Disclaimer – I do not own the characters. They are credited to Rick Riordan and ancient Greeks. This is in response to a challenge in the forum – CAMP JUPITER.
Chapter 1) – Of Impulsiveness and Power (Red)
Chapter 2) – Of Virtue and Life (Green)
Chapter 3) – Of Serenity and Faith (Violet)
Sisters of the Spectrum
Of Virtue and life
Demeter sat on her throne in the newly built Olympian throne room. Unlike her brother Zeus, she was not one for extravagance and preferred comfort over it. Her throne was a simple carved-oak seat with an emerald coloured cushion adorning the headrest and armrests. It was carved with scenes of mortal pleasure and fulfilment – a thick forest teeming with life, a farmer harvesting his plentiful fields and families enjoying their meals. She was peaceful and happy. She needed nothing more.
Suddenly, with a thundering sound, Zeus flashed into the throne room. He was followed by their siblings. Poseidon, looking exhausted because of the ongoing negotiations with Oceanus appeared in a swirl of mist. Hades, quiet and soundless appeared from the shadows. Hestia, in her rarely-seen form of a young woman materialised from a swirl of flames. But this was all a common occurrence.
What surprised her most was Hera's arrival. Her younger sister was usually the last to step in, in her own subtle way rebelling against Zeus. But today, she had appeared along with Zeus and stood beside him. Her eyes were red and her face hung low with something akin to humiliation. Hera had never acted this way so Demeter was concerned for her sister. But when Hera met her eyes, she quietly shook her head as if to say 'not now'.
In Demeter's opinion, the shock of the day came when Zeus announced that he would be marrying Hera. He commanded the Gods to ensure that the day would be glorious and mortals would think of their union as sacred and beautiful. He ordered Demeter to make the earth bloom with flowers and fields gleam with golden harvest.
Looking at Hera's sorrow, Demeter angrily thought ,'If I had my way, then I would make the whole Earth fill with the most foul-smelling plants and turn all the crops to cactus so that mortals would remember it as the darkest day of their existence.'
-Time Lapse -
It was the season of harvest in Greece. It was the time when the Greeks honoured Demeter as the provider of their fortune. It was a busy time for Demeter and her followers. There were hundreds of places to visit, crops to bless, prayers to answer and farmers to reward. But even the goddess needed a moment of peace. She was relaxing on a large farm in the island town of Samothrace. As she lay in the field, she thought about how Olympus had changed over the years.
The relationship between Zeus and Hera had seen the worst of the changes. While for some time, Zeus remained faithful to Hera, it all changed when Hera announced her first pregnancy. Zeus had now achieved what he wanted so he lost interest in his wife. He started to pursue other women and soon, hundreds of them, mortal and immortal, started to claim that their child was fathered by the king of the Gods.
Hera's reputation was damaged. She had lost her place as a powerful goddess and was now nothing more than another of Zeus's trophies in bed.
New gods started appearing like weeds in a garden. The twins of Leto, the Son of Maia, and the daughter of Metis, all were honoured with positions in the council. Demeter feared that one day; either she or Hestia would be replaced with another child of Zeus.
Her train of thought was broken when she heard a sound behind her. She turned around and the moment she saw who it was, she rushed into his arms. The warm comfort of his embrace seemed to erase all her worries.
"Demeter, you look exhausted. Didn't I tell you to take a break from the festivities?" He rebuked her with a small smile on his face.
"Iasion, you know I can't do that. It is my duty to preside over the harvest, and it makes me happy to see mortals satisfied. Now come, let us spend some time together."
Iasion was a son of Zeus and a nymph called Electra, but unlike the other children of Zeus, he was not prideful. Demeter had met him a few decades ago at a harvest festival and they had immediately felt a deep connection with other. They became friends and then lovers. Demeter had not told him yet, but she intended to make him immortal and marry him so that they could stay together forever.
They lay down in the open field, gazing up at the clear sky. A gentle breeze blew around them and Demeter, caught up in the moment, pressed her lips to his and Iasion responded. Demeter felt a sense of belongingness and love towards the man beside her.
Just then, a change around them made Demeter look up immediately. She sat up straight and the moment she looked at the darkening sky, she knew what was happening. Before she could alert Iasion to be careful, a bolt of lightning from the sky struck him. As the bright flash died away, her beloved's charred body lay beside her. When Demeter finally came to her senses, a scream of raw pain escaped from her.
Envious that another immortal had found someone to love, Zeus has remorselessly struck down his own son.
-Time Lapse -
Mortals were dying of starvation. Rulers had become beggars and life was perishing on Earth. The fertile fields refused to yield a single sheaf of grain and not a single plant would grow from the Earth. This was the power of Demeter; the nurturer of life had become the bringer of death.
But Demeter herself had no interest in the plight of insignificant mortals. She devoted all her time to a much more important task – finding her daughter. Restless, the goddess roamed every corner of the Earth, calling out to Persephone, her pain and suffering evident in every word. She begged each and every immortal for help, but none responded.
Finally, relief came in the form an immortal older than the Gods; Hecate, the goddess of magic told Demeter how Zeus had conspired with Hades and allowed the abduction of Persephone. While the mother was busy searching tirelessly, the father had thrown his own daughter into hell.
The mental and physical pain was too much for Demeter. She collapsed onto the ground, tears flowing through her eyes ceaselessly. 'This is all my fault.' She thought,' If I had not given in to Zeus, my daughter would not be suffering like this'.
Immersed in her pain and guilt, Demeter did not sense the presence of another God behind her. She was jolted out of her thoughts when felt a pair of arms around her. She looked up and to her surprise, she saw Poseidon.
"Brother, what are you doing here?" Demeter asked in a sharp tone. She could never forgive any of them for not helping her.
"Demeter, I heard that Hecate told you the truth. We all wanted to do it but Zeus made us swear an oath of secrecy."
On hearing this, all the pain and sorrow she bottled up within her erupted "Don't lie to me Poseidon. If any of you all-powerful gods wanted to help me, you would have done it. These are just meaningless excuses."
"Forget the past. We cannot change it. Let me help you forget all this, Demeter. Let me make you forget your pain." It was then that Demeter observed that Poseidon wasn't acting normal. He was slowly walking towards her in a predatory manner.
"Poseidon! What are doing? Stop right there." Demeter tried to flash away but she was too tired to summon the energy required to do so.
Poseidon now spoke in a raspy voice. His normally sea-green eyes had darkened and looked nearly black. "I had to see both of my sisters fall prey to Zeus and his vile ways. Hera married him and you had a child with him. I approached Hestia, I courted her and asked to marry her but she took the maiden vow. Why must I let Zeus win every time, Demeter?"
"Poseidon, return to your senses. This is not like you. Why are you trying to compete with Zeus? I am tired and in pain. Please stop" Demeter was now running away as fast as she could, her golden veil flying behind her, but Poseidon had not stopped following her.
In the distance, on the Arcadian hill, Demeter could see a herd of wild horses grazing. She was out of Poseidon's sight now but she knew it would not be long before he caught up. Like a sinking ship making its final stand, Demeter called forth all her remaining power and transformed into a Mare. She joined the herd of horses and tried to hide herself.
But, in her moment of frenzy, the goddess had forgotten that Poseidon was the creator of horses. With widening eyes, she saw that a pure white stallion was bounding towards her. In the final moments before her defeat, Demeter realised her fate was no different from her daughter's.
A woman sat on an ebony throne with jagged spires of rock protruding from its sides. She was dressed in black, a symbol of mourning for herself. She had felt so many emotions at once that she could feel no more. Her empty eyes looked on at the scenes of suffering on Earth. She remembered that this was her doing. She had spitefully cursed the mortal world with infertility and suffering till Persephone was freed.
With an echoing sigh, she rose from the throne. Her black veil slipped from her head and fell to the ground, revealing a mass of golden hair like the ripened fields of wheat. She was the goddess of Life. She could not torment the blameless mortals anymore. As the woman stepped out from the dark cave, her black dress seemed to glimmer and change into an emerald gown.
Her daughter had returned and although she still had to spend time with Hades, her mother could see her once against. Now it was her turn to return what she had taken and nurture life once again.
After all, she was Demeter. Life was her virtue and her virtue was life.
AN - Here's chapter two. I felt that these stories of Demeter are less popular. She is only seen as the mother of Persephone but I think she is much more than that.
Do you guys like this chapter? Review and let me know. Your opinions matter to me. I would appreciate it if you shared your honest views on my story.
P.S. - The next chapter is about Hestia and I'll try to make it extra special. Stay tuned.