Chapter Thirty-Five

12.7K 806 72

I didn't know how long I'd have to wait to see if my spell had any effect, but I didn't want to wait locked in Persephone's rooms. Nervously, I headed into the corridor and turned in the opposite direction from the throne room. The passage soon widened and I found myself once again walking along the River Styx, but this time I was far from alone.

Across the water, I could make out the forms of hundreds of people—but just barely. I squinted, but they looked wispy. They reminded me of the figure I'd seen with the wheelbarrow, and, up close, my thoughts were confirmed: I was looking at the dead. I stood for a moment, staring at them in shock. Is this what happens after death? We just become wispy spirits, like smoke? I shuddered at the thought.

While I stood there, some of the dead noticed me and began to move closer to the bank of the river. Not all of them came forward, but two dozen or so did. Entranced, I moved closer, too, ending with my feet just inches away from the river. We studied each other. I saw old faces and young faces, and as I peered at the dead, my heart dropped out of my chest.

Directly across the river from me was a young boy. His features were blurry, but I was absolutely certain that it was Dennis.

"Dennis!" I called, waving frantically. The boy glanced at me and drifted away. I started to follow him, but a rough hand on my arm pulled me back. I spun around, angry.

"Don't step in the water, little Witch." Hades spoke softly, but his words were firm. "The living do not cross that river twice."

"But I think I know that boy!" I pointed across the river, where Dennis had vanished.

Hades looked at me in pity. "All of the living know someone among the dead. That doesn't mean that they come here, trying to converse with the ones on the other side." He pulled on my arm, forcing me to come a few feet away from the river, but I dug in my heels.

"But that boy was alive before I came here!" What had happened to him after he saw me destroy the kettle?

"Death comes suddenly, sometimes. Have you not seen this with your Red magic?"

I paused, swallowing a lump in my throat as I remembered the car accident. "Yes. But that boy helped me."

Hades looked moderately interested. "And you say you saw him just before coming here?"

I nodded. "His name is Dennis, and he helped Persephone and her mother with the harvest." Had he died because of me?

Hades brooded for a moment. "I do not usually inquire about the fate of the souls in my keeping, but I will make an exception in his case, if you like." His eyes searched my face. "Are you worried that his death is in some way connected to you?"

His words echoed my own fears, and I nodded.

Hades tilted my chin up with his hand and looked at me. "You are a magic worker, and a Red Witch. There will be many souls in my realm as a result of your actions." I tried to jerk my face away, not wanting to listen to him, but he held me firmly. "These things you will have to bear. Magic never comes without a price."

Finally he released me and I rubbed my arms, suddenly cold.

"Come," he said, "there has been food delivered from above, and I am sure you are hungry."

I looked back once at the river, searching the bank for Dennis. I hoped it wasn't him, but the more I thought about it, the more sure I became. My stomach felt hollow when Hades put his hand on my elbow and led me away.

"I will inquire about the boy. Now come with me."

The food Hades presented me with could have fed an army. I didn't think I could eat, but as soon as I smelled the food, I felt my stomach grumble in response. I realized that the last meal I remembered was breakfast in Demeter's cottage. It had been at least a day, if not more. I'd lost track of time since I got to the Underworld.

Daughter of ChaosRead this story for FREE!