Chapter 57 – After Story (5) | 19
He dared to annoy the ruler of the underworld. What if Hades had lied just to get him out of the underworld as fast as he could, he who had been constantly begging with tears? If it wasn’t a lie, did he really have to send Orpheus out under the condition that he couldn’t turn back to look at his wife? If Hades decided to send them out together anyway, would it matter whether or not they walked side by side? How could he walk like this and still not feel her presence?
Hermes stopped and turned around to Orpheus.
“Keep going, we’re almost there. What are you doing?”
Only his beautiful voice echoed in the cave. Hermes’ forehead wrinkled with intensity.
“I said don’t do it.”
“Is-is-is she really b-b-behind me?”
“Walk! It’s right over there.”
Hermes pointed his cane at the light shining brightly on the opposite side.
Orpheus was crazy jealous of Hermes who was able to turn around. He wouldn’t be talking if Eurydice wasn’t there, right? Orpheus felt a sudden urge to turn around. But he had made a pact with the king and queen of the underworld. ‘If you turn around, you lose your chance.’ However, was there really a reason for Hades to do that if he hadn’t said anything that he didn’t mean and just wanted to throw him out again?
Question after question arose in his mind. ‘What if she really isn’t behind me… What if she’s still in that deep underworld… What if I abandoned my wife…’
Anxiety engulfed reason, and his patience was worn away by the outline of the twinkling light.
Orpheus turned around.
And right away, his eyes met Eurydice’s eyes.
“Why did you turn around…?” A stream of tears fell from her eye. Orpheus belatedly realized his mistake and desperately reached out for her. His wife was then sucked back into the deep, dark cave’s abyss.
His sobbing shook the cave walls. Hermes turned around in a state of shock and despair.
“I told you…”
The light, which shriveled down behind him, was warm. When he held his neck out of the exit and looked up with one hand shading his face, he could see the break of dawn.
Orpheus had questioned his obedient wife’s existence, and this scene eventually made him wonder if men were all the same. Orpheus knelt down on the spot like he’d received a death sentence after half a day of torture, unable to gain the strength to go outside or back inside.
‘He must feel like shit. I think he was aiming for this for a long time.’
Persephone seemed to know well when anxiety grew the most. Even a quick-witted, good-natured person sometimes made her feel difficult and anxious. Hades, who had made Persephone the queen, had been in constant anxiety for years. So, it wasn’t enough for her to speculate. She had a strong belief.
Hermes stared at the sobbing man banging his head against the cave floor. He had won the bet, but the aftertaste was sour. “Damn idiot… Why couldn’t you keep your eyes only looking forward? You can’t do something as easy as that?”
Hermes walked out into the glorious world of light.
Phoibos’ tram ran through the blue sky. And the magnificent Mt. Olympus was watching over their heads.
The door opened. Persephone, who returned to her bedroom, hummed along to the sounds of Orpheus’ lyre performance coming from the audience chamber. It felt good to hear such good music from an amazing performer. She put down a blunt object wrapped in cloth.
It was about half the length of her arm, and red blotches stained the cloth here and there. When she pushed it to the edge of the table and sat down, some dead servants approached and trimmed the queen’s hair with their squeaky skeleton fingers.
‘He was a good man… I, too, love Hades that much.’
Persephone, lifting her chin and smiling softly, didn’t stop humming and put one arm on the table.
Suddenly a basket full of fresh pomegranates caught her eyes. Pomegranates were Hades’ most precious gift to her. Evidence of his never-ending love for her.
From that day she had been free from the island.
Holding the fruit in her hand, Persephone brought it up to her nose as if savoring its sweet scent. A scent that wasn’t too strong and thick.
The servants left after fixing her hair up. She carefully studied the pomegranate, then she untied the bundle of cloth she had set down earlier. From it, a blood-stained dagger fell with a tapping sound. And she used the blood-stained cloth to wipe it clean with all her might. Before long, the knife was as clean as a new one.
She used it to cut a pomegranate in half. The blood-red insides gave off a coveted scent. Right when she opened her mouth to take a bite, the door opened.
Setting the fruit back down, she stared at Ceres whom she hadn’t seen in a long time.