Yeah...I write slow.
Right right. Standard Disclaimer
Some time ago, Eros had once tried to shoot his mother with one of his arrows. He had succeeded, of course, the infamous Arrows of Love would work on anything. Eros failed to remember who he had made Aphrodite fall in love with, some pretty boy bastard child. The goddess had fallen immediately in love with him, and immediately incurred the wrath of Ares, her lover at the time, on the boy.
If Eros had desired for Aphrodite's heart to be broken, he certainly did a bad job of it. His mother had simply gone weeping to Zeus, and just like that, she was reunited with her lover for most of the year.
Aphrodite didn't even pay much attention to him for that time. Not more than she paid to any other lover, anyway.
It was scary, in a way. The power of his arrows could only go as far as the victim's capacity for love. Eros knew his arrows had less effect on Gods, but Aphrodite had truly a chance for true love, and she tossed it away like the many toys she had made out of men over the years.
Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, had no true feeling for love.
There was irony in that, or something like it.
Psyche sat at her parents' breakfast table and tried desperately to look attentive. It was no use. The smell of freshly-picked roses kept distracting her and sending her off into fantastical daydreams.
She took a moment to admire the roses on the table. That must have been what Teag and Eumaeus had been doing this morning. Picking flowers. How delightful, she wished she could pick flowers.
Psyche took a mouthful of some food absentmindedly. She heard twin snorts of surprise across from her. Psyche looked up, surprised in turn. It wasn't every day a royal did something as undignified as snorting, especially Psyche's parents.
They were both staring at her. Psyche absently wondered how long they had been doing that.
Finally, her mother spoke.
"Psyche...Is everything okay?"
"Are you okay?" The King cut in.
Bemused, Psyche looked from one parents' face to the other.
"...I'm fine, Mother, Father. Why would anything be wrong?"
The Queen and King glanced at each, then resumed staring at Psyche.
"I'm not sure how to phrase this, sweetie..." The King started. "But you have been eating your food..."
Psyche looked down on her plate. Her fork was firmly stuck into a rubbery coil of flesh. Round suckers trailed down the side.
Grilled octopus. How disgusting. And she had been eating it, even worse.
Psyche pushed the plate away. Across the table her parents were in whispered conference.
"Well, Meropentra, you were the one who wanted her to try new foods..."
"She's not well!"
"Than what do you expect me to do!"
"Let her rest, lummox! She can't possibly meet those merchants in her condition!"
Psyche smiled wryly. Since when did eating octopus mean that she was sick? Although, granted, it was unusual for her...
Then another part of her mother's statement snapped into place in her mind.
Meet the merchants!
Suddenly, Psyche truly did feel sick. For certain reasons, she no longer had any desire to appear in the public. Even a closed chamber would be unappealing.
"Mother, Father." she said in a loud voice that cut through her parents' argument. "I feel sick. Very, very sick. May I go take a nap?"
Both pairs of eyes immediately turned to her and softened.
"Of course you may, sweet." Her father told her, while her mother nodded, saving the 'I told you so' to her husband for later.
Psyche trudged up the stairs to her chamber. A nap would be wonderful. In addition to the sick feeling in her stomach, she had developed a pounding headache since earlier that morning.
She tried to think of what she should do with the rest of the day, but truthfully, she just wanted to go to sleep and wake up until the fall started. Besides, there really wasn't much for Psyche to do anyway, besides laze in the gardens.
Psyche reached her chambers. The door-guards saluted as she passed, and Psyche managed to nod in return, although her full-blown headache threatened to make her faint. She just barely got into the bedchamber and collapse on the mattress before sleep overcame her.
Eros flew, invisible. He did not spend any arrows on the sudden fits of love or indifference that usually marked his path. He had a job to do, and he intended to be done with it as quick as possible.
Eros felt sick inside. There was no use protesting against the unfairness of Aphrodite's decision; he could no more resist the power of his mother than mortals could his arrows. Better just to simply do it and try to forget it later.
It took little effort to learn what had upset Aphrodite so. The worshipers of the mortal woman was the talk on everyone's lips. The only thing he hadn't learned about the woman was her name.
He shook his head. This was why Aphrodite wanted Eros to ruin the girls' life? She was only mortal, in a short time she would be dead. But then again, most of the Olympian would react such to this 'insult'. Aphrodite simply had the power to do it.
Another reason to steer clear of the Olympian Gods.
The palace wasn't exactly hard to find. It was the largest, grandest, richest building in the area. Harder to find was the girl. Eros flew over the gardens where he had seen the girl in the mirror, but the gardeners were all that there were. Definitely male.
Beating his golden wings, he turned back to the palace. Of course, the princess would want to spend the day in the relative coolness of her chambers. Based on the arrangement of most palaces he had seen so far, the royal family's rooms would be on the south side.
Sure enough, as soon as Eros flew to the south wall, he saw her. The girl was fast asleep in the chambers on the south-east corner. He took a deep breath and alighted soundlessly on the window.
Eros slowly drew a golden arrow from one of the twin quivers on his back. His bow would be useless at such close range. He would sink the arrow into her heart by hand, then dip it into the bitter waters of the river Acheron of Hades. Then he would shoot it into the heart of the vilest wretch he could find. Eros already had a target for that, a brutal mercenary with several wives in separate locations.
The godling leapt silently to the floor. He rose, and took a moment to admire the sleeping maiden. She really was beautiful. Eros suddenly had an overwhelming desire to brush those perfect lips with his. He shook his head to dispel the feeling. It was better not to think of her at all.
Eros steadied the arrow in his hand and poised it over the girls' heart. He bit his lip. The sooner he did it, the sooner it was over. Eros applied pressure to the arrow.
The golden arrow began to pierce the soft breast.
She was in a great hall. There was a wonderful, raucous party going on. There were Gods and Goddesses, nymphs giggled at satyrs, centaurs and minotaurs clomped across the tiles. Kalonice and Jacinta swept by on each others arm, laughing, while their husbands trooped diligently after them. Psyche's mother and father started an impromptu dance, looking younger than they had for years. Soon the rest of the party joined in, the men leading the women in.
Psyche stood by herself next to a stone pillar, smiling and looking out over the festivities fondly. But soon, a young man in a bird mask offered his hand to her. His hair was tousled and blonde, and his chest was bare. Psyche laughed and allowed herself to be lead into the dance.
The young man swung her around lightly, hands at her waist. Psyche flew through the air, the wind whipping her hair around. She couldn't remember the last time she had had so much fun. The man with the bird mask set her down on the ground, and gracefully disappeared. Before Psyche could start to look for him, however, another man, an older river-god this time, was offering her his arm.
And so time flew, Psyche breezing from partner to partner, in a hurricane of sudden, wild dances. She didn't even feel dizzy. She felt glorious and energetic, like she could dance all night.
Then there was, suddenly, silence. A dark, brooding presence had entered the hall, one that Psyche hadn't realized before. It took a single step from the end of the hall.
As if pulled by some unnameable force, the many people took themselves a single step back, leaving a clear path two paces thick down the center of the hall, leading straight to Psyche, who alone was not affected.
It took another step forward. Psyche could see it clearly, every dark outline defined sharply. The handsome satyr she had been dancing with let go of her hands and blended into the crowd.
Another step. Psyche suddenly felt a inexplicable, horrible fear descend upon her. If nothing else, she knew that the dark being before her meant death. She stood rooted to the ground in horror.
Another step. She found her legs again, but when she tried to step back, she discovered a hard wall behind her where there had been none. There was no running away, nothing to do but wait.
A step closer. Back to the wall, Psyche trembled. How much distance had the monster covered? How far away was she from it?
The sixth step. Psyche knew, suddenly, without knowing how she knew, that when the seventh step fell, the monster would reach her. She cringed in fear.
The foot lifted. And then, slowly, as if all of Psyche's fear and anguish was pushing up on it, it descended back to the ground.
And the monster was there, in front of her. It was huge, looming over her by at least three heads. The body was made of a thick, black mud-like substance, and the eyes were marked only by the way they reflected no light whatsoever.
The creature reached out its' arm to touch Psyche's shoulder, who shrank back in fear. The wall was behind her, however, and there was nowhere to run to. The great slimy hand made contact with Psyche's arm, and she noted with surprise that the substance covering it was soothing and warm to the touch. It was constantly in motion, as if it was a separate entity from the body. Psyche was suddenly struck with the idea that it was a disguise, a cloak perhaps, to mask the true nature of the beast...?
It grabbed her other arm painfully, and pressed her against the wall. Unlike before, however, Psyche was not struck by fear. Her spirit seemed to detach itself from the great hall, getting more and more distant as the creature pressed itself closer and closer to her body. And just as the beast was letting loose a bellow of triumph, her spirit took her somewhere different altogether.
She sat in a sun-drenched garden. The sun was beating down on her body in hard rods, and Psyche remembered dimly that she should be wearing a head scarf for a day this hot, then realized that it didn't matter. She laughed to know that nothing that would have mattered in the world made any difference in this garden. Psyche was startled to hear a rumbling chuckle join her laughter, however.
There was a man kneeling on the ground, lean and sinewy and grey. All over his body he was grey. The hair on top his head, which grew in a little hedge at the back, and his short, bristly mustache, even his tanned skin was approaching grey. His grey eyes sparkled as he looked Psyche up and down.
"Well, my little flower, you sure have grown since last I laid eyes on you. Seems more like a full bloomed rose than a bud now, and a beautiful one at that." he said, sitting back on his heels. "How have you been, Psyche?"
"Where are we, Enea?" she asked. The garden they sat in was certainly a strange one, the flowers growing a concentric circles that kept spiraling on and on and far as she could see.
Enea cast her a strange look. "What do you mean, where are we? We're in the garden of Chloris, Psyche! Didn't I always tell you I would make it here?"
Psyche nodded. "Yes...I suppose you did..."
"You suppose?" Enea laughed. "Well, here I am now, in the garden of the Goddess herself. And," he said, "I'll show you the immortal flowers, that only ever grow in the lands of the Gods."
"Where are they, then, these flowers of yours?" Psyche asked.
"Where are they! Why, all around you, girl. You are sitting among never-dying flowers of legend."
Psyche couldn't particularly remember any immortal flowers in any legend, but it didn't seem to matter, when she could see the truth of these flowers for her own eyes. They were in all shapes, roses and lilies and flowering vines, but they all were brightest gold. The field of blooms was so radiant that Psyche wondered why she hadn't noticed it before. Then something odd struck her.
"They have no scent!" she cried. "Why do these flowers have no scent?"
Enea looked sad suddenly, and weary, his eyes full of pity as he looked at her.
"So you are truly not here then." he murmured, not intending for Psyche to hear. But Psyche's ears, suddenly unusually sharp, caught the words.
"What do you mean when you say I am not here? Of course I am here, where else would I-" The words were cut off by a sharp pain in her chest. It felt like someone was stabbing her in the heart. Then, as quick as it had come, it was gone, replaced by a warm feeling like molten sunlight infusing into her veins.
Psyche looked up at Enea, confused with her hand still at her heart.
"I'm sorry, Enea. But it just felt like-"
He cut her off. "You must go back now, child. Go back, before a tragedy befalls you."
"But, Enea! What do you mea-"
"Go back, Psyche! Now!"
And then everything in her vision streaked to gold, and Psyche woke up with a pounding heart and wrenching feeling in her gut.
Eros withdrew the arrow from the girls' breast. The wound that it had made was closing up smoothly after it. Funny, really, that something this disastrous would leave no mark or scar.
He stood. Eros had wreaked his share of chaos in his lifetime, but this...this crime would stay as a lead weight on his conscience for a long time. There was something dirty about inflicting such a punishment on this pure, beautiful girl for so petty an offense.
Well. That was the first step over with. There were two more steps to go, and the task he had been charged with wouldn't get any easier. It was time to go.
No sooner had Eros spread his wings when the girl on the bed opened her eyes.
Psyche opened her eyes, afternoon sunlight helping to dispel the last of the dream. Goodness, had she really slept this long? It had been midmorning when she had laid down for a nap, and now it was evening.
She sat up, rubbing her eyes. There was whisper of air on the right of the bed, and Psyche turned her head sharply. She eyed the empty space between the bed and the cabinet suspiciously. Odd. Psyche could have sworn she heard something move.
Standing up, she found to her dismay that her gown was wrinkled all over, since she had slept in it. It would have to be starched and washed, a complete waste of water in this heavily hot spring. Psyche pulled off the sea-green gown that she had put on this morning for breakfast.
Again that whisper of air. She frowned at the cabinet. Was there perhaps a mouse in the chambers? She hoped not. The maids lost their wits at the sight of mice.
Donning a long tunic with a wide belt, Psyche strode out of her room. There was that flurry of air again as she was opening the door, this time right above her. A bird? Psyche looked up. Nothing but air. A bee, perhaps.
Looking down one corridor, she saw Damaskenos coming down it, peering into a guest room. What was worse, he had Telymetros with him.
Sweet Chaos. Those eyes- they were so...beautiful...
Pale blue jewels watched Eros as he fell, shocked, barely catching himself on the floor. He heard his arrow break with a sudden snap as it hit the floor. Then, the next moment, he felt a dizzying tingling sensation running up and down his body, like a blazing fire in place of his blood. The feeling did not fade, but lingered in his veins. His heart was beating unnaturally fast, and there was a queasy feeling in his stomach. It felt like his insides were twisting around each other.
Eros looked down on the hand he had used to break his fall. Something glinted from his palm. He nearly swooned as he saw what it was.
The golden arrowhead was imbedded deeply into his flesh.
He watched her rise. She was so perfectly beautiful. The skin was so white and flawless-the limbs so graceful. He did not know why he hadn't taken more time to admire her while she was sleeping.
She slipped out of her gown, and Eros gasped. He knew he shouldn't be looking at her bare body, but he couldn't stop. Not on his own, anyway. But then those eyes snapped his way, and his own eyes were caught in hers, drowning in them, and he forgot he was invisible, he forgot he was a god and she a mortal, and there was nothing in the world except the two of them-
But them she turned away, leaving Eros still lying dejected on the floor, and she started to dress. She belted herself, and tossed her hair back, a motion like wind flowing through grain fields. Then she opened the door to go out.
Eros forced himself into action. He would follow her out that door, but he couldn't stay with her long. There were many things to know of her; her name, for one.
Guilio had been sweeping the floors at the royal palace for seventeen years. Despite his name, he was anything but young. Guilio was far past his prime, and his first wife had died twelve years ago.
He thought he would never survive his dear Melitta's death. But he had, and recently, the milkmaid that lived in the country had caught his eye and his heart. She was a sweet young thing, and had forever rejected him out of hand, never seeing past his graying beard and wrinkled hands.
He was sweeping the main corridor off the great hall. The only comfort to his aching joints was that he was nearly done.
A voice began to whisper in his ear. Normally, he would count a disembodied voice a sign of insanity. But Guilio did not panic, something about that voice calmed him. It promised him the love of his fair milkmaid if he would but whisper the name of the princess who lived here into the air.
Without a second thought for the strangeness of it, Guilio spoke the name his mysterious guest had demanded.
A moment later, Guilio headed for the country without any recollection of the last few seconds, only a vague thought to press his suit once again.
Aphrodite yawned. It had been such an absolutely boring day. She hadn't had much luck with her current game, the prince of Athens. Hippolytus, or some such. He had the most darling hair, though, curling locks and all.
The prince had struck up a conversation with her, thinking her a mortal huntswoman, but had soon broke it off, seeming uninterested in her looks. Aphrodite was intrigued. Those followers of Artemis really did know how to put up a resistance. She was confident in her charms, however. He would be hers, in the end.
Losing interest in her current thoughts, she turned her mind to her other project.
That girl, Psyche. Her son would have found them by now. Eros could find anyone and anything. It was a little scary, in a way.
The goddess gestured her attendant nymph to her side. It was the dragonfly-winged one, she noticed. It was really too bad the girl was so sullen. The wings really were fascinating.
"Go find Eros. Tell him to report to me, with all possible speed."
A/N: So what did you think? Good? Bad? Posted too slow, and too long? Yeah, I think so too.
Well anyways, thanks to all my wonderful reviewers for my last chapter, Anei Aikouka, Veronica The Mischievous, and Monito! Keep it up! This may sound corny, but they actually do inspire me to write.
Until next chapter-which may be a long time away, at my pace- See ya!