As the last of the screams of the dying Bloodless finally faded, Zagreus jogged up to the two rafts floating in the flooded Phlegathon. One showed a symbol of a Daedalus hammer, while the other bore a single gold obol, marked with the symbol of the House.
Zagreus shifted his weight from one foot to the other as he considered his options. The hammer was the smart choice; this early in Asphodel, his coin purse was too empty to afford much besides a gyro. Thirsty for blood in his hand, Stygius hummed, agreeing, urging him to take the hammer raft, showing him images of sword beams and attacks that absorbed the health of enemies.
But it was another set of images that captured Zagreus’s imagination. Not long ago, he’d been even shorter of cash than he was today, and made the ill-advised decision to swipe a bag of gold from Charon. The resulting fight was short and brutal, and sent Zagreus back home with just a few powerful swats of that massive boat oar, leaving him with aches and bruises that even a dip in the Styx hadn’t washed away, and a lingering arousal that Hypnos had cheerfully commented on.
Ever since, he’d thought of that fight every time he’d stopped by Charon’s shop, and by the knowing glint in the boatman’s glittering purple eye, Charon knew it. Instead of chatting as usual, Zagreus would rush through the room, practically throwing the obols for his purchased items to avoid any additional awkwardness caused by inappropriate erections. A session with Meg and had temporarily sated Zagreus’s desire, but hadn’t erased it completely, and the next time he’d spoken to Charon, it had come roaring back with a vengeance.
After a moment’s more hesitation, Zagreus stepped onto the raft, disembarking a few moments later on the small, peaceful island Charon had selected for his shop. The man himself floated near a bin of pomegranates, purple smoke curling around the wide brim of his hat and hand wrapped around the handle of his oar, just like it did in Zagreus’s memory. “Hey, mate,” Zagreus called out, hoping the cheerful greeting would distract from his flushed face. “How’s business?”
More violet smoke leaked from his skeletal mouth as Charon groaned that Zagreus was his first customer of the day.
Zagreus chuckled as he picked up one of the gyros and handed over the 75 obols. “Well, the location does leave something to be desired. Can’t imagine the shades have much coin to spend!”
Charon’s answering with another groan, and Zagreus grinned. “Well, I’m off. I’ll see you in a...”
He trailed off as a glint of gold caught his eye. Behind Charon’s stand, a bag sat, gaping slightly to expose the mass of coins inside. Zagreus swallowed and glanced back to see Charon watching him, purple eyes bright. “Not worried about thieves, then?” he asked, his voice slightly strangled.
The only answer was a deep chuckle.
Well, there was only one thing for it. Zagreus had been thinking about this ever since the last time; might as well go for it. Stygius sang in his hand as he steeled himself and made his move, darting toward the bag on Hermes-blessed feet. As soon as his free hand wrapped around the cloth, he felt the floor beneath his feet lurch as the heat of Asphodel transformed into the chill of Erebus. He knelt in the center of the stone platform he remembered from his previous fight with Charon, surrounded by newly repaired columns and the soft murmur of the Styx. Gripping Stygius’s hilt, he rose and planted his feet, ready for Charon’s first attack.
Even though he was expecting it, the sweep of the oar was so fast he wasn’t able to fully dodge, and the edge of the blunt wooden blade caught him just across the lower back. Zagreus grunted in pain and moved to the side, swinging his sword as he passed Charon. As it made contact, Zagreus quickly changed direction, spinning around to strike again as Charon moved to counterattack.
After a few more attacks, Zagreus realized this fight felt distinctly different than the first one. Though Charon was still making contact with his oar, there was significantly less force behind it. He also seemed to be spending more energy blocking Zagreus’s own attacks rather than doing damage. It felt almost playful rather than vicious.
“You holding back on me, mate?” he asked. Charon paused slightly at the question, and Zagreus used the opportunity to cast, shooting out a hard jet of water that lodged one of his bloodstones in Charon’s body. Charon’s follow-up attack was slightly slower, giving Zagreus another opening to slash at his midsection with Stygius.
Charon’s distinctive laugh echoed off the columns around them as he moved toward Zagreus, sweeping his oar from side to side, keeping Zagreus from getting close enough to hit him with his blade. He resorted to casting another bloodstone toward Charon, knocking him back and interrupting his attack.
Zagreus pressed his advantage, sure he was about to get the upper hand, when Charon’s oar came at blinding speed directly at Zagreus’s back—or rather, at his backside. The flat of the blade landed with a vicious crack against his ass, the sound barely muted by his leggings and chiton. Zagreus gasped, as much from the pain as the sudden jolt of arousal that shot like lightning down his spine. He was so distracted he wasn’t able to react to the second strike that followed, landing directly on the same spot and causing him to drop Stygius and fall to his hands and knees.
Now it was Charon’s turn to press his advantage, moving in closer and paddling Zagreus’s ass three more times in quick succession before kneeling down behind him and placing one large, skeletal hand on Zagreus’s lower back with a long, low groan. “Yes, yes, I yield,” Zagreus gasped, answering the wordless question. His cock was hard as iron, and the only thing he could think of was getting back to the house and getting a hand on himself. If Charon killed him quickly, he might be able to get back to the house before he came in his leggings.
But instead of a violent and quick end, Charon’s hand turned surprisingly gentle, caressing Zagreus’s flank, then his aching ass. Even through the two layers of fabric, Charon’s hand was noticeably cool, and Zagreus couldn’t hold back his pleased whimper. Charon groaned questioningly, and Zagreus felt his cock grown even harder—something he didn’t know was possible. “Yes, please,” he begged. “Please, Charon, fuck me.”
Zagreus whined as Charon’s hand disappeared, but it was only gone long enough to flip up the edge of Zagreus’s chiton and pull his leggings down, baring his ass to the cool underworld air. Through the haze of arousal, Zagreus wondered what it looked like—was it flushed red or was it already bruised a deep chthonic purple? He likely would never know; the Styx always washed away the external injuries, though the deeper aches often lasted for days.
The crack of skin on skin reached Zagreus’s ears before the pain of Charon’s hand on his bare ass registered. It was a different pain than the oar, sharper and more immediate, and his elbows buckled, sending him face-first into the floor. He groaned as Charon continued to spank him, alternating quick, lighter slaps with heavy blows randomly, so he was unable to predict where and how the next one would land. Eventually he stopped trying, letting his muscles go lax as he simply let Charon do as he wished.
He was so focused on what Charon was doing that Zagreus’s orgasm caught him completely unaware. He hadn’t even been able to get a hand around his cock before he was spilling all over the stone floor, crying out as pleasure lit up his nerves. He slumped forward as Charon continued, rocking him forward with each blow as his cock softened, then eventually grew hard again.
After what could have been a few minutes, or might have been hours, Zagreus registered the absence of pain and a new sensation: Charon’s skeletal finger probing his hole. As relaxed as Zagreus was post-orgasm, he met with almost no resistance, and his thick fingers were soon replaced with an even thicker cock. Zagreus groaned with pleasure as his hole stretched around it, then in pain when Charon’s hips slammed against his bruised and battered ass. Charon set a brutal pace, not giving Zagreus any time to adjust while he chased his own climax, and that casual callousness was enough to send Zagreus over the edge again.
Charon followed soon after, his fingers digging into Zagreus’s hips deep enough to leave more bruises as he spilled inside him. Charon’s seed was cool, nearly cold, and the contrast to Zagreus’s overly hot body temperature was enough to milk a last, weak spurt of pleasure as Charon used his larger frame to bear Zagreus down to the floor, pressed into his own mess on the stone.
Between the afterglow and the sweet scent of Charon’s smokey breath, Zagreus found himself falling further and further into unconsciousness, the edges of his vision going purple. He mumbled a question, but Charon only moaned and breathed out more smoke, until Zagreus passed out completely.
He came to floating in the pool in the House, his leggings still around his knees, his bare ass throbbing, and Stygius tied to his chest with a familiar looking nautical rope. He took a deep breath and ducked under the water, righting his clothes before surfacing with a shake of his head. Hypnos was floating in his customary position, and Zagreus groaned inwardly as he rose from the water and walked toward him.
Hypnos grinned and waved. “Wow, looks like you decided to pick a fight with my big brother,” he said, his chipper tone, as always, out of place in the grim House of Hades. “Seems like you didn’t learn from the last time he killed you! I mean, have you seen his arms? Next time, you should try not doing that!”
Zagreus felt his face flush as he limped past, his body still aching. “I certainly won’t be forgetting this anytime soon.”