40.7K 2K 148

Hecate babbled at Elm like a doting mother while she piloted her chariot through the pitch black tunnel. "There is nothing to be afraid of, sweet girl," she said. "We will soon be away from the darkness and enjoying the warm sunshine."

The way Hecate spoke fondly of the sun, making it sound like a rare treat, had Lexi wondering. Did Hecate vote for or against the separation of the underworld from Olympus all those eons ago? Did she miss visiting the original port and seeing the ocean any time she wanted to? Hecate did not have a clue about Lexi's proposal to reestablish the connection. Hades was the only one. But now Lexi worried about Hecate's reaction in the council meeting. Would she be upset that Lexi had not consulted her first?

"Hecate, what was it like in the underworld when Port Oceanus was the entry point for the souls? I have yet to find a map that goes back that far. Did the ocean connect with the Styx River? Did Charon pick up the souls from a dock there?"

Hecate took a moment to navigate through the opening in the rocks, and once they were enjoying the sun's warm rays, she gave Lexi her answer.

"The world was extremely pleasant back then. A tributary of the Styx flowed into Oceanus, and Charon used the port to ferry the souls to the Lethe. The port was also used by those gods who desired a change of scenery. Apart from a proper sky, the underworld does not lack in beauty and interest, as you well know."

Lexi nodded her agreement, although she was trying to interpret Hecate's comment about a 'proper' sky. Did that mean Hecate thought it was improper not to wake to the sun or go to sleep under the moon?

"And was Hades allowed to come and go freely during his early rule?"

Hecate narrowed her eyes at Lexi, although she may have been reacting to the sunshine, which had both Elm and Ely squinting. "Yes. Hades was allowed to roam freely between both worlds. That is, until the titanomachy. When the monsters were imprisoned, a new entrance to the underworld was created and Port Oceanus was sealed."

Hecate appeared to lose herself in a memory as she maneuvered the chariot toward the gates of Olympus, and Lexi knew her time was growing short.

"That was when the bylaws were rewritten, right? Hermes was given a new outlet for his gifts, and Hades was forced to stay in the underworld."

Hecate appeared ready for the conversation to end when she offered her blunt reply. "Correct."

"Do you believe the monsters will ever escape from Tartarus, Hecate?"

"No. I do not."

Hecate's final words on the matter came just before they landed the chariot, but that was all Lexi needed. A seed had been planted inside her head, and when Heracles hurried over to help secure the chariot, Lexi requested to use his scrying mirror to call the palace of titans, hoping to reach Phoebe before the titaness left for the meeting. When Lexi rejoined Heracles and Hecate, Heracles patted Ely on his bald head, which annoyed the boy and had him telling everyone about it.

"The rumors appear to be true," Heracles said. "Your son has the disposition of Zeus."

Lexi couldn't help laughing at his comment. He was right, but who had started such a rumor?

"They are both precious gifts to us all," Hecate admonished, and Lexi detected a hint of guilt in her tone.

They had not traveled far into the city when Lexi felt the weighty pain of panic. Gods were huddled on corners, speaking in melodramatic whispers, and many shops had put up signs with the message, 'Keep Rhea In Your Prayers.' Lexi was greeted in the street by gods thanking her for coming to their aid, each one offering due credit to Hecate for all her years of service. Worries were voiced by relatives expecting a child, or those who feared their garden would wither and they would starve.

Lexi's Promise {Book 3}Read this story for FREE!