Map of Hades Picture

TARTARUS
Ferry Route: Charon is an old, miserly ferry-man responsible for transporting the dead across the River Styx (or "hated river") for a fee. However, as the dead that couldn't pay the toll started crowding the far shore, Charon eventually decided to let everybody in. "Let the Judges sort it out," he said, "It's not my problem once they're across the river."

Entrance to Hades: The entrance to Hades is a cavernous series of tunnels, barred by a gate. Traditionally Cerberus also guarded the shore, but when his Master returned worse-for-wear after being Bound to the mortal, Minos, the three-headed dog refused to leave Hades' side. Fleet staff now manage the millions of dead that were dumped on the shore, trying to sort them into their proper pantheons.

The Black Poplar Grove: The tunnels lead up into the Asphodel fields, opening up into the middle of the Black Poplar Grove. This dark patch of woods have refused all attempts to cull their numbers. Whatever is chopped down re-grows instantly, becoming more twisted and hardy each time. Some trees sport thorns, others weep acid like oozing sap. More still are covered with sticky substances that will bind a careless hand to their bark. It is popular wisdom that nothing lives in the Black Poplar Grove, but there are rumors of strange, spider-like creatures lurking there, awaiting a careless soul to stumble off the path and into their clutches. What is known for certain is that few people that leave the path ever return. What lurks at the heart of these fierce-some trees is a mystery even to the gods.

Asphodel Fields : The path to the Hall of Judgement winds through the Asphodel Fields, grey, ashen plains that slowly leach away the identity of any mortal soul that strays from the road. The only thing that grows there is the asphodel plant, after which the region is named. The majority of the land is unsettled and desolate. No creature lives there except the Ghostly Deer, a strange, fleet creature that is made of ash and wind, quick and quiet. The only god that ever visits the Asphodel Fields willingly is Orion, to hunt this rare beast.

The Slums: Home to heroes without purpose and the undistinguished dead. These pale shades reside in shanty-towns and slums, slowly losing their vitality as the grey, ashen ground leaches away their identity. Most of the time they sit, listless, or chitter and gibber to themselves without meaning or intent. The slums are a place of constant noise and dreary madness. The only time there is break from the heavy malaise is when the dark clouds gather above the fields and rain down blood, libations sacrificed by the living. When the dead drink this macabre rain, they regain their sense of self, becoming full of energy and memory. This is when the citizens of the Asphodel Slums are the most dangerous, for if they became mobilized their numbers could over-run all of Hades. Fortunately for the rulers of this realm, the effect is temporary, and most lose their memories before any momentum can be built.

The Pool of Lethe: The pain of losing one's self over and over again is too much for some souls. Others, when regaining their humanity, become haunted by old regrets. Many of the ghosts will flock to the shores of the Pool of Lethe (Pool of Forgetfulness) to drown their sorrows faster. Drinking from the pool has a soporific effect, and many unwise souls become addicted to the false bliss of ignorance. Beneath the white cyprus tree that shades the Pool, they wallow in emptiness, free of the pain of living, and the pain of losing life all over again.

Mr. Saturday's Club, "The Rouge": On a hill of volcanic rock, near enough to the molten lava "River" Phlegethon that the ground can burn unprotected skin, stands the newest addition to Hades. A garish, neon eye-sore of modern design, corrugated metal and bright, blinking lights. It is a night-club by the name of "The Rogue" and it is home to Mr. Saturday, newly self-appointed Boss of the Undistinguished Dead. Mr. Saturday is a kindly ol' gent, you see, and he can provide, for a price, what the dead crave more than anything else: Memories. Oh, sure, they might not be THEIR memories, but THEY don't know that! In return, they provide certain favors for the Boss. Too bad for them, the effect never lasts very long, and withdrawal can be a nasty business, so they're always in debt. Persephone has long been concerned about Mr. Saturday raising an army down in the dreary Asphodel fields, but so far the god seems content to build a small land of luxury for himself, and nothing more. In the meantime, his influence has had a pacifying effect on the population, with Mr. Saturday's goons policing the dead when the Blood Rains rile them up. As long as he serves a purpose in their favor, the Judges of the dead have more pressing concerns to manage. Besides, although nobody will admit it, there are many people, dead souls and gods alike, that enjoy the illicit temptation that the club offers. Nowhere else in Hades can such complete hedonistic indulgence be found. It is a monument to carnal delights, where a person can enjoy the less wholesome entertainments available elsewhere in the underworld. Booze, gambling, orgies, and dancing, "The Rogue" truly has it all.

The Torture Fields: The torture fields are where the evil dead are sent to receive their punishment. And the trials they endure are plentiful and inventive. The denizens of this place are as varied as their torments. Some are guilty of baser crimes, such as theft, rape, and murder. Others were banished there for earning the displeasure of the gods, rather than causing harm to their fellow man. The most famous are Sisyphus and Prometheus. One such man is King Sisyphus, doomed to roll an immense boulder uphill, only to have it fall back down, over and over again. Sisyphus in life was greedy, and a liar, killing travelers and guests under his tyrannical rule. He also plotted to kill his brother, and his craftiness was famous throughout the end. However, his deceitful nature was ultimately his undoing, as he betrayed a secret Zeus had shared with him. Even when Zeus ordered Thanatos, god of death, to kill the wicked king, Sisyphus' tricks got him out of the underworld time and time again. Prometheus, on the other hand, was a champion of humanity, famed for his quick wit. When mankind was trapped in darkness, Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to his people, so that they might move forward into the light. For this act, in death he was sentenced to the torture fields, where he was chained to a rock so a great eagle could eat his liver out each day. Every night, the organ grows back, so the raptor can tear it out again the next day. Many of the tortures in Tartarus involve unending tasks or desire. Tantalus is cursed with eternal thirst and hunger, must stand in a pool of water that he can never reach, beneath a tree full of fruit he can never grasp. Danaus' daughters must carry water from one place to another using leaking jars that let out all the water just before they reach their destination. To prevent escape, the Torture fields are bordered in the west by the River Lethe (River of Forgetfulness) and the River Phlegethon (Burning River). If anyone enters the River Lethe, they immediately forget what they were doing, and stand stupefied until the waters carry them off, depositing them back on the Torture field's shores. The River Phlegethon is made of molten lava, which sometimes people will be driven into as a punishment. The Volcano that serves as Phlegethon's source belches out clouds of ash and flaming rock, casting the Torture Fields in perpetual false-night. However, recently a small speck of hope has penetrated the gloom, as the Unnamed Soul whispers of revolution and the vision of the Light. (See: EREBUS - Avernus)

EREBUS

River Cocytus: Also known as the "River of Wailing," these tumultuous rapids throw up a perpetual fog that obscures the mountains to the north, where both Hecate and the Furies reside. The fog also serves to obscure the opposite bank, hiding the desolate canyon lands, the River Aoruis, and the lost ruins of Avernus.

Avernus: Avernus was once the entrance to the underworld in the form of a massive underground series of catacombs and tunnels. Now it is nothing but a crater that spews forth toxic fumes, filled with the skeletons of fallen birds. It can only be reached by the River Aoruis, or "River Without Birds," which is typically obscured by the fog from the River Cocytus. The ruins of an ancient temple to Apollo are also hidden in this abandoned, forgotten place, but it is said that Apollo no longer answers the summons from mortals. The god of knowledge, finally freed from his Binding to mortal will, has vanished from the surface. Nobody knows where he went, or why. However, if you ask the poor souls of the torture fields, some claim to have seen a light from the hazy southwest. A light from an unknown source. And despite their pain, their endless despair, their unending torment, the souls of the evil dead are stirring with hope. There is a movement in the ranks of these black souls, a cult, some would say, for the Light. They watch for it. Interpreting its signals. One did more than watch. An unnamed soul, for nobody has exposed his or her identity, eluded the guards and braved the river, traveling to the crater and empty temple. Although they did not find any signs of habitation, they did inhale the fumes of the crater, and were granted visions by the Light. Only rumor surrounds this mysterious Unnamed Soul, but there are whispers that the person was given a divine prophecy from an unknown god. They returned changed, and re-joined to the ranks of the wicked dead undetected, spreading news of their discovery, and the message of the Light. What the Unnamed Soul has planned is anybody's guess…but the guards are nervous, and the gods are too.

Home of Hecate: Hecate is known by many names. Goddess of witches, the triplicate Moon-goddess, and, perhaps her oldest name, Goddess of Death, and the ruler of the underworld. When the three sons of Cronus, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, drew lots for dominions, Hades took the underworld. Yet despite being the ruler of Tartarus and Erebus, he still honors Hecate above all others. He has never attempted to steal her power -- for she can bestow or with-hold from a mortal any desired gift. If it suits her. Unfortunately for mortals, it is almost impossible to tell what might please this strange being. She has always been more content to hover on the edges of events, mysterious, surrounded in shadows. A shape-changer, she can assume the form of lion, dog, or mare, and sometimes can be invisible as a moon-beam. In humanoid form, she has three faces, and her weapons are a torch and a sword. Fiercesome and unpredictable as she is powerful, she is a dangerous goddess to seek help from. Yet her gifts and guidance can be invaluable for those bold enough to find her. Her home is inside a cave at the top of the tallest peak in Erebus. The mountain pass to her home is marked by black poplar trees, which are sacred to the death goddess. Some believe that they are somehow connected to the Black Poplar Grove, but this claim has never been substantiated. The trails leading to Hecate's cave are much like her -- a confusing maze of many-forked paths, many of which lead to dead-ends, fade out, or are exceedingly treacherous. Even worse, the mountain is infested with her children, the Empusae. Fifthly, hunched, demonic creatures in their natural forms, these shape-changers disguise themselves to prey on travelers. They may appear as dogs, cows, or beautiful maidens. If in the form of a woman, they often seduce unwary travelers and, once their prey has fallen asleep, suck out the foolish mortal's life-force through a kiss. The only tell-tale sign is the brass slippers that they wear, regardless of their form, and they can only be driven away by well-aimed insults.

Home of the Furies The mountain which the Furies call home has three distinct peaks, one for each. Born of the blood Cronus spilled when he castrated his father, Uranus, they are Tisiphone, Alecto, and Megaera, collectively known as Erinnyes, or the Furies. They are ancient, older than Zeus or any Olympian, perhaps even older than Hecate. They are monsters with obsidian-black bodies, and bat-wings. Their hair is made of snakes and their eyes are blood-shot. In their clawed hands they carry brass-studded whips and clubs. They are the last resort of those that have been unjustly treated, for it is the task of the Furies to hear the complaints of mortals…and mete out punishment to the guilty. Particularly sensitive to crimes of patricide and oath-breaking, they also deal with insolence from youth towards elders, and of governmental corruption. These terrifying beings will hound their victims relentlessly, chasing without pause until they track down the offending party…and make them die in agony. Only the truly desperate bring their cases to the Furies, for they are harsh and unforgiving in their judgements. However, if you can convince them that your cause is just, you will find no stronger an ally than the ferocious Furies.

The Hall of Judgement: The first place newly dead visit is the Hall of Judgement. Individuals that were neither good nor evil were sent back to the Asphodel Fields. Those that were evil were sentenced to the torture-fields of Tartarus. Finally, those that were deemed virtuous were allowed passage to the paradise of Elysium, where they would eventually be reborn. Originally, two Judges, Rhadamanthys and Aeacus, were in charge of determining the sins of souls and send them to their appropriate realm. When the majority of the Greek Pantheon was Bound to a mortal will, and the rest of the world's gods fled, the only Underworld open was Hades. Like a black hole pulling in galaxies far and wide, the dead from every realm (including other universes) began appearing on Styx' shores. Rhadamanthys and Aeacus tried to keep up with the increasing demand, but it was a hopeless struggle. When Hades returned and appointed a third Judge for "difficult cases", Rhadamanthys and Aeacus decided they were due a vacation. They declared that ALL the unsorted dead were "difficult cases" and packed up shop, having a grand old laugh at the new Judge's expense. It turns out, the joke was on them. When they returned, they found that the new Judge had hired the Fleet, and had set up nearly impenetrable bureaucratic barriers. Currently they are filing to have their positions re-instated, and are required to undergo a series of tests and evaluations for certificates to prove their fitness to judge. While they have issued numerous complaints (which were each duly filed and recorded) to Hades, the reclusive god has yet to step in on their behalf.

Staff and Visitor Apartments: A small city has grown around the Hall of Judgement, to house those that assist the Administration running Hades. With the influx of the Fleet, it has become a thriving metropolis, with cafes, boutiques, and even a modest park in which the staff can enjoy leisure time. Located near the Pool of Memory, members of the undistinguished dead that have been granted special dispensation to work are allowed to regularly rejuvenate themselves, ensuring that they do not lose their identities. Buildings have also been dedicated to the Fleet activities, including the Historian's Great Library, the Journalist's News Room, the Ambassador's Suite, and the Adventurer's Great Hall.

The Pool of Memory Next to the Pool of Memory stands a sacred, white poplar. It's connection to the Black Poplar Grove is unknown, but some theorize that they spring from the same root. It has the rough shape of a beautiful woman, and under close observation, a person might spy a human face in the bark. Rumor has it that this is the Lady Leuce. Some say that Leuce was Hades' mistress, and when Hades attempted to bring her to his realm, Persephone killed her in a jealous rage. Others tell that Leuce was fleeing Hades' unwanted attention, and Persephone turned her into a tree to save her from her husband's lecherous hands. The story is now so old that only Persephone and Hades know the truth of it, but do not be surprised if you hear the whispered songs of a young woman on the banks of the Pool of Memory. And, above all, heed what you hear. For poplars are the root of wisdom, and the Lady Leuce has had many years to become wise.

ELYSIUM

Elysium: Home to those judged good by the Judges, Elysium is a beautiful land of perpetual day, where it is never cold or dark. Cut off from the rest of the underworld by the River Acheron, River of Woe, for it is truly heart-breaking for those trapped in Tartarus to look at the fate they can never have. These lush, rolling hills are a tropical paradise, a vacation home for virtuous souls to relax, rejuvenate, and contemplate their return to life. It is a a place of exquisite beauty, complete with some of the most lovely beaches and scenic trails in existence. This realm, which includes The Orchards, the Fortunate Isles, and (in theory) Leuce, is ruled by Cronus after his banishment by his children Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. Technically this realm is outside of Hades' domain, and they have always held a tenuous neutrality. If Cronus holds a grudge, he has hidden it well, pursuing instead a quiet, contemplative lifestyle in this land of luxury.

"The Orchard" Resort: "The Orchard" is a resort named for the fruitful apple orchards that adorn many of the rolling hills of the main Elysium island. It is a place of fragrant blooms, beautiful beaches, lovely landscapes, and sophisticated tastes. Music halls, art museums, greek theaters, and expansive gardens are plentiful, offering a variety of cultured attractions. People can also enjoy more natural diversions with nature trails, scenic waterfalls, and pristine beaches on the edge of warm waters. Sports of all sorts are played here, both ancient and modern, for the enjoyment of motion and friendly competition. Debates, philosophical discussions, and places of learning and reflection also grace the settled spaces of the Orchard. The housing is extravagant and comfortable, open to the fragrant ocean breezes. Yet despite this wholesome paradise, there are rumors of people sneaking off across the river Acheron to brave the Asphodel Fields and enjoy a night of revelry at Mr. Saturday's nightclub. Should they lose a bit of themselves in the grey meadows, they simply renew themselves at the Pool of Memory before returning, with no one the wiser. Still, The Orchard is meant to be a place of purity, and these outings are starting to have a subtle, tainting influence on paradise.

The Fortunate Isle: For the souls that have returned from life and been granted passage to Elysium three times, the Fortunate Isle awaits. An exclusive island, sequestered from the rest of the underworld for these rare, pristine souls. Little is known about this island, and its residents rarely leave its pale white shores.

Island of Leuce: Located in the black sea, this mysterious island is heavily forested, where strange beasts roam, both wild and tame. It is run by the ghosts of the Helen and Achilles, and the ghosts of notable heroes, who wile away the time by reciting the works of Homer, reminiscing on days gone by. If anyone was in need of a history lesson, or to seek out a rare creature, they could find no better harbor than the Island of Leuce.
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