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The Daughter of War - Chapter 17: The Underworld

by Ley


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.

Chapter 17: The Underworld

Josephine spent the morning telling Zeus all about her adventures with Persephone. She admitted to lying the day before about how and where she used her gift. Zeus, once again, didn’t seem stunned by the information she was telling him. Then again, he’d most likely heard worse. He promised to send guards to look for Persephone, but she knew he really didn’t care as much as she did. And why would she expect him to?

“I should postpone the Trials for the next few days until we find her,” Zeus said, “For the next Trial, we require a specific number of competitors, and being down one would ruin everything.”

Josephine chose not to think too hard about what he said, “Do I have permission to leave Olympus to look for her, sir?”

Zeus hesitated, but ended up sighing, “Only if you go with someone, child. I don’t need two contestants kidnapped.”

Josephine nodded and rushed out of the room, heading straight for Jase’s quarters. Of course, he’d heard the news by now; Zeus had spread the information all over Olympus. When she reached Jase’s door, she raised her hand to knock only to be tapped on the shoulder from behind. She turned around to find Jase, once again, following her.

“What are you doing?”

“Okay, I know this looks weird. But you have to admit, I am in front of my room. I should be asking you what you’re doing,” his full, raspberry-colored lips raised into a slick grin. He was eyeing her, taking her new appearance in. He’d only seen her in combat clothing, Josephine realized. Her cheeks blushed and she stepped aside.

“I need your help,” she said.

“Oh, do you now?” he pushed the door open and waltzed into his dorm, placing his sword on his bed. She didn’t notice he had the weapon until now because she was too focused on his aesthetically appeasing face. She wearily followed him inside and shut the door behind her. She walked to the bed and couldn’t help but admire the intricate carvings on the handle of his weapon of choice—the swirls represented clouds and fire was burned into the metal latch that connected to the blade. She ran her fingers over it gently.

“Take it,” Jase said, nodding his head towards the piece of art.

“No, I couldn’t possibly. This is beautiful, but I couldn’t.”

“It was my mother’s sword,” he countered, folding some spare clothes, and tossing them in the empty hamper next to his closet, “It was her go-to weapon in battle, besides her magic of course. She gave it to me when I was young. It’s enchanted with the magic of the night. I have plenty of swords, darling, just think of it as a gift for teaming up with me.”

Josephine eyed him with curiosity. He hadn’t brought up Persephone yet, which left her confused. She simply sheathed the sword in the holster that was placed on his bedstand and held it at her side, “Thank you, Jase.”

He just nodded once again, “My pleasure. Let me guess, you’re here to ask me about helping you to find Persephone.”

“Precisely,” Josephine responded, “And I’m hoping you’ll say yes.”

“Of course,” He said, winking at her, “How could I deny such a magnificent creature?”

“A creature, maybe,” Josephine smiled, “magnificent, hardly.”

Josephine wasn’t used to this much attention from a boy. She was always timid when it came to romance or feelings. She was similar to Persephone in that way, except her friend actually found love. But this attention she was getting, from Jase, was unlike something she’d ever felt before. She wanted nothing more than to entertain his advances and keep him all to herself, but she knew that her friendship with Persephone was more valuable.

Hardly?” Jase looked up from the clothes, “When I laid my eyes on you, Josephine, I knew right away you were a daughter of Aphrodite. That should say something, you know.”

Josephine looked down at the sword at her side and chose not to respond, even though she wanted to. Jase broke the silence and sighed, “So, when do we leave?”

“As soon as the sun sets, we travel to the Underworld.”

~

The Styx River was less intimidating than Josephine and Jase had originally thought. The Styx was the entrance to the Underworld from Olympus. Most gods and goddesses were warned to refrain from swimming in the Styx, or you would ultimately be burned to death and liquidated into the chemically bound current. The river is known for capturing and torturing souls; a way for Hades to keep non-divine individuals out. No mortal was ever known to have crossed The Styx alive. It was located on the East side of Olympus and consisted of numerous tunnels and confusing routes that Jase had to question the Oracles about prior to leaving.

They teleported easily above the water and ended up on the outside, suddenly realizing that they have a long way to go until they actually reach the Underworld. They took a few steps further into the cave and saw stone stairs that were wrapped down into the endless abyss below them. Jase held his arm out to stop Josephine from advancing, “Let me go first.”

Josephine obliged and they made their first steps down into the core of the land. They descended in silence for the first few minutes before Josephine finally spoke, “So, tell me more about your mother. Are you planning to see her here?”

“My mother is a warrior. She is the true definition of a queen. I’ve looked up to her ever since she created me. And as for seeing her, I don’t know yet. She is usually busy.”

“Created you?” Josephine asked. She’d heard of people being created, her mother—Aphrodite, for example, but she could’ve never guessed that Jase was created by a divine.

“I was created by Poseidon and Hecate by the magic of the night, but mostly by my mother. She’s taught my father a lot since she’s been in the Underworld.”

They were now about ten percent down the steps. Josephine’s legs were already starting to tire out. She glanced at Jase from the corner of her eye, watching as he strode down the steps with ease. She sighed and tried to keep up, “How did she end up in the Underworld, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Funny story,” he chuckled lightly, “My mother originally traveled to the Underworld to help Persephone adjust to her new life. Hades, of course, was grateful for it. He then invited her to live in the Underworld permanently. She can go and come as she pleases.”

That sounded rather strange. Why would Hecate go out of her way to help a minor goddess? Josephine brushed those thoughts to the side and took a break a few steps behind Jase. She tried to steady her breathing, but to no avail. She knew it wasn’t going to get easier. She sucked it up and continued to descend.

They reached the bottom of the winding staircase in about an hour. By the time they reached the bottom, both Josephine and Jase were worn out and extremely dehydrated. If they didn’t get water soon, they’d most likely pass out—and Josephine didn’t want to fall unconscious near the entrance to the Underworld.

“Do you recognize the way, yet?” Josephine asked her counterpart as they searched their way through the crevices of each large boulder. It seemed like the further they trekked; the more claustrophobic Josephine got. The spaces kept getting smaller and smaller, and eventually they had to pull their bodies through the exits of some of the rock-clusters. It reminded her of the Forbidden Slopes.

“The Oracles were unclear, but I live here, so if I don’t remember that’d be concerning. Wouldn’t you agree?” Jase responded as he used magic to lift a boulder out of their way. Josephine watched with awe and nodded.

After a few more minutes of crawling through spaces small enough for only a baby to fit through, they reached the gates of the Underworld. The room they stood in was the most lavish place Josephine had ever seen—even more so than Zeus’ quarters. The sides of the cavern were sheathed in magic, which overwhelmed her senses. She could feel the energy of millions, if not trillions of souls reaching for her sanity. Jase just took a long breath in, “Ah. Home sweet home. Ladies first.”

Josephine hesitated but took the first initiative to push the gate open. It was much lighter than she’d expected, and the gold handle was cold on her heated skin. Jase followed not far behind. It looked like he had a lot on his mind, as if he missed home, but Josephine chose not to say anything. She didn’t know Jase well enough to pry, and she already asked a lot of questions about his mother. She decided to give him this time to take it all in.

They reached a dead end soon enough. Josephine turned to Jase with an annoyed expression painted across her dimmed face, “Please don’t tell me we’re lost. We just got here.”

“This place is big, okay? There’re multiple entrances,” Jase scratched the back of his head and spun around, observing their surroundings. He pointed to a small opening in the stone a couple feet from them.

Josephine huffed in frustration but followed him. It’s not like she knew her way around this place. The only thing she could do was follow the one person who might actually know more than she would, direction-wise at least. The other side of the opening was pure bliss. It reminded her of Jase’s room—red curtains lined each wall, accentuating a piece of art. The ground was now a dark, onyx marble, and the air smelled of honey and turmeric. There were people sitting on some sofas in the lobby, and next to a large pillar was a reception desk.

Gods, they really do know how to keep these places hidden.

Josephine’s mind shifted to her original plan. She wanted to come to the Underworld to ask for Hades help, as he may have been more beneficial to their search than Zeus was. He had a connection to Persephone, which is motive for him to join them. Another thought that she couldn’t bypass was the fact that maybe he was involved in this whole thing and was boycotting something the gods decided. Even if he did decide to steal his own wife, people would be looking for her. And to do it in the middle of a major historical Olympian event was just the right time to get some long-awaited attention.

Jas ignored the nagging receptionist and led Josephine to Hades quarters. It wasn’t a long walk—it took them two hallways and one left turn to reach the large, steel doors. Unlike Zeus, Hades’ quarters were simple—yet certainly still rightfully intimidating. Josephine hadn’t forgotten that she’d already met the god in the Valencia Desert, so she hoped that with the sight of her face he’ll already know what she came for. She didn’t doubt that he didn’t already know his wife was missing.

Jase banged on the door with his fist three times. A servant opened the door—a beautiful, light-blue skinned nymph. Her white hair was pulled subtly to the side in a loose braid, and light purple freckles stained her cheeks. She seemed quite young, her face looking about sixteen years old, “May I help you?”

“Jase Vitalis. I’m here to see Lord Hades,” Jase insisted.

“Lord Hades is busy at Judgement,” the girl said, blinking slowly, “Can I take a message?”

Judgement was where all people, mortals, and gods, went when they died. It was the boundary between Tartarus and the Underworld. Most people deemed the Underworld to be a bad place, but compared to Tartarus, it was heaven. Hades was in charge of deciding people’s fates, based on what they accomplished or did while they were living. He could also choose to save lives, at the cost of his own magic—which he did rarely.

“It’s about Goddess Persephone,” Jase spat in response. The girl opened the door wider, eyes drilling into Jase’s soul. A look of dismay and distress wiped the friendly tone right out of her voice. The nymph fixed her posture.

“Give me a moment.”

The girl shut the door, not all the way—just slightly. The sound of her heels clicking away on the marble slowly disappeared. Jase and Josephine waited in silence for the god.

It didn’t take long. The nymph returned moments later, opened the door completely, and stepped to the side, “Lord Hades would like to see you in the dining room.”

She led them through the common room and into two small doors that most likely were the entrance to the dining room. Josephine was awed at the choice of paint—a mural of power and simplicity was painted on each of the four walls. It must have been Hades private dinner area, as the table was only five seats.

“You may sit. He will be here shortly.”

Josephine and Jase sat and made themselves comfortable. About thirty seconds later, the door opened again. Hades looked exactly how Josephine remembered, his pale skin and dark hair was the first thing she noticed. He smiled in her direction and leisurely took a seat at the head of the table. The God of the Underworld nodded in Jase’s direction before turning his attention back to Josephine, crossing one leg over the other, “I know why you’re here, and I have it all under control.”

“I assumed you were taking action,” Josephine responded, “But yet, she still isn’t found. Why is that?”

“She is here, stupid child,” the god retorted, slapping his hands on the table, “she’s been here, all along. She asked me to stage the whole thing. I think it went quite well. She’d like to see you both, actually. It’s nice seeing you again, by the way, Jase.”

Jase nodded, “As well to you, sir.”

Josephine didn’t understand. Why would Persephone want to drop out of the Trials? Zeus surely wouldn’t dare harm Persephone if she just told him she quit, especially since she’s Zeus’ brother’s mate. She was sure they’d have some sort of pact. And why fake her kidnapping? She could’ve just disappeared. This didn’t make any sense, not at all.

Josephine pursed her lips, “I’ll believe you when I see her.”

“You don’t believe me, weakling?” Hades chuckled, “I don’t give a fuck if you believe me or not, young, immature, naive child. She will come speak to you when she’s ready.”

This was not the Hades that Josephine met in the Desert. There, he was keen to meet her, and treated her with respect. He even saved their lives. But now that Persephone wasn’t with them, he treated Josephine like she was nothing but a fish in the ocean. Her commitment to his wife must not mean anything to him. Jase didn’t seem to like Hades response, either, because Josephine caught him clenching his fists at his sides. He didn’t speak nor defend her regardless of that.

“That’s not very polite of you,” Josephine murmured, rolling her eyes and sitting back in her seat, “when will she be ready?”

“Soon,” Hades’ lips curled into a sinister grin, “Very soon.”

Josephine didn’t appreciate the gods tone nor word choice. She instinctively stayed quiet. Maybe this was a bad idea, after all.

“I’d like to see my mother, if possible,” Jase suggested, leaning forward in his seat.

“She is aware you are here and will also see you shortly.”

~

They sat in silence for about fifteen minutes. Hades was playing a game of checkers with himself, chuckling every few turns as the game went on. The door opened to the foyer and all three of their heads raised. Persephone stood there, dressed elegantly in gold and white and the richest of gems the elements could offer. She looked magical, like a true goddess. Josephine was so used to seeing Persephone in her battle gear, so seeing her friend’s glamour was breathtaking. No wonder the god of the Underworld fell in love with her. Josephine stood up in her chair and rushed the goddess, falling into her bronzed arms in open embrace, “You scared the shit out of me!”

“Why would you stage your own kidnapping?” Jase asked, a profound look on his face. Persephone hugged Josephine tighter and glared at Jase.

“Nice to see you too, Water Brain.”

“That’s a new one,” Jase responded. He crossed his arms contently.

“I needed to get out of that place, at least for one night. I can’t do that, guys? You didn’t have to come looking for me,” Persephone sat on her lover’s lap, caressing his black locks with her fingers.

Josephine remained standing, “You could’ve left a note or something! What was all that blood from on your bed?”

“Crimson ink,” Persephone chuckled, “it seems like it was quite believable, love. Great job.”

Hades nodded his head, “Anything for you, my flower.”

Persephone turned her attention back to Josephine and Jase, “I’d like to show you all around, while you’re here.”

Josephine wanted nothing more than to take an in-depth tour of the Underworld. The schoolgirl in her wanted to prance around the room and agree, but she knew she had to train for this upcoming Trial. She missed the last training session, so she had no time to waste. She got lucky that she won the last Trial without any help or guidance from Theseus. She shook her head, “I’m afraid we can’t stay. Zeus only gave me special orders to retrieve you.”

“I see,” Persephone sighed, “you may tell his highness that I am safe. Say I went for a late night swim and someone followed me back. You found me in a local infirmary.”

“Sounds good. I will see you later, then?”

“You will,” Persephone smiled and turned her head to Hades, who lunged onto her lips in a deep, passionate kiss. Josephine and Jase looked away, inching more and more towards the exit. Josephine was definitely jealous; she saw the way Hades looked at Persephone. She longed to have a connection with someone like they did one day. Jase led Josephine out the back exit, which led to the bar area and chef’s kitchen. When they reached the gates, they first arrived at earlier, Josephine stopped and looked at Jase.

“I thought you wanted to see your mother. Would you like to visit her real quick?”

Jase seemed hesitant, but he nodded. He continued through the gates but took an immediate right turn, leading them into another crevice in the stones. They climbed through, and on the other end was a large, open cavern with an open ceiling. All the way up at the top was a small hole that allowed the stars and the moon to shine into the opening, causing the small pond on the left to glow. A small, comfortable gothic-core cottage sat right beside it, and Infront of the porch was a sign: Palm Readings, Astrology, The Occult.

Josephine knew right away that she was standing before the home of Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft and the moon, as well as serpents and the stars. Jase walked up the front porch first and knocked lightly three times before taking a step breath. A woman opened the door who looked to be about twenty years old. Her eyes lit up when she saw Jase, and she pushed the door aside to hug him, “Jase! Welcome back! Your mother has been dying to see you, literally!”

Jase’s face transformed into a large smile, and he hugged the woman back, “I’ve missed you as well, Isla. This is my companion, Josephine.”

Isla held a hand to Josephine, her brown hair covering part of her face. The one side of her face that Josephine could in fact see looked scarred, like she’d been burned in a fire, or worse, fell in the Styx. Josephine took Isla’s friendly gesture and shook her hand back, the girl’s cold palm shocking Josephine’s skin.

“Come on inside, your mother should be back shortly,” Isla said, leading them in through the creaking doorway. The inside of Hecate’s home was rather dark yet cozy, numerous candles were laid out on each altar in the living room, and a petite dinner table was placed next to the gothic kitchen. It smelled of sage and palo santo sticks.

Josephine and Jase took a seat on the black sofa next to one of the altars. Isla rummaged through something in the kitchen, “Would you guys like something to drink? Tea? We have the best herbal mixes in the Underworld!”

Jase chuckled and took her up on the offer, “Sure, two teas please, Isla. Thank you.”

It wasn’t long before the front door opened, and Jase’s mother waltzed her way into the foyer. The goddesses eyes were a milky white, something that Josephine had never seen before, and her skin was dark—almost the color of coffee beans. Her hair was dreadlocked down her back, and tattoos lined her neck in mythological symbols.

“My son!” Hecate said, her accent sounded like something from the islands. She moved swiftly into the living room, "I've missed you!"


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Wed May 08, 2024 1:45 pm
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goodolnoah wrote a review...



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Hello again! ~ Writing Commentary

“I should postpone the Trials for the next few days until we find her,” Zeus said, “For the next Trial, we require a specific number of competitors, and being down one would ruin everything.”


Again, nice characterization for Zeus here. It seems that he doesn’t actually care about Persephone, more or less seeing her as a pawn. He is both cunning and reasonable. It is nice that he isn’t an angry, raging god like other incarnations of him. Much more in depth.

Josephine wasn’t used to this much attention from a boy. She was always timid when it came to romance or feelings. She was similar to Persephone in that way, except her friend actually found love. But this attention she was getting, from Jase, was unlike something she’d ever felt before. She wanted nothing more than to entertain his advances and keep him all to herself, but she knew that her friendship with Persephone was more valuable.


I like how you took a second to explain more of Josephine’s approach towards her and Jase’s relationship. It lines back up with the quote I had previously pulled from Chapter 6, and stays in line with her established character

The room they stood in was the most lavish place Josephine had ever seen—even more so than Zeus’ quarters. The sides of the cavern were sheathed in magic, which overwhelmed her senses. She could feel the energy of millions, if not trillions of souls reaching for her sanity. Jase just took a long breath in, “Ah. Home sweet home. Ladies first.”


This is a cool description of the underworld’s gates! I imagined it has a rainbow tinge here since it is so overwhelming to Josephine’s senses. The feeling of constant souls reaching for your sanity lest you go insane is an intensely stressful situation. All the more comedic when Jase lives there regularly…

Love and…So Many Rocks ~ Story Commentary

“Funny story,” he chuckled lightly, “My mother originally traveled to the Underworld to help Persephone adjust to her new life. Hades, of course, was grateful for it. He then invited her to live in the Underworld permanently. She can go and come as she pleases.”


Cool progression with Jase here! I felt that this bit of backstory would relate to Persephone’s hatred of him. I didn’t realize he was so tight-knit with Hades himself. This means that he and Persephone have likely been around each other a lot, so it leads me to wonder why Persephone was so distrusting of him.

The story progression all tied with the worldbuilding of the underworld was quite the treat this chapter! It really feels wholly different and unique compared to other areas that we’ve had similar exposure to here. The way Hades carries himself is given a bit more depth here, as well. He seems like a man focused on his duties, while being disinterested in forming bonds other than the one he has with Persephone.

It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot ~ Closer

Hecate, while seeming nice enough here, has this unsettling aura to her. I wonder what her input may have on the story…




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Fri Feb 16, 2024 7:23 pm
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RavenAkuma wrote a review...



Hello Again, My Friend!

It's me, Raven, and I'd like to review the next chapter in this great story using my Familiar method! Let's dive in, shall we? Heh heh heh...

What The Black Eyes See...

First thing I noticed that may seem a bit random, I like these longer chapters! Length wasn't a problem before of course, I just thought I'd remark on it. Anyway, this chapter provided so much; it answered the question surrounding Persephone well enough, while giving Jase more great character moments, a view of the underworld, more about Hades' mysterious character, and finally, the introduction of the fascinating goddess, Hecate. Ever suspicious though, I wonder why Zeus was so calm about the situation, and I wonder if something will come from Persephone's choice to get away -especially in the manner she did. Let's get into the details though.

Where The Dagger Points...

Once again, no complaints for content or structure that I could think of! There was a very minor typo and grammatical error here:

Jas ignored the nagging receptionist and led Josephine to Hades quarters.


"Jase" is just missing an "e" and Hades should have an apostrophe (Hades'), but again, very minor.

Why The Grin Widened...

Okay, lots to unpack, lots to love about this chapter! Firstly, the way Josephine and Jase interact toward the beginning is absolutely adorable and I loved the moment. Josephine receiving a special sword with a personal connection to Jase really stood out and sent a lot of signals about these two characters. It proves that there is a bond growing here, and who knows where it may go? This hint, of course, made it clear enough:

“Of course,” He said, winking at her, “How could I deny such a magnificent creature?”

“A creature, maybe,” Josephine smiled, “magnificent, hardly.”


This moment stood out the most, it was just so cute! Jase flattering her, and Josephine being shy or even hesitant to receive it, was like the perfect touch to add to the blooming romantic sub-story here.

(And I suck with picking up on romance, so considering this moves even my dark little heart, that tells me you have a lot of skill ~ lol)

Anyway, your description of the underworld -oh, chef's kiss for that, so incredible! I like the descriptions that have come out of Olympus and even Troy, but this Gothic temple felt so unique. From the eerie description of feeling spirits all around and a sense of great power, to the "lavish" red and black aesthetic, to the rich smells of honey and turmeric; it all built a perfect embodiment of the underworld and a perfect contrast to Olympus.

I like that you added a layer of mystery to Hades' character, having him come off so cold and callous -yet also very aware- toward Josephine, while also adding to the relationship between him and Persephone. By describing Persephone as someone reminiscent of a true goddess, in contrast to just another warrior and "minor goddess" in Olympus, it really shows her position in the underworld and how she is treated by Hades. Very different from Zeus, and even Demeter. No wonder she grew so homesick, which made her story more believable as well.

I feel like there's more going on here, just because Hades is a bit shifty, but I don't have an idea of exactly what yet...

And finally, I really like the description of the goddess Hecate. She sounds like a very unique goddess, very different from the ones we've seen thus far, and she vaguely reminds me of Tanya from Mortal Kombat X...but less bloodthirsty haha.

Our Mad Thoughts...

Overall, this was another great chapter, 10/10! Nicely done! :)

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Ley says...


This chapter is definitely the longest one so far :D Something more is definitely brewing... *evil laugh*




I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.
— Walt Disney