The mare next to him snorted and moved away with the rest of the herd, but Fabio was tired of playing mundane. He stayed where he was on the open pasture and watched them. They didn't look back, and they didn't wait for him to catch them up. They had been polite, but he was not of their kind and they knew it and it made them nervous. They had never asked where he had come from nor how long he would stay, but it had been months of their time and the lazy summer had turned to autumn. His leg had healed and he was ready to try and find some of his own kind. His heart had settled into a steely anger at what had been done to him that slow burned in his chest.
He turned north away from the retreating group and set off making for the tree line and the hills. He wasn't really sure why he had chosen north, it just seemed easier than skirting around the entire herd. North seemed the way back home. North called to him like the strongest wind always did, it was cold and hard. Unyeilding. As he thought about it tendrils gusted around him, whipping at his mane and tail and making him snort. He'd spent months pretending to be mundane and it was almost a sweet release to flex his power. A bubble of air pressure formed around him as he trotted up an incline and into the woods making the trees around him sway and groan in the wind. Autumn leaves whipped into the air like coloured snowflakes as he reveled in the elemental forces around him breaking into a lope that bore him onwards.
The deep evening gloom found him tired but exhilarated by having purpose again. He found a hollow by the edge of a fast running stream surrounded by sweet grass which he grazed after drinking his fill of ice cold water. His mind was still cluttered by mixed feelings but he tried to center himself as he settled under an evergreen tree to doze and get his strength back.
He thought he was still awake, but as soon as Hades stepped across the stream and walked towards him it was clear that he could only be dreaming, hallucinating, or dead. Maybe all three. He shook his head and walked forward to meet him.
"Hades. Forgive me but you are not usually one for personal visits to banished Cavitto."
"Exceptional times." Hades smiled casually as he stripped several leaves off a branch as if he had no other business. Fabio had no idea what else to say to the god of the underworld but need not have worried as Hades broke the silence himself.
"Its a bad business all this banishing that my brother is so fond of. To punish all for the transgressions of so few. Quite a pity."
"I know only a little of what happened my lord."
"Well we all know Zeus is drawn towards unnecessary drama. So I'm here to offer you anů alternative solution to your banishment problem."
"Yes. I am fortunate enough to be the owner of some large estates with ample grazing and water for all Cavitto if they so choose."
"My lord, are you referring to hell?" Fabio asked before he could stop himself.
"Indeed I am. The Elysium fields are beautiful this time of year, and frankly being able to whisk the Cavitto away from my brother would amuse me. So I offer you as I said, an alternative to staying here in the mortal world. Come to me, show me you are worthy to be in my immortal herd and I shall grant you access to Elysium."
"Just like that."
"I am not one to make offers of this nature lightly. Nor do I expect any who take up my offer to disobey me or decide that they would prefer to return to my brother after all. Lets call it a contract, between you and I. Let us speak frankly, you have been punished for a crime you did not commit. Worse that it was a crime of innocent love, and you should well know that those with such an affliction have my sympathies." Hades stopped pacing and turned back to face Fabio.
"I see the anger in your heart, and the rage in your head. Your betrayal. You can not hide it from me, and if you really think about it, taking up my offer and working towards coming to hell with me, to walk forever among the Elysian Fields when the alternative means staying here makes perfect sense."
"Then, you have spoken to Zeus? There is no way back home for us, to Olympus?" Fabio's heart felt like a stone weight in his chest as he whispered the words.
"My brother is usually rather adamant. He is not one to change his mind once a deed has been done."
"Prove yourself worthy to walk the Elysian fields Fabio, and I shall grant you safe passage."
"I.. am humbled by your offer, and I will think on it my lord."
"Very well." Hades nodded thoughtfully before turning and walking away into shadow and mist.
Fabio stood slightly bewildered by the encounter with Hades, it was one thing for his own goddess to speak to him so familiarly, but for the god of the underworld to spend time visiting all Cavitto to make this offer was entirely different. He huffed and shook himself, there would be no sleep for him that night, his mind was far too troubled. In the deep darkness of night under a hunters moon he continued on his journey north towards whatever it was that drew him on.