him in his mission to take over Mt. Olympus before. At least, no one without an ulterior motive in mind.
To give Hades his goal would spell certain doom for this world's populace. They look to the god's for guidance like sheep. He knows this quite well, he's run little situations in his mind involving the people and him being in the place of ultimate power. This man before him must have had thoughts of that as well before coming here. What could his reason be behind helping the god? This couldn't be a mere act of charity, he must want something in return.
“Whoa now, Skippy,” Hades chuckles, putting up a hand to stop Lenneth's strategy. “This is a good plan and all, but do you really expect me to believe you want all of this for me out of the goodness of your heart?” He raises a brow in question before leaning in, placing his limbs upon the throne's arm rests. “I mean no offense, but all that darkness you're radiating makes me think you're not that kind of person.” As more thoughts pass through his mind, his smile steadily begins to ebb away.
“In fact, I'm not even sure you're a person. My good “friend” Maleficent had darkness on a lesser scale to yours. When I heard about her little power boost she turned into a freaking dragon. So, I think its safe to say that with you giving off that much there's no way you're a mere human.”
As he speaks, Pain and Panic start to move away from Lenneth out of fear. The duo believe that this little discussion might turn sour, and the last thing they want is to be caught in the crossfire.
“So, Lenneth, tell me, what is your purpose behind helping me.”
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“Is that so?” The Lord of the Dead shifts in his throne, trying to find a more comfortable position. He could never sit too comfortably on a stone throne, even if cushions are provided. The hard surface underneath always provides a sort of constant reminder of just where he's sitting. The Gods on Olympus don't have to deal with trivial discomforts like this, their thrones are all cushioned to properly house their rears.
It didn't help that Lenneth was now giving the God every bit of attention he could muster. Such a fierce look of determination always made the God a little uncomfortable when he's aware of their power. Whether he responds with anger or disdain depends on the one before him. When it's with Hercules the answer is obvious, but with ones sharing his alignment, the lines would seem to blur. Having someone looking upon him as an equal is infuriating, but with what's being offered there's no way the God can afford to look at such. So instead he remains smiling at his guest, delighted by what he hears.
He can't seem to find any reason to doubt, judging by the heartless prince's posture and tone, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't take everything he says at face value. Only an ignorant fool would take anything a man of darkness says as truth and nothing but. Hades should know, he's conned many many souls over the course of his immortal lifespan, the God is still a being of darkness. It'd only make sense for others to share his particular values. But then again there are plenty of dark users who consider themselves honorable and uphold a moral code.
That in turn leaves a question: Is Lenneth an honorable man, or a con-artist? Only time will tell. He'll test the Leveas' loyalty with the capture of Phil. Whether he upholds his end or not is of no consequence to his decision. The reason being is that while the muscular man of darkness does his task, Hades will consult the Sisters of Fate. The trio of old, decrepit keepers of the threads to each and every living individual among the worlds.
“Alright, you sound sincere,” Hades shrugs before getting to his feet, “if you really wish to help my cause, then go and retrieve Phil for me. Once the little saytr is in my possession we can act from there. If you need a diversion just ask.”