“There’s a girl. She’s…” Adonis’s voice rang out of the room. “You’re going to want to see this.”
I led us to the last small room with glass walls, every step a lesson in agony.
Adonis stood in the doorway. “I don’t recognize her, but…” Adonis swallowed audibly, stepping aside so we could see the skeletal figure lying atop the metal table. “She doesn’t look good.
“Who is that?” I demanded with a gasp as we crowded into the room. The smell of infection almost overwhelmed me.
The goddess was connected to an IV, lying unconscious on a metal table, just as Hades had been. But unlike Hades, she was skin and bones. Pockmarked scars crisscrossed her flesh. Scars. The age of them told me just how long it had been since she had any access to her own divine healing abilities.
Hades worked a muscle in his jaw as he looked her over. “Aglaia.”
The name clicked into place. She was a Daughter of Zeus, one of the Graces. Her sister, Thalia, had mentioned she was missing back before we bought Zeus. But we’d assumed he’d already killed her.
Gods, this poor girl. Her gaunt skin rose and fell with shallow, pained breaths. I could hear the death rattle in her chest over the sound of the fight behind me. The Graces were harmless, alive only because Zeus had passed on token amounts of charm. But even without the poison, she couldn’t have had enough power reserved to heal from what they’d done to her.
They wanted to see what made me tick, Adonis’s haunted voice echoed in my mind.
Hades let out a long breath. “She went missing back when Zeus…” His throat bobbed as his ice blue eyes took in a fate he hadn’t quite escaped from yet. “We assumed he killed her.” He put a hand on her forehead and closed his eyes. “She’s gone.”
My heart wrenched. I hadn’t known her, but I knew of her. The Graces lived up to their name. They were harmless and kind. She didn’t deserve this. And every god lost was an irreparable blow to our species as a whole.
“The machines say otherwise,” Adonis said, pointing at the beeping machines monitoring her.
Hades gave him an icy look. “I know death when I see it.”
The Charities, also known as the Graces, were goddesses of sugar, spice, and everything nice. Basically. (Okay, the official list is joy, pleasure, mirth, beauty, dancing, feasts, marriage and banquets. Thank you Theoi).
The Graces acted as handmaidens for Hera, Aphrodite, and Dionysus. There were three primary Graces and a bunch of minor Graces mentioned in random throwaway lines of Greek mythology.
The three primary Graces are Aglaea (Charis), Euphrosyne, and Thalia. Aglaea was a goddess of beauty, and Hephaestus’s second wife. She plays a minor role in Love and War and Venus Rising. Euphrosyne was the goddess of good cheer. Thalia (the Grace, not the Muse) was the goddess of festivities, (except in Sparta, where the third Grace was Cleta). Thalia plays a minor role in Iron Queen.
The primary graces were most often considered to be daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, but sometimes they were mentioned as daughters of Dionysus and Aphrodite, or Helios and Aegle.
Of the younger graces, (most of whom were Hephaestus’s and Aglaea’s kids) the most notable was the oldest, Pasithea. She was Hypnos’s wife and the goddess of rest and relaxation. Others included Auxo, who might have been a Grace, might have been a Hora (Seasonal deities) or might have been a title for Persephone; Peitho, the goddess of persuasion; Antheia, goddess of flowers; Eudaemonia, goddess of happiness; Euthymia, goddess of good cheer; Hegemone; Cleta; goddess of fame and glory; Paidia, the goddess of amusement; Pandaisia, the goddess of rich banquets; Pannykhis, the goddess of night parties; and Pheanna.
You’ll notice a lot of repeats, cross-overs, and straight up emptiness in that list. That’s because the Charities were often depicted in art work, but few mentions of them survived in actual writings. For my purposes, there are only three.