It is not often that those from the other quadrants want to visit the underworld that is Hades – but, with Vulcan’s recent announcement that us human dwellers of his new Olympus can gain ‘XP’ – a little like credit for undertaking certain tasks such as visiting landmarks in each of the quadrants. This makes a journey to the land of the dead a little more palatable, as much as that is possible.
Earlier today, I left the House of Records and journeyed south east, taking in the landmarks of the Deep Forest. A visitor to VulcanVerse will spot these – particularly the large centaur monument – from a distance away, usually as a silhouette against the cliff dividing Arcadia and Boreas or against the towering walls of Vulcan City. The quickest route from the House of Records in north west Arcadia to Hades is not, as someone unfamiliar with the land here might think, a straight line through Vulcan City. This would involve a big climb to the height of the Boreas plateau which Vulcan City shares. No, a visit to Hades from Arcadia is best – though not necessarily safest, through the Desert of Notus.
So it was that I rounded the corner of the Vulcan City wall and passed many other humans, mostly busy with their Vulcanites. Arcadia is beginning to look quite developed in parts. Whether these builds are good enough to please the gods and Vulcan in particular is unknown. I wonder if we will find out, should a build be one day mysteriously destroyed!
The change in temperature and humidity on the crossing between Arcadia and Notus is stark. One minute you’re walking through lush forest and grasses, the sweet smell of flowers on the air, the next you’re under a scorching sun, the burn of hot sand searing the soles of your feet, the wind whipping up and blowing fine gritty grains into your eyes. It’s hard to dress appropriately for each quadrant. The desert is a dangerous place. Scorpions are buried in the sand, every footstep could result in a lost limb. A call in to The Wooden Nugget is a must – to get out of the heat and, to prepare for crossing the nearby border into Hades. Landlord, indiTHRaja will always ensure you have a cold drink to quench your thirst and provisions to see you make safe passage into Hades.
I will be honest. Hades stinks. Sulphur pits, decaying corpses. The blood of the dead that is almost always falling from the sky doesn’t smell, but you taste it. It is impossible to keep it out of your mouth, eyes. It blurs your vision, soaks into your clothes. The howls of undead wolves pierce the air. Flocks of crows are picking flesh off the numerous skeletons hung from trees. This truly is a despicable place. As Record Keeper, I remain neutral in my reporting of the quadrants and the activities of mortals, Vulcanites and other spirits of this realm. But I do wonder how anyone can willingly choose to reside here permanently.
In a way, us visitors are lucky at the moment. Vulcan has decreed that only some Vulcanite companions are currently permitted to manifest in VulcanVerse. Others, in Hades, I can feel, straining at the periphery of reality, demons keen to break through to this realm and wreak havoc. We’ve seen some of them before. Monstrosities. Hades will be even more deadly when these abominations arrive. But for now, for the visitor, it is a case of treading carefully. Avoiding the mausoleums but steering clear of the open plains (for fear of being picked off) and swamps with their rotting corpses. But there are things to see. When you visit the landmarks in Hades, you will have the privilege of seeing that awesome force of nature, the Thanatos Volcano. Also, the towering Palace of the Dead is very much worth a visit, simply to marvel at the splendid god forged architecture – though rumours abound that the Palace is soon to undergo a change.
I finished my journey with a climb up the steps to Vulcan City – a cursory glance over the wall from a height to appreciate that I was leaving, a wipe of the blood that was again accumulating on my brow before ducking into the gateway and Vulcan City. Here, I will finish today’s log as I dry off before retiring to a bed in Boreas. Tomorrow, I return to the House of Records in Arcadia, somewhat wiser for my journey.