Hermes felt it in the air, a sour note, a bitter breeze, the story wasn't hitting the practiced pitches, wasn't crooning the same tune.
The Fates knew it too, and none were pleased. This tale was tried and true, something so old it never missed it's manufactured beats. Sure, from century to century some things were added, others lost, some where changed, and others not but the story beats stayed the same.
He would enter, he would sing, he would lose, he would die. What happened in between those four core elements changed from time to time but they remained.
They all saw him enter but none saw after.
After had become a frightening unknown and more twisted than any had expected.
Orpheus was a poor boy, Hades thought as he watched him struggle through the unwashed masses in his land.
He'd dealt with many a poor boy before and he'd do so until his eternity burned out he mused as the young man became more frantic in his search.
True, this one came for completely different reasons than common crowd; he came for something Hades wasn't willing to give. A contract was a contract and when you became a worker you became one for life.
Still he watched the boy and pondered.
Orpheus wasn't hungry yet, he wasn't desperate yet, he'd never fall for Hades’ tricks at the moment. The Lord of the Underworld was willing to admit that his manipulations definitely worked on only a select group of people, but he knew how to work the living man into his domain.
He could fix that, every human has a breaking point, something that lets the doubts creep in, lets the fear swallow any rational thought. Let desperation and hunger twist even the mightiest of creatures into a shadow of itself. Hades knew how to make a man into a worker because the common nature of one was that they were too scared to become an equal, became pliant to any manner of desecration just for the safety of familiarity.
And while Orpheus was spirited and proud and wholey confident in himself in ways that no other little gnat was. Hades had something for that type too.
He was that type, how disgusting.
It was going to be one of his biggest most audacious projects to date.
He needed time, everything works in time. He'd bend this fickle piece to his will and continue onwards same as always. Hades smirked and came down to play .
Stalking his prey he watched it turn unknowingly into a dead end street. He smirked and turned into the same corner.
He just needed time and a single poisonous thought to undo him.
Persephone came back, the people reveled in her power and all was right with the world. Except no, that couldn't be. Something was off. She turned and looked up the hill to where Hermes was perched watching the tunnel opening with such blatant fretfulness that she just had to soothe him.
She hitched up her emerald dress to her thigh as she trudged uphill getting antsy-er and antsy-er as she went past snow that softly melted under her feet.
Hermes’ gaze never wavered even when she came to stand right beside him. Persephone worried her hands together before she finally turned to him.
“What's wrong? What's happened to get you in such a state? I've never seen you like this Hermes.”
He blinked a couple of times and turned his head to her. His eyes filled with concern and voice dripping with dread.
“Did you see Orpheus?”
Her brow scrunched up as she looked back down the hill to the revelers celebrating Spring and realized something. The poet’s song wasn't there. Persephone frowned but didn't think much of it.
“No I haven't, he seems not to have come to see me this year.”
Hermes turned to her fully distraught.
“Haven't seen him at all? You haven't seen him at all Persephone?”
She didn't see what the fuss was! Sometimes mortals didn't come the first week, some had lives outside of revels. And while it saddened her that her favorite poet wasn't here to greet here it made her happy that possibly he could be with his lover.
Now that was a thought, Orpheus putting down his lyre and devoting himself to Euridyce. Persephone felt the bitter touch of longing at that, a mortal man showing more love for his wife than hers had shown in the past millennia.
Still, good for them. She hoped it was a fruitful and long lasting coupling.
But still Hermes persisted.
“Persephone please , did you see him at all.”
She was shaken out of her thoughts by the honest desperation in Hermes’ voice.
“N-no, I haven't. I haven't seen him all winter nor this beginning of spring.”
She watched as horror spread across the younger god’s face. Something leaden and heavy settled in her stomach as she saw him turn away to look at the gaping maw of the tunnel once again.
“Oh gods…….where is he?”
Eurydice had made a mistake, she was a woman of few regrets so when she had one it haunted her days and nights. This seems to be the one that sets all others to rest however.
Her hands caked in cement as calloused fingers molded the next brick to be put into the oven, to be put on a wagon, to be put in The Wall.
The Wall, The Wall, it seemed to be worshiped as a god unto itself by the people of the underground.
The fanatic whispers, the ceaseless murmmings of “Why do We BUILD the Wall” could drive one insane she thought.
Somehow she persevered.
As long as she could keep up, as long as she could keep strength, as long as she thought of-
The man filled her with anger and despair.
If he hadn't been so self deluded and conceited. If he hadn't cared more for strumming his stupid lyre. If he cared as much as he said he did of her, she’d never had been-
Eurydice sighed. That wasn’t fair.
The fault was his and hers. One cannot exist without the other. She became so hungry she forgot the warning signs, had forgotten how strangers were never to be trusted.
She worked in the factory and pined for her lover.
Can't eat music, but can’t live without it. She missed him. She loved him and no matter how angry she was, she desperately, desperately wishes for-
The worker was nigh perfect.
It was perfect in ways that Hades marveled he'd never be able to recreate.
It followed orders to the tee, stopped at the turn of a dime, and did as it was told no matter what bodily harm befell it.
Ordinary workers had a semblance of self preservation but this one seemed to have lost it somewhere along the road.
Many of his creations were wonderfully fantastical, something made to capture the outside for his fickle wife. From dazzling neon to fossilized warmth to silver scenes made to enchant and delight. But this?
This was a cold hard investment in the betterment of his business. Something exclusively for him .
Sure a few kinks were still left to be ironed out and it still held some semblance of caring for others. But Hades was confident that this too would be sanded out with time.
Everything works with time.
Currently it worked in the most dangerous mine collecting the most premier jewels for Hades’ collection.
It had gone through rigorous trading to get there but Hades was pleased with the results. It's hands still trembled from time to time and he used to hear these noises that one would think was strings snapping. However-
It was almost perfect and Hades couldn’t help but appreciate the product.
He couldn't wait to show it off to his wife. He was almost giddy with excitement at the thought. He knew she wouldn't appreciate the artistry and skill that this took but still, Orpheus is one of his favorite creations. He's given a little credence to gloat.