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Leg Post 63 begins in Duat, the underworld of Egyptian religion, where Thetis must walk its corridors, following dog-headed Anubis. He leads her to the weighing room, where scales would usually weigh the dead's heart against their deeds. If unworthy, the heart would be fed to the monstrous Ammit that stands next to the scales. Ma'at and her husband, Thoth, meet Thetis there. They are happy to help her avoid the Greek Gods and help her hide. Anubis takes her to see Isis and Osiris. Osiris admits he is happy to help her as she is his wife's friend but he is otherwise very formal. He introduces her to a being he claims to be one of the most powerful in the Multiverse, Medjed. Medjed, however, appears to be a strange person beneath a sheet with painted eyes and does nothing but walk around silently so Thetis doubts the voracity of the claim. The plan to bring Thetis to Duat is to lure the gaze of Zeus and the Greek Gods there, while they then secret her to Hades to reside right under their noses where they'd least expect her to be. She expects Medjed to return to Duat but it insists on following her around. She reaches the boat to cross the River Styx with Charon as boatman. Though he looks scary, he is camp and highly vocal, though he constantly berates the dead that must travel in the boat. On the opposite side she is met by Hades himself so turns out to be a very polite gentleman. Thetis must hide because Zeus wants to kill her unborn child, who has been prophetised to bring about his ruin. Several months later, Thetis' fellow nereids have come to help with the birth as has Salacia, the Roman God of the sea. They decide to birth in the River Styx and when the baby is born, he is plucked out of the water by Salacia. Hades affirms that he can protect Achilles because of the water of his realm touching the baby, protecting Achilles from the wrath of Zeus. Thetis vows that Achilles will be the scourge of the gods, much to the surprise of the two gods with her.

Post

THE UNDERWORLDS

Thetis walked slowly down the passage of Duat, the Egyptian underworld. The walls were sandstone and grains of sand would dislodge from the ceiling, which was shrouded in darkness above, as she went. Her bare feet felt the horrid cold of the stone beneath her soles and her eyes struggled to see the passage further ahead. Her heart raced in fear of what she might see.

From the gloom then stepped a tall, muscular figure. His arms were long and his toned, bronze torso was bare. He leaned on a straight, metal staff that was tipped with a hook. Rather than a human head, he had the head of a black-furred hound. Anubis, guide to the dead. He did not speak and she wasn’t even sure, with his dog-head, that he could. He turned from her and started to walk onwards. She followed after him. There was a cold breeze that blew into her face, yet her toga and her hair remained undisturbed. The toga was forest green and she had short hair, wrapped by a headscarf of turquoise. Heavy earrings hung from her ears and around her wrists were gold bangles.

Like her, Anubis’ feet were bare but they were much larger than her own. She was dainty and he was large. She reckoned even one of his leg muscles was as thick as her very waist. Eventually Anubis led her into a chamber. On either side of the room were pits of fire that burned fiercely and yet she felt no heat. At the far end was a large scale but beside that was a monstrous beast that caused Thetis to clinch in fright.

Its hind was that of a hippopotamus; thick, grey and bulky. The torso was a lioness, with smooth golden fur and sharp claws upon the forepaws. The head was the most terrible of all. A massive crocodile head with rows of patient teeth, just waiting for the kill. The creature didn’t move a muscle, but its eyes followed her the entire length of the chamber. A woman stepped from behind the monster. She wore a short, red dress and high heel – things that Thetis had never seen before. Her wild, curly hair is pushed back from her face by the sunglasses propped on her forehead.

Ma’at: “Don’t worry about Ammit, honey. She won’t bite. Unless you’ve been naughty.”

Thetis: “Ma’at, thank you for meeting me. I know you didn’t have to.”

Ma’at: “This room is usually reserved for weighing the hearts of the dead. Ammit here sometimes gets a treat if a villain comes this way. But Isis wants you to have special exemption and I’m inclined to agree. These Greek gods get too much attention, I’d like to give them some frustration.”

She lowered her massive shades to her eyes, looking like a rich fashion model. She blew a burst of pink chewing gum and grinned.

Thoth: “Anubis will lead you through safely, no need to fret.”

Thetis turned to see Thoth had accompanied his wife to the measuring room. On a table to the side were piles of documents that he would usually be filling in, taking down exact measurements and testimony of the deceased while his wife passed judgement.  He drew near and gave Anubis a nod of the head. The dog-headed god didn’t motion back but simply started to walk on.

Ma’at: “Goodbye, honey.”

Thoth: “I wish you luck, Thetis. Concealing yourself from Zeus will not be easy. But the underworlds of Earth are the best hiding spots.”

Ma’at: “We used to play hide and seek with Ra all the time and he could never find us down here!”

Thetis: “Thank you. Both of you.”

She followed Anubis out of the weighing chamber and down the next passage until they reached the final stage of Duat. At the far end of the new chamber, which was nothing but blackness all around, was a throne with a man seated upon it and beside him, standing, was a woman. Thetis recognised her friend, Isis, instantly. She wore traditional Egyptian makeup and clothing but had the white skin of a Grecian. Upon the throne was her new husband, Osiris – the king of the underworld. His skin was green and upon his body he wore white clothing that was further wrapped in smatterings of bandages here and there. The bandages and the green skin gave the impression of an old, decaying body. Yet his eyes were a wellspring of life. Around his waist was a bright red sash that contrasted with the white and green visage he otherwise presented. Tied to the sash were several objects that hung limply around his hips. Around his neck also hung a thin, red tie from the modern era. On his head he wore a tall, oddly shaped hat.

Thetis approached, eyeing the weird hat.

Osiris: “Thetis. I am happy to be of service to you, as my wife’s friend.”

Thetis: “Thank you, Osiris, for letting me come through here. I have I haven’t been too much of a disturbance.”

Osiris: “The processes have been stalled, but it is nothing we cannot handle. Thoth may have the greatest workload as he will have a lot of paperwork to manage.”

Isis: “To be honest, I think he enjoys the paperwork.”

Osiris: “I think only Ammit will be most upset. She looks forward to her snacks.”

Thetis’ face blanched at the thought of that creature being fed the hearts of people that the scales deem unworthy. Her eyes kept roving to Osiris’ hat. To her it looked like a giant condom strapped to his head but she dared not utter anything of the kind to him. Around his neck she could make out scar lines that went straight across, as though his head had had to be sewn back to the body.

Isis: “Everything has been arranged, Thetis. The Greek deities may know you came to us but they will not know you then left us and where you went. I think it is quite a cunning plan!”

Osiris: “You will hide right under their noses. While they are looking at us, trying to find you here, they will never suspect that you are in Hades.”

Thetis nodded eagerly.

Thetis: “Thank you!”

Osiris: “Now, prepare yourself. You are about to meet one of the most power deities in all of existence. None in the Multiverse are like it. You may be overwhelmed so we will protect you with our power.”

Thetis was shocked. Could it be Atum-Ra? Perhaps even Aten, who doesn’t technically exist yet? Or some foreign or, dare she believe, an alien god? She grit her teeth as, from the shadows, a figure emerged.

She looked down.

Four feet tall, she could see a pair of little legs sticking out from beneath what appeared to be a white sheet over a person’s head. On the sheet was a lazy-eyed, dopey face.

Osiris: “This is Medjed!”

Osiris looked as though he could hear sirens singing, trumpets blowing and the worlds colliding. Thetis just saw a weird little person in a ghost costume. Medjed lazily turned and started to potter off. She glanced at Isis who ushered her eagerly after the sheet-god. Thetis trotted after it.

Thetis was wondering if there was some mistake and she looked back down through Duat to where Osiris and Isis watched after her. She and Medjed passed through an arch and disappeared. A moment later they reappeared in a new underworld, another portion of the Heavenly Realm reserved for a different religion’s afterlife. Here was Hades.

While Duat had been a sombre affair, it had been an organised and stately process. Hades appeared as a grey, barren world that stank of death and misery. Thetis’ spirits were instantly cast over as she thought of spending her days in such a desolate place. She looked at Medjed. Its stupid face gazed at her sleepily. There was no mouth, no nose. Just eyes and their eyebrows that looked like a badly drawn kid’s picture. The thing slowly started to lean to one side, as though it forgot how to stand up.

Thetis: “Thank you, uh, Medjed. For bringing me here.”

Medjed, very slowly, straightened itself up again. She began to find the thing extremely creepy despite its dopey looks. It was just too weird and oddly cute. She looked around and saw the river and in the distance it appeared there was the boatman, herding the dead onto his boat.

Thetis: “Well, goodbye Medjed. Thank you again.”

She tried to give the weird god her best smile and she turned to walk away. She hadn’t gotten far when she noticed the pattering of bare feet on the stoney beach behind her. She turned to find Medjed stalking her.

Thetis: “Um. Shouldn’t you go back to Duat? With Osiris and Isis?”

Medjed stared at her. It then, slowly, squatted, bending its little knees. Thetis backed away only for Medjed to jump back up and scuttle after her. Concerned she went at a fast pace towards the boat, though not so fast as to run from the little creature like a fool. When she reached the boat she saw the boatman, Charon. He was a monstrous skeleton in a thick, ragged robe that hung loosely over his bones. His skull looked at her with two tiny points of light that lurked within the darkness of the eye sockets. He grinned – but it was a skull, so its face was a permanent grin – at her.

Charon: “Hey there, sweetcheeks!”

Thetis was aghast.

Thetis: “Swee—I am Thetis. Did word come about my arrival?”

Charon: “Yeah, yeah! Sure did! Nice to have a pretty face around. Not like this lot. That’s right, I’m talkin’ to you lot! You ugly scoundrels! Get on the boat or do I have to bash you with my oar?”

His voice was high-pitched and surprisingly camp. She had expected bass and monotone. Charon leaned himself to the side to look over her shoulder.

Charon: “What in the name of my petrified balls is that?”

Thetis: “Oh, uh. This is Medjed. I think he’s an Egyptian god of… I’m not sure what.”

Charon: “Hey there, cutey. Are you travelling with Ms Thetis?”

Medjed waddled close to Thetis by way of response and she realised she was going to have to get used to the little beast as it seemed intent on stalking her even through Hades.

Charon: “Well, you two better hop on board the Charon Express! Yo, you chumps, get outta the way for the lady!”

Miserable Dead: “I am a lady!”

Charon: “You’re a damned corpse is what you are! Move your incorporeal ass outta the way! That’s right, shift it! Don’t make me spank your ass with this oar! I’m deadly with this beauty, I tells ya!”

Miserable Dead: “I’m already dead!!”

Charon: “You’ll be double dead in a freakin’ minute! Ya damned ungrateful yobbo! I gives ya’ll passage on my boat and you don’t even show any respect. This is what the youths of Greece are like these days! Back in the old days I used to ferry real Grecians.”

He glanced at Thetis as she seated herself down.

Charon: “Present company excluded, of course!”

She tried to smile in recognition of his compliment in her direction, but it was difficult to be jovial with a chatty skull. Medjed sat down so heavily that the boat rocked vigorously.

Charon: “Anyone falls in, I ain’t comin’ in after ya. So hold on tight.”

The dead instantly clutched at the sides of the boat.

Charon: “Please keep all arms and legs in the vehicle at all times. The emergency exits are… everywhere. Please respect the needs of other passengers and don’t make a fuss. Wailing and whining are strictly prohibited because I’m sick to death of hearing it. Ha. Sick to death. Good one, Charon.”

He pushed off the shore and started sailing across the River Styx, the oar deep in the water like a gondolier. He steered them towards the opposite shore where Thetis could just about make out the figure of a man waiting.

Charon: “I reckon ya’ll are gonna love it here, Ms Thetis. Not you lot though. Ya’ll gonna burn for ya sins!”

Miserable Dead: “No please!”

Charon: “Ha! I’m just playin’ with ya’ll. I haven’t a frickin’ clue what’s goin’ to happen to you. For all I know you’ll get a ghost mansion and forty-two virgins to sex up.”

Miserable Dead: “I don’t want forty-two virgins!”

Charon: “What? You want forty-three? Stop bein’ so greedy, you ungrateful assholes!”

Miserable Dead: “That’s not what I said!”

Charon: “Look, you’re upsettin’ Ms Thetis with your lechery! Don’t you worry, Ms Thetis, we’ll be keepin’ these hoodlums away from you. You’ll be safe and protected down here. Ain’t no gods gonna be even lookin’. They’ll never suspect. You can have that baby safe and sound.”

Thetis: “That’s a relief. Thank you, Charon.”

Charon: “You hear that, ya bastards!? That’s gratitude! See, real Greeks know how to thank a boatman for his services! Ya’ll are a disgrace to the name of Greece!”

All the Miserable Dead: “Thank you, Mr Charon!”

Charon: “That’s better. We’re gettin’ there. Almost brings a tear to the eye, it does.”

Miserable Dead: “You don’t have eyes.”

Charon: “See!? And there you go ruinin’ it! Just couldn’t help yourself, could ya? Just gotta open that yap and go insultin’ me. I have half a mind to toss you outta my boat and go on without ya!”

A lot of chiding later and the boat bumped up onto the opposite shore. The dead clambered off the boat, terrified that Charon might take them for a return trip. The procession went on down the shoreline while Thetis and her new, and unusual, friend, Medjed, turned to the man waiting for them. He was around six feet in height and of a slender build. His face had a well groomed beard, trimmed neat and tidy and short. Even his eyebrows appeared plucked to perfection. He wore a dapper suit of black with a white shirt and red, silk waistcoat. He had a ruffled cravat around the collar and his shoes were extremely well-polished. In one hand was a cane, with a shiny, silver skull at the top, and in the other was a top hat.

Hades: “Welcome, Lady Thetis.”

He bowed deeply. Thetis was at a loss. She had expected someone as grim and serious as Osiris and instead she was met with a handsome, debonair gentleman in such an unusual fashion that struck her as charming and sophisticated. She didn’t know how to respond to such a greeting so she just nodded her head energetically.

Thetis: “Thank you for helping me, Hades.”

Hades: “And Medjed. It is sublime to meet you once again. You are as radiant and inspiring as always.”

Medjed’s gaze slowly wandered from Thetis to Hades. She wasn’t even sure it understood a word Hades has said, or even if it knew it was being addressed. Thetis tried not to look at it.

Thetis: “I understand that time works differently in the underworld than it does on Earth. Will this cause any problems for me?”

Hades: “Not at all, my good lady. I have enshrined you in a bubble of the underworld that will allow time to run normally into you. And into your unborn child. Seven months from now, you will have your baby. I have enlisted the aid of some of your fellow nereids who know a thing or two about being midwives.”

Thetis: “Oh no! If they know I’m here, they may tell Poseidon!”

Hades: “Never fear, I have not told them who they will be helping. They believe it will be my wife.”

Thetis:Persephone? Where is she now?”

Hades: “She will be absent for several months, I am sorry to say. She only spends the winter months in the underworld. The rest of the time she spends with her parents on Mount Olympus.”

Thetis: “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”

Hades: “It is our arrangement. I am just sorry you will not have much company here. At least you have Medjed.”

Thetis: “Uh, yeah. At least there’s… that…”

The months passed by until, eventually, it was time for the birth. Many nereids were invited during the last month the birth was expected and asked to remain in Hades so that they couldn’t go gossiping to Poseidon or any other gods before the baby was born. As a bonus, Hades was able to secure the help of the Roman god Salacia, who was already good friends with Thetis. At Salacia’s suggestion of a water birth, they, all being creatures of the sea, agreed to help Thetis give birth in the River Styx itself. When Hades learnt of this he advocated the idea immediately.

The baby was thus born and as it came out the child was plucked from the water by its heel. The nereids were all ecstatic and Salacia helped Thetis nurse the little boy. Hades crouched beside them as she rested in the water.

Hades: “This is good. I was able to create a connection between me and your child because of the water of the river. Should your son ever be struck down, even by my brother, Zeus, I shall be able to return him to his body in an instant. He is now safe. The prophecy that your son would bring about the ruin of Zeus may well come to pass now that he is invincible!”

Salacia was laying back on the water, letting herself float like a pale log.

Salacia: “I hate prophecies. Soon as they’re made, everyone scrambles to break them before they can come to pass. It just puts everyone in danger. This being the perfect example.”

Thetis: “I agree with you, Salacia. I wish gods like Apollo would stop giving the gift of future sight to the humans.”

Hades: “I am not one to pass judgement on such things. I am just happy that you could give birth safely and never have to worry about your son again. Did you choose a name, by the way?”

Salacia: “You should call him Dave!”

Hades: “I’m not sure how heroic ‘Dave’ sounds…”

Salacia: “It’s the name of this alien god who’s supposed to be one of the most powerful gods in the Multiverse, I’ll have you know!”

Hades: “Like Medjed?”

They all glance to the shore behind Hades. Medjed was lying on the grey stones like a lump, its vacant face staring into the sky. It rolled to look at them with slow deliberation.

Salacia: “Maybe they know each other!”

Hades: “How I would love to experience the higher understanding of the Multiverse that such beings as Medjed and Dave must have. I suppose we mere local deities shall never achieve such a wonderous state of being.”

Thetis shook her head with some disbelief as she looked back into Medjed’s stupid face. Half of her actually believed it all, while the other half thought the entire lot of them were deluded.

Salacia: “What about Doctor Pepper[Ext 1]! That’s a great name.”

Hades: “I think that’s copyrighted.”

Salacia: “You can’t copyright a name!”

Thetis: “His name is Achilles.”

Hades: “A good, strong name.”

Thetis: “And he will become the scourge of the gods!”

Hades and Salacia glanced at each other.

Salacia: “You know we’re gods, right?”

Thetis smirked.

Thetis: “Present company excluded, of course.”

Notes

Britt's Commentary

"The story of Thetis is very loosely based on the original story of Thetis[Ext 2] bathing her newborn child, Achilles[Ext 3], in the River Styx[Ext 4], which imbues him with invincibility. I expanded this myth a lot so that I could include Egyptian world-building, using the Egyptian underworld Duat[Ext 5] and the stages of death, including the weighing of the heart and Ammit[Ext 6]. Medjed[Ext 7] was included as a joke because of the silly look of the god, which became an internet meme sensation in Japan. When I created Hades[Ext 8], I wanted to subvert the idea of him being evil, especially as he is said to be one of the gods least likely to be cruel to humanity." ~ Britt the Writer

References

External References

  1. Dr Pepper article, Wikipedia.
  2. Thetis article, Wikipedia.
  3. Achilles article, Wikipedia.
  4. Styx article, Wikipedia.
  5. Duat article, Wikipedia.
  6. Ammit article, Wikipedia.
  7. Medjed (god) article, Wikipedia.
  8. Hades article, Wikipedia.
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