“You have absolutely no talent for dreamwalking,” Hypnos hissed in frustration.
“I’ll say,” Hades muttered from the divan.
“Maybe if my target was actually sleeping,” I snapped.
“I can only sleep so much in a day. If I sleep any longer I’ll be in a coma.”
“Let’s try again.” Hypnos took a deep breath. “Hades, sleep.”
Hades fell mercifully silent, and I sank into the soft leather couch. The room Hypnos had selected to teach me dreamwalking looked like it should belong to a therapist. Aquamarine curtains covered the windows, casting the room in a soft blue glow.
I closed my eyes and felt Hypnos’ powers settle over me, pulling me through layers of sleep. Hades. I directed my thoughts. I could sense the energy of other sleeping deities. It was a weird sensation, like catching a glimpse of something out of the corner of your eye only to have it move before you turned your head.
The minds of the gods twinkled in the darkness, reminding me of stars scattered in the vast emptiness. Hypnos had spent the last month getting me to the point where I could sense who was who. It was easier to identify gods I’d met. Thanatos was a guarded cloak of darkness; Hypnos shone like the sun; Hestia smoldered in the night; Charon cast an amicable glow. I found my mother, green and thriving, and Boreas’ frozen fortress.
Despite the name, dreamwalking was nothing like walking around. I couldn’t keep my distance from gods I didn’t like, or get close to another. They all existed, suspended in this disorienting space; the only thing that changed was my awareness of them. If I stopped concentrating on them, they faded into darkness and I could slip into my own dreams without fear of Boreas following me.
Boreas hadn’t tried anything since that last awful dream. Maybe Hades was wrong. Maybe Boreas would back off, now that I was protected on all fronts. I doubted he wanted Hades to come after him, but maybe being unprotected in my sleep had been too much for him to resist.
“Persephone!” Hypnos’ frustrated voice startled me as it flooded my consciousness. Right . . . . I was supposed to be concentrating.
Since it was the middle of the day, there weren’t as many gods to navigate. It was easy to find Hades. He was a bundle of dark energy. I concentrated on sending a small pulse of energy his way. It was a weird feeling, gathering the energy in my mind and aiming it at someone without intention.
To do anything else with my powers, intention was half the battle. I had to keep my mind on exactly what I was doing and what the desired outcome was. It was the difference between planning an arrangement—placing every flower just so to complete my vision—and throwing a flower in the general direction of a vase.
After several tries, I found myself in the library. The bookshelves blurred around me and I rubbed my eyes.
“Thank the gods,” Hades said. He was in hyper focus in the center of the blurry room.
“Okay.” Hypnos clapped his hands. He looked at Hades and then around the library with an eyebrow raised in question.
Hades shrugged, turning his head toward me. “You did it.”
“I did!” I grinned. “Now what can I do?”
“Nothing,” Hades and Hypnos said simultaneously. I frowned at them.
“I can continue to work with you if you like . . . ” Hypnos sounded less than thrilled at the prospect. “But I have to be honest, you have absolutely no natural talent for dreamwalking. It’s not your fault; it’s just not in your bloodline.”
“Oh.” My ego deflated. I’d never been bad at anything before. I always picked up whatever sport or skill I’d been trying to learn like it was second nature. But those were human skills. Divine stuff was different. Even learning to use my own powers was difficult, and dreamwalking was Hypnos’ specialty. I nixed my half-formed plan to leave my mind unguarded and ambush Boreas in a dream. He’d had much more practice at this than I had.
“Thank you, Hypnos,” Hades said.
“My pleasure. You two should be waking in a few minutes. I’ll see you later.”
He vanished and I looked at Hades. “He left! What if I get stuck or something?”
“Getting out is easier than getting in. I think Hypnos needed a break.” Hades snickered, picking up a book. “I’ve never seen him stressed. You’re really terrible at this.”
Hypnos was the god of sleep. He was called Somnus to the Romans. His twin brother was Thanatos, and his parents were Nyx and Erebus. In mythology, he had three children. Morpheus, the god of dreams, Phobetor, the god of nightmares, and Phantasos, the god of apparitions/waking dreams. In my universe, Hypnos hasn’t had kids yet, so he’s still god of sleep AND dreams. Hypnos looked young, and was often portrayed in the nude with wings on his head. He lives in a cave near the Underworld that the River Lethe flows through. Hypnos doesn’t do much in mythology. He’s pretty quiet so there isn’t a lot to say about him. I enjoy writing him though, because I feel like his solemn seriousness is such a good counter balance for my snarky characters.
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