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it’s cool today. 

 

cooler than normal, the lady of the underworld notes with a restrained groan. the gentle swaying of the thick grass in elysium is usually coupled with a light breeze. the winds are bitter today, causing her fringe to prickle the corner of her eyes in a rhythmic pattern. this could only mean one thing — demeter up on mount olympus has probably argued with her lover once again. a trivial spat, rather than a full-blown argument, she presumes. a different kind of chill would be present if they had an actual fight.

 

glancing away from the window, the lady looks to her desk. while her paperwork tray is empty, her subjects would be eternally busy. maybe she could pop by for a quick game of poker as sort of a reprieve for them. a snap of her fingers sends her directly to tartarus, the frequented location of her favourite fury.

 

the smell of blood and sin is a permanent stench in these fiery depths. the goddess struts to where the screams are emanating from, no doubt her best punisher of the damned is busy at work. her presence is noticed immediately, though the cries only seem to get louder.

 

"if you're going to come down here, you might as well do it yourself, seul-ah." byulyi – or better known to the mortals as megaera, grumbles as she strikes down on an evildoer.

 

grimacing at the punishment happening before her, seulgi ignores the cries of the tormented while she makes herself comfy in the dungeon of the damned. or at least, as comfortable as she can be in the dingy and cramped room. she watches byulyi work; the fury is more than capable of handling the worst humans, besides, the goddess of the underworld doesn't particularly enjoy this whole flaying business either.

 

bound by duty doesn’t mean that she can’t delegate it.

 

flopping her hand lazily, she sighs, “i finished my paperwork, are you up for poker?”

 

the fury considers the thought, though the punishing of mortal souls takes precedence swiftly. “why don’t you look for hermes or hypnos, i’m sure they’d love to skive off with you, my liege." the punisher sighs as she lays down another lash of her whip on the sinner’s flesh.

 

the goddess whines, “come on, byul-ah, you have all of eternity to whip this poor guy.”

 

“first of all, this fellow right here has eight counts of sexual assaults, three counts of domestic abuse and a murder charge.” byulyi grunts, “definitely not a poor guy.”

 

seulgi purses her lips and attempts to think of something to convince byulyi that she could let this guy go for the day but her subject doesn’t even have to look up to read her mind.

 

“they were all kids.”

 

“oh.”

 

well, byulyi is in the zone, no point trying to convince her, or talk to her for the matter. her most trusted erinyes has a soft spot when it comes to children, it’s kind of an admirable aspect for a resident of the underworld. seulgi snaps her fingers to head up to the upper levels, maybe the others would be keener on skiving off with their dear ruler.

 


 

"charon!”

 

seulgi’s cheerful greeting is answered with a grunt from the ferryman. the river styx is as lively as always, the moanings of the dead always compensated for charon’s lack of speech.

 

“how’s it going on this fine day?”

 

another grunt, charon isn’t in the mood to talk. maybe upgrading his rickety wooden boat to a bigger one isn't a change he's gotten used to yet. but with the recent plague, the underworld has been experiencing a queue at the gates, thus a necessary sacrifice in the eyes of the goddess.

 

“it sure is cool today, hope the souls aren’t keeping you too busy!”

 

charon, with eyes hollow but ablaze, waves her aboard the boat. no fee is needed for the lady, the least he could do to help aid her boredom is a ride up the river styx, back to the entrance of hell.

 

the styx is calming if you ignore the occasional arms reaching out to grab you. the underworld isn’t a place for everyone but it’s home for the goddess of the dead. as dull as it might get sometimes, having a modicum of peace and order is better than having demigod kids running amuck. 

 

the olympians have been sending their demigod children into the underworld to undergo trials, weeding out the weak amongst them under the guise of completing some vitally important mission. for the gods of olympus to be this cruel doesn’t come as a surprise to the chthonic residents, put it simply, they were used to the antics of the pompous bastards above. 

 

seulgi tries to let the kids off easily and even persuades her subjects to do the same, though many of them still enjoyed hunting those poor demigods for sport.

 

"seen any more of those pesky demigod kids lately?" seulgi inquiries while they cruise along the styx.

 

the ferryman gurgles with a subtle shake of his head, the epitome of a being with few words indeed. with charon’s response, it seems that none have been spotted recently. the lady of the underworld has an inkling that this peace wouldn’t last — with the plague in the mortal realm starting to come under control, her fellow gods would be itching to send another disaster to those poor souls.

 

exhaling softly, seulgi tries to relax and take in the wonders of the underworld while charon rows them upstream.

 


 

seulgi hops off charon’s boat with a two-fingered salute to the ferryman and a beaming smile to the fresh new souls. they keep their heads bowed; the goddess doesn’t think much of it, they probably haven’t processed the fact that they’re really dead. after all, the souls mirror their mortal appearance, so it can be hard to distinguish between the dead and the living by sight.

 

judging by the sheer amount of souls waiting to board the ferry, she can safely assume that no one has time for her today. maybe cerberus would keep her company like she usually does.

 

the winding corridors that lead to the overworld are built to prevent mortals from entering or escaping, though it’s but a nice little stroll for the goddess. whistling one of orpheus' tunes, she ambles her way down the familiar paths to the entrance, seeking companionship from her ferocious hound.

 

an unfamiliar sight greets her as she finds cerberus away from her usual spot, sniffing a person. not just any person, a girl with the power of the gods imbued in her. a raven-haired girl dressed in a plain white chiton stands before cerberus, stroking one of her heads with a big gummy grin.

 

demigods again, seulgi makes a mental note to bring it up to the other gods during their next meeting as she struts over to her hound with increased urgency. if she could stop them from getting past cerberus, that could mean saving them from the potential doom that awaits them.

 

"you're not supposed to be here." the goddess of the dead calls out as she approaches them.

 

cerberus turns with big smiles and seulgi offers a small pat to the lovable hound. meanwhile, the demigod girl stands before her with a piece of honey cake in her hand.

 

no wonder cerberus was sniffing her. while her hound does a great job at keeping the dead from escaping, cerberus is terrible at preventing the living from entering. a bribe or two and it's welcome to the underworld!

 

the demigod pays her no heed while she continues to pat cerberus’ snout, "are you gonna stop me?"

 

straightening her shoulders, the goddess easily towers over the demigod. anyone who knows her would know that she's the least intimidating person in all of the underworld, but her stature helps with hiding that. "cerberus here," seulgi glares at the bratty girl stroking her hound, "isn't letting you through the gates."

 

"really now?"

 

the girl offers up the honey cake to one of cerberus' heads and her hound has the audacity to whimper before devouring it in one bite. seulgi's jaw drops at the blatant betrayal, and also the fact that her trusted dog had the audacity to choose a piece of honey cake over her.

 

with a resigned sigh, the goddess mutters, "you know you don't have to do the trials. your parents, whoever they might be, sent you here to test your strength."

 

"what?"

 

"tell me what you need and i can save you a whole trip down to tartarus."

 

"i don't need anything," the girl responds with a raised brow, "olympus is getting boring."

 

olympus? boring? is this girl in her right mind? a flicker of uneasiness appears in her gaze and seulgi inquiries, "who are your parents?"

 

"the mortals call them zeus and demeter."

 

oh. oh fuck.

 

this girl is no demigod. this is the daughter of zeus and demeter, the goddess of verdure — kore . while seulgi hasn't seen most of the olympians since she took up residence in the underworld, zeus and poseidon keep her updated when they meet up for game nights.

 

she never expected to see any olympian but hermes traverse the realm of the dead, demeter’s daughter at that too. she may rule over the underworld but the goddess of the harvest instills a chilling fear within her.

 

"go home, kore. this is no place for a goddess like you." seulgi urges with a tense smile.

 

the goddess of verdure lets out a laugh, "so you know who i am?"

 

"yes and the underworld isn't your playground, kore."

 

"ugh, drop the whole kore name," the goddess groans, "i prefer going by sooyoung."

 

like her, kore also has her own name. a handful of deities prefer to go by their own name amongst colleagues, deigning their mortal-given ones. 

 

seulgi narrows her eyes and sighs, "fine, sooyoung, leave my realm."

 

"like i said, are you gonna stop me?"

 

"i-i will if i have to." seulgi grits her teeth. drawing her spear wouldn't do any good, if she hurts sooyoung, demeter would curse the underworld with more than just a biting chill.

 

she has to get this brat away from this realm lest she incurs demeter's rage, but unlike her mother, this child is insolent and doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of being turned away. sooyoung crosses her arms as she steps past cerberus, coming face to face with the goddess of the dead.

 

"you're adorable for someone who rules the underworld.” the goddess leans in with a low whisper, “thought you would be more terrifying."

 

turning flushed at her comment is the last thing seulgi needs but she can’t stop the heat from creeping up her cheeks. stammering, also didn’t help, but the daughter of demeter standing in such close proximity makes it almost impossible to not be flustered.

 

“c-cerberus!”

 

to her relief, the large hound senses her owner’s discomfort and comes between the two goddesses. cerberus gently nudges sooyoung towards the entrance where she came from, though the girl refuses to budge.

 

“what’s wrong?” sooyoung challenges with a click of her teeth, “scared of a little goddess?”

 

seulgi bites the inside of her cheek as she hides behind one of cerberus’ heads, shifting her weight from one leg to another. she admits with a huff, “lady demeter is the one i fear, leave before she decides it’s better to freeze the underworld than argue with your sire.”

 

“you know of their fights?” the girl blinks, a trace of surprise coats her tone.

 

seulgi nods and steps out of cerberus’ hulking figure, “their fights are none of my concern but the temperatures make it easy to gauge the severity of their arguments.”

 

sooyoung exhales, her impertinence faltering momentarily with a droop of her shoulders. the lady doesn’t know what to make of it, is she disappointed? the daughter of demeter’s motives are unclear and perhaps better left as a mystery.

 

“even the underworld isn’t safe from their silly arguments.” sooyoung mutters under her breath, “seems like there’s no escaping.”

 

the realisation dawns upon seulgi as she makes sense of sooyoung’s unsolicited visit to this realm. as much as she sympathises with the other goddess, the only place safe from demeter’s icy touch is tartarus and to invite the goddess of verdure down to a place meant for the damned isn't the wisest idea.

 

but the words roll off her tongue before she can even stop herself.

 

"nothing beats the fiery heat of tartarus."

 

the moment sooyoung's eyes light up, seulgi knows she's fucked up. 

 

"say,” the goddess requests with a cheeky smile, her initial zeal is reignited, “can i get a tour of the underworld?"

 

"no!" a firm rejection escapes the lady’s lips as she turns away, "lady demeter is not one i'd like to trifle with."

 

"i'll deal with my mother if she descends, how about that?"

 

"absolutely not!"

 

"okay, i don't need a tour," sooyoung shrugs, "i'll gladly explore these depths by myself."

 

the goddess of verdure races past seulgi into the realm of the dead, leaving the lady and her hound dumbfounded. if she was a hero on a valiant quest, maybe seulgi would let her go. but this is the daughter of demeter, the olympian she fears the most, letting sooyoung perish is not an option.

 

"we need to have a talk about letting people in, buddy," the goddess mutters to her dog, "and if anyone asks, kore was never here."

 

cerberus responds with a whine and resumes her position at the entrance while her owner chases after the insolent goddess. lasting peace is never an option when the gods above are always bent on wreaking havoc. 

 


 

the maze of corridors prove to be no challenge for an olympian, seulgi loses her within mere minutes. the thing about these paths is that seulgi always takes a set route, so when sooyoung goes off the path, the lady is lost. eventually, the ruler catches up, only to find sooyoung sitting comfortably amongst the deceased aboard charon's boat.

 

"charon! stop!" seulgi commands.

 

all eyes turn towards her, until the souls realise that they're staring upon the one and only goddess of the dead. sooyoung is unfazed and perhaps even a little annoyed.

 

"get off the boat, sooyoung." 

 

"make me."

 

grinding her teeth, seulgi looks towards her subject, "charon?"

 

the ferryman presents a coin in his palm; she paid the fee, no refunds. a ride down the styx is exactly what she's going to get.

 

to feel powerless in the domain she rules over is a foreign feeling. granted, her subjects aren't the most obedient but to be defied so openly by an olympian leaves her flabbergasted. to make things worse, charon gurgles, pointing out that the boat is full.

 

"come on, charon!" seulgi groans, "you can't be serious!"

 

the ferryman grunts and begins rowing away — she needs more rules in these depths, first cerberus, now charon, the fates are making a mockery of her. the goddess of verdure gloats from her spot, sticking her tongue out as she waves enthusiastically to the distant ruler.

 

curse the fates, while she could meet them at the end, seulgi worries about the brat's safety. charon certainly wouldn't give a damn if his passengers got grabbed by the arms of the styx, it's not his problem if they can't stay on.

 

grinding her teeth, it seems that she only has one option. with charon's boat sailing away, seulgi grimaces as she weighs the decision in her head. maybe a dip in the styx wouldn’t be so bad, but the thought of being drenched in mortal damnation makes her scrunch her face in disgust.

 

it’s been less than thirty seconds since charon’s departure and a scream emanates from the boat. whipping her head in the direction of the cry, seulgi spots the goddess of verdure being grabbed by multiple hands of the styx. 

 

no time to think, seulgi dives into the icy river, surrounding herself with the blaze of a morning star to prevent the souls from latching onto her. with big strokes, the goddess catches up to the boat easily, chasing away the souls threatening to pull sooyoung down with them. 

 

“what the hell are those?” sooyoung cries out as she recoils as far as she can from the edge.

 

seulgi, with an arm clinging on to the side of the boat, kicks another soul away before grunting. “mortal souls that have no place in the underworld just yet, what did you think they were?”

 

charon hisses to inform her that she’s got it wrong and is met with a harsh glare from the lady — he’s getting another boat upgrade whether he likes it or not.

 

“decorations …” sooyoung mumbles with a cautionary glance at the river, "shouldn't you be dead then? or dying?"

 

swimming through the styx would be fatal for non-chthonic beings but being the goddess of the dead, this is one of the few perks that came with the job. in fact, the styx has regenerative powers for the residents of the underworld, though it's a secret they like to keep.

 

seulgi looks up at the frightened goddess, replying with a smirk, "wouldn't be good for anyone if i die in the realm i'm supposed to rule over."

 

the young goddess mumbles a soft oh and continues taking in the oddities of this realm. in her silence, seulgi ponders if diving into the styx was really necessary. getting her robes wet over kore possibly dying sounds like a fair sacrifice. her entire presence in the underworld spells nothing but trouble, seulgi will need to figure a way to contact zeus, maybe the sire would do something other than messing with mortal women.

 

“you know,” sooyoung starts, “you don’t seem like a ruler.”

 

frowning, seulgi mutters, "what is that supposed to mean?"

 

"my other mother, the goddess of the sky and all that," the girl hums, "would never let her subjects disrespect her like that.

 

disrespect is a strong word; the bonds she's forged with her chthonic subjects offers room for tomfoolery and banter. this is but a regular day for the residents of the underworld, except for the whole diving into the styx, no sane being takes a dip in the main rivers.

 

seulgi lets out a scoff, "olympus must be a miserable place, huh?"

 

"i'm sure the underworld is really different." the goddess muses with a mischievous glint in her eyes.

 

the ruler sighs, "you're not getting past the judges, sooyoung."

 

"are you going to stop me, hades?"

 

hearing her mortal-given name roll off sooyoung’s tongue feels … odd. the only ones who addressed her as such are usually the mortals themselves, or demigods, if she ever crossed paths with those poor kids. sooyoung must not know her name, or at least she doesn't see a need in using it.

 

with the moniker hades, comes the obligation to take her job a little more seriously. but considering how her subjects have defied her in front of sooyoung, there’s no need to put up a false front.

 

seulgi deadpans, "only the dead can get in and you’re very much alive."

 

"that's what they said about cerberus too." sooyoung snorts.

 

"her job is to keep the souls in and she does a good job!" seulgi grumbles defensively.

 

"relax, i think she's adorable," the goddess chuckles, "she could really use a nickname though, cerberus sounds too … vicious …”

 

seulgi purses her lips, no one has to know that she secretly calls her hound cerbie when no one is around, certainly not sooyoung.

 

“you’re not nicknaming my dog.”

 

“come on, you seem way more relaxed compared to my mothers, let me just have some fun here.” sooyoung pleads with a pout.

 

the lady contemplates letting the souls drag her into the waters, just to let her have a taste of fun but demeter would probably decapitate her. with the dock coming into sight, their little ride is coming to an end. there’s no way she can wrestle sooyoung back to the entrance, instead, she offers up a peaceful ultimatum that should work in her favour.

 

“if the judges let you in, i will personally accompany and give you a tour.”

 

“only a tour?”

 

“isn't that what you wanted?” seulgi eyes the girl, “if they don’t let you in, you have to return to olympus and never come back.”

 

“so if they do let me in, after the tour, i’m free to roam around forever?”

 

“no!” seulgi cries, “a tour of the underworld and then back to the surface, deal?”

 

sooyoung hums with a cocky smirk, a nod indicates she accepts the terms. “just so you know, the fates have been on my side lately.”

 

seulgi bites back a retort as charon docks the boat, leaving the souls to depart as he extends a bony hand to his ruler, hoisting her out of the waters with ease. winking, sooyoung gets in line with the other souls awaiting judgement. in the meantime, her ire is turned towards charon.

 

“you’re getting a new boat with a special seat for me.” she barks.

 

the ferryman accepts his fate wordlessly, though seulgi is certain that he’s silently gloating over her predicament. she lets him row away, continuing in his endless toil.

 

considering how she caused the latest plague, there’s no way the fates would be on her side. they’ve been messing with her since the start of time, this is just another one of those hey let’s mess with hades for the shits and giggles moments. she’ll just have to wait and see, perhaps throw in a prayer or two, anything but the goddess of verdure spending time in her realm.

 

but seulgi should know that the fates are never kind, not to her at least.

 


 

minos securing a gold cuff around sooyoung's wrist makes seulgi question what she ever did to the fates to deserve this. being tethered to the underworld for all eternity should be more than enough to compensate for slaughtering the titans, but it seems that those crones haven’t had their fill of fun.

 

"yah! hold on!" seulgi protests before the judges, "why is she getting let in?"

 

the underworld possesses a delicate system and hades doesn’t interfere when it comes to areas out of her expertise. the matter of judging mortals is left to those who lived a mortal’s life but have also had a taste of godhood. the three demigods sit upon their desk, empty of mirth. 

 

minos responds nonchalantly, "olympians are allowed to visit the underworld, lady zeus' laws, my lady."

 

seulgi furrows her brows, of course, it’s zeus and her ridiculous laws. under what circumstances did she ever consider this law necessary? it’s not like the olympians ever fancy a trip down here, what’s the point in letting them in when all they ever do is make a mess?

 

“how long are the visits?” a hint of hope coats her words as she presses the judges for an answer.

 

minos’ lips formed a thin line and he exhales, “lady zeus did not specify.”

 

sooyoung rotates her wrist with a smug smile, to which, seulgi reacts with a repressed hiss. if zeus didn’t specify how long, it’s to assume that she means for all eternity. every fiber of her being dreads what’s to come, though, she supposes it’s fine as long as demeter doesn’t find out.

 

getting hades wrapped around her finger is way too easy — much easier than getting her mothers to stop fighting for a season. sooyoung never understood why her mother, demeter, detests the goddess of the underworld so much. if anything, hades seem like an adorable pushover. how she got on the bad side of the goddess of the seasons’ is something she’ll have to find out.

 

“so, my tour?” the girl prompts with incessant taps of her feet. a cocky smile makes a permanent home on her lips.

 

throwing her head backwards, the lady accepts her fate. seulgi grunts, yanking the girl through the entrance just behind the judges. the mortals queue up before the rustic elevators which take them to their final resting place while the wicked ones are being dragged down to tartarus by daemons.

 

there's no need for elevators when the ruler of the realm is with you. besides, seulgi, still dripping wet from her swim in the styx, wants to get it over with and change out of her damp robes. with a hand grasping sooyoung's arm firmly, seulgi snaps her fingers, teleporting them to the grassy meadows of elysium.

 

a shrill cry escapes sooyoung's lips and she clenches her eyes shut. the violent winds catch her off guard as they ascend and she holds on to seulgi for dear life. the older goddess bites back a snicker and holds onto her until she finally stops her dramatic yelping to crack an eye open.

 

the sun blinds her with full force and she grimaces, helios certainly doesn’t let up even if they’re in a different realm entirely. shielding her eyes from glares of the sun, sooyoung takes it all in with an audible gasp. it's a beautiful place, a far cry from what the mortals have depicted in their stories.

 

the air, crisp like an autumn's morning, radiates a calm stillness through the meadows. the twittering of birdsong fills the silence, adding to the serenity of it all. pink petals drift with the wind, carried by a gentle breeze that danced. sooyoung reaches a hand to catch them but they slip through with ease. 

 

a fog covered river flows through the grassy fields and sooyoung kicks her sandals off. wiggling her toes, she basks in the softness of the grass, it's softer than any cushion made for the gods. with the warm sun on her face, sooyoung lets the tranquillity nestle into her very bones. 

 

there's a youthful innocence hidden in the goddess of verdure, maybe if she wasn't so bratty, seulgi would've taken a liking to her. the lady lets her enjoy the peace that came with elysium, nobody could ever detest a place like this, which is also why she has her office up here instead of in the burning depths of tartarus.

 

seulgi strikes up a conversation when sooyoung’s aggravating aura begins to wane, they could have a conversation without hostility.

 

"never teleported before?"

 

"good ol’ mom doesn't allow it up there, says it's a lazy way of moving about."

 

seulgi's cheeks twitch while she holds back her disgust, she's glad she doesn't have to live with zeus, she couldn't possibly imagine getting around without teleportation.

 

“sounds like zeus alright.”

 

sooyoung turns to face her. “are you guys close?”

 

humming, seulgi bobs her head. “oh yeah, i may be trapped in the underworld and all but we find ways to keep in touch.”

 

the young goddess eyes her with a surprised look, followed by a slight furrow of her eyebrows. “you’re close with mom but mother hates you, how does that work?”

 

seulgi scrunches her face while she tries to think of a response, truth be told, demeter detests her for reasons unknown to her. all she knows is to steer clear of that icy olympian and to do her job.

 

“let’s get on with the tour, shall we?” the lady diverts from the topic with a large smile.

 

sooyoung narrows her eyes, “you’re avoiding my question, aren’t you?”

 

“i owe you a tour, not answers.” 

 

with a muffled groan, the goddess of verdure motions for seulgi to continue. normally, elysium is the best place to take things slow, but the goddess of the dead wants sooyoung out of her realm as quickly as possible. 

 

with a singular breath, she introduces the most pleasant and probably her favourite region, "this is elysium, where the exalted rest eternally. achilles isn't here, so don't bother asking to meet him. and that's river lethe, the river of forgetfulness, don't drink from it." 

 

sooyoung frowns, "yah … you can't even let me enjoy my tour?"

 

"you see it once, you've seen it all." seulgi shrugs, "ready for the next one?"

 

"no!" sooyoung protests and barely has time to grab her sandals before seulgi zips them down to asphodel.

 


 

compared to the cooling breeze of elysium, asphodel is warm – and packed with souls. on the small balcony where they stand, they could get a clear view of the area from above. the goddess of verdure wrinkles her nose as she takes in the sight before her.

 

tall buildings line the area in a neat and orderly structure, everything is grey and soul-sucking. hope has been robbed and replaced with a never-ending nihilism. there is no life after death, certainly not in asphodel.

 

"what is all of this?"

 

"asphodel, being ordinary and insignificant lands you here."

 

sooyoung frowns, it's not the answer she's looking for. "yeah but why does it look like a modern mortal city but tenfold more depressing?”

 

a hostile retort is perched on the tip of her tongue after seeing the genuine confusion on sooyoung’s face. knowing zeus, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if olympus still resembled ancient greece; daedalus has done an amazing job at keeping the underworld in line with the times.

 

"they don’t deserve eternal peace like the exalted in elysium, nor should they be tortured like the damned in tartarus. we figured the best in between is this, it’s neither good nor bad." seulgi explains, "if you lived your entire life without doing anything great, you get to continue doing it in the afterlife."

 

sooyoung leans her weight against the railings and squints at the crowds of souls milling about the area. the place looked more gloomy and mirthless than described by the mortals, perhaps their accounts are as outdated as the gods above.

 

"who defines what is great then?" the goddess scoffs, "achilles was deemed a hero yet he dragged hector's body behind his chariot because he was hurt. not exactly heroic of him, isn't it?"

 

taken aback by her sudden sardonicism, seulgi glances at the younger girl wordlessly. the underworld has its systems, while she may be at the top of it all, certain areas are out of her control.

 

"the mortals do, ironically. they make terrible decisions, like letting you into my realm." seulgi tries to lighten the mood up with some banter.

 

it works, fortunately. sooyoung rolls her eyes and scoffs. "where to next, hades?"

 

"it's going to get much warmer in tartarus."

 

seulgi extends a hand out and sooyoung accepts. the next thing she knows is she's the furthest she’s ever been from mount olympus, right in the heart of the underworld.

 


 

the lands of tartarus are rocky and bare compared to the fields of elysium, the only difference being the distant wailing of mortals instead of birdsong filling the silence. and the heat, the heat is truly something else. 

 

it's burning hot; with rivers of fire surrounding them, it's miserable enough to spend a minute here, but an eternity? withstanding this heat is a form of torture on its own.

 

there's not much, just igneous rock surrounded by a fiery river. the jagged, rocky surface threatens to singe the skin off the bottom of her feet and sooyoung slips her sandals on in fear of her soles burning.

 

"welcome to tartarus," seulgi introduces with a grim smile, "the final resting place for the wicked."

 

sooyoung quips, "so what? the evil just sweat it out for eternity?"

 

seulgi purses her lips and she eyes the ground beneath them. sooyoung follows her gaze and trains her eyes on the ridges. she doesn’t quite notice it at first but with how antsy hades seems, it must be something big.

 

then she sees it, a hand buried amongst the rock. a strong wave of uneasiness washes over her as she peers at the area around them. the distant wailing she’s been hearing isn’t coming from far away, but rather, from underneath the surface she’s standing upon. melding with the jagged surface are the souls of the wicked and perhaps the worst thing about it is while they are considered dead, they feel everything as if they are alive.

 

“they …” sooyoung swallows, “they aren’t … they still feel … right?”

 

the lady nods solemnly. the grounds of tartarus are built upon layers upon layers of souls and lava from the river phlegethon. for these evildoers, once they are dropped in tartarus, there is no escape.

 

“the daemons cast them here after they receive judgement. when they arrive, they are instructed to head to the dungeon of the damned, over there.” seulgi points towards a fort perched on a distant mountaintop, “if they give up on the journey, the lava eventually cools over them, imprisoning them under for all eternity.”

 

sooyoung grimaces at the idea of being entrapped. “but if this is their fate, why would they give up?”

 

“in some ways, being imprisoned in the dungeon for eternity is far worse than being cast in lava.”

 

“how bad is it?”

 

"are you certain you want to know?" the goddess presses her mouth into a thin line. torture is and never will be her cup of tea, but if her guest wishes to witness such a sight, she won't deny her.

 

the young girl nods, "yes, give me the full tour."

 

a snap of seulgi's fingers shifts them to the dungeon of the damned. it’s a lot to take in at once; the sound of a whip meeting soft flesh in a rhythmic pattern, the metallic scent of blood that fills her nostrils and the winged being flaying a soul with violent strength and zero hesitation.

 

sooyoung grimaces at the graphic sight, the mortals’ accounts were not as detailed and she deems it’s better off that way. finding out that there are souls merged with the grounds of tartarus makes her rethink her initial enthusiasm about visiting the underworld, but seeing this brings about a stronger surge of regret.

 

in place of feathered wings, the punishers of the damned, have a singular wing that resembles a bat's, yet its texture mirrors the likeliness of leather. the chthonic being standing before her is dressed in black from head to toe, even her wing looks like it has been blessed by nyx.

 

"seul-ah, i'm busy today." the fury grunts without looking up, "this bastard walked around without washing his hands, during a goddamn plague!"

 

the soul cries out from the table he's being restrained upon, he pleads but it's too late to repent.

 

"does that warrant this much flaying?" seulgi cringes as byulyi lands another strike.

 

"he was a drunk driver too."

 

seulgi hums in acknowledgement as she turns her head slightly to check on sooyoung. "you asked for it."

 

the goddess of verdure had been cowering behind hades, her grip on her arm tightens with each lash of the whip. the lightness of seulgi’s tone helps with her retort. "i wasn't expecting it to be so bloody." sooyoung hisses, "even the trojan war wasn't this gruesome."

 

seulgi snickers, "don't worry, i hate it too. that's why i get the erinyes to do it for me."

 

"yah! if you're not going to help, the least you could do is thank us!" byulyi pauses her whipping to look up at her queen.

 

an unfamiliar face accompanies her friend, a demigod. but the way she's dressed doesn't look like the demigods she's seen recently. it could only mean one thing, she's an olympian. the surprise on byulyi's face followed by the speed she drops into a bow is almost laughable.

 

"this is the goddess of verdure, sooyoung or otherwise known as kore. sooyoung meet byulyi, named by the mortals as magaera, otherwise known as my favourite fury." seulgi introduces the two quickly.

 

"don't let heeyeon and soojin hear that." the fury warns while recovering from her bow, “nice to meet you, goddess.”

 

sooyoung clears her throat and nods, “nice to meet you too.”

 

the queen of the underworld glances at the two, the room has been sent into an awkward silence and she supposes that it’s rare that an olympian and a fury would ever cross paths. even the soul senses it and keeps his mouth shut, probably enjoying a moment’s reprieve from his eternal punishment. 

 

folding her arm, seulgi sighs and nudges sooyoung, "you look like you have questions, ask away.”

 

"is this all you do? whip souls for all eternity?"

 

"yeah, but i play poker too," byulyi shrugs, "only when my liege pesters me."

 

"it seems like you're serving a punishment as well." sooyoung remarks with a teasing smirk.

 

"at least i'm not the one on the receiving end of the whip." byulyi laughs, "so what brings a goddess like you to this lovely place?"

 

sooyoung hums, "i got bored of olympus."

 

once again, the olympic gods never cease to amaze her with how little care they have for the realms beyond them. yet another adolescent goddess who thinks the world is nothing but a playground. byulyi has a distaste for gods like these, too much power with too little obligations. 

 

"the underworld isn't a place for fun, my dear goddess, especially tartarus." she hums, "excuse me, i have work to do."

 

byulyi resumes her work with a harsh strike and seulgi concludes that it's best to leave her to it. she yanks sooyoung away from all the flaying and teleports them back to the entrance of the underworld.

 


 

cerberus regards the duo with a glance, her interest remains fixated on the entrance since neither of them smell like they've got a treat for her. seulgi eyes the young goddess before strolling over to cerberus to give her a couple of scratches.

 

sooyoung calls out from behind her, "does she not like olympians?"

 

"just a rough day, punishing people can be pretty emotionally taxing." seulgi lies with a shake of her head. 

 

"the erinyes have feelings, that's interesting."

 

the goddess of the dead contemplates if she should kick the girl out of her realm out or respond in a polite manner. she opts for the latter, she's not like the olympians above. raising an eyebrow, seulgi turns, "why wouldn't they?"

 

"wouldn't it get in the way of punishing?" the goddess shrugs.

 

"my furies know how important their duties are," seulgi replies, "besides, a little anger never hurts.

 

sooyoung hums while approaching cerberus. her leftmost head turns to the goddess who offers soft pets and she lets a satisfied whine escape.

 

"you're too nice to rule the underworld." the young girl remarks.

 

it's not the first time seulgi has heard this, everyone ranging from the olympians above to chthonic beings below all think so. if the fates wanted someone harsher, they wouldn't have given the skies to zeus and the seas to poseidon. so here she remains, bound by duty for eternity.

 

"that's what your mother thinks too."

 

"demeter?"

 

seulgi nods, "yeah, that one."

 

"why are you so scared of her?"

 

it seems like the younger generations have no clue how fearsome demeter was in the war against the titans. in this case, ignorance is truly bliss. 

 

"go home and ask her what she wanted to do to me previously and you'll know." is the only answer seulgi offers.

 

"ugh, seriously," sooyoung folds her arms across her chest, "you're ending my tour just like that?"

 

"that's all there is to the underworld." seulgi retorts, "you're not staying unless demeter agrees."

 

sooyoung attempts to threaten her with her fiercest glare but the goddess of the dead remains unfazed. perhaps a little time together has allowed seulgi to be more firm with sooyoung. 

 

"puss."

 

the lady of the underworld drops her jaw and gasps, "get out of my realm!"

 

sooyoung bursts out laughing and the commotion causes cerberus to turn to them with a newfound interest. maybe there is something more exciting than guarding the gates of the underworld. 

 

the young goddess wipes a stray tear from her eye, "fine, but can i come back?"

 

“after you called me a puss?” seulgi scoffs, “no!”

 

“come on, my mothers can monitor me on earth, but they won’t know what i’m up to down here.” sooyoung pleads while tugging at seulgi’s still damp sleeve.

 

seulgi yanks her arm away with a hiss, “to do what exactly?”

 

"relax in elysium?” sooyoung hums, “or take a stroll down asphodel?"

 

"there are parks and streets in the mortal realm, visit those places instead."

 

the goddess of verdure puts on her best puppy eyes and whines, "come on, it's different with the mortals, i have to blend in."

 

for a little, it seems to work considering how seulgi drops her shoulders. but the overwhelming fear of anything and everything going wrong takes over quickly. tightening her jaw, the goddess sighs, "a olympian like you doesn't belong in the underworld either."

 

sooyoung bites the inside of her cheek and exhales. "fine."

 

seulgi almost wants to retract her words but if sooyoung decides to make visiting a regular occurrence, it would mean a lot of trouble if the gods above were to find out.

 

"mount olympus is probably more pleasant compared to down here." she tries to ease the sudden shift in the atmosphere.

 

"it's not like you've ever been up there," sooyoung scoffs, "you wouldn't know what it's like."

 

seulgi’s lips tug into a wry smile, "unfortunately not, but home is what you make of it. i've made my peace with this drab prison, do what you need to make olympus a home."

 

sooyoung takes in her words with a nod. "and if it doesn't work even if i try? will you let me in here?"

 

"only if you get permission from demeter."

 

"we both know that's impossible." the goddess of verdure scoffs with a roll of her eyes.

 

with a loud sigh, seulgi relents. either the fates are on her side, or hades is too much of a pushover. whatever it is, things have certainly worked in her favour, sooyoung is more than pleased.

 

"we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

 

winking, sooyoung takes her leave with a bounce in her step.

 

"i'll see you around, hades."