"You shall also be the God of Darkness."
Hades felt himself connecting with a vast and boundless domain. He sensed his consciousness becoming thin and blurry, slipping into infinite darkness. His body dissolved into a pure and inky blob of blackness, slowly coalescing back into a humanoid with two gigantic black wings.
"You are generous, father," noted Aether in surprise.
"His new divine form looks awfully like," said Hypnos, wrinkling his nose. "..a fallen angel…"
"And when did you begin to hate them?" asked Hemera, her brow cocked in surprise.
"I just feel it is too cliché." Hypnos pointed out. "Darkness always being compared to their bunch and all."
"A divine form," Erebus finally said, surprising everyone yet again, "reflects the personal feelings and connections that a god has with their divinities."
"Father," Thanatos immediately asked, and the concern in his voice drew everyone's inquisitive eyes to him. "He doesn't hate his divinities, does he?" He elaborated hastily, feeling the gazes on him. "I am planning on choosing him to be the ruler of the underworld."
"He doesn't hate his divinities, son." Nyx spoke for Erebus, her starry gaze seeing completely through the forming divine figure of Hades. "Rather, he finds solace in them."
"Then why…?" Thanatos pressed.
"It's his fated path that he feels conflicted with." Nyx said indifferently, raising her hands to silence further questions from Thanatos. "This is something he needs to come to terms with on his own; if he couldn't even do that, then he is unworthy of his powers."
Thanatos nodded heavily, reclining on his pale throne.
"Don't be so harsh, my love." Erebus chided Nyx. "I acknowledged him. He will certainly pass all the hurdles in his path remarkably."
"Let's see." Nyx snorted dismissively. They stared at each other, a spark of challenge erupting between them.
Hypnos, on the other hand, didn't really know how to feel about this. His mother was right, though; if Hades couldn't come to terms with his fated path, then his own powers would indeed turn into his shackles, binding his growth forever more. It shouldn't be just the Fates at work here, but Destiny herself granting a purpose to Hades.
His musings were interpreted by Hades. The eldest son of Rhea finally managed to gather his new divine form together into a fallen angelic figure.
Hades had ascended to become the God of Darkness. As soon as he felt his consciousness gain equilibrium, he quickly turned to look at himself emotionally, not bothering to maintain his calm façade anymore.
It was the darkness. He truly wasn't dreaming. It was the power he felt so close to yet also too far away from at the same time. He had spent countless nights training to gain some control over it, but all of his efforts failed at the last step. Every. Single. Time. But now, with just the words of the Primordial of Darkness, he had gained the divinity of darkness.
Hades, as always, found himself ruefully conflicted by that revelation. But he still gathered his bearings and expressed his gratitude. "Thank you."
"I am just acknowledging your efforts, Hades." Erebus said. "That's all." He paused. "Now deliver the message of Gaia."
Hades nodded, the confliction in his heart waning with the words of Erebus. He took out a scroll from his rippling robes, willing it to float toward Erebus.
The Primordial of Darkness accepted and passed the scroll to his wife.
Nyx opened the scroll and gave it a brief glance under the eyes of all. "Gaea wants me to send one of you to help her war." She frowned deeply, gazing up at her children.
Erebus stared at Hades. "You may wait outside. We will call you once the matter is decided, Hades."
Hades bowed lightly to them. Then he turned and strode quite hastily towards the door. His dark wings faded as he exited his divine form.
The moment the door was closed, Hypnos stood up from his throne. "Mother, I am going," he declared, emphasising his words. "And it is only right for you to send me because I was responsible for this."
His siblings immediately bombarded him.
"Hypnos—" Thanatos looked at him with wide eyes.
"What do you mean—?" Hemera asked incredulously.
"Hypnos." Aether frowned. "This is no time for pranks—"
"Your brother is right." Erebus interrupted them. They turned to look between their brother and parents in confusion, but they saw nothing but solemnity.
"How are you responsible for this?" Aether finally asked, then waved his hand, dismissing his first question. "First of all, what are you even responsible for?"
"It is complicated—" Hypnos said as he strode towards the staircase.
"We are all ears, Hypnos." Thanatos didn't let his brother off the hook.
"And we have all the time in the world." Hemera added.
They fixed their glares at Hypnos, though he could feel their concern hidden beneath them.
Hypnos stopped in the middle of swirling steps. He turned and looked at his mother, who merely stared back at him with clear meaning in her eyes: It's your choice.
He finally sighed inwardly and stared at his siblings. "Look, I messed up big time with my powers, and the recent changes to Titanomachy are just one of the many repercussions caused by my actions. So I am going to try to fix it since it is the least I could do. I know my words don't really give you a proper explanation, and I also understand your concerns." he paused. "But this is all I can tell you for now."
There was a moment of silence. Then Thanatos shattered it. "We understand, Hypnos.." he sighed. "Secrets are secrets for a reason…." he exchanged glances with Aeither and Hemera.
Hypnos immediately knew what they were thinking. "No," he vehemently denied. "I am strong; I don't need—"
"Oh," Hemera teleported in front of him, "Don't be like that. This could be considered your first official quest, so we obviously can't leave our little brother empty-handed."
Hypnos sighed exasperatedly as his bright sister hugged him.
Hemera granted him a golden orb; its power could be described in just five words: "Feel the power of Sun!"
Aether passed him a white sword; its power could also be described in just four words: "Let there be Light!"
Thanatos gave him a pale feather; its power could be described in three words: "Make them Rot!"
After that dramatic and teary farewell, Hypnos turned his gaze toward his parents, who were silently watching them all.
"Are you certain about this, Hypnos?" Erebus asked solemnly.
"Yes, father." Hypnos said firmly.
"Then, leave without worry." Erebus said. "We will handle any problems if so arises."
"You have our blessings, son." Nyx added gently.
Hypnos looked at his family and gave them one last nod. Then he turned and strode towards the door.
The Primordial of Sleep found the God of Darkness shuffling around the halls outside the throne room, intently studying the tales of creation engraved in the dark walls.
Hypnos stealthily approached him. "Hades."
Hades jolted in surprise, his hand instinctively shooting toward the concealed bident in his belt. Then he finally saw Hypnos. "Lord Hypnos—"
Hypnos decided to play with him. "What?" he frowned. "Are you disappointed that you got me?"
"The weak Primordial of Sleep."
"No, no…" Hades vehemently denied, but then he saw Hypnos' playful eyes, and realisation dawned on him, and he sighed in relief. However, he still made his case. "If I learned something in the long years of war, it is that you can never judge someone based on preconceptions," he added in a low tone. "For all I know, you, Lord Hypnos, could end up being the strongest of your siblings."
Hypnos brilliantly smiled, "Drop the Lord, Hades. You can call me just by name."
Hades nodded repeatedly. Though Hypnos clearly saw his last words go into one ear and leave the other, he didn't bother anymore. "Come on." He extended his hand. "Let's go."
"Can you give me a moment?" Hades asked. "I have to send a message to Olympus, informing them of our arrival."
"Don't bother." Hypnos waved his hands dismissively. "Aunt Gaia will be aware of our presence the moment we enter her domain."
Hades hesitated for a moment, and then he finally took his hand. "Are we just going to teleport or do you have other ways?" he asked with curiosity sparkling in his dark eyes.
Hypnos ignored his question. "Brace yourself," he warned. "The beginning could be somewhat uncomfortable."
Uncomfortable was an understatement to describe what happened next. Hades felt his mind literally turn and spin adrift. He seemed to see a vast ocean that contained infinite knowledge and dense, indescribable symbols. He saw them blanketing everything from high above.
When he finally managed to collect himself, Hades realised that the blue ocean was actually a sky, but this was certainly not the sky of the earth. He immediately looked and found he was stranded on an island surrounded by a deep and dark sea that stretched into infinity, and on this sea was an array of islands. He was on one of the larger ones, which was giving off a stellar glow.
The God of Darkness finally turned to the primordial being who was standing next to him and observing the centre of the island. A bubble was floating there, emitting a blinding light like a star.
"Are you fine?" Hypnos turned toward him inquisitively.
"Yes." Hades nodded rigidly. "Just a little dizzy."
"The first time into the mind realm is always like that." Hypnos said, peering around the boundless sea. "You will get used to it."
"Mind realm?" Hades asked curiously.
"Mind realm or realm of the collective subconscious," Hypnos indulged his curiosity. "is the deepest segment of mind that is shared by all beings in creation." he continued, seeing his confused look. "It is a domain where every being's mind is connected together, forming a web that covers the whole of totality."
Hades looked ahead at the infinite sea in shock. His perception immediately changed. Every drop of water in the sea resembled a point of brilliant light, like the wise eyes of Metis herself. It was as though they each represented a subconscious mind.
"Are they..?" The God of Fear asked, gulping.
"Yes," Hypnos nodded, seeing through his question. "Each drop of water symbolises a mortal mind. Everyone is here in some form or another, from the alive to the dead, from the past to the present, all connected together in this infinite realm," he said, waving his hand at the floating islands. "The islands, though, are manifestations of the subconscious minds of extraordinary beings like gods, immortals, and demigods."
Hades blinked at the boundless expanse. Was his island somewhere out there? If so, what could it possibly look like? Strangely, he already knew the answer to that. "So can I also enter here on my own?" he asked immediately.
"Any extraordinary being can enter the mind realm," Hypnos answered patiently. "As long as they are proficient with the powers of mind," he pointed out. "This is common knowledge in the divine realms, Hades."
"We didn't really have time—" Hades hastily explained. He was already planning to ask Metis all about the mind as soon as he returned, especially about its protections.
"I understand your situation very well. I was merely pointing it out." Hypnos interrupted, extending his hand. "Now, come on," he looked around the ocean. "Gaea should probably already be aware of our arrival."
Pressing down his doubts and questions, Hades took the hand of the Primordial of Sleep.
Hypnos dragged Hades into the chaotic realm of dreaming, blitzing through the millions of dreams of numerous beings—from tiny insects to powerful gods—in his dream chariot powered by infinite psychic power. Finally, he located a suitable dream, and so he pulled the reins, stopping the chariot in it.
Hypnos landed gently on the ground, followed by Hades, who found equilibrium in the dream after only a few seconds. He was really adapting fast.
"What in the tartarus was that? That swirling abyss?…" Hades asked in a strained voice.
"The swirling abyss is just chaotic dreams." Hypnos strode toward the centre of the dream.
"So this is a dream…." Hades said factually, looking around. They were in an expanse with barren ground and a brown sky. And in the middle of it all was a withering yet tenacious plant on the verge of entering the embrace of death.
"More specifically, we are in the dream of a plant close to your home." Hypnos looked at the withering plant, waving his hand. The plant immediately grew into a gargantuan tree that touched the sky, and on its massive trunk, a gate took shape, thrumming with the spirit of nature.
"Plants could dream?!" Hades asked, peering at the now-colossal plant. The land and sky also changed with the plant, dyed in the colours of life.
"All living beings dream, and sometimes even inanimate objects do too." Hypnos opened the gate, unveiling a scene that Hades was all too familiar with.
The Mount Olympus unveiled itself in front of them, illuminated by the golden light of the Sun. It didn't have any of its future magnificence or splendour; it wasn't even floating in the highest clouds of the sky. It was just a divine mountain with a peak littered with mansions and braziers, enveloped in a depressing aura.
Hypnos entered the gate, followed by Hades. The gate closed on itself as they exited from dreaming into reality.
The moment Hypnos stepped on the land of Mount Olympus, the blinding golden sun in the middle of the sky was erased as though it were nothing more than a drawing, and a dark curtain immediately swept the dimmed sky, heralding the night brimming with millions of stars all the earlier.
Under the cosmic light of the stars, Hypnos gazed at the night sky with a smile on his pale lips.
Meanwhile, Hades was not surprised by the grand display of power but rather astonished by something else. He turned and looked at the colossal tree touching the night sky. It completely mirrored the one in the dream, even down to the smallest details. 'Did he just influence reality through dream? Is this his true power…?' he thought with apprehension.
"Hades." Hypnos called, and he pressed down his chaotic emotions for the moment and caught up with the Primordial, and they strode toward the Gate of Olympus.
The Gate of Olympus was crowded with Gods, Titans, and many other extraordinary beings, all standing together in anticipation and awe under the infinite night sky.
Hypnos immediately felt all eyes turned towards him, but a Goddess managed to capture his attention. She was the only one among the immortals who dared to look directly into his silver eyes.
She was arguably the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, aside from his mother, of course. She appeared to be tall and ethereal, with long black hair that flowed gracefully over her shoulders. She was dressed in a long blue gown that sparkled with gold. It was fastened around her slender waist with a belt made of golden leaves, and similar metal armbands wrapped around her tender arms. A golden laurel crown adorned her head, accentuating her already otherworldly beauty.
Hypnos arched his brow, his gaze drawn back to her.
He already knew who she was.
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