There was a war that raged in the heavens, one that every living soul that existed could feel deep within their hearts. It had raged for some time now, armies and monsters clashing in constant conflict... but now the war in the sky had made its way to beneath the dirt.
In the realm that all things eventually visit stood Hades, God of the Dead and current commander of a skeletal army composed of the millions of denizens that lived in his territory. He was a tall figure as most gods were, easily dwarfing even the bull like Minotaur that stood at his side, and the black, ebony armor he wore only made him taller. Now he stood outside the Mourning Fields, a section of the Underworld reserved for the poor fools who'd wasted their all too brief lives on an unrequited love. Now it stood empty, except for Hades' army of course. The army of the dead were completely silent as they stood before their master, indeed the silence of the Underworld was something Hades had come to appreciate in his long millennia of residence, but soon that silence would be replaced by the clashing of swords and the screams of battle.
"Today we face a threat unlike any we've faced before!"Hades yelled, voice booming across the ever so dark skies. "An army so large and vast that they think they can challenge the dead!"He grimaced, feeling a twinge of regret. "And though our allies have fallen they just add to our number! So on this day let us, the hordes of the dead be the ones that finally put an end..."Hades' compelled the army to cheer, if only to mask the hint of fear he could sense welling up inside of his voice. "...to what's coming."
An armada of ships sailed silently down the River Styx, golden green waters that would normally ferry the recently deceased to their destination had now been touched by the sails of war. At the forefront of this armada was the largest ship of all, a mighty war vessel that currently held no more than 600 men and standing upon the bow of this vessel was Diana, proud General of the mightiest force that this world of gods and myths had ever seen. While her forces of Centaur, Goblins and other fantastical creatures sluggishly prepared for battle, grabbing weapons and armor from the ship's supplies, Diana already stood ready, outfitted in brilliant blue Hoplite armor that somehow shone brightly even in the over reaching darkness.
Standing ready for anything, Diana's brilliant blue eyes scanned ahead for any potential dangers but, finding nothing, she relented and focused on other more prominent duties. Gripping her shoulder length hair she quickly fashioned it into a bun, already expecting the coming conflict to be bloody and personal. Next she went to work polishing her shield, a black and gold metal instrument that had served her greatly throughout her many battles, the roaring face of the Nymerian Lion proudly etched into the forefront. Finally she picked up her sword and gave it a few swings, brief practice for the conflict to come.
"Mi'lady?" The voice of Diana's top Lieutenant came from behind, so the General turned to the young woman she'd fought countless conflicts with. The Lieutenant quickly gave a smart salute before continuing. "Our scouts report the docks are just up ahead."
"Please, Lieutenant. You can call me Diana." She replied whilst quickly holstering her sword to the sheath on her back, the shield still clung to her arm. The face of the Lieutenant shifted under her helmet and Diana realized she'd unintentionally struck a nerve.
"General, doing that wouldn't give you the respect that you deserve."
Diana rolled her eyes before quickly fastening the shield to her back as well. Stepping past the Lieutenant she overlooked her troops below who in turn looked up at her expectantly.
"We've arrived." She said proudly and clearly. "I've fought alongside each of you before and that's how I know we're going to win. Good luck to each of you, and honor for all."
There were no cheers. There didn't need to be. As the first ship came upon the shores of the Underworld every living soldier knew that the day was already theirs.
Diana marched upon the beach moments later, accompanied by the boots, hooves and paws of ten thousand loyal soldiers, her sword was drawn as she ventured down one of the paths jutting off from the beach, a wall of encroaching darkness was all that greeted her.
"Wait two minutes and then fellow." She instructed the Lieutenant who nodded respectfully. "I'll clear the path ahead." A determined look filled her gaze and, not waiting for a response, she stepped into the dark. As she'd been growing up Diana had heard many tales of the many terrors that the Underworld had to offer, yet as she continued forward she found it strangely odd that she had yet to encounter any of them. Even Diana with her heightened senses, a benefit of her birthright, couldn't detect anything nearby besides a low rumbling noise that could honestly have been anything. Regardless she kept her weapons ready for any threats that might be lurking in wait. Eventually the young woman came to what appeared to be a dead end as looming ahead seemed to be nothing but some sort of wall. However, it was... strange. It might have been an illusion of the dark but it appeared to be shaking, shifting softly.
Curious, and confident in her abilities in case it were a trap, Diana placed an uncovered hand on the structure and was immediately greeted by a large eyelid unraveling and a pair of brown eyes appearing in the shadows where her hand had been. The low rumbling sound she had heard earlier, now revealed to be snoring, ceased and was replaced by a high pitched yawning noise, and as the brown eyes lifted upward they were joined by two other pairs of eyeballs and the sound of deep, deep growling.
Cerberus, the three headed dog stood proudly in front of the gate to the Underworld, black fur shining in the air and massive frame barely managing to fit in the narrow caverns where he now stood. The guardian stretched slowly and his three heads lowered curiously towards his visitor. Diana clutched at her sword unsure about the beast's intentions, six eyes glared at her and she found herself unsure which to keep track of. Yet when she saw that Cerberus had stopped growling and was in fact, more curious than angry she simply offered her free left hand to him. Three black noses each the size of a man's head sniffed at the general's hand before pulling back with a content yelp from each of the dog's heads.
"G...General?" Diana turned to see her army amassed in the cavern behind her, so enthralled by the beast had she been that she hadn't heard them arrive. The Lieutenant was stood at the forefront looking bewildered at the sight of her with general with the giant creature.
"I think the beast will let us pass." Diana said as Cerberus turned and nuzzled the giant, circular gate prompting it to open. "Provided that we treat him with the respect that he is due." There was a loud cracking noise that followed, the sound of age old metal shifting, and bright orange flames illuminated the area from within. Cerberus slumped to the side and closed his eyes as the army marching past gave him a very wide berth. After a few moments Diana and her Lieutenant were all that remained in the cavern. "Thank you great beast." She whispered before going to join the rest of her forces. Before them stood Hades' fortress, a spiked marble building that stretched up to the rocky ceiling miles above, in front of the building was a green field covered by the army of the dead, a seemingly endless collection of cadavers and skeletons that stood eerily silent.
Leaping through the air using the unnatural strength gifted by her father, Diana landed at the front of her own army. The Lieutenant, a practiced spellcaster, followed her by uttering a backwards phrase of levitation.
"We'll need all available magic users at the back." Diana muttered to her comrade. "They're going to charge at us, try to surround us. We'll keep our backs to the wall and let them come." The Lieutenant nodded, not needing reminding of the already set battle plan. Yet before more could be said there was a noise like cannon fire and the then the voice of Hades filled all their ears.
"You were all foolish to come here."The Greek god said, making Diana wince as her eardrums ached. "Waging war in the land of the dead is a game already lost."
"It's you who are the fool, Hades!" Diana yelled to the sky, anger and righteous fury filling her voice and masking the inkling of fear she felt. "Surrender! And I swear neither you nor your home will know harm."
A low, deep laugh was the sole reply and then a shadow appeared on the ground directly in front of Diana, which promptly tore itself free of the floor and stood upright, taking the form of the god in question.
"I... I know you don't I?"He asked, this time personally speaking to Diana. He had to lean down in order to speak face to face with her, where he placed a thin, pale hand on the woman's cheek. His touch chilled Diana to the bone. "A face I know from long ago but simply can't recall..."
Before the man could say more Diana shoved a hand into his chest pushing him back several feet towards his army. The god looked surprised, and then anger flashed across his face and he gave the inevitable command.
Diana drew her sword and issued an order of her own.
The army of the dead rushed across the battlefield giving off a terrible scream as they did so, it sounded as if the souls that had once inhabited those bodies were in a state of torment, a state of pain that could now be heard, yet Diana's army stood its ground, soldiers at the front readying spears in a state of waiting. A full ten seconds passed and then the two forces clashed and the skeletal army performed poorly. Skeletons were impaled without gaining an inch of ground and Diana's forces got to work. The Lieutenant conjured up green Greek fire to accompany the lighting bolts hurled from far behind and Diana's sword, sharp enough to tear through atoms effortlessly cleaved through the weak and frail creatures that came her way. The army of the dead were mostly mindless and it showed as they hurled themselves repeatedly against the living's spears like an undead tidal wave, yet Diana knew that their assault would inevitably break through.
"General, look!" The Lieutenant screamed. Looking up to the skies by instinct Diana saw a dark figure that could only be Hades casting bolts of black energy from the sky above. Arming her shield Diana once again leaped into the sky towards the dark god, her mystically enchanted shield protecting her from the bolts sent her way.
"Wai-"Hades began to say an instant before Diana slammed into him with her shield. He was sent tumbling through the sky where he landed on the grassy outskirts just outside his palace. His foe smashed into the ground next to him, covering her boots in mud and dirt.
"I don't want to hurt you." She said rather unconvincingly as she readied her sword, prepared for the god's next assault. Hades got up to his feet, armored chest plate cracked in two, and his eyes flashed angrily, small skulls replacing the black pupils that had originally been there.
"Nobody has DARED hurt me in over 2,000 years!"He snapped as his started to become dangerously low. "The last mortal who dared do so I condemned to an eternity in Tartarus!"
"Monstrous." Diana said. "Nobody deserves such a fate."
"You'll be sharing their fate soon enough!"The god outstretched his hands towards the ground, summoning up dead roots from the ground. Thick, spiked vines scrambled across the ground towards their target, but Diana simply severed them all in a single swipe of her sword. She found herself markedly unimpressed by the conflict thus far. Hades was indeed powerful but he was a poor tactician, and incredibly predictable. "How dare you!"He snapped whilst shooting bits of bone and shrapnel at his attacker. A bloody red wound appeared across Diana's hand as a piece of ancient spine skimmed across her skin and she raised her shield to block the incoming damage whilst slowly advanced towards him. "Why come here?!"Hades demanded. "Why?!"
"For peace." Diana answered as her fist slammed the man through the doors of his castle. He lay in a heap among a grey throne room, face down and unconscious. As she entered, a pair of guards emerged at both sides of Diana, skeletons of course armed with golden swords. She simply grabbed them both by the rib cage and cast them aside. She approached the unconscious Hades cautiously, sword again at the ready which she used to turn him over so she could see his face. "Are you done?" She asked.
It was done.
Diana let out a weary sigh and took a seat upon the floor looking to rest for a moment. She inspected the wound upon her hand. It stung a fair amount but it was hardly life threatening so she began to relax. Some time later the sound of running feet gained the General's attention, looking up she saw the Lieutenant running toward her with urgency in their voice.
"Mi'lady!" She said as her General stood back up. "The battle is won! Hades' forces have all collapsed and the day is ours!" A look of concern flashed across the young woman's face as she noticed the mark on Diana's hand. "Are you alright?" She asked.
Other than the small wound on her hand Diana was miraculously unhurt. "I'm fine, Lieutenant, this is hardly the worst you've seen men." She sheathed her sword and began to stretch. "Have a group detain Hades... and please, call me Diana."
A smile flashed across the Lieutenant's face, she removed her helmet revealing long, purple hair.
"Only if you call me Circe." She replied.
The battle won, Diana had one of her spellcaster's teleport her to her home of Mount Olympus, home of the gods and more importantly her father. Standing in a cloud formed city she wasted no time heading straight towards the holy temple. Entering the throne room she saw her father alone by his throne, dressed in a black cape and robes.
"Father." She said somewhat quietly in a respectful tone. "May we talk?"
Her father turned towards her revealing his scarred face and ginger beard. He did not smile but there was a warmth in his eyes.
"You may." He said as Diana knelt upon the ground. "I trust you were successful?"
"Yes. The underworld is now yours." Diana said quietly.
The god chuckled.
"Ours, daughter." He corrected. "Ours."
She lowered her head. "
Thank you father." Diana said.
"Thank you Lord Ares."