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I hope everyone had the best Thanksgiving they could, under the circumstances. It’s not been an easy year, but know there’s a light on the horizon. For now, try to relax for a few minutes, and don’t be afraid to smile a bit if you feel so led. Today, I’ve written a bit of satire; it could become a series…
Council of the Afterlife: Death Retires
Death: a topic so explored, yet feared — that is, by the humans among us. For those of a non-human diagnosis, Death is just one of the people. I’m not at all being figurative, should you be thinking as much. Death, the Grimmest of Reapers, typically spends his time tilling the human race for souls, collecting what he may, devouring happiness, casting those unfortunate enough to die into the depths of emptiness, et cetera. Now you, reader, might have just now paralogized that Death, Grimmest of Reapers, works alone, that he’s hated by all, that he’s somewhat of a bad guy. Alas, you are correct!
Actually, no you’re not. I only said that for Hades’ benefit. He always gets a laugh out of Death’s bad PR.
Hades — yes, the Greek god of the underworld — is just one of Death’s counterparts on the Council of the Afterlife, alongside Morta and Hella. Morta, one of the three parcae of Roman mythology, is arguably more disliked than Death, Grimmest of Reapers, due to her affinity with using a cursed dagger to slice folks from their life thread. She’s often called the goddess of death, though her ‘death’ title is lowercase because, as we can only infer, there’s a glass ceiling in the afterlife, too.
Hella, Norse goddess of Helheim, seems to have effectively shattered the glass ceiling, however, as she’s become one of the highest ranking officials of the Afterlife Department in the Norse mythologies. The lovely valkyries gather up the souls like harvesters picking grapes, and those who are worthy take a trip to Valhalla. Those unworthy evidently end up in the bloody grip of Helheim and reside at the mercy of Hella. Why, just yesterday a young knight, whose name is ‘Unimportant, No One Cares’ according to Garm’s (guard dog of Helheim) Book of Prisoners. Anyway, this prisoner knight tried to escape, and Hella fed him to Hades’ own three-headed mutt, Cerberus. Sometimes the Council likes to share little treats with each other, for fun.
Getting to the point of it all: it seems that even Death, Grimmest of Reapers, has his limits. That is to say, he’s recently decided to retire, and this is much to the rest of the Council’s dismay. Hades’ hair even flared once.
While Death prepares his retirement plans (between the tortuous Helheim and the undying flames of rage at Morta’s feet, the retirement destination is a hot topic for him), the other council members have coerced him into assisting with the replacement interviews. Well, replacement interview. It was quite to the bewilderment of the council that only one applicant came forward, and of all the greater beings in the nonhuman world it is The Sandman who showed his puffy face at the interview table. The Sandman, known particularly well for handling the sweet dreams of human and animal races alike (even granting Cerberus a dream or three now and again), has decided his line of work to be a bit too sleepy for his tastes, and is looking for a change of pace.
It’s with this scene before him that The Sandman descends into an interview that’s not going quite as he had thought it would. The Council of the Afterlife, grumpy and thoughtful in their old age, seem to be of the mind that their words are of far greater importance than anything the young, spry, and albeit a little tired dreammaker could ever say. For as he opened his mouth to speak for the first time, the council before him decided to lead with their own parables — Hades, of course, being the first to offer his infinite wisdom to the hopeful new face of Death…
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