They are our great heroes. Perseus, Bellerophon, Heracles, Jason, Theseus, Achilles, and Odysseus. Men who were also gods, born of the great curse of divine intervention. Or men who should have been. Their tales only survive for us to tell because of survivors. But theirs are not the greatest feats of heroism. None saved the entire world. None prevented a new war between god and titan. None were as worthy as some whose names failed to be repeated and passed on.
It is two of these names I wish to speak of. Children of gods, one unlikely so. They and their party never returned from their great undertaking, and their souls consigned to a segregated valley in the underworld. Hades, in an act of uncanny benevolence, ensures that they continue to exist in peace. Though the lord of the underworld also ensures that their memory continues to exist in silence.
With great fear and care do I record the events of Apollyta and Arteseus. The greatest heroes Greece has never known. I have seen them here, only once. Having heard their tale from Chrysaor, the forgotten brother of Pegasus, I bribed Charon with drachma I smuggled into the afterlife to sail me past their abode, beyond even the rivers of Cocytus and Lethe. Only by sheer serendipity did I encounter Persephone during my escape from the wrath of Hades. The arrogance of man still lives inside me, and I wish it did not. Breaking the laws of the underworld cannot be recommended, especially of one in my situation... but that is another story. Perhaps my telling of this one will grant me favor to have my own retold.
Or perhaps not.
"You promised me chastity, father." The goddess is angry. A broken promise from the king of gods is not something to be endured lightly. She is well aware that he may not receive her defiance with humility - he rarely does - but six promises were granted her upon his lap, and one has been shattered.
He grasps his thunderbolt, pretending to admire it as he considers smiting his daughter. She does, however, have a point. A promise was seemingly broken, and under his very reign. He knows he had nothing to do with it, but he knows not who did. Still, as king, interpretation of his word is reserved for him and him alone. And there is an interpretation that leaves that word intact.
"Are you not still chaste?" he asks, glaring at the floor of the temple. His gaze is not to the polished marble beneath his feet, but to the world beneath his sky. The world he granted to his brother upon their victory against their ancestors. Only his brother would have such gall to oppose him in this manner, but even this makes little sense to the king.
"I have given birth." She tries very hard to control her tone, but the sudden realization of her father's implication forces a fiery unevenness in her voice.
"But you have not been seduced, nor violated."
"Father, I have given birth." She is incredulous. How could he not understand?
"Your sister was birthed without companionship." He stares at the sea, recalling the tale of his grandfather's castration. It is a fine tale, and one unnecessary to dispute with the truth of the matter, particularly now. The tale is too fine an evidential rhetoric. "The promise has not been broken. Leave me."
He pounds the thunderbolt into the floor, silencing his daughter immediately. "You have six promises. All are kept. Leave me before I learn to become a liar."
The goddess averts her eyes from her father's gaze and slouches into an unspoken submission. She should know by now that there is little use in debating the king of gods. "May I ask a question?"
He smiles at the irony. "You may."
"What do I do with the child?"
She will not raise the boy, this much the king of gods knows. And he, the lover of man, will not allow his grandson to perish. The mystery behind his birth must still be solved. Thankfully, the timing of the birth coincides with the birth of another of his grandchildren.
"Give him to your brother. Inform him he is to place the children to be raised as siblings. Now go."
Somewhat satisfied that her predicament has been partially alleviated - though nevertheless still angry - she nods and cautiously backs out of the temple chamber.
The king of gods turns to study the map of the world he has made his home. Something is amiss. His thunderbolt flickers as if in agreement and he acknowledges its counsel. "Another war is coming." The bolt flickers again.
"Messenger!" the king calls out. In an instant, the god with winged sandals appears. "Fetch your uncles and your inept bloodthirsty brother. We have things to discuss."
*Continued in Apollyta and Arteseus, Part II
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