Lake Lerna - The passage to the Underworld CW: Death of a Child Myth in Mythic Creed | World Anvil

Lake Lerna - The passage to the Underworld CW: Death of a Child

CW: Death of a Child
In the south of Argos lies the most beautiful lake you will ever lay your eyes on. The water is a perfect crystal clear blue, the surrounding two beaches are made of the most pristine white sand and the forest that closes in on it gives shade to those who need at any time of the day. The sun seems to always shine on this lake, and no rain seems to ever fall, and still - the plants here are the greenest of greens.
If you lay your eyes on this lake, you would think you are already in Elysium, but when you stay here you will think you are in Erebos. This is the most beautiful and at the same time the scariest place in this world.
— unknown
by RebeccaB

Being at this lake should feel as blissful as it gets, but instead, any who stays here feels an unstoppable chill creeping up their spine, intensifying the longer they stay. A story is told of how this lake houses the gates to the underworld, the realm of Hades, the only way for a still living soul to enter this realm. But these gates are also sad to be guarded by a beast so scary, that even the bravest of heroes will turn and run upon seeing it. A snake with many heads known as the Hydra.
In a time long before humans wrote down stories, but instead just told them to each other by the fireside, a young girl from a village not far away from Lake Lerna lost her brother while playing in the forest. They were playing hide and seek, when her brother tried to hide on tree above a stream and slipped. Hearing his screams from quite far away she ran towards his voice, only to find the waters of the stream washing away blood from a stone. Panicked and struck by fear she followed the stream only to find his body drifting on the lake she´s been warned about all her life.
The water started rippling and moving around him and something stole his body away. Having heard the legends of this lake being the door to the underworld the little girl was determined to find her way and bring her brother back. Her scream for the Hydra echoed over the lake and through the forest, so that it was still heard in several of the surrounding villages (and some say you can still hear it echoing today on certain days). As the huge water snake lifted one of its heads out of the water, the girl stood her ground instead of being afraid, like most adults would be. She started to swim towards the giant snake, as more and more heads came out of the water, she started to sing a lullaby her mother used to sing her and her brother at nights, where the nightmares wouldn´t let them fall asleep again. The clear voice of the girl lulled the beast and as its heads fell into water she gripped onto one of them and let herself be dragged down to the gates of the underworld. Just as she thought she couldn´t hold her breath any longer she stood in front of a giant gate and was able to breath again, the giant snake lay sprawled around her, sound asleep.

The gates in front of her stood slightly ajar. She slipped her small body though the tiny slit between the two dark and heavy doors and found herself between thousands of souls. Remnants of the living, that at first did not seem to see her. She started running looking for the soul of her brother. She found herself running for what felt like hours and was almost ready to give up as she spotted a little boy at The River Styx, ready to step onboard of Charon´s ferry. The brothers name fell from her lips and he turned around to her.
She grabbed his hand and ran back through the souls waiting in line to board the ferry to cross the river Styx. This time running through the souls wasn´t as easy as before. This time they seemed to take notice of the two children and tried to grab for them, tried to stop them on their way back to the gates in the lake. Ducking, and turning, and hoping, dotching she dragged her brothers soul behind her.
Focusing on the door his hand slipped from hers and as she turned around she could see him back in the waiting line, and none of the souls were gripping at her anymore. Not willing to give up her brother after one try she ran back to him, grabbed his arm again and started dragging his soul behind her again. His gaze was still on the line, and even though he did not fight her, he also did nothing to help them escape. But after what felt like an eternity the little girl drew her brother through the door.
As she stepped through, her brother behind her his body became solid again and his eyes filled with life again. She woke up the Hydra and they gripped onto one of her heads and were drawn back to the surface again.
It was already dark as they came back into their village. They entered their cottage and found their mother sitting by the fire. As she turned around to see them she started crying. The children had been gone for three years.

A few hundred years later a guy named Herkules came by and killed the Hydra due to a bet he made. Had the little girl known this she probably would have kicked him for that.

Variations & Mutation

Depending on who you ask, the myth will have a much darker ending - the girl being drowned by the Hydra, getting lost in the underworld or not being able to bring her brothers soul back.
Date of First Recording
Date of Setting
Somewhere during the Golden Age of Men


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Jul 2, 2021 10:41

Nicely done updates to the formatting :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Jul 4, 2021 12:31 by Kaleidechse

I like this take on the classic theme of bringing back a loved one from the Underworld! This girl has a lot of courage, and singing the Hydra to sleep was quite clever. I chuckled at the remark about Hercules at the end - yeah, I can see why the girl would have kicked him for killing the Hydra over a bet.

Creator of the Kaleidoscope System and the planet Miragia.
Jul 4, 2021 13:06 by Rebecca Bielow

Thanks! Yeah, I couldn´t keep that last line to myself XD

Jul 5, 2021 04:34

A great myth very reminiscent of the tale of Orpheus. I've always loved Greek mythology, so seeing something like this was awesome!

Jul 29, 2021 12:54 by AS Lindsey (Pan)

A fun read! Rescuing loved ones from Hades seems to be a staple of Greek mythology, nicely done.   Quick note: should 'Charon's Fairy' be 'Charon's Ferry'?

Jul 29, 2021 13:45 by Rebecca Bielow

Quick answer: yes, it should be XD   Also thanks, yeah it seems to be a welcome tale...I guess it gave hope that death is not final...