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Zephyras the Explorer
It happened many summers ago. So many, I have almost forgotten the event itself. It had been something that drastically changed not only who I was, but what I was.
I am Zephyras of Thrace; I am only 18 summers old. I have gold hair, as a result of Apollo’s healing touch, and eyes, that my father says, rival the Mediterranean Sea. When I was a babe, I became very ill. My parents offered up many prayers and gifts to Apollo, hoping that he would cure me. Their prayers were answered. Apollo healed me, giving me luminous hair to prove that he was my savior. As I grew older, I began to have a grand desire to explore the unknown world. Since I am a woman of noble blood, I am forbidden to leave the country. Oh, how I long to walk with the men who travel for trade, treaties, or even for war! Because of this, I often sneak into my father’s study, and gaze over his maps. He has crossed many magnificent domains. He has crossed the northern lands to Rome, the Silk roads to the Ottoman Empire and China, and many more. It looks exciting, but the farthest place I have gone was the Temple of Altars, a temple dedicated to the all the deities of worship. In the temple, each god or goddess has an altar with a statue of them. I have been there many times with offerings for Apollo or Athena. But a small walk to the temple is nothing compared to how exploring would be.
Humans are such hardworking creatures. They build their small societies in a matter of months; they explore the lands around them, the reproduce families, protect themselves, gather and grow food. They seem so much more interesting then the gods who lounge around all day. We, gods are so greedy. Blessed with everything we could ever want, we still hunger for more. Whether it is power, riches, faithful followers, and even in some cases, freedom. My mother knows these concepts all too well. My mother is Persephone, Goddess of the Harvest and Queen of the Underworld. Trapped in this dark, stone palace, also known as Hell by Hades, I was born of my mother’s curiosity for the outside world, since she had forgotten what it was like. I am the immortal goddess of curiosity, Pandora. Across the room, I heard the shuffling of a pelpos. I turned to see the ethereal form of my mother. Her caramel colored locks framed her face, enhancing the color of her swirling and vibrant grey eyes. With a grace that out does every spring nymph, she held out her hand to me, and without a single word, I took it. She led me to Mirror of Fate. It was a mirror that gave us an insight to the lives of humans. She zoomed in on a girl with golden locks and deep cerulean eyes.
“I have a message from the Moirae. This girl’s desire to explore will kill her. She will break her father’s rule, and be slain by an enemy. We have an overly curious creature on our hands, Pandora. I want you to do something about her wonder, before it kills her.” She finally said, breaking the eerie silence of our damned palace. I gently stroked the crystal frame of the mirror, watching the dainty human scan a map over and over.
“What is her name? Where is she?” I asked.
“She is Zephyras of Thrace. She lives in the northern peninsula, right at the foot of Mt. Olympus.” Persephone replied, tapping on the mirror with an index finger. With a simple nod of my head, I materialized out of our palace, only to reappear on the mortal plane.
I felt something change in the air. It became quite heavy, like the air right before a storm hits. But how could a storm come? I quickly rushed to my marble balcony to inspect the sky. There were not any clouds above, or even a breeze.
“How could the air be so thick, if the sky is so clear?” I questioned myself.
“Perhaps there is nothing wrong with the weather, mortal.”
I turned and a petite, ivory-skinned woman with long hair as dark as the night sky that cascaded down her back, and eyes the color of obsidian, stood in the doorway of the balcony. Her dark violet chiton flowed around her, as if it was submersed in water. The unearthly being before was none other than Pandora, the goddess of curiosity. I stepped back, almost tripping over the railing of my balcony as the gothic goddess came closer.
“What can I do for you, Great Deity Pandora?” I asked, mustering up a bow. She shook her head, her face blank like a canvas.
“I have come with a warning. You can no longer wonder about the outside world. It is fatal if you continue to do so.” She warned. My heart fell. Give up exploring the world, for my life? If I am fated to die exploring, then I shall!
“I will not give up my hopes to see the unknown world! I would rather die by a beast outside of Thrace then to die within my castle walls!” I shouted at the deity. She sighed before turning away with an air of grace.
“Then you shall die, Zephyras of Thrace. If you decide to heed my prophecy, you shall live. But it is very unlikely that you would. I will depart with that.” Pandora spoke, before materializing into a thin black mist. I stood there, watching until the mist disappeared.
“Well, did you warn her?” my mother asked, as I arrived back at the palace. I did not answer, because she had already known. My mother had sighed loudly as I passed by her.
“If only the mortals would listen to us, Pandora. If she goes out beyond her walls, and dies in the wake, you are allowed to trap her in your box and cast a heavy curse. So that from now on, the mortals will listen to what the gods warn them,” she smiled, “It has been many centuries since you have cursed a soul, Pandora. Does it excite you that you will get another soul soon?”
“It always has excited me to use my lovely box, Mother.” I said, as a sinister smile crept upon my face.
I have to prove Pandora wrong, I will survive outside of Thrace. I thought, as I snuck out of my room. The stone hallways were silent; the only other presence was that of the moon, who timidly peeked out from behind the columns. Everyone should be asleep, so my escape should be unnoticed until dawn. The silent walk to my father’s study seemed like an eternity. Finally, I made it to the grand marble doors of the study. I slowly opened the doors, hoping they wouldn’t make a sound. I successfully slipped in. I tiptoed over to his desk where a few things that were necessary for travel. The map that lay on his desk, a bronze dagger to hunt or kill, a few rolls of paper and a piece of charcoal, to map where I have been, or to draw certain sceneries. One, by one, I plucked the items off the desk, and put them into my satchel. I looked around quickly, to make sure I have not been heard or seen. Gathering up my chiton, I then dashed out of my palace.
The first thing I noticed was the vegetation outside the gates. There were lichens and soft mosses of vivid greens, trees that towered above my head, and the grass was like fine silk. At the end of the vegetation, were snow white beaches accompanied by an ocean of azure. It was pure paradise given to us by the wholly gods among us. The vibrant colors made the world I was used to seem black and white. I should have left earlier. The only thing that seemed different was the lack of animals. There was no sound of the chirping of birds, no small squeaks of rodents, not even a howl from a wild dog. The only sound that filled the air was the crashing of waves on the shore, and the swaying of grass. The silence was intriguing, yet alarming. As I ventured further and further away from the walls of Thrace, the quietness of the environment grew. It soon became overbearing, I thought I might just go insane from it. I expected it to get louder, but I must have been wrong. After another step, I heard a small cracking sound, the sound of a stick snapping in two. I stopped dead in my tracks, feeling a heavy breath on my back. Goosebumps arose on my skin, and my heart thundered in my breast. I hesitantly turned around, and met the gold eyes of a Bengal tiger. Not a breath escaped me before it bore its pointed teeth, fear consuming me. I backed up slowly, taking a step after the other. I was taught to never look away; the tiger will pounce if I do. The beast stalked me, watching my every move, and backing me into a large tree. I was going to die, just as Pandora prophesized. I am going to be slain by a wild cat. I held my breath as the tiger inched closer, and squeezed my eyes shut. Out of the blue, a gold arrow strikes the tiger, embedding itself in the tiger’s neck. The tiger laid itself down, whimpering. From out of the vegetation, came a stunning young woman. She had hair the color of flames, and had eyes the color of the forest. She was Artemis, goddess of the hunt.
“Are you hurt, dear child?” she asked, crossing the path to me.
“No, milady, I am uninjured. My thanks are to you.” I replied. Artemis slipped her golden bow around her shoulder, causing delicate creases in her pelpos. She turned her attention to the feral beast that was a few feet from us. She pulled out a golden dagger, and crept over to it.
“I hope your journey to heaven is a pleasant one, and may you be rebirthed again.” she whispered to the tiger before taking her knife and ending the tiger’s misery. I covered my eyes, not wanting to see the process.
“So, you’re the one who defied the Moirae’s foretelling, are you not?” Artemis asked.
“Yes, I am. I was supposed to be slain by the hand of a beast. But, how do you know this, milady?” I questioned the auburn haired goddess. She turned to me, grasping a few strands of my hair.
“It was my brother who cured you, was he not?” she inquired, running her fingers through the fine strands.
“Yes he was. I owe your brother my life; He cured me from a serious illness when I was a babe.” I replied, politely taking my hair back from Artemis.
“What you don’t realize is that my brother did a little more than just cure you. He gave much more than gold locks and an eye for adventure.” she spoke, excitedly. I jumped at Artemis’s sudden excitement.
“What else did he give me, milady?” I asked.
“He gave you the gift of immortality, which you would only receive at adulthood. You are one of us. You are the great Zephyras, goddess of exploration. I wouldn’t save just any regular mortal from certain death now. Not many humans are worth my time. But my brother saw something in you, I can’t exactly remember what it was, but he surely saw something.” she explained.
“Yes, but what of that of Pandora, and the Moirae? Did they know?” I asked, nervously smoothing my chiton. Artemis sighed.
“Pandora always has had a thing for playing with humans. When she corrupts a human, she traps them in a box of pure evil and demonic rage. Afterwards, she casts a curse on them and in a hundred years, she will release them back into the mortal plane as a wicked beast to cause chaos and commit disastrous crimes. Pandora’s Box has the ability to turn human souls into pure instinct and ungodly rage. If she trapped an immortal like one of us, the beast you would have become, could have been, unstoppable. For the Moirae, they have always known. They do control the past, present, and future. I was hoping you knew that much.” Artemis shrugged. Warmth flooded my face out of my embarrassment. How could I have been so stupid to forget about the Moirae? I thought. Artemis cleared her throat, growing impatient.
“So, shall we leave for Mt. Olympus, or are we going to stand here and admire the scenery?” She asked, sarcastically.
“Oh right, shall we go, milady?” I inquired, curtsying before her. With a swift movement of her hand, a pale luminous mist appeared. It swirled in the air until it became a solid white cloud.
“Let us be on our way to Olympus then.” She stepped onto the cloud and held out her hand to help me onto the cloud. I took her hand and climbed onto the shimmering cloud, thus beginning my path to godhood.