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While Hades was not surprised to see Lars standing at the bridge when Spartan carried him to the gates, he was surprised to find Lars sitting inside his palace holding his daughter when he returned home. Lars appeared equally surprised to be caught in such a position, and he quickly rose to greet Hades with an outstretched hand. Hades had to remind himself how much he owed Lars for assisting in the delivery of his offspring.

"Begging your forgiveness, your grace," Lars grunted out. "Lexi asked me inside to see the young gods."

"You are welcome in our home," Hades said as his hand was vigorously shaken. "It appears Elm has taken a liking to you."

They both looked down at Elm as she made a grab for Lars' chest hair with tiny fingers. "She has a pleasant manner," Lars offered. "And she has your features."

"Yes, it seems she does." Hades smiled at Lexi as she lifted from her chair and joined them, placing a kiss on Hades' cheek.

"Have Poseidon and Hermes arrived?" she asked.

"Yes. They are waiting for us in Elysium. Are you ready to go?"

"I am. We have about an hour before the babies will need to eat again."

Elm was turned over to Sella, and Lisbon walked Lars to the foot of the bridge while Hades and Lexi adopted a more leisurely pace behind them.

"Should Ink be worried about Lisbon choosing a well-hung minotaur over him?" Hades asked in a hushed voice.

"I think she's just curious," Lexi said. "I'm sure she would get bored once she realized she and Lars had little else in common besides body parts."

"You are probably right. In my experience, females want a mate who can sate their desire for companionship as well as their lust."

Lexi squeezed his hand. "And I am a fortunate female to have found both in my mate."

Once they had taken to the sky, a pensive expression took over Lexi's face. Hades didn't doubt she was nervous about reuniting Rhea's spirit with her body, given the unusual nature of Rhea's passing. Although he knew the moment had gone, he still felt guilt for not divulging his exchange with The Fates, convincing himself it would have only caused Lexi undue worry and produced the same result. But that was not really the point. The point was his failure to share everything with his beloved.

"What troubles you, my love?" he asked as he watched her carefully. He didn't have to wait long before she was sharing her thoughts.

"What is the real reason Zeus refuses to visit the underworld? The only excuse I hear is that he's uncomfortable around the souls, but there must be more to it."

"There is. Fear."

"Fear? I didn't think Zeus feared anything."

"Are you familiar with the story of Typhon?"

Lexi's brows furrowed. "Typhon is the monster Zeus nearly lost his life to. He was described as a fire-breathing dragon with one hundred heads."

Hades chuckled. "That was an exaggeration by the mortals. It was only nine, but the rest is true, and when Zeus finally imprisoned Typhon in Tartarus, he vowed to never set foot in the underworld again. This promise was made in the presence of only two, Hermes and myself."

Lexi nodded her understanding and fell silent, remaining in this state for the rest of the journey. Hermes and Poseidon had already carried the bier over the bridge and were waiting near an open area of the field when Hades landed the chariot. Poseidon led the charge to meet them, giving Hades the opportunity to help Lexi step down before flanking Lexi's other side.

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