Postmortem

Chapter 5

© 2008 by Aurea Freniere

This page was last modified: 2009/01/04


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The realm of the Underwold looked very different from what Kanon remembered. The last time he visited it, the realm had been a literal hell. The specters could have easily doubled as devils with tridents torturing you every where you went.
He had died there with Radamantys, so he tried not to dwell on the memories. But now he was back in the Underworld again although he couldn't say if he felt uncomfortable for those memories or because of the knowledge that he was there with the intention to save Milo.

Now the Underworld was composed of a huge castle that rose above the sky as a fortress of such size and elegance that took Kanon's breath away.
Definitively it was a place where an aristocrat would live. It didn't resemble at all the place a god of the Underworld would have. But there was something that made him shiver. An energy coming out from every stone that suggested a void. As if everything there was gone, but at the same time there.

It was weird to Kanon, having these contradictory feelings about the place and yet this energy or whatever it was -maybe it was the cosmos of this realm- coated every single piece of furniture spread out all over the place, from the gardens to the hall where he was asked to wait.
There was also an under current that made him feel at ease. He had expected to be uncomfortable, but for some strange reason Kanon felt like he had hit the end of everything and thus nothing could ever worry him again.

Kanon was surprised when a child showed up. She had pale skin and golden locks on top of her head that fell all the way to her middle back. Unlike her light skin and hair, her eyes were surprisingly dark and Kanon found soon he would not be able to stare at her for long as he literally felt that the gaze of the girl would suck him inside of her.
She was wearing a black dress that seem to float under her steps, and was too, surrounded by the unsetteling energy as well so Kanon just focused on following her.

She never said a word, but Kanon was greatful for the gesture. He wasn't sure he would be able to keep up small talk with such a creepy looking child.

They crossed the whole castle, accompanied by the cling-clang sound that Kanon's Gemini Armour made when coliding with the floor. They kept wallking through a maze of halls, until the girl stopped abruptly in front of a huge wooden door. On the frame there were several efiges of different apocalyptic sceneries. Kanon could recognize some of them, but there were many that extended to cultures he didn't know.

Then the girl gestured with her hand to go inside, which Kanon did promptly.

"Hello Kanon. Long time no see."

Hades spoke first. He was sitting behind a mahogany desk covered with books. On the walls were huge shelves that contained even more books of all shapes and sizes.
He had been expecting to find a goth version of a Greek god, but instead he was greeted by a somewhat cheerful man, who was smiling and who wore a richly embroidered black robe with golden ornaments hanged from his neck.

Up until this point Kanon had thought the prescensce of this God would not unsettle him. He had been aquainted to other Gods, who more often than not looked like regulary dull civilians. But Hades was different.
His face was something quite familiar to him and yet he didn't know why, because he was sure he hadn't seen him before.
He had fine features: a long sharp nose, well shaped lips and a pale skin that was accented with a set of eyes very simliar to the girl who had walked him to here, and a black mane that crowned his head that looked more like a huge black hole. Except for those two godlike features, Hades could resemble any other Gold Saint, handsome in features and strong in prescense.
But he was something much more powerful.

Maybe it has to do with death itself, Kanon thought.

The man in front of him was the God of Death and all humans whether young or old were acquainted with the concept. Kanon knew this by heart as he had to live with it day by day. It didn't matter how fearsome it was, knowing that you were going to die some day was something no one could escape for too long.
Death was alluring, tempting, and for Kanon, familiar. And Hades was all of those things too. He was nothing like Lady Athena, who was kind and whose very prescence made you want to put down your weapons and cry.

But Hades? Seeing his face made Kanon want to want to walk to him. To see him up close. To finish everything and be peaceful at last.

Hades laughed, making him jump a little. Kanon blinked and shook his head, trying to get rid of his uncalled suicidal thoughts, focusing on the task that had been appointed to him. He wasn't sure he was going to convince Hades, but he had to give it a shot. If not for Milo at least for himself. For his pride as a Saint.

"Your, Highness." He said and bow, then walking to the desk and handing in the letter Athena had wrote to him.
Then he gave a step back and stood in the centre of the room.

"Thank you," Hades answered and opened the letter immediatly, looking sideways to Kanon once in a while as he smiled briefly over Gods knew what.

Very unsettling indeed.

Kanon did his best not to look directly at the God, but he failed.
He had to admit, at least to himself, that he had been having second thoughts about the trip. He hated Gods and their ways. Or used to.
That's why he had tried to overun Poseidon's realm in the first place. Because he had been tired of being manipulated as a puppet.
Saga had done the same and although his brother had incarcelated Kanon for having an evil heart, he had caved to temptation, over running the Holy Land and taking the place of the Goddess.

And now, he was there, sent by a Goddess, trying to force another deity, a former enemy at that to bring a team mate back to life.

"I could not agree more with you," Hades said with a velvety tone while placing the letter next to the pile of books.

"I beg you pardon?" Kanon asked a little confusd. Hades didn't answer him. He was observing him in a way Kanon felt he was being scanned from the inside out; as if the letter handed to him seconds ago was not the subject to deal with, but him.

"I have to say," Hades began. "I was expecting a visit soon from the Sanctuary but I never thought she would be sending you."

Kanon didn't say anything, but remained quiet in an attempt to divert whatever antics Hades was planning to play on him. In any case talking back was not allowed, and he wasn't very up for breaking the rules and getting himself killed over Milo.

"I'm the commander of the Gold Saints your highness," He greeted him with his full name as the protocol demanded "Gemini Kanon at your ser..."

"Yeah, yeah. I know," Hades interrupted him, with a bored tone while standing up from his chair. "Spare me the lecture. I have dinner plans today."

Kanon nodded and pressed his lips tight. He was making an effort to control himself as it was not pleasing to be mocked by a former enemy, just because Milo's friends wanted the leech back.

"So tell me," The God of the Underworld moved on with a cheerful tone and a smile on his face. "Why did you come here?"

"I came to negociate Milo's life your highness. Athena sent me on her behalf," Kanon answered promptly hoping that this would do the trick. He really didn't want to get into the details as to how the body had been found or even better, his suspicions of the motive behind Milo's murder.

"No, I meant, why did you came here?" The God asked again while sitting this time on the edge of his desk like a child would do during school recess.

Kanon didn't know what to answer, other than what he had already provided: he had come, because Athena needed a favor. As simple as that.
Still Hades kept his gaze fixed on him as if was expecting something else while tilting his head a little to the left, with his ear exposed to him.

"Ah..." Kanon opened his mouth, hating himself for enabling the God in such a childish game. "Well, I think I'm the most experienced in the audience protocol and that's why Athena chose me to do this."

"Oh..." Hades said, smiling. "So you really think you can lie to me... right?"

Kanon clenched instantly. What was Hades talking about? He was telling him the truth. He had come because Athena wanted him to come. And he had stepped up for the task because he was the best for the job. There was of course an underlying matter behind that truth, but those were personal affairs which Kanon had left at the Sanctuary to carry on his duty diligently as always.

"I'm not lying to you Lord Hades. I came here because Athena asked me to."

Hades jumped off the desk and walked towards him. He thought his repetitive answer was going to piss off the God, but Hades still loooked quite happy for someone that had complaint about human lies.

"I already knew that," The God said while circling him "I've known Athena since the dawn of mankind. I know she would send her best Saint to deal with me. I know that. And so far I was expecting this meeting to be another of those boring diplomatic meettings... that is, until you showed up."

He then felt Hades's cosmos very near from his and it was the same kind as the one that he previously had felt on the girl and on every stone on the castle. It all came from Hades: a chilling vibe that made him stay very still, and expectant.
Kanon swallowed, because it was now clear that Athena's warning over his coming to the Underworld were an understatement. Hades was not a God to play with. Still he had to hold his place.

"I have to give it to Athena. She's starting to get creative," Hades said and got closer to Kanon and smelled his hair. "So are you going to tell me what possesed you to come to negociate the soul of a person that you and I know, you hate..."

The last words were whispers, said out with a playful annoying tone that was sending Kanon over the edge. Gods were indeed holy motherfuckers.

"Why would you care if I liked Milo or not?" He asked, finally snapping while staring directly at the god with his jaws tight. " I'm here because Athena sent me and it's my duty as a Saint of the Order to carry on this errand leaving my personal feelings behind. That's why... your highness"

Hades laughed evidently amused by Kanon's efforts to abide to the protocole and walked away towards his desk again. It looked as if he was gliding on top of his carpet.

"You liar," The God said and laughed again, turning around to see him. Kanon felt his blood pressure rising to a dangerous level. The motherfucker was indeed playing with him. He could have made a desition by his own without having someone from the Sanctuary coming all the way over here.

"I'm not lying, My lord. I'm telling you the truth," He defended himself.

"I can read thoughts you know..."

Kanon gave a litte step back feeling exposed and angrier than ever. God or not, Hades didn't have the right to step into his mind so nonchalantly. He wasn't the one whose actions needed to be judge in this particular audince. This was about that other son of a bitch. Not about him. Hadn't he read the letter?
He wanted to ask the God of the Underworld if the letter had stated otherwise, but Hades kept on.

"The minute you stepped into my territory I've been monitoring your thoughts, and you, my friend," He pointed at Kanon. "Are still mad about this whole situation. You hate Milo more than ever, and still you came! And for what I could see, you offered to come here. Most interesting I might add. You humans never cease to amaze me."

"I'm glad we cause that effect on you, your highness," the last word came out like a hiss. Still he couldn't do anything. If Hades was not bragging and if he could indeed read thoughts, Kanon would have to take things easier and calm himself down before he ended up accompanying Milo down the Stigia river to the next life. "But my personal feelings had nothing to do with my coming here..."

Hades raised a finger to poing the obvious. Kanon just rolled his eyes and corrected himself "O.k, yes. I came here slightly moved because I've been running errands all over Athens trying to find an excuse for the Goddess to bring Milo back. But since we ran out of those, that's why I'm here..."

"There you go," The God said, cheerfully opening his arms in victory. " Was that so hard, Kanon?"

"I suppose not, but I don't think we should discuss my feelings over this matter. Athena send me to plead his case and that's why I'm going to do"

"Very well then."

Hades reached out for a book that he had on top of one pile and opened it in front of him. "So tell me Kanon, what do you think about bringing the Scorpio saint back?"

"Wha...?" Kanon began to protest but Hades again lifted a finger to shut him up.

"Just remember to watch out for the lies."

"I really don't think I should be offering my thoughts on whether you should bring Milo back or not," He said as camly as he could. "Athena wants him back so it doesn't matter what I think"

Hades smiled again, and turned the pages of the book until he reach the page he was looking for "Ah... but there lies the question my friend. Athena made you all vote on it."

Kanon couldn't help but frown. Was Hades asking him to vote on the matter? Hadn't it been clear enought that his feelings about this shouldn't interfere with the decisions of the Gods. Was he retarded or something?

"Kanon, I'm just trying to apply Athena's approach to godly decisions," Hades said now staring at him, apparently studying his reactions "After all, you among all your fellow Saints should know about the repercussions of bringing a person to life again, or shall I remind you about your brother?"

"Saga was already ill, way before Athena brought him back to life" He said, already anticipating the guilt trip Hades was trying to play on him "If Athena wants Milo back and if Milo gets ill because of it, then it has nothing to do with my role here. I'm just a messenger."

"But what would Milo want? If he were here to decide for himself that is..." Hades pressed on, making Kanon feel awfully uncomfortable with all the questions.

"Why would you care? You and Athena are very different for that matter."

This time Kanon made sure that his statement sounded as rude as he intended it to be. He was getting tired of the games.

"Yes we are very different. Very different indeed, but that doesn't make my question less important for the issue we are discussing at the moment. Just answer the question please."

Kanon sighed, looking sideways while searching in his brain for an answer that would satisfy the God, that didn't implicate a new line of questions about his point of view.

"I really don't know what he would have wanted, my lord," He finally said. It was a lame excuse but it was also the truth.
If Hades already knew Kanon despised the dead Saint he would understand that having an answer for this question was not something he had.

"Really?" Hades asked, pressuring Kanon again. "I think you know, but you don't want to tell me, because you already feel ackward with all my questions but if you don't want to answer that's fine," The God offered closing the book. "I'll get to a decision by myself. You can go to your Goddess now."

Kanon nodded feeling a heavy weight being lifted off of him. "Thank you, my lord. Is there anything else I can help you with? Perhaps some information regarding how Milo died or...well something that would help you to decide?"

"Actually there is," Hades answered leaning on top of the desk. "It's more of a personal question, and you can choose to answer the question or not"

Kanon sighed "Ask away, my lord,"

Hades stood up again, leaving his desk. This time however he took Kanon by his wrist and led him to a small living room that was covered by the shadows in one corner.
Hades then took one of the couches, leaving the love seat to Kanon.

"I'm sorry, I'm a terrible host. Would you like something to drink?" The God offered, but Kanon shook his head immediately.

"I much rather hear the question, your highness. I'm not thirsty at the moment."

"Very well then," Hades answered half smiling and then he began. "At the beginning of our audience I told you I had been surprised that Athena had sent you, but my shock Kanon, lay not in your evident loathing for the Scorpio Saint, but more on the fact that you were one of the few who could really speak on behalf of your team mate. That's why I pointed out that Athena had become creative at last."

"Sorry but I don't understand, " He said frowning again. Hades only shifted to a more comfortable position on the couch to continue his speech.

"I know that every other saint," Hades continued. "Who attended the audience that Athena held for the voting, thought of you as unfit for the task. That you had no place being here, because you hated their friend and therefore wouldn't be of any use in the pleading of his case. But they didn't see what Athena or myself saw in you."

"Which is?" Kanon asked dryly, feeling annoyed.

"You have endured what resucitation can cause to a human being. And that you could deliver Milo's voice in this audience."

"My lord," Kanon said between gritted teeth."I told you I don't know what Milo would have wanted. And even if I knew I do not care."

"But you do Kanon. And you should, because you are not like Milo, and you are capable of accepting that you had been wrong. And because above all, if you can repay this so called 'honor debt' to him you will be able to walk out of the Hades without owning anyone anything."

Hades stared at him, this time with a serious expression. Kanon just diverted his eyes, thinking deeply in what he had said.

Milo was by far one of the most obnoxious people he knew. One of the most hypocritical humans he knew. But he had to give it to the man: He was loyal and one of the best Saints of Athena when duty had called. And that was all that mattered now.
He wasn't pleading a case to bring back Milo the clandestine fighter who made easy money by scamming street fighters. He wasn't pleading to bring back a man who had no boundaries when sex was concerned. He was pleading to bring back a valuable member of the order who had been killed.
A friend for some people. A lover for others. A man that ultimately did talk on Kanon's behalf and made everyone fully accept him as The Gemini Saint.
If he hadn't cared about Milo's opinion he wouldn't have cried after he had been pierced by his needles during the beginning of the Hades War. He would have made a comeback to rip his tiny little fucking head off as a thank you for the gesture.

But he had cried instead, because he had been looking forward to the atonement of his sins. He had been expecting -from the moment he had been introduced by the Goddess- to be yelled at, to be attacked. But people only ingnored him, acting as if they agreed with the Goddess' decision, even if they didn't. It had been the final insult. Only Milo had stepped up, enabling him for the very first time, forcing him to discuss the issue, as warriors.

Kanon sighed again, letting his face fall to his hands. This was way too much information to digest in such a little time. More over, it was hard to come to the conclusion that he did owe Milo something, being the only one that had confronted him as a fellow Saint and not as some temporary replacement for the Gemini rank.

"Fine, I'll tell you."

Hades smiled and sat back against his couch. Kanon looked up, feeling strangely how all the argession he had previouly felt was completely gone.

"The answer is no. Milo wouldn't want to be brought back to life."

The God of the Underworld blinked, but Kanon didn't let him dwell long enough on what he had said. Instead he elaborated his answer "Just a month after Athena and the other Gods gathered to sign the truce, we had a little reunion and we talked about the implications of the new rules."

Hades nodded, encouraging him to go on.

"Most people said that they would want to be brought back, should they ever die in a non-war situation, but Milo and I were the only ones who said no to the option." Kanon made a pause. He could almost see Milo in his mind, leaning casually on one of the pillars of the Leo Temple, holding a beer in one of his hands.

"My opinion of course was based on Saga, but Milo's I guess, was based on the fact that he thought if he should die out of natural causes or by anything else he had brought on himself, he would had wanted to remain dead. I wouldn't know if he changed his mind after that. He and I weren't very close."

"Well, thank you Kanon," Hades spoke standing up. "I'll notify my decision to Athena in the upcoming full moon."

Kanon nodded and stood up, leaving the building.
He felt weird. As if the scales had been evened out, cancelling his debt with the Scorpio Saint.
Now he owed him nothing. Milo once had given him the gift of recognition among the order. The feeling of belonging that he had yearned for quite some time after Saga had gone mad.
Now he had spoken for the Gods on his behalf, as Milo would have held his peace for sure, if he had been asked about it.

And this, had been Kanon's gift to him.

The End of Chapter 5 -- Continued in Chapter 6


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