Silver and Gold

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  • Published: 3 Apr 2017
  • Updated: 11 Apr 2017
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[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)

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7. GOLD

I am Apollo.

   There is no Artemis beside me

I am the god of the sun

   There is no light in this place

I am the god of medicine

   There is no way for me to heal

I am the god of poetry

   There are no stanzas left to recite

I am the god of music

   There are no songs left to sing

I am the god of archery

    There are no targets I can reach

I am the god of too many things

    There is nothing left for me here

 

Even now the sun hurtles through the sky, as the world burns and freezes in the exact same second, scorched under my poisoned touch. My hair is spun from pure gold, my eyes are warm as the melting stars, my skin is bronzed by the kiss of a dying sun. I am graceful and beautiful - there is a fluidity to my movement that rivals the seas of Poseidon's domain.

Perhaps that is what they all fell in love with.

 

Icarus the brave,

My angel, my truest love,

The purest of all.

 

He soared above the sea and loitered beneath the sun, let me kiss his fragile wings for just one moment, one blissful, beautiful moment before he tumbled, stolen from me just moments before he was free. I'd seen him many times before, as he sat with his father in the prison they called a workshop and stared at the skies, longing for a taste of the golden sun. He'd uttered to me his beautiful words, his stories of where he'd been and where he was going and everything in between. He spun me tales of good men and bad men, of monsters and kings and gold, the golden stars and suns.

"I love you," I'd told him one unexpected night, as he told me how he would find me someday, told me he'd defy the world if it meant we could hold each other just one time.

And in reply he said, "I love you too," blue eyes as wide and wild as the sea he longed to soar above. And then he said "Tell me a story," and so I did, and oh how I loved to see him smile.

I told him the story of the angels. The angels who flew amongst the stars and gave hope to the ancient people after the evils were unleashed, who succumbed to the beauty of the four winds and were enthralled by their mystery, their majesty. I told him how I was but a boy like him, with the weight of worlds upon my bronzed shoulders, and he told me of the wings he would build for both of us, so we could be angels together and relieve on another of our burdens, one feather at a time.

So the day came when he fled his prison, soaring towards me with his wings as I welcomed into an embrace I didn't know would bring such pain. And for that one blissful moment, I held him and he held me, and the world was at piece for just that tiny sliver of time. But the wings were destroyed by my embrace, and he fell from my arms and no matter how far I reached, how strongly I resisted, he fell, tumbled, down into the crashing waves below.

And he was gone.

 

Then there was Daphne

My sweet, beautiful Daphne

Arrow in her heart

 

She was beautiful, my Daphne, like a goddess but kinder. She was a nymph, dancing through meadows and waltzing through forests, running, chasing wild animals through the wilderness. Her hair was like the earth itself, deep and beautiful and soft, and her eyes were like the waters she so desperately loved, more than she could ever love me.

It was Eros that destroyed her, that god of 'love' who seemed hellbent on destroying any love the world could truly feel. I shot my arrows and chased the skies and found the world too beautiful too bare, and there he stood with his tiny bow and tiny face, and perhaps I underestimated his true strength as he slung an arrow across the strings, took his aim, and fired love straight into my heart.

The world was consumed by passion. It rolled from the trees, raced over hills and mountains, until I found her, my Daphne, my beautiful, beautiful Daphne. And for a time we were happy, content to lay together in the flowers. But she got homesick, as all nature spirits do, and when Eros saw our joy and our journey, he feared I did not know enough of his power. So he shot her, too, and this time, we bled.

She went mad. Ran through forests and meadows and rivers and fields to find the one she loved more than she loved me, ran to the edge of a cliff and cried because there I was, and there Poseidon was and Daphne was too kind to go to him instead of me. Kindness is everyone's downfall.

So, in the end she was turned to a tree, a laurel tree. She stands there still, on the edge of a hill, and the laurel wreath I wear in my hair just now is falling off of me like a too big crown.

 

Then there was Cyrene.

My hunter, my warrior,

Beautiful Cyrene

 

The first time I saw her, she was fighting a lion. Perhaps it was the aftermath of Daphne, a spirit too kind to fight anything except her own happiness, that attracted me to Cyrene, the warrior I could never keep still. I saw her fighting there, so strong, elegant, beautiful, and I thought perhaps, perhaps, perhaps she was the one.

For a while, it could have been true.

I liked to pride myself on the ability to keep out of fights. This woman could hold her own against the lion just fine, and I could tell by just the way she held herself that she would have no trouble reminding me of that fact. Her smile was fierce and her eyes were brave, her skin polished like bronze covering muscles that bulged in the most beautiful way possible, her strength radiating off of her. I thought to myself in the night, sometimes, that perhaps it was her who gave me the strength to carry on, to live my life with a smile and a dance and a fleeting glance at what could be, what will be.

It was just my luck that she fell in love with me too.

I came to her in a blaze of gold and fire, which may have been dramatic of me, but she didn't seem to care. I wore a laurel wreath that day, told her my stories until she fell and told me hers, the stories of the sheep she tended to and the villagers who laughed at her every word like she was incapable of ripping them all to shreds if they dared to cross her path.

In time, I took her away to places she'd never even dreamed of, let her fight and dance and laugh and scream as with every passing second we fell more and more in love. But I was foolish. I offered her the world and she turned it down for me, and I thought that meant we would stay together forever.

Then I was taken. I was stolen from this earth and she lay on her own in her city, commanding a world which knew nothing of her true beauty. It was ruinous.

 

 

Then Hyacinth.

A love like a fresh flower,

Beautiful, perfect

 

 

~~There was scarcely anything left of me anymore. No pageantry, no love, no sun to pull and dance around when I got bored of the heart breaking mortals. Artemis had gone, disappeared into the wilderness to hunt with her girls, left me alone on the fringes of the forest, waiting for something, anything, to come along and save me from the darkness.
Then came Hyacinth. Cheekbones that could slice my heart into two, eyes that sparkled with mischief and mirth and oh, how I loved those beautiful, beautiful eyes, like emeralds shining from a puddle of bronze. He wore a crown of purple flowers upon his brow, and I laughed when they fell into his eyes. He told me he loved my laugh.
He loved me and I loved him, but I was not alone in my love. I could not blame Zephyros for his emotions, for the roses that tainted his visions every time he looked at Hyacinth, in the exact same way the roses tainted me. It wasn't my fault, what happened to Hyacinth. Unlike all the rest, this was not my fault. This was the spite of the Fates, the final stepping stone to bringing about my downfall.
We were doing nothing wrong, but Zephyros ruined us anyway. When the discus flew through the air, slicing the skies, the clouds, the air between us, it blew the wrong way by a wind from the west. He caught it alright, but the price was too heavy. I ran to him but the winds held me back, and I was helpless as he lay there dying, those beautiful eyes growing dull and lifeless with every achingly long and painful second. Then Hades came and I struggled and wept and stopped him, kept him far from my love as I tried desperately to save Hyacinth.
The winds let up and I ran to him, held his lifeless body in my arms and wept. My tears and his blood watered the ground beneath us, and his body fell into the earth as a flower sprung up, curling purple and blue like a bruise.


And now I lie on the ground in a barren room. Wings are drawn on my back, but I cannot fly, a laurel wreath hangs over my forehead never to grow again, a lion skin draped over me that is unable to keep out the chill, and a hyacinthus flower is tucked behind my ear. The only one left to care for me is my sister, but she must not risk herself for me. My life is not worth hers, and I believe that somewhere she knows that, but is simply too kind to admit it.
There is a clatter behind me, and with the last of my strength I turn around, bones and muscles aching. A bow has fallen to the ground, made from solid silver.
Oh, Artemis. My Artemis, my wild, wonderful sister, Artemis. Save yourself. For me.

 

 

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