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Had the gods truly reached the end of their immortality? The question plagued Hades as he crossed the bridge to Elysium. It had been some time since he'd been there, and he found himself reminiscing as he walked over the ancient stone walkway into the open field. The last time he visited, his mood had been low, like today, and he sought solace in his former lover, Macaria, daughter of Heracles. The selfless goddess had sacrificed her life to save her family and her homeland, while in the process effectively abandoning Hades. But that was a long time ago.

The trees greeted him as they always did, swaying almost imperceptibly as he entered the forest, a protective gesture that offered Hades paltry comfort as he searched for inhabitants. The chance of finding the soul of a hero wandering the woods was remote. Most of them tended to enjoy the endless sleep that was afforded them, but a physical presence often alerted the spirits of the gods, and Hades made no effort to silence his footfalls as he trudged over the crackling leaves and deadwood. If he was lucky, Heracles would sense him. Heracles' spirit tended to keep in close contact with his physical form, and there was a chance the mighty god could give Hades some insight regarding the situation with the titans. There was a time when Hades avoided Heracles as much as he avoided the fool Orpheus, having tired of Heracles' endless boasting and litany of accomplishments, but eternity had a way of subduing arrogance, at least in some cases.

Reaching a tributary of the River Styx, Hades took a seat on a boulder, his usual resting place when he visited Elysium. If anyone had become alerted to his presence, they would know to find him there. Closing his eyes, Hades thought back to his dalliance with Lexi that morning, how she had seduced him with her heavenly eyes and decadent mouth until he was kneeling before her, delighting in her sweetness. Shortly after, he claimed her on the chaise. Damn, his love for her went deep. So very deep.

"Hades? What brings you?"

The voice echoed inside his head, the etheric communication of the souls that lived in his world, and he knew at once he had been discovered by Macaria. He turned as her spirit floated toward him, hovering over the underbrush like a handkerchief lifted by the breeze. Her nude form reminded him of bygone days, and Hades wondered if she purposely chose to appear to him in that form to remind him of their love affair.

"Hello, Macaria. I have come to seek counsel."

A smile lifted her lips as she held out her hand to him. He kissed it, receiving the feathery touch of her intangible form. "I am happy to offer counsel. What questions plague you, my lord?"

"It appears Elysium may be hosting several new souls, twelve in number, although I am hoping this unpleasant business can somehow be averted. I came here in the hopes you or Heracles might have some insight on the matter, or at least pacify me with advice from your liberated point of view."

Macaria dipped her head in silent knowing. "You are worried about Phoebe's prophecy. The prophecy that predicts the death of the titans. Heracles has heard of this, and he is of the mindset that we should not panic. Phoebe does have a flair for the dramatic."

As was characteristic of the spirits of Elysium, Macaria appeared unfettered by the prospect that the titans may soon be joining the land of the dead. She had nothing to worry her and nothing to fear. Hades' did not enjoy such an unencumbered life, and Macaria's words failed to offer the reassurance he sought. Surely, Lexi would give him comfort, at least in the solidness of her arms. He only hoped the news was not burdening her too much. She had established a close bond with his parents, as well as Mnemosyne.

"I agree with your observation about Phoebe," Hades said. "However, her prophecies have always played out just as she says they will, although not always in the time frame she predicts."

"Perhaps, the titan's influence is merely waning, and they are relinquishing their duties to the Olympians. Have you consulted The Fates on the matter?"

Hades shook his head as a shudder ran through him. "I seek The Fates only as a last resort. Please, do not tell them I said that."

Macaria grinned, her ghostly form rippling in response to her mirth. "I understand your reticence. They give me the chills, which is not an easy task for someone in my condition."

Hades joined her in a smile, taking a moment to forget his worries and relish in her pleasant company. Soon he would have to return to the palace to meet Lexi, and although he enjoyed every moment spent with his lover, he feared his worries would continue to plague him well past her arrival.

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