Silver and Gold

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  • Published: 3 Apr 2017
  • Updated: 11 Apr 2017
  • Status: Complete
[Entry for Strange the Dreamer competition - Option One] Artemis and Apollo are brother and sister - two halves of a whole. Artemis has always been the wild one, the dreamer, the adventurer. But her brother has been torn away from her by a vengeful mortal angry with the gods. The sun has gone down on earth and the world is plunged into darkness as Artemis rallies together the greatest hunters the world has ever seen to save her brother, the only person who ever truly understands her. But time is running out, and in a month's time Apollo will die, taking he rest of the world down with him.

(Cover by NamesFromGraves)



Four days. Four nights. Ninety six hours of Cyrene and Otrera arguing over who sat at the front of Phoebe and squabbling over whose city was the most powerful. It drove me mad, how they were concerning themselves with such fruitless debates when we had a purpose, a mission, to find my brother and bring him home and keep him safe and all they cared about, these mortal girls with their vain arguments and ludicrous words, all they cared about was who the most powerful queen was.

I'd voiced this opinion on numerous occasions throughout our journey, but they never listened, never stopped to think that there were more pressing matters at hand.

Eventually, we landed on the outskirts of Arcadia, with sight of the great Arcadian castle just ahead atop of the mountain - the highest mountain in the world, o they said, though that was untrue. The highest mountain was Olympus of course, but that didn't stop the Arcadians from spreading their lies. Night was beginning to descend as we wished my deer farewell, and Cyrene got to work quickly setting up camp for us by a forest, while I collected firewood. It was a trivial task, of course, but it needed to be done. I needed time away from Cyrene and Otrera anyway.

It was as I crossed a river, with sticks and wood in my arms that I heard it. A voice as steady as the bluest lake, as happy as the fastest rushing river, as strong as the highest wave. And out from the shadows a figure grew closer, closer, closer, red eyes gleaming from the darkness. The figure danced through the darkness, smiled in the shadows, drawing towards me with a sickening glare and a crooked grin. Their eyes were like fire, burning down the trees around them. The night was drawing in - darker now, darker still - and the moon shone upon me. For once, it didn't give me any extra power, or strength.

In truth, it scared me. Shook me to the core and turned me upside down, made my head spin around like a roundabout, a kaleidoscope of colours raced around, tumbling in my mind like painted gymnasts. Tumble, tumble, tumble. Turn, turn, turn. For the goddess of the moon, I wasn't half terrified of the nighttime.

The shadow was closer now, eyes venomous and harsh, burning into my very soul. "Who are you?" I asked at last, voice trembling in the way the earth does just before a volcano erupts, when a cliff is about to topple over into the sea, yet still holds on to the rest of the earth in the vain hopes that maybe, just maybe, it will stay in place, safe.

"I am Atalanta. And you are an intruder in my forest." Her eyes flashed red and I bit back a grin. She unsheathed a dagger and it glinted gold in the faint light. Peculiar, I thought. Not many have daggers made of gold. "Now name yourself, or I will use this."

"There will be no need for that, dear," I laughed, taking the dagger from her and inspecting it, turning it over in my hands. "I am Lady Artemis, goddess of the hunt, the moon, and maidenhood, and I need your help. Atalanta."

She gasped slightly, face paling and draining of colour, as she took a shaky curtsy. Behind her, I noticed two wolves, silver as the moon and wild as the river. "My Lady. Forgive me, I didn't - "

"It's quite alright," I laughed. "I do try to blend in most of the time. If anything, you've just paid me a compliment." I smiled at her and she ducked her head, cheeks taking on a pink blush. "Do you mind if I sit with you, Atalanta?"

"N - no, not at all, My Lady." She curtsied again, hands trembling. I sat down on a patch of copper leaves and gestured for her to join me.

"Do you know of my brother, Atalanta?" I asked, drumming my fingertips on the ground.

"Apollo?" She barked out a laugh. "Of course I do, I'm not stupid!" I raised an eyebrow and she shuddered, ducking away from me again. "Sorry. That was rude."

"Not at all. Not many would have the courage to say such a thing, granted, but I won't condemn you for your words." I tried to laugh, but still she turned away. "Atalanta, look at me. And don't worry yourself, please." She turned to me again, but her eyes were brown and frightened, damp with tears that were yet to fall. "My brother is lost. He's been taken by a woman, an evil woman, and I have to get him back. I need your help, Atalanta."

"My help? What can I do?"

A laugh escaped me, dancing along the river, until I realised she was being serious. Her eyes were stone cold, fearful, and those flecks of red rubies were long gone. My next words were chosen carefully, plucked with such precocious measures as if I were choosing a bouquet of flowers. "Atalanta, you are the best hunter this world has ever seen. You are the fiercest, the strongest, the bravest. I need you - the whole world does, in fact." She was doing that thing again, with the ducked head and the rosy pink cheeks. "You can bring your wolves too, if you'd like, so long as they don't harm my deer."

"They're not wolves," she laughed. "They're lions. They helped to raise me. I have got wolves too, though, and a bear."

"Bring them all if you'd like. I could probably conjure up my moon chariot - it'll be a bit dusty, but I'm sure it'll do. There are two others, as well, don't know if you've heard of them. Cyrene and Otrera. They're queens, but - and you can't tell anyone this - I think you might still be a bit more powerful." I winked and she giggled, bit her lip as her eyes grew just a tad warmer, happier.

""Why are you being so nice to me, my Lady? I'm just a girl, and you're a goddess."

"And this goddess needs a girl, Atalanta. Now, are ypou coming or are you not?"

I could see in her eyes the conflict she felt, the turmoil and tumultuousness. She'd come all this way to see her father, to reclaim her right to the throne and yet here I was, about to take her away again and her only concern was whether or not she was worthy of my attention. "I suppose..." She cast her eyes to her lions who looked like wolves and back to me again, brow furrowing. "Yes, my lady. If you're sure you want me to come."

"Of course I'm sure!" I laughed, taking her by the hand and standing up. "Come on. The others are just setting up camp, I'm sure there'll be room for one extra. Which reminds me..." The ground was bare spare for the leaves and the lions, which to me begged the question of -

"Firewood!" Atalanta shouted with a laugh, arms full and heavy of sticks. "Figured I might as well bring a contribution to camp."

I grinned at her then, and she smiled back just the tiniest bit, just enough for me to know she was okay, that she knew she was wanted with us. "Good idea. Need a hand?"

"Not even a pinky finger. Make sure my lions don't bite you."

With a laugh we set off, lions padding along behind us, but as we left I was sure I could feel someone at my back, breathing down my neck like a Northern wind. Boreas always was the most disagreeable of gods.


By the time we got back to our camp, the only light came from the burnt out stars above and the dwindling fire Cyrene and Otrera sat by, leaning on each other with heavy eyes. "You two!" I yelled, and they woke with a start, eyes wide and faces pale. "Good, you're awake. This is Atalanta."

Atalanta stepped towards the fire, hands drumming on the firewood. "Nice to meet you. Cyrene and Otrera, yes?" Otrera's eyes were narrowed, green as sickly as the dying grasses, slim as the narrowest stem. Cyrene's own blue eyes were cold, icy like a falling sky. "I'm Atalanta."

"She just said that," Otrera laughed, hands on her hips. "And spare me the introduction - I already know who you are."

"I know, Queen Otrera. I am glad that we may meet again one last time."

Otrera huffed out a laugh, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear as she extended her hand for Atalanta to kiss. It hung there in the air for only a few seconds before she withdrew it, lips pursed and red like all she'd ever drank was blood, eyes steely and venomous. "I am glad, too. My lady, can we trust this girl?"

"Of course," I told her, and I was pleased to find that my voice held a bit authority that it had been lacking recently, ever since the disappearance of my brother. Perhaps it brought with it the promise of hope, the promise of a new strength I had not seen for a time and perhaps would not see for some time again. But it was a promise nonetheless, and I was never one for breaking promises.

"Artemis, you were gone for five nights." Cyrene's voice wobbled slightly as I turned to her, ice shattering into my pounding heart, dousing me in a cold sweat.

"Sorry, what?"

"You were gone. Five nights I was left alone with Otrera, while you were off collecting firewood."

"Are you sure?" Even as I spoke, the words sounded useless. Cyrene was right, I knew; the second I heard her speak my heart pounded and something seemed to just click in my head and everything made sense, but at the same time, none of it made any sense at all, and all of a sudden my head began to thump, thump, thump, and by the gods, twelve days had passed already and in eighteen my brother may be no more, and every decision I make brings us just that tiniest bit closer to that day, to the end of all things. The end of Apollo. My brother.

"Positive. The sun's been five times - not for long, mind, but it's been there." Cyrene took a step towards us. "My lady, I don't mean to be rude - and I'm sure Atalanta would appreciate some hospitality - but shouldn't we be getting going soon? We've already wasted enough time."

"I agree," I told her, though it made my heart fall to consider it. "Atalanta, we need to get into the city at the next sunrise. Could you do that for us, get us in?"

Her eyes were wide, tearful almost. "Yes. Of course."

But she was lying, of course she was, I could see it plain as day just as I could always see her, her thoughts, her life, just her in front of me and staring and eyes so helpless I thought they may be drowning in the moonlight. And so I shook my head, said, "No!" and whistled for my deer to bring a chariot for them all, and for the lions.

For in the temple I had felt those words around me, Atalanta's words of deceit. And so the gates of hell awaited us, as they await us all in the end.

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