Chapter 10.2 – Road to the Underworld
It is said that after death, one will undergo endless darkness before reaching the entrance to the Underworld.
Adelos followed the three goddesses in the Eternal Darkness of Erebus.
The Eternal Darkness of Erebus, the name had been coined after the primordial god, Erebus, the personification of deep darkness and shadows. Erebus was the son of Chaos and was born out of the primeval void alongside his brothers and sisters.
Erebus slept year round in the eternal darkness. Those who journeyed to the Eternal Darkness dared not disrespect Erebus for fear of backlash. In the Eternal Darkness, all that was commanded was a peace of darkness and dismal silence. Heroes, mortals, gods, goddesses — all could walk freely in the Eternal Darkness but beware, one must ne’er speak or flush a spark of light ‘lest they wish to be swallowed by the Eternal Darkness.
Unsure of the temporal length of the journey, the group finally crossed the edge of Erebus and came to the front entrance towards the Underworld. Whether it be Adelos or the three goddesses, they felt a sense of relief running through their veins after passing through the Eternal Darkness.
Adelos never predicted a dim and murky place like the Eternal Darkness to hold a beautiful garden near the entrance of the Underworld.
In the garden, flowers of all seasons bloomed incandescently. There was no beauty like this in the mortal world, but he did not know that hidden in beds of flowers were countless beasts and monsters lurking. But under the authority and might of the three goddesses, they dared not come out and show their existence.
At last, at the end of the garden stands the Gates of Hell.
The front had swirls of black, cryptic patterns.
Their lays a terrible beast with many heads. The tail was like that of a venomous snake as it coiled around its neck. Its eyes were closed, sleeping soundly.
“Is this the Underworld’s watchdog? It’s a bit… horrid,” Adelos thought.
Awakened by a sudden disturbance, the beast bulged its eyes wide open and roared. “Who dares disturb this one’s dream?!”
But upon seeing the figure of Styx who gifted the beast a warm smile, its cold eyes immediately softened as he trotted over and laid beside her legs, nudging its head like an ordinary puppy.
“So it turned out to be a beautiful and touching goddess. The noble and generous Lord Styx is back. Congratulations on the marriage between your sister and the God of the Sea,” the beast said, voice flattering enough, “While you’ve been away, I have kept guard the Gates of Hell with utmost care.”
“How do I know that you stood here guarding the Gates of Hell all day?” Styx eyes pierced through and kicked the beast away, intent on abandoning the horrid creature. “And why are you here?”
Adelos coughed. Smiling lightly and itching his temple, he realized the longer he remained by her side, the more he discovered the veils of her true nature. Behind Styx dignified appearance stands the attributes of a witch.
The beast whimpered.
“Lord Styx, since the wedding, sea monsters and a few gods passed by here on an occasion to speak a few words. I know the matters and this is my proof of guarding the Gates of Hell with great care.”
The beast backed a dozen steps away as he answered Styx questioning.
“Typhon’s offsprings. I, Cerberus, son of Typhon, was also sent by Tartarus to guard the Gates of Hell.”
Typhon was the child of Gaia and Tartarus. His torso was that of man, but his legs, they were coils of vipers that’d hiss and attack as he moved about. His main head had a hundred snakeheads that’d echo sounds of various animals. His eyes glowed a deep red, terrifying those who looked upon them. And his jaws, they breathed lava of fire.
He was the father of all beasts and monsters.
Hestia glanced over. “Don’t worry about it. Let’s go and find Hades. You should go inside first. We three will follow right after.”
Once the presence of Adelos and the three goddesses was nowhere to be felt, Cerberus shivered and drooped his head. “Goddess Styx… you’re so terrible. I’ll wait ‘till she meets Lord Hades. Ah… shall I inform him? Well… if I don’t inform him, at most, I’ll only be punished, but if I do tell… I’m certain to lose my life… yeah… yeah… alright… let’s do that…”
The group entered the Underworld after passing the Gates of Hell. In front was a black river flowing endlessly. To the edge stands an old man with a full beard leading the dead with his boat.
Adelos learned from the goddesses that only a gift was needed for the old man to lead one across the river. Those without a gift were left abandoned, waiting in futile, never to ride the boat. Some waited a whole year before the old man would relent and allow them to cross the river.
This is the Acheron River, one of the five rivers of the Underworld; the Styx River, Lethe River, Acheron River, Phlegethon River, and Cocytus River. Each of the five rivers had a unique function in how the Underworld worked and was named to reflect an emotion or god associated with death. Three of the rivers held the place where mortals must pass after death, while the Styx River took charge of the oath of all living beings, the gods themselves included.
Demeter took a furtive glance at the old man. “I did not expect the servant of Hades’ to live a life well in the Underworld.”
“Sister Demeter, we are born gods and may not understand the pain of every mortal crossing the river. This servant named Charon carries souls of the newly deceased across the river that divides the world of the living from the world of the dead. He goes through these thousands of times a day. He should benefit from this.”