A large beast with the body of a bear and the head and claws of a lizard came snarling towards them! The heroes all panicked and tried desperately to escape their confinement, and Exelda deplored, “After all we’ve been through, I can’t believe it ends like this!”
They winced as it crept closer, preparing themselves for a grisly outcome, but the monster’s footfall met with the stick that Stocastin brought in to use as a torch, making the monster slip! It slid across the cave and into the pit of jackals where it got immediately ravaged! Akintos kidded, “I think the other guys know the feeling!”
“You can’t be serious!” Thanamenti bellowed. “They’re tied up, totally unable to move or use their powers… This should have been a cinch! How could it possibly have gotten messed up” Dason opened his mouth to say something impertinent, but Thanamenti cut him off, “Don’t you dare give me another sassy remark or I swear, I’ll-!”
“You’ll what? Kill me?” Dason grinned at her mischieviously.
Marcin wondered, “So, now what? We sit here and listen to their drivel ‘til Echinda gives birth to another one?”
Mercinon responded to him, “What else are we supposed to do? Ugh! That could take forever! I wish I had something to do in the meantime… like getting a makeover!” Before Thanamenti could rejoinder, a shop appeared at the end of the cave with a sign that read: Salon. “Oh, you’re so kind! Thank you!”
“Wait, what? I didn’t…!” Thanamenti stared at her staff as if she were questioning its betrayal to her.
“Um, I wouldn’t go in there if I were you!” Marcin cautioned Mercinon.
As Mercinon continued to stroll over to the beauty shop, Mercinon regarded Marcin, “You’re absolutely right! I wouldn’t recommend you go in there either! I’m sure these guys are good, but I doubt they’re miracle workers!” He opened the door and greeted the employees, “Hello there! Can we start with a haircut or should we-?”
Once the door became unshut, that wall of the cave disappeared, creating a window into a world with fire, brimstone, and a very pleased Hades standing before them! “Hades! You’re not allowed in here!” Thanamenti snapped.
“I’m not in there, and neither is he!” Hades indicated to Mercinon. When Mercinon realized that he had inadvertently stepped into the Underworld, he tried to run back inside of Thanamenti’s cave. Hades used his staff to pull him back, and he taunted him, “I don’t think so!”
“You’re so mean! What did I do to deserve this?” Mercinon thought about the words he uttered and grimaced. “Oh right!”
Hades told Mercinon, “Time for you to pay your fare!” He conjured up a mop and bucket.
Mercinon’s eyes widened widely at the prospect that Hades proposed. “No! A Few seconds ago, I was destined to be king, and now I’m doing peasant work? It’s not fair! I… Wait a minute! I have a coin now! I don’t need to…” He searched all over his toga and fretted, “Oh no! Where is it?”
“Looks like it fell in the pit of jackals!” Marcin informed him.
“Well, don’t just stand there! Go in and bring it to me!” Mercinon ordered.
Marcin refused, “Forget it! The days of you bossing me around are done! You can go rot in Tartarus, but I think I’ll stay here in the Netherworld!”
Hades shot that concept down, “I don’t think so!” He pointed his staff at Marcin, and Marcin got transported into the Underworld!
“Hey! That’s not right! You aren’t allowed in my cave, so your magic shouldn’t be allowed in here either!” Thanamenti contended with Hades.
“You used your magic to steal things from my world!” Hades pointed out. “Incidentally, I’ll take it back now!” He aimed his staff towards one of the cavern rooms, and a fish-like monster flew into the Underworld.
Dason questioned, “That’s Echinda?”
Mercinon noted, “That’s what I said!” He turned to Marcin and stated, “Well, if I gotta spend an eternity getting tortured, at least I’ll have a friend to agonize with!”
“Actually, he paid his fare already!” the giant skeleton let him know as he docked his boat on the rocky shore.
“When you killed me, I had a coin in my pocket. See ya, buddy!” As Marcin climbed into the boat, he revised that sentence, “Well, actually we’re not really buddies, and I won’t be seeing you again, so none of that is true! Toodle-oo!” He waved his fingers at him as they sailed away. Mercinon started to weep about his situation, and Hades made him, the mop, and the bucket disappear.
Hades cast a spell in the newly created gateway between the Underworld and the Netherworld, and he announced to Thanamenti, “It’s sealed now, so you can’t hide from me anymore If you try to overthrow society again, you will pay!”
Thanamenti complained, “I hadn’t even thought about doing it again yet! I can’t get over you creating that illusion in my world! You had no right to do that!”
“I didn’t do that. Looks like you have a new enemy with apparitional powers! Well, see you around!” He smirked at her and started to leave, but he stopped in his tracks when he remembered something. “Oh, you guys probably want out, huh?”
“No, I wanna have my baby like this!” Exelda expressed sarcastically.
Hades freed them, and Exelda embraced Dason fondly. Dason chirped, “I’m so happy to see you in the light again! Wait, how does this place stay lit? There’s no candles or windows?”
Exelda shrugged. “I don’t know! I… Wait! I just revealed that I was pregnant to you!”
“Technically, I did that first,” Kefalia put in. “Just like I did with the senate leaders, remember?”
“You’re not surprised?” Exelda asked Dason.
Dason answered her, “Nah! These buffoons aren’t good at keeping secrets! Plus, I’m just so elated to have you in my arms again! Hey, are you nauseous right now?” The others found that inquiry odd, but Exelda’s face lit up as she shook her head. Dason got down on one knee and adoringly addressed her, “Before anything else crazy happens, will you be my wife?”
Happy tears rolled down Exelda’s cheeks. “Yes!” Dason beamed, and Hades made a ring appear on her finger.
“Aw!” Kefalia cooed as Exelda and Dason kissed.
“That makes me feel all warm inside!” Narcius clutched his chest in a sentimental way, but then his face soured. “No, wait, that’s just heartburn! But still, my deepest congratulations to the two of you!”
Stocastin rejoiced, “Huzzah!”
Thanamenti spat, “Yeah, that’s great! Could you leave my cave sometime soon?” Dason, Exelda, Stocastin, Narcius, Kefalia, and Akintos all merrily headed out.
Cyrek stood in front of the capitol building with Krimeno and the other senators behind him. He announced to the group of scribes that had gathered before him, “We’re pleased to report that we’ve made significant progress in our efforts to eradicate the riots from Chaos!”
“This isn’t going to be like when you claimed that you made significant progress in dropping the housing prices, is it?” one scribe probed.
“Hey! One percent is still a percent!” Cyrek shot back. “And no, this news isn’t like that. I was going for a bit of dramatic flair, but that’s ruined now, so I’ll just say it then- the riots have stopped completely! Everyone can rest easy now, so you probably don’t have anymore questions for me, right?” All of the scribes raised their hands, which made him grimace.
He called on the closest scribe, who inquired, “Will the government be holding a public funeral for the casualties of the invasion of senate building?”
Cyrek replied, “There was only one casualty, and that was Mercinon. Normally, we’d gladly do that for a popular public figure, but considering he and his followers tried to kill us, that’s going to be a big, fat no! Next!”
“Will Princess Aleta face repercussions for the Konna scheme?” another scribe pondered.
“I’m glad you asked that! We have the royal family here to comment! Come on out!” He motioned towards the palace, and Aleta and Dason almost stepped out, but when Cyrek spotted Dason and the heroes approach from behind the scribes, he motioned for Aleta and the other Dason to stay back. “Just kidding, they’re over here!”
As Dason and the heroes came up to the podium, a discerning scribe asserted, “Wait, but that guy looked an awful lot like Dason!”
Dason vocalized to him, “Oh, that’ll be my son! He looks more and more like me each day. I just wanted to thank our heroes- Stocastin, Akintos, Narcius, Kefalia, and Exelda- for their valiant work in curtailing the recent unrest in the kingdom! The scribes politely applauded that sentiment. “And I have something much more exciting to share with you all…”
“More exciting than our polis avoiding total destruction?” an inquisitive scribe wanted to know.
“Yes,” Dason affirmed. “Exelda and I are going to get married!”
Exelda showed off her ring to everyone, and they all marveled at it as they scribbled down this revelation. A curious scribe queried, “When is this union happening?”
After shrugging a little, Exelda told him, “We don’t know yet, it just happened!”
“We’ll keep you updated on our plans when we figure it out,” Dason assured them.
“Okay, well since this engagement kind of stole our thunder, that’ll be all for today! Thank you!” Cyrek concluded. The scribes all shouted out their unanswered questions, but the senators and the heroes all hurried inside to discuss things.
As soon as they spotted their arrival, Aleta and Impusa ran out to greet them. Aleta celebrated, “Big brother, you’re back!”
After Aleta hugged Dason, Dason revealed, “I am! And I brought a new sister for you!”
“Ooh, did you parents have another baby?” Kefalia cooed.
“Oh my gods, you proposed!” Aleta surmised what happened.
Exelda showed Aleta her ring, and Aleta shrieked with delight before giving her a hug. Impusa supposed, “Let me guess, you proposed in the Netherworld in front of your vanquished foes?”
Dason puzzled, “How did you know?”
“Because you had your first kiss in front of your enemy’s corpse! Real romantic! You two weirdos are made for each other!” Impusa commented with a wry smile.
“I’m so excited to have a sister now!” Aleta gushed.
Exelda remarked, “Thanks! I hope Andreos says the same thing about his new little sister! Especially since she has superpowers, I don’t want him to get intimidated!”
Cyrek pondered, “How do you know?”
“She created an illusion that duped Mercinon into opening up a gateway between the Netherworld and the Underworld, and no one else has the ability to create a false image like that!” Stocastin explained.
‘She can use her powers much sooner than I could!” Narcius marveled. “At least I think! It’s not like I could use my super speed in my mother’s womb!”
An incredibly wrinkled old woman appeared before them, and with a mischievous grin, she stated, “She’s going to be a handful!”
Akintos screamed at her visage, and then he apologized, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude, I just never saw anyone who looks were so… Someone help me out here!”
“It’s okay, I get that a lot,” the woman forgave him.
“Excuse me, ma’am, but due to the recent attack to the building, we’re not allowing anymore visitors,” Cyrek relayed to her.
Krimeno projected unexpectedly, “Hey, I know you!”
Cyrek amended his sentence, “Oh, you do? Well, in that case, you may-.”
“Wait, we saw you in Mercinon’s palace!” Exelda realized. “Aren’t you Mercinon’s mother?”
“Why, yes! They call me Kamazota. Have you seen my little boy?” Kamazota asked. “I’ve been searching for him everywhere!”
Narcius told her, “Well, he was in the Netherworld…”
Kamazota nodded. “Ah! No wonder I couldn’t find him! Do you mind if I wait for him here? It’s hard to travel on Earth with all the gods watching your every move, you know?”
“I can’t say we can relate!” Akintos riposted. “But Mercinon isn’t coming here! He’s not in the Netherworld anymore either- he’s back in the Underworld, so…”
“Oh, darn! This complicates things!” Kamazota grumbled. “Oh well! Thanks for the heads up! I’ll see you later!”
As she hobbled away, everyone stared at her with wide eyes. After a bout of a disturbed silence, Kefalia ranted, “No, no, no! The last time this happened, Mercinon came back and caused all this trouble! It can’t happen again! But it really can’t happen again since Mercinon is in the Underworld, right?” Everyone stayed quiet, so she repeated, “Right?” No one had an answer, so they all decided to toss the issue aside and returned to their previous conversation.