Tartarus was the pit of damnation for gods, mortals, and extraordinary beings. The truth—that the land that they walk on, the air that they breathe, the mountains and volcanoes they tread on, and the trees they weave through—were all part of the gargantuan body of Tartarus—would be enough to break most of their minds all the more.
For Hypnos, however, Tartarus was just his sadistic uncle who loved torturing people. The Primordial of Abyss has always preferred to gradually break down the minds of beings by revealing the truth of his existence to them in very creative ways. It was one of his favourite pastimes as he slept deep in the earth.
Hypnos would shower the Primordial of Abyss with good dreams whenever he passed through Tartarus, which was often since his mother chose to establish the only gate to her realm in the body of Tartarus for reasons unbeknownst to him. In exchange for dreams, his uncle would pave the way for him, eliminating the mindless monsters in his path and saving him time.
Hypnos strode unperturbed and undisturbed through the scorching lands of Tartarus. Even the air does not breathe like acid as it usually does, but rather is unusually serene.
It seems Uncle Tartarus is really satisfied with his blessings. Hypnos pondered. But he didn't let the astonishing change slow him down, immediately intensifying his pace toward the mansion of night. And soon he arrived, greeted by the two overly enthusiastic dark horses, Shadow and Shade, who nuzzled him for their promised food.
"Hush now. I got what you wanted." Hypnos patted their heads gently, summoning the meat of the winged snake he had hunted in the shadow plane, which they had always enjoyed. He held it up to their dark mouths. "Here"
Shadow and Shade neighed and bit into the meat right away. They began fighting and tussling over who would get more of it.
Hypnos smiled at them and then gazed ahead. An ethereal woman stood in front of him in a dark chariot, adjusting the reins and gently smiling at him. She wore a layered but not overly complicated long, tiered black gown. It was adorned with countless resplendent lights, as though they were stars that dotted the night sky. Her beautiful and angelic face was cloaked in thin black gauze. Her eyes were the most conspicuous, as if they encapsulated the entire starry night sky. It made him feel both serene peace and uncontrollable fear.
She was Nyx, the Primordial Goddess of the Night.
"Mother," Hypnos called.
There was something he always felt very angry about—it was how his mother was depicted in the original books.
In the books, she was written as a character who could be fooled by mere demigods. And the fact that his mother couldn't see in the darkness was…
She was the literal personification of Night, for Gaea's sake!
Though he realised, from the author's point of view, that it was necessary to absurdly nerf his mother in all categories in order to give the demigods a chance of survival, or else his mother would have obliterated them with her mere presence. But he was still enraged whenever he thought about it.
"Son," Nyx greeted. Her voice was like a lullaby, soothing his emotions. She descended from her night chariot toward him. "How did your endeavour with the Fates go?"
Hypnos was unsurprised. "Why are you questioning me?" He cocked his head. "Don't you know it already, Mother?"
"No," Nyx said silently. "Your father has recently brought it to my attention that I could be a little….invasive. I've been working on it," she paused. "However, I am still your mother. So tell me how it went."
For a brief moment, Hypnos was deafeningly silent. Despite his mother's assertions, he felt she knew what happened, or at least a portion of it. After all, one of her many titles was "Mother of Concealment." Secrets were just another concept associated with her domain of the night. Then there was the problem he created for Ananke. He finally considered it for a moment before deciding to tell her because, above all, he trusted his mother.
As Hypnos expected, there was not even an ounce of surprise in her eternally dark eyes after he finished. His mother took his hands in hers and gently squeezed them.
"We always had a feeling you were different, son." Nyx spoke softly. "Ananke confirmed it..."
Hypnos keenly noticed the way his mother put it. "Ananke was not affronted by my existence? And who else knows this, mother?"
"Only me, your father, Ananke, and probably her family too." Nyx immediately said, seeing through his rising worries. "Don't worry too much. I used all my power to conceal your status as Fate-less after Ananke informed us."
The Mother of Concealment decreed. "It is your secret now; only you have the right and power to reveal it to others."
"Thank you, mother." Hypnos sighed in relief.
Nyx nodded gently and continued answering his questions. "As for Ananke, oh, she was enraged. Your existence completely desecrates her domain. How could she not be angry? But, as the primordial of Destiny, she always prioritises the big picture." she paused. "Hypnos, your existence is crucial to the creation. So, even though she despises you, she still grudgingly acknowledged you."
"I don't understand." Hypnos said, perplexed.
Nyx pointed to the stars in her dress. "Remember the words of Crone…"
"Your true enemies lie beyond the stars, slumbering and dormant." Hypnos expounded.
"Her words have some truth to them. It's not just your enemies, but ours," Nyx said calmly. "My veil of night covers the entire material cosmos, protecting the creation from their corruption, and your realm will soon do the same for the astral world—the domain that encompasses all conceptions of mind, thought, and conscience. Ananke has been guarding it till now, but in the end, it is not her domain, so the duty will fall on your shoulders."
Hypnos immediately thought of the colourless sea at the end of his kingdom. Was that the astral world? This was just one of millions of questions racing through his mind, but he ultimately asked his mother the most important one. "Who exactly are they?"
"They…" Nyx flattered.
There was a brief moment of silence between them. Hypnos blinked, trying to understand why she had just utterly left him hanging at this important crossroad.
But soon most of his senses were swept away by a storm of rage. "There you go again, mother," he noted. "You always try to infiltrate my secrets, but you do this now," he grinned wryly. "How ironic."
Hypnos went on, emphasising his words. "Unlike you, I respect the secrets of my close ones. But I have the right to know if one involves me and has an impact on my future."
Hearing his rant, Nyx remained unfazed, her countenance as serene and tranquil as ever, which only fuelled his rage. To silence him, she raised her hand. But before she could say anything, a tsunami of darkness crashed near them, and his father emerged from within it, his dark robes rippling with inky blackness.
"Watch your tone, Hypnos," Erebus chided, walking towards Nyx. "It's your mother you are taking to."
Hypnos merely glared at his father, crossing his arms.
Erebus stood next to Nyx, gently holding her hands. "Some secrets are better left unknown, Hypnos, because mere knowledge of them may attract their attention, corruption, and contamination."
Erebus exchanged glances with Nyx. They appeared to be silently communicating through their eyes, and after a few seconds, they turned to him as if they had finally made a decision.
Erebus went on. "But they affect your path, and it will also become your duty to protect the world from them. So we'll tell you once you've opened your realm and attained some firm control over your concept. This will allow you to protect yourself from their corruption."
"Understand, Hypnos. The dangers that come with just the knowledge of them," Nyx immediately added. "It's why we still haven't told you anything yet."
The mere knowledge of their existence would lead to the possibility of being corrupted and contaminated by them.
The words of his parents continued to reverberate in his head as an odd sense of familiarity filled his heart.
In a moment of reflection, Hypnos closed his eyes. His heart sank into familiarity, and his mind erupted with memories of his previous life. And a terrifying thought soon formed in his heart, making it palpitate in trepidation.
'They' couldn't possibly be real in this world either, right?.....
He immediately stopped himself from thinking further as his sense of danger shot through the roof.
Hypnos blinked his eyes open. To calm his racing heart, he took a deep breath. Then he looked at his parents, who were waiting for his answer. "Fine.." he finally said.
Nyx gently smiled. Erebus' eyes softened.
The Primordial of Night extended her other hand. "Come on."
Hypnos took her hand begrudgingly. And they strode towards the mansion of Night together, though for Hypnos, he just felt like he was tagging along with his parents while they snugged closer and closer to each other.
"When are my siblings coming, or are they already here?" Hypnos immediately asked.
"The meeting is only tomorrow, son." Nyx moved away from Erebus, much to his disappointment. "They will come slowly."
"Thanatos could be late." Erebus lightly sighed, "He is swarmed with work of late."
"I will prepare my specialty for the dinner tonight….." Nyx spoke thoughtfully, tapping her finger on her lips.
"He couldn't have asked for more, my love." Erebus nodded enthusiastically.
"…..only for him." Nyx finished sharply. Erebus looked crestfallen.
Hypnos felt the urge to face-palm himself, though his rising lips betrayed him as he watched his primordial parents bicker like an ordinary human couple.
Nyx ignored her husband and turned to him. "So, when are you opening your realm, son?"
"Soon, mother." Hypnos spoke thoughtfully. "If I were to estimate, I will be done with everything by the end of this year."
Nyx nodded, gently squeezing his hand. "Tell me about it."
Hypnos began expounding on his realm, with his lips finally rising into a smile and the heaviness in his eyes fading away.
And they entered the mansion of the night under his boast and their smiles….
Later that Night.
Hypnos was helping his mother in the kitchen with his bright sister, Hemera. She and Aiether had arrived at the Night Mansion not long after them. Thanatos, on the other hand, was obviously running late.
Hypnos and Hemera were washing the ingredients with their powers when an idea as sharp as a sword blade struck his mind. He immediately whispered it into his sister's ear.
Hemera smiled slyly. "Mother, we're going out."
They didn't remain for her answer, teleporting away from the kitchen in a flash of light.
Nyx turned around and shook her head knowingly. She then returned her gaze to the glistening hearth.
After a few minutes, Hemera walked into a large room, holding two closed cups filled with nectar. She strode towards the black sofa where Aiether and Erebus sat watching the hovering screens of light that showed the battles of gods and titans from Titanomachy.
"It's interesting, isn't it?" Hemera beamed at the projections. "My favourite one is Hera. I just love her tenacious spirit!"
Erebus and Aether looked at the projection showing the battles of Hera and Krios from the beginning of the Titanomachy.
In the first battle, Hera was utterly defeated by Krios. She was propelled into a mountain range by a shooting star, and upon impact, a blinding explosion that could make nuclear explosions look like fireworks erupted, shattering everything in its path. Mountains, rivers, and valleys were all disintegrated into their basic particles, fading into ashes under the surging power of the stars.
Something shot out of the explosion, leaving a trail of scorching golden ichor in its wake. The Titan of Stars was caught off guard as the Goddess of Marriage struck her staff into his chest. She ignored her beaten and twisted body and continued fighting him.
The projection began to accelerate, showing the next battles. Hera was defeated once more in the next battle. And, predictably, she stood up again. Defeated. Stood up. Defeated. Stood up. Again and Again. And with each defeat throughout the gruesome war, her power and skill grew, and the tide of battle was slowly turning to her side.
"She is...fierce," Aether hummed. "I give her that."
Hemera sat in between them. "Who is your favourite?" she asked as she passed the nectar cups around.
"Hades," Erebus said, opening the lid on the cup and sipping the nectar.
Hemera and Erebus turned toward the projected image showing the live battle between Hades and Atlas. They were in their divine form, trading blows that carried the power of nature itself. Hades held the bone-chilling darkness in his godly being, and Atlas held the strength of the earth in his titanic being.
And they raged, pitting the very concepts of the world against each other. A storm of darkness began to form in the sky, swirling out from their battleground in the Mediterranean into the Sahara and Sumeria, until the entire Earth was shrouded in shadow, blocking out the sun and moon. It was as if Erebus himself had descended on the world to witness their ensuing battle on the surface.
Meanwhile, Aether frowned at the lid of his cup, suspicious, but seeing his father enjoying the wine, he shook his head with a smile and opened the lid.
From the cup, a blast of glitter erupted, blasting all over the face and body of the Primordial of Light.
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