The sounds echoed through the hall of the dead and the damned; hammer upon anvil, meat upon metal, bone upon flesh. Down into the depths of the nether, acrid smoke curled and curtailed across the planes of existence. Deep within the shadowy confines ran the stale and putrid wind across the boiling seas and plummeted into the pits of night itself. It carried with it the prayers of the forgotten souls as they sought refuge amongst the barren rocks of the dark sea.
Alone amidst those rocks, a lone figure crawled onto the shore, strewn with the remains of those who were of lesser merit. He stood against the dark, his chest heaving with the effort of the climb through razor-edged stone. Against the frigid heat of the land he shivered, the contrast that burned the flesh upon his feet and froze his bare skin.
From the sky ahead, strewn with the black remnants of past generations, came an unearthly cry. Without sympathy or sorrow, he turned his eyes upward and stared at the horror as it approached with terminal velocity. Down upon the ethereal it soared, tearing through the atmosphere of the underworld with its gaping maw open in anticipation. Its corpulent mass pulsed and undulated with a cloud of pestilent vapors. The man stood his ground, his teeth clenched as tightly as his fists, unyielding and unrelenting. Four wings brought the creature down upon him like death incarnate. Four wings were left still upon the smoldering landscape as the man walked away. His body dripped with the thick black ochre of the creature dying behind him.
Across the land he strode, a force without end. Legions of the dead rose to stop him and legions of the decimated were left in his wake. With each life he took from those awaiting judgment, he grew in strength and renown. Whispers began to echo from those dead mouths of a man-made god walking amongst them, whispers that yearned for silence from their eternal purgatory. The dead no longer sought to list aimlessly with the flow of the tide within the black rivers. They sought him out, some begged him, some feared him; in the end all asked for him to cast upon them his ivory eyes and his judgment.
Deeper into the pit he strode, adorned with the trophies of the titans that guarded the Netherworld. He tamed the creatures within and cast upon the land his power and might. In time he became to the dead their fearful and loved ruler. He treated all as equal, prince and pauper, upon the dais as he looked within their hearts and sought the meaning of their souls. The dead cowered before him and crowned him their king. Upon a throne of bone he sat with a crown of charred laurels upon his head. Those all-seeing blind eyes surveyed Elysium and Tartarus alike.
Thus sat Hades, born.
William Russell is from the Midwest U.S. and holds a degree in History from Purdue University. He currently works with special needs children teaching Life Skills. An avid lover of reading and writing, this is his first publication.