eternal winter

by Augusta Landry
Alberta, Canada
genre: Fantasy

It’s the rarest thing that a soul got lost in the Underworld. Unfortunately that poor soul took a wrong turn and ended up in Tartarus due to the whispers of its prisoners below. Even more unfortunate that the soul listened to those whispers until it had put its body parts back together, reconstructing Kronos until he was whole again. He and his fellow titans made their way up to the Overworld for revenge.
Evidently, Zeus was the first to meet his end, while his first battle against them rendered him victorious, he was not prepared for another, causing his demise. Unsurprisingly, many did not miss him.
You may be thinking, “The gods can’t die, they’re gods,” In theory, you are right, but they die the same ways that they have killed the titans. They still exist, just not in a physical form, living in a state of nothing, in a role of a voiceless spectator.
It wasn’t until Athena, who had taken over -to very little objections- Zeus’ responsibilities on Mount Olympus, had been killed by the banished group of titans that the gods took up arms in defence. The last war had been millennia’s ago. This one has been much more deadly, to both human and immortal.
The battlefield never rests, why would it when most of the warriors are immortal. The mortals that are there are the ones that either choose not to flee when they could or couldn’t afford to. Either way, they are now enslaved ducks on a battlefield that they didn’t create for themselves for once.
An unlikely duo that made their way onto the battlefield had been Demeter and Ares. Normally, Demeter would be fighting along side her daughter, Persephone. However, despite the times of unrest, the laws of the underworld don’t make exceptions. By the time her daughter had to leave, teams had already been established, and while Demeter was a well respected goddess by human and god alike, they weren’t too keen on having an agriculture goddess on their team, lesser so her attitude.
Ares previously had teamed off with Hermes and Dionysus. Hermes was always disappearing to who knows where and Dionysus had died fairly easy early on in the war. Ares was disappointed about that. He’d had hoped he’d last longer to have access to the maenads, creating a crazy army for a war god.
Instead, he stuck now with a rag tag team of gods who’d rather be anywhere else then with each other, consisting of himself, a flaky god with wings on his shoes, a sharp-tongued agriculture goddess and her part time side-kick of an agriculture goddess daughter, who, despite being called the “Queen of the Underworld”, didn’t have the perks of it.
It was one of those days where Hermes was actually around. He, along with Demeter and Ares, were slicing their way through a barren and hilly landscape. Quite literally slicing. Hermes hovering a few feet above the ground, spotting for the two other gods.
Ares was using a sword to cut down any mortal who dared attempt to capture them for the bounty the titans put on their heads. Demeter was using two of her best sickles, and while they were mean’t to take out crops, they did a mean job at leaving men without their knees. It was times like these when Ares thought they *just* might stand a chance.
Mount Olympus had not only been lost, but completely and utterly destroyed. Alongside their chariots, leaving the gods with no means of transportation, aside from their own two legs. The only exception was Hermes, because of his shoes, he could travel freely, and with a guest, should he choose to do so.
So when Demeter felt a worsening gut feeling, particularly in relation to her daughter, she did nothing short of demanded to be taken to the Underworld. Once it was made clear that Demeter would not relent unless she got what she wanted, they finally made it to a spot where a not so impressed Ares would be able to manage on his own and Hermes reluctantly took her down.
Demeter had never been to the Underworld up until this point. As an agriculture goddess she had no need to, she had work to do in the Overworld. When she arrived, she saw her worse possible nightmare, a titan attacking her daughter. Demeter was swift in her actions, attacking from behind she had dismembered the titan. She sent the dismembered parts scattered to the depths of Tartarus, where they belonged.
What Demeter missed was that the Titan was not attacking, it had in fact, just finished casting a curse, and getting ready to cast another, turning Persephone and her husband, Hades, into gold statues. Hades laying on his back clutching his abdomen, and Persephone standing with her back to him, with a sword that clearly wasn’t hers.
During the titans invasion of the Underworld, she had heavily injured Hades, leaving him to bleed out on the floor. Persephone was having none of it, took up her husbands sword and continued his fight. Unfortunately, the titan had just enough time to cast the curse.
A curse that was only intended for Hades but additionally caught Persephone in the crossfire, not that the titan, Theia minded, it meant less work for her. Theia had intended to destroy the gold, ultimately killing the king and queen of the Underworld but Demeter had destroyed her first.
The sight of her daughter encased in gold brought Demeter to her knees. It was there that she really saw her daughter, and she finally saw the woman she had heard rumours about, the woman she never thought would be. The woman who put a mortal to eternal sleep over a jealous spat with Aphrodite. The woman who let a young musician go with the soul of his lover trailing behind, only to have him look back and lose her. He died from a broken heart. Many say she had planned it in the hopes of having him play for her down below. The woman who was willing to take up arms and die to protect her lover.
When Demeter and Hermes left Ares, it had been cold, but otherwise tolerable. But when Ares saw the sky start to darken, he knew things had taken a turn for the worse. The wind got darker, and snow started coming down almost in pellets. No one was prepared for this, as it never snows it this region, let alone a full on blizzard.
But there is a first for everything, and unfortunately for the mortals of the region, it wasn’t going to let up any time soon. Warmer weather only came when the daughter came up from the Underworld.
Demeter had only felt this kind of anguish and heartbreak once before, when Persephone had first disappeared to the Underworld. Which sent mortal into a famine before, but this is different. What was lost then could be recovered. There is no recovering from this. Demeter had lost the thing she loved most in this world, and to her, there was no point in letting the world continue on if she couldn’t have her daughter with her.

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