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There is no escape

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“Oh hey,” Hypnos said slowly as Fumi rose from the pool of Styx. Fumi dashes out, leaving behind a trail of blood and a chorus of disgruntled shades as they move to the side to make way for the Underworld Prince. “You’re dead. Again.”

 

Fumi scoffs, rolling her eyes at the stupid joke as she walks the rest of the way to Hypnos and her floating cloud. It isn’t surprising that Hypnosis is almost fast asleep again, hiding away from the world in the depths of her red hoodie. Fumi offers her a small smile. It’s nice to see a friend after her ultimate demise. Stupid Hydra Mole— maybe she should call it a horrible name like Andrew next time she gets there. 

 

Of course, there are worse things to name the Hydra mole, but the young prince is not creative enough to say that. 

 

I can still hear you, old man.” Fumi whispers in her head, where the realms of boundaries are spread so thin, such conversations between worlds are accepted.  

 

I am neither man nor woman, dear prince. Not in this version. 

 

“Hey Yuyuko,” Fumi said as she ruffles Yuyuko’s hair. She ignores the narrator’s voice in her head, focusing more with a laugh when Hypnos— Yuyuko, scrunches her eyes like a cat. The sleeping god yawns and grumbles in between the thread of her coat but otherwise doesn’t do much to stop her. “Did I miss anything?”

 

Yuyuko shakes her head, glancing down at her notepad. There are notes, but not as much as one would think when the entrance to the underworld was never-ending. “Not much, same old thing.” She pauses and lifts her head, her lethargic eyes blinking slowly. “But~ do you mind getting Aruru to play some better songs? She’s making me sleep.”

 

Fumi rolls her eyes. “You always sleep.”

 

“More than usual,” Yuyuko counters, waving her hand dismissively as she yawns once more. She looks aside. “It’s enough to make the boss unhappy.”

 

At the mention of her father, Fumi stomachs the usual growl and makes an extra effort not to glare at him from the corner of her eye. Her father notices, however, and glares back. Fumi scowls harder, as is the custom whenever these two have their own cold war. Amusing it is that they can say everything they need with a glare shared between genetics. 

 

“Shut up.” 

 

Duly noted. 

 

“Don’t listen to Father if he’s making threats,” Fumi huffs, her arms crossing over her chest. “He’s just getting his anger out about me on you.” 

 

“Sure sure,” Yuyuko mumbles before glancing up and hides her face from Fumi. “Anyways, I want to sleep again so do you mind seeing what the boss wants? Lord Hades is staring right at you and I don’t even need to look his way to see.” 

 

A long sigh exhales Fumi’s body, but she nonetheless nods and walks away, almost storming her way there. 

 

She passes through the shades. The coldness of their barely corporal bodies is nothing compared to her internal heat and the way her feet light up the path quite literally. Fumi stands in front of the looming desk that Lord Hades himself always sat, doing nothing but bureaucracy once more. And like always, his violet eyes were glaring down at her with bitter contempt and disappointment. It’s enough to make Fumi want to use his personal name for once.

 

Akira. 

 

But Fumi knows better to anger the god of the underworld beyond the silent boundaries already set. To anger, such a lord unnecessarily would be a concerning deplorable state of affairs. She knew deep down, it would be wiser to store this anger and unleash it in her next attempt to the surface. 

 

“Lost again I see,” Akira scoffs, quick to ignore Fumi even though he was signalling her presence. He focuses on another parchment. His voice is dull, bitter and full of harsh contempt. It booms over the house; all is quiet underneath the volume apart from her own sound of paperwork. “Did you enjoy ransacking my domain?”

 

“I very much did actually,” Fumi smirks, enjoying the way Akira scowls and attempts to shoo her away with a dismissive wave of his hand. “In fact I enjoy it so much I’ll be back at it again before you know it, Father.” 

 

“Get out of my sight then,” Akira said, giving her one last glare, “Now.”

 

Fumi unknowingly mirrors his action and returns her own lazy gesture. She walks left, down to the west hall and most importantly, towards her teacher Achilles. When Fumi met Achilles, she didn’t expect them to be so small, yet they quickly taught her that height didn’t matter when it came to fighting. The ruthlessness in their red eyes and the quick thinking to exploit each and every one of Fumi’s mistakes said it all.

 

“Michiru!” Fumi calls out, a smile too easily spread appears on her face, pride all over her voice. It is a luxury to call the greatest warrior their most private name. It is an even bigger luxury that it was something given freely to her. She couldn’t even call her aunt, uncles or cousins— all the Gods of Olympus their private names in front of them unless they let her. 

 

“Hello again Prince,” Achilles smiled, nodding their head cordially. The voice was full of mirth and a hint of collected strength. The best of any man is what they were known for, and it shows in their arrogant smirk. “How was it this time?”

 

Fumi sighs, the exasperation washing in and out like tidal waves. She places a hand on her hip, her eyes wander. As she explains, there is a mental calculation on the gems she needs to decorate these barren halls.

 

 “Aunt Karen was helping me this time,” she explains, mental calculations put aside for a moment as she recalls the whirlwind of explosive power born from the god of the Sea. She remembers, too, the way the vestige of Poseidon appears from the boon. Karen’s hair was wild, lush and held reddish tints, similar in shade to her coral crown. Her dress has laces of fish scales, a cloak of seaweed wraps itself around her shoulders. There is youth in her eyes, and there is also wisdom. Yet behind the grin, Fumi could easily sense the power lurking below its depths, much like the oceans she rules over. 

 

“Her knockbacks really helped this time,” Fumi continues as she glances down at her hands. “I used Coronacht before and the distance I manage to keep when I use her boons is immense.” 

 

“Excellent,” Michiru grins. They twirl their staff around, half in idle motion but also in wonder about Varatha’s form. Maybe soon they would tell the young prince about the spear’s secret—

 

“I’m sorry but Varatha has a what?”

 

 --but that would be for another time. 

 

“Oh you’re such an ass.”

 

“I’m glad you and Coronacht are getting along well,” Michiru says, snapping the young prince from her mental conversations with the void. 

 

Fumi nods, “I also met Aphrodite but well—” her face morphs, the nose scrunching up in a slight wince. She hopes that up in Olympus, Kaoruko won’t be able to hear her. She already saw the Goddess of love in deep rage and wouldn’t like to see it again. Though it wasn’t Fumi’s fault to realise that picking her over Karen in a duel boon room would incite a beating. It wasn’t like she was Athena or anything. 

 

“I tried her boon on my Cast this time and it didn’t work well for a long distance weapon like Coronacht.” 

 

The boon in question was a short wave of charms that would weaken the enemies of the underworld. Its distance, however, was left to be desired when its range was so small and so close to Fumi herself. As such, the combination didn’t work well with the mighty range of Coronacht. 

 

“That is to be expected,” Michiru nods, and there is a chuckle leaving their translucent form. Achilles points their spear up, the ghostly tip centimetres away from the throat. It won’t do anything to her, but Fumi still tilts her head up. “But keep the chin up prince, the lesson learnt now will mean fewer mistakes in the future.” 

 

Fumi’s sour mood lightens up a bit at the nugget of wisdom. “You’re right, Michiru.” With a pleasing grin, Michiru retracts their spear, and after another mindless flourish, Fumi’s eyes widen. 

 

“Oh yeah— I got you something,” reaching from her pocket Fumi tosses over a bottle of nectar she stole back in Tartarus, and like all the others before it, it held a peculiar shape. According to the chef, when she showed them the object after her previous escape attempt, the shape of the bottle was similar to a mortal sauce known as a Ponzu bottle. 

 

“A nectar bottle?” Michiru muses as they catch the glass bottle, swirling the orange liquid like a wine glass. 

 

“I don’t know why, but the bottle is shaped like a ponzu bottle.”

 

“How peculiar.” A smile curls their lips as they look at the ponzu bottle and then back at the young prince. “Well,” they start. “I can’t just not give anything in return.”

 

“But—”

 

“Nonsense, after all what sort of teacher I would be if I was upstaged by my own student.” The laughter is full of pride, and there is too much awe in Fumi’s throat to join along with them. Fumi watches as Michiru removes a strap from their brace across their right arm. Then when it’s thrown, she holds such equipment with great honour.

 

“It’s a Myderian bracer,” Michiru explains. “It will protect you well should you use it, Fumi.”

 

“Achilles… Michiru,” Fumi gasps. Excitement bubbles out of her lips with a laugh as she inspects the bracer in her hand. “This gift is amazing, I—” She pauses, standing up straighter as she bows low to her teacher. “Thank you Michiru, I won’t let you down.”

 

“You never will Prince,” Michiru laughs, ruffling Fumi’s head now that it was within reach. “Now go out there and wreak Havoc.” Fumi laughs, strapping the bracer on her right arm before dashing again through the main hall. 

 

She ignores the disgruntling shades that she passes through to give Cerberus his pats. She laughs when he licks her face, and then when Akira tells her to quiet down, she laughs louder— almost daring for Akira to tell her off even more. Akira, unfortunately, doesn’t, so Fumi can’t just cause another fight in the middle of the hall.  

 

She does, however, walk towards Orpheus, who sits near the throne of the King in her lone chair. A sincere smile forms on Fumi’s face as she leans against one of the chairs. Orpheus was a new servant in the house, but their conversations were always something to look forward to. Not to mention unlike Rui, who could easily travel to do her duties, Aruru would tell her all about the surface.

 

“How are you doing Aruru?” 

 

Aruru blinks and almost drops her lyre in surprise. She also nearly trips on her own hair, overflowing and long like it was a hedgerow of tangles and knots. She laughs, her internal despair clinging to the world and the very edge of her voice. Fumi doesn’t know much about birds, but she imagines this is how a broken bird would sound. 

 

“I’m fine, my prince,” Aruru smiles, almost sheepish at her little mistake. Behind them, Fumi can hear Akira scoff, and she holds herself back from glaring at him and inciting another fight. “But how are you, you’ve busy haven’t you? Care for a rest?”

 

Fumi shakes her head, “A kind gesture but I’m afraid there is no time for me to rest.”

 

Fumi would never sit down. After all, to do so would incur some sort of punishment— at least mentally in her head, it would. She had no time to rest when she was trying to find her mother Persphone (Or at least what she sees in Akira’s old notes, Tamao). 

 

“Ah…” The weak smile on Aruru’s face droops just a bit more. Her voice is as quiet and small as before. “That’s a shame.”

 

“It is but,” Fumi thinks back to Yuyuko’s request. “It would be a bigger shame for you to restrict your talents Orpheus.” She would not be so cruel to outright complain of the genre of music, 

 

“Orpheus—” Aruru gasps, her eyes wide. The prince would never use her title name when they already shared personal titles. “--Fumi.” An echoed cough from the Underworld King nearby shrinks the singing girl, and in a quieter voice, Orpheus corrects herself. “My prince…”

 

“Don’t listen to Father,” Fumi interjects. The words were hasty and sharp, mostly directing to the ears that are listening in. 

 

Aruru grin is a weak vestige of what little dimming smile she held before. “I’m sorry my prince, but your father’s word is law.” There is a quiet moment between them before Aruru sits down on her chair, and it aches Fumi that she could not accompany her. “I think we should continue this conversation another time.” 

 

From the corner of her eye, Fumi glares back at Hades, the red eye is alight with flames whilst the green is sharp as a rose’s thorn. “Alright,” she says softly, turning back to Aurur briefly with a gentle smile to show no harm was done. “Next time I’ll tell you all about my exploits and you can make a song about it.”

 

There is a glimmer of hope when Aruru smiles, just a bit brighter than before this time. “That would be nice, dear prince.” 

 

Fumi gives her one last wave before dashing through the hallways to her room. Shizuha, Nyx, the mother of night, is there next to the doorway as per usual, but there is too much hot blood within her to stay still and chat. 

 

“I’m sorry, Mother,” she whispers in apology as she enters the courtyard. “But I need to teach Father a lesson.”

 

The skeleton figure of Futaba greets her when she enters her private courtyard, but even that training companion is ignored as Fumi grabs Coronacht once again and runs straight to the open window. 

 

When she lands on the familiar back door path once more, Fumi grins. Her teeth are feral, and there is electric energy pulsing within her bones. The yellow lightning bolt of Zeus illuminates the empty road and river of blood surrounding them. 

 

“Lord Zeus!” Fumi cries, her arm reaching out wide as lightning snakes around it until the light crackles to the floor. “I Hear your blessing!”

 

“Finally,” cackles a haughty voice, and from the burst of light, a beautiful golden toga appears, lightning coursing through the fabric like waves. The crown is in the shape of two more jagged lightning bolts, and the amber glow in her eyes intensifies as she looks down at the young prince. 

 

“Though calling me by the official title makes us look distant now?” The rosy lips widen to a confident grin. “So from now on, since we are family, or else I’ll be calling you Zagerus.” There is laughter now, loud and rolling over the space like thunder. “Just call me Claudine, okay Fumi?”