FAQ Friday: Is Iron Queen the last Persephone book?

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

I get asked a lot if Persephone is ever going to return as a main character. Short answer, no. Iron Queen is the last book in the Persephone portion of the Daughters of Zeus series.

Slightly longer answer: The ripples the events that occurred in the Persephone trilogy caused are still ongoing. Aphrodite’s trilogy focuses heavily on what comes next for the Pantheon after the boss battle in Iron Queen, and Persephone plays a major role in the Aphrodite’s trilogy. She even narrates a few chapters in Venus Rising. The ending of Venus Rising for sure will have an impact on Persephone’s future, so she will certainly appear in Artemis’s trilogy, possibly even as a POV character somewhere down the line.

 

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Mythology Monday: Asclepius

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I shook my head. “Put Zachary in charge of Reaping. You can trust him. If we can find two, maybe three other souls we can trust on the surface, I think they can handle it.”

“Zachary?” Hades gave me a quizzical look.

“Asclepius’ new persona,” Cassandra explained.

“What makes you think you can trust him?” Charon gave me a surprised look.

“He helped me when the Reapers were attacking me. And he never had to be charmed. He swore fealty on his own. Who’s Asclepius?”

“He swore fealty? To you?” Hades’ eyebrows shot up. “Well . . . okay then. You’ll still have to try to charm him, but if you say he’s trustworthy . . . ”

“Who is he?” I asked again.

“He’s the first Reaper.” Hades was talking fast, indicating we needed to move on from this conversation. “He was a god of healing, and he tried to stop death. That violated the rules of nature We put into place. Rather than changing the nature of the dead, it changed him.”

The way he said “We” emphasized the capital letter, and I understood he was talking about my mother, Zeus, and the rest of the original six. When they created the world, they’d all agreed on its natural laws. Earth and all its inhabitants formed a complex system involving all their powers. To protect their creation, they’d even given up the ability to lie. Words had power; the wrong words could unintentionally change the nature of something. I’d never considered the ramifications of a god intentionally trying to change the rules.

I felt sick. Poor Zachary. He’d tried to stop death and become its first agent.

~@~

Asclepius (to cut open) was the mortal son of Apollo and a princess named Koronis. Unfortunately, his mother died during childbirth (for was murdered for being unfaithful to Apollo, myths vary), so his father had to cut him from her body (hence the name). His mother was placed among the stars (The Crow constellation).

The demigod was then placed into Chiron’s care and taught medicine. Chiron taught him all he knew, but Asclepius also learned medicine from snakes whispering in his ears. Snakes are sacred to medicine to ancient Greeks, so the demigod grew so skilled that he figured out how to stop death and restore the sick back to life. Unfortunately, Zeus was very against the idea of immortal man, so citing fear of overpopulation, he killed Asclepius’s with a lightning bolt. Other myths claim he was killed for bringing back a specific person (Hippolytus).

The gods honored the fallen demigod with the constellation Ophiochus (the serpent holder), and performed apotheosis to turn him into a god so he could continue to be their doctor.

In most vases and paintings, Asclepius looks like an old, bearded man holding the staff with a snake around it that you’ll see in so many hospitals. (He was kind of a big deal in medical circles).

Asclepius participated in the Calydonian Boar Hunt at some point. He also married  Epione, the goddess of soothing pain, and had five daughters (Hygieia, the goddess of health;  Panacea, the goddess of universal remedy;  Aceso, the goddess of recuperation; Iaso, the goddess of healing, and Aglaea, the goddess of beauty) and three sons (Machaon, Podaleirios and Telesphoros). He may have also had a son named Aratus, with a woman named Aristodama. More on them in a minute

In my universe, he wasn’t turned into a god, because let’s face it, that’s uncharacteristically kind of the gods. He was turned into the first reaper. Now instead of healing people, he releases souls. You’ve met him in the Persephone trilogy as the reaper, Zachary.

 

Mythology Monday: The Charities and The Graces

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“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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAQ Friday: Where can I buy Persephone?

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

Q: Where can I buy Persephone in format/language/country/for free.

I get variations on this question a lot and for obvious reasons, I am all too happy to answer.

First, some links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible | Goodreads and many, many more.

Persephone is available in print, all the major electronic formats, and as an audiobook narrated by yours truly. Print wise, you can order it wherever books are sold, but unless you happen to live in Athens, Georgia, the odds of you walking in and seeing it on a shelf are slim, so you will have to special order it.

Internationally, Persephone is available through Amazon and to my knowledge Amazon alone. It is at this point in time only available in English.

Audiobook wise, Persephone is available on audible,itunes, and good ol’ amazon.

Persephone occasionally goes on sale for .99 cents, but my publisher has not yet offered it for free. As far as I know, they have no plans to.  If really, really, really want to read my book, but can’t afford it even on sale (trust me, I feel your pain. I have lived in the red) the best suggestion I can offer is your local library. If they don’t have a copy and you request it, chances are they will buy more than one of copy, so not only do you get it free, but it also helps me in terms of sales and exposure. We both win. My books are all available on overdrive, so if your library offers eBooks, there’s a good chance they already have it in an electronic format or can easily obtain it via request. You can even request the audio version. If you’re asking for my recommendation for a good pirate site, let me tell you three quick things.

  1.  While I am truly flattered that you want to read my book enough to commit theft, I’m not J.K Rowling (not that she deserves to be robbed either). I need every penny of my royalties to scrape by.
  2. I have it on good authority from the many, many, many readers who have emailed me complaining their stolen copy of my book infected their computer, that a good chunk of those pirate sites claiming to have my book are bad news.
  3.  When real copies of my book go up, they are pretty quickly taken down, and they stay down for one very important reason. My publisher takes piracy very, very seriously. When they see their products being stolen, they act on it beyond just sending take down notices.

 

I have an E.d.S in School Library Media, so accessibility is very important to me. If you cannot obtain a copy of my book for any reason at all, email me using the contact me form on this website. I’ll see what I can do.

 

 

Mythology Monday: Lethe

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“So that—” Cassandra pointed at one of the beautiful rivers winding its way through the landscape “—is the River Lethe. Don’t drink the water, bathe in it, or even touch it.”

“Why?” I gazed longingly at the translucent water and pressed my hand against the cool glass. I’ve always hated swimming, and all the water I’d ever drank came from a faucet, but something about the sparkling water called to every fiber of my being.

“You’ll forget things. Sometimes when a soul comes here, their death was traumatizing, or maybe their whole life sucked. This river gives them a chance to forget the things that would otherwise haunt them.”

“Like Oreithyia?”

Cassandra hesitated. “She’s an extreme case. There are different levels of memory loss. The Lethe can take away all memories associated with a singular event or person, or wipe away their entire lives, and everything in between. Some memories go deeper than others. Boreas knew she would be coming here so he . . . made it difficult. He doesn’t like to be forgotten.”

I didn’t ask how. I was having a hard enough time dwelling on what could have happened to me. I didn’t need further details.

“We also use it on people who’ve done bad things in life,” Cassandra continued. “We take away all their memories, and they serve in the palace or around the Underworld until their sentence is up.”

That didn’t seem like much of a punishment. “Why?”

“For most people, their circumstances contributed to whatever crime they committed. This gives them a blank slate. When they finish their sentence they can live the rest of their afterlife in peace. Of course it doesn’t work like that for everyone, but between me and Moirae we can usually tell who should go straight to Tartarus.”

~@~

Lethe (the River of Unmindfulness) is both a river in the Underworld and a goddess of oblivion (daughter of Eris and Oceanus). Geographically, if flowed around the caves of Hypnos on the border of Elysium. Souls who drank from her water soon forgot all they knew, so the dead frequently used it to forget their mortal lives. In some versions of the myths, every resident of the Underworld had to drink from the water and were forced to forget their entire lives. In others, drinking from the Lethe was a requirement for reincarnation. Some cults taught souls were given a choice between the Lethe or a twin river called the Mnemosyne that would give memories and even omnipotence.

In my universe, the Lethe doesn’t equal complete forgetfulness unless a soul drinks a lot of it. There are levels and it can be used to forget specific traumas or for souls who committed crimes in their mortal lives to forget both the crimes and the circumstances. The reason for that is two fold (and very inspired by Kelley Armstrong’s Haunted).

 

Get Aphrodite for .99 Cents!

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Aphrodite is on sale from now through December 31st! 

“Aphrodite is such a complex character, and in Kaitlin’s capable hands, I feel like every major character was well developed; the pacing was fast and tight, there were no cliche’s, and the intricate plot threads kept me turning the pages well into the nights. Well done, well done!”
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It’s not easy being perfect…

But Aphrodite is determined to prove that she’s more than just a pretty face. When she’s asked to investigate strange events occurring on cruise ships, she’s all over it. Little does she guess just how much this mission is going to cost her.

The problem—demigods are mysteriously disappearing. Prepared to investigate, Aphrodite manages to charm herself into the best room on the ship. Unfortunately, the room is already taken. It belongs to the one demigod immune to her charm: Adonis.

Aphrodite doesn’t know what to make of Adonis. He obviously disapproves of her…yet he saved her life. And he’s hot! Then again, Aphrodite is still reeling from a disastrous—yet incredible—fling with Ares. Gods, these men are going to be the death of her.

But then Aphrodite realizes that Adonis could be the next target, and her investigation becomes personal. Only the more she uncovers, the clearer it becomes that she’s in over her head. Confronted with a strange and powerful new opponent, Aphrodite realizes she might not be as immortal as she thought.

And Adonis may not be the one who needs saving….

Read the first chapters free!

View On: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible Goodreads

Mythology Monday: Zeus

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I legitimately cannot believe I haven’t written a mythology Monday on Zeus yet.

Wow, where to even start. Okay, first you’ll need some background on creation and the Titanomachy. 

Zeus’s father, Cronus, was terrified that his children were going to be the death of him. So he would eat his children as soon as his wife, Rhea gave birth. Why continue to have children then? In my world, I had a hard time imagining that the gods themselves couldn’t control whether or not they became pregnant, at least when it came to hooking up with each other, so I built in a different explanation.

The gods had to pass on bits of their powers when their powers became too much for them. Zeus didn’t just have a ton of kids because he loved sleeping around (though that did factor in), he had an obscene amount of worship fueling his power. I’m sure the god king before him did as well.

But Rhea was not a fan of her husband eating her children. Rather than putting her foot down and just saying no, she put the fate of her previously eaten children in the hands of an infant. When Chaos got ready to eat Zeus, Rhea tricked him into eating a rock instead. (It is revealed in Aphrodite that Rhea was the first god to use charm).

Zeus was given to the last unicorn Amalthea the goat or possibly nymph depending on the version of the myth you ascribe to,  to raise on Mt. Dikte, but there are a lot of variations on how he was kept out of Cronus’s awareness. Some versions of the myth say he was hung, suspended from a tree, neither touching the earth nor sky. His cries were covered by the warrior Curetes, banging his shield in a dance.

Upon coming of age, Zeus created a shield from Amalthea’s hide and a magical horn of plenty from her horn. He also enlisted the aid of a Titan named Metis to force Cronus to throw up his older siblings, enlisted those siblings with his far, freed the six giant-sons of Heaven from the pit of Tartaros, and enlisted the aid of the Cyclopes (who armed him with lightning-bolts)  and the Hekatonkheires (Hundred-Handed) who aided him in his assault on the Titanes with volleys of thrown boulders (theoi.com). The Titans were locked into Tartarus and the Olympian siblings divided up the cosmos. Some Titans did side with the Olympians in the war, which is why they pop up in later myths, and the alliance with the monsters didn’t last long (see Gigantomachy).

The gods created man, and Zeus went on to have many children and take an active role in almost every other myth in the mythos for Greek Mythology. As far as children went, there were some changes I made in my story. Athena’s mother is in fact Metis (remember her from a few paragraphs ago?) whom Zeus ate when he discovered she was pregnant, because he also feared his children would destroy him. In some versions of the myth, Ares was created solely by Hera when she touched a flower provided by Flora. Neither one of those was mentioned in my books because A. Ares has to have charm, the plot demands it ((which in that case means I’m just choosing a different interpretation of the myth), and B. Athena is a minor character, and none of the POV characters who ever interact with her would know the whole story of her birth. (Hades was in the Underworld, Persephone wasn’t born, and Aphrodite only knows what the gods passed on through the bloodlines, and I can totally see Hera leaving that out.) Athena plays things pretty close to the vest and is unlikely to ever bring up anything irrelevant to the conversation.

Powers wise, Zeus has lightning bolts (in mythology, these were crafted and given to him by either the cyclopses or Heph, but in my version, he’s just got control over storms because sometimes the myths threw that in). He was Lord of the skies, and in my version, he has charm. Charm is entirely made up by me in this context, but mythologically it fixes a ton of plot holes for Zeus to have mind control powers, so it fits really well.

In my story, Zeus went on to rule much as he did in mythology until the fall of Olympus, at which point he went underground and started plotting. I’ll do a master post on Zeus’s children at some point in the coming weeks. But that’s Zeus in a nutshell.

Friendly reminder! Aphrodite is on sale for .99 cents!

 

 

 

Mythology Monday: Apollo

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“Quite a bit,” Demeter replied. “We were wondering if we could speak with . . . ” She hesitated like she couldn’t bring herself to say it. “…Mr. Sunshine, please.”

Really? I thought, unable to suppress a groan. Oh, Apollo was never going to live this down.

The group of kids exchanged a glance. “He doesn’t usually talk to old folks, man. Sorry.”

Demeter’s mouth dropped open. “Old . . . people. Uh . . . I see.”

I didn’t. Physically, all the gods stopped aging at the end of maturity, so we didn’t look older than twenty-five unless we wanted to. How were we considered old compared to him? I looked down at the deep maroon carpet flecked with pieces of grass and sighed. Good gods. I missed the Underworld.

“Why don’t you tell him his Aunt Ceres is here and see what he says,” Demeter suggested.

“Yo, Mr. Sunshine!” one of the youths called, running down the hall to an office with yet another beaded curtain. “Your Great-Aunt Sarah is here.”

A vein in Demeter’s forehead twitched, and I smiled despite myself. It was nice to see Demeter knocked off her pedestal. Even by these creatures.

Apollo tore out of the office so fast he got tangled in the beaded curtain and ripped it down in his haste to get free. My eyes narrowed when I took him in. His matted red hair was cut short, he had a scruff of a beard beginning on his face, and he wore clothes with holes and patches on them.

“Why does he look homeless?” I murmured.

Demeter shook her head. “Not homeless, ironic.”

Oh good gods.

“Demeter!” Apollo managed to get mostly untangled from the curtain and moved forward in jerky motions while he tried to shake it off his foot.

“I let you live in my realm after the fall, and this is how you repay me?” Demeter’s eyes blazed. She looked around, like she was considering moving to a more quiet location, then dismissed Apollo’s inebriated followers with a snort. “You started your own cult.”

“I meant to send tribute, throw your name in services every now and then, I just get so . . . distracted.”

As if to underscore his point, a half-naked girl peeked her head out the office door. “Mr. Sunshine? Are you coming back?”

“Uh . . . not right now.”

A chorus of disappointed wails rose from the office, and my eyebrows shot up.

Apollo’s face turned beet red and he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, then cracked one eye open as if hoping we wouldn’t be there.

“I see.” Demeter’s voice was like ice. “You think you can poach my followers.”

“There are seven billion people on this planet. You can’t have them all!” Apollo protested. Demeter compressed her lips into a thin white line, and he stammered an apology. When he noticed me, his face drained of color. “Aw shit, Demeter. There was no reason to get him involved. I’ll mention your name every harvest, I promise. I’ve got some girls—erm . . . priestesses, I mean, I can send your way. Don’t make me go to the Underworld.”

“Harvest?” Demeter demanded. “What harvest?”

I held up my hands in a placating gesture. “No, you’re welcome to live forever as far as I’m concerned. No need to come to my realm. Ever.”

“How many priestesses do you want?” Apollo asked Demeter. “Hey girls?” He called a little louder.

“Yes, Mr. Sunshine?” The girls emerged from the office in various stages of undress.

“Oh please, don’t bother.” Demeter had a look on her face like she’d like to remove her eyes and scour them with bleach. “There’s more important things going on right now, and as it just so happens, you owe me.”

Demeter explained what was going on with Zeus, and Apollo turned even paler.

“Uh, yeah, that sucks about your kid and all, but that isn’t really my scene. I’m a lover not a fighter, and uh—”

Demeter walked up to him until they were standing nose to nose. “Do you like living in my realm?”

Apollo nodded.

“Do you want to continue?”

He nodded again.

“Then you’d best come with us.” When Apollo nodded again, Demeter wrinkled her nose and touched her fingertips to him, establishing the bare minimum of contact to teleport. She reached behind her to grab my hand, and we disappeared in a flash.

~@~

Apollo is the god of prophecy and oracles, music, song and poetry, archery, healing, plague and disease, and the protection of the young. He’s also frequently depicted as a sun god, though that’s technically Helios’s role.

Apollo, and his twin sister, Artemis are children of Zeus, but their mother is Leto. Hera tried to prevent their birth and failed when the floating isle of Delos took them in and allowed Leto to give birth.

The twins were complete opposites, however they were both archers. Apollo’s most notable kill was a giant Python that had set up shop where he wanted to create a shrine.  He also protected his mom by giving a Titan who tried to carry her off the Prometheus treatment, and killed Niobe’s daughters when Niobe claimed to be as beautiful as Leto, and he killed a Cyclops who assisted in the killing of Apollo’s son Asclepius (you know him as the reaper, Zachary). He was also a major player in the Trojan War.

Apollo might have been a mother’s boy and the golden child of Olympus, but he was also a major dick. When Cassandra wouldn’t sleep with him, he cursed her with visions of the future that no one would believe. Daphne narrowly escaped the same fate by turning herself into a laurel tree, as did several other men and women Apollo pursued. He entered a music contest with a satyr, and flayed him alive when he lost. Fun fact, he’s also the reason crows are black (they used to be white).

Apollo pops up all over the place in Greek mythology. There’s tons to explore there. If you want to learn more about him, click here.

Mythology Monday: Flora and Chloe

f37-1khlorisI frowned when I found a scribbled notation on the back of the ticket: narcissus. I glanced at the customer’s name and saw it was one of our regular customers, Flora. I could imagine the conversation that had taken place during that order. Flora’s shrill voice demanding those small white daffodils she’d seen in one of the other arrangements. Mom gently asking if she meant narcissus, a smaller flower frequently confused with daffodils, then the old woman insisting she knew what she was talking about until my mother wrote down the order and penciled in the correction later. For the record, the customer is never right.

~@~

“Where’s Chloe?” I asked, dreading the prospect of a customer demanding my attention. The shop was empty now, but I knew the minute Mom left my sight someone would walk in.

The phone beeped in my mom’s hand, reminding her of the caller on hold. She gave it a harried look. “Making deliveries. I don’t expect her back this afternoon.” She tucked my hair behind my ear when I frowned. “The customers won’t bite, I promise.” The phone beeped again and my mother sighed.

~@~

In Roman mythology, Flora was an Elysian Nymph and the goddess of flowers. It makes sense in my story that her powers would be derivative from Demeter, so I made her one of Demeter’s priestesses. She’s referenced, but never seen. Chloris, changed to Chloe in my story, is her Greek counterpart. She is the wife of Zephyrus (God of the West Wind), and an exceptionally minor deity.  Zephyrus courted her Boreas style, which is to say he swept down, raped her, and “made good” on the rape by making her his wife. In her own words she “has no complaints about my marriage” (Ovid, Fasti 5. 193 ff (trans.Boyle)).

Prior to her abduction, she did not have powers over nature or flowers. Her first flowers were made from the blood of sad people in unhappy tales (Hyacinth, Narcissus), so she’s obviously not depressed with her lot in life at all.

She was instrumental in the conception of Mars by lending Hera a particular flower to help her conceive (without Jupiter, by the way).

She was also super strategic about how she obtained worship. Flower crowns, gifts of flowers, splashes of colors in the field, all her doing. Seriously, look up the cult of Flora sometime. She was a very self-assured and interesting character, despite being an incredibly minor goddess.

Both versions of Flora’s persona are referenced in Persephone, because I felt bad about giving Persephone absolute domain over their powers.