The Heart of Tartarus

Content Warning: Sexual Situations

acta non verba –

it has been millennia, incognito
an alliance of darkness and hate
the storms that twisted in my fingers
treachery in the crook of your jaw,

the murmurs within the realm of eventide
turn their attention to the quiet
admiration and pride
only giving us away, 
don’t give us away – 

brushed metal and smoke
gunpowder dusted over your thumb
left a trail of promise
unbeknownst to either of them –

ye who once had faith,
stepped back from the precipice
of all you held true,
no longer unsure, but now bemused;
maybe your faith is still there

I will show you countless centuries,
if you will let me,
not of the past –
we can only learn, there is ‘mortal’ in our titles
– but of the future

let this be, shall I say
the beginning?

I let Dinlas open the door to my apartments in Tartarus – it felt much more intimate somehow. I watched him as his eyes scanned the room, taking in the black marble walls, the plush chaise lounges, the vibrant artwork. Pieces of me that I reserved for no one but those worthy. And Dinlas had keys now.

Fire coursed through my blood, but I made myself walk to the bar and pull two glasses and a bottle of whiskey from beneath. I dropped ice cubes into them and poured two fingers worth in each one as Dinlas came over, sitting opposite me. I slid a glass into his hand and we took a drink together while his eyes roamed his new surroundings, and myself.

“What do you think?” I couldn’t help myself from asking. A slow smile climbed his face as he turned to face me.


I smiled, my hand gripping my glass tightly to stop it from trembling. My eyes roamed over him hungrily, feeling more like the prey than the predator. Dinlas took another drink and caught my stare. He set his glass down slowly and leaned on the bar, facing me directly now, and I thought I was going to burn up. I matched his motions, our faces inches apart.

There is a certain energy that comes from being close but not touching, and between the pair of us, you could have waded through it. I licked my lips involuntarily, and he seemed to take this as a cue, walking around to my side of the bar.

“Now, where were we…” Dinlas breathed, before sliding his hands into my hair and kissing me hotly. I couldn’t take it anymore – I returned the kiss in kind, my hands roaming his body with need as my skin startled to twinkle faintly, stars lighting up over my skin. I slid the leather holding his sword off his back, the metal clanging against the marble as I tossed it to the floor. He angled my head back, kissing my throat and collarbone, his stubble rasping against my skin as he nipped at my throat, small star clusters following his trail. Pushing me roughly up against the marble, I heard the sound of tinkling glass shattering onto the floor, my mantle falling onto the bar when he unclasped it from my throat. Dinlas’ hips pressed against mine, and I ran my fingers up his back as his head dipped to my breasts.

“By the gods, you’re like a drug,” he murmured, his hands caressing my sides, the sheer fabric floating over his chaotic touch.

“I feel the same of you,” I whispered. I pulled his face up to mine and kissed him hard, walking us back towards the lounges and fumbling with the buttons on his shirt. By the third one, I was irritated, so I tore the rest open. I heard Dinlas inhale softly as my fingers found skin, and I felt goosebumps arise beneath my touch.

I backed into a side table, and heard the telltale sound of breaking porcelain, but Dinlas moved us around it until I felt my leg brush one of the lounges and I slid onto it, his belt eye level with me. I kissed his abs and hips, teasing the top of his kilt with my teeth as I glanced up at him. Dinlas was giving me that look again, the same one from when he sat beside the bonfire. I smirked, making sure he could see me do so, and ran my hands up his calves and thighs as he leaned into my touch, hissing slightly. It had the desired effect: he pulled me to my feet and kissed me roughly, steering me until I was against the cold wall. He tore at the remaining material on my body so that all I wore was my beryl necklace, and his mouth found my breasts, his five o’clock shadow grazing against my skin again and making me shudder. His hands caressed my body before reaching down to pick me up, hooking my legs around his waist, and knocking a painting askew as he did so. I yelped in surprise, but he smothered it with another bruising kiss as he made his way to my bedroom, kicking the ajar door open. Perching himself on the end of my bed, his hands massaged and dug into my hips, nebulas coming to life.

“Wait, please…” I breathed against him, running my fingers through his hair and already feeling him pushing against me.

“What now?” he growled, as I climbed off his lap.

I raised an eyebrow at him, before sinking to one knee and undoing his belt buckle, kissing up his thigh as I did so. “Play fair,” I murmured against his skin, unbuckling his boots as well and tossing them aside. I thought I heard him hum with pleasure before he got up off the bed, letting me push his kilt to the floor so he could kick it aside.

I am more than a millennia old, and have seen my fair share of mortals and immortals, but they paled before the god that stood boldly before me now. Dinlas allowed me to gaze over him openly, my fingers lingering on his hips, before I looked up to meet his eyes. They were both a challenge and a question, and I wanted to answer both. He wrapped his arms around me once more, turning us around so he could push me onto the bed and crawling up the sheets to follow me.

“Dinlas,” I whispered, pulling him to me for a long kiss, tongue exploring his mouth as my nails ran through his hair. There was nothing between us now but skin, and I reveled in how he fit against me, his shoulders leaning over me, his knee parting my legs.

Breaking away from my lips, he hooked my legs over his shoulders, easing himself against my thighs until I could have gone mad with his insistent teasing. I didn’t know if I had any words left in my throat besides his name, but he seemed to understand the look on my face. Dinlas took my hands in his and stretched them above my head, before sliding deep within me.

My breath caught in my throat, and I squeezed my hands in his as he slowly started a rhythm. Every inch of my body was attuned to his movements, the way he felt, the sounds he made, and I wanted nothing more in that moment.

“You are unlike any woman I have ever been with.” His mouth brushed against my neck once more, so sensitive now, trailing down to my breasts. I inhaled sharply, shifting my hips against him and making him groan.

“D-Dinlas, please…” I choked, a slow burn building in me now from the sensuous angle he had me in. My words snared his attention, and he looked at me.

“Please what, Nyx? Tell me…” Dinlas’ voice was a velvety rumble, and it raised the hairs on my arms. He nudged his face between my neck and shoulder, teeth grazing my earlobe. “I’m waiting…”

I let out a fluttering laugh, kissing his shoulder. “Am I…greedy, if…I want you even more now?”

Dinlas pulled back, his hips slowing slightly, and gave me the most brilliant grin. “Not at all.”

He released my hands and I clung to him as he picked up the pace suddenly, nails raking across his back, and I felt myself ready to let go at any moment. Sweat rolled off of us, beads from his forehead hitting my chest, and I felt my heart leap into my throat when I heard him softly moan my name into my ear.

“Ah, Nyx…”

He buried himself into me, and we released together. I felt him bite my shoulder in pleasure, the sensation shooting down to my toes as they curled with ecstasy; I looked like the Milky Way had been painted across me. I lost myself to him, arms wrapped around his back and hands splayed over his skin as the stars graced our vision, until we slowed and eventually stopped. Dinlas leaned over me, panting hard as I closed my eyes for a moment, trying to catch my breath. When I opened them, he was staring at me with an unfathomable look on his face, but it was gone a moment later. He leaned in and kissed me gently this time, running a hand through my sweat-soaked hair, and I melted into his touch like sugar in water.

After a moment or two, he eased my legs off him and rolled to my side as I matched him, his hands running down the length of my body as he showered soft kisses on my lips. I pressed my forehead to his for a moment before leaning back, flushed.

“Can we just stay here a while?” Dinlas’ voice was quiet, surprising me. I unfurled a wing and lay it over us, while I pushed his hair gently away from his forehead. His expression relaxed visibly.

“As long as you like, love.”

I lay staring at the ceiling long after Dinlas went home; duty calls at the worst of times. I felt empty, and yet satisfied – it was like swallowing a typhoon. I rolled onto my side and faced the doorway, where he had winked at me, that gorgeous kilt back on him and his shirt tossed over his shoulder, before popping out of sight. It made my heart alight, and it showed in the way a small spot above my breast glowed for a moment. I leaned back and crushed a pillow to my face, squeezing my eyes tightly. I had never felt like this even about Erebus, so what was so different now?

My bed smelled like him, and it was driving me insane, so I grabbed a robe and left the room to wander Tartarus instead.

I had asked Hades a long time ago to allow me a window into Tartarus, which he had begrudgingly gave to me, with many grumbles as to why I would even want that. It mostly stayed closed, a slab of onyx set over it to hide away the blood red light. But today I wanted to see it all. I stood before it and waved my hand once. Slowly, it slid away to reveal the depths of the Pits, and all that accompanied it.

I’ve probably said this many a time before, but being born at the beginning of it all is quite overwhelming sometimes. You see so much come and go, fading in and out of existence in what seems to be the blink of an eye. Coming back to Earth was both an eye opener and a reminder of what I’d already lived. The same reminder came whenever I stared down at the Titans in their prison, as I did now.

You don’t meet a lot of immortals like him. Maybe close, but not like him.

Or maybe I’m biased.

…definitely biased.

I looked up and saw my own reflection in the thick glass that separated me from the rest of Tartarus.

“Oh, Nyxie girl,” I whispered to myself. “Time to stop being a princess, and be a queen.”

I stalked back to my room, flinging my robe off to the side and rummaging through my closet, pulling out my favourite gown, an independence blue doused in stars. I stared at it for a moment, then flung it behind me, digging deeper. A few minutes later, I wore black flats, gray high waisted suit pants, and a white, sleeveless blouse. I clasped a silver chain around my neck, a tiny moon hanging from it, and turned to the mirror.

“Well, this will have to do, I suppose,” I murmured, already feeling butterflies churning inside me. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, popping outside of Dinlas’ warehouse. I pushed the door open and saw his call girl’s eyes immediately hone in on me. A few eyebrows shot up, and I resisted the urge to kick their desks over.

“Is Dinlas here?”

“Let me tell him you’re coming up,” a brunette said, a smirk in her voice. Chaos preserve me, it’s like walking into a den of hyenas.

The woman buzzed through an intercom, her eyes on me. “Sir, you’ve got a visitor.”

Dinlas’ voice came through, sounding somewhat irritated. “I’m not expecting anyone, who is it?”

The woman barely held back a snicker. “It’s Lady Night.”

The intercom was silent for a long moment, before his voice came back, undecipherable. “Send her up.”

The woman nodded to the stairs beside us, a grin on her face. “All yours.”

I hoped I didn’t look like I was running as I headed upstairs, my own steps shaking me to the core until I reached his door. I took a deep breath and went to knock, just as the door opened.

“Hey, Dinlas.”

“Nyx, what are you doing here?” He peered at me in the dark landing, before stepping back. “Come in, please.”

I wondered how he had felt when he had first arrived in Tartarus, because if it was anything like how I felt right now – damn.

He shut the door behind me and gestured for me to sit, which I did.

“Can I get you something to drink?” He sounded as awkward as I felt, and I nodded, before remembering the window to Tartarus.

“Actually no, I’m okay.”

Dinlas poured one for himself, and sat down at his desk across from me. “Everything… alright?”

Chaos, help me to not fuck this up. I’m a Primordial, not a child.

“Yes, I just wanted to talk to you about last night.”

His face paled for a moment, and he took a long drink, before leaning across his desk.

“Nyx, listen,” he started, but I cut him off.

“To say I had a really nice time last night would be the understatement of the millennium.”

He froze, and I hurried on.

“I… I care a great deal about you, and I don’t know if you feel the same about me, so…”

I looked up at him, bracing myself. “Would you care to go out to dinner with me?”

Dinlas’ face relaxed into clear relief, “Nyx, of course. I…I thought you were going to give me some sort of bad news. Yes of course. Do you have somewhere in mind?”

I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding, and I smiled at him, concealing my own relief. “It’s a bit out of the way, but I think you might like it…” Dinlas smiled and replied, “Will you be there with me? If so, of course I’ll like it.”

I bit back a grin and rose from my chair, matching Dinlas as he came around from behind the desk. Dinlas slipped his arms around me and just stared into my eyes for what seemed forever.

I smiled at his attention, then whispered, “Close your eyes.”

I watch him do so, admiring him for a moment, before we popped out of the room.

We reappeared at our destination, and I glanced around nervously before turning back to Dinlas, his eyes still closed and his arms still wrapped snugly around me.

“Alright. Open them.”

Dinlas opened his eyes, blinked, then turned his head to see everything around us.

We stood inside an endless, black space. The Milky Way shone above us, nearly within our grasp, it appeared so close. Trailing around us, hundreds of thousands of stars, slowly blinking at us, constellations visible if you peered at them close enough. The hum of a distant, ancient melody vibrated from my chest, and soothed my nerves.

I turned to Dinlas once more. “Welcome to my birthplace.”

Dinlas was at a loss for words. He glanced several times between me and the heavenly bodies that swirled and danced all around us. They were our private light show, nothing else could compare.

“Nyx,” he whispered, “this place. This place is like what I saw in my coma. When I saw the visions. Except then it seemed cold and forlorn.” He looked straight back at me and added, “But now it is warm and comforting.” He still didn’t let go of me; if anything, he pulled me tighter.

I didn’t know what to say – it was the first he had told me anything of his time after that wretched bitch. “You were here? Specifically?” I paused, curiosity gnawing at me. “What do you remember, if you don’t mind me asking…?”

No one was supposed to be able to come here. Not without me or Chaos. And Chaos was long gone, a memory, an energy that lived inside me.

Dinlas shook his head and replied, “I was everywhere, my essence split into a thousand pieces. My memory has snippets of recollection. But as I lay bleeding on the bed, my spirit was far away. I can’t say for sure if this is the exact place, but I can say it looked like here. I traveled far through space and time. Truthfully, I am glad I cannot recall much of it; there was nothing pleasant in it.”

Something about that was tugging at a memory, but now was not the time to pry. At least, not any further. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you about it, later. I believe I asked you on a date, not an interrogation session – I apologize.”

He leaned in and kissed me softly on the lower lip. His mouth pulled at it momentarily, then let go. “You have no need to apologize for anything. By being here with me, to experience this, you have given me a gift I will cherish.”

I savoured the gesture, my own stars alighting briefly beneath his mouth, then smiled. “I’m…pleased you like it here. I wasn’t sure if you would, or if it was, you know…” I gestured vaguely to the stars above us, “a bit much. So, thank you. Now,” I turned back to him. “Craving anything in particular?”

“Aha,” he replied, “that feels like a loaded question. I suppose I should ask what is on the menu?”

Time to work some real magic. I removed myself from his arms, conjuring and spreading my wings wide. A smattering of stars twinkled above us, and I glanced up as they gathered in a small whirlpool. Carefully, I pulled them down before us and shaped them to resemble two seats and a table. A small wave of my hand had two soft glowing orbs of light pop in the middle of the table. I seated myself on one side.

“It’s quite safe, give it a try.”

Dinlas hesitated, then eased himself onto the starry chair. He looked about again, amazed to be such an integral part of the heavens at this moment.

“Nyx, are we stars right now? No, I’m sorry, are we seen as stars? I’m sorry, I simply can’t wrap my mind around all this.”

I chewed the inside of my cheek, trying to find the right words. “To a mortal, yes, I suppose we would be stars right now. Not a constellation, mind you, that’s a different power altogether. This is a different plane, not one anyone can venture into.”

Dinlas cut in, “But… but yet you brought me here? Nyx, I’ve known you forever, yet I have never heard you even speak of this place.” He paused for a second, then said, “Do I mean that much to you?”

“I do not tell anyone about this place who doesn’t know of it already. Not even Zeus knows. I don’t even know if Erebus has been here.” I paused, biting my lip. “Yes, you do. I…wasn’t expecting to touch that on the first date, but…” I grinned ruefully.

“It’s plain to see. This, this place is unbelievable.” He looked me in the eyes again and added, “I wish I could offer you something in return to let you know how I feel.”

My chest glowed again, like it did earlier in Tartarus, and I glanced at it before looking up at Dinlas. “I’m content with dinner with you tonight, if that’s alright.”

Dinlas reached across our star table and took my hands in his. “That would be a gift for me as well, amorcito.”

My heart stuttered. “What… did you call me?”

Dinlas raised his head and looked so deep into my eyes that I felt he was staring through me. “You heard me… amorcito. I don’t need my brother’s arrow to see what I have here.”

I thought I was going to choke on my own words. I knew he was lying to me. Chaos preserve me, Eros.

I squeezed his hands gently, wondering at how well they fit in mine. It was his hands I spoke to next.

“Is amata alright?”

“In every sense of the word, amata is alright.”

A great weight lifted off my shoulders, my heart soaring at his words. “Thank you. You have been that to me for longer than I care to admit. A tale,” I added, glancing at him, “that I can tell a different time, if you want to know. However, you never answered my question.” The orbs in the middle of the table floated lazily between us. “I’m starving, and we have unlimited options. This plane operates at my whim, so whatever you wish is at my fingertips. I’m partial to kobe steak, myself.”

Dinlas smiled and ordered to the sky above us. “Two kobe steaks please, green salad to start and a bottle of the best red ambrosia wine.” He then looked at me and winked.

Amorcito, I believe you got us the best seat in the house.”

I rubbed my thumb along the inside of his hand. “You’ve no idea, amata.”

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Nyx (Ashley Gallaher-Pollard)

Nyx (Ashley Gallaher-Pollard)

Advising Editor | Mortal Resources Liaison
Nyx is portrayed by fiction writer and gamer, Ashley. She has been writing poetry and fiction for fifteen years, and has had poetry published through the Poetry Institute of Canada, most recently winning the Award of Excellence for the 2018 National Poetry Contest. She has been an ardent lover of mythology, history, and the occult since elementary school, which can be found in much of her writing. She is currently working on her debut novel, a mature, high fantasy adventure novel (working) titled War Wine. If you’re feeling charitable or kind, you could buy her a cup of Ko-Fi, follow her on Twitter, or become a Wine patron. She is a simple creature.
Nyx (Ashley Gallaher-Pollard)

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