Home > Thanatos (Guardians of Hades #8)

Thanatos (Guardians of Hades #8)
Author: Felicity Heaton


Chapter 1



The rusty iron cage swung slightly as she moved, the heavy chain above her creaking as it swayed. She pressed her blackened bare feet to the thick bars that curved beneath her and carefully shuffled as she gripped another bar with her left hand, moving to face a different direction.

Her gaze strayed to the bluff of black rock that jutted out high on the wall of the enormous cavern, a ledge that had tantalised her from the moment she had witnessed him standing there what felt like aeons ago now.

Her eldest brother.

Though it had been an eternity since she had seen him, she had recognised him instantly, had felt a soul-deep connection to him that had brought tears to her eyes for the first time in as long as she could remember.

She couldn’t recall his name. Only his face.

Didn’t remember what people called her.

She knew only a burning need to avenge her twin by hunting down the ones who had killed him, a mission of justice she would follow with another once she had completed it. Once they were dead, she would go after her family.

They would pay for abandoning her to the wretches who still held her now.

The oval cage swung again, and she cursed as it turned, spinning her so she was facing away from the bluff. She stared at the other cages that hung from the arching ceiling between great spears of onyx rock.

At the skeletons they contained, some only bones now while others were still rotting.

She remembered the last one who had died, how he had screamed when they had come to torture him, how they had gone too far. She hadn’t yelled at them to stop, had only watched in silent numbness as they had spilled his blood, as he had desperately clung to life, fighting to survive.


He had spoken often of surviving.

A wry smile twisted her lips as she stared at his corpse.

This wasn’t surviving.

She wasn’t even sure she would call it existing, but it was the closest she could come to how it felt. It was all she could do. Exist. She had no control over her life, no freedom, nothing. She had only this small, cramped cage.

And a tiny seed of hope.

That light flickered dimly inside her now, slowly dying, rotting as the male was.

But it had shone brightly when she had seen her eldest brother, had nearly blinded her when their eyes had met, and she foolishly clung to it as the dead male had clung to his thoughts of surviving. Escaping.

She was a fool.

She shuffled to face the bluff again, her heart heavier now. She hadn’t seen her eldest brother there. It had been a lie, a fabrication created by this realm. Wherever this place was, it was steeped in power, taunted her with visions of her past. It stole her memories and used them against her, tearing her down and breaking her whenever she built herself up again.

Those visions tormented her worse than her captors ever could.

She looked down at the uneven ground more than ten feet below her, at the insect-like creatures that scuttled around, feeding, picking at the detritus that turned the air rancid as the scent of it mingled with that of wood smoke coming from the camp where her guards lived. Within that smoke there was a faint note of roasting meat.

Her stomach rumbled and she rubbed it between the small tattered blue top and shorts she had fashioned for herself from a dress she remembered clearly. It had been beautiful. Her favourite.

She’d had a ribbon that matched it, one bought for her by her twin. A ribbon woven on Olympus. She had cherished it.

Strange that she remembered such things when others eluded her. Her name was gone. Her family’s names too. She recalled only their faces and how they had looked at her when they had turned their backs on her. How they had ignored her when she had lunged for them, her arms held in the vice-like grips of her captors, a wild and desperate thing that had screamed for them.

Had screamed until she had been hoarse.


She remembered her twin.

His bright blue eyes. His golden hair. That smile that had always had an edge of mischief about it. How he had loved to tease her, to make out that she was the reckless one out of the two of them.

She had proven she was.

And gods, she regretted it.

His death was her fault.

But she would avenge him.

Voices echoed through the cavern, weaving between the jagged fangs of rock that hung from the ceiling, a distant murmur that blurred together into a stream of sounds and nothing more. She focused and strained, leaned forwards and closed her eyes, trying to make out what the guards were saying.

They didn’t speak very often, mostly went about their business, patrolling the area with their black spears or coming to torment those they held captive, whether it was with that same weapon or with the sight of food or water.

Her stomach growled again, but it wasn’t the thought of food that caused it to rumble. It was the thought of water. It had been too long since she’d had a sip of water. So long that her mouth was dry, throat thick. She cleared her throat and swallowed, tried not to think about water because it was unlikely she would be offered any soon.

The voices fell silent but then a single male spoke, and she caught his words.

“We have orders to move her soon…” His voice trailed off and she strained harder, desperate to hear what he was saying because he had to be talking about her. She was the only one they were holding now, the only one left alive in a sea of caged skeletons. He said something she didn’t catch, and then his voice grew louder again. “…Getting too close.”

Getting too close?

What or who was getting too close?

She put it to the back of her mind and focused on the fact they were speaking of moving her. She felt she had been in this place a long time now, longer than she had been in any other location.

Much longer.

They had moved her several times over the duration of her captivity, always to another cavern, through the warren of tunnels and openings that formed this strange realm. It had been many years, or so she thought, since they had placed her in this cage though.

The voices drifted away again and she sank back against her cage, swayed with it as her thoughts wandered. She closed her eyes and breathed deep, calming her mind to conserve her strength, conjuring images she had used often over the centuries to give her strength.

Reliving memories of better days.

Not those of her family, because they were dead to her now, but those of lush wild landscapes, of the Elysian Fields, of vast nature and wide-open spaces. She found seeing those fields of crimson poppies and sparkling rivers and feeling the warm kiss of sun on her skin soothing. It kept her going.

Because she was resolved to live in such a place once this was all over.

When her mission was done.

She was going to find somewhere beautiful and remote, and make a home for herself there, away from this wretched dark realm.

Her eyebrows pinched as other images flickered over the ones she was calling to mind, black and broken lands filling fractures in them, and then a village. Small. Barely a handful of huts clustered together for safety in a sprawling grim realm like the one she was trapped in.

Followed by a boy.

Golden hair. Eyes like a summer’s sky. Her twin. She tried to recall his name as he lingered, while at the same time wanting him gone because she knew what came next. It crashed over her before she could purge the memory, a rush of images where he went from smiling at her, to screaming something while reaching for her, to staring blankly into eternity.

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