Camp Thárros: A New Beginning

13 year old Athena Williams believes she is an ordinary kid with nothing special about her or her life. But one day she finds a book on Greek mythology in her basement and discovers secrets about herself and her past that she never thought possible. She embarks upon a summer trip to Camp Thárros, only to find that these hidden secrets are not quite what they were cracked up to be and that a darker and more mysterious force is at work. She must complete a wuest along with her friends and encounter things far more ferocious and dangerous than any book could begin to describe.

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23. CHAPTER 23: HADES

Someone stood leaning against column: Hades, it had to be. Except, much like Cerberus, he looked nothing like she’d imagined him. The cruel, impenetrable leader of the underworld in a checked black and red shirt, black skinny jeans and dark brown biker boots (at least he wasn’t stuck in the past). His hair was in messy thin black curls to his shoulder and he had a small gathering mass of facial hair around his beard area.

“Persephone” he chorused “we have guests” Persephone trotted over. She had dark olive coloured skin, piercing brown eyes and long flowing dark hair. The dress she wore looked like some sort of black wedding dress. It had a netted skirt and the top part was a tube style. Despite looking around her 40’s she was a beautiful woman, like legend had said.

“Welcome to hell” she smiled sweetly, and Athena detected a hint of sarcasm.

“These are no ordinary guests” he sneered, walking slowly forward “these are the apparent ‘elite five’ who can bring me what I desire” as he moved a cloud of shadows flocked around him and as they dispersed a black cloak hung from his broad shoulders and a silver sceptre was clutched in his palm “and they want to speak with me, am I right?” A gulping Athena briefly nodded her head. “Thought so, follow me” He led them through the arch into a vast open space, with the same flagstone flooring. There were some leather sofas round a concrete coffee table near a pounding fire place, clearly the fires from the depths of Tartarus.

“Persephone get me a drink” he ordered, the hurried woman rushed off out another archway. Hades strolled on out the initial lounging room and led them to a set of double oak doors. Thrusting them open majestically he swaggered in, with the others hot at his heels. “This is the throne room, we’ll discuss what needs to be discussed here” the floor was a bright mosaic of reds oranges yellows and creams. Athena couldn’t make out the picture, but was sure that it wasn’t very appealing. The vast silver rimmed black cushioned throne was on a raised platform at the head of the room, in front a scary stained glass window. Hades sauntered over to it and sat down in an intimidating manor. On a hook next to the throne was a black knight’s helmet, it looked rather worn and dusty, yet important. It had to be, why else would Hades keep it next to his precious throne? Hades clapped his hands twice and four billowing black clouds of mist shot down from the ceiling and as they landed they transformed into pale-faced, ill-looking cloaked men. They pulled Emma, Tom, Robbie and Liam’s hands behind their back, leaving Athena stood alone.

“Haha, the Soulless, they used to be under Diávolos’ command until he ‘stepped down’, then they came to me, marvellous, don’t you think?”

“Let my friends go” Athena tried to shout, but it was more of a slightly dry raised voice.

“When we’re done”

Persephone backed into the room with a silver bejewelled goblet and a bottle of crimson liquid that she presumed was wine. She poured the glass, handed it to Hades reluctantly and deposited the bottle at his feet with a sour expression, dropping a tiny curtsey before she went to stand by the door.

“It is my brother that you’re here about isn’t it, my forgotten brother”

“Diávolos, yes”

“I thought so” he smirked “I was the only one who ever had anything to do with Diávolos, he was so hated amongst the ancient Greeks that they daren’t speak his name, he has no place in Olympus”

“Why

“He’s not like the rest of us, something wasn’t passed on fully”

“What?” Athena quizzed, Hades gave a slight throaty laugh.

“Now that would be telling” how cruel she thought, he sipped his wine.

“You really are evil”

“No, just careful, you need to give to get in this world.”

“What’s wrong with doing a good deed for the hell of it? That’s never hurt anyone.”

“I think it has dear hero, your father for one, anyway, you can get something I need”

“So tell us what we need to know and we’ll get it for you”

“You know how to play, but can I trust you?”

“Of course”

“Hm, I’m not so sure, I don’t trust anyone, what makes you think that you have the edge?”

“I can get what you need apparently, whatever it is”

“Yes you can and you will, hero” he laughed, taking a gulp of wine.

“So what is it about Diávolos that makes him different?”

Hades sniggered.

“Oh dear brother, he didn’t get everything, he didn’t get the same immortality that we got”

“He can be killed?”

“With the right weapon, yes”

“Which is?”

“You should really be more subtle” he sneered, sipping more wine. Athena’s curiosity had almost surely ruined it now.

“So your brother, what made him weaker than the other gods, what made them despise him?”

“It was more of what he could do, the ways in which he was stronger, which set them apart” That explained why Hades had an interest in him.

“How was he strong if he could die?”

“He could visit Earth whenever he wanted to because of his tiny lack in immortality. He could mix among mortals, he was God of nothing, he had no responsibilities, he was the youngest, and the reckless fool brother and Zeus hated him and his naivety.”

“Why?”

“He planned against then! You know the story, hero”

“What about the weapon, which kind, a gun?”

“A gun? You Magikós bloods do make me laugh. Don’t be stupid, that insufferable weapon has caused enough damage in your petty little world.”

“Nuclear bombs?” she was thinking on her feet here

“No!” he bellowed “I think you’ve had enough of your answers, now it’s your time for business”

“What do you want?”

“I want the secret sword”

“The what?”

“The secret sword”

“What does it do?”

“It has hidden powers, only those who are worthy can activate them”

“What powers?”

“They’re hidden, how would I know?”

“Why do you need it anyway?”

“What’s it to you? Anyway, you will get it for me, or else the Soulless will drag you down here, and all five of you will spend the rest of your days in the underworld with me”

“Okay fine, well, where is it?”

“If I’d have known, I would’ve sent someone by now! Foolish girl! That’s why I need you to live up to your little prophecy and fetch it for me.”

“How can I get it if I don’t know where it is?”

“That’s the whole point, and it’s not my problem anyway”

“How long do we have?”

“Three days”

“Three days!”

“Is there an echo in here? Yes, three days, and anymore complaints or stupid questions and I’ll make it shorter”

Athena shut up, but her mind was shrouded with a cautious argument of negative thoughts.

“Release my friends and we can start looking”

“You don’t get off that easily, one of you must stay as prisoner, so I can be sure you’ll keep your word. Oh and that person will be released when I have my sword.”

“I will” Robbie interjected.

“I appreciate the thought, but it has to be me” Athena grimaced

“No you’ve got to go with the others, you’re the hero, and it’ll be me”

“How touching” Hades mocked gulping down his wine with a smirk and checking out the back of his hand. “Release them”

The Soulless let go and fled back up into black smoke. Emma took out one of the gold coins and threw it at a wall, as it hit the stained glass wonder, a black colourless hole appeared.

“Think Thárros” Emma whispered and she dragged Tom and Liam through “come on Athena” but she stayed put mouthing ‘I’ll be right behind you’ Emma nodded and as she went through the hole closed.

“Shame, but now I have two prisoners, how very romantic”

“You’re not going to have any” Athena muttered as she ran out with Robbie to the initial room, where the leather sofas were.

“What’re you doing Athena?!” Robbie stressed

“He’s not having you, we need you, I can’t let him keep you here, and I don’t trust him”

“Athena!” Hades called, she took the spare coin from her pocket. Lobbing it at a wall, she prepared to run, but a portal didn’t open, instead the coin flung out a window and landed somewhere outside, just as Hades came into the room.

“Going somewhere?” he smirked

Cerberus was in the next room, they had to find the spare coin and pass him to do so, after all, he wasn’t that terrifying.

As they ran out to the arch, Athena glanced at Cerberus, who having seen them try to escape, had grown about five times his original size. The talon claws she had previously expected were there and his once endearing brown puppy eyes were now hollow, glowing red sockets. So that’s why no one escaped. Emma was right, getting out would be hard, and life-threatening, not to mention near impossible!

“And it could’ve been so much easier if you’d made a sacrifice, what’s one life to two?”

“I’ve made sacrifices” Athena yelled, trying to dodge the dog.

Hades stood by laughing, well cackling, whilst Persephone hid furiously behind him.

“You were right” he cackled threateningly “I won’t have any prisoners, well, not alive ones.”

Cerberus clubbed a huge paw at Robbie’s face and he was thrown aside, it continued to stalk over to him, baring its blood covered teeth and growling viciously. Robbie stared in horror, blood coming from the corner of his mouth in a large triangular cut, just pushed up on his arms. He would not die, Hades would not claim him.

“Shame” she heard Hades sneer “and I was beginning to become a fan of this couple” Persephone looked to angry and frustrated for her own good “and such a waste of a handsome face” he added.

There were two suits of armour at the entrance, each one holding a large metal pole, she grabbed one out of its palm and whacked the dog round the hind leg. The pole broke in two and the beast veered off Robbie and came straight for her, its slobbering jowls wet with blood. Throwing down the broken pole, she made a run for it out of the room.

Persephone ran over to Robbie and knelt by him.

“Let them go!” she yelled at Hades “they’re doing you a favour!”

“This is the best bit” he jeered back.

Meanwhile Athena was running between rooms and corridors throwing anything in the way of the huge dog to slow it down as fast as her legs could bear to carry her. Cerberus wasn’t so harmless after all; she had underestimated him, just like she’d underestimated the king of hell himself. She turned; ducking out of Cerberus’ gaping mouth, unfortunately that turn had led her to a very dead end.

She slowed, looking helplessly for a door, an alternate way out. But there was one, no escape. Cerberus got as close as he could to her face and she could smell his hot iron-scented breath.

“Athena?” Robbie called out, Cerberus turned, flaring his overly large nostrils as he sniffed. Robbie was running down the hall, she could tell by his strong, thudding, echoing footsteps. In that spilt second, she ducked under Cerberus’ head as he lunged for her, and she ran under his body, all the way out and she didn’t look back. Sprinting towards her was Robbie.

“Are you okay?” he panted alongside her

“Oh I’m having the time of my life” she breathed sarcastically “we need to get out of here”

“No kidding”

Cerberus had been delayed as his massive head had been briefly stuck in a dent he’d made in the palace walls whilst trying to kill Athena, which had bought them some time, it just might not be enough. They sprinted out on to the cobbles and Robbie plucked the coin from near the river.

“That was lucky” he breathed

“No, just fate” Athena grinned, Robbie grinned back before lobbing the coin at the black exterior of the palace wall. The portal opened in a flash and swirled around into what looked like nothingness. “Ready?”

“Think Thárros” mocked Robbie.

Cerberus raged out with Hades and Persephone not far behind.

Athena and Robbie grabbed each other’s hand and run-jumped through the portal. It felt like a whirlwind and Athena heard Hades bellow “THREE DAYS” followed by one last roar from Cerberus before the portal closed and Athena and Robbie were sucked through what felt like a road to nowhere, no where, no when.

Then all too soon, they landed on to something hard: the ground.

Athena was sure it was the griffin cabin ground, but her eyes were blurred and she wasn’t quite sure. She felt like she had been swirled round in a tornado at 100mph.

Robbie groaned from somewhere beside her. Sitting up her eyes gained focus and it was bought to her attention that there was no one around. However, it was hugely bright outside in the natural light when you’d been stuck in the sweaty earth’s core, shrouded by the definition of darkness and black. It looked about lunchtime in the camp, so that must make it Wednesday? Surely. How could she be sure though? Charon had said that time is different down there. For all she knew, her three days of finding the sword could be up.

“Alright?” Robbie asked sweetly, the blood still stained on his mouth.

“Fine, I think, come on, let’s go and find the others”

There were some things she needed to clear up. At least she knew something, Athena knew why they needed a quick escape now, and she had found that out the hard way.

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