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A Time for Many Words

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Saturday:

The dream was sharp and clear and I wake with the salt of tears on my cheeks and the bitterness of failure on my tongue. The memory of that day--the village, the people, the sacred cup--I’ve tried so hard not to think about it. My mother’s warning still rings in my ears: “Encroaching on another god’s powers is an invitation to destruction!” I haven’t let myself even label what I did. 

But what’s the point in denying it? I did it again--right in front of Hades. I raised the dead. I shudder thinking what has happened to the poor soul I sent back. I hope Hades figured it out and took care of it. I’m terrified that he did. He’ll never see me the same way again. Will I ever see that look of warmth and tenderness in his eyes again? Out of fear, I’ve squandered my one brief chance to get close to him. I wipe away my tears, disgusted with myself.

I can’t stop thinking about my dream. That smell, the herbs the priestess used—I know them now. I remember her eyes, deep brown and intelligent, touched with something else: fervor, zeal, perhaps even madness. She gave me my name and I never even learned hers.



Today is the day I have long prepared for. I’ve rehearsed it in my head, and thought through the consequences. I’m prepared for several contingencies. I’m as ready as I can be. I dress with care, in a dress with lace-edged sleeves, a bit more formal that I would normally wear on a weekend. I leave my room and find Artemis.

“Are you ready to go?” she asks, then turns to look at me. “Oh, wow, you look great! Do you have plans for later?”

“Not really,” I say. It’s not true. I have lots of plans, but I can’t discuss them with her right now. “I’m ready when you are.”

We go out together and Artemis drives us to Hestia’s house. I’m nervous but I’m eager as well. I want to stop lying. I want to stop concealing my real self from my friend.

I wait until the preliminaries are over: everyone’s greeted everyone else, secured a cup of tea, exchanged news. Hestia’s getting out the agenda for the monthly meeting. Now is my moment.

“Hestia,” I say. “Could I say a few things before you begin?” She nods in surprise and I continue.

“I want to thank you--thank all of you--for the opportunities you’ve opened up for me.” I look at the maiden goddesses in turn and give each a sincere smile. “I never would have been able to achieve independence if it hadn’t been for you. The scholarship enabled me to attend college, and Artemis’s support made my mother willing to let me go.”

Hestia beams at me. “We’re happy to help! Have you decided on your classes for next semester?”

“I’ve made a lot of decisions, actually, and I’m sorry to say that you won’t like some of them.”

Athena smiles at me encouragingly. She confuses me; she always seems to know more than she ought to. Artemis looks tense, and Hestia looks concerned.

“I’m dropping out of college for now so I can focus full-time on my job. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I got promoted.”

“Dropping out?” Hestia protests. “But your education is important!”

“Yes, it is. I will probably go back at some point, but right now my independence is more important to me.” I reach into my purse and take out the check I prepared. “I know this is a disappointment, and I don’t want TGOEM to be damaged because I changed my mind. So here, I’m repaying your scholarship.” I place the check in front of Hestia. She stares at it as if it’s a venomous snake.

“This isn’t necessary, Persephone. You did well in your classes and if you want to do other things for a while, we don’t mind.” She smiles nervously at me.

“I’m afraid it is necessary, though,” I say, and look again at each of them. Athena is calmly expectant, Artemis looks disgusted, and Hestia is agitated. “It wouldn’t be right for me to  take from TGOEM because I can’t be an eternal maiden.” There. I’ve said it.

Artemis explodes. “I can’t believe you’re throwing us away for-- him ! You know he’s just like his brothers! You know what’ll happen to you once he’s had his fun!”

“This isn’t about Hades,” I say. It’s only partly true. I hope it’s my final lie to her. “I can’t be an eternal maiden because I’m a fertility goddess.” I take a deep breath. “And because I’m not a virgin anymore.”

There’s a deathly silence for several moments. Hestia and Artemis exchange a long look. Hestia shakes her head. “I never would have believed this of him,” she says.

“It wasn’t Hades,” I say. They just look at me. They clearly don’t believe me. “I’m sorry, Artemis. It was Apollo.”

“What!” she shouts, leaping to her feet.

“It was the night we all watched that movie. I was asleep, and he came into my room, and… he wouldn’t take no for an answer.” I hate having to say these words. I hate the shock and misery on my friend’s face.

“You lying whore,” she says, soft and deadly.

It hurts to hear her words, but I get it. She doesn’t want to believe her brother could do such a thing. I choke down the tears that want to break free. “I’m really sorry, Artemis, but it’s true. He even took pictures of me.”

“How dare you? I want you out of my house. Today!” Artemis turns and runs out the door, slamming it behind her. I wince. I had hoped this would go better. 

I draw a shaky breath and turn to Hestia and Athena. “I have one more thing to say, and then I’ll go. I think a lot of other girls could benefit from TGOEM’s help. Not just girls whose ambition it is to be eternal maidens, but girls who are trying to figure out their lives and need extra time before they get pushed into marriage. I think it would be worthwhile to rethink exactly what maidenhood means, and what its purpose is. I also think it would be worthwhile to get involved in helping girls who have been through a traumatic experience. Like me,” I’m babbling, trying to get everything out before I break down. “If your organization were to do that, I would support that effort in any way I could,” I finish.

Hestia’s face is dark with anger. "We don't need any advice from the likes of you."

I stand up and nod to Athena. “Thank you for your time,” I say, and I leave.

Outside, I pause on the sidewalk and send a text to the group chat with Eros and Psyche. You were right. Can you come pick me up?

 

 

Sunday:

There’s a sharp pinch in my earlobe, and the dryad draws back after a moment. “Okay, that one’s done,” she says. Psyche squeezes my hand and I grin at her. The dryad’s putting the new earring into place.

“Not so bad?” she asks.

“No, just a pinch,” I reply. She moves around and prepares a new needle for my other ear.

“Okay, one more time.”

I brace myself, but it barely hurts at all. 

It takes only a few minutes for my ears to get healed up, and the dryad explains about care. I feel euphoric--my plan is actually happening.

“Shall we go to lunch now?” Psyche asks.

“Yes, let’s, I’m starving!”



We decide not to wait for Eros, but go ahead and order. 

“I am so glad that you have moved in now,” Psyche says, after the waitress leaves us. “We have the extra space and it is good to have another friend around.”

“I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you suggested it. I would have thought that having another person around would be a bother for you two,” I say.

Psyche shrugs. “I am used to living with many people. Eros has his duties, and it is pleasant to have your company.”

“Well, you know with my working I won’t be around that much during the day?”

“I know. I am putting in a lot of work for the arts festival right now, anyway.”

“Oh, yes!” I remember now, Psyche is planning to exhibit her work next weekend. “Are you on track to have everything finished?”

“Yes, I think so,” she says. “The big pieces are finished already.” 

“That’s good,” I say. “I can’t wait for everyone to see your beautiful work.” My own plans for the arts festival are also proceeding. 

“Oh, I wanted to ask you, would you be willing to take me back to the Mortal Realm sometime? I wish to visit my family.”

“Of course I will! But don’t you want Eros to take you?”

“I think for the first time it might be better if I go with another woman,” she says.

“I’m happy to. Anything I can do for you, you know that.”

Our drinks arrive, and with them, Eros. “Hello, my two favorite ladies!” he cheers. “How did the ear piercing go?” I show him the tiny new gold studs. 

“So what have you been up to all morning?” I ask. He had some mysterious errand and wouldn’t say what it was. 

“I had coffee with a mutual friend,” Eros smiles. 

“Uh huh.” I feel my cheeks heating. I can tell from his face, and the glance he exchanges with Psyche, who this friend is.

“Poor guy is really down in the dumps.”

“Really.” I don’t want to have this conversation, and yet I do. Can’t he just spit it out, or is he determined to torment me?

“Yup. Seems he had a fight with someone he cares about a lot, and he wants to make up but she won’t talk to him.”

It isn’t that I don’t want to talk to him. I can’t face him, knowing what I did and what it means. But Hades knows it now, doesn’t he? And he’s still telling Eros he wants to make up? I feel a stab of longing. I want to see him so much. I want to forgive him, and have his forgiveness, but I don’t know if he can do that.

“So what did you advise him?” I ask.

“I said he should keep being patient. But the poor guy’s been patient for a long time already, ya know?” He raises an eyebrow at me, and I sigh.

“Look—” I start.

“Hello, my dears,” says a voice behind me. “May I join you?”

It’s Hera. I stand up to greet her, and Eros and Psyche do, too.

“Hello, Grandmother! Yes, please join us,” says Eros.

We all sit back down, but it’s awkward now. Fortunately, Hera is extremely experienced with making conversation.

“What are you all up to on this lovely day?” she asks brightly.

“I got my ears pierced,” I offer tentatively.

“Very nice,” she says, inspecting. “Good for you.”

“I have been working on my art projects for the festival,” Psyche says. “And your portrait is finished.” 

“Oh, excellent. I’ll come look later this week, all right?” 

“I had coffee with Hades. He’s upset because Persephone still hasn’t forgiven him,” brays Eros. I want to hide under the table.

“Hm,” says Hera judiciously. “Eros, dear, what did I tell you about thinking before you speak?”

“That there’s a time and a place for it?” He grins, unrepentant. 

Hera smiles a little. “Maybe so. Persephone, what’s this I hear about your leaving the eternal maidenhood?”

I can’t lie to Hera. “Yes, I told them yesterday.”

Her smile widens. “Well, that changes everything, doesn’t it?” I’m suddenly quite aware that I’m speaking to the Goddess of Marriage. My heart starts pounding.



I’m leaving the restaurant later, when a short nymph approaches me. “Hello, Persephone, do you remember me?” she says.

“I don’t think I could forget you so soon, Sorya,” I reply. She’s the reporter who brought Tori and Alex to see me before the party. I guess she’s still looking for a story.

“I was wondering if you’d be willing to comment yet on what happened to Alex,” she asks, smiling.

“No.” I’m very firm. There’s no way I’m going to talk about that.

“Are you sure? My understanding is that you were very upset with Hades.”

“You’re fishing,” I say. “When are you going to drop this?”

“Well,” she says, narrowing her eyes in thought. “If you’re not willing to comment on that topic, perhaps you’d be willing to do an interview?”

“Why would I want to do that?”

“If you do an interview with me, I would drop the Alex story. How about it?” She’s smiling and trying to look friendly and harmless. I pause in thought.

“How long of an interview?” I ask.

 

 

Monday:

I stand outside Hecate's office, trying to gather courage. It's not working. I know Hades confides in her. It's likely she knows everything about me. She probably knows every detail of his emotional state. I've been avoiding him for a week. Now I'm afraid even to see him by proxy.

I know I can’t go on like this. I’m being a coward, and running away from my problems is not going to make them go away. It’s been difficult for me to forgive Hades for inflicting punishment in my name, something that is arguably well within his rights. How is he ever going to forgive me for hijacking powers that should be his alone?

I square my shoulders. I have to stop being so weak. I walk into Hecate’s office. She stands up when I come in, and smiles at me. Has she ever done that before? I don’t think she has and it worries me.

“Good morning, Persephone,” she says. She’s being weirdly intense. 

“Good morning,” I reply cautiously. We sit down together in her sitting area, facing one another.

Hecate begins: “I still have the stack of resumes from hiring your first three staff members. We can start looking at replacing that problematic one, and hiring a few more as well.”

I’m a little stunned. She has nothing to say about me? Also, what is this about hiring more people? I understand that we need to replace Triamus, but nothing was said about more people.

I might as well just address the issue. “You don’t want to talk about last week? What happened in Vathia?”

“Certainly. Do you want to hear about what I’ve learned about the traitors’ control over the shades?”

This isn’t what I meant to discuss, but I do want to hear it. “Yes, all right,” I say.

“You should find this of interest. They used a potion, something very similar to a preparation used by your mother’s followers.” Hecate watches me sharply. I swallow the lump in my throat.

Kykeon ,” I say. I recognized the smell. “But I think they used some unusual ingredients. It wasn’t just barley, it was ergot. Mixed with oleander.” The sense-memory brought back by thinking of those smells makes my stomach twist. I shudder, trying to control it.

“Yes.” She’s not going to give me more. She waits.

“I don’t understand why anyone would add two poisons to a benign compound like kykeon .”

Hecate smirks. “You know your biochemistry better than I do. Anything is poisonous if you use too much.”

I take a deep breath. “So you’re saying that in the right amounts those herbs make shades easier to control?”

She nods. “Yes. Fortunately, it seems to have only a short-acting effect.”

“What do you think this mixture would do to a living mortal?”

Hecate looks very intrigued. “Well! That’s an interesting question. I suppose I would need to experiment.”

I don’t really need to experiment. I think I already know. I wait to see if Hecate wants to say anything else to me about shades. She just watches me, smiling a little. She can outlast me, and she knows it. I’m certain she knows what I did, but for some reason she’s not going to bring it up.

 

 

Tuesday:

Artemis lay on her couch, petting Retsina. She’d been trying for hours to get psyched up and go out to do something, anything , but she just couldn’t find the energy. The black mood that had descended on her days ago refused to budge. 

There was a knock on the door. She sighed, and levered herself up to go answer it.

Artemis swung the door open dramatically, hoping whoever it was would be scared and run off. She really didn’t want to talk to anyone.

Her brother stood there. Her big, stupid, oblivious, purple brother, who was annoying and a jerk and totally conceited but still didn’t deserve to be accused of— No. Stop thinking about that!

“Oh, it’s you,” Artemis said. “What do you want?”

“Nice to see you, too, Sis,” said Apollo. “Can I come in?”

Artemis gave a huge sigh. “ Fine .” She led the way back to her living room and flopped on the couch again. “So where’ve you been all this time?”

“I’ve been in the Mortal Realm, don’t you remember, I told you? I’ve been looking for my lyre. It’s missing.” Her brother took a seat across from her.

“Oh yeah. Sorry, I can’t keep up with all the drama in your life.” Or all the drama in her own. Her life used to be much simpler! Why did I agree to take in that little backstabber?

Apollo took out his phone and tapped on it for a minute, then looked around the room with apparent casualness. “So, uh, is Persephone around?”

Artemis immediately tensed up. “No. Why do you ask?”

“Oh, no reason. I just thought she might know something about my lyre.” He absent-mindedly set his phone down next to him on the arm of his chair.

“Why would she know anything about your stupid lyre?” Artemis felt suspicion twisting in her gut. She hated feeling this way.

“Well…” he said. “I talked to one of my sibyls. She was pretty cryptic but I got the impression that Persephone knows something.” He shrugged.

Artemis narrowed her eyes and considered. “You can go look in her room, if you want.” She gestured down the hall, and didn’t mention that Persephone had already moved out.

“Hey, thanks!” He hopped up and went off promptly. She watched him go. After a minute, Artemis stood up, went over to the armchair, and picked up her brother’s phone.

 

 

Wednesday:

I’m taking a big risk doing this. I pull my shawl up over my head, and check that my peplos is draped correctly. Then I step into the Narrow Spaces and push out again into the Mortal Realm. It worked. It was really no more difficult than the short transfer I did that day in Vathia. Why did I let myself be convinced that traveling this way would be too hard for me? So many things have turned out to be a lot easier than I used to think. Then again, so many things have turned out to be a lot harder. I’m not the girl I was when I was last here.

I look around, get my bearings. I’m standing on a path between two fields. The barley is pale green, and growing knee-high, just as it ought to be. I step over and inspect the soil and the crops. Everything is growing properly. Good.

I hear a soft sound behind me, someone clearing their throat. I turn. It’s the dark-haired woman I met on that day: the day I got my name, the day my powers went wild, the day I first raised the dead. She looks a lot better now than she did then. Her plain chiton is clean, the sores are gone from her arms, her eyes are clear, and her braid is neat. She smiles and bows deeply to me. “I greet you, gentle goddess.”

“You know very well I’m not gentle,” I say.

She chuckles. “No? You saved me and my people from death. Your intervention convinced Demeter to lift her curse from us.”

“Perhaps so. But didn’t I also kill you and all your people?”

“Did you? We were already cursed with death by your mother. It was coming for us, so slowly, day by day, but it was coming nonetheless.”

“What was in that cup, priestess? Was it poison? Or did my blessing kill you?”

“You know what it was, goddess. May I call you by name?”

“You gave me my name. You have a right to use it.”

She drops to her knees, and holds her hands up to me, palms flat. “Persephone! Will you give me your blessing?”

“You want another blessing from me, when my last one killed you?”

“Why would I not? Your last blessing was a gentle gift of mercy.”

I draw a deep breath, frustrated. Can she not give me a straight answer? “What is your name?”

“If it please you, I am called Eunelia.”

I nod, and begin walking again towards the village. Eunelia walks beside me. “And how is everyone? You look much better than you did.”

“I thank you, kind goddess. All of us are much recovered.”

We’ve reached the outskirts of the village, and I look around. Things do look a lot better. There are well-tended garden plots, children playing outside, animals in their pens, people out doing the work of the day and talking to one another.

I hear voices behind us, approaching along the path. One of them sounds familiar. This is not good.

“Eunelia, come with me. I hear my mother is coming and I am not prepared to meet her right now.”

The priestess nods, and follows me. We go around to the other side of a hedge separating a garden plot from the public area and wait. The voices are getting louder, and I can tell that my mother is talking with one of her nymphs as they enter the village.

“--but I haven’t heard anything from my Underworld contact for several days. I’m afraid that something’s gone wrong.”

My mother sighs. “Of course it has. It’s ridiculous relying on other people to do what I should be doing myself. Tell me, what do you hear from Olympus?” They’re passing us now, and their voices quickly become muffled by distance.

I feel sick to my stomach. I don’t want to think about the implications of what I’ve just heard. Once they’re out of earshot, I turn to the mortal woman again.

“Does my mother visit your village often?”

“Yes. She checks on our progress and makes sure we are worshipping her properly again.”

“I see.” I pause, and fix her with an intense glare. “Tell me, whose priestess are you?”

Eunelia smiles, drops to her knees again, and turns her face up to me. The light of passion kindles in her eyes. “Goddess, I have breath in my body because of you. My husband and my children live, because of you. All my people live, because of you. I am yours.”

I take a long, slow breath. “Then I will give you my blessing, my priestess.”

 

 

Thursday:

I stand with my knees wide apart and slightly bent, raise the axe up over my head, and let it fly. It makes a single revolution and hits the board with a solid thunk , half the blade embedded in the bullseye.

“Yes!” Ares roars. “You go, tiny pink one! Your anger makes you strong!”

I’m not feeling particularly angry at the moment, but whatever. He likes to think everyone’s angry all the time. “That’s six points for me, which makes us even,” I say. This is the first time I’ve come even close to winning. I take a sip of my drink, and step back to let Ares take his turn. This will be his tenth and last throw for this round, and he has a choice. He can try to hit one of the little blue circles at the top of the board, or just throw at the bullseye. Hitting the blue circles gives you eight points, but if you fail you get zero. 

“Hm…” He’s looking at me, rubbing his chin and considering his options. “I’m going for the blue!”

I’m surprised. He frequently makes bullseyes but the blue targets are harder. Is he actually afraid that I might win if he doesn’t get the extra points? I watch him while he gets in his stance and tries a few practice motions before taking his axe from his belt. He’s a two-handed thrower, unlike me. He winds up and throws; the axe hits the board hard, but I’m not sure if he succeeded. The blade is very close to one of the blue circles, but is it touching? We go and look.

Ares’s axe is deeply embedded in the target, but there’s a hair’s breadth of unpainted wood showing between the edge of the blade and the blue target. I affect a gasp. “You missed!” I crow.

“Yeah, well. If that was a soldier, he’d be dead,” Ares says.

He’s right, but still, he got zero points and we’re tied. All I have to do is hit the target anywhere in the large circle, and I’ll win. I pick up my axe, finding a good grip, grinning to myself. Why not make this a real challenge?

“I’m also going for the blue,” I say.

“Ha! It’s your funeral,” Ares replies. He gulps down the last of his beer.

I make several practice motions, bending my knees, fixing my gaze on the target, remembering what it feels like to release the axe just right. I take a deep breath and visualize. A  lovely calm steals over me and the room, with all the other noisy, laughing patrons, seems to fade away. I picture the small blue target being Thanatos’s eye, I raise the axe over my head, and throw it with a sharp motion. 

There’s no question this time. My axe is clearly bisecting the blue dot. I can’t believe I hit something that small!

“Woooooo!” I yell. “I win! In your face, God of War!” I raise my arms in the air, doing a little victory dance, laughing and hollering. Everybody is looking at me and I don’t care. Ares offers me a high five and I have to fly a little to reach, whacking his hand as hard as I can. I go back to whooping and dancing and he joins me. As many times as he’s beaten me, I suppose he can afford to be a good sport this time.

The other axe throwers are staring at us in dismay. It’s possible that we’ve had a little bit more to drink than we’re supposed to. The manager is coming over, so it’s time for us to go. We gather up our stuff, still laughing, and head out. I’m glad I came out tonight, but I’m ready to go home. Ares is intense and he’s a lot of fun and he’s exhausting .

“So, next time wanna go to the flamethrower range with me?” he asks.

“Sure, why not.”

“Cool. Wanna go to my place and get freaky?”

I pretend to consider. “No, but thanks for asking,” I smile.

“I’m ready anytime, Killer. You got my number!”

We exit the building. Standing on the sidewalk outside, waiting, is Artemis.

“Oh,” I say, startled. “It’s you.”

“Hi, Perse,” she starts, and glances at Ares. “Um. I owe you an apology. A huge, enormous apology. I talked to… um, that person, you know… and…” She’s looking at the ground, shuffling her feet. “I’m so, so sorry, Perse. I should have taken better care of you. I should have listened to you. And I never should have said that thing I said. I’m sorry.”

There’s a long pause while I gather my thoughts. I’m stunned, to say the least. I figured Artemis’s loyalty to Apollo would mean the end of our friendship. I wonder what happened to change her mind.

“Are you talking about your asshole brother?” Ares asks. “Because Killer here is taking care of that.”

“Uh... yeah,” says Artemis. She’s clearly uncomfortable. She looks at me appealingly.

I take a deep breath, and decide to let it go. I step up to Artemis and hold out my arms. She leans in and we hug, really tight. I’m so glad to have my friend back.

“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…” she keeps repeating.

“It’s okay. I know,” I say.

After a while we let go, and stand there patting each other awkwardly. Ares clears his throat. He’s had enough of this sappy stuff.

“So how about we go slash his tires?” he asks.

Artemis and I stare at him in amazement. We exchange a long glance.

“Okay,” I say.

 

 

Friday:

Hades was having a drink in his office when Hecate entered. “What now?” he grumbled. “Can’t you see I’m done for the day?”

“Yes, but you're still here," she replied. “There’s something you need to see.”

She turned on the large video screen and typed a search term into ΕσύTube. Hades sighed deeply and knocked back the rest of his scotch.

Hecate found what she wanted and pressed play. The video began, showing a nymph speaking. From the light and the background, she seemed to be outdoors in Olympus.

“Good evening, I’m Sorya, reporter for the Oracle , here to share with you an exclusive interview with the young goddess who seems to be at the center of many exciting and controversial events at the Underworld Corporation. Hello, Persephone, and thank you for joining me.” The video cut to show Persephone, against a background of a garden. Hades sat up straight, his eyes wide with interest.

“I’m happy to speak with you, Sorya,” Persephone said.

“So, as a Hero of the Underworld, you must have a unique view of the inner workings of Hades’s domain. Your rise up the corporate ladder of the Underworld Corporation has been nothing short of meteoric. What do you attribute that to?”

“I’m very lucky both in my job placement, and in the support I’ve received from all my coworkers and supervisors in the Underworld. It’s an extraordinary place to work, where even an intern can speak her mind and be allowed to innovate.” Persephone smiled charmingly.

Sorya’s tone, formerly open and friendly, became more serious now. “I have spoken to some sources who say that on the night of the Elysium launch party, you and Hades were engaged in a rather loud and dramatic argument. Is that true?”

Her attitude now seemed to be amused tolerance. “We had a difference of opinion on a matter of policy. It’s possible that our tone got a little heated, but that is what happens when people have strong feelings.” Hades smiled in pleased surprise.

The reporter persisted. “My sources have said that this argument was more of a lovers’ quarrel than a corporate debate.” Hades held his breath. He hadn’t heard any such rumors.

“I don’t see how anyone outside of the discussion in question would be in a position to know that.” Persephone was keeping her cool, but her voice was also quite firm.

“Are you denying it?” 

“I’m saying it’s none of your business.” She raised her eyebrows, clearly indicating that she was done addressing this particular topic.

“Another of my sources claims that you only got your job as a result of nepotism. Are you a beneficiary of unearned favorable treatment because of your personal relationships to the Six Traitors Dynasty?”

Persephone shrugged. “I think my record speaks for itself.”

“One of my sources claims that you were responsible for extensive property damage at Underworld Corporation headquarters, on your very first day of work. Is that accurate?”

“Ah. I believe the source you are referring to is a certain disgruntled former employee who was fired for grossly inappropriate behavior.”

“Or perhaps your rival in a sordid love triangle?”

There was a long pause while Persephone calmly regarded the reporter. When she spoke, each word was crystal clear and sharp as a knife. “I don’t have any rivals.” She shook her head with a tiny smile, turned, and walked away. The camera followed her for a moment, and then the the video cut away to the reporter again. Hecate pressed the pause button, and looked significantly at Hades.

He shook his head in a mixture of confusion and shock. “What did she mean by that ?”

Hecate sighed deeply. “Let me know when you get a clue.”