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Literature / Receiver of Many

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Receiver of Many is a story by KataChthonia based on Classical Mythology.

During the war with the Titans, Zeus and Demeter promise their yet unborn daughter Persephone to their brother Hades as his future wife. However, after the conflict ends and the lots are divided, Demeter, abandoned by Zeus in favor of Hera, decides that she could never let Persephone be hurt the same way she was. She vows to never let any man, especially Hades, have her daughter.

Many thousands of years pass. Persephone lives in Eleusis as Kore, maiden goddess of flowers, under the watchful eye of her mother. Her life is simple and uneventful, at least until the day that Hades finally decides to claim her as his bride. This sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the balance of power among the gods, shifting it forever.

Summary for Receiver of Many:

Persephone's life has been one of leisure among the verdant fields: the maiden of flowers, sheltered by her mother, the Harvest Goddess Demeter. Now she is a woman, a goddess in her own right, yearning for freedom— even as the terms of an ancient pact are about to come due.

Hades's life has been one of solitude in the somber land of the dead: the God of the Underworld, he lives without attachments, eternally governing the souls of mortals. But he dreams of the young goddess who was promised to be his wife, and knows it is time for his Kingdom to have a Queen.

When Hades arrives to claim his betrothed, he finds a young goddess eager to unearth her divine potential— and a powerful mother unwilling to let go. Receiver of Many begins an erotic story of passion and possession, duty and desire, and a struggle that threatens both ancient Greece and the Realm of the Dead itself.

Summary for Destroyer of Light:

The marriage of Hades and Persephone blossoms and their mysterious grove in the world below thrives……while the sunlit world withers.

Demeter holds out in Eleusis, pushing both mankind and the gods to frozen starvation in order to reclaim her daughter. The newly married rulers of the dead must reach an accord with Persephone’s mother to stay her deadly course— and come face to face with sacrifice, responsibility, and the balance of power among the gods.

Destroyer of Light concludes the erotic romance begun in Receiver of Many: a battle of wills among the gods is writ large across the dying earth, a cruel sorcerer-king faces his trial, and the King and Queen of the Underworld realize a destiny that the Fates alone could have foreseen.

The prologue and a few chapters from the stories can be read here.

On January 2015, the author ran a Kickstarter campaign to publish Receiver of Many as a duology. It was successful.

Other works in the same universe:

  • A Box of Beauty: Psyche comes to Persephone to fulfill the last task set before her by Aphrodite

Receiver of Many provides examples of:

  • Above the Influence: When Persephone runs into Lethe she loses her memories from the previous day. This means that she does not remember how Hades abducted her and is still very much the girl eagerly awaiting her mysterious suitor she was right before the kidnapping. When she wakes up to Hades she is very happy and very willing to have sex with him right then and there. Despite being tempted to go through with this Hades rebuffs her advances and gives her water from pool of Mnemosyne, which restores her painful memories. When Persephone accuses him of pricking her with golden arrow to make her fall in love with him, Hades thinks that, thanks to this incident, she should have already understood that he would never use trickery to have her.
  • All Are Equal in Death: This is how the Underworld is supposed to work. Material wealth and power mean nothing and all are judged and assigned place in the afterlife based only on their good and evil deeds.
  • Am I Just a Toy to You?: During their first quarrel Persephone accuses Hades of carrying her away not out of love, but because he sees her as an object – either as a property that is due to him because of the pact her parents made with him or a sex toy to warm his bed.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Ares plays this trope straight. Hades, who fought in the war against the Titans, doesn’t see anything glorious in killing.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After his quarrel with Persephone Hades announces to Nyx and Hecate that he is sending Persephone back to Demeter, since he no longer believes their relationship could ever work out and thinks she will be happier in the world above. Nyx asks him if he would really be ok with Persephone going on with her life without him, potentially taking a lover. Hades’ own angry reaction at the prospect of his wife in another man’s arms shows him that he still isn’t able to let go of his love for her, no matter what he may be saying.
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • Persephone’s and Hades’ marriage was arranged as a part of peace agreement between Hades and Zeus, when Persephone was still in Demeter’s womb. Despite a rocky start they end up as in a much happier and healthier relationship than many other divine marriages.
    • Hephaestus and Aphrodite. Because of how powerful Aphrodite is, she was married off to one man who couldn’t challenge Zeus’ rule. In contrast to Hades and Persephone, they are both unhappy with this union. Faithfulness is not in Aphrodite’s nature and she doesn’t feel much for Hephaestus, so she is having affairs left and right. Hephaestus himself is very much aware of this trait of his wife as well as the fact why he was chosen to be her mate, which he find to be more insulting than affairs she is having or her bastard children.
  • Arrow Catch: Hades catches Eros' golden arrow before it can hit him. However it still scratches his palm...
  • Attempted Rape: Rare female-on-male example. Minthe tries to force herself on Hades in order to frame him in Persephone’s eyes as unfaithful. She poisons his nectar with ergot, which makes him unable to fight back and uses the golden arrow she stole to force his body to react with arousal against his will. Happily for Hades Persephone gets there in time to save him.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: These who don’t have a coin to pay for transport to the Other Side remain stranded on the banks of the river forever.
  • Because Destiny Says So: This being story based on Classical Mythology means that all events happening are actually governed by the will of Fate. Persephone herself was fated to become the Queen of the Underworld even before she was born. Hades drew the shortest straw, giving him the Underworld as his domain, specifically because he and Persephone were betrothed.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension:
    • Hades and Persephone have sex right after their first quarrel, when the anger and desire get mixed together. It doesn’t end well and they both regret it afterwards.
    • Thanatos discusses this trope, when he points out that there is still tension between him and Hecate and that they could relieve it in some way other than arguing. He does it mainly to annoy her further and Hecate knows it.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Suggested to be the case with Kyrene. She spends a lot of time looking around for someone, who could best her. She apparently succeeds when she meets Apollo, since the next time she shows up she is already pregnant with his child.
  • Beyond the Impossible: It’s believed to be impossible for anything truly alive to grow in the Underworld. However, Hades and Persephone through their love and shared dreams manage to awaken the pomegranate seeds lying dormant since the beginning of time. The trees that spring forth are truly alive, unlike Asphodel that grows in the Fields and in palace’s gardens. Later, during their hieros gamos they also create Elysion.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Demeter asks Athena and Artemis to protect Persephone from Hades. However, Zeus orders his daughters to back off and let Hades take Persephone.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: Thanatos and Merope, since she is already dead. Also any dead woman Thanatos has sex with.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: After hearing Demeter call Hades a rapist one time too many, Persephone finally calls her mother out on the fact that her plan to transform her permanently into a tree was what forced Hades to abduct her hastily from Nysa. She reminds her mother that she tried to keep her ignorant of her divine destiny and in the effort to control her life she isolated her and banished all her friends.
  • Coming of Age Story: A big part of the story is how Persephone changes from a sheltered, young girl into a powerful Queen of the Underworld and how she learns to build more mature and healthier relationships with people around her – especially Hades and Demeter.
  • Complete Immortality: Gods and Titans are truly immortal – they do not age and cannot be killed. Even decapitating them will not end their life. That’s why Titans have to be kept in Tartarus. Mortals and nymphs (who are only ageless not deathless) can be made fully immortal with proper rituals.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: At the end Hades and Demeter conclude that the whole mess could have been avoided if Hades went to Demeter instead of Zeus (who never really took part in raising Persephone) and explained that marriage to him wouldn’t cut Persephone from Demeter (as she had assumed) and if Demeter had been a little less headstrong.
  • The Dark Arts: The book of Tantalus that contains knowledge forbidden for humans, like the secret of immortality.
  • Darkest Hour: For Hades and Persephone the moment when it’s already decided that Persephone will return to the surface, but before she has the idea to eat the seeds. They both think that situation is hopeless and try to make the best of this last – as they presume – night together.
  • Death Amnesia: The dead don’t automatically forget everything after they die, but after they drink from Lethe.
  • Death Takes a Holiday: When Thanatos is captured by Sisyphus nothing in the world can die.
  • Decadent Court: On Olympus gods pass their time eating, drinking, having sex, gossiping and playing power games. That’s one of the reasons both Demeter and Hades shun Olympus. When Persephone visits the court of the gods for the first time as the Queen of the Underworld she finds the place off-putting as well. She especially doesn’t like how other gods openly gossip about her and her husband.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Since the story is set in bronze age Greece, the values expressed by many characters are different from the ones a modern audience will probably hold. Women in the world above are treated as second-class citizens, both among the mortals and the gods. They have no say in who they will marry and are given away by their fathers or other male relatives. They may be also carried away and forcefully married. Wives are expected to sever most ties with their former lives. A husband holds power over his wife and can demand whatever he wants from her (including sex, even if she doesn’t want it) and punish her as he sees fit if she misbehaves. This can be seen well in the way Zeus nonchalantly gives Persephone away without caring much for Demeter’s permission. Demeter naturally assumes that the marriage to Hades means that Persephone will never see her again. Persephone herself carries many such beliefs as baggage into the marriage and has to take a lot of time to unlearn it.
  • Ditch the Bodyguards: Persephone sneaks away from Artemis and Athena to investigate if she really heard the voice of the strange man from her dream (Hades) from a sacred grove. What she doesn’t know is that Artemis and Athena are aware of this, but were ordered by Zeus not to interfere.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Hades and Persephone. After many disagreements and obstacles, they finally reconcile and find a way to be together for at least part of each year.
  • Easy Road to Hell: Subverted. Mortals are sure that the slightest offence will get them thrown into Tartarus. In reality only these who unapologetically committed serious crimes like murder or rape are sent there.
  • Erotic Dream: Hades unintentionally appears in Persephone’s dream naked and embracing her, a result of both his and her subconscious desires.
  • Extra-Dimensional Shortcut: How travelling through ether works.
  • Fisher Kingdom: After some time spent in the underworld Persephone notices that her hair gets darker and her breasts and hips fuller, and she starts looking a little older than she did before. Hecate confirms that it’s the Underworld changing her “into the goddess she was born to be”.
  • Flashy Teleportation: Most gods can travel through ether to quickly move from one place to another. However, for each god this process looks differently. For example: Hades travels through black smoke, because of his role as the King of the Underworld. Persephone, on the other hand, opens a portal framed by the flaming river Phlegethon, showing the connection of her powers to Tartarus.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Demeter saves Triptolemus from death and nurses him back to health. While he is already devoted to her as the Great Lady of Harvest, it’s also obvious that her saving him plays a big part in his feelings for her.
  • Food Chains: Like in the original myth eating the food of the dead binds one permanently to the Underworld, but how long someone may be forced to spend there each year appears to depend on the amount of food eaten. It's suggested that Persephone's six seeds aren't enough to keep her in the Underworld for six whole months, even if the Pomegranate Agreement states that she shall spent half a year with her husband underground and half a year with Demeter on the surface.
  • Forced to Watch: In the nightmarish illusion weaved by Cronus for Persephone this happens in two ways: Hades is forced to watch how Cronus rapes his wife and real Persephone herself is forced to see this scene play before her eyes.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who knows the original myth knows that at some point Persephone will eat the pomegranate seeds and bind herself to the Underworld.
  • Foreshadowing: After Hades and Persephone make love during the Midsummer all pomegranate trees in Eleusis lose their flowers and form fruit. Persephone thinks this is a good omen that she had conceived a child with her husband. She is wrong. It’s actually hinting at her and Hades’ role in restoring earth’s fertility.
    • But there are two scenes foreshadowing their children, one is at the Moirai's cave where they tell Persephone:
      • One, who is twice woven, cannot remain your own. (Implied to be Zagreus, who is reborn into Dionysus)
      • Two, the ether bound, who shines the torch in darkness. (Implied to be Melinoe.)
      • Three, the blessed harbinger, who reaps the reaper’s heart. (Implied to by Makaria, the reaper in question is implied to be Thanatos).
    • The second occurs after Hades and Persephone's hieros gamos where she has visions of two daughters, one raven haired and the other white haired, then having the vision of her being pregnant and suddenly bleeding, clutching her womb in agony; before seeing her collapsed on the ground, weeping as she held a wooden box containing a still beating heart.
  • Frame-Up: When he stole her immortality, Sisyphus put a glamour on Merope to make her look like him. Because of this, in the Underworld she was judged as if she was Sisyphus and put in Tartarus.
  • Girl of My Dreams: Invoked by Hades, who visits Persephone for the first time, in a dream to introduce himself as her future husband. However, due to both of them having newly awakened subconscious desires, the dream turns out much more erotic than he has intended.
  • Healing Factor: Godly bodies heal momentarily whenever they are injured and scars on a god are almost unheard of. However, if a god is weakened for some reason or the wounds are very severe, they will heal more slowly and leave scars.
  • Heir Club for Men: Ares is theoretically the heir to the heavens on the virtue of being Zeus’ only legitimate son. After Persephone sets the Pomegranate Agreement, impressed Zeus tells her that he would like to have her as his heir instead, if only she was male.
  • Hope Spot: The Pomegranate Agreement from Demeter’s perspective. After a long fight she is about to finally get her daughter back only for her to hear that Persephone has eaten pomegranate seeds and thus bound herself to the Underworld for all eternity.
  • Hot God: Pretty much all of them, seems to come with being a god.
  • Invisible Streaker: Anyone who wears Hades’ Helm of Darkness becomes invisible along with anything they carry or touch. However, things remain invisible only as long as they are in contact with the wearer. For example, if one removes their clothing it will suddenly appear out of thin air.
  • Irony: Basically everyone who believes that Hades cannot father children because he's the god of the dead, including Hades himself as Hades and Persephone who control fertility itself. Also the Moirai reveal to Persephone that they have three not-yet-woven threads for Hades and Persephone's children, who are supposedly to be born at aeon's end.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Demeter states that divine offspring are usually conceived during the first time god or goddess have sex with someone. This explains why Zeus has so many bastards running around despite the fact that he rarely beds the same women twice. However, Persephone, who actively wants to have children with her husband, cannot conceive despite her best efforts. Everyone thinks that’s because Hades is infertile. The truth is that Hades and Persephone can create life together, but it doesn’t take a form of a child but energy that renews earth each time Persephone comes back to the surface.
    • Although the Moirai do reveal to Persephone that they have three not-yet-woven threads for Hades and Persephone's children, who are supposedly to be born at aeon's end.
  • The Legions of Hell: The Keres fulfill this to some extent. They are not evil, but they are a horde of terrifying monsters even Hades is wary of.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: Due to the Pomegranate Agreement Persephone is supposed to spend half a year with her husband in the Underworld and half a year with her mother on the surface. This means, at least in theory, six months of separation for Hades and Persephone.
  • Love Potion: Golden arrows shot by Eros are very potent in igniting love and desire. Even being close to one can make someone aroused against their will. Being scratched by the arrow causes Hades to obsess over Persephone. If it has actually reached its target – his heart – he would probably be driven mad with need and snatch her away and had sex with her the moment he found her.
  • Magically-Binding Contract: Gods swearing on Styx cannot break their word. Even Zeus is not able to get around this.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places:
    • Hades and Persephone have sex for the first time in Hades' speeding chariot.
    • Eris and Thanatos have sex on a battlefield.
  • Marital Rape License: The way of the world above is that husband can demand sex from his wife and she cannot refuse him. Persephone brings this belief with her as a baggage into her marriage with Hades. When he leads her to his chambers, she immediately assumes he is going to demand sex from her. Hades has to make a lot of effort to reassure her that he would never touch her against her will.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Nyx was mentor to Hecate, who in turn was mentor to Demeter and Hades.
  • Metamorphosis: Desperate Demeter decides to change Persephone permanently into a tree. It’s stated that for this process to work target needs to be a virgin. Because of her actions Hades is forced to spirit Persephone away in haste.
  • Mundane Afterlife: Dead who are not sent to Tartarus end up in the Asphodel Fields, no matter how many good deeds they performed during their lifetime. They wander through them until they are reborn again. Subverted when Hades’ and Persephone’s hieros gamos creates Elysion. They agree that from this point on it will be a place for these who lived truly good, heroic lives.
  • No Man of Woman Born: Demeter swears by Styx that no Olympian will have her daughter. What she forgets is that Hades, against whom she intends to protect Persephone, is no longer an Olympian.
  • The Old Gods: The oldest generation of the gods born from Chaos are called Protogenoi.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Celeus and Metaneira lost all their daughters and would have lost both of their sons as well if it wasn't for Demeter's help. One of said daughter was only two weeks from her wedding.
  • Prison Dimension: Tartarus is a section of the Underworld that serves specifically to imprison enemies of the Olympians and mortals who have committed hideous crimes. The whole Underworld became this when Cronus imprisoned the entire house of Nyx there.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Hades tries to invoke this for Demeter and Iasion by giving Iasion water from the pool of Mnemosyne before his rebirth, thus giving him a chance to regain some of his memories from the previous life. It doesn’t work and he does not try again. Many centuries later Demeter meets Iasion reborn as the Eleusian prince Triptolemus.
  • Reincarnation: Souls don’t stay in the Underworld forever. They can drink from Lethe to forget their time there and be reborn again in our world. Until Persephone spreads this information among her followers, mortals simply assume that death is a permanent end.
  • Relationship Sabotage:
    • It’s suggested that Zeus tries to do this by introducing Persephone to Apollo during her visit to Olympus. Engaging in an affair with Apollo would probably keep Persephone above the ground for longer periods of time, which in turn would mean shorter winters. It doesn’t work because Persephone loves her husband very much and because Apollo is a jerkass.
    • Demeter tries to break up Persephone’s and Hades’ marriage, believing he will hurt her anyway in the future. She sends Minthe to seduce Hades. Not only it doesn't work, but backfires and ends up with Minthe dead at Persephone’s hands and Demeter almost losing her daughter for good this time.
  • Rescue Romance: Demeter falls in love with Zeus when he frees her and the rest o their siblings from Cronus. His face is the first one she sees after many years in darkness.
  • Right in Front of Me: Celeus and Metaneira don’t realize they are talking about the Great Lady of Harvest just in front of her, instead taking her for an elderly priestess Doso.
  • Ring of Power: The Key of Hades manifests as several rings. They let Hades hear the souls in his kingdom, travel between the worlds and seal his realm. When he takes them off he stops hearing the dead. However, the power of the Key cannot simply be transferred by giving the rings to someone else.
  • Ruling Couple: Hades and Persephone rule over the Underworld jointly and share power equally. This is a big surprise for most gods of the world above, who expect Persephone to be nothing more than a Hot Consort. In the upper world, however, it’s not usual for a king to share power equally with his queen, that’s how things look between Zeus and Hera.
  • Scary Teeth: The Erynies have very pointy, sharp fangs.
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage: Apollo tries to seduce Persephone when she visits Olympus. It doesn’t work because Persephone loves her husband very much and has no intentions of cheating on him even if they don’t see each other for six months.
  • Shoot the Messenger: When Hermes brings a decree that annuls Hades’ and Persephone’s marriage, Hades’ first reaction is to furiously try to strangle him.
  • The Talk: Persephone is given not very informative by a nymph, when one of her companions comes back pregnant with Apollo’s child. She tries to ask Demeter for more details, but she only gets to hear that the act of sex is very painful and bloody.
  • Tempting Fate: Zeus invokes this trope by sarcastically swearing on the Styx that since Hades was the firstborn of his generation and Persephone is the firstborn of her generation, if their union produces a son, he will become Zeus' heir.
    • Apollo tells Persephone that Hades is 'As infertile as his kingdom', something Demeter later 'confirms' to Persephone, who becomes distraught. Hades himself tells Persephone to not get her hopes up on the thought on children, because he believes that since he once ate asphodel roots as a self inflicted punishment, he has become infertile. Zeus himself swore his oath on the assumption that since Hades is the God Of the Dead, he must be infertile; so he should never have to worry about something like that.
    • Persephone later goes to the Moirai (The Fates themselves) to ask if she'll ever have children with Hades, who tell her that
      “The earth is your womb, Aristi Chthonia. But as for your own hystera…the gift and sacrifice of fertility is yours to share with Hades... The King and the kingdom. For just as the earth cannot harvest without your mother… …it cannot replenish without the sacred union of Aidoneus and Persephone, or your journey between this world and the world above…and for so long as the seed rises to the earth to spring forth as new life…that new life cannot take root within you.”
    • This discourages Persephone, who believes that she will never produce a child with Hades.
    • The Moirai believe Persephone is wise in her decision to not argue her fate, and make the decision to tell her that they possess the not-yet-woven threads, as for Hades and Persephone's children,
      • One, who is twice woven, cannot remain your own. (Implied to be Zagreus, who is reborn into Dionysus)
      • Two, the ether bound, who shines the torch in darkness. (Implied to be Melinoë.)
      • Three, the blessed harbinger, who reaps the reaper’s heart. (Implied to by Makaria, the reaper in question is implied to be Thanatos).
  • That Was Not a Dream: When Persephone first wakes up after being carried away by Hades, she is sure that she has fallen asleep in Nysa and the whole abduction was just a dream. However, she quickly realizes that she is really somewhere else and that events of the previous day were real.
  • Their First Time: Hades and Persephone have sex for the first time in a chariot right after Hades carries Persephone away from Nysa. This strange time and place is justified, since the immediate consummation of their marriage is needed to protect Persephone from any attempts of Demeter to permanently transform her daughter into a tree.
  • This Means War!: Hades tells Hermes that the scroll with Zeus' orders he brought is more or less a declaration of war, since it’s a breach of their original peaceful terms.
  • Training from Hell: Prometheus training Hades.
  • Unequal Pairing: Demeter and Triptolemus. While they are both immortal, Demeter is the powerful goddess of harvest and bounty, while Triptolemus is a little more than an immortalized human. She is also thousands of years older than he is.
  • Void Between the Worlds: Ether appears to be a space between different worlds and places.
  • Volleying Insults: Hades’ and Demeter’s argument over the Pomegranate Agreement finally deteriorates into simply throwing insults at each other.
  • War Is Hell: Having to live through the Titanomachy was a very hard experience for all involved. It was a bloody fight for survival, not glorious combat.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Apollo (and at least some of other Olympians, we can presume) has this stance on Persephone’s insistence to remain faithful to her husband. He sees him as a cold and unresponsive god, not much better than a corpse, who probably cannot give his wife not only love but even “real pleasure”.
  • Women's Mysteries: The knowledge of ancient, sacred rituals like hieros gamos is almost always passed from woman to woman. Nyx taught Hecate and Hecate passed this first to Demeter and later to the Lampades. However, there can be expectations from this rule.