As expected, the Office of Hades is locked.
I use the Master Key to open it.
Adam and I enter.
The snappily dressed figure at the desk grins.
He looks surprisingly relaxed.
Maybe he did take that vacation after all.
H: Welcome back! Surprised to see me.?
E: Not really. You’ve always known what I was going to do before I did, didn’t you?
H: Not everything, and not all at once. I knew you’d end up here. Once you did, I knew you’d be coming back, and why.
E: So where is she?
H: Sorry, bub, I can’t give that information out to just anyone.
Adam steps forward.
He is trembling.
I don’t know if it is from fear or anticipation.
A: Then tell me. She is my wife.
H: Of course, your majesty.
We are both shocked at the note of genuine humility from Hades.
We stare speechless at each other as he retrieves a very old key from his desk, then walks to the back of the room.
He pulls out an ancient, sinister-looking locked Box, and brings it to his desk.
He smiles up at us grimly.
H: This Box contains what you need in order to reach Eve. I should warn you though: once it is opened, there is no closing it.
Adam and I look at each other.
I quirk an eyebrow.
We turn back to Hades, resolute.
H: One more thing. This will take you there. There is no guarantee you will come back.
I sigh in understanding.
I walk forward.
I place the Master Key on his desk.
Not his usual mocking grin.
But one with genuine warmth.
Overlaid with eons of sadness.
Surprising myself, I hold out my hand.
He stares at it in wonder.
Then up at me.
E: Yes. Thank you. It is finished. You have done it. Well done, good and faithful servant.
Hades grasps my hand in both of his, and falls to his knees, weeping.
We weep too.
I don’t know why.
Hades stands up and looks at me.
H: It has been an honor, gentlemen. I do not believe I will see you again, until The End. Godspeed.
He takes the ancient key and gingerly removes the padlock from the Box.
He then carefully turns it around to face Adam and me.
We nod and step forward.
Hades takes a deep breath, and opens the lid.
Darkness screams at us.
Perhaps we scream back.
We fall inside.
To be continued.