Home > A Game of Retribution (Hades Saga # 2)

A Game of Retribution (Hades Saga # 2)
Author: Scarlett St. Clair

 


CONTENT WARNING

 

This book contains scenes that reference suicide and scenes that contain sexual violence.

 

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go online to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

 

Are you a survivor? Need assistance or support? National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) https://hotline.rainn.org/

   Please do not struggle in silence. People care. Your friends and family care. I care.

 

 

Part I


   “His descent was like nightfall.”

   —Homer, The Iliad

 

 

Chapter I


   A Game of Retribution

   Hades manifested in the shadow of the grandstand of the Hellene Racetrack. Soon, the divinely bred steeds of the gods would compete in the first of three races, which would ultimately place the fastest competitor on a path to becoming one of Poseidon’s prized hippocamps—the fishtail horses that pulled his ocean chariot. But it was not this so-called honor that drew Hades’s presence or even the usual thrill he got from the promise of a risky bet. He had come to test the validity of a supposed oracle who went by the name Acacius.

   He was familiar with the name and his businesses—a well-known relic dealer whose front was a mechanic shop. Hades and his team had kept an eye on his affairs for several months. They were familiar with his routine, instruction, and correspondences, which was why, when he began to offer mortals a look into the future, Hades became suspicious.

   It was not just the future Acacius offered. He’d obtained a kind of omniscience that came only with divine blessing or the possession of relics, and since Hades knew it was not the former, it had to be the latter.

   He had sent Ilias ahead to bet in his place, and now the satyr stood near the track, his disorderly hair slicked back and tied at the nape of his neck, making his horns look larger and more pronounced. Hades crossed the green, where twenty steeds would soon compete, heading toward him. At his approach, mortals gave him a wide berth. Despite their fear of his presence, they stared, curious too—more so now that he had openly shown affection to a person they believed to also be mortal.

   Affection for Persephone, who was not mortal but insisted on acting as if she were, something that worried him far more than he was willing to admit.

   He had few vices, among them racing, whiskey, and Persephone, his Goddess of Spring. Two of the three had never interfered with his routine, had never provided enough of an escape to be called a distraction.

   But Persephone was more than that—she was an addiction. A craving he could not sate. Even now, he fought the visceral urge to return to her despite having spent most of the weekend with her, exploring her, buried inside her. She was why he was late. He had not wanted to leave her side, in part because he worried over whether she would remain despite her promise that she would await his return to the Underworld.

   A hot wave of frustration twisted through him at his doubt.

   He had never doubted himself, but he doubted everything when it came to Persephone…even their fate.

   “You’re late,” Ilias said, not looking at him but at the starting gate where the horses and their jockeys marched into place.

   “And you’re a satyr,” Hades replied, following his gaze.

   Ilias glanced at him, brow raised in question at the comment.

   “I thought we were stating the obvious,” Hades said.

   He did not like to be reminded of his mistakes, though those closest to him—in particular in particular Hecate, Goddess of Witchcraft and Magic—reveled in reminding him that he was very much fallible.

   Or, as she liked to say, an idiot.

   “How are they looking?” Hades inquired, eyeing each powerful animal as they filed into their respective numbered stalls.

   “I put money on Titan,” Ilias said. “Just as you advised.”

   Hades nodded, his attention shifting to a large board where the odds glared back. Titan was favored for second place.

   “I’m surprised you did not choose Kosmos,” Ilias said.

   Hades heard what the satyr did not say—If you wanted to win, why go with Titan? He was familiar with Kosmos and his trainer. He knew that he was a favorite of Poseidon’s. Given that, it was likely no other horse in the running had a chance.

   Then again, this was a race of divinity, and that meant anything was possible.

   “The bet is a test,” Hades replied.

   Ilias looked at Hades questioningly, but he offered no other explanation.

   The horses and their riders were in place behind the gate, and the race would begin in minutes. There was a tightening in the bottom of his stomach, an anticipation for the race that was reflected in the enraptured and colorful crowd. Horse racing, like so many things in New Greece, wasn’t even about the race for most; it was about the fashion and status, and while the outfits were not as extreme as those at the Olympian Gala, the hats and headdresses were.

   “Lord Hades.” A voice drew his attention, and he turned to find Kal Stavros standing a few paces behind him. Kal was the CEO of Epik Communications, the media conglomerate. He owned television, radio, news outlets, even theme parks. Among them, New Athens News.

   Hades hated the media for many reasons, but Kal Stavros ranked near the top, not only for how he encouraged the spread of misinformation but because he was a Magi, a mortal who practiced dark magic and already had two strikes against him for misuse.

   A third and he would be banned, possibly punished.

   Like many, the mortal kept his distance, though his pose was casual—his hands were stuffed into the pockets of his pressed navy slacks. His bright-blue eyes seemed to glitter, and Hades knew it wasn’t from admiration. When Kal looked at the God of the Dead, he saw power, potential.

   Neither of which he possessed.

   Kal took his hands out of his pockets to bow, and Hades glared—not only at Kal but those who stood near, warning off any approach they may have been considering after watching this exchange.

   “A pleasure,” Kal said, grinning as he straightened.

   “Kal,” Hades said. “To what do I owe the interruption?”

   The words fell from his tongue, heavy with disgust. If the mortal caught on, he ignored it.

   “Forgive me,” Kal said, though he did not sound all that sorry. “I would have approached you elsewhere, but I have been requesting a meeting for weeks and have heard nothing.”

   Hades’s irritation increased, a subtle heat that burned the back of his throat.

   “Silence is usually taken to mean no, Kal,” he replied, focusing on the gate again. If it had been anyone else, they would have understood this to be a dismissal, but Kal had always made the mistake of flying too close to the sun, and it seemed that everyone understood the implications but him.

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