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Bittersweet Heart

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There are rules that cannot be broken, and one of them is this: the Underworld is quiet.

Sunk down beneath the hungry earth - beneath the roots of the trees, and the mossy dripping caves, and the thirsty tunnels of the old gold mines; beneath hustle and hurry and animal noise, and sweat, and fear, and hunger; beneath Life itself - there is the Underworld.

Great halls, wide and empty of all but shadow, have their hush broken by no footfall, no whisper. They are a world of their own; a grey maze of gravestone doors, and cold, cold corridors, and ceilings too far away to be seen by a mortal eye.

Mortals do not come to this place. It is not for them.

And yet - no, all is not in complete stillness. At the end of one hall - the mightiest of them all, where quiet lies thick as dust and the air is close as a tomb -

Something moves, in the darkness.

Something tall, and soundless. It is shaped as a human; it wears robes blacker than a moonless night, a darkness so deep that it swallows. In its eyes is cold fire; in its hands is a staff, crystalline metal, swirled in shadow. On its head is a crown of dark points, resting heavy over its brow.

Here, then, is Hades.

He is on his throne, his hands tight around the metal of the sceptre. These are hands wreathed in power; they have death at their fingertips, they call life away to rest. These hands have ancient sorrows written into their bones. On the surface, though, they are only skin - smooth, unblemished.

Hades moves rarely. His empire is quiet and lonesome, and needs little of his attention.

Ah, but not always can he rest easily. There are times when even Hades himself must rise, and walk the mortal realm once more...