This story is by Christine Florio and was part of our 2023 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
TITLE: CHARON: THE LOST MYTH
“Nyx, I need to tell you something and you won’t like what I have to say,” Erebus said. This was
an urgent matter, an atrocity of the Gods. As powerful as he was, even he was frightened of Nyx. She
stepped off her throne and slowly walked towards him. Her black wings spread wide as they always so to
establish her dominance as Mother Night. Being one of the most ancient and powerful deities, no one
dared defy her. Though she sauntered with heavy steps, her body moved gracefully making one unaware
of her devious nature and without speaking a word. She stepped right up to Erebus, locking into a gaze.
Erebus knew that when Nyx did that, the truth was already known. She just wanted to hear it from him.
“I see that you may have heard…” he started.
Nyx cut him off, “I have. From Nemesis and Amara.”
Erebus Took a deep breath. Even a god of the Underworld had enemies who could defeat him.
Amara was one of them.
Nyx walked into the room to her right. Erebus quietly followed. There was a large black,
rectangular marble table, a peace offering from Zeus, an enemy too afraid to challenge her. Seated at the
table were Themis, Amara, Hades, Hermes, Nemesis, and Tartara. Nyx pointed to Erebus’s seat, next to
Amara. He winced and quietly sat down.
Nyx stood at the head of the table. Her voice clear and stern. She wasn’t happy. “Well, let’s see,”
she said, her eyes meeting all of theirs, “Nemesis, came to me earlier to tell me about Charon. Nemesis,”
Nyx commended her, “please tell everyone of your little story.”
Nemesis cleared her throat, “Amara came to me today with a very serious accusation of Charon.”
Nemesis looked at everyone before proceeding. The moment of silence was unbearable for all as gods
and goddesses never wavered in their abilities, never mind the Goddess of Revenge. Everyone knew she
once loved Erebus, but because Erebus and Nyx were born out of Chaos, their destiny was set in stone.
“Amara, maybe you should tell them.” Nemesis suddenly suggested.
Nyx pounded her fist on the marble once. It sounded as if mountains came crumbling down and
echoed throughout the Underworld, startling even the vilest of souls and creatures. “No! You tell them
exactly what you told me!” she hissed at Nemesis. Everyone shifted in their chairs to face Nemesis.
Nemesis took a deep breath, “Well…Amara came to me out of concern that Charon claimed he
wanted to rule the Underworld and since he was born of Nyx and Erebus, he possesses the power to
defeat you both, which he’s planning to do.”
Amara reluctantly spoke up, “He started courting me. He wanted me to bear his children. I said
absolutely not. I am a Goddess of Life. He was born of the darkness, a child of death. Children of duality
are even more destructive.”
Nemesis interrupted, “I had to tell Nyx. Charon cannot control us, though he is destined to have
the power of a Titan.”
Hades chimed in, “If he were to defeat the darkness, then the light would also die. The dualities
of life and death would no longer exist. WE, would no longer exist.”
They all fell silent. This time for much longer as they sat and thought about the situation. The
others had to tread lightly around Nyx as this was her child and power was at the core of their essence.
Finally, Erebus spoke out, “Hermes, find Charon and bring him here at once.”
Without hesitation, Hermes crossed the realm from the dead to the living. He transformed to fit
in with the general population. He knew where to find Charon, on the riverbank, staring up at the clouds.
“Charon!” Hermes yelled out, finding him exactly where he knew he would be.
“Hello Hermes, would you like to join me?” Charon smiled. “The day is beautiful! The sun is
bright, the river is clear. The apples on the trees are ripe and crisp. Would you care for one?”
Hermes cautiously joined him. Charon picked a half dozen apples and placed them in his bag and
led Hermes to a beautiful spot on the riverbank. “Ahhh, Gaia and Demeter…they work together so
perfectly. We appreciate the light more because then darkness comes about and takes this all away until
the new morning light when we get to bask in its glory again.”
Hermes chuckled, “Imagine if every day was either always light or always darkness. That, my
friend, would not be fun.”
“No, it would not, but I could get used to having light all the time. It’s just so beautiful and
mysterious. The plants and the animals come alive.” He laughed, “and these delicious apples.”
Charon took a bite of his apple and stared out across the river at the grazing deer. “Must be a
harvest moon tonight. That’s the only thing I like about the darkness, is the light of the moon.”
Hermes responded, “Then let’s go see Selene and ask her to make the moon look extra full
tonight. Like a pearl. We’ll ask her to make it look like it is sitting on the water so we can see the beauty
of the darkness.”
Charon didn’t have to think twice about it. “Really? I get to finally meet Selene?”
“Yes, you do. Come on, I know where to find her.”
They both jumped to their feet and Hermes led Charon down a path deep in the forest where a
beautiful Moon gate opened. Within a second, Hermes and Charon were in the Underworld at Nyx’s
“Mom…dad…” Charon sounded as confused as he looked. He respectfully greeted all the other
deities by name.
“Sit,” Nyx commanded as she pointed to a chair next to Hades. “We have been discussing you
and your plans,“ she said.
Charon panicked, “What? What plans? Amara tried to court me! Nemesis is lying and this is
revenge on Erebus!” At that moment, Charon knew what they knew. They all knew it was the blind seer,
Tiresias, who had told them. Tiresias told Zeus. Zeus told his brother, Hades. Tiresias pretended to be
Amara. But how did Nemesis know? Zeus told her.
“Nemesis, did Zeus…?” Charon asked.
“Do not speak.” Nemesis cut him off sternly then nodded at Hades.
Hades stood up. “Charon, by declaration from Nemesis, Amara, and Themis, you are being tried
and found guilty of planning to defeat Nyx and Erebus, to bring into use your own power and eliminate
the dualities of existence. We, as gods and goddesses, bring duality to life, not destroy it. You have
exposed your vision and intent to take control of the Underworld. We hereby sentence you to a life of
darkness for eternity. You will exist under the discretion of your parents, Nyx, and Erebus, but you will
remain under my rule. To keep you in order with your duties, you will abide by the following conditions:
(1) You are now considered a Psychopomp, my Ferryman, stripped of your godly gifts and forces; (2) you
will be given a skiff, a skiff pole, a lantern, and a black hooded cloak that represents the simplicity and
blackness of your soul; (3) it is neither your duty to judge the dead nor to allow the living on your skiff.
(4) You will ferry all souls into the darkness in which you feed upon. Your only duties will be to transport
souls to their appropriate destination: Elysium, Tartarus or the Asphodel Meadows by ways of the Rivers
Styx, which serves as the boundary between the land of the living and the realm of the dead; Acheron,
which represents misery; Lethe, in which the dead you transport are to drink the water to forget their
past; Phlegethon, which is the river of fire that boils souls and leads to Tartarus; and Cocytus, or the
frozen river, which is the river of wailing. Cerberus will aid in your protection and duties and deliver to
you a scroll as to where you will guide these souls. You are granted one condition of your punishment.
You may now place your own demand.
Charon stood up and as he spoke, a part of his essence was taken until all that remained was a
shell of himself. Once a fine gentleman, he was now a skeletal, hunched, grim looking man. His voice
became hoarser with each word and his teeth sharpened to points. Charon sat down as he lost his
strength while transforming into a hellish, gaunt figure.
“I will get paid one Obol. If one Obol is not paid, then that soul will be damned to roam the
riverbanks of the Styx for 100 hundred years. During those years, these souls will feel every emotion of
every atrocity they have ever committed; and you will listen to their torment during those 100 years.”
Struggling to speak, his last words were, “Darkness…is the one thing that scares me.”