Monday, January 19, 2009

Pomegranates, pt. 2, 431 words

In her rage and despair, Demeter closed her heart to the world, and the world grew cold. She wept bitter tears, and each one froze as it fell until the world was blanketed in snow. Plants died, people died, the world began to die as she mourned her dead daughter.

Zeus, at last, came to Demeter and asked her what had happened. When he learned the tale that Hades had stolen away Persephone, he sent a missive to the underworld god, saying that Persephone was to be released immediately or Zeus would shackle him in Tartarus with their cruel father Cronus.

Hades panicked, in his own slow, dark way. He had no wish to be thrown down to Tartarus and share eternity with the Titans, but nor could he release Persephone – a god is harder to release from death than a mortal, so it was no mere matter of releasing her shade into the world above. But there was one way, though he had little time for it. The pomegranate, fruit of life and abundance, could restore Persephone to life if she but ate thirteen of its seeds, one for each turning of the moon in the year. But the pomegranate did not grow in the underworld, for the place of death could not support the fruit of life. So, desperate, Hades sent his minions forth into the world above, to find any pomegranates that might have survived Demeter's cruel, bitter winter.

At last, one of Hades's servants returned with a pomegranate. It was a poor, withered thing, half-grown when Demeter had blighted the world, and was growing weaker still in the underworld. The servant rushed to Hades's side, presented him with the pomegranate. Hades took it and broke it open even as he ran to find Persephone. Inside, a dozen and one lonely seeds died, one by one. Only six yet lived when Hades found Persephone, and only four when she could finally be stirred enough to consume them.

Persephone wept as life flowed through her veins once more, for it was only a feeble life, hardly enough to live. But she wept all the same, out of joy for even so much, and clung to Hades for getting it to her. "My love," she proclaimed, "I must return to my mother. Even if I have only a portion of a life, she must know I have at least that much, and perhaps she will grant the world the same. Wait for me here, my beloved Hades, for I expect it shall not be long before I see you again."

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