The Passion of Hades - Eliza Raine

Persephone

My head swam as I sat up, the sudden movement making me feel sick. But the nausea was replaced almost instantly by a surge of energy as I looked around myself, memories of what had just happened crashing over me in an endless wave. I was no longer in the ballroom, or the beautiful garden. I was in a plush bed-chamber, on sumptuous purple and teal cushions, sheer material draped decadently around the four poster frame that surrounded me.

I should be dead. Hades’ true form should have killed me. But the pomegranate seed...

'The judges must like you,' said a deep, lyrical voice. I snapped my eyes to the source of the sound, and Hera smiled back at me from the foot of the bed.

'What-why am I here? I need to get back to help that man,' I stammered. Hera's eyes flashed with fire.

'That man is long past your help. As he should be.'

'He just wanted revenge,' I whispered. 'A life for a life... I took someone from him.' My skin crawled as the image of the carnage in the ballroom floated before me. I felt sick again.

'Persephone, as the goddess of revenge I have an understanding for what drove him, but my empathy does not extend to those who would cross the gods. No mortal should be that foolish.' Her face was set and fierce and I felt a ripple of something deep inside me respond to her power.

'Are the gods really that much more important than everyone else?' I asked, my voice small. I knew I was being rude, but I was unable to keep the question inside. 'Are you really all so arrogant?'

Hera stood, the heels of her shoes clicking loudly as she did so. A blast of power rolled through the room and I suddenly wanted to worship her.

'If you are to retake your place as Queen of the Underworld someday, you need a serious attitude adjustment,' she said. A lump formed in my throat as the fears that had built up over the course of the ball welled to the surface.

'When I was a Queen, was I like the rest of you?'

'Yes.'

'I would have pulled that man apart, limb from limb?' I whispered, my eyes filling with burning hot tears.

'Your wrath had a less gruesome air about it, I'll admit,' Hera said, tilting her head to one side, 'but you were as vengeful as any of us.'

No. No, I couldn't believe her. But why would she lie? It doesn't matter what you were before. What matters is what you are now. I clung to the thought, forcing myself to calm down, holding my tears back.

'Well, I'm unlikely to win, so you needn't worry,' I said eventually, struggling to sit in the mass of soft cushions. I needed to get out of there. I needed to see Skop; make sure he was safe. I needed to work out what the fuck had happened and get my shit together.

'Oh no, Persephone. You are just as likely to win as Minthe. The judges must like you indeed, to give you the chance to win your power back.'

'They put my power in the seeds deliberately?'

'They must have, yes. How did you know to eat one? You clearly didn't know before the last Trial or you would have done so sooner.' Her gleaming eyes bored into mine, and distrust caused my shields to slam into place. I didn't know this woman. And even if she was Queen of the gods, I didn't need to tell her anything. Could my new power keep her out of my head?

My feelings must have shown on my face, because Hera gave a tinkling laugh, then sat down on the end of the bed again.

'If you don't want to tell me, fine. And in case you're wondering, Hades has a spell on the underworld that means nobody can invade another's mind. It's really quite annoying.'

My eyebrows shot up.

'Why has he done that?'

'Hades is not the god most think he is,' she said softly, and I was sure I could hear compassion in her voice. 'He has more respect for living creatures than you would imagine.' Hecate had said something similar to me, about Hades not being what people thought he was. And more than that, I had seen a side to him completely at odds with... whatever he had become when he slaughtered that man. A shudder rocked me.

'He would have killed me,' I said quietly. 'If I hadn't eaten the seed.'

'Yes. Temper is an uncontrollable thing,