|She who entices men REWRITTEN
Author: Guylene PM
This is the story of Cassandra, The title takes origin from the meaning of her name. Rewritten because I wasn't happy with my first version.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 18 - Words: 25,879 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 10-31-12 - Published: 07-14-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8319949
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 13: Getting acquainted
When I woke up I found myself in a soft bed, surrounded by white curtains. I felt incredibly tired. I opened the curtains and I could see I was in a huge room with many windows, from where a most shining light entered. Surely, I was among the gods. Looking around, I could see my room was decorated with many plants and flowers and simple, but fine, furniture. I could also recognize some of my possessions – the box where I kept my few jewels, my sacerdotal dress and other little things.
I felt dizzy, not knowing what to do or where to go, but then I heard Apollo's familiar presence in my mind:
"Cassandra, if you wish to take a bath, there is a bathroom next to your bedroom. On the table you will find some food if you wish to have breakfast. Athena has made you a dress you can find on the table next to your bed. When you will be ready, we will come… Hermes and I will come to greet you".
I complied. On the table I found warm milk, freshly baked bread, honey and fruit; I just had a few sips of milk and a slice of bread. The bath was hot and perfumed; I found a bottle of bathing oil whose honey smell seemed delicious to me. Finally I wore my new dress, a really beautiful dark purple dress that suited my body perfectly.
"I am ready, Sir" I said in my mind, and soon Apollo and Hermes were there.
Apollo was, as always, astoundingly beautiful in his white toga and cloak; his eyes were calm but distant, as usual. He bid me good morning and then he went completely silent.
Hermes smiled cheerfully at me: "Welcome among us, Cassandra. If you wish, we can take you for a trip"
"Yes, sir, thank you"
I found out we were in a huge palace where each of the god had a room. "We don't actually live here" Hermes explained to me "We have our houses elsewhere but we usually meet and party here. Don't worry" he added "there is always someone here, you will never be alone."
The palace also had a great, marvelous hall for the assemblies and another hall for the banquets. "In ten days we will have a banquet. You are clearly invited."
"Thank you, sir" I told Hermes. Actually I didn't feel like having a party at the moment; though they were really kind to me, just a day before I had lost my parents, my family and my beloved city. I knew I should have tried to distraught myself but I also felt it was not the moment yet.
We went out in the gardens. Most of the trees, plants and flowers that were there were completely unknown to me and I couldn't decide where to look, this place was incredibly beautiful.
Apollo was still silent and though his silence was not a hostile one I was beginning to feel uncomfortable; after all, I had been untruthful with him and I could understand he was still upset with me.
"Hum… I have some advice for you, regarding the other gods" Hermes said, interrupting my thoughts "Let's start with Ares: he likes to begin a new relationship with a nice fight" he laughed softly "So he will try to taunt you. You have to answer him in the most hasty way ever, don't be shy. Otherwise he will taunt you forever"
"Understood" I told him.
"You know, Cassandra, there is someone here" Hermes cleared his throat addressing Apollo with a movement of his head "Who thinks that it's not dignified to answer to a provocation" he pronounced this words seriously, straightening his back like Apollo used to do, and I had to keep myself from laughing. "And for this reason" Hermes went on cheerfully "Ares still taunts him everyday".
Apollo shot him a deadly glare that made me shiver, but Hermes didn't appear impressed at all: he simply smiled and looked impishly at him.
"You-are-a-complete-nuisance!" Apollo chanted with a soft laugh. It was the first time I saw him laughing.
"That's why you loooove me!" Hermes answered with a smile "So, Cassandra, don't be nice with Ares."
"There will not be particular problems with the other gods, I believe" said Apollo finally "You will get used to them." He was talking, at least!
"Oh, there's another thing" Hermes added "Artemis, Apollo's sister, is really mean. Don't talk to her too much… she's a bit crazy too"
"This is not true" Apollo interrupted sternly.
"Is she not mean?" Hermes sounded incredulous.
"She is very mean but she is not crazy" Apollo explained patiently, giving Hermes a soft slap behind his head. I would have never imagined Apollo could be like this; despite being gentle he was always so serious.
At the end of our tour Hermes accompanied me back to my bedroom while Apollo went away. "Cassandra" Hermes told me softly in front of my door "This morning I escorted your family to the underworld. They will be all right. When you wish to meet them, just call me."
"Thank you, Sir" I murmured softly, trying to control my voice.
"We'll pick you up for lunch then" he added gently "So you'll meet some other member of this crazy family."
As he had promised, Hermes returned lately to pick me up for lunch.
"Obviously, if you prefer to be alone for a while you are welcome, you can have lunch in your room"
"In this moment I don't feel like being alone, thank you" I told him, grateful for his kindness.
We went to a nice, little room next to the garden. Apollo was waiting for us together with another goddess. She had dark green eyes and black, curly and short hair, and was clad in an orange tunic. She resembled Apollo, so I thought she had to be Artemis.
"Cassandra, this is my sister, Artemis" Apollo told me, and I bowed to her.
"Good morning, lady Artemis"
"Nice to meet you, Cassandra" she answered softly with a juvenile voice.
On the table there were some different types of bread, water and wine, many types of cheese and then vegetables and fruit. I was not very hungry but the bread had a delicious smell and so I took a slice of it along with some olives and figs.
"And how are you, sweetheart?" Hermes asked Artemis, lovingly.
"I am not your sweetheart!" she bellowed.
"Luckily for me!" he chided, but he had to jump back because Artemis threatened to slap him.
"You see, Cassandra? She's evil!" Hermes told me with puppy eyes that made me actually laugh.
"But it's your fault!" I replied, hoping he would not take offense. He looked at me desperately while Artemis laughed out loud.
"You see? Cassandra is on my side, you nuisance!"
"Cassandra, you're evil too!" Hermes said, crossing his arms and turning his back to me, but he was obviously amused.
On that moment, another goddess approached. She was even taller than Apollo and had long brown-honey hair and piercing blue eyes: she had to be Athena. She immediately smiled at me: "Good morning everybody and welcome, Cassandra"
"Thank you, milady" I answered shyly.
"Athena, take a seat. We have just begun" Apollo told her.
She sat among us and so we ate together. They treated me almost as a member of their family, which I was not, and I felt so welcome that I almost forgot how much sad I was. I didn't talk too much but they let me be, just assuring themselves that I was comfortable. Apollo didn't say a single word to me but he filled my glass and from many signs I could tell he was not angry at all. Artemis liked to bicker both with Hermes and with Apollo but she was really kind to me. Athena was serious, not cheerful like Hermes, but witty and gentle. Hermes looked at her with a peculiar, radiant smile and it seemed to me something was in the air between them.
"Cassandra, Apollo told me that you are a cultured young woman and that you are able to read" Athena said. "Yes, milady. Aesacus, my teacher, taught me how to read and write"
"In this case, there is a room you should visit. I'm sure you will like it!" she said eagerly, with a smile "After lunch I will take you there if you wish."
"It's very kind of you, milady" I said.
And so, after lunch, I followed her.
She took me in the most incredible place I had ever seen; four high walls were entirely covered in wooden shelves and on the shelves there were strange, rectangular objects I had never saw before.
Athena took one of that objects and opened it: it was made with a sort of papyrus and I could recognize some phrases written in Trojan upon it. "This is called a book, Cassandra. We use to write on these books." (Author's note: yes, I suppose the gods are quite advanced)
"And what about this room, milady?"
"This is called a library, which means that it contains many books. When you wish you can come here and read, there are many books written in your language. You can also take the book with you but beware: after some time it will come back here by itself."
For the first time from the day before, I felt happy for an instant: I love to read and I absolutely love stories, poems and songs!
"Thank you, milady! I like this place very much!" I told her happily.
"Never mind. Now, if you'll excuse me, I shall go. You may stay, if you wish. Oh, and Cassandra…" she turned again towards me.
"Don't let us worry you. I mean, Hermes is always a nuisance, Artemis always gets angry, Apollo always acts as if he was made with ice… but we are better than we appear. Do you wish to come to the party?" I was completely taken aback by this unexpected question.
"I… am glad that you invited me, milady, but I honestly don't know if I am already… up for it."
"Don't worry. No one would hold a grudge towards you should you decide not to come. But a party is an occasion to meet some rather… peculiar… people you wouldn't see very often otherwise. So, think about it!" she said with a smile.
And then she left. I stayed in the library all the afternoon, reading book after book.
Finally I decided to go to the banquet, let only for some time. I asked Hermes the permission to visit my family the day after the party and he accepted my request. Apart from Apollo, Athena, Hermes, Artemis and a few others I hadn't met other gods, not even the famous Ares, and I was somewhat curious about them.