Disclaimer: The Xenaverse is owned by Renaissance/Universal, created by Rob Tapert.

No profit is being made from this writing. It is written for the enjoyment of those who wish to share it.

Author's Note: This story takes place during and shortly after the two parter: "Adventures in the Sin Trade."

Eryss - Pronounced Eh-Rees

Summary: Hades has to rectify a mistake.

Rating M - Drama

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ETERNAL ELYSIUM

 

Enveloped in veils of pale mist, the smell of death hung in the air on this bitter unforgiving Winter's morn as the cold, haunting winds whispered through the labyrinth of bodies.

Unaffected by the biting, frigid cold, once again he stood above the Earth, a well built, formidable figure, clad in black and silver, donning a darkened platinum thorned crown. His cape, dark as night, flowing behind him as Hades, Lord of the Dead walked amongst the devastated remains of this Grecian Battlefield, his Elite following.

Hundreds upon hundreds lay dead, many grotesquely mutilated in this senseless macabre spilling of blood over a land disagreement. A gory blood bath and not a pleasant sight. Although the God wasn't sickened by the sight of blood and entrails, as he had been by the first battle site he'd ever graced - he'd gagged in shock at the brutal carnage, turned away and vomited like there was no tomorrow, and back then, it had taken a tremendous emotional effort to force himself to turn around to release the souls from their maimed, disembowelled bodies, to their respective places in the Underworld, but since then he'd lost count of the thousands upon thousands of gruesome battle sties he'd had to visit and he knew what he must do.

Would mortals ever learn to live in peace, he wondered. Perhaps. Someday. But right now he had a great deal to do and a lot on his mind, as he made his way through the twisted mess of bloodied bodies and parts and began to indicate where the souls were to dwell for all eternity.

"Elysian Fields ... Tartarus ... Elysian Fields... Tartarus... "

It seemed to be *taking* an eternity. When so many died like this in such a short period of time, it was impossible to ferry them all across the River Styx in Charon's boat - that would take even longer. In instances such as this, souls were directed directly to their respective places in the Underworld. And Charon could forget about coins, although Hades had promised to make it up to him, though it puzzled him what Charon actually *did* with all those coins, but now was not the time to satisfy his curiosity and the Olympian God continued.

"Elysian Fields ... Those two Tartarus ... Those three Elysian Fields ... No wait, that one raped his eight year old sister - Tartarus." Hades paused. "I almost missed that ... I nearly sent a rapist to the Elysian Fields ..."

"Centre yourself," Charon said. "You know how you get under pressure."

"There's no time, Charon. These peoples' souls need me."

As Hades carried on dictating where the souls of the battle slain were to go, he noticed the body of a small young woman, clad in a soiled white dress, lying at the foot of the stony cold castle wall. His complex face softened as he briefly felt the immense emotional pain and torment she had endured and suffered in life. This had not been her fight. She had seen the people fighting and had come to help the wounded and been killed for it.

Hades held his hand out and spoke softly. "Elysian Fields."

The woman's body jerked suddenly and her eyes snapped open for a moment. "Ooe!" Her eyes shut again and with a thud, her body fell back to the cold, hard ground.

Hades gasped and covered his mouth with his fingertips. "My Gods, Charon ... She was still *alive...*"

Charon looked at her. "Oopsie. Well she's not anymore."

Hades did not look amused.

"Well can't you bring her back?"

Hades looked at the woman's body. "No," he said after a pause. "The shock to her system was too much ... Her body's too damaged. Physically *and* mentally. I-"

"How were you to know? She looked pretty dead to me. Maybe she woulda died anyway."

Hades shook his head. "Her would wasn't fatal ... Curse it! Why didn't I *see* that?"

Charon cocked his head to one side. "You have a lot on your mind right now."

Hades let out a breath. "That's beside the point!" He motioned to the woman's lifeless body. "I *killed* her ..."

"You didn't mean to."

"It's my fault she's dead, because I wasn't paying full attention to what I was doing! I'm the Lord of the Dead, for Zeus' sake! How could I be so *careless?...*"

Charon, knowing how easy it was for Hades to get depressed, tried to liven his spirits. "You made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. Heh, even me."

Hades shook his head. "Not like this ... The poor girl's going to be lost down there, terrified ... The shock alone would have ... When I've finished up here, I've gotta go to the Elysian Fields and help-"

"Uh, uh, Boss. You know it's against the rules to give any of the Dead special treatment."

"This is different!" Hades snapped. "She shouldn't be there! But she is and it's my fault - and I can't restore her soul to her body. She's my responsibility. I have to at least tell her what's happened to her and hope she can cope."

He also sensed something else about the woman, but couldn't quite put his finger on it.

Charon nodded. "Well don't say I didn't warn you when big brother Zeus comes a knockin'."

Hades managed a small smile at Charon. "I'm sure he'll understand ... Now we've got to get the rest of these mortals' souls to the Underworld."

Hades seemed doubly troubled now and wanted to finish his work here as quickly as possible, as he left the body of the young woman and continued to walk among the dead, making sure he stayed focused.

"Tartarus ... Elysian Fields ... Tartarus ... Elysian Fields..."

"Hades!"

At first he was puzzled, then he recognised the voice as Xena's. Not that he didn't want to speak to her, he had too much on his mind to be distracted.

The Warrior Princess dismounted from Argo. "My friend Gabrielle... Where is she?"

"Gabrielle?" Hades seemed a tad confused, but didn't let on. "Well if she's dead, she didn't come to me."

Xena looked puzzled as Hades continued to walk amongst the dead.

"I saw her die," Xena persisted. "She *had* to come to you."

Hades stopped for a moment. "Why would I lie to you?" He quickly tried to change the subject. "Look, if you'd like to see Solan, I can arrange a few moments..."

He touched her shoulder.

"No, No, No. You leave Solan out of this!" Xena snapped. "He doesn't need to know about my problems. It's Gabrielle I wanna see. Come on. You owe me!"

Hades had a feeling Xena would someday come to collect on the favours he owed her, but he wasn't sure how he could help her. He also had a feeling she would take him up on his offer to see Solan, but apparently not today.

"Xena, not all the world's Dead come to me."

It was a stunning admission for the Lord of the Underworld - that he didn't control the destiny of all the world's Dead. Hades would have never admitted that to another mortal soul - Most Gods had no clue either. Xena had helped him in the past. He trusted her and knew he owed her one ... two, actually. She had rescued his sister Celesta from King Sisyphus and returned his Helmet of Invisibility when it was stolen by Atyminius. It was not something he liked to talk about. Being duped by a mortal king, then a murderer/ paedophile wouldn't look good on any Deity's Curriculum Vitae, but Xena had set things straight and Hades had respected that she'd kept it to herself and her friend. The Warrior Princess knew him better than any mortal.

"She was Grecian," Xena said. "The Olympian Gods control her destiny."

"I admit it does seem like she'd be mine," Hades agreed, "like these people." He indicated the sea of corpses. "Charon and I are going to be very, very busy-"

"I'm not interested in your workload, Hades!" Xena yelled.

Why would she be? Hades thought. It wasn't her problem. Though she could at least be a tad understanding ...

Xena grabbed him and turned him around, then softened her tone. Hades could see the pain in her eyes, and he felt for her, but that wasn't the main thing on his mind right now.

"Look, I just wanna know where my friend went after she died..."

The Lord of the Dead could hear the pain and sadness in her voice and prompted her. "Did she, uh ... belong to any spiritual orders or-"

"No..."

"What is it?" Hades asked, after a moment, seeing Xena looking as though she was worlds away.

"Do Greek Amazons come to you?"

He shook his head. "No."

"...Then that's it. Gabrielle's initiation into the Amazons meant she went to a different Land..."

"Well I can't help you then. I don't know where that is."

Hades silently indicated that the last soul of the battle be taken to the Elysian Fields as he quickly boarded his Chariot, before Xena could ask any more.

He barely heard Xena say "I do," as his Chariot, drawn by four beautiful steeds darker than the darkest night, thundered away from the battlefield, back to his Underworld.

Truth be told he knew exactly where the Amazon Afterlife was - the Land of the Dead, how to get there, and of the horrors occurring. Even though he was the Lord of all the world's Dead, as he had said - they didn't all come to him. He knew of the suffering in the Amazon Land of the Dead, valiant warriors forced to wander the Land of the Dead for all eternity due to the hateful revenge of Alte, but since it was not Hades Underworld, he was powerless to enter the Amazon Afterlife, or any Afterlife Realm which wasn't his Underworld, unless her was invited to help, which he had nor been and thus, could not help the souls of the slain Amazons. He hated feeling so helpless and even though he didn't control the destiny of deceased Amazons, or those who weren't Grecian or belonged to other spiritual orders, he felt responsible for all the world's Dead. It was his responsibility to see they all went to the right places, and deserving souls wandering aimlessly for all eternity definitely wasn't right. Alte had stopped the Natural Order. The Amazons' souls needed to pass through the Gate to Eternity and thus enter the Amazon versions of the Elysian Fields or Tartarus. Hades knew exactly what it was to have an Underworld in disarray. It wasn't just annoying and unpleasant - it was dangerous. Cosmic Balance was a delicate matter and The Lord of the Underworld knew if this wasn't fixed soon, the Amazons wouldn't be the only ones with problems with the Dead.

He knew Xena would go to the Land of the Dead to rescue Gabrielle, but there she would discover that all was not well and he knew Xena well enough to know she'd do everything in her power to repair the damage. He might have acted quite blasť about the whole thing, and wished he hadn't have had to lie to her, for all that she had done for him, though, if he had told Xena everything, she would not have learned for herself or gained anything and she would on her journey. She would not have challenged herself or discovered that Gabrielle gave her a light of her own. Hades could not have been more right, as Xena restored balance to the Afterlife as he knew she would.

Hades felt an enormous strain, like a titanic mountain hand been lifted from his shoulders as all was right with the worlds Underworlds and Dead once again, and he hoped that it stayed that way.

But now he had other pressing concerns. The many recent arrivals from the horrific battle had all but settled in ... well not that one could ever 'settle' into Tartarus, but they chosen path of evil in life and were rightfully being punished for it. That was the way of things. Those roaming Asphodel had done and given nothing in their mortal lives and rightfully received nothing in the Afterlife. Those in the Elysian Fields had indeed settled in, being rewarded for their courage, contributions and sacrifices they had made in their lives above the Earth - all except one.

On her knees in a lush green meadow, she felt the tall grass swaying gently in the breeze. She knew not where she was. The last thing she remembered, screaming, clashing of metal, blood and deaths. She had run to a stone grey wall, and tried to help one of the men on the ground, and then felt pain rip through her body ... but there had been something else. A while later she had seen a man in black. He had reached out to her and then a short burst of pain and she was here. Somehow she knew it was not a dream. None of her dreams were this serene. But where were the people? Where she was before... There were lots of people, dead, some still fighting and that man dressed in black. She knew she had to get home, but she was lost and began to cry for she did not know the way.

Hades saw her across the meadow, took a deep breath and walked slowly toward her. He'd changed clothing, into a flowing deep purple and dark green suit with matching satin cape, and he'd removed his crown. He didn't want to look imposing and he hardly had any excuses to wear this suit, but, that's not what matters now, he mused.

He stopped halfway, feeling her anguish, her torture. Through the window to her soul, he saw her father raping her, her mother and step siblings beating her, tearing up a beautiful coloured blanket she'd spent an seventeen months weaving – she'd screamed and cried, as she had been so proud of her hard work. Her siblings wrenched her long auburn hair and blamed her for all that went awry. Hades heard her cry again, but somehow he sensed it was not due to her mistreatment in the mortal world.

He cautiously approached her, not sure how she would receive him. Anger, fear, loathing?

He was much bigger then her, but somehow she wasn't frightened of his seemingly imposing figure. Perhaps it was his gentle pale blue eyes.

He stopped before her. "I owe you an apology, Eryss," he said softly.

She looked up at him slowly and backed off a little at first, but then she recognised him as the man she had seen before.

"H..h..o.." she stammered. "Ba.. hur .. mmm..." She waved her arms about.

Hades was confused, had she been so shocked by the ordeal that she couldn't even speak?

She looked even more insecure when she looked up at him.

"He..p ... hom..."

With a shock, Hades realised she was mentally retarded. Another wave of guilt rushed him. How could he tell her she was dead?

He knelt beside her.

"H..ave t..o home..." she said slowly. "Fa..ter hit ba..d..."

Hades took her hand. "You don't have to worry about that anymore, Eryss, no one's ever going to hurt you again, I promise." He made a mental note to send her evil family to Tartarus – unless of course they did something miraculous, which he didn't foresee, but then that was the Fates' job.

"Am ... wh..ere place..."

Hades dreaded that question, but he knew he had to tell her.

"You're in the Elysian Fields, Eryss - Resting place of the souls of good mortals."

Her confused expression told Hades she didn't have a clue.

"I'm sorry," he confessed. "You died ... Up there on the battle field ... and it was my fault, I'm ... so sorry."

"Ba...ttle ... fight...bad."

Hades nodded. "Very bad. Wars are."

"Help ... sore man ... Then hurt..."

"His enemy ran you through ..." Hades said slowly. "...But your wound was not fatal ... It was very kind of you, to risk yourself ... But I can't put you back up there ... The shock to your mortal body was too much you'd be worse off than you are now."

Even though he had spoken slowly and clearly, he wasn't sure she had understood him. Even if he could restore her, he wasn't sure she'd want to return to that horrendous family.

"Father ... beat and ..."

"He won't hurt you ever again, I promise."

Her large green eyes pierced Hades Soul.

"No ... home..."

"You are home, Eryss, where no one can ever hurt you again. The Elysian Fields is a place of eternal serenity. You weren't meant to die, and I'm very sorry for that."

"D..ie..?" She looked confused.

Hades took her other hand and almost cried himself. She was so innocent. How could those people have treated her so badly?

"Dying is what happens when a mortal's body gets ... damaged beyond repair," he explained. "Your Soul and conscience – what makes you unique gets transported to another place, a place of peace." He gestured to the vast surroundings of subtle light, meadows and trees, swaying in the gentle breeze. Of course there was Tartarus, eternal punishment, torment and suffering for the evil doers, and Asphodel for the nothing doers, but he thought he'd best keep it simple for her.

"No ... more beat ... or hurt...?"

"No," Hades said gently, shaking his head with a warm smile.

He wasn't sure she'd grasped the full concept of death, but she seemed to have started to understand that she would be safe here, even if she didn't exactly understand where 'here' was.

"I have to go now," he said, standing. "Call my name, if you need anything." Normally he would not have made such an offer, there being so many mortals to look after, but Eryss was quite different. "My name's Hades."

Eryss smiled. "Hadeeez nice."

The Lord of the Dead smiled back at her. "Thanks ... oh, before I go, I have something for you."

He opened his hand, and in a bright flash of light, many shimmering strands of color appeared, as though he had caught a rainbow. He gave them to her and held her hand gently. "No one will tear up this blanket, I promise." Not that she needed one here, though he sensed it was her dream to create something of beauty – that wouldn't be destroyed by jealousy and hate.

"Th..ank ..."

"It's the least I can do."

Eryss threw her arms around him, the Lord of the Dead gently returning the embrace.

She held up the bright threads. "How ... long ... make?"

Hades smiled warmly. "You've got all eternity."

The young girl smiled warmly and began to weave her rainbow blanket.

Hades watched her, her unique innocence touching him deeply. He watched her for a few more moments making sure Eryss was comfortable as she sat alone, her Soul finally at peace.

He had brought her here by mistake, but in retrospect it was one mistake he was glad to have made. He'd saved her from a life time of torment, even if she didn't fully understand what had happened. Perhaps she was meant to come here after all.

Hades left for his Castle to tell Persephone and his sister Celesta, the Spirit of Death, about Eryss and smiled when he sensed his beloved wife's love. Before he left the Fields, he took one last look at the mortal girl, peacefully weaving as if nothing else mattered in the entire Universe. He felt the love, happiness and peace in her Soul and her transgression beyond her fears. Hades wiped a tear from his pale cheek as he smiled warmly, wishing all humanity could be as loving as her, that they'd stop fighting, hating and killing, though he didn't have to be a Fate to know that wouldn't happen for a long time yet.

He didn't want to leave on a negative thought and looked again at Eryss, her pure and innocent Soul making him look deeper into his own, as he returned home, his rich purple cape shimmering, flowing behind him in the gentle Elysian winds.

 

*

 

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