Five thousand, seven hundred and thirty-eight Australians, dressed to the nines, plus eight opera house guards, were completely silenced by a beautiful voice. The son of Hades appeared to them as a beautiful opera singer, one Miss Victoria Octarino. Everything from her alabaster white, glittering gown to her pure notes brought tears of ecstasy to the audience. Roses flew upon the stage as his feminine form gracefully curtsied.
His gift was one of illusion. As the son of Hades, he could make people believe they were experiencing, well, anything he wanted them to. The curtain fell upon a bed of roses scattered thickly around her.
Several minutes later, still Victoria in form, the son of Hades walked to Victoria’s limo amid camera flashes and screams. The door closed on the chaos. Catching his reflection in the tinted glass, the son of Hades’ heart leaped in fear.
The reflection showed a definite five o’clock shadow covering Victoria’s chin. Her thin, straight nose began to look larger and one of her eyes was lower and bigger than the other. His powers were fading. He groaned.
He’d learned of his parentage when he was ten years old. His mother’s stubbornness nearly cost him his life. He was sick for days before his tenth birthday. It started out as weakness. He felt drained, unable to play on the playground, unable to take his spelling test in class. He tried to make his mother believe he had chicken pox by willing her to see red spots all over him, but he barely managed a mild pinkness. Suspecting mono, his mother had kept him home. The next day he had grown terribly cold. His mother tried to bundle him up and give him warm soup, but he shivered and slept.
On the morning of his birthday he woke to a scuffle in the living room and his mother shrieking for someone to leave. He forced himself to sit up in bed, but could barely move. The person forced his way into his bedroom. He was large, wearing black armor, and his eyes burned with fury.
“I am Hades, God of the Underworld, and you are my son. You are coming with me before this woman kills you.”
The ten year old was unable to fight being whisked away in the giant arms of the God. As he neared the Underworld, he began to feel more energetic, like a life force of some kind was refueling him. Hades then explained that every ten years on the winter solstice, his birthday, he would have to return to the Underworld to recharge his powers.
“What would happen if I forget?”
“You will turn human and die a miserable and achy death.”
Ten years later, at the age of twenty, he had returned, only this time, when he left, he’d taken a souvenir. Hades had a scepter that his son felt would impress his college buddies. No need for illusion when you had a real godly item. When he returned with it to the surface, it appeared to his friends as a plastic sword and they laughed at him, accusing him of visiting a Halloween store while high. It was too late to make them see it as a scepter. They had already walked away. Fuming, he vowed to live a life of illusion, never giving it up.
Now it was nearing his thirtieth birthday. He wondered why Hades hadn’t come after his scepter in all these years.
Wrapping a scarf over his face and wearing dark glasses, he boarded his private jet as Victoria. As soon as Victoria’s plane landed, she visited the family restroom and emerged as Jacques. His head swam and his stomach flip flopped. He felt the first shivers coming upon him and broke out in a cold sweat.
That evening he met his lover in their penthouse apartment with a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower. His shivering had calmed, yet he made a mental note to keep the illusions small.
“Mon cheri!” He kissed her offered hand. Smiling cunningly, he poured some of her favorite wine. “It has been too long!”
“Let me show you why you should stay.” His lover deftly took the glass and stole a long French kiss.
The clock read 11:30. He had thirty minutes left to get to the underworld. Fortunately, there was a portal in the basement of this building. Plenty of time.
As he kissed her neck, she faded, her body contorting and filling out to that of a tall, muscular young man in a toga and olive leaves for a crown in his curly Greek hair. The wine glass looked perfectly natural in his hand. In his other hand he held the scepter.
Dionysus summoned a portal to the Underworld, laughing maniacally.
Jacques took a step back in his surprise. “How did you find that?”
“This?” He did a tap dance with the scepter and ended with a ta-da. “Your illusions are good, but they are not god-like.”
“I’m taking that back tonight.”
“Oh, are you?” Dionysus waved his hands and made the scepter disappear. Even if it were a parlor trick, it would waste precious time searching for it.
The portal to the Underworld began to close. Dionysus blocked it with one arm holding the scepter now reappeared. “Hades was quite weak, distraught even, looking for this. He was willing to strike any bargain with the one who returned it to him.”
“What did you bargain?” the son of Hades felt a spasm in his chest. Grabbing it, he fell to the floor, gasping.
“You had the greatest gift of all and you blew it! To trick people into loving you on stage, that’s true power! With your gift, I would be worshipped again! The humans will hang on my every Tweet and Instagram, they will meme my every quote, and sacrifice their last dime and every waking hour to their devotion to me. I’ll be a REAL god.”
The son of Hades felt his body violently convulse with large tremors that slammed his head against the floor. His gift left him and he felt his soul rip in two.
Dionysus cocked his head and watched, taking notes of this death for a more accurate portrayal on stage later. As the portal closed, he stepped through, scepter in hand.