You stand at the edge of a dark river cloaked in twilight. The waters lap the bank near your feet, but beyond a stone's throw, you cannot discern much, the other shore lost in shadow. As you wait, a single light shines in the mirk, growing brighter and closer until it is revealed to be a lamp at the prow of a boat. A ferryman steers the vessel forward with a long pole.
He brings the boat partially ashore and leans upon his pole. A dark hood conceals the upper half of his face except for the vague glint of shining, alert eyes. A scraggly beard, like dripping moss, hangs over his chest.
"What business do you, still among the living, have in this realm?" he asks.
For a moment, you are confused. You don't remember what brought you here, but then a vague memory, like a fading dream, a whisper from a woman standing in a field of golden wheat. She hands you a small, wooden box and whispers, "For her."
You explain that you have a gift that must be entrusted to no one but the recipient. Though the way is shadowed, you must pass through.
"Brave of you, but futile," the ferryman says. "None may pass without--"
You reach into your pocket and withdraw a single, glimmering coin.
The ferryman falls silent then nods. "So be it. You have earned passage, but remember this journey only goes one way."
For a moment fear grips you as you gaze into the deep gloom that awaits you, but you have faith in the kindly being who sent you upon this quest and know she would not leave you stranded in the dark.
You board the ferry, and the shore slips away. Soon the lantern's glow is an island of faint light in a sea of black. The ferryman is silent.
After what feels like an eternity, a faint glow shines before you, a line of pale, silvery light, faint and wavering. The other shore looms near and finally you disembark. Here the water laps smooth, black stone, glistening in the faint light.
You pick your way up this rocky bank, careful not to slip, and find yourself standing in a massive cavern illuminated by that same silver glow. The ceiling disappears in mist above your head, and stretching before you is a field of pale gray grass and long stalks with small, white blossoms swaying in an unfelt breeze.
Across this, lying before a gate, is a massive black dog with three heads. One head rests in slumber, another chews upon a massive femur, and the third watches you approach with red eyes. Your heart rate quickens, but the creature only huffs out a tired breath, allowing you to pass into the dark realm of its master.
The realm is divided, a glow of light and happy music drifting from one hemisphere, hazy smoke and the distant wails of suffering from the other. Between them, a river of fire roars and crackles, sparks rising from it towards the cavern's dome.
You ascend the stone steps to a throne room. Here on a great black throne sulks the moody god of the dead. His cold eyes watch you as you ascend. At his side, draped in black, sits his bride, the lovely Persephone, her flowing locks and vibrant eyes the only life in this dark world. In her hand, she grasps a pomegranate, half the seeds devoured, her lips dyed crimson by its juices.
Hades stirs upon his throne. "You still draw breath. What has brought you to my realm, living one?"
You motion towards his bride and bring out the small box, the gift from the goddess, to hold forth.
She rises from her seat and takes the offering from you. She opens it, and golden light pours out, overcoming the darkness. Inside a single flower, a yellow narcissus gives forth fragrant perfume. A smile crosses her lips.
"A gift from my mother, to give me warmth in the cold winter. Thank you, brave traveler. I, in turn, have a gift for you."
From the air itself, she conjures a candle, the flame already flickering. You reach out and take it, and as soon as its glow falls over you, you find yourself no longer in the dark, underground world but in a green field beneath a clear blue sky.
Your quest has ended, but another may await. The candle before you, you continue on your way home.
The Hades candle is part of Mythologie Candles' Spring seasonal collection, Olympus which launches March 10th, 2023.
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