The short candles that lined the walls barely emitted enough light to fully illuminate the dismal room. They danced and flickered, some fizzling out once their wicks were spent and gone.
Not that the occupant cared for the light. He sat by his desk, his form hunched over some parchment as his hand carefully moved his quill.
Scratch, scratch, scraaaaatch…
He stopped for a moment to sit back and look over his work. An ugly scowl crossed his features as he cast the quill aside and crumpled the parchment into a ball, tossing it across the room.
“Eternity…” Hades spat as he rose from his seat, “living a mere façade of life.”
He turned to his balcony which granted him a view of his fallen city, Amaurot.
“Eternity, wasting my time on fragmented corpses.”
How the inhabitants of the Source and Shard disgusted him. How dare they live their lives freely, without a care, happy with the imperfections of this broken existence.
“In my mind…I hear melodies pure and unearthly,” he muttered as he walked out to look up at the ocean that surrounded his recreation. “But I find I can’t give them a voice…without you.”
Below him, his shades roamed the streets, believing the Final Days to be drawing nearer. They whispered praises of the Convocation, spreading hope that something could be done, that perhaps they could be saved.
Yet, there was one shade he failed to bring to life. One shade, one shadow, that would forever haunt him until his mission is accomplished.
“Persephone. My purest Persephone. Lost and gone. Lost…and gone.”
He retired back to the dimly lit room and retrieved the parchment. He gently opened it, to show an unfinished sketch of a woman’s face. Something about his work in progress stirred his ire. He wanted to burn it, burn this imperfection.
Why can’t he remember her clearly? Ever since the Sundering, he just couldn’t picture her no longer. He only had her name, the name that was given to her when she was accepted as the Fourteenth. The name she had cast aside when she left them, left him.
“The day starts. The day ends. Time crawls by.”
He got to his feet and pressed the sketch to his breast, steadily smoothing it out.
“Night steals in, pacing the floor.”
He left the room and walked down the empty, cold corridors. He didn’t need to look up to know where to go. After a few minutes of walking, he entered another room.
There were fewer candles here. Each next to a failed piece of work. Sketches, some crumpled and some torn, were pinned to the walls. But nothing gave him more grief than the half-finished sculpture that faced the window, face not yet carved in.
“The moments creep, yet I can’t bear to sleep. Till I hear you sing…”
He remembered she enjoyed singing. She would sing when she believed no one to be looking. She would sing to the animals she’d treat or whenever she was out in her garden.
Ah, what he would give to hear that voice of hers again. To hear the songs she learned in her childhood and the songs she tried to write but never finished due to work and lack of self-esteem. He found her attempts at song writing and he was disappointed that she never sung them.
“And weeks pass, and months pass. Seasons fly.” He lowered his head and pressed his hand against the back of the sculpture, leaving a small imprint. “Still you don’t walk through my door.”
His hand that clutched the sketch clenched, crumpling it once more. He let out a shaky breath.
“And in my haze, I’ve lost count of the silent days. Till I hear you sing once more.”
He moved away from the unfinished sculpture, turning to the mural wall of unfinished sketches. His breath hitched as he saw someone standing in front of it, as if admiring the works.
He reached out to her but when she turned, he froze.
It was that…bard. The one that had slain Lahabrea. She who had been more than just a mere thorn in their side as the worked tirelessly to bring about the Rejoining.
The mirage faded and he let the sketch in his grasp slip and flutter to the floor. His eyes burned as he looked up and down the wall, hoping to get another glimpse of the phantom.
“And years come. And years go. Time runs dry.” He gritted his teeth, clenching his fists until they shook. “Still I ache deep in my core!”
He hissed and grasped the imperial garb that donned his body. “My broken soul can’t be alive or whole…till I hear you sing once more.”
He fell to his knees, heaving deep breaths to maintain his composure. His lips curled into a twisted sneer as a soft melody wormed its way into his mind.
“And music, your music! It teases at my ear! I turn and it fades away, and you’re not here!”
He got to his feet with an angry roar, thousands of years of grief bursting forth. He lunged for the wall, tearing down the sketches.
“Let hopes pass! Let dreams pass!” He turned to the sculpture with narrowed eyes. “Let them die!”
With one fell swoop, he split the sculpture in half, the bust falling and crumbling when it impacted the floor. Hades crushed the head with one slam of his foot.
“Without you, what are they for?”
His eyes fell upon the discarded sketch. He snatched it off the floor and held it to the candlelight.
“I always feel no more than halfway real,” he hissed as he moved it closer to the candle. “Till I hear you sing!”
The parchment went up in flames and he let what was left fall to the floor. He pressed his foot over it, grinding it into cinders.
He bowed his head, grinding his heel further into the floor. A single tear streaked his cheek, rolling off his chin to join the scorched work.